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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 - thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya

  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King

37 - tuvam kâ xshâyathiya hya aparam âhy hacâ draugâ darsham

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

38 - patipayauvâ martiya hya draujana ahatiy avam ufrashtam parsâ yadiy

  • patipayauvâ -- prefix; <patiy> 'against, during, with respect to' + verb; 2nd person singular present imperative middle <> '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
  • ufrashtam -- adverb; <u> 'well, good' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <frath> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- well
  • parsâ -- verb; 2nd person singular present imperative <frath> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- punish
  • yadiy -- adverb; <yadiy> 'if, when' -- if

39 - avathâ maniyâhaiy dahyâushmaiy duruvâ ahatiy

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

40 - thâtiy Dârayavaush xsâyathiya ima tya adam akunavam

  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xsâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> '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 - vashnâ Auramazdâha hamahyâyâ tharda akunavam tuvam kâ hya

  • vashnâ -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vashna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will
  • Auramazdâha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • hamahyâyâ -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in this very
  • tharda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <thard-> '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
  • -- particle; <> (denotes generalization) -- ...
  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who

42 - aparam imâm dipim patiparsâhy tya manâ kartam varnavatâm

  • aparam -- adverb; <aparam> 'after' -- hereafter
  • imâm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • dipim -- noun; accusative singular feminine <dipi-> 'inscription' -- inscription
  • patiparsâhy -- 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
  • manâ -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- was done
  • varnavatâm -- verb; 3rd person singular present imperative middle <var> active 'cover', middle 'choose, convince' -- persuade

43 - thuvâm mâtya draugam maniyâhay thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya

  • thuvâm -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • mâtya -- injunctive particle; <> (expresses prohibition) + relative conjunction; <tya-> '(so/in order) that' -- lest
  • draugam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <drauga-> 'deceit, the Lie' -- deceit
  • maniyâhay -- verb; 2nd person singular present imperative middle <man> 'think' -- you would think
  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King

44 - Auramazdâha ragam vartaiyaiy yathâ ima hashiyam naiy duruxtam

  • Auramazdâha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> '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
  • yathâ -- adverbial conjunction; <yathâ> 'as, when, because' -- as
  • ima -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative singular neuter <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • hashiyam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <hashiya-> 'true' -- true
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • duruxtam -- adjective; accusative singular neuter <duruxta-> 'false' -- false

45 - adam akunavam hamahyâyâ tharda

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

50 - thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya tyaiy

  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • tyaiy -- demonstrative pronoun; instrumental plural masculine <tya-> 'he, this, that' -- by those

51 - paruvâ xshâyathiyâ yâtâ âha avaishâm avâ naiy astiy kartam

  • paruvâ -- adjective; instrumental singular masculine <paruva-> 'before, previous' -- earlier
  • xshâyathiyâ -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- kings
  • yâtâ -- adverbial conjunction; <yâtâ> 'until, while, as long as' -- as much
  • âha -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- were
  • avaishâm -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- among those
  • avâ -- adverb; <avâ> '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 - yathâ manâ vashnâ Auramazdâha hamahyâyâ tharda kartam thâtiy

  • yathâ -- adverbial conjunction; <yathâ> 'as, when, because' -- as
  • manâ -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me
  • vashnâ -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vashna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will
  • Auramazdâha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • hamahyâyâ -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in this very
  • tharda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <thard-> 'autumn, year' -- of (one) year
  • kartam -- past participle passive; nominative singular neuter <kar> 'do, make' -- done
  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares

53 - Dârayavaush xshâyathiya nûram thuvâm varnavatâm tya manâ

  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • nûram -- adverb; <nûram> 'now' -- now
  • thuvâm -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • varnavatâm -- 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
  • manâ -- personal pronoun; genitive singular <adam> 'I' -- by me

54 - kartam avathâ kârahyâ râdiy mâ apagaudaya yadiy imâm

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

55 - hadugâm naiy apagaudayâhy kârahyâ thâhy Auramazdâ thuvâm

  • hadugâm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <hadugâ-> 'record, statute' -- record
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • apagaudayâhy -- preposition; <apa> 'away' + verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive causative active <gud> 'hide' -- do conceal
  • kârahyâ -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kâra-> 'man, person; the people' -- among the people
  • thâhy -- verb; 2nd person singular present indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declare
  • Auramazdâ -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda
  • thuvâm -- personal pronoun; accusative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you

56 - daushtâ biyâ utâtaiy taumâ vasiy biyâ utâ dargam jîvâ

  • daushtâ -- noun; nominative singular masculine <daushtar-> 'friend' -- friend
  • biyâ -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- will become
  • utâtaiy -- conjunctive particle; <utâ> 'and' + personal pronoun; genitive singular <tuvam-> 'you' -- your... and
  • taumâ -- noun; nominative singular feminine <taumâ-> 'family' -- a family
  • vasiy -- adverb; <vasiy> 'greatly, utterly' -- large
  • biyâ -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- will be
  • utâ -- conjunction; <utâ> 'and' -- and
  • dargam -- adverb; <dargam> 'long' -- long
  • jîvâ -- noun; nominative singular feminine <jîvâ-> 'life' -- life

57 - thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya yadiy imâm hadugâm apagaudayâhy

  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • yadiy -- adverb; <yadiy> 'if, when' -- if
  • imâm -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine <ima-> 'he, this' -- this
  • hadugâm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <hadugâ-> 'record, statute' -- record
  • apagaudayâhy -- preposition; <apa> 'away' + verb; 2nd person singular present subjunctive causative active <gud> 'hide' -- do conceal

58 - naiy thâhy kârahyâ Auramazdâtay jatâ biyâ utâtaiy taumâ

  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • thâhy -- verb; 2nd person singular present indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declare
  • kârahyâ -- noun; genitive singular masculine <kâra-> 'man, person; the people' -- among the people
  • Auramazdâtay -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' + personal pronoun; genitive singular <tuvam-> 'you' -- Ahura Mazda... your
  • jatâ -- noun; nominative singular masculine <jatar-> 'smiter' -- smiter
  • biyâ -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- may... become
  • utâtaiy -- conjunctive particle; <utâ> 'and' + personal pronoun; genitive singular <tuvam-> 'you' -- your... and
  • taumâ -- noun; nominative singular feminine <taumâ-> 'family' -- a (large) family

59 - mâ biyâ thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya ima tya adam akunavam

  • -- injunctive particle; <> (expresses prohibition) -- may not
  • biyâ -- verb; 3rd person singular present optative active <bu> 'be, become' -- be born
  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> '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 - hamahyâya tharda vashnâ Auramazdâha akunavam Auramazdâmaiy upastâm

  • hamahyâya -- adjective; genitive singular masculine <hama-> 'same' + demonstrative pronoun; locative singular feminine <a-> 'this' -- in this very
  • tharda -- noun; genitive singular feminine <thard-> 'autumn, year' -- of (one) year
  • vashnâ -- noun; instrumental singular masculine <vashna-> 'will, favor' -- by the will
  • Auramazdâha -- proper name; genitive singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- of Ahura Mazda
  • akunavam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <kar> 'do, make' -- did
  • Auramazdâmaiy -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' + enclitic personal pronoun; accusative singular <adam> 'I' -- Ahura Mazda... me
  • upastâm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <upastâ-> 'aid, support' -- aid

61 - abara utâ aniyâha bagâha tyaiy hatiy thâtiy Dârayavaush

  • abara -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <bar> 'bear, carry' -- bore
  • utâ -- conjunction; <utâ> 'and' -- as did
  • aniyâha -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <aniya-> 'other' -- the other
  • bagâha -- 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
  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius

62 - xshâyathiya avahyarâdiy Auramazdâ upastâm abara utâ aniyâha

  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • avahyarâdiy -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' + adverb; <râdiy> 'on account of' -- on account of that
  • Auramazdâ -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Auramazdâh-> 'Ahura Mazda' -- Ahura Mazda
  • upastâm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <upastâ-> 'aid, support' -- aid
  • abara -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect indicative active <bar> 'bear, carry' -- bore
  • utâ -- conjunction; <utâ> 'and' -- as did
  • aniyâha -- adjective; nominative plural masculine <aniya-> 'other' -- the other

63 - bagâha tyaiy hatiy yathâ naiy arika âham naiy draujana âham naiy

  • bagâha -- 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
  • yathâ -- adverbial conjunction; <yathâ> 'as, when, because' -- because
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not
  • arika -- adjective; nominative singular masculine <arika-> 'treacherous, evil, hostile' -- hostile
  • âham -- 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
  • âham -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <ah> 'be' -- I was
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- not

64 - zûrakara âham naiy adam naimaiy taumâ upariy arshtâm upariyâyam

  • zûrakara -- noun; nominative singular masculine <zûrakara-> 'evil-doer' -- an evil man
  • âham -- 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
  • taumâ -- noun; nominative singular feminine <taumâ-> 'family' -- family
  • upariy -- adverb; <upariy> 'over, above, in accordance with' -- in accordance with
  • arshtâm -- noun; accusative singular feminine <arshtâ-> 'righteousness, Truth' -- Truth
  • upariyâyam -- adverb; <upariy> 'over, above, in accordance with' + verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <i> 'go' -- did I behave

65 - naiy shkaurim naiy tunuvatam zûra akunavam martiya hya hamataxshatâ

  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- neither
  • shkaurim -- noun; accusative singular masculine <shkauri-> 'weak' -- to the weak
  • naiy -- negative particle; <naiy> 'not' -- nor
  • tunuvatam -- noun; accusative singular masculine <tunuvat-> 'possessing power' -- to the powerful
  • zûra -- noun; <zûra-> '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
  • hamataxshatâ -- prefix; <ham> 'together' + verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative middle <taxsh> 'be active, build, carve, make' -- collaborated

66 - manâ vithiyâ avam ubartam abaram hya viyanâthaya avam ufrashtam

  • manâ -- personal pronoun; genitive singular masculine <adam> 'I' -- my
  • vithiyâ -- noun; instrumental singular feminine <vith-> '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
  • viyanâthaya -- verbal prefix; <vi> 'wide, apart' + verb; <nâth> 'injure, rend' -- did damage
  • avam -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular masculine <ava-> 'this, that' -- him
  • ufrashtam -- adverb; <u> 'well, good' + past participle passive; accusative singular masculine <frath> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- severely

67 - aparsam thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya tuvam kâ xshâyathiya

  • aparsam -- verb; 1st person singular imperfect indicative active <frath> 'ask, inquire, investigate, indict' -- I punished
  • thâtiy -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect indicative active <thah> 'speak, say, declare' -- declares
  • Dârayavaush -- proper name; nominative singular masculine <Dârayavahu-> 'Darius' -- Darius
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- the King
  • tuvam -- personal pronoun; nominative singular masculine <tuvam-> 'you' -- you
  • -- particle; <> (denotes generalization) -- ...
  • xshâyathiya -- noun; nominative singular masculine <xshâyathiya-> 'royal, king' -- king

68 - hya aparam âhy martiya hya draujana ahatiy hyavâ zûrakara ahatiy

  • hya -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' -- who
  • aparam -- adverb; <aparam> 'after' -- hereafter
  • âhy -- 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
  • hyavâ -- relative pronoun; nominative singular masculine <hya-> 'who, what, which' + conjunctive particle; <> 'or' -- or who
  • zûrakara -- noun; nominative singular masculine <zûrakara-> 'evil-doer' -- an evil man
  • ahatiy -- verb; 3rd person singular present subjunctive active <ah> 'be' -- would be

69 - avaiy mâ daushtâ biyâ ufrashtâdiy parsâ

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

Lesson Text

36  thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya 37 tuvam kâ xshâyathiya hya aparam âhy hacâ draugâ darsham 38 patipayauvâ martiya hya draujana ahatiy avam ufrashtam parsâ yadiy 39 avathâ maniyâhaiy dahyâushmaiy duruvâ ahatiy 40 thâtiy Dârayavaush xsâyathiya ima tya adam akunavam 41 vashnâ Auramazdâha hamahyâyâ tharda akunavam tuvam kâ hya 42 aparam imâm dipim patiparsâhy tya manâ kartam varnavatâm 43 thuvâm mâtya draugam maniyâhay thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya 44 Auramazdâha ragam vartaiyaiy yathâ ima hashiyam naiy duruxtam 45 adam akunavam hamahyâyâ tharda

50  thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya tyaiy 51 paruvâ xshâyathiyâ yâtâ âha avaishâm avâ naiy astiy kartam 52 yathâ manâ vashnâ Auramazdâha hamahyâyâ tharda kartam thâtiy 53 Dârayavaush xshâyathiya nûram thuvâm varnavatâm tya manâ 54 kartam avathâ kârahyâ râdiy mâ apagaudaya yadiy imâm 55 hadugâm naiy apagaudayâhy kârahyâ thâhy Auramazdâ thuvâm 56 daushtâ biyâ utâtaiy taumâ vasiy biyâ utâ dargam jîvâ 57 thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya yadiy imâm hadugâm apagaudayâhy 58 naiy thâhy kârahyâ Auramazdâtay jatâ biyâ utâtaiy taumâ 59 mâ biyâ thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya ima tya adam akunavam 60 hamahyâya tharda vashnâ Auramazdâha akunavam Auramazdâmaiy upastâm 61 abara utâ aniyâha bagâha tyaiy hatiy thâtiy Dârayavaush 62 xshâyathiya avahyarâdiy Auramazdâ upastâm abara utâ aniyâha 63 bagâha tyaiy hatiy yathâ naiy arika âham naiy draujana âham naiy 64 zûrakara âham naiy adam naimaiy taumâ upariy arshtâm upariyâyam 65 naiy shkaurim naiy tunuvatam zûra akunavam martiya hya hamataxshatâ 66 manâ vithiyâ avam ubartam abaram hya viyanâthaya avam ufrashtam 67 aparsam thâtiy Dârayavaush xshâyathiya tuvam kâ xshâyathiya 68 hya aparam âhy martiya hya draujana ahatiy hyavâ zûrakara ahatiy 69 avaiy mâ daushtâ biyâ ufrashtâdiy parsâ

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
â   father   x   Ger. Loch   r   room
i   sit, Ger. bitte   c   It. ciao   l   lump
î   me   j   jest; medially azure   v   vice; medially, werewolf
u   book   t   time        
û   choose   th   theater   s   sound
        c*   tse tse fly   sh   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, î       u, û
Low       a, â    
             
Consonants:                        
    Unvoiced   Voiced   Nasals   Unvoiced   Unvoiced   Voiced
    Stops   Stops       Fricatives   Sibilants   Sibilants
Velars:   k   g       x        
Palatals:   c   j           sh   medial-z
Cerebrals:                   c*    
Dentals:   t   d   n   th   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 â 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., âpish + shim = âpishim and vashnâ + apiy = vashnâpiy -- 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., gaushâ 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.   *martiyâ
Abl.   *martiyâ
Gen.   martiyahyâ
Loc.   *martiyaiy
Voc.   martiyâ
Plural:    
Nom/Acc.   martiyâ
Instr.   martiyaibish
Gen.   martiyânâm
Loc.   *martiyaisuvâ

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

    Neuter dâta- 'law'
Nom/Acc. sg.   dâtam
Nom/Acc. pl.   dâtâ
3.2. â-Stem Nouns, Feminine
Singular:   yauviyâ- 'insight'
Nom.   yauviyâ
Acc.   yauviyâm
Instr.   yauviyâyâ
Abl/Gen.   yauviyâyâ
Loc.   yauviyâyâ
Plural:    
Nom.   yauviyâ
Gen.   yauviyânâm
Loc.   *yauviyâhuvâ
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 , 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.   â-baratiy   unattested
3 pl.   barantiy   unattested
         
Imperative        
2 sg.   pari-barâ   *barahuvâ
3 sg.   baratuv   unattested
         
Subjunctive        
2 sg.   *barâhy   unattested
3 sg.   *barâtiy   unattested
         
Optative        
2 sg.   baraish   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:

    auramazdâ   tay   jatâ   biyâ   utâ   taiy   taumâ   mâ biyâ
    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     xshâyathiya   hya   aparam   âhy
    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:

    auramazdâ   maiy   upastâm   abara   utâ   aniyâha   bagâha   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:

    thâtiy   dârayavaush   xshâyathiya
    [Thus] declares   Darius   the king