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Zoroastrian Heritage

Author: K. E. Eduljee





The epic

The Poet Ferdowsi


Writing & Books

Oral Tradition

Ferdowsi's Sources

Khvatay-Namak / Khodai-Nama

Achaemenian Era Book of King - Basilikai Difeterai


Other Legends

Ferdowsi's Original Work Lost

Differences in Shahnameh Copies

Reconstruction of an Authoritative Shahnameh

English Translations

Spelling of the Names

Resources-Persian Text


Ferdowsi's Manuscript

Earliest Surviving Manuscript Copies Known

Recent Manuscript Discovery in Beirut

Illuminated Manuscripts

Great Mongol/Demotte Manuscript

Bayasanghori Manuscript

Tahmaspi/Houghton Manuscript

Elation, Regret & Hope

Shahnameh's Characters

The Heroes - Story in Brief

English Translation

W = Warner & Warner
A = James Atkinson
Z = Helen Zimmerman

1. Prologue W

2. Creation W

3. Gaiumart W

3. Kaiumers A

4. Hushang W

5. Tahmuras W

6. Jamshid W

7. Zahak W

3-7. Shahs of Old Z

8. Faridun W

9. Minuchihr, Sam, Zal, Rustam W

10. Naudar W

11. Zav W

12. Kai Kaus 1 W

13. 7 Courses of Rustam W

14. Kai Kaus 2 W

15. Kai Kaus 3 W

16. Warriors W

17. Suhrab W

18. Siyawush W

19. Kai Khusrau 1 W

20. Kai Khusrau 2 W

21. Farud W

22. Kai Khusrau 3 W

23. Rustam W

24. Rustam's Exploits W

25. Bizhan W

26. Gudarz W

27. Great War W

28. Passing of Kai Khusrau W

29. Luhrasp & Gushtasp W

30. Gushtasp & Zardhusht W

31. Asfandiyar's Seven Stages W

32. Asfandiyar W

33. Asfandiyar's Fight with Rustam W

34. Rustam & Shaghad W

35. Bahman W

36. Humai & Darab W

36a. Humai & Darab A

37. Darab & Dara A

38. Sikandar A

Satire on Sultan Mahmud A

The Heroes - Story in Brief


The Characters

Locale - Sistan

Pahlavans & Their Role


Zal Woos Princess Rudabeh

The Birth of Rustam

Rustam's Horse Rakhsh

Rustam Meets Princess Tahmina

The Tragedy of Sohrab

Page 11

Chapter 9


Zav is Elected Shah

One night as Zal sat speaking to his chiefs
And retinue about Afrasiyab,
He said: "Although our paladins possess
Unsleeping fortune and enlightened minds
We need a Shah, one of the royal race,
Skilled in the lore of eld. The host resembleth
A ship whereto the throne is wind and sail.
Oh! had but Us and Gustaham the Grace . . . .
We lack not troops, but men, however noble,
That have not prudence, merit not the crown
And throne. We need a Shah of puissant fortune,
A man of Grace through whose words wisdom shineth."
They found none of the seed of Faridun
But Zav, son of Tahmasp, with monarch's might
And hero's worth to grace the lofty throne.
Karan took with a gallant company
The joyful news to Zav: "In thee reviveth
The crown of Faridun. Zal and the troops
Acclaim thee as the Shah, O worthy one!"
On an auspicious day fair-fortuned Zav
Came and acceded to the lofty throne.
The mighty praised him, showering offerings;
Zal too did homage. Five years passed away
While Zav, a wise old man, sat on the throne
And judged and lavished till the world grew young.
He kept his soldiers back from evil ways,
Wrapped up himself in communings with God.
None dared to rob or slay, but after him
Men saw no lack of slaughter. There was a famine,
There was not dew or rain, the ground and herbs
Were parched, and bread was worth its weight in drachms.
The hosts had faced each other for five months,
Engaged in fierce encounters day by day
As fitteth chiefs and heroes, but that famine
Left them resourceless, wasted woof and warp,
And all confessed? We are ourselves to blame,"
While wails and cries for help rose from both hosts.
At length an envoy came to Zav and said:-
"It is our own fault that this Wayside Inn
Affordeth naught but travail, care, and anguish.
Come let us share the earth and bless each other."
They gave up thoughts of war for famine pressed,
Agreed to drop the ancient feud, to share
The world according to just precedent
And put all bygones out of memory.
The portion of Iran both near and far
'Twixt the Jihun and marches of Turan,
And so along toward Khutan and Chin,
Was given to the Turkmans as their kingdom,
While Zal abandoned all the nomad tribes.
Such was the sharing, such the Turkmans' bounds.
Then Zav led forth his host to go to Pars,
Old as he was he made earth young again;
While Zed departed for Zabulistan
And men received them both with open arms.
The roar of thunder filled the mountain-tops
And earth recovered colour, scent, and beauty;
It was as 'twere a youthful bride, arrayed
In fountains, pleasances, and rivulets,
For fortune. would be neither dark nor hard
If man had not the temper of a pard.
Zal called the chiefs and offered thanks to God,
Who had converted scarcity to plenty,
Men set up feasting-places everywhere
And banished feud and cursing from their hearts.
Thus for five years men knew not wrong or travail,
Yet verily the world grew sick of justice
And longed to be within the Lion's claws.
Now when he reached his sixth and eightieth year
That sun-like ruler's leaf began to sear,
The Iranians' fortune halted and the day
Of Zav, the righteous worldlord, passed away.

Chapter 10


How Garshasp succeeded to the Throne and died, and how Afrasiyab invaded Iran

Zav had a puissant son by name Garshasp
Who sat upon the throne and donned the crown.
He ruled the world with majesty and Grace,
But tidings reached the Turkmans: "Zav hath gone
And left an empty throne."
Sent up the war-cry, launched his ships and made
For Khar of Rai, but no one brought to him
A greeting from Pashang, whose head was filled
With hate, his heart with strife. All wild with grief
For Ighriras, of throne and crown he reeked not,
Would never look upon Afrasiyab
And let the shining sword grow dull with rust;
Albeit messengers were sent to him
Month after month, but he denied himself,
And said? Whatever prince were on the throne
A friend like Ighriras would profit him,
But thou art one to shed a brother's blood
And flee before the nursling of a fowl.
I sent thee forth to battle with the foe
And thou hast slain thy brother? I disown thee
Thou shalt not look upon my face again."
Thus matters fared awhile; at length the tree
Of bale bore colocynth. 'Twas in the year
Wherein Garshasp the son of Zav departed
That evil showed itself, for tidings reached
All ears? The throne of king of kings is void."
There came a message to Afrasiyab -
A stone flung by Pashang: "Cross the Jihun
And tarry not until yon throne be filled."
Between Jihun and plain of Sipanjab
Afrasiyab arrayed his armaments,
And thou hadst said: "Earth is a turning sky
Where Indian swords are shedding souls for rain."
So sped that splendid army forth to war.
"There is a claimant for the throne of might,"
Such tidings reached Iran. The throne was void,
The outlook dark. Anon the streets and quarters
Were all astir, cries rose from all the land
And men turned toward Zabul. The world was filled
With strife and folk spake bitterly to Zal:-
"Thy handling of the world hath been too lax.
Since thou hast held Sarn's place as paladin
Our minds have not been joyful for a day.
When Zav departed and his son was Shah
The hands of evil men were kept from ill.
Now seeing that Garshasp hath passed away
The world is Shahless and the army chiefless.
A host hath crossed Jihun, men cannot see
The sun for dust. If any shift thou knowest
Use it, because Afrasiyab approacheth."
Zal answered? Since I girt the belt of manhood
No rider like me hath bestridden steed,
None hath essayed to wield my sword and mace,
And horsemen showed their cruppers, not their reins,
When I appeared. I have fought night and day
And all my life have dreaded growing old.
At length my back is bent, I wield no more
A falchion of Kabul; yet God be praised
That from my root a glorious shoot hath sprung,
Whose head will reach the sky, and thou shalt see
It grow in valour, Rustam being now
A straight-stemmed Cypress whom the crown of greatness
Becometh well; but he must have a charger;
These Arab horses will not do for him.
I will seek out some elephantine steed,
Wherever there are herds, and say to Rustam :-
'Wilt thou consent, consent with all thy heart
To gird thy loins to execute revenge
Upon the offspring of Zadsham?'"
Was glad of heart and blithe of face as Zal
Sent camel-posts to every quarter, armed
His cavaliers, and said to Rustam thus :-
"Mine elephantine son, a whole head taller
Than other men! a work of toil is toward
To break thy slumbers, quiet, and delights.
Thou art not yet of age to fight, my son!
But what of that? This is no time for feasting.
Yet with the scent of milk upon thy lips,
And with thy heart all set on sports and pleasures.
How shall I send thee to the battlefield
Against the Lions and the mighty men?
Now for thine answer, and may majesty
And goodness be thy mates."
Then Rustam thus:-
"O noble prince, ambitious of renown!
Good sooth thou hast forgotten how I showed
My courage publicly. The paladin
Hath surely heard of the fierce elephant,
And Mount Sipand, and I shall lose my fame
If now I tremble at Afrasiyab.
This is the time for fight and not for flight.
The overthrow of Lions, the pursuit
Of war, renown, and battle, fashion heroes;
But 'tis not so with women; their concern
Is food and sleep."
Zal said: "O gallant youth,
The chief of princes and the warriors' stay!
My heart rejoiceth when I hear thee speak
Of that white elephant and Mount Sipand,
For truly since that fight was won with ease
Why fear I for thee now? Afrasiyab
And his designs deprive me of my sleep,
Yet can I send thee to contend with one
Who is a gallant king and loveth battle?
Now is thy time for feasts and twanging harps,
For quaffing wine, and tales of warlike deeds;
'Tis not thy time for warfare, fame, and strife,
Or sending up the earth's dust to the moon:'
He said: "I am not one for ease and revel.
'Twere base to pamper in luxuriousness
Such arms as these, and these long hands of mine.
What though the battlefield and fight be hard
God and victorious fortune are mine aids.
In battle thou shalt mark me how I go
Upon my ruddy charger through the blood,
And I will carry in my hand a cloud
That is of watered hue but raineth gore,
While from the substance of it flasheth fire
Its head shall bruise the brains of elephants,
My quiver when I clothe myself in mail
Shall shock the world, and all the fortresses
That shall withstand mine iron mace's blows,
My breast and arms and neck, need never fear
An arbalist or catapult, or want
A bishop for their castellan. The rocks
Shall redden to their cores when I advance
My lance in fight. I need a steed hill-high
Caught by my lasso, up to weight like mine
In war, and not impatient of restraint.
I need a mace too like a mountain-crag,
For hosts will come against me from Turan,
And when they come, though I should fight unaided,
Their blood shall rain upon the battlefield."
The paladin was moved, and thou hadst said,
"He will pour out his soul." He thus replied:-
"O tired of ease and revel! I will bring thee
The mace of Sam the cavalier, preserved
In memory of him, wherewith thou slewest
The elephant. Live ever, paladin! "
Zal ordered? Bring the mace employed by Sam
In his campaign against Mazandaran
To this fanned paladin that he may take
Our foemen's breath away."
When Rustam saw it
He smiled with joy, called blessings down Ún Zal,
And said: "Thou art the chief of paladins;
But now, to bear my person, mace, and Grace,
I need a steed."
Zal mused at what he said
And oft invoked God's blessing on his head.

How Rustam caught Rakhsh

When Zal had gathered all his herds of horses,
And many from Kabul, the herdsmen drove them
Past Rustam, calling out the royal brands.
Whenever Rustam caught a steed he pressed
Its back until its belly reached the ground.
At length a herd of piebald steeds sped by,
Among them a grey mare short-legged and fleet,
With lion's chest and ears like two steel daggers,
Her breast and shoulder full and barrel fine.
Behind her came a colt as tall as she,
His buttocks and his breast as broad as hers,
Dark-eyed and tapering - a piebald bay
With belly hard and jet-black, hoofs of steel,
His whole form beautiful, and spotted roan
Like roses spread upon a ground of saffron.
He could discern the tiny emmet's foot
Upon black cloth at night two leagues away,
Had elephantine strength with camel's stature,
And pluck of lions bred on Mount Bistun.
Now Rustam gazing on the mare observed
That elephantine colt, and coiled his lasso
To catch it, but an ancient herdsman cried :-
"O chief! forbear to take another's charger."
"Whose?" Rustam asked. "The thighs have not
been branded."
The herdsman answered? Never mind his brand;
There are all kinds of rumours as to him.
We call him Rakhsh. He is a piebald bay,
As good as water and as bright as fire.
We call him 'Rustam's Rakhsh,' but know of none
To master him. He hath been fit to saddle
These three years. All the nobles have observed him,
But at the sight of noose and cavalier
The dam is like a lion. We cannot tell,
O chief of paladins! the reason why,
But as a prudent man forbear to fight
A Dragon such as this, for when the mare
Is in the fighting humour she will rend
The hearts of lions and the hides of pards."
The old man's sayings opened Rustam's eyes,
He cast his royal lasso and entangled
The piebald's head. Then like a furious elephant
The dam advanced as she would tear off Rustam's,
Who roared as savage lions roar and scared her,
Then with one buffet on the withers sent her
All trembling to the ground. She rose, sprang back,
Then turned and joined the herd, while mighty Rustam
Stood firm and drew the lasso tighter still,
And laid his hand upon the bay colt's back
Which gave not; thou hadst said: "It is not felt."
The hero thought? This is the mount for me;
Now I can act."
He mounted swift as wind,
The ruddy steed sped with him. He inquired:-
What What is this Dragon's price or who can tell it? "
"If thou art Rustam," said the herd, "redress
fran upon his back. Its broad champaign
Shall be his price; then thou wilt right the world."
The hero's lips grew coral-like with smiles;
He said: "All good is God's."
Bent on revenge
He saddled ruddy Rakhsh, and giving him
The rein observed his courage, strength, and blood,
And that he could bear rider, arms, and mail.
The piebald grew so precious that at night
They burned wild rue to right and left of him
For fear of harm. "They practise sorcery,"
Thou wouldst have said. In fight no deer was swifter.
He was soft-mouthed, foam-scattering, light in hand,
With rounded buttocks, clever, and well paced.
The gallant rider and his new-found steed
Made Zal's heart joyful as the jocund spring.
He oped his treasury-door, gave out dinars,
Nor reeked of day or morrow. When he mounted
His elephant and dropped a ball the sound
Made by the cup was heard for miles around.

How Zal led the Host against Afrasiyab

There was a noise of drums and clarions,
Of mighty elephants and Indian gongs;
'Twas Resurrection in Zabulistan
And earth called loudly to the dead? Arise!"
A host departed from Zabul like lions;
All hands were bathed in blood. In front came Rustam
As paladin, then veteran warriors.
The troops so spread o'er passes, plains, and dales
That ravens had not room to fly, while tymbals
Beat everywhere and tumult filled the world
As at that time of roses Zal led forth
The army from Zabul. Afrasiyab
Thereat arose from banquet, rest, and slumber,
And marched toward Khar of Rai along the meadows
Among their streams and reeds. The Iranian host
Fared o'er the desert to the scene of war,
And when the armies were two leagues apart
Zal called the veterans, and thus harangued them :-
"Ye men of wisdom, well approven warriors
We have arrayed us here an ample host
And with advantages; yet with no Shah
Upon the throne our plants want rede, our toils
Lack purpose, and our troops a head. When Zav
Was on the throne new glory ever came,
And now we need a Shah of royal seed
To gird him there. An archimage hath told me
Of valiant Kai Kubad of royal stature,
A future Shah of Faridun's own line
In whom Grace, height, and lawful claims combine."

How Rustam brought Kai Kubad from Mount Alburz

Then glorious Zal spake unto Rustam, saying :-
"Bestir thyself, take up thy mace, select
The escort, go with speed to mount Alburz,
Do homage unto Kai Kubad, but stay not
With him, be back within two sennights, sleep not,
But late and early hurry on and tell him:-
'The soldiers long, and deck the throne, for thee.
We see none fitted for the royal crown,
O monarch, our defender! but thyself.'"
When Zal had spoken matchless Rustam swept
The ground with his eyelashes, joyfully
Got on the back of Rakhsh, and proudly rode
In quest of Kai Kubad. A Turkman outpost
Held the road strongly, but he charged the foe
As champion of the host with his brave troops,
Armed with the ox-head mace. He brandished it
And towering in his wrath struck out and raised
His battle-cry. The Turkmans' hearts all failed,
His arm laid many low. They strove with him,
But had to flee the battle in the end.
With broken hearts and tearful eyes they turned
Back to Afrasiyab, and told him all.
He sorrowed at their case, called one Kulrin,
A gallant Turkman warrior full of craft,
And said to him? Choose horsemen from the host,
Go thou too to the palace of the king,
Be careful, prudent, and courageous,
And specially keep watch with diligence;
The Iranians are human ihrimans
And fall on outposts unawares."
Departed from the royal camp with guides
To bar the road against the noble foe,
With warriors and lusty elephants.
Now Rustam the elect and brave marched on
Toward the new Shah, and when within a mile
Of mount Alburz perceived a splendid seat
With running water and abundant trees -
The home for youth. Upon a river's bank
Was set a throne besprinkled with rose-water
And purest musk. A young man like the moon
Was seated on the throne beneath the shade,
While many paladins with girded loins
Mood ranked as is the custom of the great,
rind formed a court well fitted for a Shah,
Like Paradise in form and hue. On seeing
The paladin approach they went to greet him
And said: "Pass not, O famous paladin
We are the hosts and thou shah be our guest.
Dismount that we may join in jollity,
And pledge thee, famous warrior! in wine:'
But he replied? Exalted, noble chiefs!
I must to mount Alburz upon affairs
Of moment, and not loiter in my task.
I have much work to do, the Iranian marches
Are full of foes, all households weep and mourn,
I must not revel while the throne is void."
They said: "If thou art hasting to Alburz
Be pleased to say of whom thou art in quest,
For we who revel here are cavaliers
From that blest land, and we will be thy guides
And make friends on the way."
He thus replied:-
The Shah is there, a holy man and noble.
His name is Kai Kubad, sprung from the seed
Of Faridun the just and prosperous.
Direct me to him if ye wot of him."
The leader said: "I wot of Kai Kubad.
If thou wilt enter and delight our hearts
I will direct thee and describe the man."
The peerless Rustam hearing this dismounted
Like wind, and hurried to the water's edge,
To where the folk were seated in the shade.
The youth sat down upon the throne of gold
And taking Rustam's hand within his own
Filled up and drained a goblet " To the Free!"
Then handed it to Rustam, saying thus :-
"Thou askest me, O famous warrior!
About Kubad, whence knowest thou his name? "
Said Rustam: "From the paladin I come
With joyful news. The chiefs have decked the throne
And called on Kai Kubad to be the Shah.
My sire, the chief whom men call Zal, said thus:-
'Go with an escort unto mount Alburz,
Find valiant Kai Kubad and homage him,
Yet tarry not, but say? The warriors call thee
And have prepared the throne.'" If thou hast tidings
Give them and speed him to the sovereign power."
The gallant stripling, smiling, answered
Am Kai Kubad and sprung from Faridun,
I know my lineage from sire to sire:'
When Rustam heard he bowed, rose from his seat
Of gold to do obeisance, and thus spake
"O ruler of the rulers of the world,
The shelter of the brave and stay of chiefs
Now let Iran's throne wait upon thy will,
Great elephants be taken in thy toils.
Thy right seat is the throne of king of kings;
May Grace and glory be thins own! I bring
A greeting for the king of earth from Zal,
The chieftain and the valiant paladin.
If now the Shah shall bid his slave to speak
I will acquit me of the chieftain's message."
Brave Kai Kubad rose from his seat, intent
Upon the speaker's words, while peerless Rustam
Discharged his ernbassage. With throbbing heart
The young prince said: "Bring me a cup of wine,"
And drank to Rustam's health, who likewise drained
A goblet to the monarch's life, and said
"Thou mindest me of glorious Faridun "
(For Rustam was rejoiced at seeing him),
"Not for an instant may the world lack thee,
The throne of kingship, or the royal crown."
The instruments struck up, great was the joy,
The grief was small, the ruddy wine went round
And flushed the youthful Shah, who said to Rustam :-
"Mine ardent soul in sleep saw two white hawks
Approaching from Iran, and bringing with them
A crown bright as the sun. They came to me
With dainty and caressing airs and set it
Upon my head. I wakened full of hope
Because of that bright crown and those white hawks,
And made a court here such as kings would hold,
As thou perceivest, by the river-side.
Like those white hawks hath matchless Rustam come
With news that I shall wear the warriors' crown."
When Rustam heard thereof he said: "Thy dream
Had a prophetic source. Now let us rise
And journey to Iran and to the chief's."
Then Kai Kubad rose swift as fire and mounted
His steed, while Rustam girt his loins like wind
And journeyed proudly with him. Night and day
He travelled till he reached the Turkman outposts,
When bold Kulun, ware of his coming, marched
To meet and fight with him. The Shah thereat
Was fain to put his battle in array,
But mighty Rustam said to him: "O Shah!
'Tis not a fight for thee, they will not stand
Against my battleax and barded Rakhsh;
My heart and arm and mace are help enough;
I ask but God's protection. With a hand
Like mine and ruddy Rakhsh to carry me
Who will confront my mace and scimitar? "
He spake, spurred on and with a single blow
Threw one and hurled another at a third
Whose brains ran down his nostrils. Those strong hands
Unhorsed the foe and dashed them to the ground,
And in their fall brake heads and necks and backs.
Kulun beheld this div escaped from bonds
With mace in hand and lasso at his saddle,
Charged him like wind and thrusting with his spear
Brake through some fastenings of his mail, but Rustam,
What while his foe was lost in wonderment,
Seized on the spear and wrenched it from Kulun,
Then roared like thunder from the mountain-tops,
Speared him and having raised him from his seat
Put down the spear's butt to the ground.' Kulun
Was like a spitted bird in sight of all.
The victor rode Rakhsh over him, and trod him
To death. The Turkman horsemen turned to flee
And left Kulun upon the field. His troops
Fled in dismay from Rustam. In an instant
Their fortune was o'erthrown. He passed the outposts
And hastened toward the hills. The paladin
Alighted at a place with grass and water
Till night had come and he had furnished robes
Fit for a paladin, a royal steed
And crown, then introduced the Shah to Zal
Unnoticed. For a, week they sat in conclave
But kept their movements secret. All agreed
"Kubad hath not his peer in all the world."
For seven days they revelled with Kubad,
Upon the eighth hung up the crown on high -
And 'neath it decked the throne of ivory

How Kai Kubad ascended the Throne and warred aginst Turan

WHEN Kai Kubad acceded to the throne,
And donned the jewelled crown, chiefs such as Zal,
Karan the warrior, Kishwad, Kharrad,
And valorous Barzin, flocked round and scattered
Gems over that new crown. They said: "O Shah
Prepare to fight the Turkmans."
Hearing this
He went, reviewed his host, and on the morrow
Marched forth while shouts rose from his tent-enclosure.
Then Rustam armed and like an angry elephant
Sent up the dust, the troops arrayed their ranks,
And girt their loins for bloodshed. On one wing
Mihrab the Waster of Kabul was stationed,
Upon the other doughty Gustaham.
Karan the warrior was in the centre
With bold Kishwad the shatterer of hosts,
While Rustam led the van with chiefs and heroes,
And Zal and Kai Kubad as their supports.
Here there was fire, there storm, while Kawa's standard
Amid the van made earth red, violet,
And yellow, and the seated world was like
A wave-tossed barque upon the sea of Chin.
The deserts and the dales were carpeted
By shields on shields, the falchions gleamed like lamps,
And all the world became a sea of pitch
Whereon a hundred thousand tapers burned.
Thou wouldst have said: "The sun hath lost its way
Frayed by the trumpets' blare and warriors' shouts!"
The hosts encountered, none knew van from rear.
Karan o'erthrew ten warriors at each charge;
Now wheeling to the left, now to the right,
And seeking to wreak vengeance on all sides,
He made earth mountain-like with slain, astounding
The bravest Turkmans. Seeing Shamasas,
Who raised the war-cry lion-like he charged,
Unsheathed his sword smote his foe's head, and shouted:-
The The famed Karan am I," while Shamasas
Sank to the ground and perished in a breath.
The manner of this ancient sky is so,
At whiles like arrow and at whiles like bow!

How Rustam fought with Afrasiyab

When Rustam saw the doings of Karan,
And what war is, he went to Zal and said:-
"Tell me, O paladin of paladins
Where doth malevolent Afrasiyab
Stand in the fight? Describe his garb and banner.
I see a fluttering flag of violet.
Describe him that I may encounter him,
And so exalt my head among the chieftains.
To-day will I lay hold upon his girdle
And bring him hither haled upon his face."
Zal answered: "Hearken unto me, my son
And run no risks to-day. He is a Dragon,
Whose breath is fire - a Cloud of bale in war.'
His flag and mail are black, his helm and brassards
Of iron flecked with gold, his plume is sable.
Avoid him, he is brave, his fortune sleepless."
"Be not concerned for me," was Rustam's answer.
"With God mine aid, heart, sword, and arm my ramparts,
Although he be a Dragon and a div
Yet will I bring him by the belt, and thou
Shalt see me make him lifeless in the mellay,
So dealing that Pashang's troops shall bewail him."
That lion-youth - the shelter of the host -
Urged on his steed - Rakhsh of the brazen hoofs -
And shouting mid the trumpet-blare approached
The army of Turan. Afrasiyab
Beheld amazed the lad not fully grown
And asked: "Who is he, for I know him not -
Yon Dragon broken loose in such a fashion?"
One said: "The son of Zal the son of Sam.
Dost thou not see him with his grandsire's mace?
He is a youth and eager for distinction."
Then like a vessel lifted by the waves
Afrasiyab came forth while Rustam clipped
Rakhsh firmly, shouldering his massive mace,
But hung it to his saddle when he closed;
Then, having caught the monarch by the belt,
And dragged him from his poplar saddle, hoped
To carry him to Kai Kubad to tell
The story of this first day's fight; but through
The chieftain's weight and Rustam's grasp the girdle
Snapped, and the king came headlong to the ground,
Whereat his cavaliers surrounded him,
While Rustam, when the chief escaped his clutch,
Gnawed at his hand's back in chagrin and cried:-
"Why did I take him not beneath the armpit
And simply make him handfast with his girdle? "
While from the elephants' backs the sound of bells
Rose, and the drums were heard for miles, men brought
The Shah glad tidings: "Rustam," they reported,
"Brake through the centre of the Turkman host
And reached their general whose standard now
Hath disappeared, for Rustam seized his girdle
And flung him easily. The Turkmans yelled,
The valiant chiefs formed round their fallen king,
And bare him off: When vanquished thus he mounted
A fleet steed, fled toward the plain, and left
His host to save his life."
At this good news
The Shah gave orders to his troops to fall
In mass like wind upon the enemy
And utterly o'erthrow them, fruit and root.
He rose himself like fire, and all his host
Heaved like a stormy sea. Zal and Mihrab,
The Lion, went forth keen and valorous;
The din of battle rose with falchion-flash
And thud of shaft, while heads grew dazed as axes
Crashed on gold helm and shield. Thou wouldst
have said:-
"A cloud somewhence hath risen and is flecking
Yon oranges with magic cinnabar!"
Upon that day of battle sank and rose
Blood to the Fish and dust-clouds to the Moon,
While through the horse-hoofs on that spacious plain
One earth flew up to make another heaven!
Heroic Rustam in the fight that day
With dirk and lasso, mace and scimitar,
Clave into pieces, rent and brake and bound
The heads, breasts, feet, and hands of warriors,
For eight and fifty score of gallant chiefs
That Lion slaughtered in a single charge.
Zal gazing on his son illustrious
In Grace and might felt his heart throb with joy
To see such prowess, while the Turkmans pressed
Thus by the Magian host sought Damaghan,
And thence fled toward Jihun with stricken hearts,
With din and dudgeon, with their weapons broken
And girdles snapped - a trumpless, drumless mob.
The paladins that led the Iranian host
Turned from pursuing and drew near the Shah,
All plunder-wearied, bringing band on band
Of captive Turkmans. When the troops were back
In camp again the mighty men approached
The monarch of the world, extolling him,
While Rustam also went before the Shah,
Who seated him on one side of the throne
And famous Zal upon the other one.

How Afrasiyab came to his Father

Upon the Turkinan side Afrasiyab
Fled to the river-bank and tarried there
For seven days, made ready on the eighth,
And gat him to his sire, all rage and grief;
His tongue was long although his hands were shortened.
"O famous king!" said he, " the fault was thine
In seeking war; the mighty men of old
Gave kings no precedent for breach of faith.
The offspring of Iraj polluteth still
The earth; that poison gnaweth yet; they come
Without a break to lord it o'er the world.
Now 'tis Kubad; he hath assumed the crown
And flung the gates of vengeance wide again.
A cavalier of Sam's seed hath appeared,
By Zal named Rustam. Like a crocodile
Enraged he charged, and thou hadst said: "His breath
Will burn the world." He sped o'er hill and dale,
And plied mace, sword, and stirrup. All the air
Rang with his crashing mace. Life was not worth
A pinch of dust to me. He overthrew
Our host; none ever saw a sight so strange
He spied my flag, put down his massive mace,
And snatched me from my poplar saddle so
That thou hadst said I was not one gnat's weight!
My girdle and my hauberk's fastening snapped,
I tumbled from his grasp beneath his feet.
No lion hath such strength, his feet touch earth,
His head is in the clouds. My cavaliers
Came up and saved me from that Mountain's clutches.
Thou know'st how kingly are my heart and hand,
My prowess, deeds, and enterprise, yet I
Am but a fibre in his grasp. Such worship
Perturbeth me. I saw a monstrous form
With lion's claws. My wits and senses fled.
Hill, cave, and level road were one to him
When his mad Elephant was put to speed.
A thousand maces in good sooth and more
Fell on his famous helm: thou wouldst have said:-
'They fashioned him of iron, brought him up
On stones and brass!' What is a sea or mountain,
Fierce lion or mad elephant to him?
He pricketh forth as on a hunting-day,
And battle is his pastime. Had such might
Been Sam's no Turkman chief would now survive.
We can but sue for peace, because thy troops
Give way before him. I, an atheling,
Thine army's stay and thine own help in need,
Have no strength left to fight with him. Go to,
Take counsel and make peace. They gave the land,
Assigned of old by Faridun to Tur,
To me; and that apportionment was just.'
Revive not ancient feuds for, if we pass
The boundary and prosecute the war,
We shall but make the world strait to ourselves.
Thou know'st that sight is better than report,
For hearsay's belly is an empty one.
To fight Iran appeared a jest to thee,
The soldiers think that it hath gone too far.
Defer not to to-morrow this day's work;
Who knoweth what to-morrow may bring forth?
The roses blooming in the garden now
To-morrow thou wouldst pluck - when they are
Mark what a wealth of golden equipage,
Of golden helmets and of golden shields,
How many Arab steeds with golden bits,
What Indian scimitars with golden scabbards,
And, over and above these, what famed chieftains
The blast hath vilely borne away - Kulbad,
And bold Barman who hunted lions only,
Ad Kharzarwan, whom Zal hath dashed to pieces
And shown his massive mace's mastery,
Fierce Shamasas - the shelter of the host -
Slain by Karan upon the battlefield,
And, in addition to these famous men,
Ten thousand others slaughtered in this war:
Worse still, observe the breach of fame and honour
That we can never bind. Though I have slain
One famous chief illustrious Ighriras -
Let fortune's good and ill cry quits to-day,
And leave to-morrow for the reckoning;
Because the haughty chiefs have come to me,
The heroes, each one with his flag behind him,
And told me much that happened when I fled
In dudgeon and they followed. Now revive not
The memory of the past, but strive to make
A peace with Kai Kubad, lest hosts should come
Upon thee from four sides: on this side Rustam,
Whose prowess in the fight outshineth Sol;
On that Karan, whose eye ne'er saw defeat;
Upon the third Kishwad, the golden-helmed,
Who brought the captives from Amul; Mihrab
Is on the fourth, next to the Shah in place,
Lord of Kabul, a man of rede and Grace."

How Paschang sued to Kai Kubad for Peace

The chieftain of Turan, whose eyes were tearful,
Was all astonied at Afrasiyab
That he should have bethought him of such words,
And that his soul had turned to what was just.
He chose a prudent envoy for Iran,
And wrote a letter worthy of the Artang,
Decked with a hundred colours and designs:-
"In the name of Him who ruleth sun and moon,
And gave to us the faculty of praise!
May He accept the soul of Faridun,
From whom our race deriveth, warp and woof.
Hear now, O famous Kai Kubad! and I
Will utter words of kingly rede and right.
Tur brought calamity on blest Iraj
Upon a question touching crown and throne.
On this I say that feuds should not endure
For ever, and if vengeance for Iraj
Was owing it was wreaked by Minuchihr.
In that first settlement by Faridun,
Whose object was a just apportionment,
It will be well for us to acquiesce
And not transgress the precedents of kings.
From Turkestan to Ma wara 'u'n-Nahr,
Whose boundary is Jihun that is our share.
When Faridun was Shah Iraj ne'er saw it,
But had from him his blessing and Iran.
If we transgress these boundaries and fight
We make earth strait to us, the scimitars
Will clash, God will be wroth, and we shall lose
Our portion in both worlds. What Faridun
Divided unto Salm, Tur, and Iraj,
Let us retain and then be friends henceforth,
For earth itself is worth not so much bale.
The reverend head of Zal hath grown like snow,
The dust is crimson with our warriors' blood,
And yet a man will only own at last
His body's length of all that he possesseth
We with a shroud for robe, a grave for home,
Shall own but some five cubits' length of earth;
All other wishes are but care and toil -
A cause for trouble in this Wayside Inn.
If Kai Kubad doth acquiesce in this,
And if that sage's head ensueth right,
Not one of us shall dream of the Jihtin,
But let the Iranians keep to their own side.
It may be that good will and intercourse
Will make both realms contented with this pact."
He sealed and sent this to the Iranian host
With jewels, crowns, gold thrones, fair damsels girt
With gold, Arabian steeds with golden trappings,
And Indian swords in silvern sheaths besides
The goodliest native wares. The envoy reached
Kubad and gave the letter and the message.
The king of kings read and replied at large:-
"We did not recommence; this war was caused
Directly by Afrasiyab. The wrong
Began with Tur when he bereaved a prince
Such as Iraj was of the throne, and now
It is Afrasiyab that crosseth over
The river to invade us. Thou hast heard
His treatment of Naudar, which filled wild beasts
With grief and pain, while on wise Ighriras
He did a deed unworthy of a man.
Yet if ye do repent I will renew
The compact, though I well could take revenge,
Armed as I am for all emergencies,
Thus leaving you the lands beyond the river,
And then perchance Afrasiyab will rest."
The Shah drew up the treaty and thus planted
A fresh tree in the garden of his greatness.
The envoy went and brought with leopard's speed
The letter to Pashang, who packed his baggage,
Marched back, and sent the dust-clouds heavenward.
He crossed Jihun like wind, and news thereof
Reached Kai Kubad, who joyed because the foe
Withdrew without a fight, but Rustam said:-
"Look not, O Shah? for peace in time of war.
Of old we ne'er had rest from their assaults;
My mace it was that made them thus to-day."
Thus to that noble chief spake Kai Kubad :-
"Naught have I seen more goodly than the right.
Pashang, a scion of blest Faridun,
Avoideth strife for he hath had enough,
And men of wisdom must not look upon him
Askance and with injustice. I will draw
A deed of gift on silk for thee of all
Between the Indus and Zabulistan.
Go take the throne and crown too of Nimruz,
And lighten all the world. Upon this side
Give to Mihrab Kabul, and keep thy spearpoints
Sharp, for where'er a king is there is war
Though earth is broad enough."
The Shah prepared
Gifts both for Rustam and for Zal whose head
He crowned, whose loins he girt, with gold, and gave
Half of the world to him. He kissed the ground.
Kubad the fortune-favoured further said:-
"No'er may the throne of majesty lack Zal,
One hair of whom outweigheth all the world;
He is the heirloom left us by the great"
They furnished forth five elephants with litters
Inlaid with turquoise brighter than Nile-water,
And spread upon the litters cloth of gold,
Besides unreckoned wealth, a royal robe
Of gold, a crown and girdle wrought of jewels
And turquoise, all of which he sent to Zal,
And said: "I fain had sent a greater gift,
And, should long life be mine, I will not leave
A wish of thine unsatisfied on earth."
Moreover on Karan the warrior,
Upon Kishwad, Kharrad, Barzin, Pulad,
He showered robes of honour as was fit,
And to the rest that seemed to him deserving
Gave money, shields, and swords, or, if he felt
Their merit greater still, a sword and belt.

How Kai Kubad came to Istakhr of Pars

Thence Kai Kubad departed unto Pars
Where lay his treasury. The capital
Was then Istakhr - the glory of the Kaians.
With general assent he claimed the crown
And, mounted on the Kaian throne, held sway
By justice and the customs of the wise.
He thus addressed the chiefs: "The world is mine.
For elephants to war on gnats would make
A breach in Faith and justice. I will have
Naught but the right, for of God's anger cometh
Disaster. I have brought men peace by toil
And justice, and where earth and water are
My treasure is. Kings are my bodyguard;
I hold the citizen and soldier equal.
Make God your refuge, be ye wise and harmless,
Enjoy what ye possess, give liberally,
And thank me too for that which ye enjoy;
While they that want and cannot live by work
Shall pasture at my court."
He gathered troops,
And went about inspecting everywhere.
Thus for ten years he roved and ministered
All justice publicly and privily.
He built him many cities jocund seats -
Such as the hundred that surrounded Rai,
But when the hand of time had fallen upon him
He set his face toward Pars, sat on the throne
'Mid archimages, readers of the stars,
And sages, gathered too his warriors,
And gazing on them with a wounded heart
Talked of the mighty who had passed away.
His gifts and justice made the world rejoice,
And thus he reached his hundredth year in joy.
See if the world hath any king like him.
He had four sons, all men endowed with wisdom,
To keep his memory alive on earth
The first was glorious Kaus, the second
Was Kai Arash, the third was Kai Pashin,
The fourth was Kai Armin. They walked the world
In peace and great content.
A century passed,
A change of fortune came to crown and throne.
For when the Shah perceived that death drew near,
And that the green leaf was about to wither,
He summoned noble Kai Kaus, spake much
Of justice and of generosity,
And said: "I load the baggage to depart.
Perform mine obsequies and take the throne,
Though as for me I seem but just arrived
Rejoicing with my men from Mount Alburz!
Oh! what a thing is fortune thus to leave us
Without a warning! They that worship it
Lack wisdom. Thou, if thou art just and upright,
Wilt have thy guerdon in the other world,
While if thy passions shall ensnare thy wits
Thou wilt unsheathe a sword whose edge is keen -
A sword wherewith thou first wilt wound thyself
And afterward resign it to the foe
Thy dwelling there will be a place of fire;
Here bitterness of heart and grief be thine."
He spake these words and leaving this wide world
Exchanged his palace for a sepulchre
It hath been this world's way time out of mind
To form of dust and scatter to the wind.
The tale of Kai Kubad is at an end;
To that of Kai attention lend.

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