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Double-click on ANY english word to find out the meaning or to translate. Haga doble click en cualquier palabra en Inglés para saber su significado o para traducir.

The Epic of Kings
By Ferdowsi

Translated by Helen Zimmern


Kaiumers first sat upon the throne of Persia, and was master of the
world. He took up his abode in the mountains, and clad himself and
his people in tiger-skins, and from him sprang all kindly nurture
and the arts of clothing, till then unknown. Men and beasts from all
parts of the earth came to do him homage and receive laws at his hands,
and his glory was like to the sun. Then Ahriman the Evil, when he
saw how the Shah's honour was increased, waxed envious, and sought
to usurp the diadem of the world. So he bade his son, a mighty Deev,
gather together an army to go out against Kaiumers and his beloved
son Saiamuk and destroy them utterly.

Now the Serosch, the angel who defendeth men from the snares of the
Deevs, and who each night flieth seven times around the earth that
he may watch over the children of Ormuzd, when he learned this, appeared
like unto a Peri and warned Kaiumers. So when Saiamuk set forth at
the head of his warriors to meet the army of Ahriman, he knew that
he was contending against a Deev, and he put forth all his strength.
But the Deev was mightier than he, and overcame him, and crushed him
under his hands.

When Kaiumers heard the news of mourning, he was bowed to the ground.
For a year did he weep without ceasing, and his army wept with him;
yea, even the savage beasts and the birds of the air joined in the
wailing. And sorrow reigned in the land, and all the world was darkened
until the Serosch bade the Shah lift his head and think on vengeance.
And Kaiumers obeyed, and commanded Husheng, the son of Saiamuk, "Take
the lead of the army, and march against the Deevs." And the King,
by reason of his great age, went in the rear. Now there were in the
host Peris; also tigers, lions, wolves, and other fierce creatures,
and when the black Deev heard their roaring he trembled for very fear.
Neither could he hold himself against them, and Husheng routed him
utterly. Then when Kaiumers saw that his well-beloved son was revenged
he laid him down to die, and the world was void of him, and Husheng
reigned in his stead.

Now Husheng was a wise man and just, and the heavens revolved over
his throne forty years. justice did he spread over the land, and the
world was better for his reign. For he first gave to men fire, and
showed them how to draw it from out the stone; and he taught them
how they might lead the rivers, that they should water the land and
make it fertile; and he bade them till and reap. And he divided the
beasts and paired them and gave them names. And when he passed to
a brighter life he left the world empty of a throne of power. But
Tahumers, his son, was not unworthy of his sire. He too opened the
eyes of men, and they learned to spin and to weave; and he reigned
over the land long and mightily. But of him also were the Deevs right
envious, and sought to destroy him. Yet Tahumers overcame them and
cast them to earth. Then some craved mercy at his hands, and sware
how they would show him an art if he would spare them, and Tahumers
listened to their voice. And they taught him the art of writing, and
thus from the evil Deevs came a boon upon mankind.

Howbeit when Tahumers had sat upon the golden throne for the space
of thirty years he passed away, but his works endured; and Jemshid,
his glorious son, whose heart was filled with the counsels of his
father, came after him. Now Jemshid reigned over the land seven hundred
years girt with might, and Deevs, birds, and Peris obeyed him. And
the world was happier for his sake, and he too was glad, and death
was unknown among men, neither did they wot of pain or sorrow. And
he first parcelled out men into classes; priests, warriors, artificers,
and husbandmen did he name them. And the year also he divided into
periods. And by aid of the Deevs he raised mighty works, and Persepolis
was builded by him, that to this day is called Tukht-e-Jemsheed, which
being interpreted meaneth the throne of Jemshid. Then, when these
things were accomplished, men flocked from all corners of the earth
around his throne to do him homage and pour gifts before his face.
And Jemshid prepared a feast, and bade them keep it, and called it
Neurouz, which is the New Day, and the people of Persia keep it to
this hour. And Jemshid's power increased, and the world was at peace,
and men beheld in him nought but what was good.

Then it came about that the heart of Jemshid was uplifted in pride,
and he forgot whence came his weal and the source of his blessings.
He beheld only himself upon the earth, and he named himself God, and
sent forth his image to be worshipped. But when he had spoken thus,
the Mubids, which are astrologers and wise men, hung their heads in
sorrow, and no man knew how he should answer the Shah. And God withdrew
his hand from Jemshid, and the kings and the nobles rose up against
him, and removed their warriors from his court, and Ahriman had power
over the land.

Now there dwelt in the deserts of Arabia a king named Mirtas, generous
and just, and he had a son, Zohak, whom he loved. And it came about
that Ahriman visited the palace disguised as a noble, and tempted
Zohak that he should depart from the paths of virtue. And he spake
unto him and said-

"If thou wilt listen to me, and enter into a covenant, I will raise
thy head above the sun."

Now the young man was guileless and simple of heart, and he sware
unto the Deev that he would obey him in all things. Then Ahriman bade
him slay his father, "for this old man," he said, "cumbereth the ground,
and while he liveth thou wilt remain unknown." When Zohak heard this
he was filled with grief, and would have broken his oath, but Ahriman
suffered him not, but made him set a trap for Mirtas. And Zohak and
the evil Ahriman held their peace and Mirtas fell into the snare and
was killed. Then Zohak placed the crown of Thasis upon his head, and
Ahriman taught him the arts of magic, and he ruled over his people
in good and evil, for he was not yet wholly given up to guile.

Then Ahriman imagined a device in his black heart. He took upon himself
the form of a youth, and craved that he might serve the King as cook.
And Zohak, who knew him not, received him well and granted his request,
and the keys of the kitchen were given unto him. Now hitherto men
had been nourished with herbs, but Ahriman prepared flesh for Zohak.
New dishes did he put before him, and the royal favour was accorded
to his savory meats. And the flesh gave the King courage and strength
like to that of a lion, and he commanded that his cook should be brought
before him and ask a boon at his hands. And the cook said-

"If the King take pleasure in his servant, grant that he may kiss
his shoulders."

Now Zohak, who feared no evil, granted the request, and Ahriman kissed
him on his shoulders. And when he had done so, the ground opened beneath
his feet and covered the cook, so that all men present were amazed
thereat. But from his kiss sprang hissing serpents, venomous and black;
and the King was afraid, and desired that they should be cut off from
the root. But as often as the snakes were cut down did they grow again,
and in vain the wise men and physicians cast about for a remedy. Then
Ahriman came once again disguised as a learned man, and was led before
Zohak, and he spake, saying-

"This ill cannot be healed, neither can the serpents be uprooted.
Prepare food for them, therefore, that they may be fed, and give unto
them for nourishment the brains of men, for perchance this may destroy

But in his secret heart Ahriman desired that the world might thus
be made desolate; and daily were the serpents fed, and the fear of
the King was great in the land. The world withered in his thrall,
the customs of good men were forgotten, and the desires of the wicked
were accomplished.

Now it was spread abroad in Iran that in the land of Thasis there
reigned a man who was mighty and terrible to his foes. Then the kings
and nobles who had withdrawn from Jemshid because he had rebelled
against God, turned to Zohak and besought him that he would be their
ruler, and they proclaimed him Shah. And the armies of Arabia and
Persia marched against Jemshid, and he fled before their face. For
the space of twice fifty years no man knew whither he was gone, for
he hid from the wrath of the Serpent-King. But in the fulness of time
he could no longer escape the fury of Zohak, whose servants found
him as he wandered on the sea-shore of Cathay, and they sawed him
in twain, and sent tidings thereof to their lord. And thus perished
the throne and power of Jemshid like unto the grass that withereth,
because that he was grown proud, and would have lifted himself above
his Maker.

So the beloved of Ahriman, Zohak the Serpent, sat upon the throne
of Iran, the kingdom of Light. And he continued to pile evil upon
evil till the measure thereof was full to overflowing, and all the
land cried out against him. But Zohak and his councillors, the Deevs,
shut ear unto this cry, and the Shah reigned thus for the space of
a thousand years, and vice stalked in daylight, but virtue was hidden.
And despair filled all hearts, for it was as though mankind must perish
to still the appetite of those snakes sprung from Evil, for daily
were two men slaughtered to satisfy their desire. Neither had Zohak
mercy upon any man. And darkness was spread over the land because
of his wickedness.

But Ormuzd saw it and was moved with compassion for his people, and
he declared they should no longer suffer for the sin of Jemshid. And
he caused a grandson to be born to Jemshid, and his parents called
him Feridoun.

Now it befell that when he was born, Zohak dreamed he beheld a youth
slender like to a cypress, and he came towards him bearing a cow-headed
mace, and with it he struck Zohak to the ground. Then the tyrant awoke
and trembled, and called for his Mubids, that they should interpret
to him this dream. And they were troubled, for they foresaw danger,
and he menaced them if they foretold him evil. And they were silent
for fear three days, but on the fourth one who had courage spake and

"There will arise one named Feridoun, who shall inherit thy throne
and reverse thy fortunes, and strike thee down with a cow-headed mace."

When Zohak heard these words he swooned, and the Mubids fled before
his wrath. But when he had recovered he bade the world be scoured
for Feridoun. And henceforth Zohak was consumed for bitterness of
spirit, and he knew neither rest nor joy.


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