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ONCE UPON A TIME. Once upon a time, there lived in a city of Asia Minor, not far from Mount Ida, as old Homer tells us in his grand and beautiful poem, a king who had fifty sons and many daughters. How large his family was, indeed, we cannot say, for the storytellers of the olden time were not very careful to set down the actual and exact truth, their chief object being to give the people something to interest them. That they succeeded well in... more...

CHAPTER I. ITALY. I am going to tell you next about the most famous nation in the world. Going westward from Greece another peninsula stretches down into the Mediterranean. The Apennine Mountains run like a limb stretching out of the Alps to the south eastward, and on them seems formed that land, shaped somewhat like a leg, which is called Italy. Round the streams that flowed down from these hills, valleys of fertile soil formed themselves,... more...

CHAPTER I. Condition of the Persians under the Successors of Alexander—under the Arsacidce. Favor shown them by the latter—allowed to have Kings of their own. Their Religion at first held in honor. Power of their Priests. Gradual Change of Policy on the part of the Parthian Monarchs, and final Oppression of the Magi. Causes which produced the Insurrection of Artaxerxes. "The Parthians had been barbarians; they had ruled over a... more...

CHAPTER I. Geography of Parthia Proper, Character of the Region, Climate, Character of the Surrounding Countries. The broad tract of desert which, eastward of the Caspian Sea, extends from the Mougbojar hills to the Indian Ocean, a distance of above 1500 miles, is interrupted about midway by a strip of territory possessing features of much beauty and attraction. This strip, narrow compared to the desert on either side of it, is yet, looked at... more...

CHAPTER I. EXTENT OF THE EMPIRE. The geographical extent of the Fifth Monarchy was far greater than that of any one of the four which had preceded it. While Persia Proper is a comparatively narrow and poor tract, extending in its greatest length only some seven or eight degrees (less than 500 miles), the dominions of the Persian kings covered a space fifty-six degrees long, and in places more than twenty degrees wide. The boundaries of their... more...


CHAPTER I. EXTENT OF THE EMPIRE. "Behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great; the tree grew and was strong: and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth."—Dan. iy. 10, 11. The limits of Babylonia Proper, the tract in which the dominant power of the Fourth Monarchy had its abode, being almost identical with those which have been already described under the... more...

CHAPTER I. DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY. "Greek phrase[—]"—HEROD. i. 192. The site of the second—or great Assyrian-monarchy was the upper portion of the Mesopotamian valley. The cities which successively formed its capitals lay, all of them, upon the middle Tigris; and the heart of the country was a district on either side that river, enclosed within the thirty-fifth and thirty-seventh parallels. By degrees these limits were... more...

CHAPTER I. GENERAL VIEW OF THE COUNTRY. "Behold the land of the Chaldaeans."—ISAIAH xxiii. 13. The broad belt of desert which traverses the eastern hemisphere, in a general direction from west to east (or, speaking more exactly, of W. S. W. to N. E. E.), reaching from the Atlantic on the one hand nearly to the Yellow Sea on the other, is interrupted about its centre by a strip of rich vegetation, which at once breaks the continuity of... more...

CHAPTER I The wife of Belisarius, whom I have spoken of in my previous writings, was the daughter and grand-daughter of chariot-drivers, men who had practised their art in the circus at Byzantium and at Thessalonica. Her mother was one of the prostitutes of the theatre. She herself at first lived a lewd life, giving herself up to unbridled debauchery; besides this, she devoted herself to the study of the drugs which had long been used in her... more...

CHAPTER I The State of Greece from the earliest Times to the Commencement of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief was not without its grounds. The preparations of both the combatants were in every... more...