Sardanapalus and the siege of Nineveh



So complete was the destruction of Nineveh that later ages forgot even where it had stood. The true history of its monarchs disappeared; and legend preserved only their names, in connection with distorted and confused tales of their exploits. Most celebrated of these tales was that of Sardanapalus, the name representing the form adopted by later Greek historians for spelling that of either the last great sovereign, Assurbanipal, or perhaps an earlier king, Assurdainpal. The legend is that Sardanapalus was the last king of Nineveh, and that he wasted his life in pleasure and effeminate pursuits within his palace walls. When his kingdom was attacked by the barbarians, he roused himself suddenly to an able and vigorous resistance. And when at last his city was stormed, he built a vast funeral pile of all his treasures, his servants, and his wives, seated himself upon the summit, had the whole mass set on fire, and so perished.

The only true connection this tale has with the great Assurbanipal is his interest in the arts of peace rather than of war. The earlier Assurdainpal was a rebel sovereign, who was besieged in one of the Assyrian cities by an elder brother, and the city was stormed and Assurdainpal perished Possibly he killed himself in the fashion described; for that was not an uncommon ending, by which Asiatic chieftains sought to foil the rapacity of the conqueror and escape the hideous vengeance which awaited them upon capture.






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Read about Sardanapalus and the siege of Nineveh in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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