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Sardanapalus (1821) is a historical tragedy in blank verse by Lord Byron, set in ancient Nineveh and recounting the fall of the Assyrian monarchy and its supposed last king. It draws its story mainly from the Historical Library of Diodorus Siculus and from William Mitford's History of Greece. Byron wrote the play during his stay in Ravenna, and dedicated it to Goethe. It has had an extensive influence on European culture, inspiring a painting by Delacroix and musical works by Berlioz, Liszt and Ravel, among others. In a soliloquy Salemenes deplores the life of slothful luxury led by his brother-in-law Sardanapalus, king of Assyria. The king enters, and Salemenes reproaches him with his lack of ambition for military glory and his unfaithfulness to his queen, Salemenes' sister. He warns him of possible rebellion by treacherous courtiers. Sardanapalus answers by extolling the virtues of mild and merciful rule and condemning bloodshed, but is finally persuaded to give Salemenes his signet so that he can arrest the rebel leaders.
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