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Old Iranian Online

Series Introduction

Scott L. Harvey and Jonathan Slocum

The term 'Old Iranian' is the designation for the sub-group of Indo-European languages which, between approximately 1350 and 350 B.C., spread across the Iranian plateau, an area bounded in the north by present-day Turkmenistan, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus Mountains, in the East by the Indus River, in the south by the Persian Gulf, and in the west by Mesopotamia. Of these languages, Old and Young(er) Avestan and Old Persian are textually preserved. Median, Parthian, (Old) Sogdian, Carduchi, and Scythian are also known from their mention in Greek and Hellenistic sources, but are recorded only sporadically as glosses, toponyms, and lexical borrowings by speakers of the better-attested languages.

Indo-Iranian Origins

Too little historical or archaeological evidence is available to reconstruct definitively the earliest emergence of Iranian-speaking communities. There are, however, striking linguistic and ideological similarities between the extant texts of Old Iranian and those preserved in the closely related dialects of Old Indo-Aryan recorded in the regions to the east and west of the Iranian plateau. These include the Vedic liturgical texts of the Punjab region on the one hand, and a few words and passages from the legal and diplomatic documents of southeastern Anatolia's Mitanni kingdom, ruled by an Indo-Aryan minority, on the other. These Indo-Aryan and Iranian dialects have been collectively termed Indo-Iranian. A rough chronology can be established for the members of each dialect family by analyzing their linguistic evolution.

At some time between 2500 and 2000 B.C., a group or groups of nomadic Indo-European speaking peoples of Southeastern Russia and Central Asia migrated to the regions just north of the Iranian plateau. As they settled the region, the proto-language of Indo-Iranian gradually divided into Indo-Aryan and Iranian. By ca. 1500 B.C., various tribes from the Indo-Aryan group began to penetrate the Indian subcontinent; a small number also headed west. Though these developments do not shed any direct light on the emergence of the Iranian dialects, the historical information that they provide may at least be used to establish an initial chronological boundary.

The Indic group left behind a body of texts that contain the most complete picture of Indo-Iranian mythology and religion available. In the late 19th century, the great German philologist Max Müller gave a date to these texts by starting with the much later Indian Buddhist sutra literature and working his way back in time. Since these sutras contained the names of Indian and Hellenistic kings that are also mentioned in Greek works datable to ca. 200 B.C., Müller concluded that the two sets of texts were contemporary. Then, positing 200 years as a reasonable time for the development of each of several previous bodies of religious texts, he moved backwards from the sutras through each genre to arrive at a date of ca. 1400 B.C. for the earliest Indian literature, the Vedas. This date agrees with that of a treaty between the Indo-Aryan-ruled Mitanni of Anatolia and the Hittites, their neighbors to the west, ca. 1380 B.C. Though no similar record exists regarding the Iranians, it is reasonable to assume that whatever motivations the Indo-Aryans had for migrating into their future homelands at this time also led the Iranian groups to move into the Iranian plateau during the same period.

Indo-Iranian Religion

The Indo-Iranian religion, as it is preserved in the Indian Rigveda and its ancillary literature, consisted of plant and animal sacrifice conceived as a system of hospitable exchange between a pantheon of gods, or devas, and communities of human beings. Through priestly intermediaries, a human sacrificer invited to a sacrificial feast those gods whose favor he sought, offering into the fire gifts of meat, dairy products, and the invigorating beverage called soma to enhance the gods' power and strength. According to the system of reciprocal exchange inherited from the Indo-European tradition, this obliged the gods to act in turn on the sacrificer's behalf by assuring him continual acquisition of cattle, sustained good health, frequent military victory, and male progeny. As far as can be gleaned from existing literature, a similar ideology lay at the foundation of early Iranian ritual practice as well.

Avestan: Dialects and Dates

The term Avesta -- from the Pahlavi, or Middle Persian, avestak -- is used to denote the sacred literature of the early Iranian people, which preserves the earliest collections of an Iranian language. Though its meaning is uncertain, it is likely that the term refers to either the collected texts themselves or to the sacred knowledge contained in them. The language is preserved in two dialect forms denoted as 'Old' and 'Young(er)' Avestan. It is likely, however, that there is an overlap in time between the latest Old Avestan and the earliest Young Avestan since they share certain features. It may then be assumed that the two dialects were spoken in distinct regions by independent tribes or clans.

Each of the dialects is preserved in the Yasna, or 'sacrificial liturgy' in seventy-two chapters, of the Zoroastrian religion. The core of this collection, Chapters 28-53, contains the Gathas, or songs, of Zarathustra, poet-priest of the clan Spitama, and the Yasna Haptanhaiti, or the 'Sacrifice of the Seven Chapters', which together preserve the only Old Avestan literature extant. The Gathas are subdivided into five groups -- chapters 28-34, 43-46, 47-50, 51, and 53. The Haptanhaiti are inserted between the first and second of these collections as chapters 35-42; written in prose, these include prayers and praise to the various divine beings. Their language is still fairly archaic. The remaining Yasna chapters consist primarily of praise and offerings of thanksgiving written in the younger language in both poetry and prose. Young Avestan is also found in the prayer book called Khorda Avesta, the liturgical extensions collected as Visperad, the mythical literature and ethical code known as Venidad, and various fragments.

Since none of these texts make reference to anything historically verifiable, they cannot be dated precisely. The Old Avestan of the Gathas, however, is both linguistically and stylistically similar enough to the middle chronological layers of the Indian Vedas to be dated to the same period of time -- i.e., ca. 1250 - 1000 BC. The Haptanhaiti may be as much as a century or two younger. Because Young Avestan shows significant developments away from the older language, it may be dated between the 10th and 6th centuries B.C., though texts composed toward the end of this period contain enough grammatical errors to prove that the language was no longer fully understood by that time.

Zarathustra

As the author of the Gathas, the poet-priest Zarathustra is commonly credited as inaugurating the radical innovation that sets Iranian religion -- called Zoroastrianism in the West, after the Greek version of the poet's name -- apart from the remainder of Indo-Iranian tradition. Such degree of originality, however, is not assured. Though the later Zoroastrian tradition recognizes Zarathustra as its founder, the religion's origin is so obscure and its development so long that it is possible that others preceded him but were forgotten because the institutional structure necessary to preserve their work was insufficient at such an early date, or because Zarathustra's poetic or theological genius eclipsed all who came before, or both, or because of some other accident of history. Moreover, the nature of the innovation ascribed may not be quite as radical as is generally believed since Zarathustra can only be seen to stand the Indo-Iranian tradition on its head -- as is typically assumed -- from the point of view of the more voluminous Vedic liturgy. But sheer bulk proves nothing, and continued study of the available data may yet render very different results.

In the Rigveda's most linguistically archaic layers, an epithet -- asura -- was attributed to several of the more important gods of the ritual pantheon. Though the term's precise meaning remains uncertain in these earliest passages, it is clearly honorific in usage. Yet even here a struggle between this special group of gods and the others can be detected; by the beginning of the middle compositional period -- still early in terms of both linguistic and ideological development -- the term asura had been stripped of its elevated meaning. The Indian kavis, or poet-priests, had begun to apply the term, not to the most honored of their gods, but exclusively to the losers in the ensuing battle of divinities. The devas, pure and simple, became the victors, the ones worthy of worship, while the asuras were demonized as a new class, the honorific sense of the word lost in the dust-bin of a mythology irrevocably changed.

Yet Zarathustra sang of a quite similar cosmic struggle, in which the asuras -- or rather the ahuras, as they were known to him -- appear to have retained their elevated status among other gods, who were otherwise like them. Taken in conjunction with the similar usage in the earliest Rigveda, this suggests the Indo-Iranian antiquity of the term's honorific meaning; the innovation in the ontology of gods seems then to have been an Indian rather than an Iranian one. What was new in the Iranian tradition, where it differed from the conservative elements of the Indian belief, was the elevated degree of demarcation between those gods who were 'ahuric' and those who were not and were therefore demoted to a sort of demonic status. If the Rigveda is any indication, Indo-Iranian cosmology never developed the sophisticated, systematic duality that divided the Iranian cosmos, from heaven to earth through and through, in half. Zarathustra's contribution, then, was not a wholly new world view but one carried to its logical conclusion, in which one member of a group of ahuras -- Ahura Mazda, the 'Wise Lord' -- was honored above the others of his group, who were then personified as aspects of the Wise One's personality or manifestation in the world.

To complete the picture, Ahura Mazda was given an opponent, the (non-ahuric) daeva Angra Mainyu, the 'Evil Spirit'. These two were conceived to be in eternal conflict, bringing respectively either good or evil, asha (Truth/Order) or druj (deception), to both the divine and human realms. In fact, it is the inability to distinguish between these moral and ontological dualities that distinguishes, according to Zarathustra, ahuric beings and their human followers from daevas and theirs. Only through the power of Vohu Manah, 'Good Thinking', can order and righteousness prevail.

Later Developments

In the Haptanhaiti and, more extensively, the Young Avestan texts, Ahura Mazda was thought to be aided by six moral qualities emanating from himself and personified as amesha spentas, 'Beneficent Immortals'. Zarathustra simply called these ahuras; it is interesting to note that, though in all lists the amesha spentas are six in number, the texts claim that there are seven. Most likely, the seventh is Ahura Mazda himself, chief among the other ahuras who, in time, ceased to be known as such and became only amesha spentas.

The amesha spentas include the following. Vohu Manah, 'Good Thinking' or 'Good Mind', was already mentioned above. Asha Vahishta was the 'Highest Truth' in the world, the ideal underlying the order of things; Zarathustra constantly exhorted Asha's earthly followers, the Ashavan, or 'Possessors of the Truth', that they not be seduced or confused by the Dregvan, or 'Possessors of the Lie'. Xshatha Vairya personified Ahura Mazda's desired rule over the earth as a realm emancipated from Druj, a condition that Zarathustra hoped to bring about by persuading all people everywhere to follow his teaching. The spenta Armaiti was thought to be the earth's 'beneficent accord,' and had the earth entrusted to her care. Haurvatat and Ameretat embodied the 'prosperity' (or 'well-being') and 'immortality' that humanity sought. Finally, Shraosha represented proper 'obedience' to the other spentas, to Ahura Mazda's prophet Zarathustra, and to Ahura Mazda Himself.

Old Persian

Old Persian is known exclusively from inscriptions of the Achaemenid kings of Persia, found in southeastern Iran at the ancient capital Persepolis, at the ancient sites of Naqs-i-Rastam, Murghab, Susa, Hamadan, Behistan, and Elvend, and in Armenia and Western Egypt. These are primarily the inscriptions of Darius the Great and his successor Xerxes, who ruled from 521-486 and 486-465 B.C., respectively. They are inscribed in the scripts of various languages. Usually cuneiform but also Aramaic versions are found.

The inscriptions offer first-hand accounts, often propagandistic, of their authors' accomplishments in battle, which are usually ascribed to the will of Ahura Mazda. Thus, commands to obey the will of the king are accompanied by the insistence that doing so is also to obey the will of Ahura Mazda (since the latter placed the king on the throne). Xerxes' Daeva Inscription at Persepolis (cf. Lesson 10) also includes a record of the persistence of some older form of Indo-Iranian deva-worship, long since supplanted in the Acheaminid royal house by the advent and spread of the Zoroastrian reforms. Unfortunately, the nature and extent of these older practices are impossible to gauge.

Old Persian is not descended from Avestan, but rather evolved from a distinct dialect. No earlier sample of it is attested, but significant phonetic differences from Avestan and a much simplified case and verbal system suggest that Old Persian had a long history of development. Some of the changes can also be accounted for through the influence of neighboring languages (e.g., Assyrian, Babylonian, and the Iranian dialect Median) and languages of trade (e.g., Aramaic and Elamite).

Related Language Courses at UT

Most but not all language courses taught at The University of Texas concern modern languages; sometimes courses are offered in ancient languages, though more often at the graduate level. Iranian language courses are taught in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies (link opens in a new browser window). Other online language courses for college credit are offered through the University Extension (new window).

Iranian Resources Elsewhere

Our Web Links page includes pointers to Iranian resources elsewhere.

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 1: Old Avestan

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

The Gathas of Zarathustra are the earliest extant collection of an Old Iranian language. In form and stylistic technique, they are not unlike the larger collections of hymns preserved in the Indian Rigveda, since their author was a sacrificial priest reared in the same traditional methods of Indo-Iranian liturgical composition. Much of their grammar and vocabulary, however, is unique, and their strikingly different mythology gives a great deal more weight to theodicy and moral code than anything in any Indian work contemporary to the period. These differences often render comparison with the Indian texts well-nigh impossible; interpretation is often difficult, given the total absence of other contemporary works in Old Iranian dialects. Fortunately, Zarathustra's composition and ideology are rigorously unified and consistent and can at least be understood, albeit to a limited extent, within the framework of the hymns themselves.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Yasna 29, the Cow's Lament, is one of the most widely discussed Gathas in Zarathustra's opus. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most difficult to comprehend, since the hymn is unique among the Gathas for its dialogic form. Who is the cow? What is her purpose? Which other characters are speaking or described? Though the Rigveda preserves a number of hymns of this type, scholars have yet to determine their rules of composition with satisfactory precision. Thus, answers to these questions must be tentative at best. Yet as with Zarathustra's other compositions, the hymn shares themes and formulae with other Gathas and one can utilize these and the context of the hymn itself to formulate an interpretation.

The cow represents humanity at large, the Wise Lord's great flock of men. Her plight is their plight and the provider she seeks is the virtuous man who can lead them to prosperity. Zarathustra opens the hymn with the cow plaintively asking her Fashioner why He created for her such a sorrowful existence and imploring him to wrest her from its estate. In verse two, the Fashioner asks Truth to respond to the cow. Verse three is not easily attributed, though one may presume it is Truth's reply. Zarathustra makes the verse serve double duty, both as a warning against questioning the intentions of the gods and implying that Truth has sent him -- the poet -- as the 'savior' who is sought by the cow: "he to whom I shall go ... will be the strongest of beings." This introduces a major theme of the hymn. Verses four and five then read as the first direct address to Ahura Mazda, his Wise Lord. The remaining verses will be covered in Lesson 2.

1 - xšmaibyā gə̄uš urvā gərəždā       kahmāi mā θwarōždūm kə̄ mā tašaṯ
  • xšmaibyā -- pronoun; dative plural masculine <yūžəm-> 'you' -- to you
  • gə̄uš -- noun; genitive singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- cow's
  • urvā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <urvan-> 'soul, self' -- soul
  • gərəždā -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <gərəz-> 'lament, complain' -- lamented
  • kahmāi -- interrogative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ka-> 'who, what' -- for whom
  • mā -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person accusative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- me
  • θwarōždūm -- verb; 2nd person plural s-aorist indicative middle <θwarōz> 'carve, fashion, shape, create' -- did you create
  • kə̄ -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ka-> 'who, what' -- who
  • mā -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person accusative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- me
  • tašaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <tas> 'carve, create, fashion, shape' -- fashioned

ā mā aēšəmō hazas-cā       rəmō āhišāyā dərəš-cā təviš-cā
  • -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- ...
  • mā -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person accusative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- me
  • aēšəmō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <aēšəma-> 'anger, fury, wrath' -- cruelty
  • hazas-cā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <haza-> 'power, violence, oppression' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and oppression
  • rəmō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <rəma-> 'bloodlust, violence, chains' -- bloodlust
  • āhišāyā -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' + verb; 3rd person singular perfect indicative active <hišāy-> 'bind, tie up' -- have fettered
  • dərəš-cā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <darəs-> 'wantoness, rage, fury' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and rage
  • təviš-cā -- noun; nominative singular neuter <təvis-> 'violence' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and violence

nōiṯ mōi vāstā xšmaṯ anyō       aθā mōi sąstā vohū vāstryā

  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- no
  • mōi -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person dative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- for me
  • vāstā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <vāstar-> 'herdsman' -- herdsman
  • xšmaṯ -- pronoun; ablative singular <yūžəm-> 'you' -- than you
  • anyō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <anya-> 'other' -- other
  • aθā -- adverb; <aθā> 'so, thus, likewise' -- therefore
  • mōi -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person dative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- to me
  • sąstā -- verb; 2nd person plural s-aorist imperative active <sand> 'show, seem' -- you must all show
  • vohū -- adjective; accusative plural neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • vāstryā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <vāstrya-> 'herdsman; pasture' -- pastures

2 - adā tašā gə̄uš pərəsaṯ       ašəm kaθā tōi gavōi ratuš
  • adā -- adverb; <adā> 'then, thereupon, thus' -- then
  • tašā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <tašar-> 'carver, fashioner, shaper, creator' -- fashioner
  • gə̄uš -- noun; genitive singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- cow's
  • pərəsaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <pərəs-> 'ask' -- asked
  • ašəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- Truth
  • kaθā -- adverb; <kaθā> 'how, in what way' -- what
  • tōi -- pronoun; genitive singular masculine <ha-> 'you' -- your
  • gavōi -- noun; dative singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- for the cow
  • ratuš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ratu-> 'judgement, model, plan' -- allotment

hyaṯ hīm dātā xšayantō       hadā vāstrā gaodāyō θwaxšō
  • hyaṯ -- relative adverb; <hyaṯ> 'if, so, when' -- when
  • hīm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- her
  • dātā -- verb; 2nd person plural aorist indicative middle <dā-> 'give, put' -- you all gave
  • xšayantō -- present participle active; nominative plural masculine <xšaya> 'ruling' -- ruling
  • hadā -- preposition; <hadā> 'together with' -- together with
  • vāstrā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vāstrya-> 'herdsman; pasture' -- pasturage
  • gaodāyō -- compound adjective; accusative singular neuter <gao-> 'cow' + ; <dā-> 'give, put' -- cow-tending
  • θwaxšō -- noun; accusative singular neuter <θwaxša-> 'zeal, care, nurture' -- nourishment

kə̄m hōi uštā ahurəm       yə̄ drəgvōdəbīš aēšəməm vādāyōiṯ

  • kə̄m -- interrogative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ka-> 'who, what' -- whom
  • hōi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular feminine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- for her
  • uštā -- verb; 2nd person plural imperfect indicative active <vas> 'desire, wish' -- do all of you desire
  • ahurəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- as the Lord
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • drəgvōdəbīš -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- by the Possessor of the Lie
  • aēšəməm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <aēšəma-> 'anger, fury, wrath' -- cruelty
  • vādāyōiṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <vādāya-> 'destroy' -- would destroy

3 - ahmāi ašā nōiṯ sarəjā       advaēšō gavōi paitī-mravaṯ
  • ahmāi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- to him
  • ašā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- with Truth
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- not
  • sarəjā -- compound noun; nominative singular masculine <sar-> 'protection, alliance' + ; <jan> 'smite, slay, destroy' -- slayer of the alliance
  • advaēšō -- compound noun; nominative singular masculine <a-> (privative) + ; <dvaesa-> 'hatred' -- free from hatred
  • gavōi -- noun; dative singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- for the cow
  • paitī-mravaṯ -- verbal prefix; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <mrū> 'speak, say' -- would reply

avaēšąm nōiṯ vīduyē       yā šavaitē ādrə̄ng ərəšvåŋhō
  • avaēšąm -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural neuter <ava-> 'this, that' -- of those
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- not
  • vīduyē -- infinitive; dative singular <vid> 'see, know, obtain' -- to know
  • yā -- relative pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- by which
  • šavaitē -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative middle <šava-> 'drive forth, set in motion' -- He drives
  • ādrə̄ng -- noun; accusative plural masculine <ādra-> 'lowly' -- lowly
  • ərəšvåŋhō -- noun accusative plural masculine; <ərəšva-> 'lofty' -- to lofty

hātąm hvō aojištō       yahmāi zavə̄ng jimā kərədušā

  • hātąm -- present participle active; genitive plural masculine <ah-> 'be, become' -- of beings
  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- he
  • aojištō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <uγra-> 'strong' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- strongest
  • yahmāi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to whom
  • zavə̄ng -- noun; accusative plural neuter <zava-> 'call, request' -- requests
  • jimā -- verb; 1st person singular aorist subjunctive active <gam> 'go' -- I shall go
  • kərədušā -- perfect active participle; instrumental singular masculine <(hapax) krd> 'send' (?) -- on account of having sent out

4 - mazdå saxvārə̄ mairištō       yā zī vāvərəzōi pairī-ciθīṯ
  • mazdå -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- the Wise One
  • saxvārə̄ -- noun; accusative plural neuter <saxvār-> 'invocation, poetically formulated vow' -- pacts
  • mairištō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <mairišṯa-> 'knowing/remembering best' -- remembering best
  • yā -- relative pronoun; nominative accusative masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- that
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- indeed
  • vāvərəzōi -- verb 3rd person singular perfect indicative middle; <vərəz> 'do, make, perform' -- has made
  • pairī-ciθīṯ -- adverb; <pairi> 'around, among' + ; <ciθ> indefinite marker -- sometime before

daēvāiš-cā mašyāiš-cā       yā-cā varəšaitē aipī-ciθīṯ
  • daēvāiš-cā -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <daēva-> 'divine being' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and by daevas
  • mašyāiš-cā -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <mašya-> 'human being' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and by men
  • yā-cā -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and that
  • varəšaitē -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <vərəz> 'do, make, perform' -- will make
  • aipī-ciθīṯ -- adverb; <aipi> 'toward, approaching' + ; <ciθ> indefinite marker -- sometime later

hvō vīcirō ahurō       aθā nə̄ aŋhaṯ yaθā hvō vasaṯ

  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- he
  • vīcirō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <vīcira-> 'discerning' -- discerning
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • aθā -- adverb; <aθā> 'so, thus, likewise' -- just as
  • nə̄ -- enclitic pronoun; dative plural masculine <azəm-> 'I' -- for us
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- it will be
  • yaθā -- adverb; <yaθa> 'just as, like' -- just as
  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- he
  • vasaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <vas> 'desire, wish' -- would wish

5 - aṯ vā ustānāiš ahvā       zastāiš frīnəmnā ahurāi ā
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- so
  • vā -- emphatic particle; <vā> 'indeed, for, etc.' -- then
  • ustānāiš -- adjective; instrumental plural masculine <ustana-> 'stretched forth' -- stretched out
  • ahvā -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <ah> 'energy, zest, zeal' -- with zeal
  • zastāiš -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <zasta-> 'hand' -- with hands
  • frīnəmnā -- present participle middle; nominative dual masculine <frī> 'devote' -- devote ourselves
  • ahurāi -- noun; dative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the Lord
  • -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- to

mə̄ urvā gə̄uš-cā azyå       hyaṯ mazdąm dvaidī frasåbyō
  • mə̄ -- adjective pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ma-> 'my' -- my
  • urvā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <urvan-> 'soul, self' -- soul
  • gə̄uš-cā -- noun; genitive singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and the cow's
  • azyå -- adjective; genitive singular feminine <azi-> 'fertile' -- fertile
  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyaṯ> 'if, so, when' -- so
  • mazdąm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- the Wise One
  • dvaidī -- verb; 1st person dual aorist indicative middle <dā-> 'give, put' -- we may dispose
  • frasåbyō -- noun; dative plural feminine <frasā-> 'question, inquiry' -- to inquiries

nōiṯ ərəžəjyōi frajyāitiš       nōiṯ fšuyentē drəgvasū pairī
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- no
  • ərəžəjyōi -- adjective; dative singular masculine <ərəžəji-> 'living justly' -- living justly
  • frajyāitiš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <frajyāiṯi> 'life's possibility' -- prospect
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- no
  • fšuyentē -- present participle active; dative singular masculine <fsuya-> 'breed (esp. cattle)' -- for the cattle breeder
  • drəgvasū -- noun; locative plural masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- the Possessors of the Lie
  • pairī -- postposition; <pairi> 'around, among' -- among

Lesson Text

1 - xšmaibyā gə̄uš urvā gərəždā       kahmāi mā θwarōždūm kə̄ mā tašaṯ
ā mā aēšəmō hazas-cā       rəmō āhišāyā dərəš-cā təviš-cā
nōiṯ mōi vāstā xšmaṯ anyō       aθā mōi sąstā vohū vāstryā

2 - adā tašā gə̄uš pərəsaṯ       ašəm kaθā tōi gavōi ratuš
hyaṯ hīm dātā xšayantō       hadā vāstrā gaodāyō θwaxšō
kə̄m hōi uštā ahurəm       yə̄ drəgvōdəbīš aēšəməm vādāyōiṯ

3 - ahmāi ašā nōiṯ sarəjā       advaēšō gavōi paitī-mravaṯ
avaēšąm nōiṯ vīduyē       yā šavaitē ādrə̄ng ərəšvåŋhō
hātąm hvō aojištō       yahmāi zavə̄ng jimā kərədušā

4 - mazdå saxvārə̄ mairištō       yā zī vāvərəzōi pairī-ciθīṯ
daēvāiš-cā mašyāiš-cā       yā-cā varəšaitē aipī-ciθīṯ
hvō vīcirō ahurō       aθā nə̄ aŋhaṯ yaθā hvō vasaṯ

5 - aṯ vā ustānāiš ahvā       zastāiš frīnəmnā ahurāi ā
mə̄ urvā gə̄uš-cā azyå       hyaṯ mazdąm dvaidī frasåbyō
nōiṯ ərəžəjyōi frajyāitiš       nōiṯ fšuyentē drəgvasū pairī

Translation

1   The cow's soul lamented to you, [the gods]: "For whom did you create me?
          Who fashioned me?
    Cruelty, oppression, bloodlust, rage, and violence have fettered me,
    [And] there is no herdsman for me other than you.
          Therefore, you must all show me [the way to] good pastures."
     
2   Then the cow's Fashioner asked Truth: "What [was] your allotment for the cow
    when, ruling [the earth], you all gave her cow-tending nourishment
          together with pasturage?
    Whom do all of you desire as the Lord who would destroy the cruelty [wielded] by the
          Possessor of the Lie?"
     
3   [The one who is] not a slayer of the alliance with Truth
          [and is] free from hatred for the cow would reply to him:
    "[One] is not to know of those [things] by which He drives the lowly to lofty [heights].
    [But] he to whom I shall go, on account of [his] having sent out requests [for aid?],
          [will be] the strongest of beings.
     
4   [Zarathustra:] "The Wise One [is he] remembering best the pacts
          that, indeed, he has made with daevas and men sometime before [now]
    And [those also] that he will make sometime later.
    He is the discerning Lord; it will be for us just as he would wish."
     
5   [Zarathustra: And] so, then, do we two -- my soul and the fertile cow's --
          devote ourselves with zeal, with hands stretched out to the Lord,
    So [that] we may dispose the Wise One to [answer our] inquiries.
    Is there no prospect for the cattle-breeder living justly among the Possessors of the Lie?"

Grammar

1 The Alphabet

The earliest complete Avestan manuscripts date from the 13th to 14th centuries A.D. They are written in a script based on the Pahlavi, or Middle Persian alphabet, invented to record an earlier version of the texts during the Sassanid dynasty (ca. 224-640 A.D.). This earlier script had itself evolved from the Aramaic characters brought to the Iranian plateau several centuries earlier still. Like Aramaic, Avestan is read from right to left.

The alphabet is presented here in its English transliteration, organized by place and manner of articulation. The example of each character's approximate pronunciation is taken from American English unless otherwise noted.

Letter   Sound       Letter   Sound       Letter   Sound
a   gutter       k   kipper       y   youth
  father       x   Ger. Loch       r   room
i   sit, Ger. bitte         horse       v   vice; medially, werewolf
  me       xv   + v            
u   book       g ()   gipper       s   sound
  choose       γ   approx. brogue, Sp. haga       (ṣ̌)   shout
e   red       ŋ   sing       š́   wish you were here
  hey       c   chip, It. ciao       z   zoo
o   goat, Sp. rojo       j   jest         azure
  hoe         Sp. ao            
ə   approx Fr. peut-être         approx. as British bitter       h   horse
ə̄   herd, Fr. peur       t   time            
  gong       d   dime            
  bawdy       θ   theater            
            δ   father            
            n   never            
              before t, d = n; before k, g = ŋ; before p, b = m            
            p   pour            
            f   fair            
            b   boar            
            B   Sp. recibir            
            m   moot            
              hmm...            

In addition to the alphabet as described, the diphthongs /ay/ and /ao/ are written as contiguous letters:

    aē   sight
    ao   ouch
2 The Sound System
2.1 Phonology

The original pronunciation of both the old and the younger Avestan language is unknown. Existing texts reflect only the liturgical enunciation of the hymns at the time they were first written down, ca. 400 A.D. No more than a few fragments of these earliest recensions are extant; peculiar word breaks, meaningless repetitions of verbal prefixes, and metrical erosion show that the scribes had lost living contact with the language by this time. (Pliny and the Parsi tradition both refer to an older manuscript recorded under the Arsacids who ruled from ca. 250 B.C. to 226 A.D., but no physical evidence survives. Scholars who accept its existence believe that it had an even simpler and more ambiguous orthography than the Sassanid fragments.) The degree of phonemic change that occurred between the original composition and this fifth century recension, and between this recension and the extant manuscripts from ca. 1350 A.D., cannot be gauged. Nevertheless, the pronunciation of the existing script is more or less certain. Each letter represents one discrete phoneme and must, for the most part, be read individually. Exceptions are the vowel combinations comprising diphthongs and the sequence ng.

Vowels:   Front       Central       Back
High   i,               u,
Mid       o,       e,    
Low           a,        
            ə, ə̄        
Diphthongs:   , aē, ao
     
Consonants:                            
    Unaspirated   Aspirated   Unaspirated   Aspirated   Nasal   Sibilant   Sibilant
    Unvoiced   Unvoiced   Voiced   Voiced       Unvoiced   Voiced
Velars:   k   x, , xv   g,   γ   ŋ        
Palatals:   c       j         , ṣ̌, š́  
Cerebrals:                          
Dentals:   t   θ   d   δ   n, ()   s   z
Labials:   p, f       b, B       m,        
Semivowels:   y, r, v
Aspirates:   h
2.2 Accentuation

Avestan orthography does not indicate accentuation, but scholars have traced four phonetic patterns that must be ascribed to stress. The change h > xÉ™ is seen to occur when the vowel following h is accented. Likewise, an r clustered with a following unvoiced velar, dental, or labial devoices when the vowel preceding that r is accented: rk > hrk, rt > š, and rp > hrp. In both instances, ca 'and' when added to the word shifts the accent to the final syllable.

2.3 Length of Final Vowels

Word-final vowels are generally long in Old Avestan (OAv) and short in Younger Avestan (YAv). The examples in these lessons are in Old Avestan.

3 Noun Inflection

Avestan is highly inflected. This means that, unlike English whose syntax is primarily governed by word order and the use of prepositions, the functional relationships among the various words in a sentence are expressed by inflections, or endings, added to the stem, or base form, of a noun or adjective.

There are cases in Avestan. In addition to syntactic function, these also express number -- singular, dual, or plural. Each noun also has gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter.

The cases are as follows:

Case   Primary Function   English Translation
Nominative   Grammatical Subject   (subject)
Accusative   Direct Object   (object)
Instrumental   Object of Means   by, with
Dative   Indirect Object   to, for, for the sake of
Ablative   Object of Origin   from, out of, on account of
Genitive   Subject of Possession or Character   of
Locative   Object of Location   in, on, upon, over, under, at, etc.
Vocative   Object of Address   ('you', or name of person being addressed)

Case names and other grammatical terms are often abbreviated in these lessons (e.g., 'sg.' for singular, 'du.' for dual).

The nominal inflections applied to nouns and adjectives are classified according to the final letter of the noun's stem. Each "stem type" takes its own set of inflections, for which paradigms will be given through the course of these lessons. For each paradigm, a single word will be used; where a case form is not attested for that word, but is found for other words of the same stem type, the 'reconstructed' form will be marked by an asterisk. Where no attestation of a case exists for any word of the stem type, the form will be labelled 'unattested'.

3.1 a-Stem Nouns, Masculine and Neuter
Singular:   Masculine aspa- 'horse'   Neuter šyauθna- 'work'
Nom.   aspō, aspā   *šyauθnəm
Acc.   aspəm   šyauθnəm
Instr.   *aspā   šyauθnā
Dat.   *aspāi   šyauθnāi
Abl.   *aspāt   šyauθnāt
Gen.   *aspahya   *šyauθnahya
Loc.   *aspai   šyauθnai
Voc.   *aspā   *šyauθna
Dual:        
Nom.   aspā   šyauθne
Acc.   aspā   šyauθne
Instr/Dat/Abl.   aspaebya   šyauθnaebya
Gen.Loc.   aspayāh   šyauθnāh
Plural:        
Nom.   aspå, asp̊ŋhō   šyauθnā
Acc.   *aspə̄ng   šyauθnā
Instr.   *aspāiš   šyauθnāiš
Dat/Abl.   *aspaebyō   šyauθnaebyō
Gen.   *aspə̄m, aspanąm   šyauθnanąm
Loc.   aspaešu   šyauθnaešu
3.2 -Stem Nouns, Feminine
Singular:   daēnā 'insight'
Nom.   daēnā
Acc.   daēnąm
Instr.   daēnayā
Dat.   daēnayāi
Abl/Gen.   daēnayo̊
Loc.   daēnayā
Voc.   daēne
Dual:    
Nom.   *daēne
Acc.   daēne
Instr/Dat/Abl.   *daēnābya
Gen/Loc.   *daēnayå
Plural:    
Nom.   daēnå
Acc.   daēn̊
Instr.   daēnābiš
Dat/Abl.   daēnābyō
Gen.   daēnanąm
Loc.   *daēnāȟu, daēnāhva
4 Verb Inflection

Verbal inflections are added to a stem whose form conveys the tense of a verb. These endings express person, number, mood, and voice.

There are three persons (first, second, and third), and three numbers (singular, dual, and plural).

'Mood' refers to the attitude of the speaker towards an action. The indicative mood conveys a merely descriptive sense and is translated with the simple verb. The imperative mood indicates a command. Avestan also includes two potential moods, a subjunctive and an optative; the former conveys a greater sense of probability than the latter. As in Sanskrit, the subjunctive is found much more frequently in the older language (Vedic, Old Avestan) than in the younger (Classical Sanskrit, Younger Avestan); its functions are gradually replaced, with respect to the degree of probability to be communicated, by the optative mood and the future tense.

'Voice' refers to the nature of the action with respect to the logical subject of a sentence. The active voice indicates direct action. The middle voice signals that a self-reflexive purpose or benefit to the subject motivates the action expressed. The passive is used when the agent of a sentence is not the grammatical subject; it is treated in Lesson 5.

The four tenses -- present, aorist, perfect, and future -- are classified by the formation of the stem, to which endings are added. The present system is divided into two types, thematic and athematic. The thematic classes are presented below; the athematic classes and the other tense systems will be treated in subsequent lessons.

4.1 The Present Tense

The present tense conveys action that occurs at the time of speaking. It may be translated with either a general sense, as in "Zarathustra spins a tale," or with a continuous sense, as in "Zarathustra is spinning a tale."

Stems of the present system that end with the theme-vowel -a- are called thematic. This -a- may be added directly to a verbal root in its stong or weak grade (cf. Section 8.2 on vowel gradation) as in the examples below, or it may be a part of the fuller suffixes -ya- or -aya-. To this stem, various endings are added.

Thematic Present Paradigms: bara- 'carry, bear'

Indicative   Active   Middle
1 sg.   barāmi   baire
2 sg.   barahi   unattested
3 sg.   baraiti   baraite
         
3 du.   unattested   *baraite
         
1 pl.   barāmahi   *baramaide
2 pl.   baraθa   *baraθve
3 pl.   barənti   barəṇte
         
         
Imperative        
2 sg.   bara   baraŋvha
3 sg.   baratu   *baratąm
         
2 pl.   *barata   *baraδBvəm
3 pl.   barəntu   *barənta
         
Subjunctive        
1 sg.   barāni   *barāne, *barāi
2 sg.   barāhi   *barān̨he
3 sg.   *barāiti, barāṯ   *barāite
         
3 du.   *barātō   unattested
         
1 pl.   barāma   unattested
2 pl.   *barāθa   unattested
3pl.   *barąn   barāŋte, *barāire
Optative        
1 sg.   unattested   baraya
2 sg.   baraiš   baraiša
3 sg.   baraiṯ   baraita
         
1 pl.   baraima   *baraimaide
2 pl.   *baraita   *baraiθəm
3 pl.   barayən   *barayan̨ta
4.2 The Imperfect

The present system also includes the imperfect, a past tense; it is discussed in Lesson 5.

5 Word Order

The standard word order of an Avestan clause or sentence is generally Subject-Object-Verb, though the texts in these lessons are poetic in nature and tend to be freer in form. Two common exceptions to the "verb last" rule are when a verb is accompanied by an adverbial preposition, which may appear in the final position, and when a verb is embedded between an adjective and a noun. Adjectives generally precede the nouns they modify, though sometimes separated by other words.

As an example of the "verb last" rule, Yasna 29 opens with a clause ended by the verb gərəždā:

    xšmaibyā   gə̄uš   urvā   gərəždā
    To you   the cow's   soul   laments...

The first line of verse 5 demonstrates typical adjective-noun word order,

    aṯ   vā   ustānāiš   ahvā   zastāiš   frīnəmnā   ahurāi-ā
    And so   we two   with outstretched   dwell   (with) hands   devoting ourselves   to the Lord,

where ustānāiš 'outstretched' precedes the noun zastāiš 'hands' and the phrase ends in the adverb rather than the verb (or, as here, rather than the verbal adjective). The adjective and noun enclosing the clause's main verb ahvā 'we two dwell' is a form of discontinuous word order called 'enclosure'.

These rules are of great help to the translator or interpreter of an Avestan liturgical text. Nevertheless, ambiguity may occasionally occur. A line from Yasna 43.15, for example, may be rendered in two ways:

    ... vīspə̄ng angrə̄ng ašanō ādarə
    ... They call all the evil (ones) truthful.
    ... They call all the truthful (ones) evil.

Here, the accusative plural adjective vīspə̄ng 'all' precedes both of the accusative plural nouns angrə̄ng 'evil' and ašanō 'truthful', and may be taken with either one since the stylistic device of the 'enclosure' may or may not be employed. In such situations one must decide, based on context, which of the meanings best represents the author's intent.

An exception to the standard adjective-noun pattern became formulaic in the later language: ahura- mazdah-, literally 'Lord wise'. The phrase first appeared in the Gathas, but only with a caesura or another [enclosed] word in between, as in 51.15 or 51.5,

caesura:   garō dəmānē ahurō       mazdā jasaṯ ...
    Ahura Mazda went into the house of song ...
     
enclosure:   ahurō xšaθrā mazdå...
    Ahura Mazda, by (his) power...

The phrase grew increasingly frequent in the Yasna Haptanhaiti and, by the time of the younger language, would become the usual form, with or without caesura or enclosure.

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 2: Old Avestan

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

In addition to the 'ahuric' beings that Zarathustra's poetry brings to light, several Gathas also mention Geush Tashan, the 'Creator of the Cow', and Geush Urvan, the 'Soul of the Cow'. Though the ontological status of these two is not clearly spelled out, they do seem to maintain at least a semi-divine status due to their central role in early Iranian social life. Like their Indian cousins, the Eastern Iranians of this period were pastoral nomads. Their economy depended on cattle and, from the earliest times, their sacrificial ritual incorporated this most precious commodity by offering it up to the gods. While Zarathustra seems to have proscribed this older practice, he continued to employ the symbols of the earlier age, even as he refashioned them in keeping with new themes.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Yasna 29 continues with Ahura Mazda's response to Zarathustra's invocation. He appears to ignore Zarathustra himself and address only the cow, whose inquiry began the hymn. Zarathustra, as poet, seems to be using this speech to begin a progression to his main point, i.e. that it is he who is the spokesman who can lead humanity to their god. In verse six, Ahura Mazda declares that there is no one righteous enough to play this role, but then asks, in seven, if this is really so. In verse eight, Good Mind personified determines it is not, for Zarathustra Spitama stands ready to sing the Truth, inspired by the sweetness of right thinking. Verses nine through eleven then show the cow's reluctance to accept Zarathustra, Zarathustra's willingness to accept the responsibility, and finally the cow's acceptance of Zarathustra as her ambassador to the gods and Mazda's ambassador to the world.

6 - aṯ ə̄ vaocaṯ ahurō       mazdå vīdvå vafūš vyānayā
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- so
  • ə̄ -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <a-> 'he, this' -- the
  • vaocaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <vak> 'say, speak, declare' -- says
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • mazdå -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- Wise
  • vīdvå -- perfect active participle; nominative singular masculine <vid> 'see, know, obtain' -- the Knowing One
  • vafūš -- noun; accusative plural masculine <vafu-> 'prophecy, teaching, solemn words' -- solemn words
  • vyānayā -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <vyāna-> 'insight, perception' -- by (his) insight

nōiṯ aēvā ahū vistō       naēdā ratuš ašāṯ-cīṯ hacā
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- no
  • aēvā -- adjective; instrumental singular masculine <aēva-> 'one, alone' -- by one
  • ahū -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahu-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • vistō -- past participle passive; nominative singular masculine <vis> 'find' -- found
  • naēdā -- negative particle; <naēda> 'not, nor' -- nor
  • ratuš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ratu-> 'judgement, model, plan' -- paragon
  • ašāṯ-cīṯ -- noun; ablative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' + emphatic particle; <cīṯ> 'indeed, verily, etc.' -- some Truth
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- in accordance with

aṯ zī θwā fšuyantaē-cā       vāstryāi-cā θwōrəštā tatašā

  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- alas
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- ...
  • θwā -- enclitic pronoun; 2nd person accusative singular <θwa> 'you' -- you
  • fšuyantaē-cā -- present participle active; dative singular masculine <fsuya-> 'breed (esp. cattle)' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- for the benefit of the cattle breeder
  • vāstryāi-cā -- noun; dative singular masculine <vāstrya-> 'herdsman; pasture' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and the herdsman
  • θwōrəštā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <θwōrəšṯar> 'Fashioner' -- Fashioner
  • tatašā -- verb; 3rd person singular perfect indicative active <tas> 'carve, create, fashion, shape' -- has fashioned

7 - tə̄m āzūtōiš ahurō       mąθrəm tašaṯ ašā hazaošō
  • tə̄m -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- the
  • āzūtōiš -- adjective; genitive singular feminine <āzuiti-> 'fat, butter' -- for (procuring) butter
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the Lord
  • mąθrəm -- noun accusative singular masculine; <maθra-> 'mantra, magic formula' -- magic formula
  • tašaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <tas> 'carve, create, fashion, shape' -- fashioned
  • ašā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- with Truth
  • hazaošō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <hazaoša-> 'like-minded' -- allied

mazdå gavōi xšvīdəm-cā       hvō urušaēibyō spəntō sāsnayā
  • mazdå -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <mazdā-> 'wise' -- Wise (One)
  • gavōi -- noun; dative singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- for the cow
  • xšvīdəm-cā -- noun; accusative singular masculine <xšvid-> 'milk' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and milk
  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- the
  • urušaēibyō -- adjective; dative plural masculine <uruša-> 'emaciated' -- toward the emaciated (ones)
  • spəntō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <spənta-> 'beneficent, holy, sacred' -- beneficent
  • sāsnayā -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <sāsnā-> 'teaching' -- in accordance with the teaching

kastē vohū manaŋhā       yə̄ ī dāyāṯ ə̄əāvā marətaēibyō

  • kastē -- interrogative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ka-> 'who, what' -- who
  • vohū -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- by Mind
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; 3rd person accusative plural masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- he
  • dāyāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist optative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- might set down
  • ə̄əāvā -- preposition; <ə̄əāvā> 'down' -- down
  • marətaēibyō -- noun; dative plural masculine <marəta-> 'mortal' -- for mortal men

8 - aēm mōi idā vistō       yə̄ nə̄ aēvā sāsnå gūšatā
  • aēm -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- this
  • mōi -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person dative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- for me
  • idā -- particle; <idā> 'here' -- here
  • vistō -- past participle passive; nominative singular masculine <vis> 'find' -- found
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • nə̄ -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person genitive plural <azəm-> 'I' -- our
  • aēvā -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <aēva-> 'one, alone' -- alone
  • sāsnå -- noun; accusative plural feminine <sāsnā-> 'teaching' -- teachings
  • gūšatā -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <guš> 'hear' -- hears

Zaraθuštrō Spitāmō       hvō nə̄ mazdā vaštī ašāi-cā
  • Zaraθuštrō -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Zaraθuštra-> 'Zarathustra' -- Zarathustra
  • Spitāmō -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- Spitama
  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- he
  • nə̄ -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person dative plural <azəm-> 'I' -- for us
  • mazdā -- adjective; vocative singular masculine <mazdā-> 'wise' -- O Wise One
  • vaštī -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <vas> 'desire, wish' -- wishes
  • ašāi-cā -- noun; dative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and for Truth

carəkərəθrā srāvayeŋ́hē       hyaṯ hōi hudəmə̄m dyāi vaxəδrahyā

  • carəkərəθrā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <carəkərəθra-> '(hymns of) praise' -- praise
  • srāvayeŋ́hē -- causative infinitive; dative <srāvay-> 'cause to be heard' -- to recite
  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyaṯ> 'if, so, when' -- if
  • hōi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- to him
  • hudəmə̄m -- noun; accusative singular masculine <hudəma-> 'sweetness' -- sweetness
  • dyāi -- verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive passive <dā-> 'give, put' -- should be given
  • vaxəδrahyā -- noun; genitive singular neuter <vaxəδra-> 'speech organ' -- of voice

9 - aṯ-cā gə̄uš urvā raostā       yə̄ anaēšəm xšanmə̄nē rādəm
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and so
  • gə̄uš -- noun; genitive singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- of the cow
  • urvā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <urvan-> 'soul, self' -- the soul
  • raostā -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative middle <rud> 'howl, cry out, lament' -- laments
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- (I) who (am)
  • anaēšəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <anaēša-> 'powerless' -- powerless
  • xšanmə̄nē -- infinitive; dative <xšam> 'accept' -- to accept
  • rādəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <rāda-> 'provider' -- provider

vācim nərəš asūrahyā       yə̄m ā vasəmī īšā-xšaθrīm
  • vācim -- noun; accusative singular feminine <vāc-> 'voice' -- voice
  • nərəš -- noun; genitive singular masculine <nar-> 'man' -- man's
  • asūrahyā -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <asura-> 'weak' -- weak
  • yə̄m -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- ...
  • vasəmī -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <vas> 'desire, wish' -- I wish
  • īšā-xšaθrīm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <īšā-xšaθri> 'powerful' -- strong

kadā yavā hvō aŋhaṯ       yə̄ hōi dadāṯ zastavaṯ avō

  • kadā -- adverb; <kadā> 'when' -- when
  • yavā -- adjective; instrumental singular masculine <yavan-> 'during life' -- in (my) lifetime
  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- he
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- will emerge
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • hōi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- to him
  • dadāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- lends
  • zastavaṯ -- possessive adjective; accusative singular neuter <zasta-> 'hand' + possessive suffix; <-vat-> '...' -- hand
  • avō -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <avah-> 'help, helping' -- helping

10 - yūžə̄m aēibyō ahurā       aogō dātā ašā xšaθrəm-cā
  • yūžə̄m -- pronoun; 2nd person nominative singular <yūžəm-> 'you' -- you
  • aēibyō -- demonstrative pronoun; dative plural <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- to them
  • ahurā -- noun; vocative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- O Lord
  • aogō -- noun; accusative singular neuter <aogah-> 'power, strength' -- strength
  • dātā -- verb; 2nd person plural aorist imperative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- may you give
  • ašā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- through Truth
  • xšaθrəm-cā -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaθra-> 'power' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and power

avaṯ vohū manaŋhā       yā hušəitīš rāmąm-cā dāṯ
  • avaṯ -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter <ava-> 'this, that' -- that
  • vohū -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- through Mind
  • yā -- relative pronoun; instrumental singular neuter <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- by which
  • hušəitīš -- noun; accusative plural feminine <hušiti-> 'good dwelling, comfort, safety' -- comfort
  • rāmąm-cā -- noun; accusative singular neuter <rāman-> 'peace, tranquility' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and peace
  • dāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <dā-> 'give, put' -- one may receive

azə̄m-cīṯ ahyā mazdā       θwąm mə̄ŋ́hī paourvīm vaēdəm

  • azə̄m-cīṯ -- pronoun; 1st person nominative singular <azəm-> 'I' + emphatic particle; <cīṯ> 'indeed, verily, etc.' -- For I myself
  • ahyā -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- of that
  • mazdā -- adjective; vocative singular masculine <mazdā-> 'wise' -- O Wise (One)
  • θwąm -- pronoun; 2nd person accusative singular <θwa> 'you' -- you
  • mə̄ŋ́hī -- verb; 1st person singular aorist indicative middle <man> 'know, think' -- I know
  • paourvīm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <paouruya-> 'first, original' -- primordial
  • vaēdəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <vaēda-> 'provider' -- provider

11 - kudā ašəm vohu-cā       manō xšaθrəm-cā aṯ mā mašā
  • kudā -- adverb; <kudā> 'where' -- where
  • ašəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- Truth
  • vohu-cā -- adjective; nominative singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- good
  • manō -- noun; nominative singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- Mind
  • xšaθrəm-cā -- noun; nominative singular neuter <xšaθra-> 'power' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and power
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- ...
  • mā -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person accusative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- me
  • mašā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <mašya-> 'human being' -- mortal

yūžə̄m mazdā frāxšnənē       mazōi magāi-ā paitī-zānatā
  • yūžə̄m -- pronoun; 2nd person nominative singular <yūžəm-> 'you' -- you
  • mazdā -- adjective; vocative singular masculine <mazdā-> 'wise' -- O Wise (One)
  • frāxšnənē -- noun; locative singular masculine <frāxšnəna-> 'concern' -- in (Your) concern
  • mazōi -- adjective; dative singular masculine <maz-> 'large, great' -- great
  • magāi-ā -- noun; dative singular masculine <maga-> 'gift' + preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- for (the) offering
  • paitī-zānatā -- verbal prefix; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' + verb; 2nd person plural present imperative active <xšnā> 'know' -- know

ahurā nū nå avarə̄       ə̄hmā-rātōiš yūšmāvatąm
  • ahurā -- noun; vocative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- O Lord
  • nū -- adverb; <nū> 'now' -- now
  • nå -- enclitic pronoun; 1st person dative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- to us
  • avarə̄ -- adverb; <avar> 'down' -- down
  • ə̄hmā-rātōiš -- pronoun; compound stem form <azəm-> 'I' + noun; genitive singular masculine <rāta-> 'gift' -- on account of our gift
  • yūšmāvatąm -- pronoun; genitive plural masculine <yūžəm-> 'you' + possessive suffix; <vat-> 'like' -- for (those) like you

Lesson Text

6 - aṯ ə̄ vaocaṯ ahurō       mazdå vīdvå vafūš vyānayā
nōiṯ aēvā ahū vistō       naēdā ratuš ašāṯ-cīṯ hacā
aṯ zī θwā fšuyantaē-cā       vāstryāi-cā θwōrəštā tatašā

7 - tə̄m āzūtōiš ahurō       mąθrəm tašaṯ ašā hazaošō
mazdå gavōi xšvīdəm-cā       hvō urušaēibyō spəntō sāsnayā
kastē vohū manaŋhā       yə̄ ī dāyāṯ ə̄əāvā marətaēibyō

8 - aēm mōi idā vistō       yə̄ nə̄ aēvā sāsnå gūšatā
Zaraθuštrō Spitāmō       hvō nə̄ mazdā vaštī ašāi-cā
carəkərəθrā srāvayeŋ́hē       hyaṯ hōi hudəmə̄m dyāi vaxəδrahyā

9 - aṯ-cā gə̄uš urvā raostā       yə̄ anaēšəm xšanmə̄nē rādəm
vācim nərəš asūrahyā       yə̄m ā vasəmī īšā-xšaθrīm
kadā yavā hvō aŋhaṯ       yə̄ hōi dadāṯ zastavaṯ avō

10 - yūžə̄m aēibyō ahurā       aogō dātā ašā xšaθrəm-cā
avaṯ vohū manaŋhā       yā hušəitīš rāmąm-cā dāṯ
azə̄m-cīṯ ahyā mazdā       θwąm mə̄ŋ́hī paourvīm vaēdəm

11 - kudā ašəm vohu-cā       manō xšaθrəm-cā aṯ mā mašā
yūžə̄m mazdā frāxšnənē       mazōi magāi-ā paitī-zānatā
ahurā nū nå avarə̄       ə̄hmā-rātōiš yūšmāvatąm

Translation

6   So the Wise Lord, the Knowing One, speaks the solemn words [inspired] by [his] insight:
    "There is no lord found by even one [among us], nor a paragon in accordance with any Truth.
    Alas, the Fashioner has fashioned you for the benefit of the cattle breeder and the herdsman.
     
7   "The Lord [who is] allied with Truth fashioned the magic formula
          for [procuring] butter and milk for the cow.1
    This Wise (One) is beneficent towards the emaciated in accordance with the teaching.
    Who is there for you who might set these [things] down for mortals by Good Mind?"
     
8   [Good Mind?: There is] this [one] found here for me who alone hears our [holy] teachings --
    Zarathustra Spitama: he wishes to recite [praises] for us and for Truth, O Wise One,
    If I shall give to him sweetness of voice."
     
9   And so the soul of the cow laments: "I who am to accept a powerless provider,
    A weak man's voice which I wish [to be] strong --
    When during my lifetime will he emerge, [the one] who lends to him a helping hand?"
     
10   [Zarathustra:] "O Lord, may you give strength to them2 through Truth,
    And that power, [which comes] through Good Mind, by which one may receive
          comfort and peace.
    For I myself, O Wise One, know You as the Primordial Provider of that."
     
11   [The Cow:] "Where are Truth, Good Mind, and [their] power? Know me,
          through the mortal one,3
    You, O Wise One, in Your concern for the great offering.
    Come down to us now, O Lord, on account of our gift for those like you."

Grammar

6 Short and Long i- and u-Stem Nouns

Nominal stems in short i and u take identical inflections in all cases of the masculine and feminine, and in the oblique cases of the neuter. Long - and -stems appear primarily in the feminine, with accusative singular raθī- 'chariot' and instrumental singular and plural and genitive singular hizū- 'tongue' attested in the masculine.

6.1 i- and u-Stem Nouns, Masculine
Singular:   gairi- 'mountain'   mainyu- 'spirit'
Nom.   gairiš   mainyuš
Acc.   gairim   mainyuš
Instr.   gairī   mainyū
Dat.   gairayāi   mainyavē, mainyavāi
Abl.   gairoīṯ   mainyoīṯ
Gen.   gairoiš   mainyə̄uš
Loc.   gairā   mainyāu
Voc.   gairiai   mainyō
Dual:        
Nom.   gairī   mainyū
Acc.   gairī   mainyū
Instr/Dat/Abl.   gairibyā   mainyubya
Gen.   unattested   mainivāh
Loc.   unattested   mainivau
Plural:        
Nom.   gairayah, agairayō   mainavah, mainavō
Acc.   gairiš   mainyuš
Instr.   aspāiš   unattested
Dat/Abl.   gairibyō   mainyubyah, mainyubyō
Gen.   gairinąm   mainyunąm
Loc.   unattested   mainyušu
6.2 - and -Stem Nouns, Feminine
Singular:   vahvī- 'good'   tanū- 'body'
    (from msc. vohu-)    
Nom.   vaŋuhī   tanuš
Acc.   vaŋhīm   tanvə̄m
Instr.   vaŋhuyā   tanvā
Dat.   vaŋhuyāi   tanūvāi
Gen.   vaŋhuyå   tanuvah, tanuvō
Voc.   *vaŋhvī   unattested
Dual:        
Nom.   *vaŋhvišī   unattested
Instr/Dat/Abl.   vaŋhubyā   unattested
Plural:        
Nom.   *vaŋhvīš   tanuvah, tanuvō
Acc.   *vaŋhvīš   *tanuvah, *tanuvō
Dat.   *vaŋhubyō   *tanuubyō
Gen.   *vaŋhunąm   *tanuunąm
Loc.   unattested   tanušu
6.3 i- and u-Stem Nouns, Neuter
    buiri- 'richness'   vohu- 'good'
Nom.Acc.Voc. sg.pl.   buiri   vohu
7 Personal Pronouns

Pronominal forms abound in the Avestan language. The first and second person are unique, while the third person uses primarily the first of three third person pronominal stems. Both full and enclitic forms appear (on the use of clitics, cf. Section 15). The oblique cases of all personal pronouns form a suppletive system, i.e., they are based on a stem different than that of the nominative case.

7.1 First and Second Person Pronouns

The first and second person pronouns have no inherent gender, and no locative or vocative forms appear. Dual forms are rare. The azem- 'I' and tvə̄m- 'you' paradigms are given here, with enclitic forms in parentheses.

Singular:   First Person   Second Person
Nom.   azə̄m   tvə̄m, tūm4 (tū)
Acc.   (mā)   θąm (θvā)
Instr.   unattested   θvā4
Dat.   mabya, mabyah (mai)   tabya, tabyah (tai)
Abl.   mat   θat
Gen.   mana   tava (tai)
Plural:        
Nom.   vayam   yūžam
Acc.   ahma   (vāh)
Instr.   unattested   šmā
Dat.   ahmabya (nah)   šmabhya, yušmabya (vah)
Abl.   ahmat   šmat, yušmat
Gen.   (nah)   (vah)
7.2 Third Person/Demonstrative Pronouns

The unique third person pronoun stems hi- and YAv. di- 'he, she, it' are found only as enclitic forms. The demonstrative pronoun ha- 'this', suppletive ta-, doubles as the standard third person pronoun 'he, she, it'.

Singular:   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
Nom.   hō   tat   hā
Acc.   tə̄m, (hīm), YAv. (dim)   tat   tąm, tām
Instr.   tā   unattested   unattested
Dat/Gen.   OAv. (hoi), YAv.(he)   unattested   unattested
Dual:            
Nom/Acc/Voc.   tā, (hī)   unattested   unattested
Plural:            
Nom.   tōi, taē   unattested   unattested
Acc.   tə̄ng, OAv. (hīš)   tā   tå
Instr.   tāiš   unattested   unattested
Dat/Abl.   taēibyō        
8 Athematic Presents and Ablaut

As noted in Lesson 1, verbs of the present system are based on various stems; thematic stems were discussed there. Five classes of athematic stems are attested, with grades that depend upon ablaut.

8.1 Athematic Classes

The root class stems add an ending directly to the verbal root, e.g. ahmi 'I am', first person singular present indicative active of ah 'be'. The root may appear in its strong or weak grade, depending on the verb's ablaut pattern, on which see Section 8.2 below.

The reduplicating class forms its stem by adding a reduplicated syllable to the beginning of a verbal root. For roots beginning in a consonant, the reduplication usually consists of that consonant plus a, , i, or u. But if the initial consonant is velar, it is reduplicated with a corresponding palatal (cf. Lesson 1, Section 2 for lists of velars and palatals). For example, jigərəz- > gərəz. Further, when an original Proto-Indo-Iranian (PII) stop or s has changed in the Avestan, as e.g. *p > f and *s > h, the PII stop and the s are preserved in the root but changed in the reduplication. Thus, hišay- > ši, šay-.

The na̱- class and nu- class add a form of -na̱-/-na- or -nau-/-nu- to the root, according to ablaut pattern. A third nasal category, the infix class, has -na- inside the root.

Athematic Present Paradigms: ah 'be' and mrū 'speak, say'

Indicative   Active   Middle
1 sg.   ahmi   mruyai
2 sg.   ahi   *mrušai
3 sg.   asti5   mrūitai, mruyai
         
1 pl.   mahi   mrūmaide
2 pl.   stā   unattested
3 pl.   hənti   *mruvan̨te
         
Imperative        
2 sg.   zdi   mrūidi
3 sg.   astu   mraotū
         
2 pl.   unattested   mraota
3 pl.   hantu   mravątu
         
Subjunctive        
1 sg.   aŋhā, *anhāni   *mravāi, mravāne
3 sg.   aŋhaṯ   unattested
         
1 pl.   åŋhāmā   unattested
3 pl.   aŋhən   mravaire
         
Optative        
2 sg.   hyə̄m   mruviša
3 sg.   hyāṯ   mruvītā
8.2 Vowel Gradation

The Avestan verbal system exhibits evidence of vowel gradation, or ablaut, which occurred earlier in Proto-Indo-European. The vowel in either the root or suffix of a verbal stem may change depending on whether or not that syllable was stressed. When the vowel was stressed, its grade is strong or full. This strong grade is formed by adding a short -a- to the vowel. For example, the third person singular middle imperative of mru is mraotū 'let him speak!', where u > o under the influence of added a. If the vowel was unstressed, the grade is weak and the vowel remains unchanged, as in the first person singular middle indicative mruyai 'I say', or it is reduced, as in the third person plural active frinənti 'they satisfy' from the stem frinā-. (Here, the final of the stem is reduced to ə before the ending is added.) Another example, from the nasal-infix class, may be even more clear: the third person singular active indicative vinasti 'he finds', from the root vid, vs. the third person singlar middle *vindatai 'they find.'

Verbs of the root class also fall into two sub-categories according to their ablaut pattern. Roots of this class having a static ablaut pattern always have the accent on the root, so the verb always appears with the root in the strong grade; roots having a changing, i.e., dynamic ablaut pattern appear in the strong grade in the singular indicative and injunctive active, in the active and middle subjunctive, and in the third person singular imperative active.

9 Causatives and Denominatives

A causative stem is formed by strengthening a root and adding the suffix -aya- to it. The endings of the present system are then added to complete the verb. As its name implies, the causative form changes a verb's meaning to convey the sense of causativity: e.g., vat, vatahi 'you understand' vs. vātayahi 'you cause to understand' = 'you explain'.

A denominative is a verbal stem formed by adding the suffix -ye- to a noun stem. Like the causative, it takes the endings of the present system: vāra- msc. 'rain' > vārayemi 'I rain down'.

10 Adverbs, Prepositions, and Preverbs

Avestan adverbs can be analyzed into two types: those that are clearly derivative from inflectional forms, and those that are not.

10.1 Derived Adverbial Forms

The derivation of adverbs from adjectives or other parts of speech was not systematic in Avestan. Some are frozen inflectional forms.

Adverbs based on a-stems, h-stems, and t-stems may be accusative; e.g., arəm 'correctly, properly', ākāh 'certainly' (?), and θaṯ 'then, again'.

Adverbs derived from a-stems and t-stems may be instrumental; e.g., tā 'thus, in this way, therefore' and yavatā 'insomuch as'.

Adverbs with ablative endings are based only on a-stems; e.g., asnāṯ 'nearby'.

There is one locative adverb, durai 'far', with the ablative durāṯ having similar meaning.

Derivative adverbs usually stand after the object of the verb that they modify; in a standard Subject-Object-Verb sentence, between the object and the main verb. This rule is not hard and fast, however.

10.2 Non-derivative Adverbs, including Prepositions and Preverbs

A number of adverbial forms do not appear to be derived from other parts of speech. These may be classed as to whether they function independently, or as prepositions and verbal prefixes.

Some examples of independent non-derivative adverbs include:

    āviš visible, manifest
    azdā certain
    kū where
    nū, nūrə̄m now

Some adverbs function as prepositions and verbal prefixes. The most common examples are as follows:

    Preposition or Verbal Prefix   Verbal Prefix   Preposition
    antar between   apa away   parā before
    api toward   ni down    
    ava down   niš out    
    near, back   fra forth, toward    
    upa up to   vi apart    
    pati toward, against   ham together    
    pairi around        
    parā away        

Non-derivative adverbs follow the word order of their derivative counterparts. Those functioning as prepositions and preverbs usually precede the word they modify. Preverbs may commonly be used as postpositions.

Footnotes

1   'Butter and milk' is a metaphor for 'strength and prosperity' often employed by Zarathustra.
2   Insler renders this 'to these mortals' and Humbach 'to those present,' suggesting a request on behalf of all men or just Zarathustra's audience, respectively. I leave the pronoun's reference open.
3   Zarathustra.
4   Young Avestan form.
5   The PII /s/ > Av. /h/ in most environments, but not in consonant clusters. Note here that the /m/ in first person ahmi is considered a resonant -- i.e. a sound that functions as a consonant when in a vocalic environment or a vowel when in a consonantal environment.

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 3: Old Avestan

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

A stark contrast between good and evil forms the backbone of Zarathustra's teaching, permeating every aspect of existence, both human and divine. The continuous war between Ahuras and Daevas parallels the continuous war between the old religion and the new, the struggle between the followers of the Truth and the followers of the Lie, and every individual's personal dilemma in choosing 'good thoughts, words, and deeds' over bad. Victory turns most poignantly on the last: every right choice on the part of a single individual increases the quantity, strength, and power of good in the entire world; every wrong choice, the magnitude of bad.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Yasna 53, the 'Wedding Hymn', is relatively short but densely packed. It continues the thematic link already seen in Yasna 29 between fertility and prosperity on the one hand, and morality and faith on the other, by likening both the social and physical union of the earthly bride and groom to the 'mythic' union of Wisdom and Truth, an event that lays 'the firm foundation of Good Mind'.

Zarathustra opens the hymn by announcing the conditions that would prove it is his sacrificial practice -- and by extension his doctrine -- that should be taken as the model for all others. Perhaps, too, he is even subtly invoking Ahura Mazda to create these very conditions in exchange for the people's support: "If you make a good existence for me, your sacrificer and voice among men," Zarathustra seems to say, "and for those who follow me as well, many more will adopt the practice you have laid out for humankind." In verse two, the audience is formally introduced to the fathers of the bride and groom, Kavi Vishtaspa and Frahaostra, respectively. In verses three and four, Zarathustra then turns to the matter at hand -- the marriage of Vishtaspa's daughter to Frahaostra's son -- and enunciates the merits thus brought to the community.

Verse five seems to be more generally directed, addressing everyone who is married or soon to be married, or perhaps others who are getting married alongside Spitami and Frahaostra's son. In verse six, Zarathustra waxes didactic, explaining how marriage remains 'the firm foundation of Good Mind' only insomuch as the spousal pair remain faithful to each other and not give in to the superficial pleasures that immoral actions may bring. Prosperity that comes by means of Deceit, by means of the Lie, will ultimately, Zarathustra insists, bring only weakness and death, while in verse seven he promises that fidelity, moral purity, and quite persistent 'exertion' will bear fruit. He clearly puts the brunt of the ethical burden, however, on the wife, for it is only she, he says, whose sexual purity will keep 'the spirit of the Possessor of the Lie' at bay. If all these conditions are maintained, Zarathustra promises in verse eight, the wealth and vitality of the unfaithful will be redirected to Ahura Mazda's flock. The poet closes the hymn with further encouragement to choose right over deceit and a last invocation to Ahura Mazda.

1 - vahištā īštiš srāvī       Zaraθuštrahē
  • vahištā -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <vohu-> 'good' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- best
  • īštiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <īšti-> 'sacrifice' -- sacrifice
  • srāvī -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative passive <sru> 'give' -- is feted
  • Zaraθuštrahē -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Zaraθuštra-> 'Zarathustra' -- Zarathustra

Spitāmahyā yezī hōi       dāṯ āyaptā
  • Spitāmahyā -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- Spitama
  • yezī -- conjunction; <yezī> 'as, because, when' -- when
  • hōi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- for him
  • dāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <dā-> 'give, put' -- would give
  • āyaptā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <āyapta-> 'riches, bounty, boon, spoils' -- rewards

ašāṯ hacā ahurō       mazdå yavōi vīspāi-ā       hvaŋhəvīm
  • ašāṯ -- noun; ablative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- truth
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- in accordance with
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • mazdå -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- Wise One
  • yavōi -- noun; dative singular neuter <yav-> 'duration, period, time of life' -- lifetime
  • vīspāi-ā -- adjective; dative singular neuter <vīspa-> 'all, every' + postposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- thoughout
  • hvaŋhəvīm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <hvaŋhaoya-> 'good existence' -- good existence

yaē-cā hōi dabən saškən-cā       daēnayå vaŋhuyå       uxδā šyaoθanā-cā
  • yaē-cā -- relative pronoun; dative plural masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and so
  • hōi -- personal pronoun; dative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- to him
  • dabən -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist indicative active <dab> 'fit together' (?) -- determine
  • saškən-cā -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist indicative active <sac> 'learn, understand' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and understand
  • daēnayå -- noun; genitive singular feminine <daēnā-> 'attitude, intention, insight' -- of vision
  • vaŋhuyå -- adjective; genitive singular feminine <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • uxδā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <uxδa-> 'word, saying' -- words
  • šyaoθanā-cā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <šyaoθana-> 'act, deed' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and deeds

2 - aṯ-cā hōi scantū manaŋhā       uxδāiš šyaoθanāiš-cā
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and so
  • hōi -- personal pronoun; dative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- his
  • scantū -- verb; 3rd person plural present imperative active <haca-> 'follow, accompany' (?) -- let them pursue
  • manaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- with (good) mind
  • uxδāiš -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <uxδa-> 'word, saying' -- with words
  • šyaoθanāiš-cā -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <šyaoθana-> 'act, deed' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and (with) deeds

xšnə̄m mazdå vahmāi-ā       fraorəṯ yasnąs-cā
  • xšnə̄m -- noun; accusative singular feminine <xšnā-> 'recognition' (?) -- succor
  • mazdå -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- of the Wise One
  • vahmāi-ā -- noun; dative singular masculine <vahma-> 'glorification, praise' + adverbial postposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- adulation
  • fraorəṯ -- adverb; <fraorəṯ> 'readily' -- readily
  • yasnąs-cā -- noun; accusative plural masculine <yasna-> 'sacrifice, offering, hymn' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and paeans

kava-cā Vīštāspō       zaraθuštriš Spitāmō       Fərašaoštras-cā
  • kava-cā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <kəvi-> 'title: adherent to the daevic religion' (?) + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- Kavi
  • Vīštāspō -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Vīštāspa-> 'Vishtaspa' -- Vishtaspa
  • zaraθuštriš -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <zaraθuštri-> 'descendent of Zarathustra' (?) -- son of Zarathustra
  • Spitāmō -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- Spitama
  • Fərašaoštras-cā -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Ferašaoštra-> 'Frashaostra' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and Frashaostra

dåŋhō ərəzūš paθō       yąm daēnąm ahurō       saošyantō dadāṯ

  • dåŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <dah-> 'gift' -- of the gift
  • ərəzūš -- adjective; accusative plural masculine <erezu-> 'straight, just' -- straight
  • paθō -- noun; accusative plural masculine <paθ-> 'path, road' -- paths
  • yąm -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- whose
  • daēnąm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <daēnā-> 'attitude, intention, insight' -- inspiration
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • saošyantō -- noun; ablative singular masculine <saošyant-> 'giving power; savior (?)' -- out of (his) power to give
  • dadāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- gives

3 - tə̄m-cā tū Pourucistā       Haēcaṯ-aspānā
  • tə̄m-cā -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and now
  • tū -- emphatic particle; <tū> '...' -- ...
  • Pourucistā -- proper name; vocative singular feminine <Pourucistā-> 'Pouruchista' (?) -- Pouruchista
  • Haēcaṯ-aspānā -- compound proper name; vocative singular feminine <haēcaṯ-> '...' + ; <aspāna-> patronymic form of aspa- 'horse' -- descendent of Haecataspa

Spitāmī yezivī dugədrąm       Zaraθuštrahē
  • Spitāmī -- proper name; vocative singular feminine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- Spitama
  • yezivī -- adjective; vocative singular feminine <yazu-> 'youngest' -- youngest
  • dugədrąm -- noun; genitive plural feminine <dugədar-> 'daughter' -- of the daughters
  • Zaraθuštrahē -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Zaraθuštra-> 'Zarathustra' -- of Zarathustra

vaŋhə̄uš paityāstīm manaŋhō       ašahyā mazdås-cā       taibyō dāṯ sarəm
  • vaŋhə̄uš -- adjective; genitive singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • paityāstīm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <paityāstī-> 'firm foundation' -- firm foundation
  • manaŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- of mind
  • ašahyā -- noun; genitive singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- of Truth
  • mazdås-cā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and (of) Wisdom
  • taibyō -- demonstrative pronoun; dative plural masculine <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- to you
  • dāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • sarəm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <sar-> 'protection, alliance' -- alliance

aθā hə̄m ferašvā θwā xraθwā       spə̄ništā Ārmatōiš       hudānvarəšvā

  • aθā -- adverb; <aθā> 'so, thus, likewise' -- therefore
  • hə̄m -- preposition; <hə̄m> 'together, with' -- with
  • ferašvā -- verb; 2nd person singular s-aorist imperative middle <fras> 'inquire, discuss' -- consult
  • θwā -- possessive pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <θwa> 'you' -- your
  • xraθwā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <xraθwa-> 'power, will, insight' -- inner strength
  • spə̄ništā -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <spənta-> 'beneficent, holy, sacred' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- with the most sacred (deeds)
  • Ārmatōiš -- proper name; genitive singular feminine <Armaiti-> name of a goddess = 'righteousness, devotion, piety' -- of Armaiti
  • hudānvarəšvā -- adverb (?); adjective stem <hudānu-> 'blessed' + verb; 2nd person singular aorist imperative middle <varəz-> 'work, perform' -- blessedly engage

4 - tə̄m zī və̄ spərədā nivarānī       yā feδrōi vīdāṯ
  • tə̄m -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- indeed
  • və̄ -- enclitic personal pronoun; dative plural <yūžəm-> 'you' -- on behalf of (all of) you
  • spərədā -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <spərəd-> 'zeal' -- with zeal
  • nivarānī -- preposition; <nī> '...' + verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive active <var> 'choose' -- wed
  • yā -- relative pronoun; nominative singular feminine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • feδrōi -- noun; dative singular masculine <pitar-> 'father' -- for (her) father
  • vīdāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <vid> 'see, know, obtain' -- tends to

paiθyaē-cā vāstryaēibyō       aṯ-cā xvaētaovē
  • paiθyaē-cā -- noun; dative singular masculine <paiti-> 'husband, master' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and to (her) husband
  • vāstryaēibyō -- noun; dative plural masculine <vāstrya-> 'herdsman; pasture' -- to the herdsman
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and also
  • xvaētaovē -- adjective; dative singular masculine <xvaētu-> 'belonging to the family' -- family possessions

ašāunī ašavabyō       manaŋhō vaŋhə̄uš xvə̄nvaṯ haŋhuš       mə̄m-bə̄əduš
  • ašāunī -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <ašavan-> '(in accordance with) Truth' -- truthful
  • ašavabyō -- noun; dative singular masculine <ašavan-> '(in accordance with) Truth' -- to the truthful one
  • manaŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- of mind
  • vaŋhə̄uš -- adjective; genitive singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • xvə̄nvaṯ -- noun; stem <hvar-> 'sun' + possessive suffix; <-vat-> '...' -- like the sun
  • haŋhuš -- noun; accusative singular neuter <haŋhuš-> 'profit, harvest' -- fruition
  • mə̄m-bə̄əduš -- compound stem (?); accusative singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' + perfect participle; accusative singular neuter <band-> 'shine' (?) -- illuminating thought

mazdå dadāṯ ahurō       daēnayāi vaŋhuyāi       yavōi vīspāi-ā

  • mazdå -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- the Wise One
  • dadāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • daēnayāi -- noun; dative singular feminine <daēnā-> 'attitude, intention, insight' -- for (the sake of) vision
  • vaŋhuyāi -- adjective; dative singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • yavōi -- noun; dative singular neuter <yav-> 'duration, period, time of life' -- (her) lifetime
  • vīspāi-ā -- adjective; dative singular neuter <vīspa-> 'all, every' + postposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- throughout

5 - sāxvə̄nī vazyamnābyō       kainibyō mraomī
  • sāxvə̄nī -- noun; accusative plural neuter <sāxvan-> 'doctrine, teaching, instruction' -- commandments
  • vazyamnābyō -- present participle middle; dative plural feminine <vaz> 'marry' -- being married
  • kainibyō -- noun; dative plural feminine <kainya-> 'maiden, girl' -- to (you) young women
  • mraomī -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <mrū> 'speak, say' -- I pronounce

xšmaibyā-cā vadəmnō       mə̄n-cā ī mąz dazdūm
  • xšmaibyā-cā -- personal pronoun; dative plural <yūžəm-> 'you' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and to you (men)
  • vadəmnō -- noun; genitive singular masculine <vadman-> (?) 'possessed of speech' -- of one possessed of (good) speech
  • mə̄n-cā -- abbreviated noun (?); accusative singular masculine <manah-> 'mind' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- in mind
  • -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- them
  • mąz -- abbreviated noun (?); accusative singular masculine (?) <manah-> 'mind' -- ...
  • dazdūm -- verb; 2nd person plural present imperative middle <dā-> 'give, put' -- bear

vaēdōdūm daēnābīš       abyas-cā ahūm       yə̄ vaŋhə̄uš manaŋhō
  • vaēdōdūm -- verb; 2nd person plural present imperative middle <vid> 'see, know, obtain' -- find for yourselves
  • daēnābīš -- noun; instrumental plural feminine <daēnā-> 'attitude, intention, insight' -- by means of good vision
  • abyas-cā -- demonstrative pronoun; dative plural feminine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and for them
  • ahūm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <aŋhu-> 'existence, life' -- a life
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • vaŋhə̄uš -- adjective; genitive singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- of mind

ašā və̄ anyō ainīm       vīvə̄nghatū taṯ zī hōi       hušə̄nem aŋhaṯ

  • ašā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- by means of Truth
  • və̄ -- enclitic personal pronoun; genitive masculine <yūžəm-> 'you' -- of you
  • anyō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <anya-> 'other' -- each
  • ainīm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <anya-> 'other' -- the other
  • vīvə̄nghatū -- verb; 2nd person singular present imperative active desiderative <van> 'surpass, overcome' -- win over
  • taṯ -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <ta-> 'he, that, this' -- that
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- for
  • hōi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine / feminine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- each one
  • hušə̄nem -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <hušə̄na-> 'profitable' -- fruitful
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- would be

6 - iθā ī haiθyā narō       aθā jə̄nayō
  • iθā -- adverb; <iθā> 'thus' -- in this way
  • -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- these
  • haiθyā -- noun; nominative plural masculine <haiθya-> 'true, real' -- true
  • narō -- noun; vocative plural masculine <nar-> 'man' -- o men
  • aθā -- adverb; <aθā> 'so, thus, likewise' -- in that way
  • jə̄nayō -- noun; vocative plural feminine <jə̄naya-> 'woman' -- o wives

drūjō hacā rāthəmō yə̄mə       spašuθā frāidīm
  • drūjō -- noun; ablative singular feminine <druj-> 'deceit' -- deceit
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- out of
  • rāthəmō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <rāthəma-> 'adhering to' -- adherent
  • yə̄mə -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- whom
  • spašuθā -- verb; 2nd person plural present indicative active <spas-̨ spašu-> (?) 'perceive' -- all of you see
  • frāidīm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <frāidi-> 'growth, prosperity' -- prosperity

drūjō āyesē hōiš piθā tanvō parā       vayū-bərədubyō duš-xvarəthə̄m       nąsaṯ xvāθrəm
  • drūjō -- noun; ablative singular feminine <druj-> 'deceit' -- of deceit
  • āyesē -- verbal prefix; <ā> (conveys sense of reversal with verbs of motion) + verb; 1st person singular present indicative middle <yam> 'offer' -- I take away
  • hōiš -- contracted form (?); demonstrative pronoun <ha-> '(s)he, this' + demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter (?) <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- his + these
  • piθā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <piθa-> 'defense' -- defenses
  • tanvō -- noun; genitive singular feminine <tanu-> 'body' -- of (his) person
  • parā -- adverb; <parā> 'before, beyond, away' -- away
  • vayū-bərədubyō -- compound noun; dative plural masculine <vayu-> 'air, wind' (?) + verb; <bərət> 'cry' (?) -- (for them,) sighing
  • duš-xvarəthə̄m -- compound noun; accusative singular neuter <duš-> 'bad, evil' + ; <xvarətha-> 'food' -- poor nourishment
  • nąsaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <ans> 'attain' + 3rd person singular aorist indicative active; <nas> 'be lost, disappear' -- results
  • xvāθrəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xvathra-> 'good breathing, ease, comfort' -- breathing easy

drəgvōdəbyō də̄jīṯ-arətaēibyō       anāiš ā manahīm       ahūm mərəngəduyē

  • drəgvōdəbyō -- noun; dative plural masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- for Advocates of the Lie
  • də̄jīṯ-arətaēibyō -- compound noun; dative plural masculine <dəjit-> 'violation' (?) + noun; <aša-> 'truth' -- for Violators of the Truth
  • anāiš -- demonstrative pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <ana-> 'him' -- them
  • -- postposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- with
  • manahīm -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <manahya-> 'spiritual' -- spiritual
  • ahūm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <ahu-> 'existence, life, breath' -- life
  • mərəngəduyē -- verb; 2nd person plural present subjunctive middle <mrc> 'destroy' -- you will destroy

7 - aṯ-cā və̄ mīždəm aŋhaṯ       ahyā magahyā
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and so
  • və̄ -- enclitic personal pronoun; dative plural masculine <yūžəm-> 'you' -- for all of you
  • mīždəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <mīzda-> 'wages, prize' -- fruit
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- will arise
  • ahyā -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- from this
  • magahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <maga-> 'gift' -- ritual exchange

yavaṯ āžuš zrazdištō      būnōi haxtayå
  • yavaṯ -- adverb; <yavaṯ> 'how long, as long as' -- as long as
  • āžuš -- noun; accusative singular neuter <āzhuš-> 'propulsion implement' -- impeller
  • zrazdištō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <zrazdišta-> 'most believing' -- full of zeal
  • būnōi -- noun; locative singular masculine <būna-> 'ground, base' -- at the base
  • haxtayå -- noun; genitive dual neuter <haxti-> 'thigh' -- of (her) thighs

para-cā mraocąs aorā-cā       yaθrā mainyuš drəgvatō       anąsaṯ parā
  • para-cā -- adverbial prefix; <parā> 'before, beyond, away' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and deep
  • mraocąs -- present participle active; nominative singular masculine <mru> 'drive, plunge, beat' -- driving
  • aorā-cā -- adverbial prefix; <aorā> 'down' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and down
  • yaθrā -- adverb; <yaθra> 'where, in order to' -- from whence
  • mainyuš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- spirit
  • drəgvatō -- present participle active; genitive singular masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- of the Possessors of the Lie
  • anąsaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular augmented aorist indicative active <nas> 'be lost, disappear' -- has disappeared
  • parā -- adverb; <parā> 'before, beyond, away' -- already

ivīzayathā magə̄m tə̄m       aṯ və̄ vayōi aŋhaitī       apə̄mem vacō

  • ivīzayathā -- verbal prefix; <vi> 'wide, apart' + verb; 2nd person plural present indicative active <zā> 'abandon, relinquish' -- abandon
  • magə̄m -- noun; accusative singular masculine <maga-> 'gift' -- ritual exchange
  • tə̄m -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ta-> 'he, that, this' -- this
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- and
  • və̄ -- enclitic personal pronoun; dative plural masculine <yūžəm-> 'you' -- your
  • vayōi -- interjection; <vayoi> 'woe' -- woe
  • aŋhaitī -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- will be
  • apə̄mem -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <apə̄məm> 'last' -- last
  • vacō -- noun; accusative singular neuter <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- word

8 - anāiš ā dužvarəšnaŋhō       dafšnyā hə̄ntū
  • anāiš -- demonstrative pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <ana-> 'him' -- by them
  • -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- ...
  • dužvarəšnaŋhō -- noun; nominative plural masculine <dužvarešnah-> 'wrong-doers' -- wrong-doers
  • dafšnyā -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <dafšnya-> 'powerless' -- impotent
  • hə̄ntū -- verb; 3rd person plural present imperative active <ah-> 'be, become' -- let become

zah́yā-cā vīspåŋhō       xraosəntąm upā
  • zah́yā-cā -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <zahya-> 'weakened' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and weakened
  • vīspåŋhō -- nominative plural masculine; <vispa-> 'everyone/thing, all' -- all
  • xraosəntąm -- verb; 3rd person plural present imperative middle <xruš> 'scream, howl' -- let them cry
  • upā -- adverbial postposition; <upa> 'near, up on/to, etc.' -- out

huxšaθrāiš jə̄nerąm xrūnerąm-cā       rāmąm-cā āiš dadātū       šyeitibyō vīžibyō
  • huxšaθrāiš -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <huxšaθra-> 'good rule' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and by means of a good rule
  • jə̄nerąm -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <jə̄nar-> 'man-killing' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- over the man-killing
  • xrūnerąm-cā -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <xrūnar-> 'man-defiling' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and over the man-defiling
  • rāmąm-cā -- noun; accusative plural masculine <rāman-> 'peace, tranquility' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- peace
  • āiš -- demonstrative pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- with them
  • dadātū -- verb; 3rd person singular present imperative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- let him grant
  • šyeitibyō -- present participle active; dative plural feminine <ši> 'dwell' -- settled
  • vīžibyō -- noun; dative plural feminine <viž-> 'clan' -- to the clans

īratū īš dvafšō hvō       dərəzā mərəiθyaoš mazištō       mošu-cā astū

  • īratū -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <ar> 'rise' -- let arise
  • īš -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- on them
  • dvafšō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <dvafša-> 'distress, ruin, pain, anguish' -- pain
  • hvō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- that
  • dərəzā -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <dərəz-> 'shackle' -- shackle
  • mərəiθyaoš -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mərəthyu-> 'death' -- of death
  • mazištō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <maz-> 'large, great' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- greatest
  • mošu-cā -- adverb; <mošu> 'soon' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- soon
  • astū -- verb; 3rd person singular present imperative active <ah-> 'be, become' -- and let it be

9 - dužvarənāiš vaēšō rāstī       tōi narəpīš rajīš
  • dužvarənāiš -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <dužvarena-> 'choosing badly' -- on account of those making bad choices
  • vaēšō -- noun; nominative singular neuter <vaēšah-> 'poison' -- poison
  • rāstī -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <rāθ> 'adhere' -- adheres
  • tōi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular <ta-> 'he, that, this' -- to him
  • narəpīš -- noun; nominative singular neuter <narəpi-> 'reduction, absence' -- lack
  • rajīš -- noun; nominative singular neuter <rajī-> 'darkness' -- darkness

aēšasā də̄jīṯ-arətā       pəšō-tanvō
  • aēšasā -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <aēšasa-> 'wild' -- wild
  • də̄jīṯ-arətā -- compound noun; nominative plural masculine <dəjit-> 'violation' (?) + noun; <aša-> 'truth' -- violators of Truth
  • pəšō-tanvō -- compound noun; nominative plural masculine <peša-> 'brought to an end' + ; <tanu-> 'body' -- whose bodies are to be brought to an end

kū ašavā ahurō       yə̄ īš jyātə̄uš hə̄miθyāṯ       vasə̄-itōiš-cā
  • kū -- adverb; <ku> 'where' -- where
  • ašavā -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <ašavan-> '(in accordance with) Truth' -- truthful
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • īš -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- them
  • jyātə̄uš -- noun; genitive singular masculine <jyātu-> 'life' -- of life
  • hə̄miθyāṯ -- compound verb; 3rd person singular aorist optative active <həm> '...' + ; <miθ> 'rob of' -- would rob
  • vasə̄-itōiš-cā -- noun; genitive singular feminine <vasəiti-> 'liberty, prosperity' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and of liberty

taṯ mazdā tavā xšaθrəm       yā ərəžəjyōi dāhī       drəgaovē vahyō
  • taṯ -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular neuter <ta-> 'he, that, this' -- the
  • mazdā -- noun; vocative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- O wise one
  • tavā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <yūžəm-> 'you' -- yours
  • xšaθrəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaθra-> 'power' -- power
  • yā -- relative pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- by which
  • ərəžəjyōi -- adjective; dative singular masculine <ərəžəji-> 'living justly' -- living rightly
  • dāhī -- verb; 2nd person singular aorist subjunctive active <dā-> 'give, put' -- you would grant
  • drəgaovē -- noun; dative singular masculine <drigu-> 'needy, poor' -- (to the) poor (man)
  • vahyō -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <vahya-> 'better' -- better

Lesson Text

1 - vahištā īštiš srāvī       Zaraθuštrahē
Spitāmahyā yezī hōi       dāṯ āyaptā
ašāṯ hacā ahurō       mazdå yavōi vīspāi-ā       hvaŋhəvīm
yaē-cā hōi dabən saškən-cā       daēnayå vaŋhuyå       uxδā šyaoθanā-cā
2 - aṯ-cā hōi scantū manaŋhā       uxδāiš šyaoθanāiš-cā
xšnə̄m mazdå vahmāi-ā       fraorəṯ yasnąs-cā
kava-cā Vīštāspō       zaraθuštriš Spitāmō       Fərašaoštras-cā
dåŋhō ərəzūš paθō       yąm daēnąm ahurō       saošyantō dadāṯ

3 - tə̄m-cā tū Pourucistā       Haēcaṯ-aspānā
Spitāmī yezivī dugədrąm       Zaraθuštrahē
vaŋhə̄uš paityāstīm manaŋhō       ašahyā mazdås-cā       taibyō dāṯ sarəm
aθā hə̄m ferašvā θwā xraθwā       spə̄ništā Ārmatōiš       hudānvarəšvā

4 - tə̄m zī və̄ spərədā nivarānī       yā feδrōi vīdāṯ
paiθyaē-cā vāstryaēibyō       aṯ-cā xvaētaovē
ašāunī ašavabyō       manaŋhō vaŋhə̄uš xvə̄nvaṯ haŋhuš       mə̄m-bə̄əduš
mazdå dadāṯ ahurō       daēnayāi vaŋhuyāi       yavōi vīspāi-ā

5 - sāxvə̄nī vazyamnābyō       kainibyō mraomī
xšmaibyā-cā vadəmnō       mə̄n-cā ī mąz dazdūm
vaēdōdūm daēnābīš       abyas-cā ahūm       yə̄ vaŋhə̄uš manaŋhō
ašā və̄ anyō ainīm       vīvə̄nghatū taṯ zī hōi       hušə̄nem aŋhaṯ

6 - iθā ī haiθyā narō       aθā jə̄nayō
drūjō hacā rāthəmō yə̄mə       spašuθā frāidīm
drūjō āyesē hōiš piθā tanvō parā       vayū-bərədubyō duš-xvarəthə̄m       nąsaṯ xvāθrəm
drəgvōdəbyō də̄jīṯ-arətaēibyō       anāiš ā manahīm       ahūm mərəngəduyē

7 - aṯ-cā və̄ mīždəm aŋhaṯ       ahyā magahyā
yavaṯ āžuš zrazdištō      būnōi haxtayå
para-cā mraocąs aorā-cā       yaθrā mainyuš drəgvatō       anąsaṯ parā
ivīzayathā magə̄m tə̄m       aṯ və̄ vayōi aŋhaitī       apə̄mem vacō

8 - anāiš ā dužvarəšnaŋhō       dafšnyā hə̄ntū
zah́yā-cā vīspåŋhō       xraosəntąm upā
huxšaθrāiš jə̄nerąm xrūnerąm-cā       rāmąm-cā āiš dadātū       šyeitibyō vīžibyō
īratū īš dvafšō hvō       dərəzā mərəiθyaoš mazištō       mošu-cā astū

9 - dužvarənāiš vaēšō rāstī       tōi narəpīš rajīš
aēšasā də̄jīṯ-arətā       pəšō-tanvō
kū ašavā ahurō       yə̄ īš jyātə̄uš hə̄miθyāṯ       vasə̄-itōiš-cā
taṯ mazdā tavā xšaθrəm       yā ərəžəjyōi dāhī       drəgaovē vahyō

Translation

1   The sacrifice of Zarathustra Spitama is feted as the best
    If the Wise Lord would, in accordance with Truth,
          give [these] rewards to him throughout all [his] life:
    A good existence for him and for those who determine and understand
    The words and deeds of [his] good vision.
     
2   And so let Kavi Vishtaspa -- a Spitama, a son of Zarathustra
          -- and Frahaostra readily pursue,
    With good thought, with words and deeds,
    The succor of the Wise One, and paeans for His adulation,
    And [also] the straight path of the gift whose inspiration
          the Lord gives out of [his] power to give.
     
3   And now, Pouruchista Spitami, descendent of Haecataspa,
    Youngest of the daughters of Zarathustra,
    Gives to all of you the alliance of Truth and Wisdom,
          the firm foundation of Good Mind.
    Therefore, consult your inner strength and blessedly engage yourself
          with the most sacred [deeds] of Armaiti.
     
4   For on behalf of all of you, I shall eagerly wed to him [the woman]
          who tends to [her] father
    [Her] husband, the herdsman [of his clan], and [his] family possessions.
    Truthful to the truthful ones, Ahura Mazda gives [to her] the sun-like
          fruition of Good Mind, illuminating [her] thought
    For the sake of good vision, throughout [her] entire life.
     
5   I pronounce to [you] young women being married,
          and [likewise] to you [men],
    The commandments of one possessed of [good?] speech:
          Bear them in mind.
    Through good vision, find for yourselves -- and for them, [your wives] --
          a life which [is] of Good Mind.
    [And] through Truth, let each of you desire to win the other over.
    For that would be fruitful for each one.
     
6   In this way these [things are] true, O men; in that way [they are true], O wives.
    [There is an] adherent of deceit whom all of you see
         [clinging] to the prosperity [arising] out of deceit:
    [But] I take away these defenses of [his] person. For Advocates of the Lie,
          sighing, poor nourishment results,
          [and a life of] 'easy breathing' is lost1
    For Violators of Truth. [Allied] with them, you will destroy for yourselves
          the spiritual life.
     
7   And so, for all of you, [good] fruit will come from this ritual exchange
    As long as the 'impeller,' full of zeal, [keeps] driving, down and deep,
    At the base of [her] two thighs, from whence the spirit
          of the Possessor of the Lie has already disappeared.
    Abandon this ritual exchange and your last word is 'woe'!
     
8   Let the wrong-doers be [made] impotent by these [things],
    And, weakened, let them all cry out.
    And by means of good rule among man-killing and
          man-defiling [Possessors of the Lie?]
    Let one grant peace with them to the settled clans.
    Let that greatest pain arise upon them, [that which comes]
          through the shackle of death. And let it be soon!
     
9   On account of those who choose badly,
          poison adheres to him, [the righteous man],
    [As do] darkness and lack, those violators of Truth
          whose bodies are to be brought to an end.
    Where is the truthful Lord who would rob them of life and liberty?
    The power is yours, O Wise One, by which you would grant a better (life)
          to the poor man living rightly.

Grammar

11 an̨t-, man̨t-, and van̨t-stem Nouns

Nominal stems in an̨t form a simple adjective and the present participle active; man̨t and van̨t mark the possessive adjective. The inflections for the simple and possessive masculine adjectives are nearly the same, taking the weakened stem at in the oblique cases. Participles built on thematic verbal stems maintain the full nominal stem in most instances. Those built on athematic stems decline like other adjectives. Masculine and neuter oblique cases are identical. The feminine shows the same ablaut pattern, but adds to complete the stem and thus declines like long -stem nouns (cf. Section 6.2).

11.1 nt-Stem Nouns, Masculine
Singular:   Participle fšuyan̨t- 'raising cattle'   Adjective bərəzant- 'great'
Nom.   fšuyąs   bərəzō
Acc.   *fšuyan̨təm   bərəzan̨təm
Instr.   *fšuyatā   bərəzatā
Dat.   fšuyan̨te   bərəzaite
Abl.   fšuyan̨taṯ   bərəzataṯ
Gen.   fšuyan̨tō   bərəzatō
Loc.   *fšuyain̨ti, fšuyaiti   *bərəzaiti
Voc.   *fšuyā   bərəzā
Dual:        
Nom/Acc/Voc.   fšuyan̨tā   bərəan̨tā
Instr/Dat/Abl.   fšuyan̨bya   bərəzan̨bya
Plural:        
Nom/Voc.   *fšuyan̨tō   bərəzan̨tō
Acc.   fšuyan̨tō   bərəzatō
Instr.   *fšuyadbīš   bərərzadbīš
Dat/Abl.   fšuyan̨byō   bərəzadbyō
Gen.   *fšuyan̨tąm   bərəzatąm
Loc.   fšuyašu   *bərəzašu
11.2 nt-Stem Nouns, Neuter
    Participle fšuyan̨t- 'raising cattle'   Adjective bərəzant- 'great'
Nom/Acc/Voc. sg.   *fšuyaṯ   *bərəzaṯ
         
Nom/Acc/Voc. sg.   *fšuyąn   *bərəząn
12 Demonstrative Pronouns

In Section 7, the demonstrative pronoun ha- 'this', suppletive ta-, was given. Two other demonstrative pronouns, hvo- 'this' and a- 'that', appear frequently in masculine, feminine, and neuter declensions.

hvō-declension   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
Nom. sg.   hvō   unattested   unattested
Acc. sg.   unattested   avat   avām
Instr. sg.   avā   unattested   unattested
             
Acc. pl   unattested   unattested   avāh
Instr. pl.   avāiš   unattested   unattested
Gen. pl.   avaisām   unattested   unattested
             
             
a-declension            
Nom. sg.   ayam   unattested   unattested
Acc. sg.   im, īm   it   imām1
Instr. sg.   anā   unattested   ayā (?)
Dat. sg.   ahmāi   unattested   ahyāi
Abl. sg.   ahmāt   unattested   unattested
Gen. sg.   ahya   unattested   unattested
Loc. sg.   ahmi   unattested   unattested
             
Dat. du   unattested   unattested   ābyā (?)
Gen. du.   ayāh, ās   unattested   unattested
             
Acc. pl.   īš   , imā1   unattested
Instr. pl.   āiš, anāiš   unattested   abiš1
Dat. pl.   aibya   unattested   ābyas
Gen. pl.   aišām   unattested   unattested
Loc. pl.   unattested   unattested   āhu
13 The Aorist Tense

As already noted in Section 4, a verb's tense is indicated by the formation of its stem. In addition to the present stems encountered there, Avestan also includes a category of aorist stems that, like those of the present system, are constructed in various ways. Seven forms of the aorist stem occur: root, reduplicated, thematic, and four forms of sigmatic. The root aorist adds its termination directly to the root. The reduplicated aorist adds the first vowel of its root, and any consonant immediately preceding that vowel, in front of the zero-grade of that root. E.g., vaoc- < vac, showing the reduplicated syllable va before the zero-grade uc-. Thematic aorists, like thematic presents, add the theme-vowel -a- to the root, which is usually in middle grade. Sigmatic aorists add -h/-, -ha/sa-, -ih/iš-, or -hih/šiš-, with aspirate and sibilant variation according to environment.

The basic structure of an aorist verb is: augment + stem + termination, with the short vowel a- filling the space of the augment. In practice, however, the augment is rare, and is seen only in the indicative mood. This has led to a further distinction between the aorist 'injunctive', which exhibits no augment, and the aorist 'indicative', which has the full formation. Both have indicative sense, but there is a distinction between them. The aorist indicative denotes a definitely past sense, as in the form anąsaṯ in verse 7 of the passage above:

    ... yaθrā mainyuš drəgvatō anąsaṯ parā
    ... [the place] where the spirit of the Deceitful One disappeared.

Here, the Deceitful One's disappearing has transpired: the action is fully past. The injunctive, by contrast, more often denotes a more general sense with respect to time -- i.e., something that is just always generally so, as in verse 6:

    ... nąsaṯ xvathrə̄m / drəgvōdebyō
    ... [a life of] 'easy breathing' is lost / For Violators of Truth.

Here, given the previously established conditions, the loss of 'easy breathing' necessarily results and therefore the injunctive form is used. It is important to note, however, that though this distinction always holds for the aorist indicative, which only gives a fully past sense, Zarathustra used the injunctive in both ways. For this reason, the distinction has been analyzed in these lessons as one between the 'aorist indicative' and the 'augmented aorist indicative'. Accordingly, the 'aorist indicative' has been translated to convey either a general or a past tense, according to context, while the 'augmented aorist indicative' always indicates only past tense.

Root Aorist Paradigm: dā 'give'

Since all aorist forms are similar, only the root aorist paradigm will be presented here.

Injunctive-Indicative   Active   Middle
2 sg.   dāh   dāha
3 sg.   dāṯ   dāta
         
1 du.   unattested   dvadi
         
1 pl.   dāmā   *dāi
2 pl.   dātā   *dāša
3 pl.   dān   data
         
Imperative        
2 sg.   dādi, dāidi   dāhva
3 sg.   dātu   dātąm
         
2 pl.   dāta   *dadūm
         
Subjunctive        
1 sg.   *dā, *dāni   *danāi
2 sg.   dāhi   dāhai
3 sg.   dāṯ, dāti   *dātai
         
1 pl.   dāma   unattested
2 pl.   unattested   dādvai
3 pl.   dān   dāntai
         
Optative        
1 sg.   dyām   dya
2 sg.   unattested   dīša
3 sg.   dyāṯ, dayāṯ   *dāta
         
1 pl.   zāima (YA)   *dāmaide
3 pl.   unattested   *dāyur
14 The Present Participle

A participle is a verbal noun, a verb stem that takes a nominal ending. It functions syntactically as either an adjective to modify a noun, or as a substantive to replace it. Like verbs, participles display an active, middle, or passive voice and a past, present, or future tense.

An example of the present participle in English can be illustrated by the word 'running'. In each of the sentences, "The water is running" and "The running water is cold," the verb 'run' is an adjective describing 'water'. In Avestan, the word may also be used as the subject of the sentence to describe someone or something that is running, as in "The running (one) is passing by," but this is unusual in English. Keeping in mind that a participle is adjectival, however, the common slang "The big, the bad, and the ugly..." may illustrate the same principle. Though 'big', 'bad', and 'ugly' are not participles, they are adjectives standing in for the nouns they modify (e.g., 'The big men', 'the bad men', etc.), a usage that participles commonly have in Avestan.

The present active participle is formed by adding the ending -ant to a present verbal stem; the paradigm is given above in Section 12. As noted there, those constructed on thematic verbal stems have less ablaut in declension. The middle participle adds the ending -amna to the thematic stem, or -āna to the athematic. Both decline as short-a nouns in the masculine or neuter, and long- nouns in the feminine.

15 Conjunctions, Clitics, and a Note on Puns
15.1 Conjunctions, Particles, Interjections, and Clitics

Avestan uses many conjunctions and particles, and occassionally employs interjections. The most common conjunctions are ca 'and', uta 'and', ca ... ca 'both ... and', vā 'or', and tu 'but' (sometimes with emphatic sense). Like their Sanskrit conterparts, they are enclitic. Of the three, ca is the most variable in meaning: it can sometimes be translated as 'or', as 'but', or even as an emphatic particle.

Three types of particles -- negative, emphatic, and indefinite -- predominate. The negative particles are three: nōiṯ 'no, not', naēdā 'and not', and mā, a prohibitive particle employed with a verb in the imperative mood. The emphatic particles include bā, usually left untranslated, vai 'verily, indeed', and zi 'for, indeed'. The particles cit and cana added to an interrogative pronoun, and ciθit added to a preposition, produce an indefinite sense; e.g., kah 'who, what' beside kas-cit 'someone, any one' or pairī 'around, toward, away from' next to pairī-ciθit 'sometime/place before.'

Two interjections occur: avai and vayai. Their translations vary, depending on context.

15.2 Puns

The passage selected for this lesson includes an unusual syntactic construction. In verse 6, line 3, Zarathustra employs the verb nasaṯ as two words conveyed by one. The third person singular reduplicated aorist of ans and the third person singular root aorist of nas, both active, are both intended. The objects of the respective verbs flank their 'collapsed' appearance, dušxvarəθəm 'spoiled food' to be taken with ans 'result', and xva̱θrəm 'easy breathing' with nas 'be lost'.

    drūjō āyəsə̄ hōiš piθā tanvō parā
    vayū-beredubyō duš-xvarəthə̄m       nąsaṯ xvathrə̄m
    For Advocates of the Lie, sighing, poor nourishment attains,
    [and an existence of] 'breathing easy' is lost.

With the further alliteration and phonetic play between xvarəθəm and xva̱θrəm, the phrase is a prime illustration of Zarathustra's remarkable poetic skill and innovation.

Footnote

1   The play on the two verbs sharing one aoristic form našaṯ 'attain' and 'is lost' is unfortunately itself lost in its English rendition, but the reader should try to imagine the poetic elegance of the phrase.

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 4: Old Avestan

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

Reading and Textual Analysis

This hymn, Yasna 30, provides an excellent statement of Zarathustra's dualism. While he maintained monotheism with Ahura Mazda as sole god, he also posited an opposition that existed from the beginning of the world between two principal spirits, Spenta Mainyu, 'the incremental spirit', and Angra Mainyu, 'the fiendish spirit' as stated in stanza 3. They, in turn, reflect a dualism beween Ashu 'Truth' and Angra 'Falsehood'. Human beings choose between these, as did the Daevas -- god-like beings who chose Falsehood. Their resulting status is in direct opposition to that in Indian religion, in which the devas make up the accepted pantheon. But the one who accepts Ahura Mazda is strengthened by Armaiti, 'Devotion'. The rewards or retribution for one's choice are stated graphically in stanzas eight through twelve.

1 - aṯ tā vaxšyā išəntō       yā mazdāθā hyaṯ-cīṯ vīdušē
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- and
  • tā -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- those things
  • vaxšyā -- verb; 1st person singular future indicative active <vak> 'say, speak, declare' -- I shall proclaim
  • išəntō -- present participle active; vocative plural masculine <iš> 'strive, desire, arrive' -- o seekers
  • yā -- relative pronoun; accusative plural neuter <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • mazdāθā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <mazdāδa-> 'thing to be considered' -- to be borne in mind
  • hyaṯ-cīṯ -- conjunction; <hyaṯ> 'if, so, when' + indefinite participle; <cīṯ> '...' -- even
  • vīdušē -- present participle active; dative singular masculine <vid> 'see, know, obtain' -- for one knowing

staotā-cā ahurāi       yesnyā-cā vaŋhə̄uš manaŋhō
  • staotā-cā -- noun; nominative plural masculine <staota-> 'hymn, song of praise' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and hymns
  • ahurāi -- noun; dative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • yesnyā-cā -- noun; accusative plural masculine <yesnya-> 'sacrifice, worship' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and praises
  • vaŋhə̄uš -- adjective; genitive singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- of mind

humązdrā ašā ye-cā       yā raocə̄bīs darəsatā urvāzā

  • humązdrā -- adjective; vocative plural masculine <humązdra-> 'careful, good to see' -- attentive ones
  • ašā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- for Truth
  • ye-cā -- dative ending; plural masculine <-aya> '...' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and # All known manuscripts separate this dative case ending from the word aša to which it should be attached. It should not, therefore, be read as a separate word.
  • yā -- relative pronoun; accusative plural neuter <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • raocə̄bīs -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <raocah-> 'light' -- by lights
  • darəsatā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <darəsata-> 'visible, beautiful to see' -- beautiful to see
  • urvāzā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <urvāza-> 'joy, bliss' -- joys

2 - sraotā gə̄uš-aiš vahištā       a-vaēnatā sūcā manaŋhā
  • sraotā -- verb; 2nd person plural aorist imperative active <sru> 'hear, listen' -- Listen
  • gə̄uš-aiš -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <gə̄uša-> 'ear' -- with ears
  • vahištā -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- to the best things
  • a-vaēnatā -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' + verb; 2nd person plural present imperative active <vaēna-> 'see, observe, look' -- observe
  • sūcā -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <sūca-> 'light, pure, clear' -- radiant
  • manaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <manah-> 'mind' -- with mind

āvarənå vīciθahyā       narə̄m narəm xvah́yāi tanuyē
  • āvarənå -- noun; accusative dual masculine <āvarəna-> 'invitation, choice' -- two alternatives
  • vīciθahyā -- noun; genitive singular neuter <vīciδa-> 'decision, judgement' -- choosing
  • narə̄m -- noun; accusative singular masculine <nar-> 'man' -- each
  • narəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <nar-> 'man' -- man
  • xvah́yāi -- reflexive pronoun; dative singular feminine <xva-> 'self' -- ...
  • tanuyē -- noun; dative singular masculine <tanu-> 'body' -- for himself

parā mazə̄ yåŋhō       ahmāi nə̄ sazdyāi baodantō paiti

  • parā -- preposition; <parā> 'before, beyond, away' -- before
  • mazə̄ -- adjective; genitive singular neuter <maz-> 'large, great' -- great
  • yåŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <yāh-> 'pilgrimage, retribution' -- retribution
  • ahmāi -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- to him
  • nə̄ -- enclitic pronoun; 2nd person accusative plural <vaēm-> 'we' -- us
  • sazdyāi -- verb; infinitive <saŋh> 'announce, proclaim' -- to announce
  • baodantō -- present participle active; nominative plural masculine <bud> 'be attentive, aware' -- being careful
  • paiti -- postposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...

3 - aṯ tā mainyū paouruyē       yā yə̄mā xvafnā asrvātəm
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- and
  • tā -- pronoun; nominative dual masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- there are two
  • mainyū -- noun; nominative dual masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- spirits
  • paouruyē -- adjective; nominative dual masculine <paouruya-> 'first, original' -- primeval
  • yā -- relative pronoun; nominative dual masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • yə̄mā -- noun; nominative dual masculine <yə̄ma-> 'twin' -- twins
  • xvafnā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <xvafna-> 'sleep, dream' -- through dream
  • asrvātəm -- verb; 3rd person dual aorist indicative passive <sru> 'hear, listen' -- are revealed

manahi-cā vacahi-cā       šyaoθanōi hī vahyō akəm-cā
  • manahi-cā -- noun; locative singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- in mind
  • vacahi-cā -- noun; locative singular neuter <vacah-> 'speech, word' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and speech
  • šyaoθanōi -- noun; locative singular neuter <šyaoθana-> 'act, deed' -- and deed
  • hī -- emphatic particle; <hi> 'indeed' -- even
  • vahyō -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <vahya-> 'better' -- better
  • akəm-cā -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <aka-> 'bad, evil, wicked' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and bad

ås-cā hudåŋhō       ərəš vīšyātā nōiṯ duždåŋhō

  • ås-cā -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive dual masculine <a-> 'he, this' -- of these two
  • hudåŋhō -- adjective; nominative plural neuter <hudah-> 'of good gifts, beneficent' -- the beneficent
  • ərəš -- adverb; <ərəš-> 'right, correct, true' -- rightly
  • vīšyātā -- prefix; <vi> 'wide, apart' + verb; 3rd person plural aorist indicative active <ci> 'discriminate, tell apart' -- choose
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- not
  • duždåŋhō -- adjective; nominative plural neuter <duždā-> 'of bad gifts, maleficent' -- the miserly

4 - aṯ-cā hyaṯ tā hə̄m mainyū       jasaētəm paourvīm dazdē
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and what is more
  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyat> 'as, since, because' -- when
  • tā -- pronoun; nominative dual masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- these two
  • hə̄m -- preposition; <hə̄m> 'together, with' -- together
  • mainyū -- noun; nominative dual masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- spirits
  • jasaētəm -- verb; 3rd person dual imperfect indicative middle <gam> 'go' -- came
  • paourvīm -- adverb; <paouruya-> 'first, original' -- at the beginning (of the world)
  • dazdē -- verb; 3rd person dual imperfect indicative middle <dā-> 'give, put' -- gave

gaēm-cā ajyāitīm-cā       yaθā-cā aŋhaṯ apə̄məm aŋhuš
  • gaēm-cā -- noun; accusative singular masculine <gaya-> 'life' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- both life
  • ajyāitīm-cā -- noun; accusative singular masculine <ajyaiti-> 'death' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and death
  • yaθā-cā -- adverb; <yaθa> 'just as, like' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and likewise
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- will arise
  • apə̄məm -- adverb; <apə̄məm> 'last' -- at the end
  • aŋhuš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <aŋhu-> 'existence, life' -- a life

acištō drəgvatąm       aṯ ašāunē vahištəm manō

  • acištō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <aka-> 'bad, evil, wicked' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- most wicked
  • drəgvatąm -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- for followers of the Lie
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- and
  • ašāunē -- noun; dative singular masculine <ašavan-> '(in accordance with) Truth' -- for the followers of Truth
  • vahištəm -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- best
  • manō -- noun; accusative singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- thought

5 - ayå mainivå varatā       yə̄ drəgvå acištā vərəzyō
  • ayå -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive dual masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- these
  • mainivå -- noun; genitive dual masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- of two spirits
  • varatā -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative middle <var> 'choose' -- chose
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- the one who
  • drəgvå -- adjective; nominative dual masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- possessed of the Lie
  • acištā -- adjective; accusative plural masculine <aka-> 'bad, evil, wicked' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- the most wicked things
  • vərəzyō -- infinitive; <verəz-> 'perform an action' -- to perform

ašəm mainyuš spə̄ništō       yə̄ xraoždištə̄ng asə̄nō vastē
  • ašəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- Truth
  • mainyuš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- spirit
  • spə̄ništō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <spənta-> 'beneficent, holy, sacred' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- beneficent
  • yə̄ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • xraoždištə̄ng -- adjective; accusative plural masculine <xrūždra-> 'hard, firm' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- hardest
  • asə̄nō -- noun; accusative plural masculine <asan-> 'stone, heaven' -- stones
  • vastē -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative middle <vas> 'be clothed, swathed' -- is clothed

yaē-cā xšnaošən ahurəm       haiθyāiš šyaoθanāiš fraorəṯ mazdąm

  • yaē-cā -- relative pronoun; nominative plural <ya-> 'who, what, which' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and who
  • xšnaošən -- verb; 3rd person plural s-aorist indicative active <xsnu> 'satisfy' -- satisfy
  • ahurəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the Lord
  • haiθyāiš -- adjective; instrumental plural neuter <haiθya-> 'true, real' -- true
  • šyaoθanāiš -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <šyaoθana-> 'act, deed' -- with actions
  • fraorəṯ -- adverb; <fraorəṯ> 'readily' -- readily
  • mazdąm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- Wise One

6 - ayå nōiṯ ərəš vīšyātā       daēvā-cinā hyaṯ īš ā-dəbaomā
  • ayå -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive dual masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- (between) these two
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- not
  • ərəš -- adverb; <ərəš-> 'right, correct, true' -- correctly
  • vīšyātā -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist indicative active <vi> 'wide, apart' + ; <ci> 'discriminate, tell apart' -- did choose
  • daēvā-cinā -- noun; nominative plural masculine <daēva-> 'divine being' + indefinite particle; <cinā> '...' -- the Daevas... whatsoever
  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyat> 'as, since, because' -- since
  • īš -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- them
  • ā-dəbaomā -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' + noun; nominative singular masculine <dəbaoman-> 'beguilement, deception' -- Deception

pərəsmanəng upā-jasaṯ       hyaṯ vərənātā acištəm manō
  • pərəsmanəng -- present participle middle; accusative plural masculine <pərəs-> 'ask' -- deliberating
  • upā-jasaṯ -- verbal prefix; <upa> 'near, up on/to, etc.' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <gam> 'go' -- approached
  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyat> 'as, since, because' -- ...
  • vərənātā -- verb; 3rd person plural present injunctive middle <vərən-> 'choose' -- they chose
  • acištəm -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <aka-> 'bad, evil, wicked' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- worst
  • manō -- noun; accusative singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- thought

aṯ aēšəməm hə̄ndvārəntā       yā bąnayən ahūm marətānō

  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- thereby
  • aēšəməm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <aēšəma-> 'anger, fury, wrath' -- wrath
  • hə̄ndvārəntā -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative middle <həm> '...' + ; <dvar> 'rush together' -- rushed headlong
  • yā -- relative pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- by which
  • bąnayən -- verb; 3rd person plural present injunctive active <banaya-> 'poison, make ill' -- poison
  • ahūm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <aŋhu-> 'existence, life' -- life
  • marətānō -- noun; genitive singular masculine <marəta-> 'mortal' -- moral men

7 - ahmāi-cā xšaθrā jasaṯ       manaŋhā vohū ašā-cā
  • ahmāi-cā -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- yet... unto him
  • xšaθrā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <xšaθra-> 'power' -- with power
  • jasaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <gam> 'go' -- he goes
  • manaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- with mind
  • vohū -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • ašā-cā -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and with Truth

aṯ kəhrpə̄m utayūitiš       dadāṯ ārmaitiš ąnmā
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- and
  • kəhrpə̄m -- noun; accusative singular feminine <kəhrp-> 'form, body, outward appearance' -- body
  • utayūitiš -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <utayūiti-> 'fresh, lasting, enduring' -- youthful
  • dadāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • ārmaitiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <ārmaiti-> 'devotion, piety' -- Armaiti
  • ąnmā -- noun; accusative singular neuter <ąnman-> 'spirit, breath' -- breath

aēšąm tōi ā aŋhaṯ       yaθā ayaŋhā ādānāiš paouruyō

  • aēšąm -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- of these things
  • tōi -- personal pronoun; dative singular <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- for you
  • -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- ...
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- will arise
  • yaθā -- adverb; <yaθa> 'just as, like' -- just as
  • ayaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <ayah-> 'metal, iron' -- by molten iron
  • ādānāiš -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <ādāna-> 'portion, forging together, retaliation' -- through retribution
  • paouruyō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <paouruya-> 'first, original' -- the previous

8 - aṯ-cā yadā aēšąm       kaēnā jamaitī aēnaŋhąm
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and then
  • yadā -- relative adverb; <yadā> 'when' -- when
  • aēšąm -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- of these
  • kaēnā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <kaēnā-> 'atonement, punishment' -- punishment
  • jamaitī -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <gam> 'go' -- will arrive
  • aēnaŋhąm -- noun; genitive plural neuter <aēnah-> 'sin' -- of sins

aṯ mazdā taibyō xšaθrəm       vohū manaŋhā vōi-vīdaitī
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- then
  • mazdā -- noun; vocative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- O Wise One
  • taibyō -- demonstrative pronoun; dative singular <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- for you
  • xšaθrəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaθra-> 'power' -- sovereign rule
  • vohū -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhā -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- through mind
  • vōi-vīdaitī -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active intensive <vid> 'see, know, obtain' -- will finally obtain

aēibyō sastē ahurā       yōi ašāi dadən zastayō drujim

  • aēibyō -- demonstrative pronoun; dative plural <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- to those
  • sastē -- infinitive; <saŋh> 'announce, proclaim' -- to proclaim
  • ahurā -- noun; vocative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lord
  • yōi -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • ašāi -- noun; dative singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- over to the Truth
  • dadən -- verb; 3rd person plural present subjunctive active <dā-> 'give, put' -- will give
  • zastayō -- noun; locative dual masculine <zasta-> 'hand' -- in both hands
  • drujim -- noun; accusative singular masculine <druj-> 'deceit' -- Deceit

9 - aṯ-cā tōi vaēm h́yāmā       yōi īm fərašə̄m kərənaon ahūm
  • aṯ-cā -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and therefore
  • tōi -- pronoun; nominative plural masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- the ones
  • vaēm -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- we
  • h́yāmā -- verb; 3rd person plural present optative middle <ah-> 'be, become' -- may be
  • yōi -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • īm -- enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ayə̄m-> 'this, that' -- this
  • fərašə̄m -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <fəraša-> 'shining' -- vibrant
  • kərənaon -- verb; 3rd person plural present subjunctive active <kar> 'do, make' -- would make
  • ahūm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <ahu-> 'existence, life, breath' -- existence

mazdås-cā ahuråŋhō       ā-mōyastrā-baranā ašā-cā
  • mazdås-cā -- noun; vocative plural masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- Wise (Lord) and
  • ahuråŋhō -- noun; vocative plural masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- Lords
  • ā-mōyastrā-baranā -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' + enclitic pronoun; dative singular <azəm-> 'I' + privative prefix; <a> 'no, none' + adjective; <stra-> 'spread-out' (?) + noun; instrumental singular masculine <barana-> 'carriage, support' -- by means of the unbroken support to me
  • ašā-cā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <aša-> 'truth' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and the Truth

hyaṯ haθrā manå bavaṯ       yaθrā cistiš aŋhaṯ maēθā

  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyat> 'as, since, because' -- so that
  • haθrā -- preposition; <haθra> 'together, at the same place/time' -- unified
  • manå -- noun; nominative plural neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- minds
  • bavaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <bu> 'be, become' -- may be
  • yaθrā -- adverb; <yaθra> 'where, in order to' -- whenever
  • cistiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <cisti-> 'knowledge, thought' -- judgement
  • aŋhaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- would be
  • maēθā -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <maēδa-> 'changing, false' -- in doubt

10 - adā zī avā drūjō       avō-bavaitī skəndō spayaθrahyā
  • adā -- adverb; <adā> 'then, thereupon, thus' -- then
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- for
  • avā -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' -- ...
  • drūjō -- noun; ablative singular feminine <druj-> 'deceit' -- of deceit
  • avō-bavaitī -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 3rd person singular aorist subjunctive active <bu> 'be, become' -- will descend
  • skəndō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <skənda-> 'destruction' -- destruction
  • spayaθrahyā -- noun; genitive singular neuter <spayaθra-> 'atonement, prosperity' -- prosperity

aṯ asištā yaojantē       ā hušitōiš vaŋhə̄uš manaŋhō
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- and
  • asištā -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <asišta-> 'fastest' -- the swiftest
  • yaojantē -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist subjunctive middle <yuj> 'join, unite, yoke' -- will be yoked
  • -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' -- to
  • hušitōiš -- noun; genitive singular feminine <hušiti-> 'good dwelling, comfort, safety' -- dwelling place
  • vaŋhə̄uš -- adjective; genitive singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhō -- noun; genitive singular neuter <manah-> 'mind' -- of mind

mazdå ašah́yā-cā       yōi zazəntī vaŋhāu sravahī

  • mazdå -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- of the Wise One
  • ašah́yā-cā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <aša-> 'truth' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and of Truth
  • yōi -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • zazəntī -- verb; 3rd person plural present subjunctive active <zā> 'conquer, win, come in first' -- will race ahead
  • vaŋhāu -- adjective; locative singular neuter <vohu-> 'good' -- unto good
  • sravahī -- noun; locative singular neuter <sravas-> 'fame' -- fame

11 - hyaṯ tā urvātā sašaθā       yā mazdå dadāṯ mašyåŋhō
  • hyaṯ -- conjunction; <hyaṯ> 'if, so, when' -- when
  • tā -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- those
  • urvātā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <urvāta-> 'rule, order, commandment' -- rules
  • sašaθā -- verb; 2nd person plural present indicative active <sac> 'learn, understand' -- you all learn
  • yā -- relative pronoun; nominative plural neuter <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • mazdå -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- the Wise One
  • dadāṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- has given
  • mašyåŋhō -- noun; vocative plural masculine <mašya-> 'human being' -- o mortals

xvīti-cā ə̄nəitī       hyaṯ-cā darəgə̄m drəgvō-dəbyō rašō
  • xvīti-cā -- noun; accusative dual feminine <xviti-> 'well-being, freedom of movement' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- freedom and
  • ə̄nəitī -- noun; accusative dual feminine <ə̄nəiti-> 'ill-being, lack of freedom' -- constraint
  • hyaṯ-cā -- conjunction; <hyaṯ> 'if, so, when' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and when
  • darəgə̄m -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <darəga-> 'long' -- long-lasting
  • drəgvō-dəbyō -- adjective; dative plural masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- for the Possessors of the Lie
  • rašō -- noun; accusative singular neuter <rašah-> 'harm, damage' -- destruction

sava-cā ašavabyō       aṯ aipī tāiš aŋhaitī uštā
  • sava-cā -- noun; accusative plural neuter <sava-> 'benefit, salvation' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- but blessings
  • ašavabyō -- noun; dative plural masculine <ašavant-> 'follower of the Truth' -- for the Truthful
  • aṯ -- particle; <aṯ> 'then, but, and, so, thus' -- then
  • aipī -- preposition; <aipi> 'toward, approaching' -- ...
  • tāiš -- demonstrative pronoun; instrumental plural masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- through these
  • aŋhaitī -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah-> 'be, become' -- will arise
  • uštā -- past participle passive; accusative plural masculine <vas> 'desire, wish' -- the things you desire

Lesson Text

1 - aṯ tā vaxšyā išəntō       yā mazdāθā hyaṯ-cīṯ vīdušē
staotā-cā ahurāi       yesnyā-cā vaŋhə̄uš manaŋhō
humązdrā ašā ye-cā       yā raocə̄bīs darəsatā urvāzā

2 - sraotā gə̄uš-aiš vahištā       a-vaēnatā sūcā manaŋhā
āvarənå vīciθahyā       narə̄m narəm xvah́yāi tanuyē
parā mazə̄ yåŋhō       ahmāi nə̄ sazdyāi baodantō paiti

3 - aṯ tā mainyū paouruyē       yā yə̄mā xvafnā asrvātəm
manahi-cā vacahi-cā       šyaoθanōi hī vahyō akəm-cā
ås-cā hudåŋhō       ərəš vīšyātā nōiṯ duždåŋhō

4 - aṯ-cā hyaṯ tā hə̄m mainyū       jasaētəm paourvīm dazdē
gaēm-cā ajyāitīm-cā       yaθā-cā aŋhaṯ apə̄məm aŋhuš
acištō drəgvatąm       aṯ ašāunē vahištəm manō

5 - ayå mainivå varatā       yə̄ drəgvå acištā vərəzyō
ašəm mainyuš spə̄ništō       yə̄ xraoždištə̄ng asə̄nō vastē
yaē-cā xšnaošən ahurəm       haiθyāiš šyaoθanāiš fraorəṯ mazdąm

6 - ayå nōiṯ ərəš vīšyātā       daēvā-cinā hyaṯ īš ā-dəbaomā
pərəsmanəng upā-jasaṯ       hyaṯ vərənātā acištəm manō
aṯ aēšəməm hə̄ndvārəntā       yā bąnayən ahūm marətānō

7 - ahmāi-cā xšaθrā jasaṯ       manaŋhā vohū ašā-cā
aṯ kəhrpə̄m utayūitiš       dadāṯ ārmaitiš ąnmā
aēšąm tōi ā aŋhaṯ       yaθā ayaŋhā ādānāiš paouruyō

8 - aṯ-cā yadā aēšąm       kaēnā jamaitī aēnaŋhąm
aṯ mazdā taibyō xšaθrəm       vohū manaŋhā vōi-vīdaitī
aēibyō sastē ahurā       yōi ašāi dadən zastayō drujim

9 - aṯ-cā tōi vaēm h́yāmā       yōi īm fərašə̄m kərənaon ahūm
mazdås-cā ahuråŋhō       ā-mōyastrā-baranā ašā-cā
hyaṯ haθrā manå bavaṯ       yaθrā cistiš aŋhaṯ maēθā

10 - adā zī avā drūjō       avō-bavaitī skəndō spayaθrahyā
aṯ asištā yaojantē       ā hušitōiš vaŋhə̄uš manaŋhō
mazdå ašah́yā-cā       yōi zazəntī vaŋhāu sravahī

11 - hyaṯ tā urvātā sašaθā       yā mazdå dadāṯ mašyåŋhō
xvīti-cā ə̄nəitī       hyaṯ-cā darəgə̄m drəgvō-dəbyō rašō
sava-cā ašavabyō       aṯ aipī tāiš aŋhaitī uštā

Translation

1   And I shall proclaim, O seekers [of Truth], those things
               which [are] to be borne in mind, even for one knowing [them already]:
    [Those] praises and hymns of Good Mind [to be sung] for the Lord and,
               attentive ones, for Truth,
    Which by [their] lights [will bring] joys beautiful to see.
     
2   Listen with [your] ears to the best things [said]
               [And] observe with [your] mind, radiant,
    The two alternatives of [your] choosing, each man for himself
    Being careful to announce us to Him1 before the great retribution.
     
3   There are two primeval spirits, twins who are revealed
               [to us] through dream.
    In mind, in speech, and even in deed they are better and bad:
    The good choose between them correctly, not the evil.
     
4   And what's more, when these two spirits came together
               at the beginning of the world,
    They bestowed [to it] both life and death. And likewise
    At the end, a life most wicked will arise for followers of the Lie,
               and the best thought [will arise] for the followers of Truth.
     
5   Of these two spirits, the one possessed of the Lie chose to execute
               the most wicked things, [but] the beneficent spirit,
    Who is clothed in the hardest stones, [chose] Truth,
    [Just as those men do now] who readily satisfy the Lord, the Wise One,
               with true actions.
     
6   The Daevas did not choose correctly whatsoever between these two,
               since Deception approached them [as they were] deliberating [between
               them].
    [And] since they chose the worst thought,
    They thereby rushed headlong unto [that very] wrath by which they [now] poison
               the life of mortal men.
     
7   Yet He1 goes unto him2 with power, Good Mind, and Truth,
    And youthful Armaiti gives [him] body [and] breath.
    [And each] of these things will arise for you, [too], just as through retribution
               by molten iron the former [followers of the Lie (?)
               will be punished].
     
8   And so, when the punishment of these sins will arrive
    Then dominion will finally obtain for You, O Wise One,
               through Good Thinking.
    [In order] to proclaim, O Lord, to those who will
               give Deceit over to the Truth in both hands.
     
9   Therefore, may we be the ones who would make existence vibrant,
    O Wise [Lord] and Lords, by means of the unbroken support [you have given?]
          to me2 and by means of Truth,
    So that our minds will remain unified whenever our judgment may be in doubt.
     
10   For then the destruction of the prosperity of Deceit will descend
    And the swiftest [steeds] will be yoked to the dwelling place of Good Mind,
    Which will race ahead unto the good fame of the Wise One and of Truth.
     
11   When you, O mortals, learn those rules which the Wise One has given,
    [When you learn that there is] freedom and constraint, and [likewise]
          long-lasting destruction for the Possessors of the Lie,
    But blessings for the Truthful, then through these things [you have learned]
          the things that you desire will arise.

Grammar

16 Noun Stems in Sibilants and Stops
16.1 n-stem Nouns

Avestan has n-stem nouns in an, man, and van, whose declensions vary only by the strength of the stem. Stems in an generally show ablaut, extending to ān in cases that take a strong stem. This is not, however, consistent: some words follow this pattern while others do not, perhaps on analogy with man- and van-stems for which ablaut is unattested.

The paradigms given here include the ablaut.

Singular:   Masculine manθran- 'poet-priest'   Neuter nāman- 'name'
Nom.   manθrā   nąma
Acc.   *manθrā, *manθrānəm   nąma
Dat.   manθrānai   *nāmanai
Abl.   *manθraṯ   unattested
Gen.   manθrānō   *nāmnō
Loc.sg   *manθrāni   *nāmə̄ni, *namən
Plural:        
Nom.pl   *manθranō, *manθrānō   nāmąn, nāmə̄ni
Acc.pl   *manθrō   nāmąn, nāmə̄ni
Instr.pl.   *manθrə̄biš   nāmə̄biš, nāmə̄niš
Dat.pl.   manθrabyō   nāmabyō
Abl.pl   *manθrabyō   *nāmabyō
Gen.pl   *manθranąm   nāmanąm
16.2 r/n-stem Nouns

Avestan includes a few stems that end in r or n, depending on the case in which they appear.

Singular:   Masculine nar- 'man'   Neuter rāzar- 'declaration'
Nom.   nā   rāzar
Acc.   narəm   *rāzar
Dat.   narai   unattested
Gen.   nrš   rāzanh
Plural:        
Nom.   narō   *rāzār
Acc.   nrnš   unattested
Gen.   *narąm   *rāznąm
17 Relative and Interrogative Pronouns

The relative and interrogative pronouns, ya- and ka-, respectively, decline similarly in Avestan. The interrogative also has a stem ci- that appears only in the nominative singular form ciš. The relative paradigm is given here.

ya-declension   Masculine   Feminine
Nom. sg.   yō   yā
Acc. sg.   yim, yəm   yąm, yām
Instr. sg.   yā   unattested
Dat. sg.   yahmai   unattested
Abl. sg.   yahmāṯ   yen̨hāṯ, yen̨hāda
Gen. sg.   yahya, yen̨he   yen̨haē
Loc. sg.   yahmi   yen̨he
         
Nom. du.   yā    
Gen. du.   yayaē    
         
Nom. pl.   yoi   yaē
Acc. pl.   yąn   yaē
Instr. pl.   yāiš   unattested
Dat.Abl. pl.   yaēbyō   yābyō
Gen. pl   yaēšąm   yaēn̨hąm
Loc. pl.   yaēšu   yāhu, yāhva

The neuter differs from the masculine in only the nominative and accusative cases:

Nom.Acc. sg.   yaṯ
Nom. du.   yā
Nom.Acc. pl.   yā
18 The Perfect Tense

In addition to the present and aorist stems encountered in previous lessons, Avestan also has a perfect stem which is formed by the reduplication of the root. Generally, this reduplication is created by adding the vowel of the underlying root and any consonant immediately preceding that vowel to the front of the root. Exceptions to this rule are as follows:

  • Diphthongs ending in i or u reduplicate in i or u, respectively.
  • The initial consonant c changes to k in the root syllable, e.g. cit 'think', cikait-.
  • Initial k reduplicates as c, e.g. kan 'desire, cakan.
  • Consonant clusters omit all but the initial consonant, e.g. vraz 'be joyful', vavraz-.
  • The root vid 'see, know' is not reduplicated.

The root takes full grade in the singular present indicative active and all forms of the subjunctive; zero grade, elsewhere.

In these lessons, the perfect has been translated with past sense, e.g. ṯaṯašā 'has fashioned'.

Perfect Paradigm

Since no root forms more than one perfect conjugation, the convention of using a single root per paradigm is not followed here.

Indicative   Active   Middle
1 sg.   dadarəša   susruye
2 sg.   dadāθa   unattested
3 sg.   cakana   dāta
         
3 du.   unattested   mamanāite, dazde
         
1 pl.   didvišma   unattested
3 pl.   caxnar   unattested
         
Subjunctive        
2 pl.   vavrazaθa   unattested
         
Optative        
3 sg.   vidyāṯ   unattested
19 The Perfect Active Participle

The perfect tense also has active and middle participles. The active form is built by adding the suffix vas, weak grade uš, to the reduplicated stem. Feminines add and decline accordingly. Masculines decline thus:

    vid/vidvas 'having known'
Nom. sg.   vidvå
Dat. sg.   vidušai
Gen. sg.   vidušō

The present middle participle is formed by adding the ending ana to the perfect stem, which declines according to the a/-paradigms in Section 3.

Perfect participles are translated with the verb 'having', as in vidvå 'having known', nominative singular masculine.

20 Relative-Correlative Syntax

Native English speakers sometimes find the Indo-Iranian relative clause difficult because it is not usually embedded within the main clause, as it is in English, but rather precedes the main clause, which 'picks up' the relative pronoun with a corresponding demonstrative, or correlative, pronoun. The relative pronoun may be placed anywhere within its own clause, though it is often found at the beginning. The correlative must begin the main clause. The antecedent, or the word that the relative pronoun represents in the relative clause, also (somewhat counter-intuitively) appears in the relative clause, usually immediately after the relative pronoun.

The relative clause aēibyō sastē ... yōi ašai dadən ... drujəm, taken from stanza 8 above, provides an illustration:

    aēibyō   sastē   yōi   ašai   dadən   drujəm
    to those   to proclaim   to whom   over to Truth   will give   Deceit

This is translated into English as "to proclaim to those who will give Deceit over to the Truth."

Footnotes

1   Ahura Mazda
2   Zarathustra

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 5: Young Avestan

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

In the sixth century B.C. the Persians extended their empire greatly, especially under Darius the Great (521-486 B.C.). Known as the Achaemenian empire, after an earlier Persian ruler, it included the eastern Iranian state, Greater Chorasmic, which was the center of the Zarathustrian religion. As in that religion, Darius [in an Old Persian text inscribed at Behistan] proclaimed his adherence to Ahura Mazda, stating "Ahura Mazda is mine, I am Ahura Mazda's." But he does not refer to Zarathustra, nor to the spirits in that religion. In this way, a modified form of Zarathustrian religion arose, accompanied by other religions practiced by others in the empire. The Magi, priests, fostered it among other religions such as Mithraism. It underwent modifications, as did the language, both of which are represented in the Younger Avesta. Maintaining much of Zarathustra's teaching, it is referred to by the Greek version of his name, Zoroastrianism. As the first line of the hymn indicates, Ahura Mazda retains his prestige in the new religion, but he also acknowledges other gods, like Mithra.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The Hymn to Mithra, dated in the second half of the fifth century, provides an extensive account of the god, his cult, and his attributes. Included in the Rigvedic hymns, he must have been worshipped also a millennium earlier. There, as Mitra, he is paired with Varuna in many poems to Mitravaruna. In his book, The Avestan Hymn to Mithra (Cambridge University Press, 1967), Ilya Gershevitch cites Mitra's characteristics as summarized by A. A. Macdonell in A Vedic Reader for Students (Oxford University Press, 1917). Especially pertinent among these, for the interpretation of the initial stanzas of the hymn that are included here, is his role as upholder of truth, order, and contracts. The word mithra means 'contract' in Avestan. As Ahura Mazda informs Zarathustra in the second stanza, one cannot break a contract -- even with a rogue. Mitra's abode with Varuna is "golden and is located in heaven... great, very lofty, firm, with a thousand columns and a thousand doors" (Macdonell 1917: 118). His realm, described as vouru gaoyaoiti, literally 'having wide cattle-pastures', is in accordance with his role as protector of the cow. Benefits derived from his worship are indicated in the remainder of the verses here. These, as well as his worship, make up the 145 stanzas of the hymn.

1 - mraoṯ ahurō mazdå Spitamāi Zaraθuštrāi
āaṯ yaṯ Miθrəm yim vouru-gaoyaoitīm
frādaδąm azəm Spitama āaṯ dim daδąm
avåntəm yesnyata avåntəm vahmyata
yaθa mąmciṯ yim ahurəm mazdąm
  • mraoṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <mrū> 'speak, say' -- said
  • ahurō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the lord
  • mazdå -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wise
  • Spitamāi -- proper name; dative singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- to Spitama
  • Zaraθuštrāi -- proper name; dative singular masculine <Zaraθuštra-> 'Zarathustra' -- to Zarathustra
  • āaṯ -- adverb; <āaṯ> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- and
  • yaṯ -- adverb; <yaṯ> 'when' -- when
  • Miθrəm -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • vouru-gaoyaoitīm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- has vast fields
  • frādaδąm -- verbal prefix; <fra> 'forward, toward' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- created
  • azəm -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <azəm-> 'I' -- I
  • Spitama -- proper name; vocative singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- O Spitama
  • āaṯ -- adverb; <āaṯ> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- and
  • dim -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • daδąm -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- created
  • avåntəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <avant-> 'as much, so much, so long, such' -- as
  • yesnyata -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <yesnya-> 'sacrifice, worship' -- worthy of sacrifice
  • avåntəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <avant-> 'as much, so much, so long, such' -- as
  • vahmyata -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <vahmaya-> 'worthy of praise' -- worthy of praise
  • yaθa -- conjunction; <yaθa> 'just as, like' -- as
  • mąmciṯ -- personal pronoun; accusative singular <azəm-> 'I' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- I myself
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • ahurəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the lord
  • mazdąm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wise

2 - mərəncaite vīspąm daiŋ́haom
mairyō miθrō-druxš Spitama
yaθa satəm kayaδanąm
avavaṯ ašava-jaciṯ
miθrəm mā janyå Spitama
mā yim drvataṯ pərəsåŋhe
mā yim xvādaēnāṯ ašaonaṯ
vayå zī asti miθrō
drvataēca ašaonaēca
  • mərəncaite -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative middle <marək-> 'kill, destroy, bring ruin' -- brings
  • vīspąm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <vīspa-> 'all, every' -- entire
  • daiŋ́haom -- noun; accusative singular feminine <dahyav-> 'country, region, realm' -- upon the country
  • mairyō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <mairya-> 'false, malicious' -- rogue
  • miθrō-druxš -- noun; <miθra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' + adjective; nominative singular masculine <drug-> 'false' -- unfaithful to a contract
  • Spitama -- proper name; vocative singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- O Spitama
  • yaθa -- conjunction; <yaθa> 'just as, like' -- as
  • satəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <sata-> 'hundred' -- one hundred
  • kayaδanąm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <kayaδa-> category of evil deed -- of evil-doers
  • avavaṯ -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <avant-> 'as much, so much, so long, such' -- as much
  • ašava-jaciṯ -- noun; <ašavant-> 'follower of the Truth' + root noun; <gan-> 'slayer' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- some... slayers of Truthful men
  • miθrəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <miθra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • mā -- prohibitive participle; <mā> used to express prohibition -- do not
  • janyå -- verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <jan> 'smite, slay, destroy' -- break
  • Spitama -- proper name; vocative singular masculine <Spitāma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- O Spitama
  • mā -- prohibitive participle; <mā> used to express prohibition -- do not
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • drvataṯ -- noun; ablative singular masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- with a follower of the Lie
  • pərəsåŋhe -- verb; 2nd person singular s-aorist subjunctive middle <fras> 'inquire, discuss' -- you would negotiate
  • mā -- prohibitive participle; <mā> used to express prohibition -- nor
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- ...
  • xvādaēnāṯ -- prefix; <xva> 'good, worthy' + noun; ablative singular masculine <daēnā-> 'attitude, intention, insight' -- who has found the good religion
  • ašaonaṯ -- noun; ablative singular masculine <ašavant-> 'follower of the Truth' -- with a follower of the Truth
  • vayå -- adjective; ablative dual masculine <uvaya-> 'both' -- to both
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- for
  • asti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <ah-> 'be, become' -- is valid
  • miθrō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <miθra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • drvataēca -- noun; dative singular masculine <drəgvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- for the follower of the Lie
  • ašaonaēca -- noun; dative singular masculine <ašavant-> 'follower of the Truth' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and the follower of the Lie alike

3 - āsu-aspīm daδāiti
Miθrō yō vouru-gaoyaoitiš
yōi miθrəm nōiṯ aiβi-družinti
razištəm pantąm daδāiti
ātarš mazdå ahurahe
yōi miθrəm nōiṯ aiβi-družinti
ašaonąm vaŋuhīš sūrå
spəntå fravašayō daδāiti
āsnąm frazaintīm
yōi miθrəm nōiṯ aiβi-družinti
  • āsu-aspīm -- adjective; <āsu-> 'swift' + noun; accusative singular feminine <aspi-> 'mare' -- swift horses
  • daδāiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • Miθrō -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • yō -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • vouru-gaoyaoitiš -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; nominative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- has vast fields
  • yōi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to those who
  • miθrəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <miθra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- do not
  • aiβi-družinti -- verbal prefix; <aiwi> 'toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <draoga-> 'lie, deceive' -- break
  • razištəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <ərəzu-> 'straight' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- the straightest
  • pantąm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <paθ-> 'path, road' -- path # The stem appears in Young Avestan in both masculine and feminine forms; here the ending is the accusative singular of the feminine stem though the modifying adjective razištəm declines as masculine.
  • daδāiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • ātarš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ātar-> 'fire' -- fire
  • mazdå -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wise
  • ahurahe -- noun; genitive singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- of the lord
  • yōi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to who
  • miθrəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <miθra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- do not
  • aiβi-družinti -- verbal prefix; <aiwi> 'toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <draoga-> 'lie, deceive' -- break
  • ašaonąm -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <ašavant-> 'follower of the Truth' -- of the followers of the Truth
  • vaŋuhīš -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • sūrå -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <sūra-> 'strong, powerful' -- mighty
  • spəntå -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <spənta-> 'beneficent, holy, sacred' -- beneficent
  • fravašayō -- noun; nominative plural feminine <fravaši-> the immortal element in a person, personified as a class of deity -- Fravashis
  • daδāiti -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- give
  • āsnąm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <āsna-> 'successful, effective' -- virtuous
  • frazaintīm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <frazanti-> 'progeny, offspring' -- progeny
  • yōi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to who
  • miθrəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <miθra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • nōiṯ -- negative particle; <nōiṯ> 'no, none' -- do not
  • aiβi-družinti -- verbal prefix; <aiwi> 'toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <draoga-> 'lie, deceive' -- break

4 - ahe raya xvarənaŋhaca
təm yazāi surunvata yasna
Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm zaoθrābyō ...
  • ahe -- particle; <ahe> 'indeed, certainly' -- indeed
  • raya -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <rai-> 'radiance, wealth, splendor' -- because of radiance
  • xvarənaŋhaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <xvarənah-> 'glory' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and glory
  • təm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- this
  • yazāi -- verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- I shall offer
  • surunvata -- future participle passive; accusative singular masculine <sru> 'hear, listen' -- worthy of being heard
  • yasna -- noun; accusative singular masculine <yasna-> 'sacrifice, offering, hymn' -- song of praise
  • Miθrəm -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- to Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitīm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- who has vast fields
  • zaoθrābyō -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaoθra-> 'libations' -- together with libations

6 - təm amavantəm yazatəm
sūrəm dāmōhu səvištəm
Miθrəm yazāi zaoθrābyō
təm pairi-jasāi vantaca nəmaŋhaca
təm yazāi surunvata yasna
Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm zaoθrābyō
Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm yazamaide
haomayō gava barəsmana
hizvō daŋhaŋha mąθraca
vacaca šyaoθnaca zaoθrābyasca
aršuxδaēibyasca vāγžibyō ...
  • təm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- this
  • amavantəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <amavant-> 'strong, powerful, vigorous' -- strong
  • yazatəm -- future participle passive; accusative singular masculine <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- worthy of the sacrifice
  • sūrəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <sūra-> 'strong, powerful' -- mighty
  • dāmōhu -- noun; locative plural neuter <dāman-> 'dwelling, creation, creatures (pl.)' -- of all creatures
  • səvištəm -- adjective; <sūra-> 'strong, powerful' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- most powerful
  • Miθrəm -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • yazāi -- verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- I shall worship
  • zaoθrābyō -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaoθra-> 'libations' -- with libations
  • təm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • pairi-jasāi -- verbal prefix; <pairi> 'around, among' + verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive middle <gam> 'go' -- I shall approach
  • vantaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vanta-> 'praise, homage' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- with honor
  • nəmaŋhaca -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <naman-> 'reverence' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and reverence
  • təm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • yazāi -- verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- I shall offer
  • surunvata -- future participle passive; accusative singular masculine <sru> 'hear, listen' -- worthy of being heard
  • yasna -- noun; accusative singular masculine <yasna-> 'sacrifice, offering, hymn' -- song of praise
  • Miθrəm -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- up to Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitīm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- who has vast fields
  • zaoθrābyō -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaoθra-> 'libations' -- with libations
  • Miθrəm -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- to Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitīm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- who has vast fields
  • yazamaide -- verb; 1st person plural present indicative middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- we sacrifice
  • haomayō -- noun; locative dual masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- between two haoma stalks
  • gava -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <gao-> 'cow' -- with a meat offering
  • barəsmana -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <barəsman-> grass bundle used in the Indo-Iranian sacrifice -- with sacrificial grass
  • hizvō -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <hizu-> 'tongue' -- with tongue
  • daŋhaŋha -- adjective; instrumental singular masculine <dan̨hah-> 'skillful' -- fervid
  • mąθraca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <mąθra-> 'formulaic verse, spell, poetic intention' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- with thought
  • vacaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and speech
  • šyaoθnaca -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <šyaoθana-> 'act, deed' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and deed
  • zaoθrābyasca -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaoθra-> 'libations' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and with libations
  • aršuxδaēibyasca -- adjective; <ərəš-> 'right, correct, true' + past participle passive; instrumental singular feminine <vak> 'say, speak, declare' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and rightly-spoken
  • vāγžibyō -- noun; instrumental plural feminine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- words

7 - Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm yazamaide
arš-vacaŋhəm vyāxanəm
hazaŋra-gaošəm hutāštəm
baēvarə-cašmanəm bərəzantəm
pərəθu-vaēδayanəm sūrəm
axvafnəm jaγaurvåŋhəm ...
  • Miθrəm -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Miθra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitīm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- who has vast fields
  • yazamaide -- verb; 1st person plural present indicative middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- we worship
  • arš-vacaŋhəm -- adjective; <ərəš-> 'right, correct, true' + noun; accusative singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- whose speech is true
  • vyāxanəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <vaȳxana-> 'assembly-speaking, rhetorically skilled' -- eloquent
  • hazaŋra-gaošəm -- adjective; <hazara-> 'thousand' + noun; accusative singular masculine <gaoša-> 'ear' -- with a thousand ears
  • hutāštəm -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <tas> 'carve, create, fashion, shape' -- well-fashioned
  • baēvarə-cašmanəm -- adjective; <baēvara-> 'ten-thousand' + noun; accusative singular masculine <cašman-> 'eye' -- with ten-thousand eyes
  • bərəzantəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <bərəzant-> 'high, elevated, lofty, big, great, clear' -- great
  • pərəθu-vaēδayanəm -- adjective; <pərəθu-> 'wide, broad' + noun; accusative singular masculine <vaēδayana-> 'attainment, discovery, acquisition' -- well-procured
  • sūrəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <sūra-> 'strong, powerful' -- strong
  • axvafnəm -- privative prefix; <a> 'no, none' + noun; accusative singular masculine <xvafna-> 'sleep, dream' -- sleepless
  • jaγaurvåŋhəm -- perfect participle; accusative singular masculine <gar> 'be awake' -- continuously awake

11 - yim yazənte raθaēštārō
barəšaēšu paiti aspanąm
zāvarə jaiδyantō hitaēibyō
drvatātəm tanubyō
pouru-spaxštīm ṯbišyantąm
paiti-jaitīm dušmainyunąm
haθrā-nivāitīm hamərəθanąm
aurvaθanąm ṯbišyantąm ...
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- whom
  • yazənte -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- worship
  • raθaēštārō -- noun; <raθa-> 'chariot' + agent root noun; <stā> 'stand, stay, remain' -- warrior
  • barəšaēšu -- noun; locative singular plural <barəša-> 'neck, back' -- on the backs
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...
  • aspanąm -- noun; genitive singular masculine <aspa-> 'horse' -- of horses
  • zāvarə -- noun; accusative singular neuter <zāvar-> 'strength, vitality, vigor' -- vigor
  • jaiδyantō -- present participle passive; nominative plural masculine <gad> 'ask, entreat, supplicate' -- asking
  • hitaēibyō -- noun; dative plural masculine <hita-> 'team of horses' -- teams
  • drvatātəm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <drvatāt-> 'health, vitality' -- vitality
  • tanubyō -- noun; dative plural neuter <tanu-> 'body' -- for bodies
  • pouru-spaxštīm -- adjective; <pouru-> 'wide' + noun; accusative singular feminine <spaxšti-> 'vision' -- far-sightedness
  • ṯbišyantąm -- present participle passive; genitive plural masculine <ṯbiš> 'hate, despise' -- with respect to those whom they hate
  • paiti-jaitīm -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' + active noun; accusative singular feminine <jaiti-> 'going' -- the overcoming
  • dušmainyunąm -- prefix; <duš-> 'bad, evil' + noun; genitive plural masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- of the malevalent
  • haθrā-nivāitīm -- adverb; <haθra> 'together, at the same place/time' + agent noun; accusative singular feminine <nivāiti-> 'striking down' -- the striking down with a single blow
  • hamərəθanąm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <hamərəθa> 'enemy' -- of enemies
  • aurvaθanąm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <aurvaθana-> 'adversary' -- adversaries
  • ṯbišyantąm -- present participle passive; genitive plural masculine <ṯbiš> 'hate, despise' -- those whom they hate

Lesson Text

1 - mraoṯ ahurō mazdå Spitamāi Zaraθuštrāi
āaṯ yaṯ Miθrəm yim vouru-gaoyaoitīm
frādaδąm azəm Spitama āaṯ dim daδąm
avåntəm yesnyata avåntəm vahmyata
yaθa mąmciṯ yim ahurəm mazdąm
2 - mərəncaite vīspąm daiŋ́haom
mairyō miθrō-druxš Spitama
yaθa satəm kayaδanąm
avavaṯ ašava-jaciṯ
miθrəm mā janyå Spitama
mā yim drvataṯ pərəsåŋhe
mā yim xvādaēnāṯ ašaonaṯ
vayå zī asti miθrō
drvataēca ašaonaēca
3 - āsu-aspīm daδāiti
Miθrō yō vouru-gaoyaoitiš
yōi miθrəm nōiṯ aiβi-družinti
razištəm pantąm daδāiti
ātarš mazdå ahurahe
yōi miθrəm nōiṯ aiβi-družinti
ašaonąm vaŋuhīš sūrå
spəntå fravašayō daδāiti
āsnąm frazaintīm
yōi miθrəm nōiṯ aiβi-družinti
4 - ahe raya xvarənaŋhaca
təm yazāi surunvata yasna
Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm zaoθrābyō ...
6 - təm amavantəm yazatəm
sūrəm dāmōhu səvištəm
Miθrəm yazāi zaoθrābyō
təm pairi-jasāi vantaca nəmaŋhaca
təm yazāi surunvata yasna
Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm zaoθrābyō
Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm yazamaide
haomayō gava barəsmana
hizvō daŋhaŋha mąθraca
vacaca šyaoθnaca zaoθrābyasca
aršuxδaēibyasca vāγžibyō ...
7 - Miθrəm vouru-gaoyaoitīm yazamaide
arš-vacaŋhəm vyāxanəm
hazaŋra-gaošəm hutāštəm
baēvarə-cašmanəm bərəzantəm
pərəθu-vaēδayanəm sūrəm
axvafnəm jaγaurvåŋhəm ...
11 - yim yazənte raθaēštārō
barəšaēšu paiti aspanąm
zāvarə jaiδyantō hitaēibyō
drvatātəm tanubyō
pouru-spaxštīm ṯbišyantąm
paiti-jaitīm dušmainyunąm
haθrā-nivāitīm hamərəθanąm
aurvaθanąm ṯbišyantąm ...

Translation

1 Ahura Mazda said unto Zarathustra Spitama: And when I created Mithra, who has vast fields, I created him [to be] as worthy of sacrifice, as worthy of praise, as I, Ahura Mazda [am] my very self. 2 A [single] rogue, unfaithful to a contract, brings ruin upon the entire country, O Spitama -- as much [ruin] as some one hundred evil-doers, slayers of Truthful men. Do not break a covenant, O Spitama, which you would negotiate with a follower of the Lie, nor with a follower of the Truth who has found the good religion, for a convenant is valid for both the follower of the Lie and the follower of the Truth alike. 3 Mithra, who has vast fields, gives swift horses to [those] who do not break a covenant. Fire, [the servant?] of Ahura Mazda, gives the straightest path to [those] who do not break a covenant. The good, strong, [and] beneficent Fravashis of the followers of Truth give virtuous progeny to [those] who do not break a covenant. 4 Indeed, because of his radiance and glory, I shall offer to this Mithra, who has vast fields, a song of praise worthy of being heard, together with libations ... 6 I shall worship with libations this Mithra [who is] strong, worthy of sacrifice, mighty, [and] the most powerful of all creatures. I shall approach him with honor and reverence. I shall offer to this Mithra, who has vast fields, a song of praise worthy of being heard, together with libations. We sacrifice to Mithra, who has vast fields, with a meat offering [placed] between two haoma stalks, with sacrificial grass, with thought and word and deed, and with libations and rightly-spoken words ... 7 We worship Mithra, who has vast fields, whose speech is true, [who is] eloquent, with a thousand ears, [who is] well fashioned, with ten thousand eyes, [who is] great, well-procured, sleepless, [and] continuously awake ... 11 whom warriors worship on the backs of [their] horses, asking [for] vigor for [their] teams, vitality for [their] bodies, far-sightedness with respect to those whom they hate, the overcoming of the malevolent, [and] the striking down with a single blow of [their] enemies, adversaries, and those whom they hate.

Grammar

21 r- and r/n-stem Nouns
21.1 tar-stems

Avestan nouns ending in the suffix tar function either as agent nouns designating the performers of actions -- e.g., θvastar- 'fashioner' -- or as relational nouns describing familial ties -- e.g., ptar- (pitar-) 'father'. The two types are differentiated by the grade of their strong stem formations in the nominative and accusative: agent nouns show extended grade; relation nouns, full grade. All other cases form weak grade stems. Masculine and feminine decline similarly.

Masculine   dātar- 'creator'   ptar- (pitar-) 'father'
Nom. sg.   dātā   ptā
Acc. sg.   dātārəm   ptarəm
Instr. sg.   *dātrā   *ptrā
Dat. sg.   *dāθrāi   piθrai/fəδrai
Gen. sg.   *dāθr̥š   *piθr̥š
         
Nom. pl.   dātārah   unattested
Acc. pl.   *dātr̥nš   ptr̥nš
Gen. pl.   *dātrąm   ptrąm
Voc. pl.   unattested   *pitarah
21.2 r/n-stems

Masculine nouns in ar -- e.g., nar 'man' -- decline much like relational nouns in tar, except for the stem ātar 'fire', root āt + suffix ar, with nominative singular masculine ātarš in Young Avestan and accusative singular ātr̥m alongside the more regular ātarəm. It is supposed that this form was originally a neuter. Feminines do not appear.

Masculine   nar- 'creator'
Nom. sg.   nā
Acc. sg.   narəm
Dat. sg.   *niθrai
Gen. sg.   nr̥š
     
Nom. pl.   narah, unattested
Acc. pl.   nr̥nš
Gen. pl.   *nrąm

Neuter stems in ar have r/n alternation in the formation of the genitive case, except for the singular audr̥š > audar 'cold', followed by enclitic ca 'and'.

Neuter   rāzar- 'declaration'
Nom. sg.   rāzar
Gen. sg.   rāzanh
     
Nom. pl.   *rāzār
Gen. pl.   rāšnąm
22 Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns based on personal pronouns appear in Old Avestan with adjectivival function. They are formed in the singular by adding the suffix a to the m-, tu-, and hu-stems of the first, second, and third person pronouns, respectively, with second person tu- > θu. Plural attestations are found only in the first and second person and are built by adding āka to the stems az- and yu-. Third person and neuter forms of all genders appear rarely and in only a small number of cases. They are therefore not included here.

Masculine   First Person   Second Person
Nom. sg.   mah   θvah
Instr. sg.   mā   θvā
Dat. sg.   mahmāi   θvahmāi
Abl. sg.   unattested   θvahmāṯ
Gen. sg.   mahya   θvahya
Loc. sg.   mahmi   θvahmi
         
Acc. pl.   ahmākanh   yušmakam
Instr. pl.   ahmākaiš   šmakā
Dat. pl.   unattested   yušmakāi
Gen. pl.   unattested   yušmakahya
         
Feminine        
Nom. sg.   unattested   θvai
Gen. sg.   mahyāh   θvahyāh
Loc. sg.   unattested   θvāhu
         
Acc. pl.   unattested   šmākām
23 The Imperfect

Avestan includes the use of a simple preterite, or past tense called the imperfect. It is part of the present system, because it is made by adding characteristic endings to the present stem. It conveys past action and may be translated with either a simple or continuous sense, e.g., baraṯ from bar 'bear, support, carry', as 'he carried' or 'he was carrying'.

Imperfect   Active   Middle
1 sg.   barəm   baire
2 sg.   *barō   *baran̨ha
3 sg.   baraṯ   barata
         
1 du.   *barāva   unattested
3 du.   baratəm   *baraētəm, barōiδe
         
1 pl.   barāma, barama   unattested
2 pl.   *barata   *baradvəm
3 pl.   barən   *barən̨ta
24 Passive Constructions

Passive stems include finite verbal formations in both the present and aorist systems. The present passive stem is formed by adding the suffix -ya to the root in its full grade, to which a middle ending is added; e.g., baryate < bar 'it was borne'. The aorist passive occurs only in the third person singular. It is formed by adding the ending - to the full grade of root; e.g., mraoī < mru 'it was told'.

A past participle passive is also found in Avestan. It is formed by adding either the suffix -ta or, more rarely, -na to the root, which usually appears in its weak grade; e.g., gušta- < guš 'hear', uxta- < vak 'speak'. A small number of roots add i before the suffix, e.g. zairita- < zar 'be/make angry.

As noted in Section 14, a participle is a verbal adjective and thus has adjectival inflection. Since the past participle passive ends in a, it declines accordingly (cf. Section 3).

25 Zarathustrianism and Zoroastrianism, Gathic Avestan and Younger Avestan

As noted in the Introduction, there is a considerable difference in doctrine between the Gathas, which are exemplified in lessons 1-4, and the Yasts or hymns, such as to Mithra herein and to Haoma in lesson 6. The Gathas present the doctrines preached by Zarathustra, whose dates are disputed, though roughly from 630-553 B.C. But the texts themselves, composed in an archaic dialect of Avestan, may be much older. The Yasts and other texts are dated from the second half of the fifth century B.C. To distinguish the differences in doctrine between the two sets of texts, the terms Zarathustrianism and Zoroastrianism have been introduced. Zarathustrianism is considered to represent the teaching of the prophet; it is monotheistic, featuring dualism between Truth and Falsehood, and between the Incremental Spirit and the Fiendish Spirit. The one god, Ahura Mazda, has created seven spiritual aspects of himself -- Amesha Spentas, who are representatives of man, cattle, fire, metal, earth, water, and plants.

The later religion is mixed, reflecting the expansion of the Achaemenian Empire under Darius I, who was king of Persia from 521-486 B.C. He apparently came to know the religion when its territory was conquered by the Persians and, recognizing Ahura Mazda as their chief god, took him over. But the Persians did not mention Zarathustra, and their priests were open to allowing worshippers to pay their reverence to Mithra, Anahita and the chief gods of other cults as well as to Ahura Mazda. This mixed religion spread widely; to distinguish it from the older religion, it was given the name Zorastrianism based on the Greek version of the name.

The language of the two periods also varies in details. The Later or Younger Avestan exhibits grammatical changes such as the use of the relative particle ya- also as an article. On the whole these changes are minor, with the basic grammars being the same.

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 6: Young Avestan

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

Reading and Textual Analysis

This hymn glorifies Haoma -- on the one hand a yellow, milky liquid, on the other a priest serving Mithra. Highly prominent in the Rigveda as Soma, he is described in stanzas 88 to 90 of the Hymn to Mithra as a "healer, beautiful, majestic and golden-eyed, worshipped on the highest peak of Hara the high, ...whom Ahura Mazda installed as promptly-sacrificing, loud-chanting priest. He was the first mortar-priest to elevate the star-decked, supernaturally fashioned Haoma-stalks on the high Hara" (Gershevich 1967: 115-117). This hymn praises the liquid, its source in the mountains, and its effects. The Rigvedic hymn to Soma, 8:48, is laudatory, as in the first stanza followed by fourteen more: "I have partaken wisely of the sweet food that stirs good thoughts, best banisher or care, to which all gods and mortals, calling it honey, come together" (Macdonell 1917:155). Presumably created as stated here by a god, it may have been a center of worship already in Indo-Iranian, possibly even in Indo-European, times. Many attempts have been made to identify its source. According to some it was the juice of the rhubarb whose leaves turn yellow; to others, it was some kind of honey mead. But neither identification seems to accord with the description in this hymn, where it is a liquid that is derived from a plant pressed between two stones, and neither suggestion is likely for an intoxicating liquid with healing properties. With no historical record of its role in either Indian or Iranian worship, we can do little but interpret the words of the hymns.

2 - fratarəmcit tē havanəm vaca upa-staomi huxratvō yō ąsuš han̨eurvayeiti uparəmcit tē havanəm vaca upa-staomi huxratvō yahmi niγne narš aojan̨ha
  • fratarəmcit -- adverb; <fratarəm> 'opposite' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- lower
  • tē -- enclitic pronoun; genitive singular <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- your
  • havanəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <havana-> 'pressing stone' -- pressing stone
  • vaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- with speech
  • upa-staomi -- verbal prefix; <upa> 'near, up on/to, etc.' + verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- I praise
  • huxratvō -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + noun; vocative singular masculine <xratu-> 'will, intention, vision' -- O you who are filled with inspiration
  • yō -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • ąsuš -- noun; accusative plural masculine <ahu-> 'existence, life, breath' -- forces of life
  • han̨eurvayeiti -- verbal prefix; <ham> 'together' + 3rd person singular present indicative active causative; <ru> 'flow' -- presses together
  • uparəmcit -- adverb; <uparəm> 'above' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- upper
  • tē -- enclitic pronoun; genitive singular <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- your
  • havanəm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <havana-> 'pressing stone' -- pressing stone
  • vaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- with speech
  • upa-staomi -- verbal prefix; <upa> 'near, up on/to, etc.' + verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- I praise
  • huxratvō -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + noun; vocative singular masculine <xratu-> 'will, intention, vision' -- O you who are filled with inspiration
  • yahmi -- relative pronoun; locative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- with which
  • niγne -- verbal prefix; <ni> 'down' + verb; 1st person singular present indicative middle <gan> 'smite, strike' -- pound
  • narš -- noun; nominative singular masculine <nar-> 'man' -- a man
  • aojan̨ha -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <aogah-> 'power, strength' -- forcefully

3 - staomi maēγəmca vārəmca yā-tē kəhrpəm vaxšayatō baršnuš paiti gairinąm staomi garayō bərəzantō yaθra haoma urūruδuša
  • staomi -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- I praise
  • maēγəmca -- noun; accusative singular masculine <maēγa-> 'cloud' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- both the cloud
  • vārəmca -- noun; accusative singular masculine <vāra-> 'rain' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and the rain
  • yā-tē -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' + enclitic pronoun; genitive singular <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- by which you acquire
  • kəhrpəm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <kəhrp-> 'form, body, outward appearance' -- bodily form
  • vaxšayatō -- present participle active; accusative plural masculine <vaxšaya-> 'cause to grow' -- causing growth
  • baršnuš -- noun; accusative plural masculine <baršnu-> 'high point, peak' -- the peaks
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- around
  • gairinąm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <gairi-> 'mountain' -- of mountains
  • staomi -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- I praise
  • garayō -- noun; accusative plural masculine <gairi-> 'mountain' -- the mountains
  • bərəzantō -- present participle active; accusative plural masculine <bərəz-> 'be high, elevated' -- high
  • yaθra -- adverb; <yaθra> 'where, in order to' -- where
  • haoma -- noun; vocative singular masculine ' <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- O Haoma
  • urūruδuša -- perfect active participle; instrumental singular masculine <raod> 'grow, sprout' -- with growth

4 - staomi ząm pərəθvīm paθanąm vərəzyan̨xvąm xvāparąm barəθrīm tē haoma ašāum staomi zemō yaθra raoδahe hubaoiδiš aurvō carānəm uta mazdå huruθma haoma raose gara paiti ...
  • staomi -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- I praise
  • ząm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <zam-> 'earth, ground' -- the earth
  • pərəθvīm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <pərəθu-> 'wide, broad' -- broad
  • paθanąm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <paθana-> 'spacious' -- vast
  • vərəzyan̨xvąm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <vərəzyah-> 'working, productive' -- fertile
  • xvāparąm -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + adverb; <param> 'far, away, opposite, across' -- far and wide
  • barəθrīm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <barəθri-> 'mother, womb' -- womb
  • tē -- enclitic pronoun; genitive singular <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- your
  • haoma -- noun; vocative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- O Haoma
  • ašāum -- noun; accusative singular feminine <ašavan-> '(in accordance with) Truth' -- noble
  • staomi -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- I praise
  • zemō -- noun; genitive singular feminine <zam-> 'earth, ground' -- of the earth
  • yaθra -- adverb; <yaθra> 'where, in order to' -- where
  • raoδahe -- verb; 2nd person singular present indicative middle <raod> 'grow, sprout' -- you grow
  • hubaoiδiš -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + noun; nominative singular masculine <baoiδi-> 'smell' -- fragrant
  • aurvō -- noun; vocative singular masculine <aurvant-> 'swift, runner, steed' -- O swift
  • carānəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <carana-> 'moving, feet, support' -- mountain
  • uta -- conjunction; <uta> 'and' -- and
  • mazdå -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wisdom
  • huruθma -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + noun; nominative singular masculine <ruθma-> 'growth, increase' -- increase
  • haoma -- noun; vocative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- O Haoma
  • raose -- verb; 2nd person singular aorist subjunctive middle <raod> 'grow, sprout' -- may you grow
  • gara -- noun; locative singular masculine <gairi-> 'mountain' -- upon that mountain
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...

5 - vareδayan̨uha mana vaca vīspēsca paiti varšajīš vīspēsca paiti frasparəγē vīspēsca paiti fravāxšē
  • vareδayan̨uha -- verb; 2nd person singular present imperative middle <vərəz> 'do, make, perform' -- may you grow
  • mana -- personal pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <azəm-> 'I' -- my
  • vaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- through words
  • vīspēsca -- adjective; locative singular masculine <vīspa-> 'all, every' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and every
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...
  • varšajīš -- noun; locative singular masculine <varšak-> 'root, tree' -- in root
  • vīspēsca -- adjective; locative singular masculine <vīspa-> 'all, every' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and every
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...
  • frasparəγē -- noun; locative singular masculine <frasparak-> 'sprout' -- in sprout
  • vīspēsca -- adjective; locative singular masculine <vīspa-> 'all, every' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and every
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...
  • fravāxšē -- noun; locative singular masculine <fravāxš-> 'stalk, branch, penis' -- branch

6 - haomō uxšyeiti stavanō aθā nā yō dim staoiti vərəθrająstarō bavaiti nitəmacit haoma hūitiš nitəmacit haoma stūitiš nitəmacit haoma xvareitiš hazan̨raγnyāi asti daēvanąm
  • haomō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- Haoma
  • uxšyeiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative passive <vaxš> 'grow' -- grows
  • stavanō -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <stavana-> 'praising, being praised' -- when praised
  • aθā -- adverb; <aθā> 'so, thus, likewise' -- so
  • nā -- enclitic personal pronoun; instrumental singular masculine <azəm-> 'I' -- we
  • yō -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • dim -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • staoiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- would praise
  • vərəθrająstarō -- noun; <vərəθra-> 'attack, victory' + root noun; <gan-> 'slayer' + comparative suffix; nominative singular masculine <-tara-> 'more, better' -- more victorious fighters
  • bavaiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <bu> 'be, become' -- become
  • nitəmacit -- adjective; <nitəma-> 'lowest' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- even the lightest
  • haoma -- noun; vocative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- O Haoma
  • hūitiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <hūiti-> 'pressure' -- touch
  • nitəmacit -- adjective; <nitəma-> 'lowest' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- even the faintest
  • haoma -- noun; vocative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- O Haoma
  • stūitiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <stūiti-> 'song of praise, prayer' -- praise
  • nitəmacit -- adjective; <nitəma-> 'lowest' + indefinite marker; <ciṯ> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- even the smallest
  • haoma -- noun; vocative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- O Haoma
  • xvareitiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <xvareiti-> 'nourishment' -- sip
  • hazan̨raγnyāi -- adjective; <hazara-> 'thousand' + noun; <ganya-> 'slaying, killing, destroying' -- for the sake of death by the thousands
  • asti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <ah-> 'be, become' -- is
  • daēvanąm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <daēva-> 'divine being' -- of daevas

7 - nasyeiti haθra frākərəsta ahmaṯ hacā nmānāṯ āhitiš yaθra bāδa upāzaiti yaθra bāδa upāstaoiti haomahe baēšazyehe ciθrəm baēšazəm
  • nasyeiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <nas> 'be lost, disappear' -- disappears
  • haθra -- adverb; <haθra> 'together, at the same place/time' -- straight away
  • frākərəsta -- verbal prefix; <fra> 'forward, toward' + past participle passive; instrumental singular masculine <kar> 'do, make' -- by means of the prepared
  • ahmaṯ -- adverb; <ahmaṯ> 'henceforth' -- forever
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- from
  • nmānāṯ -- noun; ablative singular neuter <nmāna-> 'abode, house' -- the house
  • āhitiš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <āhiti-> 'defilement, pollution -- corruption
  • yaθra -- conjunction; <yaθra> 'where, in order to' -- wherein
  • bāδa -- adverb; <bāδa> 'true, reliable' -- always
  • upāzaiti -- verbal prefix; <upa> 'near, up on/to, etc.' + verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <zan> 'bear, give birth' -- one would bear up
  • yaθra -- conjunction; <yaθra> 'where, in order to' -- wherein
  • bāδa -- adverb; <bāδa> 'true, reliable' -- always
  • upāstaoiti -- verbal prefix; <upa> 'near, up on/to, etc.' + verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <stu> 'praise, laud, extol, celebrate' -- one would extol
  • haomahe -- noun; genitive singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- of Haoma
  • baēšazyehe -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <baēšazya-> 'generative, curative' -- restorative
  • ciθrəm -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <ciθrəm> 'manifest, clear, visible, plain' -- manifest
  • baēšazəm -- noun; accusative singular neuter <baēšaza-> 'remedy, poison' -- healing property

8 - vīspe zī anyē maiδyån̨hō aēšma hacinte xrvīm-drvō āaṯ hō yō haomahe maδō aša hacaite ...
  • vīspe -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <vīspa-> 'all, every' -- all
  • zī -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- for
  • anyē -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <anya-> 'other' -- other
  • maiδyån̨hō -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <maiδyah-> 'madness-inducing' -- intoxicants
  • aēšma -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <aēšma-> 'anger, fury, wrath' -- madness
  • hacinte -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative middle <hak> 'instigate, strive for' -- with instrumental 'go after, follow, partake of' -- brings on
  • xrvīm-drvō -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <xrvi-> 'bloody' + noun; genitive singular masculine <drav-> 'wood' -- of the bloody club # The compound is formulaic; the accusative singular declension of the first member is clearly a grammatical error.
  • āaṯ -- adverb; <āaṯ> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- but
  • hō -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- that
  • yō -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • haomahe -- noun; genitive singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- belongs to Haoma
  • maδō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <maδa-> 'intoxication' -- intoxication
  • aša -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <aša-> 'truth' -- Truth
  • hacaite -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative middle <hak> 'instigate, strive for' -- with instrumental 'go after, follow, partake of' -- bring about

10 - aurvantəm θwā dāmiδātəm baγō tatašaṯ xvāpå aurvantəm θwā dāmiδātəm baγō nidaθaṯ xvāpå haraiθyō paiti barəzayå
  • aurvantəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <aurvant-> 'swift, runner, steed' -- swift steed
  • θwā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- you
  • dāmiδātəm -- noun; <dāmi-> 'creation' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <dā-> 'give, put' -- given to creation
  • baγō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <baγa-> 'god, deity' -- the god
  • tatašaṯ -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <tas> 'carve, create, fashion, shape' -- created
  • xvāpå -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <xvapah-> 'dream-like' -- inspired
  • aurvantəm -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <aurvant-> 'swift, runner, steed' -- swift steed
  • θwā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- you
  • dāmiδātəm -- noun; <dāmi-> 'creation' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <dā-> 'give, put' -- given to creation
  • baγō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <baγa-> 'god, deity' -- the god
  • nidaθaṯ -- verbal prefix; <ni> 'down' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dā-> 'give, put' -- set down
  • xvāpå -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <xvapah-> 'dream-like' -- inspired
  • haraiθyō -- noun; genitive singular feminine <haraitī-> name of a mountain -- on Haraiti
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...
  • barəzayå -- adjective; genitive singular feminine <barəz> 'high, exalted, loud' -- high

11 - āaṯ θwā aθra spenta fradaxšta mərəγa vīzxvanca vībarən ...
  • āaṯ -- adverb; <āaṯ> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- then
  • θwā -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- you
  • aθra -- indeclinable; <aθra> 'here, there' -- there
  • spenta -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <spənta-> 'beneficent, holy, sacred' -- beneficent
  • fradaxšta -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <fradaxštā-> 'guiding, instructive' -- tutelary
  • mərəγa -- noun; nominative plural masculine <mərəγa-> 'forest animal, bird' -- birds
  • vīzxvanca -- adverb; <vīzxvanca> 'in every direction' (?) -- in every direction
  • vībarən -- verbal prefix; <vi> 'wide, apart' + verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative <bar> 'bear, carry' -- carried off

12 - āaṯ āxva paurvatāxva pouru-sareδō vīraoδahe haomō gaoma zairi-gaonō ā-tē baēšaza irīraθarə vaŋhēuš manaŋhō ...
  • āaṯ -- adverb; <āaṯ> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- and
  • āxva -- indeclinable; <aθra> 'here, there' -- there
  • paurvatāxva -- noun; accusative plural neuter (?) <paurvat-> 'mountain' + demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural neuter (?) <hva-> 'this' -- on those mountains
  • pouru-sareδō -- adjective; <pouru-> 'many' + noun; nominative singular masculine <sareδa-> 'kind, sort, species' -- have many varieties
  • vīraoδahe -- verbal prefix; <vi> 'wide, apart' + verb; 2nd person singular present indicative middle <raod> 'grow, sprout' -- you spread out
  • haomō -- noun; nominative singular masculine <haoma-> plant whose juice was used as a ritual intoxicant -- Haoma
  • gaoma -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <gaoman-> 'possessed of milk' -- milky
  • zairi-gaonō -- adjective; <zairi-> 'yellow' + noun; nominative singular masculine <gaona-> 'hair' -- yellow-haired
  • ā-tē -- preposition; <ā> '(up) to, toward, etc.' + enclitic pronoun; <tvə̄m-> 'you' -- your
  • baēšaza -- noun; accusative plural neuter <baēšaza-> 'remedy, poison' -- invigorating juices
  • irīraθarə -- verb; 3rd person plural perfect indicative active <raēθa-> 'rush upon, mix with' -- overflow
  • vaŋhēuš -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • manaŋhō -- noun; genitive singular masculine <manah-> 'mind' -- (for those) of mind

Lesson Text

2 - fratarəmcit tē havanəm vaca upa-staomi huxratvō yō ąsuš han̨eurvayeiti uparəmcit tē havanəm vaca upa-staomi huxratvō yahmi niγne narš aojan̨ha 3 - staomi maēγəmca vārəmca yā-tē kəhrpəm vaxšayatō baršnuš paiti gairinąm staomi garayō bərəzantō yaθra haoma urūruδuša 4 - staomi ząm pərəθvīm paθanąm vərəzyan̨xvąm xvāparąm barəθrīm tē haoma ašāum staomi zemō yaθra raoδahe hubaoiδiš aurvō carānəm uta mazdå huruθma haoma raose gara paiti ... 5 - vareδayan̨uha mana vaca vīspēsca paiti varšajīš vīspēsca paiti frasparəγē vīspēsca paiti fravāxšē 6 - haomō uxšyeiti stavanō aθā nā yō dim staoiti vərəθrająstarō bavaiti nitəmacit haoma hūitiš nitəmacit haoma stūitiš nitəmacit haoma xvareitiš hazan̨raγnyāi asti daēvanąm 7 - nasyeiti haθra frākərəsta ahmaṯ hacā nmānāṯ āhitiš yaθra bāδa upāzaiti yaθra bāδa upāstaoiti haomahe baēšazyehe ciθrəm baēšazəm 8 - vīspe zī anyē maiδyån̨hō aēšma hacinte xrvīm-drvō āaṯ hō yō haomahe maδō aša hacaite ... 10 - aurvantəm θwā dāmiδātəm baγō tatašaṯ xvāpå aurvantəm θwā dāmiδātəm baγō nidaθaṯ xvāpå haraiθyō paiti barəzayå 11 - āaṯ θwā aθra spenta fradaxšta mərəγa vīzxvanca vībarən ... 12 - āaṯ āxva paurvatāxva pouru-sareδō vīraoδahe haomō gaoma zairi-gaonō ā-tē baēšaza irīraθarə vaŋhēuš manaŋhō ...

Translation

2 I praise with speech, O you who are filled with inspiration, your lower pressing stone, which presses together the forces of life. I praise with speech, O you who are filled with inspiration, your upper pressing stone, with which I, a man, pound forcefully.
3 I praise both the cloud and the rain by which you acquire bodily form, causing [your] growth around the peaks of mountains. I praise the high mountains where, O Haoma, [you are infused] with growth.
4 Far and wide I praise the earth -- broad, vast, fertile -- [that is] your noble womb, O Haoma. I praise the earth's mountain where, O swift [intoxicant?], you grow fragrant. And [thus] may you grow upon that mountain, O Haoma, [bringing] the increase of wisdom...
5 Through my words may you grow in every root, every sprout, and every branch.
6 When praised, Haoma grows, so we who would praise Him become more victorious fighters. Even the lightest touch, O Haoma, even the faintest praise, O Haoma, even the smallest sip, O Haoma, is [carried out] for the sake of deaths by the thousands of daevas.
7 By means of the prepared [stalk], corruption disappears forever from the house wherein one would always bear up, wherein one would always extol, the manifest healing property of restorative Haoma.
8 For all other intoxicants bring on the madness of a bloody club, but that intoxication which belongs to Haoma brings about the Truth...
10 Inspired, the god created you, a swift steed given to creation. Inspired, the god set you down on high Haraiti, a swift steed given to creation.
11 Then the tutelary birds there carried you off in every direction...
12 And there on those mountains you, the milky, yellow-haired Haoma, are spread out. Your invigorating juices overflow for those of good mind.

Grammar

26 Root Nouns and Sibilant-Stems

Avestan exhibits a class of root nouns to whose endings an inflection is added directly. Root nouns appear in all three genders, with masculine and neuter declensions that vary only slightly. The feminine stem adds the final vowel and declines accordingly.

Neuter nouns in h are also found, deriving from Proto-Indo-Iranian s-stems, which some phonological contexts preserve (e.g., manah nominative singular 'mind', but manas ca 'and mind'). Such nouns are commonly, though not necessarily, root nouns, and thus decline similarly, but nasalizing the stem's final syllable in strong cases. Adjectival forms appear, as do perfect active participles in vah and comparatives in yah. These decline in all three genders according to the root noun paradigm, excepting the nominative singular which lengthens the vowel in the final syllable (e.g., sumanāh 'having a good mind').

26.1 Root Nouns, Masculine and Feminine
Singular:   druj- 'deceit'
Nom.   druxš
Acc.   drujəm
Instr.   *drujā
Dat.   *drujāi
Gen.   drujah, drujō
Loc.   *druji
Plural:    
Nom.   *drujah, *drujō
Acc.   *drujah, *drujō
Instr.   *drugbiš
Dat/Abl.   *drugbyah
Gen.   *drująm
Loc.   *druju
26.2 h-Stem Nouns, Neuter
Singular:   manah- 'mind'
Nom.   manah, manå
Acc.   manan̨həm
Instr.   manan̨hā
Dat.   manan̨hai
Abl.   manan̨haṯ
Gen.   manan̨hah, manan̨hō
Loc.   manahi
Dual:    
Nom/Acc/Voc.   manan̨ha, manan̨hā
Gen.   manan̨hå
Plural:    
Nom/Voc.   manan̨hah, manan̨hō
Acc.   manan̨hah, manan̨hō
Instr.   manahə̄biš
Dat/Abl.   manahə̄bbyah, manahə̄byō
Gen.   manahąm
Loc.   manahu, manahva
27 The Future Passive Particple and the Infinitive

27.1 Avestan builds a future passive participle, or gerundive, by adding the suffix -tva or -ya directly to the root and declining accordingly. The form may be translated as 'to be done' (e.g., varya- 'the thing to be chosen' or 'the right choice'), or more fluidly (e.g., aujya- 'praiseworthy').

27.2 An infinitive is a verbal noun expressing tenseless action as an abstract concept. For example, in the English sentence "I want to read Avestan texts," the infinitive 'to read' -- a generalized action that takes place at no particular time -- is the object of the verb. Avestan forms its infinitive by adding one of a number of consonantal or syllabic endings to a present or aorist stem, and occasionally to a desiderative (see Section 28); this new stem is then declined as a dative singular masculine. Since the dative form is consistent, it may be easier to think of infinitive endings as a set of suffixes added to a verbal stem: -dyai, -ai, -tai, -hai, -sai, manai, and vai.

Some examples:

dar   'hold, support'   drdyai   present stem
pā   'protect'   pai   present stem
gam   'go'   gatai   present stem
vac   'speak, say'   vaucahai   thematic aorist stem
dəbąz   'support'   dibzadyai   desiderative stem

A rare nominative singular infinitive form in -h is also found; e.g., ava 'help', avah 'to help'.

28 The Future Tense and Derivative Conjugations
28.1 Future Tense as Action

The future tense conveys action that will occur some time after the speaker verbalizes it. As with the present tense, it may be translated using either a general sense, as in "Very soon Zarathustra will sing," or with a continuous sense, "At noon, Zarathustra will be singing."

Though rare in Old Avestan, which typically uses a subjunctive form to express future time, the future tense becomes somewhat more frequent in the younger language. Stems of the future system are built very simply by adding either -hya- or -sya- to a verbal root, which is usually found in its middle grade. The stems take primary endings.

Future Paradigms: vac- 'speak, say'

    Active   Middle
1 sg.   vaxš̨āmi, vaxš̨ā (Gathic only)   unattested
3 sg.   unattested   vaxš̨ete
         
3 pl.   unattested   vaxš̨ən̨te
28.2 Future Active and Middle Participles

Future active and middle participles are formed by adding -ant- and -amna- or -ana-, respectively, to the future stem. The form is relatively rare, though found based on several roots. E.g., saušyant- '(the one who) will be saving', or 'savior', from sū 'save'.

28.3 Causatives, Desideratives, and Intensives

Several verbal forms that can appear in any tense are derived by augmenting a stem to form a distinctive base. Causatives, desideratives, and intensives are seen.

The causative is formed by adding the suffix -aya- to the stem in its strongest grade: tap 'be hot', present stem tāpaya- 'cause to be hot', 'heat'; var 'believe', aorist stem vauraya- 'cause to believe', 'convince'.

The desiderative is formed by reduplicating the root and adding the suffix -sa: ji 'conquer', jijiša- 'desires to conquer'. With a few exceptions, the form is confined to the present stem, appearing in various roots in the indicative, imperative, and subjunctive moods, as well as the participle.

The intensive is formed differently for thematic and athematic roots. Both are reduplicated. Thematic roots and their reduplication take their strongest grade; athematic roots appear in the weak grade, with the reduplicated syllable in the middle: thematic dis 'show', daidais- and athematic kar 'do, make', karkər. As the name suggests, the form is translated to convey an intensified or urgent sense.

29 Avestan Texts, Grammars, and Dictionaries

A compact survey of handbooks on the texts and other works on the Iranian languages is "The Iranian Languages," by Nicholas Sims-Williams, in The Indo-European Languages, ed. by Anna Giacalone Ramat and Paolo Ramat (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), pp. 125-153. It includes numerous references. Compendium Linguarum Iranicarum, ed. by Rüdiger Schmitt (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1989) provides a fuller survey of the field, including essays by Manfred Mayrhofer on the pre-history of the Iranian languages (pp. 4-24, in German), by Jean Kellens on Avestan (pp. 32-55, in French), and by Schmitt on Old Persian (pp. 56-85, in German), among many others. And the Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, vols. I and II, ed. by Wilhelm Geiger and Ernst Kuhn (Strassburg: Trübner, 1895-1904) is still worth consulting.

Among works on the texts, The Gathas of Zarathustra by Stanley Insler (Leiden: Brill, 1975) provides translations as well as commentary. The Gathas of Zarathushtra and Other Old Avestan Texts, by Helmut Humbach (2 vols., Heidelberg: Winter), is more inclusive. See also The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, by Ilya Gershevitch (Cambridge University Press, 1967); and Avesta: The Sacred Books of the Parsis by Karl F. Geldner (3 vols., Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1886-1896), with the text in the original script, is still considered the standard edition. The standard grammar, if limited to phonology and morphology, is An Avestan grammar in comparison with Old Indian. Part I, Phonology, Inflection, Word-formation, with an introduction to the Avesta by A. V. Williams Jackson (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1892). Jackson also published A Short Grammar of Old Persian (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1936). More recent works are A Grammar of Gatha-Avestan, by Robert S. P. Beekes (Leiden: Brill, 1988) and Avestische Laut- und Flexionslehre, by Karl Hoffmann and Bernhard Forssman (Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck, 1996).

The standard dictionary is Altiranisches Wörterbuch, by Christian Bartholomae (Strassburg: Trübner, 1904).

30 The Avestan Legacy

The Old Persian materials, which will be taken up in the next lesson, are of primary interest for their historical and linguistic information. By contrast, the Avestan texts, which provide the works of Zoroaster, have given rise to a massive set of publications; they are also the basis of the present-day Parsee religion. A work devoted to the figure himself is A. V. Williams Jackson's Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran (New York, 1899). A broader work is The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, by R. C. Zachner (1961).

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 7: Old Persian

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

Behistan -- Modern Bistin, Old Persian Bagastana, or 'place of the gods' -- lies in a gorge about sixty-five miles to the west of Hamadan, Iran, along the ancient caravan route between Baghdad and Tehran. A trilingual inscription (Elamite, Akkadian, and Old Persian), narrating the defeat of ten rebel kings, is carved near the ancient settlement on the face of the northern cliff, about 225 feet above the ground. Accompanying sculptural reliefs depict the same events with the Emperor Darius I (ca. 521 - 486 BC), flanked by two attendants, standing before a line of nine captives. His right foot is planted firmly on the prostrate figure of Gaumata, the tenth rebel king, while the god Ahura Mazda looks on from above. The Old Persian inscription consists of five columns surrounded by minor reliefs depicting the persons and events described in each column.

Reading and Textual Analysis

In column four, Darius wraps up his narration of events and turns to address future emperors of the Persian realm. Though the modern reader may be struck by his excessive bravado ("Among those [who] were earlier kings, not as much was done thus by them as was done by me..."), it is likely that he was primarily concerned with establishing and/or legitimating Persian claims on subjected lands. Several times in as many lines he makes the point that his deeds were done "by the will of Ahura Mazda" and that future kings must do as he has done if they are to retain sovereignty. He also insists on the truth of his words, that he did indeed do all that he claimed, with a rhetoric that places his deeds on a par with the "cosmic truths" of Zoroastrian religion. Like the latter, the conquests of Darius are to be both imitated and declared to all, and if any successor does not do so, Darius warns, he will be likened to a follower of the Lie and abandoned by Ahura Mazda.

36 - ... θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King

37 - tuvam kā xšāyaθiya hya aparam āhy hacā draugā daršam
  • tuvam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • kā -- particle; <kā> (denotes generalization) -- ...
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- king
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • aparam -- adverb; <aparam> 'after' -- hereafter
  • āhy -- verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- will be
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- ...
  • draugā -- noun; ablative singular masculine <drauga-> 'deceit, the Lie' -- from the Lie
  • daršam -- adverb; <daršam> 'greatly, mightily, steadfastly' -- steadfastly

38 - patipayauvā martiya hya draujana ahatiy avam ufraštam parsā yadiy
  • patipayauvā -- prefix; <patiy> 'against, during, with respect to' + verb; 2nd person singular present imperative middle <pā> 'protect' -- protect yourself
  • martiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- the man
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • draujana -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <draujana-> 'deceitful, follower of the Lie' -- follower of the Lie
  • ahatiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- would be
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- him
  • ufraštam -- adverb; <u> 'well, good' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <fraθ> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- well
  • parsā -- verb; 2nd person singular present imperative <fraθ> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- punish
  • yadiy -- adverb; <yadiy> 'if, when' -- if

39 - avaθā maniyāhaiy dahyāušmaiy duruvā ahatiy
  • avaθā -- adverb; <avaθa> 'thus, then' -- thus
  • maniyāhaiy -- verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <man> 'think' -- you would think
  • dahyāušmaiy -- noun; nominative singular feminine <dahyu-> 'country, land, region' + personal pronoun; genitive singular masculine <adam> 'I' -- my realm
  • duruvā -- adjective; nominative singular feminine <duruva-> 'durable, stable, firm, secure' -- secure
  • ahatiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- let be

40 - θātiy Dārayavauš xsāyaθiya ima tya adam akunavam
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xsāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • ima -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • tya -- relative pronoun; accusative singular neuter <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- what
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did

41 - vašnā Auramazdāha hamahyāyā θarda akunavam tuvam kā hya
  • vašnā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vašna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will
  • Auramazdāha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • hamahyāyā -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in this very
  • θarda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <θard-> 'autumn, year' -- of (one) year
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did
  • tuvam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • kā -- particle; <kā> (denotes generalization) -- ...
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who

42 - aparam imām dipim patiparsāhy tya manā kartam varnavatām
  • aparam -- adverb; <aparam> 'after' -- hereafter
  • imām -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • dipim -- noun; accusative singular feminine <dipi-> 'inscription' -- inscription
  • patiparsāhy -- prefix; <patiy> 'against, during, with respect to' + verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <parsa-> 'examine, read' -- read
  • tya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- what
  • manā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- was done
  • varnavatām -- verb; 3rd person singular present imperative middle <var> active 'cover', middle 'choose, convince' -- persuade

43 - θuvām mātya draugam maniyāhay θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya
  • θuvām -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • mātya -- injunctive particle; <mā> (expresses prohibition) + relative conjunction; <tya-> '(so/in order) that' -- lest
  • draugam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <drauga-> 'deceit, the Lie' -- deceit
  • maniyāhay -- verb; 2nd person singular present imperative middle <man> 'think' -- you would think
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King

44 - Auramazdāha ragam vartaiyaiy yaθā ima hašiyam naiy duruxtam
  • Auramazdāha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- to Ahura Mazda
  • ragam -- adverb; <ranga-> 'speed, haste' -- quickly
  • vartaiyaiy -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative causative middle <vart> 'turn' -- I turn myself
  • yaθā -- adverbial conjunction; <yaθā> 'as, when, because' -- as
  • ima -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • hašiyam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <hašiya-> 'true' -- true
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • duruxtam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <duruxta-> 'false' -- false

45 - adam akunavam hamahyāyā θarda ...

  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did
  • hamahyāyā -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in the very
  • θarda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <θard-> 'autumn, year' -- of (one) year

50 - ... θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya tyaiy
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • tyaiy -- demonstrative pronoun; instrumental plural masculine <tya-> 'he, this, that' -- by those

51 - paruvā xšāyaθiyā yātā āha avaišām avā naiy astiy kartam
  • paruvā -- adjective; instrumental singular masculine <paruva-> 'before, previous' -- earlier
  • xšāyaθiyā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- kings
  • yātā -- adverbial conjunction; <yātā> 'until, while, as long as' -- as much
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- were
  • avaišām -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- among those
  • avā -- adverb; <avā> 'thus, as' -- thus
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • astiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <ah> 'be' -- was
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- done

52 - yaθā manā vašnā Auramazdāha hamahyāyā θarda kartam θātiy
  • yaθā -- adverbial conjunction; <yaθā> 'as, when, because' -- as
  • manā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me
  • vašnā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vašna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will
  • Auramazdāha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • hamahyāyā -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in this very
  • θarda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <θard-> 'autumn, year' -- of (one) year
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- done
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares

53 - Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya nūram θuvām varnavatām tya manā
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • nūram -- adverb; <nūram> 'now' -- now
  • θuvām -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • varnavatām -- verb; 3rd person singular present imperative middle <var> active 'cover', middle 'choose, convince' -- persuade
  • tya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- what
  • manā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me

54 - kartam avaθā kārahyā rādiy mā apagaudaya yadiy imām
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- done
  • avaθā -- adverb; <avaθa> 'thus, then' -- thus
  • kārahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- of the people
  • rādiy -- adverb; <rādiy> 'on account of' -- on account of
  • mā -- injunctive particle; <mā> (expresses prohibition) -- ...
  • apagaudaya -- preposition; <apa> 'away' + verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <gud> 'hide' -- conceal
  • yadiy -- adverb; <yadiy> 'if, when' -- if
  • imām -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine <ima-> 'he, this' -- this

55 - hadugām naiy apagaudayāhy kārahyā θāhy Auramazdā θuvām
  • hadugām -- noun; accusative singular feminine <hadugā-> 'record, statute' -- record
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • apagaudayāhy -- preposition; <apa> 'away' + verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive causative active <gud> 'hide' -- do conceal
  • kārahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- among the people
  • θāhy -- verb; 2nd person singular present indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declare
  • Auramazdā -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda
  • θuvām -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you

56 - dauštā biyā utātaiy taumā vasiy biyā utā dargam jīvā
  • dauštā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <dauštar-> 'friend' -- friend
  • biyā -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- will become
  • utātaiy -- conjunctive particle; <utā> 'and' + personal pronoun; genitive singular <tuvam-> 'you' -- your... and
  • taumā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <taumā-> 'family' -- a family
  • vasiy -- adverb; <vasiy> 'greatly, utterly' -- large
  • biyā -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- will be
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and
  • dargam -- adverb; <dargam> 'long' -- long
  • jīvā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <jīvā-> 'life' -- life

57 - θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya yadiy imām hadugām apagaudayāhy
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • yadiy -- adverb; <yadiy> 'if, when' -- if
  • imām -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • hadugām -- noun; accusative singular feminine <hadugā-> 'record, statute' -- record
  • apagaudayāhy -- preposition; <apa> 'away' + verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive causative active <gud> 'hide' -- do conceal

58 - naiy θāhy kārahyā Auramazdātay jatā biyā utātaiy taumā
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • θāhy -- verb; 2nd person singular present indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declare
  • kārahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- among the people
  • Auramazdātay -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' + personal pronoun; genitive singular <tuvam-> 'you' -- Ahura Mazda... your
  • jatā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <jatar-> 'smiter' -- smiter
  • biyā -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- may... become
  • utātaiy -- conjunctive particle; <utā> 'and' + personal pronoun; genitive singular <tuvam-> 'you' -- your... and
  • taumā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <taumā-> 'family' -- a (large) family

59 - mā biyā θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya ima tya adam akunavam
  • mā -- injunctive particle; <mā> (expresses prohibition) -- may not
  • biyā -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- be born
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • ima -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • tya -- relative pronoun; accusative singular neuter <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- what
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did

60 - hamahyāya θarda vašnā Auramazdāha akunavam Auramazdāmaiy upastām
  • hamahyāya -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in this very
  • θarda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <θard-> 'autumn, year' -- of (one) year
  • vašnā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vašna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will
  • Auramazdāha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did
  • Auramazdāmaiy -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' + enclitic personal pronoun; accusative singular <adam> 'I' -- Ahura Mazda... me
  • upastām -- noun; accusative singular feminine <upastā-> 'aid, support' -- aid

61 - abara utā aniyāha bagāha tyaiy hatiy θātiy Dārayavauš
  • abara -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <bar> 'bear, carry' -- bore
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- as did
  • aniyāha -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <aniya-> 'other' -- the other
  • bagāha -- noun; nominative plural masculine <baga-> 'god' -- gods
  • tyaiy -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- who
  • hatiy -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <ah> 'be' -- are
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius

62 - xšāyaθiya avahyarādiy Auramazdā upastām abara utā aniyāha
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • avahyarādiy -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' + adverb; <rādiy> 'on account of' -- on account of that
  • Auramazdā -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda
  • upastām -- noun; accusative singular feminine <upastā-> 'aid, support' -- aid
  • abara -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <bar> 'bear, carry' -- bore
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- as did
  • aniyāha -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <aniya-> 'other' -- the other

63 - bagāha tyaiy hatiy yaθā naiy arika āham naiy draujana āham naiy
  • bagāha -- noun; nominative plural masculine <baga-> 'god' -- gods
  • tyaiy -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- who
  • hatiy -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <ah> 'be' -- are
  • yaθā -- adverbial conjunction; <yaθā> 'as, when, because' -- because
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • arika -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <arika-> 'treacherous, evil, hostile' -- hostile
  • āham -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- I was
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • draujana -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <draujana-> 'deceitful, follower of the Lie' -- follower of the Lie
  • āham -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- I was
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not

64 - zūrakara āham naiy adam naimaiy taumā upariy arštām upariyāyam
  • zūrakara -- noun; nominative singular masculine <zūrakara-> 'evil-doer' -- an evil man
  • āham -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- I was
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • naimaiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' + enclitic personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- not (any) of my
  • taumā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <taumā-> 'family' -- family
  • upariy -- adverb; <upariy> 'over, above, in accordance with' -- in accordance with
  • arštām -- noun; accusative singular feminine <arštā-> 'righteousness, Truth' -- Truth
  • upariyāyam -- adverb; <upariy> 'over, above, in accordance with' + verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <i> 'go' -- did I behave

65 - naiy škaurim naiy tunuvatam zūra akunavam martiya hya hamataxšatā
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- neither
  • škaurim -- noun; accusative singular masculine <škauri-> 'weak' -- to the weak
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- nor
  • tunuvatam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <tunuvat-> 'possessing power' -- to the powerful
  • zūra -- noun; <zūra-> 'evil' -- harm
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did I do
  • martiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- man
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • hamataxšatā -- prefix; <ham> 'together' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <taxš> 'be active, build, carve, make' -- collaborated

66 - manā viθiyā avam ubartam abaram hya viyanāθaya avam ufraštam
  • manā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular masculine <adam> 'I' -- my
  • viθiyā -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <viθ-> 'house(hold), clan, royal court' -- court
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- him
  • ubartam -- prefix; <u> 'well, good' + adverb; <bartam> 'well-born' -- well
  • abaram -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <bar> 'bear, carry' -- I bore
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • viyanāθaya -- verbal prefix; <vi> 'wide, apart' + verb; <nāθ> 'injure, rend' -- did damage
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- him
  • ufraštam -- adverb; <u> 'well, good' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <fraθ> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- severely

67 - aparsam θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya tuvam kā xšāyaθiya
  • aparsam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <fraθ> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- I punished
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • tuvam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • kā -- particle; <kā> (denotes generalization) -- ...
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- king

68 - hya aparam āhy martiya hya draujana ahatiy hyavā zūrakara ahatiy
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • aparam -- adverb; <aparam> 'after' -- hereafter
  • āhy -- verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- will be
  • martiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- man
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • draujana -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <draujana-> 'deceitful, follower of the Lie' -- a follower of the Lie
  • ahatiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- would be
  • hyavā -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' + conjunctive particle; <vā> 'or' -- or who
  • zūrakara -- noun; nominative singular masculine <zūrakara-> 'evil-doer' -- an evil man
  • ahatiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- would be

69 - avaiy mā dauštā biyā ufraštādiy parsā ...
  • avaiy -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative plural masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- to them
  • mā -- injunctive particle; <mā> (expresses prohibition) -- must not
  • dauštā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <dauštar-> 'friend' -- a friend
  • biyā -- verb; 2nd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- you become
  • ufraštādiy -- adverb; <u> 'well, good' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <fraθ> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' + emphatic particle; <diy> (used for emphasis) -- most severely
  • parsā -- verb; 2nd person singular present optative active <fraθ> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- you must punish

Lesson Text

36 - ... θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya 37 - tuvam kā xšāyaθiya hya aparam āhy hacā draugā daršam 38 - patipayauvā martiya hya draujana ahatiy avam ufraštam parsā yadiy 39 - avaθā maniyāhaiy dahyāušmaiy duruvā ahatiy 40 - θātiy Dārayavauš xsāyaθiya ima tya adam akunavam 41 - vašnā Auramazdāha hamahyāyā θarda akunavam tuvam kā hya 42 - aparam imām dipim patiparsāhy tya manā kartam varnavatām 43 - θuvām mātya draugam maniyāhay θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya 44 - Auramazdāha ragam vartaiyaiy yaθā ima hašiyam naiy duruxtam 45 - adam akunavam hamahyāyā θarda ...

50 - ... θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya tyaiy 51 - paruvā xšāyaθiyā yātā āha avaišām avā naiy astiy kartam 52 - yaθā manā vašnā Auramazdāha hamahyāyā θarda kartam θātiy 53 - Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya nūram θuvām varnavatām tya manā 54 - kartam avaθā kārahyā rādiy mā apagaudaya yadiy imām 55 - hadugām naiy apagaudayāhy kārahyā θāhy Auramazdā θuvām 56 - dauštā biyā utātaiy taumā vasiy biyā utā dargam jīvā 57 - θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya yadiy imām hadugām apagaudayāhy 58 - naiy θāhy kārahyā Auramazdātay jatā biyā utātaiy taumā 59 - mā biyā θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya ima tya adam akunavam 60 - hamahyāya θarda vašnā Auramazdāha akunavam Auramazdāmaiy upastām 61 - abara utā aniyāha bagāha tyaiy hatiy θātiy Dārayavauš 62 - xšāyaθiya avahyarādiy Auramazdā upastām abara utā aniyāha 63 - bagāha tyaiy hatiy yaθā naiy arika āham naiy draujana āham naiy 64 - zūrakara āham naiy adam naimaiy taumā upariy arštām upariyāyam 65 - naiy škaurim naiy tunuvatam zūra akunavam martiya hya hamataxšatā 66 - manā viθiyā avam ubartam abaram hya viyanāθaya avam ufraštam 67 - aparsam θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya tuvam kā xšāyaθiya 68 - hya aparam āhy martiya hya draujana ahatiy hyavā zūrakara ahatiy 69 - avaiy mā dauštā biyā ufraštādiy parsā ...

Translation

36 Darius the King declares: 37 You who will be king hereafter, protect yourself from the Lie steadfastly. 38 The man who would be a follower of the Lie, punish him well if 39 you would think thus: 'Let my realm be secure.' 40 Darius the King declares: This is what I did, 41 [and] by the will of Ahura Mazda I did [it] in this very [time frame] of [one] year. You who will 42 hereafter read this inscription, may what was done by me persuade 43 you lest you think it deceit. Darius the King declares: 44 I turn myself quickly to Ahura Mazda, as this [is] true, not false, 45 [this that] I did in the very [time frame] of [one] year ...
50 ... Darius the King declares: Among those 51 [who] were earlier kings, not as much was done thus by them 52 as was done by me in the very [time frame] of [one] year by the will of Ahura Mazda. 53 Now, let what was done by me persuade you. 54 [And] thus, on account of the people, do not conceal [the deeds carved here]. If 55 you do not conceal this record [but] declare [it] among the people, Ahura Mazda 56 will become your friend, a large family will be [yours], and [your] life will be long. 57 Darius the King declares: [And] if you do conceal this record 58 [and] declare [it] not among the people, may Ahura Mazda become your smiter and may your family 59 not be born. Darius the King declares: This is what I did, 60 [and] by the will of Ahura Mazda I did [it] in this very [time frame] of [one] year. Ahura Mazda bore me aid 61 as did the other gods who exist. Darius 62 the King declares: [And] on account of this Ahura Mazda bore [me] aid as did the other 63 gods who are: because I was not hostile, I was not a follower of the Lie, 64 I was not an evil man -- not I, not [any] of my family. In accordance with Truth did I behave. 65 Neither to the weak nor to the powerful did I do harm. The man who collaborated 66 with my court, him I bore well; [and the man] who did damage, him 67 I punished severely. Darius the King declared: You who will be king 68 hereafter, the man who would be a follower of the Lie, or who would be an evil man, 69 to them you must not become a friend; you must punish [them] most severely.

Grammar

1 The Old Persian Alphabet

The Old Persian inscriptions are recorded in cuneiform, or 'wedge-shaped' characters based on those of the Akkadian syllabary invented in ancient Mesopotamia. Their relative simplicity suggests that they were quite deliberately modified for representing the Old Persian, and were perhaps even specifically developed for the royal inscriptions on which they are found. Each of thirty-six syllabic characters represents either a vowel or a consonant plus a vowel -- i.e., a complete syllable. In addition, there are five ideograms, or single characters that represent entire words. The script is read from left to right.

The syllabary is presented here in Roman transliteration. Each character appears in its standardized order and has been given alphabetic rather than syllabic form. Thus, distinct characters sharing the same initial consonantal phoneme but having different following vowels are transliterated by a common single consonant and the appropriate vowel (e.g., da, di, and du are seen as da, di, and du, respectively). The number of distinct characters is thereby reduced. Each character's approximate pronunciation is illustrated by a word articulated according to standard American English, unless otherwise noted.

Letter   Sound   Letter   Sound   Letter   Sound
a   gutter   k   kipper   y   youth
  father   x   Ger. Loch   r   room
i   sit, Ger. bitte   c   It. ciao   l   lump
  me   j   jest; medially azure   v   vice; medially, werewolf
u   book   t   time        
  choose   θ   theater   s   sound
          tse tse fly     shout
        d   dime   z   zoo
        n   never        
        p   pour   h   horse
        f   fair        
        b   boar        
        m   moot        

The length of initial vowels is not indicated in the original inscriptions but has been determined, for the most part, through etymological comparison and morphological reconstruction. It is represented throughout these lessons accordingly. The inherent vowels of consonantal syllables in the inscriptions are transcribed here by a short vowel; long medial vowels and diphthongs show an original consonantal syllable plus following vowel.

2 The Old Persian Sound System
2.1 Phonology

The phonemic system of Old Persian is considerably less complex than that of the older sister dialects Old and Younger Avestan. Middle vowels and aspirated stops have dropped from the language entirely; the number of nasals and sibilants has been reduced. The following chart represents the phonemes of Old Persian in their totality.

Vowels:   Front   Central   Back
High   i,       u,
Low       a,    
             
Consonants:                        
    Unvoiced   Voiced   Nasals   Unvoiced   Unvoiced   Voiced
    Stops   Stops       Fricatives   Sibilants   Sibilants
Velars:   k   g       x        
Palatals:   c   j             medial-z
Cerebrals:                      
Dentals:   t   d   n   θ   s   initial-z
Labials:   p   b   m   f        
Labial-Dental:                        
Semivowels:   y, r, l, v
Aspirates:   h
2.2 Ablaut

Vowel gradation, or ablaut, occurs in three degrees of length: strong, middle, and weak. The weak grade preserves the pure vowel alone. Middle grade adds an a and full grade adds an to the weak vowel. The functional distinctions that this generates are discussed in Section 4, below.

2.3 Sandhi

Orthography suggests that a simple system of sandhi, or rules for a change in pronunciation resulting from the combination of two sounds, was recognized. Thus, for example, doubled phonemes between words -- e.g., āpiš + šim = āpišim and vašnā + apiy = vašnāpiy -- seem to have been merged in pronunciation. Thus, two consonants were 'shortened' in speech and two vowels lengthened. Of course, such combinations may represent a graphic simplification only, but abundant examples of vowel shortening and/or the reversion of semi-vowels to vowels suggest otherwise. In these lessons, words combined through sandhi are written together in the text according to convention but analyzed separately in the analysis sections.

3 Noun Inflection

Like Avestan and most other ancient IE languages, Old Persian is highly inflected. This means that, unlike English in which syntax is primarily governed by word order and the use of prepositions, the functional relationships among the various words in a sentence are expressed by inflections, or endings, added to the stem, or base form, of a noun or adjective.

Old Persian has all the inflectional forms, or cases, of Avestan except the dative, whose function has been taken up by the genitive case. In addition to syntactic function, these inflections each also express the number -- singular or plural -- of the noun to which they adhere. The dual number found in the Avestan dialects seems to have fallen into disuse by Old Persian times, except instances of natural pairs, e.g., gaušā accusative singular masculine 'ears'. Each noun also has an inherent gender -- masculine, feminine, or neuter.

The cases are described as follows:

Case   Primary Function   English Translation
Nominative   Grammatical Subject   (subject)
Accusative   Direct Object   (object)
Instrumental   Object of Means   by, with
Ablative   Object of Origin   from, out of, on account of
Genitive   Subject of Possession/Indirect Object   of/to, toward
Locative   Object of Location   in, on, upon, over, under, at, etc.
Vocative   Object of Address   ('you', or name of person being addressed)

These functions, however, are not all as distinctive as in the Avestan dialects. This is especially true with regard to the ablative case, whose singular forms have become identical to the instrumental or locative forms of various stems, either through the phonetic development of the language or by analogy with the ablative plural inflection being identical to the instrumental plural inflection. Such morphological and phonetic changes led to a similar conflation on the syntactic level, though the 'object of origin' function is primary.

The nominal inflections applied to nouns and adjectives are classified according to the final letter of the noun's stem. Each stem type takes its own set of inflections, for which paradigms are given through the course of these lessons. For each paradigm, a single word is used to fill-out the paradigm in order to aid memorization. Where no attestation of a particular case exists for the word selected, but is found for other words of the stem type, a reconstructed form is given, marked by a preceding asterisk. Where no attestation of a particular case occurs for any word of the stem type, the form is labelled 'unattested'.

3.1 a-Stem Nouns, Masculine and Neuter
Singular:   Masculine martiya- 'man'
Nom.   martiya
Acc.   martiyam
Instr.   *martiyā
Abl.   *martiyā
Gen.   martiyahyā
Loc.   *martiyaiy
Voc.   martiyā
Plural:    
Nom/Acc.   martiyā
Instr.   martiyaibiš
Gen.   martiyānām
Loc.   *martiyaisuvā

The neuter a-stem nouns decline identitically to the masculine in the oblique cases. The nominative and accusative declensions differ as follows:

    Neuter dāta- 'law'
Nom/Acc. sg.   dātam
Nom/Acc. pl.   dātā
3.2 -Stem Nouns, Feminine
Singular:   yauviyā- 'insight'
Nom.   yauviyā
Acc.   yauviyām
Instr.   yauviyāyā
Abl/Gen.   yauviyāyā
Loc.   yauviyāyā
Plural:    
Nom.   yauviyā
Gen.   yauviyānām
Loc.   *yauviyāhuvā
4 Verb Inflection

Like case endings, verbal inflections or conjugations are added to a stem, whose form then conveys the tense of a verb. These endings express person, number, mood, and voice.

The persons are three (first, second, and third), as are the numbers (singular, dual, and plural).

'Mood' refers to the attitude of the speaker towards an action. The indicative mood conveys a merely descriptive sense and is translated with the simple verb. The imperative mood indicates a command. Old Persian also includes two potential moods, a subjunctive and an optative, both conveying a sense of probability. The former suggests either future or volitional meaning, the latter conditional. An injunctive form also remains. Its exclusive function, always in combination with a preceding particle mā, is prohibitive.

'Voice' refers to the nature of the action with respect to the logical subject of a sentence. The active voice indicates direct action in the world. The middle voice signals that a self-reflexive purpose or benefit to the subject motivates the action expressed. The passive is used when the agent of a sentence is not the grammatical subject. This last construction will be taken up in Lesson 9.

The four tenses -- present, aorist, perfect, and future -- are classified by the formation of the stem, to which various sets of endings are added. Each pattern of stem formation creates a system, named for the tense it expresses. The present system is divided into two types, thematic and athematic. The thematic classes are presented below. The athematic classes and the other tense systems will be treated in subsequent lessons.

4.1 The Present Tense

The present tense conveys action that occurs at the time of speaking. It may be translated with either a general sense, as in "Darius the King says," or with a continuous sense, "Darius the King is speaking."

Stems of the present system are built in various ways. Those ending with the theme-vowel -a- are called thematic. This -a- may be added directly to a verbal root or it may be a part of the fuller suffixes -ya- or -aya-. To this stem, a set of primary endings are added.

Thematic Present Paradigms: bara- 'carry, bear'

Indicative   Active   Middle
1 sg.   *baramiy   *baraiy
3 sg.   -baratiy   unattested
3 pl.   barantiy   unattested
         
Imperative        
2 sg.   pari-barā   *barahuvā
3 sg.   baratuv   unattested
         
Subjunctive        
2 sg.   *barāhy   unattested
3 sg.   *barātiy   unattested
         
Optative        
2 sg.   baraiš   unattested
4.2 The Imperfect

The present system also includes a preterite, or past tense, which can be misleading given the name of the system. The tense is called imperfect, and is categorized as part of the present system since it is built to a present stem. Nevertheless, it does convey a past meaning. It is formed by augmenting the stem with a preceding a and adding a set of secondary endings. It may be translated with either a general or continuous sense, as with the examples above: "Darius the King said," or "Darius the King was saying."

Imperfect   Active   Middle
1 sg.   abaram   *abaraiy
3 sg.   abarat   unattested
3 pl.   abaran, abarahan   unattested
5 Word Order

The standard word order of Old Persian is Subject-Object-Verb, with the genitive and ablative cases preceding the words that they characterize, as in lines 58-59, above:

    auramazdā   tay   jatā   biyā   utā   taiy   taumā   mā biyā
    Ahura Mazda   your   smiter   may become   and   your   family   let not be born.

Relative clauses are usually inserted between the object and verb; for example, from line 37:

    tuvam   kā   xšāyaθiya   hya   aparam   āhy
    You   ...   king   who   hereafter   will be.

When there are two or more subjects or objects, the primary subject or object appears in the expected position and the secondary subject or object follows the verb. An example is found in line 60:

    auramazdā   maiy   upastām   abara   utā   aniyāha   bagāha   tyaiy   hatiy
    Ahura Mazda   me   aid   bore   as did   the other   gods   who   exist.

In reality, however, this pattern is not rigidly upheld. Frequently, the words that an author wished to emphasize appeared in the order that he wished to emphasize them, as the common refrain:

    θātiy   dārayavauš   xšāyaθiya
    [Thus] declares   Darius   the king

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 8: Old Persian

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

The inscriptions that bequeath to us the Old Persian language were commissioned by the Achaemenid kings, or those of the regnal line descended from Achaemenes, a minor ruler in the region of present-day southwestern Iran. From Achaemenes the line follows through Teispes to Cyrus the Great, who founded the Persian Empire by conquering the Median king Astyages sometime between 559 and 549 B.C. Upon Cyrus' death, his son Cambyses usurped the throne after secretly killing his older brother Smerdis. Cambyses then left the realm to invade Egypt, and nine vassal kings revolted in his absence. The inscription at Behistan records each of these rebellions and the subsequent reconquest by Darius, first cousin to Cambyses, ninth in the line of Achaemenid kings.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The narrative of revolts in the inscription at Behistan, structured by their geographic distance from the imperial center, begins with conquest of the capital by the warrior-priest Gaumata, who won support by claiming to be Smerdis. Upon hearing of this dissidence, Cambyses took his own life and Darius stepped in to restore the kingdom with the aid of a few loyal men (and Ahura Mazda!). Column one records Gaumata's rise to power and Darius' progress over the course of several months, ending with Gaumata's final defeat at the 'fortress' of Sikayauvati in Media.

26 - ... θātiy
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares

27 - Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya ima tya manā kartam pasāva yaθā xšāyaθiya
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • ima -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • tya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- what
  • manā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- was done
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- then
  • yaθā -- adverbial conjunction; <yaθā> 'as, when, because' -- when
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King

28 - abavam Kabūjiya nāma Kūrauš puça amāxam taumāyā
  • abavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <bu> 'be, become' -- did become
  • Kabūjiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses
  • nāma -- adverb; <nāma> 'by name, named, called' -- by name
  • Kūrauš -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Kūru-> 'Cyrus' -- of Cyrus
  • puça -- noun; nominative singular masculine <puça-> 'son' -- the son
  • amāxam -- personal pronoun; genitive plural <adam> 'I' -- our
  • taumāyā -- noun; genitive singular feminine <taumā-> 'family' -- family

29 - hauvam idā xšāyaθiya āha avahyā Kabūjiyahyā brātā
  • hauvam -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hauv-> 'he, this' -- he
  • idā -- adverb; <idā> 'here' -- here
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the king
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- was
  • avahyā -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- that
  • Kabūjiyahyā -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- of Cambyses
  • brātā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <brātar-> 'brother' -- brother

30 - Bardiya nāma āha hamātā hamapitā Kabūjiyahyā pasāva Kabūjiya
  • Bardiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis
  • nāma -- adverb; <nāma> 'by name, named, called' -- by name
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- was
  • hamātā -- adverb; <hama-> 'same' + noun; feminine singular nominative <mātar-> 'mother' -- having the same mother
  • hamapitā -- adverb; <hama-> 'same' + noun; masculine singular nominative <pītar-> 'father' -- having the same father
  • Kabūjiyahyā -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- as Cambyses
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- and then
  • Kabūjiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses

31 - avam Bardiyam avāja yaθā Kabūjiya Bardiyam avāja kārahyā
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- that
  • Bardiyam -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis
  • avāja -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- struck down
  • yaθā -- adverbial conjunction; <yaθā> 'as, when, because' -- as
  • Kabūjiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses
  • Bardiyam -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis
  • avāja -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- struck down
  • kārahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- among the people

32 - naiy azdā abava tya Bardiya avajata pasāva Kabūjiya Mudrāyam
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • azdā -- adverb; <azdā> 'known' -- known
  • abava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <bu> 'be, become' -- did become
  • tya -- relative conjunction; accusative singular neuter <tya-> '(so/in order) that' -- that
  • Bardiya -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis
  • avajata -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- had struck down
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- and then
  • Kabūjiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses
  • Mudrāyam -- geographic name; accusative singular masculine <Mudrāya-> 'Egypt' -- to Egypt

33 - ašiyava yaθā Kabūjiya Mudrāyam ašiyava pasāva kāra arika abava
  • ašiyava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <šiyu> 'set out, go' -- set out
  • yaθā -- adverbial conjunction; <yaθā> 'as, when, because' -- when
  • Kabūjiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses
  • Mudrāyam -- geographic name; accusative singular masculine <Mudrāya-> 'Egypt' -- to Egypt
  • ašiyava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <šiyu> 'set out, go' -- set out
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- and then
  • kāra -- noun; nominative singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- the people
  • arika -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <arika-> 'treacherous, evil, hostile' -- treacherous
  • abava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <bu> 'be, become' -- grew

34 - pasāva drauga dahyauvā vasiy abava utā Pārsaiy utā Mādaiy utā
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- and thus
  • drauga -- noun; nominative singular masculine <drauga-> 'deceit, the Lie' -- deceit
  • dahyauvā -- noun; locative singular feminine <dahyu-> 'country, land, region' -- throughout the land
  • vasiy -- adverb; <vasiy> 'greatly, utterly' -- rampantly
  • abava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <bu> 'be, become' -- rose
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- both
  • Pārsaiy -- geographic name; locative singular masculine <Pārsa-> 'Persia' -- in Persia
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and
  • Mādaiy -- geographic name; locative singular masculine <Māda-> 'Media' -- in Media
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and

35 - aniyāuvā dahyušuvā θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya pasāva
  • aniyāuvā -- adjective; locative plural feminine <aniya-> 'other' -- other
  • dahyušuvā -- noun; locative plural feminine <dahyu-> 'country, land, region' -- in the lands
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- later

36 - I martiya maguš āha Gaumāta nāma hauv udapatatā hacā Paišiyāuvādāyā
  • I -- Roman numeral; <I> 'one' -- one
  • martiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- man
  • maguš -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <magu-> 'Magian' -- Magian
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- was
  • Gaumāta -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Gaumāta-> 'Gaumata' -- Gaumata
  • nāma -- adverb; <nāma> 'by name, named, called' -- by name
  • hauv -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hauv-> 'he, this' -- he
  • udapatatā -- verbal prefix; <ud> 'up' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <pat> 'fly, fall' -- rose up
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- from
  • Paišiyāuvādāyā -- geographic name; ablative singular feminine <Paišiyāuvādā-> 'Paishiyauvada' -- from Paishiyauvada

37 - Arakadriš nāma kaufa hacā avadaša Viyaxnahya māhyā
  • Arakadriš -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Arakadri-> a mountain in Persia -- Arakadri
  • nāma -- adverb; <nāma> 'by name, named, called' -- named
  • kaufa -- noun; nominative singular masculine <kaufa-> 'mountain' -- mountain
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- from
  • avadaša -- adverb; <avadā> 'then, there' + enclitic demonstrative pronoun; ablative singular masculine <ša-> 'he, this' -- there
  • Viyaxnahya -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Viyaxna-> twelfth month of the Persian calendar, February - March -- of Viyakhna
  • māhyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <māha-> 'month' -- of the month

38 - XIV raucabiš θakatā āha yadiy udapatatā hauv kārahyā avaθā
  • XIV -- Roman numeral; <XIV> 'fourteen' -- fourteen
  • raucabiš -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <raucah-> 'day' -- days
  • θakatā -- adjective; nominative plural neuter <θakatay-> 'past' -- completed
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- were
  • yadiy -- adverb; <yadiy> 'if, when' -- when
  • udapatatā -- verbal prefix; <ud> 'up' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <pat> 'fly, fall' -- rose up
  • hauv -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hauv-> 'he, this' -- he
  • kārahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- to the people
  • avaθā -- adverb; <avaθa> 'thus, then' -- thus

39 - adurujiya adam Bardiya amiy hya Kūrauš puça Kabūjiyahyā brātā
  • adurujiya -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative middle <drug-> 'lie, deceive' -- he deceived
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • Bardiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis
  • amiy -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <ah> 'be' -- I am
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • Kūrauš -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Kūru-> 'Cyrus' -- of Cyrus
  • puça -- noun; nominative singular masculine <puça-> 'son' -- the son
  • Kabūjiyahyā -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- of Cambyses
  • brātā -- noun; nominative singular masculine <brātar-> 'brother' -- brother

40 - pasāva kāra haruva hamiçiya abava hacā Kabūjiyā abiy avam
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- thereupon
  • kāra -- noun; nominative singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- the people
  • haruva -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <haruva-> 'all' -- all
  • hamiçiya -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <hamiçiya-> 'rebellious' -- rebellious
  • abava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <bu> 'be, become' -- grew
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- against
  • Kabūjiyā -- proper name; ablative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses
  • abiy -- preposition; <abiy> 'to, toward, against' -- to
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- him

41 - ašiyava utā Pārsa utā Māda utā aniyā dahyāva xšaçam hauv
  • ašiyava -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <šiyu> 'set out, go' -- went over
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and
  • Pārsa -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Pārsa-> 'Persia' -- Persia
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and
  • Māda -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Māda-> 'Media' -- Media
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and
  • aniyā -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <aniya-> 'other' -- the other
  • dahyāva -- noun; nominative plural feminine <dahyu-> 'country, land, region' -- lands
  • xšaçam -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaça-> 'kingship, sovereignty, kingdom' -- kingdom
  • hauv -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hauv-> 'he, this' -- he

42 - agarbāyatā Garmapadahya māhyā IX raucabiš θakatā āha avaθā xšaçam
  • agarbāyatā -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative causative middle <grab> 'seize, grab' -- seized
  • Garmapadahya -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Garmapada-> fourth month of the Persian calendar, June - July -- of Garmapada
  • māhyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <māha-> 'month' -- of the month
  • IX -- Roman numeral; <IX> 'nine' -- nine
  • raucabiš -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <raucah-> 'day' -- days
  • θakatā -- adjective; nominative plural neuter <θakatay-> 'past' -- completed
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- were
  • avaθā -- adverb; <avaθa> 'thus, then' -- thus
  • xšaçam -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaça-> 'kingship, sovereignty, kingdom' -- kingdom

43 - agarbāyatā pasāva Kabūjiya uvāmaršiyuš amariyatā ...
  • agarbāyatā -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative causative middle <grab> 'seize, grab' -- seized
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- and then
  • Kabūjiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Kambūjiya-> 'Cambyses' -- Cambyses
  • uvāmaršiyuš -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <uvāmaršiyu-> 'self-inflicted death' -- by his own hand
  • amariyatā -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <mar> 'die' -- died

48 - ... θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya naiy āha martiya
  • θātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- no
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- was
  • martiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- man

49 - naiy Pārsa naiy Māda naiy amāxam taumāyā kašciy hya avam Gaumātam
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • Pārsa -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Pārsa-> 'Persia' -- Persia
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • Māda -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Māda-> 'Media' -- Media
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • amāxam -- personal pronoun; genitive plural <adam> 'I' -- our
  • taumāyā -- noun; genitive singular feminine <taumā-> 'family' -- family
  • kašciy -- indefinite pronoun; nominative singular masculine <kašciy-> 'any, anyone, anything' -- any
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- that
  • Gaumātam -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Gaumāta-> 'Gaumata' -- Gaumata

50 - tyam magum xšaçam dītam caxriyā kārašim hacā daršam atarsa
  • tyam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tya-> 'he, this, that' -- the
  • magum -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <magu-> 'Magian' -- Magian
  • xšaçam -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaça-> 'kingship, sovereignty, kingdom' -- kingdom
  • dītam -- past participle passive; accusative singular neuter <dā> 'give, take' -- deprived
  • caxriyā -- verb; 3rd person singular perfect optative causative active <kar> 'do, make' -- could render
  • kārašim -- noun; nominative singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' + enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ša-> 'he, this' -- the people... him
  • hacā -- adposition; <hacā> 'from, out of' -- ...
  • daršam -- adverb; <daršam> 'greatly, mightily, steadfastly' -- greatly
  • atarsa -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <tars> 'fear, be afraid' -- feared

51 - kāram vasiy avājaniyā hya paranam Bardiyam adānā avahyarādiy
  • kāram -- noun; accusative singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- the people
  • vasiy -- adverb; <vasiy> 'greatly, utterly' -- the numerous
  • avājaniyā -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- lest he would strike down
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • paranam -- adverb; <paranam> 'before' -- previously
  • Bardiyam -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis
  • adānā -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect middle <xšnā> 'learn, know' -- knew
  • avahyarādiy -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' + adverb; <rādiy> 'on account of' -- on account of this

52 - kāram avājaniyā mātyamām xšnāsātiy tya adam naiy Bardiya
  • kāram -- noun; accusative singular masculine <kāra-> 'man, person; the people' -- the people
  • avājaniyā -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- lest he would strike down
  • mātyamām -- injunctive particle; <mā> (expresses prohibition) + relative conjunction; accusative singular neuter <tya-> '(so/in order) that' + personal pronoun; accusative singular <adam> 'I' -- lest... me
  • xšnāsātiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <xšnā> 'learn, know' -- he would know
  • tya -- relative pronoun; accusative singular neuter <tya-> 'who, which; that' -- who
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • Bardiya -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Bardiya-> 'Bardiya', known from Greek sources as Smerdis -- Smerdis

53 - amiy hya Kūrauš puça kašciy naiy adaršnauš cišciy θastanaiy
  • amiy -- verb; 1st person singular present indicative active <ah> 'be' -- am
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • Kūrauš -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Kūru-> 'Cyrus' -- of Cyrus
  • puça -- noun; nominative singular masculine <puça-> 'son' -- the son
  • kašciy -- indefinite pronoun; nominative singular masculine <kašciy-> 'any, anyone, anything' -- one
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- no
  • adaršnauš -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dars> 'dare' -- dared
  • cišciy -- indefinite pronoun; accusative singular masculine <kašciy-> 'any, anyone, anything' -- anything
  • θastanaiy -- infinitive; <θah> 'speak, say, declare' -- to say

54 - pariy Gaumātam tyam magum yātā adam arasam pasāva adam Auramazdām
  • pariy -- adverb; <pariy> 'toward, with respect to' -- against
  • Gaumātam -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Gaumāta-> 'Gaumata' -- Gaumata
  • tyam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tya-> 'he, this, that' -- the
  • magum -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <magu-> 'Magian' -- Magian
  • yātā -- adverbial conjunction; <yātā> 'until, while, as long as' -- until
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • arasam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <ar> 'move toward' -- came
  • pasāva -- adverb; <pasāva> 'after(wards)' -- after that
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • Auramazdām -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda

55 - patiyāvahyaiy Auramazdāmaiy upastām abara Bāgayādaiš
  • patiyāvahyaiy -- preposition; <patiy> 'against, during, with respect to' + denominative; 1st person singular imperfect middle <avahya-> 'ask for help' -- asked for help
  • Auramazdāmaiy -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' + enclitic personal pronoun; accusative singular <adam> 'I' -- Ahura Mazda... me
  • upastām -- noun; accusative singular feminine <upastā-> 'aid, support' -- aid
  • abara -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <bar> 'bear, carry' -- bore
  • Bāgayādaiš -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Bāgayādi-> seventh month of the Persian calendar, September - October -- of Bagayadi

56 - māhyā X raucabiš θakatā āha avaθā adam hadā kamnaibiš martiyaibiš
  • māhyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <māha-> 'month' -- of the month
  • X -- Roman numeral; <X> 'ten' -- ten
  • raucabiš -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <raucah-> 'day' -- days
  • θakatā -- adjective; nominative plural neuter <θakatay-> 'past' -- completed
  • āha -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- were
  • avaθā -- adverb; <avaθa> 'thus, then' -- when
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • hadā -- preposition; <hadā> 'with, together with' -- together with
  • kamnaibiš -- adjective; instrumental plural masculine <kamna-> 'few' -- a small number of
  • martiyaibiš -- noun; instrumental plural masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- with men

57 - avam Gaumātam tyam magum avājanam utā tyaišaiy fratamā martiyā
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- that
  • Gaumātam -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Gaumāta-> 'Gaumata' -- Gaumata
  • tyam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tya-> 'he, this, that' -- the
  • magum -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <magu-> 'Magian' -- Magian
  • avājanam -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- I struck down
  • utā -- conjunction; <utā> 'and' -- and
  • tyaišaiy -- relative pronoun; nominative plural masculine <tya-> 'who, which; that' + enclitic pronoun; genitive singular masculine <sa-> 'he, this' -- those who... his
  • fratamā -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <fratama-> 'first, foremost' -- leading
  • martiyā -- noun; nominative plural masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- men

58 - anušiyā āhatā Sikayauvatiš nāmā didā Nisāya nāmā
  • anušiyā -- noun; nominative plural masculine <anušiya-> 'follower, ally' -- allies
  • āhatā -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative middle <ah> 'be' -- were
  • Sikayauvatiš -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Sikayauvati-> 'Sikayauvati' -- Sikayauvati
  • nāmā -- adverb; <nāma> 'by name, named, called' -- called
  • didā -- noun; nominative singular feminine <didā-> 'fortress, wall' -- stronghold
  • Nisāya -- geographic name; nominative singular masculine <Nisāya-> 'Nisaya' -- Nisaya
  • nāmā -- adverb; <nāma> 'by name, named, called' -- called

59 - dahyāuš Mādaiy avadašim avājanam xšaçamšim adam adīnam vašnā
  • dahyāuš -- noun; nominative singular feminine <dahyu-> 'country, land, region' -- land
  • Mādaiy -- geographic name; locative singular masculine <Māda-> 'Media' -- in Media
  • avadašim -- adverb; <avadā> 'then, there' + enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ša-> 'he, this' -- there... him
  • avājanam -- verbal prefix; <ava> 'away, down' + verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <jan> 'smite, strike, slay' -- I struck down
  • xšaçamšim -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaça-> 'kingship, sovereignty, kingdom' + enclitic demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ša-> 'he, this' -- kingdom... him
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • adīnam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <dī> 'take, seize' -- seized
  • vašnā -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vašna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will

60 - Auramazdāha adam xšāyaθiya abavam Auramazdā xšaçam manā frābara ...
  • Auramazdāha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- king
  • abavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <bu> 'be, become' -- became
  • Auramazdā -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda
  • xšaçam -- noun; accusative singular neuter <xšaça-> 'kingship, sovereignty, kingdom' -- the kingdom
  • manā -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- upon me
  • frābara -- verbal prefix; <fra> 'to, toward, forth' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <bar> 'bear, carry' -- bestowed

Lesson Text

26 - ... θātiy 27 - Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya ima tya manā kartam pasāva yaθā xšāyaθiya 28 - abavam Kabūjiya nāma Kūrauš puça amāxam taumāyā 29 - hauvam idā xšāyaθiya āha avahyā Kabūjiyahyā brātā 30 - Bardiya nāma āha hamātā hamapitā Kabūjiyahyā pasāva Kabūjiya 31 - avam Bardiyam avāja yaθā Kabūjiya Bardiyam avāja kārahyā 32 - naiy azdā abava tya Bardiya avajata pasāva Kabūjiya Mudrāyam 33 - ašiyava yaθā Kabūjiya Mudrāyam ašiyava pasāva kāra arika abava 34 - pasāva drauga dahyauvā vasiy abava utā Pārsaiy utā Mādaiy utā 35 - aniyāuvā dahyušuvā θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya pasāva 36 - I martiya maguš āha Gaumāta nāma hauv udapatatā hacā Paišiyāuvādāyā 37 - Arakadriš nāma kaufa hacā avadaša Viyaxnahya māhyā 38 - XIV raucabiš θakatā āha yadiy udapatatā hauv kārahyā avaθā 39 - adurujiya adam Bardiya amiy hya Kūrauš puça Kabūjiyahyā brātā 40 - pasāva kāra haruva hamiçiya abava hacā Kabūjiyā abiy avam 41 - ašiyava utā Pārsa utā Māda utā aniyā dahyāva xšaçam hauv 42 - agarbāyatā Garmapadahya māhyā IX raucabiš θakatā āha avaθā xšaçam 43 - agarbāyatā pasāva Kabūjiya uvāmaršiyuš amariyatā ... 48 - ... θātiy Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya naiy āha martiya 49 - naiy Pārsa naiy Māda naiy amāxam taumāyā kašciy hya avam Gaumātam 50 - tyam magum xšaçam dītam caxriyā kārašim hacā daršam atarsa 51 - kāram vasiy avājaniyā hya paranam Bardiyam adānā avahyarādiy 52 - kāram avājaniyā mātyamām xšnāsātiy tya adam naiy Bardiya 53 - amiy hya Kūrauš puça kašciy naiy adaršnauš cišciy θastanaiy 54 - pariy Gaumātam tyam magum yātā adam arasam pasāva adam Auramazdām 55 - patiyāvahyaiy Auramazdāmaiy upastām abara Bāgayādaiš 56 - māhyā X raucabiš θakatā āha avaθā adam hadā kamnaibiš martiyaibiš 57 - avam Gaumātam tyam magum avājanam utā tyaišaiy fratamā martiyā 58 - anušiyā āhatā Sikayauvatiš nāmā didā Nisāya nāmā 59 - dahyāuš Mādaiy avadašim avājanam xšaçamšim adam adīnam vašnā 60 - Auramazdāha adam xšāyaθiya abavam Auramazdā xšaçam manā frābara ...

Translation

26 Darius the King 27 declares: This is what was done by me when the king 28 I did become. The son of Cyrus, of our family, Cambyses by name -- 29 he was the king here. Of that Cambyses [there] was a brother, 30 Smerdis by name, having the same mother and father as Cambyses. And then Cambyses 31 struck down that Smerdis. When Cambyses struck down Smerdis, 32 it did not become known among the people that [he] had struck down Smerdis. And then Cambyses 33 went to Egypt. And when Cambyses went to Egypt, the people grew treacherous, 34 and thus deceit rose rampantly in both Persia and Media and 35 in the [Empire's] other lands. Darius the King declares: Later, 36 there was one man, a Magian, Gaumata by name, and he rose up from Paishiyauvada. 37 [There is] a mountain in Persia named Arakadri. From there, when fourteen days of the month of Viyakhna 38 were completed, he rose up, [and] he deceived the people [saying] thus: 39 "I am Smerdis, the son of Cyrus who [is] brother of Cambyses." 40 Thereupon, all the people became rebellious against Cambyses and went over to him, [Smerdis], 41 Persia and Media and the other lands, [and] he seized the kingdom. 42 Nine days were completed in the month of Garmapada [when] he seized the kingdom thus. 43 And then Cambyses died by his own hand ...
48 ... Darius the king declares: There was no man, 49 neither Persian nor Median nor any among our family who could render that Gaumata 50 kingdom-deprived. The people feared him greatly, 51 lest he would strike down the numerous people who knew him previously as Smerdis; 52 lest he would strike down the people on account of this: "Lest he who would know me [would know that] I am not Smerdis, 53 the son of Cyrus." No one dared to say anything 54 against Gaumata the Magian until I came. After that, 55 I asked Ahura Mazda for help, [and] Ahura Mazda bore me aid. 56 Ten days of the month of Bagayad were completed when, with a small number of men, 57 I struck down that Gaumata the Magian and those men who 58 were his foremost allies. [There was] a fortress called Sikayauvati, a land called Nisaya, 59 in Media, [and] there I struck him down. I seized the kingdom [from] him, [and] by the will 60 of Ahura Mazda, I became king. Ahura Mazda bestowed the kingdom to me.

Grammar

6 Short and Long i- and u-Stem Nouns

Nominal stems in short i and u are not easily distinguished from those in long and except by comparison with other Indo-Iranian languages. The declensions take identical inflections in all cases of the masculine and feminine and in the oblique cases of the neuter. Long - and -stem cognates with the Sanskrit are attested, e.g., bumi-, Skt. bhūmī-, but again these do not appear to have had declensions distinctive from the short i- and u-.

6.1 i- and u-Stem Nouns, Masculine and Neuter
Masculine   skauθi- 'poor'   magu- 'priest'
Nom. sg.   skauθiš   maguš
Acc. sg.   skauθim   magum
Instr. sg.   unattested   *maguvā
Abl. sg.   unattested   *magauš, *magauv
Gen. sg.   skauθaiš   *magauš
Loc. sg.   unattested   magauv
         
Gen. pl.   unattested   magunām
         
Neuter   dāru- 'wood'
Nom/Acc. sg.   dāruv
7 Personal Pronouns

Fewer Old Persian pronominal forms are attested than in the Avestan. The first and second person are known in only a few declensions, while the third person is found in only the nominative and accusative singular. As in the Avestan, the oblique cases of all personal pronouns form a suppletive system, i.e., they are based on a stem different from that of the nominative case.

7.1 First and Second Person Pronouns

The first and second person pronouns have no inherent gender. The azem- 'I' and tvə̄m- 'you' paradigms are given here, with enclitic forms given in parentheses.

    First Person   Second Person
Nom. sg.   adam   tuvam
Acc. sg.   mām   θuvām
Abl. sg.   (ma)   unattested
Gen. sg.   manā   (taiy)
         
Nom. pl.   vayam   unattested
Gen. pl.   amāxam   unattested
7.2 Third Person Pronouns

The third person pronoun stem hauv- 'he' is found in only its masculine form.

    Masculine
Nom. sg.   hauv, hauvam
Acc. sg.   (šim), (dim)
Acc. pl.   (šiš), (diš)
Instr. pl.   tāiš
Abl. pl.   taēibyō
8 Athematic Presents

As noted in Lesson 1, verbs of the present system are based on various stems. Those stems ending with the theme-vowel -a-, called thematic stems, were discussed there. Athematic stems are similarly attested. They are constructed in five distinctive but systematic ways.

The root class stems add their ending directly to the verbal root, e.g. ahmiy 'I am', first person singular present indicative active of ah 'be'. The root may appear in its strong or weak grade, depending on the verb's ablaut pattern (cf. Section 2.2).

The reduplicating class forms its stem by adding a reduplicated syllable to the beginning of a verbal root. Only a few instances of reduplicating class verbs are found in Old Persian: the 1st and 3rd person singular imperfect indicative adadā, from dā 'make'; the 3rd person singular present imperative active dadātuv, from dā 'give'; and the 2nd person singular present imperative middle dīdiy, from dī 'think, see, know'.

The na̱- and nu- classes add a form of -na̱-/-na- or -nau-/-nu- to the root, according to ablaut pattern. A third nasal category, the infix class, is found where the -na- appears inside the root itself in its middle or zero grade.

Athematic Present Paradigms: ah 'be'

Indicative   Active   Middle
1 sg.   ahmiy   *ahmiy
3 sg.   astiy 1   *astiy
1 pl.   ahmahi   unattested
         
Imperative        
2 sg.   *zdiy   unattested
3 sg.   *astuv   unattested
2 pl.   *zdā   unattested
         
Optative        
3 sg.   ahā   unattested
         
Imperfect        
1 sg.   āham   unattested
3 sg.   āha2   unattested
3 pl.   āha   unattested
9 Causatives and Denominatives

The causative stem -aya- that appears in Avestan conveying the sense of causativity (cf. Section 2.9) is also found in the Old Persian, though it does not necessarily effect a change of meaning: e.g., 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle agarbāyatā 'he seized', from grab 'seize, grab'. The causative takes the endings of the present system.

A denominative stem is formed from a noun by adding the suffix -ya- to the noun stem. Like the causative, it takes the endings of the present system: patiyāvahyaiy 'I asked for help', from the prefix patiy added to the noun-stem avah- 'aid'.

10 Adverbs, Adpositions, and Preverbs

Old Persian adverbs function as adpositions (prepositions or postpositions) and verbal prefixes. Some function as both, some as one or the other. Adpositions precede or follow the noun they modify, while preverbs are attached immediately to the front of verbs. Some common examples of each are as follows:

Adposition or Verbal Prefix   Meaning   Case of Governance
  near   Locative
upa   up to   Accusative
ni   down   Locative
patiy   toward, against   Accusative, Instrumental, Locative
pariy   around   Accusative
parā   away   Accusative
         
Adposition Only   Meaning   Case of Governance
anuv   along, according to   Instrumental, Genitive
antar   between   Accusative
tara   through   Accusative
pasā   after   Accusative, Genitive
rādiy   on account of   Genitive
hacā   from   Ablative
hadā   with   Instrumental
         
Verbal Prefix Only   Meaning
ava   down
ud   up
niš   out
fra   forth, toward
vi   apart
ham   together

Footnotes

1   Proto-Indo-Iranian /s/ > Old Persian /h/ in most environments, but not in consonant clusters. Note here that the /m/ in first person ahmi is considered a resonant -- i.e. a sound that functions as a consonant when in a vocalic environment, or as a vowel when in a consonantal environment. Hence, the rule does not apply.
     
2   Final consonants are dropped in Old Persian, but a third person imperfect ending in t and n can be inferred from comparison with other Indo-Iranian languages. Thus, the 3rd singular āha is assumed to have developed out of the earlier form *āhat, and the plural out of *āhan.

Old Iranian Online

Lesson 9: Old Persian

Scott L. Harvey, Winfred P. Lehmann, and Jonathan Slocum

The tomb of Darius is located at Naqs-i-rastam, a few miles north of the ancient Persian capital at Persepolis. The second in a series of three other burial chambers with entryways carved, in the shape of Orthodox crosses each roughly seventy-three feet high, into the face of a cliff, it bears a relief of Darius standing at the base of his throne, supported by two lines of fifteen throne-bearers. Darius looks toward an altar; Ahura Mazda looks down from above. There are two inscriptions. Directly behind the Darius figure, 60 lines are carved in Old Persian, translated into 48 lines of Elamite and 36 lines of Akkadian on the adjacent rock. The second inscription flanks the door, with panels in Old Persian, Elamite, Aramaic, and Akkadian. Together, these constitute the Emperor's last public decrees, highlighting his deeds and moral and physical fortitude, both praising the god Ahura Mazda.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The passage behind Darius on the relief panel, called the inscription of Darius at Naqs-i-rastam A (DNa), opens by declaring Ahura Mazda great by virtue of his creation of the earth, sky, and happiness for humankind, and for making Darius the king. It immediately follows with Darius declaring himself and his noble ancestry to posterity and moves on to list the countries that bore him tribute during his reign. The passage then mentions, again, that Darius was made king by his god, but this time adds the reason: Ahura Mazda saw disorder, rebellion, and moral laxity on the earth, and therefore put Darius in charge, presumably to bring the people back into accordance with Zoroastrian teaching. Darius then refers his readers to the relief itself, should they forget just how many lands he conquered: "look at the reliefs [of those] who bear the throne." Their number is carved in stone. The passage closes with a request for Ahura Mazda to continue to protect him and his descendents from harm and, finally, a last command that his subjects never again rise in rebellion.

1 - baga vazraka Auramazdā hya imām
  • baga -- noun; nominative singular masculine <baga-> 'god' -- the god
  • vazraka -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <vazraka-> 'great' -- great
  • Auramazdā -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdāh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • imām -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ima-> 'he, this' -- this

2 - būmim adā hya avam asmānam
  • būmim -- noun; accusative singular feminine <būmi-> 'earth' -- earth
  • adā -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <dā> 'put, make, create' -- created
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- this
  • asmānam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <asman-> 'sky' -- sky

3 - adā hya martiyam adā hya
  • adā -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <dā> 'put, make, create' -- created
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • martiyam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- mankind
  • adā -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <dā> 'put, make, create' -- created
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who

4 - šiyātim adā martiyahyā
  • šiyātim -- noun; accusative singular feminine <šiyati-> 'welfare, peace, happiness' -- happiness
  • adā -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist indicative active <dā> 'put, make, create' -- created
  • martiyahyā -- noun; genitive singular masculine <martiya-> 'mortal, man, human being' -- for mankind

5 - hya Dārayavaum xšāyaθiyam akunauš
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • Dārayavaum -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiyam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the king
  • akunauš -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- made

6 - aivam parūvnām xšāyaθiyam
  • aivam -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <aiva-> 'one' -- one
  • parūvnām -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <paru-> 'much, many' -- of many
  • xšāyaθiyam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- king

7 - aivam parūvnām framātāram
  • aivam -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <aiva-> 'one' -- one
  • parūvnām -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <paru-> 'much, many' -- of many
  • framātāram -- noun; accusative singular masculine <framātar-> 'lord, master' -- overlord

8 - adam Dārayavauš xšāyaθiya vazraka
  • adam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <adam> 'I' -- I
  • Dārayavauš -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dārayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- the king
  • vazraka -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <vazraka-> 'great' -- great

9 - xšāyaθiya xšāyaθiyānām
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- king
  • xšāyaθiyānām -- noun; genitive plural masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- of kings

10 - xšāyaθiya dahyūnām vispazanānām
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king' -- king
  • dahyūnām -- noun; genitive plural feminine <dahyu-> 'country, land, region' -- of the lands
  • vispazanānām -- adjective; <vispa-> 'all, every' + noun; genitive plural masculine <zana-> 'man' -- of all men

11 - xšāyaθiya ahyāyā būmiyā
  • xšāyaθiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xšāyaθiya-> 'royal, king'