was an eminent philosopher, whose history is involved in much obscurity, nor is it certain whether the name belongs to one or many. Some have maintained that there was but one Zoroaster, and that he was a Persian. Others have said that there were six eminent founders of philosophy of th’is name. Ham, the son of Noah, Moses, Osiris, Mithras, and others, both gods and men, have by different writers been asserted to have been the same with Zoroaster. Many different opinions have also been advanced, concerning the time in which he flourished. Aristotle and Pliny fix his date at so remote a period as 6000 years before the death of Plato; Hermippus says that he lived 5000 years before the Trojan war: idle tales, which are, doubtless, to be classed with the report of the Chaldeans concerning the antiquity of their astronomical observations. According to Laertius, he flourished 600 years before the Trojan war; according to Suidas, 500. In the midst of so much uncertainty, the probability may | be, that there was a Zoroaster, a Perso- Median, who flourished about the time of Darius Hystaspes, and that besides him there was another Zoroaster, who lived in a much more remote period among the Babylonians, and taught them astronomy. The Greek and Arabian writers are agreed concerning the existence of the Persian Zoroaster; and the ancients unanimously ascribe to a philosopher, whom they call Zoroaster, the origin of the Chaldean astronomy, which is certainly of much earlier date than the time of Hystaspes: it seems, therefore, necessary to suppose a Chaldean Zoroaster distinct from the Persian. Concerning this Zoroaster, however, nothing more is known than that he flourished towards the beginning of the Babylonish empire, and was the father of the Chaldean astrology and magic, which was probably nothing more than the performance of certain religious ceremonies, by means of which good daemons were supposed to be prevailed upon to communicate supernatural properties and powers to herbs, stones, and other natural bodies, or to afford assistance, in other miraculous ways, to those who invoked them. In this art the kings of Chaldea and Persia were instructed, as one of the most useful instruments of government, among a people, whose ignorance and credulity rendered them proper subjects of imposture. The Chaldean magic was then a very different thing from a knowledge of the real properties of bodies; and it cannot be inferred, either from their magical or astrological arts, that the Chaldeans were eminent masters in any branch of natural science. All the writings which have been ascribed to the Chaldean Zoroaster, are unquestionably spurious.

As to the other Zoroaster, called Zardusht, who revived philosophy among the Persians, he appears to have lived at a much later period than the former. It is probable that Zardusht was of Persian extraction, and was born in Media, What the Arabian writers report concerning his having been early instructed by the Jews, seems to be a fiction invented to obtain credit among the Jews and Christians, to the doctrines which they professed to have received from him. It is not, however, improbable, that he might have learned some things from the Israelites residing in Babylon, which might be of use to him in executing his design of correcting the doctrine of the Persian Magi, though it may not be easy to specify the particulars.

Several miracles are ascribed to Zoroaster, such as an art | ful impostor would naturally attempt, and would not perhaps find it difficult to perform. Having by these and other artifices established his credit, it is related that he undertook the revival and improvement of the religion of the ancient Magi, which had long before this time prevailed in Media and Persia, but which had been almost entirely supplanted by the worship of the stars, to which, the Persians, with their king Darius, were addicted. Much is also said by the Arabian writers, concerning the learning which Zoroaster acquired from the Indian Brachmans; concerning the influence which he obtained with Darius, and the success with which he propagated his system; and lastly, concerning his assassination, by Argaspis, king of the Eastern Scythia, at the siege of Bactria. But the silence of the Greeks, who were at this time well acquainted with the affairs of Persia, and after Alexander’s conquests must have become possessed of many Persian records, is a circumstance which casts a cloud of suspicion over these relations. Thus much, however, may be admitted as pro^­bable; that there was in Persia, in the time of Darius Hystaspes, a reformer, who, assuming the ancient name of Zoroaster, brought back the Persians from the worship of the stars, to their ancient worship of fire, with some innovations both in doctrine and ceremonies, and he might be acquainted with astronomy, medicine, and other branches of learning. This Lucian seems to confirm; and according to modern travellers, there is still, in the province of Carmania, a sect, who adhere to the doctrines of Zoroaster, and worship fire according to the institutions of the ancient Magi.

To Zardusht, or the Persian Zoroaster, many writings are ascribed. One of these, called the Zend, is said to be still remaining among the followers of Zoroaster, and is esteemed of sacred authority. It is written in the Persian language, and consists of two parts, one of which contains their forms of devotion and order of ceremonies; the other, the precepts of religion and morality. A portion of this book, or of a compendium of it, called the Sadder, is read to the people, on every sacred day, by their priests. There is, however, much reason to question, whether this book be of such ancient date as the time of Zoroaster: probably, it was written about the time when many Jews and Christians resided among the Persians, i. e. about the fourth or fifth century. Many other works have been attributed to | Zoroaster, but they are all lost, and most of them were probably forgeries. Fragments of a work entitled “The Oracles” of Zoroaster are still extant. A small collection of them, consisting of only sixty verses, was published by Pletho, at Paris, 1538 and 1539, and at Amst. 1689. Patrizi afterwards made a much larger collection, containing 328 verses, with the commentaries of the Platonic philosophers. Several other editions of these verses have been published, and much pains has been taken by various writers to explain them. Stanley has subjoined to his account of “The Lives of Philosophers” a correct translation of them. They are quoted, with the highest respect, by all philosophers of the Alexandrian school, as genuine remains of Chaldean wisdom. But they abound so much in the ideas and language peculiar to that school, that it is probable they were written by some Platonist, about the beginning of the second century.

Hyde, Prideaux, and others, mention ancient books of Zoroaster, which are at this day extant among the Gheuri and other professors of the Zoroastriau superstition, and made use of in their sacred worship, copies from which have been brought over to England and France. A catalogue of these and other Persian Mss. lodged in the library of the king of France, was published by M. Anquetil du Perron, in his travels, and is copied in the Journal de Savans for July 1762. But these books, written partly in the Zendic or sacred, and partly in the vulgar Persian language, are, for the most part, a narrative of miracles and revelations, by which Zoroaster is said to have established his religion, or a collection of precepts for religious ceremonies. Some of them indeed treat of fundamental doctrines of theology, taught among the worshippers of fire: but it is probable, from the tenets contained in these books, many of which seem to have been borrowed from the Jews and Mahometans, from the entire silence of Greek authors who wrote after the time of Alexander concerning these books, and from other considerations, that they were writte-n at a later period, for the purpose of appeasing the resentment of their Mahometan persecutors. 1


Brucker. Gen. Dict. —Chaufepie. Maurice’s Indian Antiquities,