“Great-gifted Aši” is a Gathic figure, worshiped of old; and it seems probable that, as she suffered gradual eclipse by Arədvī Sūrā, verses once addressed to her were transferred to her rival, so that gifts properly sought from the goddess of Fortune came to be asked of the river-goddess.
cit.); for he said that a temple there was dedicated to Artemis, which was one of the Greek identifications of Anāhīd (but see below, sec. Hellenic influence having given a new impetus to the cult of images in Iran, it may safely be assumed that Anāhīd’s statues were still venerated during the Parthian period; and positive evidence for this comes from Armenia, then a Zoroastrian land.
Here Anāhīd was much beloved, being invoked as “noble Lady...
The first Achaemenid king known publicly to have acknowledged “Anāhit(a)”—that is, the composite being born of the assimilation of Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā and *Anāhiti—was Artaxerxes II (404-359 B.
C.), who in inscriptions invoked her after Ahura Mazdā and Mithra, and who also set up cult-statues in her honor (see further under Anaitis); and it was presumably after this that verses were composed and incorporated in ).
In the Pahlavi books (some of which represent lost Avestan texts), the two are still sometimes treated as separate divinities, with Ardwīsūr as the personification of the mythical river, and Anāhīd, the fertility goddess, identified with the planet Venus.
Thus the , in describing the world’s lakes and seas, says they all have their origin with “Ardwīsūr” (10.2, 5); whereas, in a paragraph concerned with the stars and planets (5.4), there is mention of “Anāhīd ī Abāxtarī,” i.e., the planet Venus.
Despite this degree of priestly resistance, the cult of Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā, uniting as it did those of water-goddess and mother-goddess, and being royally promoted, became widely popular.
Worship was, in general, offered to the divinity under the name of Anāhīd (Anāhīt)/Anaïtis, which suggests the strength of Achaemenid influence. The temples to Anāhīt founded by Artaxerxes II probably all survived Alexander’s conquest and Seleucid domination, even though pillaged.
It is thus that the , which eventually coalesced to give her the Middle Iranian name of Ardwīsūr.
In her hymn the river-goddess is described as a beautiful, strong maiden, clad in beaver-skins (5.129), who drives a chariot drawn by four horses: wind, rain, clouds, and sleet (5.120).
There is a mantic link in many ancient cultures between water and wisdom, and priests and their pupils pray to Arədvī Sūrā for knowledge (5.86); while in India Sarasvatī protects the study of the Vedas.