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Ferdowsi greatest Persian poets to have ever lived

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 8:09 pm    Post subject: Ferdowsi greatest Persian poets to have ever lived Reply with quote

The Epic of Shahnameh Ferdowsi
(The Epic of Kings: Hero Tales of Ancient Persia)

I am deathless, I am the eternal Lord
For I have spread the seed of the Word.

created by
Hakim Abol-Ghasem Ferdowsi Toosi
World famous Persian (Iranian) poet

Excellent Site By Dr. Behrouz Homayoun Far
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
translation of The Epic of Shahnameh Ferdowsi by Helen Zimmern

The Shahnameh or The Epic of Kings is one of the definite classics of the world. It tells hero tales of ancient Persia. The contents and the poet's style in describing the events takes the reader back to the ancient times and makes he/she sense and feel the events. Ferdowsi worked for thirty years to finish this masterpiece.
An important feature of this work is that during the period that Arabic language was known as the main language of science and literature, Ferdowsi used only Persian in his masterpiece. As Ferdowsi himself says "Persian language is revived by this work".

This is the translation of The Epic of Shahnameh Ferdowsi by Helen Zimmern.


Chapter 1
The Shahs of Old



Another Good Shahnameh Ferdowsi homeSite

Persian literature has made splendid contributions to the world literature.
Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings) composed in the 10th century by Ferdowsi is the Crown Jewel of the Persian literature and is cherished by all Iranians (including non-Persian ethnic groups) as well as Persian speaking societies of Afghanistan, Tajikestan and Central Asia.



About this site
This website is an archive of book paintings--commonly known as Persian Miniatures--that were created to illustrate scenes from the Persian national epic, the Shahnama (the Book of Kings). The Shahnama is a poem of some 50,000 couplets that was composed by Abu'l Qasim Firdausi over a period of several decades in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. The core of this archive is a fund of 277 illustrations from five illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnama that are housed in Princeton University's Firestone Library and which were bequeathed to Princeton by Clara S. Peck and by Robert Garrett (Class of 1897). These manuscripts date from 1544 to 1674 AD, and vary a good deal both in the number and quality of paintings each contains, and in the scenes chosen for illustration.

Hakim Abol Qasem Ferdowsi Tousi


Ferdowsi was born in Khorasan in a village near Tous, in 935 CE His great epic The Shahnameh (The Epic of Kings), to which he devoted most of his adult life, was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Persian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. During Ferdowsi's lifetime this dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks, and there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan, Mahmoud of Ghaznavi, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 CE in poverty and embittered by royal neglect, though confident of his and his poem's ultimate fame.

The Shahnameh or The Epic of Kings is one of the definite classics of the world. It tells hero tales of ancient Persia. The contents and the poet's style in describing the events takes the readers back to the ancient times and makes he/she sense and feel the events. Ferdowsi worked for thirty years to finish this masterpiece.

Ferdowsi is considered as the greatest Persian poet, author of the Shahnameh ("The Epic of Kings"), the Persian national epic, to which he gave its final and enduring form, although he based his poem mainly on an earlier prose version. For nearly a thousand years the Persians have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterwork in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form. It is the history of Iran's glorious past, preserved for all time in sonorous and majestic verse. Though written about 1,000 years ago, this work is as intelligible to the average, modern Iranian as the King James version of the Bible is to a modern English-speaker. The language, based as the poem is on a Pahlavi original, is pure Persian with only the slightest admixture of Arabic.

According to Nezami, Ferdowsi was a dehqan (landowner), deriving a comfortable income from his estates. He had only one child, a daughter, and it was to provide her with a dowry that he set his hand to the task that was to occupy him for more than 30 years.

The Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, a poem of nearly 60,000 couplets, is based mainly on a prose work of the same name compiled in the poet's early manhood in his native Tus. This prose Shahnameh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi (Middle Persian) work, the Khvatay-namak, a history of the kings of Persia from mythical times down to the reign of Khosrow II (590-628 CE), but it also contained additional material continuing the story to the overthrow of the Sasanians by the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century A.D. The first to undertake the versification of this chronicle of pre-Islamic and legendary Persia was Daqiqi, a poet at the court of the Samanids, who came to a violent end after completing only 1,000 verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster, were afterward incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgements, in his own poem.

An important feature of this work is that during the period that Arabic language was known as the main language of science and literature, Ferdowsi used only Persian in his masterpiece. As Ferdowsi himself says "Persian language is revived by this work".

Ferdowsi's Tomb in Tous near Mashhad
The Shahnameh, finally completed in 1010 CE, was presented to the celebrated sultan Mahmoud of Ghaznavid, who by that time had made himself master of Ferdowsi's homeland, Khurasan. Information on the relations between poet and patron is largely legendary. According to Nezami, Ferdowsi came to Ghazna in person and through the good offices of the minister Ahmad-ebn-Hasan Meymandi was able to secure the Sultan's acceptance of the poem. Unfortunately, Mahmoud then consulted certain enemies of the minister as to the poet's reward. They suggested that Ferdowsi should be given 50,000 dirhams, and even this, they said, was too much, in view of his heretical Shi'ite tenets. Mahmoud, a bigoted Sunnite, was influenced by their words, and in the end Ferdowsi received only 20,000 dirhams. Bitterly disappointed, he went to the bath and, on coming out, bought a draft of foqa' (a kind of beer) and divided the whole of the money between the bath attendant and the seller of foqa'.

Fearing the Sultan's wrath, he fled first to Herat, where he was in hiding for six months, and then, by way of his native Tus, to Mazanderan, where he found refuge at the court of the Sepahbad Shahreyar, whose family claimed descent from the last of the Sasanians.

There Ferdowsi composed a satire of 100 verses on Sultan Mahmoud that he inserted in the preface of the Shah-nameh and read it to Shahreyar, at the same time offering to dedicate the poem to him, as a descendant of the ancient kings of Persia, instead of to Mahmoud. Shahreyar, however, persuaded him to leave the dedication to Mahmoud, bought the satire from him for 1,000 dirhams a verse, and had it expunged from the poem. The whole text of this satire, bearing every mark of authenticity, has survived to the present.

According to the narrative of Nezami, Ferdowsi died inopportunely just as Sultan Mahmoud had determined to make amends for his shabby treatment of the poet by sending him 60,000 dinars' worth of indigo. Nezami does not mention the date of Ferdowsi's death. The earliest date given by later authorities is 1020 and the latest 1026 CE; it is certain that he lived to be more than 80.



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Ferdowsi Tousi (فردوسی طوسی in Persian) (more commonly transliterated Firdausi, Ferdosi or Ferdusi) (935–1020) is considered to be one of the greatest Persian poets to have ever lived. Among the national heroes and literary greats of all time, Ferdowsi has a very special place. His life-long endeavour, dedication and personal sacrifices to preserve the national identity, language and heritage of his homeland put him in great hardship during his lifetime, but won him fame and honour for one of the greatest poetic masterpieces of all time.

Contents [hide]
1 Life
2 Books
3 Influence
4 References
5 See also


Ferdowsi Mausoleum in TusFerdowsi was born in the Iranian province of Khorasan, in a village near Tus (Baj), in 935. His father was a rich man who had great fields in his area. His great epic, the Shahnameh ("The epic of kings"), to which he deevoted most of his adult life (more than thirty five years), was originally composed for eventual presentation to the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Iranian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. When he was just 23 years old, he found a “Shahnameh” written by “Abu-Mansour Almoammari” which was not poem. It was one made from the older versions ordered by “Abu-Mansour ibn Abdol-razzagh”. It made a great change in the life of this poet. During Ferdowsi’s lifetime Samanid dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Empire. Two or three years after completing the work, Firdowsi went to “Ghaznein” the capital of Ghaznavids to present it to king. And there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new king, Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznavid, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. According to historians, Mahmud had promised Ferdowsi a dinar for every distich written in the Shahnameh (60000 dinars), but later retracted and presented him with dirhams (20000 dirhams), which were at that time, much less valuable than dinar (every 100 dirhams worth 1 dinar). Some think it was jealousy of other poets working at king’s court that led to this event. But the other explanation for this response is difference between poet’s faith and that of the king. Sultan Mahmud was a Sunni. While Firdowsi has many verses in admiration of Ali, that shows he was a Shiite. Another fact is that Sultan Mahmud was stingy by nature and so he just gave money to king-admiring poems. Ferdowsi rejected the money and by some contexts he gave it to a poor man who sold wine. He was wandering for a time in Sistan and Mazandaran. But at last he returned to Tus with a broken heart. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 in poverty at the age of ninety and embittered by royal neglect, though fully confident of his work’s ultimate success and fame (clearly seen especially in last verses of his book). Later it’s said that Mahmud resent the amount promise to Ferdowsi’s village, but when the messengers reached his house, he had died a few hours ago. According to legend, the gift was given to his daughter. Because his son had died before father at the age of 37. Although, his daughter refused to receive the amount, thus, making Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh immortal.

Then the king ordered to use that money for repairing an inn in the way from Merv to Tus, named “Robat Chaheh”. So that it may remain as a remembrance of poet. This inn now lies in ruins, but still exists.

Firdowsi was buried at the yard of his own home, where his mausoleum now lies.


Scenes from the Shahnameh carved into reliefs at Tus, where Ferdowsi is buried.Firdowsi has also another poem book in a romantic style named “Joseph and Zoleikha”. But it has not been so popular. His masterwork, the Shahnameh, is the most popular and influential manifestation of true Iranian national epics. The Shahnameh, or the "Book of Kings," consists of the translation of an even older Pahlavi (Middle Persian) work. It has been a work of exceptional popularity among the Persians for over a thousand years. In brief it tells the history of old Persia before Arab conquest of the region, this tale all written in poetic form and in old Persian language starts from 7000 years ago telling the story of Persian Kings and their doings.

There are some illustrations for Shahnameh, mostly painted during the reign of Safavid kings. These pictures are of no historical value, as pre-Islamic Persian kings are shown wearing Turkish clothes. The type of architecture and decorating is also Mongolic in these pictures. Courteous nobles are sitting on the ground at the court, while this is a custom of Turkish people.

In a whole these pictures were illustrated in this fashion just to make the Turkish kings pleased.

But new illustrations, especially those of Master Mahmud Farshchian, are historical and use the best familiar theme for these stories.

Ferdowsi is one of the undisputed giants of Persian literature. After Ferdowsi's Shahnameh a number of other works similar in nature surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere of the Persian language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and method on Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity as Ferdowsi's masterpiece.

Of all the great Iranian poets, Ferdowsi stature is the most prolific because of the strides he made in reviving and regenerating the Persian language and cultural traditions. In fact, his works are cited as a crucial component in the persistence of the Persian language, as those works allowed much of the tongue to remain codified and intact. In this respect, Ferdowsi surpasses Nezami, Khayyam, Asadi Tusi, and other seminal Persian literary figures in his impact on Persian culture and language.

E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-700-70406-X
Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. ASIN B-000-6BXVT-K



Source Of This Information: http://www.savepasargad.com/

Ferdowsi's Tomb in Tous near Mashhad Had Highest Visitors Rating in This Year Norouz 2006 -
The Number of Iranian Visitors to Ferdowsi's Tomb For This Norouz Is 180,000

Ferdowsi Predicted Correctly When He Said:

I am deathless, I am the eternal Lord
For I have spread the seed of the Word.

Last edited by cyrus on Wed Mar 29, 2006 8:36 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:10 pm    Post subject: Zahak Epic Reply with quote



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Zahak, Zahhak, Zahak-e Tāzi or (Arab Zahak) also knwon as Bivar-Asp, which means "[he who has] 10,000 horses" in the Pahlavi (middle Persian) language, and Avestan Āži-Dahāk) is a mythical figure of ancient Persia (Iran).

Zahak (Pahlavi) The Pahlavi translation of the Avesta personifies the serpent Azhi Dahaka into the Evil One, dwelling in Bawru (Babylonia). Zohak is represented as a man with two snakes' heads growing from his shoulders where he was kissed by Ahriman; "the human head denotes the physical man, and the two serpent heads the dual manasic principles -- the dragon and serpent both standing as symbols of wisdom and occult powers" (TG 333). To keep the serpents calm he had to feed them with human brain. Every day a number of people were killed and their brain were fed to the raging snakes. Kaveh, after losing 17 sons who were slain to still the hunger of the serpents, sued for justice and vengeance, rebelled against Zahak, and gained people's support. At the same time prince Fereydoun with the support of Kaveh overthrew Zahak from the throne. Zahak usurps the throne of King Jamshid (Yima), and after ruling a thousand years he is vanquished. But Zahak could not be slain; he was bound to Mount Damavand, there to lie in bonds till the end of the world, when he shall be let loose and then be slain by Keresaspa.

In the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the figures in this myth become historical characters: "It is apparent, therefore, that by Zohak is meant the Assyrian dynasty, whose symbol was the purpureum signum draconis -- the purple sign of the dragon. From a very remote antiquity (Genesis 14) this dynasty ruled Asia, Armenia, Syria, Arabia, Babylonia, Media and Persia.It was finally overthrown by Cyrus the great and Darius the great Hystaspes, after '1,000 years' rule.


Zahak ruled for 1000 years. Wisdom and truth was concealed while harm and fallacy became widespread. Shahrnaz and Arnavaz (Jamshid's daughter) were taken to Zahak. Two people were killed each night and their brain was fed to Zahak's snakes. Finally Armayel and Garmayel plotted to enter Zahak's kitchen as cooks. As young men were brought for slaughter; one was killed and his brain was prepared for snake's food mixed with sheep's brain. Yet the other was released to hide in the countryside. Each month 30 men were freed. They were given goat to roam away. Present day Kurds are descendants of those freed men.

Art was admonished while superstition and spellbinding was condoned. Truth got hidden and harm became apparent.
Zahak took Jamshid's daughters, Shahrnaz and Arnavaz to his dungeon.
Zahak fed on human brain to the snakes grown on his shoulder.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:28 pm    Post subject: ZAHAK THE DRAGON KING Reply with quote

ZAHAK THE DRAGON KING (Khomeni, Khameni .....)


translated from the Farsi
by Parviz Lashgari & Deirdre Lashgari
[© 1991 by Deirdre Lashgari]

--from Firdawsi's Shahnameh,
the Iranian national epic, "The Book of Kings"--

[Jamshid brought great prosperity to the land of Iran, teaching the people such arts as spinning and weaving. He also developed technologies like the mining of metals for weapons.

Noticing that people work better with a division of labor, Jamshid divided the people into four groups. Spiritual leaders were the first group. He sent them into the mountains, where they devoted themselves to worship and songs of praise. The second group was made up of warriors, "protectors of the nation and the royal crown." The third was farmers, "through whom the world prospers." And in the fourth group were the craftsmen, "whose souls are filled with images."]

He ordered demons ["impure devs"] to mix water with clay for the building of houses. He brought geometrical shapes into architecture, and had lofty palaces built. He mined rubies and other precious stones and discovered many perfumes, as well as medicine and cures for illness. By inventing the ship, he made it possible to travel from land to land by water.]

When Jamshid observed all his accomplishments, he acknowledged no power above himself. He constructed a great throne studded with jewels, so high that it shone in the sky like the sun. Then he sat as ruler upon his throne. The world lay about him, and the Divine Presence was with him. People showered jewels on him, and they called that day NoRuz, the New Day. Henceforth, each year at this time the king and his people would cleanse their bodies of pain and their hearts of ill-will and resentment. With the king on his throne, the nobles would summon dancers and wine. This celebration remains with us as a tradition from those first days.

Three hundred years passed thus without death or sickness or pain or fighting. From this throne which he had built on the backs of the devs, Jamshid ruled for many years in peace, with kindness toward his people.

Then he proclaimed, "I find no one in the world as great as I am. I have brought art into being. Who but I has had such a throne? I blessed the world and removed its pain. Eating, sleeping, and comfort -- all these you owe to me. Your clothes and your good fortune come from me. I have brought glory, crown, and kingdom. Who says there is any other god but me? Medicine has made life good. No one before me could eliminate sickness and death. Who among all kings, past or to come, has my power to wipe out death? The consciousness and soul which inhabit your bodies are of my giving. Those who follow Ahriman [the Spirit of Darkness] do not follow me. Now that you know that I have brought all this into being, do not delay in calling me 'Creator of all things.'"

Hearing this, all the wise men bent their heads. No one could speak. At Jamshid's words, the Divine Presence departed from him. The world grew full of gossip and backbiting. Twenty-three years passed in his kingdom, and his army had scattered. That poet spoke well who said, "When you become a king, seek to be a servant." He who grows ungrateful to God will find anxiety rushing from all directions to fill his heart.

Day became dark for Jamshid when the Divine Presence, the world-lighting sun, drew apart from him. Then the king realized that God was displeased with him, and he became frightened. The Lord of righteousness was disappointed with him, and there was no remedy or cure. Jamshid wept tears of blood and begged God for mercy. But the Divine Presence had left him. Lamentation was on his face....

[More on Jamshid later.]


In that time there lived in the land of those who throw spears a man named Mardas. He was a king and a good man, who feared God and knew the nature of the cold wind of death. Mardas, this great man of the Arabs, was supreme in justice and wisdom. His flocks increased a thousand-fold. Goats, camels, and sheep he gave to the people who milked them, along with cows, noble Arabian horses, and other animals. Whoever needed milk or anything else, he reached out his hand to help them.

This righteous man had a son named Zahak. This young hero was called Bivar-Asp, or "Ten Thousand Horses" in the old [Pahlavi] language. From day and from night he had received two portions, meant for greatness not for hate. But he showed nothing of love or human affection. He was brutal, mean, and irreligious.

Eblis [the Spirit of Evil] appeared to Zahak one day in the guise of a righteous man, and he conquered the heart of the young prince through the appearance of goodness. The young man, ignorant of the stranger's ill deeds, entrusted to him his willing ear, his mind, his heart, and his pure soul. Thus he threw himself into misery.

When Eblis understood that the young man's heart had been won, he was pleased. For a long time, he spoke eloquent and beautiful words to the youth, whose mind was empty of wisdom. Then Eblis said, "I have many secrets to tell you, which no one knows but me."

The youth said, "Speak without delay, O righteous one. Teach us."

"First you must give me a promise. Then I will speak openly and truly."

The young man was simple of heart, so he swore, as Eblis required, that he would listen to whatever Eblis told him, and would not repeat it to anyone.

Eblis said, "Why should anyone but you be king, O renowned one? When there is a son like you, why should there be a father? You must take my advice. This old man will hang on forever, and you'll never have a chance to be king. Consider the wealth [sar-mayeh] of his court. His place suits you well. If you remain faithful to what I tell you, you will become king of the world.

When Zahak heard this, his heart grew heavy with the thought of shedding his father's blood. He told Eblis, "This is not proper. Give me other instructions, because this is not good."

Eblis said, "If you fail to carry out what I tell you, you'll betray your oath to me. This oath and my halter will fall over your neck; and you will become small, while your father is great." Thus he conquered the mind of the youth, and Zahak accepted his command.

He asked, "Tell me how I must accomplish this act."

Eblis responded, "I will find you a way. I will make your head as high as the sun. Keep quiet, and I will do all that's required. Just don't unsheath the sword of speech."

The king had a pleasant garden, and woke in the night to bathe in that hidden garden before going to worship. Since he was devout, he never carried a light with him. The evil demon had dug a deep pit and covered it with leaves and branches, and then left. During the night, when the king came to the garden, he fell into the pit. His fortune shattered and he was destroyed. That generous-hearted believer, who knew well the conflict between Good and Evil, heaved a bitter sigh. He had brought up his child with attention and affection, and had bestowed gold on him. He had been happy because of his son. Now this son, evil and shameless, had broken this bond of love and affection and joined in spilling his father's blood.

I have heard this saying from a wise man: "Even if the son were a lion, he would not be so cruel as to kill his father, unless he had conspired with his mother." The son who abandons the tradition of his father is a stranger, not a son.

Zahak the shallow [sabok-mayeh, or "light in substance"] thus assumed the place of his father and the crown of the Arabs. When Eblis saw that Zahak had levied no taxes upon the people, he set another trap for him.

Eblis told him, "When you followed me, you gained all the power in the world. If you now listen to me and follow my orders, and make me another promise, the whole world will fall under your rule -- men and beasts, birds and fish."

Eblis then switched to another strategem. He disguised himself as a young man, eloquent of tongue, perceptive of heart, and pure of body. He went to Zahak's home and said, "May the king be satisfied with me. I am a famous cook." When Zahak heard this, he gave Eblis the key to the royal kitchen, and put him in charge.

At that period the human body grew slowly, because there were fewer foods. So the evil Ahriman [Spirit of the Lie, the Evil which Eblis embodies] gave Zahak the idea of killing animals. First the cook gave him the yolk of eggs, and for a time kept him in health. Then he made food from all kinds of animals, from birds and four-footed animals. He nourished Zahak like a ferocious lion to make him more savage. Whatever he commanded Zahak, Zahak would do, even placing his soul in pawn at his command. Zahak ate all this new food, and praised the cook. And the taste of the food became good to that unfortunate man.

The deceiver said, "May you live forever, O majestic King! I will make a dish for you tomorrow that will nourish you completely." He departed, spent the night considering what he should prepare the next day to surprise him.

Next morning, when the blue dome of sky displayed its golden jewel, he cooked a partridge, and approached expectantly. The king of the Arabs placed his hand on the table to eat, and in the emptiness of his mind he bestowed his affection on the cook.

On the third day, the cook decorated the table with fowl and lamb of different varieties.

On the fourth day, when he had set the table, he brought food prepared from the spine of the cow, seasoned with saffron and rosewater as well as vintage wine and musk-butter. When Zahak stretched out his hand and ate, he was amazed how skilled and wise the cook was, and said, "Tell me your fondest wish, and I will grant it."

The cook said, "O King, may you live forever and always be king. My heart is wholly filled with your love. The wealth of my soul is in beholding your face. I have only one thing to request, though I realize I am in no position to ask. That is, that you permit me to kiss both your shoulders, and to touch them with my eyes and face.

When Zahak heard the man's wish, he had no way of knowing his secret intent. So he said, "I grant it. Your name will be famous." Thus he permitted the demon to become one with him. As soon as Eblis kissed him, the demon vanished, a wonder such as no one had ever seen. And from Zahak's shoulders grew two black snakes.

Zahak became distraught, and asked everywhere for a remedy. At last, he cut the snakes off. But wonder of wonders, like the cut trunk of a tree, those two snakes grew back again. Wise doctors gathered around him, each offering a different opinion. They searched all fields, including that of magic, but could find no cure.

Then Eblis appeared once again before Zahak, in the guise of a doctor. He said, "This sickness has a cure. Wait, and you will see that there is a painless remedy. Prepare food, and quiet the snakes by feeding them. There is no other way. Give them nothing but the brains of men. This is your prescription. Your pain and its cure are lamentable. Each day you must kill two men at once, and feed their brains to the snakes." Through this advice, the chief of the demons intended to pursue his work in secret, destroying all people on earth.

[back to Jamshid]
Meanwhile in Iran there was trouble, with fighting in every corner of the country. The bright day was darkened. The people had turned away from Jamshid, and the Divine Presence had been obscured before him. He turned toward crookedness and unwisdom. In each corner of the land, some ambitious man raised an army and fought, his heart emptied of love for Jamshid. Jamshid's armies left one by one, and turned to the land of the Arabs, where they heard there was a king with the body of a dragon. So the knights of Iran journeyed to Zahak and called him "King of Iran."

The dragon king came swift as the wind to Iran and placed a crown on his head. Then he assembled an army of Iranians and Arabs and other champions from different lands, and went to Takht-e Jamshid [the "Throne of Jamshid," capital of the land]. There he put on the universe like a ring on his hand. Jamshid's fortune was going badly, and the new king harassed him sorely. Finally, Jamshid went to Zahak and handed over to him the throne and the crown, greatness and treasure and army.

After Jamshid gave his crown and throne to Zahak, he disappeared and was not seen for a hundred years. After a hundred years, that unrighteous king reappeared one day in the Sea of China. Zahak captured him there and gave him no mercy. He cut Jamshid in half, freeing the world from all fear of him. Jamshid had hidden for a time from the breath of the dragon, but in the end could not escape him. Jamshid's kingdom and government and throne vanished; and with its going, the world went dark. ... Jamshid had lived 700 years, and left much of good and evil behind him.

What's the use of long life if it reveals no secret to you? Life nourishes you with nectar, and you hear nothing but sweet songs. The One who spreads love and compassion does not desire you to follow the way of Evil, but for you to be happy, and to share with Him your innermost thoughts. The Other will draw the brain from your body, and anguished blood will pound in your heart. Thus it is with this transient world. Seek to plant only the seeds of good. I weary of this temporary abode. O God, release me from this sorrow.

When Zahak became king, he reigned for a thousand years. The tradition of the Wise Men [Magi, priests of the Zoroastrians] disappeared. The greed of demons spread through the earth. Art became debased, and sleight of hand was admired. Righteousness was hidden; Hurtfulness and the Lie were everywhere. The demons stretched out their hands toward evil. There was no sign of goodness, except in hiding.

Two ladies from the house of Jamshid -- both sisters of Jamshid and crowns of womanhood -- were dragged from the court, trembling like willow leaves. Shahnaz and Arnavaz were carried off to the house of Zahak and delivered over to that dragon. He led them into the path of evil, and taught them sorcery and magic. The whole world was his, and he knew nothing but plundering, burning, killing, and the teaching of evil.

Each night two men, from the hills or elsewhere, were taken by the cook, the "feeder," to the king's kitchen. From them he prepared a cure for the king, killing them and drawing out their brains to feed the dragon.

Two righteous men in the royal house, one called Garmael the seer and the other Armael the believer, met to talk over diverse things -- the unjust king and his army, and his nasty habit of feeding his snakes with the brains of the people. One of them said, "We should go as cooks to the king's court, and see whether we can find a way to save at least one of the men they are about to kill."

They went and asked for jobs as cooks. They were hired, and king's kitchen came under the authority of these wise-hearted men. When the time for slaughter arrived, two young men were seized and dragged to the cooks. The hearts of the two cooks were filled with grief, their eyes were filled with tears, and their minds were filled with indignation. They looked at each other. Seeing no alternative, they killed one of the men and mixed his brain with the brain of a sheep. Then they told the one who had been saved, "Listen, so you will know our secret. If you are not in the city of prosperity, at least you will know the joy and freedom of the plains and mountains."

In place of the young man's brain, they made food for the dragon from the brain of animals. In this way, 30 men each month were saved by these two men. When their number reached 200, the cooks secretly gave them goats and sheep and showed them the way to the [mountain] fields. The Kurds are descended from these 200 men, though they no longer remember their forefathers....

When 40 years yet remained of Zahak's life, behold what God made to pass through his head. One long night, when he was sleeping with Arnavaz in his chambers, this vision was revealed to him. Three warriors suddenly appeared in the palace of the kings, one young and two older. They were as tall as birch trees, and had the grandeur of kings. Their belts were fastened like those of champions, and they walked like kings. In their hands they held clubs adorned with the image of a cow. They rushed toward Zahak, challenging him to battle; and they beat him with weapons the color of cows. The younger hero fastened him in chains, binding his hands like two stones. He put a halter around Zahak's neck, and ran toward Mount Demavand dragging him, with a crowd of people following.

Zahak tossed and turned in his bed. His heart was distraught. He cried out in his sleep with such force that the walls trembled in that palace of a hundred pillars. The two beautiful women woke at his cry. Arnavaz said, "O King, what has terrified you so? Please tell me. I won't tell a soul. You're sleeping in the safety of your own house. How can it be that you are so frightened of your own soul? The whole world lies under your domination. Everything, from the height of the moon to the back of the fish, belongs to you."

The king told the women, "So strange a thing should not remain secret. When you hear, you will despair for my soul."

Arnavaz told the king, "Unlock your secret's treasure-room. Perhaps we can help you."

So the king told them everything, from the beginning.

The woman said, "There is a solution, since you are king and glory of the world. Demons and fairies, birds and beasts, are under the authority of your royal ring. Gather astrologers and learned men from all the nations of the world, and tell them your secret. Seek from them the solution to your problem. Discover who it is who controls your mind, whether he be from the race of men or of demons or fairies. When you know who rules your mind, then you will know what evil to fear."

The king approved of this advice. When the mountaintop, which had been dark as the wings of a crow, was suddenly kindled, and the sun threw a powder of gold over the dome of blue, the king called together the learned men whose hearts were awake to wisdom. Anxiously, he told them his dream and asked them for a cure. "Without delay, throw light on my path. Privately reveal the good and evil of the spheres, and tell me who will have my crown and royal belt when I am gone. Tell me your secrets. Otherwise, you will lose your heads."

Their lips grew dry and their eyes damp, while their tongues were filled only with words for each other. "If we tell him the truth, our lives will be dragon meat."

Three days went by, and no one dared reveal the truth. On the fourth day, the king grew angry and said, "Do you choose to be alive or dead? If you won't reveal your secrets, you die."

All the sages sat with their heads hanging, their eyes bloodshot, and their hearts divided.

Among those learned men was one who was wise and righteous, and his name was Vazirak. Taking a few steps forward and strengthening his heart with boldness, he let his tongue speak.

"All mothers bring only death into this world; so abandon your illusions. There were many kings before you who deserved the throne and crown. They experienced great sorrow and great joy, and at last they met their end. When their long days were over, they died. Even so it is revealed that you will not long remain on your throne. There is one in your kingdom who will bow your head and bury your royal fortune. His name is Afaridun ["the Created"]. For the earth, he will be a joyful portion.

"He has not yet been born. When his many-talented mother has borne him, he will be fruitful as a tree. Once grown, he will seek your crown and your throne. He will then be like a birch tree. He will beat you over the head with a club covered with cow's skin. He will place you in chains, and will carry you from your palace to the mountains."

Zahak the unclean replied, "Why should he harrass me? Why should he put me in chains? What's the cause of his hatred toward me?"

The wise man said, "If you have wisdom, you should know that no one does violence without reason. You have hurled down the wisdom of his father; and for that reason, hatred will be stored up in his heart against you."

From fear, Zahak fell from his high throne unconscious on the floor. When he recovered and was once more seated on the throne, he ordered a search for Faridun. He could neither eat nor sleep nor rest. His bright day had turned darkness.

[Afaridun, or Faridun]
Faridun the fortunate was born into a very different world. He grew like a cypress, surrounded with the aura of kingship [farrah]. In his actions, he was like the sun; in his skill, like rain. Complete wisdom was in his soul. The spheres revolved toward the fortune of Faridun.

The cow whose name was Por-Mayeh ["full of substance or leaven"], highest of cows, came from the womb like a peacock in full glory -- to every mind a different color. Wisdom had gathered over her head. No one had ever seen a cow like that in all the world, nor had anyone heard the elders tell of such a wonder.

Zahak sent queries into the world in search of Faridun, but no one could find him.

Faridun's father was Aptin. Because of Zahak, the world seemed oppressive and burdensome to him. He decided to flee, but found himself suddenly in the jaws of a lion: men of unrighteousness seized him and carried him to Zahak.

Faridun's mother, Farang, was beautiful and wise. Just as she learned what had befallen her husband, Faridun was born, bearing royal glory [kwarr]. Her heart filled with love for her son. Weeping, she ran toward the fields to find the famous Por-Mayeh, the cow of splendor. Weeping tears of blood, she said, "Take this small child from me. Keep him safe for a time. Accept him like a father, and nourish him with the milk of Por-Mayeh."

The secret voice of Por-Mayeh replied thus, "So long as I am with your son, I will honor your wish."

Farang left her son there, and he was nursed three years on the milk of Por-Mayeh.

By this time, word of Por-Mayeh had reached Zahak.

One morning, the mother came running and again spoke to Por-Mayeh, keeper of the pasture. "The Creator has awakened within me in the form of Wisdom. My sweet-tongued child is all I have. We are in danger, and I must break with this land of sorcerors and go with my son to India. I will flee crowds of people. Perhaps we will seek refuge in the mountain of Alborz."

Having spoken these words of lamentation, she took her son and went toward Alborz. There on top of the mountain they found a holy man, a hermit who had withdrawn from the sorrow of the world.

Farang said to him, "O man of righteousness, I am a poor woman from the land of Iran. Know that this son of mine will be a king in the world. He will cut off the head of Zahak and bury his powers under the earth. It would be fitting if you would become his guardian and protect his soul and mind. His body has been nourished by Por-Mayeh. Now his soul needs to be nourished with Wisdom."

Meanwhile, the evil Zahak learned where Por-Mayeh was grazing in that green pasture. He came like a drunken elephant and destroyed her, killing all other four-footed animals there as well. Secretly, he ran to the home of Faridun. Finding no one there, he vented his fury in burning that great palace.

When Faridun was 16, he returned from Mount Alborz to the mountain pasture. Farang told him, "My son, I will reveal to you all secrets. Know that in the realm of Iran there lived a man named Aptin. Awake in his soul, descended from kings, he was wise and brave and did no harm to anyone. He was of the lineage of Tahmures, and he did not forget his fathers.

"Since the astrologer told Zahak that someone named Faridun would bring his days to an end, Zahak will extend his hand to Iran to destroy you. Till now, I have hidden you from him and put off the fatal day. Your father, that noble youth, lost his sweet life before you were born. Two black snakes, grown from Zahak's shoulders, have brought destruction upon Iran. Your father's brain was taken as food for the dragon.

One day I went to a forest that no one knew of. There I saw a cow as green and fresh and colorful as the spring, adorned all over with brightness and beauty. Its owner watched over it in silence and served it like a king. I gave you to her for a long time, and she nourished you with love. From the milk of that peacock-colored cow, you grew strong.

At last the king got word of that cow and that pasture. So I took you from there, separating you from your home and country. Zahak came, and killed the cow, that silent, loving nurse. He destroyed our palace, making its dust reach the skies and leaving nothing but the foundation."

Faridun was disturbed to indignation at his mother's words. His heart filled with anguish, his head seethed with vengeance, and his brows knit with fury. He answered his mother thus: "One becomes a hero only through action. I must now destroy this evil-worshipper by raising my sword. I will turn Zahak's palace to dust."

His mother said, "This is not a good idea. You don't have the means to fight him. Zahak is king of the world, and has crown and court and a huge army. If he wished, he could gather from every country an army of a hundred thousand men. There is no chance now for vengeance. Don't try to judge the world through your young eyes, because one who is young considers only himself, and in that self-intoxication will lose his head. I want your days to be long and happy. My son, do not forget my advice. Remember your mother's words."

Meanwhile, Zahak was searching the world for Faridun. The man who had once considered himself a champion was now scared to death of a boy. One day, he was sitting on the ivory throne, with the turquoise crown on his head. He had called learned men from all the lands to support his kingdom. He told them, "You skilled artisans of words, I have a hidden enemy, as you all know. He is young in age but great in wisdom, a hero of royal lineage. 'However small and insignificant your enemy may be,' the astrologer told me, 'you should not consider him small.' My army is weak, and I am frightened of what time may bring. From here on, I must strengthen my army -- with demons, with men, with fairies. I want a combined force; men and demons must work together. I am impatient to accomplish this.

"Now, you must write up a document certifying that I have never done anything but plant good seeds; that I have never said anything except the truth; and that I have supported only the right."

Through fear of the king, these good men obeyed without exception. Young and old, they joined in certifying what the dragon demanded.

At that moment, the voice of a petitioner was heard from the gates of the palace, crying for his rights. They brought before the king this man who claimed he had been unjustly treated. The king asked with arrogance, "Tell me, who was it who mistreated you."

Beating himself on the head, the man replied, "I am Kaveh. I have come here to demand my rights. My soul groans because of your acts. O King, if your duty is to grant men's rights, may God give you praise. I have come to you before, several times. Each time I come, a knife cuts away at my heart. If you are not in fact reaching your arm forth in injustice, then why do you kill my sons?

"Consider my position, and have mercy! Each time, you have crushed my heart. Tell me, O king, what have I ever done to you? I am innocent. You give no reason. Look at me, O great one! Do not add even more evil to what you have done. My back is bent with years. I am no longer young, and I have no more sons. There is no bond in the world greater than that of a son. Even injustice has its limits. I know you use pretexts to conceal your injustices; but what is your pretext, evil man, for tormenting me? I am an old blacksmith, and used to fire. But you pour more fire on my head.

"You are a king, a king with the body of a dragon. Still, I appeal to you for a fair verdict. If, as you claim, the seven lands of the world are yours, why then does the evil of the world fall upon us? I insist that there be a trial between us, the outcome of which will stand as one of the wonders of the world. Your account must be made clear. They say the time has come for my last son to be killed. Should the brains of my sons, one by one, be fed to your snakes? "

Considering what Kaveh had said, the king was amazed at his words. He ordered that the man's son be returned to him. Then the king said graciously, "Now, you too join with the others in signing the document."

When Kaveh had read the certification, he turned his head away and cried out, "O men gathered here at the foot of the demon, have you broken from the love of the King of the Universe? All of you have taken the path to hell in binding your hearts to these words. I will not certify this document. I am not at all afraid of the king." And he leapt, trembling, from his seat, tore the document into shreds, and stamped on them. Then, with his son he left the palace and headed for home.

The nobles bowed low before the king. "O king, wise in your choice of friends, why does this sigh escape from your mighty mind? You should never avoid the day of battle. This babbler of nonsense, Kaveh, how dare he speak to you with such impudence? How dare he tear up the document testifying to our loyalty to you, and then turn his back and leave you with cold indifference, as if he were a follower of Faridun? We have never witnessed a greater sin than this. We are astounded at his behavior."

The king immediately answered the nobles thus: "I must tell you a strange thing. Even before Kaveh had entered the palace, I heard his voice. Then it was as if a mountain of iron grew between us. When he beat himself on the head, my heart trembled with doubt as to what would happen hereafter. No one knows the secrets of the spheres."

When Kaveh left the palace, the people gathered around him in the market place. He shouted, exhorting the people to justice and the whole world to compassion. He was wearing the leather apron that smiths wear when working with fire. He took it, and raised it on the point of a spear. A tumult then rose in the market. With the spear in his hand, he shouted, "O good people, believers in God, whoever has love for Faridun in his heart, withdraw your necks from Zahak's chains! Together, we will go join Faridun and be secure there in the shadow of his love. The struggle will be hard, for this is the kingdom of Ahriman, sworn enemy of the Creator of the Universe."

Beneath the standard of that worthless animal skin, voices that had been friendly to Zahak now became the voices of enemies. Kaveh led them, gathering a great army. He himself had no knowledge where Faridun was. Still he went forward. At last he reached the home of the future king, surrounded with tumult and shouting.

When Faridun saw the leather standard on the top of the spear, he knew it as a good omen. By now the people had decorated the leather with jewels -- with the colors of yellow, red, and violet; and they called it the Kavian banner, for the followers of Kaveh. (Afterwards, whoever became prince of a province added a jewel to the Kavian flag in tribute.) It was decorated too with velvets and silks, so that it shone like a sun in the dark night and was the hope of the world.

Things proceeded thus for some time. Many happenings were yet to come. Signs of the Creator appeared all over the world.

When Faridun saw Zahak's world in turmoil, he came to his mother with his warrior's belt fastened, wearing the royal crown of his father. He said, "I go to battle. Take no thought but to wish me success."

Tears streamed from his mother's eyes. Grieving, she called upon God, "O Lord, once more I entrust my son to you. Let the other heroes support him and rid the earth of the followers of unwisdom."

Faridun set out, keeping his plans secret. He had two brothers who were also in hiding, one named Kianush, the other named Shad-Kam. He told them, "O fortunate heroes, be glad, for the spheres now turn only toward the good. We shall regain our crown. For now, bring the wise blacksmith, and have him make for me a great mace."

At this, both brothers hurried toward the district of the smiths. The most skilled among them went Faridun. The prince picked up a compass and drew on the ground before him a design of the mace he desired, like the head of a cow. The smiths set about making it, and when it was finished they took it to the great king. It shone like the sun, plated with gold. Faridun was pleased with their work. He offered them gold and silver, and shared the good news about his promised kingdom. He assured them, "If I succeed in burying the dragon, I'll wash the dust of oppression from your heads. I will bring the world back to justice and lift my voice in praise of the Creator."

On the first of Khordad, turning his face toward the sun, Faridun set out to avenge his father. The warriors assembled at his fortress, where his cow-headed mace was raised toward the sky. They carried provisions for the army on the backs of elephants and water buffaloes. Kianush rode as support at the side of his brother, who rode like the wind from house to house, his head filled with vengeance and his heart filled with grief.

When they reached the land of the Arabs, Faridun dismounted at the house of the good men of God, and greeted them. As night fell, a man arrived, his body scented with musk and his face like that of a beautiful woman. He was the angel Sorush, come from heaven to recount the bad and the good. Like a spirit, he came to the king and taught him secret skills, the opening of what is locked. Faridun knew that this was God's doing, not the work of Ahriman and the demons. His face flushed with happiness because his body was strong and his fortune young. His cook prepared food for him, a pure meal for his master. When he had eaten and attended to business, his head became heavy and sleep came over him.

While the others saw that Faridun's fortune was good, his two brothers conspired to destroy him. Faridun was sleeping at the foot of a mountain. Secretly, ignorant of evil, the two brothers went to the top of the mountain, picked up a large stone, and set it rolling down toward the sleeping man. They thought they had killed him; but by the will of God, the rolling of the stone woke him from sleep, and he stopped it with his feet without moving away.

Faridun fastened his belt and got up, saying nothing about what had happened. At the head of his army he placed Kaveh, who was eager for vengeance against Zahak. Kaveh's raised banner was the flag of Faridun's kingdom. He turned toward the river Arvand (or, if you don't understand Pahlavi, it's the Tigris in Arabic.)

The third stop of that royal liberator was the city of Baghdad. The guards at the river greeted him. He asked them to line up their boats and carry his army to the other side of the river. But the chief guard refused to bring any boats, despite Faridun's request. He said, "The King of the World commanded me personally not to transport anyone across."

When Faridun heard this, he grew angry. But he was not afraid of the river. He rode his lion-hearted horse fearlessly into the water and crossed to the other side. His comrades followed him and also crossed over. The water came up to the saddles of their horses. Those looking on thought they were dreaming when they found that no one had drowned.

When the warriors reached the other side, they were looking at the Holy Land -- in Pahlavi, the Castle of Huakhtash (the "Good Mind"), or in Arabic, the House of Purity. They entered from the plain into the city, searching. From a mile away, Faridun saw the palace of the king. Its reception hall had the grandeur of heaven. It glittered as if it had drawn down the stars from the skies; it shone like the morning star. All appeared happiness, comfort, and love. But Faridun knew it was the dwelling of the dragon.

He told his companions, "We must attack from here. I'm afraid the holder of secrets may have something up his sleeve." He took his mace, and spurred on his horse. Their onslaught was like fire to those who saw them from the palace. Holding his mace high, Faridun rode so furiously that the earth trembled.

No on-lookers remained alive in the palace. Calling on the name of the Creator, Faridun entered the great palace -- this place Zahak had built through magic to reach the clouds. Knowing that the palace was held by a power other than God, Faridun struck with his cow-headed mace all who came out. Only the demonds remained inside, and these too he destroyed.

Faridun set his foot before Zahak's throne, and beheld the king's crown and his reception hall. He drew forth the two women with jet-black eyes and faces like the sun. First he had their heads washed to cleanse the darkness from their souls, because they had been worshippers of evil and intoxicated with its wine. He separated them from corruption, leading them toward the Righteous Judge. Tears streamed from the eyes of Jamshid's sisters, coursing down their cheeks. They praised Faridun, "May you live as long as the universe continues to exist! Under what star were you born, that you come now to the den of the lion, to the place of this wicked man? The leaven [mayeh] of the world has turned bad through the influence of this wizard of unwisdom, this follower of Ahriman with dragons on his shoulders. We have suffered wretchedness and grief. No one have we ever seen with your courage and skill. Now you have come to conquer his palace and put an end to his evil."

Blessed with fortune and authority, Faridun answered them. "I am the son of Aptin, whom Zahak took from the land of Iran and cruelly murdered. I have come with vengeance in my heart to Zahak's palace. Por-Mayeh, whose body was covered with pictures like a painted scene, was my nurse. Killing her was a sin. What evil entered the mind of the man who could shed the blood of that mute animal? I have fastened my belt and am ready for battle. I have come from Iran set on vengeance, and will crush Zahak's head with my cow-headed mace. Neither mercy nor compassion will I show."

When Arnavaz heard these words, she knew in her heart what had been hidden. She asked, "Are you the King Faridun who will destroy sorcery and magic? The soul of Zahak lies in your hands. The salvation of the world depends on your strength. We two were pure and of royal lineage, but were subjugated to his will through fear of death, and forced to sleep and wake with his two snakes. How could he claim to be king?"

Again, Faridun answered, "If the turning spheres are with me, I will wipe the dragon's foundation from the earth and wash the earth clean. Now you must tell me the truth. Where is that dragon-man?"

The woman revealed the secret to him, wondering as she did whether the dragon could be conquered. "He has gone in the direction of India," she said. "He went there to imprison his enemies in the land of magic. He fears the evil that time may bring. A seer told him, "This land will be rid of you." He said that Faridun would take his throne and "wither up the flower of his fortune." That seer's words corrode his heart, and life has sickened for him. He slaughters animals, men, and women, then mixes their blood to wash his head and his body, hoping to avert the prophecy. He has long been in anguish and confusion because of the two snakes. He travels from one land to the next, and has no rest from the pain that the snakes inflict. It is now time for his return, since he never stays long in one place." That beautiful woman revealed the truth, and Faridun gave ear to her words: "When Zahak is gone from the country, a man with his interests at heart is left in charge of his treasure, his throne, and his palace. He is called Kond-Row ['Sluggard']."

Just then Kond-Row hurried to the palace and saw in the reception hall a new king sitting at the head of the room, with Shahnaz on one side of him and Arnavaz on the other. The city was filled with his army, and Zahak's palace was surrounded with his followers. Kond-Row did not ask for an explanation, but went forward to greet him. Faridun told him to approach and reveal all the secrets of the palace. He told him to bring the accouterments of the royal throne, and call for singers, and have wine and food brought. "Whoever shares my satisfaction during this festivity deserves a happy heart. Come gather around my throne as becomes my fortune."

When Kond-Row heard these words, he obeyed the new king's commands. He brought wine and singers and food, with jewels from the nobility. And Faridun drank wine and relaxed, holding such a celebration through the night as was fitting.

When daylight came, Kond-Row's soul deserted the service of the new king. He mounted a horse and set out to find King Zahak. When he reached him, he told him all he had seen and heard.

"O King of Kings, the end of your reign has come. Three majestic men have come with a great army from another land. One of the three is younger and travels in the middle. He is tall as a cypress, and has the countenance of a king. He is young in age but great in soul, and he is the leader of the two others. He wields a mace the size of a mountain, and is surrounded by many people. He arrived with these two other nobles and entered your palace. He sat on your throne and destroyed the web you had woven. Whoever was in your palace, men and demons, he struck down and destroyed."

Zahak answered thus: "Perhaps they are only guests come to see me, so they deserve to be happy."

Kond-Row responded, "The guest who comes to your house with a cow-headed mace is to be avoided. Forget the idea of being his host. He sits in your place like a man, and he will wipe your name from the throne and direct the kingdom into his own path. Now, if your hospitality extends so far, call such a person your guest!"

Zahak said, "Don't let it worry you. A bold guest brings good fortune."

"I hear what you say," Kond-Row replied. "But if this noble is really a guest, what is he doing in your haram, sitting and talking with the sisters of Jamshid? With one hand he touches Shahnaz's face, with the other Arnavaz's lips."

Suddenly Zahak exploded with curses and shouts. "No longer are you a steward in my palace!"

The man answered, "I think, O King, that you no longer have any palace or throne. That is why you dismiss me. Even if you put me in charge of a city, I could not accept, because you no longer possess any authority. The enemy has come and taken possession of your palace with a cow-headed mace. All that the painter Arzhang decorated, he has taken over. Why don't you do something about it? Never before have you been faced with a crisis of such magnitude."

At this, King Zahak came to his senses. Immediately he ordered that his horses be saddled, and he set out. He came with a strong army, all of them warrior demons. Through small alleyways he attacked the palace.

As soon as the army of Faridun became aware of this attack, they all rushed to the alleys and dismounted from their horses. All the people of the city gathered on the rooftops. Whoever could fight took part, all in support of Faridun, for Zahak had filled their hearts with grief. Bricks fell from the walls, stones from the roofs. Knives and swords and arrows fell like rain from a dark cloud. There was no place to stand on the ground. Within the city all who were young, as well as the old men who were wise, deserted Zahak and joined Faridun's army.

The mountains roared with the shouts of the heroes. The earth groaned under the hooves of the riders. Arrows flew over the heads of the army and pierced the heart of the stones. A cry came from the fire-temple, "We will obey him who now sits on the throne. We do not want Zahak, that unclean dragon."

The army and the people of the city fought in a crowd huge as a mountain. A dark cloud covered the sky. Suddenly an idea occurred to Zahak. He made his way through the army toward the palace. He had covered his entire body with iron so no one could recognize him. As he came to the high palace to engage in battle, he saw Faridun talking with Shahnaz, whose eyes and hair were as dark as night. Then Zahak knew that all this was the will of God, and he could do nothing to change it.

Sorush revealed himself to Faridun, saying, "Do not kill him yet. It is not yet time, lest the dragons spread over the land. Instead, put him in chains. Go forward until you come to two mountains. There between those mountains will be his prison. If you imprison him there, his relatives cannot find him."

When Faridun heard this hidden voice, he tied Zahak's hands to his body with a strap of lion-skin so he could not break it. He sat on his golden throne and called Zahak to judgment.

He commanded his followers, "Go to the city gates and shout: 'All you who are awake in conscience, cease fighting with weapons of war. No one in this court desires fame or glory. All warriors should leave their weapons and become workers. In this way they will have two skills. The former time is past. He who was unclean is now in chains. The one before whose actions the world trembled is now in chains. May you remain forever as full of life as the spring of the year. Go peacefully about your work.'"

Then all the nobles of the city went with gold and treasure and made obeisance. The wise Faridun encouraged them and advised them, and directed them in the paths of wisdom. He remembered the Creator, and gave thanks. He told them, "Here is my place. Through good fortune, your fortune has become bright, because the pure God appointed us from among all men to initiate the revolt from Mount Alborz. Know that under my leadership you have been freed from the dragon. My rule will bring you into the path of goodness and wisdom, where you must live. My own life is destined to be forever."

The nobles kissed the ground before him. The sound of drums was heard from the palace. All the city spent a happy day waiting to see the dragon brought forth in chains.

Zahak was pulled from the palace and placed on the back of a camel. They took him up to the place called Shir-Khan.

When you hear what I have told you, consider that the world is very old. Many days have passed upon the mountains and upon the plains, and many more will pass.

The people took Zahak to Shir-Khan, to Mount Demavand, and there they placed him in chains. His very name was deemed unclean. He was separated from his relatives. And the world was freed from his evil.

Faridun searched until he found a cave whose bottom could not be seen. He tied Zahak with metal chains to the wall of that cave, suspending him there so his blood would not be shed on the ground.

Let us then not entrust the world to evil. Rather, let all of us set our hands to good. Neither good nor evil is permanent in the world. How much better that we remember the good. Treasure, gold, and high palaces will not help you. Only eloquence remains through time. Do not underestimate the value of words.

Faridun was not one of the angels in the sky. His body was not made of musk and amber. It was through justice and wisdom that he found goodness.

Now, you do the work of righteousness, because you are my Faridun.

Faridun did the work of God. First he cleansed this world of evil, humanity's one enemy, the unclean and unjust Zahak. Seeking to avenge his father, Faridun purified the world.

O life, how unkind you are, that you both nourish and destroy! Look and see how Afaridun the hero arose and took the kingship from Zahak. He reigned for 500 years, and at last lost the kingdom. He delivered it over to someone else, taking nothing from this world but sorrow.

Humanity is like a flock of sheep. The decision lies with you whether you will live as sheep or as shepherd.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:40 pm    Post subject: COLLECTIONS OF PERSIAN PROVERBS Reply with quote

Aug 9, 2005
Manouchehr Saadat Noury - Persian Journal


A Proverb (in Persian: Goftaar-e-Kheradmandaaneh or Zarbolmassal), derived from the Latin term of Proverbium, is a short sentence, usually known by many people, expressing something commonly experienced, or giving advice. Proverbs are part of every spoken language and folk literature, originating in oral tradition. One proverb may be completely similar in different languages and cultures. Often a proverb is found with variations in many different parts of the world. Most proverbs express some basic truth or practical precept. A proverb, which describes a basic rule of conduct, may also be known as a Maxim. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good style it may be known as an Aphorism. The study of proverbs is called Paremiology. Proverbs are as a part of the Iranian culture and everyday speech, and their understanding can lead to a more profound insight into language and culture. These proverbs always had a strong affinity with Persian Poetry and Literature, and have retained a symbiotic relationship with those arts over a long period of time. In this article, the first Iranians who contributed to the collections of the Persian proverbs are introduced and the most famous proverbs appeared in those collections are presented and discussed.

Ferdowsi (935-1020), the first Iranian poet of national epics, is also known undoubtedly to be the first Iranian who professionally introduced many proverbs in his Epic Book of Shahnameh. Asadi Tusi (died in 1072), the second Iranian poet of national epics, followed the Ferdowsi?s footsteps and presented a list of Persian proverbs in his epic book of Garshaspnameh and his Persian Dictionary of Asadi (in Persian: Farhang-e-Asadi or Lughat Nameh-e-Asadi). Iraj Mirza (1874-1926), the first Iranian master of colloquial poetry, used the actual words of everyday speech in his verses. Through Iraj, poetic language became rich in many colloquial words and expressions.
Ali Akbar-e-Dehkhoda (1879-1959) was the first scholar who published a collection of Persian Quotes & Proverbs entitled as Proverbs and Mottos (in Persian: Amssaal-o-Hekam) in four volumes about a half-century ago. Amirgholi Amini, the founder and editor of Esfahan Journal, published the Educational Dictionary for Public (in Persian: Farhang-e-Avaam) in 1957. His book is a collection of Persian proverbs and expressions used in everyday speech of the Iranians. Mehdi Partovi Amoli published the Historical Backgrounds of Persian Proverbs (in Persian:
Risheh-haa-ye-Tarikhi Amssal-o-Hekam). Gholamreza Azarly published the Famous Farsi Proverbs (in Persian: Zarbolmassal-haa-ye-Mash-hoor-e-Iran) in 1991. Ahmad Abrishami published the Comparative Dictionary (in Persian: Vajehnameh-e-Tatbeeghi) of 920 Persian Proverbs with English, French, German, and Spanish Equivalents in 1996. And finally Simin Habibian and Manouchehr Aryanpour published the 1001 Persian-English Proverbs (in Persian: Hezar-o-Yek Esstelah-e-Farsi-o-Englissi) in 1991 and 1996.

Here is the translation of the Top-50 Persian Proverbs appeared in various documents and the collections already named (Note: Some translations have been edited by this author):

1. It is better to be in chains with friends, than to be in a garden with strangers.
2. Go and wake up your luck.
3. Use your enemy's hand to catch a snake.
4. A broken hand works, but not a broken heart.
5. A drowning man is not troubled by rain.
6. A stone thrown at the right time is better than gold given at the wrong time.
7. An egg thief becomes a camel thief.
8. Death is a camel that lies down at everyone?s door.
9. He who has been bitten by a snake fears a piece of string.
10. He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.
11. In the ants' house the dew is a flood.
12. Injustice all round is justice.
13. Stretch your foot to the length of your blanket.
14. The larger a man's roof the more snow it collects.
15. The wise man sits on the hole in his carpet.
16. Do not cut down the tree that gives you shade.
17. Luck is infatuated with the efficient.
18. A stone thrown at the right time is better than gold given at the wrong time.
19. It is the same to him who wears a shoe, as if the whole earth were covered with leather.
2o. Children are the bridge to heaven.
21. Courteous men learn courtesy from the discourteous.
22. The cat has seven lives.
23. A bad wound heals but a bad word does not.
24. Do the little things well now. In time, great things will be presented to you, asking you to be done.
25. Good Poets are like Angels of Heaven.
26. When the cat and the mouse agree, the store manager is broke.
27. One pound of learning requires ten pounds of common sense to apply it.
28. Once I had the strength but no wisdom, now I have the wisdom but no strength.
29. Epigrams succeed where epics fail.
30. Treat your superior as a father, your equal as a brother, and your inferior as a son.
31. When the tide of misfortune moves over you, even jelly will break your teeth.
32. Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue.
33. There are four things every person has more of than they know; sins, debt, years, and foes.
34. Oh God: Three mishaps at the same time; a limping donkey, an ugly wife, and a creditor.
35. One who has wisdom is powerful.
36. Spilled water cannot be gathered again.
37. Thinking is the essence of wisdom.
38. In the hour of adversity do not give up hope for crystal rainfalls from black clouds.
39. By a sweet tongue and kindness, you can drag an elephant with a hair.
40. When was hearing like seeing?
41. A wise enemy is better than a foolish friend.
42. It is better to die in honor than to live in disgrace.
43. Cloud, wind, moon, and sky are at work. And when you earn a piece of bread, do not eat it in ignorance.
44.The person who tells the truth is always at ease.
45. Drops that gather one by one, finally becomes a sea.
46. If you do not like your image in the mirror, do not break the mirror. Break yours.
47. History is a mirror of the past, and a lesson for the present.
48. The world is a rose. Smell it, and pass it to your friends.
49. One who digs a well for others, falls himself.
50. It is impossible to wash blood with blood.

As noted in the Introduction, one proverb may be completely similar in different languages and cultures. The American proverb of Knowledge Is Power corresponds to the Persian proverb of what Ferdowsi has clarified it in one verse: One who has wisdom is powerful (in Persian: Tavanaa Bovad Har Keh Danaa Bovad). The very British saying of Misfortune Never Comes Singly, is also tied to the Persian proverb of Oh God: Three mishaps at the same time, a limping donkey, an ugly wife, and a creditor who asks for his money (in Persian: Cheh Gereftaari, Khar-e-Shal-o-Zan-e-Zesht-o-Sar-Ressidan-e-Talabkaar). By the same token, the Western expression of Seeing Is Believing, is quite similar to the Persian proverb of When Was Hearing Like Seeing? (In Persian: Shenidan Kay Bovad Maanand-e-Didan). The similarities existing between Persian and other cultures shown by those proverbs indicate that regardless of where we came from or where we lived in, we all share the similar experiences in our lives!

Manouchehr Saadat Noury

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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 2:32 am    Post subject: The Epic of Iran Reply with quote

The Epic of Iran


Published: April 30, 2006
FOUR hundred miles from the bustling metropolis of Tehran lie the magnificent ruins of Persepolis. Built some 2,500 years ago, Persepolis was the royal seat of an Iranian empire that, at its height, stretched from the Indus Valley to the Mediterranean Sea. Though the imperial city was sacked two centuries later by Alexander "the Accursed" (as Iranian chroniclers referred to him), the towering columns and winged beasts that still stand guard over the lost throne of Iran serve as a reminder of what was once among the most advanced civilizations on earth.

I first visited Persepolis two years ago. Born in Iran but raised in the United States, I knew the place only from dusty academic books about the glories of pre-Islamic Iran. I was totally unprepared for the crowds I saw there. Busloads of schoolchildren from nearby Shiraz filed through the complex of temples and palaces. A tour guide walked an older group up a stone stairway etched with row upon row of subject nations humbly presenting themselves before the king, or shah, of Iran. Families laid out sheets and napped in the shade cast by the intricately carved walls.

Breaking away from the crowd, I noticed a boy scrawling graffiti on the side of a massive stone block. Horrified, I shooed him away. When I moved closer to see what he had written, I immediately recognized a verse, familiar to many Iranians, taken from the pages of Iran's national epic, the "Shahnameh."

Damn this world, damn this time, damn this fate,
That uncivilized Arabs have come to make me Muslim.

Written more than a thousand years ago by Abolqasem Ferdowsi, the "Shahnameh," or "Book of Kings," recounts the mythological history of Iran from the first fitful moments of creation to the Arab conquest of the Persian Empire in the seventh century A.D. Ferdowsi was a member of Iran's aristocratic class, which maintained a strong attachment to the heritage of pre-Islamic Iran. According to legend, he composed the "Shahnameh" under the patronage of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna, who promised him one dinar for every couplet. But when Ferdowsi presented the sultan with nearly 60,000 couplets, a flustered Mahmud offered him a fraction of his promised reward. Insulted, Ferdowsi rejected the money and returned home to the city of Tus, where he died impoverished and embittered. But his poem endured.

Numerous partial translations of the "Shahnameh" exist in English, but the only complete version went out of print more than 80 years ago. Now, Viking Press has published most of the poem in an accessible volume translated by the Iran scholar Dick Davis. A poet himself, Davis brings to his translation a nuanced awareness of Ferdowsi's subtle rhythms and cadences. His "Shahnameh" is rendered in an exquisite blend of poetry and prose, with none of the antiquated flourishes that so often mar translations of epic poetry.

The "Shahnameh" has much in common with the blood-soaked epics of Homer and with "Paradise Lost" and "The Divine Comedy." But in truth, it's difficult to find a literary equivalent, especially one that has had as profound an impact in shaping, and preserving, one nation's identity. Most Iranians have either read the "Shahnameh" or have heard it read. Its verses are sprinkled into everyday conversation. Children are named after its heroes and political enemies likened to its villains. For many Iranians, the "Shahnameh" links past and present, forming a cohesive mytho-historical narrative through which they understand their place in the world. The poem is, in a sense, Iran's national scripture, and Ferdowsi Iran's national prophet.

Ferdowsi wrote only in Persian, and his history of creation ignores traditional Islamic cosmology in favor of the "pagan" creation myths of his ancient Iranian ancestors. But this should not be seen as reflecting any hostility toward Islam. As Davis notes in his introduction, Ferdowsi was a pious Muslim; his epic speaks reverently of the Prophet Muhammad and his son-in-law Ali. Nevertheless, the "Shahnameh" displays an unmistakable antagonism toward the Arabs and the culture, if not the religion, they imposed on Iran. The book's first villain is an Arab — the Demon-King Zahhak, whose shoulders, kissed by Satan, sprout two voracious serpents that feast daily on the brains of young Iranian men. Zahhak is ultimately defeated by a noble Iranian peasant warrior named Feraydun, who imprisons him in Mount Damavand, where he will suffer eternally for daring to usurp the throne of Iran.

The message is hardly subtle. In fact, Ferdowsi's animosity toward the Arabs carries the poem to its tragic end, when the warrior Rostam stands before the invading Arab armies and laments,

When the pulpit's equal to the throne
And Abu Bakr's and Omar's names are known
Our long travails will be as naught, and all
The glory we have known will fade and fall.
The stars are with the Arabs, and you'll see
No crown or throne, no royal sovereignty.

Still, the marvel of Ferdowsi's poem is how it tries to strike a balance between the two dominant threads of Iranian cultural identity, Persian and Islamic. And yet throughout Iran's history, the "Shahnameh" has often been used as a weapon in the continuing struggle between the turban and the crown.

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For example, the Pahlavi shahs, who came to power in 1925, promoted study of the poem as a means of de-emphasizing the country's Islamic heritage and thus stripping the clerics of their ideological authority. They built a magnificent mausoleum for Ferdowsi in Tus to serve as an alternative pilgrimage site to the tombs of the imams. They commissioned an official edition of the "Shahnameh" and compelled schoolchildren to memorize passages that emphasized the glories of kingly rule. In 1971, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi journeyed to Persepolis to celebrate 2,500 years of kingship with an opulent party for hundreds of international luminaries featuring plates of roast peacock stuffed with foie gras and 5,000 bottles of Champagne. Standing on that hallowed ground, surrounded by soldiers dressed as ancient warriors, the last shah brazenly linked his rule to that of the semi-divine kings of the "Shahnameh."

It was an extravagant gesture that alienated Iranians and hastened the shah's downfall. Eight years later, during Iran's revolution, he was forced into exile. Almost immediately, the clerical regime began a vigorous campaign to cleanse the new Islamic Republic of all references not just to the Pahlavis but more generally to the country's pre-Islamic past. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini considered the "Shahnameh" an offensive, even sacrilegious, text that explicitly endorsed monarchy. He discouraged public readings of it, declaring all nonreligious poetry as makruh, or "detestable." In 1979, Khomeini's right-hand man, the Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, tried to bulldoze both Ferdowsi's tomb and Persepolis, before the provisional government stopped him.

Today, as a new generation of Iranians struggles to define itself in opposition to a widely reviled religious regime, the "Shahnameh" is re-emerging as the supreme expression of a cultural identity transcending all notions of politics or piety. Radio Tehran, "the voice of the Islamic Republic," begins every morning's broadcast with a reading from the poem. The country's most popular tourist attraction is not Khomeini's tomb or the tombs of the imams, but the ruins of Persepolis, where the government is currently rebuilding the gardens and pavilion built for the shah's infamous Persepolis spectacular.

When I visited, young Iranians were milling about the grounds in a trance, touching everything, as though a touch could transport them to another Iran. I stood with them in front of the palace walls, trying to imagine Persepolis as Ferdowsi must have seen it, recalling the eulogy he wrote a thousand years ago for a civilization he watched pass away in his mind's eye.

Where are your valiant warriors and your priests,
Where are your hunting parties and your feasts?
Where is that warlike mien, and where are those
Great armies that destroyed our country's foes? . . .
Count Persia as a ruin, as the lair
Of lions and leopards. Look now and despair.

Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American scholar of religions and author of "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam."
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:44 pm    Post subject: Shahnameh: A Cultural History of Iran’s National Epic. at. C Reply with quote

Shahnameh: A Cultural History of Iran’s National Epic.
at. California State University, Fullerton ...
Touraj Daryaee. Professor of Ancient Persian History ...


Iraj Afshar Lectures in Iranian Studies Rastegar Family Foundation ...File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

Dr. Touraj Daryaee

Associate Professor of History
Vice Chair of the History Department
California State University , Fullerton
PO Box 6846
Fullerton , CA 92834-6846



Iraj Afshar Lectures in Iranian StudiesRastegar Family FoundationDr. Mahmoud Omidsalar California State University, Fullerton Shahnameh: A Cultural History of Iran’s National Epic at California State University, Fullerton Introductory Remarks 5:30 pm Humanities 123 Thomas Klammer Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Science Touraj Daryaee Professor of Ancient Persian HistoryLecture # 1: Friday March 9, 2007 6:00 pm Humanities 123 A Social History of the Epic’s Textual Transmission Lecture # 2: Saturday March 10, 2007 10:30 am Humanities 123 The Poet and the Princes: Facts and FictionsLecture # 3: Sunday March 11, 2007 10:30 am Humanities 123 The Shahnameh and the Creation of a Persian PoeticsIraj Afshar Lectures in Iranian Studies / Rastegar Family Foundation Through a generous endowment by the Rastegar Family Foundation, Professor Touraj Daryaee hasinstituted three lectures each year dealing with Iranian archaeology, art, history, language and / or literature.These lectures will convene every year in March and the talks will be published in printed format by theMazda Publishers. Iraj Afshar Iraj Afshar was born in Tehran, Iran and is one of the leading scholars in Iranian Studies who since the first half of the twentieth century has endeavored to study and promote the Iranian civilization in its widestsense. He has written on a variety of topics, including: manuscript studies, textual editing, local histories,inscriptions, biographies, etc. He has worked and helped the Iranists for the past seven decades and is heldin highest esteem by both Iranian and non-Iranian scholars alike.
Page 2
Mahmoud Omidsalar Mahmoud Omidsalar was born in Isfahan, Iran and is one of the leading scholars in the area of Shahamehand Persian epic in the world. He is also an expert in manuscript studies, who together with Iraj Afsharhave begun the publication of Persian texts in facsimile. He is also a leading scholar in Persian folklore and the editor of the folklore editor of the Encyclopaedia Iranica, edited by Ehsan Yarshater. Dr. Omidsalar received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984. Some of hispublications include The Shāhnāmeh, volume 6 along with Dj. Khaleghi-Motlagh, Eisenbrauns, 2005; TheShāhnāmeh: Facsimile Edition of the British Library MS Add, 21.103 along with Iraj Afshar, Tehran, 2005; and The Spirit of Wisdom: Essays in Memory of Professor Ahmad Tafazzoli, co-edited with and T. Daryaee, Mazda Publishers, 2004. Some of his articles include “[The Preface to the Facsimile Edition of Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāma: British Museum’s Manuscript] piš-goftār-e šāhnāma-ye Ferdowsi, chāp-e `aksi: noskhe-ye khatti-ye ketābkhāna-ye britāniyā,” in [Textual Criticism of Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāma] Matn-shenāsi-ye Shāhnāma-ye Ferdowsi, ed. M. Rastegar Fasai. Tehran/Shiraz: Miras-e Maktoob, 2006, pp. 139 – 172;“[Corrections to Professor Matini’s Edition of the Kušnāma] yād-dāšt-hā-ye Shāhnāma,” Farhang-e Irān Zamin. Vol. 30, 2005, pp. 312 – 337; “Of Water and Women, Maidens and Might: Notes on Transmissionof Political Power in the Shāhnāma,” in Women in Iran from the Rise of Islam to 1800, Guity Nashat andLois Beck, eds. Urbana: University of Illinois Press 2004, pp. 170-185; “[Restoring and Explaining aSentence in the Introduction to the Abu Mansur’s Shāhnāma] tashih va tawdih-e `ebārati az moqaddema-ye Shāhnāma-ye Abu Mansuri,” Iranshenasi, 2004, Vol.17, pp. 487 – 494; “[On the Identity of the Medieval Author of Selections of the Shāhnāma] nokta’I dar bāb-e howiyyat-e jāmec-e ketāb-e ekhtiyārāt-e Shāhnāma,” Iranshenasi, Vol. 14, 2003, pp. 850 – 856; “Rostam’s Seven Trials and the Logic of EpicNarrative in the Shāhnāma,” Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 60, 2002, pp. 1– 35 ; “Orality, Mouvance, and Editorial Theory in Shāhnāma Studies,” in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam: (Studies in Honor ofShaul Shaked, Vol. 27, 2002, pp. 245– 283; “Notes on Some Women of the Shāhnāma,” in Nāme-ye Irān-e Bāstān: The International Journal of Ancient Iranian Studies, Vol.1, No.1, 2001, pp. 23– 49; “Editing theGarshāspnāma in Light of Shakespearean Scholarship,” Iranian Studies, Vol.33, No.3/4, 2000, pp. 403 – 409. Ferdowsi’s tomb at Tus
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