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Ancient Mesopotamia

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Ingratitude in masses, as in individuals, is very apt to be the reward of great benefactors. Egypt, taciturn, proud, and self-contained, was respected and admired by all her neighbours, while Greece and Judea, the shining beacons of Mediterranean civilisation, from the point of view of morals and science, have had the mortification of receiving ineffaceable stigmas. In the popular language of our own day, “Greek” and “Jew” are such offensive sobriquets that the descendants of these two glorious races seek to avoid the use of those names when describing their origins.

Babylonia, after her conquest and disappearance from the scene of the world, although she was vastly superior to her destroyers, did not escape this little-deserved fate. To the contemporaries of her fall, Babylon is only the city of courtesans and insipid magic; nevertheless, in the days of her strength, she ruled the barbarian world that surrounded her by other means than naked flesh and empty formulas of incantation. For thousands of years she shone with an unparalleled brilliancy, and illuminated with her vivifying rays the rude peoples with which she was in contact. Her influence left indelible traces even on the civilisations of western Asia and of the Greek world, partly through the agency of the Phœnicians and Aramæans. And if her disappearance caused no disturbance in the march of progress, it is because her mission was fulfilled long before the epoch of her decline. From the reign of Xerxes, plundered Babylon gradually decayed; on the arrival of Alexander she was already three-fourths in ruins. The war of the Diadochi and the advent of the Parthian dynasty completed her entombment. There was none to assume her moral heritage at that time, for the heir had already taken all that was precious and truly imperishable.

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