Page images

That part of Dr Gillies’s introductory chapters whic to Alexander himself, is rather awkwardly interrupted w fcription of the countries under his dominion, and lon fions upon their previous history. This is a fruitful an boundless field. "Dark as the earlier ages of Abia appe: are not wanting scattered notices and remnants of tra nough to establish a few truths, and to sweep away a pi tors. They bear, however, in strictness, but a small re the main narrative : yet we have ever regarded as pedar cold criticism which would bind an historian to the mere his undertaking, and condemn the delightful episodes of as idle and irrelevant. In that writer, it is impossible t fufficiently either the prodigality with which he pours stores of knowledge, or the facility with which he prefer disposition and arrangement. It is impossible to compli Gillies with equal praise in either of these respects; bu fay, that we have read these preliminary chapters with and that he appears to have collected, though we suspe means exhausted, the materials which are to be found in branches of ancient and modern literature. It would h well, perhaps, if he had dwelt more, and with clearer upon the civil condition of these countries, at the time ander's conquests, and less upon ancient and uncertain eve

The history of Assyria occupies a considerable portion bo fecond and third chapters; and with respect to this obf contested subject, Dr Gillies conceives that he has disc satisfactory explication. Such of our readers as have a to pierce the darkness of antiquity, are well aware that th ed accounts of that country, including the exploits of th nent personages Ninus and Semiramis, reft principally authority of Diodorus, who has expressly borrowed the Ctesias, a writer notorious for want of veracity; and great extent assigned by them to the Assyrian empire, in high antiquity, is apparently irreconcileable with the accou in scripture of the progress of the Aflyrian arms in th century before the Christian era ; till which time, the Mesopotamia, in the very vicinity of Nineveh, seein to h governed by small independent sovereigns. Dr Gillies, t cile all difficulties, supposes two citics to have existed name ; one at Mosul upon the Tigris, the commonly fite of Nineveh ; the other at 400 miles distance, in th lonian plain ; and in this latter, he places the leat of the of Ninus, and of the great works which are ascribed to h So far, however, as we have attended to the point, the only one reason which countenances the supposition of

ble Nineveh, and that reason is not distinctly stated by Dr Gillies. It is, that Diodorus, differing herein we believe from every other writer, places the city built by Ninus, upon the Euphrates, instead of the Tigris. If this can be got over, there appears to us no great weight in Dr Gillies's arguments. There is no doubt that Nineveh was a great and populous city, long before those conquests of the Adlyrian kings, which established the first great monarchy in the eaft. It appears to have been properly what Mr Bryant calls it, ' a walled province,' comprising a circumference of fifty-one miles, within which were large pastures, and probably land in tillage. And this policy, we may remark, of walling in fo great an extent, does not suggest to us the peaceful capital of a mighty empire. To the east, indeed, the AfTyrians are said by Herodotus to have possefled dominion for several centuries, and especially over Media. The authority of that historian is deservedly great, and the fact, perhaps, contains no improbability. At the same time, the account given by Herodotus of the election of Dejoces, first king of the Medes, after their revolt from the Affyrians, seems rather applicable to a people living in a rude and almost patriarchal state of fociety, than to one who had lately shaken off the yoke of a powerful nation; an enterprize which could hardly have been carried on, without some degree of confederacy and military government. It may be added, that the oriental histories of Persia, which, though not of much antiqui:y, acquire fome credit by their great refemblance to what we read in Herodotus, appear to be filent with respect to the occupation of Media by the Allyrians. We suspect, however, that many of our readers may find themselves exceedingly indifferent about this profound queltion; and as they may be anxious to become better acquainted with Dr Gillies, we thall present them with the following extract, taken with no particular preference from the second section of his introduction.

The same rank which Bactra held in Ariaria, Pellinus appears to have early acquired in Lesser Alja. Peflinus food in the finest plain of Phrygia, which was anciently the most important, as well as largest province in that peninsula. It was washed by the river Sangarius, and in the near vicinity of the castle and palace of Gordium, revered for its myfterious kiot involving the fate of Asia, and which had remained for upwards of a thousand years united, when it was finally cut by the sword of Alexander. Pelinus was thus ftuate in a dittrict of high celebrity, and on the great caravan road which we formerly traced through the smooth and central division of the Aliatic peninsula. This road, in approaching the fea-coaft, split into three branches, leading into Mysia, Lydia, and Caria ; small but important provinces, which Mone in arts and ioduftry many ages before their winding shores were occupied by Grecian colonies. From Lydia, then called Mæonia, Pelops carried into Greece his golden treasures, the fource of power to his family in


the perinsula, to which he communicated the name of Peloponnesus. To the Lydians and Carians, many inventions are ascribed, bespeaking much ingenuity and early civilization. The coast of Mysia was embraced by the venerable kingdom of Priain, the Hellespontian Phrygia; and the more inland Phrygians, who were said to have colonized ibat maritime district, pretended, on grounds, some of them folid, and others extremely frivolous, to vie in antiquity with the Egyptians themselves. The three nations of Phrygians, Lydians, and Carians, were intimately connected with each other by the community of religious rites, as well as by the tics of blood and language. They accordingly exhibited a itriking uniformity in manners and pursuits, which, to a reader con. versant with Roman history, may be described most briefly, by observ. ing, that the principal features of their character are faithfully delineated in the effeminacy, ingenuity, and pompous vanity of the Toscans, a kindred people, and their reputed descendants.

· These industrious and polished, but unwarlike inhabitants on the coast of the Ægean, were connected by many links with Upper Asia, but particularly by Peflinus, the ancient capital of the Phrygian kings, and at the same time the first and principal fanctuary, in those parts, of the mother of the gods, thence called the Pellinuntian Goddess, and more frequently the Idean Mother, Cybele, Berecynthia, Dindymené, names all of them derived from her long-established worship on neighbouring mountains. The festivals of Cybele are selected, in poetical defcription, as among the most showy and magnificent in paganism ; and both the commerce and the superstition of Peflinus continued to flourish in vigour even down to the reign of Augustus. But in his age the minifters of the divinity, though they ftill continued magiftrates of the city, had exceedingly declined in opulence and power; and, instead of bemg independent sovereigns with confiderable revenues, might be deferibed in modern language, ma work less grave than history, as a sort of prince bishops, vassals and mere creatures of Rome. To the west of Pessinus, the city Morena in Mysia, and, to the east of it, Morimena, Zela, and Compana, in the great central province of Cappadocia, exhibited institutions exactly similar to each other, and all nearly resembling those of the Phrygian capital. In the Auguftan age, all those cities still continued to be governed by facerdotal families, to which they had been subject from immemorial antiquity : they all food on the great caravan road through Lesser Afia; and in all of them the terms markedby feitivals and proceffions, were also diftinguished by great fairs, not only frequented by neighbouring nations, but also numerously attended by traders from Upper Asia, and even by distant Nomades. Confornably with these circumitances in their favour, the routes of commerce traced a clear and distinct line of civilization and wealth, thus visibly contra!led with the rudeness and poverty of many remote parts of the peninsula ; with the savageness of the Ifaurians and Pisidianis ; with the hur-bocbirous Bitnynians and Paphlagonians ; in a word, with all those divisions of the country which lay beyond the genial influence of com.


merce introduced and upheld by superstition, and superstition enrichied, embellished, and confirmed by the traffic, wbich it protected and extended.' p. 86.

The struggle for power among the generals of Alexander, which lasted from his death to the battle of Ipsus, 22 years afterwards, occupies the seven next chapters. During this period, events crowd upon the mind in the most rapid succession ; interesting alike from the talents of the ambitious chiefs concerned in them, and from the novel combinations of political affairs which were perpetually taking place. The cruel Pereliccas, the selfish Ptolemy, the brave and generous Eumenes, the rapacious and unprincipled Antigonus, pass in review like phantoms over the stage ; and, in the conflict of their energetic ambition, we scarcely heed the sceptre of Alexander sliding from the feeble hands of his son and brother, and the sanguinary extinction of his family. The confederacy of four princes against the overgrown power of Antigonus, produced a more permanent settlement of the empire ; and whatever may have been the case among the petty republics of Greece, this scems to have been the first instance of a coalition to restore the balance of power by distant and powerful sovereigns. The scheme of confederacy was planned with peculiar secrecy, and conducted with steadiness. Syria and the Lesser Asia at that time were governed by Antigonus; and his son Demetrius occupied most of the cities of Greece. The four confederates hung upon the frontiers of his monarchy. Elated with prosperity, the wily old man was for once taken by surprise. Lysimachus from Thrace, with the Macedonian auxiliaries of Cassander, burst into Phrygia ; while Seleucus hastened to join him from beyond the Euphrates; and P'tolemy, though with more cautious marches, advanced from Egypt into Palestine. By the united armies of the two former, lie was defeated and slain at Ipsus. in Phrygia ; and from the partition of his dominions were formed four kingdoms, which shortly were reduced to the three celebrated ones of Macedon, Syria, and Egypt. We give Dr Gillies credit, upon examination, for sufficient fidelity to the materials from whence he has extracted his narrative; a notice which may seem the more necessary, as, in his translation of Aristotle's Ethics and Politics, he had indulged a most reprehensible license of loose paraphrase, or rather of interpolation.

Coincident with these events in point of time, though bearing no manner of relation to them, are the wars of Agathocles, tyrant of Syracuse, with the Carthaginians in Sicily: a country which, though at that time in its decline, possesses so many claims to our curiosity, that it might fiave been worth. while for Dr Gillies to have collected more of the scattered mi


terials which remain, with respect to the splendour of its better days. From Sicily he speedily returns to Asia, and brings before our eyes the partial dismemberment of the great empire of Seleucus, by the rise of independent sovereignties in Bactria, Parthia, and Asia Minor ; the desolating irruption of the Gauls into the fairest provinces of Greece and Asia, and the security, renowil, and lettered opulence of Egypt under the reign of PtoJemy Philadelphus. But we enter our protest against the concluding chapter of the first volume, in which the author descants upon the early history of Rome; a subject, especially in his matter-of-fact niode of treating it, too trite to justify so superfluous an episode. As we come lower down in the history, Rome begins more to appear upon the stage ; and the greater part of the second volume is einployed upon transactions, which are familiar to those conversant in the history of that republic. It is painful to follow the uninterrupted successes of unjust aggression; and these are not the times, in which the history of the steps by which the world was forinerly absorbed into one empire, can be read either with less interest or greater satisfaction than heretofore. In some instances, traces of resemblance between ancient and modern times, force themselves upon our attention. Who, indeed, that remembers the proclamations and conduct of the French in Italy about the year 1797, but must be struck with the resemblance they bear to the declarations of the liberty of Greece issued by Flamininus after the battle of Cynocephale. The same insincere professions of regard to their national freedom, were met with the same exultation at their release from a former yoke, and the same enthusiastic confidence in the delusive image of permanent independence. The parallel may seem more perfect, if we add to it their speedy spoliation by the hands of their generous benefactors of those works of art, which were not only the public pride, but, in many of the smaller cities, the chief means of enriching the community.

A more pleasing scene is displayed in the rise of the Achæan league, the second, but very inferior spring, of republican freedom in Greece. It was most wisely planned for a country much decayed in power, and unable to assume that haughty tone of independence, which Pericles or Agesilaus would rather have perished than have relaxed. It was the humbler object of Aratus to render the kings of Macedon allies and protectors, though not masters of Greece; and, by deferring much to their influence, to preserve what was most essential, the free regulation of their internal concerns, and a security from foreign garrisons in their cities. This object would have been more completely attained, if the other cities of Greece had been less jealous of the league :


« PreviousContinue »