Ancient Greek Philosophy, was never monolithic, that is to say, the diversity of thought represented in the Greek Philosophers is well documented and well chronicled. However, did the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism-(founded around 600 BC/BCE), have any influence on various Ancient Greek Thinkers?

It is not such an implausible question considering the historical fact that Ancient Greek Anatolia-(much of present-day Turkey), was occupied by the Persian Empire for at least 150 years. Some of the earliest Greek Philosophers-(who were more commonly referred to as, "The Pre-Socratic" Thinkers), originally came from Anatolia. Figures, such as Thales, Heraclitus "of Ephesus" and Anaxagoras, were from Anatolia. Even Pythagoras-(who was from the Greco-Aegean island of Samos), lived in very close proximity to the city of Ephesus and the Ionian region- (which, during Pythagoras' time, was under Persian imperial control).

Did the Ancient Greek intellectual concept of Dialectics,as well as the philosophical sayings of Heraclitus extract any type of influence from Zoroastrianism and its Theology of Opposites?

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    It wouldn't be surprising, the real question is finding evidence and this might come from looking at the Zorastrian scriptures, the gathas; one article I looked at some time ago noted similarities between a couple of lines there and an Upanishad. Nov 15, 2017 at 12:03
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    Interesting. How about "The Avesta"?
    – user26763
    Nov 15, 2017 at 15:11
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    The gathas are part of the Avesta. Nov 16, 2017 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


The Medes Kingdom left a mark on Greek mythology. The Persian Empire, though, should not be equated with Zoroastrianism. It was an eastern religion, not even in Chaldea (Assyria and Babylon) It only took hold in Armenia and the Transcaucasus.

If the Zoroastrians did influence Greeks, it probably would have been in the time of Xerxes. The father of Democritus is said to have hosted Xerxes before Thermopylae. When Democritus used his inheritance money to travel east, he interacted with an elusive character named Ostanes. Ostanes is only recorded in Greek tradition, and later in Arabic tradition. He is not in any Persian sources. They say that he was a son of Darius I. He may have actually been the chief Magi at the time. He comes down as a later "Magician" in Greek sources, along with Hystaspes and Zoroaster. Hellenistic era writers used these pen names for various treatises on Astronomy and "magic". Pliny says that Ostanes invented "Magic", and taught it to all of the philosophers: Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus, Plato. While this is unlikely, you do have to wonder how the word magic came about. I wasn't going to answer this question, but I just happened to come across this stuff exactly when you asked it. Quite funny, given how unusual it is.

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    Interesting answer, though I must respectfully disagree with you regarding the geographical presence of Zoroastrianism. To my knowledge, I don't think Zoroastrianism was ever associated with Pre-Christian Armenia or the greater Caucauses region-(i.e. Georgia, Azerbaijan) during antiquity and the early middle ages. Although many of the Persian Empire's territories were not religiously Zoroastrian, Persia proper, as well as nearby Uzbekistan, were the birthplaces of Zoroastrianism and it was the national religion of both countries, until the arrival of Islam in the Middle Ages.
    – user26763
    Nov 16, 2017 at 4:52
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    Armenia, maybe the Orontids. Defintely in Transcaucusus during the Sasanid era. I know the Zoroastrians came to Georgia c. 400, it was one of their complaints of Persian Rule. These areas were contested by the Persians and Romans.
    – John Dee
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:13
  • Perhaps there was a Zoroastrian presence in the greater Caucases region, though I don't think it included pre-Christian Armenia.
    – user26763
    Nov 16, 2017 at 16:11

This paper by Idaho University outlines influence of Egyptian and Eastern philosophies including Iranian Zoroastrian:

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    You should include the key points from the linked web page as links can rot. Jul 7, 2022 at 4:46
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