Semiramis Legendary Queen of Assyria

French «Encyclopedia Larousse» defined Semiramis as a legendary queen of Assyria who ruled the kingdom of Nineveh, capital of Mesopotamia in the period between 810-805 BC. She was known for her beauty, power, wisdom, and for her unusual talent as a state leader, army com-mander, conquests of other coun¬tries and for her desire for reform and building. Many references say that she built the city of Babel and its suspended gardens, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, dubbed «Semiramis Gardens». She fought many wars, and invaded Egypt, Sudan and Abyssinia. She attacked the Medians, grand fathers of the Persians, who set¬tled in Northern Iran in the first millennium BC and built the city of Akabatana, now Hamadan, as their capital, and who were of constant difference with the king¬dom of Assyria. She achieved victory on them and invaded large parts of Asia Minor.

In her last years as a queen she led a failing attack on India although she had formed a strong army for this purpose. She crossed the River Sind, but was surprised of a large number of trained elephants which frightened her horse men, so she retreated after she was wounded by a spear, and was about to lose her life.

Semiramis is always mentioned as the founder of the second Assyrian Empire which prospered under her rule. The first Assyrian Empire, which witnessed its culmination in the 18th Century BC, was invaded by the Aramaic armies who succeeded in destroying it in the 10th. Century BC, but when Semiramis assumed power, she could regain the glories of the Assyrians thanks to her smart leadership and military prowess and genius. She established an empire that lived from the 9th Century BC until the end of the 7th. Century BC.

Encyclopedia Larousse says that Semiramis means the pigeon. She was given this name because pigeons took care of her and fed her after she was born. The Assyrian legend says that one

 day heavy rains caused the Euphrates to flood and fish to scatter on the banks of the river. Two big fishes drove a float¬ing big egg to the beach; soon a large white pigeon approached the egg, pushed it far from water and incubated it until it hatched off. From inside the egg a beautiful baby girl got out and soon large number of doves fluttered their wings to sway away the heat of the sun from her, and started looking for something to feed her. They found a tent where shepherds store their milk and cheese and began carrying small amounts of food in their pecks to offer them to the baby. Shepherds noticed the unusual movement of the doves, watched them well, and realized that they take small amounts of milk and cheese, and fly to a near by place. They followed them and found the wonder¬ful baby, took her to their tents, named her Semiramis, raised her until she became young, and settled their minds to sell her in the bazaar of Nineveh.

One morning, in the season of marriage, they took the young girl to the grand bazaar where men come from all over the city to choose brides for themselves or for their sons. The bazaar was unusu-ally busy when the shepherds came in and stood with the young girl in the first rows. Unus, advisor of the king, who came to supervise the bazaar by orders of the king, noticed the unusual inno¬cent beauty of the girl. Soon he bought her, took her home, married her and had twin sisters from her: Hiawatha and Hidasgha.

During their marriage, Semiramis; the smart and intelligent woman, used to offer her advice to her husband about important matters related to the state until he succeeded in his works and became favored by King Ninus, King of Nineveh who was planning a cam¬paign against his neighbors, the Medians, who used to invade his kingdom every now and then. The king sent for Unus to lead the army, but the infatuated husband didn't like to leave his wife alone behind him so he asked her to escort him. She will¬ingly agreed and went with him to the battlefield where the Medians were encircled the Assyrian army. Semiramis studied the military situa¬tion closely, and gave certain remarks in order to break the siege. The battle was running in a plain and both; the attackers and defenders did not resort to climb a near by mountain where there was a fort at the top. Semiramis advised that a group of trained arch¬ers climb the height overlooking the battlefield and to start shooting arrows on the enemy army until they suc¬ceeded in dispersing it, then a cavalry battalion flanked the Median army which found itself enclosed between the archers at the top and the horse¬men from behind and had no choice but to surrender.

When King Ninus knew of what hap¬pened in the battlefield he admired the bravery and quick mind of Semiramis and decided to reward her. Once he saw her he was charmed with her beauty, and soon fell in love with her and asked her to be his wife. The king proposed to Unus, her husband, to take his daughter as a wife and to leave Semiramis for him. When he refused the king threatened to gouge out his eyes to deprive him of see¬ingSemiramis beauty. Under this threat, and out of fear, Unus agreed to cede Semiramis to the king, who soon mar¬ried her and had a son, Ninas, from her.

King Ninus didn't live long after that, and Semiramis became the regent of her minor son taking into consideration that she used to share the rule with her husband during his life. She ruled the kingdom for six years during which she built a huge mausoleum for her husband, King Ninus. The legend says that she also rebuilt the city of Babel and started ceaseless efforts to build a new city of Neneveh (today alMosul) not far from the old one.

History texts say that Semiramis' attrac¬tive charisma and overwhelming beauty gave her a unique fame that Margaret, Queen of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (1353- 1412), and Catherine II, Czar of Russia ( 1729- 1796) called them¬selves «Semiramis» of Europe. Hollywood made a film in her tribute which was highly received all over the world. Today many important tourist centers, hotels, restaurants and beauty centers bear her name. Semiramis was an Assyrian queen of utmost beauty and great skill in ruling the country, com¬manding the armies, making conquests and at the same time owned a great desire for reform and building.

 

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