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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 17

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 17.—Of the Three Most Famous Kingdoms of the Nations, of Which One, that is the Assyrian, Was Already Very Eminent When Abraham Was Born.

During the same period there were three famous kingdoms of the nations, in which the city of the earth-born, that is, the society of men living according to man under the domination of the fallen angels, chiefly flourished, namely, the three kingdoms of Sicyon, Egypt, and Assyria.  Of these, Assyria was much the most powerful and sublime; for that king Ninus, son of Belus, had subdued the people of all Asia except India.  By Asia I now mean not that part which is one province of this greater Asia, but what is called Universal Asia, which some set down as the half, but most as the third part of the whole world,—the three being Asia, Europe, and Africa, thereby making an unequal division.  For the part called Asia stretches from the south through the east even to the north; Europe from the north even to the west; and Africa from the west even to the south.  Thus we see that two, Europe and Africa, contain one half of the world, and Asia alone the other half.  And these two parts are made by the circumstance, that there enters between them from the ocean all the Mediterranean water, which makes this great sea of ours.  So that, if you divide the world into two parts, the east and the west, Asia will be in the one, and Europe and Africa in the other.  So that of the three kingdoms then famous, one, namely Sicyon, was not under the Assyrians, because it was in Europe; but as for Egypt, how could it fail to be subject to the empire which ruled all Asia with the single exception of India?  In Assyria, therefore, the dominion of the impious city had the pre-eminence.  Its head was Babylon,—an earth-born city, most fitly named, for it means confusion.  There Ninus reigned after the death of his father Belus, who first had reigned there sixty-five years.  His son Ninus, who, on his father’s death, succeeded to the kingdom, reigned fifty-two years, and had been king forty-three years when Abraham was born, which was about the 1200th year before Rome was founded, as it were another Babylon in the west.

Next: Chapter 18

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