Page images

sangs 5910 stadia between Thapsacus and the plain of battle, which was at a considerable distance to the north of Babylon. Mr Forster supposes the Persian guides to have betrayed the Greek writer into inaccuracy by their own random statements, and Mr Williams somewhere affirms that he has no respect for the parasangs of Xenophon, which he conceives to be only the Oriental hours, varying in length according to the difficulties or the facilities of the way.'

Even without the measurements of Eratosthenes, reported by Strabo, we have evidence with regard to the position of Thapsacus, which should have prevented the possibility of error. Ptolemy places it opposite to Nicephorium in Mesopotamia, and the abridger of Strabo illustrates this position, where, he says, Thapsacus is a city of Arabia, Nicephorium of Mesopotamia, 100 stadia distant from each other.' If, then, the site of Nicephorium be verified, that of Thapsacus must necessarily follow. Now, Nicephorium, the Callinicum of Eutropius, is identical with the modern Racca. Mr Williams has taken rather superfluous pains to prove this point, which is already admitted upon D'Anville's maps, as well as in other works of inferior authority. The wonder is that, in the face of this admission, Thapsacus should have been transported by the geographers down to the site of the modern Ul-Der, instead of standing vis-à-vis to Racca, to which post our author has most righteously restored it.


The position of Opis is the second point we wish to extract from Mr Williams's geography of the Anabasis. It is generally supposed that when the Greeks, under the treacherous guidance of Tissaphernes and Orontes, had crossed the Tigris, they immediately marched up the bank of the river. But had this been the case they could not have fallen in with the bastard brother of the king, and his great army from Susa and Ecbatana-which are named together by Xenophon, in a manner that strongly corroborates the identity of the latter city with Ispahan. The Persian chiefs undoubtedly conducted them down the stream, in order to effect this junction with troops coming from the southeastern districts. Yet Forster places Opis as high up as the site of Bagdad, and some would carry it even seventy miles higher.

Ul-Der, or El-Der, is considered by Mr Williams as identical with the Id-Dara, or Da-Dara of Ptolemy; the name itself has suffer'ed no material change; and its position in Ptolemy, fifty minutes to the west of Zaitha, fixed before on the left bank of the Euphrates, eleven miles below the mouth of the Khabour, indubitably identifies it with Ul-Der, which has too long on modern maps usurped the title of Thapsacus.'

Since this would make it stand not only above the Gyndes, below the confluence of which with the Tigris Herodotus seems to mark its position, but also above Seleuceia, below which the Opis of Alexander was situated, it is necessary, according to the view taken by these geographers, to imagine a double Opis, and that the Opis of Xenophon was different from that of Herodotus and of Alexander the Great. Larcher has actually adopted such an hypothesis, arguing especially from the fact that the Opis described by Strabo, which he considers the same with that mentioned by Herodotus and Arrian, was a mere village, whereas the Opis of Xenophon was a vast town. But the vast town of Xenophon and other ancient writers might easily be a village in the age of Strabo, since the establishment of a great mart at Seleuceia, and the opening up the navigation of the Tigris to that place, would inevitably ruin the prosperity of a settlement lower down the river. There can be no rational doubt that the Opis of Herodotus, of Xenophon, fifty years later, and of Alexander, thirty years after him, was the same. We repeat, therefore, that Alexander's Opis was below Seleuceia, and that the words of Herodotus lead us to infer that it lay below the confluence of the Gyndes with the Tigris. In our state of ignorance and uncertainty with respect to the Gyndes, Mr Williams ingeniously supposes that its northern branch might have reached the bridge over the Tigris between Susa and Babylon, and that such branch was the Physcus, upon which Xenophon places Opis; and 'henceforward,' he concludes, 'I shall assume it as a fact, that the Opis of Xenophon was about seven miles above the Koote of the map (of Arrowsmith). It is from this spot, therefore, that I commence the return of the Greeks up the river.'

[ocr errors]

Tissaphernes, having succeeded in the object of his southeastern march, changed its direction, and led his intended victims,

* There is no doubt of this fact were it only from the arrangement of Strabo (lib. xvi. p. 740): the rivers [the Tigris and Euphrates] ' are navigable up the stream, the one [the Tigris] as far as Opis and the present Seleuceia,'-but in quoting the remainder of that passage, Mr Williams rides his text too hard: The Persians, wishing on 'principle to prevent the navigation of the rivers, and afraid of foreign invasions, had raised artificial barriers; but Alexander, when visiting 'these rivers, destroyed as many as he could, especially up to Opis. The words which Mr Williams has printed in italics are not intended by Strabo to distinguish between Opis and Seleuceia, which did not yet exist in Alexander's time, but between the Tigris, the river of Opis, and the Euphrates, the river of Babylon.


first by an inland circuit-since we hear nothing of the Tigris for six days-and then up the left bank of the river. We shall -beg to accompany them as far as the point of their final separation from the Tigris. The key to this position is the river Zabatus, or rather Zates, (for the former name depends on a conjectural emendation,) which Mr Williams believes to be, not the universally received Greater Zab,' but the Diala or Dijela of the moderns. The actual distance between the mouth of this river and the bridge above Koote-marched over by the Greeks in eleven days-does not exceed 112 miles; and though this gives only ten miles and a fraction for each day's march, yet the circumstances under which they were advancing-the want of cordiality between Clearchus and Tissaphernes, and consequent suspicions of the weaker party, and the delay occasioned by plundering the villages of the queen-mother-may well account for a diminution of the average progress of the army during these eleven days. It may be shown even from physical causes, that the Greater Zab could not have been the Zates. The Greater Zab is one of the largest rivers of the 'second class in Asia, and not to be forded-at least never yet 'forded by infantry in the neighbourhood of the Tigris.' Authorities ancient and modern-Herodotus, Quintus Curtius, Ebn Haukal, Rauwolf, and Niebuhr-may be adduced in support of this assertion. Even Rauwolf's account,' says one author, 'shows that the magnificent and furious Zab, the ravenous wolf (Lycus) of the Macedonians, could not have been the Zates of Xenophon, about 130 yards broad, and crossed by the Greeks, without the slightest difficulty or opposition, in the 'presence of a powerful enemy.' After this,' says Xenophon, they took their breakfast, passed the river Zates, and marched It ought also to be remembered, that had the Greeks 'crossed the Lycus near its confluence with the Tigris, which they must have done were it the Zates, they would have found 'a still greater river than at the spot where Rauwolf and Niebuhr 'crossed it; as two streams, one of itself a very considerable river, the other not so large, form a junction with it, not far 'below the regular ford between Mosul and Arbela.'

[ocr errors]


Besides this, it is not to be imagined that Xenophon, generally so accurate in his notice of considerable streams, should at once, on crossing to the east of the Tigris, become a blunderer, and omit to mention the Diala, over which the route of the Greeks must of necessity have taken them. Mr Williams adds in another place: the five days' march between the villages of Parysatis and the Zates are described as being through the desert; and such, at this day, is the region immediately

[blocks in formation]

to the south of the mouth of the Diala. Kinneir, after passing the ruins of Seleuceia and Ctesiphon, in sailing down the Tigris, says, from this to Koote, the country on both sides the river 'was an uninhabited desert.'


After crossing the Zates, the Greeks reached the spot where the precipitous nature of the ground prevented their further progress along the Tigris by the following stages:

[blocks in formation]

According to our author their advance was arrested at the point where the Hamrun hills strike on the left bank of the Tigris. Now the map distance between the mouth of the Diala and this spot is 120 miles, which, divided by 13, give something more than nine miles for the rate of daily progress; and, considering that they did not march full three miles on the first day, and that, excepting on the third, eleventh, and twelfth days, they were incessantly fighting as well as marching, the wonder is that they got on so well. The daily advance of a Roman army commanded by Antony did not, under like embarrassments, exceed eight miles. Mr Williams compares the Greek march with that of Julian's army before and after the death of the Apostate, as recorded by Ammianus and Zosimus. He shows that the space between the Diala and the impassable spot on the bank of the Tigris was traversed both by the Greeks and Romans in exactly the same interval of time. On consulting the map,' he continues, it will be seen that the Hamrun hills, after running parallel ' with the Tigris for some distance, suddenly turn to the left, and thus form a natural cul-de-sac. I can almost affirm that the Romans were in the exact position occupied by the Greeks previous to their ascent into the mountainous regions of the Carduchi; and had Tissaphernes occupied the passes, as dread'ed by the Greeks, the result must have proved something simi'lar.'

[ocr errors]

Our author, with these impressions, cannot sufficiently admire the complacency with which good scholars and men of

'sense and information have drawn an imaginary line between Samara and the mouth of the Greater Zab, to represent the 'road through the desert traversed by the Greeks during the 'five days immediately preceding their arrival on the banks of the Zates. For, as far as I have been able to discover, such a line of road never existed, nor has it been attempted by 'armies or caravans, or even single travellers; and a recapitu'lation of a few of the most important expeditions from Western 'Asia against the capitals on the Tigris and the Euphrates, and 'the reverse, will serve to show this.' The expeditions of Alexander, Trajan, Timour, Nadir Shah, &c., are then pressed into the service, and the conclusion may be given in Mr Williams's own words: Now it is idle to suppose, that Greek, Roman, Persian, Tatar, and Turk, should, for a space of more than two thousand years, have invariably taken a very consi'derable circuit, even when their fleets were sailing down the 'Tigris, that caravans and travellers should have taken the same line, did not some physical obstruction prevent the pos'sibility of forming a road along the Tigris between the line of the Hamrun hills and the mouth of the Lycus; consequently it is pure romance to suppose, that the 10,000, with their four 'attendant armies, could, in five days, have traversed this most 'impracticable ground. And if this be the case, as no doubt it is, all that I have hitherto advanced on the subject must, ' on the great scale, be undoubtedly true.'

We regret that we cannot follow the author into the mountain-haunts of the Carduchi; but we must be allowed, in taking leave of him, to extract a vigorous and striking passage :"I know of no tribe of people more interesting to the historian ' of the human race than the Curds. There they have remain'ed among their mountain-fastnesses an unchanged and record'ed race for more than two thousand years. They have pre'served their language, their habits, laws, customs, and independence. From their heights they have witnessed the plains 'successively occupied and forsaken by nations from every quarter of the compass. The Mede, the Persian, the Greek, the Parthian, the Arab, the Tatar, and the Turk, have all set up their habitations in the vales, and have passed away; 'for even the Turk does no more than linger there. It has 'been no home, no resting-place for any of these races; but the 'Curd looks back on an unbroken descent through a hundred 'generations; from father to son the mountain-heritage has 'been handed down without a breach, and while he traces his lineage to the patriarch Noah, he points to the ruins of the ark as a proof that be possesses the paternal inheritance still

« PreviousContinue »