Persians, The

Persians, The, belonged to the Aryan race, hence Iran, the original name of their country; they were related rather to the Western than the Eastern world, and it is from them that continuous history takes its start; they first recognised an ethereal essence, which they called Light, as the principle of all good, and man as related to it in such a way that, by the worship of it, he became assimilated to it himself. Among them first the individual subject stood face to face with a universal object, and claimed a kinship with it as the light of life. The epoch thus created was the emancipation of the human being from dependent childhood to self-dependent manhood, and it constituted the first epoch in the self-conscious history, which is the history proper, of the human race. The idea the Persians formed of the principle of good came far short of the reality indeed, but they first saw that it was of purely illuminating quality and universal, and that the destiny of man was to relate himself to it, to know, worship, and obey it. With the ethereal principle of good they associated an equally ethereal principle of evil, and, as they identified the one with light, they identified the other with darkness. Man they regarded as related to both, and his destiny to adore the one and disown the other as master. As the light had no portion in the darkness, and the darkness no portion in the light, the religion arose which pervades that of the Bible, which requires the children of the former to separate from those of the latter.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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