The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio”
VII – Persian Culture [131-140]
- No images of gods, no temples, no altars, all of which seemed silly to them. They didn’t think the gods have the same traits and nature as humans. Many gods they had were given to them from Arabs and Assyrians.
- Persian sacrifices to gods – no altars, no fires, no libations, no food. You brought the victim to a pure spot called the god’s name. You wore a turban with a myrtle wreath. You prayed not for yourself but for the welfare of Persia and the king. The victim is cut up, boiled and put on grass. The Magi chant a hymn about the gods. You must have a Magus at the sacrifice.
- Your birthday was the biggest day of your year. You ate tons of dessert and drank a lot but you couldn’t vomit or piss in public. Most big decisions are discussed when drinking but reviewed the next day and made a clear decision.
- If you met someone of the same rank in the street, you kissed someone on the lips. If not quite equals on the cheeks. If very unequal, the inferior would prostrate himself on the ground. They are close with neighbors and less so with those who were further away, etc. They saw themselves as superior to other nations because they are the closest to each other and most similar. Those furthest away were hardly human. The Medes were the rulers in the early days and passed on their style of rule and government.
- Persians were quick to pick up foreign habits when they were better. Medes’ dress was Egyptian armor and Greek luxury. Men have many wives and concubines.
- Fighting was very important to have many sons. The man with the most sons got a prize. Large numbers meant strength. Some were taught fighting between 5-20 years old. It had 3 major prizes – riding, archery and speaking the truth. Kids weren’t allowed to see their fathers before they were 5 years old, so that if they died, the father wouldn’t be too affected.
- The death penalty was not given on first offense. You had a running tally of misdeeds and if the benefit of the convicted to society was outweighed by his crimes, he’d be punished.
- They claimed that no one had ever killed his mother or father. It is occurred they were convinced the child would be a changeling or the product of adultery. A normal situation would never lead to murdering one’s parents.
- It was illegal to talk of illegal things. It was also bad to tell lies, owe debts and be a leper (you were considered a sinner against the sun). White pigeons were seen as bad, as was defiling a river. Names were based on bodily or mental excellence.
- A male Persian is never buried until eaten by a dog or bird of prey. The bodies are then covered in wax and buried. Persian Magi killed any animal for sacrifice except men and dogs. They liked to kill ants, snakes, flying or crawling animals.