The Shah Nameh of the Persian poet Firdausi online

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also scattered lifeless over the plain. The survivors running
away, Rustem's next object was to follow and secure, by his
kamund, the person of Aulad, and with admirable address and
ingenuity, he succeeded in dismounting him and taking him
alive. He then bound his hands, and said to him :


" If thou wilt speak the truth unmixed with lies,

Unmixed with false prevaricating words,

And faithfully point out to me the caves

Of the White Demon and his warrior chiefs

And where Kaus is prisoned thy reward

JShall be the kingdom of Mazinderan ;

For I, myself, will place thee on that throne.

But if thou play'st me false thy worthless blood

Shall answer for the foul deception."

" Stay,

Be not in wrath," Aiilad at once replied,
" Thy wish shall be fulfilled and thou shalt know
Where king Kaiis is prisoned and, beside,
Where the White Demon reigns. Between two dark
And lofty mountains, in two hundred caves
Immeasurably deep, his people dwell.
Twelve hundred Demons keep the watch by night
Upon the mountain's brow ; their chiefs, Puh'ul,
And Baid, and Sinja. Like a reed, the hills
Tremble whenever the White Demon moves.
But dangerous is the way. A stony desert
Lies full before thee, which the nimble deer
Has never passed. Then a prodigious stream
Two farsangs wide obstructs thy path, whose banks
Are covered with a host of warrior- Demons.
Guarding the passage to Mazinderan ;
And thou art but a single man canst thou
O'ercome such fearful obstacles as these ?

At this the Champion smiled. " Shew but the way,
And thou shalt see what one man can perform,
With power derived from God ! Lead on, with speed,
To royal Kaiis." With obedient haste
Aiilad proceeded, Rustem following fast,
Mounted on Rakush. Neither dismal night
Nor joyous day they rested on they went
Until at length they reached the fatal field,
Where Kaus was o'ercome. At midnight hour,
Whilst watching with attentive eye and ear,
A piercing clamour echoed all around,
And blazing fires were seen, and numerous lamps
Burnt bright on every side. Rustem inquired
What this might be. " It is Mazinderan,"
Aiilad rejoined, "and the White Demon's chiefs
Are gathered there. Then Rustem to a tree
Bound his obedient guide to keep him safe,
And to recruit his strength, laid down awhile
And soundly slept.

When morning dawned, he rose,
And mounting Rakush, put his helmet on,
The tiger-skin defended his broad chest,
And sallying forth, he sought the Demon chief,

THE snln NAMEIT. 105

Arzang, and summoned him with such a ronr

That' stream and mountain shook. Arzang sprang up,

Hearing a human voice, and from his tent

Indignant issued him the champion met,

And clutched his arms and ears, and from his body

Tore off the gory head, and cast it far

Amidst the shuddering Demons, who with fear

Shrunk hack and fled, precipitate, lest they

bhould likewise feel that dreadful punishment.

SIXTH STAGE. After this achievement Rustem returned to
the place where he had left Aultid, and having released him,
sat down under the tree and related what he had done. He
then commanded his guide to shew the way to the place where
Kai-kaus was confined ; and when the champion entered the
city of Mazinderan, the neighing of Rakush was so loud that
the sound distinctly reached the ears of the captive monarch.
Kaiis rejoiced, and said to his people : " I have heard the voice
of Rakush, and my misfortunes are at an end ; " but they
thought he was either insane or telling them a dream. The
actual appearance of Rnstem, however, soon satisfied them.
Giidarz, and Tus, and Bahrain, and Giw, and Gustahem, were
delighted to meet him, and the king embraced him with great
warmth and affection, and heard from him with admiration the
story of his wonderful progress and exploits. But Kdiis and
his warriors, under the influence and spells of the Demons,
were still blind, and he cautioned Rustem particularly to con-
ceal Rakush from the sight of the sorcerers, for if the "White
Demon should hear of the slaughter of Arzang, and the
conqueror being at Mazinderan, he would immediately assemble
an overpowering army of Demons, and the consequences might
be terrible.

" But thou must storm the cavern of the Demons
And their gigantic chief great need there is
For sword and battle-axe and with the aid
Of Heaven, these miscreant sorcerers may fall
Victims to thy avenging might. The road
Is straight before thee reach the Seven Mountains,
And there thou wilt discern the various groups,
Which guard the awful passage. Further on,


Within a deep and horrible recess,
Frowns the White Demon conquer him destroy
That fell magician, and restore to sight
Thy suffering king, and all his warrior train.
The wise in cures declare, that the warm blood
From the White Demon's heart, dropped in the eye,
Removes all blindness it is, then, my hope,
Favoured by God, that thou wilt slay the fiend,
And save us from the misery we endure,
The misery of darkness without end."

Rustem accordingly, after having warned his friends and
companions in arms to keep on the alert, prepared for the
enterprise, and guided by Aiilad, hurried on till he came to
the Haft-koh, or Seven Mountains. There he found numerous
companies of Demons ; and coming to one of the caverns, saw
it crowded with the same awful beings. And now consulting
with Aiilad, he was informed that the most advantageous time
for attack would be when the sun became hot, for then all the
Demons were accustomed to go to sleep, with the exception of
a very small number who were appointed to keep watch. He
therefore waited till the sun rose high in the firmament ; and
as soon as he had bound Aultid to a tree hand and foot, with
the thongs of his kamund, drew his sword, and rushed among
the prostrate Demons, dismembering and slaying all that fell
in his way. Dreadful was the carnage, and those who survived
fled in the wildest terror from the champion's fury.

SEVENTH STAGE. Rustem now hastened forward to encounter
the White Demon.

Advancing to the cavern, he looked down
And saw a gloomy place, dismal as hell ;
But not one cursed, impious sorcerer
Was visible in that infernal depth.
Awhile he stood his falchion in his grasp,
And rubbed his eyes to sharpen his dim sight,
And then a mountain-form, covered with hair,
Filling up all the space, rose into view.
The monster was asleep, but presently
The daring shouts of Rustem broke his rest,
And brought him suddenly upon his feet,
When seizing a huge mill-stone, forth he came,
And thus accosted the intruding chief :


" Art. tho-i so tired of life, that reckless thus

Thou dost invade the precincts of tba Demons?

Tell me thy name, that I may not destroy

A nameless thing ! " The champion stern replied,

" My name is llustem sent by Zal, my father,

Descended from the champion Sam Suvviir.

To be revenged ou thee the King of Persia

Being now a prisoner in Ma/inderan."

When the accursed Demon heard the name

Of Sam Suwar, he, like a serpent, writhed

In agDiiy of spirit ; terrified

At that announcement then, recovering strength,

He forward sprang, and hurled the mill-sioue huge

Against his adversary, who fell back

And disappointed the prodigious blow.

Black frowned the Demon, and through Eastern's heart

A wild sensation ran of dire alarm ;

But. rousing up, his courage was revived,

And wielding furiously his beaming sword,

He pierced the Demon's thigh, and lopped the limb ;

Then both together grappled, and the cavern

Shook with the contest each, at times, prevailed ;

The flesh of both was torn, and streaming blood

Crimsoned the earth. " If I survive this day,"

Said Rustem in his heart, in that dread strife,

" My life must be immortal." The White Demon,

With equal terror, muttered to himself :

" I now despair of life sweet life ; no more

Shall I be welcomed at Mdzinderan."

And still they struggled hard still sweat and blood

Poured down at every strain. Rustem, at last,

Gathering fresh power, vouchsafed by favouring Heaven

And bringing all his mighty strength to bear,

Raised up the gasping Demon in his arms,

And with such fury dashed him to the ground,

That life no longer moved his monstrous frame.

Promptly he then tore out the reeking heart,

And crowds of demons simultaneous fell

As part of him, and stained the earth with gore ;

Others who saw this signal overthrow,

Trembled, and hurried from the scene of blood]

Then the great victor, issuing from that cave

"\Yith pious haste took off his helm, ai.d mail,

And royal girdle and with water washed

His face and body choosing a pure place

For prayer to praise his Maker Him who gave

The victory, the eternal source of good ;

Without whose grace and blessing, what is man 1

With it his armour is impregnable.

The Champion having finished his prayer, resumed his war


habiliments, and going to Aiilai, released him from the tree,
and gave into his charge the heart of the White Demon. He .
then pursued his journey back to Ktius at Mazinderan. On
the way Aiilad solicited some reward for the services he had
performed, and Rustem again promised that he should lie
appointed governor of the country.

" But first the monarch of Mazinderan.
The Demon-king, must be subdued, and cast
Into the yawning cavern and his legions
Of foul enchanters, utterly destroyed."

Upon his arrival at Mazinderan, Rustem related to his
sovereign all that he had accomplished, and especially that he
had torn out and brought away the White Demon's heart, the
blood of which was destined to restore Ivai-kaiis and his
warriors to sight. Rustem was not long in applying the
miraculous remedy, and the moment the blood touched their
eyes, the fearful blindness was perfectly cured.

The champion brought the Demon's heart,
And squeezed the blood from every part,
Which, dropped upon the injured sight,
Made all things visible and bright ;
One moment broke that magic gloom.
Which seemed more dreadful than the tomb.

The monarch immediately ascended his throne surrounded
by all his warriors, and seven days were spent in mutual con-
gratulations and rejoicing. On the eighth day they all resumed
the saddle, and proceeded to complete the destruction of the
enemy. They set fire to the city, and burnt it to the ground,
and committed such horrid carnage among the remaining
magicians that streams, of loathsome blood crimsoned all the

Kaiis afterwards sent Ferhad as an ambassador to the king
of Mazinderan, suggesting to him the expediency of submission,
and representing to him the terrible fall of Arzang, and of the
"White Demon with all his host, as a warning against resistance


to the valour of Rustem. But when the king of Mazinderan
heard from Ferhtid the purpose of his embassy, he expressed
great astonishment, and replied that he himself was superior in
all respects to Kalis ; that his empire was more extensive, and
his warriors more numerous and brave. " Have I not," said
he, " a hundred war-elephants, and Kalis not one ? Wherever
I move, conquest marks my way ; why then should I fear the
sovereign of Persia ? Why should I submit to him ? "

This haughty tone made a deep impression upon Ferhad,
who returning quickly, told Kaiis of the proud bearing and
fancied power of the ruler of Mazinderan. Rustem was imme-
diately sent for ; and so indignant was he on hearing the
tidings, that " every hair on his body started up like a spear,"
and he proposed to go himself with a second despatch. The
king was too much pleased to refuse, and another letter was
written more urgent than the first, threatening the enemy to
hang up his severed head on the walls of his own fort, if he
persisted in his contumacy and scorn of the offer made.

As soon as Rustem had come within a short distance of the
court of the king of Mazinderan, accounts reached his majesty
of the approach of another ambassador, when a deputation of
warriors was sent to receive him. Rustem observing them,
and being in sight of the hostile army, with a view to shew his
strength, tore up a large tree on the road by the roots, and
dexterously wielded it in his hand like a spear. Tilting on-
wards, he flung it down before the wondering enemy, and one
of the chiefs then thought it incumbent upon him to display
his own prowess. He advanced, and offered to grasp hands
with Rustem : they met ; but the gripe of the champion was
so excruciating that the sinews of his adversary cracked, and
in agony he fell from his horse. Intelligence of this discom-
fiture was instantly conveyed to the king, who then summoned
his most valiant and renowned chieftain, Kalahur, and directed
him to go and punish, signally, the warrior who had thus pre-
sumed to triumph over one of his heroes. Accordingly Kalahiir
appeared, and boastingly stretched out his hand, which Rustem


wrung with such grinding force, that the very nails dropped
off, and blood started from his body. This was enough, and
Kalahiir hastily returned to the king, and anxiously recom-
mended him to submit to terms, as it would be in vain to
oppose such invincible strength. The king was both grieved
and angry at this situation of affairs, and invited the ambassa-
dor to his presence. After inquiring respecting Kaus and the
Persian army, he said :

" And thon art Rustem, clothed with mighty power,
Who slaughtered the White Demon, and now cotnest
To crush the monarch of Mazinderan ! "
" No ! " said the champion, " I am but his servant,
And even unworthy of that noble station ;
My master being a warrior, the most valiant
That ever graced the world since time began.
Nothing am I ; but what doth he resemble 1
What is a lion, elephant, or demon !
Engaged in fight, he is himself a host ! "

The ambassador then tried to convince the king of the folly
of resistance, and of his certain defeat if he continued to defy
the power of Kaiis and the bravery of Rustem ; but the effort
was fruitless, and both states prepared for battle.

The engagement which ensued was obstinate and sanguinary,
and after seven days of hard fighting, neither army was vic-
torious, neither defeated. Afflicted at this want of success,
Kaiis grovelled in the dust, and prayed fervently to the
Almighty to give him the triumph. He addressed all his
warriors, one by one, and urged them to increased exertions ;
and on the eighth day, when the battle was renewed, prodigies
3f valour were performed. Eustem singled out, and encoun-
tered the king of Mazinderan, and fiercely they fought together
with sword and javelin ; but suddenly, just as he was rushing
on with overwhelming force, his adversary, by his magic art,
transformed himself into a stony rock. Rustem and the Persian
warriors were all amazement. The fight had been suspended
for some time, when Kaus came forward to enquire the cause ;
and hearing with astonishment of the transformation, ordered


his soldiers to drag the enchanted mass towards his own tent ;
but all the strength that could be applied was unequal to move
so great a weight, till Eustem set himself to the task, and
amidst the wondering army, lifted up the rock and conveyed
it to the appointed place. He then addressed the work of
sorcery, and said : " If thou dost not resume thy original
shape, I will instantly break thee, flinty-rock as thou now art,
into atoms, and scatter thee in the dust." The magician-king
was alarmed by this threat, and re-appeared in his own form, and
then Rustem, seizing his hand, brought him to Kaiis, who, as
a punishment for his wickedness and atrocity, ordered him to
be slain, and his body to be cut into a thousand pieces ! The
wealth of the country was immediately afterwards secured ; and
at the recommendation of Eustem, Aiilad was appointed
governor of Mdzinderan. After the usual thanksgivings and
rejoicings on account of the victory, Kaiis and his warriors
returned to Persia, where splendid honours and rewards were
bestowed on every soldier for his heroic services. Eustem
having received the highest acknowledgments of his merit, took
leave, and returned to his father Zal at Zabulistiin.

Suddenly an ardent desire arose in the heart of Kaiis to
survey all the provinces and states of his empire. He wished
to visit Tiirtin, and Chin, and Mikran, and Berber, and Zirra.
Having commenced his royal tour of inspection, he found the
king of Berberistau in a state of rebellion, with his army pre-
pared to dispute his authority. A severe battle was the conse-
quence ; but the refractory sovereign was soon compelled to
retire, and the elders of the city came forward to sue for mercy
and protection. After this triumph, Kaiis turned toAvards the
mountain Kaf, and visited various other countries, and in his
progress became the guest of the son of Zal in Ziibulistan, where
he staid a month, enjoying the pleasures of the festive board
and the sports of the field.

The disaffection of the king of Hjimilveran, in league with
the king of Misser and Shtiui, and the still hostile king of
Berberisttln, soon, however, drew him from Kimrtiz, and


quitting the principality of Rustem, his arms were promptly
directed against his new enemy, who in the contest which
ensued, made an obstinate resistance, but was at length over-
powered, and obliged to ask for quarter. After the battle,
Kdiis was informed that the shah had a daughter of great
, beauty, named Sudaveh, possessing a form as graceful as the
tall cypress, musky ringlets, and all the charms of Heaven.
From the description of this damsel he became enamoured, and
through the medium of a messenger, immediately offered him-
self to be her husband. The father did not seem to be glad at
this proposal, observing to the messenger, that he had but two
things in life valuable to him, and those were his daughter and
his property ; one was his solace and delight, and the other his
support ; to be deprived of both would be death to him ; still
he could not gainsay the wishes of a king of such power, and
his conqueror. He then sorrowfully communicated the overture
to his child, who however readily consented ; and in the course
of a week, the bride was sent escorted by soldiers, and accom-
panied by a magnificent cavalcade, consisting of a thousand
horses and mules, a thousand camels, and numerous female
attendants. "When Siida" veh descended from her litter, glowing
with beauty, with her rich dark tresses flowing to her feet, and
cheeks like the rose, Kaus regarded her with admiration and
rapture ; and so impatient was he to possess that lovely treasure,
that the marriage rites were performed according to the laws of
the country without delay.

The shah of Hiimtiveran, however, was not satisfied, and he
continually plotted within himself how he might contrive to
regain possession of Sudaveh, as well as be revenged upon the
king. With this view he invited Kalis to be his guest for a
while ; but Sudaveh cautioned the king not to trust to the
treachery which dictated the invitation, as she apprehended
from it nothing but mischief and disaster. The warning, how-
ever, was of no avail, for KMs accepted the proffered hospitality
of his new father-in-law. He accordingly proceeded with his
bride and his most famous warriors to the city, where he was


received and entertained in the most sumptuous manner, seated
on a gorgeous throne, and felt infinitely exhilarated with the
magnificence and the hilarity by which he was surrounded.
Seven days were passed in this glorious banqueting and de-
light ; but on the succeeding night, the sound of trumpets and
the war-cry was heard. The intrusion of soldiers changed the
face of the scene ; and the king, who had just been waited on,
and pampered with such respect and devotion, was suddenly
seized, together with his principal warriors, and carried off to
a remote fortress, situated on a high mountain, where they
were imprisoned, and guarded by a thousand valiant men.
His tents were plundered, and all his treasure taken away. At
this event his wife was inconsolable and deaf to all entreaties
from her father, declaring that she preferred death to separa-
tion from her husband ; upon which she was conveyed to the
same dungeon, to mingle groans with the captive king.

Alas ! how false and fickle is the world,
Friendship nor pleasure, nor the ties of blood,
Can check the headlong course of human pas.Mo'is ;
Treachery still laughs at kindred ; who is safe
In this tumultuous sphere of strife and sorrow 1


The intelligence of Kaiis's imprisonment was very soon
spread through the world, and operated as a signal to all the
inferior states to get possession of Ira"n. Afrasiytib was the
most powerful aspirant to the throne ; and gathering an
immense army, he hurried from Turan, and made a rapid
incursion into the country, which after three months he
succeeded in conquering, scattering ruin and desolation where-
ever he came.



Some of those who escaped from the field bent their steps
towards Zabulistan, by whom Eustem was informed of the
misfortunes in which Kaiis was involved ; it therefore became
necessary that he should again endeavour to effect the libera-
tion of his sovereign ; and accordingly, after assembling his
troops from different quarters, the first thing he did was to
dispatch a messenger to Hamaveran, with a letter, demanding
the release of the prisoners ; and in the event of a refusal, de-
claring the king should suffer the same fate as the White Demon
and the magician-monarch of Mazindcran. Although this
threat produced considerable alarm in the breast of the king of
Haniaveran, he arrogantly replied, that if Eustem wished to be
placed in the same situation as Kaiis, he was welcome to come
as soon as he liked.

Upon hearing this defiance, Eustem left Zabulistan, and after
an arduous journey by land and water, arrived at the confines
of Hamaveran. The king of that country, roused by the noise
and uproar, and bold aspect of the invading army, drew up his
own forces, and a battle ensued, but he was unequal to stand
his ground before the overwhelming courage of Eustem. His
troops fled in confusion, and then almost in despair he anxiously
solicited assistance from the chiefs of Berber and Misser, which
was immediately given. Thus three kings and their armies
were opposed to the power and resources of one man. Their
formidable array covered an immense space.

Each proud his strongest force to bring,
The eagle of valour flapped his wing.

But when the king of Hamaveran beheld the person of
Eustem in all its pride and strength, and commanding power,
he paused with apprehension and fear, and intrenched himself
well behind his own troops. Eustem, on the contrary, was full
of confidence.

" What, though there be a hundred thousand men
Pitched against one, what use is there in numbers
"When Heaven is on my side : with Heaven my friend.
The foe will soon be mingled with the dust."


Having ordered the trumpets to sound, he rushed on the
enemy, mounted on Rakush, and committed dreadful havoc
among them.

It would be difficult to tell

How many heads, dissevered, fell,

Fighting his dreadful way ;
On every side his falchion gleamed,
Hot blood in every quarter streamed

On that tremendous day.

The chief of Hamaveran and his legions were the first to
shrink from the conflict ; and then the king of Misser, ashamed
of their cowardice, rapidly advanced towards the champion
with the intention of punishing him for his temerity, but
had no sooner received one of Eustem's hard blows on his head,
than he turned to flight, and thus hoped to escape the fury of
his antagonist. That fortune, however, was denied him, for
being instantly pursued, he was caught with the kamund, or
noose, thrown - round his loins, dragged from his horse, and
safely delivered into the hands of Bahrain, who bound him,
and kept him. by his side.

Ring within ring the lengthening kamund flew,
And from his steed the astonished monarch drew.

Having accomplished this signal capture, Eustem proceeded
against the troops under the shah of Berberist<in, which,
valorously aided as he was, by Zuiira, he soon vanquished and
dispatched ; and impelling Rakush impetuously forward upon
the shah himself, made him and forty of his principal chiefs
prisoners of war. The king of Hamjlveran, seeing the horrible
carnage, and the defeat of all his expectations, speedily sent a
messenger to Rustem, to solicit a suspension of the fight,

Online LibraryFirdawsiThe Shah Nameh of the Persian poet Firdausi → online text (page 11 of 35)