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succeeded in translating four hundred lines of the inscription on the Behistun tablets.
These tablets are found in the midst of ancient Media not far from the modern city of Kermanshah.1 There rises a high precipitous mountain the lower part of which is smoothed, and upon it is sculptured a figure trampling on a prostrate rebel with nine other captives fettered. With this is a Persepolitan writing in nearly 1000 lines-400 of which, as stated, Rawlinson has decyphered. It is an inscription of Darius Hystaspes, giving his genealogy, victories, and the provinces over which he reigned. He describes the manner in which he obtained the crown, and ascribes all the glory of his power to Ormuzd. It is a wonderful discovery. One fancies he can hear Herodotus rejoicing from his grave.
The Persepolitan tablets are trilingual. Professor Westergaard, a Dane, has opened to us an acquaintance with the second variety of characters. He calls it Median, the first being named old Persian. Starting with the idea that these were but translations of the first, which was fully confirmed, he proceeded to construct an alphabet. He also investigated on the ground. The additional inscriptions decyphered by him are of Xerxes. They consist of praises to Ormuzd for blessings received and to himself for the additions he made to the royal palace at Persepolis.2
Major Rawlinson has made some advance on the third class of Persepolitan characters called the Achæmenian-Babylonian. Prof. Grotefend has also devoted some attention to them.
Rawlinson makes three grand divisions of the arrow-headed characters, viz. the Persian, the Median and the Babylonian. The Babylonian he subdivides into five, viz. the primitive Babylonian, the Achæmenian-Babylonian, the Medo-Assyrian, the Assyrian, and the Elymean. Westergaard however makes only five divisions in all, viz. the three kinds on the trilingual tablets of Persia. The Persian, the Median and the one called by Rawlinson the Achæmenian-Babylonian, together with the Assyrian and Old Babylonian.3
These discoveries together with those resulting from the excavations of Layard and Botta, near the site of Nineveh, are interesting and exciting in a high degree, and may lead to remarkable results. Our object however is simply to consider them in
1 London Quart. Review ubi sup.
3 Ib. and Quart. Review.
Results of late Discoveries.
a philological point of view, and as connected with the place assigned by Bopp to the Sanscrit.
The old Persian as decyphered is found to exhibit close affinities both to the Sanscrit and Zend. It is entirely alphabetic. The Median, as it is called by Westergaard, contains according to him "one hundred characters of which seventy-four are syllabic, twenty-four alphabetic, and two signs of divisions between words." He does not pretend to decide upon the family-relation of this language though "he considers that it belongs to the Scythian rather than to the Japhetic class of languages, in which opinion Major Rawlinson coïncides."1
If this is dark, the darkness becomes deeper as we inquire into the remainder. Little that is distinct has yet been accomplished in these, but the world will look with deep interest for any light that can be thrown upon the Assyrian or Babylonian language.
In summing up the results it will be perceived that in regard to the language called Median, there is nothing sufficiently certain as yet developed upon which to build any firm theory, and in regard to the old Persian the affinities are clearly and decidedly with the Sanscrit and Zend. The Quarterly Review says: "the discoveries start from the later reigns of the Achæmenian kings, and only through well-grounded knowledge of the Persic form of the arrow-headed character and of the old Persic language, can slowly ascend through the intervening Median dynasties, with their peculiar alphabet, and yet imperfectly conjectured language, up into the mysteries of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires-with their still more difficult, complicated, and, it should seem, five-fold varieties of character-and their language, the descent of which, whether from the Semitic or Indian family is yet an unresolved problem."
Mr. Turner, of the New York Union Theological Seminary, who has been investigating this subject by an examination of all the recent works which have reached this country, has favored the writer with the following remarks. Mr. T. disclaims being considered an authority on the subject. Of that the reader can judge.
Mr. Turner writes as follows: "The discoveries of Lassen, Rawlinson and Westergaard do not in the least degree shake the conclusions of Bopp respecting the Sanscrit as the basis of the Indo-European languages. The latest views of Lassen and Rawlinson, as far as regards the decyphering and translating of the in
1 Bartlett, p. 226.
scriptions, are nearly coïncident. Their principal difference of opinion may be called a theoretical one, and has respect to the relative age and position of the old Persian, the language of the inscriptions. Messrs. Burnouf and Lassen place the Zend and Vedic Sanscrit on a par, and declare that when we compare the language of the Persepolitan inscriptions with that of the ZendAvesta, we perceive that the former bears to the latter the same relation that the Italian does to the Latin, or the modern to ancient Greek, that is to say, the old Persian has all the characteristics of a language derived from the Zend, which latter, being closely allied with the Sanscrit, bears with it the like traces of antiquity. This opinion is not acceded to by Maj. Rawlinson, who elevates the old Persian, or rather depresses the Sanscrit and Zend considerably in the scale. He places the old Persian on a par with the Vedic Sanscrit, and thus brings down the classical Sanscrit and the Zend to a much later epoch. He even goes so far as to doubt whether the Zend was ever a spoken language. Without going into an original investigation of the subject, it is very easy to account for the discrepancy between these views, and to estimate their respective value. Messrs. Burnouf and Lassen are men living in the heart of learned Europe, leaders in the new school of philology which has sprung up in the present age, and whose information, so to speak, is kept posted up to the latest date. Maj. Rawlinson, on the contrary, is not a philologist by profession, is ignorant of the German language, and is so secluded from the literary world by his position in the centre of Asia, that he cannot procure a sight of the books that most intimately concern him till years after their publication. It is thus easy to conceive that, in spite of his great learning and sagacity, and his enthusiastic devotion to the studies in which all his leisure is engaged, his writings should be tinctured with the obsolete views of British scholars of the last century, and show an imperfect acquaintance with the texts now relied upon to determine the relative antiquity of languages belonging to the same stock. Taking these circumstances into consideration, we see that the views of Lassen and Burnouf in this respect are entitled to by far the greater weight.
"I give you a brief view of the language and its relations as furnished by Lassen in the sixth volume of the Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlands. This will enable you to form a judgment on the subject for yourself.
"Letters.-The vowels are the original a, i, u (Rawlinson finds
the diphthongs au, ai, etc.); no derivative vowels, e, o. In the consonants we find three series, viz. Surds mute and aspirated, and Sonant mute.
The aspirated sonants v, dh, etc. of the Sanscrit, some of which are also found in the Zend, are wanting in the old Persian, which in this respect forms the transition to the Greek and Gothic.
"Declensions.-The remains of the old Persian are sufficient to show that in the time of the Achæmenides it possessed nearly the whole stock of inflexions belonging to the Asian languages. Still it is inferior in completeness to the Sanscrit and even to the Zend, and manifests a tendency to confound the Cases by rejecting certain final articulations as t and n, and also s after a and á. The Dual also seems to have vanished, at least in the verb. Of the eight cases of the Sanscrit and Zend, the Locative is the only one not yet found in a separate form, the Instrumental appearing to be used instead of it. The name of the Deity, Ormuzd, occurs in the following forms:
th, sh, chh, kh b, d, Z,
P, t, S,
Other pronouns exhibit
The second person has not been found. a like correspondence. "Conjugations.-From the nature of the inscriptions which consist in great measure of titles and proper names, the forms of verbs are not exhibited in such fulness as those of the nouns. Still examples are preserved of the Present, Imperfect, Aorist, Perfect and Future; besides the Indicative mode, the Imperative occurs in the Middle voice, whereas the other forms are in the Active. Only one example is found of the Optative, which mode is usually re-placed by forms of the Imperfect. The Imperfect tense of the verb to do will serve as a specimen of conjugation:
Sing. 1. akrinavam,
"Lassen considers that the old Persian was the language of the ancient Persians in the time of the Achæmenides, the Zend of the east of Persia, whence its close affinities to the language of India; and that both the old Persian and Zend descend from a common source. The Pehlevi shows itself as a living language only during the times of the Sassanides. It was the language of western Iran, and consists of two elements, an Iranian and an Aramean. It is the first monument that appears after the old Persian, and serves in many respects to show the mode of transition of the ancient language into the modern. It is already modern Persian in its essential characteristics. The Pâzend was a dialect parallel with the Pehlevi, but which attaches itself immediately to the Zend."
We return, in conclusion, to the point of similarity in character in the nations, who speak the Indo-European languages.
"God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the. tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant." So spake the voice of the Almighty by his servant Noah, upwards of four thousand years ago by Ararat. Comparative philology affords us another beautiful illustration of this passage. The testimony of the great German scholars is unequivocal that the Indo-European languages are by far the most powerful in the world, the natural language of the ruling race. Their mode of development from their own substance, and the manner in which they lay the strong hand upon everything in other tongues which suits their own genius, shows the spirit of the conquering and annexing race. How wonderful the law by which the speakers of Indo-European tongues, the Japhetan race are everywhere victorious! Commencing from the mountains of Caucasus they fill the best parts of the world. In India the Brahmans, the speakers of Sanscrit, have impressed their religion and language upon a hundred millions, whose government is Anglo-Saxon, Japhet dwelling in the tents of Shem. Northern Asia and Northern Europe are ruled by the Sclavonic family proven by Bopp to be of the race of Japhet. Shem yields everywhere, except always in Arabia where Ishmael lives before God invincible in answer to the prayer of Abraham, his friend. But mark where Japhet, meets Japhet in his own fastnesses!