From my diary

Rather busy with the chores of life this week.  But last night I was able to acquire some books on ancient Persian religion, and the texts in which they are preserved. 

I’ve been looking through some of them.  The key fact, however, is that most of the literature is very late.  The Avestan texts do not seem to have been written down until well into the Sassanid period, in the 5th century A.D., using a specially contrived alphabet, in order to create the now-lost “Great Avesta”, once present in every fire temple and destroyed by the Moslems.  About a quarter of Avestan literature now survives, and the oldest manuscript is 12th century.

I was struck by how little they say about Mithra, or Mitra, and how little information they give us about this pre-Zoroastrian deity, incorporated as a servant god to Ahura Mazda.  It ought to be possible, relatively easily, to compile a collection of all the literary and non-literary material relating to this sub-deity.


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