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he marked out by ropes one hundred and eighty trenches on each side of
the Gyndes, leading off from it in all directions, and setting his
army to dig, some on one side of the river, some on the other, he
accomplished his threat by the aid of so great a number of hands,
but not without losing thereby the whole summer season.
Having, however, thus wreaked his vengeance on the Gyndes, by
dispersing it through three hundred and sixty channels, Cyrus, with
the first approach of the ensuing spring, marched forward against
Babylon. The Babylonians, encamped without their walls, awaited his
coming. A battle was fought at a short distance from the city, in
which the Babylonians were defeated by the Persian king, whereupon
they withdrew within their defences. Here they shut themselves up, and
made light of his siege, having laid in a store of provisions for many
years in preparation against this attack; for when they saw Cyrus
conquering nation after nation, they were convinced that he would
never stop, and that their turn would come at last.
Cyrus was now reduced to great perplexity, as time went on and
he made no progress against the place. In this distress either some
one made the suggestion to him, or he bethought himself of a plan,
which he proceeded to put in execution. He placed a portion of his
army at the point where the river enters the city, and another body at
the back of the place where it issues forth, with orders to march into
the town by the bed of the stream, as soon as the water became shallow
enough: he then himself drew off with the unwarlike portion of his
host, and made for the place where Nitocris dug the basin for the
river, where he did exactly what she had done formerly: he turned
the Euphrates by a canal into the basin, which was then a marsh, on
which the river sank to such an extent that the natural bed of the
stream became fordable. Hereupon the Persians who had been left for
the purpose at Babylon by the, river-side, entered the stream, which
had now sunk so as to reach about midway up a man's thigh, and thus
got into the town. Had the Babylonians been apprised of what Cyrus was
about, or had they noticed their danger, they would never have allowed
the Persians to enter the city, but would have destroyed them utterly;
for they would have made fast all the street-gates which gave upon the
river, and mounting upon the walls along both sides of the stream,
would so have caught the enemy, as it were, in a trap. But, as it was,
the Persians came upon them by surprise and so took the city. Owing to
the vast size of the place, the inhabitants of the central parts (as
the residents at Babylon declare) long after the outer portions of the
town were taken, knew nothing of what had chanced, but as they were
engaged in a festival, continued dancing and revelling until they
learnt the capture but too certainly. Such, then, were the
circumstances of the first taking of Babylon.
Among many proofs which I shall bring forward of the power and
resources of the Babylonians, the following is of special account. The
whole country under the dominion of the Persians, besides paying a
fixed tribute, is parcelled out into divisions, which have to supply
food to the Great King and his army during different portions of the
year. Now out of the twelve months which go to a year, the district of
Babylon furnishes food during four, the other of Asia during eight; by
the which it appears that Assyria, in respect of resources, is
one-third of the whole of Asia. Of all the Persian governments, or
satrapies as they are called by the natives, this is by far the
best. When Tritantaechmes, son of Artabazus, held it of the king, it
brought him in an artaba of silver every day. The artaba is a
Persian measure, and holds three choenixes more than the medimnus of
the Athenians. He also had, belonging to his own private stud, besides
war horses, eight hundred stallions and sixteen thousand mares, twenty
to each stallion. Besides which he kept so great a number of Indian
hounds, that four large villages of the plain were exempted from all
other charges on condition of finding them in food.
But little rain falls in Assyria, enough, however, to make the
corn begin to sprout, after which the plant is nourished and the

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