Ctesias' book Persica is lost, but we know of its contents by later compilations and from the 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 Ashurbanipal , an 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 luxury.
|Country:||Republic of Macedonia|
|Published (Last):||12 August 2017|
|PDF File Size:||20.20 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||10.65 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Sardanapalus is a historical tragedy in blank verse by Lord Byron , set in ancient Nineveh and recounting the fall of the Assyrian monarchy and its supposed last king. Byron wrote the play during his stay in Ravenna , and dedicated it to Goethe. It has had an extensive influence on European culture, inspiring a painting by Delacroix and musical works by Berlioz , Liszt and Ravel , among others.
In a soliloquy Salemenes deplores the life of slothful luxury led by his brother-in-law Sardanapalus , king of Assyria. The king enters, and Salemenes reproaches him with his lack of ambition for military glory and his unfaithfulness to his queen, Salemenes' sister. He warns him of possible rebellion by treacherous courtiers. Sardanapalus answers by extolling the virtues of mild and merciful rule and condemning bloodshed, but is finally persuaded to give Salemenes his signet so that he can arrest the rebel leaders.
Salemenes leaves, and Sardanapalus reflects,. Till now, no drop from an Assyrian vein Hath flow'd for me, nor hath the smallest coin Of Nineveh's vast treasures e'er been lavish'd On objects which could cost her sons a tear: If then they hate me, 'tis because I hate not: If they rebel, 'tis because I oppress not.
The Greek slave-girl Myrrha, Sardanapalus' favourite, enters; when Sardanapalus proposes to spend the evening banqueting by the Euphrates she persuades him not to go, fearing some danger there. The Chaldean astrologer Beleses predicts the downfall of Sardanapalus, then meets the satrap Arbaces and plots the king's murder with him.
Salemenes enters and tries forcibly to arrest both men, but Sardanapalus arrives unexpectedly and, not wanting to believe that Beleses and Arbaces could be traitors, breaks up the struggle.
Salemenes and the king leave, and Arbaces, shamed by the king's clemency, momentarily abandons his regicidal intentions. A messenger arrives from the king, telling the two satraps to return to their respective provinces without their troops. Beleses believes this to be the prelude to a death sentence. Arbaces agrees:. Why, what other Interpretation should it bear? I know not how, But they all sicken'd by the way, it was So long and heavy.
They leave, resolving to defend themselves by rebellion. Sardanapalus and Salemenes enter, and it becomes clear that Sardanapalus is now persuaded of the plotters' guilt, but still does not repent of sparing them. Myrrha joins the king and urges him to execute Beleses and Arbaces, but he, as ever, rejects the shedding of blood. The king is banqueting when news reaches him that the two satraps have refused to leave the city and have led their troops in rebellion. Sardanapalus arms himself and, after admiring his newly martial appearance in a mirror, goes to join Salemenes and his soldiers, now the only ones loyal to him.
Myrrha, left behind, hears reports that a battle is in progress, and is going badly for the king. Sardanapalus and Salemenes return, closely followed by the rebels, but they beat the attack off and congratulate themselves on a victory.
Sardanapalus admits to being slightly wounded. Sardanapalus awakes from a troubled sleep and tells Myrrha that he has had a nightmare of banqueting with his dead ancestors, the kings of Assyria. Salemenes now brings in his sister, Zarina, Sardanapalus' long-estranged wife, and these two are left alone together. Zarina proposes to take their children abroad for safety, and makes it clear that she still loves him. As they talk the king gradually becomes reconciled to his wife.
She faints at the prospect of parting, and is carried out. Myrrha enters, and the king, initially embarrassed by her presence, falls under her spell again. I thought to have made mine inoffensive rule An era of sweet peace 'midst bloody annals, A green spot amidst desert centuries, On which the future would turn back and smile, And cultivate, or sigh when it could not Recall Sardanapalus' golden reign.
I thought to have made my realm a paradise, And every moon an epoch of new pleasures. I took the rabble's shouts for love — the breath Of friends for truth — the lips of woman for My only guerdon — so they are, my Myrrha: [ He kisses her ] Kiss me. Now let them take my realm and life! They shall have both, but never thee! As Myrrha waits in the palace, conversing with one of the courtiers, a wounded Salemenes is brought in, a javelin protruding from his side.
He draws out the javelin and dies of the consequent blood-loss. Sardanapalus, who has also returned, desponds about his prospects in the unfolding battle. Then he is told that the Euphrates , being in violent flood, has torn down part of the city wall, leaving no defence against the enemy except the river itself, which must presently recede.
A herald arrives and offers Arbaces' terms: Sardanapalus' life if he will surrender. The king refuses these terms, but asks for a truce of one hour. He uses this interval to have a pyre erected under his throne, and bids his last faithful officer save himself by fleeing.
Sardanapalus and Myrrha say their last farewells to each other and to the world, then he climbs to the top of the pyre, and she throws a torch into it and joins him. Sardanapalus was written while the author was living in Ravenna with his lover, Teresa, Countess Guiccioli , and is sometimes seen as portraying the Countess and Byron himself in the characters of Myrrha and Sardanapalus.
On 14 January he wrote the first lines, and on 14 February completed the first act. My object has been to dramatize like the Greeks a modest phrase! You will find all this very unlike Shakespeare; and so much the better in one sense, for I look upon him to be the worst of models, though the most extraordinary of writers. Byron's intended dedication of the play to Goethe was omitted, but it did finally appear in the edition of In a prefatory note to Sardanapalus Byron acknowledged the Historical Library of Diodorus Siculus a work he had known since he was 12 as the major source of the plot, while exercising his right to alter the facts of history so as to maintain the dramatic unities , but it is known [ citation needed ] that he also used William Mitford's History of Greece.
The passage in which Sardanapalus calls for a mirror to admire his own appearance in armour was, on Byron's own evidence, suggested by Juvenal Satires , Bk. He also suggested that the style of Sardanapalus was influenced by Seneca the Younger , whose tragedies Byron certainly mentions browsing through just before he began work on it. Byron intended his play as a closet piece , writing that it was "expressly written not for the theatre".
It was said that Byron had wanted Charlotte Mardyn to play the role of Myrrha as she had been Byron's lover. Macready was not keen to cast her  and Ellen Tree played Myrrha. Ellen Kean again appearing as Myrrha. In the actor-manager Charles Calvert played Sardanapalus in his own adaptation of the play, and this adaptation was also staged at Booth's Theatre in New York.
It depicts the Assyrian king preparing for death surrounded by concubines, rather than in the company of Myrrha alone as Byron would have it. Gail's La Mort de Sardanapale , a text based on Byron's play and Delacroix' painting, to set as a cantata. Though his opera was never finished, pages of sketches for it still survive in Weimar 's Liszt Museum.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sardanapalus First edition title page. Waller, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 8 August Stanford: Stanford University Press. Byron as Critic. New York: Haskell House. The Closet Drama of the Romantic Revival. Retrieved 9 August The Open University. Kern Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass. Retrieved 10 August Journal of the American Musicological Society. In Grey, Thomas S. Richard Wagner and His World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
The Music of Liszt. Paris: Librairie de France. Henry Becque, tome 2. Paris: Presses universitaires de France. In Blom, Eric ed. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Volume 6 5th ed. London: Macmillan. Ravel: Man and Musician. London: Constable. Lord Byron. Fragment of a Novel Letters Memoirs. Hidden categories: Harv and Sfn no-target errors EngvarB from September Use dmy dates from September All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from June Namespaces Article Talk.
First edition title page. Women of the harem, guards, attendants, Chaldean priests, Medes etc. Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Poetry. Vol. V.
Oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art , Philadelphia. The Death of Sardanapalus is a Romantic painting inspired by a dramatic poem written by Lord Byron in The scene shows Sardanapalus — an ancient Assyrian king — who has decided to kill himself because his palace is surrounded by enemies. He intends to take all of his favorite possessions with him into death: his wives, pages, horses and dogs. Delacroix has painted a violent scene of death which critics in the artist's day found appalling, so much so that his piece was not on public display again until many years after its first exhibition.
Sardanapalus, a Tragedy
Sardanapalus is a historical tragedy in blank verse by Lord Byron , set in ancient Nineveh and recounting the fall of the Assyrian monarchy and its supposed last king. Byron wrote the play during his stay in Ravenna , and dedicated it to Goethe. It has had an extensive influence on European culture, inspiring a painting by Delacroix and musical works by Berlioz , Liszt and Ravel , among others. In a soliloquy Salemenes deplores the life of slothful luxury led by his brother-in-law Sardanapalus , king of Assyria. The king enters, and Salemenes reproaches him with his lack of ambition for military glory and his unfaithfulness to his queen, Salemenes' sister.