Steward kings and scholar priests

The Avestan evidence and the evidence from several early Indo-European societies like Hittite, Vedic, Roman, Celtic, Germanic––suggests that the kingship of rulers originally was an ELECTIVE stewardship of the realm.

The construct of a ruler/king is given legitimacy by the presence of a scholar priest known as ratü. It is the ratü that confers the ring of power to the king in ancient Iranian rock carvings.

Ratü is the guide and counselor of old, the major prophet figure and wizard whose role is essentially that of chief counselor and guide, and whose aim is the establishment of “Knowledge, Rule and Order.”

Ratü is the knower of riddles, rites and formulas. It has the figurative sense of “lead, guide” and the literal sense “counsel, rate, judge, reason.”

Ratü is connected to Latin Ratiô and comes from an ancient root that implies “reckoning, creative reasoning, solving riddles and discovering the right formula.”

The relationship between the word for ‘kingship’ and the verb ḵši “bringing land into cultivation/bloom” is clue to the original nature of kingship as elected steward.

The idea is expressed particularly in the doctrine that the justice of the ruler conditions the fertility of the earth and livestock in his or her territory.

We also find this doctrine in the Vedic epics, and in Greek, Irish, and Norse literature, and it is also attested for ancient Burgundy.

Conversely an unjust ruler causes nature to withhold its bounty. According to the Turanian leader Afrásiyáb in the Sháh-námæ, ‘because of the tyranny of the king all good disappears into hiding; the wild ass does not bring forth at its due season, the eye of the young falcon is blinded, wild creatures stem the flow of milk to their breasts, water in the springs turns to pitch or dries up in the wells everywhere, the musk lacks perfume in its pod’. In a later episode Shah Bahrám by repenting of his harsh policies produces an immediate and spectacular increase in the yield of a cow that had been empty of milk

The ruler is the protector of the creatures and the cosmic order (Holy Denkart, Madon Edition 287.15-288.18; 388.9-390.19).

The faith of Mazda-Worship decrees that the material prosperity of the dominion is a sign that legitimate authority and sacred kingship/stewardship are vested in the ruler. In that the ruler’s success is due to divine glory (See Holy Denkart, Madon Edition 290.20-291.8).

“The thing against which the evil, gloomy spirit struggles most vigorously against is the uniting of the glories of stewardship/kingship and the gift of foresight, wisdom of the beautiful religion, in a single person, because such a combination would vanquish the gloomy, bleak spirit….”

The rulers were required to receive training as a magá “learning-master or great wizard of learning” during their youth.

The ruling steward/king is also represented as a dragon-slayer, in the Avesta.

This myth is narrated where the legendary Thraætôná (Fredôn) battles the dragon-king Dahak (Avestan Aži Dahak ) See Yašt 9.78; Yašt 5.33-35, 9.13-14, 13.131, 14.40.

The belief that the ruler/steward must combat a dragon to free the waters hence fertility, through battle with forces of chaos is of great antiquity.

Ardeshir I is portrayed slaying the dragon of Kerman (KAP 36.1-40.12; ShN 267-69). Here the founder of the Sasanian dynasty is presented both as a great hero and in the religious role as bringer of rain, water, fertility, and order.

This motif of the dragon-slayer persisted after the Arab conquest of Iran, although it lost its religious significance and survived solely as a representation of valor.


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1 Response to Steward kings and scholar priests

  1. Carl Graham says:

    That seems a lot like the rise of the Stewart kings in Scotland.Stewart originally meant the tile of their position as stewards of Scotland and became a surname only after their ascension to the throne.

    And the whole thing of early Indo-European steward kings being similar to the Stewart kings of Scotland might be more than a coincidence as the Stewarts themselves descend from a line of knights named after Alan Fitz Vlaad as do the Fitz Alans.They all originated in the sections of Normandy and Brittany settled by the Iranian Alans.
    The Fitz Alans themselves were known to have brought to Britain with them significant portions of the Arthurian corpus and quite likely introduced stories involving Lancelot and the Holy Grail into Britain.Later one of the Fitz Alans ( Lachlan Fitz Alan) literally was written into the stories of King Arthur. The Iranian origin ( or strong Iranian influence) of the Arthurian legends has been well commented on .

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