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Temple of Mithras near Nakı Rustan in Perna. Alor
** purpose: and Lutatius Placidus mentions that this mode of worship began among the Persians, 17 Persa? in spelaeis coli solem primi invenisse dicuntur. There is therefore no reason to think that these grottos were tombs; or that the Persians ever made use of such places for the sepulture of their kings. The tombs of ** Cyrus, 19 Nitocris, and other oriental princes, were within the precincts of their cities: from whence, as well as from the devices upon the entablatures of these grottos, we may be assured that they were designed for temples. Le Bruyn indeed supposes them to have been places of burial; which is very natural for a person to imagine, who was not acquainted with the antient worship of the people. Thevenot also says, that he J0 went into the caverns, and saw several stone coffins. But this
Justin Martyr supra.
Scholia upon Statins. Thebaid. I. 1. v. 720. Seu Pcrse'i de rupibus Antri Indignatasequi torquentem cornua Mithran. *' Plutarch: Alexander, p. 703. and Arrian. 1. vi. p. 273. 19 Herodotus. 1.1. c. 187. 30 Thevenot. part 2d. p. 144-, 146.
Some say that Thevenot was never out of Europe: conse^ quently the travels which go under his name were the work of another person: for they have many curious circumstances, which could not be mere fiction.
was merely conjectural: for the things, to which he alludes, were not in the shape of coffins, and had undoubtedly been placed there as cisterns for water, which the Persians used in their nocturnal lustrations. This we may, in great measure, learn from his own words: for he says, that these reservoirs were square, and had a near resemblance to the basons of a fountain. The hills, where these grottos have been formed, are probably the same, which were of old famous for the strange echoes, and noises heard upon them. The circumstance is mentioned by Clemens Alexandrinus3', who quotes it from the writers, who treated of the Persic history. It seems that there were some sacred hills in Persis, where, as people passed by, there were heard shouts, as of a multitude of people: also hymns and exultations, and other uncommon noises. These sounds undoubtedly proceeded from the priests at their midnight worship: whose voices at that season were reverberated by the mountains, and were accompanied with a reverential awe in those who heard them. The country below was called Xwj« T«k Mxyw, the region of the Magi. The principal building also, which is thought to
31 Clemens Alexandrinus. 1. 6. p. 756.
have been a palace, was a temple; but of a different sort. The travellers above say, that it is called Istachar: and Hyde repeats it, and tells us, that it signifies e rupe sumptum, seu rupe constans saxeum palatium: and that it is derived from the Arabic word sachr, rupes, in the eighth ?* conjugation. I am sorry, that I am obliged to controvert this learned man's opinion, and to encounter him upon his own ground, about a point of oriental etymology. I am entirely a stranger to the Persic, and Arabic languages; yet I cannot acquiesce in his opinion. I do not think that the words e rupe sumptum, vel rupe constans saxeum palatium, are at any rate materials, out of which a proper name could be constructed. The place to be sure, whether a palace, or a temple, is built of stone taken from the quarry, or rock: but what temple or palace is not? Can we believe that they would give as a proper name to one place, what was in a manner common to all; and choose for a characteristic what was so general and indeterminate? It is not to be supposed. Every symbol, and representation relates to the • worship of the country: and all history shews that such places were sacred, and set apart for the
31 Hyde de Religione Vet. Persar.- p. 306.