Chronos Apeiros: Zurvān e Zurvanism in pre-Sasanian Greek sources

 

 

There is a considerable number of issues related to the debate about Zurvanism that needs to be addressed: the selection and interpretation of the sources, its origins, the characteristics, the existing connections with the Mazdean orthopraxis and the Sasanian Court, the influences and contacts with the Hellenistic Middle East and many others. Overall, the question that emerges from these problems is very broad, and concerns first and foremost the existence of a “Zurvanism”, and in second instance the modalities of its existence.

In this vast sea of hypotheses and controversies, a part of the investigation focus was dedicated to the sources in Ancient Greek language that report – or seem to report – news and information on Zurvanism, starting from a very old age compared to the chronology of the overall documentation. The issue – of primary importance – that concerns the contacts between the Greek and the Iranian cultural horizons and the information that such contacts give us regarding the problem linked to Zurvanism, could become clearer, at least in part, thanks to the (re)consideration of some sources. Said sources in the history of the studies have been interpreted as evidence or reflections of a Greek-Iranian contact or a contamination in the “Zurvanite sense” or as evidence of the influence and the permanence of the Zurvanite myth and theology in some sectors of Hellenistic Philosophy or Late Antiquity Zeitgeist.

Also, these sources in Ancient Greek language that seem to report information on Zurvanism bring to light the set of problems linked to the dealing with a cultural diversity and the representation of a foreign religious system, such as the Mazdean one.