Zoroaster is the heavenly prophet of the Persian Empire of Iran (Western Asia and Central Asia). Zoroaster, also known as Ashu Zarathushtra and Zarathustra, (in modern Persian Zartosht), was the founder of Zoroastrianism. It is the oldest monolithic religion which is still alive in the region. His name has an Indo-Iranian root which means camels. The full name of Zoroaster means a person who is experienced in managing camels.
Zoroaster is known as the son of Pourušaspa of the Spitamans or Spitamids (spit means brilliant or white) family, and Dugdōw (or daughter in the English language). His father’s name means “the owner of gray horses” (aspa means horse), while his mother’s name means a woman who milks cows. According to some historians, Zoroaster had four brothers whose names have been reported in the Pahlavi (i.e. Persian) literature. The Ditya River in Airyanem Vaejah (Middle Persian Ērān Wēj) is Zoroaster’s home and the scene of his first appearance as mentioned in his holy book (Yasna).
His teaching was a fundamental change to the traditions of the Indo-Iranian religion. This led to a movement that became the main religion in the Persian Empire. Historians believe that Zoroaster lived in eastern Iran in the second millennium BCE and his heavenly book is Old Avestan. His book is available for the public use in Iran and has been translated in many languages in recent decades. Some historians date him in the sixth and seventh century BCE as a near-contemporary of Cyrus the Great and Darius I, the Great Persian Kings. Zoroaster married three times. He had three sons from his first two wives, Isat Vâstra, Urvatat Nara, and Hvare Chithra, and three daughters, Freni, Thriti, and Pouruchista. His third wife, Hvōvi, had no child. Zoroaster died when he was 77 years old. The later Pahlavi books like Shahnameh, instead claim that a war with Tuiryas people led to his death.
Zoroastrianism eventually became the official religion of Western Asia and Central Asia from the sixth century BCE to the seventh century CE. Zoroaster is well-known because of the Gathas and the Yasna Haptanghaiti, unique hymns which came from God for him. However, Old Avestan comprises the principles of Zoroastrian thinking. Globally, Zoroaster is known from these holy texts. Iranians consider him as the symbol of their unity, religion and identity in Western Asia and Central Asia.
The early Greeks learned about Zoroaster from the Achaemenids, the first Persian Empire in Western Asia and Central Asia. The geographical map of the Achaemenids is available on the homepage of our website which shows the real meaning of Iran (Persia) in the mind of each Iranian.
Obviously, some ancient Greek books had a very special focus on Zoroaster (e.g. Xanthus`s Lydiaca, Fragment 32 and in Plato`s First Alcibiades, 122a1). The Romans also knew Zoroaster. This partly indicates how Iran, Italy and Greece made parts of their glorious histories together. Iranians (modern Persians) have always liked science. Therefore it is not a surprise that Zoroaster also joined the School of Athens for scientific and philosophical debates. The modern School of Athens which was one of core features of civilization and education is a clear example of Iran-Greece relationships. It was a place where Zoroaster and famous Greek scientists and philosophers gathered and discussed science and education. Obviously, Zoroaster was not only a heavenly prophet in Western Asia and Central Asia. He was also a philosopher, scientist and an educator like Plato.
His beliefs entered the West through their influence on Judaism and Platonism and he was a key element in developing philosophy. For example the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus was influenced by Zoroaster’s thinking. Zoroaster emphasized the free will of humans and later educated the Greeks who were familiar with Pythagoras. Being in the heart of the School of Athens with outstanding philosophers and scientists shows how Zoroaster was advanced.
Iranians have been pioneers in mathematics throughout the history. Pythagoreans reported that mathematicians studied math with Zoroaster in Babylonia (an ancient part of Iran, our contemporary Iraq). Lydus, in On the Months, attributes creating the seven-day week to “the Babylonians in the school of Zoroaster and Hystaspes”. This was the same with the presence of seven planets. The Sudaʼs book chapter on astronomia shows that the Babylonians learned astrology from Zoroaster. This means that such an outstanding prophet can still serve as a model for promoting science and education in Western Asia and Central Asia.
A photo of Zoroaster, the heavenly prophet of Western Asia and Central Asia
A photo of Zoroaster derived from a figure that appears in a fourth-century sculpture at Taq-e-Bostan (an ancient building) in Western Iran.
The School of Athens in Greece by Raphael, 1509, showing Zoroaster (left, with star-studded globe)
The School of Athens: A gathering of scientists, featuring the scene with Zoroaster holding a planet
The sculpture of a Zoroastrian priest form Takhti-Sangin,Tajikistan (an ancient part of Iran), Greco-Bactrian Kingdom,3rd-2nd century BCE