299 BABYLONIA- CIVIL AND MILITARY ANNALS.
marriage no trouble occurred relative to the right of the usurper to be king.
Babylonia was now on the eve of great events. Scarcely was Nabonadius securely seated on
the throne when an embassy came to Babylon from Sardis, the capital of Lydia. The business
was of the utmost moment. The circumstances of the overthrow of the kingdom, of the Medes
by Cyrus will be readily recalled. The ambitious young prince of Persia very little
resembled either in: character or policy the unaspiring Astyages, whom he had beaten out
of an empire. The Persian at once entered on a career of conquest. Dissatisfied with a
dominion embracing not only his paternal kingdom, but also that of Media, inclusive of all
Cyaxares had retained of the Assyrian Empire, Cyrus looked boldly to the West, and
discovered on the horizon the rich domains of Lydia. That realm discerned the approaching
danger, and doubting of its own ability to cope single-handed with so powerful an enemy at
once sought to contract alliances with the neighboring powers. To this end, in the year B.
C. 555, legates were sent to Nabonadius, who had thus to decide between the risk which he
himself might soon have to take from the overgrown ambition of Persia, and the certainty
of exciting the hostility of Cyrus by accepting the Overtures of the Lydians. The latter
alternative was chosen. The proposed alliance between Lydia and Babylonia was consummated.
The two kingdoms agreed to cooperate in the maintenance of mutual independence against
the threatened encroachments of the Persians.
Nabonadius had the wisdom to see that his course would in the near future bring on a trial
of arms between himself and Cyrus. To prepare for this emergency was, therefore, the first
and great care of the Babylonian. He accordingly began a I See Book VI., p. 344.
series of works in and about Babylon, the object of which was to secure the capital and
government against the coming storm. In the first place the Euphrates was confined within
walls, which were closed at the street crossings with ponderous gates of bronze. Thus,
though an enemy might enter by the river, he would find himself between huge battlements,
and would be no more in the city than he was outside the ramparts.
In addition to this, a great wall-described by Xenophon-a hundred feet high and twenty
feet in thickness, extending across the Mesopotamian plain from the Euphrates to the
Tigris, was interposed
RUINS OF SARDIS
against the approach of an army from that direction. The surface of the country towards
the north was likewise cut transversely with canals and sluices to impede the progress of
invasion from the side of Assyria. Ample time was given to complete these great works; for
the Persians and the Lydians were already engaged in war.
CRCESUS, king of Lydia, had acted with too great haste. Without awaiting the movements of
the Babylonians he plunged into the fight with Cyrus. The latter pressed forward into the
country of his antagonist, whom he overthrew in the battle of PTERIA, and then besieged
the capital. After an investment Sardis fell; Croesus was taken prisoner, and his kingdom,
reduced to submission, was annexed