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tory we find stories of great cities and stupendous monuments, the size and character of which only partially discovered, fill us with wonderment and curiosity. Today we find in the plains of Iran the remains of a city, the date of whose foundation is nearly coeval with history itself, and the traveller stands amazed at the colossal ruins which nearly forty centuries have not obliterated. Persepolis, or as it was called among the early Persians, Istakhan, was built under Jemshid, one of the first Pishdadian princes, and though we may not believe all that has been written about it by Persian annalists, yet enough has reached us from authentic sources to renderits vast dimensions indubitable. It may, indeed, appear to us incredible that a city, especially in those early times, should take in an area of three hundred and thirty-two miles; yet we must reflect that farms, country-seats, parks and preserves were comprised within this vast enclosure. Moreover, at this period of human history, the minds of men had not been usurped by the contemplation of works less grand than those of nature; and as the mind of the early poet strove to embody ideas gathered from the great book of nature, and not painfully gleaned from human productions, so architects and founders of cities endeavored to imitate the greatness of nature in the monuments and cities which they built.
Throughout the long line of the Pisdadian monarchs, the history of Persian affairs is involved in impenetrable darkness, neither Greek nor Jewish historian having cast the least glimmer of light on the events which then transpired in Persia. Of course Persian chronicles abound in narratives replete with interest to the poet, but of little value to the historian or the student of antiquities. The bards of later times have sung the valor and exploits of the princes and chieftains of those early days, they have flung the charm of poesy over the history of fierce warriors, whose names were a terror to surrounding nations, and they have sung the glories of peaceful princes who fostered the arts among their people, bent their swords into pruninghooks, and peacefully died, lulled to their last rest by the sighing of the breeze, as it swept over golden-eared fields. But these legendary records give little insight into Persian manners and civilization, and we must come down to a much later period ere we can point to a single fact, the proof of which is placed beyond dispute. The earliest element of Persian civilization that we can discover, as it is the earliest in the history of every nation, is its language, and we will
here offer a few remarks on its structure, development, and peculiarities, as serving to throw light on the stage of intellectual development reached by the Persian at the extinction of the first historical line of Persian princes.
It was not till the establishment of the Caianian dynasty that the ancient language of Persia assumed those characteristics and peculiarities which we recognize in the writings of Zoroaster. These writings, which are chiefly comprised in the Zeudavesta, are the only relic of the earliest Persian tongue known as the Zend. Taking the lists of M. Anquetil, we find the most marked resemblance of the Zend language to the Sanscrit, the same fertility in the expression of abstract ideas, the same richness of metaphor, the same suitableness for metaphysical speculation; and, descending to verbal structure, the same sort of termination to the words. This supposition is still
further borne out by the suggestion above advanced, that Persia, or Iran, as it was then called, had been ruled by a Hindoo race of kings who may have introduced the Sanscrit language. The Zend language, however, was not the only dialect in use among the Persians of old; indeed it is highly probable that it constituted the liturgical language, and was exclusively employed in the composition of sacred works. This may be inferred both from the recent researches of antiquaries who have made no discovery of the Zend dialect in any profane writing or monument, and from the prevalence in all eastern countries of a sacerdotal language.
The other ancient language of Persia more popularly used, though not claiming such high antiquity, was the Pahlavi, closely cognate to the Chaldaic. This analogy M. Anquetil has satisfactorily established in his Zendavesta, by furnishing a list of similar names from the Pahlavi and the Chaldaic, the differences displaying an admixture of Tartarian in the former. The hypothesis is further strengthened by the considerations, that, according to the nature of the Chaldean tongue, most words ended in the first long vowel like Shemia, heaven, and that very word unaltered in a single letter, we find in the Pazend, the commentary on the Zend, together with lailia, night : so Zamar, by a beautiful metaphor from pruning trees, means in Hebrew to compose verses, and thence by an easy transition to sing them, and in Pahlavi we see the verb zamruniten to sing, the verbal termination of the Persian being added to the Chaldaic root. According to some philologists the Arabic predominates in the Pahlavi,
and there is a certain resemblance in the sound of the two languages; but this may be accounted for by the great number of hard consonants used in both.
Admitting the opinion that the Zend and the Pahlavi are offshoots from the Sanscrit and the Chaldaic respectively, we are forced to the conclusion that prior to the times of the Pischdadian dynasty, representatives of the Hindoo and the Hebrew people must have sojourned in the land of Iran. Not only does the resemblance between the dualism of Persia and the pantheism of India seem to indicate this, but the Mosaical account of the rebellion of Lucifer against the Almighty, and the final triumph of divine might, strongly correspond to the Zendean history of Ormuzd and Ahriman, and the triumph of the principle of light.
In addition to these two languages we find a third of more modern date, called Parsi, which sprang into existence a little before the birth of Christ. The present language of the Persians is most nearly allied in form and sound to the old Parsi, and they both seem to bear the same mutual relation as the modern Italian and the Latin. The coange induced in the Parsi from its original condition is due to the intermixture of numberless Arabic words, and the infusion of a “new spirit, which has rendered the modern Persian tongue the vehicle of the sweetest and most exquisitely polished poetry. The old Parsi is evidently a scion of the Zend, as the multitude of Sanscrit words, wherein it abounds, bears witness.
According to the view taken by Sir William Jones, the Parsi was derived, like the various Indian dialects, from the language of the Brahmins, though this hypothesis seems needless when we might as well refer it, in virtue of its Sanscrit character, to the ancient Zend. In the Parsi language, as well as in the Zend, we perceive a resemblance to the ancient Runic, in which the Saga of the North was written. This resemblance is no doubt due to their common participancy in a Sanscrit termination. Were it not for the admixture of the Sanscrit in most of the eastern languages, antiquaries would have encountered insurmountable obstacles in the prosecution of their researches ; but the Sanscrit substratum, on which the various eastern dialects repose, is a sort of passe-partout to the most formidable hieroglyphical inscriptions. We find this adaptability of eastern tongues to a Sanscrit interpretation well illustrated, in the renderings of the cuneiform inscriptions, by Major Rawlinson of the British
army, in 1847. These inscriptions, discovered first in Behistim, and afterwards at Persipolis and Hamadan, offer great diversity in their verbal terminations, and a knowledge of Sanscrit alone enabled the learned major to interpret the incongruous readings.
The relation to common stem disclosed by all the languages of the East, except the Semitic, and the joint agency of the Chaldean and Sanscrit in the formation of those languages, together with the probable original identity of the Sanscrit with the Hebrew before the Captivity, would indicate that, in a modified shape, either Sanscrit or Hebrew had once been the universal language of mankind. At least a knowledge of this mysterious tongue has enabled oriental philologists to harmonize the various dialects of the East, and to trace their growth from a Sanscrit basis to the peculiar formation which the genius of different races infused into them. Turning from the verbal structure of the old Persian tongue, be it Zend or Pahlavi, to its logical and philosophical aspects, we find that it greatly differs from the Parsi, on which the modern Persian is engrafted, by lending itself much more easily to the development of metaphysical problems than to poetical utterance. And this is entirely in keeping with the character of the people using it, for as the sacred and philosophical writings of the old Persians amply attest their fondness for abstruse and subtle speculations, so the gorgeous imagery of Ismat and the exquisite sweetness of Hafiz among the moderns prove how much better suited the Parsi is for poetry.
Apart, therefore, from an examination into the philosophical books of the Persians, the highly cultivated state of their language would argue a degree of thoughtfulness and depth consistent only with an advanced state of civilization. So strikingly powerful, indeed, is the language of the ancient Persians in this respect, that many oriental scholars acknowledge the difficulty of rendering some passages in the Zendavesta into modern European tongues, stating that no periphrasis even will serve to convey the full force of the subtleties contained in that curious production. In this respect the -Zend language approximates to the Greek, displaying the same flexibility, the same fertility and power, adapted as well for the events of an epic as for those shaded differences which the mind of the metaphysician can often conceive, though not mould into language. The spirit of the Persian language affords an excellent standard by which to estimate the Per
sian character and the tone of the Persian mind. Neither in the Pahlavi nor in the Zend do we find a full vocabulary of the names of material things, except such as exist in the rude and unelaborated state, thus showing that neither art nor commerce had brought into requisition the multitude of mechanical implements the names and uses of which have given rise to a great variety of technologies among modern nations. This consists, too, with what history teaches concerning the backward state in which both the fine and the mechanic arts existed during the period of the development of the Pahlavi tongue. On the other hand, we notice that both the Zend and the Pahlavi almost sprang into the maturity of philosophical languages, indicating the proneness of the Persian mind to speculation and the study of abstract themes.
But it is not alone in the barrenness of the Persian tongue in the respect mentioned, nor in the copiousness of its philosophical terms, that we notice the peculiarity alluded to, but in the intimate structure and essence, so to speak, of the language. Thus, the comprehensiveness of the words, which by an admirable system of abbreviation shortens and compounds so as to condense a variety of meanings in the same word, bespeaks the aim and design of its formation to give expression to abstract thoughts and not to material things. It must not be inferred, however, that the Persian language though not well suited for the purposes of commerce and the mechanic arts, is devoid of that richness and abundance which can borrow illustration from the works of nature, and give shape to a subtle thought by a comparison with objects which strike the senses. Indeed, this fertility in the means of illustration, this system of metaphor by which the works of nature are made the exponent of abstract ideas, cannot fail to strike any one who opens a Persian book. The following extract from a poem on the love of Mejnun and Laili will sufficiently prove this :
“The man who had inebriated himself with milk from the nipple of anguish, who had been nourished in the lap of affliction.
“Mejnun, mad with the bright hue and fair face of Laili, himself a dark mole on the cheek of the desert.
“Having found the way to the mansion of love, became fixed like the threshold on the door of love's palace.
“Over his head the form of madness had cast her shadow; the tale of his passion was loudly celebrated.”
This method of varied illustration is a necessity with a