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    Yet another (possible) Zoroastrianism reference

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    Yet another (possible) Zoroastrianism reference

    Postby MrFlibble » 13 Jul 2013 18:54

    Some time ago I got interested in the possibility of Zoroastrian elements in the Dune books. The Sirat/Chinvat parallel that had caught my attention can indeed be traced back to Arabic only, but there is also this interesting story in the Persian epic tradition (reflected, among other texts, in Shahnameh) that describes the confrontation of Ardashir I with Haftan-bokht, a ruler who was worshipping a giant worm and was thus known as the Kirmanshah or 'the King of the Worm'. Ardashir could not defeat this enemy until he found a way to kill the giant worm that gave Haftan-bokht his power (this story is retold in detail here).

    Now I've started to suspect yet another possible reference (or trace of influence) of Zoroastrianism in FH's texts, and namely, it's the scene of Paul's test for humanity in the first book. His experience is described as the burning of the hand in the box. It is worth noting that in Zoroastrianism, fire is closely related to the concept of truth, and what is more, fire tests are described in Persian texts:
    This analogy of truth that burns and detecting truth through fire is already attested in the very earliest texts, that is, in the Gathas and in the Yasna Haptanghaiti. In Yasna 43-44, Ahura Mazda dispenses justice through radiance of His fire and the strength of aša. Fire "detects" sinners "by hand-grasping" (Yasna 34.4). An individual who has passed the fiery test (garmo-varah, ordeal by heat), has attained physical and spiritual strength, wisdom, truth and love with serenity (Yasna 30.7). Altogether, "there are said to have been some 30 kinds of fiery tests in all."

    In the view of this, I find it interesting that the same scene involves a discussion of truth and truthsaying, suggesting that Paul can detect truth, which is presumably related to his status as a possible Kwisatz Haderach - something that IIRC is not much elaborated elsewhere in the books. There's also this detail that in Zoroastrian texts, Atar (the holy flame) is described as "grasping sinners by the hand".

    Further on, the relation of truth and the fire ordeal can be also seen in the following interchange in the same chapter:
    "Why do you test for humans?" he asked.
    "To set you free."

    This could be interpreted as a reference to the Biblical quote, "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

    I understand that all this could be explained by other means, without the possibility of FH's consciously inserting elements that reference or are influenced by Zoroastrian religious tradition and texts. I wonder if any of you guys who have studied FH's archives could confirm if anything directly related to Zoroastrianism ever caught his attention, or if all of these "references" are just plain coincidence.
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    Re: Yet another (possible) Zoroastrianism reference

    Postby inhuien » 14 Jul 2013 03:04

    Re the above, I'll read and comment later.
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    Re: Yet another (possible) Zoroastrianism reference

    Postby Freakzilla » 15 Jul 2013 07:24

    MrFlibble wrote:In the view of this, I find it interesting that the same scene involves a discussion of truth and truthsaying, suggesting that Paul can detect truth, which is presumably related to his status as a possible Kwisatz Haderach - something that IIRC is not much elaborated elsewhere in the books.


    At the end of that chapter it's elaborated on a little more.

    "Have you ever seen truthtrance?"
    He shook his head. "No."
    "The drug's dangerous," she said, "but it gives insight. When a Truthsayer's
    gifted by the drug, she can look many places in her memory -- in her body's
    memory. We look down so many avenues of the past . . . but only feminine
    avenues." Her voice took on a note of sadness. "Yet, there's a place where no
    Truthsayer can see. We are repelled by it, terrorized. It is said a man will
    come one day and find in the gift of the drug his inward eye. He will look where
    we cannot -- into both feminine and masculine pasts."
    "Your Kwisatz Haderach?"
    "Yes, the one who can be many places at once: the Kwisatz Haderach. Many men
    have tried the drug . . . so many, but none has succeeded."
    "They tried and failed, all of them?"
    "Oh, no." She shook her head. "They tried and died."

    ~Dune

    I think at this early point in the story "truthsayer" and "Reverend Mother" were somewhat synonomous.
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    Re: Yet another (possible) Zoroastrianism reference

    Postby MrFlibble » 15 Jul 2013 07:51

    inhuien wrote:Re the above, I'll read and comment later.

    Thanks!

    Freakzilla wrote:I think at this early point in the story "truthsayer" and "Reverend Mother" were somewhat synonomous.

    This is most probably the case. Then again, the BG used drugs for many of their practices.

    In this respect, I find it interesting how FH implied that the use of drugs would amplify some of the innate human powers (rather than simply grant powers to whoever takes the substance, as is common with different varieties of phlebotinum often used in science fiction), including prescience and truthsaying. I think truthsaying could "work" without any substances rather reliably, although I'm not sure (conversely, innate prescience, no matter how strong, would apparently never be enough on its own for the purposes of Heighliner navigation). IIRC there's an elaboration of the truthsaying ability in either Heretics or Chapterhouse where Rebecca recounts what her Truthsayer husband had told her about his experiences, and I'm not sure if any use of drugs to amplify the ability was mentioned.

    Wow, I just realized I haven't re-read the books in a very long time...
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    Re: Yet another (possible) Zoroastrianism reference

    Postby Freakzilla » 15 Jul 2013 09:17

    I believe his name was Shoel. No, he didn't use drugs for it IIRC. That was in CH:D.
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