Between the years 539 and 331 BC, in what it was known as Persia, present Iran, the first ethical dualist religion flourished out of the works of the fabled Persian Prophet Zoroaster. This was the first novelty in its treatment in purely ethical terms of the ultimate nature and destiny of both mankind and the world. It was the first religion to treat god and the divine from a purely ethical side
In India, the cosmic order of eons, ever cycling in a mighty round of ineluctably returning ages, from eternity and through eternity, would never, by any act of man, be changed from its majestic way. The moon, the sun, the stars and its courses, the various animal species and the order of the castes of the orthodox Indian social system remained the way they were forever. This was an orientation of order which was metaphysical, not ethical or rational, but trans-ethical and trans-rational. Chaos and disorder could arise just by the departure of those laws of nature.
In the other hand, in Zoroaster’s view, the world was corrupted by accident, not by nature, and needed to be reformed by human acting. Wisdom, truth and virtue laid in engagement. Zoroastrianism was a religion based on a divined creator, whom primal character of creation had been light, wisdom and truth. A creation in which darkness, deception and lie had entered. This is why man’s duty had become to eradicate it through own virtue in thought, word and deed. This is a clearly a dualist-ethical religion, in which a dark and light sides crash against each other.
The Lord of life and light is Ahura Mazda, while its opposite, Lord of darkness and daemon of lie was Angra Mainyu. These two dual opposite divined figures struggle and conflict amongst them, in a cosmic fall and for renovation. This is the Persian myth of creation, fall and world renovation. We find nature that is good and evil, a process that renovates itself after destruction and renovation. This myth originates in primitive mythology, from the planting complex and the cycle of life, death and resurrection. But the difference is that in primitive mythology there is no moral criticism of life and the world. This is the case in these Levantine Zoroastrian myths of the fall, in which it is believed that life has been corrupted and Human’s engagement can make the difference.
In Persian myth, evil is regarded from a cosmic point of view, as antecedent of fall of man. In Zoroaster’s thoughts, we find an evil that comes from lie, not from human acts, unlike in Christianism, where fall comes from man and evil comes from human acting. The Messianic idea in Israel was political, not cosmological, the elevation of Israel to leadership in the world. In Zoroastrianism however, all the opposites come together, with a renovation occurring and with it immortality for ever.
The concepts of ethical dualism brought up by Zoroastrianism have influenced Jewish first and after Christianism and Muslim religions. Its effects though were felt earlier, for the first time, within the Assyrian Empire and with one of its monarch Tiglath Pilesar III. This monarch introduced in the Levant for the first time migrations of conquered populations to foreign lands, for control and servitude purposes. This was an innovative strategy that affected especially those regions which were adhered to Persia, such as Israel or Egypt. Tighath Pilesar III also introduced Zoroastrianism as official religion to the Kingdom.
With the time Zoroastrianism imposed its thoughts in Persian lands, being Darius I, a contemporary of the Buddha and of the philosopher Confucius, a king that became a representation of the image of the supreme spiritual authority Ahura Mazda, by who each mythological province thereafter was to be hallmarked. Darius I became the king of the wall of Ahura Mazda, his kingdom being the sole rebuke of moral right and every enemy of such a king an agent of the enemy of god, Angra Mainyu, the daemon of the lie. Persian kingly majesty and rule, this king of kings, whose radiance was of Ahura Mazda and who had as instrument of his majesty the whip of love, brought Zoroastrianism concepts to Persian society. Love was seen in Persian Zoroastrianism as the true pedagogue of the open free society, the love of god of immortality above everything else.
All of this resulted in a metamorphosis of mythology in the fifth century, with this new search for beauty and love. From now on mythology accent will be on the body (Soma), the beautiful , standing nude as the signature and high symbol of the Classical or Apollonian order of experience. In contrast to the magian sense of the world cavern, with its own space, one span of time, one all-inhabiting spirit, on the other hand we find that the Greek mind focussed almost exclusively on what was present to the senses. The Greek concept of Eros is locked firmly to the body and as the wise women Diotima tells, all penetration beyond, to beauty’s very self, not only must begin with bodily specificity, but almost must remain in the end with beauty’s visible presentment. Besides, love is seen as prime substance of all things, the idea of beauty is everywhere.
Hesiod already had written about Eros as one of the prime divine beings, together with Chaos, Gaea (Mother Earth) and Tartarus (the dark pit of Hades beneath the earth). Eros is seen as a pre-Hellenic Aegean stratum of mythological thought, linked to Aphrodite as her child – Aphrodite and her son as the great cosmic mother and her son as the ever-dying, ever-living God. This search for love and beauty and the concept of love being on everything and everywhere was also the result of Zoroastrianism.