Persian Mythology and Legend, Shiite Islamic Culture
Similarity between China and Persia
We Japanese are relatively familiar with Chinese Culture and Civilization, I think which the idea where to begin can also be used for understanding Persian Culture. For there is some similarity both of them:
1) Absolute Monarchy: The Theory of the Divine Right of Kings
2) Bias of Polytheism: Shift change of Local Gods
God becomes Man, Defeated Gods become Demons, Light god Ima becomes King Jamshid, Hero Thraetaona becomes Hero Feridun, Dragon Aji Dahaka becomes Badking Zahaak, etc....
Monotheistic Structure firstly came from Orthodox Zoroastrianism, later from Islam as Confucianism greatly shifted the role of Chinese Ancient Legends.
3) Diversed Climate and Geography, Wide Domain of Many Culture and Religion
In Iran, we can see there are Greatest Lake in the World, Northern Mountainous Area, Western Seaside Area, Eastern Desert Area, even many Marshes and Forests exist in that World. We can call Azi-Dahaka as Allegory of Evil Civilzation of Babylonians or Desert Nomad from Arabic Pennisula.
Aryans: People of Mithras
First Immigrants to Persia and India were people who knew Iron Weapon and Chariots, called Aryans. They worshipped similar Vedaic Deities, we don't know whether Reformation of Zoroaster preceded or just catch up of Historical Trend of Culture...he brought some Aryan Highland Deities such as Indra to Demon Category, and brought back some Lowland Cultural Deities to his Good God Pantheon as Angels (Yazata) and customs such as Consangunous Marriage. We guess his Life circa BC 6C, but there is no proof about it.
If he was a Median as some Legend said, that maybe Strange Incident for Medians were Highlanders...We don't know whether Achemedians knew Zarathustra=Zoroaster or not because Proof didn't exist in modern time, we could only imagine their Style of Religion derived from Remained Monuments and Writings as Subsidiary Proof, and we guess they prayed to Similar Deity of Sun Desk Ahura Mazda, Lawgod Mithra, but we could not find Proof which confirm the Precise Dualistic Structure of Zoroastrianism. We can count on Influence of Judaean Religion from Zoroasternism in the Dead Sea Scroll...
Ahura and Daewa
So, Indian Pantheon and Iranian Pantheon split in the some stage of Historical Timespan.
Linguistically Some of Idea about Good and Evil contradicts each other for Difference of Two Cultures.
Linguistically Iranians have experienced many Drastic Changes in their System.
As Egyptians, Middle Age Pahlavi Iranians couldn't read Ancient Babylonian Style Cuneiforms.
As Dominant Culture of Islamic Orient, Turks and Indians also used highly-Iranized Languages and Letters in their Culture.
Archaeology versus Mythology
We can call names of Great Shahs of Akhaimenedian Dynasty as Cyrus and Darius as Greeks mentioned in their Scripts, but maybe Ancient Persians didn't know such names and figures, because they didn't invent History as general folks (except Deviant Herodotosian Greeks) So they held their history in the Form of Legend such as the sort of Denkard and Bundahishun. Later Hellenism and Sarasens also rushed to the Wealth of Iranian Structure and changed them. So we must distinguish Imagination and under consciousness from Historical Fact, Firdausi wrote Shahname long to the Alexander Great and Sassanoid Empire, but I still don't read this part because Translators don't think them as Integral Part.
Sitting on more difficult Viewpoint, Firdausi arranged Iranian Structure from
Zoroastrianism to Shiite-Islamism, from Mythology to Legend, we can call his "Kai-Khosroe" as Cyrus the Great, Horned King Al-Iskandal as Alexander, but that is very superficial treatment and absurd nonsense for One of Work of Greatest Poets.
Islamic Arts and Great Poets
We can count some Great Iranian Poets and Authors such as Nizami, Firdausi, Omar Khayyam, Hafez, Rumi. They all have Great Personality and Individuality in nature. From them we can see how Ancients understood their World from their Legends and Mythology.
Dualism of Zoroastrianism
Fierceness of Arabian Nature maybe softened in the Babylonian Luxury...
But Extremity both to Wilderness and Decadance grows in the Border of Highlan Culture. Martial Attitude toward Civilization sometimes takes such attitude.
Sufism is Islamic Mysticism and Mysticism is generally fruit of Urbanized Society, Islamic Attitude toward City Culture and Iranian Attitude intricate in that situation.
Firdausi and Rostem
He adopted many Nomadic Heroic Legends like Legend of Saka Folk for making his Original Hero Rostem. In Ancient Iranian Mythology derived from Zorastrian Cannons
mentioned Greatest Hero as Garsharsp (Kursharspa? misspell?) but Fidausi chose Originality than Continuation and succeeded.
Sassanoid Empire and Line of Imam
Ali ibn Abi-Talib was Fourth Caliph of Legitimacy Islamic Community,
and he and a sole daughter of Prophet cause the Split of Islamic Tradition, Problem occured in the conflict between Blood lineage and Authority.
In the Dawn of Islam, Roman Emperor Heraclius and Sassanoid Padishah Khosroe Parviz (Victorious) struggled hard for the Hegemony of Orient and Buffer Area,
(As Justinianus and Khosroe 1st rivalled for Supremacy of Royal Glory)
once Khosroe 2nd (Nizami wrote Beautiful Tale about Love of him and beautiful Concubine Serien) was Guest of Byzantine Emperor Maulicius for once he lost his country before the Attack of Rebellus General. They scrambled hand by hand Egypt and Syria and almost exhausted before the Attack of Arabs. Of course there is no "IF" in history, but if the two Empires could fight together to Arabs?
Last Shah Yazdigerd of Sassan House petitioned to Court of Chinese Tang Dynasty before decisive Battle of Nehavend between Zorastrianism and Upstart Desert Religion, (but that is mere Hope) Princess of Last Sassanoid Empire was rumoured to wed with Husayn, son of Ali in Legend, 3rd Imam of Shiite, and their son became 4th Imam. That legend indicate how Iranians treated their Legacies as Supernatural Gift, we can only feel such perception in the Wings of their Plays.
Nick Brooke induced me Historical Author Amin Maaloaf. He wrote Good Iranian Portrait and Scheme in his Work about Mani and Omar Khaiyyam. These books are Amazon com available.
In Japan, some of Good Book about Persian Culture has been written. But IMHO maybe these books didn't treat enough Correspondence of Zoroasrianic Culture and Iranian Shiite Culture for some natural reason.