mortals"), who are the chief assistants and ministers of Ahuro Mazdao (Ormazd), the creator of all good things. In the Avesta, Haurvatat and Ameretat are inseparable companions, as are Horot and Morot in Armenian mythology. The latter presides over the whole vegetable kingdom. In later Persian the names were gradually corrupted into Khurdad and Murdad, and these two good genii gave their names to the third and fifth months of the year. The words are of purely Aryan origin and occur under their proper form in Sanskrit (sarvata and amrita — the former occurring in the form sarvatati in the Rig Veda), though they have not become mythological beings. The Aryan legend represented these demigods as givers of fertility to the earth, personified as Spenta Armaiti, and as presiding over all kinds of fruitfulness. They were holy beings, and their descent to the earth was in accordance with the command of Ormazd, as in the Muhammadan legend. But originally the execution of their mission was not associated with any thought of sin. Borrowing their names from the ancient mythology of Armenia and Persia, Muhammad confounded them (or his informants did) with the two sinful angels of Jewish mythology. As we shall see in due time 1, he derived not a little information from Persian as well as from Jewish sources, and there was sufficient resemblance between the two origin-

1 Chapter v.

ally quite independent myths to lead him to consider them one and the same. Hence the strange phenomenon of the appearance of two Aryan genii as the chief actors in a scene borrowed from the Talmud in its main features.

The girl called in the Jewish story Esther is the goddess Ishtar of ancient Babylonia, worshipped in Palestine and Syria under the name of Ashtoreth. She was the goddess of love and of sinful passion, and was identified by the Greeks and Romans with Aphrodite and Venus respectively. As she was also identified with the planet Venus, called Zuhrah by the Arabs, it is easy to perceive that the difference of names in the Jewish and the Arabian tales is not a matter of moment, the mythological person referred to being in reality one and the same.

It is well known what an important part Ishtar played in the mythology of the Babylonians and Assyrians. One of the tales of her many amours must be translated here, as it explains, in part, the origin of the story of the angels' sin, and also shows why Zuhrah or Esther is said to have been enabled to ascend, and did ascend, to heaven.

In the Babylonian myth we are told that Ishtar fell in love with a hero called Gilgamesh, who repelled her advances:

"Gilgamesh put on his crown. And for (the purpose of attracting) the favour of Gilgamesh towards herself, the majesty of the goddess Ishtar