Religion in ancient Persia

The Priesthood of Iran

In the form in which we have them the books of the Avesta are the work of the priests of Eastern Iran. According to the evidence repeatedly furnished by them, there were three orders in Sogdiana and Bactria: priests, warriors, and husbandmen. This sequence, which is uniformly preserved both in the invocations and in the book of the law, shows that the priests had risen above the warriors, and claimed to be the first of the three orders.[312]

In considering the civilisation of the Bactrian kingdom we found ourselves compelled by the proximity of the nations of the steppes to assume, that when the Arians had become established there, the tribes which had a capacity or love for battle, undertook the protection of the land, the flocks and fields, against the incursions of the nomads of the north, and made battle and strife their special vocation. Such attacks increased with the increasing culture of Bactria, and led to a consolidation of powers; these clans raised one of their number distinguished in battle to be their leader, or followed him, and thus was laid the basis for the foundation of a great state. The importance ascribed in the Avesta to the splendour of majesty—we find the personification of good government in the Avesta among the Amesha Çpentas—in combination with the battles which, as we learn from the book, the princes of Bactria carried on against the Turanians, and with the statements in the West Iranian Epos about the kingdom of the Bactrians, together with the later condition of the country, allowed us to draw the conclusion that at one time the kings of Bactria were not without power and importance. They reigned, surrounded by the families of the warriors, who were enabled by their possessions in lands and flocks, to devote themselves to the practice of arms and to battle. The invocations to Mithra, Verethraghna, and Vayu, bear upon them very evident traces of a war-like spirit (p. 110, 114). That the spirits of the sky, which once fought with the cloud-dragons, have become mortal heroes in the Avesta, also proves—since even among other nations the Epic poetry which follows periods of warlike excitement transforms shapes of the sky into heroes of old time—that once on a time Bactria had experienced a period of warfare, when difficulties arose which it was mainly the business of the monarchy and the nobles to settle. The Avesta can tell us of arms and robes as well as of palaces with pillars and turrets; of earthen, iron, silver and golden vessels; of mats, carpets, and adornments of gold,[313] such as are found among noble families; and those hecatombs of horses, cattle, and sheep which the heroes in the Avesta sacrifice to Anahita and Drvaçpa, in order to obtain their favour by victory, are no doubt borrowed from the sacrifices which princes and nobles were wont to offer in cases where the numbers must be enlarged in honour of the heroes. Yet we see that Xerxes orders a thousand oxen to be sacrificed at one time. We have already shown (IV. 390), how important and pre-eminent was the position which the races of the warriors, "the princes," occupied on the Indus and the Ganges, and what respect they commanded among "the free Indians" in the Panjab, even in the fourth century B.C. That a warlike nobility of a similar character, attitude, and position, existed in Eastern Iran, is the less to be doubted, as the order of warriors in the Avesta is denoted by a name (rathaestar ) which goes back to the chariots of war. The husbandmen, who were settled beside and among them, bear in the Avesta the name of Vaçtrya,[314] but the word Vaeçu is also used for them, which simply repeats the name of the Indian Vaiçyas.

Like the Arians of India, the Arians of Iran believed in the power of the correct invocations, prayers, and sacrifice; among them also the sacrifice strengthens the gods and increases their power. In India too, the priests, and minstrels, and sacrificers handed down in their families the knowledge of the effective invocations and ceremonies which exercised compulsion on the gods, and the same was the case in Eastern Iran; priestly families arose at a very early period. They did not here retain the name of supplicators, as in India; but are called Athravas in the Avesta. In the Veda Atharvan kindles the sacrificial fire, and among the Arians of India the incantations of the race of Atharvan passed from the most powerful. In a similar way powerful invocations and sentences were handed down in Iran from father to son in the race of the Athravas. These families preserved the ancient invocations to Mithra, Verethraghna, Anahita, Tistrya, which are preserved to us in the Avesta, though in a modified form. The god Haoma instructs Zarathrustra to praise him, as the other fire-priests had done (p. 124). The reform which bears the name of Zarathrustra cannot have left the condition of the priests unchanged. The doctrine may, as invocations in the Avesta would seem to show, have first found adherents in the race of Haechataçpa, to which Zarathrustra belonged, and to which he first proclaimed his law (131), and next in the race of Jamaçpa and Frashaostra, who are spoken of as Zarathrustra's most zealous followers. According to the creed of the Parsees the good law also came to Aderbat Mahresfant by family descent (p. 62). These new races of priests, who knew the sayings, invocations, and prayers of Zarathrustra, would then be joined by those among the races of the old fire-priests who approved of the reform, and the priesthood thus formed would be further strengthened by those who, deeply impressed by the new doctrine, sought and found reception as pupils into a family of the priests, thus entering into their circle, and becoming members of their families. United by a new doctrine and settled tenets, the priests who represented the reform would become united together more firmly than the priestly families of the old time.

The priesthood could very well claim precedence of the warriors; on their prayers and sayings, their knowledge of the custom of sacrifice, depended the favour of the gods, the power of averting evil spirits, the removal of pollution, salvation in this world and the next. Yet they could not obtain such a position as the Brahmans held on the Ganges after the reform of the ancient faith, and the victory of Brahman over Indra. For in Iran there was no order of Çudras, no vanquished remnant of an old population, which created a sharp line of division even among the orders of the Aryas; and moreover the Brahmans were the first-born of Brahman, a purer incarnation of the divine nature than any other order. The world had not emanated from Auramazda; there were in Iran no gradations of beings in which the divine essence existed in a more or less pure condition. All had to fight against evil deities and against evil; the priests were the leaders in this struggle—this leadership and nothing more could they claim. In their lives they studied especial purity of body and mind; and they were pre-eminently "the pure men." Only by their means, at any rate with their assistance, could sacrifice be offered; from their mouths alone could the correct invocations be uttered to the gods, and the evil ones be driven away. Men were compelled to submit to the rules of the life acceptable to the gods of light, of pure conversation, which were accurately known to the priests only; they had to take upon themselves the expiations which the priests prescribed, in order to wipe out offences and sins and their consequences—but they had not to reverence in them, as was the case beyond the Indus, a class of creatures raised by birth to a higher level. Hence the sharp separation of the priesthood from the rest of the orders, in the Brahmanic fashion, was at once placed out of the question. The priesthood of Iran perpetuated their knowledge and wisdom in their families; but they had not the right to bar all entrance into their families or their order on the score of higher birth, or to prohibit the marriage of priests with women of other orders, on the ground of their superior nature.

From our fragments of the Avesta we may assume that although, as is obvious, the precedence of the priests above the remaining orders was strongly marked, and they were especially denoted as "pure men," the limits of their political and social position were far more modest than those of the Brahmans. So far as we can see, the Avesta allots no special income to the priests beyond the camels, horses, or small cattle given to them by warriors and husbandmen in quittance for the purifications they have performed. The penalties also which have to be paid in expiation of certain offences are to be given to "the pure men," and the Avesta repeatedly recommends the presentation of gifts to them. On the other hand, the priests do not possess the exclusive right to perform purifications. The Vendidad merely says that any one who wishes to perform purifications must have learned the law from one of the purifiers, i. e. it is only the instruction of the priest which is indispensable in this matter. Any one who performs purification without such instruction (except in the case of necessary purifications, p. 230), will take away from the places where it is performed, "food and fatness, health and all remedies, prosperity, luxuriance and growth, and increase of corn and fodder; and corn and fodder will not return to such places until for three days and nights the holy Çraosha has been praised at the burning fire with bound withes and uplifted Haoma." The uncertified purifier is to be put in chains, his clothes taken from him, and his head cut off.[315] If it was permitted to learn the purifications, it follows that men not of priestly descent could enter the order of the Athravas, and the boundary line between this order and the rest was not impassable. Among the Parsees of India any one can become a priest. The duties of the priest, according to the book of the law, consist in watching and tending the sacred fire, in praising the good spirits, in offering sacrifice, and performing purifications, and in the ceaseless study of the holy scriptures. The priest is to be provided with a mortar made according to certain rules, a cup (for the Haoma sacrifice), the snake-switch (a stick for killing impure animals), and the Paitidana, i. e. a piece of cloth for veiling the mouth, in order that he may not approach the sacred fire with breath that is possibly impure. For the rest, the Vendidad lays down the rule that the priests are to be patient and content, and satisfied with a little bread, and they ought to eat what is offered to them.[316] Auramazda says; "Many men, O Zarathrustra, carry the Paitidana, the serpent-switch, the sacred bundle of twigs, without being guided according to the law. These are wrongly called priests; do not thou call them priests, O Zarathrustra. He who lies the whole night without praising or hearing, or reciting, or learning, or teaching—call not such an one a priest. Call him a priest, O pure Zarathrustra, who inquires of the pure intelligence the whole night, of the wisdom which purifies from sins and makes the heart wide, which has merits in store on the bridge of Chinvat, and causes us to attain the purity and bliss of Paradise."[317] The Avesta distinguishes different classes of priests, but the distinction only rests on the various acts which they perform in the sacred rites. The first rank is taken by the Zaotar, who utters the prayers and invocations (the Hotar, i. e. the Repeater of the Veda); next to him apparently is the Çraoshavareza, "who speaks very wise and truthful things;"[318] he bears the club of Çraosha, in order to keep the evil spirits at a distance from the sacred acts; then comes the Atarevaksha, i. e.the priest who causes the fire to increase, and attends to the worship of it; then the Açnatar (the Washer), who has to cleanse the instruments of sacrifice to keep them from pollution; the Frabaretar, i. e. the Carrier, etc. In the modern ritual of the Parsees all the duties of the sacred service have been transferred to the Zaotar and the Raçpi, which latter discharges the functions of ministering priest.

If we were only approximately correct in placing the date of Zarathrustra and the reform of the ancient faith at 1000 B.C., the formation of this priestly order, which took place on the basis of the new doctrine, may have come to an end about the year 800 B.C. We saw that from this date onwards the spread of the new doctrine must have begun in the west of Iran towards the Medes and Persians, since there existed among the Medes from 700 B.C. an hereditary priesthood, charged with the worship of the gods according to the regulations of Zarathrustra, and in this century it was already sufficiently numerous to be placed as an equal division beside the tribes of the Medes.

We have no better information about the priests of the West than we have on the political and social position of the priests of Eastern Iran. They are not called Athravas but Magush. This name is first found in the inscription which Darius caused to be cut on the rock-wall of Behistun; afterwards it was consistently used by Western writers, from Herodotus to Agathias, for the priests of Iran. The Avesta has the words magha and maghavan, i. e. the powerful, the great,[319] but does not use it of the priests, which are always called Athravas. If the last title is taken from the fire-worship, the first allows us to see the importance of the priests. He who can use incantations to the gods and spirits—can summon or remove them—is the mighty one, the powerful. If in this name we have evidence of the respect with which the laity of Western Iran looked up to the priests, the difference between the names in the East and West shows that there were priestly races among the Medes and Persians before the religion of Zarathrustra reached them. Had not such existed before the reform, and had they not possessed a definite name in the West—had priestly families become known there for the first time at the rise of the reform—they would never have had any other name than that of Athravas. Even without this positive proof we might assume that from all antiquity there had been priests among the Medes and Persians who understood how to invoke the gods of light in the old Arian faith—Mithra and Verethraghna, Vayu and Tistrya—and tend the fire which destroyed demons. When the new doctrine reached from the East to Ragha and then to Media (p. 96), the old races who passed over to the new faith united with the families the members of which were the prophets of the new doctrine. The teachers of the Medes in old times, which Pliny called successors of Zarathrustra, might have stood at the head of this transformation of the ancient priestly families, of the creation of the Median priesthood on the basis of the new religion (p. 92). However this may have been, the priestly families among the Medes were so numerous, their connection and union so close and firmly fixed, that they could be counted as a sixth tribe beside the other five Median tribes.

Among the tribes of the Persians Herodotus mentions no tribe of Magi. It would be a mistake to conclude from this that there were originally no priests among the Persians, and to put faith in Xenophon's statement that Cyrus was the first to give the Magians the care of the sacred fire, "because he preferred to go on board with the pious rather than the impious."[320] No one will maintain that the Persians in ancient times were without worship and religious rites, or that when they accepted the doctrine of Zarathrustra, which did not permit sacrifice without Magians, they used the services of none but alien priests. Such a proceeding would be absurd. The proper conclusion from the fact that Herodotus does not mention a tribe of Magians among the Persians is that the priestly families there were less numerous; they had not broken away from the tribal connections to which they originally belonged, and formed themselves into a separate community. Further, from the fact that the priestly families of the Persians in old times had not formed themselves into a separate community, we may conclude—and indeed the conclusion follows from the position of Media and the notice in the Avesta about Ragha, and the observation about the ancient teachers of the Medes, who are said to have been followers of Zarathrustra—that the reform of the faith first came from Bactria to the Medes,that it was adopted and more strongly represented among them, and so passed on to the Persians. We cannot doubt that there were Persians belonging to the order of Magians. If Plato and his pupils call Zoroaster the "teacher of the Magians," and at the same time "a Persian," they must assume that there were Magians among the Persians; if, according to Plato's statement, the four teachers of the heirs to the Persian throne, of which one had to teach the Magism of Zoroaster, were selected out of "all the Persians;"—if at the time of Xerxes there were Persians who wrote on the doctrine of Zoroaster, they must have been initiated in the wisdom and knowledge of the Magians, and have known their invocations and customs; the contents of the holy scriptures and the scriptures themselves can hardly have been hidden from them. In order to prove that the Magians, i. e. the priests, belonged exclusively to the Medes, the fact has been brought forward that the Persians, after Darius had dethroned the Pseudo-Smerdis, celebrated each year the feast of the slaughter of the Magians, at which no Magian allowed himself to be seen, but all were obliged to remain at home.[321]The Magophonia was not the celebration of a victory over the Magi generally, but over the removal of a usurper, and the restoration of the dominion to the Achæmenids, which had been taken from them by one who happened to be a Magian. Herodotus at any rate calls this Magian a Mede.[322] Darius contents himself with calling him the "Magian." Hence there is no ground to doubt that both before and after the reform, families of the Persians were charged with the worship of the gods; the less so because Plato, as alreadyremarked, represents the heirs to the throne in Persia as being instructed in the doctrine of Zoroaster, while Strabo and Pausanias speak expressly of "Persian Magi," and the chief Magian is enumerated among the tribes "which dwell in the districts of Persis."[323]

When the dominion of the Achæmenids had been established over Iran, the priestly families of all the West must have been united into one community. There is no doubt that this remained an order in which the priestly wisdom and knowledge were traditional. Strabo, like Herodotus, calls the Magians a tribe; he adds that the members of it sought after a holy life. The tribe was large, he tells us in another place; Magians could be found even in Cappadocia. Ammianus also informs us that the Magians handed down their doctrines to later times, each by his descendants. Growing up through centuries from a small number, the Magians became a nation, and being regarded as dedicated to the service of the gods, they had acquired respect through their religion. They inhabited open villages, lived according to a law of their own, and possessed fruitful fields in the district called Nisæa. Agathias also calls the Magians a tribe.[324] But the separation of the priestly order in the West cannot have been more strict than that of the Athravas in the East. Marriage with the women of other orders was not forbidden, nor transition from other orders into that of the Medes. The Avesta speaks of the teacher and the pupil (p. 203); and it is expressly said—though the statement comes from the beginning of the third century of our era—that the Magians among the Persians,i. e. the Magians under the Arsacids, instructed even those who were not Persians in their doctrine, but only at the special command of the king.[325]

We find the Magians in close proximity to the rulers of the Medes and Persians; they were not without importance and influence. In Herodotus they tell Astyages that they had and would have great honours from him.[326] Xenophon speaks of them as determining, at the time of Cyrus, which god is to be honoured on each day.[327] Cambyses charges Magians with the duty of watching the grave of Cyrus, and this office became hereditary in their families;[328] he also entrusts a Magian with the care of the royal household, while he marches with the army into the remote parts of Egypt and Nubia. The inscriptions of Darius showed us how much in earnest he was with the doctrines and regulations of the religion—how lively was his faith. On his march to Hellas, Xerxes was accompanied by Osthanes, a man skilled in the priestly dogmas, and by Magians; they offer sacrifice, and charm the storms.[329] The sacred fire which was carried before the kings [330] was conducted by Magians, and so also were the sacred chariot, the sacred horses of Mithra and the sun-god, in the campaigns of the Achæmenids (p. 167). Of greater importance was it that the heirs to the throne in Persia were instructed, as Plato tells us, in the Magism of Zoroaster,[331] which could only be done by Magians. Nicolaus of Damascus relates that the Persian princes were instructed by the Magians in truthfulness, justice, and the laws of their country;[332] and, according to Plutarch, Magians were the educators of the Persian princes; Magians also under the Achæmenids performed the consecration at the accession of a new king.[333] We are also told that this king of the Medes and that of the Persians, took the advice of the Magians on important occasions. Under the Arsacids they formed, along with the members of the race of the kings, the supreme council of the kingdom; in the time when this dynasty was at its height they ruled, as Pliny told us, "over the king of kings;" and we have seen (p. 60) that their influence under the Sassanids, at court, in the administration of law, and in politics, was even more powerful.

Herodotus maintains that the Magians also occupied themselves with soothsaying and prophecy; like Ctesias, he ascribes to the Medes the interpretation of certain dreams and other miraculous acts. Of such interpretations and prophesying on the part of the priests the Avesta knows nothing, and those Greeks who were better informed, warmly contested the assertion that the Magians were occupied with such things. Plato tells us: "The Magism of Zoroaster is the worship of the gods;" and Aristotle assures us that the Magians knew nothing of soothsaying.[334] What Herodotus tells us, on the other side, he certainly did not invent, but repeats after his informants. The Medo-Persian Epos, which, though indirectly, forms the basis of Herodotus' account of the rise of Cyrus and the death of Cambyses, allowed a wide field, even in the account of the fall of the Assyrian empire (III. 264), to the astrological and prophetic wisdom of the Chaldæans. From this we may conclude that prophecies of the Chaldæans were not left out of sight at the overthrow of Astyages. In Nicolaus of Damascus it is a Chaldæan of Babylon who expounds her dream to the mother of Cyrus,[335] and possibly the kings of the Medes followed the example of the Assyrian and Babylonian courts in having astrologers and interpreters of dreams from Babylon about them.

Whatever was the influence employed by the Magians at the court of the Achæmenids, the Arsacids and Sassanids, their influence was of a moral nature; it was only through the effect of religion on the heart and conscience of the king, that they could work; their position did not rest on any hierarchical institutions. In Iran the priesthood had no real means of power which permitted it to come forward in opposition to the power of the State. The priest was a subject of the king like any one else. It was within the king's power to proceed at his pleasure with the severest corporal punishment against the Magi, and it is abundantly clear that the kings did not shrink from inflicting such punishments, even if we do not regard as established facts the stories that Astyages impaled the Magians who had given him a false report, and that Darius caused forty Magians to be executed at once.[336]

Diogenes Laertius relates that the Magians lived on lentils, bread and cheese, which agrees with the Avesta to the extent that the priests are there commanded to be content with a little food.[337] What Herodotus tells us of the duties and occupation of the Magians agrees entirely with the rules given in the Avesta for theAthravas. No one could sacrifice without a Magian; the sacrifices were offered on high places (in this Xenophon agrees [338]) or in "pure places;" the most delicate grass was spread—we remember the importance of the Kuça-grass in the Veda and the Brahmanas—on this grass the flesh of the sacrifice was laid; the Magians sang the theogony, i. e. long sacrificial prayers, and the sacred rite is fulfilled. Herodotus also asserts that the Magians took great pride in killing serpents, ants, and other winged and creeping things with their own hands; that human life was greatly respected by them; that the dog was held in high honour (p. 86); and the corpses of the Magians were exposed to dogs or birds of prey. This he declares that he knows to be the truth; Xenophon represents the Magians as beginning their songs of praise with the break of day, and as offering their sacrifices at certain places, which were selected for the gods. Curtius relates that they sang native songs.[339] Strabo told us above that the Magians sought after a holy life; he observes also that whatever was the god to which they sacrificed they first prayed to fire. At every sacrifice the Magians conducted the sacred rite; the victims were not slain with the knife but struck down with a club. No part of the flesh of the victim was set apart for the deity, for they declared that the god required only the soul of the animal; yet according to some they placed a small portion of the fat in the fire. "In Cappadocia there were enclosed places," Strabo continues, "in the midst of which was an altar, heaped up with ashes. On this the Magians kept up the unquenchable fire. Each day they went and sang for an hour before the fire, holding in their hands a bundle of twigs. On their heads they wore tiaras of felt, which fell down on both sides so far that the side-pieces covered the lips."[340] Pausanias, who observed the worship of the Magians in the cities of Lydia, says: "At both places there was a shrine with a cell, and in the cell is an altar; on this are ashes the colour of which is not the ordinary colour of ashes. When the Magian comes into the cell, he lays the dry wood on the altar, puts the tiara on his head, and sings the invocation to some god or another, in a barbarian manner, quite unintelligible to the Hellenes; but he sings from a book. Then the pieces of wood, without being kindled, ought to become lighted, and a flame from them should flash all round the cell."[341]


[312]"Vend." 2, 87-89; "Yaçna," 14, 4-6. If in "Yaçna," 19, 46 four occupations are mentioned instead of the four orders, and artisans are added to the husbandmen, this is only another theory, which does not, however, alter the series and system; in India the order of Vaiçyas comprises husbandmen, merchants, and artisans.

[313]"Vond." 8, 254.

[314]Under the Sassanids we find a chief of the husbandmen (vaçtriosan ), and a chief of the warriors (arthestaran ); Nöldeke, "Tabari," s. 110.

[315]"Vend." 9, 172-180, 187-196.

[316]"Vend." 13, 126-129.

[317]"Vend." 18, 1-17.

[318]"Vispered," 3, 13, 14. Above, p. 165.

[319]The Mobedh of Middle Persian is magupat, i. e. lord of the Magians (p. 60). The derivation of the name Magus from the Turanian imga  (apparently = honourable) can only be adopted by those who regard the Magians as descendants of the Turanians, or at any rate as containing a strong admixture of Turanians; a view which rests on the theory that the second series in the inscriptions of the Achæmenids is the Median translation of the Persian inscriptions. With this view I cannot agree; all that we learn from the Greeks of the customs, manners, and names of the Medes bears the mark of an Arian origin, and is in harmony with what is attributed to the Persians. In the inscription of the second class at Behistun, Gaumata is not called imga  but magush.

[320]"Cyri instit." 8, 1, 23.

[321]Herod. 3, 79.

[322]Herod. 3, 73.

[323]Strabo, p. 727; Pausanias, 5, 27, 3.

[324]Ammian. 23, 6, 32-35; Agathias, 2, 26.

[325]Philostratus in Rapp, "Z. D. M. G." 20, 71.

[326]Herod. 1, 120.

[327]"Cyri instit." 7, 5, 20; 8, 1, 8.

[328]Arrian, "Anab." 6, 29.

[329]Herod. 7, 191.

[330]Curtius, 3, 7; Ammian. 23, 6, 34.

[331]"Alcibiad. I." p. 122.

[332]Nic. Dam. fragm. 67, ed. Müller.

[333]Plut. "Artaxerxes," c. 3.

[334]Diog. Laert. prooem. 6.

[335]Fragm. 66, ed. Müller; cf. infra Bk. 8, c. 4.

[336]Herod. 1, 128; Ctes. "Pers." 15. The excerpt says 40 Chaldæans, but obviously Magi are here meant.

[337]Prooem. 7. Above, p. 190. The further statements of Diogenes about the white robes of the Magians, their avoidance of all ornament and gold, of their lying on the ground, and staff of reed, deserve little notice, inasmuch as the source whence they are derived is unknown.

[338]"Cyri instit." 8, 7, 3.

[339]"Cyri instit." 8, 7, 3; 7, 5, 20; 8, 1, 8; Curtius, 3, 3, 8.

[340]Strabo, p. 733.

[341]Pausan. 5, 27, 5, 6.

The Reform of the Faith

In the Gathas of the Avesta the spirit who keeps watch over the increase of the flocks speaks to the heavenly powers, saying: "All creatures are distressed; whom have ye for their assistance?" Auramazda makes answer: "I have one only who has received my commands, the holy Zarathrustra; he will proclaim my exhortations and those of Mazda and Asha, for I will make him practised in speech."[197] Then Auramazda sacrificed to Ardviçura that he might unite with Zarathrustra the son of Pourushaçpa, to the end that the latter might think, speak, and act according to the law.[198] Pourushaçpa, i. e. rich in horses, of the race of Haechataçpa,[199] was the fourth who offered the sacrifice of Haoma in Airyana Vaeja after Vivanghana, Athwya, and Thrita. For this Zarathrustra was born to him.[200] At his birth and his growth the grass and the trees increased, and all the creatures of Auramazda greeted each other because the priest had been created who would sacrifice for them and spread abroad the law of Auramazda, over the seven Kareshvare of the earth.[201] Çraosha, accompanied by the sublime Asha, appeared to Zarathrustra, and the latter declared himself ready to swear enmity against the liars, and to be a mighty source of help to the truth. And the god Haoma appeared to Zarathrustra and commanded him to press out his juice and to praise him, as other fire-priests praise him. And Zarathrustra praised Haoma and his mother the earth, and addressed six prayers to him (p. 125). Ashi vanguhi also came at Zarathrustra's command on her chariot, and inquired: "Who art thou who callest on me, whose speech is the most beautiful which I have heard from all those who invoke me? Come nearer to me; approach my chariot." Then she surrounded him with her right arm and her left and said: "Beautiful art thou, Zarathrustra, well grown, with strong legs and long arms. To thy body has been given brilliance, and to thy soul long prosperity."[202] And when Zarathrustra sacrificed to Verethraghna, he granted him strength of arm, health, and vigour of body, and power of vision, such as that of the horse, which sees by night, and the gold-coloured vulture.[203] But Auramazda taught Zarathrustra "the best words," prayers, and invocations, and charms against the evil spirits.[204] "How," Zarathrustra inquires of Auramazda, "how ought I to protect the creatures from the evil spirits, from the wicked Angromainyu?" Then Auramazda answers: "Praise Auramazda, the creator of the pure creation; praise the victorious Mithra; praise the Amesha Çpentas (the immortal saints), which rule over the seven parts of the earth; praise the holy Çraosha, who holds the club against the head of the Daevas; praise Verethraghna, created by Ahura, the bearer of the splendour; praise the shining heavens, and the glowing Tistrya; praise Vayu, the swift; praise Çpenta Armaiti (the holy earth), the beautiful daughter of Auramazda. Praise the tree, the good, the pure, created by Ahura, the well-grown and strong; praise the glittering Haetumant (Etymandros); praise Yima Kshaeta, the possessor of good herds. Praise the good laws, the law against the Daevas, the law of the worshippers of Auramazda; praise the splendour of the Arian land; praise the abode of the pure. Praise the fire Vazista (p. 123), which smites the Daeva Çpenjaghra. Bring hard wood and perfumes, and water of purification to the fire."[205]

Zarathrustra first proclaimed the words which Auramazda had taught him to Maidhyomao,[206] the son of Araçta, his father's brother, and spoke to the members of his race, the Haechataçpas: "Ye holy Haechataçpas, to you will I speak; ye distinguish the right and the wrong." The announcement did not remain confined to the circle of the family and the race: "To you that come," we are told in another passage, "I will announce the praises of the all-wise lord, and the praises of Vohumano. Look on the beams of fire with pious mind. The fair sayings of the fire-priests are the way of Vohumano. Thou gavest ancient sayings, O Ahura; by these will I annihilate among you the sacrifices of the lying gods. The worshipper of fire should accurately understand the correct words which have come from Vohumano (the good disposition and its spirit) in order that truth may be his portion." In other poems Zarathrustra laments: "The liar possesses the fields of the true man, who protects the earth; none of the servants worship me; none of the lords of the land, who are unbelievers. The dominion is in the hands of the priests and prophets of the lying gods; whither shall I go for refuge?—to what land shall I turn? I cry for help for Frashaostra and myself. May the fire grant this help to both of us."[207] Frashaostra of the race of Hvova, is mentioned in the Avesta as the closest adherent of Zarathrustra, and often in connection with Jamaçpa. The help for which Zarathrustra cried in this invocation was granted to him by King Vistaçpa. Zarathrustra offered the Haoma draught in Airyana Vaeja to Ardviçura, and prayed to her: "Grant to me that I may combine with the son of Aurvataçpa, the strong Kava Vistaçpa, to the end that he may think, speak, and act according to the law;" and the goddess granted him this favour.[208] And Zarathrustra sacrificed to the Drvaçpa (the goddess of flocks) in Airyana Vaeja, to the end that he might unite with the good and noble Hutaoça (the wife of Vistaçpa), that she might impress the good law on her memory.[209] Finally, we read: "Who is thy true friend on the great earth; who will proclaim it? Kava Vistaçpa, the warlike, will do this."[210]

Of King Vistaçpa and Frashaostra the Avesta then tells us, "that they prepared the right path for the faith which Ahura gave to the fire-priests." In the prayers Kava Vistaçpa is praised because as an arm, an assister, and helper, he has subjected himself to the law of Ahura, the law of Zarathrustra; because he has opened a wide path for purity, and has established the law in the world. The mighty brilliance of the ruler supported Zarathrustra, "in establishing the law and making it highly esteemed."[211] When Jamaçpa saw the army of the Daeva-worshippers approach, he sacrificed to Ardviçura a hundred horses, a thousand oxen, and ten thousand head of small cattle, and Ardviçura granted to him to fight victoriously against all the non-Arians. And Zairivairi, the brother of Vistaçpa, besought Ardviçura that he might smite the skilful Peshana, who worshipped the Daevas, and Arejataçpa. Kava Vistaçpa himself offered sacrifice in order to obtain the victory over Asta-aurva, over the Daeva worshippers Çpinjauruska, and Darsinika, and the murderous Arejataçpa.[212] And Vistaçpa smote Peshana and Arejataçpa, and Zarathrustra blessed him: "I praise thee, O ruler of the lands. May life be given to thy wives and thy children, which shall be born from thy body. Be thou possessed of swift horses, like the sun, shining like the moon, glowing as fire, sharp as Mithra, a conqueror of enemies like Verethraghna, well grown and victorious as Çraosha. Mayest thou be a ruler like Yima; mayest thou be victorious and rich in cattle like Thraetaona, bold and strong as Kereçaçpa, wise as Urvakshaya, brilliant as Kava Uça, without sickness and death, like Kava Huçrava, stainless as Çyavarshana, rich in horses as Pourushaçpa, a friend of the heavenly ones, and conqueror of men."[213]

The Avesta gives Zarathrustra three sons: Urvatatnara, Hvareçithra, Daevotbi (Punisher of the Daevas); and three daughters: Freni, Thriti, and Pourushiçta.[214] His work is summed up in the fact that he compelled the Daevas, who previously had been in human form upon the earth, to hide themselves in the earth.[215] His doctrine prevents the Daevas from injuring the creation, as before, and gives to all the creatures of the good god the means of protecting themselves more effectually against the evil. Hence Zarathrustra is the increaser of life; in this sense he is described, invoked, and worshipped as the lord and master of all created life. But in time Çaoshyant will be born, who will make the evil creatures wholly powerless, and bring on for man the time of undisturbed happiness, in which there will no more be any battle; the time of uninterrupted life,i. e. of immortality. In this period all who once had life will have life again; i. e. the life destroyed by Angromainyu and the evil spirits will be restored, and the dead will rise to a new life.

Zarathrustra's birth and growth struck terror into the evil spirit Angromainyu. "The Yazatas" (the gods), he exclaimed, "have not forced me from the earth, crossed with paths, round, and wide-reaching; but Zarathrustra will drive me from it."[216] And the Daevas took counsel on the summit of Arezura, whither they are wont to come together from their caves with the Druj: "Alas! in the dwelling of Pourushaçpa the pure Zarathrustra has been born. He is the weapon with which the Daevas are smitten; he takes away the power from the Daevi Druj, and the Daevi Naçu (νέϰυς, i. e. the spirit of the dead), and the false lies; how shall we compass his death?" And from the region of the north Angromainyu dashed forward, who is full of death, the Daeva of Daevas, and said: "O Druj, go up and slay the pure Zarathrustra." And "Zarathrustra said in the spirit: The wicked, evil-minded Daevas are considering my death. And he arose and went forth, bearing in his hand stones of the size of a Kata, which he had received from the creator Auramazda, and he praised the good waters of the good creation, and the law of the worshippers of Auramazda, and uttered the prayer: Yatha ahu vairyo. The Druj ran round about him, and the Daeva Buiti, the deceiver of mortals; and the Druj ran in alarm from him and said to Angromainyu, the tormentor: In him, in the holy Zarathrustra, I see no death. And Zarathrustra said to Angromainyu: Evil-minded Angromainyu, I will smite the creation which is created by the Daevas; I will smite the spirit of the dead which the Daevas have created, until Çaoshyant the victorious shall be born from the water of Kançava, in the region of the east. Angromainyu answered him: Wherewith wilt thou smite my creatures? With what weapons wilt thou destroy them? Then spake Zarathrustra: The pestle, the bowl, the Haoma, these are my best weapons, and the words which Auramazda has spoken. By this sacred word will I annihilate thy creatures, O evil Angromainyu. Slay not my creatures, O pure Zarathrustra, answered Angromainyu. Thou art the son of Pourushaçpa, and hast life from a mother. Curse the good law of the worshippers of Auramazda, and attain the prosperity which Vadhaghna has attained, the ruler of the lands. But Zarathrustra spake: I will not curse the good law of the worshippers of Auramazda; no, not though my bones and soul and power of life were torn asunder. Then the evil Daevas ran and took counsel on the summit of Arezura, and Angromainyu spoke: What will the Daevas bring thither? But they said: 'The evil eye;' and hastened to the bottom of hell, the dark, the evil, the wicked."[217]

With Zarathrustra, according to the Avesta, a new era begins. He is the proclaimer of a new law. But along with this we are told that even in Yima's time the earth glowed with red fires; the power of the old sayings of the fire-priests is extolled; the professors of the first, and those of the new law receive commendation. Zarathrustra is born to his father as a reward for offering an ancient sacrifice, the sacrifice of Haoma. He himself dresses the fire at daybreak before he comes forth to announce his new doctrine; and even while announcing it he sacrifices to the old gods Verethraghna and Ardviçura; the gods whom the heroes of the old days invoke appear to him also, the prophet of the new teaching; they demand that he shall offer sacrifice, and insist on their worship; they grant him favour and gifts. It is precisely the ancient sacrifice of Haoma, the common possession of the Arians in Iran and India, which is declared by Zarathrustra to be the best means of repelling the evil ones, and not Zarathrustra only, but also Auramazda sacrifices to an ancient divinity that the son of Pourushaçpa may be obedient to his commands, and then directs the latter to invoke the ancient gods, Mithra, Verethragna, Çraosha, Vayu, and Tistrya, and to worship fire. Hence it was no new religion which Zarathrustra taught; it was nothing more than a reform of the ancient faith, and traditional modes of worship.

We were able definitely to ascertain from the fragments of the Avesta that it arose in the east of Iran; the districts of the north-east are especially prominent in it. It denotes Bactra as the abode of dominion (p. 31). A doctrine which, as we shall see, lays the greatest stress on the cultivation of the land, could not have grown up in the deserts of the Gedrosians, or the steppes of the Sagartians. If, according to the Avesta, "the evil custom of the burial of the dead prevails" in Arachosia (Harahvaiti);[218] if Haetumat (Drangiana) is reproved for the sins which are practised there;[219] if we are told of Haraeva (the land of the Arians) that it is indeed rich in houses but full of poverty and idleness,[220] and of Ragha that it is indeed Zoroastian but full of utter unbelief [221]—if the sin of burning corpses prevails in Chakhra (Chirhem?),[222] it is clear that these lands are distinct from the region in which the pure doctrine of Zarathrustra, proclaimed in the Avesta, arose, and became so firmly established as to be universally current. Hence of all the lands in Iran, mentioned in the Avesta, only Airyana Vaeja, Margiana, Sogdiana, and Bactria remain. In the Avesta Zarathrustra is famous in Airyana Vaeja; in that land he sacrifices; and, as the Avesta allots but two months of summer and ten months of cold winter to this region, we must look for it on the high mountain range of the North-east (p. 73). Zarathrustra stands in a close relation to Queen Hutaoça and King Vistaçpa, who fights against the worshippers of the Daevas and Arejataçpa, and prepares a way for the new doctrine. Among the heroes of the ancient time and the spirits of the pious who are invoked in the prayers of the Avesta, the immortal part of King Vistaçpa is repeatedly invoked besides Zarathrustra and Frashaostra. We have already shown in what a contrast the Bactrians and Sogdiani stood to the nations of the steppes of the Oxus, and what a position is allotted to King Vistaçpa as repelling the Iranians. In thus celebrating him as the protector of Zarathrustra, the Avesta plainly puts Zarathrustra himself in Bactria.

If we may assume the fact that the reform of the religion must have proceeded from Bactria and Sogdiana in the north-east of Iran, the next question to be decided is, whether it is possible to determine the meaning and import of this reform. The forms and views, which are found to agree in the Avesta and Rigveda, we have already established, with complete certainty, to be the ancient possession of the Arians of Iran. The elements of the religious conception, and several very definite forms and traits in the belief and worship, were the same in the Panjab and Iran. The leading principle was the contrast of the bright beneficent powers who give life and increase and the evil spirits of darkness, drought, and death. This possession was therefore in existence before the reform. This principle must have become more prominent among the Arians of Iran owing to the nature of their country. The fertile land and the desert were in far greater proximity there than in the Panjab. The centre of Iran was filled with a vast desert; wide and barren table-lands spread out on north and south; the most favoured regions were almost like oases. Closely adjacent to the most fruitful valleys and slopes lay endless steppes; blooming plains, shaded by thick groups of trees, were surrounded by hot deserts of sand. If the alpine districts of the north possessed the most splendid forests and luxuriant pastures, yet the snow fell early, and the winter was severe; if vegetation ran riot on the fringe of the Caspian, fever and reptiles infested the marshy plains. Close beside abundant productiveness lay drought and desert, bare flats of rock, deserts of sand, and fields of snow. The inhabitants of Iran had not only to suffer from the heat of summer but also from the cold of winter, from the scorching winds of the desert as well as from the snow-storms which came from the table-lands of the north. On the one hand, pastures and fields were covered for many weeks with snow; on the other, sand-storms from the desert ruined the tillage; in one district camels succumbed to the cold of the lofty terraces, or slipped from the icy slopes down the precipices; in another, the desert wind dried up fountains and springs. Here the winter, "which flies past to slay the herds, and is full of snow," as the Avesta says, was "of endless duration;" it was "on the water, the trees, and the field," and "its cold penetrated to the heart of the earth;" there the herds were tormented by the fly in the heat, bears and wolves fell upon the folds, and it was necessary to find protection against serpents and ravenous beasts of prey.[223] In this land life was a conflict against the heat of summer and the south, against the chill of winter and the mountain heights, a struggle for the maintenance and protection of the herds; and as soon as these tribes had become settled in the more favoured regions and passed over to agriculture, there began on the edge of those oases the struggle against the desert and the steppe. Here water must be conveyed to the dry earth, there the tillage must be protected against the sand-storms of the desert. To these difficulties and contrasts in the nature of the land was added a contrast in the mode of life of the population. The majority of the tribes of the table-land of the interior, and a part of the inhabitants of the mountainous rim, could not, owing to the nature of the land, pass beyond a nomadic pastoral life, and even to this day the population of Iran is to a considerable extent nomadic;[224] while other tribes toiled laboriously in the sweat of their brows, these wandered with their herds in idleness, ever ready for battle; and thus there could be no lack of ambuscades and plunder, of attacks and raids on the cultivated districts.

All these contrasts are most marked on the slopes of the north-eastern edge, in Margiana, Bactria, and Sogdiana, which lay open to the steppes of the Caspian Sea. Here were fruitful, blooming valleys with luxuriant vegetation on the banks of the mountain streams, yet, wherever the mountains receded, the endless desert at once began. If the stars shone clear through the night on mountains and table-lands, in the pure and vapourless atmosphere of Iran, sand-storms and mist lay on the northern desert. The winds blowing from the north brought icy cold in the winter; in the summer they drove the sand of the deserts over the fruitful fields, to which water has to be laboriously conveyed in the time of the greatest heat, while eternal winter reigned in the heights of Belurdagh and Hindu Kush. There was also the continual fear of the nomads who dwelt on the steppes to the north, who made attacks on the fruitful slopes and valleys. We have already shown that it was precisely on the slopes of the Hindu Kush that the necessity of protection against the nations of the steppes led to a combination of the forces of the tribes who were settled there, and gave the impulse to the formation of a larger polity.

In such a territory, when the tribes had once become settled in the more favoured regions, amid such struggles against nature and the plundering neighbours, it is clear that the conception of the contrast between good and evil spirits must become more widely developed and sharply pointed—that it should indeed form the hinge of all religious ideas. The good spirits had given fruit and increase to many excellent lands; but the evil spirits destroyed these blessings with their storms of sand and snow, their cold and heat, their beasts of prey and serpents. Wherever the herds throve and the fields were fruitful, there the good spirits were gracious; where the pastures withered, and the fields were covered with sand, the wicked spirits had maliciously rendered of no avail the labours of men. In the valleys of Bactria and Sogdiana there was labour, industry, increase and fruit; beyond, in the steppe, all was barren; the storms went whirling round, and wild hordes of robbers roamed to and fro. Thus in these regions the conception of the struggle of the good spirits, and the evil, which injure, torment, punish and murder men, was most lively, the religious feeling of these conceptions most completely penetrated and governed the minds of men.

All creatures were oppressed by the evil spirits, so the Avesta told us (p. 129); and therefore Auramazda determines to teach Zarathrustra "the wise sayings." No new belief or new forms of worship are to be introduced; the means of protection against the evil ones were to be multiplied and strengthened. We know what importance the Arians in India ascribed to the correct prayer and invocation, what power over the spirits and indeed over the deities themselves they ascribed to the correct words, what a defensive power they attributed to the sayings of the Atharvan. The same ideas were current among the Arians of Iran. The heaven of the good god and holy spirits is, in the Avesta, the "dwelling of invocations" (Garonmana). Hence the first point in the reform was that new formulæ and prayers should be added to the old prayers and incantations. The fire that slays demons is to burn day and night on the hearth, and must always be tended with hard, dry, well-hewn wood; the spirits of light, the great Mithra, the sun, the stars, are to be earnestly invoked along with the victorious Verethraghna, and Çraosha the slayer of demons, the life-giving god, to whom Haoma is to be offered; and the libation of Haoma is to be frequently offered to the spirits of light. If men prayed constantly to the good spirits, and cursed the evil, if they made use of the holy sayings when they observed that the evil beings came, then wicked creatures would certainly remain far from house, and farm, and field. According to the Avesta, Zarathrustra first uttered the Ahuna vairya, and Angromainyu says that though the deities have not been able to drive him from the earth, Zarathrustra will smite him with the Ahuna vairya.[225] In the minds of the priests of the Avesta, this prayer is itself a mighty being to which worship is to be offered, just as in the Vedas the holy prayers and some parts of the ritual—nay even the verse-measure of the hymns—are treated as divine powers.

It was an old Arian conception, which we have observed widely spread on the Ganges, that filth and pollution and contact with what is impure and dead gave the evil spirit power over those who had contracted such defilement. This uncleanness must be removed, and its operation checked. The reform, which bears the name of Zarathrustra, must have extended and increased in Iran the rules for purification and the removal of uncleanness. These regulations, carried out in long and wearisome detail on the basis of this new movement, are before us in the Vendidad. The Avesta says: Zarathrustra was the first who praised the Asha Vahista (i. e. the best truthfulness which is at the same time the highest purity) and represents Angromainyu as exclaiming; "that Zarathrustra made him as hot by the Ashi Vahista as metal is made in the melting."[226]

Whatever gave increase and life, water and trees and good soil, and the animals which were useful to men, were the work of the good spirits, the good creation; the steppes, the desert, the heat, the fierce cold, the beasts of prey, these were the work of the evil ones, the bad creation. Did not a man increase life and growth if he industriously cultivated his field, watered it well, and extended it towards the desert, if he destroyed the animals and insects which did harm to the fields and trees, if he gave room to fruitfulness against unfertility? Did he not extend and sustain the good creation, and lessen the evil, if he planted and watered, and diminished the harmful animals, the serpents, the worms, and beasts of prey? By such work a man took the side of the good spirits against the evil, and fought with them. It was in the will and power of man by the act of his hands, by labour and effort, to strengthen the good creation. The importance which the Avesta ascribes to the cultivation of the land, we may regard as a prominent trait of the reform, as an essential part of its ethical importance. Beside warriors and priests the Avesta knows only the agricultural class.

In the Veda the gods of the light and the highest heaven, Mithra and Varuna, are the guardians of truth and purity, the avengers and punishers of evil deeds. The invocation of Mithra in the Avesta, given above, showed us that the Arians of Iran recognised in this deity the spirit of purity, the inevitable avenger of injustice. With his all-penetrating eye he watches, not only over purity of body, but also over purity of soul. We may regard it as certain that the reform carried a long step forward the ethical impulse which lay in this conception of Mithra—a conception current on both sides of the Indus. This view is supported by the great importance which the Avesta ascribes to truthfulness, in the decisive value given to this virtue for the purity of the soul, and the identification of purity with truthfulness. As filth defiles the body, so, according to the Avesta, does a lie defile the soul. Lying and deception are the worst sins of which a man can be guilty. The ethical advance is obvious when the evil spirits are not merely regarded as doing harm to men, but it is emphatically stated that they deceive men, and a lie is the essence of the evil spirits. In the Avesta a part of them have simply the name of the spirits of deception, of the Druj. The suppliants of the true gods are called Ashavan, i. e. the true, the pure; the worshippers of the evil spirits are liars.

The ideas of the Veda about the hosts of the spirits of ancestors, and the entrance of the good and pious into the heaven of light, are also current among the Arians of Iran. These the reform could not leave untouched. From the ethical characteristic which marks them, from the severe inculcation of a pure, true, active life, it proceeded to the idea of a sort of judgment on the souls after death. The detailed form in which this idea is presented to us in the Avesta will be given below.

In all religions, when they have reached a certain stage of development, the impulse arises to find the unity of the divine being among the multifarious crowd of deities. On the Ganges the Brahmans or priests attained to this unity by elevating the power of the holy acts which controlled the deities, and was mightier than they, into the lord of the gods, by uniting with this conception the great breath or world-soul, the source of life springing up in nature. In Iran the reform did not look on nature as one, like the Brahmans on the Ganges, and owing to the character of the land and the strong contrasts there met with it could not easily perceive in it any single whole; on the contrary, it comprehended in unity, on the one hand, the good beneficent side of nature, which gives increase, light, and life to men; and, on the other, ranged the harmful powers together in opposition to the good. Hence it came about that the spirits which worked on either side were, so to speak, combined, and the two totals came forward in opposition. To these totals the reform sought to give unity by placing a chieftain at the head of each, the good and the bad. The chief of the good was Ahura, i. e. the lord, who is also denoted by the name Mazda, i. e. the wise, but he is generally invoked by the united title Ahura Mazda (Auramazda in the dialect of Western Iran), the wise lord; occasionally, in the Avesta, he is called Çpentomainyu, i. e. the spirit of holy mind, the holy spirit. In the Rigveda the name Ahura Mazda, in the form Asura Medha, is used for more than one god of light. The chief of the evil spirits was Angromainyu,i. e. he that thinks evil, the destroying spirit.

The good and the evil spirits are regarded as active, the one on the beneficent, the other on the injurious side of nature. It was a step in advance when the reform arrived at the conception, that as the good and evil spirits ruled the life of nature and man, so in the beginning of the world, at the time of its origin, the good and evil spirits must have been active; the good was from the beginning the work of the good; the evil the work of the evil. As the heavenly and infernal spirits were regarded as in perpetual activity, the reform could not here, as in India, look on nature and men as emanations from a being in repose—from the world-soul—the nature of which became ever less pure and bright, less really itself, as the emanations advanced. Instead of an emanation, the active force and contrast of the spirits gave rise to the idea that the world was brought into being by the will and power of the two supreme spirits to a creation of the world. The good side of the world must have been the work of the chief of the good spirits, the evil side the work of the evil. Auramazda created the good, but immediately he created it, Angromainyu created the evil in order to destroy the good. And as at the creation, so also in the created world, the mutual opposition of the good and evil god, the struggle of their hosts, goes on. There is no direct contest between Auramazda and Angromainyu; they operate against each other for increase and destruction, life and death, and for the souls of men; the direct conflict against evil remains, even after the reform, with the old spirits, with Mithra, Verethragna, Çraosha, and Tistrya.

From this we may without hesitation draw the inference that Auramazda and Angromainyu did not belong to the original belief of the Arians of Iran. From the absence of any myth about Auramazda, and the character of the names, "the wise lord," "the destroying spirit," it further follows that the gods thus named could not be the creation of any primitive religious feeling. These names belong to a period of reflection, which strives to make a presentment of the general operation of the good and evil powers, of their intellectual and ethical characteristics, and at the same time seeks to express their nature, as well as their relation to the world. Finally, the wavering position which Auramazda takes up in the Avesta towards the old deities, shows that he is of later origin. Though now the supreme deity, he sacrifices to Tistrya, in order to give him strength for the victory over Apaosha (p. 120); to Ardviçura, that Zarathrustra may be obedient to him (p. 129); and to other gods of the old period. Beside him Mithra is praised in the old style as the highest power; he instructs Zarathrustra to invoke the old gods, who still continue in their traditionary activity. But we have express evidence that Auramazda belongs to the reform. "The first man," so the Avesta says, "who sacrificed to Auramazda was the sacred Zarathrustra."[227] In the transformation, however loose, of the divine nature into "the wise lord," with his change from a natural force to an ethical and intellectual power, and elevation to be the creator "of the heaven and the earth" (p. 87), lay the most decisive step taken by the reform; by these conceptions it had raised the ancient possession of the Arians of Iran to a new stage.

It is a remarkable fact that the evil spirits in the Avesta bear the name of Daevas. The Arians of India called their good gods, the gods of light, Devas; from the same root has sprung the general name of the gods among the Greeks, Italians, and the Celts. Hence among the Arians of Iran also it must once have been in use for the spirits of light. Why the names Bagha and Yazata became used in the Avesta for the good gods, while the evil spirits received the name of Daevas we cannot discover; nor can we decide whether this change of name came in with the reform. We can only discover that an analogous change has taken place in India also. In the Rigveda the good gods are comprised under the name Asura (old Bactrian Ahura), i. e. the lord; at a later time the evil spirits among the Indians were always called Asuras, while in Iran the name is allotted to the highest among the good spirits.


[197]"Yaçna," 29; Roth; "Z. D. M. G." 25, 6 ff. Geus urva  means soul of the bull; the priests identified the soul of the first created bull with the protectress of the flocks, the Drvaçpa, i. e. having mighty horses. Spiegel, "Avesta," 3, 74.

[198]"Aban Yasht," 17-19.

[199]"Afrin Zartusht," 4.

[200]"Yaçna," 9, 42.

[201]"Farvardin Yasht," 93, 94.

[202]"Ashi Yasht," 17 ff.

[203]"Bahram Yasht," 28-33.

[204]"Yaçna," 13, 18; 64, 38; 69, 65.

[205]"Vend." 19, 36-137.

[206]"Farvardin Yasht," 95.

[207]"Yaçna," 28, 9, 44, 45; 46, 1-4; 49, 8; 50, 16, 18, according to Haug's translation, which however has been called in question.

[208]"Aban Yasht," 104-106.

[209]"Gosh Yasht;" cf. "Ram Yasht," 36; "Farvardin Yasht," 142.

[210]"Yaçna," 45, 14 ff.

[211]"Farvardin Yasht," 99; "Zamyad Yasht," 84 ff.

[212]"Ashi Yasht," 49; "Aban Yasht," 112.

[213]"Afrin Zartusht," 1-4.

[214]"Yaçna," 52, 3; "Farvardin Yasht," 98.

[215]"Yaçna," 9, 46.

[216]"Ashi Yasht," 19.

[217]"Vend." 3, 23; 19, 1-32, 140-147.

[218]"Vend." 1, 46-48.

[219]"Vend." 1, 50-52.

[220]"Vend." 1, 30-32.

[221]"Yaçna," 19, 51, 52; "Vend." 1, 60-62.

[222]"Vend." 1, 64-66.

[223]"Vend." 1, 9-12, 24; 7, 69.

[224]Herodotus states expressly that some tribes of the Persians were nomads (1, 125); beside the Sagartians nomadic tribes are also mentioned among the Carmanians, Areians, etc.

[225]"Yaçna," 9, 41; "Ashi Yasht," 20.

[226]"Ashi Yasht," 20.

[227]"Ashi Yasht," 18.

Zarathrustra and the Date of the Composition of the Avesta.[118]

The examination of the difficult questions, whether, from what period, and to what extent, the Avesta was known in Western Iran before the time of Alexander, when the book came into existence, whether its contents have come down uninjured from an ancient period, or whether it underwent alterations in the time of the Parthians and the Sassanids, will be best opened by collecting and testing the accounts which have been preserved in the West about Zarathrustra and his work. Herodotus does not mention him, but Xanthus the Lydian is said to have spoken of him, before the date of Herodotus. Plato describes Zoroaster as the founder of the doctrine of the Magians, and calls him a son of Oromazes.[119] With Hermodorus, a pupil of Plato, Zoroaster is a Persian, the first Magian.[120] Deinon concludes from the name that he was a worshipper of the stars. Hermippus of Smyrna speaks of him as a Bactrian, and is said to have described him as a pupil of Azonakes (or Agonakes).[121] Diodorus informs us that Zoroaster gave out among the Arians that the good spirit had revealed to him the laws which he published.[122] Trogus Pompeius relates that Ninus finally carried on war with Zoroaster the king of the Bactrians, who discovered the art of the Magians, and inquired accurately into the primal forces of the world, and the movements of the stars; he was slain by Ninus.[123] Pliny observes that Zoroaster, the founder of the doctrine of the Magians, smiled on the day of his birth, and beat his head vigorously as a symbol of his wisdom; for thirty years he lived in the desert on cheese. Plutarch's account is that Zoroaster took no other food or drink all his life but milk, and like Lycurgus and Numa, he associated with the Divine Being.[124] Dio Chrysostom tells us that Zoroaster from his love for wisdom and justice lived remote from men in solitude on a mountain, which had been kindled by fire from above, and burned continuously, and when the king approached the mountain with his leading men to offer prayer to the god, Zoroaster came unharmed out of the fire, and bade them offer sacrifice for the god had visited the place. After this Zoroaster did not associate with all men, but only with those who were most adapted to receive the truth and converse with the god, whom the Persians called Magians, i. e. those who have skill to serve the Divine Being.[125] Kephalion asserted that Zoroaster the Magian, the king of the Bactrians, fought with Semiramis and was vanquished by her.[126] Theon of Alexandria also speaks of the conflict between Semiramis and the Bactrian Zoroaster. Arnobius is aware of the battle of Ninus with Zoroaster and the Bactrians,[127] and in Eusebius Zoroaster, the Magian, the king of the Bactrians, fights against Ninus.[128] According to the treatise of Eubulus of Athens on Mithras, Porphyrius related that Zoroaster had consecrated a natural cave, in which were flowers and springs, in the neighbouring mountains of Persia, in honour of Mithra, the creator and father of all, and since that time the favour of the god had been sought in a cave.[129] Ammianus Marcellinus calls Zoroaster a Bactrian, and tells us that Hystaspes, the father of Darius, spread abroad the doctrine of the Magians.[130] Agathias remarks that the Persians of his time asserted that Zoroaster, or Zaradus, as they called him, who gave them their religious doctrine and law, the son of Oromasdes, lived at the time of Hystaspes; but they made the assertion in such a manner that no man knew whether this Hystaspes was the father of Darius or some other of the name. But whatever the date of his life, he changed the earlier forms of worship, and was the discoverer of the doctrine of the Magians.[131] Suidas distinguishes between the Perso-Mede Zoroaster, the chief of the Magians, and the astronomer of the same name, an Assyrian, who lived at the time of Ninus.[132] In Syncellus, Zoroaster is the first of the eight Median kings, who, according to the statement of Berosus, reigned over Babylonia from 2458 to 2224 B.C.[133]

These statements do not amount to much. Yet we find the tradition maintained from the pupils of Plato down to Agathias, that Zoroaster founded the doctrine of the Magians; Diodorus, Plutarch, and Dio mention the intercourse of Zoroaster with the good spirit or the deity. Diodorus calls him an Arian, i. e. an inhabitant of Eastern Iran. Hermippus, Trogus Pompeius, Kephalion, Theon, Arnobius, and Eusebius speak of him as a Bactrian, and the king of the Bactrians, and represent him as fighting with Ninus or Semiramis, which is also asserted by Moses of Khorene.[134] Hence in the last two centuries B.C. it must have been known in the West that Zoroaster belonged to the East of Iran, and thus he was brought into connection with the most prominent fact known in the history of Bactria, the contest of the Bactrians against Ninus and Semiramis. This story, as we said, comes from the Medo-Persian Epos, and moreover the Epos did not authorise this connection of Ninus and Zoroaster. The opponent of Ninus, who reigned over Bactria, was, according to Diodorus, Oxyartes or Exaortes (p. 20). The fact that Zoroaster was the most important name in the antiquity of Iran among western nations obviously induced Syncellus to put him at the head of the supposed ancient Median dynasty. If Zoroaster, as Pliny and Plutarch think, lived only on milk and cheese, and passed thirty years in the wilderness, these are merely traits taken from the lives of the Brahman ascetics. The story in Dio Chrysostom, that Zoroaster came unharmed from the fire, and the opposite statements of the Chronicle of Alexandria and of Suidas, that he brought down fire from heaven and was consumed by it, or struck by lightning, contain traits which have obviously sprung from the importance which the doctrine of Zoroaster and the Magians ascribe to the worship of fire, and from the division between the fire of lightning and earthly fire, of which we shall speak below. The narrative of Eubulus is founded on the mysteries of Mithra, which came into the West in the first century B.C.[135] These mysteries are due to the confusion of the Mithra of the Iranians with the sun-god of the Syrians; the mystæ were consecrated in caves, or in places called caves, and there underwent their probation. As the god of light and the soul Mithra slays in the cave, that is in the world of gloom and matter, the bull which is the symbol of matter, as opposed to light, in its creative power, and conveys the soul, the side of man akin to light, out of the gloom of matter through the heaven of the fixed stars, and then through the heaven of the planets, to the light.[136] Ammianus Marcellinus and Agathias have better information about Zoroaster. They are aware that he stands in some relation to Hystaspes. Ammianus, though he expressly describes Zoroaster as a Bactrian, puts Hystaspes the well-known father of Darius, as the supporter of the doctrine of the Magians, in the place of the Vistaçpa of the Avesta, who opens a wide path for the teaching of Zoroaster; Agathias, on the other hand, expresses himself with greater circumspectness; he cannot decide whether the father of Darius or some other Hystaspes is meant.

The result is this: Before the time of Alexander of Macedon, at the latest in the first half of the fourth century B.C., the Greeks were aware that Zoroaster had founded the doctrine of the Magians; in the last centuries B.C. and onwards it was known that he belonged to Bactria and Eastern Iran; but it was not till the fourth century A.D. that he was known to have lived under king Hystaspes; at any rate we have no older evidence on this point.

Much more recent in date, and of far less value, is the information derived from the East, with the exception of the Avesta, on Zarathrustra. It does not go back beyond the period of the Arabian empire over Iran. The Bundehesh, written in this period (p. 65, n. 3), contains a genealogy, which carries Zarathrustra's origin beyond Pourushaçpa and Haechataçpa, from whom, according to the Avesta, he was sprung (p. 38), through twelve generations to Manuschithra (Minocher). In the Avesta, the soul of the pure Manuschithra, the son of Airyu, is invoked;[137] it has been observed above that the national genealogy in Iran placed Thraetaona, and not Manu, at the head; Airyu, the son of Thraetaona, was the proper progenitor of the Airyas. With the name Manuschithra, i. e. scion of Manu, who is now the son of Airyu, this table passed back into the old Arian conception of the father Manu (p. 44). In the Avesta, Zarathrustra is connected by his father, the fourth sacrificer of the Haoma, with the old sacrificers; and by deriving his family from Manuschithra the Bundehesh places him in the closest relation to the progenitors of the Airyas. For the rest this book has little to say about the life of Zoroaster. It informs us that the house of Pourushaçpa lay on a hill on the river Daraja, a river which we cannot identify;[138] the Bundehesh places it in Airyana Vaeja (Airanvij), in a district which we must place in the high region of the Hindu Kush, on the sources of the Oxus (p. 31, n. 2), though the Bundehesh informs us that "it lay by the side of Atropatene." According to another passage in the book, Airyana Vaeja lay near the garden of Yima and Cashmere. In a third passage the garden of Yima, which we are compelled by unmistakable indications in the Avesta, to seek on the divine mountain, lies in the centre of Iran, under Mount Damkan.[139] Atropatene, as a name for the Alpine land in the north-west of Iran (now Aderbeijan), came into use in the time of the Greek empire; at any rate we cannot trace it earlier.[140] Athrapaiti  means "lord of fire"; athrapata, "one protected by fire"; in the remote mountains of this district the old fire-worship was preserved with peculiar zeal under the Seleucids; from the time of Ardeshir the Sassanids venerated the fire-temple Adar Guçasp (near Takht-i-Soliman), which lay in this region, above all others, and this was the reason why in the time of the Arabs it was thought that Airyana Vaeja must be sought there.[141] In any case it is impossible, out of regard to the Bundehesh and even later statements of the Moslem period, to place Zarathrustra in the north-west of Iran in order to represent him as a foreigner, reforming the religion of the north-east, when the Avesta, which distinctly places him in the east and puts him among the sacrificers and heroes of the east and rulers of Bactria, together with the older and more important evidence of the West, is on the opposite side.

The "Book of Zartusht," one of the most recent books of the Parsees (it dates from the thirteenth century of our era), can only tell us of the marvellous preservation of Zarathrustra and the miracles which he wrought. The first miracle recorded in it is the fact that Zoroaster smiled at his birth. But the wicked king Duransarun sought to murder the newly-born child in his cradle. His arm is paralysed, and he cannot strike the blow home. Then the evil spirits steal the child, kindle a great fire in the desert, and throw him into it. But he sleeps peacefully in the fire, and his mother recovers him without injury. A herd of cattle are about to trample him on a narrow path, when the largest one stands over and protects him, till the herd have passed by. In a similar manner he is preserved when a pair of wild horses are driven over him. Even the wolves will not eat him. When he has reached his thirtieth year these trials are over, and Zarathrustra emigrates with his followers. On reaching Iran the good spirit Vohu mano appeared and conducted him to Auramazda. He had to pass over a fiery mountain, but the fire did not singe a hair; molten metal was poured on his breast, and he felt it not; his entrails were removed and then replaced without injury to him. Auramazda gave him the Avesta and commanded him to go to king Vistaçpa (now Kai Gushtaçp) to Balkh, and proclaim it to him. In Balkh Zoroaster overcame the sages of the king in argument, but they maligned him before their master as a wizard, and he was put in prison. Then the feet of the king's horse were drawn up into its belly, and the king bade Zarathrustra heal his horse. He required the king to believe in him and his doctrine; and when the king had acknowledged the new faith, one of the horse's feet was restored to it. Zarathrustra further demanded that Vistaçpa's son Çpentodata (Isfendyar) should consecrate himself to the defence of the new faith, that the king's consort should adopt the law, and those who maligned him should be punished. When these three requests had been complied with, the horse recovered all its four feet. After this Vistaçpa did nothing without the advice of Zarathrustra, and built fire-altars and fire-temples. And Zarathrustra showed the king the place he would one day occupy in heaven, and made Çpentodata invulnerable.[142]

Hence from the Bundehesh we obtain no more than the genealogical tree of Zarathrustra, which though characteristic for the place allotted to him, is without historical value; and from the Zartusht Nameh, Sharastani, and Mirkhond, which repeat some miracles more or less similar to those quoted, we gather nothing beyond certain traits: the smiling at birth, the fiery mountain, the preservation of Zarathrustra in the fire, which Pliny and Dio Chrysostom had already made known to us, and which belong to the ancient tradition of Iran. In the miracles which take place by means of oxen and horses, we can merely recognise the ancient and close relation of the Arians in Iran to these animals, a relation which has already been remarked (p. 46). We might perhaps add that Firdusi represents Zarathrustra, whom he puts beside Vistaçpa, as having been killed at a fire in Balkh when the city was captured by Turanians. The intercourse of Zarathrustra with Auramazda was known to Western writers, as we saw, at a far earlier date.

If we can hardly glean anything worth notice from these accounts about Zarathrustra's life and work, we may perhaps gain some information about his date. The evidence of Ammianus Marcellinus and Agathias, when they represent him as a contemporary of Hystaspes, in whom we recognise Vistaçpa of Bactria, carries us no further than the Avesta, which places him in the closest relation to this prince (p. 38), because his date is equally uncertain. Trogus Pompeius, Kephalion, Theon, and Eusebius make Zarathrustra an opponent and therefore a contemporary of Ninus and Semiramis. But as neither Semiramis nor Ninus ruled over Asshur, and they are to be regarded as the personification of the rise of the power and dominion of that country (II. 23), we must substitute for this king and queen the ruler or rulers of Asshur of whom it is certain that their campaigns reached the east of Iran. We found that so far as we can at present judge from the monuments it was only Shalmanesar II. who received tribute from the Eastern lands, and that the armies of Tiglath Pilesar II. trod the soil of Arachosia (p. 19). If we could assume that the contests of Ninus and Semiramis have taken the place of the achievements of these rulers in the East of Iran, the date of Vistaçpa and Zarathrustra would have to be placed between 860 and 740 B.C. But this supposition is really without any basis.

The more ancient statements of the Greeks carry us much further back than the reasoning of Trogus Pompeius and his successors. If we set Pliny aside, who asserts "that the kind of Magism established by Zoroaster was many years older than that taught by Moses," Hermippus of Smyrna puts Zoroaster 5000 years before the Trojan war. Even before Hermippus, Theopompus of Chios, and Hermodorus, the pupil of Plato, had ascribed the same date to him. Eudoxus of Cnidus, the contemporary of Plato, placed him still higher; he thought that Zoroaster lived 6000 years before the death of Plato. According to Pliny, Aristotle ascribed to him the same antiquity, and, as we learn from Diogenes Laertius, maintained that the Magians were older than the Egyptians. And even in the fifth century B.C., Xanthus the Lydian is said to have written that from the time when Zoroaster lived to the march of Xerxes against Hellas a period of 6000 years had elapsed.[143]

Through these statements there runs, beyond all doubt, a system, the knowledge of which began in the fifth century B.C. among the Greeks and continued beyond the time of Alexander. Whether we take 5000 years before the Trojan war, or 6000 years before Plato's death, we are equally brought back into the seventh millennium B.C. If the later statements of the West, which make Zoroaster a contemporary of Ninus and Semiramis, are the results of combining the most prominent name in Bactria with the conquest of Bactria by the founder of the Assyrian power, as related in the Medo-Persian Epos, the fixing of Zoroaster's date so many thousand years previously must have been taken by the Greeks from the Persians. In these dates we seem to be dealing with certain cyclic periods. We learn from Theopompus of Chios, that according to the doctrine of the Magians, one of the two gods Oromazdes and Areimanius would reign and the other be subject for 3000 years; for another 3000 years they would be in conflict, and one destroy the works of the other, until at length Areimanius would succumb and men become happy.[144] From this we may with certainty conclude that periods of 3000 years were in use among the priests of Iran to denote certain spaces of time, and that these cycles form the base of the statements of the older Greeks, if we can prove the use of such periods in the Avesta or in the books of the Parsees.

In the fragments of the Avesta which have come down to us we find invocations addressed to the "time without beginning," "the time that rules the long periods."[145] But the fact that Yima's reign is fixed at 1000 years shows that the priests of Iran reckoned by long periods, and other expressions in the Avesta (p. 33) prove that triple multiplications were in use,[146] which agrees with the periods given by Theopompus. If, therefore, the Greeks of the fifth and fourth century B.C. relate that Zarathrustra lived about 6000 years before their time, a system must by that time have been current among the priests of Iran in which two cycles of 3000 years were supposed to have elapsed since the time of the prophet, and the third cycle had commenced. A book of the Parsees, the Mainyo-i-Khard, which appears to have been written towards the close of the empire of the Sassanids,[147] tells us that Angromainyu made a compact with Auramazda for 9000 winters, and when these winters were past, Angromainyu would be destroyed, and the creation and all creatures would be as Auramazda had made them.[148] The Bundehesh also speaks of a similar compact, but divides the years in a different manner. All time consists of 12,000 years. In the first 3000 Auramazda reigned alone with the creatures which he had created in an invisible manner; for the first 3000 of the next 9000 everything went according to the will of Auramazda; for the second 3000 the will of Auramazda was crossed by that of Angromainyu, but for the last 3000 Angromainyu will be powerless. The Bundehesh goes into yet further detail in these matters: in the first 3000 years the heavenly creation was secure from attack; in the next 3000 Gayo maretan and the ox, i. e. the first man and the first bull, came into existence. After these 6000 years the enemy arose and slew the first man and the first bull. The reign of Yima is placed by the Bundehesh in the first millennium of the new period, but this reign extends only to 716 years, the first 284 years of the thousand being filled with creatures prior to Yima. The second millennium of the period is occupied with the reign of Thraetaona, Manuschithra, Kava Kavata, Uça, Huçrava, and Aurvataçpa, and the early part of the reign of Kava Vistaçpa, whose thirtieth year coincides with the end of the second millennium.[149] At the beginning of the third millennium, i. e. a thousand years after the death of Yima, Zarathrustra appears; and the period of more successful opposition to the evil spirits begins. According to the more ancient conception, which may still be plainly traced in the Avesta, the world began with the happy age of Yima; it is owing to later views formed within priestly circles that earlier creatures such as the first man and first bull are placed before this period; but it will be shown below that these views existed when the Avesta was written down. A later book of the Parsees, the Sad-der-Bundehesh, puts the period of the conflict between the good and evil deity at 6000 years, and places Zarathrustra exactly in the middle of it; he was created 3000 years after the period of Gayo maretan, and 3000 years before his own resurrection.[150] Hence it is clear that the formation of these cycles rose among the priests of Iran from the necessity of limiting the period of the old and new law, and of conflict between the good and evil spirits, and the desire to fix the date of the more successful repulse of evil which came in with Zarathrustra. The abbreviation of the period of Yima shows us that the cycles in the Bundehesh do not throughout agree with those of the Avesta. But it is sufficient to establish the fact that periods of 3000 years were in use, and that Zarathrustra appeared at the beginning of a new millennium, in order to understand that the Persians could speak to the Greeks of millenniums in this sense, and of one or two cycles which had elapsed since Zarathrustra's time.

The idea and tendency of such a scheme for the history of the world are easily understood: these periods of 3000 years, which can be increased or diminished without alteration of the sense, have only a dogmatic value. We cannot obtain from them any chronological date for the appearance of Zarathrustra, nor can we obtain such a date by the attempt to go back from the chronological statements in recent Parsee works to the older periods. We may leave unnoticed the assertion in the book of Arda Viraf that the true faith had existed in purity for 300 years down to the time that Alexander came into Iran (p. 50), which would thus bring Zarathrustra into the seventh century B.C. The Bundehesh allows 460 years for the reigns of the Sassanids, 246 for the Askanids, i. e. the Arsacids, 16 for Alexander, before whom come Darai the son of Darai with 14 years, Darai Chirazatan with 12, Huma (a queen) with 30, Vohumano with 112, and Vistaçpa with 90,—all subsequent to the appearance of Zarathrustra.[151] According to this, 996 years elapsed between Zarathrustra and the fall of the Sassanids, and he would thus, if we reckon from the battle of Nahavend (640 A.D.), be placed in the year 356 B.C., in the reign of Artaxerxes Ochus. But even if we alter the incorrect items in the text of the Bundehesh in accordance with our better knowledge, we do not arrive at any result which is even apparently certain. The dominion of the Sassanids, down to the date of the battle, did not last 460 but only 414 years; on the other hand, the Arsacids reigned for 476 years, not for 264.[152] The empire of Alexander, if we add the reigns of the Seleucidæ to his own, occupied 80 years instead of 14, and if in the place of the 26 years of the two Darais of the Bundehesh, who represent the kingdom of the ancient Achæmenids, we put the old Persian kingdom with 229 years, and add to these items the numbers given in the Bundehesh for Huma, Vohumano, and Vistaçpa, after the appearance of Zarathrustra, which amount to 232 years, Zarathrustra would have commenced his work 1431 years before the battle of Nahavend, i. e. in the year 791 B.C. But who can guarantee that Cyrus, the Persian, overthrew the empire of the Medes in the year when Huma, the supposed daughter of Vohumano, died; or that Huma reigned for 30 years? How could Vohumano, the grandson of Vistaçpa, and son of Çpentodata (p. 38), have reigned 112 years, and Vistaçpa himself 90 years after the appearance of Zarathrustra? Huma is not merely a doubtful person, she is altogether fictitious. She is said to have been the mother of Darai Chirazatan, i. e. Darius I., and to have been called Shamirain, i. e. Semiramis, but her brother was the first Sassan, the ancestor of the Sassanids. As the later Arabs and Persians, including Firdousi, are no better informed,[153] we see clearly that the remembrance of the Achæmenids had almost entirely died out at the time when these writings were composed; only the name of Darius remained, and an attempt was made to connect this name with Vistaçpa by two fictitious names, Vohumano, i. e. the good spirit, and Huma. Besides Vistaçpa's son Çpentodata (Isfendyar) and Hutaoça, the wife of Vistaçpa, the Avesta mentions a woman, "the pure Huma,"[154] out of whom this queen must have been formed. It is clear that the tradition of the East, like the Avesta, broke off in the generation after Vistaçpa, and that in the Arabian period only the names Darai and Iskander could be placed between Vistaçpa and the Arsacids.

We must attempt to reach the goal by another path. I have already shown what was the condition of the sacred scriptures in Iran at the date of Alexander and the Seleucids (p. 55). Even before Hermippus of Smyrna, Aristotle had taught that the Magians considered that to be the best in the first instance which was first created, and maintained two principles, a good and evil deity, Oromazdes and Areimanius.[155]Theopompus mentioned both these deities and the strife between them, and when he adds that there would one day be a time when the dead would rise again, and men would be immortal and able to withstand everything by their prayers—that after the victory of Oromazdes men would be happy and need no longer any sustenance, and would cast no shadow [156]—it will be seen below how definitely and exactly the doctrine of the Avesta is here reproduced. Hermodorus mentions a series of teachers, who succeeded the first teacher of the Magians, the "Persian Zoroaster," down to the campaign of Alexander of Macedon.[157]With Eudoxus of Cnidus Zoroaster was the founder of the most beneficent wisdom; the pupils of Prodicus claimed to be acquainted with the writings of Zoroaster (p. 53). Plato calls him the son of Oromazdes, and adds that the heir to the throne was instructed in Magism as well as in the duty of being true during the whole of his life.[158] The importance which the Avesta ascribes to truthfulness will become clear hereafter. If the Greeks of the fourth century could speak of Zoroaster as the teacher of the Persians, and put him in the closest relation with Auramazda, if they could reproduce correctly the names of the good and evil spirits and the main doctrines of the Avesta, it is an inevitable conclusion that the religion of Zarathrustra must have prevailed in the kingdom of the Achæmenids.

This result is confirmed by all the further information which we obtain from the Greeks. In Plutarch the last Darius calls on an eunuch, "to tell the truth in reverence for the great light of Mithra"; the eunuch replies that the king has no reason to accuse the evil spirit, and entreats "Lord Oromazdes," "that he may cause the light of the king to shine again."[159] Artaxerxes II. was informed by his mother Parysatis that the Persians had received the law which distinguished good and evil from god. He swears "by Mithra," and Plutarch tells us how some related that when Darius, the eldest son of Artaxerxes, who sought his life, was slain, Artaxerxes went into the court of the palace and cried aloud to the Persians: "Rejoice, ye Persians, and tell it to others, that the great Oromazdes has executed judgment on those who imagined crime and wickedness."[160] In Plutarch, Artaxerxes I. says to Themistocles: "May Areimanius ever implant such a disposition in my enemies that they may drive from themselves their best and bravest men."[161] According to Deinon the Magians prophesied with branches in their hands, sacrificed under the open sky, and looked on fire and water as the only symbols of the divinity.[162] Xenophon represents Cyrus as praising the gods and sacrificing to them every morning according to the instructions of the Magians.[163] Though Herodotus does not mention either the name of Zarathrustra or of Auramazda, what he says of the rites of the Medes and Persians agrees exactly with the rules given in the Avesta. "Temples, images, and altars," he says, "are not erected by the Persians, because, as it seems to me, they do not believe like the Hellenes that the gods have the form and nature of men. They call the whole circle of heaven Zeus, and offer sacrifice to him after ascending the summits of mountains. Besides Zeus they have from ancient days sacrificed to the sun, the moon, the earth, water, winds, and fire, which among the Persians is a deity:[164] the winds they also charm by songs. When offering sacrifice they build no altar and kindle no fire, nor pour libations, nor make any use of flutes, or cakes, or barley meal. If any one wishes to offer sacrifice he brings the victim to an open space, and calls on the god, after crowning his tiara with branches of myrtle. After cutting the animal in pieces, and cooking the flesh, he spreads out the most delicate grass, chiefly trefoil, and lays the flesh upon it. The Magian who stands by sings the theogony over it, for such, according to the Persians, is the nature of the prayer. After some time, the person who has made the sacrifice carries the flesh away and uses it for a feast. The Magians, in whose control is the worship by sacrifice, make it a great object to kill ants, serpents, and other creeping winged things: dogs and men only do they spare. No Persian may pollute a river, nor even wash in it, nor will they allow any one else to do so, for they have a great reverence for rivers. The bodies of the dead may not be burned; it is said indeed that the corpse of a Persian cannot be buried till it has been torn by a dog or a bird, and among the Magians this is an acknowledged practice. It is a meritorious act among the Persians to have many children, and he who can show the most receives gifts each year from the king. Each man celebrates the day on which he was born above all other days. What may not be done, may not be spoken of amongst the Persians: the most shameful action is lying, and the next to this is borrowing, for the reason that a man who has debts is generally compelled to lie. Any one afflicted by the itch or the leprosy may not come into the cities or mix with other Persians; and it is believed that such persons have sinned against the sun-god. Lepers from foreign lands are driven out of the country." When Xerxes came to the Hellespont, and was about to cross the bridge, Herodotus represents him as praying to the sun-god, pouring libations from a golden cup, and throwing it with a golden goblet and a Persian sword into the sea.[165] We shall see hereafter to what a degree the killing of noxious animals, the reverence for rivers, the expulsion of lepers, the delight in life and the increase of life, the exposing of dead bodies, and singing of the theogony at sacrifices, correspond to the rules and doctrines of the Avesta. In one point only is Herodotus mistaken: he states that the Persians worshipped a female deity called Mithra.

From this array of witnesses belonging to the West it follows that the doctrines of the Avesta, and the religion of Zarathrustra, were current among the Persians and in Western Iran at any rate after the beginning of the fifth century B.C., and they must therefore have been in existence in Eastern Iran at a still earlier date. The inscriptions of the Achæmenids prove that the doctrine of the Avesta was maintained among the Persians with even greater clearness and for a period more ancient. Artaxerxes Ochus prays to Auramazda, Anahita, and Mithra for their protection, and in like manner Artaxerxes Mnemon prays to Auramazda and Mithra. In the inscriptions on Mount Behistun, Darius I., the son of Hystaspes, styles Auramazda "the greatest of the gods" (mathista baganam ). Besides Auramazda, "the rest of the gods" are repeatedly mentioned, and denoted by the name Baga. Of Auramazda, Darius and Xerxes say in their inscriptions: "A great god is Auramazda; he has created the heaven and the earth; he has created man and all that is good for men." After crushing in the beginning of his reign the rebellion of nearly all the lands which Cyrus had reduced, Darius repeatedly records his thanks: "that Auramazda had granted him assistance; that his army had been victorious by the grace of Auramazda." He and his successors acknowledge that they have received their throne and their kingdom from Auramazda; by his grace they are kings.[166] The reason why Auramazda has assisted him Darius finds in the fact that he has not been a "liar," and has committed no sin. He entreats Auramazda to protect the land against the invasion of hostile armies, against blight, and "the lie" (drauga ). He asserts that "the lie" caused the provinces which had revolted to be rebellious, and declares that the land of Persia, which Auramazda has granted to him, which is beautiful, rich in horses, and well populated, has no fear of enemies owing to Auramazda's grace, and his own. He commends his inscription at Behistun to the protection of his successors, with the words: "If thou destroyest not this tablet then may Auramazda be thy friend; may thy descendants be numerous, and thy life be long, and whatsoever thou undertakest, may Auramazda cause it to succeed. But if thou destroyest it, may Auramazda smite thee, and thy house perish; and whatever thou doest, may Auramazda render it of no effect."[167] On his tomb Darius says: "What I have done I have done by the grace of Auramazda. O man, this is the prayer of Auramazda; think no evil, leave not the right way, sin not." The inscriptions of Xerxes regularly end with the invocation: "May Auramazda protect me, with all the gods; me, my kingdom, and my work."

As we shall see, the fundamental principle of the religion of Zarathrustra is that a supreme god stands over all gods, and to him is ascribed the work of creation. In entire belief in the power of this supreme deity, whom the Achæmenids invoke by the name which is given to him in the Avesta, "who has created heaven and earth and all that is good for men," Darius ascribes to Auramazda victory in battles, the power of granting or refusing success to the king's undertakings, of protecting the land against hostile invasions, blight, and lies. To those who live according to his commands he grants long life and numerous descendants. The rebellion of the provinces is with Darius the work of the lie, the lie of him who had givenhimself out to be the son of Cyrus, and the lie of those who had claimed to be the descendants of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyaxares. We have already observed what "the lie" meant in the Avesta. In the same spirit—the spirit of the principal rules of the Avesta—Darius adjures his Persians to think no evil, and not to leave the right path.

Nicolaus of Damascus assures us that the Persians were acquainted with the sayings of Zoroaster. He and others relate that Cyrus or his father was called Atradates, i. e. given by fire,[168] and that he had given to the Areians (p. 11), who provided his famished army with sustenance, the honourable title of Orosangians, i. e. Huverezànha  (benefactors). It is in harmony with the doctrine of the Avesta that Cyrus should be represented by such a descent or name as the gift and nursling of fire, and we shall see with what emphasis the Avesta marks and distinguishes good thoughts, words, and actions. From these facts and the inscriptions of Darius there can be no doubt that Zarathrustra's doctrine was current among the Persians at the time of Cyrus. But if it was in force in the West of Iran in the sixth century B.C. the fact that Herodotus, in his account of the period during which the Medes obtained the dominion, down to the time of Cyrus, speaks of no change in religion, either among the Persians or the Medes, is evidence that this religion existed at any rate before the time of Phraortes. The statement found in Herodotus that Deioces had forbidden any one to spit in his presence, reminds us of the rules of the Avesta, by which no one was allowed to approach the sacred fire and gods with uncovered mouth, and on the sculptures of Persepolis the bearer of the fan stands with covered mouth beside Darius. The seven walls which Herodotus represents Deioces as building round Ecbatana, the seven tribes of the Persians, remind us of the seven girdles of the earth in the Avesta; the king of the Persians surrounded by the six tribal princes is the symbol of Auramazda and the six gods who are about him.

Hence we may assume that the doctrine of Zarathrustra had reached the West of Iran at the time when Phraortes united the tribes of the Medes (about 650 B.C.), and was known among the Medes when they were still living under their tribal chiefs and paid tribute to Asshur, or, in case of refusal, were attacked by the Assyrian armies, which, as we ascertained from the inscriptions of the kings of Asshur, was the case from the time of Tiglath Pilesar II. to the time of Assurbanipal, i. e. from the middle of the eighth to the middle of the seventh century B.C. A statement in Herodotus seems to lead us still further back. He calls the Magians a race or tribe of the Medes. According to his narrative this tribe was in existence in the time of Deioces, i. e.about the year 700 B.C. Herodotus could only speak of the Magians as a tribe or family when they had become an hereditary order. At that time, therefore, there must have been among the Medes a priesthood who perpetuated in their families their worship by sacrifice, their doctrine and wisdom, as well as their social importance. Like all Greeks, Herodotus ascribes the discharge of the religious functions among the Persians and Medes to the Magians, and we find that what Herodotus quotes of their rites agrees with the rules of the Avesta. The rise and separation of a peculiar order of priests, their more or less sharply marked distinction from the remaining orders, can never be the work of a short space of time, and such separation can only take place when the worship of the gods requires a knowledge which is not easily accessible or obtainable, when doctrine has obtained a place by the side of belief, when ritual has become developed, and particular duties and rules are prescribed for the life of the priests. When the worship of the gods requires the use of long and definite prayers, the knowledge of complicated usages, on which depends the effect of the sacrifices, and the observation of numerous rules of purification,—such knowledge is only perpetuated in families of hierophants or priests, or in schools which take the place of such families. The formation of a distinct hereditary order on such grounds can hardly have occupied less than a century from the time when the doctrine, on which it is formed, was introduced. Hence we may assume that the doctrine known as Zarathrustra's reached the Medes before the year 750 B.C.i. e. before the date of Tiglath Pilesar II. of Assyria.

Let us hold firmly to the facts that the worship of Auramazda was current among the Persians about the middle of the sixth century B.C., that the same worship was in force among the Medes at least a century earlier, about 650 B.C., and that if an hereditary priesthood was in existence about this time among the Medes who performed and conducted the worship, the doctrine which this priesthood represented must have been adopted before the year 750 B.C. In this way we obtain a proof that the doctrine of Zarathrustra was not only in existence in the East of Iran about the year 800 B.C., but was the dominant creed there, and had force enough to penetrate to the West, and win over the neighbouring tribes of the Medes and Persians.

We cannot explain more exactly how the doctrine of Zarathrustra reached the nations of the West of Iran. Pliny, it is true, exclaims: "Who knows the Medes, who were taught by Zoroaster, Apusorus, and Zaratus, even by hearsay, for no memorials of them are left?"[169] According to this the religion of Zoroaster spread even in the West by the influence of eminent men among the Medes. But the date of the persons mentioned cannot be fixed, though Porphyry represents Pythagoras as going to the Chaldæans and Zabratus, by whom he was purified from the evil of his former life, and instructed as to the things from which the disciple should restrain himself, and about the nature and beginning of all things,[170] and this Zaratus or Zabratus may be intended for Zarathrustra himself. Hermodorus tells us that Zarathrustra had been followed by many Magians as teachers, one after the other, down to the time when Alexander marched against Persia: these teachers were Osthanes, Astrampsychus, Gobryas, and Pazates.[171] Others also assert that Zoroaster was followed "by Osthanes and Astrampsychus."[172] Pliny observes that so far as he could discover, Osthanes who accompanied Xerxes in the war against the Hellenes, was the first who had written on the doctrine of the Magians. The second Osthanes, whom Alexander had received among his followers, had caused this religion to be of great importance. From the work of one of these two persons, Philo of Byblus quotes a passage—the work he calls the Octateuch—and Pliny notes down apparently some of the doctrines of the first Osthanes. If then there were men under the Achæmenids in the West of Iran who could write on the doctrine of Zarathrustra from the beginning of the fifth century B.C., we can without hesitation believe the statement that long before this time there were prophets and teachers of the doctrine among the Medes and the Persians.

Can we go beyond the result thus gained by our investigation?—that the doctrine of Zoroaster flourished in Eastern Iran about 800 B.C., and advanced towards the West from this period; may we assume that at this date it was already in possession of written monuments, and even that the fragments of the Avesta which still remain were in existence then? We must first answer the question whether the use of writing in Iran, especially in the East, goes back so far.

According to the statements of Herodotus, the West of Iran was not only in possession of the art of writing by the year 700 B.C., but made considerable use of it. He tells us that Deioces required complaints to be sent in to him in writing, and gave out his decisions also in writing. If processes at law were conducted in writing in Media about the year 700 B.C., it cannot be surprising that Herodotus should also inform us that letters passed between Media and Persia about the year 560 B.C.[173] We learn from the Hebrew Scriptures that when Cyrus allowed the Jews, whom Nebuchadnezzar had removed to Babylon, to return to their homes, he gave his permission for the restoration of the temple in writing. This document was afterwards discovered in the archives of Ecbatana.[174] We know it for a fact that Darius I. gave his orders to the satraps in writing, and we are acquainted with the seal of Darius by which they were authenticated. The oldest inscriptions which have come down to us from the Achæmenids, not to mention a seal of Cyrus from Senkereh, belong, if not to Cyrus himself, to Darius, and begin about the last quarter of the sixth century B.C. It is the cuneiform writing of Assyria and Babylon which forms the basis of the writing in these inscriptions, but with considerable alterations. The highly complicated syllabarium of the Eastern Semites is reduced to a phonetic system; we might almost say to an alphabet of about 40 letters. A change of this kind can hardly have been made at one stroke. If it was after they entered into closer combination with Assyria, i. e. after their dependence on the king of Asshur, which began with the accession of Tiglath Pilesar II. (745 B.C.), that the Medes became acquainted with the Assyrian system of writing, this must have been completely mastered before it could be abbreviated and altered, as it was altered by the Medes, whose changes were adopted by the Persians. The cuneiform writing of Western Iran, as we find it in the inscriptions of Darius, can therefore hardly have been established before the year 600 B.C. However this may be, the facts mentioned prove that the writing of the Assyrians in the seventh century B.C. was not unknown in the West of Iran. This would therefore have passed into the East of Iran in its original or simplified form, either at some earlier period, or when the East came under the dominion of the Achæmenids. But it did not, and this is a plain proof that the East, when the cuneiform writing of the West came in that direction, was already in possession of another kind of writing. This Eastern mode of writing, the Arian, which rests on an entirely different basis from the cuneiform, is first known to us from coins and inscriptions of the third century B.C.; but it certainly would not have maintained its ground under the Achæmenids against the writing of the West, and of the rulers, magistrates, and dominant nation, unless it had been in vigorous use before, this period. We must therefore assume that the Arian character was in use in the East of Iran a considerable time before the date of Cyrus, and hence we have no reason to deny the existence of it in that region in the eighth century B.C., since we must allow the neighbouring Arians of India to have been in possession of their written characters from the year 800 B.C. at the least (IV. 155).

If we may assume that the Arian character was in use in the East of Iran about the year 800 B.C., the prayers and sayings of Zarathrustra might have been written down about this date, and the doctrine might have passed on to the West supported by written documents. But the fact that the prayers might have been written down is in no way a proof that they were so written.

It is true that at first sight it seems that the part of the law which has come down to us (the Vendidad) leads to the conclusion that it was written down long before the Persians gained the dominion over Iran, and Media became a powerful state under Cyaxares. The book does not mention the name of the Persians or the Medes, of Ecbatana or Persepolis, while Bactria is spoken of as the seat of the empire; the most westerly district mentioned in the Vendidad is Ragha in Eastern Media.[175] If we add that the book reproaches certain districts in the East, the land of the Arachoti and others, with deviations from the doctrine of Zarathrustra, and that Ragha is indeed Zoroastrian but wavering in its fidelity, we may easily conclude that the Vendidad was written when the doctrine of Zarathrustra had not as yet thoroughly penetrated the East, and was still unknown in the West, when it had just reached, but had not yet completely conquered, thedistrict of Ragha. The Medes were still dependent on Asshur, living separately according to their tribes, Ecbatana was not yet the centre and metropolis of Media, and the kingdom of Bactra was still in existence in the East. This points to a date about 750 B.C. as the time when this doctrine must have spread widely over Media; at any rate to a date before the rise of the Median power, i. e. before 650 B.C. This conclusion is not, however, absolutely certain. The silence of the Vendidad and of the Avesta generally on Ecbatana and Persepolis, the Medes and the Persians, can be explained in another though a more artificial manner. The nations and chief cities of the West were unknown to the tradition of Eastern Iran, and the royal abodes of the Medes and Persians were not consecrated by the action of Zarathrustra. In the accounts given by the Greeks of the worship of these nations, in spite of much agreement, points are found at variance with the rules of the Avesta, and as a fact certain distinctions did prevail. The doctrine had arisen in the East, and the priesthood there was in possession of the purer and more orthodox dogma. If Persia and Media did not follow this in all respects, it was convenient to be silent about the differences in the time of the Achæmenids, or if any one desired to brand them, to mark out the Median Ragha as the seat of heresy, rather than Pasargadæ or Persepolis. This explanation it is true is somewhat far fetched. The result that the religion known by the name of Zarathrustra had reached the Medes and Persians by the middle of the eighth century B.C. is in no way weakened by it, though the assumption that at this period written documents of this doctrine were in existence, and that the book of the law of which we have fragments arose in the first half of the eighth century B.C., is rendered more doubtful if such a mode of interpretation is admitted.

The forms of language preserved in the Avesta have not survived with sufficient distinctness to assist us in fixing the time at which it was written down. As was shown above (p. 65), the manuscripts date from the later period of the Sassanids; they are written in the later East-Pehlevi character, and at a time when the old forms must have undergone changes owing to the language which had come into use in the mean time, and can in fact be proved to have undergone them. The old sounds are obviously modified and confounded,[176]so that the language of the Avesta, when compared with that of the inscriptions of the Achæmenids, exhibits forms less ancient and fixed, and indeed in some cases it is more recent than the language of the legends of the Græco-Bactrian coins (p. 27). Nor can any certain conclusions be drawn from the condition of political and social life shown in the Avesta. It is only the splendour of regal power in general, the old sacrificers, heroes, and kings that are extolled in it; a sacrificial prayer to Mithra speaks of the abode of the Arians, where "horse-guiding rulers govern noble troops;" for the rest we hear only of lords of villages, of tribes or cantons, and provinces, and of three orders into which the people are divided. The Vendidad, it is true, reckons by winters and nights, not by years and days; the amount of fines and punishments is computed in animals, goats, sheep, oxen, horses, or camels; and these facts point to an ancient period, but they may have been handed down by tradition. We also hear of the value of these animals and of money (shaeta ).[177] This is the less surprising as the Vendidad speaks of palaces and pillars and various works of art, and mentions smelting-ovens and even ovens for making glass. We found that the Greek princes of Bactria struck square coins, which they would not have done if this had not been the traditional form in Bactria (p. 28). The Achæmenids did not strike coins of this kind, and this shape must therefore have come down from a period anterior to them. The frequent mention of the physician, on the other hand, ought not to be regarded as a proof of later composition, for we hear of the physician and his remedies in ancient poems of the Veda (IV. 35).

In regard to the antiquity of the Avesta, then, we can only build upon the simple facts that it cannot have been written down for the first time when the Buddhists found adherents in Bactria (IV. 542), or when the kingdom of the Greek princes arose in Bactria, or when the Seleucidæ and Alexander, before them, reigned over Iran. It has been proved that the Avesta was in existence before Alexander overthrew the kingdom of the Achæmenids. The series of the successors of Zarathrustra, which western writers could trace backwards from this point—Osthanes II., Pazates, Gobryas, Osthanes I., Astrampsychus, Apusodorus—plainly shows that even under the Achæmenids the West was seriously occupied with religious questions. As Osthanes I. had written on the doctrine of Zoroaster about the time of Xerxes (p. 92), it is at least more probable than not that the Avesta was already in existence at that time. If in the West there was a series, and as the Greeks point out, a continuous series, of priestly teachers, round whom naturally pupils and schools grew up, and after the beginning of the fifth century a theological literature, similar teachers and schools must have existed long before in the East, and this greatly strengthens the conclusion drawn from the contents of the Vendidad, that it must have been written down before the rise of the Medes. But for any more precise determination of the date of the Avesta between the two limits obtained—the year 750 B.C.i. e. the beginning of the formation of a priesthood in the West and the contemporary use of writing in the East, and the year 350 B.C.—we are confined wholly to internal evidence.

Scriptures of such extent as the Avesta is shown to have been, by the accounts of the Greeks and Arabs, and the list of contents (p. 51), and the existing fragments, could not have been written down at once or within a brief space of time. We saw (p. 33) that it set up a religious canon, which not only regulated the doctrine and the worship, the duties of priests and laity, but also comprised the law, and in a word all the relations of life. A codification of this kind is only possible when belief and doctrine, culture and ritual, have arrived at fixed and complete formulæ, have been arranged in a system and developed, and the consequences bearing on life, morality, and law have been drawn from them by an active and influential priesthood. Hence before the Avesta was written down and collected there must have been a priestly order in the East, in the circles of which the doctrine and practice went through this developing, revising, and fixing process. Various sketches, lists of prayers for certain offerings, collections of rules belonging to this or that priesthood or school, must have been in existence, and combinations of the traditional material must have been made, before a canon comprising the whole wisdom of the priests, and far exceeding in extent the law of Manu, could have been compiled.

Among the existing invocations of the Avesta we find sacrificial prayers of a primitive character; but the greater part of the prayers and thanksgivings are without religious feeling or poetical power, and very far removed from the richness and abundance, the beauty and freshness of conception, which streams through the majority of the hymns of the Veda. There are not wanting naïve  and poetical pieces which have obviously been handed down and preserved by their use at sacrifices, but these are frequently spoiled by later interpolations, and the form of the whole is generally dry and prosaic. We find but scanty relics of any vigorous conception of the gods, of a living mythology; on the whole the mythical element is faded, and the sacrifice of animals thrown into the background. The greater part of the prayers receive their value from a certain system and completeness; the object is to bring forward all the characteristics of the deity to which they are addressed, and to invoke him by all his names. Thus laudations and epithets are repeated without end. A good many of the prayers are mere nomenclatures, and repeat the same forms in varying order. Besides this tendency, which is far removed from the original simplicity of religious meditation, a value is ascribed to the repetition of certain prayers. Some are to be said a hundred, or a thousand times. In the same way the liturgies are long and full of detail, and sometimes take the form of responses between the celebrant and the ministering priest; they are extremely careful to neglect none of the heavenly spirits or genii, or to injure them by omission, or treat them with less respect than others.

Beside the faded colours of the mythology, the decreasing importance of animal sacrifice, and the formalism of the prayers, we observe in the five Gathas, the invocations which alone have preserved the verse-measure, and present older forms of language than the rest, a tendency to speculation. Not only are the good and evil spirits combined under one head, as is always the case in the Avesta, but the Gathas attempt to resolve the contrast of the beneficial and harmful sides of nature, of the good and evil spirits, into the reciprocal play of two fundamental forces; they identify the prosperity and destruction of nature with moral good and evil, and combine the one with truth, the other with falsehood. The good spirits are the truth, the evil are the lie. The life of appearance and of falsehood is distinguished from the true life, and the service of truth promises life not in this world only but in the next. It is in harmony with these tendencies to abstraction that, according to other passages of the Avesta, heaven is filled with a multitude of the most lifeless personifications of ideas and realities. Could the doctrine of a new religion in an early period come forward with such a spiritualised system, with such elevated moral demands, such abstract conceptions? Could prayers of such a kind have been composed or written down in a primitive age?

The existing fragment of the book of the law is composed in the form of a dialogue, and is for the most part filled with conversations which Zarathrustra carries on with Auramazda. Zarathrustra inquires what is to be done in certain cases against the evil spirits, the Daevas, on the commission of certain sins and impurities. What must be done when a woman is in labour, etc., or when any one has made himself impure by touching a corpse, or has slain a water-dog (otter)? Is the rain impure which has fallen on a corpse and then runs off from it, etc.? These questions Auramazda answers very precisely, and when it is a matter for expiation and purification, he fixes the number of stripes with the horse-whip or the whip of the sacred Çraosha (Çraosha-charana) which the penitent is to receive. It is a theory and practice of purity, on a level with the analogous rules in the laws of Manu, and in some points even more subtle and casuistical. The offences have already been brought under definite categories, and in like manner the purifications and punishments fall into a number of distinct classes. Not only are expiations required for all sins and prescribed down to the minutest details, but the offences must also be repented of; certain formulæ of confession and repentance are prescribed.

We need not stop to prove that a book of laws in this form could not have been written down à priori. The rules for punishment and purification must have grown up in long practice, before they could be put in the mouth of the deity; difficulties and doubts must have been weighed before solutions could be proposed. The book contains the dialogues and inquiries which were held in the schools of the priests on questions of this kind, the practice which prevailed in the schools and the catechisation of the pupils. The answer is naturally placed in the mouth of Auramazda, for it was the answer which he once gave to the question when asked by Zarathrustra. The fragments of the Vendidad are a catechism, the result of the labour of the priestly schools, a system of rules and regulations which marks and postulates the same stage of development for Iran as was reached for the Indians on the Ganges by the law of Manu. Many periods in the religious life must have been passed through before the religious consciousness was no longer shocked by the fact that the supreme deity in person answered petty questions of ritual, and dictated in the most exact gradation and with regard to every possible variety of circumstance, the number of stripes required for the criminals.

This faded mythology and formalised worship, these speculative attempts and casuistry of law, are accompanied by a completely-arranged scheme of certain abstract categories already established. Throughout the whole Avesta runs the division between this world and the next, between the corporeal and incorporeal world, truth and falsehood, and the triple distinction of thinking, speaking, and acting, of thought, word, and deed. And when we further consider that rewards are attached to the reading of sections of the Avesta, that the "long study" of the "thoughts of the pure man," "the excellent knowledge, thought, and conception" are praised and invoked as divine powers, no one will be inclined to see in the Avesta the product of naïve  religious feeling, or the deposit of a priestly civilisation which is as yet in its early stages.

Still, if we wish to avoid making any false steps in the conclusions to be drawn from the nature of the Avesta about the time of its composition, we must bear in mind that it contains some conceptions which are the exact opposite of the characteristics just noticed. The myth of Yima, the form of Mithra, the descent of plants, prove older traits in the Avesta than we find in the Veda; the old gods still occupy a large space beside Auramazda and the abstract forms of heaven, and strict unity of system is not yet attained. We must remember also at what an early date the neighbours of Eastern Iran, the Arians of India, arrived at meditation and abstraction; how quickly and entirely they allowed animal sacrifice to pass into the background; with what breadth and detail they developed the rules for purification; how numerous were the daily prayers and repetitions, before the religious feeling became weakened. In the Avesta the time without limit is frequently invoked; among the Indians the gods of light are even in the oldest hymns of the Veda the sons of Aditi, i. e. of the Eternal or the Infinite. And if the attitude of the Avesta is for the most part by far more flat and prosaic than that of the Veda, the Arians of Iran were of a more logical nature, and the glow of imagination which the land of the Ganges kindled in their kindred tribes did not exist in Iran. For this reason the consideration of the character of the Avesta can only lead us to the result that a period of several centuries must have elapsed between the rise of the religion named after Zarathrustra and the writing down of the Avesta; that lists of prayers and rubrics must have been in existence about the year 800 B.C.; that the extensive books which then formed the Avesta may have been written in the first half of the period, which we ascribed to them, extending from 750 to 350 B.C. In any case we can maintain that the Gathas were composed, and that the Avesta existed in its essential parts in the East of Iran, before Cyrus put the empire of the Persians in the place of the empire of the Medes, and all the various parts were collected together before the "Enlightened" began to preach on the Ganges, i. e. about the year 600 B.C.

We have already remarked the importance which the Achæmenids ascribed to the possession of Bactria (p. 23); and we were able at any rate to guess at the civilisation of that district about the year 500 B.C., from the amount of the tribute imposed upon it by Darius. That the economic civilisation was not behind the material was shown by indications in the Avesta. The kingdom which grew up there, as we saw (p. 47), long before the days of the Medes, and in which about the year 800 B.C. the doctrine of Zarathrustra was current, succumbed to Cyrus, the great founder of the Persian empire. If we place the beginning of the doctrine of Zarathrustra, which first made its appearance there, before the middle of the ninth century B.C., at which time the armies of Shalmanesar II. reached the East of Iran, and assume that it came forward about 1000 B.C., we shall hardly place its rise too high. We remember that about this time occurred the great change in the religious conceptions of the Arians in India, the repression and degradation of the old gods by Brahman. It was an analogous development when the good and evil spirits of Bactria were combined into unities, and placed under leaders, when the chief of the deities of light was made the creator of the heaven and the earth, and surrounded with abstract forms, which contest the traditional place and honour of the old god. It is the same religious impulse, the desire to grasp the unity of the divine nature, the same line of combination that we observed in its beginning and progress in India, which comes to the surface in the doctrine of Zarathrustra. We have no reason to contest with the Avesta the fact that Vistaçpa ruled over Bactria when this change took place, or that Zarathrustra, a man of the race of Haechataçpa, gave the impulse to the reform, and that the leading idea in it belongs to him. If Vistaçpa ruled over Bactria about the year 1000 B.C.the growth of the Bactrian monarchy must be placed at least a century before this time, i. e. about the year 1100 B.C.


[118][Cf. Darmesteter, "Zend-Avesta," Introduct., c. iv. § 40, and c. iii.]

[119]Plato. "Alcib. I." p. 122.

[120]Diog. Laert. prooem.

[121]Plin. "H. N." 80, 2.

[122]1, 94.

[123]Justin, 1, 1.

[124]"Numa," c. 4; "Quaest. Sympos." 4, 1. [The reading Ζωροάστρην is doubtful; cf. Wyttenbach.]

[125]Dio Chrys. 2, 60, ed. Dind.

[126]Euseb. "Chron." ed. Auch. p. 43; cf. Georg. Syncell. p. 167. Βάτου after Zoroaster should here be changed into Βάκτρου rather than Μάγου.

[127]Arnob. "Adv. Gent." 1, 5.

[128]Euseb. loc. cit. p. 35.

[129]Porphyr. "De antro nymph." c. 6.

[130]Ammian. Marcell. 23, 6.

[131]Agathias, 2, 24.

[132]Suidas, Μάγοι, Ζωροάστρης.

[133]Above, p. 17. Georg. Sync. p. 78, 79. Vol. I. p. 241, 247.

[134]Yet with Moses Zoroaster is a Mede, I. p. 87.

[135]Plut. "Pomp." c. 24.

[136]Cf. Von Gutschmid, "Die Sage vom heiligen Georg;" Sächsische Gesellschaft d. W., 1861, s. 175.

[137]"Farvardin Yasht," 131.

[138]C. 20 in Justi, [c. 20; § 32 West]; cf. "Vend." 19, 15.

[139]C. 30, cf. above, p. 40. [C. 29, § 14, West.]

[140]Strabo, p. 515, derives it from Atropates, whom Alexander made satrap there.

[141]Still less important than the Bundehesh is the gloss on "Vend." 1, 60. "Many say that Zartusht was from Rak in Atropatan." Ragha is not in Atropatene.

[142]Spiegel, "Eran," 1, 684 ff.

[143]Plin. "H. N." 30, 2. Diogen. Laert. prooem. The different readings of 500 years in Suidas and 600 in Diogenes, as compared with 5000 and 6000 in the other MSS., can hardly be maintained against the uniform evidence of other witnesses.

[144]Plut. "De Isid." c. 47.

[145]"Vend." 19, 33; Spiegel, "Avesta," 3, 9, 201, 206.

[146]"Ashi Yasht," 17; "Vend." 2, 20 ff.

[147]West, "Mainyo-i-Khard," p. x.

[148]West, loc. cit. c. 8.

[149]Justi, "Bundehesh," c. 1, 3, 34. [Cf. West's commentary on c. 34.]

[150]Spiegel, "Eran," 1, 507.

[151]Justi, "Bundehesh," c. 34.

[152]If the rise of Arsaces is put in the year 250 B.C. It makes no difference in the total if we choose the year 248 B.C. for the beginning of the Arsacids.

[153]Blau, "Z. D. M. G." 18, 686. Von Gutschmid, ibid.

[154]"Farvardin Yasht," 139.

[155]Aristot. "Metaph." 13, 4. Diogen. Laert. prooem.

[156]Theopom. Fragm. 71, 72, ed. Müller.

[157]Diogen. Laert. prooem., cf. Suidas, Μάγοι.

[158]"Alcib. I." p. 121.

[159]Plut. "Alex." c. 30.

[160]Plut. "Artax." c. 4, 23, 29.

[161]"Themistocl." c. 28.

[162]Dinon, Fragm. 9, ed. Müller.

[163]"Cyri Instit." 8, 1, 21.

[164]Herod. 3, 16.

[165]Herod. 1, 101, 131-140; 7, 40, 43, 113, 191; 3, 84.

[166]Inscription of Darius at Elvend in Spiegel, "Keilinscriften," s. 45, 47.

[167]Behistun, 4, 73-80; 56-61; Persop.

[168]Strabo, p. 719; Nicol. Damasc. fragm. 66, ed. Müller.

[169]Plin. "H. N." 30, 2; 28, 19.

[170]"Vita Pythag." 12.

[171]Diogen. Laert prooem.

[172]Suidas, Μάγοι.

[173]Herod. 1, 100, 124, 125.

[174]Ezra, c. v., vi.

[175]The Niça of the Vendidad is the Eastern Niça, Parthorum Nisæa, not very far from Merv; above, p. 10, n. 1.

[176]Lepsius, "Ueber das ursprungliche Zendalphabet," Abh. B. Akad. 1862, s. 298, 306, 381.

[177]"Vendid." 4, 120; Astad Yasht, 1.

The Doctrine of the Avesta

When the tribes of the Aryas advanced from the Panjab towards the East, and established themselves on the Ganges, the gods to whom they had offered prayers on the Indus faded away amid the abundant fertility of the new land; and the lively perception of the struggle of the gods of light against the spirits of darkness made room for the conception of the world-soul, from which nature and all living creatures were thought to have emanated. Similar religious principles led the Arians in Iran to a religious reform of an opposite kind. The idea of an emanation of the world, proceeding without any opposition, could not maintain itself in a life occupied in labour for the means of sustenance, in toiling and struggling against nature. Luxuriant growth and dreary desolation, scorching heat and severe winter, such as were found alternating in Iran, could not flow from one and the same source. There man must be active and brave, and therefore the divine being could not be regarded as existing in repose. The nature of the table-land, divided between fertile tillage and desert, between heat and cold, not merely caused the old idea of the conflict between good and evil spirits to continue, but even increased and extended it. All nature was made subject to this opposing action of the gods, and the old conception of the conflict was developed into a complete system. With the extension of the operation of the beneficent and harmful power over the whole of nature, man was drawn into the conflict as active force. He must not only invoke the assistance of the good spirits; he must himself take part in the struggle of the good against the evil. In this way he provided for his soul and salvation better than by prayer and sacrifice; he strengthened so far as in him lay the life and increase of the world, and lessened the sphere in which the power of the evil spirits could operate. If the Indians by the elevation of Brahman arrived only at the great contrast between nature and spirit, between soul and body; if all nature was regarded as something evil and to be annihilated, so that the mortification and torturing of the body and annihilation of self became the highest ethical aims—the Bactrians or Arians in Iran were directed by their reform to more energetic work and activity against the harmful side of nature, and the evil part of the soul. With the free choice of this or that side, with the duty of working on nature, and educating self, the conditions of a more happy and powerful development were given them.

It was the duty of any earnest and eminent adherents of the reform, and afterwards of the priestly races who joined it, or grew up in it, to guide the impulse it had given, and bring the new ideas and the rules to be deduced from them into harmony with the old conceptions. If the contrast between the beneficent and harmful powers once took the shape of opposing spirits, the next object was to represent more exactly the character and nature of these spirits, and define more closely the good and evil Deity. As the reform tended to elevate the natural side in these shapes into ethical qualities, it was inevitable that advance in this direction should lead at an early time to abstract views—that both spirits should be identified with the pure contrast of light and darkness, of truth and lying, of moral good and moral evil.

If the good spirit was supreme purity and truth, he must originally have created the world in accordance with his nature. Whence then came the injurious, the evil? Had the evil spirit also a creative power? Or was the evil first introduced after the creation of the world? If this was the case, and evil was not always in the world, then it must again disappear from it; if the pure god was the more powerful, he must again overcome the resistance of the evil. Moreover, with the subordination of the light and dark powers to Auramazda and Angromainyu, and their combination into these two forms, an impulse was given which gradually forced the ancient deities into the background. The first point was, to put the latter in the right relation to the new god, who had created heaven and earth, and even these ancient gods. In the same way the old Arian legend of the golden age of Yima must be harmonised with the new doctrine of the creation, and a relation must be established between the sacrificers of the old days, who were without the good law of Zarathrustra, and the latter. The sayings which held in check the evil spirits, and which the reform took from the body of ancient invocations or added to them in their spirit, must be accurately preserved if they were not to lose their force, especially the prayers and incantations which Zarathrustra himself had spoken or was thought to have spoken. Lastly, the mode of worship must be regulated in accordance with the tendencies of the reform. Which and what kind of sacrifices, which invocations and songs of praise were the most efficacious, was a matter which required settling. The old customs of purification so indispensable for keeping at a distance the evil spirits, which the reform, as we ventured to assume, largely increased by new prescripts, must be united with the increased importance attached to truth and purity and combined into a comprehensive rule for the life pleasing to Auramazda. What means were there for wiping out offences against this rule, and sins when committed, for turning aside the anger of Mithra, for expiating falsehood, lying, and deception? We have already indicated (p. 101) how numerous and complicated were the duties of the priesthood arising out of pollution and its removal. The answers which the priesthood of Iran gave to all the questions which successively arose have been collected in the Avesta.

The Gathas of the Avesta, in which the metre has been retained, and along with it the older forms of the language—poems which, according to another part of the Avesta (the Çrosh Yasht), Zarathrustra composed and Çraosha first sang [228]—are the most speculative part of the book. They tell of the existence of the good and evil spirits, place both in the beginning of things, identify Auramazda with the truth and Angromainyu with the lie, bring forward Auramazda as the creator of the world and of living creatures, as the source of what is good in man and nature, and describe the duties of the true worshippers and the rewards which they may expect, together with the punishments which will come upon the worshippers of the Daevas. The ancient gods, Mithra, Haoma, Tistrya, Anahita and Drvaçpa are not mentioned in the Gathas; though emphasis is laid on the blessing of the "imperishable red fire of Auramazda." In their place we have Asha (Truthfulness), and Vohumano (Good disposition), Armaiti (Piety), and Kshathra (Dominion); these are at times merely ideas, at times they are personified beside Auramazda.

In these poems Zarathrustra addresses a number of questions to Auramazda: "This question I will ask of thee; answer it truly, O Ahura. Who is the first father and begetter of truth? Who created their paths for the sun and stars? Who causes the moon to wax and wane? Who sustains the earth and holds the clouds above it? Who created the water and the trees of the field? Who is in the wind and the storms that they move so swiftly? Who created the beneficent lights and the darkness? For whom didst thou create the imperishable cow Ranyoçkereti (the Earth)? Who formed the earth with its great blessings? Who are the Daevas, which fight against the good creation? Who slew the hostile demons? Who is the truthful one, who is the liar? How are we to chase away the lies, how shall I put the lies into the hand of Asha (Truthfulness)? How can I come to your dwelling (the dwelling of the gods), and to your song? Give me now the command, what ought to be and what ought not to be, in such a way that we attentive ones may understand it, O Mazda, with the tongue of thy mouth, how am I to convert all living creatures, and guide them to the right path, which leads to him who hears the praises of the truly pious in heaven (Garonmana). Tell me clearly, what ye command me as the best, that I may keep it in my heart, and remember what has been forgotten, Mazda Ahura, all that ought to be, and ought not to be. Teach us, O True one, the way of Vohumano created by thee. Let us, O Mazda, receive thy sayings which bring blessing."

"On thee have I looked as the source in the creation of life, because thou, O rich in gifts, didst establish the sacred customs and announce the words. He who first willed that the spaces of the sky should clothe themselves with lights, he in his wisdom establishes the law of duty for the pious. In the spirit a man must think of thee that thou art ever the same, Ahura. I regarded thee as the most excellent, O Mazda, whom thy people have to worship in spirit, as the father of the pious, since I saw thee with my eye, as the eternal law-giver of the world, living in his works. Since thou of old, O Mazda, didst create all beings and spirits according to thy will, and gave them reason and a material body, all men, the wise and the unwise, cause their voices to sound, each according to his heart and mind; he who strives after wisdom proves in his spirit on which side is error. All gleaming bodies with their manifestations, everything that by Vohumano has a bright eye, the stars and the sun, the herald of the day, move for thy praise, O Mazda. In thee the holy earth exists, and the highly-intelligent framer of the body of the earth, O living spirit Mazda. Thou didst create the world, the earth with the fire that rests in its bosom. With pleasant fields thou didst adorn it, after taking counsel with Vohumano, O Mazda. Thou didst first create the fields, and didst devise the sayings by thy spirit, and the various kinds of knowledge; thou didst then create this world of existence, by holy acts and speeches. To Mazda belongs this kingdom which he causes to grow by his grace."[229]

"To you, all ye that come, I will announce the praises of Mazda the all-wise lord, and the hymns to Vohumano. O wise Asha, I will entreat that friendship may display itself through the stars. Hear with your ears the glorious, see with your spirit the clear, that every one for himself may choose his faith before the great work begins. Those two primæval spirits, which are twins, represent themselves in thought, words, and works as this dualism, the good and the evil, and between both the virtuous know how to decide, but not the evil. When these two deities first came together, they created the good creatures and the bad, and (arranged) that at the last hell should be awarded to the bad and blessedness to the good. Of these two spirits the evil one chooses the worst way of action; but the increase-giving spirit chooses virtue, he whose robe is the firm heaven,—and those who in faith make Auramazda content by truthful acts. Between them the worshippers of the Daevas, the deceived, cannot rightly decide; they chose the worst disposition, and came to the evil ones when in council, and together they hastened to Aeshma, that by him they might bring plagues upon the life of men. But when the punishment of their evil deeds shall be accomplished, and thy kingdom as the reward of piety shall come upon those who put the Druj (the lie) in the hands of Asha (Truthfulness), then destruction overtake the destroying Druj; but those who possess high renown will gather as immortal in the beautiful dwellings of Vohumano, of Mazda, and Asha. Thus then let us work to make this world eternal, O Auramazda, O Asha that givest blessing; may our thoughts be there, where wisdom is enthroned."[230]

"Teach me to know both, that I may walk in the way of Vohumano, the sacrifice, O Mazda, which is fit for a god like thee, and the pure words of thanksgiving; give me the duration over which Ameretat presides, and the blessings of Haurvatat.[231] May he be praised, who in complete truth, so far as he knows it, will tell the charm of Asha, the utterance of prosperity (Haurvatat, i. e. health—and afterwards the spirit of prosperity and the waters) and of immortality (Ameretat immortality, and afterwards the spirit of long life and good plants)."[232] "The acts, words, and sacrifices by which I, O Mazda, might attain immortality, purity, and power over Haurvatat, I will, so far as I can, perform for thee.[233] Grant to me, O most holy spirit, Mazda, thou who didst create the cow, the waters, and the plants, grant me immortality and health, power and duration, that I may follow the doctrine of Vohumano."[234] "From thee comes the nourishment of Haurvatat and Ameretat; may piety (Armaiti) increase with truth under the dominion of Vohumano, and power and continuance as a counter-protection."[235] "Send us the blessing of a long life."[236] "I ask thee, answer me truly, Ahura, When shall I win this reward by truthfulness?—ten mares with their stallions and a camel, that Haurvatat and Ameretat may be in my possession, and I make an offering to thee of their blessings."[237] "I will proclaim what the most holy one says to me, the best word for mortals to hear; those who for its sake lend ear to me, to those will Haurvatat and Ameretat come." "To every one who is a friend to him in thought and word, Auramazda has given power over the rich Haurvatat (health), over the rich Ameretat (freedom from death); he has given him dominion and independence and the riches of Vohumano."[238] "Let none of you listen to the counsel and command of the evil one, for he brings farm and community, canton and land, into distress and ruin, but punish him with the weapon."[239] "On the day when Asha will slay the Druj, on the day of immortality, when that comes forth, that was denied, when the Daevas and men will receive their reward; then, O Ahura, a mighty song of praise will be raised to thee."[240]

"To thy kingdom and thy truth, I offer praise, Ahura, Asha. Listen to this with kindly spirit, Mazda; incline thine ear, Ahura. Let the worshippers of the liar be few; may all these turn themselves to the priests of the truthful fire! The good must rule over us, not the evil! Ahura, the all-knowing, cannot be deceived. I will think of thee, most glorious one, at the final departure of life. With prayers, O Mazda, Asha, will I come forward to praise thee, and with the works of Vohumano. In your dwelling, O wise one, sound the praises of them that give thanks. I will be called the singer of thy praises, and will continue to be so as long as I can, by advancing the laws of life, that the life of the world may continue of itself. With the verses which have been composed and handed down for your praise, I will approach both of you, and with uplifted hands. As a worshipper I will invoke you one and all, ye who give blessing, as well as all those who attain to the strong bridges of your blessedness, Auramazda, Asha, and Vohumano; those bridges which belong to you. Come ye to my aid."[241]

These are the essential traits of the doctrine of the Gathas. Auramazda, himself a shining one (hvathra ), has created the shining bodies of the heaven, the earth, the waters, the trees, and men; he has appointed their paths for the stars. He is the sustainer of the world, inasmuch as he devises the good sayings (daena ) for the protection of the good creation. He is light and truth, and therefore is not to be deceived; he shows the right way to Zarathrustra, and gives him the proper charms against the evil spirits. That at this stage of ideas there can be no myth attached to Auramazda, i. e. to the concentrated essence of the gods of light, is obvious. In the Gathas it is only the quite abstract forces of Vohumano and Asha, of good disposition and truthfulness, which stand beside him. Auramazda is simply the creator and lord; and the same position is ascribed to him as we saw (p. 87) in the inscriptions of the Achæmenids. In spite of the strongly-marked trait of spiritualisation and abstraction which runs through the Gathas, there is no lack in them of unreflecting and naïve conceptions, which have come down to us from ancient days. It is true that the contrasts in nature and men are elevated to the opposition of truth and falsehood, and the service of truth is proclaimed as the highest command; but on the other hand, it is the strong fire of Auramazda which causes the right to be recognised, and gives the decision in battle.[242] It is the good sayings which sustain the world, i. e. the old magic of prayers and invocations is to keep off the evil, and increase the strength of the good, spirits. However high may be the conception of Auramazda, he who walks in his way, and performs the commands of purity, not only expects his reward, but insists on it; he desires to obtain ten mares and stallions, and at least one camel; he wishes for the blessings of Haurvatat in order to sacrifice from them; he desires continuance and power, health and long life. In these traits the old contrast between powers that give increase, blessing, and life, and powers of destruction, is plainly retained.

From the beginning the evil one was ranged over against Auramazda as his twin brother. He has created all that is evil, but nevertheless he is without any independent power of creation. If the Gathas express this merely in such a manner that they give prominence to Auramazda as the creator, they were as far from setting up a dualism of equally-balanced forces, as any other religion has been from attempting such a task, and carrying it out. The other fragments of the Avesta leave no doubt of the fact, that Angromainyu was not in a position to create the world according to his own will; he can only implant the form of evil in the good creation of Auramazda; he puts desolation, destruction, and death in the place of increase. The Vendidad quotes a whole series of lands which Auramazda created good, and enumerates the evils which the deadly Angromainyu brought into each:—into one winter, into another excessive heat; in one case vermin, in another disease, in a third beasts of prey. In the same way, in opposition to moral good, the evil one creates idleness, lies, lust, doubt, disbelief. An equally poised power of the two deities would have led to a direct conflict between them, which occurs nowhere in the Avesta; God and the devil only contend for the increase and injury of the world, and for the souls of men. The relative inferiority of the evil deity has not escaped the Greeks. "Some are of opinion," Plutarch says, "that there are two opposite deities, one of which framed the good, the other the evil. Others, however, name the better power the god, the other the demon, as Zoroaster the Magian. He calls one Oromazdes, the other Areimanius, and states that Oromazdes most resembles light among perceptible things, and Areimanius gloom and uncertainty."[243] It is a later speculation, diverging from the Avesta, which formed the good and evil spirits into simple forces, and ranged them against each other with equal powers.[244]

In the Gathas we have the nucleus of the conceptions from which the reform of the ancient faith of Iran arose, but not in their original state. On the contrary, they have been systematised in the circles of the priests. Hence the contents and prescripts of other parts of the Avesta, which do not present a speculative tendency, are not on that account to be regarded as of later origin than the Gathas—least of all the invocations to the ancient deities. It was an essential object of priestly meditation to bring these old gods, which existed vividly before the soul of the nation, into harmony with the new faith. On every page of the Avesta it is clear that the priests of Eastern Iran did not attain to an accepted system in this direction; that the old gods remained in existence beside Auramazda, and the direct contest against the evil spirits, after the reform as before it, was carried on by Mithra, Verethraghna, and Vayu, Tistrya and Çraosha, while Auramazda is in the background, and sits somewhat passively on his golden throne in the heaven of Garonmana. When the Avesta was written down and collected, the ideas of the priests were still so naïve, or still preserved such a respect for the traditional forms of the gods of light and water, as they obviously lived in the mind of the people, that they represent Auramazda himself as offering sacrifice to Mithra,[245]Anahita, Vayu, and Tistrya, with Haoma and the sacred bundle of twigs, in order to strengthen their power or carry out his own wishes, just as the gods of the Aryas in India offer sacrifices to one another. In India the old gods received a subordinate position as protectors of the world after the rise of Brahman, but in Iran this was not the case; nor were they brought into any genealogical connection with their new head Auramazda, though fire is occasionally spoken of in a figure as the son of Auramazda, and the earth (Armaiti) is once or twice called his daughter.[246] The only bond of union between the new god and the old gods in the Avesta is the fact that Auramazda is made the creator of the old gods, and even of Mithra. Yet the old position of Mithra appears, when Auramazda says to Zarathrustra: "When I created Mithra, the lord of wide pastures, I created him as mighty to pray to, mighty to worship as myself." Tistrya also was created by Auramazda as worthy of adoration and praise as himself.[247] We are already acquainted with Auramazda's command to Zarathrustra to invoke and worship Mithra, Vayu, the other ancient gods, and fire (p. 131). The existence and extent of this worship is proved not only by the prayers of the Yaçna, but also by the accounts of western writers which we have already examined.

As a compensation for the independent life of the ancient gods by the side of Auramazda, the priests surrounded his throne with six spirits, who were his associates and helpers. These are called Amesha Çpentas, i. e. the holy immortals; as good and wise kings they rule with Auramazda over the seven girdles of the earth,[248] as in India the eight protectors of the world rule over the eight zones. The views out of which these spirits arose are found in the Gathas, but they did not receive their complete form till the Gathas had been composed and generally received. Plutarch tells us that, according to the faith of the Persians, Oromazdes had created six gods: the first, the god of good disposition (εὔνοια); the second, the god of truth (ἀλήθεια); the third, the god of order and law (εὐνομία); the three remaining deities were the gods of wisdom (σοφία), of wealth (πλοῦτος), and of delight in the beautiful (ἐπὶ τοῖς ϰαλοῖς ἡδέων). The two first, good disposition (Vohumano), and truth or truthfulness, we already found frequently mentioned in the Gathas, but chiefly as ideas rather than persons. With the priests Vohumano and Asha vahista (the most excellent truthfulness) became the Amesha Çpentas, who stand next to Auramazda. The Avesta speaks not only of the good way of Vohumano, but also of his acts, his dwelling, and his kingdom. According to the books of the Parsees it is his duty to protect the flocks. Asha vahista, as the truthful one, is the protector of fire, which points the right path, and, according to the Gathas, gives the decision in the contest against the liars. According to the books of the Parsees, Asha builds the bridge of Chinvat, to which the souls come after death, making it wide when the pious souls step upon it. Not less correctly does Plutarch describe the third Amesha Çpenta as the spirit of order and law. Kshathra, i. e. the kingdom, the dominion, is mentioned impersonally in the Gathas; and this idea the priests have elevated into Kshathra vairya, i. e. the good spirit of the desired dominion, of good order and law, which is the third Amesha Çpenta. Metals were allotted to him as the king of the Ameshas.[249] The fourth figure in this circle, which Plutarch correctly describes as the spirit of wisdom, though he is wrong in calling it a god, is the earth spirit Armaiti. In the Rigveda Aramati (the earth) is a maiden worthy of praise, who, morning and evening, brings butter to Agni. In the Avesta Armaiti is "the beautiful daughter of Auramazda, the bearer (barethri ) of cattle, of beasts of draught, and men;" with "her hands Auramazda performs pure actions," while the Gathas also ascribe to her special relations to the corporeal world.[250] Among the priests the spirit of the "patient humble earth" has become the spirit of humility and piety. According to the books of the Parsees Armaiti gives patience and firmness.[251] The fifth and sixth spirits also, whom Plutarch calls the gods of wealth and delight in the beautiful, were found in existence by the priests, and merely ranged by them in the circle of the Amesha Çpentas. These are Haurvatat and Ameretat. We saw how earnestly the Arians of India besought the gods for wealth and length of life; and in this matter the Arians of Iran were not behind them. Here, as there, the powers which could grant such gifts were elevated into special spirits, to whom, naturally, all that gave wealth and long life, good and healing plants and refreshing water, belonged. The good plants were the kingdom of Ameretat, refreshing water the domain of Haurvatat. In the fancy of the Arians of Iran good plants sprang from the tree of heaven, the Gaokerena, which grew in Ardviçura (p. 126); the water flowed down from this source in heaven, or came from Vourukasha, the lake on the divine mountain. Those two spirits, who ruled over plants and water, were brought by the system of the priests into the circle of the Amesha Çpentas; the province over which they ruled had long been apportioned to them. They were distinguished from the first four by the fact that those were personifications of moral ideas, these two were personifications of real goods.[252] With wealth, prosperity and happy life is given, with length of life the complete enjoyment of its blessings, and so the Greeks could arrive at the conclusion that these two spirits were gods of wealth and delight in beauty. Thus Auramazda now ruled surrounded by six sacred forms. The semblance of this circle on earth was the throne of Cyrus and his successors, which was surrounded by the six tribal princes of the Persians.

The personification of ideas—the process of transforming old figures, and changing them into abstractions—did not come to an end with the Amesha Çpentas. We are acquainted with Çraosha, the warrior against the Daevas, his habitation on the divine mountain, his horses, his club, and how he fights at the side of Mithra, and keeps watch in the dark of the night against the demons (p. 121). Now it is he who first sang the sacred four Gathas of Zarathrustra, who first bound the sacred withes, "three twigs, five twigs, seven twigs;" he not only knows the sacred word; the sacred word is the body of Çraosha. Instead of the club which he held raised against the head of the Daevas, the invocations of the Avesta and the prayer Ahuna vairya are now the weapons with which he, "the pure lord of the pure," "advances the world." We remember the process by which the Arians in India came to represent Indra as smiting Vritra, and shattering his cave, not as formerly with the lightning, but with Brahman, the power of the prayer and the sacred acts. Obviously we have some influence of these old Arian conceptions of the mysterious power of prayer, and the control of the spirits possessed by the correct invocations and sayings against gods and spectres, when we find Çraosha fighting with the prayers of the Avesta, and in the Avesta the sacred word is praised as a Divine power—[253] when Zarathrustra offers sacrifice to the good law.[254] More liberal creations on the part of the system of the priests are the elevation of "excellent thought, knowledge, and conception," of "the long study," "and the thought of the pure man," which are invoked and praised in the Avesta, into Divine powers. Of not less abstract nature are other forms, like Rashnu razista, i. e. the most straight-forward justice,[255]which, according to the Dinkart, tests the souls on the bridge of Chinvat; time, which is invoked as unlimited, as the ruler of the long periods, and like the genius of the five portions into which the priests divided the day. Of older origin, though also modified by the reform, is the invocation of the heights, which Mithra first illuminated with his light. In the Avesta this invocation is mainly addressed to the high "navel of the waters," the Divine mountain, which reaches to the sky, "on which were asked the holy questions," i. e.on which Zarathrustra has received the revelation; "by reason of the revelation of the sacred word we invoke the height, which preserved the knowledge."[256] Many of the traditional forms of ancient times were partly modified by the priests and partly allowed to fade away. The goddess Drvaçpa, to whom the ancient heroes had sacrificed, they changed into the soul of the primeval bull, which Angromainyu had slain.[257]Nairyoçangha, the Naraçansa of the Veda, an ancient name of the spirit of fire, which we learned to know in the Veda as the messenger of men to the heavenly beings, as priest and mediator between heaven and earth (IV. 39), appears in the Avesta merely as the messenger of the gods.[258] The form of Vayu, the more ancient conception of which still plainly breaks through (p. 116), becomes merely the air "whose operation is on high;" and Ashi vanguhi, whom the ancient sacrificers and heroes invoked, together with Ardviçura, for victory, bears traces which can hardly any longer be recognised. We merely perceive that she could once confer power, fertility, beauty, and wealth. We saw above how she called Zarathrustra to her chariot, and promised splendour to his body, and long prosperity to his soul (p. 130). If the luminaries of heaven, in spite of the creation described to Auramazda, are extolled as "having no beginning," we have in this fact a glimpse of the old position of the spirits of light. The struggles of Tistrya against the demons of drought were allowed to remain (p. 120). Plutarch observes that, according to the doctrine of the Magians, Oromazdes had placed Sirius (Tistrya) as a watchman and advanced guard. On the other hand, the worship of the sun-god appears but faintly in the Avesta—in our fragments at any rate. Yet Herodotus informs us that with the Persians the neighing of horses at sunrise was regarded as a favourable sign from the gods, and Xenophon states that the Magians offered bulls to Zeus, but horses to the sun-god, and that on the journeys of the Achæmenids the chariot of Zeus went first, then that of the sun-god; both were white and crowned; and these were followed by a third chariot covered with purple, which as it seems was the chariot of fire. In the march of Xerxes to Hellas, according to the account of Herodotus, a sacred car, yoked with eight white horses, went before him; and ten sacred horses were led, clothed in the most beautiful trappings. Curtius represents the emblem of the sun as glowing over the tent of the last Darius, who invokes "the sun, Mithra, and the sacred eternal fire;" and he tells us of the chariot of Zeus in the army, yoked with white horses, behind which was led a horse of remarkable size, the horse of the sun, with golden bridle and white covering, like those before the chariot. Dio Chrysostom tells us that the Magians reared a yoke of Nisaean horses for Zeus, i. e. for Mithra, which were the largest and most beautiful in all Asia, and a horse for Helius.[259] We can call to mind the battle-chariot of Mithra, "with golden wheels and silver spokes" (p. 110). These were imitations of the divine chariots of which the Greeks tell us, and if they were not in a position to distinguish accurately what belonged to Mithra (Auramazda does not come into the question), and what to Hvare Kshaeta (the sun-god)—Strabo is of opinion that the Persians called the sun Mithras [260]—we may still conclude with certainty from these statements, that the worship of Mithra and the sun-god remained more vigorous and effectual among the princes and nations of Iran than our fragments of the Avesta would allow us to assume, if the old invocations to Mithra, Tistrya, Haoma, Vayu, and Verethraghna had not been preserved in them. Yet the fragments do present us with an invocation to the sun-god, though weakened, it is true, and adapted to the new faith. "We celebrate the brilliant, immortal sun, whose horses are unwearied. When the sun gleams in heaven, the heavenly spirits come by hundreds and thousands, and spread the light over the earth for the salvation of the pure world, for the salvation of the pure bodies. As the sun rises, the earth purifies herself, and the fructifying waters of the springs, pools and lakes; the sun-god purifies all creatures that belong to Çpentomainyu. If the sun came not, the Daevas would slay all that inhabits the seven girdles of the earth, and the heavenly beings would not be able to withstand them; they could not drive them away. He who sacrifices to the sun in order to withstand the dark Daevas, the thieves and robbers, he sacrifices to Auramazda, to the Amesha Çpentas and to his own soul."[261] In the time of the Sassanids, the worship of the sun comes definitely forward.

Plutarch states that the demon Areimanius had created an equal number of evil spirits to match the six good gods of Oromazdes, i. e. the Amesha Çpentas. The Vendidad mentions five of them: Andra, Çaurva, Naonghaithya, Tauru, and Zairicha,[262] to which we have only to add Akomano, which has been mentioned already in the Gathas, in order to make up the number. They are all of them creations of the priests, partly invented to match the Amesha Çpentas, partly borrowed from older forms, which had lost their brightness among the Arians of Iran. Akomano, i. e. Bad disposition, is naturally the counterpart of Vohumano, or Good disposition: opposite Asha vahista, i. e. the most excellent truthfulness, the priests placed the demon Andra (Indra), i. e. an old Arian name which the Arians beyond the Indus had elevated to be the best warrior against the demons, the god of the storm. No special qualities of Andra are known or mentioned in the Avesta; the books of the Parsees can only say that he brings care and sorrow of heart to men, and makes narrow the bridge of Chinvat. The demon Çaurva is the opponent of Kshathra vairya, of order and law, of good dominion; hence, according to the Sad-der-Bundehesh, he leads kings astray into despotism, and nations into lawlessness and robbery. Naonghaithya is the opponent of Armaiti, the spirit of humility and piety; this spirit therefore, as the Bundehesh maintains, makes men impatient and proud; the science of languages claims to find in this name a Vedic name for the two Açvins,—Nasatya (IV. 42). Only the last two opposing spirits of the Amesha Çpentas, the opponents of Haurvatat and Ameretat, display, like these beings, real characteristics. If they are the spirits of water and plants, of prosperity and long life or immortality, then Tauru is the spirit of thirst and sickness, and Zairicha of hunger and death.[263]

If the ancient gods have preserved more lively traits than the Amesha Çpentas, the old demons have also more definite outlines than the opposing spirits. Such are the Daeva Apaosha, who parches up the land and keeps back the water from the earth; Çpenjaghra, the comrade of him who was struck by lightning; Zemaka, the spirit of the cold winter; and finally Azhi, who seeks to steal away the fire from men in the night. Among these evil spirits may further be reckoned a female demon Bushyançta, with long hands and of a yellow hue, who leads men astray into much sleep and idleness, who does not allow them to see the rise of the sun, and shortens the joy of existence;[264] the three Daevas of drunkenness, Kunda, Banga, and Vibanga; the Daeva Buiti, the spirit of lies and falsehood, who deceives men;[265] the spirit of flattery, Ashemaogha;[266] and the very wicked Ashma "of evil glance," who attempts to slay the sleeping, and withstands Çraosha by night with terrible weapons.[267] Very evil also is Açtovidhotu, i. e. the destroyer of bodies, and a female goblin, the spirit of the Daevas, the Druj Naçu. This spirit enters the body immediately after death, and exercises power over all who come in contact with it.

Under Auramazda are united the gods, the Amesha Çpentas, the rest of the Yazatas (those worthy of adoration), in opposition to the troops of hell, the Daevas, Druj, Pairikas and Jainis, which are led by Angromainyu. The first are found in the light of sunrise, in the clear gleam of the pure sky; the latter in the gloom of sunset, or in the distant clouds of the north; in burial-places, and where the dead are placed; in all corners into which the light of heaven does not pierce; in the dark abyss under earth; in "the worst place."[268] On the summit of the mountain Arezura (Demavend, apparently), they take counsel how they are to turn the evil eye on men; how they can injure and slay them.[269] To them belong gloom, cold, drought, the barren land and the wilderness, thorns and poisonous herbs, hunger and thirst, sickness, death, dirt, laziness, lying, sin. Theirs are the harmful beasts, the Khrafçtras; beasts of prey, wolves, serpents; all animals which live in holes and corners, lizards, scorpions, toads, frogs, rats, mice, gnats, and lastly mosquitoes, lice, and fleas.[270] To the good spirits belong light, water, springs, rivers, the fruitful earth, good plants,[271] trees, fields, pastures, good food, purity, truth, life in this world and the next; and theirs are the good animals, the animals of the flocks, the birds which nestle on the heights, and live in the clear air. The dog and the cock are worshipped in the Avesta as fighting with men against the Daevas. The first protects the flocks against the beasts of prey of Angromainyu. Of the cock the Avesta says: "The bird Parodarsh, which evil-speaking men call Kahzkataç (i. e. Kikeriki or the like), lifts up his voice in the last third of the night, roused by the holy Çraosha at every divine dawn. He cries: 'Rise up, ye men; praise the most excellent truth; drive away the Daevas.' Who gives a pair of these birds to a pure man, in purity and kindness, gives as much as if he had given a palace with a thousand pillars and a thousand beams, ten thousand windows, and a hundred thousand turrets." "And whoever gives to a pure man as much meat as makes the size of a Parodarsh"—the book of Auramazda tells us in another place—"I who am Auramazda will ask him no other question on his way to Paradise."[272] According to the Avesta the dog and cock unite their powers against the Druj.[273]The bird Asho-zusta fights against the Daevas, and the bird Karshipta (the sacred hawk) announces the good law in the garden of Yima. Two other mythical birds, the two eagles (çaena ) of the sky, Amru and Chamru, are invoked as helpful powers.[274] They nestle on the tree of life in the heaven. Besides the tree Gaokerena, which grows in Ardviçura and bears the heavenly Haoma, the Avesta has also the tree Viçpataokhma, which grows in the Lake Vourukasha, and bears all seeds. When Amru sits on this tree, the seeds fall down, and Chamru carries them away where Tistrya collects the water, who then rains down the seed with the water to the earth. In the book of kings of Firdusi, Simurgh (Çinmurv), the king of the birds, carries Rustem on his pinions over the broad earth as far as the sea of Chin (China) to the tree of life.[275] A prophet of the Hebrews represents Jehovah as saying of Cyrus: "I summoned from the East the eagle, the man of my counsel."[276] Xenophon tells us that Cyrus, and the Achæmenids who succeeded him, carried as a standard a golden eagle on a tall lance;[277] and Curtius says, that a golden eagle with outspread wings was attached to the chariots of the Persian king.[278]

The fragments of the Avesta which have been preserved do not give us very full information on the sacrifices. The essential matters are hymns of praise and prayers. The chief sacrifice is offered to one of the old deities, Haoma, the supporter and protector of life. When Plutarch represents the Magi as pounding a certain herb of the name of Omomi in a mortar, with invocations to avert Hades, he gives a correct account of the supposed tendency of this sacrifice. According to the Avesta the utensils for this sacrifice—the mortar, cup and bundle of twigs—were found in every house. The sacrifice consisted in the offering, i. e. the elevation of the cup filled with the juice of the Haoma, during the recitation of the proper prayers. Beside this offering, which even now is offered twice each day by the priests of the Parsees, the fire is to be kept up perpetually, and fed with good dry wood and perfumes. The flesh of the sacrifice (myazda ) is not often mentioned; yet the book of the law provides that a thousand head of small cattle must be offered in expiation of certain offences,[279] and we are told in the invocations that the heroes of old time, from Thraetaona down to King Vistaçpa, had offered great sacrifices of animals to Ardviçura and Drvaçpa, in order to gain the victory, viz. 100 horses, 1000 cattle, and 10,000 head of small cattle. Herodotus tells us that the Magians, when Xerxes marched into Hellas, sacrificed 1000 oxen on the summit of Pergamus to Athene of Ilium, and at a later time white horses in Thrace; Xenophon maintains that the Persians sacrificed beautiful bulls to Zeus, i. e. to Auramazda, and horses to the sun, and burnt them whole; Athenæus tells that with the king of the Persians a thousand animals were daily slaughtered as sacrifices; camels, horses, oxen, apes, deer, and especially sheep. According to Arrian, the Magians who kept guard over the burial-place of Cyrus received a horse every month, and a sheep every day, for sacrifice.[280] Herodotus has already told us, that the animals were led to a pure place, and when the sacrificer had invoked the god were killed, cut up, cooked, and then laid out on delicate grass. The Magian then sang the theogony, and after some time, the person who offered the sacrifice "carried away the flesh, and used it at his pleasure" (p. 85). Herodotus is better informed than Xenophon; according to the Avesta only the head of the animal belongs to the gods.[281] Obviously, as the nature of the gods became more spiritualised—and the reform prepared the way for this—the sacrifice of animals was restricted in this manner, so that it consisted essentially in the offering of the animals, i. e. in the consecration of the flesh. We may conclude from the statement in Athenæus, that only consecrated flesh could be eaten at the court of the kings. Xerxes certainly would not have sacrificed to Athene, "a lying deity" of the Greeks, on the summit of Ilium; but he might very well have selected the last eminence in Asia Minor, "the many-fountained Ida," in order to offer there a sacrifice of 1000 oxen to Ardviçura for his victory beyond the sea—a sacrifice which corresponds exactly to the first offering made by Kava Huçrava and Kava Vistaçpa to the same goddess for victory over the Turanians.[282]

Temples and images are unknown to the Avesta. The reform preserved for the nations of Iran the traditional form of worship without images, on which it was founded. The accounts of western writers, from Herodotus and Xenophon downwards, establish the fact that there were only sacrificial places on the heights and consecrated fire-altars in Iran.[283] But this must not be taken to mean that the forms of worship and the images of the nations with which the Persians became acquainted after the foundation of their supremacy, especially of their nearest neighbours, the Semites on the Tigris and Euphrates, remained without influence on them. On the monuments of Darius we see the picture of Auramazda, cut exactly after the pattern which the Assyrian monuments exhibit in the portraiture of their god Asshur. We are also told of images of Anahita. Berosus maintains that Artaxerxes Mnemon erected statues to Aphrodite Anaitis at Babylon, Ecbatana, and Susa, and taught this form of worship to the Damascenes and Lydians.[284] From this statement, taken in connection with the account of Herodotus that the Persians had learnt to sacrifice to Mylitta,[285] the conclusion has been drawn that Artaxerxes II. introduced the worship of Bilit among the Persians. But it was not necessary to teach this worship to the Damascenes and Lydians (I. 358, 563), and even in the Avesta, Anahita as the goddess of the heavenly water is the goddess of fertility. Hence the statues made by Artaxerxes were, no doubt, images of Anahita the goddess, whom he invokes along with Auramazda and Mithra in his inscription at Susa. Strabo describes the worship of the Magians at the fire-altars of Cappadocia in a manner which completely agrees with the accounts given in the Avesta, and then adds that these functions were also performed in the enclosures (σηϰοί) which were consecrated there to Anaitis, Amardatus, and Omanus, and the image of Omanus was carried round in processions. He concludes with the words: "this (i. e. the form of worship described) I have myself seen."[286] According to this account, then, Amardate,[287] i. e. the Amesha Çpenta Ameretat, who averts death, was worshipped there beside Anahita, and Omanus, i. e. the Amesha Çpenta Vohumano, the protector of the flocks, had an image. As this is all that we can discover about the image-worship of the Persians, it is clear that the influence of the picture-worship of Hither Asia and Egypt had no great influence even on the western nations of Iran. It is limited to the facts that Darius added the symbolical picture of Auramazda to his inscriptions without, however, building him a temple; that a century after him Artaxerxes II. erected statues and a temple to Anahita at Ecbatana; and that at a later time a portable image of Vohumano was in existence in Cappadocia.

The nucleus of the old religious conceptions of the Arians—the desire to obtain increase and life from the gods—has been sufficiently disclosed; and that which could not be obtained in this world, the continuance of the individual life, heaven was to bestow upon them. This line was followed up by the reform; the spirits of health and long life were added by the priests to the circle of the Amesha Çpentas. When Zarathrustra had increased the means for the protection and support of life; when it became a fixed maxim that purity preserved life in this world and ensured it after death; the sharp insistence on the command of the pure and active and truthful life which men ought to lead in this world, became developed into the conception of a judgment on the souls after death. He who had lived purely, and given the Daevas no room to exercise their power on his body, became himself pure and bright, and could therefore enter after death as a pure spirit among the spirits of light. Thus the Avesta announces that "when body and soul have separated," the soul on the third night after death, as soon as the brilliant sun arises, and the victorious Mithra seats himself with "pure brilliance" on the mountains, comes over the Hara berezaiti to the bridge of Chinvat, i. e. the bridge of assembly or of assembling, which leads to Garonmana, i. e. to the dwelling of hymns, the abode of the good gods. Here the Daevas and the gods contend for the soul;[288] the judgment of the souls takes place;[289]here Auramazda asks the souls about their conduct.[290] The pure soul, whose odour the Daevas dread,[291]which approaches with virtue and sanctity, is joined by the other pure souls and by the souls of the dogs which keep watch over the bridge of Chinvat,[292] and the host of the heavenly Yazatas brings the soul of the good over the bridge into heaven. In contentment the pure soul goes to the golden throne of Auramazda, to the thrones of the Amesha Çpentas, to the dwelling of the pure. And Vohumano rises from his golden throne and inquires of the pure one: "How hast thou, O pure one, come hither out of the perishable to the imperishable world?"[293] But the souls which come to the bridge full of terror and sick, find no friend there; the evil spirits, Vizaresha by name, lead them bound down into the place of the bad, into the darkness, the dwelling of the Druj.[294]

In the Veda the spirits of the fathers are invited to the sacrificial meal; they are to enjoy the gifts which are laid for them on the grass, to support the prayers of their descendants, to keep away the evil spirits, and to increase wealth. Each day water was poured there for the forefathers, and corns of rice were scattered for them; on the new moon the clans held the funeral feast for the dead; and we are acquainted with the consequences which attended expulsion from this banquet.[295] The belief in the spirits of the ancestors, and their continued relation to their descendants, existed also among the Arians of Iran, and the Avesta alters it only so far as to limit consistently the assistance given by the spirits of the fathers to the souls of those who have lived in truth and purity, and have thus found entrance into heaven. According to the Avesta the Fravashis of the pure—this is the name given to the Pitaras, or fathers of the Indians—protect their descendants against the Daevas, help them in distress and danger, and fight for their families on the day of battle, if they are honoured and satisfied by their descendants. It is only an old conception, repeated in the Avesta, when we are told: "We invoke the good, strong, holy Fravashis. Where strong men fight in severe conflict, there come the Fravashis with strong shield, iron helmet, and iron weapons; with Mithra and the victorious wind they go forward; strong warriors against the enemies, they are mighty saviours; strong conquerors, they destroy the victory of the enemy—the Turas (Turanians)."[296] It is due to the additions and modifications introduced by the priests that we hear that the hosts of the Fravashis watch the body of Kereçaçpa till the resurrection, and the seed of Zarathrustra, and protect the sleepers from the rising of the stars till midnight.[297] As among the Arians of India the ancient belief in the fathers was retained in spite of all changes of the religious system, so also in Iran. At the close of the year, on the intercalary days which were added to it, the Fravashis come to their families, abide among them for ten nights, and ask: "Who will receive us, and sacrifice to us, and praise us?" and "if any one offers to them prayers and flesh and clothes, him they bless, and in his dwelling there will be abundance of oxen and men, swift horses and a strong car."[298] The Greeks had therefore reason to say that according to the doctrine of the Magians the air was full of spirits.[299]

In another direction the system of the priests deviated far more widely from the ancient conception of the spirits of the ancestors. They held that only the pure and bright part of the soul could live on after death. Hence, even in the living they distinguished this part from the polluted part, and in the pure immortal half they saw the side created by the good gods, its true being, the Fravashi or protecting spirit allotted to each man. In the Avesta therefore rules can be given for the invocation of this pure part and nature of the individual soul, of the separate Fravashis. The priests then transferred this notion to the heavenly spirits, and even to Auramazda himself. His purest nature, his best self, must be praised and invoked for aid. Auramazda says to Zarathrustra in the book of the law: "O Zarathrustra, praise thou my Fravashi, the Fravashi of Auramazda, the greatest, best, most intelligent, best-formed, highest in holiness, whose soul is the holy word."[300] And in the prayers we are told: "We praise the Fravashis of the Amesha Çpentas, of the holy Çraosha, of Mithra, together with all the Fravashis of the heavenly Yazatas. I invoke the Fravashi of the holy Zarathrustra, the Fravashis of the men of the ancient law, and the Fravashis of the men of the new law, the good mighty Fravashis of the pure, of the nearest relations, and of my own soul."[301] The Persians at the king's gate, according to the Greeks, set apart a separate table at each meal with bread and food for the "demon" of the king, and at a Persian banquet the host, according to Plutarch, calls on his guests, "to honour the demon of king Artaxerxes." Hence it clearly follows that the priestly doctrine of the Fravashis of the living was current even in Western Iran under the Achæmenids.[302]

Zarathrustra had increased the means for keeping off the evil ones, and had made the struggle against the wicked spirits easier for men. But the time will come when the struggle will be no longer necessary, and the bright spirits alone will rule. This doctrine is indicated even in the Gathas.[303] In the book of the law Zarathrustra says to Angromainyu: he will smite the Daevas till Çaoshyant is born from the water of Kançava in the eastern region.[304] Çaoshyant, i. e. the useful, the saviour, is called in the Avesta, "the sublime, the victorious;" he will smite the Druj, and Aeshma will bow before him. He will make the world to live for ever, without age and death; the dead will rise again, and the living will be immortal. Vohumano will smite Akomano, Asha will kill the lies. Haurvatat and Ameretat will destroy thirst and hunger: "The evil-doer Angromainyu, robbed of his dominion, bows himself."[305] This doctrine of the Avesta also was well known to the western world. In Herodotus Prexaspes tells Cambyses that when the dead rise again he will see Smerdis and Astyages.[306] Theopompus of Chios tells us: Zoroaster had proclaimed that there would be a time in which the dead will arise, and men will be immortal, and everything will be done by their invocations. Last of all, Hades will pass away; men will then be happy; they will need no nourishment, and throw no shadows, and the god who will accomplish this rests for a time, but not a long time for a god.[307] It is true that men required no nourishment when Çaoshyant had appeared, in the meaning of the Avesta, for Haurvatat and Ameretat had overcome hunger and thirst as well as sickness and death; and as the dark side of man was taken away, and only the bright side remained, they could not cast any shadows.

As already remarked, it was part of the duty of the priests to bring the ancient legends of the old time into harmony with the new doctrine. We saw that the legends of Iran began with the happy age of Yima, and his reign of a thousand years full of increase and blessing. This conception of a perfect age for the creatures of earth at the very beginning of things did not suit with the struggle, which, according to the new doctrine, Angromainyu commenced immediately after the creation. The priests, therefore, conceived the beginning of things in a different manner. In their system Auramazda first created the heaven, then the water, then the earth and the trees, and after these the four-footed bull, and the two-legged pure man Gayo maretan.[308] In the Avesta the primeval bull and man are at the head, and time extends from Gayo maretan to Çaoshyant.[309] The books of the Parsees then tell us that Angromainyu killed the primeval man and bull, but from the seed of the bull proceeded a pair of oxen, and then all kinds of good animals; and out of the seed of Gayo maretan grew up the first man and the first woman. As we have already remarked, our fragments of the Avesta identify the soul of the first created bull with the Drvaçpa, the ancient guardian spirit of the flocks; next to Gayo maretan they place Haoshyangha, the Paradhata (p. 36), and represent him as sacrificing to Ardviçura, Vayu, and Ashi vanguhi, in order to obtain the dominion over the evil spirits.[310] After him Takhmo urupa rules the earth of seven parts; he sacrifices to Vayu in order to obtain grace to restrain Angromainyu for thirty years.[311] Then, according to the system of the priests, follows the dominion of Yima the son of Vivanghana, during which there was no cold and no heat, no age and no death, as was represented in the old views. Yima kindles the red-glowing fire. Flocks and men, i. e. life, increase; and the earth must be made larger. The end of this happy period, and the death of Yima, is brought about, according to the priests, by the fact that Yima refused to be the preacher of the doctrine of Auramazda, that he was unable to maintain purity and truth, and began to "love lying speech" (p. 41). As Yima was born to Vivanghana as a reward for his Haoma sacrifice, there follows a series of those who have offered the sacrifice: Athwya, Thrita, Pourushaçpa, and their sons. To the first Thraetaona was born, who smites the serpent Dahaka; to Thrita Kereçaçpa, who smites the serpent Çruvara; and to Pourushaçpa was born Zarathrustra, who receives the law of Auramazda and proclaims it; by this law the Daevas will be warded off till Çaoshyant appears, when everything which has once had life will come to life again.


[228]"Yaçna," 56, 3, 1-3.

[229]"Yaçna," 28, 29, 42, 43, 44, 46, according to Haug's translation, which is not universally accepted; "Yaçna," 31 after Roth. "Z. D. M. G." 25, 6 ff.

[230]"Yaçna," 30, after Hübschmann's rendering.

[231]"Yaçna," 33, 8.

[232]"Yaçna," 31, 6.

[233]"Yaçna," 34, 1.

[234]"Yaçna," 50, 7.

[235]"Yaçna," 34, 11.

[236]"Yaçna," 41, 10, 11; cf. 57, 20.

[237]"Yaçna," 43, 18.

[238]"Yaçna," 44, 5. The passages in the text concerning Haurvatat and Ameretat are given after Darmesteter, "Haurvatat et Ameretat," p. 35 ff.

[239]"Yaçna," 31, 18.

[240]"Yaçna," 47, 1.

[241]"Yaçna," 47-49, according to Haug's translation.

[242]"Yaçna," 31, 3, 19; 33, 3; 46, 7.

[243]Plut. "De Isid." 46.

[244]From the invocation of the time without limit, Zrvana akarana, in the Avesta (p. 79), some have sought to draw the conclusion, that this is the supreme principle, and that Auramazda and Angromainyu proceeded from it. This is no less incorrect than if it were maintained that according to the Christian dogma God and the devil owed their origin to eternity. In the Avesta Zrvana akarana does not assume an important place either at the creation or in the worship. I have already remarked above, that the spirits of light are called in the Rigveda sons of Aditi, i. e.of the unlimited, the eternal. Parallel similitudes which, however, mean no more than the eternity of the gods, could be made even among the Arians of Iran. But there is a difference between speaking in similes, and derivation from a principle. The faith of Iran was not a philosophical system, but a religion; a religion cannot combine the good and evil god into one unity. It is only when speculation becomes master over religion, that conceptions of this kind can find a place; and this speculation, which sought for primeval cosmical unity, arrived as a fact at an identical origin for the good and evil spirit; but this was not the case with the Avesta. Centuries after the establishment of the canon we find the oldest form of such teaching in a demand made to the Armenian Christians that they should join the faith of Auramazda. In this we are told that the great deity Zrovan had sacrificed for a thousand years, and had received two sons, Ormuzd and Ahriman. The first had created heaven and earth, the other had opposed him with evil works. About the same time Theodorus of Mopsuestia in Cilicia (Phot. "Biblioth." p. 63, ed. Bekker), tells us: "Zoroaster called the creator of all things Zaruam, and described him as fate;" and in the sixth century Damascius ("De prim. princip." p. 384) writes: "The Magi and the whole Arian nation call the Whole and One in thought, space and time respectively; from this One arose the good and evil god, Oromasdes and Areimanius, or as others say light and darkness were divided before these." The sect of the Zarvanites, who deviated from the faith of Zoroaster, inasmuch as they carried these principles still further, has been already mentioned (p. 67).

[245]"Mihr Yasht," 123.

[246]Ashi vanguhi is in one passage called the daughter of Auramazda and Armaiti; "Yaçna," 44, 4; "Vend." 19, 45; "Ashi Yasht," 16.

[247]"Tistar Yasht," 50.

[248]"Vend." 19, 40; "Yaçna," 56, 10, 2.

[249]"Vispered," 23, 1.

[250]"Yaçna," 44, 4; 46, 2; 13, 6; "Vend." 19, 45; Haug, "Essays," p. 231.

[251]Spiegel, "Eran," 1, 435.

[252]Darmesteter, "Haurvatat et Ameretat," p. 68, 81 ff.

[253]"Vend." 19, 30-34, 54.

[254]"Din Yasht," 2.

[255]"Rashnu Yasht," 8.

[256]Burnouf, l. c. p. 417, 468.

[257]"Gosh Yasht;" Yaçna, 29; 39, 1.

[258]"Vend." 19, 111, 112; 22, 22.

[259]Herod. 7, 40, 55; Xenoph. "Cyr. inst." 8, 3, 12; Curtius, 3, 3, 8; 4, 48, 12. Dio Chrysost. 2, 60, ed. Dindorf.

[260]p. 732.

[261]"Khorshed Yasht," in De Harlez, "Avesta," p. 34.

[262]10, 17, 18.

[263]"Zamyad Yasht," 96; Darmesteter, l. c. p. 10.

[264]"Vend." 18, 38.

[265]"Vend." 19, 6, 146.

[266]Burnouf, "Journ. Asiatic," 1845, p. 433.

[267]"Vend." 10, 23. Windischmann, "Zoroastrische Studien," s. 138.

[268]"Vend." 19, 147.

[269]"Vend." 4, 139.

[270]"Vend." 12, 65, 71; 14, 9 ff.; Plut. "De Isid." c. 46; Agath. 2, 24.

[271]Plut. "De Isid." c. 46.

[272]"Vend" 18, 34-37; 64-69.

[273]Cf. "Bundehesh," c. 19.

[274]"Yasht Farvardin," 109; "Yasht Bahram," 19-21.

[275]Kuhn, "Herabkunft des Feuers," s. 125; Darmesteter, loc. cit. p. 55. Çinmurv has arisen out of Çaena (Çin), i. e. eagle, and meregha, "bird;" Middle Pers. murv ; New Pers. murgh. In New Pers. Çinmurv becomes Simurgh.

[276]Isaiah xlvi. 11. In Aeschylus also an eagle represents the Persians and a falcon the Hellenes; "Pers." 205-210.

[277]"Cyri instit." 7, 1, 4.

[278]3, 7.

[279]"Vend." 18, 137, 138, 149.

[280]Xenophon, "Cyri instit." 8, 3, 11, 24; Athen. p. 145; Arrian, "Anab." 6, 29.

[281]"Yaçna," 10. 38, 11, 16. Strabo, p. 732, tells us that the deity of the Persians received nothing from the sacrifice.

[282]What Herodotus tells us of the sacrifice of girls and boys by the Magi in Thrace contradicts his own statement that the Magi did not venture to kill any one, and the whole conception of the Avesta. If Cambyses is said to have caused twelve Persians to be buried alive, this is not to be regarded as a sacrifice, but as a barbarous form of execution, which occurs also under the Sassanids. What Herodotus says of the fourteen boys offered by Amestris as a sacrifice, if true, must have its origin in some other superstition, not in the Avesta; and the actions of Amestris and Parysatis in this direction, as recorded by Ctesias, were in any cases crimes, not sacrifices.

[283]Strabo, p. 732.

[284]Fragm. 16, ed. Müller.

[285]1, 131.

[286]Strabo, p. 733.

[287]Windischmann has shown, "Abh. Bair. Akad. phil. philol. Kl." 8, 90, 120, that, Ἀμαρδατός must be read for Ἀνανδατός.

[288]"Vend." 7, 132-136; 19, 90-100.

[289]"Vend." 19, 89.

[290]"Vend." 18, 68, 69.

[291]"Vend." 19, 108.

[292]"Vend." 13, 22, 25.

[293]"Vend." 19, 100-108.

[294]"Vend." 8, 252, 310; 19, 94; cf. 3, 118-121. In the Dinkart the proceedings on the bridge are related at greater length.

[295]Vol. IV., 61, 163, 230.

[296]"Farvardin Yasht," 35-48, 70, 71.

[297]"Farvardin Yasht," 61, 62.

[298]"Farvardin Yasht," 50-52.

[299]Diogen. Laert. "Prooem." 6.

[300]"Vend." 19, 46, 48.

[301]"Yaçna," 1, 47; 23, 6; Burnouf, "Commentaire," p. 571.

[302]Plut. "Artax." 15; Theopomp. Fragm. 135, ed. Müller.

[303]"Yaçna," 45, 3; 47, 1; above, p. 156.

[304]"Vend." 19, 17-19; above, p. 135.

[305]"Zamyad Yasht," 89, 95, 96.

[306]3, 62.

[307]Theopomp. Fragm. 71, 72, ed. Müller.

[308]"Yaçna," 19, 16-18.

[309]"Yaçna," 26, 32; "Farvardin Yasht," 135.

[310]"Aban Yasht," 21-23; "Farvardin Yasht," 157; "Ashi Yasht," 24; "Zamyad Yasht," 26.

[311]"Ram Yasht," 11; "Zamyad Yasht," 28.

The Law of the Priests

The rules concerning purity and purification, the expiations and penances necessary to avert the Daevas, which we possess in the Vendidad of the Avesta, are only the remnant of a far more comprehensive law. From the list of books and chapters traditional among the Parsees, we can see that it was intended to include not only all the invocations and prayers which the worship required, the rules of sacrifice, and the entire ritual, together with the Calendar of the year of the Church, but also the arrangement of the process of law, the civil and criminal code, and, moreover, rules for agriculture and medicine. If to this we add the statements and quotations of the Greeks (p. 53), we may assume that the scriptures of Eastern Iran comprised the whole sum of the knowledge of the priests. In the Avesta the Athravas had sketched the ideal picture of the correct conduct pleasing to Auramazda in every department of life. How far the princes of Bactria and the viceroys of Cyaxares and the Achæmenids, or even these princes themselves, and the judges, wished or allowed themselves to be bound in their decisions by these regulations of the priests, may be left out of the question. The priests here, like the Brahmans in India, could only influence the action ofthe State and those charged with it, so far as the reverence for the principles of religion and the force of their own authority extended.

The existing part of the law has obviously arisen out of the questions and considerations sketched above, which in consequence of the reform must have forced themselves into the circles of the priests. The reform also required above all things purity from men, but no supernatural purity, such as the Brahmans demanded. The body is not in the Avesta, as it was to the Brahmans and after them to the Buddhists, the impure prison of the soul which must be abandoned; on the contrary the Avesta rejoices in its health and vigour. It requires that the body should be kept pure from filth, from contamination by the impure, which gives the Daevas power over mankind, i. e. it demands the exclusion of the harmful side of nature; it desires that the soul should be pure from pollution, freed from untruthfulness, lying, and deceit, which are contradictory to the nature of the clear bright gods, and Auramazda, and make men companions of the Daevas, and sharers in their nature. In other words, it demands the invigoration of the light and wholesome side of man. The kingdom of the good spirits is truth, increase, and life; the kingdom of the evil is deception and falsehood, lying, destruction, and death. The Avesta praises Auramazda as purity itself; and next to him Asha vahista,i. e. the best purity; the gods are chiefly extolled as "the pure," and Zarathrustra as the master and teacher of purity. The Avesta repeatedly declares "that purity after birth is the best thing for men." Hence it is the foremost of all duties to keep the soul and body pure. The worshipper of Auramazda must preserve his purity by good thoughts, words, and works; truth is required in thinking, speaking, and acting; uprightness and honesty in all the relations of life; the sacredness of promises and pledges, and solemn assurances, at which Mithra is summoned to bear witness. It is an old function of the god which appears here. He is the guardian of the word, and the compact. "Mithra is twenty-fold between friends and kinsmen, thirty-fold between tradespeople, forty-fold between companions who live together, fifty-fold between man and wife, sixty-fold between associates in sacrifice, seventy-fold between scholar and teacher, eighty-fold between step-son and step-parents, ninety-fold between brothers, a hundred-fold between son and father." "Miserable are the houses, without descendants the dwellings, inhabited by those who deceive Mithra. Miserably does the cloven-footed cow go on the wrong path, which is oppressed by the burden of Mithra-deceiving men."[342] In accordance with this view deception is in the eyes of the law the worst offence; worse than robbery or theft. Evil-speaking and calumny also are, according to the Vendidad, "lies and sins" against Mithra. The gravest offence of this kind is the calumny by which "a pure man" is disparaged "with a man of another religion," for this sin is committed with full knowledge, and by a man's own intelligence; and the worst of all lies is teaching a false law. "One who teaches such a law," says the Vendidad, "does no better than if he killed a thousand horses, slew the men in a village inhabited by worshippers of Auramazda, or carried off the cows on the wrong way."[343]

It is not the least proof of the currency of the doctrines of the Avesta in the West of Iran that their ethical side, which gathers round the command of truthfulness, was there most distinctly recognised. King Darius has already told us that "the lie" had brought his kingdom into rebellion; the leaders of the rebellious lands, who gave themselves out to be descendants of the ancient royal families, he calls "liars against the kingdom." From their youth up, Herodotus tells us, the children of the Persians were instructed in truthfulness. He adds: Among the Persians it was forbidden to speak of that which it was forbidden to do; the Avesta requires truth "in thought, speech, and action." Lying and borrowing, Herodotus says, passed with the Persians for the most disgraceful acts, for they were of opinion that any one who contracted debts was generally compelled to tell lies. The Avesta says: "He who does not restore that which has been borrowed, seeks day and night to deceive the creditor." Plato states that the heirs to the Persian throne had, besides three others, a teacher whose special business it was to instruct them in truth. Xenophon assures us that pledges and oaths were religiously kept among the Persians; and Diodorus, that the pledge of hands was the strongest security among them.[344] Practice in Persia was, it is true, not equal to these injunctions, however sharply expressed; on the contrary, we often find the two in the most glaring contradiction.

Not falsehood and lies only, but also laziness and sloth pollute the soul of man. The pious man must rise early. Çraosha awakes the bird Parodarsh, we are told in the book of the law. At the return of the divine Ushahina, i. e. of the morning (p. 108), this bird speaks to those who are in their beds: "Friend, up, arise. Praise purity, and the Daevas will fly away. Long sleep, O man, is not good for thee. The Bushyançta runs up to thee, who lays again in sleep the whole corporeal world. Turn yourselves not away from the three best things: good thinking, speaking, and acting. He who rises first will come into Paradise; he who first brings pure, dry, old, well-hewn wood to the fire of Auramazda, him will the fire bless (p. 122)."[345] The pious man should be industrious and work; the best work is that which increases nourishment and fruit for men and animals, which furthers the increase and life of the world, and thus diminishes the kingdom of the evil, the power of the dark spirits. For this reason running water and growing fruits should be spread over the earth; "the field should be tilled, and trees planted which produce food." "When there are shoots," the law-book says, "the Daevas are in alarm; when there are stalks, the Daevas weep; when there are ears, the Daevas hiss; when there are grains, the Daevas fly."[346] "In the house where there are most ears, the Daevas are smitten most heavily." "The earth is not glad which lies untilled. The greatest pleasure is given to the earth where a pure man builds his house, provided with fire and cattle, and good flocks, with wife and child, where most corn, fodder, and grain is produced by husbandry, where the dry land is most watered, where fruit-bearing trees are planted, where cattle and beasts of draught leave the most urine."[347] "He who plants fruits and trees, who gives water to the earth where it is needed, and takes it away where too abundant, he worships the earth." When a man tills the earth she bestows life upon him; "as a friend to a beloved friend, she gives him descendants and wealth." To him who tills her, the earth says: "O man, who tillest me with the left arm and the right, with the right arm and the left, in love will I bear thee all kinds of fruit." But to him who tills her not the earth says: "Thou wilt go to the doors of others and there stand, in order to beg for food; in idleness thou wilt ask for it and get but little." He who sows corn, sows purity; the law of Auramazda increases with the fruits of the field; they extend the law of Auramazda by 100, 1000, and 10,000 meritorious works.

These regulations of the Avesta were fully accepted in the West. The great reverence paid to splendid trees by the Achæmenids is shown by Herodotus' story of Xerxes, that he furnished a beautiful plane tree, which he saw in Lydia, with golden ornaments, and appointed a perpetual guardian for it.[348] Ameretat, as already observed, was the special protecting spirit of trees (p. 164). Xenophon tells us that the Persian kings gave special attention to agriculture; on their journeys they inquired into the tillage of the land, and demanded similar attention from their satraps. Round their palaces and wherever they came they caused the most beautiful gardens to be laid out, planted with trees and all the most excellent shrubs in the world.[349] The satraps also had gardens of this kind (pairidaeza ) round their residences, and the younger Cyrus assures Lysander, "in the name of Mithra," that he never took food before he had induced perspiration by work in the garden or exercise in arms.[350] The satraps, says Xenophon, whose provinces were found deficient in population and poorly cultivated, were punished and removed from their office, while those whose provinces were in good order, were rewarded by presents. When the king of the Persians conferred distinctions, those were summoned first who had distinguished themselves in war, and next came those whose districts were best cultivated.[351] Respect and reverence for trees was so deeply rooted in Iran, that even Islam did not extirpate the feeling. To this day in Shiraz old trees are presented with dedicatory offerings, and hung with amulets; and the pious prefer to pray under tall trees rather than in the neighbouring mosques; while in the barren regions of Iran even groups of bushes receive offerings.[352]

Besides the care of trees, plants, and the soil, the labour of mankind must be directed to the care of the flocks, to the increase of the animals of the good god, and the destruction of the Khrafçtras, or animals belonging to the evil spirit (p. 171). Cows are not held in such veneration in Iran as beyond the Indus, yet even here the "cow is not to be driven on the wrong way," and gomez (the urine of oxen) is the most effectual means of purification; in the theory of the priests Auramazda began the creation of living things with the bull. We have already mentioned the rank taken among the animals of Auramazda by the cock and dog. In the Vendidad Auramazda says: "I have created the dog with clothes and shoes of his own, with keen scent and sharp teeth, attached to men, savage against the enemy, for the protection of the flocks. No thief or wolf comes to the village or the fold and carries away anything unobserved, if the dog is healthy, in good voice, and among the flocks. The houses would not stand firm upon the earth if there were not dogs in the villages and flocks. The dog is patient, contented, and satisfied with little food, like a priest; he goes forward, and is before and behind the house, like a warrior; he sleeps less than the husbandmen, is talkative like a child, and friendly as a mistress."[353] The dogs are to receive good food, "for of all the creatures of Auramazda old age comes upon them the most quickly;" especially must the watch-dog be provided with milk, fat, and flesh, "the proper food" for a dog; and a dog must never be among those who are eating without receiving something to eat. Any one who gives unbroken bones or hot food to a sheep-dog or house-dog, and the bones injure him, and the hot food burns his mouth and tongue, so that he dies—is worthy of death.[354] Dogs with young are treated with the same care as pregnant women. It is a sin to chase or beat a dog which has brought forth; if she is injured or dies in running the sinner is worthy of death; and any one who beats a pregnant dog is to receive twice seven hundred stripes. It is the duty of every man to bring up for six months the dogs born on his ground, until they are able to run round in a circuit of twice seven houses.[355] Sick dogs are treated with the same remedies as rich men; and to the question of Zarathrustra—"If the dog will not take the remedies?" Auramazda answers that in this case "the dog can be tied, and its mouth opened with a flat piece of wood."[356] Wounds inflicted on dogs are to be punished with stripes to the number of twice eight hundred;[357] and besides this, compensation is to be given for the damage which thieves or wolves do to the village so long as the dog is prevented by his injuries from keeping watch. The book of the law everywhere threatens all those men who beat dogs that their souls will go from this world full of terror, and sick. To kill a water-dog is the greatest crime;[358] and is menaced with the worst penalties and expiations known to the Vendidad. As a general rule punishments do not go beyond 2000 stripes, or the necessity of killing 2000 noxious animals; but the slayer of the water-dog is to receive 10,000 stripes. Besides this, if he would save his soul, he must give 10,000 parcels of hard wood, well hewn and dried, for the fire of Auramazda, and also 10,000 parcels of soft, fragrant wood; he must kill 10,000 snakes, and an equal number of tortoises, lizards, and water-lizards, ants, flies, and rats. He must fill up 10,000 impure holes in the earth; give to the priests all the utensils required for the holy rites; to a warrior a complete set of armour; to a husbandman he must give all that is needed for agriculture: a house, provided with a beautiful mat, and arable land for tillage. In addition, he must give, as an expiation for his soul, fourteen head of small cattle to the "pure men," and bring up fourteen young dogs, and build fourteen bridges over running water. He must cleanse eighteen dogs from fleas, and make eighteen bones into edible food; and satisfy eighteen "pure men" with wine and flesh. If he does not perform these expiations he will go into the dwelling of the Druj, and "the heat which is injurious to the pasture will not depart from his dwelling until he has offered sacrifice for three days and nights for the pure soul of the water-dog, on the burning fire, with bound rods and uplifted Haoma."[359]

In order to extirpate the animals of Angromainyu, the priest is to be provided with a stick, the Khrafçtra-killer. Herodotus has already told us, that the Magians held it a duty to kill serpents, ants, and other creeping and winged insects. For the expiation of sins the Avesta universally requires the killing of serpents, lizards, and ants; rats and mice, which do harm to the crops; flies, midges, fleas, lice, and other vermin. Plutarch tells us that the Persians count him a happy man who slays most water-mice; Agathias observes that in honour of the chief festival in Persia every one killed as many snakes, and beasts of prey, and animals living in the desert, as possible, and then brought them to the Magians as a proof of his piety. In this way they believed that they did what was pleasing to the good god, while they injured and distressed Arimanes.[360]

According to the Avesta, the soul of man is kept pure by truthfulness, industry, and diligence, by good thoughts, good words and acts, which advance the kingdom of life; the body is to be kept free from dirt and the house from filth and dead creatures; from all that belongs to the evil spirits and is in their power. The soul of man is created pure; but from the first the body has certain impure parts, and the defilement which Angromainyu brought into the bodies of men. This defilement consists in the spittle, the excrements, dead skin, sores, etc; in everything that has an unpleasant smell, or is removed from the living body, like the hair and nails. These when cut are dead, and therefore belong to the kingdom of darkness; hence in Iran as in India they are impure things. "Wherever cut hair and nails lie," says the book of the law, "there the Daevas gather to these unholy places; there the impure animals come, which men call lice. Therefore carry away—so saith Auramazda—cut hair and nails, ten paces from the pure men, twenty from the fire, thirty from the water, fifty from the sacred bundle of rods. Dig a hole below the house in the earth, pronounce the prayer Ahunavairya thrice, six times, nine times, and then say: To thee, O bird, Asho-zusta, I show these nails. These nails I dedicate to thee; may they be thy lances, thy swords, thy bow, thy swift-flying arrows, thy sling-stones against the Mazanian Daevas. If these nails are not announced to the bird Asho-zusta, they are weapons for, not against, the Daevas."[361] Spittle is among the worst impurities. The priests could only approach the fire with veiled mouth, and even now the Parsees invariably cover the mouth in praying. They eat in silence, and two never use the same spoon, because the food would then be polluted by spittle. The removal of the excrements requires as much care in the Avesta as it did in the Brahmanic law, and the Vendidad gives minute regulations in regard to these matters.[362] A man is rendered impure by excess and debauchery; a woman by her courses, "by marks and blood," and by the birth of a child. She must be carried to an elevated place in the dwelling, which is strewn with dry sand, fifteen paces from the fire, from water, and the sacred bundle of rods, "at a distance also from the trees," and so placed that she cannot see the fire on the hearth. No one may touch her. Only a definite amount of certain kinds of food can be given to her, and that in metal jars, because these contract the least amount of impurity, and are most easily cleansed; the person who brings the food must remain three paces distant from her bed. After childbirth a woman is unclean for three days; then she must wash her body with water and gomez. If she has had a miscarriage her body is also polluted by the dead child: she must be placed thirty paces away from the fire and the sacred objects of the house, and must pass a longer period on her dust-bed—at the present time forty-one days are required. The first thing she is allowed to taste is ashes mixed with gomez—three, six, and then nine drops. The nine apertures of her body—that number is common to the Indians and Iranians—must be washed with ashes and gomez. She may not drink any water out of her impure hand; if she does so, she must receive two hundred blows with the rod, and two hundred with the whip.[363] Fire and water, springs, streams and rivers, the best gifts of the good gods, must, like the human body, be carefully preserved from all filth and defilement. The accounts of Western writers prove that the Persians and Medes observed the rules of purification given in the Book of the Law; it was not the custom among the Persians to spit in the presence of another, still less to sneeze, etc. They avoided the defilement of a river, or of the shadow of a man; and it was forbidden to uncover in the sight of the sun or moon.[364]

"The sun, the moon, the stars shine unwillingly," we are told in the Vendidad, "on the polluted man."[365]"The impure takes away prosperity and increase; he brings sickness and death; after death he will not go into heaven."[366] "But whatever pollution a man has contracted, and whatever sin he has committed, the good law quenches all impurity and sin, if the purifications, expiations, and penalties which it prescribes are performed and paid; for the good law of Auramazda surpasses all others in greatness, goodness, and salvation, as far as the heaven rises above the earth, and as the sea of Vourukasha includes all other waters."[367] "The good law of Auramazda takes from the man who praises it and commits no evil actions afterwards, his deception; it takes away the murder of the pure man, and the burial of the dead; it takes away inexpiable actions, and accumulated guilt; it takes away all evil words, thoughts, and actions, even as the strong swift wind purifies heaven from the right side."[368]

Slight pollution is removed by washing with pure water accompanied by certain prayers and imprecations on the Daevas, such as: "I contend with thee, O evil Angromainyu; away from this dwelling, away from the fire, the water, from this place, from all the blessings which Auramazda has created. I contend against pollution, direct and indirect; against the unclean spirits; I contend against the Daeva Andra, Çaurva, Zairicha (p. 169); against the Pairika, who goes to the water, the earth, cattle, and trees," etc.[369] More serious impurities require ablutions with gomez, which in certain cases have to be repeated thirty times, with various prayers.[370] The most efficacious purification, which removes even the worst taint, is that of the nine nights. This can only be performed by a priest, who knows the law accurately, can repeat the sacred word by heart, and speaks the truth. A special place must be constructed for it; thirty paces (which are equal to ninety times the length of the foot) from the fire, the water, and the sacred bundle of rods. In the middle of this space nine pits are dug in the earth, and round them twelve furrows are drawn with a metal instrument. The purifier sprinkles the person who requires cleansing (who is entirely naked) with gomez, from a leaden vessel, with many prayers. He is then rubbed fifteen times with earth; he must then wash himself at each of the nine pits once, twice, thrice with water, after which he is fumigated with fragrant wood. Then follow washings with water and gomez in the third, sixth, and ninth night. "After this," says the book, "the purified person shall bring water of purification to the fire, hard wood, and perfumes; he is to utter praises to Auramazda, to the Amesha Çpentas, and to the rest of the pure ones—so will the man be purified." The purifier must be rewarded for this purification; according to the measure of the man's property the payment rises from small cattle and cows to camels; "in order that the purifier may go away contented and without hatred." Instead of cattle, goods of another description can be given. "But if the purifier goes away discontented, the wicked spirit of impurity comes again into the purified persons, and they are impure for evermore."[371]

In the view of the Avesta impurity consists essentially in that which is opposed to life; hence there is no worse form of uncleanness than that caused by the corpse. The body, as soon as the soul has left it, belongs to Angromainyu. The fiend of death, the Druj Naçu, obtains possession of it, and from it she springs on all who touch it, or come near it. If a man dies, or a dog—and in this matter dogs are put quite on a level with men—and other men and women are in the same house—two, five, fifty, or a hundred—the Druj Naçu comes immediately from the north in the form of a fly, and settles on all the inhabitants of the house and makes them impure with infection, pollution, and uncleanness.[372] In the first instance she is to be met by incantations—the Gathas, Bisamruta, Thrisamruta, Chathrasamruta, must be repeated; then the fiend falls to pieces like grass that has been dead a year.[373] After this the hearth-fire must be removed from the house of the dead, and the sacred utensils—the mortar, the cup, the sacred bundle of rods, and the Haoma. In winter the fire can be kindled again upon the hearth after nine nights; in summer, when the need for warmth and cooked food is less pressing, after a month; any one who does not observe these periods is to be punished with twice two hundred stripes.[374] After purification the kinsmen are to utter prayers for the departed, and the number of these is fixed, in the Vendidad, in the same fanciful manner which is so often met with in the book of Manu. The number decreases according to the degree of relationship; for the nearest kinsmen thirty prayers are spoken; for the most remote, five; if the dead man has led an impure life the number of prayers is doubled in order to give efficacy to the petition.[375]

The preservation and increase of life is the foundation of the teaching of the Avesta. The good life of nature is promoted by planting and agriculture, by tending the useful and destroying the pernicious animals; and by posterity provision is to be made for the life of men. From this point of view the Vendidad lays especial weight on marriage. "I declare," Auramazda says, "that the married is before the unmarried, and he that has a house before him that has none, and the father of children before the childless."[376] We can only ascertain very incompletely from the remaining fragments of the Avesta the rules which it prescribed for family life. We see that bringing about a marriage was regarded as a meritorious work, and marriage between close relations was considered happy. Yet maidens are not to be given in marriage before their fifteenth year.[377]To those who have long remained unmarried the god Haoma, the special protector of life, sends truthful, active husbands, gifted with good understanding (p. 125). We never hear of any difference of the orders in contracting marriage; nor is there the least hint that the priest can only marry a wife of priestly blood, or the husbandman a wife of his own class. On the other hand, the strictest directions are given that the worshippers of Auramazda are only to marry among themselves; marriage with those of an alien religion is severely reprobated. "A man who mingles the seed of the faithful and the unbelievers, the seed of the worshippers of the Daevas with the worshippers of Mazda, keeps back a third part of the flowing water, a third part of the increase of the blooming plants, and their golden fruits; he annihilates a third part of the clothing of Çpenta Armaiti (the Earth); he robs the just men of a third part of their power, their merits, their purity. They who do this are more destructive than forked serpents, than howling wolves, than the she-wolf which rushes on the flocks, than the thousand-fold brood of the lizard, which pollutes the water."[378] The Vendidad gives the house-father a similar power over his wife and children to that given in Manu's law—so far as we can conclude from certain indications. He is to be spoken of with the same reverence as the house-father on the Ganges; the wife is to be honoured, but is to "be watched perpetually, like the fire of Auramazda."[379] With regard to the education of children, we can only gather from the Vendidad they were to be tended for seven years; "protect dogs for six months, children for seven years;"[380] and boys are to be invested in their fifteenth year with the sacred girdle.[381] We remember the sacred girdle which the three upper castes wore and still wear beyond the Ganges; the investiture with this, and adoption into the family and caste—"the second birth" takes place, according to Manu's law, among the Brahman boys in the eighth year, among the Kshatryas, in the eleventh, and the Vaiçyas in the twelfth. The habit of wearing the girdle, which prevails on both sides of the Indus, proves that this custom was in use before the two branches of the Arians separated. Originally the girdle was intended to be a protection or amulet against the evil spirits.[382]In the girdle which the priests prepare with traditional ceremonies, and put on boys in their seventh or tenth year, the modern Parsees see the bond which encloses and unites the worshippers of Auramazda.

If I attempt to supplement the scanty hints of the Avesta on family life from the accounts preserved to us on this subject by Western writers, it must be remembered that the more ancient of these statements hold good only of the West of Iran. But as we have hitherto found the worship and manners of the Persians and Medes, as described by the Greeks, agreeing with the rules of the Avesta, we may suppose that in this province also East and West were in agreement. Herodotus states that the Persians married many wives, and had concubines in addition. They considered it honourable and right to have as many children as possible; next to bravery in war it was the greatest merit to have many children, and the king sent presents every year to the man who had most.[383] Of all days the Persians celebrated most the day on which they were born. A more abundant meal was served on this day: among the wealthy an ox, a horse, or a camel was roasted whole; and smaller animals among those who were poorer. Plato adds: "When the first son, the heir of the kingdom, was born to the king of Persia, all the subjects of the king celebrated the day, and on the birthday of the king there were festivals and sacrifices throughout all Asia."[384] Herodotus observes, that the respect of children for their parents was great. The Persians regarded the murder of parents by a son as impossible; if such a thing happened they believed that the child was supposititious.[385] Aristotle tells us that the power of the father over the sons among the Persians was tyrannical, i. e. unlimited; he treated them as slaves.[386]That the mother was also treated with respect follows from the statement that the son might not remain seated when the mother entered, and could only resume his seat at her permission. At the court of the Achæmenids the mother of the king had the first place, the king the second.[387] That the queen-mother often exercised great influence is shown by the history of this ruling family. Of the careful education of the heir to the throne, the other princes, and the sons of the wealthy Persians, both in the exercise and strengthening of their bodies and in moral training, the Western writers had much to tell.

What the Greeks narrate respecting the celebration of the birthday among the Persians, the distinction of the satraps whose provinces were best cultivated and populated, and the rewards given to those who had most children, agrees entirely with the delight in life which runs through the Avesta, and the exhortations to increase life everywhere present in that book. The Avesta always speaks of one wife only. The polygamy noticed by the Greeks was limited to the rich (the number of wives among the Persians, says Ammian, was regulated by property [388]); in consequence of the religious feeling just noticed, it prevailed, no doubt, far more extensively among the Arians of Iran than among the Indians. Yet the harems of the Indian princes were large. However numerous the harems of the Achæmenids, only one wife was the lawful wife; and she alone, as in India, bore the name of queen: only her sons could be considered heirs to the throne. The other wives greeted the queen on their knees: the queen must belong to the race of the Achæmenids, or at any rate to one of the six tribal princes.[389] The same was the case among the rest of the Persians who had several wives; one only was the house-wife. The Avesta told us above that the wife must be watched. According to Plutarch the Persians were more strict in this matter than the rest of the barbarians; they kept not only the wife but the concubines shut up, and they left the houses in covered cars only.[390] Manu's law also requires that women should be watched (IV. 263). The power of the father, and the respectful attitude of the children to the mother, correspond to the principles of family life which we have seen beyond the Indus. Yet, so far as we can see, marriage was not in Iran so close and firmly established a relation as among the Arians of India, where the wife belonged absolutely to the man, and surrendered herself in complete devotion to him; nor did the relation of children to parents in Iran experience that excellent and happy development which on the whole attended it in India, and of which we can still perceive the results. If Western writers maintain that it was the custom among the Persians to take the nearest relations in marriage, so that even the brother married the sister (of which Herodotus gives an example in Cambyses) and the son the mother after the father's death (the latter is said to have prevailed especially among the Magi)[391]—the Avesta, as we have seen, declared marriages between near relations to be good, and the history of the Achæmenids mentions marriage with sisters more than once. The more extreme assertions, especially in regard to the Magi, are to be regarded as exaggerations of the Greeks, and owed their origin to their astonishment at a custom which was more than revolting. On the relation of the sexes both before and after marriage, and other matters connected with procreation, the Vendidad supplies a number of minute regulations.[392]

The preservation of life also receives great attention in the Avesta. We remember the incantations of theRigveda which banish sickness into thrushes and woodpeckers, and the sentences of the Atharvaveda against sickness and death (IV. 281). The remedies of the Veda are water and plants. All remedies are in water; the waters of the springs and the waters of the rivers drive away sickness. The plants said, when they came from heaven, that they descended from the water of the sky. "The mortal whom we touch will suffer no harm." "May Agni protect me with the waters, and Soma with the plants," we are told in the Veda; and again: "The plants whose king is Soma, have rescued me from death."[393] The priest who knows the sentences is at the same time the physician, though the Rigveda has a separate name for the latter (IV. 35). How highly the Indians respected doctors and physicians at a later time, in spite of the theory of the Brahmans of the unworthiness of the body, and how it was the custom there in the sixth century B.C. to send for the physician in every sickness, has been mentioned in its place (IV. 323). Proceeding from precisely the same conceptions, the Avesta went on to fill several books with medical remedies. The best mode of healing is that by charms, and the sacred word. In such incantations of the Avesta we are told: "I contend against sickness, I contend against death, I contend against pain, I contend against fever, I contend against the corruption and pollution which Angromainyu has created in the body of men. Sickness, I curse thee; fever, I curse thee; death, I curse thee."[394] The sacred word is invoked to heal by its power. "Mayst thou heal me, O Manthra Çpenta. As a recompense I will give to thee a thousand stall-fed oxen, a thousand spotless cattle, a thousand swiftly-running horses, a thousand camels, swift and with strong backs. I will bless thee with beautiful, pious blessings; with dear, pious blessings, which make the deficient full, and the full to overflow, which bind the friend and make the bond firm."[395] As in the Veda, the remedies are water and plants, "Draw up, ye clouds, draw up," we are told in the Vendidad; "Let the water fall as thousand-fold, ten thousand-fold rain, to drive away sickness, to drive away corruption, to drive away death. May it rain for the renewal of the waters, the earth, the plants, the means of healing."[396] As in the Veda Soma is the king of plants, so in Iran Haoma, the god of life, is the lord of plants.[397] The white heavenly Haoma grows, as we have seen, on the Gaokerena, the tree of heaven; from it springs the earthly Haoma and all plants of which the seed falls from the tree Viçpotaokhma in Vourukasha, which the bird Chamru carries where Tistrya collects the clouds, in order to let the seed fall down from them to the earth.[398] "I, who am the giver of all blessings," says Auramazda, "created this dwelling (the earth), the beautiful, brilliant, and noteworthy; then Angromainyu, who is full of death, created nine diseases, ninety diseases, nine hundred diseases, nine thousand diseases, nine and ninety thousand diseases. Thrita desired as a favour a means to withstand death, to withstand pain, to withstand the heat of fever, and the evil corruptions and filth which Angromainyu has brought into the body of men. Then I, who am Auramazda, brought forth the healing plants, many hundreds, many thousands, many tens of thousands, around the one Gaokerena." The invocation then follows: "We bless thee, we invoke thee, we worship thee for the healing of the body of men, in order to drive away sickness, in order to drive away death, the hot fever and the cold fever."[399]

Thrita, a spirit of heaven, who has a place among the sages and sacrificers of old time (p. 42) was, in the Avesta, the first physician who kept back disease and death; and every one who follows in his course, every physician, must appear as a willing combatant, an active co-operator against the evil spirits, from whom death and disease proceed. According to the Vendidad, those have the first place among the physicians who heal by charms, i. e. by the sacred word, the words of the law; these are the "physicians of physicians;" next come the physicians who heal by remedies; and last of all, those who heal by the knife.[400] These latter must first use the knife on the worshippers of the Daevas; when they have done so three times, and the patient has died each time, they are incapable for ever of practising the art of healing. But if they have healed three worshippers of the Daevas, they are capable of "healing the worshippers of Auramazda, and they can try their skill upon them as they please." The physician is not only to heal sick men, but sick animals also, and above all the sick dog. The Vendidad fixes the sum which the physician is to receive for his services. He is to heal a priest, and ask for no more than his blessing. For healing the overseer of a district he is to receive a yoke of four oxen, and for his wife a she-camel; the overseer of a canton is to pay a large beast of draught, and his wife a mare; the head of a village pays a smaller beast, and his wife a cow; the head of a house a small beast, and his wife a she-ass. For healing a large beast of draught the price is a beast of moderate size; and for one of moderate size, a head of small cattle, etc.[401] Pliny quotes a number of remedies and means of cure used by the Magi, some of them of an extraordinary character; indeed, the impression made on Pliny by the importance ascribed to medicine in the doctrine of Zarathrustra was so great, that he maintained that the Magism of Zoroaster had arisen out of the art of healing, and had introduced, as it were, a higher and sacred medicine. To this was subsequently added the power of religion, and the mathematical arts of investigating the future by the heavens, so that Zoroaster's doctrine had taken possession of the mind of men by a three-fold bond.[402] How greatly he is mistaken in ascribing to the Magians the astrology of the Chaldæans, has been remarked above; the mistake is explained by the fact, that the Avesta includes the astronomical knowledge of the priests of Iran in the books which treated of medicine (p. 52).

The astronomical chapters are lost as well as those on medicine. From our fragments we cannot so much as fix the year by which the Avesta reckons. We merely perceive that it counted by nights, not by days. It is from the Bundehesh that we first learn that the year of Eastern Iran is made up of 360 days in twelve months of thirty days, with five additional days. This year is said to have begun with the vernal equinox, i. e. the period when the vigour of nature again shows itself. In the last five nights of the old year, and the first five nights of the new one, the spirits of the forefathers, the Fravashis, come to their descendants in the houses; they awake with nature to new life (p. 179). The first month is called Farvardin after these spirits; of the remaining eleven, six are called after the Amesha Çpentas, and the remaining five, which are inserted between the six, after Mithra, Tistrya, the spirits of fire and water, and lastly after the law (Din). The inscriptions of the Achæmenids give us nine names of months entirely different from these. Hence the West had its own calendar, as well as its own alphabet, and made use of it as early as the year 500 B.C. In the East the calendar of the Avesta was in use; and this seems to have been current in the West also in the first half of the fourth century B.C. There is no doubt whatever that it was the standard for all Iran at the time of the Sassanids.[403]

We have already set forth in detail what weight the Avesta lays on purity, and the avoidance of contact with dead matter, which has fallen into the power of the Daevas. From these points of view, in consequence of the reform, the priests in Iran came to adopt a peculiar mode of burial. Among the Arians of the Panjab the oldest form of burial was interment, and in time cremation came into use (IV. 62). But could the Athravas allow anything so unclean as a corpse to be laid on fire, the pure "son of Auramazda"? If the corpse was thrown into water the pure water was defiled; if buried in the earth pollution was cast on the beautiful, submissive daughter of Auramazda. Nothing therefore remained for the priests but to leave the corpse above the earth; in this case it served the pure animals, the birds and dogs, for nourishment, and was thus destroyed in the best manner. To throw a corpse into water, to bury or burn it, are great sins, actions which do not admit of expiation,[404] and those who do such things "help the drought which destroys the pasture, and the evil onsweeping winter, which kills the flock, and is full of snow; such men are impure for ever."[405] Any one who buries a dead dog or a dead man in the earth, and does not dig the body up again within half a year, is to receive twice five hundred stripes; any one who allows it to remain in the earth for a year, is to receive twice a thousand stripes; but if a man leaves a corpse in the earth for more than two years, there is for him neither penalty, nor expiation, nor purification.[406]

The dead are to be carried away on peculiarly dry paths, little trodden by cattle, beasts of draught, and pure men, and laid on the driest and barest places in the earth, on the highest eminences where carnivorous birds and dogs may most easily see them.[407] The soil is to be dug out, waist deep, if the earth is soft; if hard, to the depth of half a foot, and this depression is to be filled with tiles, stones, and dust; for damp earth contracts pollution most readily, whereas stones, tiles, and dust contract it very slowly. To this place (Dakhma) the naked corpse is to be taken on a bier, which has a foundation of stones or tiles, by two strong men—never by one: one bearer would pollute himself for ever, and the Druj Naçu would never leave him. Any one who throws a cloth on the dead must be punished with twice four hundred, or twice a thousand stripes, according to the size of the cloth. The corpse is to be placed on the Dakhma, with the face turned to the sun (any one who does not place the body with its face to the sun, is to pay the same penalty as is prescribed for the murder of a pure man [408]): the corpse is then to be secured in its place by iron, stones, or lead, attached to the feet or hair, in order that the birds and dogs may not carry away the bones and remains to water and trees: the neglect of these fastenings is to be punished with twice two hundred stripes.[409] If it rains or snows, or the wind is strong, so that the necessary preparations cannot be made on the day of death, the corpse can be carried on its own bed and mat to the Dakhma.[410]

At these burial-places the Daevas hold their meetings; there they propagate and assemble, "in order to bring to death, fifty, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, an innumerable host of men;" there the Daevas are most dangerous and deadly to men: for in the places of burial are "infection, disease, fever, impurity, ague, trembling, and old hair." A Dakhma is not pure till the body has been eaten by dogs and birds, till the remains have entirely changed into dust, and become utterly mixed up with the foundation of mortar, tiles, and stones. When this point has been reached, the Dakhma should be levelled. Such destruction of the place of burial is regarded by the law-book as the annihilation of death itself; as one of the highest virtues of the faithful. "He who levels only so much as the size of his own body of a burial-place," says the book of the law, "has repented of all his sins which he has committed in thought, speech, and action; he has not only repented of them, but he has expiated them, and the two heavenly powers will not begin a contest about his entrance into paradise."[411]

The prescriptions of the law for the purification of the vessels and clothes which have touched the corpse, are given from regard to utility, and from the point of view of a certain simple rationalism, which forms an advantageous contrast between Iran and India. Vessels of lead, wood, and earth, are impure for ever; vessels of gold and silver can be taken into use again after a number of washings with gomez. Garments on which spittle, moisture, or dung have fallen are to be cut in pieces and buried; in other cases they can be purified with gomez, water, and earth, and aired, and then again taken into use for women at the time of impurity. The house of the dead is pure when the period for the extinction of the fire is over, when the prayers appointed for the dead have been said, and the inhabitants of the house have had their bodies and clothes washed three times, and the sacred hymns have been sung (p. 215).

For the bearers, who have carried a corpse to the Dakhma, and those who in any way have come into contact with a corpse, special forms of purification are necessary. The washing of the bearers must be begun immediately after the corpse has been deposited. For this purpose the gomez of the nearest male and female relation of the dead is required as well as that of "cattle and beasts of draught." At the last washing the Druj Naçu springs out of the forehead between the eyebrows, from thence to the shoulders and under the arms, until at length by continued ablutions she is driven into the left toes, and is compelled to pass away from there to the north in the form of a fly.[412] In order to purify the way on which the dead has been carried to the Dakhma, a dog must be led along it, three times, six times, and nine times. Then a priest must walk along it, who pronounces the "victorious words," i. e. certain exorcisms. "I drive back the Daevi Druj, so that she flies to the North. Avaunt! She must not slay the corporeal world of the pure. May Auramazda and Çpenta Armaiti protect us from our enemies; may Çraosha come, and Vohumano."[413] The worst of all forms of pollution is that contracted by touching a corpse in a distant place in solitude, for here the power of the demon was greatest. Any one to whom this has happened, is to wash himself fifteen times with water, and rub himself an equal number of times with earth, to hurry away from the spot, and call out to every one whom he meets: "I have touched a dead body, without wishing it in thought, word, or deed; my desire is purification." Every one is to avoid him unless he wishes to bring on himself the guilt of the impure man.[414]

Pools and streams are polluted by corpses till the corpses have been removed and rain has thrice fallen upon the water; after this cattle and men can again drink of the water. So long as the corpse lies in a river, the fiend of death extends over nine paces above and three paces below it, and six paces on either side; in a pool the domain of the fiend is six paces in every direction; in snow and ice-water it is three paces. When Zarathrustra asks, whether the water which falls from heaven on the corpse is impure, the god answers, "I, Auramazda, allow the water to go forth from Lake Vourukasha, with storms and clouds, and to fall on a corpse; I, Auramazda, and to flow upon a burial-place, and upon a dung-heap, and carry away a bone, and wash all into Lake Puitika (the pool of purification in heaven). When purified the waters flow from Lake Puitika into Lake Vourukasha. I, Auramazda, rain down herbs of all kinds, to be food for the pious men, food for the useful cattle. With such speeches Auramazda appeased the just Zarathrustra."[415] Zarathrustra further inquires, whether corpses which have been carried by dogs, wolves, and panthers to a field make the field and men impure? Auramazda, as frequently happens in such cases, argues from the point of view of the possible and attainable. "If such corpses," says the god, "rendered men impure, all mankind would quickly be rendered impure owing to the multitude of the corpses which are upon the earth." But Zarathrustra is not satisfied; he says: "A man dies in the hollow of a valley; from the heights of the mountains a bird flies down to the valley, and then back to the summit of a mountain, and alights on a tree of hard or soft wood. There he is sick and voids excrements. Then a man goes up from the valley to the summit of the mountain, and comes to the tree, on which the bird has sat, and seeks fuel for his fire. He cuts the tree down, splits it up, and kindles a fire with it. What is his penalty?" Auramazda again replies that nothing carried away by wolves, dogs, birds, flies, or winds pollutes men. But now it occurs to Zarathrustra, or rather to the priests who have written these things down, whether the animals which have eaten the corpses are not impure. This difficulty Auramazda solves by declaring the animals pure; but no flesh of such animals is to be eaten within a year, or offered for sacrifice.[416]

With the exception of Herodotus, Strabo, and Agathias, the Western writers give us only very exaggerated accounts of the peculiar mode of burial in use among the Persians. Herodotus has already told us that the corpses of the Magians were exposed to dogs and birds; with regard to the corpses of the rest he had no accurate knowledge, for a mystery was made of the matter.[417] Onesicritus relates that those Bactrians, who were weakened by disease and age, were thrown to dogs brought up for the purpose and called buriers of the dead; and Strabo says that among the Caspians, parents, when they had reached seventy years of age, were shut up by their children, and so killed by starvation;[418] though he also observes that the Magians gave over the corpses to birds.[419] Cicero narrates that it was not the custom of the Magians to bury the corpses of their dead before they had been torn by wild animals: in Hyrcania a peculiar kind of dog was reared—by the lower classes in common; of the wealthier men each had his own—by which they might be torn after death, and this was considered the best kind of burial.[420] From Eusebius we hear that the Medes gave the dying to carefully-reared dogs; the Hyrcanians and Caspians those who were still alive; the Bactrians the old; others the dead.[421] Agathias, on the other hand, tells us, that the dead among the Persians were carried out before the gates of the cities naked and without a coffin, and eaten by dogs, so that the bones lay about in the fields. If any man's corpse was not at once eaten, the Persians believed that he had been of an unholy mind, that his soul was unjust and wicked, and so had come into the power of the evil spirits, and would be carried into hell. Such men were lamented by their friends, because they had no part in the better lot. Those who were most quickly eaten up, the Persians praised as fortunate; they called their souls the best, and like the gods, and said of them that they had gone into the good land.[422]

The Greeks maintained that the Achæmenids were buried at Pasargadae and Persepolis, and that the corpse of Cyrus rested at Pasargadae.[423] Of Darius we are told that even in his lifetime he caused his tomb to be prepared on the summit of a mountain. The corpses of Artaxerxes I. of Damaspia, and of his son Xerxes, were buried, according to Ctesias, in Persia.[424] The last Darius was buried by Alexander in the royal sepulchre, when he had already given the honours of burial to the Persian queen Statera.[425] Diodorus tells us that these tombs were on the eastern side of the citadel of Persepolis, at a distance of four hundred feet, in the "royal mountain." The rock was hewn out, and contained several chambers. But these tombs had no entrance; the corpses were drawn up by machines to the summit, and so laid in them.[426]

The burial-places of the rulers of ancient Persia can still be recognised. Some hundred paces to the east of the remains of the royal palace at Persepolis, towards the rising of the sun, precisely as Diodorus describes the place, are three stone pictures in Mount Rachmed. Sculptures which begin three hundred feet above the ground on the perpendicular front of the mountain form three high façades, with pillars, which present a gateway with woodwork, supporting a large canopy, on which are seen several rows of dogs; the same animals are to be seen on the lower lines of ornamentation. Within this framework are the pictures of the buried sovereigns. In the left hand is the bow without a string; the right is raised in an attitude of prayer, and the figures are standing before an altar of burning fire. The king is supported on a foundation upheld by the arms of several rows of men, who represent the conquered lands. Two leagues to the north of Persepolis are four great sculptures, now called Naksh-i-Rustem, i. e. pictures of Rustem, of a similar kind, but beginning only sixty or seventy feet from the ground, deeply cut in the perpendicular wall of two hundred feet in length. Three of these pictures are close together; the fourth is on a spur of the rock, at right angles to the other three. The centre of the three marks the tomb of Darius, the son of Hystaspes. It is the only one among the seven monuments which has inscriptions.

The corpses of the princes might have been exposed to the sun, the dogs, and birds on the summit above these pictures. In that case they would merely mark the place of exposure, and these rocks would be burial-places like those of the modern Parsees in Bombay. But behind the sculptures, though not accessible from them, sepulchral chambers have been discovered. From this, and from the description which the Greeks give us of the tomb of Cyrus, we must draw the conclusion that the Persian custom of burial did not agree with the rule of the Avesta—with the exception of the priests, whose corpses, as Herodotus expressly states, were exposed. The Vendidad laments that in certain districts of the East, Arachosia and Chakhra, the dead were burned, or buried.[428] Under the Sassanids exposure was strictly observed both in the East and West, as is clear from the account of Agathias already quoted, and all the statements which relate to this later period.

The regulations of the book of the law with regard to the burial of corpses and the places of exposure are still strictly observed by the Parsees. Great care is taken at the erection of a Dakhma that the rain-water can run off from the bier of the corpse. At the last moment a dog is brought into the presence of the dying person, so that its eye may be directed on him; and when a woman with child dies two dogs are brought, because two lives are in question. The eye of the dog has the power to keep the evil spirits at a distance. But every one must remain at nine paces distance from the dying person. After death the two corpse-bearers at once strip the body—their hands are protected from immediate contact by napkins made of old clothes—and carry it on a bier of iron—for metal contracts less pollution than wood—accompanied by the prayers of the priests, to the place of burial. The kinspeople follow the corpse in silence to within ninety paces of the Dakhma. For the first three nights the priests and kinsmen repeat continually the prescribed prayers for the soul of the dead; in the third night the decision is made at the bridge of Chinvat (p. 178). The burial-places of the Parsees at Bombay are situated on a mountain on the coast, on the summit of which several hollows have been cut. From a distance the relatives look eagerly to this summit, to see whether the vultures are already attacking the corpse, and which part of it they first consume. For the first year after death a prayer is said daily before meals for the soul of the dead to the Fravashis of the pure,[429] and a service is held on the day of the month on which the death took place. In the years that follow, on the fourth, tenth, and thirtieth day of each month, as the book prescribes, but above all on the festival of all souls—i. e. on the feast of the ten nights during which the Fravashis come down (p. 224)—prayers are said for the dead.

It is hardly possible to ascertain the arrangement and life of the state from the very scanty and obscure traits in the existing fragments of the law. We have no rules on the rights and duties of the monarchy, though these were included in the Avesta, if we may trust the list of contents.[430] But the splendour of majesty as it dwelt with the rulers of old time, with Yima, Thraetaona, and Kereçaçpa, and was imparted to Çyavarshana and Vistaçpa, is brought strongly into prominence; and among the Amesha Çpentas we found the spirit of good order, of good government. Of the position of the orders so much only is clear—that the priests claimed precedence over the warriors and husbandmen; that the Avesta allows them certain privileges of moderate extent (p. 187); and that the priestly families did not form exclusive castes, though the priestly functions were hereditary in them. Still less can we learn of the families of the warriors. We do not hear that they enjoyed a favoured position; they are merely mentioned before the husbandmen; and the Vendidad also gives us some information about their armour. It should consist of a coat of mail and helmet, a girdle and greaves, a bow with thirty arrows, a sling with thirty stones, a sword, a club, and a lance.[431] Under the Achæmenids there were rich families in Bactria and Sogdiana, in which we may no doubt venture to find descendants of the old military families, enjoying an influential position in politics; under the Sassanids the knightly nobility of Iran comes plainly to the front. The Avesta speaks of great and intermediate houses, of important and unimportant inhabitants of the villages. We also read of rich and poor, men who have property and beggars; and mention is made of tradespeople and slaves. The Avesta rises from the lord of the house to the lord of the village or community (viç), then to the lord of the tribe or canton (zantu ) and to the lord of the province (danhu ); an arrangement which corresponds to the Indian government as fixed by Manu's regulations. When Alexander of Macedon forced his way to Bactria and Sogdiana, he met with resistance from the native overseers of cantons or chieftains, whom he had summoned to Zariaspa, "the largest city" in Bactria (p. 12).[432] When the castles of the most powerful had been taken, and their lords had submitted, he sought to gain them by marrying their daughters to the captains of his army, while he himself took to wife the daughter of the Bactrian Oxyartes.

The protection of property is obviously a matter of great importance in the Avesta. The utility of dogs is frequently mentioned, which protect flocks and villages from thieves and wolves. Theft is looked on as especially wicked, because the thief leads a roving life, eats raw and unprepared food, and carries on his evil work in the darkness.[433] In regard to contracts the Vendidad distinguishes six kinds, according as they are concluded by word, by the pledge of hands, and are concerned with the value of a head of small cattle, a beast of draught, a man (i. e. a slave), and a piece of land. Anyone who violates the first kind is to receive 300 blows with the rod, and 300 with the whip, and the punishment increases in the violation of the other kinds up to 1000 stripes with both instruments.[434] To check injury of the person the Vendidad lays down the rule, that anyone who lifts up his weapon against a man without beating him, is to receive twice five stripes the first time, and twice two hundred on the seventh occasion of committing the offence, if he has not expiated the preceding six offences; if he has expiated them, the measure of the first offence is dealt out on each occasion. Anyone who attacks another not in anger but with malice, is to be punished with twice fifteen, and on the sixth occasion with 200 stripes, in case he has not expiated the former offences. Anyone who inflicts a wound on another, is punished the first time with twice thirty, the fifth time with twice two hundred stripes. The same punishment is inflicted on a man who breaks the bones of another, if he does not expiate the offence. If the wound proves fatal, he is to be punished with twice ninety stripes, and on a second offence with twice two hundred.[435]

We have but few indications in the Avesta from which to draw conclusions as to the state of civilisation. The amounts to be paid to the purifier and the physician are given in animals; the series of contracts is determined according to the value of small cattle, beasts of draught, slaves, and landed property. But other property may be given in place of the animals; we find mention of money (shaeta ),[436] and, as has been observed, of tradespeople; of mats and carpets, vessels of earth, silver, and gold, rich garments, palaces with pillars and turrets, ovens for smelting and for glass. The art of the physician cannot have been in a primitive stage, when so much space is devoted to remedies (p. 223), and the physicians who heal with the knife are designated as a separate class. So far as I can see, the Avesta betrays a state of civilisation, which, beginning from the pastoral condition, has remained in close connection with cattle-breeding and agriculture, but has also reached a more advanced stage. The unions of the tribes seem dissolved, and neither the previous importance of the warlike families nor their present position is brought prominently forward. This, no less than the liberal imposition of bodily punishment, shows that long before the dominion of the Achæmenids, the East of Iran must have been in the hands of princes who ruled with despotic power.


[342]"Mihr Yasht," 38, 116, 117.

[343]"Vend." 1, 18, 20; 18, 22-32.

[344]Herod. 1, 136; Plato, "Alcib. I." p. 122; Xen. "Cyri instit." 8, 8, 2; Diod. 16, 43.

[345]"Vend." 18, 35-42; 53-57.

[346]"Vend." 3, 105 ff.

[347]Loc. cit. 3, 1-20.

[348]Herod. 7, 31.

[349]"Œconom." 4, 13 ff.

[350]Ibid. 4, 20-24.

[351]Ibid. 4, 8-12; "Cyri instit." 8, 6, 16.

[352]Darmesteter, "Haurvatat et Ameretat," p. 64 ff.

[353]"Vend." 13, 125-162.

[354]"Vend." 15, 2, 3, 4.

[355]"Vend." 15, 5, 20, 21, according to Goldner's translation. [Cf. Darmesteter.]

[356]"Vend." 13, 97-105.

[357]"Vend." 13, 26-47.

[358]It is not certain whether the udra  of the Vendidad is the water-dog (spaniel?) or the otter.

[359]"Vend." 13, 169-174; 14, 4-75.

[360]Agath. 2, 24.

[361]"Vend." Farg. 17.

[362]"Wer den Urin mit vorgestrecktem Fusse lässt macht die Drudsch schwanger," so dass sie neue Unholde gebären.

[363]"Vend." 5, 45-55, 136-157; 7, 158-182.

[364]Herod. 1, 133; Xen. "Cyri instit." 1, 2, 16; 8, 9, 11; Plin. "H. N." 28, 19.

[365]"Vend." 9, 161.

[366]"Vend." 9, 187.

[367]"Vend." 5, 23-25.

[368]"Vend." 3, 140-147; 8, 87.

[369]"Vend." 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 26-28.

[370]"Vend." 8, 275, 276.

[371]"Vend." 9, 119-158; 19, 69-80.

[372]"Vend." 5, 83-108; 7, 4 ff.

[373]"Vend." 9, 168-171; Farg. 10.

[374]"Vend." 5, 124-135.

[375]"Vend." 12, 1-59.

[376]"Vend." 4, 130-133.

[377]"Vend." 14, 64-66.

[378]"Vend." 18, 123-133, after Harlez' translation. [Cf. Darmesteter.]

[379]"Vend." 15, 126.

[380]"Vend." 15, 125.

[381]"Vend." 18, 115.

[382]"Vend." 18, 23.

[383]Herod. 1, 135, 136.

[384]Plato, "Aloib. I."; p. 121.

[385]Herod. 1, 137.

[386]"Ethic. Nicom." 8, 10, ed. Zell.

[387]Curt. 5, 9; Plut. "Artax." c. 5.

[388]Ammian, 23, 6.

[389]Herod. 3, 70, 88; Dinon. fragm. 17, ed. Müller; Ctes. "Pers. Ecl." 44.

[390]Plut. "Themist." c. 26.

[391]Herod. 3, 31; Diogen. Laert. Prooem. 6; Plut. "Artax." c. 26; Ctes. "Pers. Ecl." 44; Agathias, 2, 23; Heracl. Cum. fragm. 7 ed. Müller.

[392]The regulations respecting sexual intercourse, abortion, etc., which here follow in the German text will be found in "Vend." 16, 33-40; 18, 100-122, 136, 152; ib. 15, 9-17, 60; 18, 115; ib. 18, 115-119; ib. 8, 74-82; ib. 8, 96-106.

[393]"Rigveda," 10, 97, 17; "Atharvaveda," 2, 10, 2; 8, 1, 18 in Darmesteter loc. cit. 73, 76.

[394]"Vend." 20, 19, 25.

[395]"Vend." 22, 7-38.

[396]"Vend." 21, 3-19.

[397]Justi, "Bundehesh," c. 24.

[398]West, "Mainyo-i-Khard," c. 62. Above, p. 172.

[399]"Vend." 20, 11-20.

[400]"Vend." 7, 118, 121.

[401]"Vend." 7, 105, 117.

[402]"H. N." 30, 1.

[403]Von Gutschmid ("Das iranische Wandeljahr, Berichte der K. Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wiss." 1862) places the establishment of the cycle, by which, in order to bring the year of 365 days into agreement with the natural time, a month was inserted every 120 years, and consequently the introduction of the East Iranian calendar into the whole kingdom, in the year 411, or between 428 and 381 B.C. That the beginning of the year was universally placed in the spring after the introduction of this calendar, and fixed between March and the middle of June, would follow from the importance of the Farvardin festival, even if it were not sufficiently vouched for by other evidence. The Bundehesh (c. 25) speaks of the year as fixed, inasmuch as it reckons the shortening of the days from a certain day in the month of Tir, and puts the shortest day on the 20th of the month of Din, yet it adds that the priests reckoned on this basis, and that the lunar year did not correspond to the year thus calculated. The Cappadocian names for the months are those of the East Iranian calendar; and the Cappadocians cannot have obtained these till the calendar was current throughout the whole kingdom of the Achæmenids. On this ground also Von Gutschmid's dates do not seem to be too high.

[404]"Vend." 1, 48; 6, 6 and loc. cit.

[405]"Vend." 7, 65-71.

[406]"Vend." 3, 122-136.

[407]"Vend." 6, 93-95; 8, 13; 3, 50-54.

[408]"Vend." 5, 13, 14, 47, 48.

[409]"Vend." 6, 98 ff.

[410]"Vend." 6, 106.

[411]"Vend." 7, 126-147.

[412]"Vend." 8, 34-36; 130-228.

[413]"Vend." 8, 38-64.

[414]"Vend." 8, 271-310; 9, 164-166.

[415]"Vend." 5, 15-21, according to Geldner's rendering.

[416]"Vend." 5, 1-22; 7, 189-191.

[417]Herod. 1, 140; 3, 16.

[418]Strabo, p. 517.

[419]Strabo, p. 735. Cf. p. 520.

[420]"Quaest. Tuscul." 1, 45.

[421]Euseb. "Praep. Evang." p. 277.

[422]Agath. 2, 23.

[423]Diod. 17, 71; Arrian, "Anab." 3, 22; 6, 29.

[424]Ctes. "Pers. Ecl." 44, 46; Strabo, p. 730.

[425]Arrian, l. c.; Justin, 11, 15; Aelian, "Var. Hist." 6, 8; Plut. "Alex." c. 30.

[426]Diod. 17, 71; cf. Ctes. "Pers. Ecl." 15.

[427]K. Niebuhr, "Reise," 2, 150 ff.

[428]"Vend." 1, 46, 48, 60, 64; cf. above, p. 137, 138.

[429]"Yaçna," 26.

[430]Above, p. 52. The Mainyo-i-Khard contains some rules on the duties of the king. The prince is to defend the city and land against enemies and risings, to respect water and fire, to keep at a distance bad laws and customs, and promote the worship of Auramazda, and good works, and to bring back to the right way those who have left it. A king of this kind is like the Yazatas and Amesha Çpentas: c. 15, 20, 33, 68, ed. West.

[431]"Vend." 14, 32-40.

[432]Arrian, "Anab." 4, 1, 5.

[433]"Vend." 13, 143-145.

[434]"Vend." 4, 4-53 according to Harlez.

[435]"Vend." 4, 54-113. Even after all that has been advanced by De Harlez, "Avesta," p. 101, I cannot convince myself that the stripes appointed here and elsewhere in the Vendidad are to fall, not on the guilty, but on animals of Angromainyu. If animals are to be killed, we are told so expressly in the Vendidad, and this duty is often mentioned along with the stripes (p. 209). To kill twice 90 or 200 flies or lizards is no equivalent for murdering a man. I allow that no one could endure blows by thousands, if they were given in earnest, yet in running a "muck" five and six hundred very severe blows have been endured. In my opinion the punishments of the Avesta are not intended for legal penalties; they mark what was needed, in the opinion of the priests, to expel the evil disposition, which could recur again and again.

[436]"Vend." 4, 120; "Astad Yasht," 1; Justi, "Handbuch," sub. voc.