Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/205

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176
PERSIA.

stone: edifices vying in dimensions, and in the majesty of their details, with the most perfect works of antiquity extant; aqueducts hewn out of the solid rock; lastly, a mountain cut perpendicularly throughout its whole length, and forming its eastern wall. Such was in past ages the general appearance of the temple or palace of Persepolis. The genius of destruction now hovers round this terrace; earthquakes have changed the face of it; the hand of man has assiduously overthrown what they had spared: the eye now discovers nothing but fragments of walls, detached door-ways; columns, partly in ruin; the ground strewed with fragments of shafts, capitals and blocks of marble; while heaps of sand and dust are daily covering more and more of these structures, whose remaining masses astonish the imagination. The mosque, the caravanserai, and the dwelling of the Persian, are decorated with their spoils; the names of the Musulman conqueror and of the European traveller are placed beside those inscriptions, the origin, signification and wedge-shaped characters of which will exercise to no purpose the sagacity of the learned. The aqueducts are become receptacles of rain-water, or the haunts of noxious animals; the camel and the mule crop the wild herbage that grows among the ruins; while the stork peacefully builds her nest on the column of the temple of the deity, or of the palace of kings.

Sufficient remains are yet let, to prove that the Persians had carried architecture to a high degree of perfection long before the Greeks. The figures which adorn the surface of all the walls, if not sculptured according to the strict rules of design and perspective, nevertheless bespeak an able and experienced hand. Their number, throughout the whole of the ruins, is estimated at about 1300.

The ruins of Persepoli are now known by several denominations, as Takhti-Djemshid, Throne of Djemshid; Kanshi-Dara, House of Dara, or Darius; Hezar soutoun, the thousand Columns; Tchehel-minar, the forty Columns. The last two of these denominations express by a precise number a considerable but undetermined number of columns. The oriental historians are not agreed respecting the founder of these magnificent structures: the most generally received opinion attributes them to Djemshid, a sovereign of the Pishdadian dynasty. The principal figure, which occurs several times on the walls, is even said to represent that great monarch; but as the ancients frequently ascribed to one man the exploits of several to form a hero or a demigod, so the Persians are accustomed to refer to some eminent Pishdadian prince the foundation of cities the origin of which is unknown. It cannot therefore be assumed as a fact, that the structures of Persepolis were erected by Djemshid.