il HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
wind, capable of holding in security all the ships of all known nations, and just within
and commanding the mouth of the great watery thoroughfare to the newly discovered
sea. Here they built their city, and called it Byzantium, after its founder Byzas, who,
from his singular judgment and sagacity in maritime affairs, was also denominated the
Son of Neptune. The accomplishment of the mysterious oracle was now apparent. The
striking contrast between his selection and that of his predecessors on the opposite
coast, caused their settlement to be called " the City of the Blind Men," because its
founder overlooked, or could not see the beauties and benefits of the site of Byzantium,
when he had full liberty to choose. Byzantium was afterwards enlarged and re-edified by
Pausanias, a Spartan, and, in process of time, from the] singular superiority of its commanding situation and local advantages, became one of the most important of the free
and independent republics of the Greeks, and suffered the penalty of its prosperity by
becoming an object of envy and cupidity to its contemporaries.
The sovereigns of Bythinia and Macedon.were the most persevering in their attacks.
A siege by [the latter is rendered memorable by a circumstance connected with it.
Philip sat down before the city, and attempted to take it by surprise. A dark night was
selected for the purpose, when it was hoped the citizens could not be prepared to
resist the concealed and sudden attack. The moon, however, appeared to emerge from
the black sky with more than common brilliancy, and illumined distinctly every object
around the city. The obscure assailants were thus unexpectedly exposed to view, and
discovered; and the citizens, now upon their guard, easily repulsed them. Grateful for
this seasonable and supposed miraculous interference of the goddess, the Byzantines
adopted Diana as their tutelar deity, and depicted her under the form of a crescent.
By this emblem she is represented on the coins of the city, still extant, with the legend
BYSANT SOT, implying that she was the "saviour of Byzantium'' This emblem of the
ancient city was adopted by Constantine, when he transferred hither the seat of
empire, and it was retained by the Turks, like many other representations, when they
took possession of it. The crescent therefore is still its designation, not as a Mohammedan, but a Byzantine emblem.
After many struggles, with more powerful nations, to maintain its independence,
Byzantium attracted the attention of the Romans. In the contests of the different competitors for the empire, the possession or alliance of this city was of much importance,
not merely on account of its power and opulence, but because it was the great passage
from Europe to Asia. It was garrisoned by a strong force, and no less than five hundred
vessels were moored in its capacious harbour. When Severus and Niger engaged in
hostilities, this city adhered to the latter, many of whose party fled thither, and found
a secure asylum behind fortifications which were deemed impregnable. Siege was laid
to it by the victorious Severus, but it repelled all his assaults for three years. Its natural
strength was increased by the skill of an engineer named Priscus, who, like another
Archimedes, defended this second Syracuse by the exercise of his extraordinary mechanical
powers. When it did yield, it fell not by force, but famine. Encompassed by the great
Roman armies on every side, its supplies were at length cut off, as the skill of the artist