Time: 550 BC to 350 BC
Place: Persian Empire
Pictured is the Faravahar, one of the best known symbols of Zorasterism. After that became the official religeon of the Persian Empire, it became the national symbol of the Persians. Iran uses it as the Persian peoples’ symbol to this day. This is a brass carving on a ruin in the ancient Persian’s capital at Parsa. (Herodotus and the Greeks Greekified it to “Persepolis”.)
Ancients worshipped the Sun, Moon and planets. Shortly after Cyrus’ time, Persia converted to Zoroasterism.
Previously on Herodotus
131. These are the customs, so far as I know, which the Persians practise: — Images and temples and altars they do not account it lawful to erect, nay they even charge with folly those who do these things; and this, as it seems to me, because they do not account the gods to be in the likeness of men, as do the Hellenes. But it is their wont to perform sacrifices to Zeus going up to the most lofty of the mountains, and the whole circle of the heavens they call Zeus: and they sacrifice to the Sun and the Moon and the Earth, to Fire and to Water and to the Winds: these are the only gods to whom they have sacrificed ever from the first; but they have learnt also to sacrifice to Aphrodite Urania, having learnt it both from the Assyrians and the Arabians; and the Assyrians call Aphrodite Mylitta, the Arabians Alitta, and the Persians Mitra.
– Herodotus, Book I
Herodotus made his living by being interesting. In a world where most people did not read and could not afford to buy a book even if they could, they would pay to listen to Herodotus recite from his books. They would not pay to be bored. In that world, the names that populate his stories would have some general familiarity to his audience. Their obscurity to us is a barrier that this series seeks to break down.
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