(circa 630?-550 BC?), Persian religious prophet, who founded
there are no direct accounts of events in his life, scholars
have attempted to reconstruct Zoroaster's life dates using
descriptions in his works and those of possible contemporaries.
In recent years scholars have proposed that Zoroaster lived
much earlier than was traditionally thought; their dates
range from about 1000 BC to as early as the 2nd millennium
(known in ancient Persian as Zarathustra) was born
in the eastern Persian land of Airyana Vaejah, probably
during the period preceding that of the Achaemenid kings,
although earlier dates have been suggested.
still a fairly young man he began receiving revelations
from Ahura Mazda (the "Lord Wisdom"). His conversations
with this godhead, and his difficulties while preaching,
are recorded in the Gathas, part of the sacred scripture
known as the Avesta. Apparently it was after years of struggle
with priests of established cults (during which time he
had made some converts among his relatives and others) that
he found a champion in Vishtaspa, king of Chorasmia (now
in Western Turkistan). Thereafter the religion preached
by Zoroaster prospered.
homeland was mountainous, devoted to the raising of cattle,
which were considered sacred animals. Through his religion,
he had hoped to unite cattle herders against nomadic marauders
and practitioners of certain sacrificial cults. Still, the
intellectual depth of his system may well have exerted a
profound influence on Western thought; Plato, Aristotle,
and other Greek thinkers showed a great interest in his
is at least likely that Zoroaster's ideas strongly affected
the course of Judeo-Christian demonology, angelology, and
eschatology. Influences have been noted in the Manual of
Discipline found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
"Zoroaster ," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001
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