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produced, or proceeded from, those three books; she lent much to the first heresiarchs, much to the Rabbis, much to Mohammed. By help of the Parsi religion and the "Avesta," we are enabled to go back to the very heart of that most momentous period in the history of religious thought, which saw the blending of the Aryan mind with the Semitic, and thus opened the second stage of Aryan thought.

Inquiries into the religion of ancient Persia began long ago, and it was the old enemy of Persia, the Greek, who first studied it. Aristotle, Hermippus, and many others wrote of it in books of which, unfortunately, nothing more than a few fragments or merely the titles have come down to us. We find much valuable information about it, scattered in the accounts of historians and travellers, extending over ten centuries, from Herodotos down to Agathias and Procopius (from B.C. 450 to A.D. 550). The clearest and most faithful account of the Dualist doctrine is found in the treatise De Iside et Osiride, ascribed to Plutarch. But Zoroastrianism was never more eagerly studied than in the first centuries of the Christian era, though without anything of the disinterested and almost scientific curiosity of the earlier times. Religious and philosophic sects, in search of new dogmas, eagerly received whatever came to them bearing the name of Zoroaster. As Xanthos the Lydian, who is said to have lived before Herodotos, had mentioned Zoroastrianism, there came to light, in those later times, scores of oracles, styled "Oracula Chaldaïca sive Magica," the work of Neo-Platonists who were but very remote disciples of the Median sage. As his name had become the very emblem of wisdom, they would cover with it the latest inventions of their ever-deepening theosophy. Zoroaster and Plato were treated as if they had been philosophers of the same school, and Hierocles expounded their doctrines in the same book. Proclus collected seventy Tetrads of Zoroaster and wrote commentaries on them; but we need hardly say that Zoroaster commented on by Proclus was nothing more or less than Proclus commented on by himself. Prodicus, the Gnostic, possessed secret books of Zoroaster; and, upon the whole, it may be said that in the first centuries of Christianity, the religion of Persia was more studied and less understood than it had ever been before. The real object aimed at, in studying the old religion, was to form a new one.

Throughout the Middle Ages nothing was known of Mazdeism but the name of its founder, who from a Magus was converted into a magician and master of the hidden sciences. It was not until the Renaissance that real inquiry was resumed. The first step was to collect all the information that could be gathered from Greek and Roman writers. That task was undertaken and successfully completed by Barnabé Brisson. A nearer approach to the original source was made in the following century by Italian, English, and French travellers in Asia. Pietro della Valle, Henry Lord, Mandelslo, Ovington, Chardin, Gabriel du Chinon, and Tavernier, found Zoroaster's last followers in Persia and India, and made known their existence, their manners, and the main features of their belief to Europe. Gabriel du Chinon saw their books and recognized that they were not all written in the same language, their original holy writ being no longer understood except by means of translations and commentaries in another tongue.

In the year 1700, a professor at Oxford, Thomas Hyde, the greatest Orientalist of his time in Europe, made the first systematic attempt to restore the history of the old Persian religion by combining the accounts of the Mohammedan writers with "the true and genuine monuments of ancient Persia." Unfortunately the so-called genuine monuments of ancient Persia were nothing more than recent Persian compilations or refacimenti. But notwithstanding this defect, which could hardly be avoided then, and a distortion of critical acumen, the book of Thomas Hyde was the first complete and true picture of modern Parsîism, and it made inquiry into its history the order of the day. A warm appeal made by him to the zeal of travellers, to seek for and procure at any price the sacred books of the Parsis, did not remain ineffectual, and from that time scholars bethought themselves of studying Parsiism in its own home.

Eighteen years later, a countryman of Hyde, George Boucher, received from the Parsis in Surat a copy of the Vendîdâd Sâda, which was brought to England in 1723 by Richard Cobbe. But the old manuscript was a sealed book, and the most that could then be made of it was to hang it by an iron chain to the wall of the Bodleian Library, as a curiosity to be shown to foreigners. A few years later, a Scotchman, named Fraser, went to Surat, with the view of obtaining from the

Parsis, not only their books, but also a knowledge of their contents. He was not very successful in the first undertaking, and utterly failed in the second.

In 1754 a young man, twenty years old, Anquetil Duperron, a scholar of the Ecole des Langues Orientales in Paris, happened to see a fac-simile of four leaves of the Oxford Vendidâd, which had been sent from England, a few years before, to Etienne Fourmont, the Orientalist. He determined at once to give to France both the books of Zoroaster and the first European translation of them. Too impatient to set off to wait for a mission from the government which had been promised to him, he enlisted as a private soldier in the service of the French East India Company; he embarked at Lorient on February 24, 1755, and after three years of endless adventures and dangers through the whole breadth of Hindostan, at the very time when war was waging between France and England, he arrived at last in Surat, where he stayed among the Parsis for three years more. Here began another struggle, not less hard, but more decisive, against the same mistrust and ill-will which had disheartened Fraser; but he came out of it victorious, and prevailed at last on the Parsis to part both with their books and their knowledge. He came back to Paris on March 14, 1764, and deposited on the following day at the Bibliothèque Royale the whole of the "Zend-Avesta," and copies of several traditional books. He spent ten years in studying the material he had collected, and published in 1771 the first European translation of the "Zend-Avesta."

A violent dispute broke out at once, as half the learned world denied the authenticity of this "Avesta," which it pronounced a forgery. It was the future founder of the Royal Asiatic Society, William Jones, a young Oxonian then, who opened the war. He had been wounded to the quick by the scornful tone adopted by Anquetil towards Hyde and a few other English scholars the "Zend-Avesta " suffered for the fault of its introducer, Zoroaster for Anquetil. In a pamphlet written in French, with verve and in a style which showed him to be a good disciple of Voltaire, William Jones pointed out, and dwelt upon, the oddities and absurdities with which the so-called sacred books of Zoroaster teemed. It is true that Anquetil had given full scope to satire by the style he had adopted: he cared very little for literary elegance, and did not mind writing

Zend and Persian in French; so the new and strange ideas he had to express looked stranger still in the outlandish garb he gave them. Yet it was less the style than the ideas that shocked the contemporary of Voltaire. His main argument was that books, full of such silly tales, of laws and rules so absurd, of descriptions of gods and demons so grotesque, could not be the work of a sage like Zoroaster, nor the code of a religion so much celebrated for its simplicity, wisdom, and purity. His conclusion was that the "Avesta " was a rhapsody of some modern Guebre. In fact, the only thing in which Jones succeeded was to prove in a decisive manner that the ancient Persians were not equal to the lumières of the eighteenth century, and that the authors of the "Avesta” had not read the "Encyclopédie."

Jones's censure was echoed in England by Sir John Chardin and Richardson, in Germany by Meiners. Richardson tried to give a scientific character to the attacks of Jones by founding them on philological grounds. That the "Avesta " was a fabrication of modern times was shown, he argued, by the number of Arabic words he fancied he found both in the Zend and Pahlavi dialects, as no Arabic element was introduced into the Persian idioms earlier than the seventh century; also by the harsh texture of the Zend, contrasted with the rare euphony of the Persian; and, lastly, by the radical difference between the Zend and Persian, both in words and grammar. To these objections, drawn from the form, he added another derived from the uncommon stupidity of the matter.

In Germany, Meiners, to the charges brought against the newly-found books, added another of a new and unexpected kind, namely, that they spoke of ideas unheard of before, and made known new things. "Pray, who would dare ascribe to Zoroaster books in which are found numberless names of trees, animals, men, and demons, unknown to the ancient Persians; in which are invoked an incredible number of pure animals and other things, which, as appears from the silence of ancient writers, were never known, or at least never worshipped, in Persia? What Greek ever spoke of Hôm, of Jemshid, and of such other personages as the fabricators of that rhapsody exalt with every kind of praise, as divine heroes?"

Anquetil and the "Avesta " found an eager champion in the person of Kleuker, professor in the University of Riga. As

soon as the French version of the "Avesta " appeared, he published a German translation of it, and also of Anquetil's historical dissertations. Then, in a series of dissertations of his own, he vindicated the authenticity of the Zend books. Anquetil had already tried to show, in a memoir on Plutarch, that the data of the "Avesta" fully agree with the account of the Magian religion given in the treatise on "Isis and Osiris." Kleuker enlarged the circle of comparison to the whole of ancient literature.

In the field of philology, he showed, as Anquetil had already done, that Zend has no Arabic elements in it, and that Pahlavi itself, which is more modern than Zend, does not contain any Arabic, but only Semitic words of the Aramean dialect, which are easily accounted for by the close relations of Persia with Aramean lands in the time of the Sassanian kings. He showed, lastly, that Arabic words appear only in the very books which Parsi tradition itself considers modern.

Another stanch upholder of the "Avesta " was the numismatologist Tychsen, who, having begun to read the book with a prejudice against its authenticity, quitted it with a conviction to the contrary. "There is nothing in it," he writes, "but what befits remote ages, and a man philosophizing in the infancy of the world. Such traces of a recent period as they fancy to have found in it, are either due to misunderstandings, or belong to its later portions. On the whole there is a marvellous accordance between the "Zend-Avesta " and the accounts of the ancients with regard to the doctrine and institutions of Zoroaster. Plutarch agrees so well with the Zend books that I think no one will deny the close resemblance of doctrines and identity of origin. Add to all this the incontrovertible argument to be drawn from the language, the antiquity of which is established by the fact that it was necessary to translate a part of the Zend books into Pahlavi, a language which was growing obsolete as early as the time of the Sassanides. Lastly, it cannot be denied that Zoroaster left books which were, through centuries, the groundwork of the Magic religion, and which were preserved by the Magi, as shown by a series of documents from the time of Hermippus. Therefore I am unable to see why we should not trust the Magi of our days when they ascribe to Zoroaster those traditional books of their ancestors, in which nothing is found to indicate fraud or a modern hand."

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