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PALMYRA AND ZENOBIA. CHAPTER 8.

CHAPTER VIII.

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FALLEN CAPITAL.
FALLEN CAPITAL.

WE hastened over prostrate columns, and along silent streets, till we reached the beautiful little temple called the "Temple of the King's Mother." Here we descended from our horses at half-past three o'clock P.m., having made the journey from 'Ain el-Wu'ul in about ten and a half hours' actual riding.

This little temple commands an excellent view of the ruins, and so we pitched our camp beside it, and my bed was spread within its once sacred fane. I had thus ample leisure by starlight and sunlight, to study what Miss Beaufort, in her pleasant book, called "a little gem of a temple. almost perfect in form," and which is still beautiful, though without the fluted columns which she attributed to it.

The temple was sixty feet long, including the portico, and about twenty-seven feet broad. Its projecting roof in front was supported by six columns with Corinthian capitals; and in the walls there were half columns and [64] pilasters, so arranged as to break, by light and shadow, the monotony of a flat surface. Each column had a bracket, on which once stood a statue ; and there are inscriptions on the faces of the brackets, one of which contains the names of Hadrian and Agrippa, and a date corresponding to 130 of the Christian era.

THE TEMPLE OF THE KING'S MOTHER.
THE TEMPLE OF THE KING'S MOTHER.

This dedication took place the same year in which Hadrian erected a temple to Jupiter at .Jerusalem, and about nine years after the building of Hadrian's wall between the Tyne and Solway Firth.

In that year Hadrian visited Palmyra, and in an inscription he is called the " God Hadrian "; and Palmyra took to itself the name of the god, and was known for a time as " Hadrianopolis."

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The door of our temple was nine and a half feet wide, and its jambs and lintels were monoliths, adorned with a tracing of the egg and dice pattern. There were windows on each side of the door, with bevelled and projecting stone frames, and there were similar windows in each side wall of the temple. The whole edifice once stood on a raised platform ; but the sand and ruins have silted up round it. taking away from its height. and giving it a slightly heavy look.

UPRIGHTS OF SIDE DOOR OF GREAT TEMPLE.
UPRIGHTS OF SIDE DOOR OF GREAT TEMPLE.

Half a score of similar temples lie prostrate among the ruins here and there, showing even in their fallen estate, by the grace and grandeur of their fragments, how much they surpassed this, which doubtless stands a solitary specimen to-day, owing to its having sacrificed airy beauty to solidity and strength.

Right in front of our little temple stood the great Temple of the Sun. Its northern wall rose before us to a height of seventy feet, and hid from our view all the glories within. The blank wall was broken by pilasters with carved capitals, which supported a solid projecting [66] entablature, and there were windows between the pilasters which were all closed, except one, through which some of the superfluous dung of the village within was ejected.

The strong outer wall gave the temple something of the character of a fortress ; and this was necessitated by the position of the city, surrounded as it was by the wild hordes of the desert, and subject to the sudden incursions of the Partitions from the east. The Moslems changed the temple into a real fort, by building up the windows, and raising a square tower over the splendid portico.

This magnificent old temple, I shall not attempt to describe in detail. It covered about six hundred and forty thousand square feet of ground, and in going round it you walk more than a mile. The entrance doorway, which was beautifully sculptured, was thirty-two feet high and sixteen feet wide, and its jambs and lintels were each single stones. Around the court, near the outer wall, were rows of columns, seventy feet high, to the number of three hundred and seventy-four, and these, like the other columns of Palmyra, had brackets for the statues of those whom the Tadmorenes delighted to honour. Witliin the spacious square enclosed by these colonnades stood a beautiful building on a raised platform, ascended by a flight of stone steps, and surrounded by a single row of fluted columns with Corinthian capitals in bronze.

This was the temple. Its length north and south was about forty paces, and its breadth nearly sixteen paces.

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The entrance was in the western_ side, and at the other end there was what might be called the HoIy of Holiday. The ceiling in this naos, or innermost part of the temple, still remained entire, exhibiting the most lovely designs with zodiacal signs and the most perfect carving to be seen in Tadmor. Indeed, this temple is the chief triumph of the Tadmor artists; and at the time Zenobia used to grace its steps surrounded by her brilliant court, it must have been an object of surpassing splendour.

CEILING OF HOLY OF HOLIES, THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN.
CEILING OF HOLY OF HOLIES, THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN.

The great polished columns in the temple alone, if placed end to end, would have formed one column nearly six miles long; and the statues, if drawn up in form, would have presented about the same numbers as a regiment of the line. We can well understand how Aurelian [68] spent such vast sums  three hundred pounds' weight of gold and eighteen hundred pounds' weight of silver, as well as the crown jewels of Zenobia  to repair this temple, which had been injured by his soldiers.

Let us look at the temple in its present state. As we approach it in front, we see, over the patched and broken walls, columns standing, and leaning about at every angle, as though the temple enclosure were a huge lumber-yard of columns. Around the outer wall is a deep ditch, and the entrance is reached by a raised causeway flagged with broad stones, among which I recognized a panelled stone door. The sheikh and a crowd of his people are sitting on stones in the gate. Camels and mules pass in and out, and women with jars of water on their heads, and babies on their shoulders, enter have a Jewish cast of features. The women are coarse the enclosure. The men are tall, and. as it seems to me, featured, but not very ugly, and they all blacken their eyebrows and blue their lips.

Within, we find the whole area of the temple filled with clay-daubed huts, so that we can only get an idea of the place by climbing over them. We pass on straight to the Holy of Holies, which we explore with our handkerchiefs held to our noses, for the inmost shrine is the cesspool of the community.

We hurry out to the fresh air; but it is not fresh, for all the offal and filth of the houses are flung out into the narrow lanes, and lie rotting in the sun. Wherever we go among these human dens there reek [69]

TEMPLE OF THE SUN, EASTERN SIDE

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[71] filth and squalor, and the hot pestiferous atmosphere of an ill-kept stye. Such is now the state of that gorgeous temple which the proud Tadmorenes raised to their gods, which were no gods, and where they gloritied one another in monuments of perishable stone.

TRIUMPHAL ARCH.
TRIUMPHAL ARCH.

Looking at the ruins of Tadmor, one wonders at the rage that must have existed for columns. Little houses had their tiers of little columns, and great houses had their tiers of correspondingly great columns. Public edifices for civil and religious uses had their quota of lofty columns. Little streets and public squares all had their rows of columns: and wherever you move, columns without number block your path. They lie, in some places, like trees swept together by a flood into heaps; at other places they protrude from the sand, or stand up iii solitary grandeur, having no apparent connection with anything else.

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The column mania found its fullest expression in the great colonnade of the principal street. This street intersected the city, running almost in a line between the Temple of the Sun and the Castle. The end next the temple commenced with a splendid triumphal arch, and after extending towards the mountain for about four thousand feet, terminated in what is now a maze of prostrate columns.

SIDE ARCHWAY OF TRIUMPHAL ARCH.
SIDE ARCHWAY OF TRIUMPHAL ARCH.

The triumphal arch consisted of a large central and two side arches, from which ran four rows of colums, forming a central broadway and sidwalks. About half way down the street, a little below the arcade which cuts the colonnade at right angles, there are four massive pedestals,on which probably stood equestrian or other statues of enormous magnitude; and near this spot, on both sides, are splendid ruins, which local tradition makes the palace of "Sitt Zeinab" (Lady Zenobia) and the judgment-hall.

Independent of the colonnades that branched off right and left, this one street, with its sidewalks, must have had about fifteen hundred columns. These columns were [73] fifty-seven feet high, and were composed of three great drums, which supported Corinthian capitals and massive ornate entablatures. Between the second and third drum there was a section of a column inserted, with a protruding bracket for the reception of a bust or statue, and on the fronts of these brackets were inscriptions in Greek and Palmyrene, giving the names of the persons whose statues graced the pedestals.

On two columns side by side, near the central arcade, are two inscriptions of the greatest interest. The one records the dedication, by his generals, of a statue to Septimius Odainathus, king of kings, and regretted by the whole city"; and the other is a dedication to his wife, Septimia Zenobia, the illustrious and pious queen."

In the Palmyrene, under the Greek, we find Zenobia's Palmyrene name  Bath-Zabbai, the daughter of Zabbai.

Both statues were raised in the month of August A.D. 271, only a short time before the fall of the city.

What a splendid city Palmyra must have been in its palmy days, when the victorious hosts of Odainathus returned laden with the spoils of Oriental kings, and marched in glittering array through the long colonnades, beneath the statues of illustrious Palmyrans ! Or when the fiery Bath-Zabbai flashed through those corridors in her gilded chariot, surrounded by her martial courtiers and fair companions! Or when, with bare arms and helmet on head, with all the pomp of real or mimic war, she sallied forth on her shining Arab to review and harangue her warriors on the sandy plain!




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