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of the earth shall awake' (Dan. xii. 2); the jubilant CHAP. prophet of the reign of Ahaz had already comforted his audience by the promise that the Lord 'will swallow up death in victory' (Is. xxv. 8); nay, the words which, in a second passage, are employed by him have found their literal echo in the words of Daniel just recited; for Isaiah also has proclaimed in no ambiguous language "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust' (xxvi. 19).
§ 5. Doctrine of a Benefactor and Mediator.
(1) Connected with the re-awakening of the Early mention of dead, at least in some of the more recent, or post- Sosiosh. Christian, writings of the Persians, there is frequent mention of a glorious hero-prophet, by whose ministry, as one chief organ of Ormazd, the empire of the devs shall be subverted, earth herself shall be restored to something of her pristine glory and the wrongs of man redressed. The name of this expected champion of the Perso-Aryan race is Sosiosh (Saoshyans', 'the Benefactor'). He is first of all presented to our notice in a passage of the Vendidád, which, if the new translation of it be accepted, is found to run as follows: Zarathustra gave warning to Agra-mainyus (and said):
1 Spiegel, Avesta, I. 244, n. 1, informs us that the root of the word is su ('to profit'), to which it is related as the future participle: hence 'der nützen werdende' 'der Helfer.' It was not, however, a proper name nor limited to an individual worthy, but rather marked a
series or class of benefactors, and
2 Farg. XXI. 16-19: cf. Zeits.
Expansion of the idea.
"Base Agra-mainyus! I will smite the creation, which is fashioned by the devs: I will smite the Nasus, whom the devs have fashioned. I will smite the Pari whom men worship (?), until Sosiosh the Victorious, is born out of the water Kansaŏya, from the eastern clime, from the eastern climes." The meagre hint of Sosiosh, thus communicated in the early part of the Avesta, was expanded and embellished in the works of the Sassanian epoch and especially in the Bundehesh'. That benefactor was from first to last a man; and like two other beings, his precursors, now associated with him in the work of liberation and each reigning in succession for a thousand years, he was distinctly held to be the offspring of the holy Zoroaster; yet the name of Sosiosh alone, as greatest or as last in order of the hero-prophets, was the rallying-point where Persians were accustomed to find refuge from the miseries of their present lot. The time assigned for his appearance (say the authors of the story) is the time when evil and impiety of every kind have grown to an appalling magnitude. Approaching with a noiseless step, he will evince the
1 See the passages in Rhode, pp. 465 sq. Spiegel (Avesta, I. 32 sq.) has also drawn attention more especially to the full-blown eschatology of the Persians and compared it with that of the later Jews, which, in his opinion, it strongly resembles (p. 35). The main points, according to his representation, are as follows: 'Die Erwartung eines sowol weltlichen als geistlichen Herrschers, der sowol sein Volk zum herrschenden macht, zum Regenten über alle seine Bedrücker, der aber auch die Reli
gion wieder reinigt. Dass das Reich tausend Jahre dauern soll, ist überall bestimmt ausgesprochen :'points indeed which may remind us not only of the Messianic tenets prevalent among the later Jews, but also of the modified Judaism which in the form of Chiliasm (or sensuous Millenarianism) was current more or less in various branches of the early Christian Church, and only repressed with great difficulty: see Neander, Ch. Hist. II. 395–401.
greatness of his mission by destroying death itself CHAP. and by re-calling all the dead to life. The first to rise again will be the prototype of men (or Kaiomorts), eschatology. and after him the earliest pair of human beings (Meshia and Meshiane); then, in seven and fifty years, the long array of their descendants. All of these have been appointed to receive the gift of immortality by drinking of the sacred homa. Next will follow a grand separation of the pure and impure, of the righteous and unrighteous; friend will lose the sweet companionship of friend, the husband will be severed from his spouse, the sister from the brother. They who stand the sifting of that day are borne aloft to the peculiar dwelling of Ormazd: the rest are driven back to the abodes of misery and torment which had also been their portion from the third day after death. The change, however, thus effected is not destined to be ultimate. A blazing comet (Gurzsher), hitherto held in fetters by the moon, will break away from his confinement, and, rushing wildly on the earth, will be converted into the agent of Ormazd for purging out the dross that now adheres to all created nature; Ahriman himself will vanish in the flames, and hell, the dark abyss of Duzakh, with its godless tenants, being purified and renovated by the final conflagration, the whole family of man will be assembled on the new-born earth to sing the glory of Ormazd and the amshaspands.
(2) But the later history of religious thought Early place in Persia introduces us to one more being who has racter of not unfrequently been placed in close comparison with the Founder of Christianity. His name is Mithra; and so paramount are claims which he
CHAP. advances, in the estimation of some modern writers, that the Gospel is itself pronounced by them a branch of Mithraism'. No small confusion, it is true, exists among the older notices of Mithra even in the Persian sacred books; yet there, as elsewhere, the prevailing image represents to us a wakeful and beneficent divinity3, ‘lord of life and head of all created beings,' active, luminous, fertilising, purifying, and invincible. His place and functions in relation to the highest god appear to have resembled those of the Greek Apollo; and at periods when Ormazd sinks back into comparative quietude, the old connexion with the creature-world and the administration of the light-kingdom, are dependent on the energy of Mithra, who is thus the living and abiding link between the visible and the invisible. Associating intimately and well-nigh
1 This, for instance, was one of many self-contradictory views propounded by Dupuis in his Origine de tous les Cultes (see Part I. p. 35, n. 3) and even Creuzer, while rejecting the theory with something like contempt (Symb. I. 238, n. 2; cf. p. 341), is induced to look favourably upon another oft-repeated story which ascribes the origin of some ecclesiastical usages (e. g. the institution of the Christmas festival) to the influence of Mithraism (Ibid. p. 261). Christ, according to this notion, was, in a spiritual sense, the Sol Novus, and His birth was therefore celebrated at the period of the year, which Mithraism assigned to the new birth of the celestial luminary. See, on the general question of Mithra-worship, Von-Hammer, Mémoire sur le culte de Mithra,
2 The same remark applies equally to the Greek writers: for Herodotus, (1. 131), in speaking of the imitative genius of the Persians, is thought to be guilty of confusing the Venus of Assyrian mythology, Mylitta, with the Persian Mithra (cf. Xenoph. Cyrop. VIII. 13, § 12). The real representative of Venus in the later Persian system was Anahita (Anaitis); Mithra and Anahita corresponding in the main to Baal and Astarte see Rawlinson's Herod. I. 271, 272; Döllinger, Heiden. pp. 384, 385; Burnouf, Sur le Yaçna, pp. 351 sq.
3 For instance, in the Yasna (Burnouf, p. 222), 'J'invoque, je célèbre Mithra qui multiplie les couples de bœufs qui a mille oreilles, dix milles yeux,' &c.
upon a level with Ormazd1 himself, this secondary CHAP. principle of good is also from his very nature the antagonist of the Evil One. He marshals the bright army of beneficent genii' in their conflict with the devs; in him the soul departed finds her best conductor to the bridge of Chinevad; while bodies of the dead, though captured by the prince of darkness, are the objects of his sympathy and care.
It may have been the service rendered to the Mithra as votary of the Ormazd-religion in the daily war with Ahriman, that made the later Greek of Plutarch's age, assign to Mithra the peculiar title Mediator' (μeoiTns); for although a somewhat similar class of functions was awarded to other beings, as SraŎsha and Ráshne-rást, who both were thought to superintend the great judicial process after death, in order that the soul of man might then receive her fitting recompence, 'not a hair too little nor too much,' it was to Mithra, most of all, that subjects of the light-kingdom were instructed to address their homage. Some were even ready to contend that if the first man had sung the praise of Mithra, or had ever named that name, his soul would forthwith have ascended to the mansions of ultimate felicity.
In proportion as Ormazd himself receded from Virtual the active visible sphere of being, or, in different of Mithra language, was abstracted more and more from for Or
1 See the passage from the Yasna, quoted above, p. 170, n. 2.
2 Hence his rank as chief of the
Izeds; above, p. 170, n. 2.
3 De Isid. c. XLVI. Plutarch himself seems to regard Mithra as partaking of the natures both of Ormazd and Ahriman (μέσον δ' ἀμφοῖν):
cf. Dr Donaldson's Christ. Orthod. p.
Spiegel, Avesta, I. 31; Burnouf,