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RUINS OF SACRED AND HISTORIC LANDS.

PART 1.-ASIA.

CHAPTER I.

THE BEGINNING OF EMPIRES.

“ Cypress and ivy, weed and wall-flower grown
Matted and massed together, hillocks heaped
On what were chambers, arch-crushed columns strowd
In fragments, choked up vaults, and frescos steeped
In subterranean damps, where the owl peeped,
Deeming it midnight :-temples, baths, or halls ?
Pronounce who can; for all that learning reaped

From her research hath been, that these are walls
Behold the imperial mount! 'tis thus the mighty falls."

“ How

The distinguished author of the “Seven Lamps of Architecture” remarks, when treating of the hold which great and beautiful structures have upon the memory, cold is all history, how lifeless all imagery, compared to that which the living nation writes, and the uncorrupted marble bears! How many pages of doubtful record might we not often spare, for a few stones left one upon another! The ambition of the old Babel-builders was well directed for this world. There are but two strong conquerors of the forgetfulness of men, Poetry and Architecture; and the latter in some sort includes the former, and is mightier in its reality; it is well to have, not only what men have thought and felt, but what their hands bave handled, and their strength wrought, and their eyes beheld, all the days of their life. The age of Homer is surrounded with darkness, his very personality with doubt. Not so that of Pericles: and the day is coming when we shall confess, that we have learned more of Greece out of the crumbled fragments of her sculpture, than even from her sweet singers or soldier historians.” It is this world-history, written in the uncorrupted marble which we propose to investigate, and it is strange, when we come to investigate with care into its records to discover how very few even of the earliest links are wanting. It is with a just, though it may be a somewhat free interpretation, that architecture has been styled the primal art of man. We will not indeed seek to carry it so closely back to the infancy of our race, as to include within its records either the bower of paradise, or the rude hut or cave which sheltered the banished pair, when with all the world before them,” they first experienced life's necessities, and entered on its cares, its sorrows, and its toil. But passing downward for a very brief space, we come to that ambitious work of the old Babel-builders, which, more perhaps than any other of the elder works of man, commands so peculiarly the interest of these later generations. Its history is briefly and expressly told: “ The whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make bricks, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Their aim gives strange insight into the history of primitive thought, and of the low and most inadequate ideas of God, and of the universe, man had already acquired. All the elevating conceptions taught to man either amid the purity and holi ness of his first state, when he held converse with God, and was ministered to by his heavenly messengers, or amid the more recent judgments of the deluge, had been of no avail. So unspiritual were his conceptions of divine or created things that he would seem to have deemed it possible to scale the heavens. This has, indeed, been regarded as a mere eastern figure of speech for a very lofty tower, and it would seem to be in some degree confirmed by the choice of a site on the plain of Shinar, and not rather on some of the mountains of Asia. Yet the facility of acquiring needful materials was sufficient to retain the ambitious builders amid the fertile plains of central Asia, which we still regard with such peculiar interest as the cradle of the human race; and we are certainly taught by the narrative of sacred history to look upon them as guilty of an act of daring presumption and impiety, to restrain and punish which their language was confounded, and their social union broken up. Whatever the exact nature of their presumptuous impiety may have been, it was obviously connected with the building of the tower, and it has been assumed, with considerable probability, by various interpreters, that it was designed as an idolatrous temple for the worship of Belus. On this subject Rich remarks, in his “Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon :” “The most extraordinary building within the city was the tower, pyramid, or sepulchre of Belus, the base of which Strabo says was a square of a stadium each side, and it was a stadium in height. The tower stood in a quadrangle of two miles and a half, which contained the temple which divine honours were paid to the tutelar deity of Babylon, and probably also cells for the numerous establishment of priests attached to it. An additional interest attaches itself to the sepulchre of Belus, from the probability of its identity with the tower which the descendants of Noah, with Belus at

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their head, constructed in the plain of Shinar, the completion of which was prevented in so memorable a manner. I am strongly inclined to differ from the sense in which Gen. xi. 4, is commonly understood, and I think too much importance has been attached to the words 'may reach unto heaven,' which are not in the original, whose words are bywa huinn? 'and its top to the skies,' by a metaphor common to all ages and languages, i. e. with a very elevated and conspicuous summit. This is certainly a more rational interpretation than supposing a people in their senses, even at that early period, would undertake to scale heaven by means of a building of their own construction. The intention in raising this structure might have been displeasing to the Almighty on many other accounts; such for instance as the paying

divine honours to other beings, or the counteracting of the destined dispersion of mankind. For, notwithstanding the testimony of Josephus's Sibyl, we have no good reason for supposing that the work suffered any damage; and allowing it to have been in any considerable degree of forwardness, it could have undergone no material change at the period the building of Babel was recommenced. It is therefore most probable that its appearance, and the tradition concerning it, gave those who undertook the continuation of the labour, the idea of a monument in honour of Belus; and the same motives which made them persist in adhering to the spot on which such a miracle had been wrought, would naturally enough induce them to select its principal structure for that purpose. Be this as it may, the ruins of a solid building of five hundred feet must, if any traces of the town reinain, be the most remarkable object among them. Pliny, seventy years after Strabo, mentions the Temple of Jupiter Belus, the inventor of astronomy,' as still standing; and all travellers since the time of Benjamin of Tudela, who first revived the remembrance of the

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