259 BABYLONIA- PEOPLE AND CITIES.
purposes which so much abounded in their characters arid lives.
The Babylonians were a people dwelling mostly in cities. The rural population was
relatively unimportant. It was in the crowded thoroughfares of the noisy metropolis that
the national qualities were fully developed. The character of great Babylon, who said in
her heart, "I sit a queen," may, therefore, be properly considered in this part of the
history of the Empire. Perhaps no other city of the ancient world, with the single
exception of Rome, has occupied so large a share of the attention of the antiquary, the
historian, and the philosopher.
BABYLON, the chief city and great capital of the Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, was situated on
both sides of the river Euphrates in latitude 32 39' N. The name "Babili" signifies the
gate of God. The ^modern town of Hillah occupies the ancient site. It was the largest and
opulent metropolis of the ancient world. In. modern times the whole space once occupied by
the city is dotted here and there with ruins, indicating in shadowy outline the site of
palace and temple, of wall and battlement. Huge mounds of incredible extent and number
show the traveler and the antiquary the tomb of one of the wonders of the world.
The exact size of ancient Babylon is not known. Modern explorers have been unable to trace
the course and extent of the walls. All authorities, both of ancient and recent times,
agree that the city lay four-square, with the river running diagonally through the midst.
But the re-
mains of the ancient ramparts do not sufficiently indicate the lines of circumvallation.
The old historians, therefore, several of whom visited the city and were eye-witnesses of
her greatness, are the best, and, indeed, the only, sources of information. Herodotus
declares the walls to have been fourteen miles in length on each side, or fifty-six miles'
in circumference. This would give an area of one hundred and ninety-six square miles.
Ctesias, who also wrote from personal observation, fixes the length of the walls at ten
and a half miles on each side, or forty miles in entire
compass, giving an area of one hundred and ten square miles. These are respectively the
largest and the smallest estimates of the size of the city which have reached us from
antiquity. The writers and travelers who followed Alexander in his victorious career
report the dimensions of Babylon as intermediate between the figures given by Herodotus
and those of Ctesias. The historian Rawlinson, after a careful review of all the facts,
fixes the size of the city or inclosure within the walls at about one hundred square
miles. This, though much less area than is included in the modern cities of Paris or
London, is far greater than the space covered by any