The Daēva Cult in the Gāthās: An Ideological Archaeology of Zoroastrianism (Iranian Studies)
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Addressing the question of the origins of the Zoroastrian religion, this book argues that the intransigent opposition to the cult of the daēvas, the ancient Indo-Iranian gods, is the root of the development of the two central doctrines of Zoroastrianism: cosmic dualism and eschatology (fate of the soul after death and its passage to the other world).
The daēva cult as it appears in the Gāthās, the oldest part of the Zoroastrian sacred text, the Avesta, had eschatological pretentions. The poet of the Gāthās condemns these as deception. The book critically examines various theories put forward since the 19th century to account for the condemnation of the daēvas. It then turns to the relevant Gāthic passages and analyzes them in detail in order to give a picture of the cult and the reasons for its repudiation. Finally, it examines materials from other sources, especially the Greek accounts of Iranian ritual lore (mainly) in the context of the mystery cults. Classical Greek writers consistently associate the nocturnal ceremony of the magi with the mysteries as belonging to the same religious-cultural category. This shows that Iranian religious lore included a nocturnal rite that aimed at ensuring the soul’s journey to the beyond and a desirable afterlife.
Challenging the prevalent scholarship of the Greek interpretation of Iranian religious lore and proposing a new analysis of the formation of the Hellenistic concept of ‘magic,’ this book is an important resource for students and scholars of History, Religion and Iranian Studies.
identifies) a deceitful person’, where the relative pronoun yā ‘by which’ refers to aka- vacah- ‘bad word’. The verb √cit means ‘to recognize’ e.g. the complement in the accusative. Its Vedic cognate √cet ‘recognize, note’ has both cognitive (‘observe’) and intersubjective (‘acknowledge’) senses (see EWA, vol. 1, pp. 547–48). In the Gāthās, however, √cit has the former sense only in Y 51.5, where it is qualified by the adverb ərəš ‘rightly’: yə̄ dāθaēibiiō ərəš ratūm xšaiiąs aṣ̌iuuå cistā
problem with Y 34.9cc′ is the subjunctive mode of the verb. Swennen says nothing on the issue, but it is obviously troublesome. In what way should the subjunctive siiazdat̰ be interpreted? See Ahmadi 2014. 5 See Benveniste 1970a, p. 9. 6 See Zaehner 1972, p. 16. 7 Compare Y 49.4 and Y 51.13. 8 See Benveniste 1970b, pp. 37–42. 9 See Boyce 2001, pp. 156–57 and Skjærvø 2007 for a synoptic view of the text, its manuscript traditions and Western scholarship, and its content and ritual. 10
have provided.41 Plutarch (Non posse 27) pokes fun at the hopes of the initiates, who ‘believe that certain rites of initiation and purification will relieve them: once purified, they believe, they will go on playing and dancing in Hades in places full of brightness, pure air and light’. Plutarch apparently thought that initiation was tantamount to ‘purification’, but a special kind: it makes the initiate entitled to expect a blissful afterlife. ‘Blessed is he who has seen these things before he
Religion: Three Case Studies’, in J Rudhardt and O Reverdin (eds), Le sacrifice dans l’antiquité, Fondation Hardt, Geneva, pp. 195–235. Henrichs, A 1984, ‘The Eumenides and the Wineless Libations in the Derveni Papyrus’, Atti del XVII Congresso Internazionale di Papirologia, Centro internazionale per lo studio dei papiri ercolanesi, Naples, pp. 255–68. Horky, PhS 2009, ‘Persian Cosmos and Greek Philosophy: Plato’s Associates and Zoroastrian Magoi’, in B Inwood (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient
Zoroastrian Pahlavi literature where hōm ī spēd is darmān ī amargīh, the panacea that brings about immortality. At the end of time, the frašgird, according to the Wizīdagīhā ī Zādspram (35.15), the consumption of hōm ī spēd during the celebration of the final yasna resurrects the dead and immortalizes the living (kē-š murdagān pad-iš zīndag ud zīndagān pad-iš a-marg bawēnd).40 As far as the Gāthās were concerned, the fate of the haoma rite was tied with the cult of the daēvas. The observations