Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 259The canals of Babylonia were surveyed, and building operations on a vast scale planned out. No fewer than ten thousand men were engaged working for two months reconstructing and decorating the temple of Merodach, which towered to a height of 607 feet. It looked as if Babylon were about to rise to a position of splendour unequalled in its history, when Alexander fell sick, after attending a banquet, and died on an evening of golden splendour sometime in June of 323 B.C.
One can imagine the feelings of the Babylonian priests and astrologers as they spent the last few nights of the emperor's life reading "the omens of the air"--taking note of wind and shadow, moon and stars and planets, seeking for a sign, but unable to discover one favourable. Their hopes of Babylonian glory were suspended in the balance, and they perished completely when the young emperor passed away in the thirty-third year of his life. For four days and four nights the citizens mourned in silence for Alexander and for Babylon.
The ancient city fell into decay under the empire of the Seleucidae. Seleucus I had been governor of Babylon, and after the break-up of Alexander's empire he returned to the ancient metropolis as a conqueror. "None of the persons who succeeded Alexander", Strabo wrote, "attended to the undertaking at Babylon"--the reconstruction of Merodach's temple. "Other works were neglected, and the city was dilapidated partly by the Persians and partly by time and through the indifference of the Greeks, particularly after Seleucus Nicator fortified Seleukeia on the Tigris."
Seleucus drafted to the city which bore his name the great bulk of the inhabitants of Babylon. The remnant which was left behind continued to worship Merodach and other gods after the walls had crumbled and the great temple began to tumble down. Babylon died slowly, but at length the words of the Hebrew prophet were fulfilled:
The cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it.... They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow: the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
Vowel Sounds:--ä, as in palm; ā, as in late; ă, almost like u in fur; e, like a in fate; ē, as in he; i, as e in me; ī, as in sigh; ō, as in shore; ü, as in pull; u, as in sun; ȳ, as in dye.