Empire and the ancient Iranians

October 29 is the day that Cyrus, the great Mazda (Wisdom) worshipping king, victoriously entered Babylon. But unlike his predecessors, Cyrus, and the ancient Persians, as Indo-Europeans, never forced Ahûrá Mazdá and his Auspicious Immortals on the alien tribes and peoples of their vast Empire.

For the first time in history, Cyrus and Darius the Great passed commandments concerning the mutual tolerance of the religions of their Empire (G. Widengren: Iranische Geisteswelt, Vienna, 1961, pp. 245 et seq.).

In the Indo-European world, it was ancient Iran that created the notion of “Empire.”

 As Émile Benveniste states: Certainly a Hittite empire had existed previously, but this had not constituted a historical model for neighboring peoples.

The original organization of a World Empire is that created by the ancient Iranians, and it was the ancient Iranian terms that constituted the vocabulary referring to kingship and Empire.

The ancient Persian title ḵšāya-θiya ḵšāya-θiyā.nam (Literally king who reigns over other kings) designates the sovereign as the pioneer/master in the cultivation of the land, he who is invested with the power ḵšāy-making realm to prosper/bloom.

The ancient Persian ḵšāya-θiya ḵšāya-θiyā.nam is a curious expression. The term does not mean “king of kings” but “the king who reigns over other kings.” It is a kingship of the second degree exercised over those considered by the rest of the world as ruler kings.

The ideology behind this form of government is summarized by a prayer of Darius the Great: “May Ahûra-mazdá bring me help along with all the other gods (baga) and protect this land from the army of the enemy, from bad years/harvests and from treachery/lie.”

As Benveniste states the prayer lists the evils proper to the three divisions of society and their respective activities: hainā ‘hostile army corresponds to the warrior class, duši.yāra ‘bad year, bad harvest to the cultivation of the land/realm and drauga “falsehood, treachery, lie,” to the spiritual authority.

What Darius the Great begs the god-beings to ward off from his kingdom is the counterpart of the benefits that he himself should procure for the people.

The sovereign only insofar enjoys the favor/support of Ahûra-mazdá when he will ensure the prosperity of the realm, the defeat of the enemies, and the triumph of the spirit of virtue/truth.

Everything that the king is and everything that he possesses, his insignia and his powers, have been conferred on him by the Immortals, embodied in the person of ratü, the spiritual counsel, the solver of divine riddles.

For the ancient Indo-Iranians the ruler/king is a mortal who holds from Immortals his temporal powers through the spiritual leadership/counsel of ratü.

The authority of rulers depends on safety, welfare, prosperity of the realm and the reign of virtues and truth!



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