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26 June, 2013
Index by Period
Ancient Persian Literature
In everything appertaining to their religious belief the Persians
bear a close resemblance to the Hebrew, but the poetical part of
their mythology is more similiar to the Northern theology, while
their manners bear a strong resemblance to the Germans. The
spiritual worship of nature, light, fire, and of other pure
elements, is embodied in both the Zend Avesta (Persian) and the
Edda (Scandinavian). The two nations have the same opinion
concerning spirits which rule and fill nature, and this has given
rise to poetical fancies about giants, dwarfs and other beings,
found equally in Persian and Northern Sagas.
The work of Lokman, existing now only in Arabic, has caused some
people to think that it is of Arabian origin; but it is really
Persian, and of the tenth century B.C. His Apologues are
considered the foundation on which Greek fable was reared. The
Code of Zoroaster, in which the two great principles of the world
are represented by Ormuzd (goodness and light), and Ahriman
(darkness and sin) are as old as the creation.
Ormuzd is worshiped in the sun, the stars, and in fire. Zoroaster
explained the history of man as being one long contest between
these two powers until a time to come when Ormuzd would be
victorious over Ahriman. Ormuzd, as the ruler of the universe,
seeks to draw men to the light, to dispel the darkness of
ignorance, and to extend the triumph of virtue over the material
and spiritual world. It may be said of the Persians, as
Tertullian said of the Roman Pagans, "that in their highest moods
and beliefs they were naturally Christian." Among a Persian sect
called the Sufis' there is a belief that nothing exists
absolutely but God; that the human soul is an emanation from His
essence, and will ultimately be restored to Him, and that the
supreme object of life should be a daily approach to the eternal
spirit, so as to form as perfect a union with the divine nature
as possible. How nearly this belief approaches the Christian
doctrine, will be easily seen.
Persian poetry is nearly all in the form of love stories, of
which the "Misfortunes of Mejnoun and Leila" represent the
Eastern Romeo and Juliet, and may have been known to Shakespeare
in the writing of his own drama.