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500.

E. c. king of Babylon, conquered the other kingdoms,

and raised his land to the zenith of its renown, 666 B.C. All these kingdoms were afterwards conquered, and formed,

Secondly, the Persian empire under Cyrus, 555 B.C. This kingdom was overthrown by Alexander, who, by extensive conquests, formed,

Thirdly, the Macedonian empire, 333 B.C. This empire, after the death of Alexander, was divided into four smaller kingdoms. These, however, gradually gave place to the most extensive kingdom of ancient times; for,

Fourthly, the Roman empire, at the time of our Saviour's birth, comprehended several countries utterly unknown to earlier conquerors. About 400 A.D., the Roman empire was divided into the Eastern and the Western empires. In the year 476 A.D., the Western empire was overthrown by nations of Germany, and various small states were formed out of it.

Fifthly, Charlemagne, after extensive conquests, founded the Frank kingdom, the mightiest in Europe. At the same time, the Mahomedan kingdom of Arabia flourished in Asia and Africa. Neither of these empires long retained its power. . The Frank empire fell into confusion after the death of Charlemagne, through the incompetency of its governors, and the ambition of the petty princes who seized upon the several provinces. The Mahomedan empire was destroyed by the Turks. One of their hordes conquered Jerusalem,

1800.

and held the Holy City against the Crusaders A. D. from 1095 to 1250. Other hordes crossed over to Europe and conquered Constantinople, A.D. 453.

Sixthly, the Spanish-Austrian monarchy under Charles V., in the year 1520 A.D., rose through its power and extent of territory far above all the nations of Europe. From the year 1600 A.D. it began to decline; and from 1650 A.D., France, by the policy of Louis XIV., attained a high and very commanding position, but only preserved it to the year 1700 A.D. Since that time Russia has had the largest territory in Europe, and England been the mistress of the sea, while France, Anstria, and Prussia, by their well-disciplined armies, combined to maintain the balance of power among the sovereigns of Europe. This balance, however, was for a short time suspended, when,

Seventhly, France, under Napoleon, gained the ascendency among the Continental states; the great battles, however, fought between 1813 and 1815 A.D., destroyed the power which France had thus won by the sword, and re-established the balance of power as before.

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CHAP. XVIII.

THE EMPIRE OF NINEVEH.

B. C. NINUs, who built Nineveh, was the founder of 2000. the great Assyrian kingdom 2000 B.C. Ninus

left at his death a son named Ninyas, and a wife, Semiramis. Semiramis was a woman of masculine character, and, assuming male attire, she pretended she was Ninyas. She was thus enabled to hold the sceptre for several years, till her government was so fully established as to justify her in declaring to her people that they were governed by a queen

under an assumed name. Semiramis adorned Babylon with beautiful edifices, and commenced the far-famed Hanging Gardens ; she also increased the grandeur and convenience of other towns, and, extending her empire by repeated conquests, even penetrated the country beyond the Indys. Her son Ninyas was an effeminate character, and history gives the same account of his successors, till Sardanapalus, the last of his family, being deposed by three of his generals, set fire to his seraglio and all the treasures of his palace, and perished in the flames. His three generals divided the kingdom of Nineveh, and thence arose the three several powers of Assyria, Babylon, and Media.

CHAP. XIX.

EMPIRE OF THE MEDES - CYRUS — SOLON

AND CRESUS—THE PERSIAN EMPIRE.

B. C.

ASTYAGES, king of Media, had a daughter, of whom the soothsayers had foretold, that she was 600. destined to give birth to a son who would be master of the whole of Asia. To prevent this consummation, Astyages gave his daughter in marriage to a Persian of very inferior rank, and when she was delivered of a son, he gave the child to a servant of the court named Harpagus, with instructions to put the infant to death. Harpagus entrusted the child to a shepherd that he might expose it to perish in the fields, but this shepherd had the humanity to take it home to his wife, who reared it up as her own child. Now, it happened one day, that some shepherds' boys were playing a certain game, in which Cyrus was chosen to play king, and, as one of the party, who chanced to be the son of a man of some little consequence, disobeyed the said king's orders, Cyrus commanded the boy to be whipped. This boy's father was offended and made complaint to Astyages, who directed Cyrus to be brought before him; recognised him as his grandson, and was pleased with the honest independence and boldness of the boy's character; not

585.

B.c. withstanding, he punished the disobedience of

Harpagus by causing all his children to be put to death. Astyages now allows his grandson to be educated in Persia, and when, after a few years he returned to the court of Astyages, he proved so agreeable and clever a companion, that the king was not satisfied unless Cyrus was in constant attendance in his court. The result was, that Cyrus became popular and secured the affections and interest of all classes, both high and low, and Harpagus, whose children had been so cruelly murdered by Astyages, seized on this opportunity of exciting the ambition of Cyrus at once to revenge the wrongs of his Persian countrymen and to throw off the yoke of the Medes. Cyrus was fired with the thoughts of the enterprise, and in the year 555 B.C., dethroned his grandfather Astyages, and raised himself to the high dignity of King of the Medes and Persians.

In one of the adjoining provinces, Lydia, there was a king named Crosus, whose wealth was so great, that “as rich as Croesus," has passed into a proverb. This Croesus, in the pride of his wealth and presuming on the greatness of his power, ventured to make war against Cyrus, and was defeated and taken prisoner. Now, it is related of Craesus, that at the very moment he was standing on the funeral pile, on the point of being burned to death, he recollected a particular admonition he once received from Solon, the wise man of Greece, who had once declared that he could not

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