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sobriety and dignity which should always characterise the dominant race.1
1 In Doran's Table Traits, p. 300 (Bentley), will be found a drinkingsong which was sung in the army not very long since during the preva lence of cholera, when, the author says (not defining the exact period), drinking in India was fearful. We extract two verses to show the callousness that prevailed.
"Not a sigh for the lot that darkles,
Not a tear for the friends who sink,
"Who dreads to the dust returning?
Hurrah! for the next that dies."
THE ZEND-AVESTA AND THE FOLLOWERS OF
MODERN PERSIANS-MOHAMMEDAN LAW CONCERNING DRINK
ALTHOUGH the social history of the branch of the Aryan family, which at a very early period spread itself over Persia and other parts of Asia, presents many features in common with that of the races described in our last chapter, yet we are bound to devote a few pages to the consideration of the followers of Zoroaster, partly to compare them with their modern descendants, and also in order that we may deal with the Mohammedan reform of drunkenness. This is the less to be regretted, as the close resemblance, in many respects, between the religious ceremonies of the two races is a guarantee of the accuracy with which both have been described in the ancient records. The literature of the Zoroastrian epoch is believed by some historians to extend back as far as 2800 B.C., but the period when the great master himself flourished is purely mythical. Like many of the ancient religious records, it is held by modern scholars to have grown gradually into a series of books, which assumed a definite form about 1000 years B.C. These sacred books-the Yaçna, the Vispered, and the Vendidad, collectively known as the Zend-Avesta-contain a
great deal that serves to enlighten us concerning the habits of the people for whose moral and religious guidance they were compiled. The chief facts may be gathered from the directions given for the performance of the sacrifices, more especially that of "homa" or "haoma," the "soma" of the Brahmans.1 At that rite an intoxicating liquor was used that was prepared from a plant, concerning which we only know that it had yellow blossoms, and that the drink was called " parahaoma." A similar drink to parahaoma, we are told, is taken in small quantities by the Parsee priests at the present day during their religious ceremonies.2 Thus it will be seen that in two important particulars the Brahminical and Zoroastrian rites were almost identical; and as "soma" in Sanskrit was "homa" in Zend, so the other intoxicating drink of the Vedas, namely, "sura," is changed to "hura" in Zend; and we find in one place that a penance is enjoined upon sinners, namely, 'to feed eighteen pure," i.e., religious men, with meat and hura or wine. And finally, the Hotar or high priest of the Brahmans was Zaotar amongst the Zend worshippers. But that leads us to a most important difference between the two religions; for whilst intoxication seems to have been a cardinal feature in the ceremonies of the Brahmans, the Zoroastrians, although they permitted, and even prescribed, the use of inebriating drink in theirs, strictly forbade the practice of drunkenness. Indeed, it was considered to be the work of Agromanyus or Angrô-Mainyus (Ahriman), the power hostile to
1 Avesta, Die heiligen Schriften der Parsen, by Dr. F. Spiegel, vol. i. p. 8. Leipzig: Engelmann.
Haug, Essay on the Religion of the Parsees, p. 282. London: Trübner & Co.
3 Vendidad, by Dr. Spiegel, vol. i. p. 207.
DRINKING HABITS OF ANCIENT PERSIANS. 51 Ahura-Mazda or Ahuro-Mazdâo (Ormuzd), the almighty god of the Zoroastrians; and even to simulate intoxication was regarded as sinful.
But neither of the two liquors, homa and sura, seems to have been employed by the lower classes in the sense in which it is used by the populace to-day. A third and very deleterious drink called "banga" is mentioned in the Zend-Avesta. It is there personified as a bad spirit, and is named in conjunction with two others as the demon of intoxication.1 Like the modern bang, referred to in our account of India, it is believed to have been extracted from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa); and it may be interesting to mention that the same. substance, somewhat modified in each case, is used in Turkey under the name of "hadschy," in Arabia as “hashish,” and by the Hottentots as "dacha," producing in all instances an intoxicating effect.
Whatever may have been the means employed in the earliest times, there is no doubt that, notwithstanding the prohibitions and denunciations of their religion, the ancient Persians were much addicted to intoxication.2 Of that we have evidence in the pages of Herodotus the Greek historian, who says that they were in the habit of discussing most public affairs of importance under the influence of wine, and that the landlord of the house where they met kept a record of their decisions, which he submitted for their approval on the following day. If these still met with their approbation, they were
1 Vendidad, vol. i. p. 253. See also vol. iii. p. xlix. :“Die Daevas Kunda, Banga und Vibanga als Gegner des Craosha, es sind die Dämonen der Trunkenheit."
2 And judging from the Zend-Avesta, to other gross forms of immorality.
Born at Halicarnassus, B. C. 484.
adopted and carried into effect. Per contra, if they came to any resolution whilst they were sober, it was reconsidered and approved or disapproved under the influence of drink.1
The same historian also tells us that Cyrus gave a feast to the Persians in which he provided rich wines;2 and the following story is narrated concerning that monarch, showing the excess to which drinking was carried in his day. Cyrus made war upon Tomyris, queen of the Massagetæ, a race living in Central Asia, and by the advice of Cræsus the Lydian, he made a feint of deserting his camp, and left "flowing goblets of wine" to tempt the enemy to excess. The stratagem succeeded, and when the enemy was drunk, he attacked him and took the queen's son prisoner. Cyrus was,
however, ultimately defeated and slain.
The drink here referred to was made from the vine, but Herodotus also mentions an incident which shows that palm-wine was drunk in the time of Cambyses (B.C. 529-522). "He (Cambyses) sent the Ichthyophage into Ethiopia with the following gifts, to wit, a purple robe, a gold chain for the neck, armlets, an alabaster box of myrrh, and a cask of palm-wine." The king of the Ethiops was greatly delighted with those gifts, and "last of all he came to the palm-wine, and having learned their way of making it, he drank a draught, which greatly delighted him." 4
Down to the time of the Saracen conquest of Persia in the first century of the Hegira (A.D. 621), we have no reason to believe that any serious attempt was made to suppress drunkenness, but by the Mohammedans the
1 Herodotus, i. 133.
3 Ibid., i. 212.
Ibid., i. 126.