Σαρδανάπαλλος δέ, τριακοστὸς μὲν ὢν ἀπὸ Νίνου τοῦ συστησαμένου τὴν ἡγεμονίαν, ἔσχατος δὲ γενόμενος Ἀσσυρίων βασιλεύς, ὑπερῆρεν ἅπαντας τοὺς πρὸ αὐτοῦ τρυφῇ καὶ ῥᾳθυμίᾳ. χωρὶς γὰρ τοῦ μηδ’ ὑφ’ ἑνὸς τῶν ἔξωθεν ὁρᾶσθαι βίον ἔζησε γυναικός, καὶ διαιτώμενος μὲν μετὰ τῶν παλλακίδων, πορφύραν δὲ καὶ τὰ μαλακώτατα τῶν ἐρίων ταλασιουργῶν, στολὴν μὲν γυναικείαν ἐνεδεδύκει, τὸ δὲ πρόσωπον καὶ πᾶν τὸ σῶμα ψιμυθίοις καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις τοῖς τῶν ἑταιρῶν ἐπιτηδεύμασιν ἁπαλώτερον πάσης γυναικὸς τρυφερᾶς κατεσκεύαστο. ἐπετήδευσε δὲ καὶ τὴν φωνὴν ἔχειν γυναικώδη καὶ κατὰ τοὺς πότους οὐ μόνον ποτῶν καὶ βρωτῶν τῶν δυναμένων μάλιστα τὰς ἡδονὰς παρέχεσθαι συνεχῶς ἀπολαύειν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἀφροδισιακὰς τέρψεις μεταδιώκειν ἀνδρὸς ἅμα καὶ γυναικός· ἐχρῆτο γὰρ ταῖς ἐπ’ ἀμφότερα συνουσίαις ἀνέδην, τῆς ἐκ τῆς πράξεως αἰσχύνης οὐδὲν ὅλως φροντίζων. ἐπὶ τοσοῦτο δὲ προήχθη τρυφῆς καὶ τῆς αἰσχίστης ἡδονῆς καὶ ἀκρασίας ὥστ’ ἐπικήδειον εἰς αὑτὸν ποιῆσαι καὶ παραγγεῖλαι τοῖς διαδόχοις τῆς ἀρχῆς μετὰ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ τελευτὴν ἐπὶ τὸν τάφον ἐπιγράψαι τὸ συγγραφὲν μὲν ὑπ´ ἐκείνου βαρβαρικῶς, μεθερμηνευθὲν δὲ ὕστερον ὑπό τινος Ἕλληνος,
“εὖ εἰδὼς ὅτι θνητὸς ἔφυς, σὸν θυμὸν ἄεξε
τερπόμενος θαλίῃσι· θανόντι σοι οὔτις ὄνησις.
καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ σποδός εἰμι, Νίνου μεγάλης βασιλεύσας.
ταῦτ’ ἔχω ὅσσ’ ἔφαγον καὶ ἐφύβρισα καὶ μετ’ ἔρωτος
τέρπν’ ἔπαθον, τὰ δὲ πολλὰ καὶ ὄλβια κεῖνα λέλειπται.”
τοιοῦτος δ´ ὢν τὸν τρόπον οὐ μόνον αὐτὸς αἰσχρῶς κατέστρεψε τὸν βίον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν Ἀσσυρίων ἡγεμονίαν ἄρδην ἀνέτρεψε, πολυχρονιωτάτην γενομένην τῶν μνημονευομένων.
(Diodorus Siculus, Hist. 2.23)
Sardanapallus, the thirtieth in succession from Ninus, who founded the empire, and the last king of the Assyrians, outdid all his predecessors in luxury and sluggishness. For not to mention the fact that he was not seen by any man residing outside the palace, he lived the life of a woman, and spending his days in the company of his concubines and spinning purple garments and working the softest of wool, he had assumed the feminine garb and so covered his face and indeed his entire body with whitening cosmetics and the other unguents used by courtesans, that he rendered it more delicate than that of any luxury-loving woman. He also took care to make even his voice to be like a woman’s, and at his carousals not only to indulge regularly in those drinks and viands which could offer the greatest pleasure, but also to pursue the delights of love with men as well as women; for he practised sexual indulgence of both kinds without restraint, showing not the least concern for the disgrace attending such conduct. To such an excess did he go of luxury and of the most shameless sensual pleasure and in temperance, that he composed a funeral dirge for himself and commanded his successors upon the throne to inscribe it upon his tomb after his death; it was composed by him in a foreign language but was afterwards translated by a Greek as follows:
Knowing full well that thou wert mortal born,
Thy heart lift up, take thy delight in feast;
When dead no pleasure more is thine. Thus I,
Who once o’er mighty Ninus ruled, am naught
But dust. Yet these are mine which gave me joy
In life—the food I ate, my wantonness,
And love’s delights. But all those other things
Men deem felicities are left behind.
Because he was a man of this character, not only did he end his own life in a disgraceful manner, but he caused the total destruction of the Assyrian Empire, which had endured longer than any other known to history. (tr. Charles Henry Oldfather)