Origin of the name FERIDUN.
Etymology of the
Meaning of the baby name FERIDUN.
grandson of Djemshid.
He was raised to the throne by the people of Ispahan, who, at the
instigation of Caveh
the blacksmith, had slain the monster Zohak,
which see. His real name was Thraetaona.
(An Archaic Dictionary, Cooper, 1876). Cf. Pheredin.
The name may mean "the hero with the three quivers." See
Leith's note below.
to Tristan, a very interesting question arises as to whether he is an
ancient mythic personage venerated by the Aryan family prior to their
migrations into Europe. Of this I believe some evidence may be
gathered from the history of Ferîdûn, the celebrated hero of
Persia. His legend, as told by Firdusi in the Shahnameh, runs
thus:—Ferîdûn, the son of Abtîn and Firânek, is born in the reign of
Zohâk. That King, warned by wise men that the child would overturn
his kingdom, seeks after his life. Ferîdûn's father is killed, but
he himself is saved by his mother, who flees with him into India, where
he is brought up in secret by a hermit. When sixteen years of age
he demands of his mother the history of his birth. On hearing of
the persecution by
Zohâk, he determines to obtain his revenge. The
legend proceeds to narrate his victory over the King, whom he nails,
Prometheus-like, to a rock, in obedience to a divine command. The
rest of his story has no importance for us.* Professor Roth
informs us,† that in the Yaçna the hero is called Thraêtona (or,
according to the two eminent Eastern scholars Professors Westergaard and
Max Müller, Thraêtaona),‡ which name was afterwards corrupted
into Fredûna and Ferîdûn.
* It is interesting to compare this tale with an old
French Romance in prose, edited by Tressan, under the title Histoire
de Tristan de Léonnois, etc. Paris, Didot, l'an
VII. Like many of its kind, it gives a long account of the hero's
ancestors, commencing with Bron, the brother of Joseph of Arimathea and
custodian of the Holy Graal. Bron's grandson, Apollo by name, is
born in Cornwall, where his mother, a Babylonian Princess, has sought an
asylum. Thanor, the King of that country, being warned by a sage
that the infant is destined to work him ill, exposes it in a wood.
Apollo is, however, rescued and brought up in secret by a peasant
woman. He afterwards becomes a celebrated knight, known by the
title of "the Adventurous," and lives to fulfil the prophecy
of the sage by killing the King. It will be seen how nearly this
tale resembles that of Ferîdûn, from which it was probably
taken; a view which is strengthened by the fact that Tristan's rival in
the same Romance is called Pheredin, a name singularly like that of the
Persian hero. Should this conjecture be correct, we have here the
curious spectacle of two distinct treatments of the same myth,
independently developed in different countries and at periods widely
distant from one another, woven finally, without design, into one story.
† Zeitschrift der deu'schen morgenlaendischen
Gessellschaft, vol. II. p. 216.
‡ The MSS. differ in their spelling of the
name. Some, like the Bombay edition and the three MSS. in London,
read Thraêtaonó; others, like the Vendidad Sade, the
three Yaçnas, and the MS. of Mr. Manockjee Cursetjee, read Thraêtonô.
(See Journal Asiatique, 4th Series, vol. II, p. 497).
His birth is there described as due to
the special favour of Haoma, the Divine Nectar personified. That
deity is said to have rewarded the fidelity of four of his worshippers
by blessing them with offspring, destined to be the benefactors of the
world. Of these the first is named Vivanghvat, whose son was Yima;
the second Athwya, whose son was Thraêtona; the third Thrita,*
whose sons were Urvakshaya and Kereçâçpa; and the
fourth Purushaçpa, whose son was Zarathustra. In Yima, Thraêtona
and Kereçâçpa we recognise the three great heroes
Dshemshîd, Ferîdûn, and Gershasp; in Zarathustra the
Prophet of Iran. Thraêtona is represented as the slayer of
the devastating serpent Azhi Dahâka, "created by Ahríman for
the destruction of this word," of which the name Zohâk is a
* Eugene Burnouf (Journal Asiatique, 4th
series, vol. V. p. 251) held the Zend Thrita to be an ancient form, in
which the adjectival suffix ta is immediately joined to the
numeral thri to give it the value of an ordinal, as in the case
of the Vedic numerals ekata, dvita and trita (first,
second and third). Neriosength, the Sanscrit translator of the
Zend-Avesta, also looks upon Thrita as expressing number, but
Roth points out, that, in the passage where it occurs in the Yaçna, the
numeral is found in its proper form beside the word Thrita.
Roth (Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenlaendischen Gessellschaft,
vol. 2, p. 225) refers to the Vendidad as showing the gift of healing
possessed by Thrita. He also calls attention to the fact that the
form Thrita of the Zend-Avesta not only far more nearly resembles
Trita than Thraêtona does, but is actually the same
word. He says, "I do not doubt I shall also come upon the
trace of this Thrita in the Vedic texts. The priest, who beats and
presses out the Homa with stones, is there called, in many passages, Thrita.
Could the designation of the priest, who prepares the potent and
curative drink, have been changed in the sister religion, from
recollections of a common past, to the name of a hero versed in the
healing art? On the other hand, if we would assume that the Zend
race had here preserved the original idea, could not the name of the
Leech have been transferred to the Homa priest? That in such a
case a Leech should bear the name of a water-god is quite probable among
a people who held water to possess great healing properties. Many
questions remain here, no doubt, still to be answered; e.g. how it comes
that in the Zend one and the same Vedic word bears two
forms." Professor Westergaard of Copenhagen, in his article
on Ancient Iranian Mythology (Journal of the Bombay Branch of the
Royal Asiatic Society, vol. V., and Weber: Indische Studien:
vol. 3, p. 402), remarks, "I am more inclined to seek the etymology
of the Zend Thrita in the root thra, to save or preserve,
in which case the name would be significative of office."
We also learn that Thraêtona or Ferîdûn
is to be met with in Indian mythology, a discovery due to the celebrated
Orientalist Eugene Burnouf.* In the Vedas the hero is called Trita
Âptya. As the Zend Thraêtona, however,
cannot be directly derived from the Vedic Trita, Professor Roth
suggests an intermediate form Tretavana, afterwards Tritavan.
It appears that another form Tretana, still more like the Zend,
actually occurs once in the Rig-Veda.† These Indian and Iranian
myths resemble each other not only in the names of the actors, but also
in their history. Trita, for instance, owes his birth to the
Divine Soma, and by its aid succeeds in conquering the evil serpent Ahi.
Indra in one hymn is made to say, "It was I who gave Trita against
the serpent to win the cows;"‡ and in another hymn Agastya
exclaims, "I will praise the Drink—the Soma Drink—by means of
which Trita tore Vritra (i.e. Ahi) in pieces."§
* See Journal Asiatique, 4th Series, vol. V.
p. 493. According to Burnouf, the form Thraêtonô,
of which the crude form is Thraêtana, represents a
patronymic in which thrae is a modification of thri
(three). The other form Thraêtaonô, of which
the crude form is Thraêtaona, is, he held, more easily
explained if taona is considered as another form of the Sanscrit tûna
(a quiver). In such a case Thraêtaona would be
translated as "the hero with the three quivers." This he
considered to be the meaning, in view of the Persian orthography of Ferîdûn,
in which the last vowel presupposes either an u or an o in
the primitive word.
† See Roth (Zeitschrift der deutschen
morgenlaendischen Gessellschaft, vol. 2, p. 219), and his rendering
of the passage in which the word occurs (ibid: p. 230). He remarks
that one sees in it traces of the later and more amplified myth of Dîrghatama
(Mahâ Bhârata, I. 153. See Lassen: Indische
Alterthumskunde, I. 556). See, however, Wilson's translation (Rig-Veda,
vol. 2, p. 103) and the note thereto appended, in which he says "I
cannot acquiesce in the opinions of those scholars who imagine a
connection between Tretana and Ferîdûn; even
admitting a forced similarity of name, there is nothing analogous in the
legends relating to either." See also his note (ibid. vol. 1,
p. 141) where he refers to the story of Ekata, Dvita, and Trita, told in
the Nitimanjarí, and adds, that if his interpretation of the
above passage be correct, there can be little relatin between Trita and
Tretana, and between the latter and Ferîdûn.
‡ Rig-Veda. X, 4, 6, 2.
§ Ibid. I, 24, 8, 1, according to Roth's
rendering. Wilson has it, "I glorify Pitu the great, the
upholder, the strong, by whose invigorating power Trita slew the
mutilated Vritra." In the foot-notes he remarks that Pitu
(rendered as Soma by Roth) is the divinity presiding over food, and adds
"Trita is here evidently a name of Indra; the Scholiast explains
it, he whose fame is spread through the three worlds, or, as Mahîdhara
interprets it, Tristhána-Indrah, the three-stationed Indra.
Yajur Veda: XXXIV.7."
myths, as we have seen, contain two distinct and prominent elements
belonging to the Tristan legend, viz., the Dragon Combat and the Magic
Potion. The myth of the Foundling, though also worthy of remark,
appears in the Persian poem as a later addition, for we do not find it
in the other two earlier versions of the Trita myth. In examining,
further, the changes that must have taken place from Tretavana,
through the forms Tritavana, Tritan, to Trita, we
cannot help being struck by the wonderful resemblance, that is here
apparent, to the name of our Celtic hero. If the Vedic
commentators are right in their assertion that the word Trita is
derived from the Sanscrit numeral trayas, tris, tri (three), I
venture to submit, that we have good grounds for beliving in the
identity of Tritan and Tristan.
The exact position of Trita among the Vedic deities
is difficult to determine, as his name is merely incidentally mentioned
in the Rig-Veda, and then only about thirty times in all.
Professor Roth regards him as a half-forgotten god of more ancient
times... (On the Legend of Tristan, Leith, 1868)
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