Persian Literature, Volume 1,Comprising The Shah Nameh, The
Part 5 out of 9
something kingly in thy countenance. But let me again examine thee!" The
youth, at this request, removed his garments, and Giw beheld that mark
on his body which was the heritage of the race of Kai-kobad. Upon this
discovery he rejoiced, and congratulating himself and the young prince
on the success of his mission, related to him the purpose for which he
had come. Kai-khosrau was soon mounted on horseback, and Giw accompanied
him respectfully on foot. They, in the first instance, pursued their way
towards the abode of Ferangis, his mother. The persons sent by
Piran-wisah did not arrive at the place where Kai-khosrau had been kept
till long after Giw and the prince departed; and then they were told
that a Persian horseman had come and carried off the youth, upon which
they immediately returned, and communicated to Piran what had occurred.
Ferangis, in recovering her son, mentioned to Giw, with the fondness of
a mother, the absolute necessity of going on without delay, and pointed
out to him the meadow in which some of Afrasiyab's horses were to be met
with, particularly one called Behzad, which once belonged to Saiawush,
and which her father had kept in good condition for his own riding. Giw,
therefore, went to the meadow, and throwing his kamund, secured Behzad
and another horse; and all three being thus accommodated, hastily
proceeded on their journey towards Iran.
Tidings of the escape of Kai-khosrau having reached Afrasiyab, he
despatched Kulbad with three hundred horsemen after him; and so rapid
were his movements that he overtook the fugitives in the vicinity of
Bulgharia. Khosrau and his mother were asleep, but Giw being awake, and
seeing an armed force evidently in pursuit of his party, boldly put on
his armor, mounted Behzad, and before the enemy came up, advanced to the
charge. He attacked the horsemen furiously with sword, and mace, for he
had heard the prophecy, which declared that Kai-khosrau was destined to
be the king of kings, and therefore he braved the direst peril with
confidence, and the certainty of success. It was this feeling which
enabled him to perform such a prodigy of valor, in putting Kulbad and
his three hundred horsemen to the rout. They all fled defeated, and
dispersed precipitately before him. After this surprising victory, he
returned to the halting place, and told Kai-khosrau what he had done.
The prince was disappointed at not having been awakened to participate
in the exploit, but Giw said, "I did not wish to disturb thy sweet
slumbers unnecessarily. It was thy good fortune and prosperous star,
however, which made me triumph over the enemy." The three travellers
then resuming their journey:
Through dreary track, and pathless waste,
And wood and wild, their way they traced.
The return of the defeated Kulbad excited the greatest indignation in
the breast of Piran. "What! three hundred soldiers to fly from the valor
of one man! Had Giw possessed even the activity and might of Rustem and
Sam, such a shameful discomfiture could scarcely have happened." Saying
this, he ordered the whole force under his command to be got ready, and
set off himself to overtake and intercept the fugitives, who, fatigued
with the toilsome march, were only able to proceed one stage in the day.
Piran, therefore, who travelled at the rate of one hundred leagues a
day, overtook them before they had passed through Bulgharia. Ferangis,
who saw the enemy's banner floating in the air, knew that it belonged to
Piran, and instantly awoke the two young men from sleep. Upon this
occasion, Khosrau insisted on acting his part, instead of being left
ignominiously idle; but Giw was still resolute and determined to
preserve him from all risk, at the peril of his own life. "Thou art
destined to be the king of the world; thou art yet young, and a novice,
and hast never known the toils of war; Heaven forbid that any misfortune
should befall thee: indeed, whilst I live, I will never suffer thee to
go into battle!" Khosrau then proposed to give him assistance; but Giw
said he wanted no assistance, not even from Rustem; "for," he added, "in
art and strength we are equal, having frequently tried our skill
together." Rustem had given his daughter in marriage to Giw, he himself
being married to Giw's sister. "Be of good cheer," resumed he, "get upon
some high place, and witness the battle between us.
"Fortune will still from Heaven descend,
The god of victory is my friend."
As soon as he took the field, Piran thus addressed him: "Thou hast once,
singly, defeated three hundred of my soldiers; thou shalt now see what
punishment awaits thee at my hands.
"For should a warrior be a rock of steel,
A thousand ants, gathered on every side,
In time will make him but a heap of dust."
In reply, Giw said to Piran, "I am the man who bound thy two women, and
sent them from China to Persia--Rustem and I are the same in battle.
Thou knowest, when he encountered a thousand horsemen, what was the
result, and what he accomplished! Thou wilt find me the same: is not a
lion enough to overthrow a thousand kids?
"If but a man survive of thy proud host,
Brand me with coward--say I'm not a warrior.
Already have I triumphed o'er Kulbad,
And now I'll take thee prisoner, yea, alive!
And send thee to Kaus--there thou wilt be
Slain to avenge the death of Saiawush;
Turan shall perish, and Afrasiyab,
And every earthly hope extinguished quite."
Hearing this awful threat, Piran turned pale
And shook with terror--trembling like a reed;
And saying: "Go, I will not fight with thee!"
But Giw asked fiercely: "Why?" And on he rushed
Against the foe, who fled--but 'twas in vain.
The kamund round the old man's neck was thrown,
And he was taken captive. Then his troops
Showered their sharp arrows on triumphant Giw,
To free their master, who was quickly brought
Before Kai-khosrau, and the kamund placed
Within his royal hands. This service done,
Giw sped against the Tartars, and full soon
Defeated and dispersed them.
On his return, Giw expressed his astonishment that Piran was still
alive; when Ferangis interposed, and weeping, said how much she had been
indebted to his interposition and the most active humanity on various
occasions, and particularly in saving herself and Kai-khosrau from the
wrath of Afrasiyab after the death of Saiawush. "If," said she, "after
so much generosity he has committed one fault, let it be forgiven.
"Let not the man of many virtues die,
For being guilty of one trifling error.
Let not the friend who nobly saved my life,
And more, the dearer life of Kai-khosrau,
Suffer from us. O, he must never, never,
Feel the sharp pang of foul ingratitude,
From a true prince of the Kaianian race."
But Giw paused, and said, "I have sworn to crimson the earth with his
blood, and I must not pass from my oath." Khosrau then suggested to him
to pierce the lobes of Piran's ears, and drop the blood on the ground to
stain it, in order that he might not depart from his word; and this
humane fraud was accordingly committed. Khosrau further interceded; and
instead of being sent a captive to Kaus, the good old man was set at
When the particulars of this event were described to Afrasiyab by
Piran-wisah, he was exceedingly sorrowful, and lamented deeply that
Kai-khosrau had so successfully effected his escape. But he had recourse
to a further expedient, and sent instructions to all the ferrymen of the
Jihun, with a minute description of the three travellers, to prevent
their passing that river, announcing at the same time that he himself
was in pursuit of them. Not a moment was lost in preparing his army for
the march, and he moved forward with the utmost expedition, night and
day. At the period when Giw arrived on the banks of the Jihun, the
stream was very rapid and formidable, and he requested the ferrymen to
produce their certificates to show themselves equal to their duty. They
pretended that their certificates were lost, but demanded for their fare
the black horse upon which Giw rode. Giw replied, that he could not part
with his favorite horse; and they rejoined, "Then give us the damsel who
accompanies you." Giw answered, and said, "This is not a damsel, but the
mother of that youth!"--"Then," observed they, "give us the youth's
crown." But Giw told them that he could not comply with their demand;
yet he was ready to reward them with money to any extent. The
pertinacious ferrymen, who were not anxious for money, then demanded his
armor, and this was also refused; and such was their independence or
their effrontery, that they replied, "If not one of these four things
you are disposed to grant, cross the river as best you may." Giw
whispered to Kai-khosrau, and told him that there was no time for delay.
"When Kavah, the blacksmith," said he, "rescued thy great ancestor,
Feridun, he passed the stream in his armor without impediment; and why
should we, in a cause of equal glory, hesitate for a moment?" Under the
inspiring influence of an auspicious omen, and confiding in the
protection of the Almighty, Kai-khosrau at once impelled his foaming
horse into the river; his mother, Ferangis, followed with equal
intrepidity, and then Giw; and notwithstanding the perilous passage,
they all successfully overcame the boiling surge, and landed in safety,
to the utter amazement of the ferrymen, who of course had expected they
would be drowned,
It so happened that at the moment they touched the shore, Afrasiyab with
his army arrived, and had the mortification to see the fugitives on the
other bank, beyond his reach. His wonder was equal to his
"What spirits must they have to brave
The terrors of that boiling wave--
With steed and harness, riding o'er
The billows to the further shore."
It was a cheering sight, they say,
To see how well they kept their way,
How Ferangis impelled her horse
Across that awful torrent's course,
Guiding him with heroic hand,
To reach unhurt the friendly strand.
Afrasiyab continued for some time mute with astonishment and vexation,
and when he recovered, ordered the ferrymen to get ready their boats to
pass him over the river; but Human dissuaded him from that measure,
saying that they could only convey a few troops, and they would
doubtless be received by a large force of the enemy on the other side.
At these words, Afrasiyab seemed to devour his own blood with grief and
indignation, and immediately retracing his steps, returned to Turan.
As soon as Giw entered within the boundary of the Persian empire, he
poured out thanksgivings to God for his protection, and sent
intelligence to Kaus of the safe arrival of the party in his dominions.
The king rejoiced exceedingly, and appointed an honorary deputation
under the direction of Gudarz, to meet the young prince on the road. On
first seeing him, the king moved forward to receive him; and weeping
affectionately, kissed his eyes and face, and had a throne prepared for
him exactly like his own, upon which he seated him; and calling the
nobles and warriors of the land together, commanded them to obey him.
All readily promised their allegiance, excepting Tus, who left the court
in disgust, and repairing forthwith to the house of Friburz, one of the
sons of Kaus, told him that he would only pay homage and obedience to
him, and not to the infant whom Giw had just brought out of a desert.
Next day the great men and leaders were again assembled to declare
publicly by an official act their fealty to Kai-khosrau, and Tus was
also invited to the banquet, which was held on the occasion, but he
refused to go. Giw was deputed to repeat the invitation; and he then
said, "I shall pay homage to Friburz, as the heir to the throne, and to
"For is he not the son of Kai-kaus,
And worthy of the regal crown and throne?
I want not any of the race of Poshang--
None of the proud Turanian dynasty--
Fruitless has been thy peril, Giw, to bring
A silly child among us, to defraud
The rightful prince of his inheritance!"
Giw, in reply, vindicated the character and attainments of Khosrau, but
Tus was not to be appeased. He therefore returned to his father and
communicated to him what had occurred. Gudarz was roused to great wrath
by this resistance to the will of the king, and at once took twelve
thousand men and his seventy-eight kinsmen, together with Giw, and
proceeded to support his cause by force of arms. Tus, apprised of his
intentions, prepared to meet him, but was reluctant to commit himself by
engaging in a civil war, and said, internally:--
"If I unsheath the sword of strife,
Numbers on either side will fall,
I would not sacrifice the life
Of one who owns my sovereign's thrall.
"My country would abhor the deed,
And may I never see the hour
When Persia's sons are doomed to bleed,
But when opposed to foreign power.
"The cause must be both good and true,
And if their blood in war must flow,
Will it not seem of brighter hue,
When shed to crush the Tartar foe?"
Possessing these sentiments, Tus sent an envoy to Gudarz, suggesting the
suspension of any hostile proceedings until information on the subject
had been first communicated to the king. Kaus was extremely displeased
with Gudarz for his precipitancy and folly, and directed both him and
Tus to repair immediately to court. Tus there said frankly, "I now owe
honor and allegiance to king Kaus; but should he happen to lay aside the
throne and the diadem, my obedience and loyalty will be due to Friburz
his heir, and not to a stranger." To this, Gudarz replied, "Saiawush was
the eldest son of the king, and unjustly murdered, and therefore it
becomes his majesty to appease and rejoice the soul of the deceased, by
putting Kai-khosrau in his place. Kai-khosrau, like Feridun, is worthy
of empire; all the nobles of the land are of this opinion, excepting
thyself, which must arise from ignorance and vanity.
"From Nauder certainly thou are descended,
Not from a stranger, not from foreign loins;
But though thy ancestor was wise and mighty
Art thou of equal merit? No, not thou!
Regarding Khosrau, thou hast neither shown
Reason nor sense--but most surprising folly!"
To this contemptuous speech, Tus thus replied:
"Ungenerous warrior! wherefore thus employ
Such scornful words to me? Who art thou, pray!
Who, but the low descendant of a blacksmith?
No Khosrau claims thee for his son, no chief
Of noble blood; whilst I can truly boast
Kindred to princes of the highest worth,
And merit not to be obscured by thee!"
To him then Gudarz: "Hear me for this once,
Then shut thy ears for ever. Need I blush
To be the kinsman of the glorious Kavah?
It is my humour to be proud of him.
Although he was a blacksmith--that same man,
Who, when the world could still boast of valour,
Tore up the name-roll of the fiend Zohak,
And gave the Persians freedom from the fangs
Of the devouring serpents. He it was,
Who raised the banner, and proclaimed aloud,
Freedom for Persia! Need I blush for him?
To him the empire owes its greatest blessing,
The prosperous rule of virtuous Feridun."
Tus wrathfully rejoined: "Old man! thy arrow
May pierce an anvil--mine can pierce the heart
Of the Kaf mountain! If thy mace can break
A rock asunder--mine can strike the sun!"
The anger of the two heroes beginning to exceed all proper bounds, Kaus
commanded silence; when Gudarz came forward, and asked permission to say
one word more: "Call Khosrau and Friburz before thee, and decide
impartially between them which is the most worthy of sovereignty--let
the wisest and the bravest only be thy successor to the throne of
Persia." Kaus replied:
"The father has no choice among his children,
He loves them all alike--his only care
Is to prevent disunion; to preserve
Brotherly kindness and respect among them."
After a pause, he requested the attendance of Friburz and Khosrau, and
told them that there was a demon-fortress in the vicinity of his
dominions called Bahmen, from which fire was continually issuing. "Go,
each of you," said he, "against this fortress, supported by an army with
which you shall each be equally provided, and the conqueror shall be the
sovereign of Persia." Friburz was not sorry to hear of this probationary
scheme, and only solicited to be sent first on the expedition. He and
Tus looked upon the task as perfectly easy, and promised to be back
triumphant in a short time.
But when the army reached that awful fort,
The ground seemed all in flames on every side;
One universal fire raged round and round,
And the hot wind was like the scorching breath
Which issues from red furnaces, where spirits
Infernal dwell. Full many a warrior brave,
And many a soldier perished in that heat,
Consumed to ashes. Nearer to the fort
Advancing, they beheld it in mid-air,
But not a living thing--nor gate, nor door;
Yet they remained one week, hoping to find
Some hidden inlet, suffering cruel loss
Hour after hour--but none could they descry.
At length, despairing, they returned, worn out,
Scorched, and half-dead with watching, care, and toil.
And thus Friburz and Tus, discomfited
And sad, appeared before the Persian king.
Then was it Khosrau's turn, and him Kaus
Despatched with Giw, and Gudarz, and the troops
Appointed for that enterprise, and blessed them.
When the young prince approached the destined scene
Of his exploit, he saw the blazing fort
Reddening the sky and earth, and well he knew
This was the work of sorcery, the spell
Of demon-spirits. In a heavenly dream,
He had been taught how to destroy the charms
Of fell magicians, and defy their power,
Though by the devil, the devil himself, sustained,
He wrote the name of God, and piously
Bound it upon his javelin's point, and pressed
Fearlessly forward, showing it on high;
And Giw displayed it on the magic walls
Of that proud fortress--breathing forth a prayer
Craving the aid of the Almighty arm;
When suddenly the red fires died away,
And all the world was darkness, Khosrau's troops
Following the orders of their prince, then shot
Thick clouds of arrows from ten thousand bows,
In the direction of the enchanted tower.
The arrows fell like rain, and quickly slew
A host of demons--presently bright light
Dispelled the gloom, and as the mist rolled off
In sulphury circles, the surviving fiends
Were seen in rapid flight; the fortress, too,
Distinctly shone, and its prodigious gate,
Through which the conquerors passed. Great wealth they found,
And having sacked the place, Khosrau erected
A lofty temple, to commemorate
His name and victory there, then back returned
Triumphantly to gladden king Kaus,
Whose heart expanded at the joyous news.
The result of Kai-khosrau's expedition against the enchanted castle,
compared with that of Friburz, was sufficient of itself to establish the
former in the king's estimation, and accordingly it was announced to the
princes and nobles and warriors of the land, that he should succeed to
the throne, and be crowned on a fortunate day. A short time afterwards
the coronation took place with great pomp and splendor; and Khosrau
conducted himself towards men of every rank and station with such
perfect kindness and benevolence, that he gained the affections of all
and never failed daily to pay a visit to his grandfather Kaus, and to
familiarize himself with the affairs of the kingdom which he was
destined to govern.
Justice he spread with equal hand,
Rooting oppression from the land;
And every desert, wood, and wild,
With early cultivation smiled;
And every plain, with verdure clad,
And every Persian heart was glad.
The tidings of Khosrau's accession to the throne were received at Sistan
by Zal and Rustem with heartfelt pleasure, and they forthwith hastened
to court with rich presents, to pay him their homage, and congratulate
him on the occasion of his elevation. The heroes were met on the road
with suitable honors, and Khosrau embracing Rustem affectionately, lost
no time in asking for his assistance in taking vengeance for the death
of Saiawush. The request was no sooner made than granted, and the
champion having delivered his presents, then proceeded with his father
Zal to wait upon Kaus, who prepared a royal banquet, and entertained
Khosrau and them in the most sumptuous manner. It was there agreed to
march a large army against Afrasiyab; and all the warriors zealously
came forward with their best services, except Zal, who on account of his
age requested to remain tranquilly in his own province. Khosrau said to
"The throne can yield no happiness for me,
Nor can I sleep the sleep of health and joy
Till I have been revenged on that destroyer.
The tyrant of Turan; to please the spirit
Of my poor butchered father."
Kaus, on delivering over to him the imperial army, made him acquainted
with the character and merits of every individual of importance. He
appointed Friburz, and a hundred warriors, who were the prince's friends
and relatives, to situations of trust and command, and Tus was among
them. Gudarz and his seventy-eight sons and grandsons were placed on the
right, and Gustahem, the brother of Tus, with an immense levy on the
left. There were also close to Khosrau's person, in the centre of the
hosts, thirty-three warriors of the race of Poshang, and a separate
guard under Byzun.
In their progress Khosrau said to Friburz and Tus, "Ferud, who is my
brother, has built a strong fort in Bokhara, called Kullab, which stands
on the way to the enemy, and there he resides with his mother,
Gulshaher. Let him not be molested, for he is also the son of Saiawush,
but pass on one side of his possessions." Friburz did pass on one side
as requested; but Tus, not liking to proceed by the way of the desert,
and preferring a cultivated and pleasant country, went directly on
through the places which led to the very fort in question. When Ferud
was informed of the approach of Tus with an armed force, he naturally
concluded that he was coming to fight him, and consequently determined
to oppose his progress. Tus, however, sent Riu, his son-in-law, to
explain to Ferud that he had no quarrel or business with him, and only
wished to pass peaceably through his province; but Ferud thought this
was merely an idle pretext, and proceeding to hostilities, Riu was
killed by him in the conflict that ensued. Tus, upon being informed of
this result, drew up his army, and besieged the fort into which Ferud
had precipitately retired. When Ferud, however, found that Tus himself
was in the field, he sallied forth from his fastness, and assailed him
with his bow and arrows. One of the darts struck and killed the horse of
Tus, and tumbled his rider to the ground. Upon this occurrence Giw
rushed forward in the hopes of capturing the prince; but it so happened
that he was unhorsed in the same way. Byzun, the son of Giw, seeing with
great indignation this signal overthrow, wished to be revenged on the
victor; and though his father endeavored to restrain him, nothing could
control his wrath. He sprung speedily forward to fulfil his menace, but
by the bravery and expertness of Ferud, his horse was killed, and he too
was thrown headlong from his saddle. Unsubdued, however, he rose upon
his feet, and invited his antagonist to single combat. In consequence of
this challenge, they fought a short time with spears till Ferud deemed
it advisable to retire into his fort, from the lofty walls of which he
cast down so many stones, that Byzun was desperately wounded, and
compelled to leave the place. When he informed Tus of the misfortune
which had befallen him, that warrior vowed that on the following day not
a man should remain alive in the fort. The mother of Ferud, who was the
daughter of Wisah, had at this period a dream which informed her that
the fortress had taken fire, and that the whole of the inhabitants had
been consumed to death. This dream she communicated to Ferud, who said
"Mother! I have no dread of death;
What is there in this vital breath?
My sire was wounded, and he died;
And fate may lay me by his side!
Was ever man immortal?--never!
We cannot, mother, live for ever.
Mine be the task in life to claim
In war a bright and spotless name.
What boots it to be pale with fear,
And dread each grief that waits us here?
Protected by the power divine,
Our lot is written--why repine?"
Tus, according to his threat, attacked the fort, and burst open the
gates. Ferud defended himself with great valor against Byzun; and whilst
they were engaged in deadly battle, Bahram, the hero, sprang up from his
ambuscade, and striking furiously upon the head of Ferud, killed that
unfortunate youth on the spot. The mother, the beautiful Gulshaher,
seeing what had befallen her son, rushed out of the fort in a state of
frenzy, and flying to him, clasped him in her arms in an agony of grief.
Unable to survive his loss, she plunged a dagger in her own breast, and
died at his feet. The Persians then burst open the gates, and plundered
the city. Bahram, when he saw what had been done, reproached Tus with
being the cause of this melancholy tragedy, and asked him what account
he would give of his conduct to Kai-khosrau. Tus was extremely
concerned, and remaining three days at that place, erected a lofty
monument to the memory of the unfortunate youth, and scented it with
musk and camphor. He then pushed forward his army to attack another
fort. That fort gave way, the commandant being killed in the attack; and
he then hastened on toward Afrasiyab, who had ordered Nizad with thirty
thousand horsemen to meet him. Byzun distinguished himself in the
contest which followed, but would have fallen into the hands of the
enemy if he had not been rescued by his men, and conveyed from the field
of battle. Afrasiyab pushed forward another force of forty thousand
horsemen under Piran-wisah, who suffered considerable loss in an
engagement with Giw; and in consequence fell back for the purpose of
retrieving himself by a shubkhun, or night attack. The resolution proved
to be a good one; for when night came on, the Persians were found off
their guard, many of them being intoxicated, and the havoc and
destruction committed among them by the Tartars was dreadful. The
survivors were in a miserable state of despondency, but it was not till
morning dawned that Tus beheld the full extent of his defeat and the
ruin that surrounded him. When Kai-khosrau heard of this heavy reverse,
he wrote to Friburz, saying, "I warned Tus not to proceed by the way of
Kullab, because my brother and his mother dwelt in that place, and their
residence ought to have been kept sacred. He has not only despised my
orders, but he has cruelly occasioned the untimely death of both. Let
him be bound, and sent to me a prisoner, and do thou assume the command
of the army." Friburz accordingly placed Tus in confinement, and sent
him to Khosrau, who received and treated him with reproaches and wrath,
and consigned him to a dungeon. He then wrote to Piran, reproaching him
for resorting to a night attack so unworthy of a brave man, and
challenging him to resume the battle with him. Piran said that he would
meet him after the lapse of a month, and at the expiration of that
period both armies were opposed to each other. The contest commenced
with arrows, then swords, and then with javelins; and Giw and Byzun were
the foremost in bearing down the warriors of the enemy, who suffered so
severely that they turned aside to attack Friburz, against whom they
hoped to be more successful. The assault which they made was
overwhelming, and vast numbers were slain, so that Friburz, finding
himself driven to extremity, was obliged to shelter himself and his
remaining troops on the skirts of a mountain. In the meantime Gudarz and
Giw determined to keep their ground or perish, and sent Byzun to Friburz
to desire him to join them, or if that was impracticable, to save the
imperial banner by despatching it to their care. To this message,
Friburz replied: "The traitors are triumphant over me on every side, and
I cannot go, nor will I give up the imperial banner, but tell Gudarz to
come to my aid." Upon receiving this answer, Byzun struck the
standard-bearer dead, and snatching up the Derafsh Gavahni, conveyed it
to Gudarz, who, raising it on high, directed his troops against the
enemy; and so impetuous was the charge, that the carnage on both sides
was prodigious. Only eight of the sons of Gudarz remained alive, seventy
of his kindred having been slain on that day, and many of the family of
Kaus were also killed. Nor did the relations of Afrasiyab and Piran
suffer in a less degree, nine hundred of them, warriors and cavaliers,
were sent out of the world; yet victory remained with the Turanians.
When Afrasiyab was informed of the result of this battle, he sent
presents and honorary dresses to his officers, saying, "We must not be
contented with this triumph; you have yet to obscure the martial glory
of Rustem and Khosrau." Piran replied, "No doubt that object will be
accomplished with equal facility."
After the defeat of the Persian army, Friburz retired under the cover of
night, and at length arrived at the court of Khosrau, who was afflicted
with the deepest sorrow, both on account of his loss in battle and the
death of his brother Ferud. Rustem was now as usual applied to for the
purpose of consoling the king, and extricating the empire from its
present misfortunes. Khosrau was induced to liberate Tus from his
confinement, and requested Rustem to head the army against Piran, but
Tus offered his services, and the champion observed, "He is fully
competent to oppose the arms of Piran; but if Afrasiyab takes the field,
I will myself instantly follow to the war." Khosrau accordingly deputed
Tus and Gudarz with a large army, and the two hostile powers were soon
placed in opposition to each other. It is said that they were engaged
seven days and nights, and that on the eighth Human came forward, and
challenged several warriors to fight singly, all of whom he successively
slew. He then called upon Tus, but Gudarz not permitting him to accept
the challenge, sent Giw in his stead. The combatants met; and after
being wounded and exhausted by their struggles for mastery, each
returned to his own post. The armies again engaged with arrows, and
again the carnage was great, but the battle remained undecided.
Piran had now recourse to supernatural agency, and sent Baru, a renowned
magician, perfect in his art, upon the neighboring mountains, to involve
them in darkness, and produce by his conjuration tempestuous showers of
snow and hail. He ordered him to direct all their intense severity
against the enemy, and to avoid giving any annoyance to the Turanian
army. Accordingly when Human and Piran-wisah made their attack, they had
the co-operation of the elements, and the consequence was a desperate
overthrow of the Persian army.
So dreadful was the carnage, that the plain
Was crimsoned with the blood of warriors slain.
In this extremity, Tus and Gudarz piously put up a prayer to God,
earnestly soliciting protection from the horrors with which they were
O Thou! the clement, the compassionate,
We are thy servants, succor our distress,
And save us from the sorcery that now
Yields triumph to the foe. In thee alone
We place our trust; graciously hear our prayer!
Scarcely had this petition been uttered, when a mysterious person
appeared to Reham from the invisible world, and pointed to the mountain
from whence the tempest descended. Reham immediately attended to the
sign, and galloped forward to the mountain, where he discovered the
magician upon its summit, deeply engaged in incantations and witchcraft.
Forthwith he drew his sword and cut off this wizard's arms. Suddenly a
whirlwind arose, which dissipated the utter darkness that prevailed; and
then nothing remained of the preternatural gloom, not a particle of the
hail or snow was to be seen: Reham, however, brought him down from the
mountain and after presenting him before Tus, put an end to his wicked
existence. The armies were now on a more equal footing: they beheld more
clearly the ravages that had been committed by each, and each had great
need of rest. They accordingly retired till the following day, and then
again opposed each other with renewed vigor and animosity. But fortune
would not smile on the exertions of the Persian hosts, they being
obliged to fall back upon the mountain Hamawun, and in the fortress
situated there Tus deposited all his sick and wounded, continuing
himself in advance to ensure their protection. Piran seeing this,
ordered his troops to besiege the place where Tus had posted himself.
This was objected to by Human, but Piran was resolved upon the measure,
and had several conflicts with the enemy without obtaining any advantage
over them. In the mountain-fortress there happened to be wells of water
and abundance of grain and provisions, so that the Persians were in no
danger of being reduced by starvation. Khosrau, however, being informed
of their situation, sent Rustem, accompanied by Friburz, to their
assistance, and they were both welcomed, and received with rejoicing,
and cordial satisfaction. The fortress gates were thrown open, and
Rustem was presently seen seated upon a throne in the public hall,
deliberating on the state of affairs, surrounded by the most
distinguished leaders of the army.
In the meanwhile Piran-wisah had written to Afrasiyab, informing him
that he had reduced the Persian army to great distress, had forced them
to take refuge in a mountain fort, and requested a further reinforcement
to complete the victory, and make them all prisoners. Afrasiyab in
consequence despatched three illustrious confederates from different
regions. There was Shinkul of Sugsar, the Khakan of Chin, whose crown
was the starry heavens, and Kamus of Kushan, a hero of high renown and
wondrous in every deed.
For when he frowned, the air grew freezing cold;
And when he smiled, the genial spring showered down
Roses and hyacinths, and all was brightness!
Piran went first to pay a visit to Kamus, to whom he, almost trembling,
described the amazing strength and courage of Rustem: but Kamus was too
powerful to express alarm; on the contrary, he said:
"Is praise like this to Rustem due?
And what, if all thou say'st be true?
Are his large limbs of iron made?
Will they resist my trenchant blade?
His head may now his shoulders grace,
But will it long retain its place?
Let me but meet him in the fight,
And thou shalt see Kamus's might!"
Piran's spirits rose at this bold speech, and encouraged by its effects,
he repaired to the Khakan of Chin, with whom he settled the necessary
arrangements for commencing battle on the following day. Early in the
morning the different armies under Kamus, the Khakan, and Piran-wisah,
were drawn out, and Rustem was also prepared with the troops under his
command for the impending conflict. He saw that the force arrayed
against him was prodigious, and most tremendous in aspect; and offering
a prayer to the Creator, he plunged into the battle.
'Twas at mid-day the strife began,
With steed to steed and man to man;
The clouds of dust which rolled on high,
Threw darkness o'er the earth and sky.
Each soldier on the other rushed,
And every blade with crimson blushed;
And valiant hearts were trod upon,
Like sand beneath the horse's feet,
And when the warrior's life was gone,
His mail became his winding sheet.
The first leader who advanced conspicuously from among the Tartar army
was Ushkabus, against whom Reham boldly opposed himself; but after a
short conflict, in which he had some difficulty in defending his life
from the assaults of his antagonist, he thought it prudent to retire.
When Ushkabus saw this he turned round with the intention of rejoining
his own troops; but Rustem having witnessed the triumph over his friend,
sallied forth on foot, taking up his bow, and placing a few arrows in
his girdle, and asked him whither he was going.
Astonished, Ushkabus cried, "Who art thou?
What kindred hast thou to lament thy fall?"
Rustem replied:--"Why madly seek to know
That which can never yield thee benefit?
My name is death to thee, thy hour is come!"
"Indeed! and thou on foot, mid mounted warriors,
To talk so bravely!"--"Yes," the champion said;
"And hast thou never heard of men on foot,
Who conquered horsemen? I am sent by Tus,
To take for him the horse of Ushkabus."
"What! and unarmed?" inquired the Tartar chief;
"No!" cried the champion, "Mark, my bow and arrow!
Mark, too, with what effect they may be used!"
So saying, Rustem drew the string, and straight
The arrow flew, and faithful to its aim,
Struck dead the foeman's horse. This done, he laughed,
But Ushkabus was wroth, and showered upon
His bold antagonist his quivered store--
Then Rustem raised his bow, with eager eye
Choosing a dart, and placed it on the string,
A thong of elk-skin; to his ear he drew
The feathered notch, and when the point had touched
The other hand, the bended horn recoiled,
And twang the arrow sped, piercing the breast
Of Ushkabus, who fell a lifeless corse,
As if he never had been born! Erect,
And firm, the champion stood upon the plain,
Towering like mount Alberz, immovable,
The gaze and wonder of the adverse host!
When Rustem, still unknown to the Turanian forces, returned to his own
army, the Tartars carried away the body of Ushkabus, and took it to the
Khakan of Chin, who ordered the arrow to be drawn out before him; and
when he and Kamus saw how deeply it had penetrated, and that the
feathered end was wet with blood, they were amazed at the immense power
which had driven it from the bow; they had never witnessed or heard of
anything so astonishing. The fight was, in consequence, suspended till
the following day. The Khakan of Chin then inquired who was disposed or
ready to be revenged on the enemy for the death of Ushkabus, when Kamus
advanced, and, soliciting permission, urged forward his horse to the
middle of the plain. He then called aloud for Rustem, but a Kabul hero,
named Alwund, a pupil of Rustem's, asked his master's permission to
oppose the challenger, which being granted, he rushed headlong to the
combat. Luckless however were his efforts, for he was soon overthrown
and slain, and then Rustem appeared in arms before the conqueror, who
hearing his voice, cried: "Why this arrogance and clamor! I am not like
Ushkabus, a trembler in thy presence." Rustem replied:
"When the lion sees his prey,
Sees the elk-deer cross his way,
Roars he not? The very ground
Trembles at the dreadful sound.
And art thou from terror free,
When opposed in fight to me?"
Kamus now examined him with a stern eye, and was satisfied that he had
to contend against a powerful warrior: he therefore with the utmost
alacrity threw his kamund, which Rustem avoided, but it fell over the
head of his horse Rakush. Anxious to extricate himself from this
dilemma, Rustem dexterously caught hold of one end of the kamund, whilst
Kamus dragged and strained at the other; and so much strength was
applied that the line broke in the middle, and Kamus in consequence
tumbled backwards to the ground. The boaster had almost succeeded in
remounting his horse, when he was secured round the neck by Rustem's own
kamund, and conveyed a prisoner to the Persian army, where he was put to
The fate of Kamus produced a deep sensation among the Turanians, and
Piran-wisah, partaking of the general alarm, and thinking it impossible
to resist the power of Rustem, proposed to retire from the contest, but
the Khakan of Chin was of a different opinion, and offered himself to
remedy the evil which threatened them all. Moreover the warrior,
Chingush, volunteered to fight with Rustem; and having obtained the
Khakan's permission, he took the field, and boldly challenged the
champion. Rustem received the foe with a smiling countenance, and the
struggle began with arrows. After a smart attack on both sides, Chingush
thought it prudent to fly from the overwhelming force of Rustem, who,
however, steadily pursued him, and adroitly seizing the horse by the
tail, hurled him from his saddle.
He grasped the charger's flowing tail,
And all were struck with terror pale,
To see a sight so strange; the foe,
Dismounted by one desperate blow;
The captive asked for life in vain,
His recreant blood bedewed the plain.
His head was from his shoulders wrung,
His body to the vultures flung.
Rustem, after this exploit, invited some other hero to single combat;
but at the moment not one replied to his challenge. At last Human came
forward, not however to fight, but to remonstrate, and make an effort to
put an end to the war which threatened total destruction to his country.
"Why such bitter enmity? why such a whirlwind of resentment?" said he;
"to this I ascribe the calamities under which we suffer; but is there no
way by which this sanguinary career of vengeance can be checked or
moderated?" Rustem, in answer, enumerated the aggressions and the crimes
of Afrasiyab, and especially dwelt on the atrocious murder of Saiawush,
which he declared could never be pardoned. Human wished to know his
name; but Rustem refused to tell him, and requested Piran-wisah might be
sent to him, to whom he would communicate his thoughts, and the secrets
of his heart freely. Human accordingly returned, and informed Piran of
the champion's wishes.
"This must be Rustem, stronger than the pard,
The lion, or the Egyptian crocodile,
Or fell Iblis; dreams never painted hero
Half so tremendous on the battle plain."
The old man said to him:
"If this be Rustem, then the time has come,
Dreaded so long--for what but fire and sword,
Can now await us? Every town laid waste,
Soldier and peasant, husband, wife, and child,
Sharing the miseries of a ravaged land!"
With tears in his eyes and a heavy heart, Piran repaired to the Khakan,
who, after some discussion, permitted him in these terms to go and
confer with Rustem.
"Depart then speedful on thy embassy,
And if he seeks for peace, adjust the terms,
And presents to be sent us. If he talks
Of war and vengeance, and is clothed in mail,
No sign of peace, why we must trust in Heaven
For strength to crush his hopes of victory.
He is not formed of iron, nor of brass,
But flesh and blood, with human nerves and hair,
He does not in the battle tread the clouds,
Nor can he vanish, like the demon race--
Then why this sorrow, why these marks of grief?
He is not stronger than an elephant;
Not he, but I will show him what it is
To fight or gambol with an elephant!
Besides, for every man his army boasts,
We have three hundred--wherefore then be sad?"
Notwithstanding these expressions of confidence, Piran's heart was full
of alarm and terror; but he hastened to the Persian camp, and made
himself known to the champion of the host, who frankly said, after he
had heard Piran's name, "I am Rustem of Zabul, armed as thou seest for
battle!" Upon which Piran respectfully dismounted, and paid the usual
homage to his illustrious rank and distinction. Rustem said to him, "I
bring thee the blessings of Kai-khosrau and Ferangis, his mother, who
nightly see thy face in their dreams."
"Blessings from me, upon that royal youth!"
Exclaimed the good old man. "Blessings on her,
The daughter of Afrasiyab, his mother,
Who saved my life--and blessings upon thee,
Thou matchless hero! Thou hast come for vengeance,
In the dear name of gallant Saiawush,
Of Saiawush, the husband of my child,
(The beautiful Gulshaher), of him who loved me
As I had been his father. His brave son,
Ferud, was slaughtered, and his mother too,
And Khosrau was his brother, now the king,
By whom he fell, or if not by his sword,
Whose was the guilty hand? Has punishment
Been meted to the offender? I protected,
In mine own house, the princess Ferangis;
And when her son was born, Kai-khosrau, still
I, at the risk of my existence, kept them
Safe from the fury of Afrasiyab,
Who would have sacrificed the child, or both!
And night and day I watched them, till the hour
When they escaped and crossed the boundary-stream.
Enough of this! Now let us speak of peace,
Since the confederates in this mighty war
Are guiltless of the blood of Saiawush!"
Rustem, in answer to Piran, observed, that in negotiating the terms of
pacification, several important points were to be considered, and
several indispensable matters to be attended to. No peace could be made
unless the principal actors in the bloody tragedy of Saiawush's death
were first given up, particularly Gersiwaz; vast sums of money were also
required to be presented to the king of kings; and, moreover, Rustem
said he would disdain making peace at all, but that it enabled Piran to
do service to Kai-khosrau. Piran saw the difficulty of acceding to these
demands, but he speedily laid them before the Khakan, who consulted his
confederates on the subject, and after due consideration, their pride
and shame resisted the overtures, which they thought ignominious.
Shinkul, a king of Ind, was a violent opposer of the terms, and declared
against peace on any such conditions. Several other warriors expressed
their readiness to contend against Rustem, and they flattered themselves
that by a rapid succession of attacks, one after the other, they would
easily overpower him. The Khakan was pleased with this conceit and
permitted Shinkul to begin the struggle. Accordingly he entered the
plain, and summoned Rustem to renew the fight. The champion came and
struck him with a spear, which, penetrating his breast, threw him off
his horse to the ground. The dagger was already raised to finish his
career, but he sprang on his feet, and quickly ran away to tell his
misfortune to the Khakan of Chin.
And thus he cried, in look forlorn,
"This foe is not of mortal born;
A furious elephant in fight,
A very mountain to the sight;
No warrior of the human race,
That ever wielded spear or mace,
Alone this dragon could withstand,
Or live beneath his conquering brand!"
The Khakan reminded him how different were his feelings and sentiments
in the morning, and having asked him what he now proposed to do, he said
that without a considerable force it would be useless to return to the
field; five thousand men were therefore assigned to him, and with them
he proceeded to engage the champion. Rustem had also been joined by his
valiant companions, and a general battle ensued. The heavens were
obscured by the dust which ascended from the tramp of the horses, and
the plain was crimsoned with the blood of the slain. In the midst of the
contest, Sawa, a relation of Kamus, burst forward and sought to be
revenged on Rustem for the fate of his friend. The champion raised his
battle-axe, and giving Rakush the rein, with one blow of his mace
removed him to the other world. No sooner had he killed this assailant
than he was attacked by another of the kindred of Kamus, named Kahar,
whom he also slew, and thus humbled the pride of the Kushanians. Elated
with his success, and having further displayed his valor among the
enemy's troops, he vowed that he would now encounter the Khakan himself,
and despoil him of all his pomp and treasure. For this purpose he
selected a thousand horsemen, and thus supported, approached the
kulub-gah, or headquarters of the monarch of Chin. The clamor of the
cavalry, and the clash of spears and swords, resounded afar. The air
became as dark as the visage of an Ethiopian, and the field was covered
with several heads, broken armor, and the bodies of the slain. Amidst
the conflict Rustem called aloud to the Khakan:--
"Surrender to my arms those elephants,
That ivory throne, that crown, and chain of gold;
Fit trophies for Kai-khosrau, Persia's king;
For what hast thou to do with diadem
And sovereign power! My noose shall soon secure thee,
And I will send thee living to his presence;
Since, looking on my valour and my strength,
Life is enough to grant thee. If thou wilt not
Resign thy crown and throne--thy doom is sealed."
The Khakan, filled with indignation at these haughty words, cautioned
Rustem to parry off his own danger, and then commanded his troops to
assail the enemy with a shower of arrows. The attack was so tremendous
and terrifying, even beyond the picturings of a dream, that Gudarz was
alarmed for the safety of Rustem, and sent Reham and Giw to his aid.
Rustem said to Reham:--"I fear that my horse Rakush is becoming weary of
exertion, in which case what shall I do in this conflict with the enemy?
I must attack on foot the Khakan of Chin, though he has an army here as
countless as legions of ants or locusts; but if Heaven continues my
friend, I shall stretch many of them in the dust, and take many
prisoners. The captives I will send to Khosrau, and all the spoils of
Chin." Saying this he pushed forward, roaring like a tiger, towards the
Khakan, and exclaiming with a stern voice:--"The Turks are allied to the
devil, and the wicked are always unprosperous. Thou hast not yet fallen
in with Rustem, or thy brain would have been bewildered. He is a
never-dying dragon, always seeking the strongest in battle. But thou
hast not yet had enough of even me!" He then drew his kamund from the
saddle-strap, and praying to God to grant him victory over his foes,
urged on Rakush, and wherever he threw the noose, his aim was
successful. Great was the slaughter, and the Khakan, seeing from the
back of his white elephant the extent of his loss, and beginning to be
apprehensive about his own safety, ordered one of his warriors, well
acquainted with the language of Iran, to solicit from the enemy a
cessation of hostilities.
"Say whence this wrath on us, this keen revenge?
We never injured Saiawush; the kings
Of Ind and Chin are guiltless of his blood;
Then why this wrath on strangers? Spells and charms,
Used by Afrasiyab--the cause of all--
Have brought us hither to contend against
The champion Rustem; and since peace is better
Than war and bloodshed, let us part in peace."
The messenger having delivered his message, Rustem replied:--
"My words are few. Let him give up his crown,
His golden collar, throne, and elephants;
These are the terms I grant. He came for plunder,
And now he asks for peace. Tell him again,
Till all his treasure and his crown are mine,
His throne and elephants, he seeks in vain
For peace with Rustem, or the Persian king!"
When the Khakan was informed of these reiterated conditions, he burst
out into bitter reproaches and abuse; and with so loud a voice, that the
wind conveyed them distinctly to Rustem's ear. The champion immediately
prepared for the attack; and approaching the enemy, flung his kamund, by
which he at once dragged the Khakan from his white elephant. The hands
of the captured monarch were straightway bound behind his back. Degraded
and helpless he stood, and a single stroke deprived him of his crown,
and throne, and life.
Such are, since time began, the ways of Heaven;
Such the decrees of fate! Sometimes raised up,
And sometimes hunted down by enemies,
Men, struggling, pass through this precarious life,
Exalted now to sovereign power; and now
Steeped in the gulf of poverty and sorrow.
To one is given the affluence of Karun;
Another dies in want. How little know we
What form our future fortune may assume!
The world is all deceit, deception all!
Piran-wisah beheld the disasters of the day, he saw the Khakan of Chin
delivered over to Tus, his death, and the banners of the confederates
overthrown; and sorrowing said:--"This day is the day of flight, not of
victory to us! This is no time for son to protect father, nor father
son--we must fly!" In the meanwhile Rustem, animated by feelings of a
very different kind, gave a banquet to his warrior friends, in
celebration of the triumph.
When the intelligence of the overthrow and death of Kamus and the Khakan
of Chin, and the dispersion of their armies, reached Afrasiyab, he was
overwhelmed with distress and consternation, and expressed his
determination to be revenged on the conquerors. Not an Iranian, he said,
should remain alive; and the doors of his treasury were thrown open to
equip and reward the new army, which was to consist of a hundred
Rustem having communicated to Kai-khosrau, through Friburz, the account
of his success, received the most satisfactory marks of his sovereign's
applause; but still anxious to promote the glory of his country, he
engaged in new exploits. He went against Kafur, the king of the city of
Bidad, a cannibal, who feasted on human flesh, especially on the young
women of his country, and those of the greatest beauty, being the
richest morsels, were first destroyed. He soon overpowered and slew the
monster, and having given his body to be devoured by dogs, plundered and
razed his castle to the ground. After this he invaded and ravaged the
province of Khoten, one of the dependencies of Turan, and recently the
possession of Saiawush, which was a new affliction to Afrasiyab, who,
alarmed about his own empire, dispatched a trusty person secretly to
Rustem's camp, to obtain private intelligence of his hostile movements.
The answer of the spy added considerably to his distress, and in the
dilemma he consulted with Piran-wisah, that he might have the benefit of
the old man's experience and wisdom. Piran told him that he had failed
to make an impression upon the Persians, even assisted by Kamus the
Kashanian, and the Khakan of Chin; both had been slain in battle, and
therefore it would be in vain to attempt further offensive measures
without the most powerful aid. There was, he added, a neighboring king,
named Puladwund, who alone seemed equal to contend with Rustem. He was
of immense stature, and of prodigious strength, and might by the favor
of heaven, be able to subdue him. Afrasiyab was pleased with this
information, and immediately invited Puladwund, by letter, to assist him
in exterminating the champion of Persia. Puladwund was proud of the
honor conferred upon him, and readily complied; hastening the
preparation of his own army to cooperate with that of Afrasiyab. He
presently joined him, and the whole of the combined forces rapidly
marched against the enemy. The first warrior he encountered was Giw,
whom he caught with his kamund. Reham and Byzun seeing this, instantly
rushed forward to extricate their brother and champion in arms; but they
too were also secured in the same manner! In the struggle, however, the
kamunds gave way, and then Puladwund drew his sword, and by several
strokes wounded them all. The father, Gudarz, apprised of this disaster,
which had unfortunately happened to three of his sons, applied to Rustem
for succor. The champion, the refuge, the protector of all, was, as
usual, ready to repel the enemy. He forthwith advanced, liberated his
friends, and dreadful was the conflict which followed. The club was used
with great dexterity on both sides; but at length Puladwund struck his
antagonist such a blow that the sound of it was heard by the troops at a
distance, and Rustem, stunned by its severity, thought himself opposed
with so much vigor, that he prayed to the Almighty for a prosperous
issue to the engagement.
"Should I be in this struggle slain,
What stay for Persia will be left?
None to defend Kai-khosrau's reign,
Of me, his warrior-chief, bereft.
Then village, town, and city gay,
Will feel the cruel Tartar's sway!"
Puladwund wishing to follow up the blow by a final stroke of his sword,
found to his amazement that it recoiled from the armor of Rustem, and
thence he proposed another mode of fighting, which he hoped would be
more successful. He wished to try his power in wrestling. The challenge
was accepted. By agreement both armies retired, and left the space of a
farsang between them, and no one was allowed to afford assistance to
either combatant. Afrasiyab was present, and sent word to Puladwund, the
moment he got Rustem under him, to plunge a sword in his heart. The
contest began, but Puladwund had no opportunity of fulfilling the wishes
of Afrasiyab. Rustem grasped him with such vigor, lifted him up in his
arms, and dashed him so furiously on the plain, that the boaster seemed
to be killed on the spot. Rustem indeed thought he had put a period to
his life; and with that impression left him, and remounted Rakush: but
the crafty Puladwund only pretended to be dead: and as soon as he found
himself released, sprang up and escaped, flying like an arrow to his own
side. He then told Afrasiyab how he had saved his life by counterfeiting
death, and assured him that it was useless to contend against Rustem.
The champion having witnessed this subterfuge, turned round in pursuit,
and the Tartars received him with a shower of arrows; but the attack was
well answered, Puladwund being so alarmed that, without saying a word to
Afrasiyab, he fled from the field. Piran now counselled Afrasiyab to
escape also to the remotest part of Tartary. As the flight of Puladwund
had disheartened the Turanian troops, and there was no chance of
profiting by further resistance, Afrasiyab took his advice, and so
precipitate was his retreat, that he entirely abandoned his standards,
tents, horses, arms, and treasure to an immense amount. The most
valuable booty was sent by Rustem to the king of Iran, and a
considerable portion of it was divided among the chiefs and the soldiers
of the army. He then mounted Rakush, and proceeded to the court of
Kai-khosrau, where he was received with the highest honors and with
unbounded rejoicings. The king opened his jewel chamber, and gave him
the richest rubies, and vessels of gold filled with musk and aloes, and
also splendid garments; a hundred beautiful damsels wearing crowns and
ear-rings, a hundred horses, and a hundred camels. Having thus
terminated triumphantly the campaign, Rustem carried with him to Zabul
the blessings and admiration of his country.
And now we come to Akwan Diw,
Whom Rustem next in combat slew.
One day as Kai-khosrau was sitting in his beautiful garden, abounding in
roses and the balmy luxuriance of spring, surrounded by his warriors,
and enjoying the pleasures of the banquet with music and singing, a
peasant approached, and informed him of a most mysterious apparition. A
wild ass, he said, had come in from the neighboring forest; it had at
least the external appearance of a wild ass, but possessed such
supernatural strength, that it had rushed among the horses in the royal
stables with the ferocity of a lion or a demon, doing extensive injury,
and in fact appeared to be an evil spirit! Kai-khosrau felt assured that
it was something more than it seemed to be, and looked round among his
warriors to know what should be done. It was soon found that Rustem was
the only person capable of giving effectual assistance in this
emergency, and accordingly a message was forwarded to request his
services. The champion instantly complied, and it was not long before he
occupied himself upon the important enterprise. Guided by the peasant,
he proceeded in the first place towards the spot where the mysterious
animal had been seen; but it was not till the fourth day of his search
that he fell in with him, and then, being anxious to secure him alive,
and send him as a trophy to Kai-khosrau, he threw his kamund; but it was
in vain: the wild ass in a moment vanished out of sight! From this
circumstance Rustem observed, "This can be no other than Akwan Diw, and
my weapon must now be either dagger or sword." The next time the wild
ass appeared he pursued him with his drawn sword: but on lifting it up
to strike, nothing was to be seen. He tried again, when he came near
him, both spear and arrow: still the animal vanished, disappointing his
blow; and thus three days and nights he continued fighting, as it were
against a shadow. Wearied at length with his exertions, he dismounted,
and leading Rakush to a green spot near a limpid fountain or rivulet of
spring water, allowed him to graze, and then went to sleep. Akwan Diw
seeing from a distance that Rustem had fallen asleep, rushed towards him
like a whirlwind, and rapidly digging up the ground on every side of
him, took up the plot of ground and the champion together, placed them
upon his head, and walked away with them. Rustem being awakened with the
motion, he was thus addressed by the giant-demon:--
"Warrior! now no longer free!
Tell me what thy wish may be;
Shall I plunge thee in the sea,
Or leave thee on the mountain drear,
None to give thee succour, near?
Tell thy wish to me!"
Rustem, thus deplorably in the power of the demon, began to consider
what was best to be done, and recollecting that it was customary with
that supernatural race to act by the rule of contraries, in opposition
to an expressed desire, said in reply, for he knew that if he was thrown
into the sea there would be a good chance of escape:--
"O, plunge me not in the roaring sea,
The maw of a fish is no home for me;
But cast me forth on the mountain; there
Is the lion's haunt and the tiger's lair;
And for them I shall be a morsel of food,
They will eat my flesh and drink my blood;
But my bones will be left, to show the place
Where this form was devoured by the feline race;
Yes, something will then remain of me,
Whilst nothing escapes from the roaring sea!"
Akwan Diw having heard this particular desire of Rustem, determined at
once to thwart him, and for this purpose he raised him up with his
hands, and flung him from his lofty position headlong into the deep and
roaring ocean. Down he fell, and a crocodile speedily darted upon him
with the eager intention of devouring him alive; but Rustem drew his
sword with alacrity, and severed the monster's head from his body.
Another came, and was put to death in the same manner, and the water was
crimsoned with blood. At last he succeeded in swimming safely on shore,
and instantly returned thanks to Heaven for the signal protection he had
Breasting the wave, with fearless skill
He used his glittering brand;
And glorious and triumphant still,
He quickly reached the strand.
He then moved towards the fountain where he had left Rakush; but, to his
great alarm and vexation his matchless horse was not there. He wandered
about for some time, and in the end found him among a herd of horses
belonging to Afrasiyab. Having first caught him, and resumed his seat in
the saddle, he resolved upon capturing and driving away the whole herd,
and conveying them to Kai-khosrau. He was carrying into effect this
resolution when the noise awoke the keepers specially employed by
Afrasiyab, and they, indignant at this outrageous proceeding, called
together a strong party to pursue the aggressor. When they had nearly
reached him, he turned boldly round, and said aloud:--"I am Rustem, the
descendant of Sam. I have conquered Afrasiyab in battle, and after that
dost thou presume to oppose me?" Hearing this, the keepers of the Tartar
stud instantly turned their backs, and ran away.
It so happened that at this period Afrasiyab paid his annual visit to
his nursery of horses, and on his coming to the meadows in which they
were kept, neither horses nor keepers were to be seen. In a short time,
however, he was informed by those who had returned from the pursuit,
that Rustem was the person who had carried off the herd, and upon
hearing of this outrage, he proceeded with his troops at once to attack
him. Impatient at the indignity, he approached Rustem with great fury,
but was presently compelled to fly to save his life, and thus allow his
herd of favorite steeds, together with four elephants, to be placed in
the possession of Kai-khosrau. Rustem then returned to the meadows and
the fountain near the habitation of Akwan Diw; and there he again met
the demon, who thus accosted him:--
"What! art thou then aroused from death's dark sleep?
Hast thou escaped the monsters of the deep?
And dost thou seek upon the dusty plain
To struggle with a demon's power again?
Of flint, or brass, or iron is thy form?
Or canst thou, like the demons, raise the dreadful battle storm?"
Rustem, hearing this taunt from the tongue of Akwan Diw, prepared for
fight, and threw his kamund with such precision and force, that the
demon was entangled in it, and then he struck him such a mighty blow
with his sword, that it severed the head from the body. The severed head
of the unclean monster he transmitted as a trophy to Kai-khosrau, by
whom it was regarded with amazement, on account of its hideous
expression and its vast size. After this extraordinary feat, Rustem paid
his respects to the king, and was received as usual with distinguished
honor and affection; and having enjoyed the magnificent hospitality of
the court for some time, he returned to Zabulistan, accompanied part of
the way by Kai-khosrau himself and a crowd of valiant warriors, ever
anxious to acknowledge his superior worth and prodigious strength.
THE STORY OF BYZUN AND MANIJEH
One day the people of Arman petitioned Kai-khosrau to remove from them a
grievous calamity. The country they inhabited was overrun with herds of
wild boars, which not only destroyed the produce of their fields, but
the fruit and flowers in their orchards and gardens, and so extreme was
the ferocity of the animals that it was dangerous to go abroad; they
therefore solicited protection from this disastrous visitation, and
hoped for relief. The king was at the time enjoying himself amidst his
warriors at a banquet, drinking wine, and listening to music and the
songs of bewitching damsels.
The glance of beauty, and the charm
Of heavenly sounds, so soft and thrilling,
And ruby wine, must ever warm
The heart, with love and rapture filling.
Can aught more sweet, more genial prove,
Than melting music, wine, and love?
The moment he was made acquainted with the grievances endured by the
Armanians, he referred the matter to the consideration of his
counsellors and nobles, in order that a remedy might be immediately
applied. Byzun, when he heard what was required, and had learned the
disposition of the king, rose up at once with all the enthusiasm of
youth, and offered to undertake the extermination of the wild boars
himself. But Giw objected to so great a hazard, for he was too young, he
said; a hero of greater experience being necessary for such an arduous
enterprise. Byzun, however, was not to be rejected on this account, and
observed, that though young, he was mature in judgment and discretion,
and he relied on the liberal decision of the king, who at length
permitted him to go, but he was to be accompanied by the veteran warrior
Girgin. Accordingly Byzun and Girgin set off on the perilous expedition;
and after a journey of several days arrived at the place situated
between Iran and Turan, where the wild boars were the most destructive.
In a short time a great number were hunted down and killed, and Byzun,
utterly to destroy the sustenance of the depredators, set fire to the
forest, and reduced the whole of the cultivation to ashes. His exertions
were, in short, entirely successful, and the country was thus freed from
the visitation which had occasioned so much distress and ruin. To give
incontestable proof of this exploit, he cut off the heads of all the
wild boars, and took out the tusks, to send to Kai-khosrau. When Girgin
had witnessed the intrepidity and boldness of Byzun, and found him
determined to send the evidence of his bravery to Kai-khosrau, he became
envious of the youth's success, and anticipated by comparison the ruin
of his own name and the gratification of his foes. He therefore
attempted to dissuade him from sending the trophies to the king, and
having failed, he resolved upon getting him out of the way. To effect
this purpose he worked upon the feelings and the passions of Byzun with
consummate art, and whilst his victim was warm with wine, praised him
beyond all the warriors of the age. He then told him he had heard that
at no great distance from them there was a beautiful place, a garden of
perpetual spring, which was visited every vernal season by Manijeh, the
lovely daughter of Afrasiyab.
"It is a spot beyond imagination
Delightful to the heart, where roses bloom,
And sparkling fountains murmur--where the earth
Is rich with many-colored flowers; and musk
Floats on the gentle breezes, hyacinths
And lilies add their perfume--golden fruits
Weigh down the branches of the lofty trees,
The glittering pheasant moves in stately pomp,
The bulbul warbles from the cypress bough,
And love-inspiring damsels may be seen
O'er hill and dale, their lips all winning smiles,
Their cheeks like roses--in their sleepy eyes
Delicious languor dwelling. Over them
Presides the daughter of Afrasiyab,
The beautiful Manijeh; should we go,
('Tis but a little distance), and encamp
Among the lovely groups--in that retreat
Which blooms like Paradise--we may secure
A bevy of fair virgins for the king!"
Byzun was excited by this description; and impatient to realize what it
promised, repaired without delay, accompanied by Girgin, to the romantic
retirement of the princess. They approached so close to the summer-tent
in which she dwelt that she had a full view of Byzun, and immediately
becoming deeply enamoured of his person despatched a confidential
domestic, her nurse, to inquire who he was, and from whence he came.
"Go, and beneath that cypress tree,
Where now he sits so gracefully,
Ask him his name, that radiant moon,
And he may grant another boon!
Perchance he may to me impart
The secret wishes of his heart!
Tell him he must, and further say,
That I have lived here many a day;
That every year, whilst spring discloses
The fragrant breath of budding roses,
I pass my time in rural pleasure;
But never--never such a treasure,
A mortal of such perfect mould,
Did these admiring eyes behold!
Never, since it has been my lot
To dwell in this sequestered spot,
A youth by nature so designed
To soothe a love-lorn damsel's mind!
His wondrous looks my bosom thrill
Can Saiawush be living still?"
The nurse communicated faithfully the message of Manijeh, and Byzun's
countenance glowed with delight when he heard it. "Tell thy fair
mistress," he said in reply, "that I am not Saiawush, but the son of
Giw. I came from Iran, with the express permission of the king, to
exterminate a terrible and destructive herd of wild boars in this
neighborhood; and I have cut off their heads, and torn out their tusks
to be sent to Kai-khosrau, that the king and his warriors may fully
appreciate the exploit I have performed. But having heard afterwards of
thy mistress's beauty and attractions, home and my father were
forgotten, and I have preferred following my own desires by coming
hither. If thou wilt therefore forward my views; if thou wilt become my
friend by introducing me to thy mistress, who is possessed of such
matchless charms, these precious gems are thine and this coronet of
gold. Perhaps the daughter of Afrasiyab may be induced to listen to my
suit." The nurse was not long in making known the sentiments of the
stranger, and Manijeh was equally prompt in expressing her consent. The
message was full of ardor and affection.
"O gallant youth, no farther roam,
This summer-tent shall be thy home;
Then will the clouds of grief depart
From this enamoured, anxious heart.
For thee I live--thou art the light
Which makes my future fortune bright.
Should arrows pour like showers of rain
Upon my head--'twould be in vain;
Nothing can ever injure me,
Blessed with thy love--possessed of thee!"
Byzun therefore proceeded unobserved to the tent of the princess, who on
meeting and receiving him, pressed him to her bosom; and taking off his
Kaiani girdle, that he might be more at his ease, asked him to sit down
and relate the particulars of his enterprise among the wild boars of the
forest. Having done so, he added that he had left Girgin behind him.
"Enraptured, and impatient to survey
Thy charms, I brook'd no pause upon the way."
He was immediately perfumed with musk and rose-water, and refreshments
of every kind were set before him; musicians played their sweetest airs,
and dark-eyed damsels waited upon him. The walls of the tent were
gorgeously adorned with amber, and gold, and rubies; and the sparkling
old wine was drunk out of crystal goblets. The feast of joy lasted three
nights and three days, Byzun and Manijeh enjoying the precious moments
with unspeakable rapture. Overcome with wine and the felicity of the
scene, he at length sunk into repose, and on the fourth day came the
time of departure; but the princess, unable to relinquish the society of
her lover, ordered a narcotic draught to be administered to him, and
whilst he continued in a state of slumber and insensibility, he was
conveyed secretly and in disguise into Turan. He was taken even to the
palace of Afrasiyab, unknown to all but to the emissaries and domestics
of the princess, and there he awoke from the trance into which he had
been thrown, and found himself clasped in the arms of his idol.
Considering, on coming to his senses, that he had been betrayed by some
witchery, he made an attempt to get out of the seclusion: above all, he
was apprehensive of a fatal termination to the adventure; but Manijeh's
blandishments induced him to remain, and for some time he was contented
to be immersed in continual enjoyment--such pleasure as arises from the
social banquet and the attractions of a fascinating woman.
"Grieve not my love--be not so sad,
'Tis now the season to be glad;
There is a time for war and strife,
A time to soothe the ills of life.
Drink of the cup which yields delight,
The ruby glitters in thy sight;
Steep not thy heart in fruitless care,
But in the wine-flask sparkling there."
At length, however, the love of the princess for a Persian youth was
discovered, and the keepers and guards of the palace were in the
greatest terror, expecting the most signal punishment for their neglect
or treachery. Dreadful indeed was the rage of the king when he was first
told the tidings; he trembled like a reed in the wind, and the color
fled from his cheeks. Groaning, he exclaimed:--
"A daughter, even from a royal stock,
Is ever a misfortune--hast thou one?
The grave will be thy fittest son-in-law!
Rejoice not in the wisdom of a daughter;
Who ever finds a daughter good and virtuous?
Who ever looks on woman-kind for aught
Save wickedness and folly? Hence how few
Ever enjoy the bliss of Paradise:
Such the sad destiny of erring woman!"
Afrasiyab consulted the nobles of his household upon the measures to be
pursued on this occasion, and Gersiwaz was in consequence deputed to
secure Byzun, and put him to death. The guilty retreat was first
surrounded by troops, and then Gersiwaz entered the private apartments,
and with surprise and indignation saw Byzun in all his glory, Manijeh at
his side, his lips stained with wine, his face full of mirth and
gladness, and encircled by the damsels of the shubistan. He accosted him
in severe terms, and was promptly answered by Byzun, who, drawing his
sword, gave his name and family, and declared that if any violence or
insult was offered, he would slay every man that came before him with
hostile intentions. Gersiwaz, on hearing this, thought it prudent to
change his plan, and conduct him to Afrasiyab, and he was permitted to
do so on the promise of pardon for the alleged offence. When brought
before Afrasiyab, he was assailed with further opprobrium, and called a
dog and a wicked remorseless demon.
"Thou caitiff wretch, of monstrous birth,
Allied to hell, and not of earth!"
But he thus answered the king:--
"Listen awhile, if justice be thy aim,
And thou wilt find me guiltless. I was sent
From Persia to destroy herds of wild boars,
Which laid the country waste. That labour done,
I lost my way, and weary with the toil,
Weary with wandering in a wildering maze,
Haply reposed beneath a shady cypress;
Thither a Peri came, and whilst I slept,
Lifted me from the ground, and quick as thought
Conveyed me to a summer-tent, where dwelt
A princess of incomparable beauty.
From thence, by hands unknown, I was removed,
Still slumbering in a litter--still unconscious;
And when I woke, I found myself reclining
In a retired pavilion of thy palace,
Attended by that soul-entrancing beauty!
My heart was filled with sorrow, and I shed
Showers of vain tears, and desolate I sate,
Thinking of Persia, with no power to fly
From my imprisonment, though soft and kind,
Being the victim of a sorcerer's art.
Yes, I am guiltless, and Manijeh too,
Both by some magic influence pursued,
And led away against our will or choice!"
Afrasiyab listened to this speech with distrust, and hesitated not to
charge him with falsehood and cowardice. Byzun's indignation was roused
by this insulting accusation; and he said to him aloud, "Cowardice,
what! cowardice! I have encountered the tusks of the formidable wild
boar and the claws of the raging lion. I have met the bravest in battle
with sword and arrow; and if it be thy desire to witness the strength of
my arm, give me but a horse and a battle-axe, and marshal twice five
hundred Turanians against me, and not a man of them shall survive the
contest. If this be not thy pleasure, do thy worst, but remember my
blood will be avenged. Thou knowest the power of Rustem!" The mention of
Rustem's name renewed all the deep feelings of resentment and animosity
in the mind of Afrasiyab, who, resolved upon the immediate execution of
his purpose, commanded Gersiwaz to bind the youth, and put an end to his
life on the gallows tree. The good old man Piran-wisah happened to be
passing by the place to which Byzun had just been conveyed to suffer
death; and seeing a great concourse of people, and a lofty dar erected,
from which hung a noose, he inquired for whom it was intended. Gersiwaz
heard the question, and replied that it was for a Persian, an enemy of
Turan, a son of Giw, and related to Rustem. Piran straightway rode up to
the youth, who was standing in deep affliction, almost naked, and with
his hands bound behind his back, and he said to him:--
"Why didst thou quit thy country, why come hither,
Why choose the road to an untimely grave?"
Upon this Byzun told him his whole story, and the treachery of Girgin.
Piran wept at the recital, and remembering the circumstances under which
he had encountered Giw, and how he had been himself delivered from death
by the interposition of Ferangis, he requested the execution to be
stayed until he had seen the king, which was accordingly done. The king
received him with honor, praised his wisdom and prudence, and
conjecturing from his manner that something was heavy at his heart,
expressed his readiness to grant any favor which he might have come to
solicit. Piran said: "Then, my only desire is this: do not put Byzun to
death; do not repeat the tragedy of Saiawush, and again consign Turan
and Iran to all the horrors of war and desolation. Remember how I warned
thee against taking the life of that young prince; but malignant and
evil advisers exerted their influence, were triumphant, and brought upon
thee and thy kingdom the vengeance of Kaus, of Rustem, and all the
warriors of the Persian empire. The swords now sleeping in their
scabbards are ready to flash forth again, for assuredly if the blood of
Byzun be spilt the land will be depopulated by fire and sword. The honor
of a king is sacred; when that is lost, all is lost." But Afrasiyab
replied: "I fear not the thousands that can be brought against me. Byzun
has committed an offence which can never be pardoned; it covers me with
shame, and I shall be universally despised if I suffer him to live.
Death were better for me than life in disgrace. He must die."--"That is
not necessary," rejoined Piran, "let him be imprisoned in a deep cavern;
he will never be heard of more, and then thou canst not be accused of
having shed his blood." After some deliberation, Afrasiyab altered his
determination, and commanded Gersiwaz to bind the youth with chains from
head to foot, and hang him within a deep pit with his head downwards,
that he might never see sun or moon again; and he sentenced Manijeh to
share the same fate: and to make their death more sure, he ordered the
enormous fragment of rock which Akwan Diw had dragged out of the ocean
and flung upon the plain of Tartary, to be placed over the mouth of the
pit. In respect to Byzun, Gersiwaz did as he was commanded; but the
lamentations in the shubistan were so loud and distressing upon Manijeh
being sentenced to the same punishment, that the tyrant was induced to
change her doom, allowing her to dwell near the pit, but forbidding, by
proclamation, anyone going to her or supplying her with food. Gersiwaz
conducted her to the place; and stripping her of her rich garments and
jewels, left her bareheaded and barefooted, weeping torrents of tears.
He left her--the unhappy maid;
Her head upon the earth was laid,
In bitterness of grief, and lone,
Beside that dreadful demon-stone.
There happened, however, to be a fissure in the huge rock that covered
the mouth of the pit, which allowed of Byzun's voice being heard, and
bread and water was let down to him, so that they had the melancholy
satisfaction of hearing each other's woes.
The story now relates to Girgin, who finding after several days that
Byzun had not returned, began to repent of his treachery; but what is
the advantage of such repentance? it is like the smoke that rises from a
When flames have done their worst, thick clouds arise
Of lurid smoke, which useless mount the skies.
He sought everywhere for him; went to the romantic retreat where the
daughter of Afrasiyab resided; but the place was deserted, nothing was
to be seen, and nothing to be heard. At length he saw Byzun's horse
astray, and securing him with his kamund, thought it useless to remain
in Turan, and therefore proceeded in sorrow back to Iran. Giw, finding
that his son had not returned with him from Arman, was frantic with
grief; he tore his garments and his hair, and threw ashes over his head;
and seeing the horse his son had ridden, caressed it in the fondest
manner, demanding from Girgin a full account of what he knew of his
fate. "O Heaven forbid," said he, "that my son should have fallen into
the power of the merciless demons!" Girgin could not safely confess the
truth, and therefore told a falsehood, in the hope of escaping from the
consequences of his own guilt. "When we arrived at Arman," said he, "we
entered a large forest, and cutting down the trees, set them on fire. We
then attacked the wild boars, which were found in vast numbers; and as
soon as they were all destroyed, left the place on our return. Sporting
all the way, we fell in with an elk, of a most beautiful and wonderful
form. It was like the Simurgh; it had hoofs of steel, and the head and
ears and tail of a horse. It was strong as a lion and fleet as the wind,
and came fiercely before us, yet seemed to be a thing of air. Byzun
threw his kamund over him; and when entangled in the noose, the animal
became furious and sprung away, dragging Byzun after him. Presently the
prospect was enveloped in smoke, the earth looked like the ocean, and
Byzun and the phantom-elk disappeared. I wandered about in search of my
companion, but found him not: his horse only remained. My heart was rent
with anguish, for it seemed to me that the furious elk must have been
the White Demon." But Giw was not to be deceived by this fabricated
tale; on the contrary, he felt convinced that treachery had been at
work, and in his rage seized Girgin by the beard, dragged him to and
fro, and inflicted on him two hundred strokes with a scourge. The
unhappy wretch, from the wounds he had received, fell senseless on the
ground. Giw then hastened to Kai-khosrau to inform him of his
misfortune; and though the first resolve was to put the traitor to
death, the king was contented to load him with chains and cast him into
prison. The astrologers being now consulted, pronounced that Byzun was
still living, and Giw was consoled and cheered by the promptitude with
which the king despatched troops in every quarter in search of his son.
"Weep no longer, warrior bold,
Thou shalt soon thy son behold.
In this Cup, this mirror bright,
All that's dark is brought to light;
All above and under ground,
All that's lost is quickly found."
Thus spake the monarch, and held up
Before his view that wondrous Cup
Which first to Jemshid's eye revealed
All that was in the world concealed.
And first before him lay exposed
All that the seven climes enclosed,
Whether in ocean or amid
The stars the secret things were hid,
Whether in rock or cavern placed,
In that bright Cup were clearly traced.
And now his eye Karugsar surveys,
The Cup the province wide displays.
He sees within that dismal cave
Byzun the good, the bold, the brave;
And sitting on that demon-stone
Lovely Manijeh sad and lone.
And now he smiles and looks on Giw,
And cries: "My prophecy was true.
Thy Byzun lives; no longer grieve,
I see him there, my words believe;
And though bound fast in fetters, he
Shall soon regain his liberty."
Kai-khosrau, thinking the services of Rustem requisite on this occasion,
dispatched Giw with an invitation to him, explaining the circumstance of
Byzun's capture. Rustem had made up his mind to continue in peace and
tranquillity at his Zabul principality, and not to be withdrawn again
from its comforts by any emergency; but the reported situation of his
near relative altered his purpose, and he hesitated not to give his best
aid to restore him to freedom. Giw rejoiced at this, and both repaired
without delay to the royal residence, where Khosrau gratified the
champion with the most cordial welcome, placing him on a throne before
him. The king asked him what force he would require, and he replied that
he did not require any army; he preferred going in disguise as a
merchant. Accordingly the necessary materials were prepared; a thousand
camels were laden with jewels and brocades, and other merchandise, and a
thousand warriors were habited like camel-drivers. Girgin had prayed to
be released from his bonds, and by the intercession of Rustem was
allowed to be of the party; but his children were kept in prison as
hostages and security for his honorable conduct. When the champion, with
his kafila, arrived within the territory of the enemy, and approached
the spot where Byzun was imprisoned, a loud clamor arose that a caravan
of merchandise had come from Iran, such as was never seen before. The
tidings having reached the ear of Manijeh, she went immediately to
Rustem, and inquired whether the imprisonment of Byzun was yet known at
the Persian court? Rustem replied in anger: "I am a merchant employed in
traffic, what can I know of such things? Go away, I have no acquaintance
with either the king or his warriors." This answer overwhelmed Manijeh
with disappointment and grief, and she wept bitterly. Her tears began to
soften the heart of Rustem, and he said to her in a soothing voice:--"I
am not an inhabitant of the city in which the court is held, and on that
account I know nothing of these matters; but tell me the cause of thy
grief." Manijeh sighed deeply, and endeavored to avoid giving him any
reply, which increased the curiosity of the champion; but she at length
complied. She told him who she was, the daughter of Afrasiyab, the story
of her love, and the misfortunes of Byzun, and pointed out to him the
pit in which he was imprisoned and bound down with heavy chains.
"For the sake of him has been my fall
From royal state, and bower, and hall,
And hence this pale and haggard face,
This saffron hue thy eye may trace,
Where bud of rose was wont to bloom,
But withered now and gone;
And I must sit in sorrow's gloom
Unsuccoured and alone."
Rustem asked with deep interest if any food could be conveyed to him,
and she said that she had been accustomed to supply him with bread and
water through a fissure in the huge stone which covered the mouth of the
pit. Upon receiving this welcome information, Rustem brought a roasted
fowl, and inclosing in it his own seal-ring, gave it to Manijeh to take
to Byzun. The poor captive, on receiving it, inquired by whom such a
blessing could have been sent, and when she informed him that it had
been given to her by the chief of a caravan from Iran, who had
manifested great anxiety about him, his smiles spoke the joyous feelings
of his heart, for the name of Rustem was engraved on the ring. Manijeh
was surprised to see him smile, considering his melancholy situation,
and could not imagine the cause. "If thou wilt keep my secret," said he,
"I will tell thee the cause." "What!" she replied, "have I not devoted
my heart and soul to thee?--have I not sacrificed everything for thy
love, and is my fidelity now to be suspected?
"Can I be faithless, then, to thee,
The choice of this fond heart of mine;
Why sought I bonds, when I was free,
But to be thine--forever thine?"
"True, true! then hear me:--the chief of the caravan is Rustem, who has
undoubtedly come to release me from this dreadful pit. Go to him, and
concert with him the manner in which my deliverance may be soonest
effected." Manijeh accordingly went and communicated with the champion;
and it was agreed between them that she should light a large fire to
guide him on his way. He was prompt as well as valiant, and repaired in
the middle of the following night, accompanied by seven of his warriors,
directed by the blaze, to the place where Byzun was confined. The
neighborhood was infested by demons with long nails, and long hair on
their bodies like the hair of a goat, and horny feet, and with heads
like dogs, and the chief of them was the son of Akwan Diw. The father
having been slain by Rustem, the son nourished the hope of revenge, and
perpetually longed for an opportunity of meeting him in battle. Well
knowing that the champion was engaged in the enterprise to liberate
Byzun, he commanded his demons to give him intelligence of his approach.
His height was tremendous, his face was black, his mouth yawned like a
cavern, his eyes were fountains of blood, his teeth like those of a wild
boar, and the hair on his body like needles. The monster advanced, and
reproaching Rustem disdainfully for having slain Akwan Diw, and many
other warriors in the Turanian interest, pulled up a tree by the roots
and challenged him to combat. The struggle began, but the Demon
frequently escaped the fury of the champion by vanishing into air. At
length Rustem struck a fortunate blow, which cut the body of his
towering adversary in two. His path being now free from interruption, he
sped onward, and presently beheld the prodigious demon-stone which
covered the mouth of the pit, in which Byzun was imprisoned.
And praying to the Almighty to infuse
Strength through his limbs, he raised it up, and flung
The ponderous mass of rock upon the plain,
Which shuddered to receive that magic load!
The mouth of the cavern being thus exposed, Rustem applied himself to
the extrication of Byzun from his miserable condition, and letting down
his kamund, he had soon the pleasure of drawing up the unfortunate
captive, whom he embraced with great affection; and instantly stripped
off the chains with which he was bound. After mutual congratulations had
been exchanged, Rustem proposed that Byzun and Manijeh should go
immediately to Iran, whilst he and his companions in arms attacked the
palace of Afrasiyab; but though wasted as he was by long suffering,
Byzun could not on any consideration consent to avoid the perils of the
intended assault, and determined, at all hazards, to accompany his
"Full well I know thy superhuman power
Needs no assistance from an arm like mine;
But grateful as I am for this great service,
I cannot leave thee now, and shrink from peril,
That would be baseness which I could not bear."
It was on the same night that Rustem and Byzun, and seven of his
warriors, proceeded against that part of the palace in which the tyrant
slept. He first put to death the watchman, and also killed a great
number of the guard, and a loud voice presently resounded in the chamber
of the king:--"Awake from thy slumbers, Afrasiyab, Byzun has been freed
from his chains." Rustem now entered the royal palace, and openly
declaring his name, exclaimed:--"I am come, Afrasiyab, to destroy thee,
and Byzun is also here to do thee service for thy cruelty to him." The
death-note awoke the trembling Afrasiyab, and he rose up, and fled in
dismay. Rustem and his companions rushed into the inner apartments, and
captured all the blooming damsels of the shubistan, and all the jewels
and golden ornaments which fell in their way. The moon-faced beauties
were sent to Zabul; but the jewels and other valuable property were
reserved for the king.
In the morning Afrasiyab hastily collected together his troops and
marched against Rustem, who, with Byzun and his thousand warriors, met
him on the plain prepared for battle. The champion challenged any one
who would come forward to single combat; but though frequently repeated,
no attention was paid to the call. At length Rustem said to
Afrasiyab:--"Art thou not ashamed to avoid a contest with so inferior
a force, a hundred thousand against one thousand? We two, and our
armies, have often met, and dost thou now shrink from the fight?" The
reproach had its effect,
For the tyrant at once, and his heroes, began
Their attack like the demons of Mazinderan.
But the valor and the bravery of Rustem were so eminently shown, that he
overthrew thousands of the enemy.
In the tempest of battle, disdaining all fear,
With his kamund, and khanjer, his garz, and shamshir,
How he bound, stabbed, and crushed, and dissevered the foe,
So mighty his arm, and so fatal his blow.
And so dreadful was the carnage, that Afrasiyab, unable to resist his
victorious career, was compelled to seek safety in flight.
The field was red with blood, the Tartar banners
Cast on the ground, and when, with grief, he saw
The face of Fortune turned, his cohorts slain,
He hurried back, and sought Turan again.
Rustem having obtained another triumph, returned to Iran with the spoils
of his conquest, and was again honored with the smiles and rewards of
his sovereign. Manijeh was not forgotten; she, too, received a present
worthy of the virtue and fidelity she had displayed, and of the
magnanimity of her spirit; and the happy conclusion of the enterprise
was celebrated with festivity and rejoicing.
BARZU, AND HIS CONFLICT WITH RUSTEM
Afrasiyab after his defeat pursued his way in despair towards Chin and
Ma-chin, and on the road happened to fall in with a man of huge and
terrific stature. Amazed at the sight of so extraordinary a being, he
asked him who and what he was. "I am a villager," replied the stranger.
"And thy father?"--"I do not know my father. My mother has never
mentioned his name, and my birth is wrapped in mystery." Afrasiyab then
addressed him as follows:--"It is my misfortune to have a bitter and
invincible enemy, who has plunged me into the greatest distress. If he
could be subdued, there would be no impediment to my conquest of Iran;
and I feel assured that thou, apparently endued with such prodigious
strength, hast the power to master him. His name is Rustem." "What!"
rejoined Barzu, "is all this concern and affliction about one man--about
one man only?" "Yes," answered Afrasiyab; "but that one man is equal to
a hundred strong men. Upon him neither sword, nor mace, nor javelin has
any effect. In battle he is like a mountain of steel." At this Barzu
exclaimed in gamesome mood:--"A mountain of steel!--I can reduce to dust
a hundred mountains of steel!--What is a mountain of steel to me!"
Afrasiyab rejoiced to find such confidence in the stranger, and
instantly promised him his own daughter in marriage, and the monarchy of
Chin and Ma-chin, if he succeeded in destroying Rustem. Barzu replied:--
"Thou art but a coward slave,
Thus a stranger's aid to crave.
And thy soldiers, what are they?
Heartless on the battle-day.
Thou, the prince of such a host!
What, alas! hast thou to boast?
Art thou not ashamed to wear
The regal crown that glitters there?
And dost thou not disgrace the throne
Thus to be awed, and crushed by one;
By one, whate'er his name or might,
Thus to be put to shameful flight!"
Afrasiyab felt keenly the reproaches which he heard; but, nevertheless,
solicited the assistance of Barzu, who declared that he would soon
overpower Rustem, and place the empire of Iran under the dominion of the
Tartar king. He would, he said, overflow the land of Persia with blood,
and take possession of the throne! The despot was intoxicated with
delight, and expecting his most sanguine wishes would be realized, made
him the costliest presents, consisting of gold and jewels, and horses,
and elephants, so that the besotted stranger thought himself the
greatest personage in all the world. But his mother, when she heard
these things, implored him to be cautious:--
"My son, these presents, though so rich and rare,
Will be thy winding-sheet; beware, beware!
They'll drive to madness thy poor giddy brain,
And thou wilt never be restored again.
Never; for wert thou bravest of the brave,
They only lead to an untimely grave.
Then give them back, nor such a doom provoke,
Beware of Rustem's host-destroying stroke.
Has he not conquered demons!--and, alone,
Afrasiyab's best warriors overthrown!
And canst thou equal them?--Alas! the day
That thy sweet life should thus be thrown away."
Barzu, however, was too much dazzled by the presents he had received,
and too vain of his own personal strength to attend to his mother's
advice. "Certainly," said he, "the disposal of our lives is in the hands
of the Almighty, and as certain it is that my strength is superior to
that of Rustem. Would it not then be cowardly to decline the contest
with him?" The mother still continued to dissuade him from the
enterprise, and assured him that Rustem was above all mankind
distinguished for the art, and skill, and dexterity, with which he
attacked his enemy, and defended himself; and that there was no chance
of his being overcome by a man entirely ignorant of the science of
fighting; but Barzu remained unmoved: yet he told the king what his
mother had said; and Afrasiyab, in consequence, deemed it proper to
appoint two celebrated masters to instruct him in the use of the bow,
the sword, and the javelin, and also in wrestling and throwing the
noose. Every day, clothed in armor, he tried his skill and strength with
the warriors, and after ten days he was sufficiently accomplished to
overthrow eighteen of them at one time. Proud of the progress he had
made, he told the king that he would seize and bind eighteen of his
stoutest and most experienced teachers, and bring them before him, if he
wished, when all the assembly exclaimed:--"No doubt he is fully equal
to the task;
"He does not seem of human birth, but wears
The aspect of the Evil One; and looks
Like Alberz mountain, clad in folds of mail;
Unwearied in the fight he conquers all."
Afrasiyab's satisfaction was increased by this testimony to the merit of
Barzu, and he heaped upon him further tokens of his good-will and
munificence. The vain, newly-made warrior was all exultation and
delight, and said impatiently:--
"Delays are ever dangerous--let us meet
The foe betimes, this Rustem and the king,
Kai-khosrau. If we linger in a cause
Demanding instant action, prompt appliance,
And rapid execution, we are lost.
Advance, and I will soon lop off the heads
Of this belauded champion and his king,
And cast them, with the Persian crown and throne
Trophies of glory, at thy royal feet;
So that Turan alone shall rule the world."
Speedily ten thousand experienced horsemen were selected and placed
under the command of Barzu; and Human and Barman were appointed to
accompany him; Afrasiyab himself intending to follow with the reserve.
When the intelligence of this new expedition reached the court of
Kai-khosrau, he was astonished, and could not conceive how, after so
signal a defeat and overthrow, Afrasiyab had the means of collecting
another army, and boldly invading his kingdom. To oppose this invasion,
however, he ordered Tus and Friburz, with twelve thousand horsemen, and
marched after them himself with a large army. As soon as Tus fell in
with the enemy the battle commenced, and lasted, with great carnage, a
whole day and night, and in the end Barzu was victorious. The warriors
of the Persian force fled, and left Tus and Friburz alone on the field,
where they were encountered by the conqueror, taken prisoners, and
bound, and placed in the charge of Human. The tidings of the result of
this conflict were received with as much rejoicing by Afrasiyab, as with
sorrow and consternation by Kai-khosrau. And now the emergency, on the
Persian side, demanded the assistance of Rustem, whose indignation was
roused, and who determined on revenge for the insult that had been
given. He took with him Gustahem, the brother of Tus, and at midnight
thought he had come to the tent of Barzu, but it proved to be the
pavilion of Afrasiyab, who was seen seated on his throne, with Barzu on
his right hand, and Piran-wisah on his left, and Tus and Friburz
standing in chains before them. The king said to the captive warriors:
"To-morrow you shall both be put to death in the manner I slew
Saiawush." He then retired. Meanwhile Rustem returned thanks to Heaven
that his friends were still alive, and requesting Gustahem to follow
cautiously, he waited awhile for a fit opportunity, till the watchman
was off his guard, and then killing him, he and Gustahem took up and
conveyed the two prisoners to a short distance, where they knocked off
their chains, and then conducted them back to Kai-khosrau.
When Afrasiyab arose from sleep, he found his warriors in close and
earnest conversation, and was told that a champion from Persia had come
and killed the watchman, and carried off the prisoners. Piran exclaimed:
"Then assuredly that champion is Rustem, and no other." Afrasiyab
writhed with anger and mortification at this intelligence, and sending
for Barzu, despatched his army to attack the enemy, and challenge Rustem
to single combat. Rustem was with the Persian troops, and, answering the
summons, said: "Young man, if thou art calling for Rustem, behold I come
in his place to lay thee prostrate on the earth." "Ah!" rejoined Barzu,
"and why this threat? It is true I am but of tender years, whilst thou
art aged and experienced. But if thou art fire, I am water, and able to
quench thy flames." Saying this he wielded his bow, and fixed the arrow
in its notch, and commenced the strife. Rustem also engaged with bow and
arrows; and then they each had recourse to their maces, which from
repeated strokes were soon bent as crooked as their bows, and they were
themselves nearly exhausted. Their next encounter was by wrestling, and
dreadful were the wrenches and grasps they received from each other.
Barzu finding no advantage from this struggle, raised his mace, and
struck Rustem such a prodigious blow on the head, that the champion
thought a whole mountain had fallen upon him. One arm was disabled, but
though the wound was desperate, Rustem had the address to conceal its
effects, and Barzu wondered that he had made apparently so little
impression on his antagonist. "Thou art," said he, "a surprising
warrior, and seemingly invulnerable. Had I struck such a blow on a
mountain, it would have been broken into a thousand fragments, and yet
it makes no impression upon thee. Heaven forbid!" he continued to
himself, "that I should ever receive so bewildering a stroke upon my own
head!" Rustem having successfully concealed the anguish of his wound,
artfully observed that it would be better to finish the combat on the
following day, to which Barzu readily agreed, and then they both parted.
Barzu declared to Afrasiyab that his extraordinary vigor and strength
had been of no account, for both his antagonist and his horse appeared
to be composed of materials as hard as flint. Every blow was without
effect; and "Heaven only knows," added he, "what may be the result of
to-morrow's conflict." On the other hand Rustem showed his lacerated arm
to Khosrau, and said: "I have escaped from him; but who else is there
now to meet him, and finish the struggle? Feramurz, my son, cannot
fulfil my promise with Barzu, as he, alas! is fighting in Hindustan. Let
me, however, call him hither, and in the meanwhile, on some pretext or
other, delay the engagement." The king, in great sorrow and affliction,
sanctioned his departure, and then said to his warriors: "I will fight
this Barzu myself to-morrow;" but Gudarz would not consent to it,
saying: "As long as we live, the king must not be exposed to such
hazard. Giw and Byzun, and the other chiefs, must first successively
encounter the enemy."
When Rustem reached his tent, he told his brother Zuara to get ready a
litter, that he might proceed to Sistan for the purpose of obtaining a
remedy for his wound from the Simurgh. Pain and grief kept him awake all
night, and he prayed incessantly to the Supreme Being. In the morning
early, Zuara brought him intelligence of the welcome arrival of
Feramurz, which gladdened his heart; and as the youth had undergone
great fatigue on his long journey, Rustem requested him to repose
awhile, and he himself, freed from anxiety, also sought relief in a
A few hours afterwards both armies were again drawn up, and Barzu, like
a mad elephant, full of confidence and pride, rode forward to resume the
combat; whilst Rustem gave instructions to Feramurz how he was to act.
He attired him in his own armor, supplied him with his own weapons, and
mounted him on Rakush, and told him to represent himself to Barzu as the
warrior who had engaged him the day before. Accordingly Feramurz entered
the middle space, clothed in his father's mail, raised his bow, ready
bent, and shot an arrow at Barzu, crying: "Behold thy adversary! I am
the man come to try thy strength again. Advance!" To this Barzu replied:
"Why this hilarity, and great flow of spirits? Art thou reckless of thy
life?" "In the eyes of warriors," said Feramurz, "the field of fight is
the mansion of pleasure. After I yesterday parted from thee I drank wine
with my companions, and the impression of delight still remains on my
"Wine exhilarates the soul,
Makes the eye with pleasure roll;
Lightens up the darkest mien,
Fills with joy the dullest scene;
Hence it is I meet thee now
With a smile upon my brow,"
Barzu, however, thought that the voice and action of his adversary were
not the same as he had heard and seen the preceding day, although there
was no difference in the armor or the horse, and therefore he said:
"Perhaps the cavalier whom I encountered yesterday is wounded or dead,
that thou hast mounted his charger, and attired thyself in his mail."
"Indeed," rejoined Feramurz, "perhaps thou hast lost thy wits; I am
certainly the person who engaged thee yesterday, and almost extinguished
thee; and with God's favor thou shalt be a dead man to-day." "What is
thy name?" "My name is Rustem, descended from a race of warriors, and my
pleasure consists in contending with the lions of battle, and shedding
the blood of heroes." Thus saying, Feramurz rushed on his adversary,
struck him several blows with his battle-axe, and drawing his noose from
the saddle-strap with the quickness of lightning, secured his prize. He
might have put an end to his existence in a moment, but preferred taking
him alive, and showing him as a captive. Afrasiyab seeing the perilous
condition of Barzu, came up with his whole army to his rescue; but
Kai-khosrau was equally on the alert, accompanied by Rustem, who,
advancing to the support of Feramurz, threw another noose round the neck
of the already-captured Barzu, to prevent the possibility of his escape.
Both armies now engaged, and the Turanians made many desperate efforts
to recover their gigantic leader, but all their manoeuvres were
fruitless. The struggle continued fiercely, and with great slaughter,
till it was dark, and then ceased; the two kings returned back to the
respective positions they had taken up before the conflict took place.
The Turanians were in the deepest grief for the loss of Barzu; and
Piran-wisah having recommended an immediate retreat across the Jihun,
Afrasiyab followed his counsel, and precipitately quitted Persia with
all his troops.
Kai-khosrau ordered a grand banquet on the occasion of the victory; and
when Barzu was brought before him, he commanded his immediate execution;
but Rustem, seeing that he was very young, and thinking that he had not
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