THIS little book lays no claim to any special merit beyond furnishing in convenient form some material for those beginning to study the Avesta. As it is intended merely for an introduction, and being designed as the first of a series of reading books, the number of pages of texts has been limited. The selections here given are such as may easily be mastered by a class in one college term; the beginner, moreover, always finds a certain degree of pleasure and satisfaction in a book that can be read through in a comparatively short time, and he feels he is making a certain amount of progress when another book has to be taken up. With that in view, a second volume is being prepared; this will contain longer texts and will be so arranged as to imply a step in advance.
The present selections in prose and verse, are fairly representative, as far as excerpts can be, of Yasna, Visparad, Yasht, and Vendidad. The chapters Ys. 26 and 57 are given complete. The passage from Vd. 19 has the advantage of presenting a specimen of texts in which grammatical decay is to be observed.
The notes in general have been made brief and concise, but it is hoped that beside being explanatory they will also prove useful in giving the student an occasional hint regarding books of reference, and will thus interest him in the literature of the subject. A brief list of useful books has already been given in Avesta Grammar Part i, p. xl-xlii. Attention is now also called to the new Avesta translation by Darmesteter, Le Zend-Avesta (3 volumes, Paris 1892-3), the last two volumes of which reached me after the greater part of the present book was already in press; I was pleased, however, to note several co-incidences in interpretation of certain Yasht and Vendidad passages.
The vocabulary has been made a little more full perhaps than is necessary; but this was done from a desire to give the beginner a fair start. It seemed advisable, for example, to add frequent grammatical references, and to designate the verb forms in full. A slightly different plan will be followed in the Second Series.
With regard to the etymologies in the vocabulary, comparison has been confined to Sanskrit, Old Persian, Pahlavi, and New Persian. It is presupposed, of course, that the student has made some progress in Sanskrit. The comparisons with Old Persian, Pahlavi and New Persian are added, not at all with the idea that they will be mastered by a beginner, but in order to show the pupil the importance of the Iranian as well as the Sanskrit side of interpretation, and to familiarize him with the studies next akin to his subject. Old Persian is easily mastered after Avestan, and the earnest student will soon discover that the well-equipped scholar cannot of course long dispense with Pahlavi and New Persian. The 'traditional' and 'comparative' method must go hand in hand.
In preparing the book I have had before me W. Geiger's Handbuch der Awestasprache, the manual with which I first began my Avesta studies. Of course C. de Harlez Manuel de l'Avesta, and Bartholomae's Altiranische Dialekte have been often consulted. Justi's Handbuch der Zendsprache was necessarily used at every step; and Lanman's admirable Sanskrit Reader furnished many a hint or apt English rendering for kindred Avesta-Sanskrit words. The material for comparison with Old Persian was drawn from Spiegel's Altpersische Keilinschriften; and that for comparison with Pahlavi words, mainly from West's Glossary and Index of Arda Viraf. In the case of New Persian, reference was made to Vullers' Lexicon Persico-Latinum and to Palmer's Persian-English Dictionary. Paul Horn's new Grundriss der Neupersischen Etymologie (Strassburg 1893) came late but happily as I was reading the final revision of the proof-sheets of the vocabulary....