In the mythology of the Greeks, we find the most probable origin of the Modes and the records of the Hindu give us the source of the Persians. Yet this may or may not have meant that they were of the same race. The Persians so famous under Cyrus were anciently called Elamites. The Code of Manu of India said that the Persians were originally one of the divisions of their race. The Iranian legends said that the whole region of ancient Persia to India was inhabited by a race of black men with short wooly hair. They were undoubtedly closely akin to the Cossaei of Strabo XI, 5-6. From them all Elam was called Cissia (Her. III, 91; V. 49) they had come from Elwend where the ark rested. The father of Cyrus was a king of Anzan. Southern Susiana was called Anzan in the cuneiform inscriptions. The ancient Zend writings said that anciently the Medes, Persians, and Bactrians were the same, having one common language, the Zend, and one religion. Cyrus belonged to this old division. Later Persians were utterly ignorant of the history of their country before Alexander. The incoming northern Scythians had the same effect of obliterating the real historical remembrances just as happened in Greece.
The traditions of the Greeks said that the Medes were descended from Medus the son of Jason and Media. His brother Armenus was the ancestor of the Armenians. The legends of Lydia said that the founders of Babylon and Nineveh were Lydian princes. Colonies from these centers had been planted in the remotest parts of the world. Such an origin the Lydians claimed for the Etruscans and the primitive states of western Europe. The interior of Media and Armenia were full of memorials of Jason, the Greek hero of the Old Race, and Media the enchantress, daughter of the king of Colchis. The Magi certainly must have been descended from her, for they filled the ancient world in the days of Babylonian supremacy with their enchantments. The belief in charms and omens spread to India, Egypt, and the western world. Their legends told of the first home of their race as having been in a land of perpetual spring, of sunshine and peace. Geology teaches us that this once was the climate of Europe and western Asia. Then winter came with bitter frosts. Their people emigrated to a land more delightful than the first, where there was neither poverty, violence or deceit. This was the golden epoch and the most glorious state of the human race.
Media is today the northern portion of the Persian empire. The ancient area is in dispute. This region is in a direct southeastern direction from ancient Colchis and Armenia, in the line of the Accadian race that peopled Assyria and Elam. Media had not the plentiful water supply of old Mesopotamia or India and because of this deficiency, her civilization was tardy. The capital Ecbatana is more favorably situated, surrounded by verdure and mountain streams. Because of the freshness of the air, it became the summer residence of the king of Persia. Diodorus Siculus said that the ancient city had an area of fifty square miles. Herodotus (Bk. I, 98) tells us the walls were 178 furlongs. Thucydides said they were nearly eight leagues long. The inhabitants, however, did not depend upon their walls but rather looked to valor. But for its lack of rainfall, Media had a delightful climate. In these regions appears the mirage, that wonder of travelers and the puzzle of science. Mountains appear where there are none, villages arise in the waste, and springs in the desert. In the distance appear the domes and minarets of phantom cities.
In the river valleys and the parts of Media protected from the chilly winds of the north, almost every fruit grows to perfection. These regions seem the native home of apples, pears, and peaches. Here also the vine flourishes. The olive, apricot and the almond can be found growing wild. Western Media has more rainfall and we may find all the vegetables and cereals that are to be found on other Cushite sites, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, wheat, barley, millet, sesame, corn, and rice. There were flourishing cotton and tobacco fields. Media was rich iv minerals and stone. Her quarries were the equal of those of Assyria and more widely distributed. There was a famous yellow marble that could be cut in thin strips and used for glass. The fauna was represented by the lion, tiger, leopard, and bear. The most important domestic animal was the camel of both the Arabian and Bactrian breeds. The celebrated Nisaean horses were praised by the ancients. The Macedonian greyhound was strong and swift. The great bird of the upper air was the eagle. The lakes being salt were without fish. There were many reptiles and plague pests of locusts.
The old religion of the Medes and Persians can be found in the Zend Avesta, which is written in a language older than the Median. Among the later inhabitants, outside of political papers and messages, there remains little evidence of any native literature or the expression of idealism in art. The Zend Avesta is in eight books. It is from the old foundational race of ancient Bactria, the earlier name of Media and Persia. The utterances of these religious books reveal the deep reverence and the awe of nature that shows in all forms of Cushite faith. The Zend Avesta represents their praises and supplications to the invisible spirit world. The gods of the ancient Bactrians were Indra (Cushite) the storm god, Agni, fire, and Soma, god of intoxication. These religious books portray the unceasing conflict between good and evil. Intermixed with this faith as the ages rolled on were the rites of Siva, from the tribes of the north that began to pour as a flood over the Iranian plains. In this way, Siva worship was added to the Hindu pantheon by the Brahmins. In their sacrifices, the horse was generally offered. These northern races did not as the old race believes in the resurrection of the body. They taught that the body could not be buried or burned lest it pollutes the earth or air.
Let us scrutinize the Zend Avesta closely and the religion it represented, for the false conspiracy of literature claims it to have found its source and its best features from the Japhethic Turanians, of the north. The original Avesta contained twenty-one books. Most of it has been lost. There are numerous indications that show that these books once existed. Pausanias (V. 27, 3), said that the Magi read from a book. Hermippus affirmed in the third century that Zoroaster, the founder of the religion, was the author of twenty books. The Arabian historian testified that they had been written on hides, 1200 in number. West Africans told Frobenius that their ancient annals had been written on cow-hides. Masudi wrote, “Zartusht gave to the Persians the book called Avesta. It contained twenty-one parts, each containing 200 leaves. This book in the writing which Zarthusht invented and which the Magi called the writing of religion was written on 1200 cow-hides, bound together by golden bands. Its language was the old Persian, which no one now understands.” The Parsee testify that the Avesta was burned by Alexander, that it was written on leather in golden ink and preserved in the archives of Persepolis. Alexander did permit Persepolis to he burned (Diodorus, XVII, 72). After his death, the Zoroastrian priests met and gathered the scattered fragments which had escaped the ravages of war, which were but a small portion of the original. More of the Avesta disappeared with the wave of religious persecution after the Mohammedan invasion. Later it was translated into its present form.
Everything concerning Persian history and literature is contradictory. In the ancient testimony, Zoroaster was called a Persian. By others a king of the Bactrians, also an Arian. We can reconcile all of these statements when we remember that Bactria, Aria, and Persia were anciently Cushite. Zoroaster is represented as having had intercourse with the deity. Dio Chrysostom declared that neither Homer or Hesiod sang so worthily of Zeus and his chariots and horses. There is the same conflict about his birth. Hermipphus placed him 5000 years before the Trojan war. Xanthus made his 6000 years before Xerxes. Aristotle gave him a similar antiquity. All ancient testimony spoke of him as a historical character. He must have belonged to the earliest ages of the Cushite empire. His name is nowhere on the cuneiform inscriptions though Darius and his successors were firm adherents of his doctrines. The later books of the Avesta made him a supernatural being but the earlier referred to him as a personage of remote antiquity (Yasma, 57, 8). In these hymns, he is a mere man trusting in his God. He had had to face all forms of outward opposition as the lukewarmness and unbelief of his adherents and the inward misgivings of his own heart as to the truth and final victory of his cause.
The Avesta names a seemingly mythical country, which we cannot identify with Bactrina. He taught under the patronage of Vishtaspa, who was not the later Hystaspes of the Greeks. There were ties of kinship between them. One striking peculiarity of the Avesta is that the evil spirits are called daeva. The people of India, the Italians, the Celts, and Lets gave the name deva to their good spirits, the spirits of light. In India, evil spirits were the asuras, while in Iran ahura meant god. No solution has yet been found to explain the peculiar difference. In the Rig-Veda, there is a rivalry between Varuna and Indra. Varuna the old king of the gods was asura and Indra was the type of Deva. The distinction in the Iranian countries represents the struggle between two hostile and different sects. The contest most probably between an old and an incoming race. In the Shah-Nama, Zoroaster was said to have been murdered at the altar by Turanians. He is usually spoken of as a reformer of the old Iranian faith. The meaning of the names deva and asura may have been perverted in the Avesta from the original text of Zoroaster, just as the Brahmins changed the books of India. It was this opposition that Zoroaster reveals in the hymns. The Magi altered but claimed to be the representatives of the great teacher. It was these interpolations that Darius sought to purify.
Examining this religion, Ormund resembles no Japhethic type, but in the mutilated books is like an oriental king surrounded by Magi. In the world are two opposing forces, the creatures of good and evil. They wage war with man’s soul as the stake. No religion of the world shows more clearly that the goods deeds we perform strengthen the powers for right and evil deeds render service for Satan. Wicked deeds cannot be undone but can be counterbalanced by good works. Of remission of sins, Zoroaster knew nothing. He speaks of dreams, visions, and conversations with God. He has the firm conviction of the final triumph of good over evil and the final reward of the just and upright. He believed that the fullness of time was near when the faithful would gain power over their enemies. The good would be assigned to the hoped-for reward and Satan confined in the abyss in which from henceforth he shall lie powerless. He speaks of the one undivided kingdom of God in heaven and upon earth. To this pure faith were added other divinities and prohibitions. 3000 years after Zoroaster a new leader would be born of his seed. The dead were to come to life and a new incorruptible world to begin. This was an early forerunner of our Saviour, who promised a new heaven and a new earth.
Whether the Magi were a division of the old race directly descended from the Medea of the Greek myths or were a ruling class of the Scythic invasions that early began to shift into the northern country we do not know, but we might judge from the innovations so different from the rites of the old race of Persia that they were from the new race. These priests seemed to deal wholly in magic, to which the Scythic tribes were addicted. They claimed the gift of divination and prophecy. Exposure of dead bodies was an innovation of the Magi, for in Persia proper as late as the time of Herodotus they refused to expose and buried their dead (Her. I, 140). The actual annals of the Medes begin about 950 B. C. when Assyria devastated a portion of her territory. Whole colonies of Medes were carried to Assyria and their places, filled by Assyrians or Samaritans. Cyaxares leading a horde of untrained soldiers sought vengeance on the Assyrians for the death of his father. In his onslaught against the decaying power of Assyria, he was routed. Training his soldiers, he returned and drove the Assyrians within their ramparts. He received the intelligence that the Scythians were overrunning Media. He retreated and for twenty-six years struggled against these rude, fierce enemies.
Uniting with the Babylonians, after three onslaughts Nineveh was taken. The Medes and Babylonians seemed able easily to make an amicable division of the empire. Media taking the north countries and Babylon the south. Cyaxares turned his attention to Lydia. War continued six years until an eclipse of the sun caused these superstitious nations to sign a truce. After the fall of Nineveh, the three great kingdoms of Asia were Babylonia, Media, and Lydia. The princes and princesses of these three kingdoms intermarried because of the common Cushite blood. Aryenis, the sister of Croesus, was married to Astyages, the crown prince of Media. Amyitis, the sister of Astyages, was wedded to Nebuchadnezzar, the heir to the throne of Babylonia. Herodotus reported that the founder of the Lydian Herakleid dynasty was the son of Ninus and the grandson of Belus (Nimrod). Assyria we must not forget, except for six or seven centuries was but a province of Babylonia. At the death of Cyaxares, Media passed to Astyages and 556 B. C. to his grandson Cyrus, king of the Persians. Her. I, 95, calls Cyrus, the son of Cambyses, a Persian prince and the daughter of king Astyages. Because of a dream, he was delivered to a herdsman to be put to death.
Xenophon agrees in making him the grandson of Astyages. Other accounts say that he was given the hardy Persian training until twelve. Then he was placed with his grandfather at the luxurious Median court. Ktesias connected Cyrus with the old race. He called him an Amardian. At the fall of Babylon when he entered the capital, the priests and scribes welcomed him as though he had been a native king. Cyrus was a zealous worshipper of the Babylonian deities. They were restored to their places in the great state. These were the same gods as those of the Sumerian race to which he belonged. He was one of the last. of the Cushite kings trying to restore the old widespread empire. Cyrus gave his son the title “King of the World.” At the death of Cyrus, acceptable to the old race, the Sumerians threw off the yoke (Her. I, 95).
The name Cyrus in the nominative is Kurush (Kush). The capital and chief residence of Darius was at Susa the city which had been capital of ancient Elam. The tomb at Murghab that reads, “I am Cyrus the Achaemenian,” cannot be Cyrus the Great. It is of a period subsequent to Darius. The figure on the tomb is Cushite.
The young Cyrus sent from the hardy virtues of Persian training to the luxuries of the Median court, looked with contempt upon the perversions there from the old life. Persia tolerated not the gross and unspiritual practices of the Magi. When his grandfather’s kingdom was invaded by the Assyrians he accompanied him in the campaign. Cyrus pled to return to his father’s court but was refused. On the night of a feast, he made his escape. Astyages pursued him and invaded Persia. Cyrus and his father with their war chariots waited for the onslaught. Cambyses was killed and the Persian army put to route Cyrus with remarkable heroism reorganized the army but the Medes succeeded in driving the Persians, though they made valorous resistance, to the very summit of their hills. There the beseeching cries of their women and the challenge to their valor and patriotism caused Persia to turn with ferocity and thrust back the foe. Astyages fell back to the vicinity of the Persian capital and there in the watches of the night Cyrus surprised them. The victory was on the side of the Persians. Astyages was overtaken and captured. The Medes welcomed Cyrus as a deliverer from the rising domination of incoming usurping Turanian Scyths. Zoroastrianism was reestablished and Magism for the time overthrown.
Cyrus subdued Cappadocia marched against Croesus and defeated him. He took Sardis. Having reduced almost all Asia, he turned and repassed the Euphrates and attacked Assyria. Josephus (Antiquity, Bk. II, Ch. 2) speaks of how the prophets of Israel had foretold the coming of Cyrus. After the times of Cyrus, we find Darius and his nobles seeking to put a check upon the wild strains of northern barbarism. Darius was of the old race as we shall proceed to prove. Under the fierceness and cruelty of the intermingled Median people, noble families of both Media and Persia of the old race had been banished, but Darius and his notables overthrew the tyrants and restored the exiled. He republished the Avesta, the sacred books of the old Bactrian race, which had become polluted with Turanian magic. The language of the books was different from that of Media today. The language and the religion were undoubtedly that of ancient Susiana and Elam as well as of Bactrina. Darius sought to change the book back to the old faith of his fathers. Darmesteter supposes Magism not to have gained power until 600 B. C. Zoroastrianism was a thousand years older. In contrast to the Cushite race, the Magi had no respect for human corpses but abandoned them to beasts of prey, there were no sacrifices of bloodshed, no images of the gods, no temples. Their rites were resisted by true Persians and Medes. Finally, the new forms Aught their way and prevailed.
Ancient testimony revealed that the doctrines of Zoroaster met determined resistance among the mixed Arians with the fierce struggle ending in religious wars. Lenormant calls his most persistent enemies the Indo-Aryan priests called Brahmins. It seems rather queer does it not to attribute the creation of Zoroastrianism to that race of opposite concepts, that pours maledictions upon the head of Zoroaster in the Rig-Veda. (Ancient History of the East, Vol. II, p. 37, 38.) By Strabo’s time, the name of Magi was applied indiscriminately to all priests of Persia. Darius tells us positively on the engraved rock of Behistan, that the Magi usurpation had destroyed the temples of his gods and the sacred hymns of the primitive Zoroastrian faith. He says: “I restored the ancient book in all the countries and the people followed it.” Thus in the inscriptions he allies himself with the old race, that was fundamentally Cushite. The inscription at Behistan also allies Zoroaster with the old race. In the restoration, we see the burying again of the dead, the Cushite gods Indra, Mithra and Krishna, ancient kings, reappear. The deva had been turned from gods to devils.
Persian art was like that of Susiana and Babylon because all were Cushites. The palaces were reared upon lofty platforms. The columns and sculptured figures of animals were like Nineveh and Babylon. The subjects of the sculptures were the figures of the old Cushite mythology. The art of the Sumerian was written strongly on the walls. Persian architecture can best be studied in the remains of the palace near Persepolis burned by Alexander. The buildings on the different terraces are not connected with each other. Of the five largest, one was dedicated to Darius, another to Xerxes, another is known as Chehl Minar or the Hall of a Hundred Columns. To attribute the construction to the later Persian race would be erroneous. Heeren says that mystery surrounds the construction of the ruins of Persepolis. The pillars belong to no known order of architecture. The inscriptions are an enigma. Fabulous animals are on guard at the entrance. Allegorical figures decorate the walls. It is the art of remote antiquity. It is doubtful Heeren thinks that the historical Persians used Persepolis as a capital. No contemporary author mentions it by name. The stones of its buildings are laid without mortar. They were fastened with iron clamps that were stolen or destroyed by rust at an age when Japhethic people did not understand working in iron or the construction of temples.
Heeren thinks Persepolis might have come from the ancient Median race because the later inhabitants were incapable of erecting palaces. Cambyses imported Egyptian builders to rear the buildings of Susa. At Persepolis are no traces of Egyptian art. At Ecbatana, we find forms and inscriptions like those at Chehl Minar. There are the double columns of the colossal Cushite proportions. Winged monsters guard the portals having Be bodies of lions, the feet of horses and human heads. These were mythological Cushite forms. The pillars were unrelated to Greece or Egypt. The figures have the dress of ancient Medes. The reliefs on the walls show the people to have been commercial. Various nations are depicted, one wrapped in furs, another naked except for an apron, numbers wearing loose flowing robes, others wearing close fitting clothes like the Minoans. These came bearing the products of the widely scattered colonies of the old empire. Some presented spices, dress ornaments, implements, fruits, and animals. (Ancient Commerce, Heeren, Vol. I, p. 167.) The inscriptions in these ruins are of the unknown language, showing their antiquity. Bactrians had preceded the Medes at Ecbatana. Heeren says that Chehl Minar did not arise by enchantment but sprang from the same source.
Persian kings by repeated invasions into Scythic countries saved civilization. They evolved a more centralized government, yet in no way essentially different from the ancient Cushite rule. The power of each province was divided between the strap and the commander-in-chief. So in Greece and Carthage, two beads had been a check upon each other, whether they were consuls or kings. In each province, there was the king’s ear, a secretary who kept him informed as to the fulfillment of his commands and the loyalty of his subjects. There was the king’s eye, troopers who appeared at intervals to arrest those who proved disloyal. This system was very effective but back behind it, we cannot fail to see the break up of the old trade and commerce that had covered the Orient. Heeren points to the anarchy and confusion produced by the rule of Assyria and the destruction wrought by the headlong conquests of Persia, which destroyed and ruined the royal cities of the Euphrates and the Indus. The commerce of Asia of which the Scythians had once been the trusted carriers had disappeared. The rule of Persia compared to the old empire was wry short She was supreme two hundred years.
Persian literature has perished. References in ancient books reveal that once there was much of it. The later race was not commercial. The language in which the Avesta now exists is Pahlavi, a mixture of old Persian and Semitic speech, the tongue of a conqueror grafted on the language of the old race. The oldest book is very archaic and written in meter. Some of the books are of Sasanian origin. The oldest portion must have come from Zoroaster himself. Some of the Yashts are of Iranian gods and heroes that had their origin in the Orient. Another treat of the blessings of agriculture, in poetical form. The interpretation of this literature is a difficult problem. Old Persian is impossible to have been Semitic and is unlike Sanskrit. A multitude of contradictions occurs in Persian history. The ancient records must have been falsified as the religion of Zoroaster was altered. Heeren says, that contemporary historians and Persian chronicles give completely different accounts. When the Medes and Persians attacked Lydia they appeared as fierce barbarians because the old civilization was changing, when the old monarchy became again predominant the genius of the Cushite blood sprang forth. They checked the onrush of the Scythians, who were a real menace to the culture of the world.
In medieval times Persia became the mistress of the civilization of Islam. Bagdad was an intellectual center, a paradise of poetry and the literary light of the east. After the marvels described in the Arabian Nights, she sank rapidly to decay. The spirit of worship toward the monarch was as abject as in Egypt. The harem of the monarch was guarded by eunuchs, a type quite common among ancients. The couch of the king had golden feet. In the mixed race drunkenness was as prominent a feature as the proverbial truthfulness which had been the virtue of the Indi. Criminals were put to death for slight offenses in peculiarly cruel ways as among the Brahmins. Distinctions of caste came to prevail as in India. It was the method by which Turanians could show their hatred to the more civilized, darker race. In the mixed race, polygamy grew apace, and education was neglected. As of old the queen mother exercised a preponderant influence over the king, court, and empire. Greek legends said that the expeditions of Cyrus and Alexander were but the surging backward and forward of divisions of the old race of Greece and that the Persian invasion was retaliatory upon Europe for the fall of Troy, when Europe first resisted the growing power of the east.
In ages as late as 652 A. D. we note the late flowering of the ancient Persian genius.; The sculptures of this time show remarkable skill and vigor. Sir William Hunter, late Director-General of Statistics of India, tells us that the decorations were a bewildering mass of vines and foliage combined with birds and animals. For richness and delicacy, this sculpture is unsurpassed by any age or clime. When S’ad leading the hosts of Islam, captured the magnificent capital of the Persians, among the treasures seized was a great carpet of white brocade 450 feet long and 90 feet broad with a border worked in precious stones to represent a garden of flowers, the leaves formed of emeralds, the blossoms of rubies, sapphires, and pearls. Centuries of ravage and decay have left few remains of these splendors. (History of the Nations, Lodge, India, p. 322.) The native Persians of today have sadly degenerated from constant mixture with foreign races. The bulk of the population is merchants and agriculturalists. From these come the wonderful tapestries and shawls hardly equaled by any other descendants of the old race today. The finest of the natives still cling despite persecution to the old faith of Iran.