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and an eunuch in chariots, and four warriors, amongst whom was also an eunuch, on horses. The enemy were on foot, and discharged their arrows against the pursuers. Eagles hovered above the victors, and were feeding on the slain. The winged divinity in the circle was again seen above the king. These bas-reliefs in many respects illustrate the manners and civilisation of the Assyrians. We here find the eunuch commanding in war and engaging with the enemy in combat, as we have before seen him ministering to the king during religious ceremonies, or waiting upon him as his arms-bearer during peace. That eunuchs rose to the highest rank among the Assyrians, and were even generals over their armies, we learn from Scripture, where the Rabsaris, or chief of the eunuchs, is mentioned as one of the three principal officers of Sennacherib, and as one of the princes of Nebuchadrezzar.” They appear, indeed, to have held the same important posts, and to have exercised the same influence in the Assyrian court, as they have since enjoyed in Turkey and Persia, where they have frequently attained to the post of vizir or prime minister. The horses of the archers were led by mounted warriors, wearing circular skull caps, probably of iron. Horsemen are frequently mentioned in the Bible as forming an important part of the Assyrian armies. Ezekiel (xxiii. 6.) describes “the Assyrians clothed in blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses;” and Holofernes had no less than 12,000 archers on horseback. The rider is seated on the naked back of the horse, which is only adorned with a cloth when led behind the chariot of the king, probably for his use in case of accident to the chariot. The horses represented in the sculptures appear to be of noble breed. Assyria, and particularly that part of the empire which was watered by the Tigris and Euphrates, was celebrated at the earliest period for its horses, as the same plains are to this day for the noblest races of Arabia. The Jews probably obtained horses for their cavalry from this country; and horses
* 2 Kings, xviii. 17.; Jeremiah, xxxix. 3.
were offered to them by the general of the Assyrian king, as an acceptable present.” On Egyptian monuments horses from Mesopotamia are continually mentioned amongst the spoil or tribute. The horse of the Assyrian bas-reliefs was evidently drawn from the finest model. The head is small and wellshaped, the nostrils large and high, the neck arched, the body long, and the legs slender and sinewy. The prophet exclaims of the horses of the Chaldaeans, “They are swifter than the leopards, and more fierce than the evening wolves;”f and the magnificent description of the war-horse in the book of Job is familiar to every reader.” At a later period the plains of Babylonia furnished horses to the Persians, both for the private use of the king and for his troops. The rich pasture-grounds of Mesopotamia must have always afforded them ample sustenance, whilst those vast plains, exposed to the heats of summer and cold of winter, inured them to hardships and fatigue. The lower series of bas-reliefs contained three subjects—the siege of a castle, the king receiving prisoners, and the king, with his army, crossing a river. The first occupied the under compartments of three slabs. The castle had three towers, and apparently several walls, one behind the other, all surmounted by angular battlements. The besiegers having brought a battering-ram to the outer wall, one of the besieged was endeavouring to catch the engine, and to break the blows, by a chain lowered from the walls; whilst two warriors of the assailing party were holding the ram in its place by hooks. This part of the bas-relief illustrates the account in Chronicles and Josephus, of the machines for battering walls, instruments to cast stones, and grappling irons made by Uzziah.f Another warrior was throwing fire (traces of the red paint being still visible in the sculpture) from above upon the battering-ram; whilst the besiegers endeavoured to quench the flames, by pouring water upon them from the moveable tower. Two figures, in full armour, were undermining the walls with instruments like blunt spears; whilst two others appeared to have found a secret passage into the castle. Wounded men were falling from the walls; and upon one of the towers were women, tearing their hair and extending their hands to ask for quarter. The enemy were mounting to the assault, by scaling ladders placed against the walls. The king, discharging an arrow, and protected by a shield held by a warrior in complete armour, stood on one side of the castle. He was attended by two eunuchs, one holding the open umbrella, the other his quiver and mace. Behind them was an Assyrian warrior leading three women and a child, and driving three bullocks, as part of the spoil. It was thus that the Assyrians carried away captive the people of Samaria, replacing the population of the conquered country by colonies of their own." The women were represented as tearing their hair and throwing dust upon their heads, the usual signs of grief in the East. On the other side of the castle were two kneeling figures, one discharging an arrow, the other holding a shield for his companion's defence. Behind them was the vizir, also shooting an arrow, and protected by the shield of a second warrior. He was followed by three warriors, the first an archer kneeling, the others an archer and his shield-bearer in complete armour, erect. They had left their chariot, in which the charioteer was still standing, the horses being held by a groom. Behind the chariot were two warriors, each carrying a bow and a mace. The shields represented in this bas-relief were probably of wickerwork, and were chiefly used during a siege. They covered the whole person of the archer, who was thus able to discharge his arrows in comparative security. Such were probably the bucklers which Herodotus describes as forming a complete fence before the Persian archers at the battle of Platea.f The three following bas-reliefs represented the king receiving captives, apparently of the same nation as those portrayed in the upper part of the hall, and already described. Behind the chariot of the king were two other chariots, each containing a charioteer alone; passing under the walls of a castle, on which were women, apparently viewing the procession, and discussing the results of the expedition. In these bas-reliefs the harness and trappings of the horses and chariots are remarkable for their richness and elegance. Above the heads of the horses rise gracefully plumes and fanciful crests, ornamented with long ribands or streamers, which were probably of many colors. Like the Arabs and Persians of the present day, the Assyrians appear to have been lavish of tassels
* “Now, therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.”—2 Kings, xviii. 23.
f Habakkuk, i. 8.