The Fardle of Facions, by Johannes Boemus

The. vii. Chapiter.

Of Persia, and the maners and ordinaunces of the Persians.

Persia (a countrie of the Easte) was so called of Persius the Sonne of Iupiter and Danæ. Of whome the chiefe citie of the kingdome also, was named Persepolis, whiche in Englishe soundeth Perseboroughe (or as we corruptly terme it) Perseburie, and the whole nation Persiens. This countrie as Ptolemie writeth in his fiueth booke, hath on the Northe, Media: on the West, Susiana: on the Easte, the two Carmaniæs: and on the Southe, an inshot of the Sea, called the Bosome of Parthia. The famous cities thereof, were Axiama Persepolis and Diospolis. By the name of Iupiter thei vnderstode the whole heauen. Thei chiefely honour the Sonne, whom the calle Mitra. Thei worship also the Mone, the planet Venus, the fyre, the earthe, the water, and the windes. Thei neither haue aultare nor temple, nor ymage, but celebrate their deuine seruice vndre the open heauen vpon some highe place for that purpose appoincted. In doinge sacrifice thei haue no farther respecte, but to take awaye the life from the beaste. As hauing opinion, that forasmuche as the goddes be spirites, thei delighte in nothinge but the spiritual parte, the soule. Before thei slea it, thei set it aparte by them, with a corone upon the heade, and heape vppon it many bittre banninges and curses. Some of the nacion notwithstandinge, when thei haue slaine the beaste: vse to lay parte of the offalle in the fire.

When thei sacrifie vnto the fire, they timbre vp drie stickes together, cleane without pille or barcke. And after what time they haue powred on neates tallowe, and oyle, thei kindle it. Not blowing with blaste of blowesse or mouthe: but makinge winde as it ware with a ventile, or trenchour, or suche like thinge. For yf any manne either blow into it, or caste in any deade thing, or any durte, or puddle, it is deathe to the doer. The Persians beare suche reuerence to their floudes, that thei neither wasshe, pysse, nor throwe deade carcase into them. No not so moche as spitte into them: But very reuerentlye honour their water after this maner. Comminge to lake, mere, floude, ponde, or springe: thei trenche out a litle diche, and ther cot thei the throte of the sacryfice. Being well ware, that no droppe of blode sprinckle into the water by. As thoughe all water ware polluted and vnhalowed ouer all: yf that should happen. That done their Magi (that is to say men skylful in the secretes of nature) layeng the flesh vppon a heape of Myrtus, or Laurelle, and tymbryng smalle wandes about, sette fyre thereon and brenne yt. And pronouncyng certein curses, they myngle oyle, mylke, and hony together, and sprinkle into the fyre. But these cursinges make they not against the fyre ne water. But against the earthe, a greate whyle toguether: holding in their hande a boundle of smalle myrte wandes. Their kinges reigne by succession of one kindred or stocke. To whom who so obeyeth not, hath his heade and armes striken of: and so wythout buriall is throwen out for karreine. Policritus sheweth that euery king of the Persians, buyldeth his howse vpon a greate hille: and ther hourdeth vp all the threasure, tribute, and taxe that he receyueth of the people: to be a recorde aftre his deathe how good a husbonde he hath bene for the commune wealthe. Suche of the subiectes as dwelle vpon the sea coast, are taxed to paie money. But those that inhabite toward the mydde londe: suche commodities as the quarter beareth or hath wher they dwelle. As apothecary druggues, woolle, coulours, and suche like and cateille accordingly. He is not permitted any one cause, to putte any man to death. Neither is it lawfull for any other of the Persians to execute any thyng against any of his house or stock, that maie sieme in any wyse cruelle. Euery one of them marie many wiues: and holde many concubines also beside, for the encrease of issue.

The king Proclaimeth rewarde vnto him, that within one yere begetteth most children. Fiue yere aftre thei are begotten, thei come not in the fathers sight, by a certein ordenaunce vsed emong theim: but are broughte vp continually emong the women: To the ende that if the childe fortune to dye in the time of his infancie, their fathers grief maie be the lesse. Thei vse not to marie but in one tyme of the yere: toward midde Marche. The bridegrome eateth to his supper, an apple of that countrey, or a litle of the maribone of a Chamel: and so without any farther banquetting goeth to bedde. From fiue yeres olde, to twentie and fowre, thei learne to ride, to throwe the Darte, to shoote, and chiefly to haue a tongue voide of all vntruthe. For their nourituryng and trainyng in good maners, thei haue appoincted theim Masters of greate sobrenes and vertue, that teache them dieties, and pretie songes, conteinyng either the praises of their Goddes, or of some worthy Princes. Whiche sometime thei sing, and sometyme recite without note: that so they mighte learne to confourme their liues vnto theirs, whose praises thei sieme themselues to allowe. To this lesson assemble thei alwaie together, at the calle of a Trompette. And as thei growe into yeres, an accompt is required of them how well thei haue borne awaie the lessons of their childhode. Thei vse to ronne the race, and to course, bothe on horsebacke and on foote: at the leadyng of some noble mannes sonne, chosen for the nones. The field for the race, is at least thre mile and thre quarters longe. And to the ende that heate or colde should the lesse trouble them, they vse to wade ouer brookes, and swimme ouer riuers, and so to rowme and to hunte the fieldes, and to eate and drinke in their armour, and wette clothes. The fruyctes that eate are akecornes, wild Peares, and the fruicte of the Terebinthine tree. But their daiely foode aftre their ronnyng, and other exercises of the bodie: is hard Bisquette, or a like crustie breade, Hortechocques, Gromelle sede, a litle roste flesshe or soden, whether thei lust: and faire water their drincke. Their maner of Huntyng, is with the bowe, or the Darte on horse backe. Thei are good also in the slynge. In theforenoone thei plante and graffe, digge vp settes, stubbe vp rootes, make their owne armour, or fisshe and foule, with the Angle or nette. Their children are decked with garnishynges of golde. And their chief iuelle is the precious stone Piropus, whiche thei haue in suche price, that it maie come vppon no deade corps. And that honour giue thei also to the fire, for the reuerence thei beare there vnto. From twentie, till fiuetie: thei folowe the warres. As for byeng and sellyng, or any kinde of Lawe prattle, thei vse not. Thei cary in their warres, a kind of shieldes facioned like a losenge, a quiure with shaftes, and a curtilace. On their heades a copintanke, embatled aboute like a turrette, and a brestplate emboussed, of skaled woorke. The princes and menne of honour did weare a treble Anaxirides, facioned muche like a coate armour, and a long coate doune to the knees, with hangyng slieues acordyng. The outside colours, but the lining white. In Somer thei weare purple, and in Wintre Medleis. The abillementes of their heades, are muche like the frontlettes that their Magj doe weare. The commune people are double coated doune to the midde Leggue, and haue about their heade a great rolle of Sendalle. Their beddes and their drinking vessell, are garnished with gold. When they haue matier of moste importaunce to common of, thei debate and conclude in the middes of their cuppes: thinkyng it muche surer that is so determined, then aftre any other sobrer sorte. Acqueintaunce mieting of equall degre, griete one another with a kisse. But the inferiour mietyng with his bettre, enclineth his bodie foreward with lowe reuerence. Thei bewrie their corpses in the grounde, cearyng them all ouer with waxe. Their Magicens thei leaue vnbewried, for the foules to disspetche. The children there, by an ordenaunce no where elles vsed: doe carnally knowe their mothers. Thus have ye heard what the maners of the Persians ware sometyme.

Herodotus reherseth certeine other, their facions not vtterly vnworthe the tellynge. That thei compted it vilanie to laughe, or to spitte before the kyng. Thei thought it fondenes in the Grekes, worthie to be laughed at, to imagine goddes to be sprong vp of menne. What so euer was dishoneste to be done, that thoughte thei not honeste to be spoken. To be in debte was muche dishonour, but of all thinges moste vile for to lie. Thei vse not to bewrie their deade bodies, vntill thei haue bene torne with dogges, or with fowles. And the parentes brought to niedinesses vse there to make cheuisaunce of their doughters bodies, which emong no nation elles was euer allowed. Howbeit some holde opinion, that it was also the propretie of the Babilonians. The Persians at this daie, beynge subdued of the Saracenes, and bewitched with Mahometes brainsicke wickednesse, are cleane out of memorie. A people in those daies, whiche through their greate hardinesse and force, ware of long tyme Lordes of the Easte parte of the worlde. But now tombled cleane from their aunciente renowne, and bewried in dishonour.

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