Stories from the Shah-Nameh (ages 9-12)

The Mythical and Legendary History of Iran.

Firdowsi collected the legends of Iran which were passed down orally and collected them into a book called the Shah-Nameh (Story of Kings).

The Story of Kaiomers (Gaiomard)

According to Firdowsi there was a tribe of people who later became the Aryans. The first ruler of this tribe was Kaiomers, also called Gaiomard and the dynasty he started is called the Peshdadian Dynasty (Peshdad means to give the Law). This tribe lived in the mountains about 10,000 years ago. At that time the people lived by hunting and gathering. They did not know how to farm but they had herds of sheep and cattle and they moved from one place to another in search for food for themselves and their animals. They dressed in animal skins and used bows and arrows and spears which were tipped with stone tips. They did not know how to start a fire or to work with metals.

Kaiomers was a very intelligent person. He made laws for his tribe to follow so that they could work together for the common good. Because of these laws the tribe became prosperous. There were other tribes around them who became jealous and started to harass them. Kaiomers’s tribe called them diws (wicked people).

To get rid of the harassment by the Diws, Kaiomers asked his son Saiamukh to lead an army to fight the Diws. In this battle the Saiamukh was killed. Kaiomers was very sad. Saiamukh had a son, Housheng, before he was killed. When Hoosheng grew up he asked his grand-father Kaiomers to give him an army to fight the Diws and avenge his father. At first Kaiomers refused because he was afraid that Hoosheng might get killed also but finally gave him an army to fight the Diws. In this second battle Hoosheng defeated the Diws, killed many of them, including their leader and drove them out of the valley in which they lived.

Hoosheng became king, when Kaiomers died.

The start of Agriculture, working with metals occurred in Central Asia about 8000 years ago.

The Story of Hoosheng

In the time of Hoosheng there was peace and his people learned many useful arts.

One day when Hoosheng was out hunting he saw a large snake. He threw a big stone at the snake but missed the snake but hit another stone and sparks flew out and set fire to some dry leaves and the snake was burned to death. Hoosheng who was very clever realized that if he hit two stones together he could make sparks and if they fell on dry leaves, they would start burning. He taught his people this trick. They could now make fire whenever they wanted. They started to work with fire and discovered how to cook food and also to work with metals probably copper. The festival of Jashan of Sadeh remembers the discovery of making fire by king Hoosheng.

Hoosheng ruled for 40 years. His son Tehmurasp became king when Hoosheng died.

The Story of Tehmurasp

Tehmurasp was a wise king fond of learning. During his reign the people learned to spin and weave wool clothes and carpets. The Diws again started to make trouble and were trying to invade their valley. Tehmurasp collected his army and fought the Diws. He killed the leader of the Diws and captured the Diws and made them prisoners. Tehmurasp ordered them all killed. The Diws pleaded for mercy and promised to leave Tehmurasp’s tribe alone and to teach them the art of writing. Tehmurasp relented and let the Diws live. They became slaves of his people.

Writing appears in Central Asia about 6000 years ago.

Aryana Vaeja.

Let us learn about the land in which the Peshdadian people lived.

According to one of our books called the Vendidad, written in the Avesta language, King Jamshed, the fourth king of the Peshdadian Dynasty lived in Aryana-Vaeja. The Vendidad does not give the location of Aryana Vaeja but mentions the lands surrounding it. They are:

1) Sogdiana around Samarkand

2) Valleys of 3 rivers in Afghanistan a) Aurghab b) Harirud c) Helmand

3) Balkh in Afghanistan

4) Hyrcanea

5) Haraquiti River (Saraswati River). This river does not exist any more.

6) Hapta-Hindu (7 rivers of the Indus Valley).

The Vendidad also describes Aryan Vaeja as a cold place where summer was only two months long. The cold never left the water or the trees even in summer. It was a healthy land and people lived long lives, without much sickness. (Even today Hunzukuts who live in the Hunzu valley where the Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India come together, at an altitude of 7000 to 10,000 feet, live long lives to 100 years of age.)

We can guess that Ayana Vaeja was a high valley similar to the Hunzu valley and in that region.

The Story of Jamshid

We know about king Jamshid from two independent sources. He is mentioned in the second chapter of the Vendidad (one of our religious books) and also in the Shah Nameh. Jamshid’s father was Vivaongha. In the Shah Nameh King Jamshid is mentioned after King Tehmurasp.

It is said that Ahura-Mazda knowing about the destiny of Jamshid as a great ruler, asked him to teach his people, Ahura-Mazda’s religion. “Material wealth and prosperity you will bring to your people, O Jamshid, but that is not enough, you must teach them also the path of Righteousness, the Law of Asha, the Ashem Vohu and the Ahunavar.” Jamshid however did not consider himself a religious teacher and replied, “I am only a king, and I can not bring Your laws to mankind”. Ahura Mazda was disappointed but said, “If you will not bring My laws to mankind, then be the protector of mankind. Teach them how to take care of My Earth, so that it will flourish and mankind will be prosperous and multiply.” To this Jamshid promised. As a symbol of His special protection of Jamshid, Ahura Mazda gave him a golden plough (to bring prosperity) and a golden spear (to bring him victory in battle against the Diws).

It is said that Jamshid lived for about 900 years! During this long rule the Peshdadian people saw immense prosperity and their numbers increased. Year after year they cultivated more land, raised more cattle, irrigated more fields and spread outwards from Aryan-Vaeja. The Vendidad mentions two major outward migrations from Aryana-Vaeja to new lands in the first 700 years of his rule.

Aryana-Vaeja was a beautiful, prosperous and healthy country, but all was not perfect. There was one big problem; it was a cold, cold land. Only two months of the twelve were warm. The months of winter with short days, long, cold nights, the howling winds must have been a bad experience. Yet in the middle of winter, those who kept a watch on the rising and setting of the sun could see the promise of spring as they saw the days grow longer. Then would come a day when the day was as long as the night and this day when the sun appeared to have defeated the darkness of night, Jamshid proclaimed it to be the start of the New Year. They called it Navrooz (new day). Jamshid and his people celebrated it with a festival. Even today we celebrate the first day of spring as Jamshedi Navrooz. This is our true New Year’s Day. What a logical day to start the New Year. This day is the beginning of new life on earth. As the snow melts the streams flow again, the ground is unfrozen, the flowers and leaves come out and the long sleep of winter is over and life begins again. It is also a symbol of the victory of light (knowledge, goodness, righteousness) over darkness (ignorance, evil and deceit). This festival of Jamshedi Navrooz has been celebrated continuously by our fore-fathers for about 6000 years. It is one of our ties to our roots and to king Jamshid.

During Jamshid’s time the Peshdadian people who were a tribe, became a nation, they build cities and towns with high fortress walls around them. During winter, they protected their cattle from wind and wild animals by keeping them in walled enclosures.

For 700 years Jamshid ruled wisely and well and then a bad thing happened. The glory of his rule went to his head; he was filled with pride and forgot that it was the special protection (Khwarena) of Ahura-Mazda that was responsible for his glory. He boasted to the entire world about his own glory and forgot Ahura-Mazda. This displeased Ahura-Mazda and He took away the golden plough and the golden spear. The people did not trust the king any more.

Now at this time in a nearby land, a king named Zohak (also called Dahak) came to power. Zohak had been fooled by the Evil spirit and was an evil person. He was some kind of monster and it is said that a snake grew out of each of his shoulders and people were afraid of him. When the nobles at Jamshid’s court heard of this monster king, they were afraid. They did not think Jamshid could protect them and they decided to go over to Zohak’s side. Jamshid was left alone without help and had to give up his throne and run away.

For many years Jamshid wandered from one country to another, hiding from Zohak who wanted to kill him. One day he came to the country of Zabulistan and its capital city Zabul. Zabulistan was ruled by king Gureng. Gureng had a beautiful daughter who had been told by astrologers that she would marry king Jamshid. Jamshid was resting outside the royal gardens when the princess happened to see him and was attracted to him and asked him who he was. Jamshid was afraid to reveal his identity because of the danger from Zohak. He told the princess that he was a rich man who now had become poor. From the way he talked and behaved the princess was convinced that he was really king Jamshid and invited him to stay at the palace. They soon fell in love and finally Jamshid told the princess who he really was. Soon after, they were married.

All this time Gureng the king had been away. When he returned he found his beloved daughter married to a stranger and he was very angry. The princess then told her father who she was married to. Now Gureng was a crafty man. He wanted the reward that Zohak had promised to any one who would tell him where Jamshid was. Gureng sent a secret messenger to Zohak with the information. Zohak returned with a big army and took Jamshid prisoner. Zohak asked Jamshid how he wished to die. Jamshid answered that he did not care. Thereupon the wicked Zohak ordered Jamshid to be tied to a plank and cut him in two. Thus the life of Jamshid which began in greatness granted by Ahura-Mazda, ended in misery when the protection of Ahura-Mazda was taken away because of Jamshid’s false pride.

Zohak became the ruler of the Peshdadian people.

Zohak

The rule of Zohak was an unhappy time for the Peshdadian people. Zohak and his evil nobles ruled by tyranny instead of the rule of law established by the previous kings.

One day Zohak had a dream. He dreamt that he was attacked by three warriors. The youngest one hit him on the head with a club, put a rope round his neck and dragged him through the streets. Zohak woke up screaming. He asked his astrologers to explain the dream. When they figured out the meaning of Zohak’s dream they were afraid to tell him. After three days of excuses one of them picked up courage and told Zohak that a young man named Faridoon (as yet not born) would kill him because Zohak would have killed his father. From that day Zohak lived in fear of the unknown Faridoon.

Zohak ordered that every one of Jamshid’s family was to be hunted and killed. One of the family members was Abtin whose wife was Faranuk. One day Abtin was captured and killed. Faranuk escaped with her two month old son, Faridoon. Faranuk could not feed her son; her grief had dried up the milk in her breasts. A kindly shepherd offered to take care of Faridoon and fed him milk from his cow Purmaya. Faranuk ran away and hid in the mountains. After many years she came back and took her son Faridoon away with her. This was just in time because soon after, Zohak’s men heard about the shepherd and Faridoon. They came and killed the shepherd and the cow Purmaya, but Faridoon was nowhere to be found. When he was sixteen Faranuk told Faridoon how his father had been killed and about the explanation of Zohak’s dream. Faridoon determined to get rid of Zohak.

Kahvah the Blacksmith

Now, in the time of Zohak there lived a brave man who was a humble blacksmith. His name was Kavah. Remember the two snakes growing from Zohak’s shoulders? They had to be fed each day with the brains of two young men! One day the two sons of Kavah were selected to become food for the snakes. When Kavah learned of this he rushed into the court and standing before the king, asked him “What kind of a king are you? Unjust and cruel! Why should I and my children suffer because of the snakes growing on your shoulders?” Zohak was so surprised at Kavah’s anger that he ordered the two boys released and Kavah to be selected for his serpents. At this Kavah grew even angrier and calling the king a demon and his chiefs, demon worshippers and cowards, he walked out of court with his sons. Zohak who like all bullies was a coward was so frightened by this simple man that he could do nothing for a while.

Kavah escaped from the palace and fled. Wherever he got a chance, he gathered people around him and told them about the cruelty of Zohak, and asked them to rebel against Zohak. He told them about the prophecy of Zohak’s dream and kept on looking for Faridoon.

One day Faridoon and Kavah met. Together they planned against Zohak and collected a secret army. The people of Aryana-Vaeja gathered behind Faridoon when they came to know that he was of the royal family of Jamshid.

Kavah made a mace for Faridoon in the shape of a cow’s head; from his leather blacksmith’s apron he made a battle flag for the army. These two things became a symbol of Iranian royalty. Even today a replica of the cow-headed mace of Faridoon is kept in our Fire Temples as a symbolic instrument to fight off evil. The flag is still a symbol of ancient Iran in the Iran of today.

Faridoon’s army attacked Zohak’s capital city, while Zohak was away. They captured the city and Faridoon entered the palace and sat on the throne of Jamshid. When Zohak heard of this, he ordered his army to recapture the city. His soldiers on hearing that a relative of Jamshid was already on the throne of Jamshid deserted Zohak. Left alone he decided to kill Faridoon himself. He entered the palace quietly, but was discovered. Faridoon fought him and struck him senseless on the head with his mace. Instead of killing him right away, he imprisoned him in a cave in the mountains, where he died slowly. Faridoon became king of Aryana-Vaeja.

The cruel reign of Zohak was over. He was such a terrible person that even today after 5000 years we still call a ferocious and cruel person a zuhak.

Faridoon and his Three Sons

Faridoon became king of a vast country which included today’s northern Afghanistan, eastern Iran and parts of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan. He re-established the rule of law as in the time of Jamshid. The Peshdadian people were free of tyranny again after the long rule of Zohak and once again a Pesdadian sat on the throne of Jamshid.

Faridoon had three sons: Tur and Silim were from one mother and Iraj the youngest was from another. Iraj was Faridoon’s favorite son. When the three grew up to manhood, Faridoon decided to give up being king and he divided his kingdom into three parts. The lands north of the Amu River were given to Tur. The valleys of Afghanistan and Iran went to Iraj and the rest of the kingdom went to Silim. Faridoon stayed with his favorite son Iraj. The lands that Tur and Silim got were not as fertile as those that Iraj got. They became jealous of Iraj and wrote to Faridoon that they wanted a better distribution, otherwise they would got to war. When Iraj saw the letter he was very unhappy. He was sorry that his brothers were jealous. He asked Faridoon to divide up his own lands between the two of them. In the interest of brotherhood and peace he decided to go to Tur and Silim and make this offer himself.

When Iraj arrived at Tur’s place where Silim was also present he was well received at first. He behaved and looked as a good king and the soldiers of Silim and Tur began to admire him and called him the real king. Tur and Silim were scared and Tur killed Iraj. They cut off his head and sent it back to Faridoon. When Faridoon received this, his sorrow was immense; from that day on he lived only to get revenge for the death of Iraj.

Soon after Iraj’s death, his wife Mah-afrid gave birth to a daughter. When she grew up she was married to a noble named Pashung. They had a son named Minuchehr. Faridoon decided to name Minuchehr his heir and taught him all the arts of government and war. As soon as Minuchehr was 16 years old, Faridoon gave him a big army and told him to make war on Tur and Silim to avenge Iraj’s death. Tur and Silim tried to make peace and invited Minuchehr to their capital to talk peace. Faridoon remembered what had happened to Iraj and replied that the only way they would see Minuchehr would be at the head of a large army dressed in steel.

In the war that followed Minuchehr’s army led by Shahpur and Sirueh the sons of Kavah and Sam and Karun, the sons of Nariman defeated the army of Tur and Silim. Minuchehr himself killed Tur and Silim and he sent Tur’s head back to Faridoon to show that revenge had been taken.

Silim and Tur’ sons were allowed to rule their father’s lands. The land that had been Tur’s was now known as Turan, and the land which had belonged to Iraj was now known as Iran. Of Silim’s land we don’t know anything. In the future we will see that Iran and Turan became great enemies and many wars were fought between the two.

Soon after, Faridoon died at the age of 120 years. He left the young Minuchehr in the experienced and loyal care of his generals Nariman and Sam. The family of Nariman and Sam gave Iran great hero-soldiers, who protected Iran from many enemies including Turan.

The Heroes Sam and Zal

We must now leave the story of kings and look into the story of a family of heroes which became famous in the history of ancient Iran.

When Faridoon died the young Minuchehr was left in the loyal and experienced hands of the general Nariman and his son Sam. Both had fought with Minuchehr in the war against Silim and Tur.

In those days the kings of Iran ruled by dividing their kingdom into small vassal kingdoms, which were governed by loyal chiefs. From the Shah Nameh we learn of a few of these small vassal kingdoms in Minuchehr’s time. There was Turan ruled by Tur’s son, Kabulistan ruled by Mihrab (a descendent of Zohak!), Zabulistan ruled by Sam (Nariman seems to have died soon after Faridoon) and the kingdom ruled by Silim’s son. Kabulistan and Zabulistan were east of Iran and Turan was to the north of Iran across the Amu Darya (Oxus) river. The lands to the west of Iran were called Mazinderan and were inhabited by barbarians. This was Iran’s frontier, the barbarians were called Diws.

The vassal kingdoms were ruled quite independently by their chiefs who had to send a yearly tribute to the king in Iran, They also had to rule by Iranian law. The chiefs also supplied the king with armies during war time and had to fight against Iran’s enemies when the king asked them for help. In return the king protected them when they were attacked by enemies, and discouraged any fighting between the chiefs themselves.

When Nariman died his son Sam became chief of Zabulistan. One day a son was born to Nariman and his wife. He was a beautiful baby except that he was born with snow-white hair. When Sam saw this baby, all his joy at the news of his first born son was gone. He was afraid that this unusual child was the gift of the evil spirit and not of God. He decided to get rid of the baby and told his men to leave the baby whom he named Zal (the old one) in the desert at the foot of the mountains so that it would die. This was done. High in the sky a magical bird called the Simurgh saw the little baby lying unprotected in the desert, swooped down and took it to its nest. Instead of feeding the baby to its young, the Simurgh took care of him as if he was one of its own. Under the care of this magical bird Zal grew up to be a strong young man, running about in the mountains and hunting like a wild animal. Travelers once in a while glimpsed this strange creature and told stories about him in Zabulistan. Sam heard about this wild, white haired boy and realized that he was his own son. His fatherly feelings arose in him and he wanted the boy back with him. He prayed to God and asked his forgiveness.

Now the Simurgh came to know about the repentance of Sam. He told Zal who his father was and asked Zal to return to his father. Zal, who only knew the Simurgh as his father cried and refused to go. The Simurgh then told Zal that he would always love him and help him. He gave Zal a feather from his back and told Zal that if he ever needed help badly, he should burn the feather and the Simurgh would come to his help. Zal returned to his father Sam, who was overjoyed to have his son back. After taking him to see king Minuchehr, Sam made sure that Zal was taught all the arts of war and government.

Young Zal soon got tired of Zabulistan and decided to see the world. He traveled to Kabulistan, which was ruled by Mihrab. Just outside the capital he pitched his camp and Mihrab came to visit him. When he returned to his palace he described the young man to his wife Sindokht and his beautiful daughter Rudabeh. Rudabeh wanted to see this young man and told her maids to arrange a secret meeting. When they met, Zal and Rudabeh fell hopelessly in love with each other and decided to get married. On hearing the news, Mihrab was frightened. He was afraid that king Minuchehr would not like the idea of the marriage since Mihrab was a descendent of Zohak and would not give permission for the marriage. When Zal wrote to Sam, Sam was happy but told Zal to keep it a secret until Sam returned from fighting in Mazinderan, as he wanted to bring the news personally to Minuchehr. When the king got the news he was furious and asked Sam to wage war on Kabulistan and kill Mihrab. When Mihrab heard about this, he was so scared that he was about to kill Rudabeh. Sindokht however kept her mind and went to Sam with many presents and requested that the two lovers be allowed to marry. Sam agreed to make the king change his mind. He sent a letter to the king and made Zal carry it personally. In the letter he reminded the king of the services that his family had performed for the throne and of their loyalty and asked the king to give his permission so that Zal and Rudabeh could be happily married. Minuchehr finally relented, especially when his astrologers told him that the marriage would be good for Iran. So after a great deal of trouble the two lovers were married.

The Young Rustom

In the course of time, Rudabeh was ready to give birth to her first child. As her time drew near, she became very sick and the doctors feared that she would die. Zal was in deep sorrow, until he remembered the Simurghh’s promise. He brought out the feather and put it into the fire. Instantly the magic bird appeared before him. On learning about Rudabeh’s sickness, it gave the doctors instructions which they followed. Rudabeh became well and gave birth to a son whom they named Rustom.

Rustom was no ordinary child; at birth he was as big as a one year old, which probably explains the sickness of Rudabeh. He needed ten nurses to feed him. There was great joy in Zabulistan and Sam and Mihrab came to see their grandson. Now Rustom was a giant. At the age of three he rode on horse-back, at five he ate as much as a grown man and at eight he could fight and defeat any man. When he was ten years old, Zal took him to the neighboring province of Sistan, where Minuchihr kept his great white elephant. One night the elephant went mad and broke his chains and started destroying everything in sight. Rustom was awakened by the noise and rushed out, grabbing the mace of Nariman. When the guards tried to stop him, he pushed them back, killing one of them. He now faced the roaring elephant, raising his mace he roared back. The elephant turned round and Rustom hit him with such force, right between its eyes that the elephant died instantly.

When Zal learnt of this feat, he was amazed at his ten year old son. He decided to send the boy with an army to conquer a desert fort whose people had killed Nariman, Rustom’s great grand-father. This fort was self sufficient. They grew their own food and had their own water and were surrounded by a desert. It had strong walls and no army could place a siege on it for long because of the lack of water outside in the desert.

On the advice of Zal, Rustom dressed up as a salt merchant and took a caravan of camels loaded with bags of salt. Hidden in some of the bags were some of his best soldiers with their weapons. The people of the fort let Rustom and the caravan in, thinking he was just a merchant. During the day he sold salt and studied the fort. At night Rustom led his men to the house of the chieftain of the fort, but the noise woke up the garrison of the fort and all night Rustom and his men fought the soldiers from one house to another. Close to morning he entered the chieftain’s house and killed him. The people of the fort ran away and Rustom and his men looted the place, loaded the camels with all the gold and silver they could carry and went back to Zabulistan victorious.

King Nauder (Navzer, Nowzer)

Let us now go back to central Iran and king Minuchihr. He was now almost 120 years old. During his long reign there was peace and justice in Iran. Knowing his time was up he called his son Nauder and told him about his long life and the lessons he had learnt from it. He asked Nauder to rule with justice and if in trouble to ask the help of the heroes Sam, Zal and Rustom. When Nauder became king he did not listen to his father’s advice. He was unjust and greedy, raised the taxes on people and made their life miserable. His subjects complained to Sam in Zabulistan and asked him to get rid of Nauder and become king himself. Sam refused since he had promised Minuchihr to look after Nauder. He talked sternly to the young king and told him to mend his ways which Nauder did and peace came back to Iran.

Yet harm had been done. The chieftain of Turan, seeing that Iran was in near rebellion and had a weak king, attacked Iran with a large army under the young general Afrasyab. The Iranians fought the Turanians at a place called Dehistan and were defeated. Rustom was sick with small pox and could not join in the battle. Navder became a prisoner of Afrasyab and was killed by him. Navder’s two sons, Toos and Gushtahem were able to flee to Zabulistan and join Zal. Afrasyab attacked Zabulistan but was unable to capture Zabulistan. Only Zabulistan and Kabulistan were free, the rest of Iran was now ruled by Afrasyab the Turanian.

The Regency of Zal

Zal now had the duty to somehow overthrow the rule of Afrasyab over Iran. He needed a strong person to be king of Iran. His promise to Minuchihr that he would take care of Minuchihr’s family prevented himself from becoming king. Navder’s sons Toos and Gushtahem were too young and untrained. He looked for someone from the family of Faridoon. He found such a person in Silim’s grandson Zau and asked him to take the throne. Under Zau’s leadership, the Iranians were able to throw Afrasyab and his army out of Iran. Iran was again free of Turan, but Zau died after only five years on the throne and Zal had to look again for a King for Iran.

In the meantime, Rustom, Zal’s son was a full grown man. He was so huge that there was no horse that could bear his weight. Without a horse he could not go into battle so he and Zal looked all over for a strong horse. In Kabulistan they found a young colt that was so fierce and strong that no one had been able to mount him. Rustom because of his great strength and skill was able to tame him and ride him. He called the horse Rakush. Rustom and Rakush had many adventures together and we will learn about some of them.

Now with a good horse under him, the huge mace of Sam in his hands and all the skill of battle that Zal had taught him, Rustom became the commander in chief of the Iranian forces. He trained the Iranian army and prepared it for battle against Afrasyab because Afrasyab was again getting ready to attack Iran.

Zal’s search for a new king for Iran lead him to a chieftain called Kobad, who was from the family of Faridoon. He was known as a kind and just chieftain. Zal sent Rustom to bring Kobad to Zabulistan. He also got together a council of chieftains and they selected Kobad to be the king of Iran. He became Kai-Kobad (King-Kobad) the first king of the Kyanian Dynasty.

The Kyanian Dynasty

Kai-Kobad

As soon as Kai-Kobad became king he united the chieftains of Iran under him and proceeded to lead his army against the invading forces of Afrasyab. Once again the Iranians flying the banner of Kaveh, led by the generals Mihrab, Gushtahem, Karun and Rustom were ready to meet the army of Afrasyab.

This was Rustom’s first major battle. He singled out Afrasyab himself and fought against him. In the fight he threw Afrasyab from his horse and getting a grip on his belt dragged him as a prisoner towards Kai-Kobad. Unfortunately the belt broke and Afrasyab found himself free. Afrasyab’s men quickly surrounded him and pulled him away to safety, but not before Rustom had snatched the crown from Afrasyab’s head.

The Iranian army led by Rustom’s example fought valiantly. Rustom himself killed a large number of the enemy. At the end of the day the Turanians fled back towards the Oxus River and back into Turan.

Afrasyab had learnt his lesson. In Rustom he had met more than his match. As long as Rustom was around there was no way the Turanians could defeat Iran. He advised his father, Poshang to make peace with Iran. Poshang sent a messenger to Kai-Kobad with a letter which read: “Minuchihr took revenge against Tur and Silim for the death of Iraj, Afrasyab took revenge against that by killing Navder and now Rustom has put Afrasyab to shame. Let us live within the boundaries set by the wise Faridoon, long ago and not fight with each other. We are all of one family after all!”

Kai-Kobad received this letter and replied: “You know that Iran was not the first to wage war. Tur started it all when he killed the gentle Iraj. In our days it was your son who invaded Iran and killed Navder not on the battle field but in cold blood. Yet I do not seek vengeance, let the Oxus River be the boundary between Iran and Turan and let Afrasyab take a solemn oath never to cross it and disturb the Iranian people again. If you agree, then I will grant peace to Turan.”

Poshung whose army was in no condition to fight again readily agreed. However, Rustom who had just started his victorious career pointed out to the king that this was the time to conquer Turan, once and for all. Kai-Kobad wanted no more bloodshed and peace came to Iran and Turan.

Kai-Kobad ruled Iran well. He died leaving behind four sins, Kaus, Arish, Poshin and Aramin. After his death the eldest Kaus became king, Kai-Kaus, the second king of the Kyanian dynasty.

Kai Kaus

Iran was once again united and powerful when Kai-Kaus became king. However, Kai-Kaus was very adventurous and not very interested in the daily duties of being king. He was more interested in hunting and drinking and neglected government.

One day a foreigner came to his court who was a minstrel. He sang sweet songs to Kaus about his home country, Mazinderan. In his songs he described it as a beautiful country, full of gardens, orchards and rich people. The songs convinced Kaus that he must invade Mazinderan and make it part of his Iran. He asked his warrior chefs to get the army ready to invade Mazinderan. The chiefs had no intention of fighting in Mazinderan which they knew was an awful dangerous country from which very few people had returned safely. It was known to be inhabited by wild people. However they were afraid to tell that to the king so they asked Zal to convince Kaus not to fight in Mazinderan. Zal tried and failed and the army set off to Mazinderan.

At first the Iranians were very successful and they advanced rapidly into Mazinderan, killing a lot of innocent men women and children. Finally they came to the big city. It was a beautiful just as the minstrel had described and Kaus set up his camp outside to get ready to attack it. On the night before the attack a huge storm like a tornado or hurricane came up. There was thunder and lightning and flying sand and hail as big as foot balls. The men and the horses were terribly frightened, many horses and men ran away and others including Kai-Kaus were blinded by the flying sand. In the morning the storm was over. The king of Mazinderan sent his men out to round up the Iranians and took them all prisoners. Kai-Kaus had just enough time to find a messenger who was not blinded and told him to take the bad news to Zal.

Zal called Rustom and told him the bad news and asked him to go and save Kai-Kaus. Rustom pointed out that it took six months to go to Mazinderan from Zabulistan, whereupon Zal told him that that was the usual safe way, but there was another much shorter way that would take only a few weeks. This shorter way was very dangerous and there were all kinds of terrible animals and people on the way. Brave Rustom agreed to go by the short route and to travel alone. Rustom’s journey to Mazinderan is known as the Haft-Khan or the seven adventures (or trials) of Rustom.

The Haft-Khan or the seven trials of Rustom

1) Rustom armed himself with his spear, sword, battle-axe, bow and arrows, put on his mail and tiger-head helmet, got onto Rakush and started on the dangerous road to Mazinderan. One night he slept in a forest while Rakush stood guard over him. A big lion attacked the two. Most horses would have run away, but Rakush was not frightened, he attacked the lion with his strong legs and with a few good kicks to the lion’s head killed him. The noise of the fight woke Rustom and to his surprise saw a lion killed by his amazing horse. He first praised his horse but then told Rakush not to try a stunt like that again, because if by chance Rakush had been killed, there would have been no way for Rustom to go on to Mazinderan or even returned home.

2) A few days later Rustom and Rakush came to a great desert. As they passed through it, day after day, their water supply was finished and the hot sun beat upon them. Rakush could no longer carry Rustom and as they dragged themselves it seemed that the end of their lives was approaching soon. Now there was nothing more to do but kneel down and pray to God that a miracle might save them. As he finished praying and looked up he saw a sheep in the distance. Thanking God for his help he followed the sheep, knowing that where there are sheep there must be water. Soon they came to a small oasis where there was a little spring making a pool of water. Rustom and Rakush drank their fill and rested the night and next day went on their journey.

3) After the desert they came to forest and on e night they rested, Rustom slept while Rakush who like all horses slept lightly, kept guard. Out of the woods a huge snake crept towards Rustom. Rakush remembered that Rustom wanted to wake him up if there was danger and he started neighing and stomping his feet. Rustom woke up, but it was a dark night and the snake withdrew into the woods. Rustom was puzzled because he could not see anything. Scolding Rakush for disturbing him for no reason, he went back to sleep. Out crept the snake again, Rakush again made a noise and woke up Rustom. Again Rustom could see nothing and he threatened Rakush that if he lulled a joke like that again on him, he would beat him up. As soon as Rustom fell asleep the snake came out of the woods again. Rakush now was angry at Rustom and quite hurt but he woke up Rustom again. Rustom was about to hit Rakush when he saw a movement in the woods and realized the danger he was in, out came his sword and off went the snake’s ugly head. He embraced his dear Rakush and told him he was sorry and they both went to sleep for the rest of the night.

4) One evening as Rustom and Rakush passed through a desert they came to an oasis. To his surprise Rustom found a small fire waiting with warm food all ready to eat. Thanking God for the food he sat down to eat and drink. Finding a mandolin lying nearby he started to sing to his horse. To his surprise a beautiful woman appeared from nowhere and Rustom, thinking that God was really kind to him today, invited the woman to share the food and listen to his songs. After a while he asked her to join him in prayer when to his surprise the beautiful woman turned into an ugly witch. She was not sent by God but was the work of the evil spirit and had been sent to Rustom to make him give up his journey to Mazinderan. When Rustom saw this change he pulled out his sword and killed the witch.

5) A few days later the two adventurers came close to Mazinderan and one evening they found themselves in a field of corn. Rustom laid himself to sleep and Rakush seeing all that golden corn started to eat it. The keeper of the field came by and saw this strange horse eating away at his corn. He saw Rustom sleeping nearby and angrily woke him up. Now Rustom who hated to be woken up rudely, especially when he was so tired, jumped to his feet grabbed the poor keeper’s ears and pulled them off. The keeper went screaming and running to his master, a man named Aulad and told him about the wild man and his horse that were destroying the field of corn. Aulad gathered all his servants and told them to arm themselves and they attacked Rustom. All of Aulad’s men were no match for Rustom. As his battle ax and sword swung around one after another Aulad’s men died and Aulad himself was captured. Rustom threatened to kill him also unless he told him all about where King Kaus was kept prisoner. He also promised him that if he was faithful to Rustom and the Iranians he would be made governor of Mazinderan. Aulad had no choice and joined Rustom in his attempt to free Kai Kaus.

6) Rustom now learned from Aulad that Kai Kaus was not very well guarded in Mazinderan. He decided to go quietly into the city and see the blind king and the captive Iranians. Rustom was successful at this and when he met Kaus, the king was very happy. He told Rustom not to attack the king of Mazinderan until he had got rid of the White Diw and his army who were friends of the king of Mazinderan. These people lived in caves in the mountains surrounding the city. Again from Aulad Rustom learned that the Diws worked during the night and slept during the day. Rustom decided to attack them at noon when they were all asleep.

7) Rustom rode into the mountains and arrived at the caves of the Diws. At noon he hid Rakush safely and walked into the caves and started swinging his sword killing hundreds of the Diws many while they were still sleeping. Finally he came to the cave of the White Diw himself. He shouted at the White Diw to come out and fight. The White Div awakened from his sleep came rushing out. Not knowing that Rustom had already killed many of his men he asked Rustom: “Are you so tired of life that you dare enter my cave and rudely awaken me? Let me know your name so that I do not kill a nameless thing.”

At this Rustom replied: “I am Rustom of the family of Sam and Nariman.” When the White Diw heard this he was afraid since he had heard of the adventures of Sam and Nariman in Mazinderan, but he attacked Rustom anyway. The two fought for many hours and their strength was so equal that both thought that they would be killed by the other fellow. After many hours Rustom was finally able to pick up the White Diw and hurl him against the wall of the cave. The White Diw hit his head against the wall and fell senseless. Rustom cut his heart out and took it to King Kaus. When Kaus heard that the White Diw was dead he was so happy that he recovered his sight. Now Rustom freed all the Iranians and they found their weapons and armed themselves. With Rustom at their head they attacked the palace.

The battle for the palace of the king of Mazinderan was very bloody, but eventually the Iranians won. The king was killed; Rustom kept his promise and mad Aulad the governor of Mazinderan. They took all the jewels and precious stones they could carry and returned to Iran. Mazinderan now became a part of Iran for the first time.

Rustom received the highest honors from Kai Kaus and finally returned to his father Zal in Zabulistan.

The Further Adventures of Kai-Kaus

Soon after his return from Mazinderan, Kaus got tired of his capital city and went on a tour of his kingdom. In most parts of his kingdom he was well received but in Berberistan the chief rebelled and would not let him in. Kaus and his men subdued the rebellion and then went on to Zabulistan. There he was received with great joy. He spent many days hunting and enjoying the hospitality of Rustom and Zal, when he heard of the rebellion of the king of Hamaveran. Kaus went over there and subdued this king also. Kaus fell in love with the daughter of the king. Her name was Sudaveh. Though the king of Hamaveran did not want his daughter married to Kaus, he could not refuse especially since Sudaveh was eager to marry Kaus and the marriage took place.

The king of Hamaveran was not happy. He invited Kaus and Sudaveh to his city. Sudaveh saw through the plot and warned Kaus not to go, but Kaus loved to travel and accepted the invitation. For seven days and nights the king of Hamaveran treated his son-in-law as the royal guest he was, fed him the best of foods and wines, sat him on a magnificent throne etc. but on the eighth night the king’s men attacked Kaus and took him and his men prisoners. They were locked up in a fortress and guarded by many men. When Sudaveh pleaded with her father to free Kaus, he did not listen. When she told him that she preferred imprisonment to being separate from Kaus, he put her in the fortress also.

The Second Invasion of Iran by Afrasyab

When some of the chieftains who ruled their little vassal states under the king of Iran learned about the capture of Kai-Kaus, they broke away from Iran and became independent. Afrasyab in Turan saw his chance to conquer Iran now without a king. He gathered a large army, invaded Iran and conquered in three months. Only Zabulistan was still free and like before it was the only safe place for the Iranians. When Rustom learned what had happened to Kaus, he rushed with his army to Hamaveran. The king of Hamaveran asked the help of two adjoining kingdoms for help however, their combined armies were no match for Rustom and his men. Rustom captured all three kings. The king of Hamaveran begged for peace and promised to free Kai-Kaus. Since he had still to fight Afrasayab and his dangerous army, he promised freedom to the three kings if they would swear allegiance to the Iranian king and fight against Afrasayab.

The combined Iranian army fought the Turanians and defeated them. Like before Rustom and Afrasayab fought personally and again Afrasayab was no match for Rustom. The defeated Turanians fled to their home across the Oxus River. Iran was again peaceful. In gratitude Kai-Kaus bestowed the title of Champion of the World on Rustom.

Kaus now used his energies to build palaces and cities and for a while he ruled wisely like a good king.

Kai-Kaus and his Flying Machine

One day a some one with mischief in his heart, pointed out to Kaus that though he was a great king he could not fly up to the heavens and learn about the stars, the moon and the sun. Kaus decided to build himself a flying machine!

He first chose four young eagles and fed them and exercised them until they grew up strong. He then built a very light chair on a square wood platform. At each corner he stuck a javelin and at the top of the Javelins he stuck a piece of goat meat. At the bottom of each javelin he tied an eagle to the platform. As soon as the hungry eagles saw the goat meat, they flapped their wings and tried to fly to the meat, raising the platform with the chair and Kaus on it, into the air.

For a while the eagles soared into the sky and took Kaus away into a desert area. After a few hours the eagles got tired and unable to fly anymore they dumped the king and his contraption onto the ground. Kaus wandered around hungry and alone for many days. Again Rustom and the other heroes Tus and Gudarez had to go searching for their crazy king. When they found him, Gudarez the oldest of the heroes told the king that he was only fit for the mad house and not the throne of Iran. At this Kaus was ashamed and promised not to start any new crazy adventures.

The Story of Rustom and Sohrab

One day Rustom decided to go hunting all by himself. He dressed up in his armor filled his quiver with bows and arrows and set out on his horse towards Samangan which was on the border with Turan. There he hunted down a few wild asses and made himself a huge meal of a whole roasted wild ass. He drank some water from the river and fell asleep. Some Turanian knights passing by saw Rakush and decided to capture this magnificent horse. Rakush put up a great fight killing two of the men with his kicks and biting the head of a third man but finally a lasso got him round his neck and he was captured and dragged away towards Samangan.

When Rustom woke he looked for his horse and could not see Rakush. He looked for his foot prints and weighed down by his armor and the saddle and bridle of Rakush, started following Rakush’s foot steps. As he approached Samangan the news of his arrival reached the king. The king and his nobles went out to welcome him. Rustom told them how he had lost his horse and threatened them that if Rakush was not found soon, some heads would roll. The king assured him that no one could hide Rakush for long and he would be found soon and the mean time Rustom should enjoy the king’s hospitality. That evening Rustom enjoyed himself at the party the king threw for him and finally went to bed.

In the middle of the night a beautiful women came into his bed room. Rustom woke up and asked who she was. She replied that she was the king’s daughter Tahminah and that she had fallen in love with him and wanted to marry him and promised him that if he agreed she would make sure that Rakush would be returned to him. Rustom was overjoyed and agreed. Soon they were married and after a few days Rakush was returned to Rustom. A few days later Rustom decided to go back to Zabulistan. Instead of taking Tahminah along he gave her an amulet and told her that if she got a daughter she should put it in the girl’s hair always and if she got a boy to tie it around the boy’s arm always.

Rustom went away never to return to Samangan! Tahminah gave birth to a beautiful strong boy whom she named Sohrab. Rustom inquired by letter to Tahminah if they had a boy or girl child. Tahminah afraid that if Rustom knew that it was a boy he would take him away, replied that it was a girl. Learning this Rustom seems to have lost interest in his family. Sohrab grew up to be as tall and strong as Rustom. One day he asked his mother who his father was. Tahminah told him that his father was the great Iranian hero Rustom. Sohrab was very happy and decided that he should invade Iran and get rid of the king and make Rustom his father the king of Iran. Then the two would conquer Turan and he would become king of Turan and there would be peace for ever. He told his grandfather about his decision. The king of Samangan gave him his army. When Afrasyab learned that Sohrab was preparing to fight against Iran he gave him his best soldiers. He told his generals to make sure that Sohrab never knew which of the Iranian warriors was Rustom. Afrasyab was planning that Sohrab should fight Rustom in the battle. If Sohrab killed Rustom then Afrasyab could conquer Iran and if Rustom killed Sohrab he would be so upset that he would not fight any more.

When the Iranians heard of this new army from Samangan and Turan approaching, they got together their own army under the generals Toos, Gev and Rustom and the two armies lined up on the battlefield. The Iranians were curious as to who this new young leader of the Turanians was and Rustom decided to sneak into the Turanian camp to find out. Rustom managed to take a good look at Sohrab and was surprised to find the Sohrab looked exactly like his own grandfather Sam.

The next morning Sohrab went to a hill from where he could see the Iranian camp and asked one of the Turanian generals Hajeer to point out the heroes in the Iranian army. Hajeer pointed out all of them but when he came to Rustom he lied to Sohrab that he must be the new ally from China. Sohrab when he saw Rustom in the Iranian camp was almost sure that the person he saw was Rustom but because of Hajeer’s lie he could not confirm it.

Sohrab then challenged the Iranians to a one on one fight with him. Only Rustom took up the challenge. As Rustom and Sohrab met in battle away from the rest of the soldiers, Sohrab asked Rustom who he was and if he was of the family of Zal and Nariman. Rustom afraid that if he was killed in the fight, Sohrab would have the pleasure of knowing that he had killed the greatest soldier of Iran, said he was really nobody, just an ordinary Iranian soldier. The two began to fight. They fought all day with spears and swords and mace and lasso but neither could defeat the other. At nightfall they decided to fight the next morning and went back to their camps, exhausted.

The next day they decided to wrestle. For hours they wrestled and none could throw the other until at the end of the day, Sohrab managed to throw Rustom to the ground. Stepping over him he pulled out his dagger to kill Rustom. Desperate Rustom told the young warrior that it not customary to kill the opponent after the first throw and young Sohrab listened to this trick and let Rustom go. After some rest they started the second bout. Rustom was able to throw Sohrab down and pulling out his dagger plunged it into his son’s chest.

As Sohrab lay dying he lamented that all his life he wanted to meet his father Rustom and now he would not be able to do so. When Rustom heard this he almost fainted and asked Sohrab if he had any proof of being Rustom’s son. Sohrab showed him the amulet that Rustom had given to Tahminah many years ago which was on his arm. Rustom now convinced, wanted to kill himself but the dying Sohrab convinced him that he had already committed a great sin and he should not make it worse by killing himself. Rustom took his sons head in his lap and Sohrab died in a short while.

When the Turanians and Iranians learned of the terrible events of the day, they gave up the war and returned home. Rustom and the Iranians took Sohrab’s body to Zabulistan for burial. When the news of Sohrab’s death reached his mother she died from grief. So ends this great tragedy caused by lies!

The story of Saiawush

One day the warriors Tus and Giw, while on a hunting trip, came across a beautiful woman who had run away from her father. Her father was a noble man but wanted her to marry a man she did not like. Both Tus and Giw wanted to marry her and they started quarreling. After a while they decided to take the girl to Kai-Kaus and let him decide who should marry her. When Kai-Kaus saw the girl’s beauty, he decided to solve the problem by marrying her himself! In due course they had a son who was named Saiawush. This was the first born son of Kai-Kaus.

Kaus wanted Saiawush to succeed him to the throne and to train him for war and government, he was sent to Zabulistan so that Rustom could be his teacher. When Saiawush was 14 years old he was returned to the court of Kai-Kaus. Now Kaus’ first wife Sudaveh fell in love with Saiawush, who was her stepson and tried in many ways to seduce him. Saiawush was in a very difficult position and tried his best to get away from her.

Suddenly news came that Afrasyab of Turan had collected an army and was about to attack Iran. Saiawush asked his father to be allowed to lead the army against Afrasyab. On Rustom’s advice Kaus agreed and this was a good opportunity for Saiawush to get away from the clutches of Sudaveh. Saiawush and the Iranians fought the Turanian army near Balkh (the city still exists in Afghanistan). In the first battle the Turanians were defeated. At this time Afrasyab had a dream in which he was told that it would be the end of Turan and himself if the war continued. He immediately asked Saiawush for peace. Saiawush agreed on the condition that 100 Turanian warriors be given as hostages. They would be killed if Turan attacked Iran again. Afrasyab agreed to this and Saiawush sent a message of the end of the war to Kai-Kaus. Now Kai-Kaus had also heard of Afrasyab’s dream and he wanted the war to continue. Saiawush refused, since he had already signed a peace treaty and with Afrsyab and could not go back on his word. Thereupon Tus was given an army to go and continue the war and bring back the disobedient Saiawush to the court. Saiawush was upset and angry with his father’s lack of trust in him. He decided to leave Iran and join Afrasyab. The other Iranian warriors tried to persuade him not to do this but they failed. Afrasyab was very eager to have Saiawush the son of the Iranian king at his court.

Now Afrasyab treated Saiawush very well and even started to like him because of his honesty and straightforwardness. The two became friends. The Turanian noble saw this friendship and became jealous. At first Afrasyab did not listen to the lies of his nobles against Saiawush and even married his daughter Ferangis to him. The Turanian nobles kept on plotting and by many lies and tricks persuaded Afrasyab that Saiawush was a danger to Turan and eventually would bring the downfall of Afrasyab. Afrasyab had Saiawush imprisoned and then had him killed, in spite of the pleading of his own daughter Ferangis. His mind was so poisoned that he wanted to kill Ferangis also, when he found out that she was going to give birth to a child.

Piran one of the wise nobles of Afrasyab persuaded him that he should not commit such a terrible crime and sin. He told Afrasyab that he would keep Ferangis at his own fort in the mountains so that he would not have to see her. Afrasyab agreed on the condition that when the child was born it would be sent to him.

A son was born to Ferangis and according to the wish of Saiawush he was named Khosrow. Piran however did not send the child to Afrasyab, because he knew that Afrasyab would have killed him, instead he sent Ferangis and Khosrow to a distant place. Afrasyab was angry at Piran but Piran told him that he had done this so that Afrasyab would not commit the crime of killing his own grandson.

When the news of the death of Saiawush reached Kai-Kaus, he determined to revenge the death and save his grandson Khosrow and bring him to Iran. He sent Rustom and the Iranian army to fight Turan. In the battle the son of Afrasyab, Sarkha was taken prisoner. He was killed and his head was sent to Kaus.

The Iranians then went in search of Khosrow. The warrior Gudarz dreamt that only his son Giw would be able to find Khosrow and Giw was sent to hind Khosrow all by himself.

After a long adventurous search Giw found Khosrow and Ferangis. He did this just in time because Afrasyab also had sent a search party to find Khosrow as he wanted to kill him in revenge for the death of his son Sarkha. Giw was able to bring back Ferangis and Khosrow to Iran after many adventures and brave deeds.

There was great rejoicing in Iran when Khosrow was brought back to Iran. All the Iranian nobles looked upon him as the successor to Kaus. Tus however refused to regard Khosrow as the successor and favored another son of Kaus by the name of Fiburz who had been looked upon as the successor until then. Kaus decided to test Fiburz and Khosrow. He gave them both an army and told them to conquer an enemy fort which no one had conquered yet. Fiburz attacked first but there was a ring of fire around the fort which he and his army could not penetrate. Many warriors died but Fiburz could not find a way into the fort.

Now it was Khosrow’s turn. When he saw the ring of fire he realized that it was the work of the evil spirit. He wrote the name of God on an arrow and shot it into the flames. The flames died down instantly and his warriors were able to attack the fort and destroy it. Khosrow having won the test was declared successor to Kai-Kaus.

Kai Khosrow

Soon after Khosrow was declared heir to the throne, Kaus gave up the throne as he was getting very old. Khosrov now became Kai-Khosrov.

Kai-Khosrov wanted to take revenge against Afrasyab for killing his father Saiawush. He asked his generals to gather an army and attack Turan. The army was led by Gudarz, Gustahem, Tus and young Byzun the son of Giw. It was a long battle in which the Iranian army first lost very badly. Afrasyab had the help of the king of China and also the king of India. Seeing these very strong forces facing him, Kai-Khosrov asked the help of Rustom. It was only after Rustom entered the battle that the Iranians were able to defeat Afrasyab and his allies. Afrasyab had to run away to a remote part of Turan and the Iranians were in control of a large part of Turan. They plundered Turan and took away its riches to Iran.

The Story of Byzun and Manijeh

One day the people of the distant province of Arman asked Kai-Khosrow to help them from a great calamity. Arman was over-run by wild boars and they were destroying all the fields and orchards. Kai-Khosrow asked his nobles to see what could be done about this and a young noble by the name of Byzun offered to go and get rid of the boars. The king sent him accompanied by an experienced warrior named Girgin.

Byzun spent many days hunting the wild boars and killed hundreds of them. He also found out that they lived in a particular forest from which they came out to destroy the fields, so he burned down the forest destroying most of the wild boars. He now collected all the tusks of the dead boars and decided to send them off to Kai-Khosrow to show him how well he had done the job. This made Girgin jealous and he decided to get rid of Byzun. He told him about Manijeh, the beautiful daughter of Afrasyab who came every spring to a nearby place. Byzun was determined to see this princess. He forgot all about the boar tusks and went off to find the meadow where Girgin had said he could find Manijeh.

After a few days they reached the meadows and Byzun and Manijeh saw each other and it was love at first sight. Since Afrasyab was not around Manijeh was free and she and Byzun spent many days together until it was time for both to return to their duties. Not wanting to part with Byzun, Manijeh had him drugged and while he was unconscious she had him taken to her palace. There she hid him from all the Turanians except for her own loyal servants. However, soon everyone knew about the princess’ Iranian lover.

When Afrasyab learnt of this he was angry and felt betrayed by his daughter who had taken an Iranian lover while keeping it secret from her father. He decided to kill them both. Now wise old Piran interceded and told him not to make the mistake of killing his own daughter. Afrasyab relented but he had Byzun imprisoned in a cave and he shut the mouth of the cave with a huge rock, and he drove Manijeh out of the palace. Manijeh spent her days and nights outside the cave, passing whatever food and water she could find to Byzun through a small crack between the rock and the mouth of the cave.

Now Girgin finding that Byzun had not returned from his meeting with Manijeh began to feel guilty and afraid. He had to return to Kai-Khosrov’s court without Byzun. When he was asked what had happened to Byzun, he told them a tall story. He said that one day a beautiful elk had come out of the forest and when Byzun tried to lasso it, as soon as the lasso touched the elk, the elk and Byzun disappeared in a cloud of smoke, never to be seen again. The warrior Giw refused to believe this story and beat Girgin up until he told the truth. When Kai-Khosrov learned of this he asked Rustom to go and save Byzun.

Rustom disguised himself as a merchant and with many camels and horses went to Turan. When Manijeh heard of this large caravan from Iran she hurried to it asked to speak with the leader. She asked Rustom if the news of Byzun’s imprisonment had reached Iran. Rustom pretended that he was only a merchant and did not know anything about this. Poor Manijeh sadly walked away, Rustom became curious and asked her why she was asking such a question. She told him the whole sad story. Rustom then brought out a cooked fowl and placed his signature ring inside it and told Manijeh to give the fowl to Byzun. When Byzun found the ring in his chicken he was overjoyed and told Manijeh that the caravan leader must be Rustom and to go back to him and ask him what to do.

Rustom told her to light a fire near the cave at night to identify it. In the middle of the night, Rustom and a few men went to the cave and freed Byzun. They then stole into the palace and attacked Afrasyab who had to run away. Rustom and his men stole all the jewels from the palace and went back to Iran with Byzun and Manijeh. Byzun and Manijeh were happily married in Iran.

The Death of Afrasyab

Afrasyab had been forced to flee to a remote part of Turan when he was defeated by the Iranian army. That was not the end of him. As soon as Kai-Khosrov and his men went back to Iran, Afrasyab started to collect an army. He placed the army under the leadership of Human and old Piran. Kai-Khosrov sent his army under Gudarz to fight the Turanians and in the battle both Piran and Human were killed. Afrasyab then sent his son Shydah to Kai-Khosrov to ask for peace. He instructed Shydah to challenge the king to a personal fight if peace was refused. Kai-khosrov was tired of Afrasyab and wanted to get rid of him once and for all and he refused the peace offer. Shydah challenged him as his father had instructed him. Kai-Khosrov agreed to the challenge and they fought and Shydah was killed. When Afrasyab heard about his son’s death he attacked Iran again. Again he was defeated. Kai-Khosrov and his men pursued him month after month, from one province to another. Afrasyab was now a hunted man, with the Iranians always on his tail. Finally he hid himself in a cave and lived there for a few months like a beggar. Even there he was discovered and captured and taken to Kai-Khosrov who had him beheaded in the same way as Saiawush had been beheaded by Afrasyab.

The Death of Kai-Khosrov

After the death of Afrasyab, Kai-Khosrov got tired of government and decided to give up the throne. He appointed Kai-Kaus’s son in law, Lohurasp to the throne of Iran and lived a life of religious meditation. However his generals and his friends who had fought so many wars at his side would not live him alone and tried to bring him back to the throne. One day Khosrov had a dream in which he saw himself walk into a fountain and disappear from the world. He started on a journey to find the fountain. He wanted to travel alone but his friends would not let him and joined him on the journey. After many days he found the fountain he had seen in his dream. He told his friends to leave immediately because a violent storm would soon come and kill them if they did not. Only Gudarz listened to him and turned back. Tus Fiburz and Giw decided to stay on. Presently Khosrov said goodbye to his friends and walked into the fountain, as the waters fell on him he disappeared never to be seen by any one. His friends were in deep sorrow and decided to spend the night there in spite of Khosrov’s warning. As they slept a violent snow storm came up and buried them under and they all died.

Kai-Lohurasp

Kai-Lohurasp was a good choice to succeed Kai-Khosrov. He had a very peaceful reign. Afrasyab was now dead and Turan was quiet. Kai-Lohurasp was a kindly man who did not care for war. During his reign he looked after the welfare of his people and tried to remove poverty from the land. Kai-Lohurasp had two sons Vistaspa and Zarir. Vistaspa was of a very independent nature and wanted to make a name for himself. Against the wishes of his father he collected an army and went to fight in the Indus Valley. Kai-Lohurasp sent Zarir after him to convince him to come back. Vistaspa agreed to come back if Kai-Lohurasp would agree to make him heir to the throne. Zarir promised to speak to Kai-Lohurasp on Vistaspa’s behalf and they returned home to Iran. However, Kai-Lohurasp did not want to make such an important decision just to please Vistaspa and refused to name him the heir. Vistaspa was disappointed and left Iran and traveled west.

He came to a small kingdom and settled there for some time. There he married the daughter of the king and became a great military leader. So great was his prowess that the king of this small country decided to attack Iran with Vistaspa as the head of the army.

When Kai-Lohurasp learned of the approaching army led by his own son, he sent a messenger to ask Vistaspa to come back to Iran in peace and take the throne. Kai-Lohurasp who had become tired of being king became a holly man and lived a life of prayer and meditation. Vistaspa became the next king of Iran.

Leave a Reply