religion, and were all indifferently derided by a crowd of infidels, who rejected the divine mission and miracles of the prophet. To suppress the idolaters, reunite the schismatics, and confute the unbelievers, by the infallible decision of a general council, the pious Artaxerxes summoned i. Magi from all parts of his dominions. These priests, who had so long sighed in contempt and obscurity, obeyed the welcome summons; and on the appointed day appeared, to the number of about eighty thousand. But as the debates of so #. an assembly could not have been directed by the authority of reason, or influenced by the art of policy, the Persian synod was reduced, by successive operations, to forty thousand, to fourthousand, to four hundred, to forty, and at last to seven Magi, the most respected for their learning and piety. One of these, Erdaviraph, a young but holy prelate, received from the hands of his brethren three cups of soporiferous wine. He drank them off, and instantly fell into a long and profound sleep. As soon as he waked, he related to the king and to the believing multitude, his journey to Heaven, and his intimate conferences with the Deity. Every doubt was silenced by this supernatural evidence; and the articles of the saith of Zoroaster were fixed with equal authority and precision.(9) A short delineation of that celebrated system will be found useful, not only to display the character of the Persian nation, but to illustrate many of their most important transactions, both in peace and war, with the Roman empire.(10)

he great and fundamental article of the system, was the celebrated doctrine of the two principles; a bold and injudicious attempt of Eastern philosophy to reconcile the existence of moral and physical evil, with the attributes of a beneficent Creator and Governor of the world. . The first and original Being, in whom, or by whom, the universe exists, is denominated in the writings of Zoroaster, Time without bounds;t but it must be confessed, that this infinite substance seems rather a metaphysical abstraction of the mind, than a real object endowed with self-consciousness, or possessed of moral perfections. From either the blind, or the intelligent operation of this infinite Time, which bears but too near an affinity with the chaos of the Greeks, the two secondary but active principles of the universe, were from all etermity produced, Qrmusd and Ahriman, each of them possessed of the powers of creation, but each disposed, by his invariable nature, to exercise them with different designs. The princii. of good is eternally absorbed in light; the principle of evil eternally buried in darkness. The wise benevolence of Örmusi formed man capable of virtue, and abundantly provided his fair habitation with the materials of happiness. By his vigilant providence, the motion of the planets, the order of the seasons, and the temperate mixture of the elements, are preserved. But the malice of Ahriman has long since pierced Ormusd's e g; or, in other words, has violated the harmony of his .. Since that fatal irruption, the most minute articles of good and evil are intimately intermingled and agitated together; the rankest poisons spring up amidst the most salutary plants; deluges, earthquakes, and conflagrations, attest the conflict of Nature, and the little world of man is perpetually shaken by vice and misfortune. While the rest of human kind are led away captive in i. chains of their infernal enemy, the faithful Persian alone reserves his religious adoration for his friend and protector Ormusd, and fights under his banner of light, in the full confidence that he shall, in the last ay, share the glory of his triumph. At that decisive period, the enlightened wisdom of goodness will, render the power, of Ormusd superior to the furious malice of his rival. Ahriman and his followers, disarmed and subdued, will sink into their native darkness; and virtue will maintain the eternal peace and harmony of the universe.(11)


(9) Hyde de Religione veterum Pers. c. 21.

(10) I have principally drawn this account from the Zendavesta of M. d’Anquetil, and the Sadder, subjoined to Dr. Hyde's treatise. It must, however, be confessed, that the studied obscurity of a prophet, the figurative style of the East, and the deceitful medium of a French or Latin version, may have betrayed us into error and heresy, in this abridgment of Persian theology.”

(11) The modern Persees (and in some degree the Sadder) exalt Ormusd into the first and omnipotent cause, while they degrade Ahriman into an inferior but rebellious spirit. Their desire of pleasing the Mahonietans may have contributed to refine their theological system.

ol. 1 –

The theology of Zoroaster was darkly comprehended by foreigners, and even by the far greater number of his disciples; but the most careless obser vers were struck with the philosophic simplicity of the Persian worship. “That people,” says Herodotus,(12) “rejects the use of temples, of altars, and of statues, and o at the folly of those nations, who imagine that the gods are sprung from, or bear any affinity with the human nature. The tops of the highest mountains are the places chosen for sacrifices. Hymns and prayers are the principal worship; the supreme God who fills the wide circuit of heaven, is the object to whom they are addressed.” Yet at the same time, in the true spirit of a polytheist, he accuses them of adoring Earth, Water, Fire, the inds, and the Sun and Moon. But the Persians of every age have denied the charge, and explained the equivocal conduct, which might appear to give a colour to it. ... The elements, and more particularly Fire, Light, and the Sun, whom they called Mithra, were the objects of their religious reverence, because they considered them as the purest symbols, the noblest productions, and the most powerful agents of the Divine Power and Nature.(13) Every mode of religion, to make a deep and lasting impression on the hu man mind, must exercise our obedience, by enjoining practices of devotion, for which we can assign no reason; and must acquire our esteem, by inculcating moral duties analogous to the dictates of our own hearts. The religion of Zoroaster was abundantly provided with the former, and possessed a sufficient portion of the latter. At the age of puberty, the faithful Persian was invested with a mysterious girdle, the badge of the divine protection; and from that moment, all the actions of his life, even the most indifferent, or the most necessary, were sanctified by their peculiar prayers, ejaculations, or genuflections; the omission of which, under any circumstances, was a grievous sin, not inferior in guilt to the violation of the moral duties. The moral duties, however, of Justice, . liberality, &c. were in their turn ol. of the disciple of Zoroaster, who wished to escape the persecution of Ahriman, and to live with Ormusd in a blissful eternity, where the degree of felicity will be exactly proportioned to the degree of virtue and piety.(14) But there are some remarkable instances, in which Zoroaster lays aside the F. assumes the legislator, and discovers a liberal concern for private and public happiness, seldom to be found among the grovelling or visionary schemes of superstition. Fasting and celibacy, the common means of purchasing the Divine favour, he condemns with abhorrence, as a criminal rejection of the best gifts of Providence. The saint, in the Magian religion, is obliged to beget children, to plant useful trees, to destroy noxious animals, to convey water to the dry lands of Persia, and to work out his salvation by pursuing all the labours of agriculture." We may quote from the Zendavesta a wise and benevolent maxim, which compensates for many an absurdity. “He who sows the ground with care and diligence, acquires a greater stock of religious merit, than he could gain by the repetition of ten thousand prayers.”(15) In the spring of every year a fest val was celebrated, destined to represent the primitive equality, and the present connexion of mankind. The ...; kings of É. exchanging their vain pomp for more genuine greatness, freely mingled with the humblest but most useful of their subjects. On that day the husbandmen were admit ted, without distinction, to the table of the king, and his satraps. The monarch accepted their petitions, inquired into their grievances, and conversed with them 9n the most equal terms... “From your labours,” was he accustomed to say (and to say with truth, if not with sincerity,) “from your labours, we receive our subsistence; you derive your tranquillity from our vigilance; since, there (12) Herodotus, l. i. c. 131. But Dr. Prideaux thinks, with reason, that the use of temples was afterward permitted in the Magian religion.” (13) Hyde de Relig. Pers. c. 8. Notwithstanding all their distinctions and protestations, which seem ...; i.; their tyrants, the Mahometans, have constantly stigmatized them, as idolatrous worshipro; See the Sadder, the smallest part of which consists of moral precepts. The ceremonies enjoined are infinite and trifling. Fifteen genuflexions, prayers, &c. were required whenever the devout Persian fore, we are mutually necessary to each other, let us live together like brothers in concord and love.”(16) . Such a festival must indeed have degenerated, in a wealthy and despotic .. into a theatrical representation; but it was at least a comedy well worthy of a royal audience, and which might sometimes imprint a salutary lesson on the mind of a young prince.

cut his nails, or made water; or as often as he put on the sacred girdle. Sadder, Art. 14.50–60.3 (15) Zendavesta, tom. i. p. 224, and Precis du Systeme de Soroastre, tom. iii.

É. Zoroaster, in all his institutions, invariably supported this exalted chanacter, his name would deserve a place with those of Numa and Confucius, and his system would be justly entitled to all the applause, which it has pleased some of our divines, and even some of our philosophers, to bestow on it. But in that motley composition, dictated by reason and passion, by enthusiasm and by selfish motives, some useful and sublime truths were disgraced by a mixture o the most abject and dangerous superstition. The Magi, or sacerdotal order were *:::::: numerous, since, as we have already seen, fourscore thousand of them were convened in a general council. Their forces were multiplied by discipline. A regular hierarchy was diffused through all the provinces of Persia; and the Archimagus, who resided at Balch, was respected as the visible head of the church, and the lawful successor of Zoroaster.(17) The property of the Magi was very considerable. , Besides the less invidious possession of a large tract of the most fertile lands of Media,(18) they levied a general tax on the fortunes and the industry of the Persians.(19) “Though your good works,” says the interested prophet, “exceed in number the leaves of the trees, the drops of rain, the stars in the heavens, or the sands on the sea shore, they will all be unprofitable to you, unless they are accepted by the destour, or priest. To obtain the acceptation of this guide to salvation, you must faithfully pay him tithes of all you possess, of your goods, of your lands, and of your money. If the distour be satisfied, your soul will escape hell tortures; you will secure praise in this world, and happiness in the next. For the distours are o: teachers of religion; they know all things, and they deliver all men.”(20)*

These * maxims of reverence and implicit faith were doubtless imprinted with care on the tender minds of youth ; since the Magi were the masters of education in Persia, and to their hands the children, even of the royal family, were intrusted.(21) The Persian priests, who were of a speculative genius, preserved and investigated the secrets of oriental philosophy; and acquired, either by superior knowledge, or superior art, the reputation of being well versed in some occult sciences, which have derived their appellation from the Magi.(22) Those of more active dispositions mixed with the world in courts and cities; and it is observed that the administration of Artaxerxes was in a great measure directed by the counsels of the sacerdotal order, whose § either from policy or devotion, that prince restored to its ancient splen


The i. counsel of the Magi was agreeable to the unsociable genius of their |. to the practice of ancient kings,(25), and even to the example of their legislator, who had fallen a victim to a religious war, excited by his own intolerant zeal.(26). By an edict of Artaxerxes, the exercise of every worship, except that of Zoroaster, was severely prohibited. The temples of the Par

(16) Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 19. (17) Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 28. Both Hyde and Prideaux affect to apply to the Magian, the terms consecrated to the Christian hierarchy. (18) Ammian. Marcellin. xxiii. 6. He informs us (as far as we may credit him) of two curious particulars; 1. that the Magi derived some of their most sacred doctrines from the Indian Brachmans; and, 2. that they were a tribe or family, as well as order. (19) The divine institution of tithes exhibits a singular instance of conformity between the law of Zoroaster and that of Moses. Those who cannot otherwise account for it, may suppose, if they please, that the Magi of the latter times inserted so useful an interpolation into the writings of their prophet. (20) Sadder, Art. 8. (21) Plato in Alcibiad. - --(22) Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. xxx. c. 1) observes that magic held mankind by the triple chain of religion, of o: and of astronomy. (23) Agathias, l. iv. p. 134. (24) Mr. Hume, in the Natural History of Religion, sagaciously remarks, that the most refined and philosophic sects are constantly the most intolerant.t - (25) Cicero de Legibus, ii. 10. Xerxes, by the advice of the Magi, destroyed the temples of Greece. (26 Hyde de Rei. Persar. c. 23, 24. D'Herbelot Bibliothèque Orientale Zerdusht. Life of Zoroaster intom. ii. of the Zendavesta I 2

thians, and the statues of their deified monarchs, were thrown down with ignomin (...) The sword of Aristotle (such was the name given by the orientals to the polytheism and philosophy of the Greeks) was easily broken;(28), the flames of persecution soon reached the more stubborn Jews and Christians;(29) nor did they spare the heretics of their own nation and religion. The majesty of Ormusd, who was jealous of a rival, was seconded by the despotism of Artaxerxes, who could not suffer a rebel ; and the schismatics within his vast emire were soon reduced to the inconsiderable number of eighty thousand.(30)” #. spirit of persecution reflects dishonour on the religion of Zoroaster; but as it was not productive of any civil commotion, it served to strengthen the new monarchy, by uniting all the various inhabitants of Persia in the bands of religious zeal.t II. Artaxerxes, by his valour and conduct, had wrested the sceptre of the East from the ancient royal family of Parthia. There still remained the more difficult task of §. throughout the vast extent of Persia, a uniform and vigorous administration. The weak indulgence of the Arsacides, had resigned to their sons and brothers the H.; provinces, and the greatest offices of the kingdom, in the nature of hereditary possessions. The vitazae, or o most powerful satraps, were permitted to assume the regal title; and the vain pride of the monarch was delighted with a nominal dominion over so many vassal kings. Even tribes of barbarians in their mountains, and the Greek cities of Upper Asia,(31) within their walls, . acknowledged, or seldom obeyed, any superior; and the Parthian empire exhibited, under other names, a lively image of the feudal o which has since prevailed in Europe. But the active victor, at the head of a numerous and disciplined army, visited in person every province of Persia. . The defeat of the boldest rebels, and the reduction of the strongest fortifications,(33) diffused the terror of his arms, and prepared the way for the peaceful reception of his authority. An obstinate resistance was fatal to the chiefs; but their followers were treated with lenity.(34) . A cheerful submission was rewarded with honours and riches; but the prudent Artaxerxes, suffering no person except himself to assume the title of king, abolished every intermediate power between the throne and the people. #. kingdom, j. equal in extent to modern Persia, was, on every side, bounded by the sea, or # great rivers; by the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Araxes, the Oxus, and the Indus, by the Caspian Sea, and the Gulf of Per...” That country was computed to contain, in the last century, five hundred and fifty-four cities, sixty thousand villages, and about forty millions of souls.(36). If we compare the administration of the house of Sassan with that of the house of Sefi, the political influence of the Magian with that of the Ma

(27). Compare Moses of Chorene, l. ii. c. 74, with Ammian. Marcellin. xxiii. 6. Hereafter I shall make use of these passages. (28). Rabbi Abraham in the Tarikh Schickard, p. 108, 109. (29) Basnage Histoire des Juifs, 1. viii. c. 3. Sozomen, l. ii. c. 1. Manes, who suffered an ignominious death, may be deemed a Magian, as well as a Christian heretic. (30) Hyde de Religione Persar. c. 21. (31) These colonies were extremely numerous, Seleucus Nicator founded thirty-nine cities, all named from himself, or some of his relations (see Appian, in Syriac. p. 124). The era of Seleucus (still in use among the Eastern Christians) appears as late as the year 508, of Christ 196, on the medals of the Greek cities within the Parthian empire. See Moyle's works, vol. i. p. 273, &c. and M. Freret, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xix. (32). The modern Persians distinguish that period as the dynasty of the kings of the nations. See Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 25. (33) Eutychius (tom. i. p. 367–371–375,) relates the siege of the island of Mesene in the Tigris, with some circumstances not unlike the story of Nisus and Scylla. (34) Agathias ii. 164. The princes of Segesian defended their independence during many years. As romances generally transport to an ancient period the events of their own time, it is not impossible, that the fabulous exploits of Rustan, prince of Segestan, may have been grafted on this real history. (35). We can scarcely attribute to the Persian monarchy the sea coast of Gedrosia or Macran, which extends along the Indian Qcean from Cape Jask (the promontory Capella) to Cape Goadel. In the time of Alexander, and probably many ages afterward, it was thinly inhabited by a savage people of Icthyo; or fishermen, who knew no arts, who acknowledged no master, and who were divided by inhos pitable deserts from the rest of the world. See Arrian de Reb. Indicis. In the twelfth century, the little town of Taiz (supposed by M. d'Anville to be the Tesa of Ptolemy) was peopled and enriched by the resort of the Arabian merchants. (See Geographie Nubiens, p. 58, and d'Anville Geographie Ancienne. tom. ii. p. 283.) In the last age the whole country was divided between three princes, one Mahometar and two Idolaters, who maintained r independ against the of Shaw Abbas. Voyages de Tavernier, parti.l. v. p. 635. . (36) Chardin, tom. iii. c. 1, 2, 3.


hometan religion, we shall probably infer, that the kingdom of Artaxerxes contained at least as great a number of cities, villages, and inhabitants. But it must likewise be confessed, that in every age the want of harbours on the sea coast, and the scarcity of fresh water in the inland provinces, have been ve unfavourable to the commerce and agriculture of the Persians; who, in the calculation of their numbers, seem to . indulged one of the meanest, though most common, articles of national vanity. As soon as the ambitious mind of Artaxerxes had triumphed over the resistance of his vassals, he began to threaten the neighbouring states, who, during the long slumber of his predecessors, had insulted Persia with impunity. He obtained some easy victories over the wild Scythians and the effeminate Indians; but the Romans were an enemy, who, by their past injuries and present }...; deserved the utmost efforts of {i, arms. A forty years' tranquillity, the ruit of valour and moderation, had succeeded the victories of Trajan. During the period that elapsed from the accession of Marcus to thereign of Alexander, the Roman and the Parthian empires were twice engaged inwar; and although the whole strength of the Arsacides contended with a part only of the forces of Rome, the event was most commonly in favour of the latter. Macrinus, in: deed, prompted by his precarious situation, and pusillanimous temper, pubchased a peace at the expense of near two millions of our money;(37) but the enerals of Marcus, the emperor Severus and his son, erected many trophies in menia, Mesopotamia and Assyria. Among their exploits, the imperfect relation of which would have unseasonably interrupted the more important series of domestic revolutions, we shall only mention the repeated calamities of the two great cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, Seleucia, on the western bank of the Tigris, about forty-five miles to the north of ancient Babylon, was the capital of the Macedonian conquests in Upper Asia.(38). Many ages after the fall of their empire, Seleucia retained the enuine characters of a Grecian colony, arts, military virtue, and the love of #. The independent republic was governed by a senate of three hundred nobles; the people consisted of six hundred thousand citizens; the walls were strong, and as long as concord prevailed among the several orders of the state, they viewed with contempt the power of the Parthian: but the madness of faction was sometimes provoked to implore the dangerous aid of the common enemy, who was posted almost at the gates of the colony.(39). The Parthian monarchs, like the Mogulsovereigns of Hindostan, delighted in the pastoral life of their Scythian ancestors; and the imperial camp was frequently pitched in the plain of Ctesiphon, on the eastern bank of the Tigris, at the distance of only three miles from Seleucia.(40) The innumerable attendants on luxury and despotism resorted to the court, and the little village of Ctesiphon insensibl swelled into a great city.(41) Under the reign of Marcus, the Roman o netrated as far as Ctesiphon and Seleucia. They were received as friends y the Greek colony; they attacked as enemies the seat of the Parthian kings; § both cities experienced the same treatment. The sack and conflagration of eleucia, with the massacre of three hundred thousand of the inhabitants, tar. nished the glory of the Roman triumph.(42) o 198.] Seleucia, already exhausted by the neighbourhood of a too powerful rival, sunk under the fatal blow; but Ctesiphon, in about thirty-three years, had sufficiently recovered in strength to maintain an obstinate siege against the emperor Severus. The city (37) Dion, 1.xxviii. p. 1335. (38). For the precise situation of Babylon, Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Modain, and Bagdad, cities often confounded with each other; see an excellent Geographical Tract of M. d'Anville, in Mem. de l'Academie, tonn. xxx. (39) Tacit. Annal. xi. 42. Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 26. (40). This may beinferred from Strabo, 1.xvi. p. 743. (41). That most curious traveller Bernier, who followed the camp of Aurengzebe from Dehli to Cashmir, describes with great accuracy the immense moving city. The guard of cavalry consisted or 35,000 men, that of infantry of 10,000. It was computed that the camp contained 150,000 horses, mules, and elephants; 50,000 camels; 50,000 oxen, and between 300,000 and 400,000 persons. Almost all Dehli followed the court, whose magnificence supported its industry. (42) Dion, 1.1xxxi. p. 1178. Hist. August. p. 38. Eutrop. viii. 10. Euseb. in Chronic. Quadratus

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