230 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
crept over the face of Nature. The sunlight grew dim and cold in the dust of battle. A solar eclipse (B. C. 610) was hanging an ominous curtain over the heavens. A sudden awe fell on the armies; then silence; and then, as the darkness deepened, horror and quaking. An unscientific age fears not man but the gods.
The battle was at an end. Nabopolassar of Babylon, on the part of the Median monarch, and Syennesis, king of Cilicia, on the part of the Lydian allies, came forward on the field and made mutual proposals of peace. The threatening heavens made the negotiations easy. It was agreed to end the war on the spot. The Scythians were forgotten. The dominions of Alyattes were to be left intact by his friend, the king of the Medes. All things were to be as they were before, and some things better. For the two amiable sovereigns ratified the compact by marrying Aryenis, the daughter of the Lydian king, to the young Astyages, son and heir of Cyaxares. And to make all things sure, each of the kings punctured his arm and gave the bleeding wound to the lips of the other. Each of the friends drew the life of the other from the wound. Alas, for the deeds of the past!
It is proper in this connection to give some account of the previous history of the country with which the Medes were thus brought into contact: The kingdom of LYDIAWBS one of the most ancient, of all Asia' Minor. Tradition pointed to an origin at least seven hundred years before the time of Cyaxares. Three dynasties of kings had ruled the nation, the Atyadae, the Heraclidae, and the Mermnadae. Of the first house there had been four kings; of the second, twenty-two; of the third, four-thirty recorded reigns, besides several conjectural. The most ancient name of the country was Maeonia, and the people were called Maeonians; but under LYDUS, the second of the Atyad kings, the name was changed in his honor to Lydia.
The Lydian legends were full of great pretensions. One tradition recited that both Belus and Ninus-the mythical founders of Babylon and Nineveh-were
Lydian princes sent to establish kingdoms in Mesopotamia. Colonies had been planted--so said the myths-in the remotest parts of the world. Such an origin was claimed for the Etruscans of Italy, and for other primitive states of the west of Europe. A Lydian general, named Ascalus, had led an army to the extreme south-west, and built the city of Ascalon in Syria.
The more authentic annals of Lydia go back to about the beginning of the ninth century B. C. It is probable that the two dynasties, the Heraclidae and the Mermnadae, were different branches of the same house. So much is indicated by the feuds between them and by the common names occurring in both lists of kings. The later Heraclide monarchs had treated the princes of the Mermnadae with injustice, born of distrust and jealousy; and this wrong grew to such proportions that the Mermnads were obliged to seek safety in exile.
Their partisans, however, maintained their cause, and anon the banished leaders returned, put the Heraclide king to death, and established their own chief, named Gyges, on the throne of Lydia. This revolution, occurring in the beginning of the eighth century, marked the commencement of a new era of vigor and prosperity of the kingdom. It was from this time that the wealth of Lydia became proverbial throughout the known world. Gyges himself was one of the richest rulers of his epoch. Magnificent gifts were sent by him to the oracle of Delphi, in Greece. Sardis, his capital, was a rich and luxurious city, and in both art and commerce his kingdom had great fame. Nor was his reputation less war- like than that of his predecessors. He advanced his arms to the Aegean, thus coming into conflict with the Greek colonists of Asia Minor, most of whom he subdued and made tributary to his kingdom. All the western coasts looking out towards the Mediterranean felt his power and acknowledged his greatness.
The kingdom of Lydia was not free from the common-calamity of the times. The trans- Caucasian barbarians were not likely to overlook a field so promising in plunder. From this direction came the fierce Cim-