Ohrmazd’s better judgement

Agostini, Domenico, Eva Kiesele & Shai Secunda. 2014. Ohrmazd’s better judgement (meh-dādestānīh). A Middle Persian legal and theological discourse. Studia Iranica 43(2). 177–202.

This article presents a transcription, translation, commentary, and discussion of a ritual and theological passage taken from the long-neglected Middle Persian work, the Zand ī fragard ī Jud-dēw-dād. The selection is notable for the way it mixes theological and ritual forms of discourse while considering situations in which impure or Evil things, like corpses, wolves, and sins, naturally come into contact with pure and Good elements, like water, fire, and good deeds. Along with explaining this rich text and its various textual parallels, the article considers the potential research value of the Zand ī fragard ī Jud-dēw-dād for Iranists and scholars of late antique religious literature.

Sasanian elites and kinship ties

I found Prof. Macuch’s lecture at the FAMES, entitled Kinship Ties and Fictive Alliances in Sasanian Law, very engaging. The lecture was in two parts. First, she gave an overview of the  Sasanian interpretation of kinship and discussed wealth, property management and inheritance. In the clearly structured introduction she defined the various models of matrimony such as fully qualified marriage, proxy, temporary and fictive marriages and their purposes. In the shorter second part she interpreted the social purpose of these legal institutions. She argued that the complex Sasanian legal system was carried by the Zoroastrian clergy and served to protect the elites’ wealth, preventing it from passing to commoners. In her view, the protection of wealth in this manner resulted in a two class society with a severe imbalance of wealth. She closed her lecture with the suggestion that this imbalance of wealth may have contributed to the collapse of the Sasanian Empire in the wake of the Islamic conquests.