Sardanapalus, the last king of the Assyrian empire of Ninus, according to the ancient historian Ctesias. His effeminacy and licentiousness excited a rebellion, headed by Arbaces, satrap of Media, and Belesys, the noblest of the Chaldean priests. He defeated the insurgents in several battles, and, when at last forced to retreat to Nineveh, sustained a siege of two years. When it became evident that the city could be held no longer, he collected all his treasures and his women, and placing them on an immense pyre perished with them in the flames. The date of the event has been variously assigned to 876, 789, 710, 625, and 606 B. C. The utter impossibility of reconciling the chronology of this account with that given by other authorities, has led many writers to distrust the whole narrative, and to consider Sardanapalus a myth. K. O. Müller sought in an ingenious and elaborate essay to prove the identity of the god Sandon with Sardanapalus. Rawlinson is of opinion that the Sardanapalus of Ctesias represents both Asshur-bani-pal, in whose reign the Assyrian empire reached its greatest extent, and his successor Asshur-emit-ilin (according to him the Saracus of Abydenus), in whose time Assyria fell into the hands of the Medes. (See Assyria.) Le-normant identifies him with the predecessor of Tiglath-pileser II., whose name Rawlinson gives the form of Asshur-lukh-khush or As-shur-lush, George Smith of Assur-nirari, and Oppert of Asshur-likhish; but Lenormant, assuming that there was in Assyrian a peculiar itanaphal form of conjugation, reads the name Asshur-tanagbal, whence, by a softening of the consonants, the Greek form Sardanapalus might easily have arisen.
The first destruction of Nineveh, thus placed in the reign of Asshur-tanagbal (789 B. C.) by Lenormant, Op-pert, and Dr. Hincks, is not believed to be historical by Rawlinson and many other scholars.