April 5th, 2012

achaemenid

MIHR YASHT ("Hymn to Mithra")

Khorda Avesta

This Yasht, one of the longest of the Avesta and one of the most interesting in a literary point of view, is not very instructive for mythology. It consists of long descriptive pieces, sometimes rather spirited, and of fervent prayers and invocations for mercy or protection. Originally Mithra was the god of the heavenly light (§§ 12, 50, 67, 104, 124 seq., 136 seq., etc.); and in that character he knows the truth, as he sees everything; he is therefore taken as a witness of truth, he is the preserver of oaths and good faith (§§ 2, 44 seq., 79 seq., 81 seq., etc.); he chastises those who break their promises and lie to Mithra, destroys their houses, and smites them in battle (§§ 17 seq., 28 seq., 35 seq., 47 seq., 99 seq., 105 seq., 112 seq., 128 seq., etc.).
Particularly interesting are §§ 115-118, as giving a sketch of moral hierarchy in Iran, and §§ 121-122, as being perhaps the source of the trials in the later Roman Mithraism. Cf. Vend. Intro. IV, 8 and Ormazd et Ahriman, §§ 59-61.
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