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essences are everywhere objects of worship to the disciple of Zoroaster. We have thus found in Persepolis, not only the palace of the great kings of Persia, but the home of that most ancient system of Dualism, the system of Zoroaster.
§ 2. Greek Accounts of Zoroaster. Plutarch's Description
of his Religion. But who was Zoroaster, and what do we know of him? He is mentioned by Plato, about four hundred years before Christ. In speaking of the education of a Persian prince he says that “one teacher instructs him in the magic of Zoroaster, the son (or priest) of Ormazd (or Oromazes), in which is comprehended all the worship of the gods." He
He is also spoken of by Diodorus, Plutarch, the elder Pliny, and many writers of the first centuries after Christ. The worship of the Magians is described by Herodotus before Plato. Herodotus gives very minute accounts of the ritual, priests, sacrifices, purifications, and mode of burial used by the Persian Magi in his time, four hundred and fifty years before Christ; and his account closely corresponds with the practices of the Pârsis, or fire-worshippers, still remaining in one or two places in Persia and India at the present day. “The Persians," he says, “ have no altars, no temples nor images; they worship on the tops of the mountains. They adore the heavens, and sacrifice to the sun, moon, earth, fire, water, and winds. They do not erect altars, nor use libations, fillets, or cakes. One of the Magi sings an ode concerning the origin of the gods, over the sacrifice, which is laid on a bed of tender grass.
“They pay great reverence to all rivers, and must do nothing to defile them; in burying they never put the body in the ground till it has been torn by some bird or dog; they cover the body with wax, and then put it in the ground.” “The Magi think they do a meritorious act when they kill ants, snakes, reptiles." +
Herodotus, I. 131. + Herodotus, in various parts of his history.
Plutarch's account of Zoroaster* and his precepts, is very remarkable. It is as follows:
“Some believe that there are two Gods, as it were, two rival workmen"; the one whereof they make to be the maker of good things, and the other bad. And some call the better of these God, and the other Dæmon; as doth Zoroastres, the Magee, whom they report to be five thousand years elder than the Trojan times. This Zoroastres therefore called the one of these Oromazes, and the other Arimanius; and affirmed, moreover, that the one of them did, of anything sensible, the most resemble light, and the other darkness and ignorance; but that Mithras was in the middle betwixt them. For which cause, the Persians called Mithras the mediator. And they tell us that he first taught mankind to make vows and offerings of thanksgiving to the one, and to offer averting and feral sacrifice to the other. For they beat a certain plant called homomy † in a mortar, and call upon Pluto and the dark; and then mix it with the blood of a sacrificed wolf, and convey it to a certain place where the sun never shines, and there cast it away. For of plants they believe, that some pertain to the good God, and others again to the evil Dæmon; and likewise they think that such animals as dogs, fowls, and urchins belong to the good; but water animals to the bad, for which reason they account him happy that kills most of them. These men, moreover, tell us a great many romantic things about these gods, whereof these are some: They say that Oromazes, springing from purest light, and Arimanius, on the other hand, from pitchy darkness, these two are therefore at war with one another. And that Oromazes made six gods, whereof the first was the author of benevolence, the second of truth, the third of justice, and the rest, one of wisdom,
*“ Plutarch's Morals. Translated from the Greek by several hands. London. Printed for W. Taylor, at the Ship in Pater-noster Row. 1718.” This passage concerning Zoroaster is from the “ Isis and Osiris" in Vol. IV. of this old translation, We have retained the antique terminology and spelling. (See also the new American edition of this translation. Boston, Little and Brown, 1871.)
+ This is the Haoma spoken of on page 202. I These, with Ormazd, are the seven Amshaspands enumerated on one of wealth, and a third of that pleasure which accrues from good actions; and that Arimanius likewise made the like number of contrary operations to confront them. After this, Oromazes, having first trebled his own magnitude, mounted up aloft, so far above the sun as the sun itself above the earth, and so bespangled the heavens with stars. But one star (called Sirius or the Dog) he set as a kind of sentinel or scout before all the rest. And after he had made four-and-twenty gods more, he placed them all in an egg-shell. But those that were made by Arimanius (being themselves also of the like number) breaking a hole in this beauteous and glazed egg-shell, bad things came by this means to be intermixed with good. But the fatal time is now approaching, in which Arimanius, who by means of this brings plagues and famines upon the earth, must of necessity be himself utterly extinguished and destroyed; at which time, the earth, being made plain and level, there will be one life, and one society of mankind, made all happy, and one speech. But Theopompus saith, that, according to the opinion of the Magees, each of these gods subdues, and is subdued by turns, for the space of three thousand years apiece, and that for three thousand years more they quarrel and fight and destroy each other's works; but that at last Pluto shall fail, and mankind shall be happy, and neither need food, nor yield a shadow.* And that the god who projects these things doth, for some time, take his repose and rest; but yet this time is not so much to him although it seems so to man, whose sleep is but short. Such, then, is the mythology of the Magees.”
We shall see presently how nearly this account corresponds with the religion of the Pârsis, as it was developed out of the primitive doctrine of Zoroaster.
Besides what was known through the Greeks, and some * See the account, on page 195, of these four periods of three thousand accounts contained in Arabian and Persian writers, there was, until the middle of the last century, no certain information concerning Zoroaster and his teachings. But the enterprise, energy, and scientific devotion of a young Frenchman changed the whole aspect of the subject, and we are now enabled to speak with some degree of certainty concerning this great teacher and his doctrines.
+ Kleuker (Anhang zum Zend-Avesta) has given a full résumé of the references to Zoroaster and his religion in the Greek and Roman writers. More recently, Professor Rapp of Tiibingen has gone over the same ground in a very instructive essay in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlândischen Gesellschaft. (Leipzig, 1865.)
§ 3. Anquetil du Perron and his Discovery of the Zend
Avesta. Anquetil du Perron, born at Paris in 1731, devoted himself early to the study of Oriental literature. He mastered the Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian languages, and by his ardor in these studies attracted the ention of Oriental scholars. Meeting one day in the Royal Library with a fragment of the Zend Avesta, he was seized with the desire of visiting India, to recover the lost books of Zoroaster, “and to learn the Zend language in which they were written, and also the Sanskrit, so as to be able to read the manuscripts in the Bibliothèque du Roi, which no one in Paris understood.” * His friends endeavored to procure him a situation in an expedition just about to sail; but their efforts not succeeding, Du Perron enlisted as a private soldier, telling no one of his intention till the day before setting out, lest he should be prevented from going. He then sent for his brother and took leave of him with many tears, resisting all the efforts made to dissuade him from his purpose. His baggage consisted of a little linen, a Hebrew Bible, a case of mathematical instruments, and the works of Montaigne and Charron. A ten days' march, with other recruits, through wet and cold, brought him to the port from whence the expedition was to sail. Here he found that the government, struck with his extraordinary zeal for science, had directed that he should have his discharge and a small salary of five hundred livres. The East India Company (French) gave him a passage gratis, and he set sail for India, February 7, 1755, being then twenty-four years old. The first two years in
Ang. du Perron, Zend Avesta ; Disc. Prélim., D. th
India were almost lost to him for purposes of science, on account of his sicknesses, travels, and the state of the country disturbed by war between England and France.* He travelled afoot and on horseback over a great part of Hindostan, saw the worship of Juggernaut and the monumental caves of Ellora, and, in 1759, arrived at Surat, where was the Pârsi community from which he hoped for help in obtaining the object of his pursuit. By perseverance and patience he succeeded in persuading the Destours, or priests, of these fire-worshippers, to teach him the Zend language and to furnish him with manuscripts of the Avesta. With one hundred and eighty valuable manuscripts he returned to Europe, and published, in 1771, his great work, — the Avesta translated into French, with notes and dissertations. He lived through the French Revolution, shut up with his books, and immersed in his Oriental studies, and died, after a life of continued labor, in 1805. Immense erudition and indomitable industry were joined in Anquetil du Perron to a pure love of truth and an excellent heart.
For many years after the publication of the Avesta its genuineness and authenticity were a matter of dispute among the learned men of Europe ; Sir William Jones especially denying it to be an ancient work, or the production of Zoroaster. But almost all modern writers of eminence now admit both. Already in 1826 Heeren said that these books had "stood the fiery ordeal of criticism." "Few remains of antiquity,” he remarks,“ have undergone such attentive examination as the books of the Zend Avesta. This criticism has turned out to their advantage; the genuineness of the principal compositions, especially of the Vendidad and Izeschne (Yaçna), has been demonstrated ; and we may consider as completely ascertained all that regards the rank of each book of the Zend Avesta."
* At the time Anquetil du Perron was thus laboring in the cause of sci. ence in India, two other men were in the same region devoting themselves with equal ardor to very different objects. Clive was laying the foundations of the British dominion in India ; Schwartz was giving himself up to a life of toil in preaching the Gospel to the Hindoos. How little would these three men have sympathized with each other, or appreciated each other's work! And yet how important to the progress of humanity was that of each !