Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 202

"Nor is anything known with certainty of the place where he lived, or the events of his life. Most modern writers suppose that he resided in Bactria. Haug maintains that the language of the Zend books is Bactrian. A highly mythological and fabulous life of Zoroaster, translated by Anquetil du Perron, called the Zartrisht-Namah, describes him as going to Iran in his thirtieth year, spending twenty years in the desert, working miracles during ten years, and giving lessons of philosophy in Babylon, with Pythagoras as his pupil. All this is based on the theory (now proved to be false) of his living in the time of Darius. 'The language of the Avesta,' says Max Muller, 'is so much more primitive than the inscriptions of Darius, that many centuries must have passed between the two periods represented by these two strata of language. These inscriptions are in the Achaemenian dialect, which is the Zend in a later stage of linguistic growth.;"

J. Freeman Clarke - Ten Great Religions

Wordsworth thus alludes to the worship of the Persians:

  "the Persian, zealous to reject
  Altar and Image, and the inclusive walls
  And roofs of temples built by human hands,
  The loftiest heights ascending from their tops,
  With myrtle-wreathed Tiara on his brows,
  Presented sacrifice to Moon and Stars
  And to the Winds and mother Elements,
  And the whole circle of the Heavens, for him
  A sensitive existence and a God."
       Excursion, Book IV

In Childe Harold, Byron speaks thus of the Persian worship:

  "Not gainly did the early Persian make
  His altar the high places and the peak
  Of earth o'ergazing mountains, and thus take
  A fit and unwalled temple, there to seek
  The Spirit, in whose honor shrines are weak,
  Upreared of human hands. Come and compare
  Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek,
  With Nature's realms of worship, earth and air,
  Nor fix on fond abodes to circumscribe thy prayer."
  III., 91.

The religion of Zoroaster continued to flourish even after the introduction of Christianity, and in the third century was the dominant faith of the East, till the rise of the Mahometan power and the conquest of Persia by the Arabs in the seventh century, who compelled the greater number of the Persians to renounce their ancient faith. Those who refused to abandon the religion of their ancestors fled to the deserts of Kerman and to Hindustan, where they still exist under the name of Parsees, a name derived from Pars, the ancient name of Persia. The Arabs call them Guebers, from an Arabic word signifying unbelievers. At Bombay the Parsees are at this day a very active, intelligent, and wealthy class. For purity of life, honesty, and conciliatory manners, they are favorably distinguished. They have numerous temples to Fire, which they adore as the symbol of the divinity.

The Persian religion makes the subject of the finest tale in Moore's Lalla Rookh, the Fire Worshippers. The Gueber chief says:

  "Yes! I am of that impious race,
  Those slaves of Fire, that moan and even
  Hail their creator's dwelling place
  Among the living lights of heaven;
  Yes! I am of that outcast crew
  To lean and to vengeance true,
  Who curse the hour your Arabs came
  To desecrate our shrines of flame,
  And swear before God's burning eye,
  To break our country's chains or die."