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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 240

Rusas of Urartu was succeeded by Argistes II, who reigned over a shrunken kingdom. He intrigued with neighbouring states against Assyria, but was closely watched. Ere long he found himself caught between two fires. During his reign the notorious Cimmerians and Scythians displayed much activity in the north and raided his territory.

The pressure of fresh infusions of Thraco-Phrygian tribes into western Asia Minor had stirred Midas of the Muski to co-operate with the Urartian power in an attempt to stamp out Assyrian influence in Cilicia, Cappadocia, and north Syria. A revolt in Tabal in 718 B.C. was extinguished by Sargon, but in the following year evidences were forthcoming of a more serious and widespread rising. Pisiris, king of Carchemish, threw off the Assyrian yoke. Before, however, his allies could hasten to his assistance he was overcome by the vigilant Sargon, who deported a large proportion of the city's inhabitants and incorporated it in an Assyrian province. Tabal revolted in 713 B.C. and was similarly dealt with. In 712 B.C. Milid had to be overcome. The inhabitants were transported, and "Suti" Aramaean peoples settled in their homes. The king of Commagene, having remained faithful, received large extensions of territory. Finally in 709 B.C. Midas of the Muski-Phrygians was compelled to acknowledge the suzerainty of Assyria. The northern confederacy was thus completely worsted and broken up. Tribute was paid by many peoples, including the rulers of Cyprus.

Sargon was now able to deal with Babylonia, which for about twelve years had been ruled by Merodach Baladan, who oppressed the people and set at defiance ancient laws by seizing private estates and transferring them to his Chaldaean kinsmen. He still received the active support of Elam.

Sargon's first move was to interpose his army between those of the Babylonians and Elamites. Pushing southward, he subdued the Aramaeans on the eastern banks of the Tigris, and drove the Elamites into the mountains. Then he invaded middle Babylonia from the east. Merodach Baladan hastily evacuated Babylon, and, moving southward, succeeded in evading Sargon's army. Finding Elam was unable to help him, he took refuge in the Chaldaean capital, Bit Jakin, in southern Babylonia.

Sargon was visited by the priests of Babylon and Borsippa, and hailed as the saviour of the ancient kingdom. He was afterwards proclaimed king at E-sagila, where he "took the hands of Bel". Then having expelled the Aramaeans from Sippar, he hastened southward, attacked Bit Jakin and captured it. Merodach Baladan escaped into Elam. The whole of Chaldaea was subdued.

Thus "Sargon the Later" entered at length into full possession of the empire of Sargon of Akkad. In Babylonia he posed as an incarnation of his ancient namesake, and had similarly Messianic pretensions which were no doubt inspired by the Babylonian priesthood. Under him Assyria attained its highest degree of splendour.

He recorded proudly not only his great conquests but also his works of public utility: he restored ancient cities, irrigated vast tracts of country, fostered trade, and promoted the industries. Like the pious Pharaohs of Egypt he boasted that he fed the hungry and protected the weak against the strong.


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