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Assyria was abandoned by Cyaxares, when the Scythian war overwhelmed Media. For then was the conquest wrought out ready to his hand; the swelling spirits of the Ninevites were allayed, and their malice to Babylon so much assuaged, that it migh£ be thought a great favour, if Nabulassar, appointing unto them a peculiar king, took him and them into protection; though afterwards, to their confusion, this unthankful people and their king rebelled again, as shall be shewed in the reign of Nabuchodonosor.
The great Expedition of the Scythians, ivho ruled in Asia eight and twenty years.
(1.) The time of this Expedition*
Now that I have shewed what impediment was given by the Assyrians and the Medes to the Babylonians, who thereby were much disabled to perform any action of worth upon the Egyptians in Syria, it is time that I speak of that great Scythian expedition, which grievously afflicted not only the Babylonians, but the Medes and Lydians, with the countries adjacent, in such wise, that part of the trouble redounded even to the Egyptians themselves. Of the Scythian people, in general, Herodotus makes very large discourse, but interlaced, as of matter ill known, with many fables. Of this expedition he tells many particulars, but ill agreeing with consent of time. Concerning his fabulous reports, it will be needless to recite them, for they are far enough distant from the business in hand. The computation of times, which, by inference out of his relations, may seem very strange, needeth some answer in this place, lest otherwise I should seem to make myself too bold with an author, in citing him after a manner different from his own tale, or else to be too forgetful of myself, in bringing to act upon the stage those persons which 1 had already buried.
Eight and twenty years, he saith, that the Scythians reigned in Asia before Cyaxares delivered the country from them. Yet he reports a war between Cyaxares and Halyattes, the Lydian, as foregoing the siege of Nineveh; the siege of Nineveh being ere the Scythians came. And, further, he tells, how the Scythians, having vanquished the Medes, did pass into Syria, and were encountered in Palaestina by Psammeticus king of Egypt, who, by gifts and entreaty, procured them to depart from him. These narrations of Herodotus may every one of them be true, though not in such order of time as he hath marshalled them. For Psammeticus was dead before Cyaxares began to reign; and Cyaxares had spent half of his forty years ere Halyattes was king of Lydia; so that he could not, after those Lydian wars, reign eight and twenty years together with the Scythians. It is true, that Eusebius doth also call Psammis,the son of Pharaoh Necho, by the name of Psammeticus; and this king Psammis may, by some strange conjecture, be thought to have been he that met with the Scythians, for he lived with both Cyaxares and Halyattes. But Eusebius himself refers all that business of the Scythian eruption into Palaestina to Psammeticus the father of Necho, whom he leaves dead before the reign of Halyattes. Therefore I dare not rely upon Herodotus in this matter, otherwise than to believe him that such things were in these ages, though not in such order as he sets them down.
It remains that 1 collect as well as I can those memorials which I find of this expedition scattered in divers places; a work necessary, for that the greatness of this action was such as ought not to be omitted in a general history; yet not easy, the consent of those that have written thereof being nothing near to uniformity.
I have noted before, that in the reign of Ardys king of Lydia, the Cimmerians over-ran that kingdom, and were not expelled until Halyattes, the nephew of Ardys, got the upper hand of them. In these times, therefore, of Ardys, Sadyattes, and Halyattes, are we to find the eight and twenty years wherein the Scythians reigned over Asia. Now, forasmuch as Psammeticus the Egyptian had some dealings with the Scythians, even in the height of their prosperity, we must needs allow more than one or two of his last years unto this their dominion. But the beginning of Halyattes's reign in Lydia, being three and twenty years complete after the death of Psammeticus, leaves the space very scant, either for the great victories of the Scythians, necessarily supposed before they could meet the Egyptian in Syria, or for those many losses which they must have received ere they could be driven quite away. To increase this difficulty, the victorious reign of Nabuchodonosor in Babylon is of no small moment; for how may we think it possible, that he should have adventured the strength of his kingdom against the Egyptians and Jews, had he stood in daily fear of losing his own, to a more mighty nation that lay upon his neck? To speak simply, as it appears to me, the victories ascribed to Cyaxares and Halyattes over these warlike people, were not obtained against the whole body of their army, but were the defeatures of some troops that infested their several kingdoms; other princes, and among these Nabulassar, having the like success, when the pleasures of Asia had mollified the courage of these hardy northern lads. Wherefore, we may probably annex the eight and twenty years of the Scythians rule to as many almost the last of Nabulassar's reign, in compass whereof their power was at the greatest. This is all that I can say of the time wherein Asia suffered the
(2.) What nations they'were that broke into Asia, with the
cause of their journey.
Touching the expedition itself, Herodotus tells us, that the Cimmerians, being driven out of their country by the Scythians, invaded and wasted some part of Asia; and that the Scythians, not contented with having won the land of the Cimmerians, did follow them, I know not why, into far-removed quarters of the world, so, (as it were by chance,) falling upon Media and Egypt, in this pursuit of men that were gone another way into Lydia. Hereby we may gather, that the Cimmerians were an odious and base people; the Scythians as mischievous and foolish; or else Herodotus, and some other of his countrymen, great slanderers of those by whom their nation had been beaten, and Ionia more than once grievously ransacked. The great valour of the Cimmerians, or Cimbrians, is so well known, and their many conquests so well testified in histories of divers nations, that the malice of the Greeks is insufficient to stain them with the note of cowards. These were the posterity of Gomer, who peopled the greatest part of our western world, and whose reflow did overwhelm no small portion of Greece and Asia, as well before and after as in the age whereof we do now entreat. He that would more largely inform himself of their original and actions, may peruse Goropius Becanus's Amazonica; of many things in which book that may be verified which the learned Ortelius is said to have spoken of all Goropius's works, ' That it is easy to laugh at them, but hard 'to confute them.' There we find it proved by such arguments and authorities as are not lightly to be regarded, that the Cimmerians, Scythians, and Sarmatians, were all of one lineage and nation, howsoever distinguished in name, by reason of their divers tribes, professions, or, perhaps, dialect of speech. Homer, indeed, hath mention of the Cimmerians, whose country, whether he placeth in the west, as near unto the ocean and bounds of the earth, or in the north, as being far from the sun, and covered with eternal darkness, certain it is that he would have them near neighbours of hell; for he had the same quarrel to them which Herodotus had, and therefore, belike, would have made them seem a kind of goblins. It was the manner of this great poet, (as Herodotus, writing his life, affirms,) to insert into his works the names of such as lived in his own times, making such mention of them as the good or ill done by them to himself deserved. And for this reason it is proved by Eustathius, that the Cimmerians were so disgraced by him because they had
gia by the Amazons, whereof Homer puts a remembrance into Priamus's discourse with Helen, was the very same which Eusebius noteth to have happened somewhat before the age of Homer, at what time the Cimmerians, with the Amazons together, invaded Asia.
This is certain, that both the Amazons and the Cimmerii, (who in after times were called Cimbri,) did often break into Greece and Asia; which though it be not in express terms written, that they did with joint forces, yet, seeing they invaded the self-same places, it may well be gathered that they were companions. One journey of the Amazons into Greece, mentioned also by Eusebius, was by the streights of the Cimmerians, as we find in Diodorus': who further telleth us, that the Scythians therein gave them assistance. The same author*, before his entry into those discourses of the Amazons, which himself acknowledged to be fabulous, doth report them to
wasted his country.