The Kingdom of the Bactrians

Among the ruins of the residence of the kings of Asshur at Chalah, on the confluence of the Greater Zab and the Tigris, was discovered the obelisk which Shalmanesar II., who reigned from 859 to 823 B.C. over Assyria, erected in memory of his successes. In the tribute offered to him we find the rhinoceros, the elephant, the humped ox, and the camel with two humps (II. 320). This species of camel and the yak are found in Bactria, on the southern edge of the Caspian Sea, and in Tartary, and we afterwards find elephants in the possession of the rulers of Bactria.[26] Hence, in order to obtain these animals for tribute, the armies of Shalmanesar must have advanced as far as the eastern tribes of the Iranian table-land. From the inscriptions of Tiglath Pilesar II., it is clear that he advanced along the same table-land as far as the Hilmend and the Arachoti, if not as far as Bactria. Among the lands subjugated in 745 B.C., he enumerates Nisaa, Zikruti, and Arakuttu. In Nisaa we cannot mistake Nisæa in the east of Media (p. 31). The Zikruti were no doubt the Sagartians of Herodotus, the Açagarta of the old Persian inscriptions.[27] Arakuttu represents in a Semitic form the name of the Arachoti, the Harauvati of the Achæmenids (p. 8). So far as we can at present judge from inscriptions, the successors of Tiglath Pilesar did not carry their campaigns further to the east of Iran, and we can assert with certainty of both the sovereigns who raised the power of Assyria to its summit, Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal (681-626 B.C.), that they made no conquests in this direction.

If the inscriptions of the Assyrians leave us in almost total darkness about Bactria, the Medo-Persian epic poetry can give us full information about the country. When Ninus, king of Assyria, had subjugated all the nations of Asia as far as the Nile and the Tanais, he made an attempt upon Bactria, but without success. The entrance into the land was difficult, the number of warriors great, and they knew how to fight bravely. Then Ninus collected an army of two millions of soldiers, which was opposed by Oxyartes, the king of the Bactrians, with 400,000 men. When the Assyrian army came in detachments out of the passes, Oxyartes attacked and drove them back into the mountains with the loss of 100,000 men. The army of Ninus then combined, outnumbered and overcame the Bactrians, and scattered them into their cities, which Ninus took with little trouble. But Bactra, where was the palace of the kings, was large and well supplied, and had a very strong citadel in a high position, while the city extended over the plain. It resisted for a long time, till Semiramis ascended the citadel, and Ninus was enabled to take possession of the treasures of gold and silver which were in Bactra. At a later time Semiramis collected her vast army for the invasion of India in Bactria, and returned to Bactra after she had been defeated on the Indus, and had lost two-thirds of her army (II. 10). Such are the descriptions given by the epic poetry of the Medes and Persians, in the account of the rise of Assyria and subjugation of Bactria. The Bactrians are again brought forward in the narrative of the overthrow of Assyria, which was the proper theme of these poems. When Sardanapalus has already thrice defeated the Medes and Babylonians, a strong force comes to his assistance from Bactria. The leader of the Medes determines to attack this first, if it would not join in the contest for freedom against Assyria. The Bactrians joined the Medes, the power of Assyria was broken, and Nineveh destroyed (III. 253).

From these poems it follows that in the first half of the sixth century B.C., in which the Medo-Persian epic attained its original form, the tradition, or at any rate the opinion, existed among the minstrels of Media that a powerful kingdom and large metropolis once existed in Bactria, the situation of which is correctly described. This kingdom possessed a strong citadel and abundant treasures, and could put in the field a large army of brave warriors. Without such a conception they could not represent the first attack of the Assyrians on Bactria as a failure, the second as successful only after considerable time and trouble had been spent, and the conquest as the last and greatest achievement of Ninus, the mightiest sovereign of Assyria, which he only performed with the aid of Semiramis.

The inscriptions of the Assyrians have already informed us that no dominion of Assyria over Eastern Iran existed in the earliest period of the kingdom; on the contrary, even when her power was at the highest Assyria could only carry on temporary excursions into that region. The western part of the country was first trodden by the armies of Shalmanesar II.; his inscriptions mention tribute of the Medes, and from the inscriptions of his successors it is distinctly clear that only the nations of Western Iran were tributary dependants of the kings of Asshur from the period of Tiglath Pilesar, i. e. from the middle of the eighth century B.C., till the period of Phraortes and Cyaxares of Media, i. e. till the middle of the seventh century B.C.[28]

The conquests of Cyrus, who overthrew the power of the Medes, founded the Persian empire, and extended it to the east, would give us more accurate information about Eastern Iran if connected accounts of these were in existence. Herodotus contents himself with stating that Cyrus, after subjugating the Lydians, determined to march against the Bactrians and Sacæ. He conquered all the nations of Upper Asia, one after the other, without omitting any.[29] Ctesias relates that the Bactrians after a doubtful battle submitted voluntarily to Cyrus. According to the account of Xenophon, the Hyrcanians, Cadusians, and Sacæ joined Cyrus, and in the fragments of Nicolaus also the Hyrcanians, Parthians, and "the other nations" passed over to Cyrus immediately after the conquest of the Medes. However this may be, there is no doubt that the east of Iran was subject to Cyrus. He marched through the land of the Arachoti, entered into relations with the Ariaçpas (p. 8), and subjugated the Gandarians on the south of the Cabul. He is also said to have imposed tribute on the Açvakas to the north of the river (IV. 384). The Sogdiani, in any case, were his vassals. On a stream which flows into the Jaxartes he built a fortress called by his own name, known to the Greeks as Cyresbata (ultima Cyra, or with others Cyropolis), i. e. the furthest Cyrus. The walls and citadels were strong and spacious, and in the neighbourhood were six other citadels.[30] The value placed by Cyrus on the regions of Eastern Iran is not only clear from these fortresses, but may be deduced from the statement that his second son Bardya, whom the Greeks call Smerdis, was intrusted with the government of Bactria, if indeed the statement is genuine.[31]

The nations and condition of Eastern Iran can be ascertained more clearly from the inscriptions of Darius. According to his inscription at Behistun, his empire in that direction comprised the Parthians, Sarangians, Areians, Chorasmians, Bactrians, Sogdiani, Gandarii, Sattagydæ, Arachoti, and Sacæ; and to these the Idhus, i. e. the Indians on the right bank of the upper course of the Indus, are added in the inscriptions of Persepolis and Naksh-i-Rustem.[32] Further information is preserved by Herodotus with respect to the tribute imposed by Darius on these nations. As these statements are undoubtedly derived from Persian tribute lists, they serve to throw a side light on the state of civilisation existing in the east of Iran at the division of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. The Sarangians, who, as we have seen (p. 7), inhabited the fertile land round Lake Areios (Hamun), together with the Sagartians and some neighbouring nations on the south, paid yearly 600 Babylonian talents into the treasury of the king. The Areians (Haraivas), Parthians, Sogdiani, and Chorasmians, who formed the sixteenth satrapy of the Persian empire, had to pay 300 talents; the Gedrosians and Gandarians together paid 170 talents; the Caspiani (i. e. no doubt, the Tapurians and other tribes on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea) and the Sacæ, who traversed the steppes of the Oxus,i. e. the fifteenth satrapy, paid 250 talents; and the Bactrians, the twelfth satrapy of the empire, paid 360 talents.[33] These sums, which do not include the whole of the burdens of the provinces, but are only the land taxes which they had to pay,—in addition, tolls were levied and contributions in kind to the court of the king and the satraps, as well as for the maintenance of the army,—show that at the time of Darius agriculture and wealth had proceeded far beyond the earliest stages in the eastern districts of Iran. The Babylonian silver talent amounts to more than 2000 thalers (6000 shillings).[34] If a sum of more than 1,200,000 thalers (£180,000) could be raised every year in land tax from the districts round Lake Hamun, extensive though they were, and 720,000 thalers (£108,000) in a similar manner from the land of the Bactrians, the gardens, fields, and pastures of these regions must have been considerable in breadth, and of great fertility.

Beyond this indication of the state of the civilisation in these districts, we learn but little of their fortunes under the dominion of the Persians. Darius (521-485 B.C.) informs us, at the beginning of his reign, that his father Hystaspes (Vistaçpa), his viceroy in Persia, the native land of the kingdom, and with him Vivana the Persian, the satrap of Arachosia, and Dadarshis the Persian, the satrap of Bactria, had quelled the rebellions of the Parthians, Hyrcanians, and Margiani; that the Mede Takhmaçpada had conquered the rebellious Sagartians, and captured their leader, Chitratakhma, whom he, Darius, had crucified at Arbela. The army of the second Pseudo-Smerdis, which attempted to gain possession of Arachosia, Vivana had defeated at the fortress of Kapisakani, in Arachosia, and the leaders, with their chief associates, had been captured in the fortress of Arsada and put to death. Hystaspes had slain 6560 men of the Parthians and Hyrcanians, and taken 4182 of them captives. Dadarshis had subjugated the Mardians by slaying 4203 of them in battle, and taking 6562 of them captive.[35] Xerxes, the successor of Darius, successively intrusted two of his brothers, Masistes and then Hystaspes, with the government of Bactria.[36] In the great campaign against Hellas, the Bactrians, like all the other nations of the kingdom, had to furnish their contingent; and when Mardonius had to select the best troops in the army in Hellas, in order to winter with them in Thessaly, he retained, besides the Persians and Medes, the infantry and cavalry of the Bactrians, Sacæ, and Indians.[37] The Bactrians, under their viceroy Hystaspes, revolted against Artaxerxes, the brother of Hystaspes. The first battle was not decisive; in the second Artaxerxes conquered, "because the wind blew in the face of the Bactrians," and subjugated the land.[38] To the army of Darius III. with which he met the Macedonians in Assyria, the Bactrians contributed 30,000 cavalry; and in the battle of Arbela they fought with the Arachoti on the left wing. Accompanied by Bactrian horsemen, Darius escaped from the field of battle to Media, and sought afterwards to maintain his position in their country. The Caspian gates, the pass of Damaghan, were gained, when the satrap of Bactria got possession of the king, and put him to death before he reached Bactria. The satrap hoped to establish an independent power there,[39] but without success. Though Alexander at first overcame the Bactrians, who were astonished at his rapid approach, he soon found a stubborn resistance in Sogdiana and Bactria, which occupied him for two years.[40] Not till then could he make his preparations in Bactria for the invasion of India, and collect at Bactra the army intended for the subjugation of that country, in order to pass over the Hindu Kush into the valley of the Cabul.

In the contests which the successors of Alexander carried on for the supremacy after his death, the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris, and the table-land of Iran, finally fell to the lot of Seleucus. But in the middle of the third century (256 B.C.), Arsaces in Parthia and the satrap Diodotus in Bactria rebelled against the second successor, Antiochus Theos. The descendants of Arsaces not only succeeded in maintaining their independence against the Seleucids, in spite of severe reverses, but Mithridates I., the sixth Arsacid (174-136 B.C.), united all Iran under his dominion. The Greeks lost their supremacy, and Iran again became subject to native princes.

Meanwhile Diodotus had founded an independent supremacy in Bactria. His son, of the same name, was succeeded by Euthydemus, against whom, towards the year 200 B.C., Antiochus III. marched, in order to force Bactria to submission. Euthydemus was defeated at the river Areios (p. 10), and fled to Zariaspa. By the surrender of his elephants he obtained an established recognition from Antiochus. Demetrius and Eucratides, the successors of Euthydemus (after 180 B.C.), extended the sphere of their dominion to the east over the land on the Cabul to the Indus. The kingdom of Chandragupta, Vindusara, and Açoka, which, as we know, included the east of Iran, and has left us inscriptions at Peshawur (IV. 525), fell to pieces under Açoka's grandsons. Apollodorus of Artemita told us above that the fertility of the Bactrian soil enabled the Greek rulers to make important conquests (p. 12); he informs us that Eucratides founded the city of Eucratideia in Bactria, and subjugated a thousand cities in India. We may assume that Bactria under these princes was not merely powerful, but prosperous. According to the statement of Justin, a thousand cities were at that time enumerated in Bactria,[41] and we possess satisfactory evidence that these rulers and their courts, and the Greek settlements which Alexander founded in the distant East, were able permanently to establish the style and art of Hellas. The coins of these princes, who are designated in Greek as "kings," "great," "invincible," rival the best work which proceeded from Greek mints. The faces present the heads of the princes, in characteristic and individual portraits; the reverses exhibit Heracles, Athena, Apollo with a crown of rays, the Dioscuri on horseback, lance in hand. But by degrees the national types of the East are again employed on these coins. The reverse presents the galloping horse, the animal of Bactria, the elephant, and the humped ox.[42] The head of Demetrius, who first conquered territory in India, and that of some of his descendants, is covered by a helmet adorned with the tusks and trunk of an elephant. Besides the round, numbers of rectangular coins have also been found, from which we can discover the native traditional form of the Bactrian coinage. After the reign of Eucratides these rectangular coins present on one side Greek inscriptions, which are repeated in other characters on the reverse. To the inscriptions of king Açoka at Kapur-i-Giri, and to these coins, together with those of the Græco-Indian kings, and some later coins belonging to the Arsacids and the Indo-Scythian princes, we owe the information that the east of Iran possessed a peculiar alphabet and mode of writing, while the Medes and Persians of the west borrowed their earliest letters from the Assyrio-Babylonian cuneiform writing, and afterwards, from about the fourth century B.C., adopted the cursive character of the Aramæans.

Although, as we may conclude from these indications, the Greek sovereigns of Bactria resolved to pay a certain respect to the civilisation of their subjects, their kingdom was short-lived. The nations of the steppes of the Oxus, themselves under pressure, began to advance to the south (after 160 B.C.); in the west the Parthians rose into power. Mithridates I. of Parthia incorporated Bactria in his kingdom about 140 B.C., and Bactria subsequently became a part of the Parthian empire. Heliocles, the son of Eucratides, was thus limited to the land of the Cabul and Indus, but on the borders of India the power and influence of the Greeks remained unbroken. Greek captains—Menander, and after him Apollodotus, who had previously no doubt been subject to the Bactrians—issued from the southern slope of the Hindu Kush in the last decades of the second century B.C., and conquered the land of the Indus as far as the mouth of the river, and the Panjab. They advanced to the Yamuna, and reduced Surashtra (Guzerat) and Cashmere to dependence. Even at the end of the first century B.C. coins of these princes were current on the coast of Surashtra, and they are still found on the banks of the Yamuna.[43]

On the western coast of India, from the Gulf of Cambay to Bombay, we find from one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand families whose ancestors migrated thither from Iran. The tradition among them is, that at the time when the Arabs, after conquering Iran and becoming sovereigns there, persecuted and eradicated the old religion, faithful adherents of the creed fled to the mountains of Kerman. Driven from these by the Arabs (in Kerman and Yezd a few hundred families are still found who maintain the ancient faith [44]), they retired to the island of Hormuz (a small island close by the southern coast, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf). From hence they migrated to Din (on the coast of Guzerat), and then passed over to the opposite shore. In the neighbourhood of Bombay and in the south of India inscriptions have been found which prove that these settlers reached the coast in the tenth century of our era.[45] At the present time their descendants form a considerable part of the population of Surat, Bombay, and Ahmadabad; they call themselves, after their ancient home, Parsees, and speak the later Middle Persian (the Parsee, p. 17). Their worship and life they regulate by the rules given in certain scriptures which they brought with them from their ancient home. These are fragments of a much larger whole, part of a book of law, and a collection of sacrificial songs and prayers. The Parsees no longer speak or understand the language of these scriptures (the Avesta), and even the priests, who use them every day, ascertain the meaning through an accompanying translation into the later language.

That these scriptures arose in the east of Iran is clear from the language of the Avesta. It exhibits a close relationship with the forms of the Veda and Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Arians in India. If, on the other hand, we compare the language of the Avesta with the ancient language of Western Iran as we possess it in the inscriptions of the Achæmenids, we find that both are merely different dialects of one language, but they differ in such a manner that the language of the inscriptions of Darius and Xerxes is less closely connected with Sanskrit than the language of the Avesta. This language then we may regard as the ancient speech of Eastern Iran, and this assumption is raised into evidence by the contents of the Avesta. These prove that the Avesta arose in the east of Iran, with even greater certainty than the songs of the Rigveda prove that that collection arose in the land of the Indus and the Panjab. The Avesta entirely ignores the west of Iran. No mention is made of Ecbatana and Pasargadæ, the abode of the Median and the Persian kings, though they reigned over the whole of Iran and Hither Asia; nor even of the nations of the west, the Medes and Persians. It speaks of the land of the seven streams, i. e. India (IV. 12), and the heat which prevails in that land;[46] it mentions the beautiful Harahvaiti (Arachosia) and Haetumat (afterwards Sejestan [47]): the latter is extolled as a beaming, glowing, brilliant country.[48] The knowledge of the Avesta is most accurate in the north-east. Here we find Airyana Vaeja, i. e. home or canton of the Airyas,[49] Çughdha (Sogdiana), Bakhdhi (Baktra), Mouru (Margiana, Merv [50]), Niça, between Bakhdhi and Mouru, Haraeva (Haraiva in the inscriptions; Herat, the land of the Areians), and Vehrkana, i. e. land of wolves (Hyrcania).[51] The furthest point known to the west is Ragha in Media, which, according to the Avesta, consists of three citadels or tribes.[52] These statements carry us very distinctly to the east of Iran, the region from Ragha to the Indus. Mouru is "the high," "the holy," and Bakhdhi's "high banner" is extolled. In this way this city was no doubt marked out as the seat of an important dominion, the centre of a kingdom.

If we might assume that in these fragments of the sacred books of the Parsees we have not only the ancient language, but also the ancient religion of Eastern Iran before us, we might also hope that we should meet in them with remnants of the tradition, with native accounts of the fortunes of the country, enabling us to supplement the scanty information which we could glean from the inscriptions of the Assyrians and Darius, and the accounts of Western writers. Leaving out of sight for the present the question, At what period did these writings come into existence? we may collect what we can find in them on the early history of Iran.

In the Avesta the god Haoma says, Vivanghana was the first who crushed out the juice of the Haoma. As a reward there was born to him the brilliant Yima, the lord of the nations, the most famous of all who have seen the sun. While Yima Kshaeta (Yima the king) reigned there was neither cold nor excessive heat, neither age nor death, nor envy, caused by the evil spirits: fathers and sons equally had the vigour of men of fifty years. Yima caused the means of support for mankind to be inexhaustible; he liberated the waters and trees from drought, and the herds from death.[53] In an invocation to the goddess Ardviçura, the giver of water, to whom Yima sacrifices a hundred horses, a thousand oxen, and ten thousand head of small cattle on Hukairya, the summit of the divine mountain, he prays, "Grant to me, Saviour Ardviçura, that I may be the sovereign of all lands, that I may carry away from the Daevas (the evil spirits) increase and health, fodder and herds, joy and glory." To the goddess Ashi vanguhi, Yima also offers a prayer "that he may bring food and flocks to the creatures of Mazda, and immortality, and may remove hunger and thirst, age and death, the hot wind and the cold from the creatures of Mazda for a thousand years." And the morning wind, Vayu, is entreated that "Yima may be the most merciful of all creatures, and that under his dominion he may make cattle and mankind immortal, that the waters and trees may never dry up and wither." In the fragments of the book of the law in the Avesta, Zarathrustra inquires of Auramazda to whom he (the god) had first revealed the true doctrine. Auramazda answers, "I spoke first with Yima, the excellent one. I said to him, Yima, thou beautiful son of Vivanghana, be thou the preacher and bearer of my doctrine. But Yima answered, I am not fitted to be the preacher of the doctrine. Then I, Auramazda, spoke and said, If thou wilt not obey me, Yima, to be the bearer of my law, yet make my world fruitful; be the keeper of my earthly creatures, their protector and lord. And Yima, the excellent one, answered, I will cause thy creatures to prosper and increase; I will be the keeper, protector, and lord of them. Therefore I, Auramazda, gave to him two instruments, a golden staff and an ox goad adorned with gold, and three hundred years passed by. And the land was full of herds and beasts of draught, of men, and dogs, and birds, and red flaming fires. And there was no more any room for the flocks, and men, and beasts of draught. Then I warned Yima: O Yima, excellent one, son of Vivanghana, there is no more any room for the herds, and beasts of draught, and men. And Yima went forth to meet the stars and the path of the sun (i. e. towards the east). He struck with the golden staff upon the earth, and smote it with the goad, and said, Çpenta Armaiti (O holy earth), arise, part thyself asunder, thou bearer of animals and of men. And Yima pushed the earth asunder so that it was a third part greater than before. Then the flocks found a home, the beasts of draught, and men, according to their wish and desire." Again three hundred years passed, and there was no more any room for herds, beasts, and men; and at Auramazda's command Yima again caused the earth to stretch asunder, and it became two-thirds greater than before; and after another three hundred years Yima caused the earth to become as large again as before.[54] Then a thousand years passed, and Auramazda said to Yima, "Bitter cold and sharp frost will fall upon the earth, and the snow will lie deep on the summits of the mountains and in the clefts of the valleys. Make an enclosure (vara ) of the length of a horse's course on each of the four sides. Bring into it a stock of herds and beasts of draught, of men and dogs, and birds and red flaming fires, and make the enclosure to be a dwelling for men and a stall for the cattle. Carry water thither, and build houses and tombs, and a fortification and palisade round about, and drive them with the golden staff into the citadel, and shut to the door. And Yima made a citadel of the length of a horse's course. Thither he brought a stock of all men and women who were the tallest, best, and most beautiful of earth, and a brood of all animals which were largest, best, and most beautiful, and the seeds of all fruits and growths which were best and most beautiful. And he provided that a pair were ever together. There was no evil speaking there, nor strife, nor injury, nor deception, nor meanness; nothing crooked, no mal-formation of teeth, no crippled form, nor any other of the signs which are the signs of Angromainyu. In this enclosure which Yima made men lived the happiest life. A year was a day, and every forty years two children, a male and a female, were born from each pair of human creatures, and so also of each kind of animal."[55]

In an invocation in the Avesta we are told that the bright gleaming majesty in the form of the bird Varaghna had passed from Yima when he began to love lying speech. Yima fell terrified to earth, and Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, seized the majesty. When it passed a second time from Yima, Thraetaona seized it, and when it passed a third time, Kereçaçpa seized it.

The second who crushed the juice of the Haoma was Athwya. Hence there was born to him a son, Thraetaona, in the land of Varena. The evil spirit Angromainyu had created a wicked being, "with three heads, three throats, six eyes, and a thousand strengths"—the Azhi dahaka, i. e. the biting serpent, which swallowed horses and men, and threatened to desolate the world. But Thraetaona sacrificed a hundred horses to Ardviçura, a thousand oxen, and ten thousand head of small cattle, and called on the goddess, and with bound bundle of rods, on Vayu on his golden throne, with golden footstool and golden canopy, to grant that he might smite the strong Druj, which Angromainyu had created as the strongest to bring death upon the pure world; and he overcame the monster, because Verethraghna was with him, the most victorious of mortals.[56] And Thraetaona obtained the splendour of the dominion when it departed a second time from Yima. In the prayers of the Avesta, Thraetaona, who has slain the great serpent, is invoked as helper against the "pain which is caused by the serpent," against fever and sickness.[57]

The third who crushed the juice of the Haoma for the sacrifice was Thrita, of the race of Çama. Thrita was the first who by skill in medicine kept back sickness and death from the bodies of men. He wished for means to withstand the pains, the sickness, the death, the hot and cold fever which Angromainyu had created for the bodies of men. "Then I, Auramazda, caused healing plants to grow by hundreds, by thousands, by tens of thousands around the one Gaokerena." And in reward for his offering of Haoma two sons were born to Thrita—Urvakshaya, who put in order the law, and Kereçaçpa (i. e. having slim horses), the youth of beautiful form, the bearer of the weapon Gaeçu.[58] Kereçaçpa smote the poisonous green serpent Çruvara, on which flowed poison to the thickness of a thumb, and it swallowed men and horses. Afterwards, after he had sacrificed to Ardviçura on the shore of Lake Piçano (i. e., no doubt, in the valley of Pishin in Sejestan), he smote the giant Gandarewa, who dwelt in Lake Vourukasha, and the descendants of the nine robbers, and Çnavidhaka, who had attempted to overcome Auramazda and Angromainyu. And when his brother Urvakshaya had been slain by Hitaçpa, Kereçaçpa besought the wind, who works on high, to grant to him to slay Hitaçpa in revenge for the death of his brother. And he conquered him, and yoked him to his chariot. When for the third time the majesty departed from Yima, Kereçaçpa seized it, the strongest of men after Zarathrustra. In the prayers of the Avesta, Kereçaçpa's help is invoked against robbers and hostile hosts.[59]

Yima, Thraetaona, Kereçaçpa, and the forms which are genealogically connected with them, Vivanghana, Athwya, Çama, Thrita, and Urvakshaya, are collected by the Avesta under the name Paradhata, i. e. those who first exercised dominion.[60] Indications in our fragments show that other names were also included in them. Thraetaona's son was Airyu, and Airyu's son was Manuschithra.[61] These most ancient sovereigns were followed by a second group, whose distinguishing mark is the surname Kava. The first of these Kavas, whom the Avesta mentions merely as the wearer of the divine majesty, is Kava Kavata.[62] He is succeeded by the agile, brilliant Kava Uça, who sacrifices to Ardviçura on Mount Erezifya in order to obtain the dominion over all lands, over Daevas and men, wizards and Pairikas, and this favour the goddess granted him. After Uça the royal majesty united itself, to use the phrase in the Avesta, with the beautiful pure body of Kava Çyavarshana. He died by a violent death.[63] His son was Kava Huçrava, "the brave uniter of the Arian lands into one kingdom," as the Avesta tells us, which then goes on to relate that he was without sickness or death. He had to contend against the destructive Franghraçianas, the Turanians (turatuirya ). He besought Ardviçura that it "might be granted to him to put an end to the long dimness, and bind the Franghraçianas in their abundance and pride." This prayer the goddess granted. Haoma himself desired "to bind the destructive, murderous Franghraçiana and carry him away as a captive of the king Huçrava, and that Kava Huçrava should slay him behind the lake Chaechaçta, the deep lake with broad waters."[64] Kava Huçrava was followed by king Aurvataçpa, the son of Naotara, the son of Manuschithra, the son of Airyu; and Aurvataçpa was succeeded by his son the strong and warlike Vistaçpa.[65] Of the twenty-nine sons of this king, the Avesta mentions the strong Çpentodata, and informs us that Frashaostra and his brother Jamaçpa, of the race of Hvova, were men of importance with the king. Like Huçrava, Vistaçpa had to contend with a Turanian, Arejataçpa, i. e. the winner of horses, who sacrificed to Ardviçura in order to obtain the victory over Kava Vistaçpa and the warrior on horseback, Zarivairi (the brother of Vistaçpa). The goddess heard him not, but heard Vistaçpa when he sacrificed to her behind the water of Frazdana, in order to overcome the hostile Arejataçpa, born of darkness, skilled in evil, who sought to smite the lands of the Arians.[66] But Zarathrustra, the son of Pourushaçpa, of the race of Haechataçpa, sacrificed to Ardviçura that he might unite with the mighty Vistaçpa, the son of Aurvataçpa, and to Drvaçpa, "that he might unite with Hutaoça, and she might impress on his memory the good law."[67] Zarathrustra proclaimed a new law, the law of Auramazda. The heroes and kings before him were known in the Avesta by the name Paoiryotkaesha, i. e. the men of the earliest custom, the earliest law.

These are all the traits and pictures of the antiquity of East Iran, of any importance, which can be gathered from the remaining fragments of the Avesta. Of the antiquity and genuineness of the narrative there is no doubt. The close relationship and coincidence which they exhibit with the form and views of the Veda are proved on both sides. As we saw, the Veda distinguishes the sacrificers and sages of the ancient time, the earlier time, and the present (IV. 29.) The god Haoma is the well-known god Soma of the Arians in India, the variation in the name being due to the change of sounds which distinguishes the Old Bactrian from the language of the Veda. Here, as there, he is the sacrificial libation, and at the same time the god who pours the libation, and is its power. The great heroes Yima, Thraetaona, Kereçaçpa and Zarathrustra were born to their fathers as a reward for offering the libation of Soma. King Yima (Yima Kshaeta) in the Avesta is no other than the Yama (Yama Rajan) of the Veda. Yama is the son of Vivasvat, the brilliant, the shining, the giver of light; and in the Avesta Yima is the son of Vivanghana. In the Veda he is the assembler of the people, the first king, the first mortal who shows to men the way which leads from the depths to the height of heaven; who first experiences death, but returns into heaven as the son of the god of light, where he gathers round him the brave and pious for new life in imperishable joy (IV. 61). Yima is also the assembler of men, the first king; he rules with the golden staff; he founds the religious worship, a merit which in the Veda belongs to Manu. Under Yima the earth is filled with red-glowing fires; he worships Vayu and Ardviçura. He is the representative of the golden age; in his reign there is neither heat nor cold, age nor death, hate nor strife; and his dominion continues a thousand years. It was the first happy period of the world, which men passed under the dominion of the son of the god of light. At what an elevation Yima must have been placed in the oldest form of the mythus of East Iran is clear from the fact that creative acts and the triple extension of the earth are ascribed to him. After the close of this golden period, winter comes upon the earth, heat and cold, strife, sickness, and death. The happy life of the golden age only continues within certain limits, in the enclosure of Yima, where he carries on the blessed and immortal life with selected men, trees, animals, and food. Here Yima is to live till the end of all things, when his companions will again people the earth. As in this garden of Yima the sun, moon, and stars shine together,[68] it must be sought in the sky, or at any rate on the bright, divine mountain Hukairya, where there is neither night nor gloom, and which is at the same time described as Yima's place of sacrifice.

If the Indians have placed the old Arian legend of a golden age on earth in the days of Yima's reign, they have also, after their manner, depicted his heavenly kingdom with brighter colours, while among the Iranians this part of the legend is combined with the heavenly garden into which Yima receives the men he has selected as the best. Nevertheless, a reminiscence of Yima's garden has remained beyond the Indus in the story of the Uttara Kurus, who dwell beyond the holy mountains to the north.[69]

The most striking variation from the common Arian myth in the Avesta is the statement that Yima is subordinate to a deity, Auramazda, of whom the Arians of India knew nothing. The old legend is thus brought within the sphere of new views, which must have exercised still further influence upon it. It is Auramazda who places in the hand of Yima the control, superintendence, and protection of animals and men. It is not through Yima's own desire, as was certainly the case in the old legend, but at Auramazda's bidding, that the enclosure is made, and the selected men, animals, and trees brought into it. The main reason for this change was the necessity of giving an answer to the question, Why did not the golden age continue? and if, long after Yima, Zarathrustra proclaimed a new and better law, why had not Auramazda revealed this law to the favoured Yima? In order to answer this riddle, the Avesta represents Auramazda as asking Yima to become "the preacher and bearer of his doctrine," and Yima refuses to accept this mission. Hence Yima becomes guilty of a fault, and a reason is given why the golden age, the thousand years of the reign of Yima, came to an end. Without the good doctrine, the invasion of evil spirits, and with them of heat and cold, sickness and death, strife and blight, could not be kept back from the earth. This trait of the guilt of Yima, which is entirely unknown to the earlier legend, is carried out still further. According to the prayer in the Avesta (p. 34) blessing and immortality continued in the kingdom of Yima, "till he began to love lying speech." When he had rejected Auramazda's law he cannot himself resist the seduction of evil spirits. The first offence brings on the second, and this causes the triple loss of majesty, which at length ends in the fall and violent death of Yima, an incident already indicated in the Avesta.[70] How this form of the legend allowed the garden of Yima to be placed on the divine mountain, and whether the contradiction was removed or not, our fragments do not enable us to decide.

In the Veda it was Indra who had to contend against Vritra and Ahi, i. e. the serpents, and the black spirits, which desired to drink up the water of the sky and veil its light. In Iran, as we shall see, this office is transferred to other spirits, and also to Thraetaona. The Azhi dahaka of the Avesta is the Ahi of the Veda. Ahi and Azhi are the same word, with the same meaning; the addition dahaka  refers to the destructive power of this demon. Verethraghna, i. e. the slayer of Vritra, stands in the Avesta at the side of Thraetaona in his struggle with Azhi (p. 35), and the morning wind supports him just as in the Veda the winds assist Indra against Ahi and Vritra. Among the Indians, Traitana is a spirit of the air, who dwells in the remotest regions of the sky, who hews off the head of a giant from his shoulders, and in the Veda, Trita, the son of Aptya, drinks the draught of Soma, in order to win strength for the slaying of Vritra; he slays the snake with three heads and seven tails; with his iron club he splits the hollows in the rock in which the demons have hidden the cows of the heaven (the rain clouds).[71] In the Veda, Aptya is the father of Trita; in the Avesta, Athwya is the father of Thraetaona. Of Trita, whom it represents as sprung from Çama, the Avesta declares that he was the first physician; in the Veda we are told of Trita he knew how to heal sickness as the gods had taken his sickness from him; that he bestowed long life.[72] The two figures of Trita and Traitana gradually unite in the Veda; in the Avesta, Thrita and Thraetaona remain separate persons. The Kereçaçpa of the Avesta seems to correspond to the Kriçaçva of the Indians, whom we first find in the Epos, where he is celebrated as a warlike Rishi.[73]

If the Paradhatas, Yima, Athwya, Thraetaona, Thrita, and Kereçaçpa in the original conception are spirits of the sky, if the monsters with which Thraetaona and Kereçaçpa struggle are not to be sought on earth but in the heavens, if in these dragons we find once more the cloud-serpents, against which Indra and his company have to contend—we do not at once set foot upon earth, when we come to the Kavanians. According to the later tradition of Iran, Kava Kavata was fetched from the divine mountain in order to reign over the country; two white falcons bring him a golden crown. The Rigveda mentions Kavya Uçanas, i. e. Uçanas, the son of Kavi, who brings the cows of the sky, i. e. the clouds, to the pasture.[74] In the Avesta, Kava Uça sacrifices not only to rule over the whole earth but also over the spirits. According to a later tradition this sovereign—now called Kai Kaus—causes beautiful castles to be built on the divine mountain by the demons, and is then carried by four eagles into heaven. Kava Huçrava, for whom in the Avesta the god Haoma contends, is without sickness and death (p. 37). In the later tradition, in which he is known as Kai Chosru, he begins a pilgrimage to heaven after conquering and slaying his opponent the Turanian Franghaçiana, like the sons of Pandu in the Mahabharata after their victory over the Kurus and their happy reign. Like them also, Kai Chosru climbs the mountains and disappears from his companions at a well. Against his command they seek him in the mountains, and are all buried in a great snow-storm. From the name Manuschithra (p. 37), i. e.scion of Manu, we may conclude that the twin brother of Yama, "father Manu," was not unknown to the Arians of Iran. But the genealogy in which the Avesta has preserved these names has no greater claims to historical value than the figures which have passed in review before us. Airyu is the son of Thraetaona; i. e.from the mightiest hero, the slayer of the great dragon, are sprung the sovereigns and the nation of the Airyas; the son of Airyu is Manuschithra; from whose son, Naotara, are derived the two last Kavas, Aurvataçpa and Vistaçpa.

If the coincidence of the forms from Yima to Kava Huçrava with the Veda is a proof of the antiquity and genuineness of the tradition of the Avesta, the gain for history becomes less instead of greater. No one would take mythical persons for historical. Yet the style and form in which we find these traditional statements in the fragments of the Avesta supply certain guides for the lost history of Eastern Iran. The splendour of the royal majesty is so often and so distinctly brought into prominence, that the conclusion forces itself upon us, that the regions in which the Avesta arose, i. e. the north-east of Iran, must have been acquainted with a powerful and highly-respected monarchy. The ancient spirits of the sky are changed in the Avesta into mighty warriors and far-ruling kings, a circumstance in favour of the supposition that an empire once existed here, the image of which is reflected on prehistoric times. It is in Epic poems that the spirits of the first sky become heroes, and Epic poetry only arises in and follows on periods of war and conflict. The fact that the forms of the spirits thus changed into heroes by Epic song are turned into the forefathers of the kings and progenitors of the nation, further establishes the conclusion that a military monarchy must have been in existence here; only warlike princes could appear as the heirs of heroes. Moreover, the Avesta extols the high banner of Bakhdhi and speaks of the neighbouring regions as favoured; the later tradition of Iran marks out Bactria very clearly as the abode of Aurvataçpa and Vistaçpa; in the third century B.C. Bactria supplied its princes with means not merely to achieve their own independence, but to maintain it against the great kingdom of the Seleucids and to subjugate the land of the Indus (p. 25 ff.); and if, in addition to these facts, we bear in mind the conceptions found in the Median poems of the great power of the kings of the Bactrians, their treasures in gold and silver, their fortified city, the conquest of which was the greatest achievement of Ninus—we may venture to assume that before the days of the Medes, i. e. before the year 650 B.C., there must have existed an important monarchy in the north-east of Iran.

With the assistance of the Avesta we may go a step further. We saw that Kava Huçrava no less than Vistaçpa is represented as fighting against the Turas or Tuiryas. Who were these enemies? In Old-Bactrian the word means the enemy, the oppressor. Strabo speaks of a region of Turuia in the north of Parthia, towards the steppes of the Oxus.[75] In the later tradition of Iran the Turanians are the constant and most dangerous enemies of the kings of Bactria. The steppes of the Oxus and Jaxartes were inhabited by nations to whom the Persians gave the collective name of Sacæ, while the Greeks called them Scythians. They found but scanty pasture on the steppes, and it was natural that they should look with longing eyes on the more fertile regions of Bactria and Sogdiana. It has already been mentioned how careful Cyrus was to protect these countries, when he had conquered them, against the nations of the steppes. At a later time, from the middle of the second century B.C. downwards (p. 28), we have definite information of the pressure of these nations on Parthia, Margiana, and Bactria. When freed from the attacks of the Seleucids on the west, the Arsacids had to defend the east of the kingdom. Phraates II. and Artabanus II. fell in battle against the nomads; Mithridates II. succeeded in protecting Parthia, but about the year 100 B.C. the Sacæ were able to force a way through Bactria. They possessed themselves of the best land in the east of Iran, the valleys of the Hilmend (p. 7), bequeathed their name to the country (Sikashtan, Sejestan), and from the valley of the Cabul extended their dominion beyond the Indus. The white Huns, or Yuëchis, followed the Sacæ; and they also reached the Indus. Is there any reason to doubt the Avesta that even before the Medes and Cyrus the princes of Bactria and Sogdiana were occupied with beating back the tribes of the steppes?

In ancient times, as Strabo tells us, the Bactrians and Sogdiani were little removed from wandering shepherds. The Avesta exhibits them in close connection with horses. The names compounded with açpa (horse) are common; Kereçaçpa, Aurvataçpa, Vistaçpa, Haechataçpa, Jamaçpa, Pourushaçpa. Of Zariaçpa and the Zariaçpians we have already spoken. The most important source of wealth must have consisted in horses, for which the mountains supplied ample pasture. The horse-sacrifice is the chief sacrifice of theAvesta. One hundred horses were equal to 1000 oxen, and 10,000 head of small cattle. We found that Bactria could furnish the last Darius with 30,000 cavalry, and the horse was the symbol of Bactria on the coins of the Greek princes of the land (p. 27).

From all these indications we may assume that when the Arians had settled in Margiana, Bactria, and Sogdiana, and agriculture became of importance beside the breeding of cattle, the necessity of protection against the migratory tribes of the endless plains stretching to the north, created among the Arians a warlike nobility who took upon themselves the duty of defence. The valley of the Zarefshan (Sogdiana), the terrace of Bactria, the region of Merv, became in the hands of the Arians advanced posts of civilisation in the desert. If Western Iran was protected in the north by the Alps of Aderbeijan and the Caspian Sea against attacks from that quarter, Eastern Iran lay open to the nomads of the steppes, and had nothing but arms to defend its cultivated lands. We have already seen that Bactria even in the sixth century had passed beyond the earliest stages of civilisation (p. 24). But even a less degree of prosperity was sufficient to excite the sons of the desert to invasion. Hence we may assume that the incursions and raids of the nomads of the steppes began with the increase of the flocks and the prosperity of agriculture in the valleys of Merv, Bactria, and Sogdiana. The increasing severity of these attacks compelled the Bactrian soldiery to collect their forces for more successful resistance, and to place the best warriors at the head of the community. Thus it was not by spontaneous development, but rather by the opposition to the nations of the steppes, that the north-east of Iran first outgrew the tribal life, and became transformed into a larger state. Of this kingdom Aurvataçpa and Vistaçpa became the rulers; in the Avesta they are distinguished from the Paradhatas and from Kava Kavata, Kava Uça, and Kava Huçrava, by a new addition to the name and other peculiar traits, and form a third group. The progress of our investigation will show that the formation of this Bactrian kingdom cannot be placed later than 1100 B.C.; the date of Vistaçpa must be put about 1000 B.C., and it was the successors of Vistaçpa who sent to Shalmanesar II. the tribute of camels with two humps, and yaks (about 850 B.C.), who found themselves menaced once more by the advances of Tiglath Pilesar II. to Arachosia in the year 745 B.C., and at length succumbed to Cyrus. We shall find that this kingdom was not without its warlike races and priestly families, that Zariaçpa and Bactria were the centres of it, and that the sovereigns attained despotic power. Yet the old warlike families must have preserved a certain importance under the monarchy, unless they regained it when lost under the viceroys of the Achæmenids. It was the chieftains of the Bactrians whom Alexander summoned to Zariaçpa, and who with the Sogdiani at their side took the lead in resistance. The most powerful of them stubbornly defended their rocky citadels against the Macedonians.


[26]Polyb. fragm. 34 f.; below, p. 26.

[27]Above, p. 6; Vol. III. p. 3, "Zikruti in rugged Media I added to the land of Assyria;" ib. p. 4.

[28]Vol. III. p. 77.

[29]Herod. 1, 153, 177, 201, 204.

[30]Strabo, p. 517; Arrian, "Anab." 4, 23; Plin. "H. N." 6, 18; Ptolem. 6, 12.

[31]Ctes. fragm. Pers. c. 12.

[32]Behist. 1, 6; Persep. 25; Naksh-i-Rustem, 12-14.

[33]Herod. 3, 91, 92.

[34]Vol. I. p. 285. The amount is about 2096 thalers.

[35]Behist. 2, 14-16; 3, 10-12.

[36]Herod. 7, 64, 82; 9, 113.

[37]Herod. 8, 93.

[38]Diod. 11, 69; Ctes. Pers. ecl. 31.

[39]Arrian, "Anab." 3, 21.

[40]Arrian, loc. cit. 3, 29.

[41]Justin. 41, 4.

[42]As was shown in Vol. IV. p. 278, the Vishnu Purana represents the sacrificial horse of Pushpamitra, who sat on the throne of Magadha between 178 and 142 B.C. (Vol. IV. p. 550), to have been carried off by an army of Yavanas on the right bank of the Indus, and then restored. The dominion of the Græco-Bactrian princes in the East existed from 200 to 150 B.C.

[43]Strabo, p. 516. I need not prove that Ἰωμάνης must be read here for Ἰσάμος, or that Σαραόστου παραλία is Surashtra; cf. Wilson, "Ariana antiq." p. 281. Apollodotus, Apaladata on the Arian legends of his coins, is no doubt the Bhagadatta of the Mahabharata, just as the Dattamitra there mentioned is Demetrius; Vol. IV. p. 80, n. Among the Indians Menander appears in the form Milinda.

[44]In the year 1843 there were about 1000 Guebre families in Yezd, and a hundred in Kerman. Westergaard, "Avesta," 1, 21: the persecution of 1848 considerably reduced their numbers.

[45]Haug, "Pahlavi-Pazand Glossary," pp. 80, 81.

[46]"Vendid." 1, 73-76.

[47]"Vendid." 1, 46.

[48]"Vendid." 19, 130; 1, 50.

[49]Burnouf, "Jour. Asiat." 1845, pp. 287, 288. It seems to me doubtful whether we should look for Airyana Vaeja on the sources of the Oxus. The statement in the Bundehesh that Airyana Vaeja was situated beside Atropatene is, however, of very little weight against the fact that the Arians of East Iran are nearest to the Arians of India. I shall return to this point below. The remark in Stephanus, "Ἀριανία, a nation among the Cadusians," would be of some importance if it were taken from Apollodorus of Artemita, and not from the grammarian of that name. The district of Arran on the Kur may possibly be meant.

[50]"Vendid." 1, 14-18.

[51]"Vendid." 1, 30, 42.

[52]"Vendid." 1, 60.

[53]"Yaçna," 9, 4.

[54]"Vendid." 2, 1-21, after Karl Geldner's translation. [Cf. Darmesteter's translation in M. Müller's 'Sacred Books of the East,' Vol. IV.]

[55]"Vendid." 2, 21-43.

[56]"Aban Yasht," 9; "Farvardin Yasht," 131; "Bahram Yasht," 40; "Ram Yasht," 23.

[57]"Farvardin Yasht," 131 ff.

[58]"Yaçna," 9, 30; "Vendid." 20, 11 ff.

[59]"Vendid." 20; "Yaçna," 9, 32, 39; "Ram Yasht," 7, 28; "Farvardin Yasht," 136; "Zamyad Yasht," 41 ff. According to the "Mainyo-i-Khard," Kereçaçpa, besides slaying the serpent Çruvar, slew the wolf Kapod, the water demon Gandarsi, the bird Kamak, and kept back much oppression from the world. West, "Mainyo-i-Khard," c. 27.

[60]Justi, "Handbuch," s. voc.

[61]"Farvardin Yasht," 131.

[62]"Farvardin Yasht," 132; "Zamyad Yasht," 71.

[63]"Gosh Yasht," 18; "Ashi Yasht," 38.

[64]"Aban Yasht," 49; "Gosh Yasht," 18; "Ashi Yasht," 38; "Afrin Zartusht," 7; "Zamyad Yasht," 77; "Ram Yasht," 32.

[65]"Aban Yasht," 76, 98; "Ashi Yasht," 46; "Farvardin Yasht," 102; "Ram Yasht," 36.

[66]"Aban Yasht," 109, 117; "Farvardin Yasht," 38; "Gosh Yasht," 29, 30; "Ashi Yasht," 50, 81; "Zamyad Yasht," 87.

[67]"Aban Yasht," 104-106; "Farvardin Yasht," 142; "Gosh Yasht," 26; "Ram Yasht," 36.

[68]"Vendid." 2, 39, 40.

[69]Vol. IV. 21 n. Spiegel, "Avesta," 3, Einl. s. 58. The favourite comparison of the enclosure of Yima with the deluge of the Hebrews appears to me anything but apposite. Iran, and still more Bactria, is unsuited to give rise to the legend of a flood. Nor is there any question of the destruction of evil men (if there had been, Yima would have been the most guilty and the least deserving of pardon), but of the end of the golden age, as is shown in the Vendidad, the Yaçna, and the Yashts: the earth becomes more thickly peopled, men and animals do not grow old or die. If we must bring together things which have really no relation to each other, it would be more apposite to compare the paradise of the Hebrews. The reason for the end of the golden age is the guilt of Yima. [Cf. Kuenen, "Religion of Israel," 3, c. 9, E. T.]

[70]"Zamyad Yasht," 46.

[71]"Rigveda," 1, 158; 10, 8, 5.

[72]Westergaard in Weber's "Ind. Studien," 3, 413 ff., 426 ff. Kuhn combines Trita with Triton and Tritogeneia; Hofer's "Zeitschrift," 1, 276, 289.

[73]Haug, "Essays," pp. 235, 236.

[74]Kuhn, "Beiträge," 4, 44; Haug, "Essays," pp. 235, 236.

[75]Strabo, p. 517. [Τοριούαν is a v. l. for Ταπυρίαν.]