Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/20

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PERSIA.



INTRODUCTION.



CHAPTER I.

ANTIQUITY OF THE KINGDOM OF PERSIA—ITS RECENT LOSSES—
SITUATION AND PROVINCES OF WHICH IT IS COMPOSED.

THE foundation of the kingdom of Persia, which the Orientals call Iran, dates back beyond the historic ages of Asia, and consequently of the whole world. Though we cannot fix with any degree of certainty the period of the establishment of the four fire-worshipping dynasties anterior to the invasion of the Musulmans, still it seems indubitable from documents recently discovered in various Persian historians, that those dynasties were preceded by several others. Notwithstanding the obscurity in which this subject is enveloped, there is every reason to suppose, that under these most ancient dynasties the Persians maintained a close intercourse with the inhabitants of upper Hindoostan, or even sent a colony to that country: for it would appear that the Persians and Hindoos then had the same political system, professed the same religion, and spoke the same language. Hence, doubtless, arise the numerous coincidences that are to be found between the Zend, or ancient Persian language, and the Sanskrit, the sacred language of the Brahmins.

According to the Persians the appellation of Iran is as ancient as the reign of Feridoun, one of their earliest monarchs. This great prince, whose empire had no other bounds than the globe, divided his dominions among his three sons, Salem, Touran, and Iradj. To the first he allotted Asia Minor, Africa and Europe; to the second the countries lying beyond the Djihoun; to the third, who was his favourite, the space comprised between the Djihoun and the Euphrates, the Indian Ocean and the Caspian Sea. These different kingdoms were named after their princes, and Persia was called Iran, either after Iradj, who was also named Iran, or after his mother Iran-dokt. The countries beyond the Oxus received the denomination of Touran. Such is the origin of the names of Iran and Touran, which so frequently occur in oriental authors. This partition bears a striking re-