Martin Schwartz, Women in the Old Avesta: Social Position and Textual Composition




This article takes forward the principle of serial recursive composition of the Gathic poems, which I first set out and illustrated in BAI 16, and applies it to the relationship between the two chief bodies of Old Avestan texts, i.e Gathas and the Yasna Haptanhaiti. Aspects of this compositional relationship are then employed to illuminate an aspect of the contents of these texts, the societal position: While the fact has, in effect, gone virtually unnoticed in Iranistic literature, the Old Avestan texts, which constitute our earliest sources for Iranian society, indicate that not only were women as prestigious as men in the the sphere of patronage, but they were also regarded as equally qualified for rule.