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218 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD. The materials used in writing were stone and parchment. The latter substance was employed in disseminating the edicts of the kings and for other similar purposes. For the more important Statutes and records of the Empire the face of the imperishable rock was used, and the scribe's chisel was the pen. The method of writing on clay tablets and cylinders seems not to have been known among the early Aryans of the Median plateau. Whatever writing they did was limited to the practical and necessary affairs of life; the voice of imagination found no utterance, the tongue of poetry no language. Such was the speech of the Medes. As in the case of nearly all the other ancient peoples, the oldest records of this language are embalmed in the religious system which was formulated on the emergence of the race from barbarism. This system is presented in the ZENDAVESTA, though, as al ready said, the language of that great work is much more antique than that development of speech which prevailed in the days of Astyages. The Zendavesta is in eight Books, covering the same general topics which are presented in the Old Testament--Laws, Covenants, Prayers, Songs, etc. In these we can see reflected with considerable clearness the hopes and aspirations of our ancestral race in its earliest communings with the gods. It was the blind effort of an unscientific age to interpret the phenomena of the world and to discover the cause or causes of Nature. Perhaps the oldest part of this quaint Bactrian bible is the Gathas, or "Songs," many of which are no doubt more primitive than the separate existence of the Medo-Persian race. They contain the unpremeditated and often fervid utterances of awe-struck worshipers, pouring out their praises and petitions to the invisible powers of the earth and air and sky. These powers were many rather than one, and possessed few-perhaps none-of the attributes of personality. There was at the first only one class of divine beings the Ahuras, or gods. These were good, and were worshiped as beneficent and life giving influences. It is believed that that system of dualism in which the bad powers of the universe are set over against the 'good' was unknown to the earliest religion of the Aryan race. The Powers, then, or Beings most worshiped by the ancient Bactrians were Indra, the Storm; Mithra, the Sunlight; Armati, the Earth; Vayu, the Wind; Agni,the Fire; and Soma, Intoxication. These principles or forces of nature were the common objects of adoration before the earliest tribal separations of the Aryans-the deities alike of Hindus and Iranians. It was nature-worship, pure and simple, in the garb of polytheism. It was not long, how ever, before the perceptions grew by evolution, and it was seen that the powers of the physical world are harmful as well as helpful-bad as well as good. Upon the good principles of nature, therefore, the affections of the worshiper were turned and centered, while from the bad his gaze was averted, and by them his fears alarmed. Thus arose the good spirits and the evil- the Ahuras and Dn'as, the beneficent gods and the demons. Their worship was con- ducted by three classes of priests: the Kan, or Prophets; the Karopani, or Sacrificers; and the Ricikhs, or Sages. The ceremonies consisted of hymns chanted in praise of the gods, in sacrifices of animals and fruits, and in libations and intoxication. Of the sacrifice a part was burnt upon an altar, the rest remaining to the priest; and in the ceremony of intoxication a portion of the liquor was poured out on the earth and the residue drank by the karopani, who, when drunken, were thought to be in com munion with the deity. With the progress of religious ideas in Media, and the acceptance of the dualistic system of good and evil, there came also the concept of one god above the rest-a supreme and all-wise Intelligence by whom the other deities were held in subordination. This great God of the Medes was called AHURA-MAZDAO, or AHURAMAZDA-the living Creator of all. His Attributes were holiness, purify, goodness, truth, fatherhood, and happiness. He was the possessor and giver of all blessings, both temporal and everlasting. Earthly honor and pre-