The University of Texas at Austin; College of Liberal Arts
Hans C. Boas, Director :: PCL 5.556, 1 University Station S5490 :: Austin, TX 78712 :: 512-471-4566
LRC Links: Home | About | Books Online | EIEOL | IE Doc. Center | IE Lexicon | IE Maps | IE Texts | Pub. Indices | SiteMap

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
  • -- prohibitive participle; <> 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
  • -- prohibitive participle; <> 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
  • -- prohibitive participle; <> 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
  • -- 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
  • -- 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.  
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.     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 -ī 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.