WITH THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR. 67
like others, underwent many vicissitudes. It fell into the hands of Cyrus and the
Persians, five hundred and fifty years before the Christian era. It was burnt by the
Athenians half a century afterwards; was the occasion of drawing down the resentment
of the " Great King;" led the Persians to invade Europe; and was the cause of all the
celebrated events that followed. It was totally destroyed by an earthquake in the reign
of Tiberius, and about the time of the crucifixion of our Lord. Immediately after, the
renovated city became distinguished among the seven Christian lights of the world.
Sardis was one of those which the prophet, in the Apocalypse, reproves for declension from
the Christian faith, and who thus exhorts them: " Be watchful, and strengthen the things
which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God:"
They despised the admonition ; and when Julian attempted to restore paganism, he
re-erected in this town all the pagan altars that had been prostrated; and when the
Mohammedans invaded Asia Minor, Sardis, like the rest, fell into the power of the
inveterate enemies of Christianity.
Sardis, now called Sart by the Turks, has not any collection of human habitations.
The only temporary occupants are the hordes of marauding Turcomans, who, with
their camels and their flocks, sometimes pitch their tents on the plains, and, when the
herbage is exhausted, pass to other places. Ruins scattered over an extensive surface,
intimate the existence of a former city, whose name would not be recognized and
ascertained, but for the permanent characters of nature which surround it, and still
remain unchanged. As Diana was the great deity, and chief object of adoration to the
Ephesians, so Cybele was to the Lydians, among whom she was said to be born. Her
great temple stood at Sardis. On the plain is still seen the remnant of a noble edifice
of which the five columns still standing supported a vast mass of marble, exciting the
wonder of the ancients by what power it could be raised so high. It now lies a prostrate fragment, serving only as an indication of the structure to which it belonged. The
remains of the Gerusia, or House of Croesus, are considerable, and consist of brick-work
remarkable for its durability. But the objects of greatest interest to the Christian visiter
are the ruins of two Churches, those of the Panayia and St. John. Among "the Seven
Churches," these are perhaps the only actual edifices of early Christian worship, that
can be distinguished at the present day.
At the extremity of the plain is the hill of the Acropolis, at this day representing,
by its shape and position, what the ancient site is described to be. Its front is a
triangular inclined plane, not difficult to approach; its rear was an abrupt precipice,
supposed to be inaccessible. The view from the summit is commanding, and includes
the vast plain of the Hermus, the tomb of Flalyattes, and the Gygean lake. When
Antiochus besieged the city, he observed that vultures and birds of prey were gathered
about offals thrown from the fortress above, and he sagaciously inferred that the wall of
this place was low, and negligently watched. It is added, that a Persian soldier, allured
by a high reward, attempted to climb the dangerous precipice; and having done so, he
descended, and pointed out the way to his companions, who followed him, and entered