The Shah Nameh of the Persian poet Firdausi online

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the victory will be thine.

Drive from the earth that Demon horrible,
And sorrow will be rooted from thy heart.''

Saidmuk left a son whose name was Husheng, whom the king
loved much more even than his father.

Husheng his name. There seemed in him combined,
Knowledge and goodness eminent. To him
Was given his father's dignity and station.
And the old man, his grandsire, scarcely deigned
To look upon another, his affection
For him was so unbounded.

Kaiumers having appointed Hiisheng the leader of the army,

in his service. , The demons taught Tahumers the TISC of letters, after he
had conquered them, and had acquired the appellation of Diw-bund, or the
cliainer of demons. Diw, or demon, means also a god, or personage of a
higher class in the scale of earthly beings.


the young hero set out with an immense body of troops to
engage the Demon and his son. It is said that at that time
every species of animal, wild and tame, was obedient to his

The savage beasts, and those of gentler kind,
Alike reposed before him, and appeared
To do him homage.

The wolf, the tiger, the lion, the panther, and even the fowls
of the air, assembled in aid of him, and he, by the blessing of
God, slew the Demon and his offspring with his own hand.
After which the army of Rammers, and the devouring animals
that accompanied him in his march, defeated and tore to pieces
the scattered legions of the enemy. Upon the death of Kaiumers
Hiisheng ascended the throne of Persia.


It is recorded that Hiisheng was the first who brought out
fire from stone, and from that circumstance he founded the
religion of the Fire-worshippers, calling the flame which was
produced, the Light of the Divinity.* The accidental discovery
of this element is thus described :

Passing, one day, towards the mountain's side,
Attended by his train, surprised he saw
Something in aspect terrible its eyes
Fountains of blood ; its dreadful mouth sent forth

* Firdausi speaks here of Husheng, the second king of the Peshcladian
dynasty, having founded the religion of the fire-worshippers, but from that
time the faith seems to have slept till the appearance of Zerdusht, in the
reign of Gushtasp, many centuries afterwards, when Isfer.diydr propagated it
at the point of the sword.

B 2


Volumes of smoke that darkened all the air.

Fixing his gaze upon that hideous form,

He seized a stone, and with prodigious force

Hurling it. chanced to strike a jutting rock,

Whence sparks arose, and presently a fire

O'erspread the plain, in which the monster perished.

Thus Husheng found the element which shed

Light through the world. The monarch prostrate bowed,

Praising the great Creator, for the good

Bestowed on man, and, pious, then he said,

" This is the Light from Heaven, sent down from God ;

If ye be wise, adore and worship it ! "

It is also related that, iii the evening of the day on which the
luminous flash appeared to him from the stone, he lighted an
immense fire, and, having made a royal entertainment, he called
it the Festival of Siddeh. By him the art of the blacksmith
was discovered, and he taught river and streamlet to supply the
towns, and irrigate the fields for the purposes of cultivation.
And he also brought into use the fur of the sable, and the
squirrel, and the ermine. Before his time mankind had nothing
for food but fruit, and the leaves of trees and the skins of animals
for clothing. He introduced, and taught his people, the method
of making bread, and the art of cookery.

Then ate they their own bread, for it was good,
And they were grateful to their benefactor ;
Mild laws were framed the very land rejoiced,
Smiling with cultivation ; all the world
Remembering Husheng's virtues.

The period of his government is said to have lasted foity
years, and he was succeeded by his son, Tahumers.



This sovereign was also called Diw-bund, or the Binder of
Demons. He assembled together all the wise men in his domi-
nions, to consider and deliberate upon whatever might be of
utility and advantage to the people of God. In his days wool
was spun and woven, and garments and carpets manufactured,
and various animals, such as panthers, falcons, hawks, and
syagoshes, were tamed, and taught to assist in the sports of the
field. Tahiimers had also a vizir, renowned for his wisdom and
understanding. Having one day charmed a Demon into his
power by philters and magic, he conveyed him to Tahumers ;
upon which, the brethren and allies of the prisoner, feeling
ashamed and degraded by the insult, collected an army, and
went to war against the king. Tahumers was equally in wrath
when he heard of these hostile proceedings, and having also
gathered together an army on his part, presented himself before
the enemy. The name of the leader of the Demons was Ghii.
On one side the force consisted of fire, and smoke, and Demons ;
on the other, brave and magnanimous warriors. Tahumers
lifted his mace, as soon as he was opposed to the enemy, and
giving G-hu a blow on the head, killed him on the spot. The
other Demons being taken prisoners, he ordered them to be
destroyed ; but they petitioned for mercy, promising, if their
lives were spared, that they would teach him a wonderful art.
Tahumers assented, and they immediately brought their books,
and pens and ink, and instructed him how to read and write.

They taught him letters, and his eager mini!
With learning was illumined. The world was blest
With quiet and repose, Peris and Demons
Submitting to his will.

The reign of Tahumers lasted thirty years and after him the
monarchy descended to Jemshid, his son.



Jemshid was eminently distinguished for learning and wisdom.
It is said that coats of mail, cuirasses, and swords, and various
kinds of armour, were invented and manufactured in his time,
and also that garments of silk were made and worn by his

"Helmets and swords, with curious art they made,
Guided by Jemshid's skill ; and silks and linen
And robes of fur and ermine. Desert lands
Were cultivated ; and wherever stream
Or rivulet wandered, and the soil was good,
He fixed the habitations of his people ;
And there they ploughed and reaped : for in that n^e
All laboured ; none in sloth and idleness
Were suffered to remain, since indolence
Too often vanquishes the best, and turns
To nought the noblest, firmest resolution.

Jemshid afterwards commanded his Demons to construct a
splendid palace, and he directed his people how to make the
foundations strong.

He taught the unholy Demon-train to mingle
Water and clay, with which, formed into bricks.
The walls were built, and then high turrets, towers,
And balconies, and roofs to keep out rain
And cold, and sunshine. Every art was known
To Jemshid, without equal in the world.

He also made vessels for the sea and the river, and erected a
magnificent throne, embellished with pearls and precious stones ;
and having seated himself upon it, commanded his Demons to
raise him up in the air, that lie might be able to transport him-
self in a moment wherever he chose. He named the first day
of the year Nil-riiz, and on every Nu-raz he made a royal
feast, so that under his hospitable roof, mortals, and Genii, and
Demons, and Peris, were delighted and happy, every one being
equally regaled with wine and music. His government is said


to have continued in existence seven hundred years, and during
that period, it is added, none of his subjects suffered death, or
were afflicted with disease.

Man seemed immortal, sickness was unknown,
And life rolled on in happiness and joy.

After the lapse of soveu hundred years, however, inordinate
ambition inflamed the heart of Jemshid, and, having assembled
all the illustrious personages and learned men in his dominions
before him, he said to them : " Tell me if there exists, or ever
existed, in all the world, a king of such magnificence and power
as I am ? " They unanimously replied : " Thou art alone,
the mightiest, the most victorious : there is no equal to thee ! "
The just God beheld this foolish pride and vanity with displea-
sure, and, as a punishment, cast him from the government of
an empire into a state of utter degradation and misery.

All looked upon the throne, and heard and saw

Nothing but Jemshid, he alone was king,

Absorbing every thought ; and in their praise,

And adoration of that mortal man,

Forgot the worship of the great Creator.

Then proudly thus he to his nobles spoke,

Intoxicated with their loud applause.

" I am unequalled, for to me the earth

Owes all its science, never did exist

A sovereignty like mine, beneficent

And glorious, driving from the populous land

Disease and want. Domestic joy and rest

Proceed from me. all that is good and great

Waits my behest ; the universal voice

Declares the splendour of my government,

Beyond whatever human heart conceived,

And me the only monarch of the world."

Soon as these words had parted from his lips,

Words impious, and insulting to high heaven,

His earthly grandeur faded. then all tongues

Grew clamorous and bold. The day of Jemshid

Passed into gloom, his brightness all obscured.

What said the Moralist ? " When thou wert a king

Thy subjects were obedient, but whoever

Proudly neglects the worship of his God,

Brings desolation on his house and home."

And when he marked the insolence of his people,

He knew the wrath of Heaven had been provoked,

And terror overcame him.



The old historians relate that Mirtas was the name of a king
of the Arabs-; and that he had a thousand animals which gave
milk, and the milk of these animals he always distributed in
charity among the poor. God was pleased with his goodness,
and accordingly increased his favour upon him.

Goats, sheep, and camels, yielded up their store
Of balmy milk, with which the generous king
Nourished the indigent and helpless poor.

Mirtiis had a son called Zohiik, who possessed ten thousand
Arab horses, or Tazis, upon which account he was surnamed
Biwurasp ; biwur meaning ten thousand, and asp a horse.
One day Iblis, the Evil Spirit, appeared to Zohiik in the
disguise of a good and virtuous man, and conversed with him
in the most agreeable manner.

Pleased with his eloquence, the youth
Suspected not the speaker's truth ;
But praised the sweet impassioned strain,
And asked him to discourse again.

Iblis replied, that he was master of still sweeter converse,
but he could not address it to him, unless he first entered into
a solemn compact, and engaged never on any pretence to
divulge his secret.

Zohak in perfect innocence of heart
Assented to the oath, and bound himself
Never to tell the secret ; all he wished
Was still to hear the good man's honey words.

But as soon as the oath was taken, Iblis said to him : " Thy
father has become old and worthless, and thou art young, and
wise, and valiant. Let him no longer stand in thy way, but
kill him ; the robes of sovereignty are ready, and better
adapted for thce."


The youili in agony of mind,

Heard what the stranger now deigned ;

(Joukl crime like this be understood !

The shedding of a parent's blood !

Iblis would no excuses hear

The oath was sworn his death was near.

" For if thou thiuk'st to pass it by,

The peril's thine, and thou must die 1 "

Zohak was terrified and subdued by this warning, and asked
Iblis in what manner he proposed to sacrifice his father. Iblis
replied, that he would dig a pit on the path-way which led to
Mirtiis-Tazi's house of prayer. Accordingly he secretly made
a deep well upon the spot most convenient for the purpose, and
covered it over with grass. At night, as the king was going, as
usual, to the house of prayer, he fell into the pit, and his legs
and arms being broken by the fall, he shortly expired.
righteous Heaven ! that father too, whose tenderness would not
suffer even the winds to blow upon his son too roughly, and
that son, by the temptation of Iblis, to bring such a father to
a miserable end !

Thus urged to crime, through cruel treachery,
Zohak usurped his pious father's throne.

When Iblis found that he had got Zohak completely in his
power, he told him that, if he followed his counsel and advice
implicitly, he would become the greatest monarch of the age,
the sovereign of the seven climes, signifying the whole world.
Zohak agreed to every thing, and Iblis continued to bestow
upon him the most devoted attention and flattery for the
purpose of moulding him entirely to his will. To such an
extreme degree had his authority attained, that he became
the sole director even in the royal kitchen, and prepared for
Zoh;ik the most delicious and savoury food imaginable ; for in
those days bread and fruit only were the usual articles of food.
Iblis - himself was the original inventor of the cooking art.
Zohak was delighted with the dishes, made from every variety
of bird and four-footed animal. Every day something new


aiid rare was brought to his tahle, and every day Iblis increased
in favour. But an egg was to him the most delicate of all !
" What can there be superior to this ? " said he. " To-
morrow," replied Iblis, "thou shalt have something better,
and of a far superior kind."

Next day he brought delicious fare, and dressed
In manner exquisite to please the eye,
As well as taste ; partridge and pheasant rich,
A banquet for a prince. Zohak beheld
Delighted the repast, and eagerly
Relished its flavour ; then in gratitude,
And .admiration of the matchless art
Which thus had ministered to his appetite,
He cried : " For this, whatever thou desirest,
And I can give, is thine." Iblis was glad,
And, little anxious, had but one request
One unimportant wish it was to kiss
The monarch's naked shoulder a mere whim.
And promptly did Zohak comply, for he
Was unsuspicious still, and stripped himself,
Ready to gratify that simple wish.

Iblis then kissed the part with fiendish glee,
And vanished in an instant.

From the touch

Sprang two black serpents ! Then a tumult rose
Among the people, searching for Iblfs
Through all the palace, but they sought in vain.

To young and old it was a marvellous thing ;
The serpents writhed about as seeking food.
And learned men to see the wonder came,
And sage magicians tried to charm away
That dreadful evil, but no cure was found.

Some time afterwards Iblis .returned to Zohak, but in the
shape of a physician, and told him that it was according to his
own horoscope that he suffered in this manner it was, in short,
his destiny and that the serpents would continue connected
with him throughout his life, involving him in perpetual
misery. Zohdk sunk into despair, upon the assurance of there
being no remedy for him, but Iblis again roused him by saying,
that if the serpents Averc fed daily with human brains, which
would probably kill them, his life might be prolonged, and
made easy.


If life has any charm for thce,

The brain of man their food must be !

With the adoption of this deceitful stratagem, Iblis was
highly pleased, and congratulated himself upon the success of
his wicked exertions, thinking that in this manner a great
portion of the human race would be destroyed He was not
aware that his craft and cunning had no influence in the house
of God ; and that the descendants of Adam are continually

When the people of Ird,n and Turau heard that Zoluik kept
near him two devouring serpents, alarm and terror spread
everywhere, and so universal was the dread produced by this
intelligence, that the nobles of Persia were induced to abandon
their allegiance to Jemshid, and, turning through fear to
Zohak, confederated with the Arab troops against their own
country. Jemshid continued for some time to resist their
efforts, but was at last defeated, and became a wanderer on the
face of the earth.

To him existence was a burthen now,
The world a desert for Zohak had gained
The imperial crown, and from all acts and de^ds
Of royal import, razed out the very name
Of Jemshid hateful in the tyrant's eyes.


The Persian government having fallen into the hands of the
usurper, he sent his spies in every direction for the purpose of
getting possession of Jemshid wherever he might be found,
but their labour was not crowned with success. The \m-


fortunate wanderer, after experiencing numberless misfortune?,
at length took refuge in Zabulisttin.

Flying from place to place, through wilderness,
Wide plain, and mountain, veiled from human eyo,
Hungry and worn out with fatigue and sorrow,
He came to ZubuL

The king of Zabulistiin, whose name was Gureng, had a
daughter of extreme beauty. She was also remarkable for her
mental endowments, and was familiar with warlike exercises.

So graceful in her movements, and so sweet,
Her very look plucked from the breast of ago
The root of sorrow, her wine-sipping lips,
And mouth like sugar, checks all dimpled o'er
With smiles, and glowing as the summer rose
Won every heart.

This damsel, possessed of these beauties and charms, was
accustomed to dress herself in the warlike habiliments of a
man, and to combat with heroes. She was then only fifteen
years of age, but so accomplished in valour, judgment, and
discretion, that Minuchihr, who had in that year commenced
hostile operations against her father, was compelled to relin-
quish his pretensions, and submit to the gallantry which she
displayed on that occasion. Her father's realm was saved by
her magnanimity. Many kings were her suitors, but Giircng
would not give his consent to her marriage with any of them.
He only agreed that she should marry the sovereign whom she
might spontaneously love.

It must be love, and love alone,*
That binds thce to another's throne ;
In this my father has no voice,
Thine the election, thine the choice.

* Love at first sight, and of the most enthusiastic kind, is the passion
described in all Persian poems, as if a whole life of love were condensed into
one moment. It is all wild and rapturous. It has nothing of a rational
cast. A casual glance from an unknown beauty often affords the subject of
a poem. The poets whom Dr. Johnson has denominated metaphysical, such


The daughter of Giircng had a Kabul woman for her nurse,
who was deeply skilled in all sorts of magic and sorcery.

The old enchantress well could say,
What would befall on distant day ;
And by her art omnipotent,
Could from the watery element
Draw fire, and with her magic breath,
.Seal up a dragon's eyes in death.
Could from the flint-stone conjure dew ;
The moon and seven stars she knew ;
And of all things invisible
To human sight, this crone could tell.

a* Donne, Jonson, and Cowley, bear a strong resemblance to the Persians on
the subject of love.

Xnw, sure, within this twelvemonth past,
I've loved at least some twenty years or more ;
Tli' account of love runs much more fast,
Than that with which our life docs score :
So, though my life be short, yet I may pri >ve,
The Great Mcthusalem of love ! II


The odes of Hafiz also, with all their spirit and richness of expression, abound
in conceit and extravagant metaphor. There is, however, something very
beautiful in the passage which may be paraphrased thus :

Zephyr thro' thy locks is straying,
Stealing fragrance, charms displaying ;
Should it pass where Hatiz lies,
From his conscious dust would riso,
Flowrets of a thousand dyes !

Sir W. Jones, in quoting this distich, seems to have neglected the peculiar
turn of the thought, and has translated the second line, a hundred thousand
flowers will spring from the earth that HIDES ft is corse/ But the passage
implies that even the ashes of the Poet will still retain enough of sensibility
to be affected by the presence, or by any token, of his beloved. Cowley has
a similar notion, but he pursues and amplifies it till it becomes ridiculous.

'Tis well, 'tis well with them, say I,
Whose short-lived passions with themselves can die ;

Whatever parts of me remain,
Those parts will still the love of thce retain ;

My affection no more perish can,
Than the first matter that compounds a man !

Hereafter, if one dust of me,

Mix'd with another's substance be ;
'Twill leaven that whole lump with love of thce t

Let nature if she please, disperse
My atoms over all the universe ;

At the last they easily shall

Themselves know, and together call ;
For thy love, like a mark, is stampt on all ! ALL-OVER i ov*.


This Kabul sorceress had long before intimated to the
damsel that, conformably with her destiny, which had been
distinctly ascertained from the motions of the heavenly bodies,
she would, after a certain time, be married to king Jemshid,
and bear him a beautiful son. The damsel was overjoyed at
these tidings, and her father received them with equal pleasure,
refusing in consequence the solicitations of every other suitor.
Now according to the prophecy, Jemshid arrived at the city of
Zabul * in the spring season, when the roses were in bloom ;
and it so happened that the garden of king Gureng was in the
way, and also that his daughter was amusing herself at the
time in the garden. Jemshid proceeded in that direction, but
the keepers of the garden would not allow him to pass, and
therefore, fatigued and dispirited, he sat down by the garden-
door under the shade of a tree. Whilst he was sitting there
a slave-girl chanced to come out of the garden, and, observing
him, was surprised at his melancholy and forlorn condition.
She said to him involuntarily : " Who art thou ? " and Jemshid
raising up his eyes, replied : " I was once possessed of wealth
and lived in great affluence, but I am now abandoned by
fortune, and have come from a distant country. Would to
heaven I could be blessed with a few cups of wine, my fatigue
and affliction might then be relieved." The girl smiled, and
returned hastily to the princess, and told her that a young man,
wearied with travelling, was sitting at the garden gate, whose
countenance was more lovely even than that of her mistress,
and who requested to have a few cups of wine. When the
damsel heard such high praise of the stranger's features she

* Zabul, or Zabulistan, the name of a province, bordering on Hindustan,
which some place in the number of those now composing the country of Sind.
It abounds in rivers, forests, lakes, and mountains. It was also called
Rustemdar. The ancient Persians considered Zabulistan and Sistan, or
Segestan, as one principality, -where llustem usually resided with his family,
and which they held in appanage from the Kings of Persia. Segestan is the
Drangiana of the Greeks. It was formerly the residence of many Persian
Kings. One of its cities, Ghizni. produced the celebrated Mahmud, the
patron of Firdausi.


was exceedingly pleased, and said : " He asks only for wine,
but I will give him both wine and music, and a beautiful
mistress beside."

This saying, she repaired towards the gate,

In motion graceful as the waving cypress,

Attended by her hand-maid ; seeing him,

She thought he was a warrior of Iran

With spreading shoulders, and his loins well bound.

His visage pale as the pomegranate flower,

He looked like light in darkness. Warm emotions

Rose in her heart, and softly thus she spoke :

" Grief-broken stranger, rest thee underneath

These shady bowers ; if wine can make thee glad,

Enter this pleasant place, and drink thy fill."

Whilst the damsel was still speaking and inviting Jcrnshid
into the garden, he looked at her thoughtfully, and hesitated ;
and she said to him : " Why do you hesitate ? I am permitted
by my father to do what I please, and my heart is my own.

" Stranger, my father is the monarch mild
Of Zabulistan. and I his only child ;
On me is all his fond affection shown ;
My wish is his, on me he doats alone."

Jemshid had before heard of the character and renown of
this extraordinary damsel, yet he was not disposed to comply
with her entreaty ; but contemplating again her lovely face, his
heart became enamoured, when she took him by the hand and
led him along the beautiful walks.

. With dignity and elegance she passed
As moves the mountain partridge through the meads ;
Her tresses richly falling to her feet,
And filling with perfume the softened breeze.

In their promenade they arrived at the basin of a fountain,

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