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Sardanapalus = King Zhou of Shang

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This History of Zonaras is proving very profitable to me, it has so many weird sources.... I gotta google a name or text every few minutes.


I think I just solved a big historical problem involving a myth the Romans held true, but no historical or archeological information supports.


On page 40, it mentions during Alexander Severus (first christian emperor) Ulpian corrected many of Sardanapalus' deeds.


The name Sardanapalus looked familiar.... I had done alot of work tracking down Proto-Cynic works from Assyria in the past.... but couldn't quite place it.


So... I whipped out my phone, and Googled it....




I read it, and got one hell of a surprise....


At first, I thought it was just a Cynic-Stoic Myth, playing on luxury, decadence, and nihilism. The rape of Lucretia popped in my mind.... until I saw how he died.... invaded by subject states around Assyria, he was a bisexual hendonist, and put all his material wealth in a spot, and burned himself alive in the collapse....


I've read this exact scenario before, it's the collapse of the Shang Dynasty, Lord Zhou, when the state of Chou overthrew the Shang Empire.... Lord Shang was very ostentatious, sexually perverse (was deified the god of Sodomy), and burned himself alive in the Deer Tower, with all his treasure.


Somehow.... King Zhou mutated to Sardanapalus.... a improbably paralleled story, and it influenced Aristotle, and the name (thus the story) of Sardanapalus was rememvered for countless generations.


The Romans, I'm guessing the Cynics and Stoics besides the obvious peripatetics given the warnings against luxury, likely were heavily influenced by this myth.


Syria had a cross dressing fish cult, that still has some... annoying lingering effects along the Euphrates river in Iskandariya, Iraq despite the commands of Islam.... it's along trade routes to the Mediterranean. It would have a obvious sticking capacity to such a population, who would identify the Chou Dynasty founding myth (like The Rape of Lucretia for the Roman Republic), but in the opposite direction, counter intuitively seeing him as a national hero.


The Roman and Chou Dynasty thus held the same originating myth, though it mutated into a variant by time it reached Greece and Rome, via the Silk Road.... and the stupid Syrians completely missed the obvious point of the denigrating rhetoric and turned him into a national hero.... cause that's what Syrians do. They think ISIS is a good deal after all.


A good source to learn of Zhou, would be The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China, translated by Ralph Sawyer.


Congratulations..... if your reading this, your among the very first to learn of this, I just put it together.

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I would presume Jiang Ziya was... Arbaces?






Though I'm fairly confident, given the hugh parallels in the two stories, I can't be certain. It could of been Jiang or King Wu.


The greeks claimed to of learned of the four horse chariots from the Libyans.... Persians had chariots from.... who knows when.


They might of gotten this story via what would later become Bactria, or via the sea....


There is a very important military text associated with this collapse, one of the military classics of ancient china.


Wouldn't it be amazing if the persians adopted the chariot focused teaching of "The Six Secret Teachings", and manuals evolved from such? I got much larger reservations about this. The propaganda of the colapse of the zhou dynasty would of been a irresistible story to tell, but this military manual making it... wishful thinking, it's likely a state secret not willingly shared.

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Here is a link from Encyclopedia Britannica that describes his death:


"To please his concubine, Daji, Zhou is said to have built a lake of wine around which naked men and women were forced to chase one another. His cruelty was such that the nearby forests were strung with human flesh. Moreover, he provoked the resentment of the people by levying taxes to build, over the course of seven years, the elaborate Deer Tower Palace. It was supposed to have been 600 feet (180 metres) high and a half mile (1 km) in circuit, with doors and chambers constructed of precious stones. When Wuwang, founder of the succeeding Zhou dynasty (1046–256 bc), overthrew the Shang (or Yin, as the late part of the dynasty is also called), Zhou set fire to his palace and committed suicide by leaping into the flames."



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From wikipedia page on sardanapalus:

Diodorus says that Sardanapalus exceeded all previous rulers in sloth and luxury. He spent his whole life in self-indulgence. He dressed in women's clothes and wore make-up. He had many concubines, female and male. He wrote his own epitaph, which 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 Medes, Persians and Babylonians challenged the Assyrians. 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 were 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 sent 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.

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Chinese God of Sodomy

Emperor Zhao, last ruler of the Shang Dynasty, was much given to cruelty and debauchery. His favorite pastime was forcing slaves to swim naked in a wine-filled lake. (Which doesn’t actually sound too bad to us. Maybe it was a bad vintage.)



I'm guessing this influenced the myth about Tiberius and his "little minnows". Don't make it untrue, he might of gotten the idea from it, or it could of just been a story floating around Seutonius picked up on.... or Sejanus more likely, with access to the three libraries in Rome.


Notice the many, many similarities that keep popping up?


The deer tower was a heavily ornimayed treasure house.... Shang Dynasty practiced elaborate human sacrifices.


The "Assyrian Story" has a pyre big enough to not just burn a man, but also multiple slaves, and a treasury... both upon a conquest by angry pissed off states. Both next towater.

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Here is the western version, from Diodorus Siculus, about to become the most studied greek text in China:




1 Sardanapallus, the thirtieth in succession from Ninus, who founded the empire, and the last king of the Assyrians, outdid all his predecessors in luxury and sluggishness.51 For not to mention the fact that he was not seen by any man residing outside the palace, he lived the life of a woman, and spending his days p427in the company of his concubines and spinning purple garments and working the softest of wool, he had assumed the feminine garb and so covered his face and indeed his entire body with whitening cosmetics and the other unguents used by courtesans, that he rendered it more delicate than that of any luxury-loving woman. 2 He also took care to make even his voice to be like a woman's, and at his carousals not only to indulge regularly in those drinks and viands which could offer the greatest pleasure, but also to pursue the delights of love with men as well as women; for he practised sexual indulgence of both kinds without restraint, showing not the least concern for the disgrace attending such conduct. 3 To such an excess did he go of luxury and of the most shameless sensual pleasure and in temperance, that he composed a funeral dirge for himself and commanded his successors upon the throne to inscribe it upon his tomb after his death; it was composed by him in a foreign language but was afterwards translated by a Greek as follows:

Knowing full well that thou wert mortal born,

Thy heart lift up, take thy delight in feast;

When dead no pleasure more is thine. Thus I,

Who once o'er mighty Ninus ruled, am naught

But dust. Yet these are mine which gave me joy

In life — the food I ate, my wantonness,

And love's delights. But all those other things

Men deem felicities are left behind.

4 Because he was a man of this character, not only did he end his own life in a disgraceful manner, but he p429caused the total destruction of the Assyrian Empire, which had endured longer than any other known to history.

24 1 The facts are these:52 A certain Arbaces, a Mede by race, and conspicuous for his bravery and nobility of spirit, was the general of the contingent of Medes which was sent each year to Ninus. And having made the acquaintance during this service of the general of the Babylonians, he was urged by him to overthrow the empire of the Assyrians. 2 Now this man's name was Belesys, and he was the most distinguished of those priests whom the Babylonians call Chaldaeans. And since as a consequence he had the fullest experience of astrology and divination, he was wont to foretell the future unerringly to the people in general; therefore, being greatly admired for this gift, he also predicted to the general of the Medes, who was his friend, that it was certainly fated for him to be king over all the territory which was then held by Sardanapallus. 3 Arbaces, commending the man, promised to give him the satrapy of Babylonia when the affair should be consummated, and for his part, like a man elated by a message from some god, both entered into a league with the commanders of the other nations and assiduously invited them all to banquets and social gatherings, establishing thereby a friendship with each of them. 4 He was resolved also to see the king face to face and to observe his whole manner of life. Consequently he gave one of the eunuchs a golden p431bowl as a present and gained admittance to Sardanapallus; and when he had observed at close hand both his luxuriousness and his love of effeminate pursuits and practices, he despised the king as worthy of no consideration and was led all the more to cling to the hopes which had been held out to him by the Chaldaean. 5 And the conclusion of the matter was that he formed a conspiracy with Belesys, whereby he should himself move the Medes and Persians to revolt while the latter should persuade the Babylonians to join the undertaking and should secure the help of the commander of the Arabs, who was his friend, for the attempt to secure the supreme control.

6 When the year's time of their service in the king's army53 had passed and, another force having arrived to replace them, the relieved men had been dismissed as usual to their homes, thereupon Arbaces persuaded the Medes to attack the Assyrian kingdom and the Persians to join in the conspiracy, on the condition of receiving their freedom.54 Belesys too in similar fashion both persuaded the Babylonians to strike for their freedom, and sending an embassy to Arabia, won over the commander of the people of that country, a friend of his who exchanged hospitality with him, to join in the attack. 7 And after a year's time all these leaders gathered a multitude of soldiers and came with all their forces to Ninus, ostensibly bringing up replacements, as was the custom, but in fact with the intention of destroying the empire of the Assyrians. 8 Now when these four nations had gathered into one place the whole number of them amounted to four hundred thousand p433men, and when they had assembled into one camp they took counsel together concerning the best plan to pursue.

25 1 As for Sardanapallus, so soon as he became aware of the revolt, he led forth against the rebels the contingents which had come from the rest of the nations. And at first, when battle was joined on the plain, those who were making the revolt were defeated, and after heavy losses were pursued to a mountain which was seventy stades distant from Ninus; 2 but afterwards, when they came down again into the plain and were preparing for battle, Sardanapallus marshalled his army against them and despatched heralds to the camp of the enemy to make this proclamation: "Sardanapallus will give two hundred talents of gold to anyone who slays Arbaces the Mede, and will make a present of twice that amount to anyone who delivers him up alive and will also appoint him governor over Media." 3 Likewise he promised to reward any who would either slay Belesys the Babylonian or take him alive. But since no man paid any attention to the proclamation, he joined battle, slew many of the rebels, and pursued the remainder of the multitude into their encampment in the mountains.

4 Arbaces, having lost heart because of these defeats, now convened a meeting of his friends and called upon them to consider what should be done. 5 Now the majority said that they should retire to their respective countries, seize strong positions, and so far as possible prepare there whatever else would be p435useful for the war; but Belesys the Babylonian, by maintaining that the gods were promising them by signs that with labours and hardship they would bring their enterprise to a successful end, and encouraging them in every other way as much as he could, persuaded them all to remain to face further perils. 6 So there was a third battle, and again the king was victorious, captured the camp of the rebels, and pursued the defeated foe as far as the boundaries of Babylonia; and it also happened that Arbaces himself, who had fought most brilliantly and had slain many Assyrians, was wounded. 7 And now that the rebels had suffered defeats so decisive following one upon the other, their commanders, abandoning all hope of victory, were preparing to disperse each to his own country. 8 But Belesys, who had passed a sleepless night in the open and had devoted himself to the observation of the stars, said to those who had lost hope in their cause, "If you will wait five days help will come of its own accord, and there will be a mighty change to the opposite in the whole situation; for from my long study of the stars I see the gods foretelling this to us." And he appealed to them to wait that many days and test his own skill and the good will of the gods.

26 1 So after they had all been called back and had waited the stipulated time, there came a messenger with the news that a force which had been despatched from Bactriana to the king was near at hand, advancing with all speed. 2 Arbaces, accordingly, decided to go to meet their generals by the shortest route, p437taking along the best and most agile of his troops, so that, in case they should be unable to persuade the Bactrians by arguments to join in the revolt, they might resort to arms to force them to share with them in the same hopes. 3 But the outcome was that the new-comers gladly listened to the call to freedom, first the commanders and then the entire force, and they all encamped in the same place.

4 It happened at this very time that the king of the Assyrians, who was unaware of the defection of the Bactrians and had become elated over his past successes, turned to indulgence and divided among his soldiers for a feast animals and great quantities of both wine and all other provisions. Consequently, since the whole army was carousing, Arbaces, learning from some deserters of the relaxation and drunkenness in the camp of the enemy, made his attack upon it unexpectedly in the night. 5 And as it was an assault of organized men upon disorganized and of ready men upon unprepared, they won possession of the camp, and after slaying many of the soldiers pursued the rest of them as far as the city. 6 After this the king named for the chief command Galaemenes, his wife's brother, and gave his own attention to the affairs within the city. But the rebels, drawing up their forces in the plain before the city, overcame the Assyrians in two battles, and they not only slew Galaemenes, but of the opposing forces they cut down some in their flight, while others, who had been shut out from entering the city and forced to leap into p439the Euphrates river, they destroyed almost to a man. 7 So great was the multitude of the slain that the water of the stream, mingled with the blood, was changed in colour over a considerable distance. Furthermore, now that the king was shut up in the city and besieged there, many of the nations revolted, going over in each case to the side of liberty.

8 Sardanapallus, realizing that his entire kingdom was in the greatest danger, sent his three sons and two daughters together with much of his treasure to Paphlagonia to the governor Cotta, who was the most loyal of his subjects, while he himself, despatching letter-carriers to all his subjects, summoned forces and made preparations for the siege. 9 Now there was a prophecy which had come down to him from his ancestors: "No enemy will ever take Ninus by storm unless the river shall first become the city's enemy." Assuming, therefore, that this would never be, he held out in hope, his thought being to endure the siege and await the troops which would be sent from his subjects.

27 1 The rebels, elated at their successes, pressed the siege, but because of the strength of the walls they were unable to do any harm to the men in the city; for neither engines for throwing stones, nor shelters for sappers,55 nor battering-rams devised to overthrow walls had as yet been invented at that time. Moreover, p441the inhabitants of the city had a great abundance of all provisions, since the king had taken thought on that score. Consequently the siege dragged on, and for two years they pressed their attack, making assaults on the walls and preventing inhabitants of the city from going out into the country; but in the third year, after there had been heavy and continuous rains, it came to pass that the Euphrates, running very full, both inundated a portion of the city and broke down the walls for a distance of twenty stades. 2 At this the king, believing that the oracle had been fulfilled and that the river had plainly become the city's enemy, abandoned hope of saving himself. And in order that he might not fall into the hands of the enemy, he built an enormous pyre56 in his palace, heaped upon it all his gold and silver as well as every article of the royal wardrobe, and then, shutting his concubines and eunuchs in the room which had been built in the middle of the pyre, he consigned both them and himself and his palace to the flames. 3 The rebels, on learning of the death of Sardanapallus, took the city by forcing an entrance where the wall had fallen, and clothing Arbaces in the royal garb saluted him as king and put in his hands the supreme authority.

28 1 Thereupon, after the new king had distributed among the generals who had aided him in the struggle gifts corresponding to their several deserts, and as he was appointing satraps over the nations, Belesys the Babylonian, who had foretold to Arbaces that he would be king of Asia, coming to him, reminded him p443of his good services, and asked that he be given the governorship of Babylonia, as had been promised at the outset. 2 He also explained that when their cause was endangered he had made a vow to Belus that, if Sardanapallus were defeated and his palace went up in flames, he would bring its ashes to Babylon, and depositing them near the river and the sacred precinct of the god he would construct a mound which, for all who sailed down the Euphrates, would stand as an eternal memorial of the man who had overthrown the rule of the Assyrians. 3 This request he made because he had learned from a certain eunuch, who had made his escape and come to Belesys and was kept hidden by him, of the facts regarding the silver and gold. 4 Now since Arbaces knew nothing of this, by reason of the fact that all the inmates of the palace had been burned along with the king, he allowed him both to carry the ashes away and to hold be able without the payment of tribute. Thereupon Belesys procured boats and at once sent off to Babylon along with the ashes practically all the silver and gold; and the king, having been informed of the act which Belesys had been caught perpetrating, appointed as judges the generals who had served with him in the war. 5 And when the accused acknowledged his guilt, the court sentenced him to death, but the king, being a magnanimous man and wishing to make his rule at the outset known for clemency, both freed Belesys from the danger threatening him and allowed him to keep the silver and gold which he had carried off; likewise, he did not even take from him the governorship over Babylon which had originally p445been given to him, saying that his former services were greater than his subsequent misdeeds. 6 When this act of clemency was noised about, he won no ordinary loyalty on the part of his subjects as well as renown among the nations, all judging that a man who had conducted himself in this wise towards wrongdoers was worthy of the kingship. 7 Arbaces, however, showing clemency towards the inhabitants of the city, settled them in villages and returned to each man his personal possessions, but the city he levelled to the ground. Then the silver and gold, amounting to many talents, which had been left in the pyre, he collected and took off to Ecbatana in Media.

8 So the empire of the Assyrians, which had endured from the time of Ninus through thirty generations, for more than one thousand three hundred years, was destroyed by the Medes in the manner described above

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I can't help but notice the similarities between Zaixing Tower (The Star Plucking Tower)... linked to King Zhou and his elitist attitude, looking down on the suffering of others as a Eudamonia Loving tyrant, and the tower of Babylon.


It's making me wonder....Ctesias in his Persian History was using the Persian Royal Archives.... I'm guessing it wasn't organized via the Dewey Decimal System.


The Persians obviously adapted this work from a work extant on the fall of Shang Dynasty, not merely translated by adapted to Assyria.... but it obviously would of contradicted other sources available.


Was the library listed by topics (Tower of Babylon), by each Nation (Assyria, Media, Greece), or just rambled and he read them all?

Edited by Onasander

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I've been finding alot of links between Atargatis, the syrian goddess, and Nuwa, who King Zhou of Shang angered.


It included eggs falling from the sky, and snake theriamorphs (human headed snakes, often occurs in mesopotamian literature.... I have a background in it), and Cauduces of twin snakes:


I gotta go to work here now, but here is a interesting link:

Another story says that Derketo was hatched from an egg that fell from heaven; it landed in the Euphrates river, where some fish nudged it to shore. There it was found by a dove, who incubated it. Later, to show Her gratitude, Derketo persuaded Zeus to put an image of the fish in the stars, which He did, creating the constellation Pisces. The daughter Derketo bore was Semiramis, (who built the Hanging Gardens), the famous Assyrian Queen of Legend, and who was worshipped in Her own right as a Goddess in nearby Charchemish.





I think I saw evidence of a dualistic struggle between two creator gods.... I gotta look into it if it looks like Zoroastrianism. Likewise, some parallels to the Enki cult.


This all popped up while googling wine pools and meat forests.... Iwas trying to figure out id Dea Syria had a tradition of wine pools.... which is a negative, but I definately have the beginning basis for a shared route of transmission and retention that goes both ways between China and Mesopotamia. I'm guessing this is the context the story of King Zhou became preserved in persia, then the west.


Edited by Onasander

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I was not expecting to find this Image, Zoroaster handing out over Enki!




I still haven't checked to see if those two gods related to NUWA, the creater gods, are (proto) Zoroastrian.


I did see her cult was associated with certain inventions, which parallel the MES, like baskets.


If it is the same cult, or religion, then it easily explains how the stories went east to west and west and east, and why the persians so readily accepted a fake history, cause the priesthood insisted.


Break over.... back to work.

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I'm hampered by the unexpected reality that there are very few books on atargatis for sale on amazon that are not hippy reinventions of the religion. The problem began a while back, a "stoic" and a "priestess of Isis" living in the UK started publishing universalist rubbish years back , synthesizing every female goddess into Isis, and the theory only makes sense if your.... heavily intoxicated from drugs.


The few books left on.sale, I surprisingly already read.


I can say, Atargatis and Nuwa share traits. Both are females, sometimes fish. Both married to essential lead Gods of the panthenon.


Nuwa had some fire (perhaps zoroastrian) elements to her story. She transformed her servants into attractive female seductress.


atargatis and Nuwa (via her husband) hold to a falling egg story. Both linked to fertility.


I'm not sure if atargatis is even linked to Zoroastrianism. It just seems logical to me, given location, and the ability (or attempts, evidence the icon of Enki in the link above) to bring in older religions into it's framework.


I'm less convinced there is a Dualistic aspect to the chinese goddess.... it seems a bad hunch.


I'm going to start nit picking aspects of the collapse pf the shang, and supposed collapse of the assyrians. My main goal in researching the two goddesses was to establish there was cultural interaction between Chou China and the Mesopotamian region. I can say with great confidence yes, but to what extent, and how many middle men, and rapidity and accuracy of message, I'm in no position to say. The sources from this era are either unaccessible in Chinese, or just simply lost in the west.


All I know is, we had a legend, that has hugh parallels to the Shang collapse, infiltrate the western world in antiquity, which is something no one, especially me, expected. We learned some surprising facts about the kind of books one could expect to find in the persian royal archives, and it shows how tightly bonded and far traveled ideas could spread and mutate. Also may give us unexpected glimpses and understandings into Dea Syria, now that we know have a contemporary goddess to compare her to. After all, they adopted the story, likelydue to similarities between the two goddesses.


I should also point out, naturally, alot of differences between the two cults also exist. But both sem to agree in odd places.... both goddesses used red light for example.... why red?

Edited by Onasander

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