384 UNIVERSAL HISTORY.-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
modeled, to a considerable extent, after those of the Turanian barbarians. There are at
the present time certain Teutonic peoples in Europe upon whom the Slavs have made a like
impression, insomuch that their race character might be mistaken by even a critical
observer. How much the more may such a mistake be expected in the case of an ancient
people modified by a foreign influence! We must conclude that the Parthians, along with
the Bactrians, Chorasmians, Hyrcanians, Medes, and Persians, belonged to the common family
to which the name Aryan has been assigned.
The life of the Parthian people, however, had much the aspect of that of the peoples
beyond the Oxus. This is to say that, like the Tartar and the Turcoman tribes of a later
day, the Parthians were nomadic in habit, spending the greater part of their time on
horseback and abroad. The Roman historians, as late as the time of the conflict of the
Consular armies with the Parthian cavalry, were struck with astonishment at the manners of
a people who transacted the larger part of their business and attended to all duties and
avocations, even to eating and drinking, while mounted on their horses. It should not be
forgotten, however, that much of the same disposition was shown by the Persians, and the
student might, if he would, trace this aspect of Turanian life far into Asia Minor, and
even into Europe. In other particulars, also, the Parthians revealed their innate
sympathy with nomadic manners. There was little fixedness of settlement, at least until a
late date, in the Parthian ascendancy. The old habit of hunting, of riding abroad, of
gratifying the passion for rapid transit from scene to scene, continued to prevail, and at
length gave form to the organization and tactics of the Parthian army.
It was such a people as these that Cyrus the Great met and conquered in the early years of
his aggressive career. The nation was incorporated as one of the satrapies of the Persian
Empire, and remained in that dependence until the cohorts of Alexander, rising from the
West, shattered the Achaemenian Dynasty and reduced it to its original elements. But of
the historical development and varying vicissitudes of the Parthian race we shall speak
more fully hereafter.
As usual with men of antiquity, the religious life of the Parthians presented many
interesting features, and revealed no small part of the national character. We are here,
geographically and ethnically speaking, not far from the primitive seat of one of the
great religions of mankind. Zoroaster was a Bactrian. We have already seen how the
faith and doctrine which he formulated and taught spread among the races of the Great
Plateau and became organic in the Zendavesta.
The teachings of the great prophet were accepted by the Achaemenian kings, and were
imposed by them as a State religion upon the subject nations of the Persian Empire.
Among these was Parthia. Whatever may have been the tribal faith and practice of the old
Parthians, they accepted the religion of their conquerors, not only in its early
singleness but in its subsequent dualistic development. The wild warriors of the Parthian
plain came to believe in Ahura-Mazdao as the fountain of all good, and in Ahriman as the
source of all evil.
We have had occasion, in a former chapter, to trace the rise of this belief and its
evolution among the Iranic peoples. It was from this source that dualism as a principle of
philosophic belief made its way to the West, became interfused with the speculations of
the Western nations, and at last intertwined itself with the opinions and practices of the
leading peoples of modern times. But it must be allowed that dualism-the division of the
universe into the two parts of good and evil and the creation of a hierarchy of the Powers
set against each other in perpetual warfare, involving the lives and actions of men-is a
natural growth peculiar to the human mind at a certain epoch of its career. We have seen
such phenomena in the valley of the Nile, lathe valley of the Euphrates, and in the
highest activity on the Iranian plateau. We shall hereafter see traces of the same thing
in the mercurial intellect of the Greeks, in the heavier cogitations of the Romans, and in
the dreams of the Teutonic barbarians in their forest solitudes. But among all peoples,