On the Fall of Nineveh

A cool story from the second book of the Library of History by Diodorus Siculus, set in the four-year revolutionary spasm that brought down the centuries-old Assyrian empire. As Nineveh fell, king Sardanapallos heaped up his royal fabrics, gold, and silver into a pyre in his palace’s innermost sanctum, lit it, and threw his concubines, personal eunuchs, and then himself onto the fire. Afterward, once Arbaces had been crowned the new king of Asia, Belesus (an astrologer general who would himself go on to found a Neo-Babylonian dynasty) – knowing what was hidden within them – asked to keep the palace ashes as a boon. He proposed to build a burial mound outside Babylon commemorating the fall of the Assyrians. Arbaces agreed and Belesus began transporting the melted gold and silver out of flood and fire ruined Nineveh in shipments of ash. He was later found out, but managed to survive a court martial death sentence. Basically, a Three Kings-like heist story set in an empire-destroying rebellion, in which the thief was a magical warlord.

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