Real Name: Zarathustra (see comments)
human vs. human variant (see comments);
post-Hyborian/BC era (possibly before and beyond)
Occupation: Sorcerer, scholar;
former Sorcerer Supreme;
former guardian of the Crown of Wisdom;
Group Membership: Sorcerers Supreme
Affiliations: Aged Genghis, the Vishanti (Hoggoth, Oshtur, Agamotto);
seekers of wisdom;
formerly an unidentified pair, at least, of handmaidens;
formerly an unwitting agent of Set
Enemies: Conan, Dreeme, Noyo;
presumably others unidentified
Known Relatives: Allegedly Pourusaspa (father);
Dughdova (sister, wife)
Aliases: Zoroaster, Zoroazztor the Sage;
Noyo addressed him as "Great One";
Conan insulted him as a "fat-bellied fop," "old man," and "pot belly"
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
formerly a mosque on the outskirts of Anshan, Iranistan
First Appearance: (Zoroazztor) Conan the Barbarian I#129 (December, 1981);
(Zoroaster actively adapted into the Marvel Universe) Marvel Tarot#1 (July, 2007)
Powers/Abilities: Zoroaster rode a flying
carpet, which could hover in the air indefinitely, and without
requiring his mental concentration to maintain its position (it would
remain in position while he was deep in thought, reading his books); it
moved swiftly upon his mental commands.
He could simultaneously control at least a second flying carpet, on which a pair of his hand-maidens could stand and fan him as he read. He had at least a third flying carpet within his mosque.
He could mystically manipulate objects in his vicinity, and he could even alter architecture, closing a doorway through solid stone at a whim.
Zoroaster was supremely skilled at a chess-like board game.
Zoroaster was allegedly at least 9000 years old, and possibly much older. It is unrevealed whether he used magic to extend his life, or whether his longevity (extended lifespan) was from some other means.
Zoroaster, at least near the end of the time he held the Crown of Wisdom, was obsessed with his fanatically obsessed with his library and its books. Threats to his books could distract him from his guardianship of the Crown.
Though he possessed the Crown of Wisdom, he kept it within a mystic cage, and it is unrevealed whether he actually directly utilized its power; however, his mind was likely affected negatively by its corrupting presence (see comments).
At the time he was Sorcerer Supreme, at least, Zoroaster was one of the most powerful magic users of his era. He could almost certainly access the astral plane and other dimensions, transport others across dimensional barriers, project magical bolts, magically extend his lifespan for perhaps 9000+ years, and call on power from entities such as the Vishanti.
Zoroaster formerly possessed the three Eyes of
Agamotto (the greater Eye; the lesser Eye, aka the Amulet of Agamotto;
and the Orb of Agamotto) and could utilize them to an unspecified
See the Agamotto profile powers/abilities section for more details on these mystic items' abilities.
He presumably possessed and could utilize the Book of the Vishanti.
The full range of his abilities remains unrevealed.
Height: Unrevealed (he is only seen seated; perhaps 5'6")
Weight: Unrevealed (perhaps 160 lbs.)
Eyes: Unrevealed (they are not clearly shown; presumably brown)
Hair: Gray (including beard)
(Conan the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) - Because of the his wisdom, Zoroazztor was chosen as the keeper of the Crown of Wisdom, one of the Cornerstones of Creation, a set of four mystic artifacts created by the Elder Gods.
(Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch#1) - The Crown of Wisdom was secretly (apparently unknown to anyone involved with it at the time) an aspect/incarnation/something of the Serpent Crown, created by the Elder God Set.
(Conan the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) - Zoroazztor guarded the Crown for "untold ages."
(Conan the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) <Circa 10,000 BC> - Based out of a mosque in the outskirts of Anshan, the thriving capital of Iranistan, Zoroazztor kept a massive library and was known as an aged seer; he was considered the wisest of the wise.
the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) - Zoroazztor was friends with Princess
Noyo, a priestess of the Elder Gods. Noyo was amused by Zoroazztor's
(Conan the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) - Zoroazztor's mental faculties dimmed over time, but not his love for knowledge.
(Conan the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) - Seekers of wisdom gathered in obeisance outside of Zoroazztor's mosque.
the Barbarian#129 (fb) - BTS) - The demon lord sorcerer Pau-Styss
sought the power of the Cornerstones of Creation and kidnapped Laynnen
to force his wife, Noyo, priestess of the Elder Gods, to recover the
Cornerstones of Creation. She was joined on her quest by Laynnen's
childhood friend, Conan; her and Laynnen's son, Dreeme, also came
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z
(hardcover) Vol. 7: Appendix: Magic (from the journals of Ian
McNee) (fb) - BTS) - Zoroaster was succeeded by the Assyrian Sorceress Queen Semiramis (aka Salome'; 1300 - 1100 BC).
At some point Zoroaster founded the religion Zoroastrianism (see comments).
Comments: Zoroaster is a real world historical figure.
Zorazztor created by J.M. DeMatteis and Gil Kane.
Zoroaster actively adapted to the Marvel Universe by David Sexton.
Zoroaster was an important religious figure in ancient Persia
(present-day Iran and surrounding areas), whose teachings became the
foundation of a religious movement named Zoroastrianism, a tradition
that would largely dominate Persia until the mid-7th century AD, when
Islam gained ascendancy in the region after the fall of the Sasanian Empire, the last pre-Islamic Persian empire.
Per writer David Sexton:
Zoroastrianism believes in a constant struggle between opposing forces of good and evil. My original thought with Zoroaster was that he was connected to the Eternals and Deviants. He is actually the Zoroazztor that appears in Conan in possession of one of the Cornerstones of Creation, the Serpent Crown. He sought to use the tainted artifact for good and it broke his mind. I don't know that this works with the timeline. Maybe after Conan claimed the crown, Zoroaster recovered, started Zoroasterism and eventually became the SS.
The idea of the Crown of Wisdom being the
concealed/disguised Serpent Crown is pretty solid, as it clearly
mentally called out to and tried to seduce others.
Many Conan-era stories showed people reading only
pages, scrolls, and tablets, aside from the occasional iron-bound
books. Zoroazztor had many of what appeared to be conventionally bound
books...but that was never discussed.
As you might guess, Iranistan was a Hyborian era nation that was a likely precursor of Persia/Iran. Khitai was a precursor of China.
While I thoroughly enjoy mythology and the history of religions,
Zoroastrianism, etc. is not one of those I had known much about. When I
first saw the spider-character Zoroaster, I thought its name was "Zor -
roast - er"...so, no clue to start with. Via the Appendix and the
Yazatas entry in the Encyclopedia Mythologica, etc., I've gained SOME
knowledge. I am certain people with more expertise will correct me.
Nonetheless, my understanding of real world information (on which there is significant disagreement, and mythological beliefs used to be included as historical fact; consider all information below as disputed), based largely on review of the Ancient History Encyclopedia entry on Zoroaster (I checked out Encyclopedia Brittanica, Wikipedia, and a couple more sites, and tried to include the most consistent info; as long as I'm extending the paratheticals, I'll off er that I have paraphrased, and that I've converted BCE to BC, and CE to AD) is as follows:
According to the Gathas, the hymns of the Zoroastrian liturgy, he was a priest, a member of the Spitamid family, son of Pourusaspa, a noble Persian, as was his wife Dughdova. At the age of thirty, it is written, Zoroaster received a divine revelation, experiencing a number of visions coming directly from god. He attempted to preach his vision but did not have any success; on the contrary, Zoroaster gained some powerful enemies. First, the karpans objected to his teachings. The karpans were a group of priests in charge of performing certain religious rituals that Zoroaster considered immoral, some of them involving the slaughter of animals. Pre-Zoroastrian religion had elements such as worshiping ancestors, animals, the earth, and the sun, all merged into a system that had a lot in common with the Indian Vedic religion.
Another group who opposed Zoroaster's teaching was the kawis, whose background is a bit obscure. Zoroastrian texts presents them as “accomplices” of the karpans, but who they actually were is unclear. It is safe to assume that the karpans and the kawis were representatives of the upper class who held significant social power in Zoroaster’s time. He suffered persecution and abuses from his opponents to the point that his safety became endangered and he was compelled to flee his homeland.
traveling around north-eastern Persia, Zoroaster converted a local
ruler named Vishtaspa. This event is merged with legend: it is claimed
that Zoroaster healed Vishtaspa’s horse in a miraculous way. Vishtaspa
was very grateful and allowed him to preach freely in his realm while
providing him royal support. The new faith gained many followers and
began to spread fairly quickly.
After preaching for many decades, Zoroaster was finally assassinated at the age of 77, while he was praying in an altar, by a priest of a rival cult.
Zoroaster’s religious insight revolved around the idea of a cosmic struggle between Ahura Mazda, a supreme wise and benevolent deity, and Angra Mainyu, Ahura’s evil opponent. Here on Earth, humans can support this struggle by taking sides. Living a virtuous life supports Ahura Mazda and contributes to the triumph of good over evil. Zoroaster encouraged his followers to worship Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, claiming that the old Persian deities were unworthy of worship and should be considered spirits of destruction.
Ahura Mazda was considered a supreme god, creator of the universe, but he did not have unlimited power. In fact, according to Zoroaster's teachings, the conflict between Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu was evenly matched for thousands of years until Zoroaster was born. At this point, the balance of the battle began to favor Ahura Mazda. Zoroaster believed that, in the end, Ahura Mazda would overcome his enemy in a final battle, destroy all evil, and restore the order of the cosmos, joining together heaven and earth.
An important element of Zoroaster’s vision is free will. This means that Zoroaster emphasized the moral responsibility of the individual. Every decision people make is an opportunity to provide support either to Ahura Mazda or Angra Mainyu, a choice between good and evil. This is why it is so important for people to have a clear understanding of what is good and what is evil since, in every decision we make, we are supporting one of the two sides. It is our capacity to distinguish good from evil that sets us apart from the animals, who are thought to have neither moral sense nor free will. It is the freedom of choice that allows human beings to be part of the cosmic struggle and align themselves with one side or the other.
The moral code developed by Zoroaster included telling the truth, being charitable and loving to other fellow humans, diet moderation, being honest in dealing with others, and always keeping one's promises. According to the Avesta, the duty of a person had three aspects: To make friends out of one's enemies, to make the wicked righteous, and to make the ignorant learned. It is hard to distinguish which of the teachings of the religion actually belonged to Zoroaster himself and which were developed by his followers. We do know, however, that all the religious concepts of the faith were at least largely inspired by Zoroaster’s original teachings.
Like all important religious figures of antiquity, the life of Zoroaster became merged with many myths and other non-historical accounts to highlight his unique quality. Some versions of his life tell of a miraculous conception in which an angel entered into a plant and passed into a priest through its juice during a religious ceremony. At the same time, the glory of heaven, in the form of a ray of light, entered the bosom of a maid who was part of the royalty. The priest and the maid then were married, and Zoroaster was born as a result of the union of the captive angel in the priest and the captive ray inside the maid.
In order to fully engage in the pursuit of wisdom, Zoroaster withdrew from society and lived in the wilderness. A powerful demon tempted him, but he did not give in to this temptation. Ahura Mazda visited Zoroaster after he had resisted temptation and handed him the sacred Zoroastrian scriptures and requested him to preach the new message. As stated above, he preached with no results at first, but later a prince converted to the new faith and helped Zoroaster to convert his people. After living a long life, he ascended into heaven in the form of a flash of light.
Zoroaster initiated the tradition of devotional monotheistic and doctrinally dualistic religion. By claiming that every person was an active “soldier” in the cosmic struggle and was free to choose sides, he imbued human life with a higher dimension and meaning than it had in earlier religious systems. After Zoroaster, every choice one made in one's daily life was of cosmic importance; one was always working either for good or evil, in the smallest of gestures and the simplest of actions.
His moral concepts drew the patronage of the Persian government during the time of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BC, and later the Parthian dynasty (247 BC - 224 AD) also adopted the faith. The Sasanian Empire (224 - 651 AD) promoted the Zoroastrian religion and unified the religion and the state, merging both political and religious leadership and granting the Zoroastrian priesthood a considerable amount of power.
After the rise of Islam in Persia, which followed the fall of the Sasanian Empire, Zoroastrians were tolerated briefly but soon persecuted, and their numbers fell as more and more people converted to the Islamic faith. Today, the population of Zoroastrians is estimated at around 90,000 in Iran and possibly 60,000 in India. The teachings of Zoroaster, however, exerted a powerful influence on the major monotheistic religions which developed after his time, especially Christianity and Islam, and so are still very much present in the religious practices of the modern world.
Profile by Snood.
Zoroaster is the inspiration for the names of:
images: (without ads)
Conan the Barbarian#129, pg. 14, panel 4 (mosque, exterior);
pg. 15, panel 1 (mosque interior; library);
panel 2 (seated and reading);
pg. 17. panel 1 (seated on magic carpet);
pg. 19, panel 4 (game);
pg. 20, panel 3 (face);
pg. 22, panel 1 (in flames)
Conan the Barbarian#129 (December, 1981) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Gil Kane & P. Craig Russell (?) (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Conan the Barbarian#130 (January, 1982) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Gil Kane (artist), Louise Jones (editor)
First posted: 08/31/2018
Last updated: 08/31/2018
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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