317 PERSIA-PEOPLE AND CITIES.
father of Memnon, and became noted at an early day for its splendor and wealth. Here it
was, in B. C. 325, that Alexander the Great celebrated his marriage with Parysatis, using
the treasures of the city with a liberal hand in honor of his nuptials. It is only in
recent times that antiquaries have succeeded in establishing beyond question the site of
the ancient capital.
The most important cities of Asia Minor were EPHESUS, SARDIS, and MILETUS. The last named
was the capital of the province of Caria, and was, in the times of the Hellenic
ascendancy, a member of the Ionian confederacy. The town was situated on a headland or
promontory opposite Mycale, and commanded the bay, into which flowed the river Meander.
The builders of the city were Carians and Cretans. The leader of the latter was named
Miletus, and from him the town took its appellation. At a later date numbers of Greek
traders and colonists settled in the place and gave it its commercial importance. Perhaps
other city on the shores of the Aegean carried its trade and settlements so far or
prospered so greatly as did Miletus. It became the envy of surrounding nations. The
Lydians twice made unsuccessful war upon this maritime metropolis, and not until Croesus
led his army against it did the stronghold succumb. Then for a brief space the city was a
Lydian trophy, until Cyrus came into the West and swept all within his grasp.
The city of SARDIS, capital of Lydia, was situated on the river Pactolus, near the
confluence of that stream and the Hermus, about forty-five miles east from Smyrna. It was
one of the most ancient cities of Western Asia. The name is mythological and is thought to
have been given in honor of the Syrian Sun-god. The city was already famous at the time of
the composition of the Homeric poems, in which there are many references to the Lydians
their capital. The site was specially favorable to the foundation of a city. Here, from
the hills of Mount Tmolus and Mount Sipylus, the river brings down its sands of gold. From
no other place in all Asia could the precious dust be Tso easily and plentifully gathered.
In the time of Croesus, Sardis was regarded as one of the richest cities in the world, and
her fame has been coextensive with history. The site is marked at the present day only by
a few ruins, of which the most important are the still-standing walls of the ancient
acropolis and the remains of a great amphitheater, cut partly in the side of a hill.
EPHESUS, like Miletus, was a member of the Ionian confederacy. It was situated
near the mouth of the river Cayster, and was said to have been founded by the Amazons.
From a very early date it was a place of great prosperity. In the way of fame it claimed
to be the birthplace of Homer. More substantial was the distinction of the Ephesians' in
claiming Heraclitus, Hermodorus, and Parrhasius, all of whom were born in this city. The
tutelary divinity of the place was Diana, whose great temple was one of the Seven Wonders
of the World. It was enlarged and restored on seven different occasions, the expense being
met by contributions from all Asia. On the night of the birth of Alexander the Great a
certain slave, named Erostratus, in order to immortalize himself by perpetrating a
capricious Crime, set fire to the magnificent structure, and it was burned to the ground.
When Alexander was grown to years he offered to rebuild the temple on