Semiramis, a queen of Assyria, who, according to fabulous traditions handed down by classical authors, reigned about 2000 B. C. As-syriologists suppose that she is the queen Sam-muramit, wife of Iva-lush, who lived about 800 B. C. Ctesias, according to Diodorus Siculus, describes her as the daughter of the fish goddess Derceto of Ascalon, and as the wife first of Oannes, and then of Ninus, who died soon after his marriage with her, and left her the sole mistress of the Assyrian empire. She then caused the city of Babylon to be built, encircling it with a wall flanked by many towers and of great height, throwing bridges over the Euphrates, providing it with aqueducts and canals, and erecting in it gorgeous palaces and temples. This done, she made an expedition into Media, Persia, and Armenia, subdued Egypt and the greater part of Ethiopia, and would have conquered India also if her army had not been put to flight by the war elephants of King Stratobatis. Thenceforward she devoted herself entirely to the internal improvement of her empire, and, according to Strabo, in course of time every great work in Asia was popularly attributed to her. Learning that her son Ninyas was plotting against her, she abdicated, left the empire to him, and disappeared as a dove.
The real Sammuramit was a queen who had some important works executed at Babylon, but was otherwise of little significance in the political history of the country. It is probable that the accounts of the Greeks are a blending of some of the mythological conceptions of the Babylonians with the facts and popular legends of the early history of the empire. - See F. Lenor-mant, La légende de Sémiramis (Paris, 1874).