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1. The importance of Gershevitch's new translation of the tenth Yasht 1 of the Avesta transcends the interests of the specialists of Old Iranian philology and religion. The god to whom this hymn is devoted has a claim to a more general interest, from the students of the Vedic and Roman religions, no less than from specialists of the Old Iranian ones. Nothwithstanding his importance, however, our insight into the character of Mit(h)ra is still very imperfect, and even in minor points no agreement has been reached so far. The first requirement to be fulfilled for a better insight is a correct understanding of the philological data. The remarkable development of Middle Iranian philology during the last decades offers a prospect of such a better understanding and this has induced Gershevitch, well-known for his linguistic studies in Middle Iranian, to publish this ninth translation, after the long series of eight forerunners that have appeared between 1857 and 1927. The work consists of an Introduction (pp. 3-72), Text and Translation (pp. 74-147), the Commentary (pp. 151-299), Geldner's Critical Apparatus in transcription (pp. 303-318), Addenda (pp. 319-331) and Indexes. The fact that the Word-Indexes begin with two alphabetical lists of reconstructed IndoEuropean and Old Iranian words and roots is indicative of the character of this book. The preponderance of the Commentary (149 pp.) over the Introduction (70 pp.) and the translation (74 pp.) shows what the author considers the most important part of his book. Gershevitch rightly remarks: "What seemed called for at this stage was a survey of the interpretations available, and a discussion of their merits on the basis of the text. Accordingly I have quoted in the Commentary for each moot point all the alternative interpretations known to me - regardless of whether I agree with any of them - provided they do not rest on wild 1 I. Gershevitch,The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, With an Introduction, Translation and Commentary (Cambridge, 1959), XV-}-367 pp.



emendations or on disregard of Avestan grammar" (p. VIII). In the treatment of the text he declares to "have been extremely conservative, not daring to assume that it requires to be corrected" except in a few cases, in this matter every one has to choose his own way, steering what he considers a middle course between an uncritical conservative attitude and an over-critical approach, which both are equally unscientific. 2. All students of the Avesta will be grateful to Gershevitch for having gathered all the relevant data in his thorough discussion of the many words whose exact meaning is still debated. The reader will find also useful remarks on religious history interspersed throughout the commentary, but as the prime purpose of the book is to encourage attempts "to approach every part of the hymn as a meaningful record of Mithra's character, and the whole poem as a consistent description of a single, well-defined god" (p. VII f.), stress is naturally laid on the philological interpretation. Few Avestan scholars possess such a detailed knowledge of ancient and modern Iranian languages, and all non-specialist readers (particularly those, whose training might predispose them to exploit the Vedic evidence to the full) will be glad to find here the Iranian facts comfortably arranged. It is inevitable, however, that sometimes they should be under the impression that the importance of the Iranian evidence is somewhat overvalued, - higher valued, at least, than they would be inclined to do. In this respect the influence of Henning's wellknown study on the disintegration of Avestan studies (TPS, 1942, p. 40 ft.) is manifest. Thus Gershevitch assumes that a long a was shortened in the Avestan dialect 1) before n: ba~vara.spasan6 Yt.10.24: ba~vara. spasanO in 60 (p. 179), upamana- from *upamana- etc. (p. 167), frayanafrom *fryana- (p. 261); 2) before y in maya- = maya (pp. 205, 232), apayati from *apa-yati (p. 232), ~ apparently also in spaya- from the root span- (p. 183, for several reasons improbable!); 3) before v and vy in fravi-, navaza- (p. 250), resp. *avya- (p. 200 n. 1). On the other hand, a is said to have been lengthened before antevocalic v in hva-va~ya-, hva-vastra- (p. 157): traces of a similar lengthening are well-known from Vedic Sanskrit. No one conversant with the history of Avestan studies will fail to recognize the implicit rejection o f an explanation that has 2 OP. grbf~yati, however, does not support this analysis since it does not contain an intensive stem in -aya- but represents a secondary -ya-derivative from Indo-Ir. *gh.rbha-. On the other hand, a present stem *apa-, and a nasal present *ap-n-d-ti (beside Ved. 6pnoti) are non-existent. It may be added that in Av. asaya-, Sogd. sy"k (against NP. saye) Benveniste assumes a different vowel grade (OLZ, 1960, p. 8), while Henning (p. 50) takes it as an instance of shortening.


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formerly been proposed. It has long been known - Caland seems to have been the first to draw attention to the fact (KZ, 32, p. 592; 33, p. 302 ft.) that in ya..., aiwy-a..., paity-a .... ny-a .... vy-a.., the vulgate text mostly has a long a, even where etymologically a short a was to be expected. Caland held this to be the result of a phonetic development (of. Wackernagel, Altind. Gramm., I, p. 293). Much later Andreas, starting from an assumption which was (and probably still is) almost universally accepted, viz. that the text of the Avesta must originally have been written in a much simpler script, gave a palaeographical explanation: although in the older Semitic kind of script there was no symbol for the phoneme a, he suggested that before and after W and Y an aleph had been written to indicate the place where the vowel should be read. In this way a long a could be accounted for in many cases. In others, however, a short a was written, where a long vowel was required, e.g. navazaagainst Skt. ndvajd- "pilot". Here Andreas had to assume a scriptio defectiva without an aleph (which was the rule for indicating a long d in medial position). Now Henning has pointed out that in such cases the short a may be due to an authentic phonetic development of some Iranian dialects, as the short a (against the etymology!) is actually met with in Middle Iranian. Since this possibility had been overlooked in former studies, it is to Henning's merit to have drawn attention to this aspect. With regard to this novel interpretation of the textual data, however, two questions must be raised: 1) Does it disprove the graphical theory? 2) Does it prove anything regarding the original text? Both questions must be answered in the negative. That later copyists should have introduced some phonetic particularities of their own into the text, is just what we should expect a priori, but since this alone cannot account for all irregularities of the traditional text, we cannot dismiss the graphical theory, to which Henning's explanation must be added as another source of errors. Bailey, in an excursus to the Zoroastrian Problems, has indeed pointed to traces of later dialectal developments in the variant readings of the Avestan MSS., and Louis H. Gray has rightIy observed that "The phonetic divergencies are rather to be explained by the shift in pronunciation between the times of the first and the final redactions" (JAOS, 67, 1947, p. 23). Nothing, indeed, warrants that such shortenings as found in navaza- date back to the time of the authors of the Yashts. Now little could be objected if one would argue that, since we cannot claim any certain knowledge about the language of those authors, the sole certain facts are the traditional notions of the mediaeval copyists about that language. In that case, however, one would have to abstain



from arguments based upon the supposition that such shortenings were phonetic developments of the Avestan language itself. This is not what G. does. He assumes the same shortening in Av. yava~- "always" on the strength of Parth. y'wyd('n), MPers. j'yd'n, NPers. jdvYd and of a presumed Old Iranian form *yavai. The latter form he tries to restore in the Darius inscription DB. V.19, where ya-a.., is restored as ydvaiYai artam. Incidentally, the reading artam in the gap is based upon a theory about the Old Persian religious evolution which the present reviewer finds it difficult to accept for reasons expounded in IIJ, IV, p.185 f. What concerns us here, however, is the fact that Gershevitch in this case assumes, without further argument, that the shortening of *yavai to [yavai] has taken place in the Old Iranian period, apparently even before Zarathustra: for GAv. yav6i can hardly be separated from yava~- in the sense "always". This view, based upon the Iranian evidence, however conflicts with the comparativist's conviction that yava~- is the dat. sing. of ayu and, as such, had a short a in the first syllable (cf. e.g. Notes on Vedic Noun-Inflexion, p. 31). The latter must accept the facts which the Iranist furnishes him, but he may remain doubtful as to their interpretation. At the risk of meeting the usual reproach from the Iranists that his reconstruction o f Old Iranian amounts to "in einer Art Pseudosanskrit einen [Text] zu dichten" (H. H. Schaeder, ZDMG, 97, p. 336, cf. Henning, TPS, 1942, p. 45), he will maintain that the first vowel of yav6i must have been short, and that the long ~ of y'wyd('n) as Well as the short a of navaza- must be due to secondary developments. He will also object to a (hardly unintentional) vagueness on Gershevitch's part, when the latter states that Av. aiwy-axg- "has secondary d after y " (p. 278). In the absence of any reference to a graphical explanation, one is driven to the conclusion that Gershevitch assumes a phonetical lengthening of Avestan (y)a in aiwy-dx~-, and a phonetical shortening of (y)a in the same language in the case of yava~-. 3 If this conclusion should be incorrect, it is not the reviewer who is to be blamed for it. In any case, in view of the fact that the original form [yavai] was still in use in East Iran when the Avestan texts were composed, the comparativist will feel rather sceptical as to the proposed reading yavaigai in Old Persian.
a Similarly, e.g., avya- is explained as a shortening of avya- (p. 200 n. 1), but dvacinahfor *dvacinah- has an a "transferred" (p. 231). Bartholomae had already rejected Caland's explanation of L.Av. Oray6 (beside Orayasca) "three" on account of the m o d e m dialects (Grundr. iran. Phil. I, p. 131), and G. concludes that the long a "is not a secondary development of the Younger Avestan language" (p. 209). It may bedoubted if a has ever been pronounced as a in this word, as long as Avestan was a living language.


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To this we should like to add a general remark. It seems to us very doubtful, if this total disregard of the graphical aspects in the textual tradition of the Avesta (cf. Gershevitch, JAOS, 79, p. 197b) can be considered a progress in the methodology of these studies. It is not unnatural, after all extravagancies resulting from Andreas' theories, that there should be a longing for the age of innocence, when the text of the Avesta could still be accepted as it stands. But this innocence is lost for ever: also Humbach, for instance, accepts that GAv. divamnam is due to a graphical misinterpretation of fdyumnam]. 4 Now it should not be forgotten that we owe this explanation to Andreas and his theory (cf. G6tt. Naehriehten, 1911, p. 31). It is a fallacy that a more solid basis could be regained by stubbornly ignoring the influence of the diverse scripts on the textual tradition. Medio tutissimus ibis: the truth must be found in le juste milieu, between the extravagancies of the hypercritical approach where "consonants count for little, and vowels for nothing" (cf. K. Hoffmann, ZDMG, 110, p. 182) and the total disregard of the r61e of the script. No one can be saved from the trouble and the peril of having to seek this balance for himself. It is true, the textual tradition should not be distrusted a priori (Humbach, MSS, 4, p. 55) but since it is our task to explain this tradition, the neglect of any of its aspects would be unjustifiable. This is certainly no defence of Andreas's theory, but just a warning against rash generalizations. Although in some details the views of the Iranist may conflict with those of the lndo-Europeanist, Gershevitch's strong point (as may be expected) is his linguistical approach to the textual problems. It is true, this may sometimes strike one as rather too much constructive, but about a personal style and predilection it would be futile to debate. There is no doubt a tendency in this book to solve problems too rashly by referring
Humbach, Die Gathas des Zarathustra, I (Heidelberg, 1959), p. 19. He objects, it is true, that this interpretation "nichts grunds/~tzlich Neues (bringt)", because it is essentially parallel to the case of mainivd for *mainyuvd, which is one of the "Auf16stmgen falscher Vokalisierungen im fiblichen und allgemein anerkannten Rahmen" (p. 28 n. 35). This is true, but the question is not, whether or not the interpretation of such particular eases as divamnam is a novel one, but if they can be explained in any other way but by the graphical transmission of the text of the Avesta. It should be noted that also Bartholomae in the introduction to his famous paragraph 268 wrote the following words: "Dabei begnfige ich reich mit der AnfiJhrung der Thatsacben, ohne reich auf die Ert~rterung der Ursachen einzulassen; eine der haupts/ichlichsten scheint mir der Umstand, dass die awestischen Schriften friiher in einem weniger ausgebildeten Alphabet aufgezeichnet waren." It is a well-known fact that several scholars had expressed the same opinion long before him e.g.J. Oppert, YAs, IV/17 (1851, I), p. 281f.; F. Spiegel, Huzvdreseh-Grammatik (1856), p. 32; more explicitly e.g. BB, 9 (1885), p. 173; M. A. Levy, ZDMG, 21 (1867), p. 460; H. Hfibschmann, KZ, 24 (1878), p. 368; cf. also Bartholomae, BB, 8 (1884), pp. 215, 226, etc.



them to prehistoric reconstructions. Thus the author separates NPers. mihr "love, friendship" from rnihr "sun" and explains the former word as a cognate of Ved. mitrd- "friend" and Russ. milyj (p. 41 n. 3; but withdrawn on p. 319); he distinguishes two different words harna.x~aOra(p. 259), and dissociates sdtar- from sdstar- (pp. 185, 259) in spite of their occurrence in identical formulae. An extreme instance of this tendency is met with on p. 213, where the reading yahi, apparently standing for the loc. sg. yahmi, induced Gershevitch to posit an Indo-Iranian toc. sg. fem. *ya-&i-i, which would have been supplanted by *ya-sy-a(m) (Av. yeOhe, Skt. ydsydm), but is supposed to survive in this sole passage, be it as a neutral form. One would not have been surprised, if the Prakrit form jassirh (v.1. in Mftlavik. 1.5.2) had been quoted in support of this theory! In other cases, too, Gershevitch shows little regard for the morphological difficulties involved in his explanations: thus @avant- is said to mean "protecting", but its formation is not accounted for; and voroOra- is translated "physical fitness, valetudo" (p. 162), but the function of the formative morpheme -tro- after the root of Lat. valeo then remains an unsolved riddle. Also for many less hypothetical suggestions a purely linguistical study might have been a more suitable place, as they inevitably give this book a rather hybridic character. 3. The general interest of this book, however, lies not in these minor philological problems, however important they may to be the specialists, but in the consequences of its results for the religious history of Iran. It may be expected, therefore, that the introduction will attract a greater number of readers. Now it should be kept in mind thatit is, in the author, s own words, "intended for orientation, not as an exhaustive discussion of all the opinions that have been voiced on Mithra's place in Zoroastrianism" (p. IX). On the other hand, Gershevitch does expound a theory of his own in these seventy pages, and this deserves our critical interest. For the Vedic data G. mainly follows the exposition of the facts as given by Macdonell, and the interpretation proposed by Ltiders. This has some consequences of minor importance, on which we shall not dwell here. Only in passing it may be observed, that G. follows Ltiders in rendering R.ta as Truth but that in our opinion the prealable question is, whether "Cosmic Order" and "Truth" were also to the ancient Indians two different notions (as they are to us). It is not a priori certain that the necessity imposed on us to choose between both words implies a distinction that would also have been relevant to them. It would seem


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conceivable that in the sphere of archaic religious thought a certain notion was conceived as a unity, which we can only conceive and define in its different aspects. If it is true that only in after-life were ordinary men associated with .Rta (cf. IIJ, III, p. 215), this fact alone is sufficient to show that this cosmic Truth was something quite different from what we understand by "Truth". It is interesting to note that also Gershevitch incidentally speaks of a "transcendental truth" (p. 7), which points in the same direction. Now it would not be inconceivable that to the ancient Indians and Iranians the notion of such a "Cosmic Truth" coincided with that of "(Reality and Authenticity of) the Cosmic Order". It has long been noticed that this notion has a close parallel in the Old Egyptian maat, which a historian of religion interpreted as "order, truth, correctness, right, authenticity as a characteristic of the order o f life" (W. B. Kristensen, Verzamelde Bijdragen tot de kennis der antieke godsdiensten, Amsterdam, 1947, p. 137, Symbool en Werkelijkheid, Arnhem, 1954, pp. 103, 120 ft., cf. p. 118 ft. on Themis). This is not the place to attempt a solution of this much discussed problem, but it may be asked, if the problem is correctly formulated by the dilemma: either "Cosmic Order" or "Truth". It might be both misleading and unnecessary to stick stubbornly to a single modern term, if this is only an inadequate rendering of the ancient notion and, therefore, necessitates fruitless attempts to justify this translation in every context. Of greater general interest is G.'s attempt to explain's function as god of the waters: "as had his seat in the waters, where Truth is situated, he was bound to take charge of them; in the naturalistic interpretation of the Vedic pantheon he thus became a water-god" (p. 7). One may feel some doubt, if this "naturalistic interpretation" must not rather be imputed to the modern historian of religion than to the Vedic Indians. The main point, however, is G.'s method, his fundamental trend of thought, with which we are here confronted. The question naturally arises, why there should be any need of such theories on the part of the modern historian of religion to explain how a god became a water-god, whereas the evidence does not suggest that he at any time was not. If to the Vedic Indians Varun.a was the representative par excellence of the primordial, undifferentiated world that was anterior to Indra's demiurgical act, and if Varun.a, as such, was the god of the primeval waters of which that world consisted, he must eo ipso have been related to them. It is impossible to enter here into this problem, but this single point may illustrate how much our theories about the development of the Iranian religion are linked up with our interpretation of the Vedic



mythology. Thus the fact that G. unhesitatingly accepts atso Liiders' thesis that and Mitra are homogeneous (p. 7) was bound to have serious consequences for his own theory of the religious development in Iran. According to this theory the Gathas, representing Zarathustrianism proper, were composed between 630-553 (or 628-551, or 618-641) B.C., whereas the Yashts reflect Zoroastrianism, the "Iranian religious which "began to be formulated in Avestan language in the second half of the fifth century B.C." (p. 9). The date here ascribed to Zarathustra is well-known to every not quite uninitiated reader (see Henning, Zoroaster, 1951, p. 41), and reflects a rather general trend in recent times to place Zarathustra about 600 B.C. (or 570, which is "the sole reasonably admissible date" according to Abaev, Arch. Orient., 24, 1956, p. 24). In spite of the rather universal acceptance of the date proposed by Henning, the reliability of the historical tradition on which it is founded is open to serious doubts. See e.g.A.Christensen, Acta Orient., 4 (1926), p. 86, 5 K. Barr, Festskrift til L. L. Hammerich (1952), p. 27, Avesta (1954), p. 38 f., I. M. D'jakonov, Istorija Midii (Moscow-Leningrad 1956), p. 391. Some may also feel some hesitation on purely linguistic grounds in accepting the conclusion that the Gathas are scarcely more than a century older than the Yashts - even if allowance is made for the fact that these texts have been composed in different dialects, which may have developed at different rates. A hieratic language like that of the Gathas might perhaps have preserved some morphological and stylistic characteristics for a long time, but the consistent preservation of, e.g., the hiatus in a'a (from -alia-) cannot be due to mere tradition and must reflect the actual speech of Zarathustra, which accordingly was a remarkably antique form of Old Iranian. This linguistic argument would seem to tally perfectly well with the archaeological conclusion that the older parts of the Avesta must be far earlier than 550 B.C. and cannot be later than the first centuries after 1000 B.C. (I. M. Oranskij, Vvedenie v iranskuju filologiju, Moscow, 1960, p. 92. Cf. also I. M. D'jakonov, Istorija Midii, pp. 48, 52 f., 389 ft.). Starting from the date proposed by Henning, Gershevitch makes an interesting attempt to determine the lines along which the religions may have developed, a n d to reconstruct the circumstances under which Zoroastrianism may have been introduced at Darius' court. Since however the evidence is very scanty, such an attempt is bound to remain guess-work, and G. is obviously well aware of it. Some strong doubts
5 Who afterwards, however, assumed a much later date!


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may arise, therefore, if this evidence is sufficient to support the gigantic superstructure of theories, not so much because very much importance, then, has to be attached to, e.g., Cyrus' first contact with Chorasmia (p. 15 f., cf. also Barr, Avesta, p . 33), as rather because the whole argument has to be based on a few premises which would seem open to debate. Among these there is, besides the late date assigned to Zarathustra, G.'s conviction that Darius has been fundamentally a Zoroastrian. Since G.'s arguments will be published in Old Iranian Literature, it is not possible to enter into a discussion. The present reviewer's conclusion that there are some pre-Zarathustrian traits in Darius' religion which prevent us from considering him a Zoroastrian, even in the widest sense of that word, has been set forth in IIJ, IV, p. 183 f. As it is not yet possible to weigh G.'s arguments, this point must be left aside. It should be observed, however, that as to the calendar reform about 441 B.C. G. points out that this does not prove anything in this respect because the Zoroastrian names "may have been introduced at any time within a century after 441" (p. 18 n.). As far as it is possible to judge of G.'s argument, it would seem that he has tried, starting from a few questionable assumptions - but nearly every conclusion is questioned in this field! - to prove more than the scanty evidence allows us to infer. As for the hymn itself, however, he is no doubt right in contesting Christensen's and Herzfeld's theories about a chronological stratification of it (p. 22) - theories, it may be added, which Barr, Avesta, p. 33, had contested before him. 4. The next chapter on "Mithra's Functions" (pp. 26-44) is of course of the greatest general interest. Besides his guardianship of the contracts, Mithra has also the functions of giver of light and life, both in Roman Mithraism and in the Avesta (here "at its incipient stage", according to G., p. 29). While the first function cannot be explained from the second, G. holds that the last could "by a simple argument" of the Iranian worshippers, be extracted from the first. Before considering more closely this argument we may ask, if it is true, that the second function is at its incipient stage in the Avesta. This point can hardly be decided by mere philological arguments. In fact, such a statement as here made presupposes a reasonable certainty that Mithra at a pre-Avestan stage was not a god of light and life. Such a certain knowledge, however, could only have been derived from a correct interpretation of the Vedic data to their full extent. For the reconstruction of the prehistoric religion at its proto-Indo-Iranian stage, however, G. merely accepts the interpretations



which Macdonell and LiJders had given of the Vedic facts. This dependence is one of the main reasons why G.'s reconstructions do not carry conviction. Another reason is, that G., instead of studying the god's functions from the point of view and with the methods of the historian of religion, starts from the linguistic statement that miOra- means "contract", which leads him to conclude that the god, accordingly, "is primarily the god of contract". It is true, in support of this conclusion he then adds a list of passages from the hymn. Nevertheless, I am afraid that G., by taking his departure from a linguistic statement, has from the outset blocked up the way towards a deeper understanding of the god's character. From a purely philological point of view, it is true, few will contest that G.'s method, which Thieme has characterized as "a non-selective procedure that refrains from 'explaining away' anything the text explicitly says (G. p. ix) and is wary of adding anything it does not" is quite sound. Doubts may arise, however, when it is stated that such a method "cannot fail to find the validity of the linguistic formula confirmed from one end of the text to the other". 6 In any case, G.'s work demonstrates the urgent need of some reflection on the method to be applied in these studies. Now the statement that the lexical meaning of the appellative noun mitrd-/miOra- was "contract" will hardly be contested. The basic question, it would seem, is then, how this fact has to be interpreted in the context of the Indo-Iranian religion. In G.'s opinion, however, this statement rather indicates the method further to be applied, the task then being to confirm the validity of this linguistic formula by the exegesis of the text. I am afraid that by following this method one runs the risk of overlooking, while being fully convinced of utilizing all available data, a considerable part of them. If one would start one's inquiry by investigating, without any preconceived idea about the god's "primary" function, his character in the general context of the mythology (viewed as one coherent system), one is likely to arrive at quite different results. This involves, however, that one has to take seriously all such statements as "Varun.a is the night, Mitra is the day", "Varun.a is the setting sun, Mitra is the rising sun", "Varu .nais the inspiration, Mitra is the expiration" (TS. V.3.4.2, KS. 21.1 [p. 37,1]), which here, with doubtful right, are left out of account. One who would take this line of study would however be at a disadvantage against the adherents of the thesis "Mitra is the god Contract", in so far as it is certainly possible to define the god's character by a similar formula, but not to demonstrate its plausibility as
6 B S O A S , XXlII, p. 273.


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easily, because this definition cannot be based on a single lexical fact. Such a demonstration would require an ample discussion of all sorts of identifications, which would by far exceed the limits of this study. In spite of this difficulty a reviewer cannot avoid the necessity of stating, as concretely as is possible without a full discussion of the evidence, his own views, lest the methodological dispute should degenerate into skirmishing in the mist. It would seem, then, that none of the theories advanced, which state Mitra to have been a sun-god (e.g. Hillebrandt), or a god of the fire (Ltiders, cf. G., pp. 7, 31), or of the contract (Meillet, Thieme), or of the nocturnal sky (Nyberg), or a juridical god (Dumtzil), are adequate to account fully for the character of the god. This character can only be defined in opposition to's, for the functions of both gods are determined by their mutual contrast. Now may be defined as the personification of the regressive force of the nether world ( = subterranean waters and nocturnal sky), and Mitra as the corresponding progressive force. This provisional formula will do for the purposes of this discussion, as it can explain, why Mitra is the god of the rising sun, of light and life, and as such is the cosmic Mediator between the nether and the upper world, that is, the personified cosmic Contract. The true character of Mitra, in our opinion, can only be understood, if one considers his role in the cosmogony, as the opponent of Varun.a. As such he is the true giver of light and life (in contrast with, despite the statements to the contrary of the Rigveda). So there is no need for any evolutionary theory which explains one function as developed from the other: both appear to be inherent in the god's character, as soon as the latter is correctly understood. The inadequacy of the notion "contract" to account for Mit(h)ra's functions is most clearly demonstrated by the necessity it entails of explaining those other functions by a concatenation of hypothetical evolutions. The repeated assurance that these evolutions are natural, or that they easily follow from the supposed preceding stages, should not blind us to the fact, that these "evolutions" are not self-evident but require further explanations, assumptions, and theories, in addition to the primary assumption that Mit(h)ra is, first and foremost, the Contract. Thus the "simple argument" referred to above, by which Mithra's function as a giver of light and life is derived from "Contract" is stated as follows (p. 31): Mithra is sleepless, so he is "not only up and about all day, but also all night. Consequently in the morning he is up before anybody else, including the sun" and accordingly equated to "the light of daybreak, which precedes the appearance of the



sun". We may object that, as he might as well have been equated to any other phenomenon of day or night, this argument is not as simple as G. supposes. A more striking illustration, however, is provided by G.'s explanation of the fact that Mithra is called puOrd.dgt- "bestower of sons" in Yt. 10.65. G. writes as follows (p. 32): "Once the light-giving part of function B is explained, its life-giving part easily follows from what has been said. In the Avesta Mithra is defined as a life-giver by his epithets puOr6.d~- 'bestower of sons' (st. 65), ux~yat.urvara- 'making plants grow' (st. 61), and gayO.da- 'bestower of life' (st. 65). Now, seen from the practical point of view of the Iranians, the granting of sons is on the same level as the dispensation of fat and herds (st. 65), the provision of wide pastures (st. 112), or the appointment of richly furnished and well-staffed houses (st. 30). In st. 108 riches and fortune, health and 'property that affords much comfort' are thought of in association with 'noble progeny hereafter'. The provision of material comfort and of sons must be viewed as part and parcel of Mithra's care for the nation's welfare and prosperity, which create conditions of internal stability, thus leading tO treatyabiding international relations... The epithet puOr6.da- is accordingly a by-product of Mithra's concern for the stability of contractual relations, which in the case of long-term stipulations anyway depends on the availability of sons to carry out their father's obligations." I am afraid, this explanation is a rather instructive demonstration of what is "the necessary consequence of applying plain linguistic and exegetic method". It may be asked, indeed, if this is finding "the validity of the linguistic formula confirmed from one end of the text to the other". We may remark, first of all, that many gods of the Vedic and the Old Iranian pantheon are life-givers in their own way, and that also Mit(h)ra is so in his own particular way, viz. as the deliverer from dgahas-/qzah-. Now, also delivery is a form of deliverance, and it may be supposed a priori that Mithra, as the god of spaciousness and deliverance from narrowness (qzah-), was especially connected with the notion of a prosperous delivery. To demonstrate this, it may be useful first to consider the r6le of Mithra's antagonist more closely in this respect. Stagnant waters are said to belong to Varun.a, because they are "seized by Varun.a". Cf. ~B. IV.4.5.10 f. etd vd apdrh vdrun,ag.rMt~ yd.h sydndamdn~n~rh nd sydndante, etc., ibidem sydndamananarh sthavar6 hradd.h (see also below, p. 52). Now the same term is also well-known as a designation of persons who are afflicted with dropsy: the correct explanation is obviously that their disease is due to's detaining the water in their body. Indeed, the formula vdru.nagrhTta vai sthavard(.h) TS. VI.4.2.3 also


r . B . J . KUIPER

applies to the water which causes the dropsy. Long ago Hillebrandt, in one of his earliest mythological studies, devoted a chapter to "'s Fessel ein Ausdruck ffir die Wassersucht", 7 although he, too, failed to recognize the true relation between the disease and the god who detains the water. The same detaining power, however, could also be held responsible for disturbances in delivery and for sterility. An indirect confirmation can be found in the statement of a Vedic text, that a woman who has no sons is in the power of Nir.rti-, the regressive power of the nether world (yd vd apfitr~ pdtn~ sd nir.rtig.rh~t~ SB. V.3.1.13). Nir.rti- is the negative aspect, the, of the nether world, and the sole god who has the power to deliver from it is the Saviour Mit(h)ra. 8 Mithra's epithet puOr6.da- thus appears to be fully consistent with the ancient Indo-Iranian concept of the cosmic process as being regulated by the balance between two antagonistic powers. His function of bestowing sons does not require any evolutionary theory but follows immediately from the general definition that he is the deliverer par excellence. Since we are here particularly concerned with the methodological aspects of the study of the Old Iranian religion, the main object of this discussion is to demonstrate, how a different (and, it would seem, more adequate) interpretation of the Vedic religion may induce us to view also the Iranian facts in a different light. This is indeed a test-case which allows an easy confrontation of Gershevitch's approach and the one here advocated. Others may judge, which of the two explanations is the more natural one. 5. A brief remark may here be inserted in support of the preceding explanation. That the birth-process was actually conceived as the result of two antagonistic forces may also be inferred from the data concerning the antagonistic couple Anumati and Nir.rti. It is instructive that Nir.rti, as the regressive power of drhhas- which obstructs delivery, is put on a par with's fetter. Cf. TB. : " F r o m k.setriya, from Nir.rti, from wile, from's fetter I release thee" (k.setriya[ tv~ nir.rtyai tva druh6 mu~carni vdrun,asya pdgat). From this context we may guess that the k.setriya- was, like Nirr.ti, an exponent of the detaining force. Heesterman, to whom we owe an instructive discussion of this word (The Ancient lndian Royal Consecration, p. 18) explains it as the afterbirth. Owing to the fact that the negative force of Nir.rti was inherent in it, it was offered und Mitra (Breslau, 1877), p. 63 ft. 8 Mitra also protects the child, when born, from arhhas-, cf. AthS. II. 28.1 (:RS, IV.




to that divinity. Now Heesterman rightly observes that Anumati "Assent" is the opposite of Nirrti. Anumati is mentioned together with Bhaga and Mitra in AthS. IX.4.12 and, with reference to the driving out (of the aran.i), together with Savitar, Varun.a, Mitra, and Aryaman in AthS. I. 18.2: "Anumati hath driven out, bestowing upon us." Since she, like Mitra, impersonates the power of deliverance, it is not surprising to find her mentioned in connection with the rising sun. Cf. RS. X.59.6 jy6k pa@ema s~ryam uccdrantam / dnumate mrlaya nah. svasti "Noch lange m/3chten wir die Sonne aufgehen sehen. O Anumati, sei uns gn~idig zum Heil!" (Geldner). Owing to the same association of ideas that we found in connection with Mithra, she is said to give progeny: prajdrh devi rar~sva na.h AthS. VII.20.2d (cf. prajdvantarh raylm 3b, ray[rh no dhehi subhage suvfram 4d) and to have shaped, along with Praj~tpati and SinivNi, the embryo in the mother's womb (AthS. VI. 11.3). Roth, it is true, suggested that this was a consequence of her function as a goddess of love: as such she is implored in AthS. VI.131.2 to win a man's love for a woman. These invocations, however, are clearly based on word magic: dnumatd 'nv iddrh manyasvdkftte sdm iddrh namah.. In the birth process, on the other hand, we are not concerned with the magical effects of the word "assent", 9 but this rather evokes mythological associations with the deliverance of life from the powers of the nether world and death (cf. the prayer prd .na VS. 34.8) and with spaciousness: in Anumati's lap, indeed, is the broad atmosphere (ydsya updstha urv 3ntdrik.sam TS. III.3.11.4). Heesterman rightly draws attention to her identity (or close parallelism) with Aditi. Now, during the anumatyadiyfzgas cakes are offered to both Anumati and Nir.rti, and "both cakes are prepared at the same time: the one for Anumati by the adhvaryu, the other one, for Nir.rti, by his acolyte, the pratiprasth~tr. The offering act is performed for Nir.rti," in a svdk.rtam or a pradardh., after which Nir.rti is invoked to free the sacrificer from arhhas-, and a black garment with a black fringe is given as a It may be added in this connection that the pradard- is the part of the earth that is "seized by Nir.rti", i.e., that belongs to the nether world (TS. III.4.8.5). Then, according to Heesterman's account, "the offering of the Anumati cake is performed along the lines of the normal i.s.ti, and the dak.sinft connected therewith, a milch-cow, is given". From these facts he rightly infers that "Anumati (auspiciousness, Goodwill) and Nir.rti (Dissolution, Decay) present themselves in this as the two opposite aspects, auspicious and dangerous, of one and the same phenomenon. This can be seen when it is
9 Although they are sometimes implied, e.g. TS. III. 3.11.4, AS. VII. 20.3.


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considered that for both divinities the same sacrificial substance is used. Moreover, both Nir.rti and Anumati are identified with the earth, Nirrti representing the earth's evil aspect" (op. c., p. 17). This parallel may illustrate what was, in our opinion, the relation of Mitra to they were the opposite aspects of one and the same mythological concept. 1~ A third instance of the same structural relation may be found in, the goddess of Dawn, who is related to the nether world (IIJ, IV, p. 225, 242) but at the same time represents Life victoriously arising from the realm of Death. 1~ 6. It was stated above that Av. puOr6.dgt- is a test-case, which allows us to judge, which of the two interpretations of Mit(h)ra's character is more adequate to account for the evidence. In addition, however, I should like to draw attention to a single, seemingly bizarre, detail, which has never been discussed, in former studies on Mitra, and which, more than any other argument, illustrates the insufficiency of the thesis "Mitra = Contract", while at the same time confirming the interpretation here proposed. According to Mhbh. XII.313.2, Manu, Su~ruta and Bh~tg. Pur.
10 The failure to recognize the fundamental importance of these oppositions in the Old Aryan mythology threatens to lead the exegesis of the Veda into a blind alley. The same antagonism is found to exist between pgtrarhdhi- "the cosmic power of present-giving" and drdti-, the negative power which detains the gifts of the nether world. Both notions can only be adequately understood in the context of the cosmogonical myth. Now with regard to the last word Renou still stresses the fact that "le sens propre est n6cessairement 'absence de d o n ' " (Etudes sur le vocabulaire du Rgveda, p. 6), but Burrow, who accepts Renou's interpretation, is assured that "in fact the proper sense of drdti- is simply 'hostility'" (JAOS, 79, p. 288), and Thieme did not fail to present an etymology: he connects 6rdti- "Feindseligkeit" with Greek &9~ "Verderben, feindliche Vernichtung" (Festgabe Lommel, p. 143). In the same way Renou's interpretation ofpt~rarhdhi- as "poetic skill" led Burrow to connect it with Lat. perftus "skilled, expert" (which leaves the morphological problems unexplained). These linguistic explanations are based on a philological exegesis that fails to recognize the religious problems with which the texts confront us. [For drdvan- IX. 63. 5 (=ddsd-, Renou, l~t. vdd., 8, p. 94), cf. dp.r.nato...ddsyfm V.7.10.]. 11 In connection with our remark in 11J, IV, p. 242 the question may be posed whether there may be any structural analogy between and the Japanese "Terrible Femme du Ciel, qui danse avec la robe soulev6e usque ad partes privatas (comme s'exprime Chamberlain) et qui, par le rite qu'elle provoque, force la D6esse-Soleil, Amaterasu,/t sortir de la caverne off elle s'6tait cach6e" (quoted by M. Eliade, lmages et Symboles, p. 169 n. 12, from Kurt Singer, Cowrie and Baubo in early Japan, p. 51). Cf. especially RS. I. 124.7 j6y~va pdtya u~at[ suvdsd hasr~va ni ri.nfte 6psah. "sch6ngekleidet wie ein verlangendes Weib ftir den Gatten, entblSsst ihre Brust wie eine Buhlerin" (Geldner). In Geldner's translation the characteristic notion of hasrd has been retouched. If it was the task of to entice the sun from the darkness into the upper world, the erotic side of her character would be clear; but the Rigveda is not explicit on this point.



(see PW, V, col. 770 at the top) Mitra was connected with the anus (payu-) and with defecation. To defecate is "to accomplish the Mitra act" (rnaitrarh k.r-, Manu 4.152). Although these sources are rather late, the authenticity of this tradition seems beyond doubt. Since Mitra did not belong to the gods worshipped in the epic period and, therefore, is only seldom mentioned in the MaMtbhfirata, the belief here referred to must accordingly date from a much earlier (in fact, from the Vedic) period. It can only be explained, if we admit that Mitra was the progressive, liberating power in the nether world, in contrast with, who was the regressive, binding power. Just as Soma, "when bound" (in the cloth) is identified to, but "when purchased" to Mitra (TS. IV.4.9), so the defecation has been associated with the same delivering function of Mitra that also accounts for his connection with the sun rising from the demoniacal power of the nether world. Cf. also the "spaciousness" which the Avestan and Vedic texts mention with reference to the god (Gersh. p. 319). In passing we should like to add a brief remark. The Sanskrit word for "anus" mostly used in these sources is payfi-, which is of unknown derivation (see Mayrhofer, Kurzgef etym. Wb., II, p. 256 f.). Now in the older language there occurs another word pay{t- "protector", and in the Avesta the phrase pdyft(cd) OwdrMtdra (Y. 42.2, 57.2) denotes either Mithra and Ahura (Darmesteter) or Mithra and Sp~nta Mainyu (Gershevitch, p. 54 f.). So it would be tempting to suppose that the use ofpayu- for "anus" in later Sanskrit is due to the organ being denoted by a veiled term for the god himself. 11~ However, the evidence available does not allow us to affirm that pay{t- was also in Vedic Sanskrit a special term for Mitra (See also Renou, Et. vdd. etpan.., VII, 1960, p. 51). 7. One of the most illuminative points, however, is Mithra's relation to the waters. In G.'s opinion this is due to the fact that Mitra "once ... associated with in the perpetual watch over Truth ... naturally began to share some of's other attributes. Hence both the Avestan Mithra and the Rigvedic Mitravarun.d are 'bestowers of water'..." ." (p. 29 f.). We are here confronted with the crucial problem of the evaluation of Rigvedic data for the study of the history of religion. The Rigveda does say, indeed, that pours out the rain, but since, in contrast with Mitra as the god who releases, he is functionally the "encloser" (RS. VIII.41.7, AthS. X.10.22, etc., cf. Bergaigne, Religion
11a Cf. dvdit prd.nd.h " a n u s " for p~yld.t (SB XII.9.1.3.); see Minard, Trois Enigmes, p. 335 f.


/~. B. J. KUIPER

vddique, III, p. 113 f., Hillebrandt, Varun.a und Mitra, p. 14, etc.), we should rather expect him to impersonate the force of cosmic obstruction than to be a god who releases the waters. Since sometimes, when both gods are invoked as a couple, Mitra shares the characteristics of (VII.65.3 td bh~rip~v 6n.rtasya s~ta), it would seem equally possible that Varun.a is invested with particular features of Mitra. It should be noted that when the king is addressed with the words mitrb 'si sug~vo, the most auspicious aspect of can only be expressed in the words vdrun,o 'si satyddharma (TS. and the commentary explains that's most favourable function consists in averting evil: he, tvarh mitro 'si, mitravad bhojanadav; he vgtmabaho, tvarh varun.o 'si ~aucftdav anist.avarakatvat. Though based on
etymologies of both names, this is quite in keeping with the opposite character of both gods, and particularly with's general character of a detaining, regressive power. Now the Rigvedic data are curiously complemented by the statement of the br~thma.nas that stagnant waters are "seized by" (e.g. iBM. IV.4.5.10 f. etd vd apdrh vdru.nag.rh?ta yd.h sydndaman~navh nd sydndante, etc., see IIJ, IV, p. 249). If we combine these data with the statement of the Avesta that Mithra is ta_t.ap- "thanks to whom water ( = rain) falls" (G., p. 103), there is some reason to suspect the euphemistic reticence of india's oldest text regarding the true character of the ominous god. In this connection the question may be posed if the name Varun.adeva.h given to the stone slabs of the wells in Chamba State (see IIJ, IV, p. 249) may ultimately have been due to their function of obstructing the water, which could only flow out through a hole. 12 Stagnant water accordingly represents the subterranean waters in's realm of inertia, whereas the task of pouring out the rain from the cask can only have belonged to Mitra, who conquers this power (vl mitrd ~vair dratim atar?d TS. and releases the waters and the sun. Many scholars have already been driven to the conclusion that the Rigvedic combines the functions of Mitra and (as Ahura Mazda does); cf. e.g. Hillebrandt, Ved. MythoL, 113, p. 48.
12 Cf. especially RS. IX.73.3 mah6h samudr6rh vfru.nas tit6 dadhe "the great has concealed the ocean". According to Geldner, it is true, this refers to the ritual: "Hier wird der ... auf dem Wasser schwirnmende Somasaft dem Wassergott gleichgesetzt." Even if Geldner is right, the word samudrd- suggests the idea, that the ritual is here viewed as a replica of the mythic prototype. There is indeed a fundamental relationship between Varuna and V.rtra as divinities who detain the waters (cf. Bergaigne, Rel. v~d., III, pp. 115, 144; Geldner, Ved. Stud., II, p. 292 iT.). Although Oldenberg, Textkrit. und exeg. Noten, II, p. 343 rejected it as a "bizarre assumption", Eliade is no doubt right in stating that "la parentd structurelle n'est pas niable" (op. cit., p. 130).



Or should we rather say that in the critical period of the beginning of the new year the Vedic poets saw no other possibility of introducing the inauspicious god in their hymns but by disguising him as the auspicious god Mitra? The poets, it is true, hint at the possibility that in this annually repeated cosmogonical process was willing to submit to Indra and to cooperate with him (X.124.4 & 5), but this was apparently the result of his defeat, which they carefully avoid to mention. If this interpretation is correct, god Mit(h)ra was himself present, wherever the cosmic power of deliverance was manifest: in the victory of life over death, or of light over darkness, in the sunrise and the release of the waters, in delivery and child-birth as well as in defecation. The rising sun is indeed Mitra (AS. XIII.3.13), but only in so far as it manifests Mitra's victorious power over the forces of the nether world. But the setting sun was certainly not Mitra, and Gershevitch's outline of "Mithra's itinerary and time-table" (p. 39) and his attempt to explain how Mithra, though not identical with the sun (p. 40), came to be regarded as a sun-god, seem particularly weak. It should be added in passing that this cosmogonical function of Mit(h)ra was in several respects parallel to Indra's (see the references in S. Wikander, V6yu, p. 124). G. denies this on grounds which from the point of view here advocated must necessarily be considered irrelevant. If Mithra has come to be regarded as a demiurge, this is rather due to the circumstance that in the cosmogonical process his act runs somewhat parallel to Indra's, who was the great demiurge (cf. pp. 41, 58!). Only now is it possible to understand Mit(h)ra's relation to the "contract": he is that aspect of the nether world that is turned towards the upper world and cooperates with the heavenly gods, he is the link that connects both cosmic moieties and as such he is the Mediator par excellence, the personified Contract that realizes the Totality by a balance of the antagonistic forces. In this respect nothing could be added to W. B. Kristensen's argument in "Het Mysterie van Mithra" (Meded. Kon. Ned. Akad. Wetensch., 9 (1946), p. 27 f. ---- Symbool en Werkelijkheid, Arnhem, 1954, p. 126 f.). it will be clear that the present reviewer cannot subscribe to G.'s conviction that "Meillet's perspicacity correctly caught the one trait of this versatile god that was his from the beginning" (p. 44). Important though Meillet's study has been, for the purposes of the history of religion its~ scope was too narrow. Meillet was fundamentally right in stressing that the god Mit(h)ra was the contract, but this does not help us essentially to understand the real character of this god. Rather than being a solution, Meillet's formula is a problem which



it is the task of the historian of religion to solve: basing one's inquiry on this formula is as likely to lead into a blind alley as the procedure censured by Thieme, BSOAS, XXIII, p. 265. 8. It is inevitable that what we regard as the deficiencies in G.'s treatment of the Iranian Mithra should become still more prominent in the next chapter, which dens with the Iranian Ahura. First, there is in this case no such apparently simple lexical fact that could be made the basis for a further inquiry. Second, the possibility of finding at least an IndoIranian point of departure in the Vedic god - even though there is not the slightest agreement about the function and meaning of this god - G. rejects by denying the historical identity of Varun. a and Ahura Mazda. It must be added that G. in this respect accepts the reasons stated by Lommel, Die Religion Zarathustras (Ttibingen, 1930), p. 272 ft. - the very pages which we are inclined to consider the weakest ones in Lommel's admirable and profound study. Thus, in the absence of a substantial foundation of facts, the task allotted to the constructive theory has necessarily become somewhat disproportionate, and the rationalistic approach to the religious history of Iran, already clearly perceptible in the preceding chapter, makes itself still more strongly felt. The fundamental problem is that of the historical relations between Varun.a and Ahura Mazda. We need not enter into a detailed discussion of the arguments put forward by Lommel, since G. retains only two of them, viz. 1) the names of and Ahura Mazd~ are different 2) the "streak of craftiness and deceit in the Vedic Varun.a which is totally absent in Ahura Mazd~h". However, no more than Lommel's words (Rel., p. 273, 3rd par.) do those in which G. (p. 45, 1st par.) states the problem do justice to the real problematic. G. writes as follows: "It has been argued that precisely this repellant streak, or some 'pagan' trait, induced Zarathustra, or a predecessor of his, to rename Varuna, at the same time cutting out the unpleasant sides of his character. But it is doubtful if such surgical operations can be performed except at modern writing-desks. What self-respecting prophet would make his a god he dislikes by lopping off bits which are generally known to belong to him, and changing the god's name to 'Lamb', when everybody knows he is the same old wolf? Now could such a prophet go about and praise the meekness of his 'Lamb' without being laughed at?" Since we need not enter into a discussion of these general observations, we may confine ourselves to the two arguments mentioned above. As for the first of these, it may be observed that in this particular case the difference of the



names Varun.a and Ahura Mazda would seem quite natural. Not only is the use of a (taboo) substitute for the name of such an inauspicious god as Varun..a was, quite conceivable in itself, but the same tendency to use a favourable designation for this god is met with in the Rigveda, where Varun.a is sometimes called "the wise L o r d " (dsuro vi~vdveddh. Vlli.42.1, asura pracetah. 1.24.14, cf. B. Geiger, Die AmMa Spdntas, p. 213). As for the second argument, while's craftiness is an undeniable trait of this god (which, in our opinion, must intentionally have been retouched and masked in the Rigveda), "the Amo~a Spzntian structure of Mazdah, which differentiates him so strongly from Varun. a" (G., p. 321) is the very reflex of Zarathustra's reform. How can a difference that results from this reform be adduced as proof that Ahura Mazd~ cannot be historically identical with Owing to this reform, Ahura Mazd~ and (A)rta have got their places within the framework of a totally new structure of entities, whether or not this is the personal creation of Zarathustra. G.'s objection that "it would be inconceivable that Truth ... should have been debased to occupying the third place in the list of Mazdfth's entities" (p. 46) would only be acceptable, if we really did know the motives underlying the creation of this curious structure of Entities - which we do not -, and if we could be sure that our judgment in these matters is the same as Zarathustra's was - which might appear questionable. A more detailed discussion of G.'s theory by which he tries to explain Zarathustra's theological system "as an admirable syncretism of two religions", would not seem called for. It may be sufficient to state that G. assumes on the one hand a monotheistic Ahura Mazdft-religion of one god with seven entities "as he found it", and on the other hand a dualistic, essentially concerned with the observance of Truth. The latter system Zarathustra is supposed to have elaborated "by insisting on the primordial character of the opposite of Truth, thus giving his doctrine a dualistic foundation" (p. 47). Our main objection to this theory is not, that it is unable to account for some difficulties (as G. himself is quite aware): most theories leave a rest of unexplained facts. In this case we have to accept the result that Zarathustra on the one hand tried to "amalgamate a dualism with monotheism", while on the other hand he was himself unaware of any real difference, since to him was "merely Mazd~h" (pp. 47-48). But apart from such minor points, our main objection must rather be that the root of Zarathustra's dualism is simply to be found in the Indo-Iranian religious tradition. Of this tradition, indeed, the dualistic structure was one of the most prominent


F . B . J . KUIPER

characteristics. "The opposition of Truth and Falsehood", far from being only "implicit in the Varu.nian system" (p. 46 f.), is attested in the Rigvedic couple .rtd- / dr~h-, which is the true counterpart of A~a- and Druj- in Zarathustra's theology. See B. Geiger, Die AmaYa Spantas, p. 178 ft. So the whole construction by which the Zoroastrian dualism is explained is unnecessary. In the second place an objection must be raised against the assumption of different religions without any appreciable structural relationship, which are supposed to have existed side by side in ancient Iran. Apart from the form of religion described by Herodotus, which may still have continued the Indo-Iranian worship of both daivas and ahuras as representatives of the two cosmic moieties, the evidence points only to the existence of various regional forms of the same Ahura- or Mithra-Ahurareligion. The theory of a monotheistic Ahura Mazd~t-religion and a dualistic not only lacks any support from the evidence available for the religions of Ancient Iran and its prehistory, but it also calls to mind the "Kultgemeinden", which Hillebrandt and other scholars have assumed in explanation of the Vedic religion, and which Nyberg has introduced in the field of the history of the Iranian religion. It is our conviction that in both cases the theory not only was superfluous, but also has materially barred the way towards a deeper insight into these religions. The well-known theory of the as originating in a higher civilization than the barbarian Indra-religion is sufficient to show, what misrepresentations of the facts may result from such assumptions. A similar theory of a hostility between the Mithraworshippers and the adherents of a Mazd~t-religion is now fairly generally rejected, and rightly so. G.'s assumption that in the last quarter of the seventh century B.C. there were in Aryana Va~jah worshippers of a whole series of gods (Ahura Mazda, *Varun.a, Mithra, and other gods of the Indo-Iranian pantheon, p. 47), each group of which apparently constituted a separate religion, strikes us as a not felicitous attempt to revive a method that was the result of a failure to understand the archaic religions as coherent systems. 9. The later Mithras has many traits that can immediately be recognized as the authentical reflexes of the character of the Old Iranian god (G., p. 61 ft.). He, too, is associated with the rising sun, he is called Oriens and perhaps addressed as gen(itori?) lum(inis?), p. 61. There can be little doubt that his killing the bull was also a demiurgical act, which delivered life from the powers of death. Here, however, a difficulty



emerges from the circumstance that in the Middle Persian tradition Ahriman is said to have killed the primordial bull. While Cumont explained the central motif of Mithraism as a Mithraic version of Ahriman's murder of the primordial bull, Lommel held the function of killing the Soma/bull to be originally Mit(h)ra's, which only later came to be attributed to Ahriman. This problem should in any case be kept apart from the theory that Zarathustra has been averse to Mithra because of this act. I quite agree with G. (p. 65) that Zarathustra's reticence about Mithra is not "un silence voulu, hostile, passionn6" (see Museum, 61, 1956, p. 211). The question then remains to be answered whether Lommel was right in connecting the Yajurvedic myth of Mitra assisting the gods with the bull-slaying Mithras of Mithraism. G. contests this, because the identification of the bull with the moon and Soma does not convince him. Now Lommel had based his conclusions mainly upon the TS. and SB. versions, which (for reasons which cannot be expounded here) seem to us less authentical than those of KS. and MS. Here the maitravarun,agraha- is said to be intended to reconcile Mitra with Varu .na, and with Mitra, which is explained by the following myth: When the gods were going to kill V.rtra they asked Mitra to assist them. Mitra, although reluctant, finally complies with their wish. "When Mitra, forsooth, had killed V.rtra, Varun.a seized him. He took his refuge with the gods. These said: take thy refuge with Varun.a. He took his refuge with" (MS. IV.5.8: p. 75, 12 ft.). Similarly KS. XXVII.4 (p. 142, 16 iT.) and KKapS. XLII.4 (p. 251, 1 ft.). According to TS and SB. also has finally lent his assistance to the gods, which seems an attempt to conceal the real antagonism. KS. and MS. are quite clear about the aim of the graha-, which was to be delivered from it is a conciliatory act, which is required because the soma-pressing is a murder. Now the relevant point in these versions is that Mitra, although a god of the nether world, assists the heavenly gods in a fight which has a cosmogonical character. The Indian priests did not hesitate to accredit him with an act which properly is Indra's (see above, p. 53). That Mitra has sided with the devas against is perhaps also hinted at in RS. X.12.5 "Has king Varun.a seized us? What did we do against his ordinance? Who knows it? For even Mitra, by leading astray the gods, partakes in the prize of victory...'13 The way in which this myth has been remodelled in TS. VI.4.8.2 and ~B. IV.1.4.4 & 9 confirms our general supposition of a taboo resting on all accounts of Varun.a's 13 In RS. ILl 1.14 the exact relation between Mitra (mitt6-?) and Indra is not clear,


F . B . J . KUIPER

inauspicious aspect. In this connection attention may be drawn to the fact that the king's right arm belongs to Mitra, and his left to (maitr6 vai ddk.sin, a.h, v~run,d.h savyd.h, TB. 1.7.10, comm. ad TS., ApgS. 18.18.1). Now it is significant that an analogous opposition is stated to exist between the gods and the Asuras. Prajftpati creates the gods at (with) his right hand, the Asuras at (with) his left ( hastam anu devon as.rjata, te v~ryavanto 'bhavan, savyarh hastam any asurarhs, te mrddha abhavan KS. IX.11: p. 112, 18 f., hdstena devdn ds.rjata, savy~nd 'suran MS. 1.9.3: p. 132, 16). When the "field" of the opposition is restricted to the two Asuras, they are opposed to each other by the same dichotomy that separates the Asuras as a group from the devas (see Btjdragen Kon. Instituut, 107, 1951, p. 74 f.). To some extent, therefore, Mitra, in so far as he is opposed to Varun.a, may be said to impersonate the "devic" counterpart of (against X.12.5!). In view of these facts the problem of Mithras' tauroctony should be approached with much discernment and circumspection. "Typologically" it is quite in keeping with Mithra's character. Mithras' painful expression of countenance, which Kristensen took as an indication that Mithras kills and sacrifices himself, reminds us of Mitra's reluctance: his act is against the ordinance of his divine counter-part, and he is well aware of it. On the other hand, the reticence of the Avesta proves that to the Avestan Mithra-worshippers it was not, or no longer, known. G. however takes a further step and states that this reticence "can be taken as reliable evidence that the attribution of this slaughter to Mithras is an innovation" (p. 67). What withholds us from accepting this conclusion is the fact that the Mithraic religion seems to have preserved ancient "pagan" features of which the Avesta does not know. Mithras is said to be born in a rock, which is exactly what we should expect a priori on account of his being a god of the nether world. Although partaking in the demiurgical act of the heavenly god Indra, Mitra is like Varun.a associated with the darkness of this nether world: only in so far as he represents the power of life and light arising from this darkness can he be opposed to, as day is to night. If however such antique features have been preserved in West Iran, the inference would seem justified that also an apparently so authentic feature as Mithras' killing the bull in the darkness of the rock is likely to have belonged to the ancient Indo-Iranian mythology: this was the true mystery which the faithful attended. Just as the Vedic seer in a visionary state of mind descended into the subterranean realm of (RS. VII.88, cf. e.g. Liiders, Varun.a, p. 315 ft.), so the Mithrasworshippers descended symbolically into the darkness of the nether world,



there to attend the god's victory. It may be called to mind that the fire-temples were later called dar i Mihr 13a"palace of Mithra" (for the fire was born in the nether world), and the question might be raised, if the Iranian fire altars were perhaps a mere replica of the subterranean palace "with thousand columns" of Mitra and Varun.a (cf. RV. II.14.5, V.62.6 and Renou, Et. vdd., VII, p. 26). 10. Although this is a discussion of some general problems of the interpretation of the Avesta, rather than a review of Gershevitch's book, a few points of detail may be touched upon in conclusion. On p. 221 Gershevitch deals in passing with the Av. form vyusq in HaS. Nask 11.7 & 25 Orityd x~ap5 0rao~ta vyusq sa~ayeiti y6 nar~ a~aon6 (drvatr) urva. He accepts the explanation of 7anqm saOayeiti and ava.daranqm saOayeiti as participles [gnans, avadrnans] but holds vyusq to be due to "imitation". One fails to conceive how this imitation could have worked. Even if we should hold the author capable of the impersonal construction vyusq saOayeiti "it seems to dawn", there remains the insurmountable difficulty that he could not possibly have introduced a new sentence with the words y6 nar~ agaonr. The reason why Gershevitch ignores the arguments put forward in Acta Or., XVII, p. 54 ft. is probably his conviction that the traditional translation "it seems to dawn" expresses what the author must have meant. It is true, this meaning is suggested not only by such 9th century Pahlavi works as the Dgttasffm i d~nik 24.5 ham sit?kar ~ap andar bam[k ayaft "the same night at the break of dawn ''14 (cf. also MSnrk i xrat 1.74 ed. Anklesaria), 1~ but also by Vend. 19.28 Orityd xgap6 v?usaiti u~i raocaiti bamya (although the verb saOayeiti is here characteristically lacking). The possibility that HN. II may have been misinterpreted in later times might be contemplated with regard to the Pahlavi texts, but seems hardly to provide an adequate explanation of the Vend. passage. On the other hand, nothing could induce us to accept for the HN. passage a translation which is philologically impossible: vyusq cannot be anything else but a participle and the subject of vyusq sa~ayeiti can only be yO nard.., urva. So vyusq may correspond to Skt. vi-yucchan and the whole sentence may refer to the astasca bao3a~hasca vgurvi~t~m mentioned in 17. In view of Renou's suggestion that yu- "to separate" may have arisen in Sanskrit from an incorrect interpretation of compounds with yu- "to connect" (JAs, 1939, p. 228 n. 1,397 n. 1), it should 13a See J. Duchesne-Guillemin, Hommages Dum~zil, p. 101 14 Cf., e.g., Widengren, VohuManah, p. 84. 15 Cf. Barr, Avesta, p. 178, Zaehner, Teachingsof the Magi, p. 133.


F . B . J . KUIPER

be observed that vi-yu- must be old on account of vybman- (see e.g. Wackernagel, Kleine Schriften, p. 287) and that yu- "to separate" must have been inherited from prim. Indo-Iranian (cf. Scheftelowitz, ZDMG, 59, p. 702 f., ZII, 6, p. 108, Duchesne-Guillemin, BSL, 41, p. 149). Incidentally it may be observed that the explanation ofasnaoiti suggested on p. 171 has first been given by Lommel, 7_+11,III, p. 177 n. 1.16 As for Pahl. b'z', Sogd. fl'z' (p. 221), it should be noted that since their close parallels Pa.Pkt. baha can hardly be connected with a prehistoric nominative *bahauY (see Wackernagel-Debrunner, Altind. Gramm., III, p. 328, Kuiper, Notes on Vedic Noun-Intl., p. 45), it is not easy to accept a similar explanation for the Middle Iranian forms. In the discussion of ima raocd Y. 36.6 there is no reference to W. Caland, Zur Syntax der Pronomina im Avesta (Amsterdam, 1891), p. 14. It has become a general practice to ignore all that has been written on the Avesta before Bartholomae, with the inevitable result that "new" interpretations are sometimes proposed which have already been suggested long ago by the early masters of Avestan philology. Gershevitch's book is, on the whole, a pleasant exception to this rule. The practice, though pardonable, is regrettable. A better recognition of the fact that Avestan studies did not begin with Barthotomae might sometimes be useful.

16 Cf. also Spiegel, Commentar iiber das Avesta, I (1865), p. 440 (a- for a-, similarly Acta Or., 17, 1939, p. 36).