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to be a sort of compensation in the state of human society at different periods ; and the polished kingdoms of Europe may be considered rather to have supplied the place of Egypt and Ionia, than to have been added to the permanent mass of civilized life.
The melancholy interest which the downfall of this portion of the globe has thrown over its history, is heightened by the difficulty with which that history is learned, and the mysteriousness which hangs over great part of it. It is lighted, indeed, in its earlier periods, with so faint and quivering a lamp of authentick testimony, that the acuteness and erudition of modern times has constantly been baffled in attempting to dispel the gloom. A stronger ray breaks upon us about the age of Cyrus, a period which, so far as that part of the world is concerned, forms a line of demarcation between known and unknown history. But, relatively to the state of society in those countries, a more important epoch is fixed by the subsequent conquests of Alexander. The Persian dynasty, like those still more ancient, was barbarian. It was under the dominion of Greece, and afterwards of Rome, that Asia became, for a period of 900 years, the seat of regular military discipline, of diffused opulence, of legal government, and of philosophy.
It is during the earlier and more splendid part of this term, the interval between Alexander and Augustus, that the present author has undertaken to relate the revolution of the Grecian world, enlarged as that was by the successes of the former conqueror. A more interesting or honourable labour could scarcely have been chosen by the historian; nor one which presents more frequent opportunities of beguiling his own task and that of his readers, by illustrations from various branches of ancient and modern literature. In a former history of Greece, which has long since been given to the world, and which still continues, as we are told by the author in his preface, to experience publick indulgence, Dr. Gillies deduced the narrative to the death of Alexander. The military exploits of that hero fell, therefore, within its compass ; but his political institutions, which were destined to become the ground work of the Macedonian dominion in the east, seemed more properly reserved for the commencement of the present undertaking. Accordingly Dr. Gillies, in five preliminary chapters, has entered, as well upon these arrangements of Alexander, and upon the plans which were interrupted by his death, as upon the political geography of his dominions, and the history, so far as it can be known, of those considerable nations which had previously been melted down into the mass of the Persian empire.
In eleven years of perpetual victory, Alexander had traversed Asia from the Hellespont to the Hyphasis, and become the undisputed possessor of territories, nearly commensurate in their limits with the present kingdoms of Turkey and Persia. This conquest is not more memorable for the great and permanent revolution which it effected, than for the apparent inadequacy of the means. The throne of the successours of Cyrus, incomparably the greatest potentates who had hitherto existed within the limits of the ancient world, though protected, not more by the countless multitude of their own subjects, than by the disciplined valour of Grecian mercenaries, was subverted within two years, by an army which fell considerably short of 40,000 men. After the battle of Arbela, in which the Greeks, with incredible exaggeration, report 300,000 barbarians to have fallen, no further resistance was opposed by Persia. The remaining part of Alexan. der's career was employed, and, some may think, wasted, in reducing the fierce and independent barbarians of the Oxus and the Indus, with so pro
digal a display of personal valour, upon occasions comparatively unimportant, that we may reasonably suspect the ruling passion of his mind to have been not so much ambition, as the love of that frivolous glory which the foolish Greeks lavished upon the fabulous heroes of their poetical romances. Yet the death of Darius may have been of considerable importance to his success. It led the Persians to look upon him as a legitimate sovereign, whose title was sanctioned by conquest, and secured by the absence of competitors. It seems, indeed, a singular coincidence between his history, and that of the Roman hero most frequently compared to him, that each was relieved of his opponent by an assassination, in which be had no concern and of which he reaped the full benefit, with the credit of punishing the traitor, and lamenting the treason.
Triumphs so easily achieved, may justly lead us as much to contempt of the vanquished, as to admiration of the conqueror. The unwieldy Colossus of the Persian empire tottered at the slightest blow; the vast living masses which barbarian despotism mistook for armies, were never led to battle without discomfiture ; and the experience of a century and a half, from the memorable engagements of Marathon and Salamis, had proved, that nothing but the disunion of the Greeks could have preserved the Persian ascendency upon the coasts of the Mediterranean. The weakness, indeed, of that monarchy seems greater than might have been expected, from the natural bravery of some of its constituent nations; and we are surprised to find, among those who so tamely submitted to the yoke of Alexander, the ancestors of those warlike and polite barbarians, who, under the Parthian kings, and the dynasty of the Sassanidæ, repelled the Roman eagles, and avenged the violation of their territory in the blood of Crassus and of Julian. But the Greeks overlooked this consideration in the splendour of their hero's exploits. He obtained the name of the greatest, as well as the most successful commander whom the world had seen ; and is said to have been placed in this rank by some who might seem well entitled to contest it with bim. Later writers, especially the Romans, who were jealous of his renown, came to dwell more upon the unfavourable parts of his character. His wild ambition; his disgraceful intemperance ; his love for adulation and servility; all the spots and blemishes of his fervid temperament, became the theme of satirists and philosophers ; and the conqueror of Asia has been held up in no other light than that of a madman, and a destroyer. The ingenious refinement of our own times has done justice, and perhaps more than justice, to his political institutions. He certainly appears to have conceived enlightened commercial projects; and the numerous cities, judiciously founded in different parts of his empire, are proofs of the precautions he took to secure its durability. Yet so much of rain ambition, and even mere geographical curiosity, seems to have actuated the mind of Alexander, that we may doubt whether the celebrated voyage of Nearchus, and the correspondent march of the army through Caramania, had any object more precise than that of discovering and subduing what had been unexplored before. It seems still more doubtful to us, whether his assumption of the Persian dress, and exchange of the liberal spirit of free Greeks, for the baseness of oriental homage, was rather founded in deep policy, than in the intoxication which prosperity Daturally produces, in a mind fond of power and of flattery. By this conduct, which is applauded by Dr. Gillies, as it was by Robertson, he lost the affections of his Macedonian soldiers, which his own experience might have taught him to be more important, than those of the cowardly multitudes whom they had helped him to overcome. However generous the
theory may appear, of regarding all denominations of subjects with equal favour, it should surely be effected rather by exalting the weak, than by degrading the strong. And, inconsistent with liberal government as we may think the vassallage of one nation to another, intermingled in the same territory, it has constantly recurred in the revolutions of the east, and is apparently inevitable, where great differences exist in the civil and military improvements of the two.
The predilection of Alexander for Persian customs will not appear the more judicious, if we consider his actual conquests as parts only of a scheme so extensive, that the countries east of the Euphrates would, had it been realized, have formed the least important portion of his empire. He bequeathed, as a legacy to his successours, the invasion of the Carthaginian dominions, and the task of bearing the Macedonian standard to the pillars of Hercules. Italy, it seems, would next have attracted him; and it has been matter of speculation, whether the power then rising in that country, and destined one time to plant its foot upon the neck of both his hereditary and acquired kingdoms, would have been found already ripe for the conflict. What Livy, like an indignant patriot asserts, Dr. Gillies, like a stanch admirer of Alexander, denies ; and upon the whole, we do not quarrel with his conclusions. But we think him deceived in supposing, that the resistance of Rome would have been less formidable than that of Carthage. It seems one of those modern refinements upon history, of which we spoke above, to overrate the merits of that republick. Rich, without politeness or letters ; active in commercial enterprise, without skill or courage in arms; she waged ignominious wars in Sicily with almost incessant defeat, and trembled for her own capital, on the incursion of a petty tyrant of Syracuse. But the strongest proof of her intrinsick cowardice and weakness is, that, in spite of her great maritime experience, she was unable to contend, during the punick war, with the first naval armaments that were fitted out from the mouth of the Tiber.
That part of Dr. Gillies's introductory chapters which relates to Alexander himself, is rather awkwardly interrupted with a description of the countries under his dominion, and long digressions upon their previous history. This is a fruitful and almost boundless field. Dark as the earlier ages of Asia appear, there are not wanting scattered notices and remnants of tradition, enough to establish a few truths, and to sweep away a pile of errours. They bear, however, in strictness, but a small relation to the main narrative ; yet we have ever regarded as pedantry, the cold criticism which would bind a historian to the mere letter of his undertaking, and condemn the delightful episodes of Gibbon, as idle and irrelevant. In that avriter, it is impossible to admire, sufficiently, either the prodigality with which he pours out his stores of knowledge, or the facility with which he preserves their disposition and arrangement. It is impossible to compliment Dr. Gillies with equal praise in either of these respects; but we can say, that we have read these preliminary chapters with pleasure, and that he appears to have collected, though we suspect by no means exhausted, the materials which are to be found in various branches of ancient and modern literature. It would have been well, perhaps, if he had dwelt more, and with clearer method, upon the civil condition of these countries, at the time of Alexander's conquests, and less upon ancient and uncertain events.
The history of Assyria occupies a considerable portion both of the second and third chapters; and with respect to this obscure and contested subject, Dr. Gillies conceives that he has discovered a satisfactory explica
Lion. Such of our readers as have attempted to pierce the darkness of antiquity, are well' aware that the received accounts of that country, including the exploits of those eminent personages, Ninus and Semiramis, rest principally upon the authority of Diodorus, who has expressly borrowed them from Ctesias, a writer notorious for want of veracity; and that the great extent assigned by them to the Assyrian empire, in times of high antiquity, is apparently irreconcilable with the account given in scripture of the progress of the Assyrian arms in the eighth century before the Christian era ; till which time, the cities of Mesopotamia, in the very vicinity of Ninevah, seem to have been governed by small, independent sovereigns. Dr. Gillies, to reconcile all difficulties, supposes two cities to have existed of that name; one at Mosul upon the Tigris, the commonly supposed site of Ninevah; the otlier at 400 miles distance, in the Babylonian plain; and in this latter, he places the seat of the empire of Ninus, and of the great works which are ascribed to his name. So far, however, as we have attended to the point, there seems only one reason which countenances the supposition of this double Ninevah, 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 Ninevah was a great and populous city, long before those conquests of the Assyrian kings, which established the first great monarchy in the east. 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 so great an extent, does not suggest to us the peaceful capital of a mighty empire. To the east, indeed, the Assyrians are said by Herodotus to have possessed 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 Assyrians, seems rather applicable to a people living in a rude and almost patriarchal state of society, than to one who had lately shaken off the yoke of a powerful nation ; an enterprise 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 antiquity, acquire some credit by their great resemblance to what we read in Herodotus, appear to be silent with respect to the occupation of Media by the Assyrians. We suspect, however, that many of our readers may find themselves exceedingly indifferent about this profound question ; and as they may be anxious to become better acquainted with Dr. Gillies, we shall 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, Pessimus appears to have early acquired in Lesser Asia. Pessinus stood in the finest plain of Phrygia, which was anciently the most important, as well as largest province in that peninsula. It was rashed by the river Sangarius, and in the near vicinity of the castle and palace of Gordium, revered for its mysterious knot involving the fate of Asia, and which fiad remained for upwards of a thousand years untied, when it was finally cut by the sword of Alexander. Pessinus was thrus situate in a district of high celebrity, and on the great caravan road which we formerly traced through the smooth and tentral division of the Asiatick peninsula. This road, in approaching the seacoast, split into three branches, leading into Mysia, Lydia, and Caria ; small but important
provinces, which shone in arts and industry many ages before their winding shores were occupied by Grecian colonies. From Lydia, then called Meonia, Pelops carried into Greece his golden treasures, the source of power to his family in the peninsula, to which he communicated the name of Peloponnesus. To the Lydians and Carians, many inventions are ascribed, bespeaking much ingenuity and early civilisation. The coast of Mysia was embraced by the venerable kingdom of Priam, the Hellespontian Phrygia; and the more inland Phrygians, who were said to have colonized that ma. ritime district, pretended, on growds, some of them solid, 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 cominunity of religious rites, as well as by the ties of blood and language. They accordingly exhibited a striking uniformity in manners and pursuits, which, to a reader conversant with Roman history, may be described most briefly, by observing, that the principal features of their character are faithfully delineated in the effeminacy, in. genuity, and pompous vanity of the Tuscans, a kindred people, and their reputed descendants.
These industrious and polished, but unwarlike inhabitants on the coast of the Egern, were connected by many links with Upper Asia, but particularly by Pessinus, the ancient capital of the Phrygian kings, and at the same time the first and princi. pal sanctuary, in those parts, of the mother of the gods, thence called the Pessinuntian Goddess, and more frequently the Idean Mother, Cybele, Berecynthia, Dindy. mené, names all of them derived from her long established worship on neighbouring mountains. The festivals of Cybele are selected, in poctical description, as among the most showy and magnificent in paganism ; and both the commerce and the su. perstition of Pessimus continued to fourish in vigour even down to the reign of Augustus. But in his age the ministers of the divinity, though they still continued magistrates of the city, bad exceedingly declined in opulence and power; and instead of being independent sovereigns with considerable revenues, might be described in modern language, in a 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 Comana, 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 Augustan age, all those cities still continued to be governed by sacerdotal families, to which they had been subject from immemorial antiquity. They all stood on the great caravan road through Lesser Asia ; and in all of them the terms marked by festivals and processions, were also distinguished by great fairs, not only frequented by neighbouring nations, but also numerously attended by traders from Upper Asia, and even by distant Nomades. Conformably with these circumstances in their favour, the routes of commerce traced a clear and distinct line of civilisation and wealth, thus visibly contrasted with the rudeness and poverty of many remote parts of the peninsula ; with the savageness of the Isaurians and Pisidians; with the half barbarous Bithynians and Paphlagonians ; in a word, with all those divisions of the country which lay beyond the genial influence of commerce introduced and upheld by superstition, and superstition en. riched, embellished, and confirmed by the traffick which 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 Perdiccas, 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 energetick ambition, we scarcely heed the scepe tre 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 republicks of Greece, this seems to have been the first instance of a coalition to restore the balance of power by distant and powerful so