صور الصفحة
PDF

Kustaspi (=Hystaspis). Their subjects, on the contrary, speak absolutely different tongues: for the attempts to explain the languages of the Cossaeans, Mitannians, and Arzapians as Indo-European (Iranian) have ended in failure (cf. Blomfield in the American Journal of Philology, xxv. p. r sqq.).

It appears, then, that towards the middle of the second millennium before Christ, the Iranians made a great forward movement to the West, and that certain of their princes—at first, probably in the rifle of mercenary leaders—reached Mesopotamia and Syria and there founded principalities of their own, much as did the Germans under the Roman Empire, the Normans. Turks, &c. With this we may probably connect the well-known fact that it was about this very period (r700 B.C. approximately) that the horse made its appearance in Babylonia, Egypt and Greece, where for centuries subsequently its use was confined to war and the war-chariot. Before this it was as foreign to the Babylonians, even in the time of Khammurabi, as to the Egyp~ tians under the Xch Dynasty. On the other hand, it had been familiar to the Aryans from time immemorial: indeed they have always been peculiarly a people of riders. Thus it is quite conceivable that they brought it with them into Western Asia: and the quarter from which it came is sufficiently indicated by the fact that the Babylonians write the word “ horse ” with a group of signs denoting “ass of the East.”

Of the Assyrian kings, Shalmaneser (Salmanassar) II. was the first to take the field against the Medes in 836 13.6., and from that period onwards they are frequently mentioned in the Assyrian annals. Sargon penetrated farthest, receiving in 7r 5 B.C. the tribute of numerous Median town-princes. He gives a list of their names, twenty-three of which are preserved either wholly or in part, and almost all are unmistakably Iranian; as is also the case with those preserved by Esar-haddon (Assarhaddon) and elsewhere.

The Medes, then, were an Iranian nation, already occupying in the 9th century B.c. their later home in the centre of the Median highland. On the other hand, among their neighbours in Zagros and the north—corresponding to the Anariacae (Non-Aryans) of the Greeks—Iranian names are at best isolated phenomena. With other Iranian tribes the Assyrians never came in contact: for the oft-repeated assertion, that the Parsua, so prominent in their annals, were the Persians or the Parthians, is quite untenable. The Parsua of the Assyrians are located south of Lake Urmia, and can hardly have been Iranians.

None the less, the Assyrian statements with regard to the Medes demonstrate that the Iranians must have reached the west of Iran before 900 n.c. It is probable that at this period the Persians also were domiciled in their later home, even though we have no direct evidence to adduce. If this reasoning is correct, the Iranian immigration must be assigned to the first half of the second pre~Christian millennium.

The Aryans of Iran are divided into numerous tribes; these, again, being subdivided into minor tribes and clans. The 1H5" principal, according to the inscriptions of Darius olthe ——which closely agree with Herodotus—are the ham“ following, several of them being also enumerated

in the Avesta:—

I. The Medes (Mada) in the north-west (see MEDIA).

2. The Persians (Parsa) in the south (see PBRsts). To these belong the Carmanians and the Utians (Yutiya), who are mentioned expressly b Darius as inhabiting a district in Persis (Bah. Ill. 40).

3. The yrcanians (Varkana in Darius, Zend Vehrkdna) on the eastern comer of the Caspian, in the fertile district of Astarabad.

4. The Parthians (Parthyaei; Pers. Parthava) in Khomsan (see

PARTHIA). _ _ _ _ i 5. The Arians ('Ape’iot, Pers. Haraiva), 1n the vrcimty of the river Arius (Hui-rad), which derived its name from them. This name, which survives in the modern Herat, has of course no connexion with that of the Aryans.

6. The Drangians (Zaranka in Darius, Sarangians in Herod. iii. 93, n7, vii. 67), situated south of the Arians, in the north-West of Afghanistan (.4 rachosia) by the western afiluents of Lake Hamun, and extendin to the present Seistan.

7. Arachotlans (Pers. Harauvati), in the district of the Helmand and its tributaries, round Kandahar. They are mentioned in the lists of Darius, also by the Greeks after Alexander. In Herodotus their place is taken by the Pactyans, whose name survives to the

[graphic]

present day in the word Pushtu, with which the Afghans denote their language (Herod. iii. 10:, iv. 44, vii. 67, 85). Probably it was the old tribal name; Arachosia beln the local designation. The Thamanaeans, who appear in Her otus (iii. 93, 117), must be classed with them.

8. The Bactrians (Pers. Bdkhtn'), on the northern declivity of the Hindu Kush, as far as the Oxus. Their capital was Bactra, the modern Balkh (see Bacrrua).

9. The Sogdians (Pers. Sugudu), in the mountainous district between the Oxus and Jaxartes.

10. The Chorasmians (Khwarizmians, Pers. Uvarazmiya), in the great oasis of Khiva, which still bears the name Khwarizm. They stretched far into the midst of the nomadic tribes.

I r. The Margians (Pers. Marga), on the river Margus (Murghab); chiefly inhabiting the oasis of Merv, which has preserved their name. Darius mentions the district of Margu but, like Herodotus, omits them from his list of peoples; so that ethnographically they are perhaps to be assigned to the Arians. _

[2. The Sagartians‘ (Pers. Asagarta); according to Herodotus (vii. 85), a nomadic tribe of. horsemen; speaking, as he ex ressl declares, the Persian lan uage. Hence he describes them I. 125 as a subordinate noma clan of the Persians. They, with the Drangians, Utians and Myci, formed a single satrapy (Herod. iii. 93). Ptolemy (vi. 2, 6) speaks of Sagartians in the Eastern Zagros in Media.

13. We have already touched on the nomadic ples (Doha, Dahanr) of Iranian nationality, who occupied t e step 5 of Turkestan as far as the Sarmatians and Scythians of South ussia. That these were conscious of their Aryan origin is proved by the names Ariantas and Ariapeithes borne by Scythian (Scolot) kings (Herod, iv. 76, 87). Still they were never counted as a portion of Iran or the Iranians. To the settled peasantry, these nomads of the steppe were always " the enemy " (dana, daha, Adar, Dahae). Side by side with this name we find “ Turan " and " Turanian "; a designation applied both by the later Persians and by modern writers to this region. The origin of the word is obscure, derived perhaps from an obsolete tribal name. It has no connexion whatever with the much later “ Turks," who penetrated thither in the 6th century after Christ. Thou h found neither in the inscriptions of Darius nor in the Greek aut ors, the name Turan must nevertheless be of great antiquit ; for not merely is it repeatedly found in the Avesta, under the orm Tura, but it occurs alread in a hymn, which, without doubt, originates from Zoroaster himself, and in which “ the Turanian Fryana " and his descendants are commemorated as faithful adherents of the prophet (Yasna, 46, 62).

The dividing line between Iranian and Indian is drawn by the Hindu Kush and the Soliman mountains of the Indus district. The valley of the Kabul (Cop/ran) is already occupied by Indian tribes, especially the Gandarians; and the Satagydae (Pers. Thalagu) there resident were presumably also of Indian stock. The non-Aryan population of Iran itself has been discussed above. Of its other neighbours, we must here mention the Sacae, a warlike equestrian people in the mountains of the pamir plateau and northward; who are probably of Mongol origin. Herodotus relates that the Persians distinguished “ all the Scythians ”——i.e. all the northern nomads—as Sacae; and this statement is confirmed by the inscriptions of Darius. The Babylonians employ the name Gimiri (i.e. Cimmerians) in the same sense.

III. Civilization and Religion of the Iranians—In the period when the ancestors of Indian and Iranian alike still formed a single nation—that of the Aryans—they developed A a very marked character, which can still be distinctly R'zugom ' traced, not only in their language, but also in their religion and in many views common to both peoples. A great number of gods—Asura, Mithras, the Dragon-slayer Verethraghna (the Indra of the Indians), the Water-shoot Apam napat (the lightning), &c.—date from this era. So, too, fire-worship, especially of the sacrificial flame; the preparation of the intoxicating soma, which fills man with divine strength and uplifts him to the gods; the injunction to “ good thoughts and good works,” imposed on the pious by Veda and Avesta alike: the belief in an unwavering order (rta)—a law controlling gods and men and dominating them all; yet with this, a belief in the power of magical formulae (mantra), exclamations and prayers, to whose compulsion not merely demons (the evil spirits of deception—— druh) but even the gods (daeva) must submit; and, lastly, the institution of a priesthood of fire-kindlers (athravan), who are at once the repositories of all sacral traditions and the mediators in all intercourse between earth and heaven. The transition,

moreover, to settled life and agriculture belongs to the Aryan

period; and to it may be traced the peculiar sancitity of the cow in India and Persia. For the cow is the animal which voluntarily yields nourishment to inan and aids him in his daily labours, and on it depends the industry of the peasant as contrasted with the wild desert brigand to whom the cow is unknown.

Very numerous are the legends common to both nations. These, in part, are rooted in the primeval Indo-European days, though their ultimate form dates only from the Aryan epoch. Foremost among them is the myth relating the battle of a sungod (Ind. Trita, generally replaced by Indra, Iran. Thraetona) against a fearful serpent (Ind. Ahi, Iran. Azhi; known moreover as Vrtra): also, the legend of Yama, the first man, son of Vivasvant, who, after a long and blessed life in the happy years of the beginning, was seized by death and now rules in the kingdom of the departed. Then come a host of other tales of old-world heroes; as the “ Glorious One ” (Ind. Sushrava, Pers. H usrava, Chosrau or Chosroes), or the Son who goes on a journey to seek his father, and, unknown, meets his end at his hands.

These legends have lived and flourished in Iran at every period of its_history; and neither the religion of Zoroaster, nor yet Islam, has availed to. suppress them. Zoroastrianism—at least in that form in which it became the dominant creed of the Iranians—legitimized not only the old gods, but the old heroes also; and transformed them into pious helpers and servants of Ahuramazda; while the creator of the great national epic of Persia, F irdousi (AD. 93 5—1020),displayed astonishing skill in combining the ancient tradition with Islam. Through his poem, this tradition is perfectly familiar to every Persian at the present day; and the primitive features of tales, whose origin must be dated 4000 years ago, are still preserved with fidelity. This tenacity of the Saga stands in the sharpest contrast with the fact that the historical memory of the Persian is extremely defective. Even the glories of the Achaemenid Empire faded rapidly, and all but completely, from recollection; so also the conquest of Alexander, and the Hellenistic and Parthian eras. In Firdousi, the legendary princes are followed, almost without a break, by Ardashir, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty: the intervening episode of Darius and .Alexander is not drawn from native tradition, but borrowed from Greek literature (the Alexander-romance of the Pseudo~Callisthenes) in precisely the sameway as among the nations of the Christian East in the middle ages.l s

Needless to say, however, this long period saw the Saga much recast and expanded. Many new characters—Siyawush, Rustam, &c.——have swelled the original list: among them is King Gushtasp (Vishtaspa), the patron of Zoroaster, who was known from the poems of the prophet and is placed at the close of the legendary age. The old gods and mythical figures reappear as heroes and kings, and their battles are fought no longer in heaven but upon earth, where they,.are localized for the most part in the east of Iran. In other words, the war of the gods has degenerated to the war between Iranian civilization and 'the Turanians. Only the evil serpent Azhi Dahaka (Azhdahak) is domiciled by the Avesta in Babylon (Baron) and depicted on the model of Babylonian gods and demons: he is a king in human form with a serpent growing from either shoulder and feeding on the brains of men. In these traits are engrained the general conditions of history and culture, under which the Iranians lived: on the one hand, the contrast between Iranian and Turanian; on the other, the dominating position of Babylon, which influenced most strongly the civilization and religion of Iran. It is idle, however, to read definite historical events into such traits, or to attempt, with some scholars, to convert them into history itself. We cannot deduce from them a conquest of Iran from Babylon: for the Babylonians never set foot in Iran, and even the Assyrians merely conquered the western portion of Media. Nor yet can we make the favourite assumption of a great empire in Bactria. On the contrary, it is historically

The Iranian Saga.

‘The fundamental work on the history of the Iranian Saga is Noldeke., Das iranische Nationalepos 1 96 (reprinted from the Grundriss der iran. Philologie, ii.). .

[graphic]

I

evident that before the Achaemenids there were in Bactn'a only small local principalities of which Vishtaspa’s was one: and it is possible that the primeval empire of the Saga is only a reflection of the Achaemenid‘and Sassanid empires of reality, whose existence legend dates back to the beginning of the world, simply because legend is pervaded by the assumption that the conditions obtaining in the present are the natural conditions, and, as such, valid for all time.

Closely connected as are the Mythology and Religion of Indian and-Iranian, no less clearly marked is the fundamental difference of intellectual and moral standpoint, Dmfl‘em which has led the two nations into opposite paths “Mum”, of history and.culture. The tendency to religious Iranian-1nd thought and to a speculative philosophy, compre- “"1",” bending the world as a whole, is shared by both and Re “00' is doubtless an inheritance from the Aryan period. But with the Indians this speculation leads to the complete abolition of all barriers between God and man, to a mystic pantheism, and to absorption in the universal Ego, in contrast with which the world becomes an unsubstantial phantasm and sinks into nothingness. For the Iranian, on the contrary, practical life, the real world, and with them the moral commandment, fill the foreground. The new gods created by Iran are ethical powers; those of India, abstractions of worship (brahman) or of philosophy (atnlan). These fundamental features of Iranian sentiment encaunter us not only in the doctrine of Zoroaster and the confessions of Darius, but also in that magnificent product of the Persia of Islam—the Sufi mysticism. This is pantheistic, like the Brahman philosophy. But the pantheism of the Persian is always positive, —-affirming the world and life, taking joy in them, and seeking its ideal in union with a creative god: the pantheism of the Indian is negative—denying world and life, and descrying its ideal in the cessation of existence. .

This contrast in intellectual and religious life must have developed very early. Probably, in the remote past violent religious disputes and feuds broke out: for otherwise it is almost inexplicable that the‘old Indo-European word, which in India, also, denotes the gods—deva—should be applied by the Iranians to the malignant demons or devils (daeoa; mod. div); while they denote the gods by the name bhaga. Conversely the Asuras, whose name in Iran is the title of the supreme god (ahura, aura), have in India degenerated to evil spirits. It is of great importance that among the Slavonic peoples the same word 'bagu distinguishes the deity; since this points to ancient cultural influences on which we have yet no more precise information. Otherwise, the name is only found among the Phrygians, who, according to Hesychius, called the Heaven-god (Zeus) Bagaeus; there, however, it may have been borrowed from the Persians. We possess no other evidence for these events; the only'document we possess for the history of Iranian religion is the sacred writing, containing the doctrines of the prophet who gave that religion a new form. This is the Avesta, theiBible of the modern Parsee, which comprises the revelation of Zoroaster.

As to the home and time of Zoroaster, the Parsee tradition yields us no sort of information which could possibly be of historical service. Its contents, even if they go back to lost parts of the Avesta, are merely a late patchwork, based on the legendary tradition and devoid of historical foundation. The attempts of West (Pahlavi Texts Translated, vol. v.) to turn to historical account the statements of the Bundahish and other Parsee books, which date Zoroaster at 258 years before Alexander, are, in the present writer‘s opinion, a complete failure. Jackson (Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran, 1901) sides with West. The Greek theory, which relegates Zoroaster to the mists of antiquity, or even to the period of the fabulous N inus and Semiramis, is equally valueless. Even the statement that he came from the north-west of Media (the later Atropatene), and his mother from Rai (Rhagae) in eastern Media, must be considered as problematic in the extreme. Our only trustworthy information is to be gleaned from his own testimony and from the history of his religion. And here we may take it as certain that the scene of his activity was laid in

Zoroaster. the east of Iran, in Bactria and its neighbouring regions. The contrast there existing between peasant and nomad is of vital 1consequence for the whole position of his creed. Among the adherents whom he gained was numbered, as already mentioned, a Turanian, one Fryana and his household. The west of Iran is scarcely ever regarded in the Avelrta, while the districts and rivers of the east are often named. The language, even, is markedly different from the Persian; and the fire-priests are not styled Magians as in Persia—the word indeed never occurs in the Aaesla, except in a single late passage-but alhravan, identical with the atharvan of India (wbpaibot, “ fire-kindlers,” in Strabo xv. 733). Thus it cannot be doubted that the king Vishtaspa, who received Zoroaster’s doctrine and protected him, must have ruled in eastern Iran: though strangely enough scholars can still be found to identify him with the homonymous Persian Hystaspes, the father of Darius. The possibility that Zoroaster himself was not a native of East Iran, but had immigrated thither (from RhagaeP), is of course always to be considered; and this theory has been used to explain the phenomenon that the Gathas, of his own composition, are written in a. different dialect from the rest of the Avesta. On this hypbthesis, the former would be his mother-tongue: the latter the speech of eastern Iran.

This district is again indicated as the starting-point of Zoroastrianjsm, by the fact that dead bodies are not embalmed and then interred, as was usual, for instance, in Persia, but cast out to the dogs and birds (cf. Herod. i. 140), a practice, as is well known, strictly enjoined in the [106310, ruthlessly executed under the Sassanids, and followed to the present day by the Parsees. The motive of this, indeed, is to be found in the sanctity of Earth, which must not be polluted by a corpse; but its origin is evidently to be traced in a barbaric custom of nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes who leave the dead to lie on the steppei and we know from Greek sources that this custom was widely difiused among the tribes of eastern Iran.

The next clue towards determining the period of Zoroaster is, that Darius I. and all his successors, as proved by their inscriptions and by Greek testimony, were zealous adherents of the pure word of Zoroastrianism; which consequently must already have been accepted in the west of Iran. That Cyrus too owned allegiance to the creed, cannot be doubted by an unprejudiced mind, although in the dearth of contemporary monuments we possess no proof at first hand. The Assyrian inscriptions demonstrate, however, that Zoroaster’s teaching was dominant in Media two centuries before Cyrus. For in the list of Median princes, to which we have already referred, are two bearing the name of Mazdaka—evidently after the god Mazda. Now this name was the invention of Zoroaster himself; and he who names himself after Mazda thereby makes a confession of faith in the religion of Zoroaster whose followers, as we know, termed themselves Mazdayasna, “ worshippers of Mazda.”

Thus, if the doctrine of Zoroaster predominated in Media in 7r4 B.C., obviously his appearance in the role of prophet must have been much earlier. A more definite date cannot be deduced from the evidence at our disposal, but his era may safely be placed as far back as 1000 B.C.

The religion which Zoroaster preached was the creation of a single man, who, having pondered long and deeply the roblems of existence and the world, ropounded the solution he ound as a divine revelation. Natura ly he starts from the old views, and is indebted to them for man of his tenets and ideas; but out of this material he builds a uniform system which bears throughout the impress of his own intellect. In this world, two grou s of powers confront each other in a truceless war, the powers of 00d. of Light, of creative Strength, of Life and of Truth, and the powers of Evil, of Darkness, Destruction, Death and Deceit. In the van of the first stands the Holy Spirit (sPenta mainyu) or the “Great Wisdom " Mazdao. His helpers and vassals are the six powers of Good Thought (vohu man6, 'Quavos), of Right Order (asha, Ind. rta, Pers. arta, “ lawfulness "), of the Excellent Kingdom (khshalhra vairya), of Holy Character (slunta firmaili), of Health (haurvaldl), and of Immortality (amerctal). These are comprised under the general title of “ undying holy ones " (amesha :Penta, amshasprmd); and a host of subordinate angels (yasata) are ranked with them.

[graphic]

The powers of evil are in all points the opposite of the good; at their head being the Evil Spirit (angra mainyu, Ahriman). These evil demons are identical with the old gods of the popular faith—~the devas (div)—while Mazdao bears the name Ahura, above discussed; whence Ahuramazda (Ormuzd).

From this it will be manifest that the figures of Zoroaster's religion are purely abstractions; the concrete gods of vulgar belief being set aside. All those who do not belong to the devils (deans), might be recognized as inferior servants of Ahuramazda: chief among them bein the Sun-god Mithras (see MITHRAS) ; the goddess of vegetation an fertility, especially of the Oxus-stream, Andlzita Ardvisum (Anaitis); and the Dragon~slayer Verethm hna (Gr. Artagnas), with the od of the intoxicating Haama (t e lndian Soma). In the religion of the people. these divinities always survived; and the popularity of Mithras is evinced by the numerous Aryan lproper names thence derived (Mithradates, &c.). The educate community who had embraced the pure doctrine in its completeness scarcely recognized them, and the inscriptions of Darius ignore them. Only once he speaks of “ the gods of the clans," and once of “ the other gods which there are." Not till the time of Artaxerxes II. were Mithra and Anaitis received into the official religion of the Persian kings. But they always played a leading part in the propaganda of the Persian cults in the West.

Onl one element in the old Aryan belief was preserved by Zoroaster in all its sanctity: that of Fire—the purest manifestation of Ahuramazda and the powers of Good. Thus fire-altars were everywhere erected; and, to the prophet also, the Fire-kindlers (dlhmvan) were the ministers and priests of the true religion and the intermediaries between God and man; at last in the popular mind, Zoroastrianism was identified with Fire-worship pure and simple, ——-inadequate though the term in reality is, as a description of it‘s essentials.

Midway in this opposition of the powers of Good and Evil, man is placed. He has to choose on which side he will stand: he is called to serve the powers of Good: his dnt lies in 5 king the truth and combating the lie. And this is ful lled when e obeysythe commands of law and the true order; when he tends his cattle and fields, in contrast with the lawless and predatory nomad (Dahae)‘; when he wars on all harmful and evil creatures, and on the devilworshippers; when he keeps free from ollution the ure creations of Ahuramazda—fire foremost, but aso earth an water; and, above all, when he lpractises the Good and True in thou ht, word and work. And as is deeds are, so shall be his fate and is future lot on the Day of judgment; when he must cross the Bridge Cinval, which, according to his works, will either guide him to the Paradise of Ahuramazda or precipitate him to the Hell of Ahriman. Obviously, it was through this preaching of a judgment to come and a direct moral responsibility of the individual man, that, like Mahornet among the Arabs, Zoroaster and his disciples gained their adherents and exercised their reatcst influence. .

In this creed 0 Zoroastrianism three im ortant points are especially to be emphasized: for on them depen its peculiar characteristics and historical significance :—

I. The abstractions which it preaches are not products of metaphysical speculation, as in India, but rather the ethical forces which dominate human life. They impose a duty upon man, and enjoin on him a positive line of action—a definite activity in the world. And this world he is not to eschew, like the Brahman and the Buddhist, but to work in it, ienjoying existence and life to the full. Thus a man's birthda is counted the highest festival (Herod. i. 133); and thus the bis 0% vivre, rich banquets and carousals are not rejected by the ersian as godless and worldly, but are even prescribed by his religion. To create offspring and people the world with servants of Ahuramazda is the duty of every true believer.1

2. This religion rew up in the midst of a settled peasant population, whose m e of life and views it regards as the natural dis osition of things. Consequently, it is at. once a product of, andJ a main factor in civilization; and is thereby shar 1y differentiated from the Israelite reli ion, with whose moral) precepts it otherwise coincides'so frequent y.

3. The preaching of Zoroaster is directed to each individual man, and requires of him that he shall choose his position with regard to the fundamental problems of life and religion. Thus, even though it arose from national views, in its essence it is not national (as, for instance, the Israelite creed), but' individualistic, and at the same time universal. From the first. it aims at propa

anda; and the nationality of theconvert is a matter of indifference.

Zoroaster himself converted the Turanian F ryanawith his kindred (see above); and the same tendency to proselytize alien peoples survived in his religion. Zoroastriamsm, 1n fact, is the first creed to work by missions or to lay claim to universality of acceptance. It was, however, only natural that its adherents should bewon. first and chiefly, among the countrymen of the prophet. and its further success in gaining over all the Iranian tribes gave it a national stamp. 50 the Susan translation of Darius' Behistun inscription

1These ideas are strongly exposed in a polemic against the Christians contained in an official edict of the Persian creed to the Armenians by Mihr Narseh, the vizier of Yazdeperd II- (about A.D. 450), preserved by the Armenian historian, Ehs lc.

terms Ahuramazda “the god of the Aryans.” Thus the creed became a powerful factor in the development of an united Iranian nationality.

That a reli ion, which lays its chief stress upon moral precepts, may readily evelop into casuistry and externa formalism, with an infinity of minute rescriptions, injunctions on purity and the like, is well known. In t e Avesla all these recur ad nauseam, so much so that the primitive spirit of the religion is stifled beneath them, as the doctrine of the ancient prophets was stifled in [ludaism and the Talmud. The Sassanid Empire, indeed, is complete y dominated by this formalism and ritualism; but the earlier testimony of Darius in his inscriptions and the statements in Herodotus enable us still to recognize the original health life of a religion capable of awakening the enthusiastic devotion 0 the inner man. Its formal character naturally germinated in the riesthood (Herod. i. 140; cf. Strabo _xv. 733, &c.). The priests iligently fpractise all the precepts of their ritual—cg. the extermination o noxious animals, and the ‘exposure of corpses to the dogs and birds, that earth may not be

lluted b their presence. They have advice for every contin ency in life, an can say with recision when a man has been defil , and how he may be clean again; they possess an endless stock of formulae for prayer, and 0 sentences which serve for protection against evil spirits and may be turned to purposes of magic.

How the doctrine overspread the whole of Iran, we do not know. In the West, among the Medes and Persians, the guardianship The and ministry of Zoroastrianism is vested in an exclusive Magi“, priesthood—the Magians. Whence this name—unknown

‘ as already mentioned, to the Avesta—took its rise, we have no knowledge. Herodotus (i. 101) includes the Magians in his list of Median tribes; and it is probable that they and their teaching reached the Persians from Media. At all events, they

lay here not merely the role of the “ Fire-kindlers " (athmvan) In the Avesta, but are become an hereditary sacerdotal caste, acting an important part in the state—advisers and s iritual uides to the king, and so forth. With them the ritua ism an magical character, above mentioned, are fully developed. In the narrations of Herodotus, they inter ret dreams and redict the future; and in Greece, from the time o Herodotus and phocles (Oed. Tyr. 387) onward, the word Magian connotes a magician-priest.

See further, ZOROASTER and works there quoted.

IV. Beginnings of H istory.—A connected chain of historical evidence begins with the time when under Shalmaneser (SalAllyrlan manassar 11.), the Assyrians in 836 8.0. began for Conquelt the first time to penetrate farther into the moun°'M“'"' tains of the east; and there, in addition to several non-Iranian peoples, subdued a few Median tribes. These wars were continued under successive kings, till the Assyrian power in these regions attained its zenith under Sargon (q.'v.), who (715 LC.) led into exile the Median chief Dayuku (see DEIOCES), a vassal of the Minni (Mannaeans), with all his family, and subjected the princes of Media as far as the mountain of Bikni (Elburz) and the border of the great desert. At that time twenty-eight Median “town-lords” paid tribute to Nineveh; two years later, (713 B.C.) no fewer than forty-six. Sargon’s successors, down to Assur-bani-pal (668—626 B.C.), maintained and even augmented their suzerainty over Media, in spite of repeated attempts to throw ofi the yoke in conjunction with the Mannaeans, the Saparda, the Cimmerians—who had penetrated into the Armenian mountains—and others. Not till the last years of Assur-bani-pal, on which the extant Assyrian annals are silent, can an independent Median Empire have arisen.

As to the history of this empire, we have an ancient account in Herodotus, which, with a large admixture of the legendary, The still contains numerous historical elements, and a Modlln completely fanciful account from Ctesias, preserved “PM in Diodorus (ii. 32 sqq.) and much used by later Writers. In the latter Nineveh is destroyed by theIMede Arbaces and the Babylonian Belesys about 880 13.6., a period when the Assyrians were just beginning to lay the foundations of their power. Arbaces is then followed by a long list of Median kings, all of them fabulous. On the other hand, according to Herodotus the Medes revolt from Assyria. about 710 B.C., that is to say, at the exact time when they were subdued by Sargon. Deioces founds the monarchy; his son Phraortes begins the work of conquest; and his son Cyaxares is first overwhelmed by the Scythians, then captures Nineveh, and raises Media to a great power. A little supplementary information may be gleaned from the inscriptions of King Nabonidus of Babylon (5 5 5-539)

[graphic]

and from a few allusions in the Old Testament. Of the Median Empire itself we do not possess a single monument. Consequently its history still lies in complete obscurity (cf. MEDIA; Dnrocns; Pnnaonrss; CYAXARES).

The beginnings of the Median monarchy can scarcely go farther back than 640 B.C. To all appearance, the insurrection against Assyria must have proceeded from the desert tribe of the Manda, mentioned by Sargon: for Nabonidus invariably describes the Median kings as “ kings of the Manda.” According to the account of Herodotus, the dynasty was derived from Deioces, the captive of Sargon, whose descendants may have found refuge in the desert. The first historical king would seem to have been Phraortcs, who probably succeeded in subduing the small local 'princes of Media and in rendering himself independent of Assyria. F urther development was arrested by the Scythian invasion described by Herodotus. We know from Zephaniah and Jeremiah that these northern barbarians, in 626 13.0., overran and harried Syria and Palestine (cf. CYAXARES; Jews). With these inroads of the Cimmerians and Scythians (see SCYTHIA), we must doubtless connect the great ethnographical revolution in the north of anterior Asia; the Indo-European Armenians (H aik), displacing the old Alarodians (Urartu, Ararat), in the country which has since borne their name; and the entry of the Cappadocians—first mentioned in the Persian period—into the east of Asia Minor. The Scythian invasion evidently contributed largely to the enfeeblement of the Assyrian Empire: for in the same year the Chaldaean Nabopolassar founded the New-Babylonian empire; and in 606 B.C. Cyaxares captured and destroyed Nineveh and the other Assyrian cities. Syria and the south he abandoned to Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadrezzar; while, on the other hand, Assyria proper, east of the Tigris, the north of Mesopotamia with the town of Harran (Carrhae) and the mountains of Armenia were annexed by the Medes. Cappadocia also fell before Cyaxares; in a war with the Lydian Empire the decisive battle was broken off by the celebrated eclipse of the sun on the 28th of May 585 13.0., foretold by Thales (Herod. i. 74). After this a peace was arranged by Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and Syennesis of Cilicia, recognizing the Halys as the borderline. To the east, the Median Empire extended far over Iran, even the Persians owning its sway. Ecbatana (q.v.) became the capital.

Of the states which arose out of the shattered Assyrian Empire (Media, Babylon, Egypt, Cilicia and Lydia), Media was by far the strongest. In Babylon the kings feared, and the exiled Jews hoped, an attack from the Medes (cf. Isa. xiii, xiv., xxi.; Jer. 1., li.); and Nebuchadrezzar sought by every means— great fortifications, canals and so forth—to secure his empire against the menace from the north. He succeeded in maintaining the status qua practically unimpaired, additional security being found in intermarriage between the two dynasties. In this state of equilibrium the great powers of Anterior Asia remained during the first half of the 6th century.

V. The Persian Empire of the Achaemenids.—The balance, however, was disturbed in 553 13.0., when the Persian Cyrus, king of Anshan in Elam (Susiana), revolted against Conquest, his suzerain Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, and orc'yru: three years later defeated him at Pasargadae (11.11.).l "'1 Shortly afterwards Astyages was taken prisoner, cmbyse" Ecbatana reduced, and the Median Empire replaced by the Persian. The Persian tribes were welded by Cyrus into a single nation, and now became the foremost people in the world (see Pansrs and CYRUS). At first Nabonidus of Babylon hailed the fall of the Medes with delight and utilized the opportunity by Occupying Harran (Carrhae). But before long he recognized the danger threatened from that quarter. Cyrus and his Persians paid little heed to the treaties which the Median king had concluded with the other powers; and the result was a great coalition against him, embracing Nabonidus of Babylon, Amasis of Egypt, Croesus of Lydia, and the Spartans, whose highly efficient army seemed to the Oriental states of great value. In the spring of 546 B.C., Croesus opened the attack. Cyrus

1 See further, BABYLONIA AND Assvnm: 5 v. History.

flung himself upon him, beat him at Pteria in Cappadocia and pursued him to Lydia. A second victory followed on the banks of the Pactolus; by the autumn of 546 Sardis had already fallen and the Persian power advanced at a bound to the Mediterranean. In the course of the next few years the Greek littoral towns were reduced, as also the Carians and Lycians. The king of Cilicia (Syennesis) voluntarily acknowledged the Persian suzerainty. In 539 Nabonidus was defeated and Babylon occupied, while, with the Chaldean Empire, Syria and Palestine also became Persian (see Jews). The east of Iran was further subdued, and, after Cyrus met his end (528 B.C.) in a war against the eastern Nomads (Dahae, Massagetae), his son Cambyses conquered Egypt (525 13.6.). Cyprus and the Greek islands on the coast of Asia Minor also submitted, Samos being taken by Darius. On the other hand, an expedition by Cambyses against the Ethiopian kingdom of Napata and Meroe came to grief in Nubia. The usurpation of Smerdis (522—521 B.C.) and his death at the hands of Darius was the signal for numerous insurrections in Babylon, Susiana, Persis, Media, Armenia and many of the Eastern provinces. But, within two years ( 521-5r9), they were all crushed by Darius and his generals.

The causes of this astonishing success, which, in the brief space of a single generation, raised a previously obscure and secluded tnbe to the mastery o the whole Orient, can only be artially discerned from the evidence at our disposal. he decisive factor was of course their military superiority. The chief weapon of the Persians, as of all Iranians, was the bow, which accordingly the king himself holds in his portraits, e.g. on the Behistun rock and the coins (darics). In addition to the bow, the Persians carried short lances and short daggers. But it was not by these weapons, nor by} hand to hand fi hting, that the Persian victories were won. hey overwhelm their enemy under a hail of arrows, and never allowed him to come to close quarters. While the infantry kneeled to shoot, the cavalry swarmed round the hostile squadrons, threw their lines into confusion, and completed their discomfiture by a vigorous pursuit. In a charge the infantry also might employ lance and dagger; but the essential point was that the archers should be mobile and their use of the bow unhampered.

Consequently, only a few distinguished warriors wore shirts of mail. For purposes of defence the rank and file merely carried a light hide-covered shield; which the infantry, in shooting, planted before them as a sort of barrier against the enemy's missiles. Thus the Persian army was lost, if heavy-armed hoplites succeeded in gaining their lines. In spite of all their bravery, the succumbed to the Greek phalanx, when once the generals ip o a Miltiades or a Pausanias had brought matters to a hand to hand conflict; and it was with justice that the Greeks—Aeschylus, for instance— viewed their battles against the Persian as a contest between spear and bow. None the less, till Marathon the Persians were successful in discomfiting every enemy before he could close, whether that enemy consisted of similarly acooutred bowmen (as the Medes), of cavalry armed with the lance (as the Lydians), or of heavily armoured warriors (as the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks).

To all this should be added the superiority of their leaders; C rus especially must have been an exceedingly able general. 0 viously, also, he must have understood the art of organizing his people and arousinlgl the feeling of nationality and the courage of self-sacrifice. In is time the Persians were a strong manl

asantry, domiciled in a healthy climate and habituated to al Birdships—a point repeatedl emphasized, in the tales preserved b Herodotus, as the cause 0 their successes (8.8. Herod. ix. 122). Ilerodotus, however, also records (i. 135) that the Persians were “ of all mankind the readiest to adopt foreign customs, good or bad," a sentence which is equally applicable to the Romans, and which in the case of both nations goes far to explain, not merely their successes, but also the character of their empires.

Arms and Armour.

The fundamental features of the imperial organization must have been due to Cyrus himself. Darius followed in his steps oaulu. and completed the vast structure. His r61e, indeed, "on OI was peculiarly that of supplementing and perfecting M“ the work of his great predecessor. The organization of the empire is planned throughout on broad, free lines; there is nothing mean and timorous in it. The great god Ahuramazda, whom king and people alike acknowledge, has given them dominion “over this earth afar,‘over many peoples and tongues;" and the consciousness is strong in them that they are masters of the world. Thus their sovereign styles himself “ the king of kings " and “the king of the lands " ——that is to say, of the

[graphic]

whole civilized world. For the provinces remaining unsubdued on the'extreme frontiers to the west, the north and the cast are in their view almost negligible quantities. And far removed as the Persians are from disavowing their proud sense of nationality (“ a Persian, the son of a Persian, an Aryan of Aryan stock ” says Darius of himself in the inscription on his tomb)— yet equally vivid is the feeling that they rule the whole civilized world, that their task is to reduce it to unity, and that by the will of Ahuramazda they are pledged to govern it aright.

This is most clearly seen in the treatment of the subject races. In contrast with the Assyrians and the Romans the Persians invariably conducted their wars with great humanity. The vanquished kings were honourably :3],ng dealt with, the enemy’s towns were spared, except when grave offences and insurrections, as at Miletus and Athens, rendered punishment imperative; and their inhabitants were treated with mildness. Like Cyrus, all his successors welcomed members of the conquered nationalities to their service, employed them as administrators or generals and made them grants of land: and this not only in the case of Medes, but also of Armenians, Lydians, Jews and Greeks. The whole population of the empire was alike bound to military service. The subject-contingents stood side by side with the native Persian troops; and the garrisons—in Egypt, for instance-— were composed of the most varied nationalities.

Among the subject races the Medes particularly stood high in favour. Darius in his inscriptions always names them immediately after the Persians. They were the predecessors of the Persians in the empire and the more civilized people. Their institutions, court ceremonial and dress were all adopted by the Achaemenids. Thus the tribal distinctions began to recede, and the ground was prepared for that amalgamation of the Iranians into a single, uniform nation, which under the Sassanids was completely perfected—at least for west of Iran.

The lion’s share, indeed, falls to the dominant race itself. The inhabitants of Persis proper—from which the eastern tribes of Carmanians, Utians, &c., were excluded and formed into a separate satrapy—pay no taxes. Peanut Instead, they bring the best of their possessions (c.g. a particularly fine fruit) as a gift to their king on festival days; peasants meeting him on his excursions do the same (Plut. Artax. 4. 5; Dinon ap. Aelian. var. hisl. i. 31; Xen. Cyr. viii. 5, 21. 7, I). In recompense for this, he distributes on his return rich presents to every Persian man and woman—the women of Pasargadae, who are members of Cyrus’s tribe, each receiving a piece of gold (Nic. Dam. fr. 66. Plut. Alex. 69). In relation to his Persians, he is always the people’s king. At his accession he is consecrated in the temple of a warrior-goddess (Anaitis P) at Pasargadae, and partakes of the simple meal of the old peasant days—a mess of figs, terebinths and sour milk (Plut. Artax. 3). The Persians swear allegiance to him and pray to Ahuramazda for his life and the welfare of the people, while he vows to protect them against every attack, and to judge and govern them as did his fathers before him (Herod. i. 132; Ken. Cyr. xviii. 5, 25, 27). For helpers he has at his side the “ law-bearers ” (databara Dan. iii. 2, and in Babyl. documents; cf. Herod. 31, v. 25, r94; Esther i. 13, &c.). These—the Persian judges—are nominated by the king for life, and generally bequeath their oflice to their sons. The royal decision is based on consultation with the great ones of his people: and such is the case with his oflicials and governors everywhere (cf. the Book of Ezra).

Every Persian able to bear arms is bound to serve the king —the great landowners on horseback, the commonalty on foot. The noble and well-to-do, who need not till their fields in person, are pledged to appear at court as frequently as possible. Their children are brought up in company with the princes “ at the gates of the king,” instructed in the handling of arms, in riding and hunting, and introduced to the service of the state and the knowledge of the law, as well as the commandments of religion. Then such as prove their worth are called to high office and rewarded, generally with grants of land.

« السابقةمتابعة »