The Shah Nameh of the Persian poet Firdausi online

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quest." Having thus obtained the promised favour and support
of Afrdsiyab, Saiawush gave in charge to Bahrain the city of
Balkh, the army and treasure, in order that they might be
delivered over to Tiis on his arrival ; and taking with him
three hundred chosen horsemen, passed the Jihun, in progress
to the court of Afrasiyalb. On taking this decisive step, he
again wrote to Kaiis, saying :

" From my youth upward I have suffered wrong
At first Sudaveh, false and treacherous,
Sought to destroy my happiness and fame ;
And thou hadst nearly sacrificed my life


To glut her vengeance. The astrologers

Were all unheeded, who pronounced me innocent,

And I was doomed to brave devouring fire,

To testify that I was free from guilt ;

But God was my deliverer ! Victory now

Has marked my progress. Balkh, and all its spoils,

Are mine, and so reduced the enemy,

That I have gained a hundred hostages,

To guarantee the peace which I have made ;

And what my recompense ! a father's anger,

Which takes me from my glory. Thus deprived

Of thy affection, whither can I fly ?

Be it to friend or foe, the will of fate

Must be my only guide condemned by thee."

The reception of Saiawush. by Afnisiyab was warm and
flattering. From the gates of the city to the palace, gold and
incense were scattered over his head in the customary manner,
and exclamations of welcome uttered on every side.

" Thy presence gives joy to the land,
Which awaits thy command ;

It is thine ! it is thine !

All the chiefs of the state have assembled to meet thee,
All the flowers of the land are in blossom to greet thee ! "

The youth was placed on a golden throne next to Afrasiyilb,
and a magnificent banquet prepared in honour of the stranger,
and music and the songs of beautiful women enlivened the
festive scene. They chaunted the praises of Saiawush, distin-
guished, as they said, among men for three things : first, for
being of the line of Kai-kobad ; secondly, for his faith and
honour ; and, thirdly, for the wonderful beauty of his person,
which had gained universal love and admiration. The favour-
able sentiments which characterized the first introduction of
Saiawush to Afrdsiyab continued to prevail, and indeed the
king of Turdn seemed to regard him with increased attachment
and friendship, as the time passed away, and shewed him all
the respect and honour to which his royal birth would have
entitled him in his own country. After the lapse of a year,
Pinln-wisah, one of Afrasiyab's generals, said to him : " Young
prince, thou art now high in the favour of the king, and at a


great distance from Persia, and thy father is old ; would it not
therefore be better for thee to many and take up thy residence
among us for life ? " The suggestion was a rational one, and
Saiawnsh readily expressed his acquiescence ; accordingly, the
lovely Giilshaher, who was also named Jarira, having been
introduced to him, he was delighted with her person, and both
consenting to a union, the marriage ceremony was immediately

And many a warm delicious kiss,
Told how he loved the wedded bliss.

Some time after this union, Piran suggested another alliance,
for the purpose of strengthening his political interest and
power, and this was with Ferangis, the daughter of Afrasiyab.
But Saiiiwush was so devoted to Gulshaher that he first con-
sulted with her on the subject, although the hospitality and
affection of the king constituted such strong claims on his
gratitude that refusal was impossible. Giilshaher, however, was
a heroine, and willingly sacrificed her own feelings for the
good of Saiawush, saying she would rather condescend to be
the very handmaid of Ferangis than that the happiness and
prosperity of her lord should be compromised. The second
marriage accordingly took place, and Afrasiyab was so pleased
with the match that he bestowed on the bride and her husband
the sovereignty of Khoten, together with countless treasure in
gold, and a great number of horses, camels, and elephants.
In a short time they proceeded to the seat of the new govern-

Meanwhile Kaiis suffered the keenest distress and sorrow
when he heard of the flight of Saiawush into Turun, and
Hustem felt such strong indignation at the conduct of the
king that he abruptly quitted the court, without permission,
and retired to Sistan. Kalis thus found himself in an embar-
rassed condition, and deemed it prudent to recall both Tiis and
the anny from l^alkh, and relinquish further hostile measures
against Afrasiyab.


The first thing that Saiawush undertook after his arrival at
Khoten, was to order the selection of a beautiful site for his
residence, and Pinin devoted his services to fulfil that object,
exploring all the provinces, hills, and dales, on every side. At
last he discovered a beautiful spot, at the distance of about a
mouth's journey, which combined all the qualities and advan-
tages required by the anxious prince. It was situated on a
mountain, and surrounded by scenery of exquisite richness and
variety. The trees were fresh and green, birds warbled on
every spray, transparent rivulets murmured through the
meadows, the air was neither oppressively hot in summer, nor
cold in winter, so that the temperature, and the attractive
objects which presented themselves at every glance, seemed to
realize the imagined charms and fascinations of Paradise. The
inhabitants enjoyed perpetual health, and every breeze was
laden with music and perfume. So lovely a place could not
fail to yield pleasure to Saiawush, who immediately set about
building a palace there, and garden-temples, in which he had
pictures painted of the most remarkable persons of his time,
and also the portraits of ancient kings. The walls were deco-
rated with the likenesses of Kai-kobad, of Kai-kaiis, Poshang,
Afrasiyab, and Siim, and Zal, and Eastern, and other champions
of Persia and Tunin. When completed, it was a gorgeous re-
treat, and the sight of it sufficient to give youthful vigour to
the withered faculties of age. And yet Saiawush was not
happy ! Tears started into his eyes and sorrow weighed upon
his heart, whenever he thought upon his own estrangement
from home !

It happened that the lovely Gulshaher, who had been left in
the house of her father, was delivered of a son in due time, and
he was named Fenid.

Afrasiyab, on being informed of the proceedings of Sauiwush,
and of the heart-expanding residence he had chosen, was highly
gratified ; and to shew his affectionate regard, dispatched to
him with the intelligence of the birth of a son, presents of
great value and variety. Gersiwaz, the brother of Afriisiyab,


and who had from the first looked upon Saidwush with a
jealous and malignant eye, being afraid of his interfering with
his own prospects in Tiirdrn, was the person sent on this occa-
sion. But he hid his secret thoughts under the veil of outward
praise and approbation. Saiiiwush was pleased with the intelli-
gence and the presents, but failed to pay the customary respect
to Gersiwaz on his arrival, and, in consequence, the lurking
indignation and hatred formerly felt by the latter were con-
siderably augmented. The attention of Saiawush respecting
his army and the concerns of the state, was unremitting, and
noted by the visitor with a jealous and scrutinizing eye, so that
Gersiwaz, on his return to the court of AMsiydb, artfully
talked much of the pomp and splendour of the prince, and
added : " Saiawush is far from being the amiable character
thou hast supposed ; he is artful and ambitious, and he has
collected an immense army ; he is in fact dissatisfied. As a
proof of his haughtiness, he paid me but little attention, and
doubtless very heavy calamity will soon befall Tunin, should he
break out, as I apprehend he will, into open rebellion.

For he is proud, and thou hast yet to learn
The temper of thy daughter Ferangis,
Now bound to him in duty and affection ;
Their purpose is the same, to overthrow
The kingdom of Tiiran, and thy dominion ;
To merge the glory of this happy realm
Into the Persian empire ! "

But plausible and persuasive as were the observations and
positive declarations of Gersiwaz, Afrasiytib would not believe
the imputed ingratitude and hostility of Saiawush. " He has
sought my protection," said he ; " he has thrown himself upon
my generosity, and I cannot think him treacherous. But if he
has meditated any thing unmerited by me, and unworthy of
himself, it will be better to send him back to Kai-kuus, his
father." The artful Gersiwaz, however, was not to be diverted
from his object : lie said that Saiiiwush had become personally
acquainted with Turan, its position, its weakness, its strength,


and resources, and aided by Eastern, would soon be able to
overrun the country if he was suffered to return, and therefore
he recommended Afrasiyab to bring him from Khoten by some
artifice, and secure him. In conformity with this suggestion,
Gersiwaz was again deputed to the young prince, and a letter
of a friendly nature written for the purpose of blinding him to
the real intentions of his father-in-law. The letter was no
sooner read than Saiawush expressed his desire to comply with
the request contained in it, saying that Afrasiyab had been a
father to him, and that he would lose no time in fulfilling in
all respects the wishes he had received.

This compliance and promptitude, however, was not in har-
mony with the sinister views of Gersiwaz, for he foresaw that
the very fact of answering the call immediately would shew
that some misrepresentation had been practised, and conse-
quently it was his business now to promote procrastination,
and an appearance of evasive delay. He therefore said to him
privately that it would be advisable for him to wait a little,
and not manifest such implicit obedience to the will of Afra-
siyab ; but Saiawush replied, that both his duty and affection
urged him to a ready compliance. Then Gersiwaz pressed him
more warmly, and represented how inconsistent, how unworthy
of his illustrious lineage it would be to betray so meek a spirit,
especially as he had a considerable army at his command, and
could vindicate his dignity and his rights. And he addressed
to him these specious arguments so incessantly and with such
earnestness, that the deluded prince was at last induced to put
off his departure, on account of his wife Ferangis pretending
that she was ill, and saying that the moment she was better he
would return to Tiiran. This was quite enough for treachery
to work upon ; and as soon as the dispatch was sealed, Gersiwaz
conveyed it with the utmost expedition to Afrasiyab. Appear-
ances, at least, were thus made strong against Saiawush, and
the tyrant of Tiiran, now easily convinced of his falsehood, and
feeling in consequence his former enmity renewed, forthwith
assembled an army to punish his refractory son-in-law, Gersi-


waz was appointed the leader of that army, which was put in
motion without delay against the unoffending youth. The
news of Afrasiyilb's warlike preparations satisfied the mind of
Saiziwush that Gersiwaz had given him good advice, and that
he had been a faithful monitor, for immediate compliance, he
now concluded, would have been his utter ruin. When he
communicated this unwelcome intelligence to Ferangis, she was
thrown into the greatest alarm and agitation ; but ever fruitful
in expedients, suggested the course that it seemed necessary he
should instantly adopt, which was to fly by a circuitous route
back to Iran. To this he expressed no dissent, provided she
would accompany him ; but she said it Avas impossible to do so
on account of the condition she was in. " Leave me," she
added, " and save thy own life ! " He therefore called together
his three hundred Iranians, and requesting Ferangis, if she
happened to be delivered of a son, to call him Kai-khosrau, set
oil' on his journey.

" I go, surrounded by my enemies ;
The hand of merciless Afrasiyab
Lifted against me."

It was not the fortune of Saiawush, however, to escape so
easily as had been anticipated by Ferangis. Gersiwaz was soon
at his heels, and in the battle that ensued, all the Iranians were
killed, and also the horse upon which the unfortunate prince
rode, so that on foot he could make but little progress. In the
meantime Afrasiyab came up, and surrounding him, wanted to
shoot him with an arrow, but he was restrained from the violent
act by the intercession of his people, who recommended his
being taken alive, and only kept in prison. Accordingly he
was again attacked and secured, and still Afrasiyab wished to
put him to death ; but Pilsam, one of his warriors, and the
brother of Piran, induced him to relinquish that diabolical
intention, and to convey him back to his own palace. Saiawush
was then iguominiously fettered and conducted to the royal
residence, which he had himself erected and ornamented with


Buch richness and magnificence. The sight of the city and its
splendid buildings filled every one with wonder and admiration.
Upon the arrival of Afnisiyab, Ferangis hastened to him in a
state of the deepest distress, and implored his clemency and
compassion in favour of Saiawush.

t; father, he is not to blame,
Still pure and spotless is his name ;
Faithful and generous still to n:e,
And never never false to thce.
This hate to Gersiwaz he owes,
The worst, the bitterest of his foes ;
Did he not thy protection seek,
And wilt thou overpower the weak ?
Spill royal blood thou shouldcst bless,
In cruel sport and wantonness .'
And earn the curses of mankind,

Living, in this precarious state,
And dead, the torments of the mind,

Which hell inflicts upon the great
Who revel in a murderous course,
And rule by cruelty and force.

It scarce becomes me now to tell,

What the accursed Zohak befel,

Or what the punishment which hurled

Selim and Tiir from out the world.

And is not Kaus living now,

With rightful vengeance on his brow ?

And Rustem, who alone can make

Thy kingdom to its centre quake ?

Gudar/, Zuara, and Friburz,

And Tus, and Girgin, and Framurz ;

And others too of fearless might,

To challenge thee to mortal fight 1

0, from this peril turn away,

Close not in gloom so bright a day ;

Some heed to thy poor daughter give,

And let thy guiltless captive lire."

The effect of this appeal, solemnly and urgently delivered,
was only transitory. Afnisiyab felt a little compunction at the
moment, but soon resumed his ferocious spirit, and to ensure,
without interruption, the accomplishment of his purpose, con-
fined Ferangis in one of the remotest parts of the palace ;


And thus to Gersiwaz unfeeling spoke :
" Off witn his head, down with the enemy ;
But take especial notice that his blood
Stains not the earth, lest it should cry aloud
For vengeance on us. Take good care of that ! >:

G-ersiwaz, who was but too ready an instrument, immediately
directed Karii-zira, a kinsman of Afnisiyilb, who had been also
one of the most zealous in promoting the ruin of the Persian
prince, to inflict the deadly blow ; and Saiawush, whilst under
the grasp of the executioner, had but time to put up a prayer
to Heaven, in which he hoped that a son might be born to him
to vindicate his good name, and be revenged on his murderer.
The executioner then seized him by the hair, and throwing him
on the ground, severed the head from the body. A golden
vessel was ready to receive the blood, as commanded by Afrii-
siyab ; but a few drops happened to be spilt on the soil, and
upon that spot a tree grew up, which was afterwards called
Saidwush, and believed to possess many wonderful virtues!
The blood was carefully conveyed to Afrdsiyab, the head fixed
on the point of a javelin, and the body was buried with respect
and affection by his friend Pilsam, who had witnessed the
melancholy catastrophe. It is also related that a tremendous
tempest occurred at the time this amiable prince was murdered,
and that a total darkness covered the face of the earth, so that
the people could not distinguish each other's faces. Then was
the name of Afnisiyab truly execrated and abhorred for the
cruel act he had committed, and all the inhabitants of Khoten
long cherished the memory of Saiawush.

Ferangis was frantic with grief when she was told of the sad
fate of her husband, and all her household uttered the loudest
lamentations. Pilsam gave the intelligence to Pirau, and the
proverb was then remembered : " It is better to be in hell,
than under the rule of Afrasiydb ! " When the deep sorrow of
Ferangis reached the ears of her father, he determined on a
summary procedure, and ordered Gersiwaz to have her privately
made away with, so that there might be no issue of her marriage
with Saidwush,


Pfran with horror heard this stern command,

And hasten'd to the king, and thus addressed him :

" What ! would'st thou hurl thy vengeance on a woman,

That woman, too, thy daughter ? Is it wise,

Or natural, thus to sport with human life ?

Already hast thou taken from her arms

Her unoffending husband that was cruel ;

But thus to shed an innocent woman's blood,

And kill her unborn infant that would be

Too dreadful to imagine 1 Is she not

Thy own fair daughter, given in happier time

To him who won thy favour and affection ?

Think but of that, and from thy heart root out

This demon wish, w r hich leads thee to a crime,

Mocking concealment ; vain were the endeavour

To keep the murder secret, and when known,

The world's opprobrium would pursue thy name.

And after death, what would thy portion be 1

No more of this honour me with the charge,

And 1 will keep her with a father's care,

In my own mansion." Then Afrasiyab

Readily answered : " Take her to thy home,

But when the child is born, let it be brought

Promptly to me my will must be obeyed."

Pinin rejoiced at his success ; and assenting to the command
of Afrasiyab, took Ferangis with him to Khoten, where in due
time a child was born, and being a son, was called Kai-khosrau.
As soon as he was born, Piran took measures to prevent his
being carried off to Afrasiydb, and committed him to the care
of some peasants on the mountain Kaliin. On the same night
Afrasiydb had a dream, in which he received intimation of the
birth of Kai-khosrau ; and upon this intimation he sent for
Pir&n to know why his commands had not been complied with.
Pira'n replied, that he had cast away the child in the wilder-
ness : " And why was he not sent to me ? " inquired the
despot. " Because," said Pira'n, " I considered thy own future
happiness ; thou hast unjustly killed the father, and God forbid
that thou shouldst also kill the son ! " Afrdsiydb was abashed,
and it is said that ever after the atrocious murder of Saiawush,
he had been tormented with the most terrible and harrowing
dreams. Gersiwaz now became hateful to his sight, and he
began at last deeply to repent of his violence and inhumanity. s



Kai-khosn'u grew up under the fostering protection of the
peasants, and showed early marks of surprising talent and
activity. He excelled in manly exercises ; and hunting ferocious
animals was his peculiar delight. Instructors had been pro-
vided to initiate him in all the arts and pursuits cultivated by
the warriors of those days, and even in his twelfth year accounts
were forwarded to Piran of several wonderful feats which he
had performed.

Then smiled the good old man, and joyful said :

" Tis ever thus the youth of royal blood

Will not disgrace his lineage, but betray

By his superior mien and gallant deeds

From whence he sprung. : Tis by the luscious fruit

We know the tree, and glory in its ripeness ! "

Piran could not resist paying a visit to the youth in his
mountainous retreat, and, happy to find him, beyond all
expectation, distinguished for the elegance of his external
appearance, and the superior qualities of his mind, related to
him the circumstances under which he had been exposed, and
the rank and misfortunes of his father. An artifice then
occurred to him which promised to be of ultimate advantage.
He afterwards told Afrasiyab that the offspring of Ferangis,
thrown by him into the wilderness to perish, had been found
by a peasant and brought up, but that he understood the boy
was little better than an idiot. Afrasiyab, upon this informa-
tion, desired that he might be sent for, and in the meantime
Pirdn took especial care to instruct Kai-khosrdu how he should
act ; which was to seem in all respects insane, and he accord'
ingly appeared before the king in the dress of a prince with a
golden crown on his head, and the royal girdle round his loins.
Kai-khosrdu proceeded on horseback to the court of Afrasiyab,
and having performed the usual salutations, was suitably
received, though with strong feelings of shame and remorse on
the part of the tyrant. Af nisiyab put several questions to him,
which were answered in a wild and incoherent manner, entirely
at variance with the subject proposed. The king could not


help smiling, and supposing him to be totally deranged, allowed
him to be sent with presents to his mother, for no harm, he
thought, could possibly be apprehended from one so forlorn in
mind. Piran triumphed in the success of his scheme, and lost
no time in taking Kai-khosniu to his mother. All the people
of Khoten poured blessings on the head of the youth, and
imprecations on the merciless spirit of Afrasiyab. The city
built by Saitiwush had been razed to the ground by the exter-
minating fury of his enemies, and wild animals and reptiles
occupied the place on which it stood. The mother and son
visited the spot where Saiawush was barbarously killed, and the
tree, which grew up from the soil enriched by his blood, was
found verdant and flourishing, and continued to possess in
perfection its marvellous virtues.

The tale of Saiawush is told ;
And now the pages bright unfold,
Rustem's revenge Siiddveh's fate
Afrasiyab's degraded state,
And that terrific curse and ban
Which fell at last upon Turan 1

When Kai-kaus heard of the fate of his son, and, all its
aorrible details were pictured to his mind, he was thrown into
the deepest affliction. His warriors, Tus, and Giidarz, and
Bahrain, and Friburz, and Ferhad, felt with equal keenness
the loss of the amiable prince, and Eustem, as soon as the
dreadful intelligence reached Sistan, set off with his troops to
the court of the king, still full of indignation at the conduct
of Kaiis, and oppressed with sorrow respecting the calamity
which had occurred. On his arrival he thus addressed the
weeping and disconsolate father of Saiawush, himself at the

same time drowned in tears :

H 2


" How has thy temper turned to nought, the seed
Which might have grown, and cast a glorious shadow ;
How is it scattered to the barren winds !
Thy love for false Sudaveh was the cause
Of 'all this misery ; she, the Sorceress,
O'er whom thou hast so oft in rapture hung,
Enchanted by her charms ; * she was the cause
Of this destruction. Thou art woman's slave !
Woman, the bane of man's felicity !
Who ever trusted woman ? Death were better
Than being under woman's influence ;
She places man upon the foamy ridge
Of the tempestuous wave, which rolls to rain.
Who ever trusted woman ? Woman ! woman ! '
Kaus looked down with melancholy mien,
And, half consenting, thus to Rustem said :
" Siidaveh's blandishments absorbed my soul,
And she has brought this wretchedness upon me."
Kustem rejoined " The world must be revenged
Upon this false Sudaveh ; she must die."
Kaiis was silent ; but his tears flowed fast,
And shame withheld resistance. Rustem rushed
Without a pause towards the shubistan ;
Impatient, nothing could obstruct his speed
To slay Sudaveh ; her he quickly found,
And rapidly his sanguinary sword
Performed its office. Thus the Sorceress died.
Such was the punishment her crimes receive 1.

Having thus accomplished the first part of his vengeance, he
proceeded with the Persian army against Afnisiyab, and all the
Iranian warriors followed his example. When he had pene-
trated as far as Ttinin, the enemy sent forward thirty thousand
men to oppose his progress ; and in the conflict which ensued,
Feramurz took SarkM, the son of Afrasiydb, prisoner. Rustem
delivered him over to Ttis to be put to death precisely in

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Online LibraryFirdawsiThe Shah Nameh of the Persian poet Firdausi → online text (page 15 of 35)