228 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
simultaneously with the approach of Cyaxares from the east. The Assyrians would thus be struck in flank and front, and the capital would stagger under the blow.
Meanwhile Saracus was informed of the conspiracy. His weakness was spurred by alarm into such activity as his effete administration was capable of exhibiting. As the best expedient he divided his forces, sending one army down the river to resist the approaching Babylonians, while the main division under his own command was directed eastward to confront Cyaxares. Nabopolassar, the Babylonian governor, had in the meantime fallen without reserve into the arms of the Medes. He had been astute enough to discover at once the waning star of Assyria and the coming Median ascendancy. He also saw the advantages of his position, and especially his opportunity to set a high price upon his defection from Assyria. He accordingly proposed to Cyaxares, in answer to the overtures of the latter, that the conditions of his betrayal of his sovereign should be an alliance of fortunes between Media and Babylonia; that he himself should continue ruler of the latter country; and that Cyaxares, as an earnest of good faith, should give his daughter Amyitis to be the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, and heir of the Babylonian viceroyalty. To these conditions Cyaxares at once assented, and the double march on Nineveh began.
The campaign that followed was one of battles and vicissitudes. The combined army of Medes and Babylonians was met on the advance, and twice defeated by the aroused hosts of Assyria. Cyaxares fell back into the mountains, only to come again, and again suffer defeat. He and his ally then retreated into Babylonia, and were reinforced by fresh contingents from Media. A third advance was made. The Assyrian camp was surprised by night and ruinously routed. The broken fragments rolled back into Nineveh, and the victorious invaders advanced to the siege.
Once within the walls, the Assyrians felt secure, for, in expectancy of such a disaster, the city had been garrisoned and
supplied with provisions and stores. For more than two years the awkward but dauntless besiegers beat around the invested capital. It was naked ferocity attacking a rock. But by and by Nature joined the conspiracy. With the rainy season of the third year the Tigris rose bank full, and threatened to do what the clumsy enginery of Media seemed impotent to accomplish. The turbid tide rolled higher, beat the city bastions, and finally swept away the walls and let in the wolves of conquest. Saracus-such is the tradition of the event- shrank into his palace, heaped up the antique splendors of his ancestors, mounted the pile with his wives and concubines, and perished in the flames.
Such was the fall of Nineveh and of the great Assyrian Empire. The collapse was complete. It only remained for Cyaxares and Nabepolassar to make such use of their victory as should secure the vast harvest of conquest. It seems that both the Median monarch and his ally were in a faith-keeping mood in the presence of their success. In- stead of quarreling about the spoils of war they agreed to remain on terms of amity and divide the world between them. A division was accordingly made. Nabopolassar received Babylonia, Susiana, Chaldaea, and the whole valley of the Lower Euphrates spreading out towards Arabia and Egypt on the south-west. This the quondam viceroy and now king at once proceeded, to organize into the kingdom of Babylonia-a power which will furnish the subject-matter of the following Book.
Cyaxares took what had constituted the Assyrian Empire proper, embracing all the northern portion of Mesopotamia and the provinces thereunto adjacent. This vast and important region, added to his own kingdom of Media, gave, not only territorially, but also as it respects population and resources, sufficient scope for the exercise of all the energies and ambitions of the victorious monarch. Thus out of the wreck of Assyria arose two separate and independent empires. Media on the east, and Babylonia on the south and west. And contrary to the natural expectancy excited by such a beginning, the two