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from the hands of their enervated successors. The Medes Bud the Babylonians divided their pewer, and were themselves ■wallowed up in the monarchy of the Persians, whose arms could not be confined within the narrow limits of Asia. Followed, as it is said, by two millions of men, Xerxes, the descendant of Cyrus, invaded Greece. Thirty thousand soldiers, under the command of Alexander, the son of Philip, who was intrusted by the Greeks with their glory and revenge, were sufficient to subdue Persia. The princes of the house of Seleucus usurped and lost the Macedonian command over the East. About the same time, that, by an ignominious treaty, they resigned to the Romans the country on this side Mount Tarns, they were driven by the Parthians,* an obscure horde of Scythian origin, from all the provinces of Upper Asia. The formidable power of the Parthians, which spread from India to the frontiers of Syria, was in its turn subverted by Ardshir, or Artaxerxes; the founder of a new dynasty, which, under the name of Sassanides, governed Persia till the invasion of the Arabs. This great revolution, whose fatal influence was soon experienced by the Romans, happened in the fourth year of Alexander Severus, two hundred and twenty-six years after the Christian ffira.9t
The Astronomical Observations, found at Babylon by Alexander, went fifty years higher.
* In the five hundred and thirty-eighth year of the aera of Seleucus. See Agathias, 1. ii. p. 63. This great event (such is the carelessness of the Orientals) is placed by Eutychius as high as the tenth year of Commodus, and by Moses of Chorene as low as the reign of Philip. Ammianus Marcellinus has so servilely copied (xxiii. 6) his ancient materials, which are indeed very good, that he describes the family of the Arsacides as still 8cated on the Persian throne in the •middle of the fourth century.
• The Parthians were a tribe of the Indo-Germanic branch which dwelt on the south-east of the Caspian, and belonged to the same race as the Getae, the Massagetae, and other nations, confounded by the ancients under the vague denomination of Scythians. Klaproth, Tableaux Hist. de 1'Asie, p. 40. Strabo (p. 747) calls the Parthians Carduchi, i. e., the inhabitants of Curdistan,— M.
t The Persian History, if the poetry of the Shah Nameh, the Book of Kings, may deserve that name, mentions tour dynasties from the earliest ages to the invasion of the Saracens. The Shah Nameh was composed with the view of perpetuating the remains of the original Persian records or traditions which had survived the Saracenic invasion. The task was undertaken by the poet Dukiki, and afterwards, under the patronage of Mahmood of Ghazni, completed by Fcrdusi. The first of these dynasties U that of Kaiomors, as Sir W. Jones observes, the dark and fabulous period; the second, that of the Kaianian, the heroic and poetical, in which the
Artaxorxes had served with great reputation in the armiea of Artaban, ihe last king of the Parthians, and it appears that he was driven into exile and rebellion by royal ingratitude, the customary reward for superior merit. His birth was obscure, and the obscurity equally gave room to the aspersions of his enemies, and the flattery of his adherents. If we credit the scandal of the former, Artaxerxes sprang from the illegitimate commerce of a tanner's wife with a common soldier.3 The latter represent him as descended from a branch of the ancient kings of Persia, though time and misfortune had gradually reduced his ancestors to the humble station of private citizens.4 As the lineal heir of the monarchy, he asserted his right to the throne, and challenged the noble task of delivering the Persians from the oppression under which they groaned above five centuries since the death of Darius. The Parthians were defeated in three great battles.* In the last of these their king Artaban was slain, and the spirit of the nation was forever broken.5 The authority of Artaxerxes was solemnly acknowledged in a great assembly held at Raich in Khorasan.t Two younger branches of the royal house of Arsaces were confounded among the prostrate satraps. A third, more mindful of ancient grandeur than of present necessity, attempted to retire, with a numerous tram df vassals, towards their kinsman, the king of Armenia; but this little arrr.y of deserters was intercepted, and cut off, by the vigilance of the conqueror,6 who boldly assumed the double dia
s The tanner's name was Babcc; the soldier's, Sassan: from trie former Artaxerxes obtained the surnamo of Babcgan, from the latter all his descendant* have been styled Suttanidet.
4 D'llerbclot, Bibliothequc Orientale, Ardthir.
* Dion Cassius, 1. lxxx. Hcrodian, 1. vi. p. 207. Abulpharagius Dynast. p. 80.
• See Moses Chorenensis, 1. ii. c. 65—71.
learned have discovered some curious, and imagined some fanciful, analogies with the Jewish, the Greek, and the Roman accounts of the eastern world. See, on the Shah Namch, Translation by Goerres, with Von Hammer's Review, Vienna Jahrbuch von Lit. 17, 75, 77. Malcolm's Persia, 8vo. ed. i. 503. Macan's Preface to his Critical Edition of the Shah Namch. On the early Persian History, a very sensible abstract of various opinions in Malcolm's Hist. of Persia. — M.
• In the plain of Hoormui, the son of Babek was hailed in the field with the proud title of Shahan Shah, king of kings — a name ever since assumed by the sovereigns of Persia. Malcolm, i. 71. — M.
t See the Persian account of the rise cf Ardeschir Babegan, in Malcolm. 1 . 69 —M.
dcm, and the title of Ki-,g of Kings, which had been enjoyed by his predecessor. But these pompous titles, instead of gratifying the vanity of the Persian, served only to admonish him of his duty, and to inflame in his soul the ambition of restoring, in their full splendor, the religion and empire of Cyrus
I. During the long servitude of Persia under the Macedonian and the Parthian yoke, the nations of Europe and Asia had mutually adopted and corrupted each other's superstitions. The Arsacides, indeed, practised the worship of the Magi; but they disgraced and polluted it with a various mixture of foreign idolatry.* The memory of Zoroaster, the ancient prophet and philosopher of the Persians,7 was still revered in the East; but the obsolete and mysterious language, in which (he Zendavesta was composed,8 opened a field of dispute to seventy sects, who variously explained the fundamental doc
'Hyde and Prideaux, working up the Fersian legends and their own conjectures into a very agreeable story, represent Zoroaster as a contemporary of Darius Hystaspes. But it is sufficient to observe, that the Greek writers, who lived almost in the age of Darius, agree in placing the aera of Zoroaster many hundred, or even thousand, years before their own time. The judicious criticism of Mr. Moyle perceived, and maintained against his uncle Dr. Prideaux, the antiquity of the Persian prophet. See his work, vol. ii.t
'That ancient idiom was colled the Zend. The language of the commentary, the Pehlvi, though much more modern, has ceased many ages ago to be a living tongue. This fact alone (if it is allowed as authentic) sufficiently warrants the antiquity of those writings
• SiWestre de Sacy (Antiquites de la Perse) has proved the neglect of the Zoroastrian religion under the Parthian kings. — M.
t There are three leading theories concerning the age of Zoroaster: I. That which assigns him to an age of great and almost indefinite antiquity— it is that of Moyle, adopted by Gibbon, Volney, Reeherches sur "Histoire, ii. 2. Rhode, also, (die Heiliire Sage, &c.,) in a very ingenious and ably-developed theory, throws the Bactrian prophet, far back into intiquity. 2. Foucher, (Mem. de l'Acad. xxvii. 253,) Tychsen, (in Com. Soc. Gott. ii. 112,) Heeren, (Ideen. i. 459.) and recently Holty, identify the Gushtasp of the Persian mythological history with Cyaxares the First, the king of the Medes, and consider the religion to be Median in its origin. M. Guizot considers this opinion most probable, note in loc. 3. Hyde, Prideaux, Anquetil du Perron, Kleuker, ' Herder, Goerres, (Mytheu-Gesehichte,) Von Hammer, (Wien. Jahrbuch, vol. ix.,) Malcolm, (i. 528,) De Quigniaut, (Relig. de l'Antiq. 2d part, vol. iii.,) Klaproth, (Tableaux de I'Asie, p. 21,) make Gushtasp Darius Hystaspes, and Zoroaster his contemporary. The silence of Herodotus appears the great objection to this theory. Some writers, as M. Foucher, (resting, as M. Guizot observes, on the doubtful authority cf Pliny,) make more than one Zoroaster. and so tttempt to reconcile ths oonfiicting theories. — M. VOL. I. 20
trines of their 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 sum
which M. d'Anquetil has brought into Europe, and translated into French.*
• Zend signifies life, living. The word means, either the collection of the canonical books of the followers of Zoroaster, or the language itself in
which they are written. Thav are the books that contain the word of life, whether the language was. originally called Zend, or whether it was so called from the contents of the books. Avesta means word, oracle. revelation: this term is not the jitle of a particular work, but of the collection of the books of Zoroaster, as the revelation of Ormuzd. This collection is sometimes called Zendavesta, sometimes briefly Zend.
The Zend was the ancient language of Media, as is proved by its affinity with the dialects of Armenia and Georgia; it was already a dead language under the Arsacides in the country which was the scene of the events recorded in the Zendavesta. Some crities, among others Richardson and Sir W. Jones, have called in question the antiquity of these books. The former pretended that the Zend had never been a written or spoken language, but had been invented in the later times by the Magi, for the purposes of their art; but Kleuker, in the dissertations which he added to those of Anquetil and the Abbe Foucher, has proved that the Zend was a jving and spoken language. — Q. Sir W. Jones appears to have abandoned his doubts, on discovering the affinity between the Zend and the Sanskrit. Since the time of Kleuker. this question has been investigated uy many learned scholars. Sir W. Jones, Leyden, (Asiat. Research. x. 283,) and Mr. Erskinc, (Bombay Trans. ii. 299,) consider it a derivative from the Sanskrit. The antiquity of the Zendavesta has likewise been asserted by Rask, the great Danish linguist, who, according1 to Malcolm, brought back from the East fresh transcripts and additions to those published by Anquetil. According to Rask, the Zend and Sanskrit are sister dialects; the one the parent of the Persian, the other of the Indian family of languages. — G. and M. But the subject is most satisfactorily illustrated in Boon's comparative Grammar of the Sanscrit, Zend, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Gothic, and German languages. Berlin, 1833-5. According to Bopp, the Zend is, in some respects, of more remarkable structure than the Sanskrit. Parts of the Zendavesta have been published in the original, by M. Boumouf, at Paris, and M. Olshausen, in Hamburg. —M.
The Pehlvi was the language of the countries bordering on Assyria, and probably of Assyria itself. Pehlvi signifies valor, heroism; the Peklvi, therefore, was the language of the ancient heroes and kings of Persia, the valiant. (Mr. Erskine prefers the derivation from Pehla, a border. — M. It contains a number of Aramaic roots. Anquetil considered it formed from the Zend. Kleuker does not adopt this opinion. The Pehlvi. he says, is much more flowing, and less overcharged with vowels, than the Zend. The books of Zoroaster, first written in Zend, were afterwards translated into Pehlvi and Parsi. The Pehlvi had fallen into disuse under the dynasty of the Sassanides, but the learned still wrote it. The Parsi, the dialect of Pars or Farristan, was then the prevailing dialect. Kleuker, Anhang. zum Zend Avesta, 2, ii. part i. p. 158, part ii. 31. — G.
Mr. Erskine (Bombay Transactions) considers the existing Zeiilavvata ti have bem compiled in the time of Ardeschir Babhegan. - M.
moned the 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 tumultuous an assembly could not have been directed by the authority of reason, or influenced by the art ol policy, the Persian synod was reduced, by successive operations, to forty thousand, to four thousand, 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 doub* was silenced by this supernatural evidence; and the articles of the faith 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
The 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
• Hyde de Religion© veterum Pers. c. 21.
10 I have principally drawn this account from the Zendavesta of >L d'Anquetii, and the Sadder, subjoined to Dr. Hyde's treatise. It must, however, be confessed, that the studied obscurity of a prophet, thd 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.*
* It is to be regretted that Gibbon followed the post-Mahometan Saddet »f Hyde. — M.
t Zeruanc Akerene, so translated by Anquetil and Kleukcr. There is a dissertation of Foucher on this subject, Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscr. t. zxiv. According to Bohlen (das alte Indien) it is the Sanskrit Sarvam Akaranam% the Uncreated Whole; or, according to Fred. Schlegel, Sarvam AViaryam, ihe Uncreate Indivisible. — M.