Jamshid and Zuhak part 9

I fear some secret bond between fortune and him, but it is better to fling ourselves into battle than to delay here.” Thus he spoke, and, giving rein to his spirited horse, he raised his club and rushed like a flame past the wardens of the gate and into the palace. He dashed to the ground a talisman which Zuhak had set up against him, and struck ‘down all that offered resistance; he placed his foot upon the throne of Zuhak, seized the royal crown, and took his place.

A servant of Zuhak saw what had happened, and mounting a swift horse brought the tale to his master: “O king of a proud people, there are tokens that portend the fall of your fortunes. Three heroes have come from a strange land with an army. The youngest remains always between the two elder, his stature is that of a prince, his face that of a king. He carries a mighty club like a great rock, and he has seated himself upon the throne.”

Zuhak, in great haste, prepared to return with an army of

Jamshid and Zuhak part 8

Give me back this one, my only son; think how my heart will burn with grief, the whole length of my life. What crime have I committed? Even tyranny must have a pretext, and I am an innocent man, a blacksmith. You must render count to me for what you have done, and the world will be astonished thereby. It will see, by the account you will render to me, what my lot on earth has been, and how I have been compelled to give my sons to feed your serpents.”

The king looked harshly upon him on hearing these words, gave back the man’s son, and strove to soothe him with words. Lastly he asked Kawa to sign the declaration of the nobles, but he, trembling with rage, tore and trampled on it and emerged shouting with a mighty anger.

The crowd in the market-place gathered round him, and to them and the whole world he appealed to aid him in obtaining justice. He took off the apron which blacksmiths wear, tied it to a lance and marched through the bazaars crying: “Illustri

Jamshid and Zuhak part 7

“What reason has he for hating me?” cried out the impure Zuhak.

“Because his father will die at your hands.”

The king heard and thought on this, fell from his throne, and swooned away. When his senses returned to him, he mounted again upon his throne and sent out searchers, both secret and public, to seek for traces of Faridun. He sought no rest or sleep or food, and bright day became gloomy to him.

Thus passed a long space of time, while the serpent-man remained prey to his terror. Faridun was born, and the lot of the whole world was thereby destined to change. The youth grew up like a cypress, and he was resplendent with all the glory of majesty. He was like the shining sun, as needful to the world as rain, ah adornment to the mind like knowledge. Zuhak filled the earth with sound and fury, searching everywhere for Faridun son of Abtin. The earth became straitened for Abtin, who fled and struggled; but he was finally caught in the lion’s net

Jamshid and Zuhak part 6

“Perhaps, if you reveal it,” said Arnawaz, “we may find a remedy, for no ill exists that has not its remedy.” The king was persuaded by this, and told what he had seen in his dream. “This is not a matter that you may neglect,” exclaimed the queen on hearing it. “Summon from every country the sages that can read the stars, examine all sources, and seek thus to learn the secret. Discover what he is whose hand threatens you; man, div, or peri; and when you know, then immediately apply your remedy.” And the king approved the counsel of this silver swan.

The world, plunged in night, was black as a raven’s wing; suddenly light dawned upon the mountains as though the sun had scattered rubies upon the azure of the firmament. Wherever there were wise counselors the king sought them out and assembled them in his palace, where he told the whole company of his trouble, and sought their advice.

Hesitating for three days

The lips of the noblemen

Jamshid and Zuhak part 5

Jamshid fled before him, and for a hundred years was seen by no man, till Zuhak fell upon him without warning in the confines of China and put him to death. Thus perished his pride from the earth.

For a thousand years Zuhak occupied the throne and the world sub-mitted to him, so that goodness died away and was replaced by evil. Every night during that long period two youths were slain to provide the serpents’ food. Now in the king’s country there remained two men of purity, of Persian race, the one Irmail the Pious, and the other Girmail the Clear-sighted. It happened that they met one day and talked of many matters great and small; of the unjust king, of his army, and of his horrible custom.

Preparation of the king’s meal

The one said: “We ought, by the art of the kitchen, to introduce ourselves into the king’s household and apply our wits to saving the unfortunates who lose their lives each day.” Setting to work, they learned the art of

Jamshid and Zuhak part 4

Zuhak was pleased and commended his cook, who said, “To-morrow I will prepare for your Majesty a dish than which nought is more perfect.” And the next day, when the blue dome of heaven was lighted by the red ruby of the sun, he prepared a dish of partridge and of silver pheasant, which the Arab ruler ate; and thus he abandoned his imprudent mind to the power of Iblis, who, on the third day, placed upon the table a mixture of birds and lambs’ flesh. On thefourth day, when the meal was brought, the king feasted on the flesh of a young calf seasoned with rose-water, old wine, and pure musk.

The meal filled him with delight at the skill of bis cook, and, summoning him, he said, “Think what it is that you desire, and ask it of me.” Iblis replied, “I have but one request to make of the king (may he live prosperous forever), but that is an honor too great for me; it is that I may be permitted to kiss his shoulders and to touch them with my eyes and face.”

Jamshid and Zuhak part 3

“First,” said Iblis, “you must swear an oath not to reveal my secrets to any man.” “I swear,” said Zuhak, “and I will do everything you tell me.” “Then,” said Iblis to him, “why should there be any other man but you, illustrious prince, in the palace? Of what use is a father when he has a son like you? Take his throne, for it belongs to you, and if you follow my counsel, you will be a great king on the earth.”

When Zuhak heard this he pondered long, for he loved his father. He said: “I cannot do it. Tell me something else, for that is not possible.” Iblis replied in fury, “If you do not carry out my commands and if you break the oath you swore to me, my bonds will remain attached to your neck for ever.” Zuhak submitted, and said: “How am I to bring this about?”

“I, Iblis, will prepare the means, and raise you to the sun. You have but to keep silence.”

Arab king awoke

Now the king had around his palace

Jamshid and Zuhak part 2

The present version of Jamshid and Zuhak, a single episode from The Book of the Kings, is from the translation by Reuben Levy, M.A., copyrighted in 1923 by the Oxford University Press, by whose permission it is here reprinted.

Jamshid And Zuhak

In the days when the world was young, there was a king who, from his capital in Iran, ruled the earth for seven hundred years. His name was Jamshid, and he was indeed a mighty monarch, for men and divs and birds and peris all obeyed him. The world grew prosperous under him, for he said: “I will prevent evildoers from working ill, and will guide all men aright.”

For fifty years he concerned himself with weapons of war, to open the path to glory for the valiant, and made helmets and lances and coats of mail. Then he turned to the making of garments for his people. He prepared stuffs of linen, of wool, of beaver skins and of rich brocade, and taught the people how to weave; and when the material was ready he s

Jamshid and Zuhak part 1

Persia

Introduction

The short story in Persia had its origin among the wandering story-tellers, who sometimes invented their plots (so far as any one ever invents a plot), but more commonly borrowed them from the extensive store of legends or folk-tales, Semitic or Mohammedan in origin. No story-teller’s repertory was complete unless it included tales of treasure or of love. The motive of these characteristic stories was extremely simple: one set out to amass a fortune, either by cunning or outright theft; or else one pursued some woman who was acclaimed as the perfection of maidenly beauty. In any event, the hero almost invariably succeeded in his quest and lived happy ever after.

The obstacles in the way of achievement, whether the quest was treasure or a beautiful woman, formed the basis of the story, and when these were of a super-natural character the teller excelled in the invention of particularly ingenious obstacles. The introduction of s