CASARTELLI, LOUIS CHARLES (b. Manchester, 14 November 1852, to a Lombard family settled in England; d. Manchester, 18 January 1925), scholar of ancient Iranian languages and religions and particularly of Pahlavi literature. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Louvain, La philosophie religieuse du Mazdéisme sous les Sassanides (see below) was for its time a remarkable synthesis of knowledge about Sasanian culture.

Casartelli was educated at Ushaw College near Durham, where in 1872 he received his B.A. degree with a gold medal in classics. In 1876 he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Salford, near Manchester, and the next year became professor and prefect of studies at St. Bede’s Commercial College there. He subsequently studied Sanskrit, Avestan, and Pahlavi with Charles de Harlez at the University of Louvain, where in July 1884 he received the degree of Doctor of Oriental Literature; his dissertation was translated into English by F. J. JamaspAsa in 1889 (see below). In 1900 Casartelli returned to Louvain for three years as professor of Avestan and Pahlavi; upon his return to England in 1903 he was consecrated bishop of Salford. From then until 1920 he also taught Iranian languages at the University of Manchester.

Scholarly achievements. Casartelli’s scientific activity was wide-ranging. He had a profound knowledge of Pahlavi literature, based on acquaintance with the sources. In his dissertation, for example, the discussions of Iranian philosophy, cosmology, anthropology, and ethics were drawn directly from the Pahlavi texts. Not only did he carefully describe and examine the different religious and theological trends of the Sasanian period (Zurvanism and orthodox Mazdaism), but also he, alone in his time, recognized that Zoroastrian culture had developed an independent philosophical synthesis (Zaehner, p. 343). Casartelli’s erudition and cultural sensitivity are demonstrated in the commentary to Traité de médecine mazdéenne, and in his translation of the medical chapter from the Dēnkard (bk. 3, chap. 157), which he published in 1886 (see below). In it he offered the first analysis of the medical conceptions attested in the Avesta and transmitted through Pahlavi texts. Although it has now been superseded by the translation by J. de Menasce (pp. 159-68), it is still worth consulting as a monument in the history of Middle Iranian philology. Casartelli also made important contributions to the translation of Iranian and Sanskrit texts (e.g., some sections of the Gathas and some Vedic and Avestan hymns in Leaves from My Eastern Garden).

Casartelli’s great interest in the history and religions of the Iranian world is clear from his many works on the religion of the Achaemenid kings, on Manicheism, and on modern religious traditions in the Parsi communities and among Christians in Iran. His view of the earliest history of Mazdaism is summarized in “The Religion of the Great Kings” (see below). He accepted (p. 6) the traditional dates for Zarathustra (660-583 b.c.) proposed by E. W. West (SBE XLV/5, pp. xxxviii-xlii) and therefore concluded that Zoroastrian Mazdaism was flourishing in Media or in Bactria a century before the rise of the Persian empire and that Darius was the first to introduce monotheism into Persia.

Works. Casartelli’s main writings (except those on Christian religion) are presented here chronologically in four categories: Avestan studies, Pahlavi studies, Iranian religions, and New Persian and miscellaneous studies.

Avestan studies. “Etymology of the Name "Zarathustra",” The Academy 31, 1887, p. 257. “Eranica,” Muséon 21, 1902, pp. 93-95, 285-86. “The First Gatha of the Avesta,” Dublin Review 134, October 1903, pp. 15. “The Ninth Gatha of the Avesta,” Dublin Review 135, October 1904, pp. 382-86. “Avestan urvan, "soul",” in T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson, eds., A Volume of Oriental Studies Presented to Edward G. Browne, Cambridge, 1922, pp. 127-28.

Pahlavi studies. “Le Dinkart et son âge. A propos de: The Dinkard, the Original Pehlevi Texṭ . . . By Peschotun Dustoor Behramjee Sunjana, Vol. IV, Bombay 1883,” Muséon 3, 1884, pp. 567-73. “Un traité pehlevi sur la médecine, Muséon 5, 1886, pp. 296-316, 531-58; repr. as Traité de médecine mazdéenne, traduit du pahlavi et commenté, Louvain, 1886. “Pehlevi Notes I. The Semitic Verb in Pehlevi,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 1/6, 1887, pp. 95-96. “Andarz-i Khusrav i Kavatan, Transliterated and Translated,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 1/1, 1887, pp.97-101. “Pehlevi Notes II. A Parallel to the Pehlevi Jargon,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 1/9, 1887, p. 136. “Two Discourses of Chosröes the Immortal-Souled,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 1/7, 1887, pp. 97-101; 2/2, 1988, pp. 33-66. “Pehlevi Notes III. The Semitic Suffix -man and Its Origin,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 2/6, 1887, pp. 129-33, 172-73. “Pehlevi Notes IV. What Was Khvêtûk-das?” Babylonian and Oriental Record 3/8, 1889, pp. 169-74. “Pehlevi Notes V. A Side-light on the Khvêtûk-das Controversy,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 3/9, 1889, p. 200-04. “Another Discourse of King Chosroes, the Immortal-Souled,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 3/10, 1889, pp. 223-27. “Pehlevi Notes VI. Oriental Testimonies Regarding Khvêtûk-das,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 4/5, 1890, pp. 97-102. “The Literary Activity of the Parsis during the Past Years in Avestic and Pehlevi Studies,” in Transactions or the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists. London 5-12 September 1892, ed. E. Delmar Morgan, 2 vols., London, 1893, II, pp. 528-36. “Notes sur la terminaison ambiguë en Pehlevi,” in Actes du Xe Congrès international des orientalistes. Session de Genève, 2 vols. in 4 pts., Leiden, 1896, I/2, pp. 205-10. “Note on a Pehlevi Inscription in the Dublin Museum,” in Actes du XIe Congrès international des orientalistes, Paris 1897, Paris, 1898, pp. 253-56. “Ancora sull’iscrizione pehlevica di Dublino,” in Actes du XIIe Congrès international des orientalistes, Rome 1899, Florence, 1901, pp. 207-11. “A Fragment of the Dinkart. Book III, chap. IX, 3,” in Avesta, Pahlavi and Ancient Persian Studies, Strasbourg, 1904, pp. 15-20. “The Persian Dante,” in The Dastur Hoshang Memorial Volume . . ., Bombay, 1918, pp. 259-73.

Iranian religions. La philosophie religieuse du Mazdéisme sous les Sassanides, Ph.D. diss., Louvain, 1884; tr. as The Philosophy of the Mazdayasnian Religion under the Sassanids by F. J. JamaspAsa, Bombay, 1889. “Astōdans and Avestic Funeral Prescriptions,” Babylonian and Oriental Record 4/7, 1890, pp. 145-52. “La religion des rois achéménides d’après leurs inscriptions,” Compte rendu du troisième Congrès scientifique international des Catholiques, tenu à Bruxelles du 3 au 8 septembre 1894. Deuxième section. Sciences religieuses, Brussels, 1895, pp. 35-45. “L’idée de péché chez les Indo-Ēraniens de l’Antiquité,” in Compte rendu du quatrième Congrès scientifique international des Catholiques, tenu à Fribourg du l6 au 26 août 1897. Sciences religieuses, Fribourg, 1898, pp. 134-47. “A Note on the Probable Date of Zarathustra,” in Spiegel Memorial Volume, Bombay, 1900, pp. 130-32. “Outre-Tombe. A Zoroastrian Idyll,” in J. J. Modi, ed., K. R. Cama Memorial Volume Essays . . . in Honour of Kharshedji Rustamji Cama, Bombay, 1900, pp. 74-78. “The Magis. A Footnote to Matthew II, i,” Dublin Review 131, October 1902, pp. 362-76. “The Temptation of Zoroaster,” Indian Antiquary 32, 1903, pp. 415-16. Essai sur la diffusion du Manichéisme dans l’empire romain, n.p., 1907. “The Religion of the Great Kings,” in C. C. Martindale, ed., Lectures on the History of Religions, London, 1910, pp. 1-32. “"Hearth and Reins" in Ancient Iran,” Journal of the Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society I, 1911, p. 99; Ital. tr. G. Sardi: “L’antica religione persiana,” in Storia delle religioni. Letture pubblicate sotto la direzione di C. C. Martindale II, Florence, 1914, pp. 1-25. “The Religion of the Achaemenid Kings,” Journal of the Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society 2, 1912-13, pp. 65-67. “The Dog and Death,” Journal of the Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society 12, 1926, pp. 54-59.

New Persian and miscellaneous studies. “Un manuscrit Karshuni du Musée de Liverpool,” Muséon 3, 1884, pp. 328-30. “Un morceau de littérature Dyak,” Muséon 4, 1885, pp. 266-67. “Sâlûtar. La pierre-de-touche du cheval,” Muséon 9, 1891, pp. 1-25. “Çyêna-Sîmurgh-Roc. Un chapitre d’évolution mythologique et philologique,” in Compte rendu du Congrès scientifique international des Catholiques, tenu à Paris du 1er au 6 avril 1891, Paris, 1891, pp. 78-85. Leaves from My Eastern Garden, York, 1908.



J. C. (?), review of La philosophie religieuse . . ., Muséon 4, 1885, pp. 400-01.

Enciclopedia Italiana IX, Rome, 1942, p. 284.

Enciclopedia Cattolica III, Vatican City, 1949, p. 972.

Encyclopedia Americana V, New York, 1962, p. 697.

J. J. JamaspAsa, tr., The Philosophy of the Mazdayasnian Religion under the Sassanids, p. xiii. J. de Menasce, Le troisième livre du Dēnkart, Paris, 1973.

R. C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism, London, 1961.

(Antonio Panaino)

Originally Published: December 15, 1990

Last Updated: December 15, 1990

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