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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 - mraot ahurô mazdĺ Spitamâi Zarathushtrâi
âat yat Mithrem yim vouru-gaoyaoitîm
frâdadhăm azem Spitama âat dim dadhăm
avĺntem yesnyata avĺntem vahmyata
yatha mămcit yim ahurem mazdăm

  • mraot -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <mrű> 'speak, say' -- said
  • ahurô -- noun; nominative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the lord
  • mazdĺ -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wise
  • Spitamâi -- proper name; dative singular masculine <Spitâma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- to Spitama
  • Zarathushtrâi -- proper name; dative singular masculine <Zarathushtra-> 'Zarathustra' -- to Zarathustra
  • âat -- adverb; <âat> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- and
  • yat -- adverb; <yat> 'when' -- when
  • Mithrem -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • vouru-gaoyaoitîm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- has vast fields
  • frâdadhăm -- verbal prefix; <fra> 'forward, toward' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dâ-> 'give, put' -- created
  • azem -- personal pronoun; nominative singular <azem-> 'I' -- I
  • Spitama -- proper name; vocative singular masculine <Spitâma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- O Spitama
  • âat -- adverb; <âat> 'then, thereupon, therefore, and, but' -- and
  • dim -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • dadhăm -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <dâ-> 'give, put' -- created
  • avĺntem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <avant-> 'as much, so much, so long, such' -- as
  • yesnyata -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <yesnya-> 'sacrifice, worship' -- worthy of sacrifice
  • avĺntem -- 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
  • yatha -- conjunction; <yatha> 'just as, like' -- as
  • mămcit -- personal pronoun; accusative singular <azem-> 'I' + indefinite marker; <cit> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- I myself
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • ahurem -- noun; accusative singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- the lord
  • mazdăm -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wise

2 - merencaite vîspăm dainghaom
mairyô mithrô-druxsh Spitama
yatha satem kayadhanăm
avavat ashava-jacit
mithrem mâ janyĺ Spitama
mâ yim drvatat peresĺnghe
mâ yim xvâdaęnât ashaonat
vayĺ zî asti mithrô
drvataęca ashaonaęca

  • merencaite -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative middle <marek-> 'kill, destroy, bring ruin' -- brings
  • vîspăm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <vîspa-> 'all, every' -- entire
  • dainghaom -- noun; accusative singular feminine <dahyav-> 'country, region, realm' -- upon the country
  • mairyô -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <mairya-> 'false, malicious' -- rogue
  • mithrô-druxsh -- noun; <mithra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' + adjective; nominative singular masculine <drug-> 'false' -- unfaithful to a contract
  • Spitama -- proper name; vocative singular masculine <Spitâma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- O Spitama
  • yatha -- conjunction; <yatha> 'just as, like' -- as
  • satem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <sata-> 'hundred' -- one hundred
  • kayadhanăm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <kayadha-> category of evil deed -- of evil-doers
  • avavat -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <avant-> 'as much, so much, so long, such' -- as much
  • ashava-jacit -- noun; <ashavant-> 'follower of the Truth' + root noun; <gan-> 'slayer' + indefinite marker; <cit> gives indefinite or emphatic sense -- some... slayers of Truthful men
  • mithrem -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mithra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • -- prohibitive participle; <> used to express prohibition -- do not
  • janyĺ -- verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive active <jan> 'smite, slay, destroy' -- break
  • Spitama -- proper name; vocative singular masculine <Spitâma-> 'Spitama' (clan name of Zarathustra) -- O Spitama
  • -- prohibitive participle; <> used to express prohibition -- do not
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • drvatat -- noun; ablative singular masculine <dregvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' -- with a follower of the Lie
  • peresĺnghe -- verb; 2nd person singular s-aorist subjunctive middle <fras> 'inquire, discuss' -- you would negotiate
  • -- prohibitive participle; <> used to express prohibition -- nor
  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- ...
  • xvâdaęnât -- prefix; <xva> 'good, worthy' + noun; ablative singular masculine <daęnâ-> 'attitude, intention, insight' -- who has found the good religion
  • ashaonat -- noun; ablative singular masculine <ashavant-> 'follower of the Truth' -- with a follower of the Truth
  • vayĺ -- adjective; ablative dual masculine <uvaya-> 'both' -- to both
  • -- emphatic particle; <zi> 'for, indeed' -- for
  • asti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <ah-> 'be, become' -- is valid
  • mithrô -- noun; nominative singular masculine <mithra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • drvataęca -- noun; dative singular masculine <dregvant-> 'possessor of the Lie' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- for the follower of the Lie
  • ashaonaęca -- noun; dative singular masculine <ashavant-> 'follower of the Truth' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and the follower of the Lie alike

3 - âsu-aspîm dadhâiti
Mithrô yô vouru-gaoyaoitish
yôi mithrem nôit aiBi-druzhinti
razishtem pantăm dadhâiti
âtarsh mazdĺ ahurahe
yôi mithrem nôit aiBi-druzhinti
ashaonăm vanguhîsh sűrĺ
spentĺ fravashayô dadhâiti
âsnăm frazaintîm
yôi mithrem nôit aiBi-druzhinti

  • âsu-aspîm -- adjective; <âsu-> 'swift' + noun; accusative singular feminine <aspi-> 'mare' -- swift horses
  • dadhâiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <dâ-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • Mithrô -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- which
  • vouru-gaoyaoitish -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; nominative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- has vast fields
  • yôi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to those who
  • mithrem -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mithra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • nôit -- negative particle; <nôit> 'no, none' -- do not
  • aiBi-druzhinti -- verbal prefix; <aiwi> 'toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <draoga-> 'lie, deceive' -- break
  • razishtem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <erezu-> 'straight' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- the straightest
  • pantăm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <path-> '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 razishtem declines as masculine.
  • dadhâiti -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <dâ-> 'give, put' -- gives
  • âtarsh -- noun; nominative singular masculine <âtar-> 'fire' -- fire
  • mazdĺ -- noun; genitive singular masculine <mazda-> 'wise one' -- wise
  • ahurahe -- noun; genitive singular masculine <ahura-> 'lord' -- of the lord
  • yôi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to who
  • mithrem -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mithra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • nôit -- negative particle; <nôit> 'no, none' -- do not
  • aiBi-druzhinti -- verbal prefix; <aiwi> 'toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <draoga-> 'lie, deceive' -- break
  • ashaonăm -- adjective; genitive plural masculine <ashavant-> 'follower of the Truth' -- of the followers of the Truth
  • vanguhîsh -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <vohu-> 'good' -- good
  • sűrĺ -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <sűra-> 'strong, powerful' -- mighty
  • spentĺ -- adjective; nominative plural feminine <spenta-> 'beneficent, holy, sacred' -- beneficent
  • fravashayô -- noun; nominative plural feminine <fravashi-> the immortal element in a person, personified as a class of deity -- Fravashis
  • dadhâiti -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <dâ-> 'give, put' -- give
  • âsnăm -- adjective; accusative singular feminine <âsna-> 'successful, effective' -- virtuous
  • frazaintîm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <frazanti-> 'progeny, offspring' -- progeny
  • yôi -- relative pronoun; dative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- to who
  • mithrem -- noun; accusative singular masculine <mithra-> 'contract, agreement, pact' -- a covenant
  • nôit -- negative particle; <nôit> 'no, none' -- do not
  • aiBi-druzhinti -- verbal prefix; <aiwi> 'toward, with respect to' + verb; 3rd person plural present indicative active <draoga-> 'lie, deceive' -- break

4 - ahe raya xvarenanghaca
tem yazâi surunvata yasna
Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm zaothrâbyô

  • ahe -- particle; <ahe> 'indeed, certainly' -- indeed
  • raya -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <rai-> 'radiance, wealth, splendor' -- because of radiance
  • xvarenanghaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <xvarenah-> 'glory' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and glory
  • tem -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- this
  • yazâi -- 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
  • Mithrem -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- to Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitîm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- who has vast fields
  • zaothrâbyô -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaothra-> 'libations' -- together with libations

6 - tem amavantem yazatem
sűrem dâmôhu sevishtem
Mithrem yazâi zaothrâbyô
tem pairi-jasâi vantaca nemanghaca
tem yazâi surunvata yasna
Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm zaothrâbyô
Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm yazamaide
haomayô gava baresmana
hizvô danghangha măthraca
vacaca shyaothnaca zaothrâbyasca
arshuxdhaęibyasca vâghzhibyô

  • tem -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- this
  • amavantem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <amavant-> 'strong, powerful, vigorous' -- strong
  • yazatem -- future participle passive; accusative singular masculine <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- worthy of the sacrifice
  • sűrem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <sűra-> 'strong, powerful' -- mighty
  • dâmôhu -- noun; locative plural neuter <dâman-> 'dwelling, creation, creatures (pl.)' -- of all creatures
  • sevishtem -- adjective; <sűra-> 'strong, powerful' + superlative suffix; <-ista-> indicates superlative -- most powerful
  • Mithrem -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • yazâi -- verb; 1st person singular present subjunctive middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- I shall worship
  • zaothrâbyô -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaothra-> 'libations' -- with libations
  • tem -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • pairi-jasâi -- 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
  • nemanghaca -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <naman-> 'reverence' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and reverence
  • tem -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ha-> '(s)he, this' -- him
  • yazâi -- 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
  • Mithrem -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- up to Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitîm -- adjective; <varav-> 'wide, broad' + noun; <gao-> 'cow' + noun; accusative singular masculine <yaoti-> 'pasture' -- who has vast fields
  • zaothrâbyô -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaothra-> 'libations' -- with libations
  • Mithrem -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- to Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitîm -- 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
  • haomayô -- 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
  • baresmana -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <baresman-> grass bundle used in the Indo-Iranian sacrifice -- with sacrificial grass
  • hizvô -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <hizu-> 'tongue' -- with tongue
  • danghangha -- adjective; instrumental singular masculine <danhah-> 'skillful' -- fervid
  • măthraca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <măthra-> 'formulaic verse, spell, poetic intention' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- with thought
  • vacaca -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and speech
  • shyaothnaca -- noun; instrumental singular neuter <shyaothana-> 'act, deed' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and deed
  • zaothrâbyasca -- noun; instrumental plural neuter <zaothra-> 'libations' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and with libations
  • arshuxdhaęibyasca -- adjective; <eresh-> 'right, correct, true' + past participle passive; instrumental singular feminine <vak> 'say, speak, declare' + conjunction; <ca> 'and' -- and rightly-spoken
  • vâghzhibyô -- noun; instrumental plural feminine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- words

7 - Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm yazamaide
arsh-vacanghem vyâxanem
hazangra-gaoshem hutâshtem
baęvare-cashmanem berezantem
perethu-vaędhayanem sűrem
axvafnem jaghaurvĺnghem

  • Mithrem -- proper name; accusative singular masculine <Mithra-> 'Mithra' -- Mithra
  • vouru-gaoyaoitîm -- 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
  • arsh-vacanghem -- adjective; <eresh-> 'right, correct, true' + noun; accusative singular masculine <vacah-> 'speech, word' -- whose speech is true
  • vyâxanem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <vayxana-> 'assembly-speaking, rhetorically skilled' -- eloquent
  • hazangra-gaoshem -- adjective; <hazara-> 'thousand' + noun; accusative singular masculine <gaosha-> 'ear' -- with a thousand ears
  • hutâshtem -- prefix; <hu> 'well, good, beautiful' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <tas> 'carve, create, fashion, shape' -- well-fashioned
  • baęvare-cashmanem -- adjective; <baęvara-> 'ten-thousand' + noun; accusative singular masculine <cashman-> 'eye' -- with ten-thousand eyes
  • berezantem -- noun; accusative singular masculine <berezant-> 'high, elevated, lofty, big, great, clear' -- great
  • perethu-vaędhayanem -- adjective; <perethu-> 'wide, broad' + noun; accusative singular masculine <vaędhayana-> 'attainment, discovery, acquisition' -- well-procured
  • sűrem -- adjective; accusative singular masculine <sűra-> 'strong, powerful' -- strong
  • axvafnem -- privative prefix; <a> 'no, none' + noun; accusative singular masculine <xvafna-> 'sleep, dream' -- sleepless
  • jaghaurvĺnghem -- perfect participle; accusative singular masculine <gar> 'be awake' -- continuously awake

11 - yim yazente rathaęshtârô
bareshaęshu paiti aspanăm
zâvare jaidhyantô hitaęibyô
drvatâtem tanubyô
pouru-spaxshtîm tbishyantăm
paiti-jaitîm dushmainyunăm
hathrâ-nivâitîm hamerethanăm
aurvathanăm tbishyantăm

  • yim -- relative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ya-> 'who, what, which' -- whom
  • yazente -- verb; 3rd person plural present indicative middle <yaz> 'sacrifice, offer' -- worship
  • rathaęshtârô -- noun; <ratha-> 'chariot' + agent root noun; <stâ> 'stand, stay, remain' -- warrior
  • bareshaęshu -- noun; locative singular plural <baresha-> 'neck, back' -- on the backs
  • paiti -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' -- ...
  • aspanăm -- noun; genitive singular masculine <aspa-> 'horse' -- of horses
  • zâvare -- noun; accusative singular neuter <zâvar-> 'strength, vitality, vigor' -- vigor
  • jaidhyantô -- present participle passive; nominative plural masculine <gad> 'ask, entreat, supplicate' -- asking
  • hitaęibyô -- noun; dative plural masculine <hita-> 'team of horses' -- teams
  • drvatâtem -- noun; accusative singular feminine <drvatât-> 'health, vitality' -- vitality
  • tanubyô -- noun; dative plural neuter <tanu-> 'body' -- for bodies
  • pouru-spaxshtîm -- adjective; <pouru-> 'wide' + noun; accusative singular feminine <spaxshti-> 'vision' -- far-sightedness
  • tbishyantăm -- present participle passive; genitive plural masculine <tbish> 'hate, despise' -- with respect to those whom they hate
  • paiti-jaitîm -- preposition; <paiti> 'near, toward, with respect to' + active noun; accusative singular feminine <jaiti-> 'going' -- the overcoming
  • dushmainyunăm -- prefix; <dush-> 'bad, evil' + noun; genitive plural masculine <mainyu-> 'spirit' -- of the malevalent
  • hathrâ-nivâitîm -- adverb; <hathra> 'together, at the same place/time' + agent noun; accusative singular feminine <nivâiti-> 'striking down' -- the striking down with a single blow
  • hamerethanăm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <hameretha> 'enemy' -- of enemies
  • aurvathanăm -- noun; genitive plural masculine <aurvathana-> 'adversary' -- adversaries
  • tbishyantăm -- present participle passive; genitive plural masculine <tbish> 'hate, despise' -- those whom they hate

Lesson Text

1 mraot ahurô mazdĺ Spitamâi Zarathushtrâi
âat yat Mithrem yim vouru-gaoyaoitîm
frâdadhăm azem Spitama âat dim dadhăm
avĺntem yesnyata avĺntem vahmyata
yatha mămcit yim ahurem mazdăm
2 merencaite vîspăm dainghaom
mairyô mithrô-druxsh Spitama
yatha satem kayadhanăm
avavat ashava-jacit
mithrem mâ janyĺ Spitama
mâ yim drvatat peresĺnghe
mâ yim xvâdaęnât ashaonat
vayĺ zî asti mithrô
drvataęca ashaonaęca
3 âsu-aspîm dadhâiti
Mithrô yô vouru-gaoyaoitish
yôi mithrem nôit aiBi-druzhinti
razishtem pantăm dadhâiti
âtarsh mazdĺ ahurahe
yôi mithrem nôit aiBi-druzhinti
ashaonăm vanguhîsh sűrĺ
spentĺ fravashayô dadhâiti
âsnăm frazaintîm
yôi mithrem nôit aiBi-druzhinti
4 ahe raya xvarenanghaca
tem yazâi surunvata yasna
Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm zaothrâbyô
6 tem amavantem yazatem
sűrem dâmôhu sevishtem
Mithrem yazâi zaothrâbyô
tem pairi-jasâi vantaca nemanghaca
tem yazâi surunvata yasna
Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm zaothrâbyô
Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm yazamaide
haomayô gava baresmana
hizvô danghangha măthraca
vacaca shyaothnaca zaothrâbyasca
arshuxdhaęibyasca vâghzhibyô
7 Mithrem vouru-gaoyaoitîm yazamaide
arsh-vacanghem vyâxanem
hazangra-gaoshem hutâshtem
baęvare-cashmanem berezantem
perethu-vaędhayanem sűrem
axvafnem jaghaurvĺnghem
11 yim yazente rathaęshtârô
bareshaęshu paiti aspanăm
zâvare jaidhyantô hitaęibyô
drvatâtem tanubyô
pouru-spaxshtîm tbishyantăm
paiti-jaitîm dushmainyunăm
hathrâ-nivâitîm hamerethanăm
aurvathanăm tbishyantăm

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., thvastar- '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   dâtar- 'creator'   ptar- (pitar-) 'father'
Nom. sg.   dâtâ   ptâ
Acc. sg.   dâtârem   ptarem
Instr. sg.   *dâtrâ   *ptrâ
Dat. sg.   *dâthrâi   pithrai/fedhrai
Gen. sg.   *dâthrsh   *pithrsh
         
Nom. pl.   dâtârah   unattested
Acc. pl.   *dâtrnsh   ptrnsh
Gen. pl.   *dâtrăm   ptrăm
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 âtar 'fire', root ât + suffix ar, with nominative singular masculine âtarsh in Young Avestan and accusative singular âtrm alongside the more regular âtarem. It is supposed that this form was originally a neuter. Feminines do not appear.

Masculine   nar- 'creator'
Nom. sg.  
Acc. sg.   narem
Dat. sg.   *nithrai
Gen. sg.   nrsh
     
Nom. pl.   narah, unattested
Acc. pl.   nrnsh
Gen. pl.   *nrăm

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

Neuter   râzar- 'declaration'
Nom. sg.   râzar
Gen. sg.   râzanh
     
Nom. pl.   *râzâr
Gen. pl.   râshnăm
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- > thu. Plural attestations are found only in the first and second person and are built by adding âka 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   thvah
Instr. sg.     thvâ
Dat. sg.   mahmâi   thvahmâi
Abl. sg.   unattested   thvahmât
Gen. sg.   mahya   thvahya
Loc. sg.   mahmi   thvahmi
         
Acc. pl.   ahmâkanh   yushmakam
Instr. pl.   ahmâkaish   shmakâ
Dat. pl.   unattested   yushmakâi
Gen. pl.   unattested   yushmakahya
         
Feminine        
Nom. sg.   unattested   thvai
Gen. sg.   mahyâh   thvahyâh
Loc. sg.   unattested   thvâhu
         
Acc. pl.   unattested   shmâkâm
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., barat from bar 'bear, support, carry', as 'he carried' or 'he was carrying'.

Imperfect   Active   Middle
1 sg.   barem   baire
2 sg.   *barô   *baranha
3 sg.   barat   barata
         
1 du.   *barâva   unattested
3 du.   baratem   *baraętem, barôidhe
         
1 pl.   barâma, barama   unattested
2 pl.   *barata   *baradvem
3 pl.   baren   *barenta
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 -î to the full grade of root; e.g., mraoî < 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., gushta- < gush '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.