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296 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

the imperial spouse, capricious as Pompadour. Now it was that the great temple of Nebo at

Borsippa, hidden at present under the mountainous Birs-Nimrud, was reared as if to the

skies. Now it was that the almost equally grand temple of Belus at Babylon was extended

and adorned. Now it was that the vast reservoir of Sippara, one hundred and forty miles in

circumference and one hundred and eighty feet in depth, was dug and furnished with its

flood-gates and sluices. Now it was that not only the banks of the Euphrates, but also the

shores of the Persian Gulf, were lined with quays and warehouses for the safety and

convenience of them that go down to the sea in ships. Now it was that on more than a

hundred sites in Babylonia cities were built, any of which, but for the superior splendor

of Babylon, would have been worthy to perpetuate the fame of the king. Now it was that the

grand canal from the city of Hit, on the Euphrates to the sea, a distance of four hundred

miles, carrying through the alluvial plain abroad stream of water that gave life and kept

the desert at bay, was excavated by the servile armies that Nebuchadnezzar had brought

home in the wake of conquest. No wonder that the captive Hebrew cried out, "By the rivers

of Babylon, there we sat down and wept."

The old writers have left not a few traces of the personal character of this great king.

By the Jewish historians he is generally depicted as a sanguinary and cruel monarch. If

his conduct with respect to the Jews be viewed apart from the provocations which led to

the same, there is good ground for the antipathy manifested by Israelitish authors. But it

must be remembered that the kings of Israel were guilty of constant duplicity, and that

the severe punishments which followed came as a necessary consequence under the military

practices of the times. In the case of the slaughter of Zedekiah's sons before the face of

their father and the putting out of his own eyes, there could be found little palliation

for the atrocity.

Of the splendor and magnificence of Nebuchadnezzar, as displayed in his court and

government, there can be no doubt. His audiences before his courtiers and foreign

ambassadors were a pageant perhaps unequaled in the ancient world. He was surrounded by a

retinue of princes, governors, and captains, whose gorgeous apparel and courtly manners

made the throne a cynosure. His coffers were filled with untold treasures, gathered by

taxation and tribute and war from nearly all the nations of Western Asia. To have

withstood the volume of adulation which rose in clouds around his throne would have

implied a type of character unknown in his age and country. The great king was proud and

haughty. He ordered to be made of himself a golden image ninety feet in height and nine

feet in breadth! And he was not free from the Egyptian folly of claiming a measure of

divine honors.

To the credit of the king may be mentioned his loyalty to his queen. It was hardly to be

expected that a princess of a foreign nation, given to him without his choosing and for

reasons purely political, would have gained, much less retained, an ascendancy over his

mind and affections. But Amyitis charmed her royal spouse, and maintained such an

influence over him as to become a powerful factor in the government. Besides the Hanging

Gardens erected for her delight, many other works, public and private, gave proof of the

esteem in which she was held by the king.

The old age of Nebuchadnezzar was not unlike that of Louis XIV. In the midday of their

power each might well be called the Grand Monarch. In the hour of the setting sun each

might well be commiserated for the woes 'that befell him. When well advanced in years, the

king of Babylon dreamed a dream. It was the vision of a tree reaching unto heaven, and

bearing leaves and fruit for the blessing of the nations. Suddenly 'a watcher appeared,

and said, "Hew it down, and cut off his branches. Nevertheless, leave the stump of his

roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field;

and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts." All of

the soothsayers and as-