Jun 15 2020

Lord Byron’s Tragedy of Sardanapalus, in four acts, was performed at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, March April 28, Charles Calvert (the adapter). The subject of this painting was inspired by Lord Byron’s dramatic poem of about the life of an ancient Assyrian king named Sardanapalus. Finding his. This thesis discusses the gender standards as portrayed in Lord Byron’s play. Sardanapalus () and Eugène Delacroix’s painting Death of Sardanapalus.

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Ctesias’ book Persica is lost, but we know of its contents by later compilations and from sardwnapalus work of Diodorus II. In this account, Sardanapalus, supposed to have lived in the 7th century BC, is portrayed as a decadent figure who spends his life in self-indulgence and dies in an orgy of destruction.

The legendary decadence of Sardanapalus later became a theme in literature and art, especially in the Romantic era.

The name Sardanapalus is probably a corruption of Ashurbanipalan Assyrian emperor, but Sardanapalus as described by Diodorus bears little relationship with what is known of that king, who in fact was a militarily powerful, highly efficient and scholarly ruler, presiding over the largest empire the world had yet seen.

Diodorus says that Sardanapalus, son of Anakyndaraxes, exceeded all previous rulers in sloth and vyron.

He spent his whole life in self-indulgence. He dressed in women’s clothes srdanapalus wore make-up. He had many concubines, female and male. He wrote his own epitaphwhich stated that physical gratification is the only purpose of life. His lifestyle caused dissatisfaction within the Assyrian empire, allowing a conspiracy against him to develop led by ” Arbaces “. An alliance of MedesPersians and Babylonians challenged the Assyrians.

The Death of Sardanapalus

Sardanapalus stirred himself to action and routed the rebels several times in battle, but failed to crush them. Believing he had defeated the rebels, Sardanapalus returned to his decadent lifestyle, ordering sacrifices and celebrations. But the rebels were reinforced by new troops from Bactria. Sardanapalus’s troops sardanapwlus surprised during their partying, and were routed. Sardanapalus returned to Nineveh to defend his capital, while his army was placed under the command of his brother-in-law, who was soon defeated and killed.

Having ssrdanapalus his family to safety, Sardanapalus prepared to hold Nineveh. He managed to withstand a long siege, but eventually heavy rains caused the Tigris to overflow, leading to the collapse of one of the defensive walls. To avoid falling into the hand of his enemies, Sardanapalus had a huge funeral pyre created for himself on which were piled “all his gold, silver and royal apparel”. He had his eunuchs and concubines boxed in inside the pyre, burning himself and them to death.


The Greek writer Choerilus of Iasus composed an epitaph on Sardanapalus, which he claimed to have been translated from Chaldean.

Sardanapalus – a monologue from the play by Lord Byron

There is no king named Sardanapalus attested in the Assyrian King List. Parts of the story of Sardanapalus seem to be related in some degree to events in the later years of the Assyrian Empireinvolving conflict between the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal and his brother Shamash-shum-ukinwho controlled Babylon as a vassal territory, on behalf of his brother.

While Sardanapalus has been identified with Ashurbanipal, [3] his alleged death in the flames of his palace is closer to that of his brother Shamash-shum-ukkin, who became infused with Babylonian nationalism and formed an alliance of BabyloniansChaldeansElamitesArabs and Suteans against his master in an attempt to transfer the seat of the vast empire saranapalus Nineveh to Babylon.

There is no evidence from Mesopotamia that either Ashurbanipal or Shamash-shum-ukin led hedonistic lifestyles, were homosexual or transvestites. Both appear to have been strong, disciplined, serious and ambitious rulers, and Ashurbanipal was known to be a literate and scholarly king with an interest in mathematicsastronomyastrologyhistoryzoology and botany.

It was Shamash-shum-ukin in Babylon who was besieged and defeated, and his allies crushed, not Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. After the former’s defeat in BC, an inscription of Ashurbanipal’s records that “they threw down Shamash-shum-ukkin, enemy brother who attacked me, into the raging conflagration”.

The actual Fall of Nineveh occurred in BC after Assyria had been greatly weakened by a bitter series of internal civil wars between rival claimants to the throne. Its former subjects took advantage of these events and freed themselves from the Assyrian yoke. Nineveh was besieged and sacked in BC.

Sardanapalus – Wikipedia

Ashurbanipal’s son Sin-shar-ishkun the third of four kings to rule after Ashurbanipal was then ruling as king of Assyria. He was probably killed defending his city in the sack, though records are fragmentary. Ashur-uballit II succeeded him as the last king of an independent Assyria, ruling from Harranthe last capital of Assyria until BC.

Assyria survived as an occupied province and geo-political entity until it was dissolved after the Arab Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia in the 7th century AD.

The area is still inhabited by a now Christian and still Eastern Aramaic -speaking indigenous Assyrian minority today. On the eve of the battle of Issus BCAlexander’s biographers say, Alexander the Great was shown what purported to be the tomb of Sardanapalus at Anchialus in Ciliciawith a relief carving of the king clapping his hands over his head and an inscription that the locals translated for him as “Sardanapalus, son of Anakyndaraxes, built Anchialus and Tarsus in a single day; stranger, eat, drink and make love, as other human things are not worth this” signifying the clap of the hands.


In the introductory pages of Book I of Aristotle ‘s Nicomachean Ethicsthose who erroneously, according to Aristotle equate the good life with the life of brute pleasure are likened to Sardanapalus.

Mephistopheles offers up the life of pleasure as Faust’s life’s goal. Coleridgein his notes on the works of Byron, states, “It is hardly necessary to remind the modern reader that the Sardanapalus of history is an unverified if not an unverifiable personage The character which Ctesias depicted or invented, an effeminate debauchee, sunk in luxury and sloth, who at the last was driven to take up arms, and, after a prolonged but ineffectual resistance, avoided capture by suicide, cannot be identified”.

He is portrayed as criminal who ordered one hundred prisoners of war to be executed and burned his palace with all his concubines inside. Hector Berliozthe 19th-century French Romantic composer, wrote a very early cantata on the subject of the death of Sardanapalus.

It was his fourth and finally successful attempt in the Prix de Rome competition, run by the Paris Conservatoire. Only a fragment of the score survives. Franz Liszt began an uncompleted opera on the subject, Sardanapale. Henry David Thoreauwrites in Walden”It is the luxurious and dissipated who set the fashions which the herd so diligently follow. The traveller who stops at the best houses, so called, soon discovers this, for the publicans presume him to be a Sardanapalus, and if he resigned himself to their tender mercies he would soon be completely emasculated.

In Dante’s ParadisoXV. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. To which are added the fragments of Diodorus, and those published by H. Ursinus, Volume 1, p. His successors too, following his example, gave answers to their people through their ministers. The Assyrians, who were afterwards called Syrians, held their empire thirteen hundred years.

The last king that reigned over them was Sardanapalus, a man more effeminate than a woman. The Ancient Near East: Retrieved from ” https: Assyrian kings Hellenistic historiography People whose existence is disputed. All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from November Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 25 Decemberat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.