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The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 66

Babylon then had thus been taken for the first time:

192, and as to the resources of the Babylonians how great they are, I shall show by many other proofs and among them also by this:—For the support of the great king and his army, apart from the regular tribute the whole land of which he is ruler has been distributed into portions. Now whereas twelve months go to make up the year, for four of these he has his support from the territory of Babylon, and for the remaining eight months from the whole of the rest of Asia; thus the Assyrian land is in regard to resources the third part of all Asia: and the government, or satrapy as it is called by the Persians, of this territory is of all the governments by far the best; seeing that when Tritantaichmes son of Artabazos had this province from the king, there came in to him every day an artab full of silver coin (now the artab is a Persian measure and holds more than the medimnos of Attica 197 by three Attic choinikes); and of horses he had in this province as his private property, apart from the horses for use in war, eight hundred stallions and sixteen thousand mares, for each of these stallions served twenty mares: of Indian hounds moreover such a vast number were kept that four large villages in the plain, being free from other contributions, had been appointed to provide food for the hounds.

193. Such was the wealth which belonged to the ruler of Babylon. Now the land of the Assyrians has but little rain; and this little gives nourishment to the root of the corn, but the crop is ripened and the ear comes on by the help of watering from the river, not as in Egypt by the coming up of the river itself over the fields, but the crop is watered by hand or with swing-buckets. For the whole Babylonian territory like the Egyptian is cut up into channels, and the largest of the channels is navigable for ships and runs in the direction of the sunrising in winter from the Euphrates to another river, namely the Tigris, along the bank of which lay the city of Nineveh. This territory is of all that we know the best by far for producing corn: 198 as to trees, 199 it does not even attempt to bear them, either fig or vine or olive, but for producing corn it is so good that it returns as much as two-hundred-fold for the average, and when it bears at its best it produces three-hundred-fold. The leaves of the wheat and barley there grow to be full four fingers broad; and from millet and sesame seed how large a tree grows, I know myself but shall not record, being well aware that even what has already been said relating to the crops produced has been enough to cause disbelief in those who have not visited the Babylonian land. They use no oil of olives, but only that which they make of sesame seed; and they have date-palms growing over all the plain, most of them fruit-bearing, of which they make both solid food and wine and honey; and to these they attend in the same manner as to fig-trees, and in particular they take the fruit of those palms which the Hellenes call male-palms, and tie them upon the date-bearing palms, so that their gall-fly may enter into the date and ripen it and that the fruit of the palm may not fall off: for the male-palm produces gall-flies in its fruit just as the wild-fig does.


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