274 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
served and figured by the sages of Babylon.
If we look at the uses to which the scholars of the Empire put their astronomical
knowledge, there is less to admire. The astrological purpose was dominant. The astronomer
was expected to inquire under what stars a person was born, and to determine there from
his destiny. Sometimes the celestial influence, which began with birth and ended only with
death, was benign, and sometimes malignant. A particular star presided at the entrance of
each man into the world, but to determine the entire destiny of his life the astrologer
must know the aspect of the whole heavens at the moment of his entrance upon life. From
these higher offices, relating to the
weal or woe of human beings, the Babylonian sages descended td such topics as meteorology.
They predicted the weather, the apparition of comets, the coming of the earthquake. They
kept lists of lucky and unlucky days, and pointed out in a semi-prophetical way the
portents of doom to particular countries and peoples. Peace, prosperity, and plenty;
famine, pestilence, and war, were all determined from the overruling influence of the
Such was the mixture of scientific truth and vague superstition in the beliefs and
scholasticism of the Babylonians, who from the great city of the Euphrates stretched out
so proudly the imperial rod over the nations of Western Asia.
CHAPTER XXIII-MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
CONCERNING the manners and customs of the Babylonians, much may be inferred from what has
already been said respecting the other aspects of their civilization. The monuments of the
country being so meager as compared with the imperishable records left us by the primitive
Egyptians and the Assyrians, we are more at a loss to deduce what may be called the
personal life of the people of Babylonia than in the case of the ancient inhabitants of
the valleys of the Nile and the Tigris. We are left, therefore, rather to the old
historians than to contemporaneous, inscriptions, in determining the personal habits and
individuality of the subjects of Nebuchadnezzar. To Herodotus are we indebted for copious
descriptions of what he saw and heard in Babylon.
Beginning with the subject of dress: the people of the lower classes generally clad
themselves in a linen garment reaching to the feet. Over this a woolen tunic was worn, and
this was surmounted with a white cape. The feet were sometimes
incased in checkered shoes with wooden bottoms. The hair was usually worn long, and was
gathered close to the head under a sort of miter or turban. A cane or walking-stick, with
a carved handle, was a universal accompaniment, especially in the hands of gentlemen of
leisure. The miter and cape and woolen tunic of the Babylonian attire were thrown off as
convenience suggested, and the figures frequently appear merely with the long linen robe.
The worshipers in the temples are generally bare-headed, and wear to their devotions a
peculiar embroidered tunic, different from that worn at labor. The rich man at the altars
of the gods is arrayed in more costly style. He wears a miter, and his garments are longer
and more elaborate than are those worn by the peasantry. He is pictured with a goat in his
arms, or some other sacrifice ready to be offered. In adjusting the long or principal
garment, the Babylonians left the right arm and shoulder bare, somewhat after the manner
of the Romans. Around the waist the clothing was held securely with a belt.
A different style of dress was that of a short coat with sleeves, fringed on the sides,