The Four Monarchyes, The Assyrian Being The First, Beginning Under Nimrod, 131. Years After The Flood
By Anne Bradstreet
When time was young, & World in Infancy,
Man did not proudly strive for Soveraignty:
But each one thought his petty Rule was high,
If of his house he held the Monarchy.
This was the golden Age, but after came
The boisterous son of Chus, Grand-Child to Ham,
That mighty Hunter, who in his strong toyles
Both Beasts and Men subjected to his spoyles:
The strong foundation of proud Babel laid,
Erech, Accad, and Culneh also made.
These were his first, all stood in Shinar land,
From thence he went Assyria to command,
And mighty Niniveh, he there begun,
Not finished till he his race had run.
Resen, Caleh, and Rehoboth likewise
By him to Cities eminent did rise.
Of Saturn, he was the Original,
Whom the succeeding times a God did call,
When thus with rule, he had been dignify’d,
One hundred fourteen years he after dy’d.
Great Nimrod dead, Belus the next his Son
Confirms the rule, his Father had begun;
Whose acts and power is not for certainty
Left to the world, by any History.
But yet this blot for ever on him lies,
He taught the people first to Idolize:
Titles Divine he to himself did take,
Alive and dead, a God they did him make.
This is that Bel the Chaldees worshiped,
Whose Priests in Stories oft are mentioned;
This is that Baal to whom the Israelites
So oft profanely offered sacred Rites:
This is Beelzebub God of Ekronites,
Likewise Baalpeor of the Mohabites,
His reign was short, for as I calculate,
At twenty five ended his Regal date.
His Father dead, Ninus begins his reign,
Transfers his seat to the Assyrian plain;
And mighty Niniveh more mighty made,
Whose Foundation was by his Grand-sire laid:
Four hundred forty Furlongs wall’d about,
On which stood fifteen hundred Towers stout.
The walls one hundred sixty foot upright,
So broad three Chariots run abrest there might.
Upon the pleasant banks of Tygris floud
This stately Seat of warlike Ninus stood:
This Ninus for a God his Father canonized,
To whom the sottish people sacrificed.
This Tyrant did his Neighbours all oppress,
Where e’re he warr’d he had too good success.
Barzanes the great Armenian King
By force and fraud did under Tribute bring.
The Median Country he did also gain,
Thermus their King he caused to be slain;
An Army of three millions he led out
Against the Bactrians (but that I doubt)
Zoroaster their King he likewise slew,
And all the greater Asia did subdue.
Semiramis from Menon did he take
Then drown’d himself, did Menon for her sake.
Fifty two years he reign’d, (as we are told)
The world then was two thousand nineteen old.
This great oppressing Ninus, dead and gone,
His wife Semiramis usurp’d the Throne;
She like a brave Virago played the Rex
And was both shame and glory of her Sex:
Her birth place was Philistines Ascolan,
Her mother Dorceta a Curtizan.
Others report she was a vestal Nun,
Adjudged to be drown’d for th’ crime she’d done.
Transform’d into a Fish by Venus will,
Her beauteous face, (they feign) reteining still.
Sure from this Fiction Dagon first began,
Changing the womans face into a man:
But all agree that from no lawfull bed,
This great renowned Empress issued:
For which she was obscurely nourished,
Whence rose that Fable, she by birds was fed.
This gallant Dame unto the Bactrian warre,
Accompanying her husband Menon farr,
Taking a town, such valour she did show,
That Ninus amorous of her soon did grow,
And thought her fit to make a Monarchs wife,
Which was the cause poor Menon lost his life:
She flourishing with Ninus long did reign,
Till her Ambition caus’d him to be slain.
That having no Compeer, she might rule all,
Or else she sought revenge for Menon’s fall.
Some think the Greeks this slander on her cast,
As on her life Licentious, and unchast,
That undeserv’d, they blur’d her name and fame
By their aspersions, cast upon the same:
But were her virtues more or less, or none,
She for her potency must go alone.
Her wealth she shew’d in building Babylon,
Admir’d of all, but equaliz’d of none;
The Walls so strong, and curiously was wrought,
That after Ages, Skill by them was taught:
With Towers and Bulwarks made of costly stone,
Quadrangle was the form it stood upon,
Each Square was fifteen thousand paces long,
An hundred gates it had of mettal strong:
Three hundred sixty foot the walls in height,
Almost incredible, they were in breadth
Some writers say, six Chariots might affront
With great facility, march safe upon’t:
About the Wall a ditch so deep and wide,
That like a River long it did abide.
Three hundred thousand men here day by day
Bestow’d their labour, and receiv’d their pay.
And that which did all cost and Art excell,
The wondrous Temple was, she rear’d to Bell:
Which in the midst of this brave Town was plac’d,
Continuing till Xerxes it defac’d:
Whose stately top above the Clouds did rise,
From whence Astrologers oft view’d the Skies.
This to describe in each particular,
A structure rare I should but rudely marre.
Her Gardens, Bridges, Arches, mounts and spires
All eyes that saw, or Ears that hear admires,
In Shinar plain on the Euphratian flood
This wonder of the world, this Babel stood.
An expedition to the East she made
Staurobates, his Country to invade:
Her Army of four millions did consist,
Each may believe it as his fancy list.
Her Camels, Chariots, Gallyes in such number,
As puzzles best Historians to remember;
But this is wonderful, of all those men,
They say, but twenty e’re came back agen.
The River Indus swept them half away,
The rest Staurobates in fight did slay;
This was last progress of this mighty Queen,
Who in her Country never more was seen.
The Poets feign’d her turn’d into a Dove,
Leaving the world to Venus soar’d above:
Which made the Assyrians many a day,
A Dove within their Ensigns to display:
Forty two years she reign’d, and then she di’d
But by what means we are not certifi’d.
Ninias or Zamies.
His Mother dead, Ninias obtains his right,
A Prince wedded to ease and to delight,
Or else was his obedience very great,
To sit thus long (obscure) rob’d of his Seat.
Some write his Mother put his habit on,
Which made the people think they serv’d her Son:
But much it is, in more then forty years
This fraud in war nor peace at all appears:
More like it is his lust with pleasures fed,
He sought no rule till she was gone and dead.
What then he did of worth can no man tell,
But is suppos’d to be that Amraphel
Who warr’d with Sodoms and Gomorrahs King,
‘Gainst whom his trained bands Abram did bring,
But this is farre unlike, he being Son
Unto a Father that all Countryes won
So suddenly should loose so great a state,
With petty Kings to joyne Confederate.
Nor can those Reasons which wise Raileih finds,
Well satisfie the most considerate minds:
We may with learned Usher better say,
He many Ages liv’d after that day.
And that Semiramis then flourished
When famous Troy was so beleaguered:
What e’re he was, or did, or how it fell,
We may suggest our thoughts but cannot tell.
For Ninias and all his race are left
In deep oblivion, of acts bereft:
And many hundred years in silence sit,
Save a few Names a new Berosus writ.
And such as care not what befalls their fames,
May feign as many acts as he did Names;
It may suffice, if all be true that’s past.
T’ Sardanapalas next, we will make haste.
Sardanapalas, Son to Ocrazapes,
Who wallowed in all voluptuousness,
That palliardizing sot that out of dores,
Ne’re shew’d his face but revell’d with his whores
Did wear their garbs, their gestures imitate,
And in their kind, t’ excel did emulate.
His baseness knowing, and the peoples hate
Kept close, fearing his well deserved fate;
It chanc’d Arbaces brave unwarily,
His Master like a Strumpet clad did spye.
His manly heart disdained (in the least)
Longer to serve this Metamorphos’d Beast;
Unto Belosus then he brake his mind,
Who sick of his disease, he soon did find
These two, rul’d Media and Babilon
Both for their King, held their Dominion;
Belosus promised Arbaces aid,
Arbaces him fully to be repayd.
The last: The Medes and Persians do invite
Against their monstrous King to use their might.
Belosus, the Chaldeans doth require
And the Arabians, to further his desire:
These all agree, and forty thousand make
The Rule, from their unworthy Prince to take:
These Forces mustered and in array
Sardanapalas leaves his Apish play.
And though of wars, he did abhor the sight;
Fear of his diadem did force him fight:
And either by his valour, or his fate,
Arbaces Courage he did so abate;
That in dispair, he left the Field and fled,
But with fresh hopes Belosus succoured,
From Bactria, an Army was at hand
Prest for this Service by the Kings Command:
These with celerity Arbaces meet,
And with all Terms of amity them greet.
With promises their necks now to unyoke,
And their Taxations sore all to revoke;
T’infranchise them, to grant what they could crave,
No priviledge to want, Subjects should have,
Only intreats them, to joyn their Force with his,
And win the Crown, which was the way to bliss.
Won by his loving looks, more by his speech,
T’ accept of what they could, they all beseech:
Both sides their hearts their hands, & bands unite,
And set upon their Princes Camp that night;
Who revelling in Cups, sung care away,
For victory obtain’d the other day:
And now surpris’d, by this unlookt for fright,
Bereft of wits, were slaughtered down right.
The King his brother leavs, all to sustain,
And speeds himself to Niniveh amain.
But Salmeneus slain, the Army falls;
The King’s pursu’d unto the City Walls,
But he once in, pursuers came to late,
The Walls and Gates their hast did terminate,
There with all store he was so well provided:
That what Arbaces did, was but derided:
Who there incamp’d, two years for little end,
But in the third, the River prov’d his friend,
For by the rain, was Tygris so o’reflown,
Part of that stately Wall was overthrown.
Arbaces marches in, the Town he takes,
For few or none (it seems) resistance makes:
And now they saw fulfil’d a Prophesy,
That when the River prov’d their Enemy,
Their strong wal’d Town should suddenly be taken
By this accomplishment, their hearts were shaken.
Sardanapalas did not seek to fly,
This his inevitable destiny;
But all his wealth and friends together gets,
Then on himself, and them a fire he sets.
This was last Monarch of great Ninus race
That for twelve hundred years had held the place;
Twenty he reign’d same time, as Stories tell,
That Amaziah was King of Israel.
His Father was then King (as we suppose)
When Jonah for their sins denounc’d those woes.
He did repent, the threatning was not done,
But now accomplish’d in his wicked Son.
Arbaces thus of all becoming Lord,
Ingeniously with all did keep his word.
Of Babylon Belosus he made King,
With overplus of all the wealth therein.
To Bactrians he gave their liberty,
Of Ninivites he caused none to dye.
But suffer’d with their goods, to go else where,
Not granting them now to inhabit there:
For he demolished that City great,
And unto Media transfer’d his Seat.
Such was his promise which he firmly made,
To Medes and Persians when he crav’d their aid:
A while he and his race aside must stand,
Not pertinent to what we have in hand;
And Belochus in’s progeny pursue,
Who did this Monarchy begin anew.
Belosus or Belochus.
Belosus setled in his new old Seat,
Not so content but aiming to be great,
Incroaching still upon the bordering lands,
Till Mesopotamia he got in’s hands.
And either by compound or else by strength,
Assyria he gain’d also at length;
Then did rebuild, destroyed Nineveh,
A costly work which none could do but he,
Who own’d the Treasures of proud Babylon,
And those that seem’d with Sardanapalas gone;
For though his Palace did in ashes lye,
The fire those Mettals could not damnifie;
From these with diligence he rakes,
Arbaces suffers all, and all he takes,
He thus inricht by this new tryed gold.
Raises a Ph’nix new, from grave o’th’ old;
And from this heap did after Ages see
As fair a Town, as the first Niniveh.
When this was built, and matters all in peace
Molests poor Israel, his wealth t’ increase.
A thousand Talents of Menahem had,
(Who to be rid of such a guest was glad;)
In sacrid writ he’s known by name of Pul,
Which makes the world of difference so full.
That he and Belochus could not one be,
But Circumstance doth prove the verity;
And times of both computed so fall out,
That these two made but one, we need not doubt:
What else he did, his Empire to advance,
To rest content we must, in ignorance.
Forty eight years he reign’d, his race then run,
He left his new got Kingdome to his Son.
Belosus dead, Tiglath his warlike Son,
Next treads those steps, by which his Father won;
Damascus ancient Seat, of famous Kings
Under subjection, by his Sword he brings.
Resin their valiant King he also slew,
And Syria t’ obedience did subdue.
Judas bad King occasioned this war,
When Resins force his Borders sore did marre,
And divers Cities by strong hand did seaze:
To Tiglath then, doth Ahaz send for ease,
The Temple robs, so to fulfil his ends,
And to Assyria’s King a present sends.
I am thy Servant and thy Son, (quoth he)
From Resin, and from Pekah set me free,
Gladly doth Tiglath this advantage take,
And succours Ahaz, yet for Tiglath’s sake.
Then Resin slain, his Army overthrown,
He Syria makes a Province of his own.
Unto Damascus then comes Judah’s King,
His humble thankfulness (in haste) to bring,
Acknowledging th’ Assyrians high desert,
To whom he ought all loyalty of heart.
But Tiglath having gain’d his wished end,
Proves unto Ahaz but a feigned friend;
All Israels lands beyond Jordan he takes,
In Galilee he woful havock makes.
Through Syria now he march’d none stopt his way,
And Ahaz open at his mercy lay;
Who still implor’d his love, but was distrest;
This was that Ahaz, who so high transgrest:
Thus Tiglath reign’d, & warr’d twenty seven years
Then by his death releas’d was Israels fears.
Salmanassar or Nabanassar.
Tiglath deceas’d, Salmanassar was next,
He Israelites, more then his Father vext;
Hoshea their last King he did invade,
And him six years his Tributary made;
But weary of his servitude, he sought
To Egypt King, which did avail him nought;
For Salmanassar with a mighty Host,
Besieg’d his Regal Town, and spoyl’d his Coast,
And did the people, nobles, and their King,
Into perpetual thraldome that time bring;
Those that from Joshuah’s time had been a state,
Did Justice now by him eradicate:
This was that strange, degenerated brood,
On whom, nor threats, nor mercies could do good;
Laden with honour, prisoners, and with spoyle,
Returns triumphant Victor to his soyle;
He placed Israel there, where he thought best,
Then sent his Colonies, theirs to invest;
Thus Jacobs Sons in Exile must remain,
And pleasant Canaan never saw again:
Where now those ten Tribes are, can no man tell,
Or how they fare, rich, poor, or ill or well;
Whether the Indians of the East, or West,
Or wild Tartarians, as yet ne’re blest.
Or else those Chinoes rare, whose wealth & arts
Hath bred more wonder then belief in hearts:
But what, or where they are; yet know we this,
They shall return, and Zion see with bliss.
Senacherib Salmanasser succeeds,
Whose haughty heart is showne in words & deeds
His wars, none better then himself can boast,
On Henah, Arpad, and on Juahs coast;
On Hevahs and on Shepharvaims gods,
‘Twixt them and Israels he knew no odds,
Untill the thundring hand of heaven he felt,
Which made his Army into nothing melt:
With shame then turn’d to Ninive again,
And by his sons in’s Idols house was slain.
His Son, weak Essarhaddon reign’d in’s place,
The fifth, and last of great Bellosus race.
Brave Merodach, the Son of Baladan,
In Babylon Lieftenant to this man
Of opportunity advantage takes,
And on his Masters ruines his house makes,
As Belosus his Soveraign did onthrone,
So he’s now stil’d the King of Babilon.
After twelve years did Essarhaddon dye,
And Merodach assume the Monarchy.
All yield to him, but Niniveh kept free,
Untill his Grand-child made her bow the knee.
Ambassadors to Hezekiah sent,
His health congratulates with complement.
Ben Merodach Successor to this King,
Of whom is little said in any thing,
But by conjecture this, and none but he
Led King Manasseh to Captivity.
Brave Nebulassar to this King was son,
The famous Niniveh by him was won,
For fifty years, or more, it had been free,
Now yields her neck unto captivity:
A Vice-Roy from her foe she’s glad to accept,
By whom in firm obedience she is kept.
This King’s less fam’d for all the acts he’s done,
Then being Father to so great a Son.
Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebopolassar.
The famous acts of this heroick King
Did neither Homer, Hesiod, Virgil sing:
Nor of his Wars have we the certainty
From some Thucidides grave history;
Nor’s Metamorphosis from Ovids book,
Nor his restoriag from old Legends took:
But by the Prophets, Pen-men most divine,
This prince in’s magnitude doth ever shine:
This was of Monarchyes that head of gold,
The richest and the dreadfullest to behold:
This was that tree whose branches fill’d the earth,
Under whose shadow birds and beasts had birth:
This was that king of kings did what he pleas’d,
Kill’d, sav’d pul’d down, set up, or pain’d or eas’d;
And this was he, who when he fear’d the least
Was changed from a King into a beast.
This Prince the last year of his fathers reign
Against Jehojakim marcht with his train,
Judahs poor King besieg’d and succourless
Yields to his mercy, and the present ‘stress;
His Vassal is, gives pledges for his truth,
Children of royal blood, unblemish’d youth:
Wise Daniel and his fellowes, mongst the rest,
By the victorious king to Babel’s prest:
The Temple of rich ornaments defac’d,
And in his Idols house the vessels plac’d.
The next year he with unresisted hand
Quite vanguish’d Pharaoh Necho with his band:
By great Euphrates did his army fall,
Which was the loss of Syria withall.
Then into Egypt Necho did retire,
Which in few years proves the Assirians hire.
A mighty army next he doth prepare,
And unto wealthy Tyre in hast repair.
Such was the scituation of this place,
As might not him, but all the world out-face,
That in her pride she knew not which to boast
Whether her wealth, or yet her strength was most
How in all merchandize she did excel,
None but the true Ezekiel need to tell.
And for her strength, how hard she was to gain,
Can Babels tired souldiers tell with pain.
Within an Island had this city seat,
Divided from the Main by channel great:
Of costly ships and Gallyes she had store,
And Mariners to handle sail and oar:
But the Chaldeans had nor ships nor skill,
Their shoulders must their Masters mind fulfill,
Fetcht rubbish from the opposite old town,
And in the channel threw each burden down;
Where after many essayes, they made at last
The sea firm land, whereon the Army past,
And took the wealthy town; but all the gain,
Requited not the loss, the toyle and pain.
Full thirteen years in this strange work he spent
Before he could accomplish his intent:
And though a Victor home his Army leads,
With peeled shoulders, and with balded heads.
When in the Tyrian war this King was hot,
Jehojakim his oath had clean forgot,
Thinks this the fittest time to break his bands
Whilest Babels King thus deep engaged stands:
But he whose fortunes all were in the ebbe,
Had all his hopes like to a spiders web;
For this great King withdraws part of his force,
To Judah marches with a speedy course,
And unexpected finds the feeble Prince
Whom he chastis’d thus for his proud offence,
Fast bound, intends to Babel him to send,
But chang’d his mind, & caus’d his life there end,
Then cast him out like to a naked Ass,
For this is he for whom none said alas.
His son he suffered three months to reign,
Then from his throne he pluck’d him down again,
Whom with his mother he to Babel led,
And seven and thirty years in prison fed:
His Uncle he establish’d in his place
(Who was last King of holy Davids race)
But he as perjur’d as Jehojakim,
They lost more now then e’re they lost by him.
Seven years he kept his faith, and safe he dwells;
But in the eighth against his Prince rebels:
The ninth came Nebuchadnezzar with power,
Besieg’d his city, temple, Zions tower,
And after eighteen months he took them all:
The Walls so strong, that stood so long, now fall.
The cursed King by flight could no wise fly
His well deserv’d and foretold misery:
But being caught to Babels wrathfull King
With children, wives and Nobles all they bring,
Where to the sword all but himself were put,
And with that wofull sight his eyes close shut.
Ah! hapless man, whose darksome contemplation
Was nothing but such gastly meditation.
In midst of Babel now till death he lyes;
Yet as was told ne’re saw it with his eyes.
The Temple’s burnt the vessels had away.
The towres and palaces brought to decay:
Where late of harp and Lute were heard the noise
Now Zim & Jim lift up their scrieching voice.
All now of worth are Captive led with tears,
And sit bewailing Zion seventy years.
With all these conquests, Babels King rests not,
No not when Moab, Edom he had got,
Kedar and Hazar, the Arabians too,
All Vassals at his hands for Grace must sue.
A total conquest of rich Egypt makes,
All rule he from the ancient Phraohes takes,
Who had for sixteen hundred years born sway,
To Babilons proud King now yields the day.
Then Put and Lud do at his mercy stand.
Where e’re he goes, he conquers every land.
His sumptuous buildings passes all conceit,
Which wealth and strong ambition made so great.
His Image Judahs Captives worship not,
Although the Furnace be seven times more hot.
His dreams wise Daniel doth expound full well,
And his unhappy chang with grief foretell.
Strange melancholy humours on him lay,
Which for seven years his reason took away,
Which from no natural causes did proceed,
But for his pride, so had the heavens decreed.
The time expir’d, bruitish remains no more,
But Government resumes as heretofore:
In splendor, and in Majesty he sits,
Contemplating those times he lost his witts.
And if by words we may ghess at the heart,
This king among the righteous had a part:
Fourty four years he reign’d, which being run,
He left his wealth and conquests to his son.
Babel’s great Monarch now laid in the dust,
His son possesses wealth and rule as just:
And in the first year of his Royalty
Easeth Jehojakims Captivity:
Poor forlorn Prince, who had all state forgot
In seven and thirty years had seen no jot.
Among the conquer’d Kings that there did ly
Is Judah’s King now lifted up on high:
But yet in Babel he must still remain,
And native Canaan never see again:
Unlike his Father Evilmerodach,
Prudence and magnanimity did lack;
Fair Egypt is by his remisness lost,
Arabia, and all the bordering coast.
Warrs with the Medes unhappily he wag’d
(Within which broyles rich Croesus was ingag’d)
His Army routed, and himself there slain:
His Kingdome to Belshazzar did remain.
Unworthy Belshazzar next wears the crown,
Whose acts profane a sacred Pen sets down,
His lust and crueltyes in storyes find,
A royal State rul’d by a bruitish mind.
His life so base, and dissolute invites
The noble Persian to invade his rights.
Who with his own, and Uncles power anon,
Layes siedge to’s Regal Seat, proud Babylon,
The coward King, whose strength lay in his walls,
To banquetting and revelling now falls,
To shew his little dread, but greater store,
To chear his friends, and scorn his foes the more.
The holy vessels thither brought long since,
They carrows’d in, and sacrilegious prince
Did praise his Gods of mettal, wood, and stone,
Protectors of his Crown, and Babylon,
But he above, his doings did deride,
And with a hand soon dashed all this pride.
The King upon the wall casting his eye,
The fingers of a hand writing did spy,
Which horrid sight, he fears must needs portend
Destruction to his Crown, to’s Person end.
With quaking knees, and heart appall’d he cries,
For the Soothsayers, and Magicians wise;
This language strange to read, and to unfold;
With gifts of Scarlet robe, and Chain of gold,
And highest dignity, next to the King,
To him that could interpret, clear this thing:
But dumb the gazing Astrologers stand,
Amazed at the writing, and the hand.
None answers the affrighted Kings intent,
Who still expects some fearful sad event;
As dead, alive he sits, as one undone:
In comes the Queen, to chear her heartless Son.
Of Daniel tells, who in his grand-sires dayes
Was held in more account then now he was.
Daniel in haste is brought before the King,
Who doth not flatter, nor once cloak the thing;
Reminds him of his Grand-Sires height and fall,
And of his own notorious sins withall:
His Drunkenness, and his profaness high,
His pride and sottish gross Idolatry.
The guilty King with colour pale and dead
Then hears his Mene and his Tekel read.
And one thing did worthy a King (though late)
Perform’d his word to him that told his fate.
That night victorious Cyrus took the town,
Who soon did terminate his life and crown;
With him did end the race of Baladan:
And now the Persian Monarchy began.