The Zoroastrian Vision, Straight in the Eyes

Azarnouche, Samra & Olivia Ramble. 2020. La Vision zoroastrienne, les yeux dans les yeux Commentaire sur la Dēn selon Dēnkard III.225. Revue de l’his toire des reli gions 237(3). 331–395.

Sassanian Seal MOT 6.1, Collection M. I. Mochiri, after Gnoli 1993: 80.

In the Zoroastrian tradition, the Dēn (Avestan daēnā “vision”) is a polysemic notion that denotes either an auroral psychopompic deity, or the religious doctrine, or again the sacred word of the Avesta. Passage 225 of the Dēnkard III, commented here for the first time, combines these different concepts, thereby not only bringing direct proof for the continuity of the word’s original meaning—“vision”—between the Avestan textual layer and the Middle Persian (Pahlavi) exegetic layer, but also testifying to the development of metaphysical speculation (with a neo-platonic backdrop) concerning the transcendental vision acquired by the magi. Material sources (iconographic as well as epigraphic) also contribute to highlighting the notion that the Dēn is the divine entity that one looks at straight in the eyes.