221 MEDIA-LANGUAGE AND RELIGION.
exclusively a religion of theoretic beliefs. There was much of practical ethics in the system. Human duty was clearly recognized, and its doctrines inculcated both by precept and law. The great cardinal principles of right living were as well defined as by any of the pagan nations. Truth in word and purity in life were regarded as the foundations of society. Piety towards the gods and industry in honest endeavor were virtues without which life was worthless. It is in evidence that the Medes were capable of sound thought on moral subjects. Every action was traced to its motives and judged accordingly. Human conduct was weighed according to the thought which produced, the word which expressed, and the deed which embodied it. One of the most beautiful aspects of the system was that which carried morality into the ordinary pursuits of life. Sraosha expected of men that they should till the soil. It was a religious duty to do so. To destroy weeds and brambles was well pleasing in the sight of Ahura- Mazdao. To cut down thorns and to speak the truth were acts the same in nature and results. All the people were required to devote themselves in whole or in part to the work of tillage. Ahura-Mazdao expected it. Zoroaster taught it. Piety demanded it -not only this, but a filial obedience to the will of the True God and reverence for his holy angels.
The sacrifices of the Medes generally demanded the shedding of blood, but not the blood of men. The animal most offered was the horse. It was reckoned most pleasing to the deities that. this noble creature should bleed before the altar. Oxen, sheep, and goats were also offered up as victims. The sacrifice was made by the priests. The flesh was held on high and waved before the sacred fire, and then the consecrated parts were eaten at a solemn feast.
"How happy art thou who hast come here to us from mortality to immortality!" Such were the words with which the archangel, Vohu-Mano, welcomed the soul of the righteous Mede into the abodes of the blest. For the soul of man was deathless.
The spirits of the wicked and the good alike survived the shock of death. When the mortal pang was over the liberated soul-whatever might be its moral status -traveled a long and narrow path towards the unseen world. On the hither side of the gate of paradise was the "Bridge of the Gatherer." Who could go over it? Only the righteous. Them the angel Sraosha aided with his hand and his counsel. The bad fell off into the abyss. Upward to the throne of Ahura-Mazdao ascended the souls of the good. Before these were set the delectable joys of paradise. But all the evil spirits went down in outer darkness, to be chilled with bitter winds and to sit at poisonous banquets. Such were heaven and hell.
It does not appear that the earlier Zoroastrians believed in the resurrection of the body. At a later date, however, the doc- trine was introduced and taught by the Magi. The later portions of the Zendavesta show conclusively that the belief in the raising up of the dead was a recognized dogma at the date of that part of the Me dian bible in which the references occur. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul was not involved with the notion of the resurrection, but existed as an earlier belief fundamental to the faith of the Medes.
The myths of Media were many and interesting. One of the most important was that relating to the origin and primitive state of man. The early condition of the human race was one of happiness. It was an Age of Gold. The people were ruled by KING YIMA. It was a land of sunshine and peace. Summer reigned; the vine flourished; blossoms filled the air. For a long time a contented and flourishing race honored their good king and lived without sorrow. By and by the aspect of nature changed. Winter came. The beauty of the world was destroyed by bitter frosts. Then King Yima and his people removed to another country more delightful than the first. In this land, according to the Vendidad, there was "neither overbearing nor mean-spiritedness, neither stupidity nor violence, neither poverty nor deceit, neither unhappiness nor