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“ the great diversion and pleasure of the beholders. In the middle of “ the city The built a temple to Jupiter, whom the Babylonians call “ Belys. Upon the top she placed three statues, of beaten gold, of “ Jupiter, Juno, and Rhea. That of Jupiter stood upright, in the “ posture as if he were walking. He was forty feet in height, and
weighed a thousand Babylonish talents. The statue of Rhea “ was of the same weight, fitting on a golden throne, having two “ lions standing on either side, one at her knees, and near to them “ two exceeding great serpents of silver, weighing thirty talents apiece. “ Here likewise the image of Juno stood upright, and weighed eight “ hundred talents, grasping a serpent by the head in her right hand, « and holding a sceptre, adorned with precious stones, in her left.”
DIODORUS Siculus, translated by Booth, b. ii. ch. 1. Such are the wonders of early art which Diodorus has recorded as the works of Semiramis, on the authority of Ctesias, a native of Cnidos, who became the favourite physician of a Persian monarch, Artaxerxes Mnemon, and in that situation had better opportunities of acquiring historical information concerning the antiquities of Asia, than his countrymen in general possessed. Of Ctesias's extensive writings only a few fragments remain, which are printed as a supplement to Herodotus, in the best editions of that historian. The credit of Ctesias has been severely attacked, both by ancient and modern writers; but M. Freret vindicates his veracity in several particulars, like a very able advocate, in more than one of his elaborate dissertations on points of ancient history, inserted in the Memoirs of the French Academy. The kind of credit that we may rationally give to the curious description that I have cited, feems to be very candidly ascertained by the Abbé Guasco, who thinks that although works of such magnificence were hardly executed at a period so early as that assigned to Semiramis, yet it is probable that such actually appeared in Babylon in later ages, but before art had made
any considerable progress in Greece or in Ægypt. “ Quelque exagerée “ qu'on a raison de croire la description que fait Ctesias des monumens " de l'art statuaire qui ornoient les palais et le temple, pretendus bâtis “ par lancienne Semiramis, quelqu' anachronisme que l'on suppose à “ juste titre, dans les époques données par cet auteur fabuleux à ces “ monumens : il n'en resulte pas moins que cet art avoit déjà fait de “ grands progrès en Asie durant les anciennes monarchies de Ninive, et “ de Babylone ; car aucun art ne produit de grands monumens tout“ à-coup, et ce n'est que successivement qu'il atteint certains degrès de “ perfection. Donc quoique les statues de Belus, de Semiramis, de “ Ninus, avec tout le brillant cortege et appareil, qui les accompa“ gnoient, ne fussent pas des productions d'une époque si reculée, mais “ des monumens posterieurs,' executés sous quelqu'un de leurs suc“ cesseurs du même nom, qui voulut immortaliser par là les fondateurs " de leurs monarchies, il n'est pas moins constant, que ces monumens “ surpassoient en elegance et peut-être en antiquité, les premiers que “ l'on connoisse dans la Grece, et peut-être même ceux d'Ægypte : ils “ sont tout au moins des indicés que l'on s'étoit déjà exercé depuis long“ tems dans ces sortes d'ouvrages.”
The same respectable author observes that Josephus and Herodotus attribute, with more reason, these embellishments of Babylon to Nebuchodonosor, and Nitocris his wife ; and that their account is confirmed by what the prophet Daniel has said concerning the statues of gold and filver which adorned the temples of that city. He adds, that Assyria had more than one Semiramis : “ Parceque ce nom n'étant qu'une ex“ pression generique composée de plusieurs titres de dignité selon le “ genre et la tournure ordinaire de la langue orientale, il fût commun " à plusieurs reines d'Affyrie.”—De l'Usage des Statues, p. 87.
Several statues of Semiramis are commemorated by antient authors, Lucian speaks of one standing by the temple of the Syrian goddess, and
pointing to the mansion of the divinity, as if to acknowledge her own paft offence in having arrogated to herself the honours due only to Juno. Valerius Maximus has described another, not less remarkable, in which the Assyrian queen was represented with her treffes in a state of disorder, and thus signifying the rapidity with which she is said to have hurried from her toilet to suppress a revolt in Babylon *. Let me add, on the authority of Ælian, that Semiramis was as much celebrated for her beauty, as for her talents and power f.
NOTE VI. Ver. 94. And hold Semiramis herself a dream. The boldest enemy to the mortal existence of this celebrated queen is the illustrious mythologist Mr. Bryant, who confidently says, in the second volume of his great work, “ I have shewn that there was no “ such person as Semiramis :" and again, “I think it is plain that Se“ miramis was an emblem, and that the name was a compound of “ Sama Ramas, or Ramis, and it fignified the Divine Token, the “ Type of Providence; and as a military ensign (for as such it was “ used) it may with some latitude be interpreted the Standard of the “ Most High. It consisted of the figure of a dove, which was pro“ bably circled with the iris, as those two emblems were often repre“ sented together. All who went under that standard, or who paid « any deference to that emblem, were stiled Semarim or Samorim.”
* “ Semiramis Assyriorum regina, cum ei circa cultum capitis sui occupatæ nuntiatum esset “ Babylonem defecisse, altera parte crinium adhuc soluta, protinus ad eam expugnandam cu“ currit; nec prius decorem capillorum in ordinem, quam tantam urbem in potestatem “ suam redegit. Quocirca statua ejus Babylone pofita eft illo habitu, quo ad ultionem exi“ gendam celeritate præcipiti tetendit.” VALERIUS MAXIMUS, lib.9.c.3.
+ Σεμιραμιν την Ασσυριαν αλλοι μεν αλλως αδεσιν, ωραιοτατη δε εγενετο γυναικων, ει και αφελεςερον έχρητο το xandet. Ælian, Var. Hilt. lib. 7. c. 1.
Without robbing this highly respectable writer of the credit he justly derives from having thrown many satisfactory rays of light on the dove of the ark, it might still perhaps be no very difficult task to establish the existence of one, or of more than one Semiramis, against the supposition of his annihilating fancy; and should the animated Mr. Morrit amuse hiinself and his readers in vindicating the life and beauty of Semiramis with the same spirit that he defended the palace of old Priam, against the destroying whirlwind of Mr. Bryant's imagination, I hope the venerable Coryphæus of classical erudition, who has himself made so free with the arguments and conjectures of the highest literary names, will not feel angrily unwilling to indulge in a fimilar freedom a spirited and graceful scholar, of whom we may fay, in the words of Homer, (allowing to his aged antagonist the dignity of a sovereign in Grecian literature,
Of all the modern writers on early sculpture, M. de Caylus seems to have rendered the most liberal justice to the merit of the Ægyptians, in the following remark :
os Le gout pour la solidité les a empêchés de faire faillir aucune partie, “ et les a bornés à des attitudes simples, qui font devenues monotones; " et cette monotonie, qui n'étoit peut-être pas un défaut à leurs yeux, “ devoit être inévitable, les combinaisons des attitudes étant fort resser“ rées, et l'action étant absolument retranchée. Cependant il ne faut
“ pas croire pour cela que leurs artistes aient toujours été depourvûs “ d'une forte de finesse dans les détails. Il est inutile de pousser plus « loin cet examen : on conviendra que leurs sculpteurs ont senti " et exprimé le grand, et c'est en céci que consiste la premiere et la plus “ essentielle partie de l'art, puisqu'elle seule éléve l'esprit du specta“ teur. C'est encore le même desire de faire passer leurs ouvrages à la “ posterité, qui leur a fait préférer les bas-reliefs en creux, à ceux qui “ font de demi-boffe ; ces derniers étant exposés à un plus grand “ nombre d'accidens. Enfin, ils ont connu toutes les parties de la “ sculpture, jusqu'à la gravure des pierres.”—Antiquités, tom.i. p. 6.
That the Ægyptians delighted in the sculpture of gems we have a pleasing proof in the circumstance recorded by Ælian, that the chief of their judges wore round his neck an image of Truth, engraven on a sapphire *.
It is remarkable that Lucian, by birth an Affyrian, and in his youth a sculptor by profession, speaks with serious esteem of the ancient Ægyptians, as distinguished by their meritorious efforts in the infancy of Art.
NOTE VIII. Ver. 140.
For Greece, their Helen! was by Ægypt rear'd.
Pausanias asserts that the figures of stone on the tomb of Coræbus were the most ancient in Greece; and as Coræbus lived in the age of Cecrops, who had migrated into that country from Ægypt, it is probable that the Greeks derived from the attendants of this Ægyptian,
• Δικαςαι δε το αρχαιον παρ Αιγυπτιους ιερεις ησαν. Ην δε τετων αρχων ο πρεσβυτατος, και εδικαζεν απαντας. -Ειχε δε και αγαλμα περι τον αυχενα εκ σαπφειρα λιθε, και εκαλείτο το αγαλμα Αληθεια.
Elian, edit. Perizonii, p. 911.