ASSUS [mod. Behram], an ancient Greek city of the Troad, on the Adramyttian Gulf. The situation is one of the most magnificent in all the Greek lands. The natural cleavage of the trachyte into joint planes had already scarped out shelves which it was comparatively easy for human labour to shape; and so, high up this cone of trachyte, the Greek town of Assus was built, tier above tier, the summit of the crag being crowned with a Doric temple of Athena. The view from the summit is very beautiful and of great historical interest. In front is Lesbos, one of whose towns, Methymna, is said to have sent forth the founders of Assus, as early, perhaps, as 1000 or 900 B.C. The whole south coast-line of the Troad is seen, and in the south-east the ancient territory of Pergamum, from whose masters the possession of Assus passed to Rome by the bequest of Attalus III. (133 B.C.). The great heights of Ida rise in the east. Northward the Tuzla is seen winding through a rich valley. This valley was traversed by the road which St Paul must have followed when he came overland from Alexandria Troas to Assus, leaving his fellow-travellers to proceed by sea. The north-west gateway, to which this road led, is still flanked by two massive towers, of Hellenic work. On the shore below, the ancient mole can still be traced by large blocks under the clear water. Assus affords the only harbour on the 50 m. of coast between Cape Lectum and the east end of the Adramyttian Gulf; hence it must always have been the chief shipping-place for the exports of the southern Troad. The great natural strength of the site protected it against petty assailants; but, like other towns in that region, it has known many masters—Lydians, Persians, the kings of Pergamum, Romans and Ottoman Turks. From the Persian wars to about 350 B.C. Assus enjoyed at least partial independence. It was about 348–345 B.C. that Aristotle spent three years at Assus with Hermeas, an ex-slave who had succeeded his former master Eubulus as despot of Assus and Atarneus. Aristotle has left some verses from an invocation to Arete (Virtue), commemorating the worth of Hermeas, who had been seized by Persian treachery and put to death.
Under its Turkish name of Behram, Assus is still the commercial port of the southern Troad, being the place to which loads of valonia are conveyed by camels from all parts of the country. Explorations were conducted at Assus in 1881–1883 by Mr J. T. Clarke for the Archaeological Institute of America. The main object was to clear the Doric temple of Athena, built about 470 B.C. This temple is remarkable for a sculptured architrave which took the place of the ordinary frieze. The scenes are partly mythological (labours of Heracles), partly purely heraldic. Eighteen panels were transported to the Louvre in 1838; other fragments rewarded the Americans, and a scientific ground-plan was drawn. The well-preserved Hellenistic walls were also studied.
ASSYRIA. The two great empires, Assyria and Babylon, which grew up on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, can be separated as little historically as geographically. From the beginning their history is closely intertwined; and the power of the one is a measure of the weakness of the other. This interdependence of Assyrian and Babylonian history was recognized by ancient writers, and has been confirmed by modern discovery. But whereas Assyria takes the first place in the classical accounts to the exclusion of Babylonia, the decipherment of the inscriptions has proved that the converse was really the case, and that, with the exception of some seven or eight centuries, Assyria might be described as a province or dependency of Babylon. Not only was Babylonia the mother country, as the tenth chapter of Genesis explicitly states, but the religion and culture, the literature and the characters in which it was contained, the arts and the sciences of the Assyrians were derived from their southern neighbours. They were similar in race and language. (See Babylonia and Assyria.)
AST, GEORG ANTON FRIEDRICH (1778–1841), German philosopher and philologist, was born at Gotha. Educated there and at the university of Jena, he became privat-docent at Jena in 1802. In 1805 he became professor of classical literature in the university of Landshut, where he remained till 1826, when it was transferred to Munich. There he lived till his death on the 31st of October 1841. In recognition of his work he was made an aulic councillor and a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. He is known principally for his work during the last twenty-five years of his life on the dialogues of Plato. His Platon’s Leben und Schriften (1816) was the first of those critical inquiries into the life and works of Plato which originated in the Introductions of Schleiermacher and the historical scepticism of Niebuhr and Wolf. Distrusting tradition, he took a few of the finest dialogues as his standard, and from internal evidence denounced as spurious not only those which are generally admitted to be so (Epinomis, Minos, Theages, Arastae, Clitophon, Hipparchus, Eryxias, Letters and Definitions), but also the Meno, Euthydemus, Charmides, Lysis, Laches, First and Second Alcibiades, Hippias Major and Minor, Ion, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and even (against Aristotle’s explicit assertion) The Laws. The genuine dialogues he divides into three series:—(1) the earliest, marked chiefly by the poetical and dramatic element, i.e. Protagoras, Phaedrus, Gorgias, Phaedo; (2) the second, marked by dialectic subtlety, i.e. Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Parmenides, Cratylus; (3) the third group, combining both qualities harmoniously, i.e. the Philebus, Symposium, Republic, Timaeus, Critias. The work was followed by a complete edition of Plato’s works (11 vols., 1819–1832) with a Latin translation and commentary. His last work was the Lexicon Platonicum (3 vols., 1834–1839), which is both valuable and comprehensive. In his works on aesthetics he combined the views of Schelling with those of Winckelmann, Lessing, Kant, Herder, Schiller and others. His histories of philosophy are marked more by critical scholarship than by originality of thought, though they are interesting as asserting the now familiar principle that the history of philosophy is not the history of opinions, but of reason as a whole; he was among the first to attempt to formulate a principle of the development of thought. Beside his works on Plato, he wrote, on aesthetics, System der Kunstlehre (1805) and Grundriss der Aesthetik (1807); on the history of philosophy, Grundlinien der Philosophie (1807, republished 1809, but soon forgotten), Grundriss einer Geschichte der Philosophie (1807 and 1825), and Hauptmomente der Geschichte der Philosophie (1829); in philology, Grundlinien der Philologie (1808), and Grundlinien der Grammatik, Hermeneutik und Kritik (1808).
ASTARA, a port of Russian Transcaucasia, government of Baku, on the Caspian, in 38° 27′ N. lat. and 48° 53′ E. long., on the river of the same name, which forms the frontier between Persia and Russia. Russian merchandize is landed there and forwarded to Azerbáiján and Tabriz via Ardebil.
ASTARABAD, a province of Persia bounded N. by the Caspian Sea and Russian Transcaspian, S. by the Elburz Mountains, W. by Mazandaran, and E. by Khorasan. The country, mountainous in its southern portion, possesses extensive forests, fertile valleys, producing rice, wheat and other grains in abundance, and rich pasturages. The soil, even with little culture, is exceedingly productive, owing to the abundance of water which irrigates and fertilizes it. But while the province in many parts presents a landscape of luxuriant beauty, it is a prey to the ravages of disease, principally malarial fevers due to the extensive swamps formed by waters stagnating in the forests, and to the frequent incursions of the Goklan and Yomut Turkomans, who have their camping-grounds in the northern part of the province, and until about 1890 plundered caravans sometimes at the very gates of Astarabad city, and carried people off into slavery and bondage. The province has a population of about 100,000 and pays a yearly revenue of about £30,000. The inhabitants, notwithstanding the unhealthiness of their climate, are a strong and athletic race, belying their yellow and sickly appearance. The province has the following bulúk (administrative divisions):—(1) Astarabad town; (2) Astarabad rustak (villages); (3) Sadan rustak; (4). Anazan; (5) Katúl; (6) Findarisk, with Kuhsar and Nodeh; (7) Shahkuh Sávar.