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Title: Persian Literature - Ancient and Modern
Author: Reed, Elizabeth A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Footnotes have been re-sequenced for uniqueness, and have been moved to
follow the chapters in which they are referenced. The author notes, in
her guide to pronunciation, that the diacritical marks “have been
largely omitted” in the footnotes.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.

[Illustration:

  FAC SIMILE OF A PORTION OF THE TITLE PAGE OF AN ILLUMINATED
  “SHĀH NĀMAH” (SEE PREFACE)
]

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           PERSIAN LITERATURE
                           ANCIENT AND MODERN



                                   BY
                           ELIZABETH A. REED



                                -------



          MEMBER OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN
          MEMBER OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF ORIENTALISTS
                    AUTHOR OF HINDU LITERATURE, ETC.



                                -------



                                CHICAGO
                        S.C. GRIGGS AND COMPANY
                                  1893



                            COPYRIGHT, 1893.
                      BY S.C. GRIGGS AND COMPANY.



                      =The Lakeside Press=
                   R.R. DONNELLEY & SONS CO., CHICAGO

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS.

                                -------

                PERSIAN LITERATURE, ANCIENT AND MODERN.

                                -------

               DIVISION I.—EARLY TABLETS AND MYTHOLOGY.

                              CHAPTER I.

                           HISTORIC OUTLINE.

  ORIGIN OF PERSIAN LITERATURE—ACCAD AND SUMER—LITERATURE OF        1
    NINEVEH—BABYLON—ĪRĀN OR PERSIA—PHYSICAL FEATURES—PERSIAN
    ART—MANUSCRIPTS—EARLY LITERATURE—THE ARABIAN CONQUEST—
    LITERATURE OF MODERN PERSIA—PERSIAN ROMANCE


                              CHAPTER II.

                      THE CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS.

  EARLY LITERATURE—HISTORIC TABLETS—THE INSCRIPTIONS OF            30
    NEBUCHADNEZZAR—THE FALL OF BABYLON—CYRUS, THE ACHÆMENIAN—
    BEHISTUN INSCRIPTIONS—DARIUS AT PERSEPOLIS—INSCRIPTIONS OF
    XERXES—ARTAXERXES—A LATER PERSIAN TABLET—RÉSUMÉ


                             CHAPTER III.

               THE POETRY AND MYTHOLOGY OF THE TABLETS.

  PRIMITIVE MYTHOLOGY—ANŪ—SEVEN EVIL SPIRITS—ACCADIAN POEM—        53
    ASSUR—HEA—NIN-CI-GAL—SIN, THE MOON GOD—HEA-BANI—NERGAL—
    MERODACH—NEBO—NINIP—CHEMOSH—INCANTATIONS TO FIRE AND
    WATER—IM—BAAL—TAMMUZ—ISHTAR—ISHTAR OF ARBELA—ISHTAR OF
    ERECH—LEGEND OF ISHTAR AND IZDŪBAR—ISHTAR, QUEEN OF LOVE
    AND BEAUTY—THE DESCENT OF ISHTAR


                              CHAPTER IV.

                          PERSIAN MYTHOLOGY.

  THE COMMON SOURCE OF MYTHOLOGY—MYTHICAL MOUNTAINS—RIVERS—        86
    MYTHICAL BIRDS—AHŪRA MAZDA—ATAR—THE STORM GOD—YIMA—THE
    CHINVAT BRIDGE—MITHRA—RÉSUMÉ


                DIVISION II.—PERIOD OF THE ZEND-AVESTA.


                              CHAPTER V.

                           THE ZEND-AVESTA.

  DERIVATION AND LANGUAGE—DIVISIONS—AGE OF THE ZEND-AVESTA—       109
    MANUSCRIPTS—ZARATHUŚTRA—THE EARLY PĀRSĪS—THE MODERN PĀRSĪS


                              CHAPTER VI.

                   THE TEACHINGS OF THE ZEND-AVESTA.

  THE GĀTHAS—THE WAIL OF THE KINE—THE LAST GĀTHA—THE MARRIAGE     127
    SONG—THE YASNA—COMMENTARY ON THE FORMULAS—THE YASNA
    HAPTANG-HĀITI—THE SRAŌSHA YAŚT—THE YASNA CONCLUDING


                             CHAPTER VII.

               TEACHINGS OF THE ZEND-AVESTA, CONCLUDED.

  THE VENDĪDAD—FARGARD II—THE VARA OF YIMA—THE LAWS OF            146
    PURIFICATION—DISPOSITION OF THE DEAD—PUNISHMENTS—THE PLACE
    OF REWARD—THE VISPARAD—TEACHING OF THE MODERN PĀRSĪS


               DIVISION III.—THE TIME OF THE MOHAMMEDAN
                        CONQUEST AND THE KORĀN.


                             CHAPTER VIII.

                              THE KORĀN.

  THE SUCCESSOR OF THE ZEND-AVESTA—AUTHOR OF THE KORĀN—FIRST      165
    REVELATIONS—THE HIGRAH—CONTINUED WARFARE—DEATH OF
    MOHAMMED—RECENSION OF THE TEXT—TEACHING OF THE KORĀN—
    HEAVEN—HELL—PREDESTINATION—POLYGAMY—LITERARY STYLE OF THE
    KORĀN


                DIVISION IV.—THE PERIOD SUCCEEDING THE
                         MOHAMMEDAN CONQUEST.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                          THE ANWĀR-I-SUHALI.

  HISTORY OF THE WORK—PREFACE—THE BEES AND THEIR HABITS—THE       189
    TWO PIGEONS—THE BLIND MAN AND HIS WHIP—AMICABLE
    INSTRUCTION—THE PIGEONS AND THE RAT—THE ANTELOPE AND THE
    CROW—THE ELEPHANT AND THE JACKAL—GEMS FROM THE HITOPADEŚA


                              CHAPTER X.

                            PERSIAN POETRY.

  SEVEN ERAS—THE FIRST PERIOD—THE HOMER OF ĪRĀN—THE SHĀH          214
    NĀMAH—HISTORY OF THE PERSIAN EPIC—FIRDUSĪ—INVECTIVE—
    MŪTESHIM—THE SHĀH’S REPENTANCE—DEATH OF FIRDUSĪ—THE POEM


                              CHAPTER XI.

                       STORY OF THE SHĀH NĀMAH.

  SĀM SUWĀR—THE SĪMǕRGH’S NEST—THE FATHER’S DREAM—RǕDABEH—THE     228
    MARRIAGE—RUSTEM—THE TǕRĀNIAN INVASION—THE WHITE DEMON



                             CHAPTER XII.

               THE HEFT-KHĀN, OR SEVEN LABORS OF RUSTEM.

  A LION SLAIN BY RAKUSH—ESCAPE FROM THE DESERT—THE DRAGON        252
    SLAIN—THE ENCHANTRESS—CAPTURE OF AULĀD—VICTORY OVER
    DEMONS—SEVENTH LABOR, THE WHITE DEMON SLAIN—THE MARRIAGE
    OF RUSTEM—SOHRĀB


                             CHAPTER XIII.

                              ISFENDIYĀR.

  THE HEFT-KHĀN OF ISFENDIYĀR—THE BRAZEN FORTRESS—THE CONFLICT    272
    WITH RUSTEM—THE FALL OF THE WARRIORS


                             CHAPTER XIV.

                            SECOND PERIOD.

  ANWĀRI—NIZĀMĪ—LAILĪ AND MAJNŪN—A FRIEND—THE WEDDING—            284
    DELIVERANCE—THE MEETING IN THE DESERT—DEATH OF THE LOVERS—
    VISION OF ZYD


                              CHAPTER XV.

                             THIRD PERIOD.

  GENGHIS KHĀN—JALAL-UDDIN RŪMI—SĀ’DĪ—WORKS OF SĀ’DĪ—THE          309
    BŪSTĀN—THE PEARL—KINDNESS TO THE UNWORTHY—SILENCE, THE
    SAFETY OF IGNORANCE—DARIUS AND HIS HORSE-KEEPER—STORIES
    FROM THE GULISTĀN—THE WISE WRESTLER—DANGERS OF PROSPERITY—
    BORES


                             CHAPTER XVI.

                            LATER PERIODS.

  THE FOURTH PERIOD—LITERARY KINGS—HĀFIZ PĪR-I-SEBZ—SHIRĀZ—THE    321
    FEAST OF SPRING—MY BIRD—FIFTH PERIOD—JĀMI—THE WORKS OF
    JĀMI—RECEPTION—THE SIXTH PERIOD—THE SEVENTH PERIOD


                             CHAPTER XVII.

                          MEHER AND MŪSHTERI.

  PERSIAN ROMANCE—THE TWO COMRADES—THE SEPARATION—THE QUEEN—      338
    THE DEPARTURE—THE ANNOUNCEMENT


                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONTINUED.

  THE EXILES—THE DESERT—A SHIPWRECK—THE RESCUE—THE CAPTURE        351


                             CHAPTER XIX.

                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONTINUED.

  THE FUGITIVES—ROYAL INTERVIEWS—THE CONFLICT—A GARDEN SCENE—     365
    AFTERWARDS—THE DECISION


                              CHAPTER XX.

                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONTINUED.

  THE CAPTIVES—ARREST AND TRIAL—ROYAL FAVOR—THE SENTENCE          383


                             CHAPTER XXI.

                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONCLUDED.

  THE WEDDING—A COUNCIL—ROYAL CAVALCADE—THE MESSENGER—            392
    RECEPTION


                             CHAPTER XXII.

                              CONCLUSION.

  SUMMARY—PRIESTLY RULE—RUSSIAN OPPRESSION                        403



                                PREFACE.


There is a growing interest in the literatures of the Orient, but the
difficulties in this field of investigation have been so great that few
students have taken time to recover the gems from the worthless matter
surrounding them. The author of the present volume, however, has chosen
to devote years of persistent effort to the work of collecting and
condensing the historic facts pertaining to this subject, and giving
them to the public, together with the finest thoughts to be found upon
the pages of these early manuscripts.

No labor has been spared to attain accuracy of statement, no
difficulties have been ignored in these years of research, and the
results, so far as completed, are now before the reader in two volumes:
the one recently published on Hindū Literature, and the present work on
Persian Literature.

Although this book was partially written long before the publication of
its predecessor, still it might never have been completed, but for the
kindly reception which a generous public gave to the preceding volume.

Cordial thanks are due to the American press, which not only gave to
“Hindū Literature” hundreds of favorable notices, but in many instances
devoted whole columns to able reviews of the work.

It is also a rare pleasure to acknowledge the courtesies of the British
press, and especially the great kindness of leading European scholars,
who have sent words of warm approval and congratulation to the author.

In the present volume the subject has been simplified as far as
possible, by arranging the work in four chronological divisions; the
epoch of Persian poetry being again divided into seven distinct periods,
corresponding to the times of the leading poets, who have been called
“The Persian Pleiades.”

Not only does their literature present seven leading poets, but this
number appears to have a peculiar charm for the Persian literati, and
hence we find in this field of Eastern fable, the “Seven Evil Spirits”
of Anū, the “Seven Labors of Rustem,” the “Seven Great Feats of
Isfendiyār,” “The Seven Fair Faces” of Nizāmī, the “Seven Thrones” of
Jāmi, and various other combinations of the same number.

In this as well as previous works, the author wishes to acknowledge the
great value of the Chicago Public Library, where a wealth of Oriental
lore is ever at the service of the student; here are valuable works
which bear on the history and literature of the Sanskṛit, Hebrew,
Chaldaic, Persian, Arabic and other Asiatic tongues, besides many
volumes in the modern languages.

Among the literati of Europe the author is indebted to such men as Prof.
A.H. Sayce, Sir M. Monier-Williams, W. St. Chad Boscawen, Prof. F. Max
Müller, Dr. Haug, Dr. L.H. Mills, and Ernest A. Budge; also Profs.
Darmesteter, Eastwick, Atkinson, Davie and Owsley, the credits being
given where the quotations are made.

Grateful acknowledgement is especially made to Prof. A.H. Sayce, of the
Oxford University; to Sir M. Monier-Williams, and to Mr. Theo. G.
Pinches, of the British Museum, each of these distinguished scholars
having examined portions of the manuscript and affixed their valuable
notes thereunto.

Cordial thanks are also due to Dr. R. Rost, of the India Office in
London, who laid before the artist all the illuminated Persian
manuscripts in that vast collection of Eastern lore, and to the
honorable Council of the India Office, who placed these rare literary
treasures at the author’s service without the customary precaution of
taking a bond therefor. The frontispiece is a section of the illuminated
title-page of a Persian manuscript of priceless value. This is a copy of
the Shāh Nāmah, which is a large folio, the pages being beautifully
written in four columns. Each page is illuminated with delicate
paintings, which are a triumph of art. This old manuscript, which is now
invaluable, was purchased for the India House Collection at the
celebrated Hastings sale about twenty-five years since. Our illustration
gives only a portion of the page, and thus the full size of the figure
has been preserved, which is far better than to mar the beauty of the
work by reducing it.

The author is also desirous of expressing thanks to S.C. Griggs & Co.
for the beautiful typography of these volumes: it is a matter of
congratulation that the courage of this house in assuming the
publication of works, which are generally supposed to be needed only by
scholars, has been so fully justified.

Carlyle has said, “If a book comes from the heart, it will contrive to
reach the hearts of others.” If this be true, no apology is needed for
the preparation of these volumes upon Oriental literature, for the work
is constantly pursued with an intense love of the subject, and it is
hoped that the reader will share to a certain extent the enthusiasm of

                                                         THE AUTHOR.



                             PRONUNCIATION.


A little attention to the diacritical points will enable the reader to
readily pronounce the proper names in Persian literature.

These points, however, have been largely omitted in the foot-notes, the
system of pronunciation being fully indicated in the body of the book.

                  A—a     is pronounced as in  rur_a_l.

                  Ā—ā         ”         ”      t_a_r,
                                               f_a_ther,
                                               etc.

                  I—i         ”         ”      f_i_ll.

                  Ī—ī         ”         ”      pol_i_ce.

                  U—u         ”         ”      f_u_ll.

                  Ū—ū         ”         ”      r_u_de.

                 Ṛi—ṛi        ”         ”      mer_ri_ly.

                 Ṛī—ṛī        ”         ”      ma_ri_ne.

                  Ṉ—ṉ         ”         ”      like _n_
                                               in the
                                               French
                                               mo_n_.

                  Ṇ—ṇ         ”         ”      _n_o_n_e
                                               (ṇuṇ).

                  Ḥ—ḥ     is a distinct aspirate.

               _Kh_—_kh_  sounded like _ch_ in _ch_ur_ch_.

                 Kh—kh    pronounced as in     in_kh_orn.

                  Ć—ć         ”         ”      as _ch_ in
                                               _ch_ur_ch_.

                 Ćh—ćh        ”         ”      churc_hh_ill.

                  Ṭ—ṭ         ”         ”      _t_rue

                 Ṭh—ṭh        ”         ”      an_th_ill.

                  Ḍ—ḍ         ”         ”      _d_rum.

                 Ḍh—ḍh        ”         ”      red
                                               _h_aired.

                  Ś—ś         ”         ”      _s_ure.

[Illustration:

  FAC SIMILE OF A PORTION OF A PAGE OF THE OLDEST ZEND MANUSCRIPT.
  (See Page 117.
]



                          PERSIAN LITERATURE.



                              DIVISION I.
                    THE EARLY TABLETS AND MYTHOLOGY.



                               CHAPTER I.
                           HISTORIC OUTLINE.

ORIGIN OF PERSIAN LITERATURE—ACCAD AND SUMER—LITERATURE OF NINEVEH—
    BABYLON—ĪRĀN OR PERSIA—PHYSICAL FEATURES—PERSIAN ART—MANUSCRIPTS—
    EARLY LITERATURE—THE ARABIAN CONQUEST—LITERATURE OF MODERN PERSIA—
    PERSIAN ROMANCE.


Every nation has a literature peculiarly her own, even though it may
find its sources in foreign fields. As Persia was founded upon the ruins
of more ancient monarchies, as she gathered into the halls of her kings
the spoils of conquered nations, so also her literature was enriched by
the philosophy and science, the poetry and mythology of her
predecessors. The resistless horde, which poured down from the mountains
and swept all of Western Asia into its current, formed the kindred
tribes into a single monarchy, and this monarchy gathered unto herself,
not only the wealth and military glory, but also the culture and
learning of the nations she had conquered. The whole civilized world was
taxed to maintain the splendors of her court; the imperial purple was
found in the city of Tyre, and her fleets also came from Phœnicia,
for the experience of this maritime people was indispensable to their
Persian masters. Indian groves furnished the costly woods of aloe and of
sandal that burned upon her altars, while Syria and the islands of the
sea filled her flagons with wine.

The richest fruits were brought from the sunny shores of Malay, and even
the desert sent tributes of incense and gold. Herds of camels came from
Yemen, and horses of the finest Arabian blood were found in the royal
stables. What wonder, then, that the nation which rifled continents to
supply her magnificence should appropriate also the wealth of the world
of letters that came under her sway? In the background of Persian power
there lies an historic past which is replete with the literary treasures
of the Orient.

                            ACCAD AND SUMER.

There is the far away land of ancient Babylonia, with her territory
divided into Accad[1] and Sumer or Shinar. These were the northern and
southern divisions of the country.

According to Prof. Sayce, “the whole of Babylonia was originally
inhabited by a non-Semitic race, but the Semites established their power
in Accad, or North Babylonia, at an earlier date than they did in Sumer
in the south; the non-Semitic dynasties and culture lingered longer
therefore in Sumer.”[2]

Their land was the home of the palm tree, and from the highlands, where
their rivers found their source, down to the shores of the Persian Gulf,
it presented a wealth of foliage and blossoms. Fields that were covered
with ripening grain awaited the sickle of the reaper, while the fruit
trees bent beneath their burdens, and the vines gleamed in the sunlight
with clusters of gold and purple.

Although we know little of this primitive people, a few of their
imperishable records have come down to us, and light is thus thrown upon
the literary culture which prevailed from the Euphrates to the Nile long
before the Exodus. We have the inscriptions[3] of Dungi, the king of “Ur
of the Chaldees,” and also “king of Sumer and Accad.” We have, too, a
portion of the clay tablets recounting the glory of Sargon I, who
carried his conquests into the land of the Elamites, and even subdued
the Hittites in northern Syria. The independent states of Babylonia also
were brought under his sway, and he claimed to be “the sovereign of the
four regions of the world,” while his Accadian subjects gave him the
name of “the king of justice and the deviser of prosperity.” He was the
patron of letters, and in the library[4] of this old Semitic king, in
the city of Accad, there was written on pages of clay a work on
astronomy and astrology in seventy-two books.

Long before the poets of India, of Greece or of Persia began to weave
their gorgeous web of mythology, the seers of Accad and of Shinar
watched beside the great loom of Nature, as she wove out the curtains of
the morning and the crimson draperies of the setting sun. They listened
to the battle of the elements around their mountain peaks, and dreamt of
the storm-king; they heard the musical murmurs of the wind, as it
whispered to the closing flowers; they felt the benediction of the
night, with its voices of peace, and the divine poem of earth’s beauty
found an echo in their hearts.

The bloom of Accadian poetry may be placed about four thousand years
before our own times, when the primeval teachings of Nature had become
the theme of the poet, and been voiced in the measures of song.

But the scientific impulse of ancient Accad remained an impulse only,
the methods of science were undiscovered, and the student was led astray
by his own fancies and misconceptions; still amidst all the false
science of a primitive Chaldea there were germs of truth, which have
been developed even in our own times. The classic writers said truly
that Babylonia was the birthplace of astronomy. It was also the
birthplace of mathematics; and although their figures were simple, the
Chaldeans attained quite a proficiency in their calculations. The
library at Larsa or Senkereh was famous for its mathematical works, and
it formed a nucleus for students from various portions the country.

                         LITERATURE OF NINEVEH.

On the banks of the Tigris, a great city lifted her battlements and
arches towards the skies, and became the home of Assyrian Kings.
According to Diodorus[5] her walls were an hundred feet high, and so
broad that four chariots could be driven abreast upon them, while
fifteen hundred towers, apparently impregnable, arose from their massive
foundations. Nineveh was the home of imperial splendor, and twenty-two
kings were taxed to supply the materials for her costly palaces where
the finest sculptures of the East were found. Assyrian art covered her
angles with graceful curves, and built her temples with their gilded
domes, while the interior walls were adorned with sculptured slabs of
white alabaster. The germs of Greek art, as well as Greek mythology,
were found in the valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates, for here were
Doric and Ionic columns; here were Corinthian capitals, with architrave,
frieze and cornice, and yet the latest of these must have been carved
before the earliest date which has been assigned to any work of Grecian
art. Though her culture was confined to certain classes, and the great
mass of her population could not discern between their right hands and
their left, still, for centuries Nineveh[6] was the mistress of the
East, even Babylon being subject to her power.

She reached the zenith of her glory under the rule of Assur-bani-pal
(the Sardanapalus of the Greeks). He was the grand monarch of Assyria,
and under his reign the treasures of the world flowed to this common
centre, while the name of Nineveh was feared from the frontiers of India
to the shores of the Ægean sea. Ambitious in his schemes of conquest,
and luxurious in the splendors of his court, he nevertheless confided
his military movements largely to the hands of his ablest generals, and
devoted much attention to the accumulation of his strange library at the
capital city. Here he gathered the literary treasures of the Orient, and
scribes were kept busy copying and translating early works, or writing
original books, either in the Assyrian or the Accadian tongue. The
decaying literature of Babylonia was forwarded to Nineveh, where it was
copied and edited by the Assyrians. A new text was the most valuable
present that any city could send to this literary king, and it was
received with the enthusiasm exhibited by a modern scholar on the
reception of a rare manuscript. It is to the library of Assur-bani-pal,
that we are indebted for much of our knowledge of Babylonian literature—
stored away in those curious vaults, were thousands of books written
upon pages of clay. There were historical and mythological works, legal
records, geographical and astronomical documents, as well as poetical
productions. There were lists of stones and trees, of birds and beasts,
besides the official copies of treaties, petitions to the king, and the
royal proclamations. Strangers came from the court of Egypt, from Lydia,
and from Cyprus to this ancient seat of learning. But while the king was
absorbed in his favorite pursuits, the spirit of revolution was abroad
in the land,—Elam, Babylonia, Arabia, Palestine, Egypt and Lydia made a
common cause against the reigning monarch, the insurrection being led by
the king’s own brother, the viceroy of Babylon. This great revolt shook
the very foundations of the Assyrian monarchy, and ushered in the
decline of an empire which extended from the borders of India to the
Nubian mountains, and from the sands of Arabia to the snowy peaks of the
Caucasus.

In a few years even Nineveh was captured and utterly destroyed, while
her empire was shared between Media and Babylon.

                                BABYLON.

This was “the golden city” that gathered unto herself the wealth of
conquered kingdoms and the dominion of many tribes. The multitude of
gods in her pantheon represented the ideals of the various races of men
who laid their offerings at her feet.

Babylon was the “hammer of the whole earth,” and she forced the tributes
of the nations into her treasury, and their legions into her armies. She
was “the glory of kingdoms,” and she gathered the culture of a thousand
years into a great historic result that contained the arts and science,
the literature, the wealth, and the commerce of half the world. The
culmination of her power was in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, who was the
Augustus of the Babylonian age.

He reconstructed the fallen temples of her idols and carried the hideous
images in triumphal processions to their palatial courts.

Gold, silver and precious stones made bright the altars and temples of
Baal, of Merodach, of Nebo, of Molech, and of Ashtaroth.

The choicest cedars were brought from the mountains of Lebanon. “The
cedar of the roofing of the walls of Nebo, with gold I overlaid....
Strong bulls of copper, and dreadful serpents standing upright on their
thresholds I erected. The cell of the lord of the gods—Merodach, I made
to glisten like suns the walls thereof, with large gold like rubble
stone.... I had them made brilliant as the sun.” Nebuchadnezzar was the
undisputed master of Western Asia, and the walls of his palace were hung
with historic pictures of Chaldean thrones, and draped with the most
gorgeous tapestries of the Eastern looms, while in his princely halls
the cool air fell from glittering fountains, and the royal abode was
filled with music, light, and costly perfume. He built the wondrous
hanging gardens, where the almond trees waved their sprays of silvery
blossoms, and the palms tossed their plumes in the sunlight,—there the
pink fingers of the dawn opened the hearts of the roses, and white
lilies nestled amid the green slopes and fragrant shades, while the
breezes came up from the great river laden with the breath of lotus
blossoms and the soft music of her waves. This haughty king was also the
patron of letters, and his inscriptions throw a vivid light upon his
pride of power, and magnificence—his constant devotion to his idols, and
his never ceasing admiration of his capital city,—“this great Babylon
which I have built.” His books were written largely upon stone, and
stored away beyond the reach of conquering kings. The literary
treasures, which may even yet lie buried beneath her soil, probably
belong to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, and owe their existence to him.
In his days, too, there flourished the family of Egebi, who were
tradesmen. This Jewish family is mentioned as early as the reign of
Esar-haddon, and for five successive generations they deposited their
legal documents in earthen jars which served the purpose of safes. These
thrifty capitalists continued in prosperity even to the end of the reign
of Darius the Great, and although coined money was then unknown and the
precious metals[7] were reckoned by weight, they, like the Rothschilds
of our own day, loaned money to the kings of their generation, and their
well kept records are of great value as a chronological index of the
times[8] in which they were written. The literature of the Babylonians,
like that of the Hindūs, claims a fabulous antiquity. They enumerated
ten kings who lived before the flood, whose reigns occupied four hundred
and thirty-two thousand years, or more than forty-three centuries each,
and during this immense cycle of time, there were strange creatures,
half man and half fish, who ascended from the ocean and taught the
tribes of Babylonia the rudiments of civilization. There were men with
the bodies of birds and the tails of fishes, and men also with the beaks
and faces of birds who in other respects wore the form of humanity.

But their literature was not all fable, though they really cared very
little what the condition of their country had been before the deluge,
for they were engaged in recounting the conquests of their own kings,
and the power and splendor of their idols. Babylon, the Queen of the
East, with her arts and sciences, with her painting and sculpture, was
like other Asiatic cities, a hot-bed of moral corruption; even her
religion was a craze of sorcery and enchantments—of witchcraft and
horrible sensuality. Her high priests were astrologers and soothsayers,
while her gods were the personification of evil. “Moloch demanded the
best and dearest that the worshipper could grant him, and the parent was
required to offer his eldest or only son as a sacrifice, while the
victim’s cries were drowned by the noise of drums and flutes. When
Agathokles defeated the Carthaginians, the noblest of the citizens
offered in expiation three hundred of their children to Baal-Moloch.”[9]

The worship of Ishtar[10] demanded that every female devotee should
begin her womanhood by public prostitution in the temple of the goddess,
and young girls were often burned upon her altars, while young men were
either burned or mutilated. Abominations even more revolting than these
were practiced in connection with the worship of Bel, and the nations
around her drank of her wine and were maddened with the frenzy of her
corruption. What wonder, then, that even before the “Lady of Kingdoms”
reached the zenith of her glory, the cry of the prophets had rung out in
unmeasured denunciation of her crimes? “Therefore I will execute
judgment upon the graven images of Babylon ... and all her slain shall
fall in the midst of her ... the treacherous dealeth treacherously, and
the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam, besiege, O Media.... Babylon is
fallen, is fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken
unto the ground.”[11]

Elam and Media combined their forces, and set their troops in battle
array, while hundreds of banners waved in the sunlight. “Elam bare the
quiver with chariots of men and horsemen,” and they marched to the “two
leaved gates” of the city. Every sword in the ranks was true to the
young commander, and his victory was easily won. Babylon was conquered,
and the story of her decay was written upon her forehead. The seat of
government was removed, the city was left in desolation, and her gates
were smitten with destruction. Ruin fell upon her battlements, the owl
and the bittern dwelt amidst her prostrate columns, while the wild
beasts of the desert made their den in her fallen palaces.

                            ĪRĀN OR PERSIA.

Persia is often called Īrān, this being the name which the Persians
themselves gave to their kingdom. Persepolis was for a long time the
capital, but for almost twelve centuries after the fall of that
beautiful city, the capital was located at Shīrāz. The oldest certain
use of the name Persia is found in the prophets,[12] and the kingdom was
formed by the combination of the Medians with the Persians. These hardy
mountaineers were brave and merciless, their troops of horsemen, armed
with lance and quiver, swept down from the highlands with irresistible
force, and drew the wandering tribes of the East into one great army.
Frugal in their mode of life, strong in nerve and sinew, and severe in
military discipline, even their kings believed that nothing was so
servile as luxury and nothing so royal as toil.

The hardy tribes of Īrān which Cyrus led to victory were trained to
manly exercise; they taught their children to endure hardship, to ride,
to shoot and to tell the truth. They were strangers to dissipation, and
so loyal to age that parricide was inconceivable to them. The royal
edict was so inflexible that “the laws of the Medes and Persians” passed
into a proverb. Their loyalty to their kings degenerated into servility,
even legal injustice being considered a benefit to the victim, for which
he should be duly grateful. No edict was too severe to be promptly
obeyed, the very cruelty of their kings being considered a mark of
greatness; they buried men alive in honor of the elements, they flayed
their officials for bribery, while mutilation and stoning were legal
punishments.

This hardy race of soldiers, that could rush into battle, almost without
rations, was a terror to the pampered Lydian and the luxurious
Babylonian, for the ideal life of the Persian was continual conquest,
even his symbol of Ormazd being a winged warrior with bow and
threatening hand. But when the contest was over, the conquerors
irrigated the plains of Babylonia so faithfully that they were able to
gather three harvests a year from the fertile soil. The roads of the
kingdom were supplied with post-stations, and constantly traversed by
government couriers, while a great commercial intercourse was carried
even to the shores of Greece. It was not an enervated people that laid
the wonderful masonry in the foundations of Persepolis, and reared the
marble columns that still mock the changes of more than two thousand
years. But luxury crept in with continued power, and after a time, it
was said that the royal table was daily spread for fifteen thousand
guests, even though the king dined alone. Their nobles were clothed in
purple and decorated with jewels, while the person of the king was
resplendent with diamonds and rubies. In the royal treasury pearls were
piled up like the sands of the sea, and diamonds glittered amidst masses
of amethyst and sapphire. The royal helmet and buckler flashed with the
green light of emeralds and the crimson fire of the ruby.

But still they retained traces of the primitive simplicity which
belonged to the early mountain tribes, and the constructive energy of
their kings went on, building and planning, and forcing into their
courts the splendors of rifled cities. Darius flung the floating bridge
across the Bosphorus, that afterward furnished a highway for Alexander;
their summer palaces rose upon the mountains of Media, while their
winter homes, with marble pillars and graceful colonnades, were placed
in sunny vales where fountains gleamed through the glossy leaves and the
nightingale built her nest among thickets of roses. It is said of
Artaxerxes that even while he wore upon his person jewels to the value
of thousands of talents, he would still lead his army on foot through
mountain passes, carrying his own quiver and shield, and forcing his way
up the most rugged heights.

The Persians were quick to learn, and gladly appropriated to themselves
the civilization of Nineveh and Babylon; but luxury and dissipation will
unnerve the strongest empire, and after a time the designing beauties of
the harem became the rulers of weak and wicked princes, and though
Persian magnificence lasted from Darius to the last Persian king, their
final failure was due to their own corruption as much as to the forces
of Alexander the Great. The Īrānian mind seemed to be the harbinger of
progress, in the simplicity of its beginnings, in its striving for the
noble, the manly, and the true, but the selfishness of the later Persian
kings developed not only into luxury, but also into dissipation:
reclining on couches with golden feet, drinking the wines[13] of Helbon
and Shīrāz, they yielded to no rule except their own pleasure—there was
no precept of morality that they could not violate at will, no law in
their legal code that involved the recognition of the rights of other
nations; and this intense self-worship prepared the way for the coming
conqueror. The government of Persia became what the government of Turkey
now is—a highly centralized bureaucracy, the members of which owed their
offices to an irresponsible despot; the people of Persia therefore
hailed Alexander as their deliverer from disintegration and decay.

                      PHYSICAL FEATURES OF PERSIA.

“The Land of the Lion and the Sun,” presents the strongest physical
contrasts; with the king of the forest and the king of day emblazoned
upon her banners, she extended her dominion over rocky steppes and
barren sands, as well as fertile fields and stately forests. Persia
proper was a comparatively small province, but the tide of conquest
gathered many nations beneath her banners, and the dominion of Cyrus
extended from the Mediterranean to the Indus, and from the snowy peaks
of the Caucasus, downward to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the
Arabian Sea. The court of Darius was enriched by tributes from Egypt and
Babylonia, from Assyria and India, from Media, Lydia, Phœnicia and
many other lands.

Modern Persia occupies the larger portion of the great Īrānian plateau,
which rises to the height of from four to eight thousand feet, between
the valleys of the Indus and the Tigris, and covers more than a million
square miles. On the northwest the Persian Empire is united to the
mountains of Asia Minor by the high lands of Armenia, while on the
northeast the Paropansius and the Hindū Kush connect it with the
Himālayas of ancient India. The eastern and western boundaries are
traced with more or less uncertainty, amidst high ranges of mountains
broken here and there by deserts and valleys. The fertile lowlands are
found in the forest-clad regions south of the Caspian Sea, and down
toward the shore of the Persian Gulf.

Although she has of late exercised but little influence in the world’s
political councils, she retains a fair position among the Asiatics, and
the fact that a portion of her territory is under Russian influence,
while the rest is controlled to a greater or less extent by England,
would indicate that in the near future her political position may become
one of great importance. She still occupies a territory which is more
than twice the area of France, and her climate varies according to the
contrasting features of her formation, being rough and cold in the
mountain ranges, and often severe on the great table-lands where the
sandstorms rage across the desert, while other portions of the empire
are luxuriant with tropical foliage.

Down by the shores of the gulf the rice fields lift their dainty plumes,
farther away the acres of barley lie like golden billows in the
sunlight, and the cots of the peasantry are nestled under groups of
flowering trees. Beyond them rises the forest of almost primeval
grandeur where the great trunks of the trees are clothed with velvet
mosses and encircled with floral vines. Here the green shades of the
wood are relieved by the vivid scarlet of the pomegranate blossoms, and
streams that leap from snowy hills come dashing through the woodlands,
laden with life and rippling with music. Far away in the distance, the
barren table-lands arise, and beyond these the mountain ridges press
upward, dim and silent against the fields of blue, and the white clouds
drop their feathery snows upon peaks which are unsoiled by the foot of
man.

                              PERSIAN ART.

The primitive cradle of art has been found on the banks of the Tigris,
and in the valley of the Euphrates. It has been shown that Greece was
largely indebted to the sculptured slabs and columns of Nineveh for her
first models, and perhaps also to the pictured walls of Babylon for the
inspiration that glowed upon her canvas. But Asiatic art, like Oriental
literature, is tropical in its luxuriance and gorgeous in its
decorations. The classic taste of Greece subdued its more extravagant
features, and presented the simplicity of chaste designs. The Persians,
with their spirit of monopoly, appropriated the sculptured forms of
fallen Nineveh, and absorbed also the love of painting, and the passion
for gorgeous draperies, which were characteristic of Babylon.

But the Īrānian race had not the patience of fine detail and elaboration
which is found in the old Assyrian sculptures, the military dash of the
early warring tribes showed itself even in their statuary. The partial
stiffness of their outlines was, however, atoned for in the spirited
poise of their figures. They presented but few pictures of domestic
life, but there were hunting scenes and battle fields, terrific
struggles of their heroes with wild animals, and the triumphant march of
their conquerors—there were gorgeous processions bearing tributes to the
king, and historic pictures of his victories. Darius the Great was often
represented in simple dress, but always in the attitude of heroism or
tragedy, sometimes grasping a monster by the horn, while he drives the
dagger into its vitals, and again, with the symbol of Ormazd hovering in
a winged circle above him, he conquers the king of the forest.

In his Behistun inscriptions he is represented as the “king of kings,”
standing with his right foot on the prostrate form of a conquered foe,
while nine captive kings stand before him, with their hands in bonds and
their heads uncrowned. The wondrous architecture of Persepolis, though
laid with massive masonry, was made rich and graceful as that of a Greek
temple, for the lofty marble pillars, more than sixty feet in height,
were finished with capitals of sculptured animals reposing upon beds of
lotus blossoms.

Their helmets and breastplates were often inlaid with silver and
enameled with gold, and as the troops marched to the field of battle,
the sun flashed upon shields where pictures of Zal and Rustem were
inlaid with burnished gold[14] and the designs upon the royal armor were
resplendent with rubies and diamonds.

Persian art has been essentially industrial, and it is claimed that what
is known as Russia leather was first manufactured in Persia, while
legend says, that the artisans achieved their success by carrying their
work to the peak of Mount Elvend, where the lightnings imparted a
peculiar value to the texture.

The arts of Nineveh, of Babylon, and of Egypt culminated in the ages
past, but the rare porcelains, tiles, and mosaics—the vases and carved
metals of Persia, are still the pride of Asia. Their carpets, tapestries
and brocades are unrivaled in the markets of the world, while the richly
embroidered shawls and portiéres of Kermān still present their delicate
combinations of palm leaves with the soft coloring of the floral
borders.

                              MANUSCRIPTS.

One of the important features of art is exhibited in their beautiful
manuscripts, where the finest calligraphy is often combined with floral
designs upon a golden background. The letters of their language run
easily and gracefully into each other, and the Egyptian reeds with which
they write, are fashioned for the finest touches of the penman.

Calligraphy is called “a golden profession,” and a small but exquisite
copy of the Korān has been valued at one hundred thousand dollars, while
the artistic penman, who executed a copy of a popular poem, had his
mouth stuffed with pearls, in addition to the promised reward.

Less fortunate, however, was Mīr Amar, a celebrated calligraphist of the
fifteenth century. Being summoned to court to prepare an elaborate copy
of the Shāh Nāmah, and his progress being too slow to satisfy the royal
ambition, his beautiful manuscript was torn to pieces before his eyes,
and Mīr Amar was then hastened to the executioner. Yet such was the
extreme beauty of his work, that after the lapse of three hundred years,
short screeds from his pen are set in gold and sold at fabulous prices.

Although the printing press is invading the domain of the Persian
scribe, the art of calligraphy is still cultivated, and artistic penmen
are held in great repute.

                           EARLY LITERATURE.

It is evident that the early kings of Persia possessed royal libraries,
containing historical records and official decrees, for in the book of
Ezra[15] it is said that “search was made in the house of rolls,” in
Babylon, for the imperial decree of Cyrus concerning the rebuilding of
the temple. It was afterwards found at Ecbatana “in the palace that is
in the province of the Medes,” the decree having been made in the first
year of King Cyrus. But aside from some of the inscriptions, the
earliest literature we now have belonging to this people is the Zend-
Avesta, our present version of which was possibly derived from texts
which already existed in the time of the Achæmenian kings. Although
there are no facts to prove that the text of the Avesta as we now
possess it was committed to writing previous to the Sassanian
dynasty[16] Prof. Darmesteter thinks it possible that “Herodotus may
have heard the Magi sing, in the fifth century before Christ, the very
same Gāthas which are sung now a days by the Mobeds of Bombay.”[17]

As some of these early texts must have existed before the fifth century
B.C. we place them chronologically before the inscriptions of Darius the
Great.[18]

Historians claim that ancient Persian manuscripts were destroyed, when
Alexander, in a condition of drunkenness, ordered the beautiful city of
Persepolis to be set on fire, in order to please the courtesan Thais.

The modern worshippers of Alexander, however, have placed around his
name all the possible glory of military achievement with a vast amount
of rhetoric, concerning “the young hero” and “the thunder of his tread.”
They claim, indeed, that he had very few faults, except cruelty,
drunkenness, and some worse forms of dissipation. Their defense of this
barbarous act is that “only the palace and its environs were burned” at
this particular time, and that this was an act of requital for the
pillage of Athens, and also to impress the Persians with a due sense of
his own importance. Whatever may have been the motive, or physical
condition, of the incendiary, it is highly probable that when the
palace, and its environs were burned, the royal libraries went down in
the flames, and certain it is, that from the time of the Macedonian
conquest to the foundation of the Sassanian dynasty, the history of the
Persian language and literature is almost a blank page. The legends of
the Sassanian coins, the inscriptions of their emperors, and the
translation of the Avesta, by Sassanian scholars, represent another
phase of the language and literature of Īrān.

The men who, at the rising of the new national dynasty, became the
reformers, teachers, and prophets of Persia, formed their language and
the whole train of their ideas upon a Semitic model. The grammar of the
Sassanian dialect, however, was Persian, and “this was a period of
religious and metaphysical delirium, when everything became everything,
when Māyā and Sophia, Mitra and Christ, Virāf and Isaiah, Belus and
Kronos were mixed up in one jumbled system of inane speculation, from
which at last the East was delivered by the doctrines of Mohammed, and
the West by the pure Christianity of the Teutonic nations.”[19]

It was five hundred years after Alexander before Persian literature and
religion were revived, and the books of the Zend-Avesta collected,
either from scattered manuscripts or from oral tradition. The first
collection of traditions, which finally resulted in the Shāh-Nāmah, was
made also during the Sassanian dynasty. Firdusī tells us that there was
a Pahlevan, of the family of the Dihkans,[20] who loved to study the
traditions of antiquity. He therefore summoned from the provinces, all
the old men who could remember portions of the ancient legends, and
questioned them concerning the stories of the country. The Dihkan then
wrote down the traditions of the kings and the changes in the empire as
they had been recited to him. But this work, which was commenced under
Nushirvan and finished under Yezdejird, the last of the Sassanians, was
destroyed by the command of Omar, the Arabian chieftain.

The scanty literature of the Sassanian age was somewhat augmented by a
notable collection of Sanskṛit fables which was brought to the court of
the Persian king, Koshrou,[21] and translated into the Persian, or
Pahlavī tongue. This collection comprised the fables of the Panćatantra
and the Hitopadeśa, and from it the later European fables of La Fontaine
probably originated.

                        THE MOHAMMEDAN CONQUEST.

The warring tribes of the desert massed themselves together under the
banner of the crescent. They were animated by Mohammed’s doctrine of
anarchy—the claim of a common right to their neighbors’ goods, and
trained to dash into the very jaws of death by his promise of a sensual
heaven to every man who fell upon the battle-field.

Therefore these fearless sons of the desert, stimulated by hunger and
avarice, swept with irresistible force over the fair provinces around
them. They raided the great cities of Central Asia, and gathered to
themselves the treasures, which had been hoarded by the Aryan and the
Turk. When in the seventh century they saw Persia weakened by internal
dissensions and foreign wars, they gladly gathered under the standard of
Omar to descend upon the wealth of her cities.

It was an old quarrel that they longed to settle with the Sassanian
kings, reaching back through the history of their tribes to the time
when they had raided northern Persia, and had been driven back by
Ardeshir—they remembered, too, that Shapur had afterward ravaged Arabia
to the very gates of Medīna, and seized their territory down to the
shores of Yemen, on the southern sea. All the force of traditional
hatred and revenge was therefore added to their avarice, and lust for
power, when these fearless warriors sprang to the saddle and rode to the
conquest of Persia. Their terrible war-cry of Allah-il-Allah, rang
through rifled cities, and seemed to rise from the very dust which was
spurned from the feet of Arabian horses, until Persian nationality was
crushed by the invaders. Her treasures of literature were again
destroyed, so far as the conquerors could complete their work of
devastation, and the altar fires of the Pārsīs were quenched in the long
night of Mohammedan rule, while the Korān supplanted the Avesta even
upon its native soil.

                      LITERATURE OF MODERN PERSIA.

Modern Persian literature may be said to begin with the reconstruction
of the National Epic.[22] This work marks an important era, in even the
language of Persia, for it seems to close the biography of that peculiar
tongue. There has been but little, of either growth or decay, in its
structure since that period, although it becomes more and more
encumbered with foreign words.

The Persian Epic could be reconstructed only when the national feeling
began to reassert itself, and it was at this period that the patriotism
of the people began to recover from the benumbing pressure of Mohammedan
rule, and especially in the eastern portions of the empire, a
distinctively Persian spirit was revived. It is true that Mohammedanism
had taken root even in the national party, but the Arabic tongue was no
longer favored by the governors of the eastern provinces. Persian again
became the court language of these dignitaries, the native poets were
encouraged and began to collect once more the traditions of the empire.

It is claimed that Jacob, the son of Leis,[23] the first prince of
Persian blood, who declared himself independent of the Caliphs, procured
fragments of the early National Epic, and had it rearranged and
continued. Then followed the dynasty of the Samanians who claimed
descent from the Sassanian kings, and they pursued the same popular
policy. The later dynasty of the Gaznevides also encouraged the growth
of the national spirit, and the great Persian Epic was written during
the reign of Mahmūd the Great, who was the second king of the Gaznevide
dynasty. By his command, collections of old books were made all over the
empire, and men who knew the ancient poems were summoned to his court.
It was from these materials that Firdusī composed his Shāh-Nāmah.
“Traditions,” says the poet, “have been given me; nothing of what is
worth knowing has been forgotten; all that I shall say others have said
before me.”

Hence the heroes in the Shāh-Nāmah exhibit many of the traits of the
Vedic deities—traits which have lived through the Zoroastrian period,
the Achæmenian dynasty, the Macedonian rule, the Parthian wars, and even
the Arabian conquest, to be reproduced in the poem of Firdusī.

The modern phase of their literature is emphatically an age of poetry;
the Persians of these later centuries seem to have been born with a song
on their lips, for their poets are numbered by thousands. Not only their
books of polite literature, but their histories, ethics and science,
nay, even their mathematics and grammar are written in rhyme. There are
many volumes of these productions that cannot be dignified by the name
of poetry, but their literature is tropical in its development and their
annals bear the names of many illustrious poets. Firdusī, author of the
great Epic, must always stand at the head of Persian poetry; but Sā’dī
with his Būstān and Gūlistān, will ever be a favorite with his own
people.

Nizāmī of the twelfth century has given us, perhaps, the best version of
the beautiful Arabian tragedy of Lilī and Majnūn, and Hāfiz says of the
author:

              “Not all the treasured lore of ancient days
               Can boast the sweetness of Nizāmī’s lays.”

The clear and harmonious style of Hāfiz, who belonged to the fourteenth
century, has a fascination of its own, and it is claimed that the
prophet Khizer carried to the waiting lips of the poet the water from
the fountain of life, and therefore his words are immortal among the
sons of men.

Jāmi is entitled to a goodly rank in the world of poetry, even though
his Yūsuf and Zulaikhā, which has also been versified by many other
Persian poets, seems to have been written for the express purpose of
showing how an unprincipled woman may pursue a good man for a series of
years, marry him at last, almost against his will, and make him wish
himself in heaven the next day. The Persians may well be called the
Italians of Asia, for, although they are burdened with sentiment and a
certain exuberance of style, which meets with little favor in our colder
clime, we accord them our sympathy in the beauty of their dreams and the
tenderness of their thought.

                            PERSIAN ROMANCE.

The Arabic and even the Turkish tongue has intruded upon the classic
Persian of Firdusī, but as the English has borrowed from all nations,
and yet retains its own individuality, so also the Persian tongue, while
absorbing and adapting the wealth of others, still retains its personal
character, modified only by the changes of time.

In borrowing from the language of her neighbors, Persia has not
hesitated to adopt also portions of their literature. During the reign
of the Moslem kings the choicest mental productions from India, and even
from Greece, found the way to their courts. Alp Arslan, around whose
throne stood twelve hundred princes, was a lover of letters, and from
the banks of the Euphrates to the feet of the Himālayas a wealth of
literature was called, to be wrought up by Persian scholars and poets
under royal patronage. There was an active rivalry in literary culture,
and much of the fire of Arabian poetry brightened the pages of Persian
romance. There were the mystic lights and shadows of nomadic life, and
desert voices mingled with the strains of native singers.

The terrible contrasts of life and death—the unyielding resentments and
jealousies—passionate loves and hates, which are so distinctively
Arabian, began to fill the pages of Īrānian romance with tragedy.

Even the vivid description of the Moslems could scarcely add to the
gorgeousness of Persian fancy, where Oriental lovers wandered in the
greenest of valleys, while around them floated the soft perfume of the
orange blossoms. It could not add to the fabulous wealth of their
nobles, where camels were burdened with the choicest of gems, and vines
of gold were laden with grapes of amethyst. But it did add the element
of fierce revenge and the tragedy of violent death, represented by the
pitiless simoon and the shifting sand column, the hopeless wastes, the
bitter waters, and the dry bones of perished caravans. It added the
life-springs of the oasis, as well as the rushing whirlwind; it added
the palm tree of the desert, with her feet in the burning sand and her
head in the morning light—a symbol of the watch-fires of faith above the
desert places of life. The best literature of Persia in our own age is
largely the reproduction in various forms of her standard poets; her
romances, however, still rival the Arabian Nights in their startling
combinations and bewildering descriptions. The imagination of her
writers is not bound by the rules of our northern clime, and there is
nothing too wild or improbable to find a place in Oriental story. There
are rayless caverns of sorcery in a wilderness of mystery; there are
mountains of emerald[24] and hills of ruby[25]; there are enchanted
valleys, rich with fabulous treasure, and rivers gushing from fairy
fountains. There is always the grand uprising of the king of day and the
endless cycle of the stars—for this poetic people cannot forget the
teaching of the Pārsī and the Sabean. In the literature found on the
banks of these southern seas there is also the restfulness of night,
with its coolness and dews, to be followed by the glory of the morning
and the fragrance from the hearts of the roses.

Persian literature rings with voices from ruined cities, and mingles the
story of the past with the dreams of her future. Her treasures are drawn
from the records of Chaldean kings; her historic pictures have caught
the light of early crowns and repeated the story of their magnificence.
Her annals are filled with the victories of her Cyrus, with the extended
dominions of her great Darius, and the gorgeousness of her later
sovereigns. Her poets have immortalized her myths as well as her heroes,
and the Oriental world has contributed to the pages of her romance.

-----

Footnote 1:

  Accad is first mentioned as one of the beginnings of the kingdom of
  Nimrod in Genesis x, 10.

Footnote 2:

  Mr. Theo. G. Pinches, in his notes on this chapter, says: “The
  Sumerians are generally regarded as of the same race as of the
  Accadians. Sumerian is a dialect of Akkadian. Sumer and Akkad both
  contained Semitic and non-Semitic inhabitants.”

Footnote 3:

  Decouvertes en Chaldee par E. de Sarzec, Plate No. 29.

Footnote 4:

  The catalogue of the astronomical works in the library of Sargon I
  instructs the reader to write down the number of the book that he
  needs, and the librarian will thereupon give him the tablet required.—
  _Sayce, Bab. Lit., p. 9._

Footnote 5:

  Diodorus, Sec. 23.

Footnote 6:

  The word Nineveh is made up of signs which mean city, coach and Nana
  respectively, all of which means the resting place of the chief god,
  Nana. (E.A. Budge.) The great commerce of Nineveh—the fact that her
  merchants were greatly “multiplied”—is illustrated by the large
  collection of contract tablets in the British Museum.

Footnote 7:

  The problem of the relative value of gold and silver had been solved
  to a certain extent in this ancient kingdom, a silver shekel being
  one-tenth the value of a gold shekel, and the silver half shekel one
  twentieth of the value of the gold shekel. The drachma, or silver half
  shekel, is supposed to be the most ancient type of the English
  shilling, as one-twentieth of the English gold sovereign.

Footnote 8:

  For the empire of Nebuchadnezzar, the records of the Egebi family are
  invaluable—dated deeds extending, year by year, from the reign of
  Nebuchadnezzar to the close of that of Darius Hystaspes.—_Sayce, An.
  Emp., p. 105._

Footnote 9:

  Sayce—An. Emp., p. 195.

Footnote 10:

  Astarte or Ashtaroth.

Footnote 11:

  Jer. li, 47; Isa. xxi, 2-9.

Footnote 12:

  Ezekiel xxvii, 10; xxxviii, 5.

Footnote 13:

  The Persians called wine Zeher-e-kushon, or “delightful poison.”

Footnote 14:

  Scarcely a century has elapsed since the burnished shields and helmets
  of ancient Persian royalty were laid aside for the lighter military
  accoutrements of modern Europe.

Footnote 15:

  Ezra vi, 1.

Footnote 16:

  226 A.D.

Footnote 17:

  Darmesteter, Sa. Bks. of the E., Vol. IV, Int., p. 3.

Footnote 18:

  These appear to have been written upon the face of the Behistun rock
  about 515 B.C.

Footnote 19:

  Max Müller—Chips, Vol. I, p. 91.

Footnote 20:

  The Dihkans were the landed nobility of Persia. They kept up a certain
  independence, even under the sway of the Mohammedan Khalifs.

Footnote 21:

  About 570 A.D. See Quartremére.

Footnote 22:

  1000 A.D.

Footnote 23:

  870 A.D.

Footnote 24:

  In Persian mythology the earth is surrounded by a mountain range of
  pure emerald.

Footnote 25:

  “The Ausindom mountain is that which, being of ruby, of the substance
  of the sky, is in the midst of the sea Vouru-Kasha.”—_Zend-Avesta—Tir
  Yast, VI, 32, n._



                              CHAPTER II.
                      THE CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS.

EARLY LITERATURE—HISTORIC TABLETS—THE INSCRIPTIONS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR—THE
    FALL OF BABYLON—CYRUS, THE ACHÆMENIAN—BEHISTUN INSCRIPTIONS—DARIUS
    AT PERSEPOLIS—INSCRIPTIONS OF XERXES—ARTAXERXES—A LATER PERSIAN
    TABLET—RÉSUMÉ.


The early literature of Persia takes root in ancient soil, and the
foundation of her world of letters must be sought for amidst the graven
stones of forgotten tribes. The Persian heritage was not only the land
of ancient Babylonia, but also the Chaldean and Semitic lore, which lay
in the vaults of her kings, or lived upon the marble walls of her ruined
palaces.

The story of a great civilization, and the poetry, as well as the prose
of human history, were recorded upon the rocks or buried beneath the
soil of Mesopotamia. It was even written in gold and alabaster, and
placed in the corner-stones of temples that have lain beneath the tread
of armies for three thousand years. When the stone is rolled away from
the sepulchre of a buried literature, and the records of forgotten ages
come with resurrection power into the living present, the heart of man
must listen to the voice of these historic witnesses.

One of the greatest triumphs of modern science is the solution of the
cuneiform inscriptions of antiquity. To the herculean labors of
Grotofend, Bournouf, Lassen, Rawlinson, Layard, Oppert, Rassam, Sayce,
Talbot, and others, the world owes a debt it can never pay. Their
solution of these obscure alphabets, and the language, grammar and
meaning of these old inscriptions rank with the grandest discoveries of
modern science. They have not hesitated to devote their lives to the
drudgery of cuneiform study, a score of years if necessary, being given
to the solution of a single inscription. Without their long, unceasing
labor many of the most valuable records of the past must have remained a
sealed book. In vain would the spade of the explorer have exhumed the
imperial libraries of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar if no light could
be thrown upon their strange inscriptions. In vain would the historic
tablets of Karnak, or the cylinders of Babylon be brought before the bar
of modern criticism, if no key could be found to their problems. It has
been necessary to bring to this formidable task an understanding of the
Chaldaic, and also of the old Accadian tongue. But even this did not
suffice, and it would have been impossible to do more than to decipher a
few proper names on the walls of Persian palaces without the aid of
other ancient languages. As Lassen remarks: “It seems indeed
providential that these inscriptions should be rescued from the dust of
centuries at the very time when the discovery of Zend and Sanskṛit had
enabled Europeans to successfully grapple with their difficulties, for
at any other period in the world’s history they could only have been a
strange combination of wedges[26] or arrow heads, even in the eyes of
Oriental scholars.” It is difficult to appreciate the long and tedious
processes by which these men were compelled to shape their own
intellectual tools, and test their own laborious methods; but even to
those who have not time to follow their intricate path of research, the
result of their labors is indeed marvelous. The accuracy of their work
has been sufficiently verified. At the suggestion of the Royal Asiatic
Society, four translations of several hundred lines of the inscription
of Tiglath-Pileser I. were made independently by Sir Henry Rawlinson,
Mr. Fox Talbot, Dr. Hincks and Dr. Oppert, and submitted under seal to
the secretary of that society. When opened and compared, it was found
that they exhibited a remarkable resemblance to each other, even in the
transliteration of proper names, and the rendering of individual
passages. This triumphant result abundantly proved the fact that their
method was a sound one, and that they were working on a solid basis.

Absolute certainty, of course, is unattainable at present, but the
decipherment of these inscriptions has reached a degree of accuracy
sufficient for all practical purposes. Scholars, perhaps, will always
dispute about the exact meaning of certain words or phrases, as they do
in reference to the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, but in either case it
is seldom that any important point turns upon the particular shade of
meaning. Still, it is evident that the Orientalists who have undertaken
to restore the early chronology of Assyria and Babylonia have a
difficult task in hand.

One of the points most surely settled by the deciphering of these
inscriptions is, that so far as certain peoples are concerned the world
of letters extends much farther back than has generally been supposed.

                           HISTORIC TABLETS.

There are philological tablets which are apparently designed, in some
cases, to give the manner in which the names of Semitic kings were
pronounced or written by their Accadian subjects.

An instance of this is found in the name of Sargon of Accad, the ancient
hero of the Semitic population of Chaldea, who founded the first Semitic
empire in the country and established a great library in his capital
city, Accad, near Sippara. The seal of his librarian, which is of
beautiful workmanship, is now in Paris, and has been published by M. de
Clercq,[27] while a copy of his annals, together with those of his son
Naram-Sin, may be found in Western Asia Inscriptions.[28]

Among these early records we also find tablets[29] which have been
exhumed, placed in the British Museum and translated, bearing the old
Assyrian record of the flood, which is marvelously like the account
found in Genesis, even to the “building of the ship,” which contained
“the seed of all life,” and the raven and the dove which were sent forth
from its windows after the waters began to recede. Another tablet[30]
describes the building of some great tower or “stronghold,” apparently
by command of the king, but the gods are represented as being angry, for
it is stated that “Babylon corruptly to sin went, and small and great
mingled on the mound.... To their stronghold in the night he made an
end. In anger also the secret counsel he poured out—to scatter (them
abroad) his face he set. He gave a command to make strange their
speech.... Violently they wept—very much they wept.”

There is a fragment of a tablet,[31] on which was written an Accadian
poem; on being translated it was found to contain a description of
certain cities, of which the names were not given. It was recorded,
however, that they were destroyed by a rain of fire, and the legend
gives an account of a person who escaped the general destruction.

The inscriptions of ancient kings reveal to a certain extent the times
and the facts connected with their reigns, but in discussing the tablets
and monuments, the pillars and palace walls of these royal historians,
it must be borne in mind that these heathen kings were far from
infallible, and whatever resulted in their own aggrandizement was most
eagerly recorded, while their military defeats and political
humiliations were either passed over in silence or qualified to such an
extent as to virtually lose their force. This is especially true of
Sennacherib, who has the reputation among Assyriologists of being “the
least trustworthy of the royal historians of Assyria.” Nevertheless,
these records are of inestimable value as giving an account of their own
wars and achievements by interested participants.

A hexagonal prism of clay, which was found at Nineveh and carried to the
British Museum[32] contains an account of the first eight years of the
reign of Sennacherib and of his siege of Jerusalem under the reign of
King Hezekiah, when, according to the tablets, the king of Jerusalem
“had given command to strengthen the bulwarks of the great gate of the
city,” when it was found to be so strong that the Assyrian king
refrained from assaulting it.[33]

The strange libraries of Assyria and Babylon abounded also in
astronomical and astrological reports, the records of lawsuits, contract
tablets and other inscriptions, also a number of official dispatches
sent by the king of Jerusalem and other potentates to foreign courts.

There are also Assyrian deeds of real estate,[34] bills of sale of
Israelites for slaves, also a bill of sale of a woman to an Egyptian
lady (Nitocris), who made the purchase in order to obtain a wife for her
son, as well as the contract tablets of Belshazzar, and the “annals” of
other kings.

Hundreds of these historic tablets have been brought to light, for the
soil ruled over by Persian kings was indeed rich in this imperishable
literature. Manuscripts may fade beneath the touch of time, or be burned
by barbarian invaders, but these clay tablets have safely kept their
records beneath the dust of centuries, and the germs of their thought
lived, and were developed among other races, after they had lain for
ages in the valley of the Euphrates.

                  THE INSCRIPTIONS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR.

These annals begin by declaring him to be “the King of Babylon, the
exalted prince, the worshipper of the god Marduk, the prince supreme,
the beloved of the god Nebo.” This mighty king was the patron of all
forms of idolatry, and one of the principal objects of his reign appears
to have been the restoration of the idol temples, and the reconstruction
of their images. The first or “lofty-headed,” was the shrine of the god
Bel. The celebrated golden image which Nebuchadnezzar set up represented
this god.[35] There is but little genuine history[36] in his
inscriptions, as he seemed to consider the account of the rebuilding of
the city, and the restoration of the idol temples, of more importance
than the record of his military triumphs. The work of rebuilding Babylon
was surely a necessity, for the Babylonians having rebelled, Sennacherib
had almost wholly destroyed it.[37] The vengeance of the Assyrian king
must have been terrible, for in the Bavian inscription, he declares that
he swept the city from end to end—that he destroyed the houses, threw
down the wall and fortifications, and the ruins were, by his order,
thrown into the river. It is true that he and Assur-bani-pal
reconstructed many buildings, but Babylon[38] never regained her title
of “the Glory of the East” until the time of Nebuchadnezzar, who was
engaged throughout his long reign[39] in rebuilding the temples and
cities of his kingdom.

There are in the British Museum some thirty or forty inscriptions of
this king, which record the structure of great buildings. There are also
a few fragments pertaining to his historical career, but the account
thus given is so incomplete, that while it agrees with the Biblical
record of his campaigns, it is far less definite in detail.
Nebuchadnezzar III, son of Nabupolasser, came to the throne in the
latter part of the seventh century B. C, having taken command of the
Babylonian army during the war between his father and Necho, the king of
Egypt. He routed the Egyptian troops at Carchemish, “and took all that
pertained to the king of Egypt, from the river of Egypt unto the river
Euphrates.”[40]

No royal penman ever took greater delight in recording his achievements
than did Nebuchadnezzar in describing the glories of his capital city:
“Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the
kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?”[41]
Upon the cylinders found at Senkereh in the ruins of the temple of the
sun, upon tablets taken from the ruins of Birs Nimrud,[42] which still
rise one hundred and fifty-three feet above the level of the plain, and
elsewhere, we find the boastful records of this haughty monarch, and in
one instance a single inscription consists of six hundred and nineteen
lines. Thus writes the great king:

“The fanes of Babylon I built, I adorned. Four thousand cubits complete,
the walls of Babylon, whose banner is invincible, as a high fortress by
the ford of the rising sun, I carried around Babylon its fosse which I
dug. With cement and brick I reared up a tall tower at its side like a
mountain. I built the great gates, whose walls I constructed with pine
woods and covering of copper. I overlaid them to keep off enemies from
the front of the wall of unconquered Babylon. Those large gates for the
admiration of multitudes of men, with wreathed work I filled—the
invincible castle of Babylon, which no king had previously effected, the
city of Babylon I fitted to be a treasure city,”[43] etc.

These few lines indicate the style and general character of the
chronicles found upon many cylinders and slabs. During his reign
Jerusalem was besieged, and captured[44] after a siege of a year and a
half. King Zedekiah fled by night “by the way of the gate between the
two walls which is in the king’s garden,” but was overtaken in the
plains of Jericho, and brought before the king of Babylon at Riblah,
where his sons were slain before him and his eyes were destroyed. A few
years later Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre, with doubtful success. He had
left Gedaliah in charge of Judah, but the new ruler was slain by
Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah. Again the king of Babylon came to take
vengeance, and carried the Jews away to Babylon. He afterward turned his
attention to the capture of Egypt, whose king had incited Palestine to
rebellion. Nebuchadnezzar defeated and deposed him, swept over Egypt and
installed a king who was tributary to Babylon.[45] After this he devoted
himself to the rebuilding of his city, using thousands of captives as
laborers and drawing upon all his provinces for his supplies.

All the writers of this period give their testimony to the glory of his
city, his palaces, temples, hanging gardens, and the golden images of
his gods. He builded the shrines of multitudes of gods at Babylon, and
Jeremiah alludes to this fact when he says: “For it is a land of graven
images, and they confide in their idols.”[46] The prophets of Israel
never stayed in their denunciation of this idolatrous king, even though
they and their people were within the grasp of his mailed hand.

The land of Palestine has been called “the Piedmont of Western Asia;”
being situated midway between the two great empires of Egypt and
Assyria, it became the battle-field of the Orient, and it was here that
the fiercest conflict was waged. But during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar
the Chaldean supremacy in Asia remained unshaken, for the active policy
of that iron-handed ruler, with his mighty army kept all Western Asia
under his control.

                          THE FALL OF BABYLON.

There are several tablets pertaining to the fall of Babylon which throw
additional light upon that event. It appears from these chronicles that
Belshazzar reigned in connection with his father Nabonidus, Belshazzar
being the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar on the maternal side. Under the
date of the ninth year of Nabonidus,[47] the record says: “Nabonidus,
the king, was in the city of Teva, the son of the king (Belshazzar), the
chieftains, and the soldiers were in the land of Accad (North
Babylonia).... The king until the month Nisan (first month) to Babylon
went not, Nebo to Babylon came not, Bel went not forth.... In the month
Nisan, Cyrus, king of Persia, his army gathered, and below Arbela the
river Tigris he crossed.” The chronicle is here mutilated, and it can be
seen only that Cyrus, marching across the northern part of the
Euphratean valley, levied tribute upon some distant king. This may have
been one of the campaigns in the war against Crœsus, king of Lydia,
and the rising power of the now united Medes and Persians was anxiously
watched by the rulers of Babylonia. Nabonidus appears from the record to
have been a weak ruler, leaving the government and command of the army
largely in the hands of his son. Says Boscawen, the eminent
Assyriologist: “From the seventh year[48] of his father’s reign until
the fall of the empire, Belshazzar appears to have been the leading
spirit and ruler of the kingdom, and this may account, in some measure,
for his prominence in the book of Daniel.”[49] In the cylinder
inscription of Nabonidus, found in the temple of the Moon-god at Ur, the
king thus prays for his son:

               1. “As for me, Nabonidus, king of Babylon,
               2. In the fullness of thy
               3. Great divinity, (grant me)
               4. Length of life
               5. To remote days.
               6. And for Belshazzar,
               7. My first-born son,
               8. The offspring of my heart,
               9. Reverence for thy great divinity
               10. Establish thou in his heart.”[50]

Another tablet, by a contemporary scribe, gives a brief account of the
fall of Babylon, which throws a most important light upon this great
event, enabling historians to fix the year, month and day of the capture
of the city, and as proving its agreement with the statements of
classical writers, and the author of the book of Daniel. The ancient
writers all agree, that the fall of Babylon took place by a surprise,
the attack being made on the night of a great festival. Herodotus thus
describes it: “The outer part of the city had already been taken, while
those in the centre, who, as the Babylonians say, knew nothing of the
matter, owing to the extent of the city, were dancing and making merry,
for it so happened that a festival was being celebrated.”

Xenophon claims that the attack was made “when Cyrus perceived that the
Babylonians celebrated a festival at a fixed time, at which they feasted
for the whole night.” The Hebrew prophets,[51] also, were not unaware of
this surprise upon the “Lady of Kingdoms,” and among the inscriptions
taken from Babylon is a large tablet, containing, when complete, the
calendar of the year, with notes appended to each day, specifying
whether it was lucky or unlucky, whether it was a fast or a feast day.
The calendar of the month Duza, or Tammuz, the month in which Babylon
was taken, is fortunately complete, and contains a record of the
festivals which were celebrated therein. The month opens with a festival
of the Sun-god, or Tammuz, as the summer sun, restored in all his beauty
(after his death in winter) to his bride, who is Ishtar, the moon. This
festival is the same as that of Atys, the Phyrgian Adonis, which is
celebrated at the same time. The festivals of Tammuz and Ishtar, his
wife, extended over all the first half of the month, the second being
the day of lamentation, and the sixth, the procession. On the fifteenth
day of the month they celebrated the great marriage feast of Tammuz and
his bride, and it consisted of wild orgies, such as can only be found in
the lascivious East. It was this festival which Belshazzar was
celebrating on the night in which Babylon was taken, and it was probably
the only one in which not only the king, but also his “wives and
concubines,” would be present. There may have been an air of desperation
imparted to the conduct of Belshazzar by the knowledge that, by the
flight of his father and defeat of his army, the kingdom was virtually
lost, and that this was probably his last festival as a Babylonian
ruler. The gold and silver vessels which were brought forth at this
reckless feast had been captured at the sacking of the temple at
Jerusalem, and stored in the temple of Bel Merodach, and were brought
from there in obedience to the command of Belshazzar, who was the last
of the line of Nimrod. It is evident from the tablets and other
authorities that the army of Cyrus, commanded by Gobyras,[52] entered
the city “without fighting” on the night of the fifteenth of the month
Tammuz, and the outposts were captured while the revelers were
unconscious of the near approach of the foe. But within the walls and at
the scene of festivity, surrounding the king, there was not only the
tramp of armed men, but also the clash of swords and spears, a short but
decisive combat, and Babylon, “the glory of kingdoms,” became the
victor’s prize.[53]

The walls of the Chaldean palace were rich with gorgeous draperies on
that fatal night. The golden cups were filled with costly wines, and
long festoons of flowers were hung from wall and ceiling; there were
beautiful faces, and the flashing of jewels, with music and mirth in the
royal hall, but that festal scene was the back-ground of the death of an
empire. “Babylon the Great” had fallen in the midst of her splendor—had
fallen with her temples and palaces, into the hand of the Persian king.

                         CYRUS—THE ACHÆMENIAN.

The numerous inscriptions of Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and the three
Artaxerxes found at Persepolis, at Mount Elvend, at Susa, and Suez, are
the most important of the historical inscriptions of Persian kings,
except that at Behistun. The Persian texts have been repeatedly and
carefully edited. Following the preparatory labors of Grotofend, Rask,
Beer and Jacquet, the documents have been carefully examined and
explained by MM. Burnouf, Lassen, Sir H. Rawlinson, Benfey, Spiegel and
Dr. Oppert.

The Median versions appeared afterward, coming from the competent hands
of MM. Westergaard, De Saulcy, Holtzmann, Norris and Mardtmann, while
the Assyrian translations have been examined by scholars whose work is
equally careful, therefore, no doubt can be entertained concerning its
general accuracy.

The supposed tomb of Cyrus merely bears in three languages—Persian,
Median and Assyrian—the simple statement that “I am Cyrus, the King, the
Achæmenian.” There is, however, an Assyrian inscription on a Babylonian
brick which was brought over to England by Loftus and translated by Sir
Henry Rawlinson, which declares that “Cyrus, King of Babylon, Priest of
the Pyramid and of the Tower (was) son of Cambyses, the Mighty Prince.”
This apparently simple legend is of great historical importance, as it
proves that Herodotus[54] was right in calling Cyrus’s father Cambyses,
a name which was afterward borne also by the successor of Cyrus. The
inscription also states, in harmony with Herodotus, that the former
Cambyses was not a king, but merely a private individual.

                         BEHISTUN INSCRIPTIONS.

Not only is the soil of Persia rich in historic lore, but even the
cliffs of her mountains were “graven with an iron pen” where her records
were “laid in the rock forever.” At Behistun, far above the plain, is
found an imperishable record of the reign of Darius Hystaspes.[55]

Major Rawlinson at last succeeded in scaling the heights and making
casts of the mystic characters to be taken away and translated. The
great inscription is written in three languages, and extends to nearly a
thousand lines of cuneiform writing. It is at least four hundred feet
above the plain, and this intrepid soldier, during the space of several
years, made the perilous ascent a multitude of times, always bringing
away, at the peril of his life, some portion of this great historic
record. After thirteen years of persistent effort he succeeded in
copying the whole inscription, and placing it in such a form that other
scholars could assist him in the translation of it. The casts of the
Scythic version were given into the care of Mr. E. Norris, the well-
known Oriental scholar, who published from them an independent
translation in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. The Persian
text was translated by Major Rawlinson, and Dr. Julius Oppert states
that he devoted twenty years of his own life to the Median version.

In the subject-matter of this long inscription, King Darius follows the
custom of other potentates, and records only his triumphs, though he
boastingly tells of the barbarities he practiced upon would-be usurpers.
The record opens with a long line of genealogies, giving the names of
the kings who reigned before him. “And Darius the king says, on that
account we called ourselves Achæmenian of race; from ancient times we
have been mighty, from ancient times we have been kings.”[56]

The royal historian then recites the countries over which he reigned,
including Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Arabia, and Egypt, besides minor
provinces, twenty-three in all, and he says, “These are the provinces
that called themselves mine; they brought tribute to me, what was
ordered by me unto them, in the night time as well as in the day time,
that they executed.”[57]

The history is then given of various pretenders who led revolts against
him. The whole account of these rebellions occupies many lines of
cuneiform writing, but victory was always gained by the crown, and the
usurpers were put to death in the most barbarous manner. Their noses and
ears and tongues were cut off, their eyes were put out, and in this
pitiable condition they were chained to the palace where “all the people
saw” them, and afterward they were carried away and placed upon crosses.
The penalty inflicted upon each one is given in detail, but there is a
great uniformity in the accounts, although the punishment was sometimes
varied by hanging the leader of the revolt, together with his principal
followers. Often a decree of extermination was issued against all the
people engaged in the rebellion. The great inscription is finished with
a pictorial representation of the nine kings which Darius took in
battle, one of whom claimed to be Bardes, the son of Cyrus. Another
claimed to be the king of Susiana;[58] another led the revolt of the
Babylonians; the fourth caused the rebellion of the Medians; the fifth,
like the second, proclaimed himself the king of Susiana, while the sixth
led the Sagartians in an attack upon their king. “The seventh was a
Persian who lied and said, ’I am Smerdis, son of Cyrus, and he caused
the revolt of Persia.’”[59] The eighth proclaimed himself king of
Babylon, and the ninth claimed to exercise kingly power over the
Margians. The first of these is represented by a prostrate figure, upon
which the victorious king is trampling, the others are standing in the
position of captives, and are branded as imposters by the inscriptions
beneath them. The king also recorded the names of the warriors who
assisted him in his campaigns, and requested those who might succeed him
upon the Persian throne, to “remember to show favor to the descendants
of these men.”

                         DARIUS AT PERSEPOLIS.

Afar in the mountains of Persia stand the ruins of the capital city of
her ancient kings. Porch and temple, hall and palace, lie together
amidst the desolation wrought by the ages. The long stairway still leads
to the great plateau, while the gray marble pillars stand like sentinels
above the ruins at their feet, and the moonlight gleams upon sepulchres
of Persian monarchs. But even here, on panel and column, we find symbols
graven by a forgotten hand—the desert voice of the past, still boasting
of the grandeur of her fallen kings.

An inscription on the door of a ruined palace, written in Persian,
Median, and Assyrian, recounts the greatness of “Darius the great king,—
the king of kings,—the king of the lands,—the son of Hystaspes, the
Achæmenian (who) has built the palace.” The “lands which are numerous”
over which he holds sway are declared to be “Susiana, Media, Babylon,
Arabia, Assyria, Egypt, Armenia, Cappadocia, Lycia, the Ionians, those
of the continent and those of the sea, and the Eastern lands, Sagartia,
Parthia, Sarangia, Aria, Bactria, Sogdiana, Chorasmia, Sattagydia,
Arachotis, India, Gandaria, the Maxyans, Karka (Carthage), Sacians, and
the Maka.”[60]

Darius the king says “If thou say it may be so I shall not fear the
other Ahriman.[61] Protect the Persian people. If the Persian people are
protected by thee, Ormazd, the Good Principle, which has always
destroyed the demon, will descend as ruler on this house. The great
Ormazd, who is the greatest among all the gods, is he who created the
heaven, and created the earth, who created the men and the Good
Principle, and who made Darius king, and gave to Darius the king, the
royalty over this wide earth, which contains many lands; Persia and
Media, and other lands and other tongues, on the mountains, and in the
plains, of this side of the sea, and on the side beyond the sea; of this
side of the desert, and on the side beyond the desert.” The inscriptions
of Darius at Mount Elvend, at Susa, and at Suez, are merely repetitions
of the greatness of Darius and of Ormazd.

                        INSCRIPTIONS OF XERXES.

These are engraved upon the staircase and columns at Persepolis, and
like the texts of Darius, they are employed chiefly to represent the
greatness of the king, and the greatness of Ormazd. Says Dr. Oppert,
“The texts of Xerxes are very uniform, and not very important. The real
resulting fact is the name of the king, Khsayarsa, which proves to be
identical with Ahasuerus”[62] of the Book of Esther. There are also
legends on vases which were found in Egypt, at Susa and Halicarnassus.
The vase found at Halicarnassus is now in the gold room of the British
Museum, bearing the inscription of “Xerxes the great king.”

                              ARTAXERXES.

The texts of this monarch, which are written in Persian, Median and
Assyrian, are found on the bases of columns at Susa, and also at
Persepolis, as well as upon vases. They comprise the records of three
kings—Artaxerxes I, II and III.

We are indebted to the excavations of Loftus at Susa for the records of
Artaxerxes II; these are far more important than the inscriptions of his
predecessor, which merely illustrate the egotism of their author. The
text which is borne upon these columns brings down to us a new
historical statement, to the effect that the palace at Susa was burned
under the reign of Artaxerxes I, and restored by his grandson. During
this period the Persian monarchs resided principally at Babylon, and
Darius II died there.

The great importance of these texts arises from the fact that they give
the genealogy of the Achæmenidæ, and confirm the statements transmitted
to us on this subject by the Greeks, which are in direct opposition to
the traditions of the modern Persians. The text of Artaxerxes III
contains the genealogy of that king upward to the names of Hystaspes and
Arsames, who were the father and grandfather of Darius Hystaspes of the
Achæmenian line.

                        A LATER PERSIAN TABLET.

A much later tablet is merely a note of hand given by a Persian king
(Pacorus II), with a promise to pay “in the month of Iyar (April) in the
Temple of the sun in Babylon,” and it also bears the names of four
witnesses. This little clay tablet was discovered by Dr. Oppert in the
Museum of the Society of Antiquarians at Zurich, and has been carefully
translated by him. It is interesting mostly from the fact of its
comparatively modern origin, King Pacorus II having been contemporary
with the Emperor Titus and Domitian. Some of the names mentioned upon it
are Babylonish, and some of them Persian. All the witnesses, however,
bear Persian names which may even be called modern. King Pacorus II
commenced his reign A.D. 77, and hence this is the only tablet, so far
as known, which belongs to the Christian era.

                                RÉSUMÉ.

These sculptured temples and graven stones have lain in the path of the
ages with silent lips, but the questioning hand of the nineteenth
century has broken the spell and wrested the story of the past even from
the “heaps” of Nineveh and Babylon. From mountain cliff, from palace
wall, from corner-stone and fallen pillar comes the same historic voice
that speaks to us from the forgotten libraries of buried kings.

The literature of the tablets comes into our own age, leading a splendid
retinue of historic figures—Sargon, the early king of Accad, with his
imperishable library, with the monuments and tablets of Assyria, then
Nineveh, “that great city,” with her temples and palaces, where the
gilded tiles of many a a dome flashed back the glory of the setting sun—
Babylon, “the joy of the whole earth,” and “the beauty of the Chaldee’s
excellency,” who for centuries held her position as the queen of the
world’s commerce, and through whose hands the wealth of the Euphrates
flowed down to the Persian Gulf. Babylon, with her maze of life and
color, with her silver vases and golden vessels, with her princely halls
and gorgeous hangings, with the breath of the myrtle and the bay, borne
upward from her terraced gardens and moonlight meads.

Then the scene changes, and the kingly Cyrus is riding at the head of
his Medo-Persian cohorts, and the crown of the Orient is within his
grasp. “Bel boweth down—Nebo stoopeth,” and the seat of government is
removed, and “the daughter of the Chaldeans” sits in the dust beneath
the foot of the invader.

Later still, Darius the Great is enthroned on Persian soil; haughtily he
wears the imperial purple, and the crown of many kingdoms, while upon
the face of Persia’s mountains, he writes himself “The king of kings.”
But a reckless policy led the Persian host to a sure defeat upon the
plains of Marathon, and prepared the way for the humiliation of Xerxes,
and the later triumphs of Alexander. Then the sons of the desert poured
like a mountain torrent over the plains of Īrān, and the star and
crescent flashed everywhere from banners on Persian soil, while to-day
the Arab pitches his tent amidst the ruins of ancient cities, and only
the spade of the explorer reveals their buried treasures.

-----

Footnote 26:

  Cuneiform means “having the form of a wedge,” and is especially
  applied to the wedge-shaped or arrow-headed characters of ancient
  inscriptions.

Footnote 27:

  Collection de Clercq, Pl. 5. No. 46.

Footnote 28:

  4-34.

Footnote 29:

  Deluge Tablets in British Museum, Records of the Past, 1-133.

Footnote 30:

  Marked K 3657 in British Museum. Trans. by Geo. Smith.

Footnote 31:

  Inscriptions of Western Asia, Vol. 19. Trans. by Prof. Sayce, Records
  of Past, 11-119.

Footnote 32:

  Brit. Mus. Ins., Plates 37-42. Trans. by Rawlinson.

Footnote 33:

  Annals, Col. 3, line 24. Also 2 Chron. xxxii, 5.

Footnote 34:

  These deeds are attested by the seal impressions, or in lieu thereof
  by the nail marks of the parties to whom they belonged. Many of them
  have been translated.—_W. St. Chad Boscawen._

Footnote 35:

  Concerning the statue of Bel, see Daniel, chap. iii; Herodotus, bk. I;
  Strabo, XIV; Pliny, VI, chap. xxvi; Q. Curtius, lib. V; Arrianus, lib.
  VII.

Footnote 36:

  The mythology of Nebuchadnezzar’s inscriptions will be briefly treated
  in the following chapter.

Footnote 37:

  This devastation was accomplished during Sennacherib’s campaign of 694
  to 692 B.C.

Footnote 38:

  The city of Babylon was founded in very early times. It became the
  capital under Khammuragas (about 1700 B.C., who built a temple to
  Merodach there), and held this position for twelve hundred years. It
  was conquered by Tukulti-Ninip, 1271 B. C.; by Tiglath-Pileser II, 731
  B.C.; by Merodach Baladan, 722 B.C.; by Sargon, 721 B.C. It was sacked
  and destroyed by Sennacherib, 692 B.C.: restored by Esarhaddon, 675
  B.C.; captured by Assur-bani-pal, 648 B.C.; rebuilt in great splendor
  by Nebuchadnezzar during his long reign, and taken at last by the
  Medes and Persians about 539 B.C.—_Ernest A. Budge, Trans. Vic. Ins._,
  V. 18, p. 147.

Footnote 39:

  Nebuchadnezzar reigned from about 605 to 562 B.C.

Footnote 40:

  2 Kings xxiv, 7. In the tablets the river Euphrates is called “the
  river of Sippara.”

Footnote 41:

  Dan. iv, 30.

Footnote 42:

  Translated by Fox Talbot, F.R. S., Records of the Past, I, 69-73.

Footnote 43:

  Translated by Fox Talbot, F.R. S., Records of the Past, 1-133.

Footnote 44:

  Jerusalem captured 587 B.C. See also Jer. xxxix, 1, 2; 2 Kings xxv.

Footnote 45:

  572 B.C.

Footnote 46:

  Jer. 1, 38.

Footnote 47:

  547 B.C.

Footnote 48:

  549 B.C.

Footnote 49:

  W. St. Chad Boscawen, Trans. Vic. Ins., Vol. XVIII, No. 70, p. 117.

Footnote 50:

  Western Asia Inscriptions, Vol. I, pl. 68, col. lines 19.

Footnote 51:

  Jeremiah li, 39-57; also Daniel v, 1.

Footnote 52:

  The newly acquired evidence of the tablets seems to indicate that
  Gobyras, who commanded the armies of Cyrus, was Darius the Median, who
  acted as the viceroy of Cyrus on the throne of Babylon. Gobyras, the
  Ugbaru of the inscriptions, being formerly prefect of Gutium, or
  Kurdistan, was ruler of a district which embraced Ecbatana, the Median
  capital, and the province of the Medes, and was also, as his name
  indicates, a Proto-Mede, or Kassite, by birth. Xenophon states that
  the capture of Babylon was effected by Gobyras, and that his division
  was the first to reach the palace. Cyrus himself did not enter Babylon
  until later in the year, namely, on the third day of Marchesvan, four
  months after, when he “proclaimed peace, to all Babylon, and Gobyras
  his governor, and governors, he appointed.”

Footnote 53:

  W. St. Chad Boscawen, Trans. Vic. Ins., Vol. XVIII, page 131.

Footnote 54:

  Herodotus, I, 107, 122.

Footnote 55:

  Darius Hystaspes reigned from 549 to 486 B.C.

Footnote 56:

  Column I, line 3. Achæmenes was the last king independent of Persia,
  and therefore the kings after Cyrus declared that they were his
  descendants. It is supposed that he was superseded by Phraortes, the
  Median king (657-635) as it was he who first subdued the Persians.
  Phraortes was the great grandfather of Cyrus, who was born 599 B.C.

Footnote 57:

  Col. I, line 7.

Footnote 58:

  The name of this province appears to be derived from Susun, signifying
  a “lily.”

Footnote 59:

  Col. III, line 41.

Footnote 60:

  This list of nations and provinces found at Persepolis is of great
  importance. It was executed after the first expedition of Darius to
  the Greek nations 496, B. C, or still later, and many Hellenic nations
  are enumerated as being subdued to the Persian power.

Footnote 61:

  If Dr. Oppert’s version is correct this text gives us the first
  mention of the name of Ahriman to be found in the inscriptions,
  although the warring of the evil elements against the good is
  introduced in a Chaldean legend of the creation, which will be noticed
  in the following chapter.

Footnote 62:

  Commentaire sur le livre d’Esther, p. 4.



                              CHAPTER III.
                THE POETRY AND MYTHOLOGY OF THE TABLETS.

PRIMITIVE MYTHOLOGY—ANŪ—SEVEN EVIL SPIRITS—ACCADIAN POEM—ASSUR—HEA—NIN-
    CI-GAL—SIN, THE MOON GOD—HEA-BANI—NERGAL—MERODACH—NEBO—NINIP—
    CHEMOSH—INCANTATIONS TO FIRE AND WATER—IM—BAAL—TAMMUZ-ISHTAR—ISHTAR
    OF ARBELA—ISHTAR OF ERECH—LEGEND OF ISHTAR AND IZDŪBAR-ISHTAR, QUEEN
    OF LOVE AND BEAUTY—THE DESCENT OF ISHTAR.


The East was the home of poetry and the land of mythology before the
hundred gates of Palmyra were swung upon their massive hinges, or the
crown of her beautiful queen had been set with its moonlight pearls. A
land which was rich with jewels and radiant with flowers, held in her
background a mythology so primitive that it appears to have been the
mother of them all. Tablet and palace walls have alike been questioned
concerning these early myths, and behind the dust of the centuries, in
the legends that lie beneath them, we find stories of gods like Indra,
the storm-king of the Hindūs, and Jove of Olympus—like Odin and Thor of
the Northmen. Even the gigantic symbols that guarded the portals of
ancient hall and palace are replete with wonder, for their strange wings
have sheltered the very beginnings of mythology. Chaldea’s cosmogonies
comprehend the ideas of the Greek and Norseman—nay, even the wildest
dreams of Hindū and Persian are apparently drawn from this common
source.[63]

The intelligent study of Persian literature compels an examination of
the early myths and legends where her poetry and romance found their
sources—compels the study not only of the inscriptions of Persian kings,
but of the tablets which have brought down to us the idols of a
primitive people. Therefore, it is the province of this chapter to give
a brief yet comprehensive outline of the principal deities and legends
which seem to form the basis not only of Persian mythology, but of the
luxuriant growth of myth and fable which has permeated India, Greece,
and Rome, as well as Northern Europe.

A Chaldean legend of the creation is found upon a clay tablet which
contains a description of the struggle between the evil powers of
darkness and chaos, and the bright powers of light and order. This is
doubtless the origin of the struggle between good and evil—the unceasing
contest between Ormazd and Ahriman which forms the key-note of Persian
thought so fully illustrated in the Avesta.

There are two contradictory tablets of the creation. The one coming from
the library at Cutha and the other from the royal library at Nineveh.
This latter consists of seven tablets, as the creation is described as
consisting of seven successive acts. It presents a curious similarity to
the account of the creation long before recorded in Genesis, the word
Tīamat which is used to represent chaos seems to be the same as the
biblical word _tehom_, the deep. A radical difference, however, is found
in the fact that in the Assyrian story, Tīamat has become a mythological
personage—the dragon mother of a chaotic brood. The legend in its
present form is assigned by Prof. Sayce to about the time of Assur-bani-
pal.[64] The oldest tablets are those which are written in the primitive
Accadian tongue, and many of these have been found in the library of
Assur-bani-pal,[65] having evidently been copied from the earlier text
and supplied with interlinear translations in the Assyrian tongue.

The Assyrians counted no less than three hundred spirits of heaven and
six hundred spirits of earth, all of which (as well as the rest of their
mythology) appears to have been borrowed from the primitive population
of that country. Indeed it would appear that ancient Babylonia was the
birthplace of that common mythology[66] which in various forms afterward
became the heritage of so many nations.

Elaborate and costly temples were built for these deities of an
idolatrous people, and when the image of a god was brought into his
newly built temple there were festivals and processions, and wild
rejoicing among the worshippers.

The principal gods mentioned in these early tablets may be briefly
sketched as follows:

                                  ANŪ.

The sky god and ruler of the highest heaven, whose messengers are evil
spirits. The Canaanite town of Beth-anath, mentioned in Joshua,[67] was
named for Anat, the wife of Anū.

                          SEVEN EVIL SPIRITS.

These messengers of Anū are elsewhere described as the seven storm-
clouds, or the winds, and their leader seems to have been the dragon
Tīamat[68] (the deep), who was defeated by Bel-Merodach in the war of
the gods. The tablets have preserved an Accadian poem on this subject,
the author of which is represented as living in the Babylonian city of
Eridu,[69] where his horizon was bounded by the mountains of Susiani,
and the battle of the elements raging around their summit suggested to
his poet-mind the warring of evil spirits.

It was these seven storm-spirits who were represented as attacking the
moon when it was eclipsed, a description of which is given in an
Accadian poem[70] translated by Prof. Talbot. Here they are regarded as
the allies of the incubus, or nightmare, which is supposed to attack the
moon.

                ACCADIAN POEM ON THE SEVEN EVIL SPIRITS.

 “O, Fire-god! those seven, how were they born? how grew they up?

  Those seven in the mountain of the sunset were born.
  Those seven in the mountain of the sunrise grew up.
  In the hollows of the earth have they their dwelling;
  On the high places of the earth are they proclaimed.
  Among the gods their couch they have not;
  Their name in heaven and earth exists not.
  Seven are they; in the mountain of the sunset do they rise;
  Seven are they; in the mountain of the sunrise do they set.
  Let the Fire-god seize upon the incubus;
  Those baleful seven may he remove, and their bodies may he bind.
  Order and kindness know they not,
  Prayer and supplication hear they not.
  Unto Hea they are hostile;
  Disturbing the lily in the torrents are they.
  Baleful are they, baleful are they,
  Seven are they, seven are they.”

 “They are the dark storms of heaven which unto fire unite themselves;
  They are the destructive tempests which, on a fine day, sudden darkness
     cause;
  With storms and meteors they rush,
  Their rage ignites the thunderbolts of Im,
  From the right hand of the thunder they dart forth.
  They are seven, these evil spirits, and death they fear not;
  They are seven, these evil spirits, who rush like a hurricane,
  And fall like fire-brands on the earth.”[71]

Here we have more than a suggestion of the origin of some of the early
songs of the Vedas, for these seven storm-spirits are represented by the
Marūts of the Hindūs—“the shakers of the earth”—who dash through the
heavens in chariots drawn by dappled deer. In this primitive mythology
we find also

                                 ASSUR.

The “god of judges” was the especial patron of Assyria, and afterward
made to express the power of the later Assyrian empire by becoming
“father of the gods” and the head of the pantheon.

The Assyrian kings claimed that their power was derived from this deity,
and in one of the inscriptions it is said that

     “The universal king,[72] king of Assyria, the king whom Assur,
      King of the spirits of heaven, appointed with a kingdom,
      Without rival has filled his hand.
      From the great sea of the rising of the sun
      To the great sea of the setting of the sun
      His hand conquered and has subdued in all entirety.”

In the inscriptions of Shalmanesar II, all honor is also ascribed to
this god; he is invoked as “Assur, the great lord, the king of all the
great gods.”

 And it is said: “By the command of Assur, the great lord, my lord,
 I approached the mountain of Shitamrat—

 The mountain I stormed.
 Akhuni trusted to the multitude of his troops and came forth to meet me;
 He drew up in battle array.
 I launched among them the weapons of Assur, my lord;
 I utterly defeated them.
 I cut off the heads of his soldiers and dyed the mountains with the
    blood of his fighting men.
 Many of his troops flung themselves against the rocks of the
    mountains.”[73]

On his return, the victorious king purified his weapons in the sea, and
sacrificed victims to his gods. He erected a statue of himself,
overlooking the sea, and inscribed it with the glory of Assur.

                                  HEA.

Hea[74] was the god of chaos or the deep; he was “the king of the abyss
who determines destinies.”

In later times he was also called “the god of the waters,” and from him
some of the attributes of Neptune may have been derived. It was said
that Chaos was his wife.

                              NIN-CI-GAL.

In later mythology Nin-ci-gal, instead of Chaos, was the wife of Hea—she
was the “lady of the mighty country” and “queen of the dead.” This
goddess may have been the prototype of Proserpine, who was carried away
by Pluto in his golden chariot to be the “queen of hades.”

                                  SIN.

This name signifies brightness, and the moon-god was the father of
Ishtar. Nannaru, “the brilliant one,” was one of his titles.

A golden tablet[75] found in the “timmin,” or cornerstone of a palace or
temple at Khorsabed, contains an account of the splendid temples which
King Sargon II built in a town near Nineveh (Dur Sārkin) and dedicated
to Hea, Sin (the moon-god), Chemosh (the sun-god), and Ninip, the god of
forces. The king’s inscription[76] states that “I constructed palaces
covered with skins, sandal wood, ebony, cedar, tamarisk, pine, cypress,
and wood of pistachio tree.” Among the gods presented on the tablets we
find also

                               HEA-BANI.

This god was the companion of Izdūbar, and on account of the peculiar
circumstances attending his death was shut out of heaven. He is
represented as a satyr, with the legs, head, and tail of an ox. This
figure occurs very frequently on the gems, and may always be recognized
by these characteristics. He is doubtless the original of Mendes, the
goat-formed god of Egypt, and also of Pan, the goat-footed god of the
Arcadian herdsman with his pipe of seven reeds. Hea-bani is represented
as dwelling in a remote place three days’ journey from Erech, and it was
said that he lived in a cave and associated with the cattle and the
creeping things of the field.

                                NERGAL,

the patron deity of Cutha, is identified with Nerra, the god of
pestilence, and also with Ner, the mythical monarch of Babylonia, who it
was claimed reigned before the flood. He was “the god of bows and arms.”
The cuneiform inscriptions show that the Lion-god, under the name of
Nergal[77] was worshipped at Kuti or Cutha, where an elaborate temple
was built in his honor, and an Assyrian copy of an old Babylonian text
belonging to the library of Cutha, speaks of “the memorial stone which I
wrote for thee, for the worship of Nergal which I left for thee.”
According to Dr. Oppert, Nergal represented the planet Mars, hence the
Grecian god of war, “raging round the field,” appears to have been
merely a perpetuation of this early deity.

                             BEL MERODACH,

or Marduk, whose temple, according to the inscription, was built by
Nebuchadnezzar, with its costly woods, “its silver and molten gold, and
precious stones” and “sea-clay” (amber), “with its seats of splendid
gold, with lapis-lazuli and alabaster blocks,” which are still found in
the ruins of Babylon. And the king made the great festival Lilmuku, when
the image of Merodach[78] was brought into the temple.[79] The
inscription also speaks[80] of the temple as receiving “within itself
the abundant tribute of the kings of nations, and of all peoples.”[81]

                                 NEBO.

From this god the name of Nebuchadnezzar was derived, and he was the
favorite deity of that king. He was the eldest son of Merodach, and was
“the bestower of thrones in heaven and earth.” In a ten-column
inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, which is engraved upon black basalt, and
now forms part of the India House Collection, the king speaks of
building a temple in Babylon “to Nebo of lofty intelligence, who hath
bestowed on me the scepter of justice to preside over all peoples.” He
says, “The pine portico of the shrine of Nebo, with gold I caused to
cover,”[82] etc. Nebo[83] or Nabo and Merodach are both used as the
component parts of the names of certain kings of Babylon.

                                 NINIP,

“the son of the zenith,” and “the lord of strong actions,” finds an echo
in Grecian mythology as Hercūles, who received his sword from Mercury,
his bow from Apollo, his golden breastplate from Vulcan, his horses from
Neptune, and his robe from Minerva, the goddess of wisdom.

Hercūles, who appears in Persian mythology as Mithras, the unconquered
sun, is traced back to his Phœnician origin in the line of Baal.
Therefore, the Persian Mithras represents Chemosh and Tammuz, both of
whom are sun-gods as well as the “god of forces,” for the sun is the
most powerful influence in the planetary world. The mysteries of Mithras
were celebrated with much pomp and splendor on the revival of the
Persian religion under the Sassanidæ. The word appears in many ancient
Persian names.

                                 DAGON.

The Assyrian Dagon was usually associated with Anū, the sky-god, and the
worship of both was carried as far west as Canaan.[84] He is spoken of
in the tablets as “Dagon, the hero of the great gods, the beloved of thy
heart, the prince, the favorite of Bel,” etc. The name is a word of
Accadian origin, meaning “exalted.”

                                MOLECH.

Of Molech little is said in the tablets, except that “he took the
children,”[85] but a curious fragment of an old Accadian hymn indicates
that the children of these highlanders were offered, as burnt offerings,
in very early times; and hence, says Prof. Sayce, “the bloody sacrifices
offered to Molech were no Semitic invention, but handed on to them, with
so much else, by the Turānian population of Chaldea.”[86] The Mosaic law
was especially severe upon this “abomination” of human sacrifices, the
death penalty being ordered for every such offence.[87]

                                CHEMOSH.

This sun-god was worshipped as the Supreme, and in his honor, his early
worshippers sang praises, offered sacrifices and performed incantations.
The success of Mesha, king of Moab, in his revolt against the king of
Israel, was commemorated by the erection of the celebrated Moabite
stone[88] whereon was recorded the inscription ascribing his victory to
Chemosh, his favorite deity. The principal title of Chemosh[89] was
“Judge of heaven and earth,” but he afterward held a less important
position in the Chaldaic-Babylonian pantheon, which was adopted by the
Assyrians, and was considered inferior to Sin, the moon-god, who was
sometimes said to be his father. There are several tablets bearing
magical incantations and songs to the sun-god.

But the hideous idols that occupied the palatial temples of Chemosh at
Larsam, in Southern Chaldea, and at Sippara, in the north of Babylonia,
became more refined in the poetry of the Vedas, and he appeared in the
mythology of the Hindūs as Sūrya, the god of day, who rode across the
heavens in a car of flame drawn by milk-white horses.

                     INCANTATIONS TO FIRE AND WATER

There are also Assyrian incantations to fire and water, which represent
the imagery of the primitive Babylonians, and these inscriptions also
suggest a possible foundation for the hymns of the Ṛig-veda. There is a
great similarity of style between the literature of the tablets and the
early hymns of the Hindūs. The tablets speak of “An incantation to the
waters pure, the waters of the Euphrates—the water in which the abyss
firmly is established, the noble mouth of Hea shines upon them.

Waters they are shining (clear), waters they are bright. The god of the
river puts him (the enchanter) to flight,” etc. In the incantation to
fire, there are also many eloquent passages: “The Fire-god—the prince
which is in the lofty country—the warrior, son of the abyss—the god of
fire with thy holy fires—in the house of darkness, light thou art
establishing.

Of Bronze and lead, the mixer of them thou (art). Of silver and gold,
the blesser of them thou (art).”[90] This Fire-god of the Accadians was
represented by the Hindū Agni, from whose body issued seven streams of
glory, and by Loki, whose burning breath is poured from the throbbing
mountains of the Northmen.

                                  IM.

In this pantheon of mythology, as defined by the tablets, Im was the god
of the sky, sometimes called Rimmon, the god of lightning and storms, of
rain and thunder. He is represented among the Hindūs as Indra, who
furiously drives his tawny steeds to the battle of the elements. With
the Greek and Latins he was personated by Zeus and Jupiter, “the cloud-
compelling Jove,” while among the Northmen he wears the form of Thor,
whose frown is the gathering of the storm-clouds, and whose angry voice
echoes in the thunder-bolt.

                                 BAAL,

or Bel (plural Baalim), was also an important character, and indeed,
according to Dr. Oppert, all of the Phœnician gods were included
under the general name of Baal,[91] and human sacrifices were often made
upon their blood-stained altars. He had a magnificent temple in Tyre,
which was founded by Hiram, where he had symbolic pillars, one of gold
and one of smaragdus. An inscription[92] on the sarcophagus of
Esmunazar, king of the two Sidons, claims that he, too, built a temple
to Ashtaroth, and “placed there the images of Ashtaroth,” and also “the
temple of Baal-Sidon, and the temple of Astarte, who bears the name of
this Baal;” that is, the temple of Baal and the temple of Astarte, or
Ashtaroth, at Sidon.

The grossest sensuality characterized some forms of the worship of Baal
and Ashtaroth. Indeed, it can only be compared to the unmentionable
rites which two thousand years later pertained to the worship of Kṛishṇa
and Śiva.

In the inscription of Tiglath Pilesar I, Baal is called “the King of
Constellations,” and the fact that he was thus worshipped is a peculiar
explanation of the frequent condemnation in the book of Kings of the
worship of “the host of Heaven,” which is repeatedly spoken of in
connection with the altars of Baal.[93]

                                TAMMUZ.

This is another form of the sun-god, who is represented as being slain
by the boar’s tusk of winter. June is the month of Tammuz, and his
festival began with the cutting of the sacred fir tree in which the god
had hidden himself. A tablet in the British Museum states that the
sacred dark fir tree which grew in the city of Eridu, was the couch of
the mother goddess.[94] The sacred tree having been cut and carried into
the idol-temple, there came the search for Tammuz, when the devotees ran
wildly about weeping and wailing for the lost one,[95] and cutting
themselves with knives. His wife, Ishtar, descended to the lower world
to search for him, and the tablets furnish another poem which seems to
celebrate a temple similar to that recorded by Maimonides, in which the
Babylonian gods gathered around the image of the sun-god, to lament his
death. The statue of Tammuz was placed on a bier and followed by bands
of mourners, crying and singing a funeral dirge. He is also called Dūzi,
“the son.” Tammuz is the proper Syriac name for Adonis of the Greeks.

                                ISHTAR.

This goddess, who is sometimes called Astarte, was the most important
female deity of this early pantheon. The Persian form of the word is
Astara. In Phœnician it is Ashtaroth,[96] and according to Dr. Oppert
all the Phœnician goddesses were included under this general name.
Another form of the name afterward appeared in Greek mythology as
Asteria, and it was applied to the beautiful goddess who fled from the
suit of Jove, and, flinging herself down from heaven into the sea,
became the island afterward named Delos.

The farther back we go in the world’s history the nearer we approach to
the original idea of monotheism, and originally there was only one
goddess, Ishtar or Ashtaroth, personifying both love and war, but two
such opposite characteristics could not long remain the leading
attributes of the same deity, and hence after a time, there were
mentioned three goddesses bearing the same name.

                            ISHTAR OF ARBELA

was the goddess of war, the “Lady of Battles.” She was the daughter of
Anū, whose messengers were the seven evil spirits, and the favorite
goddess of King Assur-bani-pal, who claims that he received his bow from
her, though he declares in his inscriptions that he worshipped also Bel
or Baal, and Nebo; he frequently implores the protection of Ishtar.

“Oh, thou, goddess of goddesses, terrible in battle, goddess in war,
queen of the gods! Teūman, king of Elam, he gathered his army and
prepared for war; he urges his fighting men to go to Assyria. Oh, thou,
archer of the gods, like a weight, in the midst of the battle, throw him
down and crush him.”[97] Ishtar of Arbela afterward became the Bellona
of the Latins, and the Enyo of the Greeks. Under the name of Anatis, or
Anāhid, she was worshipped in Armenia, and also in Cappadocia, where she
had a splendid temple, served by a college of priests, and more than six
thousand temple servants. Her image, according to Pliny,[98] was of
solid gold, and her high priest was second only to the king himself.
Strabo calls this goddess Enyo, and Berosus considers that she is
identical with Venus. The inscriptions of Artaxerxes, discovered at
Susa, call her Anāhid, which was the Persian name of the planet Venus.
The characteristics of Venus, the queen of beauty, may seem somewhat at
variance with Ishtar of Arbela, the goddess of war, but it will be
remembered that the Greeks of Cythera, one of the Ionian islands,
worshipped an armed Venus, and from this island she took the name of
Cythera; the fable that she rose from the sea probably means that her
worship was introduced into the island by a maritime people, doubtless
the Phœnicians.

                            ISHTAR OF ERECH,

the daughter of Anū and Annatu, is another form of this popular goddess,
and one of the Assyrian tablets refers to the dedication of horses at
the temple of Bit-ili at Erech, where the king of Elam dedicated white
horses with silver saddles to Ishtar, the tutelar divinity of Erech.

In the sixth tablet of the Izdūbar series, we find an Ishtar whose
characteristics are so different from either the goddess of love or the
goddess of war, that we are constrained to believe that it must refer to
Ishtar of Erech. She here appears as the queen of witchcraft, resembling
the Hecate of the Greeks in her funereal abode. Indeed, Hecate was
fabled to be the daughter of Asteria, which is merely the Greek form of
the name Ishtar, and Pausanius[99] mentions an Astrateia whose worship
was brought to Greece from the East.

                     LEGEND OF ISHTAR AND IZDŪBAR.

                                COLUMN I.

   “1. He had thrown off his tattered garments,

    2. his pack of goods he had lain down from his back.

    3. (he had flung off) his rags of poverty and clothed himself in
         dress of honor.

    4. (With a royal robe) he covered himself,

    5. and he bound a diadem on his brow.

    6. Then Ishtar the queen lifted up her eyes to the throne of
         Izdūbar—

    7. Kiss me, Izdūbar! she said, for I will marry thee!

    8. Let us live together, I and thou, in one place;

    9. thou shalt be my husband, and I will be thy wife.

   10. Thou shalt ride in a chariot of lapis-lazuli,[100]

   11. whose wheels are golden and its pole resplendent.

   12. Shining bracelets shalt thou wear every day.

   13. By our house the cedar trees in green vigor shall grow,

   14. and when thou shall enter it

   15. (suppliant) crowds shall kiss thy feet!

   16. Kings, Lords, and Princes shall bow down before thee!

   17. The tribute of hills and plains they shall bring to thee as
         offerings,

   18. thy flocks and thy herds shall all bear twins,

   19. thy race of mules shall be magnificent,

   20. thy triumphs in the chariot race shall be proclaimed without
         ceasing,

   21. and among the chiefs thou shalt never have an equal.

   22. (Then Izdūbar) opened his mouth and spake,

   23. (and said) to Ishtar the queen:

   24. (Lady! full well) I know thee by experience.

   25. Sad and funereal (is thy dwelling place),

   26. sickness and famine surround thy path,

   27. (false and) treacherous is thy crown of divinity.

   28. Poor and worthless is thy crown of royalty

   29. (Yes! I have said it) I know thee by experience.

                               COLUMN II.

    1. Wailings thou didst make

    2. for Tarzi thy husband,

    3. (and yet) year after year with thy cups thou didst poison him.

    4. Thou hadst a favorite and beautiful eagle,

    5. thou didst strike him (with thy wand) and didst break his wings;

    6. then he stood fast in the forest (only) fluttering his wings.

    7. Thou hadst a favorite lion full of vigor,

    8. thou didst pull out his teeth, seven at a time.

    9. Thou hadst a favorite horse, renowned in war,

   10. he drank a draught and with fever thou didst poison him!

   11. Twice seven hours without ceasing

   12. with burning fever and thirst thou didst poison him.

   13. His mother, the goddess Silili, with thy cups thou didst poison.

   14. Thou didst love the king of the land

   15. whom continually thou didst render ill with thy drugs,

   16. though every day he offered libations and sacrifices.

   17. Thou didst strike him (with thy wand) and didst change him into a
         leopard.

   18. The people of his own city drove him from it,

   19. and his own dogs bit him to pieces!

   20. Thou didst love a workman,[101] a rude man of no instruction,

   21. who constantly received his daily wages from thee,

   22. and every day made bright thy vessels.

   23. In thy pot a savory mess thou didst boil for him,

   24. saying, Come, my servant and eat with us on the feast day

   25. and give thy judgment on the goodness of our pot-herbs.

   26. The workman replied to thee,

   27. Why dost thou desire to destroy me?

   28. Thou art not cooking! I will not eat!

   29. For I should eat food bad and accursed,

   30. and the thousand unclean things thou hast poisoned it with.

   31. Thou didst hear that answer (and wert enraged),

   32. Thou didst strike him (with thy wand) and didst change him into a
         pillar,

   33. and didst place him in the midst of the desert!

   34. I have not yet said a crowd of things! many more I have not
         added.

   35. Lady! thou wouldst love me as thou hast done the others.

   36. Ishtar this speech listened to,

   37. and Ishtar was enraged and flew up to heaven.

   38. Ishtar came into the presence of Anū her father,

   39. and into the presence of Annatu, her mother, she came.

   40. Oh, my father, Izdūbar has cast insults upon me.”[102]

The student of comparative mythology will recognize in the above legend
the original idea of much of the classic lore of Greece. Izdūbar’s
return, and the throwing off of his disguise, suggest the adventures of
Ulysses as related by Homer, and his return to Ithaca as a beggar.

             “Next came Ulysses lowly at the door,
              A figure despicable, old and poor;
              In squalid vests with many a gaping rent,
              Propped on a staff and trembling as he went.”
                                      _Odyssey, Book xvii._

The character of Ishtar as presented in this tablet is apparently a
prototype not only of Hecate, but also of Medea, whose chariot was drawn
by winged serpents, and the cauldron or pot, which Ishtar filled with
her magic herbs, suggests the statement of Ovid that Medea on one
occasion spent no less than nine days and nights in collecting herbs for
her cauldron.[103] The character of Ishtar may also have suggested that
of Circe, who

                 “Mixed the potion, fraudulent of soul,
                  The poison mantled in a golden bowl,”

and she loved Ulysses as Ishtar loved Izdūbar, even though she had
transformed all of his companions into swine.

In column II of the tablet under consideration, we find the story of the
king whom Ishtar changed into a leopard, “and his own dogs bit him to
pieces.” No one can doubt that we see here the original of the Greek
fable of Actæon, the hero who offended the goddess Diana, when she
revenged herself by changing him into a deer, and his dogs no longer
knowing their master, fell upon him and tore him to pieces.[104] The
classic authors of Greece and Rome, however, attribute the fate of
Actæon to the vengeance of the strong and graceful Diana, whom he
offended by allowing his eyes to rest upon her rich beauty, while the
tablet ascribes the fate of the king to the wanton cruelty of Ishtar.

Diana is sometimes identified with Hecate, the daughter of Asteria or
Ishtar, and she retains the characteristics of her mother by appearing
as the goddess of the moon. Her temple at Ephesus, with its hundred and
twenty-seven columns of Parian marble, was one of the “Seven Wonders of
the World,” but the hideous idol within it was roughly carved of wood,
not as a beautiful huntress, but as an Egyptian monster, whose deformity
was hidden by a curtain.[105]

The same Diana, however, in the hands of Grecian poets, becomes the
strong and beautiful goddess of the chase, followed by her train of
nymphs in pursuit of flying deer with golden horns.

Assyrian literature has evidently furnished the basis of several stories
which are found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, besides that of Pyramus and
Thisbe, which, as he expressly states, is a tale of Babylon.

                 ISHTAR, THE QUEEN OF LOVE AND BEAUTY.

Ishtar of Nineveh, who is identified with Beltis, the wife of Baal,
became the goddess of love, “the divine queen” or “divine lady” of
Kidmūri, which was the name of her temple at Nineveh. She was the
daughter of Sin, the moon-god; indeed, she is sometimes represented as
the full moon, for which reason she is called the goddess Fifteen in
Assyria, because the month consisting of thirty days, the moon was full
on the fifteenth. She is the prototype of Freyja, the weeping goddess of
love among the Northmen, and the Aphrodite of the Greeks—the beautiful
nymph who sprang from the soft foam of the sea, and was received in a
land of flowers, by the gold-filleted Seasons, who clothed her in
garments immortal. Her chariot was drawn by milk-white swans, and her
garlands were of rose and myrtle.

Ishtar of Nineveh appears as the imperious queen of love and beauty, and
was undoubtedly the original of the Latin Venus. Indeed, Anthon says,
“There is none of the Olympians of whom the foreign origin is so
probable as this goddess, and she is generally regarded as being the
same with the Astarte (Ashtaroth) of the Phœnicians.”[106] We find
upon the tablets a beautiful legend concerning her visit to Hades. She
went in search of her husband Tammuz, as Orpheus was afterward
represented as going to recover his wife, when the music from his golden
shell stopped the wheel of Ixion, and made Tantalus forget his thirst.
So also Hermöd, the son of Odin, in the mythology of the Northmen rode
to Hel upon the fleet-footed Sleipnir in order to rescue his brother
Balder.

It was doubtless through the Phœnicians that this legend reached the
Greeks, and was there reproduced in a form almost identical with the
fable of the tablets. Adonis, the sun-god, who was the hero, was killed
by the tusk of a wild boar, even as Tammuz, the sun-god of Assyria, was
slain by the boar’s tusk of winter. Venus, the queen of love and beauty,
was inconsolable at his loss, and at last obtained from Proserpina, the
queen of hades, permission for Adonis to spend every alternate six
months with her upon the earth, while the rest of the time should be
passed in hades. Thus also the Osiris of the Egyptians was supposed to
be dead or absent forty days in each year, during which time the people
lamented his loss, as the Syrians did that of Tammuz, as the Greeks did
that of Adonis, and as also the Northmen mourned for Frey.

Ishtar is represented as going down to the regions of darkness wearing
rings and jewels, with a diadem and girdle set with precious stones, and
this fact would seem to indicate that the ancient city, which afterward
came under the rule of Persian kings, was the home of the idea that
whatever was buried with the dead would go with them to the other shore.
Hence India, for ages, burned the favorite wives, with the dead bodies
of her rajas, while other tribes placed living women in the graves of
their chiefs, and our own Indians provide dogs and weapons for the use
of their braves when they reach the “happy hunting grounds.” We give the
following legend complete, as it is found upon the tablets:

                         THE DESCENT OF ISHTAR.

                                COLUMN I.

   “1. To the land of Hades, the region of her desire,

    2. Ishtar, daughter of the moon-god Sin, turned her mind.

    3. And the daughter of Sin fixed her mind (to go there).

    4. To the house where all meet, the dwelling of the god Irkalla,

    5. to the house men enter but cannot depart from,

    6. to the road men go but cannot return,

    7. the abode of darkness and famine,

    8. where the earth is their food; their nourishment clay;

    9. light is not seen; in darkness they dwell;

   10. ghosts like birds flutter their wings there,

   11. on the door and gate-posts the dust lies undisturbed.

   12. When Ishtar arrived at the gate of Hades,

   13. to the keeper of the gate she spake:

   14. Oh keeper of the entrance! open thy gate!

   15. Open thy gate! I say again that I may enter.

   16. If thou openest not thy gate and I enter not,

   17. I will assault the door; I will break down the gate,

   18. I will attack the entrance, I will split open the portals,

   19. I will raise the dead to be the devourers of the living!

   20. Upon the living the dead shall prey.

   21. Then the porter opened his mouth and spake

   22. and said to the great Ishtar,

   23. Stay, Lady! do not shake down the door.

   24. I will go and tell this to Queen Nin-ci-gal.

   25. The porter entered and said to Nin-ci-gal

   26. These curses thy sister Ishtar (utters)

   27. blaspheming thee with great curses.

   28. When Nin-ci-gal heard this

   29. she grew pale like a flower that is cut off,

   30. she trembled like the stem of a reed.

   31. I will cure her of her rage, she said, I will cure her fury,

   32. these curses will I repay her.

   33. Light up consuming flames, light up blazing straw.

   34. Let her groan with the husbands who deserted their wives.

   35. Let her groan with the wives who from their husband’s sides
         departed.

   36. Let her groan with the youths who led dishonored lives.

   37. Go, porter, open the gate for her,

   38. but strip her, like others at other times.

   39. The porter went and opened the gate.

   40. Enter, Lady of Tiggaba[107] city. It is permitted.

   41. The Sovereign of Hades will come to meet thee.

   42. The first gate admitted her, and stopped her; there was taken off
         the great crown from her head.

   43. Keeper! do not take off from me the great crown from my head.

   44. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands  her jewels.

   45. The second gate admitted her and stopped her;  there were taken
         off the earrings of her ears.

   46. Keeper! do not take off from me the earrings of my ears.

   47. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands her jewels.

   48. The third gate admitted her and stopped her; there were taken off
         the precious stones from

                                her head.
   49. Keeper! do not take off from me the precious stones from my head.

   50. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands her jewels.

   51. The fourth gate admitted her and stopped her; there were taken
         off the small lovely gems from her forehead.

   52. Keeper! do not take off from me the small lovely gems from my
         forehead

   53. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands her jewels.

   54. The fifth gate admitted her and stopped her; there was taken off
         the emerald girdle of her waist.

   55. Keeper! do not take off from me the emerald girdle from my waist.

   56. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands her jewels.

   57. The sixth gate admitted her and stopped her; there was taken off
         the golden rings of her hands and feet.

   58. Keeper! do not take off from me the golden rings of my hands and
         feet.

     59. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands her jewels.
   60. The seventh gate admitted her and stopped her; there was taken
         off the last garment from her body.

   61. Keeper! do not take off from me the last garment from my body.

   62. Enter, Lady! for the queen of the land demands her jewels.

   63. After that mother Ishtar had descended into Hades.

   64. Nin-ci-gal saw her and derided her to her face.

   65. Ishtar lost her reason and heaped curses upon her.

   66. Nin-ci-gal opened her mouth and spake

   67. to Namtar, her messenger, a command she gave:

   68. Go, Namtar

   69. Bring her out for punishment.[108]

                               COLUMN II.

    1. The divine messenger of the gods lacerated his face[109] before
         them.

    2. He tore his vest (or vestments). Words he spake rapidly;

    3. the Sun approached, he joined the Moon, his father.[110]

    4. Weeping, they spake thus to Hea the king:

    5. Ishtar descended into the earth and she did not rise again.

(Here follow a few lines which are unworthy of repetition, as they very
coarsely describe the pitiable condition of the world when forsaken by
the goddess of love.)

   11. Then the god Hea in the depth of his mind laid a plan;

   12. he formed for her escape a figure of a man of clay.

   13. Go to save her, Phantom! present thyself at the  portal of Hades:

   14. the seven gates of Hades will open before thee;

   15. Nin-ci-gal will see thee and will come to thee.

   16. When her mind shall be grown calm and her anger shall be worn off

   17. name her with the names of the great gods!

   18. Prepare thy frauds! On deceitful tricks fix thy mind!

   19. The chiefest deceitful trick! Bring forth fishes of the waters
         out of an empty vessel.

   20. This thing will astonish Nin-ci-gal,

   21. Then to Ishtar she will restore her clothing.

   22. A great reward for these things shall not fail.

   23. Go save her, Phantom! and the great assembly of the people shall
         crown thee!

   24. Meats the first in the city shall be thy food.

   25. Wine the most delicious in the city shall be thy drink.

   26. A royal palace shall be thy dwelling.

   27. A throne of state shall be thy seat.

   28. Magician and conjurer shall kiss the hem of thy garment.

   29. Nin-ci-gal opened her mouth and spake

   30. to Namtar her messenger, a command she gave:

   31. Go Namtar! clothe the Temple of Justice!

   32. Adorn the images and the altars.

   33. Bring out Anunnaka.[111] Seat him on a golden throne.

   34. Pour out for Ishtar the waters of life and let her depart from my
         dominions.

   35. Namtar went; and clothed the Temple of Justice;

   36. he adorned the images and the altars;

   37. he brought out Anunnaka; on a golden throne he seated him;

   38. he poured out for Ishtar the waters of life.

   39. Then the first gate let her forth, and restored to her the first
         garment of her body.

   40. The second gate let her forth and restored to her the diamonds of
         her hands and feet.

   41. The third gate let her forth and restored to her the emerald
         girdle of her waist.

   42. The fourth gate let her forth and restored to her the small
         lovely gems of her forehead.

   43. The fifth gate let her forth and restored to her the precious
         stones of her head.

   44. The sixth gate let her forth and restored to her the earrings of
         her ears.

   45. The seventh gate let her forth and restored to her the crown of
         her head.”[112]

Surely here is poetry—the haughty queen of love and beauty imperiously
demands an entrance into the land of shadows that she may recover her
beloved. She threatens to break down the very gates of hades and raise
the dead to devour the living if her wish is refused. She shrinks at no
sacrifice which her love-lighted mission may cost. A great crown is
taken from her head, but she stays not. Her jewels and precious stones—
her girdle of priceless gems—is taken from her, and still she presses
forward in quest of her love.

But when at last the seven gates of hades have closed upon her luxurious
form, the world misses her joyous presence—the splendor is stolen from
Beauty’s eyes—the crimson touch of life has faded from her lips—the
doves and sun-birds no longer chant their love songs in the crowns of
the palm trees, and the sorrowing night bird trills the plaintive tale
to the closed and weeping roses. Nay, even the sky seems to forget to
light up the couch of the dying sun with draperies of crimson and gold,
and all the world is shrouded in darkness and cold despair. But Hea, in
his ocean home, hears the wail of the gods who mourn the absence of
Ishtar, and he comes to the rescue. The seven gates of hades swing again
upon their hinges, and with crowns and jewels and girdle restored, the
imperial goddess comes forth to resume her sway amid the flowers of a
love-lighted earth.

-----

Footnote 63:

  The Chaldean mythology represented by the worship of Baal and
  Ashtaroth appears to have been an organized system demanding the
  erection of a temple to Merodach, as early as the seventeenth century
  B.C., while the earliest songs of the Vedas are ascribed to the period
  between 1500 to 1000 B.C. and the greater portion of Hindu mythology
  appears only in much later works.

Footnote 64:

  Sayce, Rec. of P., Vol. I, pp. 123-130.

Footnote 65:

  Assur-bani-pal, king of Assyria, who reigned from 668 to 625 B.C.

Footnote 66:

  Hindu Literature, Chaps. ii and iii.

Footnote 67:

  Joshua xix, 38.

Footnote 68:

  There is an Assyrian bas-relief now in the British Museum which
  represents Tīamat with horns and claws, tail and wings.

Footnote 69:

  Eridu—the Rata of Ptolemy, was near the junction of the Euphrates and
  Tigris, on the Arabian side of the river. It was one of the oldest
  cities of Chaldea.

Footnote 70:

  Cun. Ins. West Asia, Vol. IV, plate 15. Records of the Past.

Footnote 71:

  This is one of the numerous bilingual texts, written in the original
  Accadian, with an interlinear Assyrian translation, which have been
  brought from the library of Assur-bani-pal at Nineveh.

Footnote 72:

  Rimmon-Nirari III. Records of Past, Vol. IV, p. 88.

Footnote 73:

  Ins. of Shalmanesar II. Records of P., Vol. IV, p. 66.

Footnote 74:

  It is thought that the worship of Hea or Ea may have been a corruption
  of the worship of the God of Abraham, as Ea is another form of El, and
  the early followers of Ea were evidently monotheists.

  Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, the eminent archæologist, who is a native of
  Assyria, claims that the early Assyrians worshipped the true God, but
  under peculiar names and attributes, and that instead of practicing
  the revolting sacrifices which were made by other gentile nations
  “they imitated the sacrifices of the Jewish rites.” He bases his proof
  largely upon his discovery of the bronze gate of Shalmanesar II, with
  its sculptured presentation of the sacrifice of rams and bullocks, and
  he says that “the same king, Shalmanesar, took tribute from Jehu, king
  of Israel, as an act of homage.”

  Trans. Vic. Ins., Vol. XIII, pp. 190 and 214, also Vol. XXV, pp. 121.

Footnote 75:

  This tablet is almost three inches long and two inches wide. It weighs
  about three drams (Troy). The inscription was translated by Dr.
  Oppert.

Footnote 76:

  These inscriptions contain an account of a lunar eclipse mentioned by
  Ptolemy, which took place March 19th, 721 B.C. Sargon II probably
  ascended the throne about the year 722 B.C.

Footnote 77:

  The fact that the “men of Cuth” worshipped Nergal is confirmed by 2
  Kings xvii, 30.

Footnote 78:

  An allusion to the destruction of the image of Merodach is found in
  Jeremiah: “Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in
  pieces. Her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.”
  (Jeremiah 1, 2.)

Footnote 79:

  4th Col., lines 1-6.

Footnote 80:

  Col. 10.

Footnote 81:

  This portion of Nebuchadnezzar’s inscription is confirmed by the
  following statement in the book of Daniel: “And the Lord gave the King
  of Judah into his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) hand with part of the vessels of
  the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the
  house of his god.“ (Daniel i, 2.)

Footnote 82:

  Col. 3. lines 43-45.

Footnote 83:

  Nebo is alluded to as one of the heathen gods in Isaiah xlvi, 1, and
  kindred passages.

Footnote 84:

  Compare Judges xvi, 23; also 1 Samuel v.

Footnote 85:

  Tablets of Tel-El-Armana, “Dispatches from Palestine in the century
  before the Exodus,” Rec. of P. Vol. I, p. 64.

Footnote 86:

  Babylonian Literature, p. 64.

Footnote 87:

  Compare Lev. xx, 2; Deut. xii, 31, and kindred passages.

Footnote 88:

  The Moabite stone was about three feet and nine inches long, two feet
  and four inches in breadth and fourteen inches thick. The inscription
  contained many incidents concerning the wars of King Mesha with
  Israel; see also 2 Kings, 3d chap. The literature connected with this
  stone is very great, no less than forty-nine Orientalists having
  written in various languages upon this fascinating theme, and although
  many of these productions are merely papers or brochures, there are at
  least eight different volumes upon this subject.

  The characters are Phœnician, and form a link between those of the
  Baal-Lebanon inscription of the tenth century B.C. and those of the
  Siloam text.

Footnote 89:

  Chemosh, who is called “the abomination of the Moabites,” is alluded
  to in Numb. xxi, 29; also Jer. xlviii, 7, and various other passages.

Footnote 90:

  Tablet K 4902 of the British Museum Collection, translated by Ernest
  A. Budge.

Footnote 91:

  “They have builded also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons
  with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal,” etc. (Jeremiah xix. 5. See
  also many kindred passages.)

Footnote 92:

  This inscription was translated by Dr. Oppert, and Esmunazar is
  supposed to have lived in the fourth century B.C.

Footnote 93:

  2 Kings xvii. 16, and kindred passages.

Footnote 94:

  Western Asia Inscriptions, Vol. IV. p. 32.

Footnote 95:

  The prophet Ezekiel speaks of the fact that “there sat women weeping
  for Tammuz,” as even a “greater abomination” than burning incense to
  idols. (See Ezekiel viii, 13-14.)

Footnote 96:

  The worship of Ashtaroth, which represented the grossest
  licentiousness and demanded human sacrifices, is strongly condemned in
  Judges ii, 12-13, and many other passages.

Footnote 97:

  Annals of Assur-bani-pal, Cylinder B, Column 5.

Footnote 98:

  Pliny, Nat. Hist., Vol. II, p. 619.

Footnote 99:

  Pausanius, III, 25.

Footnote 100:

  Literally “blue stone;” it was a brilliant dark blue.

Footnote 101:

  The eagle, the lion, the horse, the king and the workman are supposed
  to represent the numerous bridegrooms of this treacherous goddess.

Footnote 102:

  Inscriptions Western Asia, Vol. IV, p. 48, published by the British
  Museum, and translated by H. Fox Talbot, F.R. S.

Footnote 103:

  Ovid’s Metamorphoses, VII, 234.

Footnote 104:

  The great celebrity of this fable is well illustrated by the fact that
  Ovid in his Metamorphoses (III, 206), has preserved the individual
  names of all the dogs, thirty-five in number.

Footnote 105:

  “Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the
  city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and
  of the image which fell down from Jupiter?” (Acts xix, 35.) This
  question of the town clerk is strangely illustrated by an inscription
  found by Chandler near the aqueduct at Ephesus, which states that “It
  is notorious that not only among the Ephesians, but also everywhere
  among the Greek nations, temples are consecrated to her,” etc.

Footnote 106:

  Anthon’s Class. Dict.

Footnote 107:

  A principal seat of Ishtar’s worship.

Footnote 108:

  The end of this line, and all the remaining lines of Column I, are
  lost, but some mutilated fragments indicate that Namtar is commanded
  to afflict Ishtar with dire diseases of the eyes, the feet, the heart,
  the head, etc.

Footnote 109:

  A sign of violent grief in the East, forbidden in Deut. xiv, 1; also
  Lev. xix, 28.

Footnote 110:

  Nabonidus says in his inscription (Col. II, 17) Oh, sun, protect this
  temple, together with the moon, thy father.

Footnote 111:

  A genius often mentioned, who here acts the part of a judge,
  pronouncing the absolution of Ishtar.

Footnote 112:

  Tablet K, 162, British Museum, translated by H. Fox Talbot, F.R. S.
  Records of the Past, Vol. I, 1st Series.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                           PERSIAN MYTHOLOGY.

THE COMMON SOURCE OF MYTHOLOGY—MYTHICAL MOUNTAINS—RIVERS—MYTHICAL BIRDS—
    AHŪRA MAZDA—ATAR—THE STORM GOD—YIMA—THE CHINVAT BRIDGE—MITHRA—
    RÉSUMÉ.


We have briefly sketched in the preceding chapter the more tolerable
features of a mythology which is evidently the common source of the
later pantheons. The picture of human sacrifices, and practices which
are still more revolting, have been avoided, as unnecessary to the
general purpose, while the poetic figures of these ancient myths are
dwelt upon with peculiar pleasure.

Persian civilization was to a great extent the product of Babylonian
elements, and her mythology was born of that type of sensual idolatry
too gross for description. But the Persians were a poetic people, and in
their hands these ancient myths were refined and somewhat elevated. The
hideous idols called sun-images, which were used in the worship of
Chemosh, gave place to the adoration of the sun itself, as the great
source of all physical light. It was by the hand of Persia that the
sacred bull of Egypt was smitten down, and also the golden couch of
Baal, with all its attendant horrors. But even Persia is accused of
having at times practiced the horrible rite of human sacrifice, and the
Babylonian Venus found admission, even among the people whose king had
stabbed the Egyptian Apis, and overturned his shrine.[113]

Persia was a land of extremes, and the richest part of her dominions was
fated to lie beneath the early snows, and feel the severity of winter,
while the central portion of the country was one vast desert, whose
scorching simoons were as much to be dreaded as the snows of her
northern table-lands. The early settlers of Īrān, therefore, were forced
to win their bread and develop their resources by the most arduous
labor, and the dreamy mythology of the Hindūs gave way in their minds to
the sterner conflict between good and evil.

The opposition between light and darkness became a prominent feature of
their mythology, for the battles which raged in Hindū skies between
Indra, the storm king, and his constant enemy, Vṛitra, became to the
sons of Īrān a personal strife with the powers of nature, and instead of
dreaming of a contest in the clouds, they sang of the daily battle in
lives which were crowded with hardship. Hence it is that Ormazd and
Ahriman, in their continual strife, form the background of the national
mythology, although Persia took the sun for her emblem, and called her
kings by his royal name; a flashing globe was the signal light above the
imperial tent, and the golden eagle was perched upon the ensign that led
the Persian troops to victory.

                          MYTHICAL MOUNTAINS.

The silent mountains standing calmly beneath the skies of blue, while
the ages come and go, always command the reverence of the human heart.
With forests around their feet, the gray peaks reach upward to dim and
ashen heights, where the white snow lies unpolluted by the foot of man.
Their frost-crowns gleam in the sunlight of noon, or change to tints of
opal and crimson light beneath the farewell fires of the setting sun. No
wonder, then, that in the fables of all people the gods are enthroned on
wondrous heights. The old Assyrian kings wrote upon their strange
tablets of “the world mountain,” which, although rooted in hades, still
supported the heavens with all their starry hosts. The world was bound
to it with a rope, like that with which the sea was churned in the later
Hindū legend, for the lost ambrosia of the gods,[114] or like the golden
cord of Homer with which Zeus proposed to suspend the nether earth,
after binding the cord about Olympus.[115] This mythical mountain was
the abode of the gods, and it was this of which the Babylonian king
said:

 “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;

  I will sit upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the
     north;
  I will be like the Most High.”[116]

It was between the “Twin Mountains” that the sun passed in its rising
and setting, and the rocky gates were guarded by the “scorpion men,”
whose heads were at the portals of heaven, and their feet in hell
beneath.[117]

In the mythology of the Hindūs, Mount Meru rises in her solitary
grandeur in the very centre of the earth to the height of sixty-four
thousand miles; and there on her sun-kissed crown, amidst gardens of
fabulous beauty, and flowers that never of winter hear—where the skies
are of rose and pearl, and the dreamlike harmonies of far-off voices are
borne upon the air, we find the heaven of Indra, the abode of the
gods.[118]

Among the Greeks the gates of Olympus open to receive the imperial
throng, when

           “The gods with Jove assume their thrones of gold.”

When the chambers of the east were opened, and floods of light were
poured upon the peak, the Greek poet dreamt that:

            “The sounding hinges ring on either side,
             The gloomy volumes pierced with light divide,
             The chariot mounts, where deep in ambient skies
             Confused Olympus’ hundred heads arise—
             Where far apart the Thunderer fills his throne
             O’er all the gods, superior and alone.”

But even the storm-swept heights of Olympus, where the chariots of the
gods were crushed to fragments beneath the lightnings of Jove, were not
lofty enough for the spirit of the Norseman. Odin’s Valhal, with its
roof of shields and walls of gleaming spears, lies in heaven itself, and
higher still is Gimle, the gold-roofed hall of the higher gods. Far away
to the northward, on the heights of the Nida mountains, stands a hall of
shining gold which is the home of the Sindre race.[119] These are they
who smelt earth’s gold from her rough brown stone, and flashing through
her crystals, the tints which are hidden in the hearts of the roses,
they are changed to rubies and garnets. These are they who make the
sapphires blue with the fresh lips of the violet, and mould earth’s
tears into her purest pearls.

In Persian mythology we find a trace of “the world mountain” of the old
Assyrian kings, as well as a thought which is akin to the vine-clad
bowers of Meru, the shining gates of Olympus, and the Nida mountains of
the Norsemen, for here the Qāf mountains surround the world after the
manner of the annular system described in the Mahā-Bhārata.[120] This
mythical range is pure emerald, and although it surrounds the world, it
is placed between two of the horns of a white ox, named Kornit or
Kajūta. He has four thousand horns, and the distance from one horn to
another could not be traversed in five hundred years. These mountains
are the abode of giants, fairies and peris, while their life-giving
fountains confer immortality upon those who taste of their waters.

The highest portion of the emerald range is the Alborz,[121] where the
fabled Sīmūrgh builds her colossal nest of sandal wood, and the woven
branches of aloe and myrtle trees. Mount Alborz is represented as
standing upon the earth, while her crown of light reposes in the region
far beyond the stars. It is Hara-Berezaita (the lofty mountain)—the
sphere of endless light, where the supreme god of Persian mythology
dwells in his own temple which is the “abode of song.” This is the
“Mother of Mountains” and from it have grown all the heights that stand
upon the earth; it is the fabled center of the world, and around it the
sun, moon and stars revolve. Hence, in the Vendīdad[122] we find the
following hymn:

     “Up, rise and roll along, thou swift horsed sun,
      Above Hara-Berezaita and produce light for the world.
      Up, rise up, thou moon—
      Rise up, ye stars, rise up above Hara-Berezaita
      And produce light for the world,
      And mayest thou, O man, rise up along the path made by Mazda—
      Along the way made by the gods,
      The watery way they opened.”

                                RIVERS.

In the mythology of every people we find mystic rivers in connection
with the worship of their divinities. They are winding everywhere
through the enchanted land of fable. Often born in the highlands of the
celestial mountains, they are represented as coming down to earth with
the glint of the sunlight on their waves. The great river of Egypt,
which is supposed to give life to the gods as well as men, is thus
fabled to have sprung from the mountains of the sky, and a “Hymn to the
Nile,” recorded on a clay tablet, begins with the words:

          “Adoration to the Nile!
           Hail to thee, O Nile!
           Who comest to give life to Egypt!
           Thou givest the earth to drink, inexhaustible one!
           Thou descendest from the sky.”[123]

In Greek mythology, we find the river ocean flowing around the earth,
with its calm current unbroken by storm, and unswerved by the angry
tempest. The sea, with her sun-kissed billows, received her waters from
this unfailing fountain, and far beyond the northern mountains, where
the “golden gardens” gleamed in the sunlight and the winds were rocked
to sleep, there lived a happy people, where sorrow could not enter and
death would never come.

Among the Hindūs, the sacred Ganges flowed at first only through the
blue fields of heaven, and fell to the earth from the divine feet of
Vishnū:

                “And white foam clouds and silver spray
                   Were wildly tossed on high,
                 Like swans that urge their homeward way
                   Across the autumn sky.”

The Norseman also sings of heavenly rivers, as well as the Ifing, which
flows in a never-freezing current between the world of men and the world
of gods; he sings, too, of the river Gyöll, which flows nearest to the
gates of Hel,[124] and over whose golden bridge the countless bands of
the dead are passing.

In Persian mythology there is a crystal stream which gushes from a
golden precipice of the mythical mountain and descends to the earth from
the heavens, as does the celestial Gangā of the Hindūs. This is the
heavenly spring from which all the waters of the earth come down.... It
is the Ardvi Sūra Anāhita which ever flows in a life-giving current,
bringing blessings unto man and receiving in return the sacrifices of
the material world.

This river has a thousand cells and a thousand channels, and each of
these extend as far as a swiftly mounted horseman can ride in forty
days; in each channel there stands a palace gleaming with an hundred
windows and a thousand columns; these palaces are surrounded with ten
thousand balconies founded in the distant channels of the river, and
within their courts are luxurious beds, “well scented and covered with
pillows.” In the golden ravines around these palace halls are the
wondrous fountains of the Ardvi Sūra Anāhita, and the stream rushes down
from the summit of the mountain with a volume greater than all the
rivers of earth, and falls into the bosom of the celestial sea that lies
at the foot of the Hara-Berezaita. When the waters of the river fall
into the Vourū-Kasha, the waves of the sea boil over the shores, and the
billows chant a song of welcome.

This celestial spring, with its mighty torrent of waters, is personified
as a beautiful goddess[125]—a maiden tall and shapely, who is born of a
glorious race. She is stately and noble, strong as the current of a
mighty river, and pure as the snows that lie on the mountain’s crown.
Her beautiful arms are white and thick, her hair is long and luxuriant,
for she is large and comely, radiant with the glory of a perfect
womanhood.

This glorious maid of the mountain has four white horses, which were
made for her by Ahūra Mazda; one is the snow, and one is the wind, while
the others are the rain and the cloud; thus it happens that ever upon
the earth it is snowing, or the rain is somewhere coming down to gladden
the flowers with refreshing touch.

The beautiful goddess springs from a golden fissure in the highest peak,
and mounting her chariot draws the reins above her white steeds and
drives them down the steep incline, which is a thousand times the height
of a man, and continual sacrifice is offered to her brightness and
glory.

Clothed with a golden mantle and wearing a crown radiant with the light
of an hundred gems, she comes dashing down the mountain side, thinking
in her heart: “Who will praise me? Who will offer me a sacrifice with
libations?”

The cloud-sea represents the “dewy treasures” of the Hindūs—the rains
which are held in the reluctant cloud, and only drawn therefrom by the
lightning bolts of Indra, who is assisted in the battle by the Maruts
when they “harness their deer for victory.”[126] The Persian Vendīdad
represents a continual interchange between the waters of the earth and
sky.

      “As the Vourū-Kasha is the gathering place of the waters
       Rise up, go up the ærial way and go down upon the earth....
       The large river that is known afar
       That is as large as all the waters of earth
       Runs from the height down to the sea, Vourū-Kasha.”[127]

                            MYTHICAL BIRDS.

Birds have always held a prominent place in the various mythologies.
Among the Assyrians, the _zu_ or vulture was the symbol of the “god of
the storm-cloud,” who was believed to have stolen the laws and
attributes of Bel for the benefit of mankind, and to have been punished
for the theft by transformation into a vulture.[128]

In Egyptian mythology, the tablets represent Isis as a bird. “For she is
Isis, the charmer, the avenger of her brother, who seeks him without
failing, who traverses the earth with lamentations, without resting
before she has found him—creating the light with her feathers, producing
the wind with her wings, celebrating the sacred dances, and depositing
her brother in the tomb ... raising the remains of the god, with
immovable heart ... she makes him grow, his arm becomes strong in the
great dwelling.”[129]

In the Hindū poem of the Rāmāyaṇa, during the banishment of the innocent
and beautiful Sīta, the pitying birds dipped their pinions in the sacred
waters of the Ganges, and fanned her feverish face, that she might not
faint with the heat.[130] In the same poem we have also descriptions of
Garuḍa, the eagle-steed of Vishṇu, and Sampati, the sacred vulture, who
gave information concerning the demon king that carried away the
beautiful princess. Hindū mythology also contains “the celestial birds,”
who were acquainted with right and wrong, and who, in one of the Purāṇas
answered the questions of the sages, and also gave an account of the
creation.

In northern Europe we find a wondrous eagle, who sits amongst the
branches of the Ygdrasil—that beautiful tree of Norse mythology, whose
three great roots strike downward among the Anglo-Saxons, Scandinavians,
and Germans. This great ash tree spreads its life-giving arms through
the heavens, and on the topmost bough is the eagle “who knows many
things,” and between his eyes sits the keen-eyed hawk, Vedfolner.[131]

We have also the Griffin of chivalry, the fabulous monster, half bird
and half lion, that protected the gold of the Hyperborean regions from
the one-eyed Arimaspians, and the Phœnix of Egyptian fable—the bird
of gold and crimson plumage, that is burned upon her nest of spices
every thousand years, and as often springs to life from her ashes. The
Turks have their Kerkes, and the Japanese their Kirni, while China
exhibits a nondescript dragon, which is a combination of bird and
reptile. In the Greek Iliad we have the imperial bird of Jove—“Strong
sovereign of the plumy race” bearing a signal from the god. Among the
Persian myths we find the Karmak, a gigantic bird “which overshadowed
the earth, and kept off the rain until the rivers were dried up.” And
the law was brought to the Var of Yima by the bird Karśipta who recites
the Avesta in the language of birds.

The raven was sacred to Apollo, and in Persia the priests of the sun
were named ravens. In the Avesta this bird is called “the swiftest of
all—the highest of the flying creatures ... he alone of all living
things—he or none—overtakes the flight of an arrow, however well it has
been shot; he grazes in the hidden ways of the mountains, he grazes in
the depths of the vales, he grazes on the summit of the trees listening
to the voices of the birds.”[132] Again it is said of the Vārengaṇa or
raven: “Take thou a feather of that bird, with that feather thou shalt
rub thine own body—with that feather thou shalt curse thine enemies; if
a man holds a bone of that strong bird, no one can smite or turn to
flight that fortunate man. The feather of that bird of birds brings him
help, it brings unto him the homage of men, it maintains him in
glory.”[133] It is said that the glory departed from Yima three times in
the shape of a raven, and the raven is also one of the incarnations of
the genius of Victory.

The Saēna, which, in later literature, is the Sīnamrū or Sīmūrgh,
occupies an important place in Persian mythology. His resting place is
on the Jaḍ-bēsh, or the tree of the eagle; this tree is the bearer of
all seeds, and when the Sīmūrgh leaves it in his flight, a thousand
twigs will shoot from the tree, and when he returns and alights thereon,
he breaks off the thousand twigs, and sheds the seed from them. Then the
bird Chaṉmrōsh who always sits near, watching the tree, will collect
the seed which falls from the Jaḍ-bēsh, or tree of all seeds, and carry
it to the fountain where Tishtar (or Tiśtrya) receives the waters, so
that Tishtar may gather the seed of all kinds with the waters, and may
shower it down upon the world with the rain.[134]

The Sīmūrgh was the son of Ahūm-stut, who was perhaps “the holy falcon—
praiser of the lord.” He builds his nest amidst the cliffs of Mount
Alborz, and the gigantic structure is woven with the branches of the
aloe and the fragrant sandal-wood. Around it gleam the white cliffs in
the sunlight, and precious stones lie beneath it, for it is far beyond
the reach of man. The Sīmūrgh became, in later literature, a mythical
incarnation of supreme wisdom.

                              AHŪRA-MAZDA.

This deity is represented as the supreme god of the Persians, the
creator of the other gods, and the ruler of them all.

The word Ahūra appears to have much kinship with Asūra, of the Hindū
mythology. In the early portions of the Ṛig-veda this word has a good
meaning, but in the latter part of the same work the Asūra is
represented as a black demon, who committed fearful devastation until he
was defeated by Indra. Among the Persians, Asūra, or Ahūra is pictured
as the sky-god, who is represented among the Hindūs as Varuṇa, who looks
down from heaven with his countless starry eyes and “wields the universe
as the gamesters handle dice.”[135]

The heaven of Ahūra-Mazda surrounds the highest peaks of the “Lofty
Mountain” in the upper air, and it is called the “Abode of Song.” It is
said “the maker Ahūra-Mazda has built a dwelling on the Hara-Berezaita,
the bright mountain around which the daily stars revolve.... With his
arms lifted up towards immortality, Mithra, the lord of wide pastures,
drives forward a beautiful chariot, wrought by Ahūra-Mazda and inlaid
with stars.”[136]

The attributes of Ahriman, the serpent, or evil principle, became
personified, and the various forms of falsehood, darkness and death
became abstract demons. So, also, Ahūra-Mazda was afterward worshipped
as a multitude of deities, and thus it happened that victory,
benevolence, sovereignty, and even health were each worshipped as a
separate divinity, and gathered together in the heavenly councils as a
band of Yazatas or angels. These are numbered by thousands, but the one
demanding the greatest reverence is

                                 ATAR.

This is the god of fire. He was called the “most great Yazata,” and as
such he commanded the undying worship of the Persian devotee.

The first duty of each Pārsī householder was to cherish the sacred fire
upon his own hearth, feeding it only with delicate bits of fragrant
sandal wood, while the fires in the temples were committed to the care
of the priests. Atar is the Persian form of the Hindū Agni, the guardian
of the home, and the symbol of social union.

The cypress tree was planted in front of their fire temples, and when it
had reached a towering height, it was surrounded by a gilded palace like
a sheath of flame,[137] while more simple altars arose from their
mountain tops and blazed with the sacred symbol.

                             THE STORM GOD.

The Persian myth of the struggle of Tiśtrya with Apaosha, the drouth
fiend, in order to obtain rain, is merely another form of the battle of
the elements in the Ṛig-veda, when Indra rides forth to the conflict and
shoots his arrows into the gathering clouds.

The early idolaters worshipped the host of heaven, and from this
doubtless arose the worship of the star Sirius as the storm god—Tiśtrya.
The rising of this star to a prominent position marks the period of the
ever welcome rains, when the parched earth drinks in the refreshing
flood, and the flowers spring from the soil.

The dog-days are supposed to represent the time of Tiśtrya’s great
conflict with Apaosha, and the battle is long and closely contested
before he conquers his foe.

The storm god comes into the arena in three different forms; he first
attacks the foe in the form of a beautiful youth, then as a bull with
golden horns, and at last as a white horse with golden caparison and
golden ears. The drouth fiend is represented as a black horse, and “They
meet together hoof against hoof, they fight for three days and three
nights, and then the Deva[138] proves too strong for bright and glorious
Tiśtrya; he overcomes him.” Tiśtrya then flees from the sea and cries
out: “Oh Ahūra-Mazda, men do not worship me with sacrifice and praise,
invoking me by my own name; should they worship me with sacrifice and
praise, invoking me by my own name as the other Yazatas are invoked,
they would bring me the strength of ten horses, of ten camels, ten
bulls, ten mountains and ten rivers.”

Ahūra then offers him a sacrifice, in which he is invoked by his own
name, and which gives him the strength of ten horses, of ten camels, ten
bulls, ten mountains and ten rivers, whereupon Tiśtrya returns to the
conflict, and Apaosha flies before him. The white horse being
victorious, the copious rains come down, glad brooks spring from the
rocky hillsides—they come with pearly sandaled feet, laden with love and
mercy to the sun-parched plain; hence the following hymn:

 “We sacrifice unto Tiśtrya, the bright and glorious star,
  For whom the longing flocks and herds and men are looking forward
  When shall we see him rise up, the bright and glorious star Tiśtrya....
  For whom long the standing waters and the running spring waters,
  The stream waters and the rain waters?
  When will the springs with a flow run to the beautiful places and
     fields?[139]
  And to the roots of the plants that they may grow with a powerful
     growth?”

                                 YIMA.

The Persian god of death is scarcely changed from the Hindū Yama, who is
“the king of death and the judge of the dead.” Among the Hindūs,
however, he appears as the first of men who died, while among the
Persians he has many ancestors. He offered sacrifices upon the summit of
“the beautiful mountain,” and prayed the gods to grant him power and
dominion. Thus he became a king over men and even over the Devas. As the
regions of Pluto were guarded by the three-headed dog Cerberus, and the
path of Yama was watched by two terrible dogs of the “four-eyed tawny
breed of Sarama,” so also the souls of good men are defended from the
howling and pursuing demons, by the dogs that guard

                          THE CHINVAT BRIDGE.

The Chinvat[140] or _K_invaḍ bridge reaches to Mount Alborz, and it is
also called the “Bridge of the Gatherer,” over which the souls of the
righteous pass easily into the abodes of bliss, while the wicked fall
from it into the den of falsehood and iniquity.

The Mohammedans call it the Al-Sirat, and it is represented in the Korān
as being finer than the thread of a famished spider and sharper than a
two-edged sword.

More beautiful by far is the Bi-frost, or rainbow arch of the Norseman—
the bridge between heaven and earth, which was also borrowed from
Chaldea:

                  “A link that binds us to the skies
                   A bridge of rainbows thrown across
                   The gulf of tears and sighs.”

And every day the gods come down to the judgment hall, of the Udar
fountain, at the roots of the great ash tree and ride back on heavenly
steeds across the bridge of many hues.

                                MITHRA.

As fire is the favorite symbol of the Persian, so the sun-gods are their
most important deities, and of these Mithra stands at the head. One of
the Sanskṛit names for the sun is Mitra, and the Persian form of the
word retains its full significance, as the pure light of day. The sun is
never without his shrine, and he is also represented in the human form.
His terrible power, especially in tropical climes, could not fail to be
recognized, and hence the Persian swore by the sun, while the temples
and images consecrated to this god of day arose in every part of the
land. Persian decrees of the fourth and fifth centuries demanded the
highest worship for the sun itself, while fire and water should receive
inferior service. Christians were persecuted for refusing to perform
these services in Armenia[141] and the Roman Emperor Julian centered his
apostasy in the philosophy which permitted him to call the sun the
living image of God and even God himself.[142]

Mithra is represented in the Avesta as riding across the broad arch of
heaven, his chariot drawn by milk-white steeds whose feet are shod with
gold and silver, while the god himself wears a golden helmet and a
silver breastplate. He is represented as “The first of the heavenly gods
who reaches over Hara, who, foremost in battle array, takes hold of the
summits, and from thence looks with a beneficent eye over the abodes of
the Āryans, where the valiant chiefs draw up their many troops in array;
where the high mountains, rich in pastures and waters, yield plenty to
the cattle; where the deep lakes with salt water stands; where the wide
flowing rivers swell and hurry.... Four stallions draw that chariot, all
of the same white color, living on heavenly food and undying.... The
hoofs of their fore feet are shod with gold, the hoofs of their hind
feet are shod with silver.”[143]

This is the Persian picture of the Hindū myth, where the god of day is
represented as coming out of the crimson chambers of the east, in his
fiery car, while his white steeds are led by the fair goddess of the
morning, wearing her garments of silver and changeful opal fire.[144]

The mythology of Mazdeism is very rich with demons, many classes of
which belong to the Indo-Īrānian period. The Vedic Yātus are found
unchanged in the Avesta, and these are demons who can assume any form
they choose. The Pairikas in the oldest Avesta are the fiendish females,
who rob the gods and men of the heavenly waters. They hover between
heaven and earth in the midst of the sea Vourū-Kasha, to keep off the
rain floods, working in harmony with Apaosha, the drouth fiend. There
are many other female demons, which it is unnecessary to describe, as
their characteristics are most revolting.

There is also a host of storm fiends, called “the running ones” on
account of the headlong course of the fiends in a storm—“the onsets of
the wounding crew.” The Devas represent demons which belong to the Indo-
European mythology, and the term originally meant “the gods in heaven.”
When they were converted into evil spirits they became “the fiends in
the heavens” or the fiends who assail the sky, but they afterwards
became the demons of lust and doubt. Death gave rise to several
abstractions, such as Saurū, which was identical in meaning as well as
name with the Vedic Sarū, “the arrow,” a personification of the arrow of
death, as a god-like being. The same idea is conveyed by Iśus, the self-
moving arrow, a designation which is perhaps accounted for from the fact
that Sarū, in India, before becoming the arrow of death, was the arrow
of lightning, with which the god killed his foe. The god of death in
another form becomes “the bone divider” who, like the Yama of the Mahā-
bhārata, holds a noose around the neck of all living creatures. In the
conflict between gods and fiends he takes an active part through the
sacrifice. The sacrifice is more than an act of worship, it is an act of
assistance to the gods. Gods, like men, need drink and food to be
strong; like men, they need praise and encouragement in order to be
brave; when not strengthened by the sacrifice they fly before their
foes.

Sraosha is the priest-god, he first tied the sticks into bundles and
offered up sacrifice to Ahūra; he first sang the holy hymns and thrice
each day and night he smites the demon crew with his uplifted club, and
thus protects the world of the living from the terrors of the night,
when the fiends rush upon the earth; it is he who protects the dead from
the terrors of death, from the assault of Ahriman. It will be through a
sacrifice performed by Ormazd and Sraosha that Ahriman will finally be
vanquished. A number of divinities sprang from the hearth of the altar,
most of them having existed during the Indo-Īrānian period. Piety, who
every day brings her offerings and prayers to the altar, was worshipped
in the Vedas as Aramati, the goddess who every morning and evening,
being anointed with sacred butter, offers herself up to Agni. She was
praised in the Avesta as an abstract genius, but there are yet a few
practices which preserve the evident traces of the old myths in relation
to her union with Atar, the fire-god. The riches that go up to heaven in
the offerings of man, and come down to earth in the gifts of the gods,
were deified as Rāta, the gift, Ashi, the felicity, and more vividly in
Parendi, the keeper of treasures, who comes on a sounding chariot, a
sister to the Vedic Puramdhi.

Thus we have seen the fabulous “world mountain” of early Babylonia
pervading the mythologies of Europe and Asia, taking the form of the
star-crowned Olympus on the Ægean sea, and of Meru, with her fadeless
flowers, in the valleys of India. In northern Europe it is represented
by the Nida mountains with their golden palaces, and in Persia by the
beautiful Hara with her crown of living light.

The Chaldean river of death, Datilla, flows also through the realms of
Grecia under the name of Styx, and in the regions of the north it
becomes the Ifing, and also the Gyöll. Again the mythical river seems to
mount upward, and like the heavenly Nile, the Ganges springs from
celestial heights and flows through the starry highlands of heaven,
while the silvery torrents of the Persian stream come pouring down from
the white summit of the Hara-Berezaita.

The early Baal, with all the unspeakable abominations attending his
worship, becomes refined in the form of Zeus or Jove, who hurls his
lightnings from the brow of Olympus, and in the Ahūra-Mazda of the
Persians, whose throne is “the lofty mountain.” Tammuz and Chemosh,
whose hideous images called forth the contempt of the prophets, appear
in the Persian pantheon as Mithra with his glittering steeds; Ashtaroth
of Sidon, and Diana of Ephesus, lay aside their revolting sensuality,
and come forth as the chaste and strong Diana of Grecian poetry, or the
fair goddess of the dawn among the Hindūs and Persians. The germs of
European and Asiatic mythology are therefore found in that cradle of
idolatry, where the image-worship of Babylonia received the rebuke of
the prophets, and where the red altars of Baal and Moloch were stained
with human blood even amidst the highest forms of early art and culture.

-----

Footnote 113:

  The statement of Herodotus concerning the attack upon the sacred bull
  is probably correct, even though the Egyptian monuments claim that
  Cambyses, and also the Roman emperors, bowed down to the Egyptian
  gods. We may conclude that Cambyses, in doing reverence to the gods of
  Egypt, was following in the footsteps of his cool and politic father
  (Cyrus), and was guided in these acts by the precedent which his
  father had set in reference to the gods of Babylonia.

Footnote 114:

  Hindu Literature, p. 59.

Footnote 115:

    “Let down our golden everlasting chain,
     Whose strong embrace holds heaven and earth and men;
     I fix the chain to great Olympus height,
     And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight.”—Il.viii, 19-26.

Footnote 116:

  Isa. xiv, 13.

Footnote 117:

  Ninth tablet of the Epic of Gisdhubar.

Footnote 118:

  Hindu Literature, pp. 126-148.

Footnote 119:

  Anderson—Norse Mythology, pp. 104-434.

Footnote 120:

  Hindu Literature, p. 126.

Footnote 121:

  Alborz, being changed into Elburz, became the name of a mountain range
  on the southern shore of the Caspian sea, and Mount Demavend, its
  highest peak, is looked upon as the home of the Simurgh, and it is
  also the scene of many mythical adventures.

Footnote 122:

  xxi.

Footnote 123:

  Trans. by Paul Guieysse. Rec. of P., Vol. III, p. 48. The belief in
  the celestial origin of the Nile survived in Egypt as lately as the
  time of Joinville. (Histoire de Saint Louis, Chap. II.)

Footnote 124:

  Hel, the world of the dead, irrespective of character.

Footnote 125:

  The first record of the worship of Ardvi Sura is in a cuneiform
  inscription by Artaxerxes Mnemon (404-361), in which her name is
  corrupted into Anahata. Artaxerxes Mnemon appears to have been an
  eager promoter of her worship, as he is said to have first erected the
  statues of Venus-Anahita in Babylon, Suza, and Ecbatana, and to have
  taught her worship to the Persians, the Bactrians, and the people of
  Damas and Sardes (Clemens Alexandrians, Protrept. 5, on the authority
  of Berosus; about 260 B.C.).

Footnote 126:

  Hindu Literature, p. 39.

Footnote 127:

  Vendidad, xxi.

Footnote 128:

  Sayce, Lec. Rel. Babylonians, pp. 293-299.

Footnote 129:

  Hymn to Osiris on the stele of Amon-em-ha. Translated by D. Mallet.
  Rec. of P., IV, 21.

Footnote 130:

  Hindu Literature, p. 267.

Footnote 131:

  Anderson—Norse Mythology, pp. 75-190.

Footnote 132:

  Bahram Yast, vii.

Footnote 133:

  Bahram Yast, xiii.

Footnote 134:

  Minokhirad—62 and 87. Trans. by West.

Footnote 135:

  Rig-veda Sanhita—Wilson’s Trans., Vol. V, p. 102

Footnote 136:

  Yast, x.

Footnote 137:

  See the Bundehesh.

Footnote 138:

  This word is frequently spelled Daeva.

Footnote 139:

  Yast, viii.

Footnote 140:

  Chinvat, the popular orthography of this word, is adopted as it
  represents the pronunciation.

Footnote 141:

  History of Vartan by Elisaeus (Newman’s trans.), p. 9.

Footnote 142:

  Gibbon, Chap. 23.

Footnote 143:

  Yast, x.

Footnote 144:

  Hindu Literature, p. 27.



                              DIVISION II.
                     THE PERIOD OF THE ZEND-AVESTA.



                               CHAPTER V.
                            THE ZEND-AVESTA.

DERIVATION AND LANGUAGE—DIVISIONS—AGE OF THE ZEND-AVESTA—MANUSCRIPTS—
    ZARATHUŚTRA—THE EARLY PĀRSĪS—THE MODERN PĀRSĪS.


We use the ordinary form of the word, Zend-Avesta, for though some
Orientalists claim that it should be called the Avesta-Zend, it is an
open question whether this is the original and only correct term.
According to the Pārsīs, Avesta means the sacred text, and Zend its
Pahlavī translation, but in the Pahlavī translations themselves, the
original work is called the Avesta-Zend, although there is no reason
given for this course. Neither the word Avesta nor Zend occurs in the
original Zend texts. The word Avesta, however, seems to be the Sanskṛit
_avastha_, meaning “authorized text,” while Max Müller[145] claims that
the name Zend was originally a corruption of the Sanskṛit word
_Kh_andas, or “metrical language,” which is a name given by the Brāhmans
to the hymns of the Veda. The word Zend, or Zand, is also used to
designate the language[146] in which the greater part of the Avesta is
written.

In relation to its antiquity, the Zend ranks next to the Sanskṛit, and
such authorities as Westergaard and Spiegel, while differing upon many
points, agree in considering the Veda the safest key to an understanding
of the Avesta. Many of the gods which are unknown to any of the Indo-
European nations are worshipped under the same name in Sanskṛit and in
Zend, and indeed many of the gods of the Zoroastrians seem to be mere
reflections of the more primitive gods of the Veda, but at times the
tendency to monotheism in the Zoroastrian religions would appear to be a
solemn protest against the worship of all the powers of nature which is
found in the Veda. Although there is much kinship between the two
tongues, and many striking similarities between the gods of the two
mythologies, it does not necessarily prove that portions of the Zend-
Avesta were borrowed from the Veda. It does prove, however, that the two
works proceeded from a common source of Āryan tradition, and it also
proves that the Sanskṛit and the Zend continued to live side by side
long after they were separated from the common stock of the Indo-
European tongues.

There are decided differences between the themes of the Veda and the
Avesta, but the link which binds them to a common source is never
broken. Some Orientalists claim that there was a schism between the two
and that the differences are the result of a religious revolution, while
others argue that there was only a long and slow movement which led, by
insensible degrees, the vague dualism of the Indo-Īrānians onward to the
sharply defined dualism of the Magi. It has been clearly shown that the
mythologies of Europe and Asia have a common origin in the idolatry
found the valley of the Euphrates; so also the Veda and the Zend-Avesta
are two great literary productions flowing from the same fountain head,
which is found in the Indo-Īrānian period.

                               DIVISIONS.

The Zend-Avesta, or sacred books of the Pārsīs, is really a collection
of various fragments. The first part, which may be called the Avesta
proper, contains the Vendīdad, the Visparad and the Yasna. The Vendīdad
is a compilation of religious lore and mythological tales, the Visparad
is a collection of litanies for the sacrifice, while the Yasna, too, is
composed of litanies, but it also contains five hymns or Gāthas written
in a different dialect, which is older than the language of the greater
part of the Avesta.

These three books are found in manuscripts in two different forms.
Sometimes either of them is found alone or accompanied by a Pahlavī
translation, or the three are mingled together according to the
requirements of the liturgy.

The second portion of this work is generally known as the Khorda-Avesta,
and is composed of short prayers, which are recited not only by the
priests but by all the faithful, at certain moments of the day, month or
year, and in the presence of the different elements. It is also
customary to include in the Khorda or small Avesta, the Yaśts or hymns
of praise to the several Izads or Yazatas.

The sacredness of the Avesta is to a certain extent reflected upon a
work called the Bundehesh, which was written in Pahlavī, or mediæval
Persian, during the Sassanian age. According to the Pārsī traditions the
bulk of Zoroastrian literature was formerly much greater than now. It is
claimed that the Vendīdad is the only survivor of the twenty-one Nosks
or books which formed the primitive Avesta revealed by Ormazd to
Zoroaster, and also that the eighteen Yaśts were originally thirty in
number, there having been one for each of the Izads who preside over the
thirty days of the month. The classic authors agree with the Pārsīs in
the statement that the early books of the Zend-Avesta were much more
extensive than at present, the sacred literature of the Zoroastrians
having suffered heavy losses in consequence of the ravages of the
Persian empire by Greeks and Arabians. It appears from the third book of
the Dīnkard that at the time of Alexander’s invasion there were only two
complete copies of the sacred books, one of which was traced upon skins
in golden letters and deposited in the royal archives at Persepolis,
where it was burned by Alexander[147] while the other having been placed
in another treasury fell into the hands of the Greeks, and was
translated into their language. The Arḍā-Vīrāf-nāmak mentions only one
copy of the Avesta, which was deposited in the archives at Persepolis
and burned by Alexander; it also mentions the fact that he killed many
of the priests and nobles. Both of these accounts were written, it is
true, long after the events they describe, so they merely represent the
tradition which had been handed down from one generation to the next,
but as they were written before the Arabian conquest[148] they cannot
have confounded the ravages of Alexander with those of the Mohammedans,
and their accounts are freely confirmed by classic writers.[149]

                        AGE OF THE ZEND-AVESTA.

There is no data by which the age of the Zend-Avesta may be definitely
determined. It is certain, however, that as the Zend is later than the
Sanskṛit, so also the Avesta is later than the Vedas. It is also certain
that this work is not the product of any one generation, as several
centuries have intervened between the dates of the earliest and latest
portions. The Gāthas which form the earliest portion of the work, are
written in the old Āryan metre, but the favorite deities of the Hindūs
are absent from the Gāthas, although they reappear in various forms in
the later portions of the Avesta. It is evident that the migrating
tribes, in consequence of their separation from their brethren in Īrān,
soon became estranged from them, and their most favored gods fell slowly
into neglect or disfavor. Considerable time must have been required for
the accomplishment of so great a change. The oldest portions of the
Avesta may therefore fall a few centuries this side of the hymns of the
Ṛig-veda, while the oldest portions of the later Avesta may be placed at
a period somewhat later than Darius.[150] We have a right to suppose
that the hymns and other portions of the Avesta which were then in
existence were gathered together and committed to writing about the time
of Darius, and according to Dr. Oppert’s rendering of the Behistun
inscription, the Persian king says: “By the grace of Ormazd, I have made
the writings for others in the Āryan language, which was not done
before; and the _text_ of the law and the _collection_.... I made and
wrote, and I sent abroad; then the old writings among all countries I
restored for _the sake_ of the people.”[151] Thus Darius claims to have
restored the writings that had been destroyed or injured by the Magian
revolt, but the word Avesta had not yet become a technical term;[152] it
was the care of Darius that gave it a fixed and restricted sense. Five
centuries afterwards, during the Sassanian period, these books were
again gathered, either from scattered manuscripts or from oral
traditions, and the later Avesta took a definite form in the hands of
Adarbad under King Shapur II,[153] who, like another Diocletian, aimed
at the extirpation of the Christian faith. Mazdeism having been shaken
by the Manichean heresy, a definite form was thus given to the religious
code of Īrān, and it was then promulgated as the sacred law of the
nation. We may conclude, therefore, that even the most modern portions
of the Avesta cannot belong to a later date than the fourth century of
the Christian era.

As the Pārsīs are the ruins of a people, so also their sacred books
represent the ruins of a religion. There has been no other great belief
in the world that left such poor monuments of its fallen splendor. Yet
great is the value of the Avesta, and the belief of the few surviving
Pārsīs, in the eyes of the historian, as they present to us the last
reflex of the ideas which prevailed in Īrān during the five centuries
which preceded and the seven which followed the birth of Christ. By the
help of the Pārsī religion and the Avesta, we are enabled to go back to
that momentous period in the history of literature which saw the
blending of the Āryan mind with the Semitic, and thus opened the second
stage of Āryan thought.[154]

                              MANUSCRIPTS.

The recovery of the manuscripts of the Zend-Avesta, and the translation
of them proved to be a herculean task for Orientalists, and more than
one valuable life has been given largely to this work. For an hundred
years this great problem has cost tireless effort, for its solution
demanded as much pioneer work as the deciphering of the cuneiform
inscriptions of the ancient kings.

We are largely indebted to Anquetil Duperron, the young Frenchman who
was so fearless in his enthusiasm that he enlisted[155] as a private
soldier in order to secure a passage to India, and spent six years in
that country collecting the manuscripts of the Avesta, and in trying to
obtain from the Dastūrs a knowledge of their contents. But his was
pioneer work, and his translation of the Avesta, which was made with the
assistance of Dastūr Dārāb, was by no means trustworthy; it was in fact
a French translation of a Persian rendering which had itself been made
from a Pahlavī version of the Zend original.[156]

Afterward Dr. Rask went to Bombay in the interests of the Danish
government and after collecting many valuable manuscripts, wrote his
essay “On the Age and Genuineness of the Zend Language.”

About the middle of the present century, Westergaard, who is also a
Dane, and one of the most accomplished Zend scholars of Europe,
published an edition of the sacred books of the Zoroastrians.

Burnouf, Spiegel and Bopp were also enthusiastic students of these books
of the Magian literature, and after a time Dr. Haug, a young and
enthusiastic German, was appointed to a professorship of Sanskṛit in the
Poona College; while here he availed himself of his opportunity to make
a thorough study of the literature of the Pārsīs. He contributed a
valuable collection of “Essays” on the subject.

There are at present five editions, more or less complete, of the Zend-
Avesta. The first was lithographed and published[157] under Burnouf’s
direction in Paris, and the second was transcribed into Roman characters
and published[158] at Leipsic by Prof Brockhaus. The third edition was
presented in Zend characters, and was prepared[159] by Prof. Spiegel,
and the fourth was published at Copenhagen,[160] by Westergaard; there
are also one or two editions of the Zend-Avesta published in India with
Gujerātī translations, which are sometimes quoted by native scholars.

The Yasna, being that portion of the Zend-Avesta containing the Gāthas,
which are supposed to be the original hymns of Zoroaster, is the oldest
and most important part of the Magian literature. Early in the present
century,[161] Dr. Rask succeeded in bringing to Europe a celebrated
manuscript of the Yasna with Pahlavī translation which is now in the
University Library of Copenhagen,[162] and this is the only document of
the kind upon the continent of Europe.

Another priceless manuscript has for centuries been hereditary
property in the family of a High Priest of the Pārsīs,[163] who has
now presented it to the University at Oxford, and through the courtesy
of Prof. F. Max Müller we are enabled to give our readers a fac simile
representation[164] of this famous Yasna manuscript which constitutes
one of the fundamental documents of Zend philology. It contains nearly
eight hundred pages,[165] and was written by Mihirāpān Kaī-Khūsrō, the
same copyist who transcribed the Copenhagen manuscript, but it is from
a different original.

                              ZARATHUŚTRA.

Zarathuśtra or Zoroaster[166] is supposed to have been the prophet of
Īrān, and the author of the earliest hymns or Gāthas, but the fact that
the composition of the books of the Zend-Avesta, extended over a period
of several centuries, precludes the possibility of their authorship by
any one individual. There is no historic record of the birth, the life
or the death of Zarathuśtra, and this fact, together with the vast
amount of myth and legend which has grown up around his name, has led
some Orientalists to question whether or not such a man ever lived at
all.

Firdusī teaches in a mythical way that he belonged to the time of
Darius. Hyde, Prideaux and several others claim that Zarathuśtra was the
same as the Persian Zerdūsht, the great patriarch of the Magi, who lived
between the beginning of the reign of Cyrus and the end of that of
Darius Hystaspes, while others still claim that the prophet of Īrān
belonged to an earlier date.[167] It seems probable that he was a
veritable personage, who, although not necessarily the author of any
considerable portion of the Zend-Avesta, may have led the departure in
this direction from the mythology of the Vedas, toward the simpler forms
of Mazdeism, but whether he lived and first taught among the mountains
of Media, or in the land of Baktriana, is an open question.

Indeed, the controversy which prevails among scholars upon the exegesis
of the Zend-Avesta is one of unusual severity, and while the storm seems
to center upon the value of the Asiatic translations, there are other
questions which are involved; the personality of Zarathuśtra[168] is not
only questioned, but even amongst those who admit that he was an
historical personage, the field of his early labors, the exact time to
which he belonged, and many other points are subjects of spirited
discussion.

In the Gāthas, or earlier hymns, Zarathuśtra appears as a toiling
prophet, and his sphere does not seem to have been greatly restricted.
The objects of his concern were provinces as well as villages, and the
masses as well as individuals. His circle was largely composed of the
reigning prince and prominent chieftains—and these, together with a
priesthood comparatively pure, were the greater part of his public. The
king, the people, and the peers were all portions of it.

It is claimed that Zarathuśtra had three sons, and these were
respectively the fathers and chiefs of the three classes, priests,
warriors and herdsmen; they played little part, however, in the Mazdean
system, and are possibly only three subdivisions of Zarathuśtra, who was
“the first priest, the first warrior and the first husbandman.”

But when the student leaves the Gāthas and turns to the Yaśts or the
Vendīdad, he goes from ground which is apparently historic into a land
of fable. He leaves behind him the toiling prophet, who is apparently
real, and meets the Zarathuśtra of these latter productions in the form
of a fantastic demi-god. He is no longer described as one who brings new
truth and drives away error, but as one who overthrows demons—the
valiant smiter of fiends, like Tiśtrya and Vāyu. He smites them chiefly,
it is true, with spiritual weapons, but he also repels the assaults of
Ahriman with the stones which Ahūra gave him—stones which are as large
as a house[169]—missiles like those that were hurled at their foes by
Indra, by Agni and by Thor. These are “the flames wherewith, as with a
stone,[170] the storm-god smites the fiend.” A singular incident of
Zarathuśtra’s birth, according to Pliny, and later Pārsī tradition, is
that he alone of all mortals laughed while being born. This tradition
would indicate that his nativity was in the region which was the
birthplace of the Vedic Marūts—those storm genii which are “born of the
laughter of the lightnings.”

Zarathuśtra is not the only lawgiver and prophet which the Avesta
recognizes. Gayo Maratan, Yima and even the bird Karśipta,[171] appear
under different names, forms and functions, as god-like champions in the
struggle for light, and they knew the law as well as Zarathuśtra. Many
of the features of Zarathuśtra point to a god, but the mythology has
probably grown up around a man, and the existing mythic elements have
been woven into a halo to surround a human face. There has been much of
individual genius in the formation of Mazdeism, but the system as a
whole was probably produced by the elaboration of successive generations
of the priesthood.

                           THE EARLY PĀRSĪS.

It is evident to the historian that the Zend-Avesta should be carefully
studied by all who value the records of the human race, but its
influence for good or evil cannot be determined without understanding
something of the character and habits of the people to whom it
peculiarly belonged. There have been periods in the world’s history when
the religion of the Pārsīs threatened to dominate over all others. If
Persia had won the battles of Marathon and Salamis, and thus succeeded
in the final conquest of Greece, the worship of Ormazd might have become
the religion of the whole civilized world. Persia already ruled over the
Assyrian and Babylonian empires; the Jews were under her power, and the
sacred monuments of Egypt had been mutilated by the Persian soldiery.

Again, during the Sassanian dynasty, the national faith had revived to
such an extent that Shapur II gathered the sacred books and issued their
code of law to the people, while the sufferings of the persecuted
Christians in the east were as terrible as they had ever been in the
west—Rome herself being rivaled in the work of cruelty. But the power of
Persia was broken by the Mohammedan conquest, and the war-cry of the
Moslem was the herald of defeated tyranny; hence it is that Mazdeism,
although once the fear of the world, has for a thousand years had but
little interest except for the historian. It was once the state religion
of a powerful empire, but it was virtually driven away from its native
soil by the sons of the desert, and the star and crescent waved in
triumph above its broken altars. Deprived of political influence, and
without even the prestige of an enlightened priesthood, many of its
votaries became exiles in a foreign land, while the few that remained on
Persian soil almost disappeared under the iron hand of Mohammedan rule.
In less than a century after their defeat, nearly all the conquered
people who remained upon their native soil were brought over to the
faith of their new rulers, either by persecution or policy, or by the
attractive power of a simpler creed, while those who clung to the faith
of their fathers sought a new home in the land of the Hindūs, and found
a refuge on the western coast of India and the peninsula of Gujarāt.
Here they could worship their old gods, repeat their old prayers, and
perform their old rites; and here they still live, and thrive to a
certain extent, while their co-religionists in Persia are daily becoming
fewer in numbers.[172]

The Pārsīs of the old school used mats for seats, and ate with their
fingers from platters, but these and similar practices were cleanly and
refined when compared to some of their revolting and loathsome
ceremonies. Anthon says, “If the religion of Zoroaster was originally
pure and sublime, it speedily degenerated and allied itself to many very
gross and hideous forms of superstition; if we were to judge of its
tendency by the practice of its votaries, we should be led to think of
it more harshly than it may have deserved. The court manners were
equally marked by luxury and cruelty—by luxury refined until it had
killed all natural enjoyment, and by cruelty carried to the most
loathsome excess that perverted ingenuity could suggest. It is above all
the barbarity of the women that fills the Persian chronicles with their
most horrible stories, and we learn from the same sources the dreadful
depravity of their character, and the vast extent of their
influence.”[173] It is a well known fact in the world’s history that the
influence of an unprincipled woman is much stronger over a man who
yields to her power than is the influence of kindness and truth to win
him to higher associations, and therefore we find that at a certain
period, the men of Persia, cramped by the rigid power of ceremonials,
and surrounded by the ministers to their artificial wants, became the
slaves of their priests and concubines. It is probably true that even
after the people had lost much of the original purity and simplicity of
their manners, the noble youth of Persia were still educated in the
severe discipline of their ancestors, which is represented as nearly
resembling that of the Spartan, but gradually the ancient discipline
became either wholly obsolete or degenerated into empty forms.

                           THE MODERN PĀRSĪS.

The religion of the Pārsīs is sometimes called Dualism, on account of
its main tenet; it is called Mazdeism, because Ahūra Mazda is its
supreme god; it is called Magism, because its priesthood are the Magi;
it is called Zoroastrianism, as representing the doctrines of its
supposed founder, and it is also called Fire Worship, because fire has
for centuries apparently received the adoration[174] of the people.

At present the number of the Pārsīs in western India is estimated at
about one hundred thousand, while Yezd and Kermān together can claim
only about fifty-five thousand. Hence, while the colonies upon the soil
of India have retained their strength much better than the others, the
grand total is very small, being only about one-tenth of one per cent.
of the population of the world. They are still known as Fire-
Worshippers, although they protest against the name, as indicating that
they are mere idolators. It is doubtless true that at one time fire
itself was worshipped, and Atar, the fire-god, held high rank among the
Zoroastrians. The primitive Āryan hearth, upon which the sacred element
blazed, was also an object of adoration, and the Pārsīs still admit that
in their youth they are taught to face some luminous object while
worshipping God, although they claim that they look upon fire as merely
an emblem of divine power. There is certainly the existence of a strong
national instinct—an indescribable one—which is felt by every Pārsī in
regard to both light and fire. They are the only Eastern people who
abstain entirely from smoking, and they will not even blow out a candle
unless compelled to do so.

The modern Pārsīs believe in monotheism, and use a table, as well as
knives and forks at their meals. Their prayers are recited in the old
Zend language, although neither he who repeats, nor they who listen can
understand a word that is said. Every one goes to the fire temple when
he chooses and recites his prayers himself, or pays the priest to recite
them for him. Among the whole body of priests, there are perhaps not
more than twenty who can lay any claim to a knowledge of the Zend-
Avesta, and even these have only learned the meaning of the words they
are taught, without knowing the language either philosophically or
grammatically.

The modern Pārsīs are monogamists, and hence the manifold evils of the
harem are abolished from among the people. They do not eat anything
which is prepared by a cook belonging to another creed. They also object
to beef and pork. Their priesthood is hereditary. None but the son of a
priest can take the orders, and it is not obligatory upon him to do so.
The high priest is called Dastūr, while the others are called Mobed.
They are greatly attached to their religion on account of its former
glory, and it is felt that the relinquishment of it would be the giving
up of all that was most sacred and precious to their forefathers. Still
they have, in many essential points, unconsciously approached the
doctrines of Christianity, and if they could but read the Zend-Avesta
they would find that their faith is no longer the faith of the Yasna or
the Vendīdad.[175] As historical relics these works will always be of
value, but as the oracles of faith they lack the vitality of principle
necessary for the building of human character.

-----

Footnote 145:

  Chips, Vol. I, p. 82.

Footnote 146:

  Prof. Darmesteter and M. de Harlez claim that the Zend was the
  language of Aryan Media.

Footnote 147:

  See page 20.

Footnote 148:

  Haug’s Rel. of Parsis, p. 123.

Footnote 149:

  Diodorus (xvii, 72) and Curtius (v. 7) declare that Alexander burned
  the citadel and royal palace at Persepolis in a drunken frenzy at the
  instigation of the Athenian courtezan Thais, and in revenge for the
  destruction of the Greek temple by Xerxes. Arrian (Exped. Alex., iii,
  18) also speaks of his burning the royal palace of the Persians.

Footnote 150:

  Sacred Books of the East, Vol. IV, Int., p. 39.

Footnote 151:

  This is a literal rendering of the passage, the meaning of all the
  words being certain, except the four which are written in _italics_.

Footnote 152:

  In the Elamite and Babylonian versions Avesta is simply rendered “law”
  or “laws.”

Footnote 153:

  Shapur II ascended the throne about A.D. 309.

Footnote 154:

  Sa. Books of East, Vol. IV. Int., p. 2.

Footnote 155:

  About 1754.

Footnote 156:

  Chips, Vol. I, p. 119.

Footnote 157:

  1829-1843.

Footnote 158:

  1850.

Footnote 159:

  1851.

Footnote 160:

  1852-1854.

Footnote 161:

  About 1826.

Footnote 162:

  Codex numbered 5.

Footnote 163:

  Dastur Jamaspji Minocheherji Jamasp Asana, Ph. D. of Tübingen, Hon.
  D.C. L. Oxon. Dr. L.H. Mills applied to the Dastur for the loan of his
  manuscript to enable him to complete a critical edition of the Zend
  and Pahlavi texts of the Gathas, and Dastur Jamaspji not only loaned
  it to Dr. Mills, but most generously presented it to the University of
  Oxford.

Footnote 164:

  See page xx.

Footnote 165:

  382 folios.

Footnote 166:

  Clement, who is supposed to have written in the first century of the
  Christian era, claims that the original name was Nebrod, but that “the
  magician being destroyed by lightning, his name was changed to
  Zoroaster by the Greeks on account of the living Ζωσαν stream of the
  star (ἀστέρος) being poured upon him.”—_Clementine Homilies, IX, Chap.
  5._

Footnote 167:

  Masudi, the noted Arabian historian and traveler who wrote about A.D.
  950, remarks that “according to the Magi, Zoroaster lived two hundred
  and eighty years before Alexander the Great,” or about 610 B. C, in
  the time of the Median king Cyaxares.

Footnote 168:

  Dr. Haug, while maintaining the personality of Zarathustra Spitama,
  claims that after his death, and possibly during his life, the name of
  Zarathustra was adopted by a successive priesthood. (Essays, p. 297).

Footnote 169:

  Vendidad, Farg. xix, 4.

Footnote 170:

  Rig-veda, ii, 30, 40.

Footnote 171:

  The bird Karsipta dwells in the heavens. Were he living on the earth
  he would be the king of birds. He brought the law into the Var of
  Yima, and recites the Avesta in the language of birds (Bund. xix and
  xxiv). As a bird, because of the swiftness of his flight, was often
  considered an incarnation of lightning, and as the thunder was
  supposed to be the voice of a god speaking from above, so the song of
  a bird was often thought to be the utterance of a god.

Footnote 172:

  Chips, Vol. I, p. 167.

Footnote 173:

  Clas. Dict., p. 1015.

Footnote 174:

  Clement says: “The Persians, first taking coals from the lightning
  which fell from heaven, preserved them by ordinary fuel, and honoring
  the heavenly fire as a god, were honored by the fire itself, with the
  first kingdom, as its first worshippers. After them the Babylonians,
  stealing coals from the fire that was there, and conveying it safely
  to their own home and worshipping it, they themselves also reigned in
  order. And the Egyptians, acting in like manner, and calling the fire
  in their own dialect _Phthaë_, which is translated _Hephaistus_ or
  _Osiris_, he who first reigned amongst them is called by its name.”—
  _Clementine Homilies, IX_, Chap. vi.

Footnote 175:

  Chips, Vol. I, pp. 162-177.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                   THE TEACHINGS OF THE ZEND-AVESTA.

THE GĀTHAS—THE WAIL OF THE KINE—THE LAST GĀTHA—THE MARRIAGE SONG—THE
    YASNA—COMMENTARY ON THE FORMULAS—THE YASNA HAPTANG-HĀITI—THE SROSH
    YAŚT—THE YASNA CONCLUDING.


The teachings of the Zend-Avesta have been partially treated in the
chapter devoted to Persian mythology, but other features of the work
seem to demand attention here. Briefly presented, the present world is
two-fold, being the work of two hostile beings—Ahūra-Mazda, the good
principle, and Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman, the evil principle. All that is
good in the present state of things comes from the former, and all that
is evil from the latter. The history of the world is the history of the
conflict between these two powers, as Angra Mainyu invaded the world of
Ahūra Mazda, and marred its beauty and truth. Man is active in the
conflict, his duty being revealed to him in the law which was given by
Ahūra Mazda to Zarathuśtra.

Although of later date, it is evident that the religion of the Pārsīs is
derived from the same source as that of the Hindūs—derived from the
faith of the Āryan forefathers of the Hindūs and the Īrānians. We
therefore find two strata in the mythology which is under discussion;
the one comprises all the gods and myths which were already in existence
during the Indo-Īrānian period, and the other comprises the gods and
myths which were only developed after the separation of the two
mythologies.

There are two principal points in the Indo-Īrānian religion. First, that
there is a law in nature; and second, that there is also war in nature.
There is law in nature, because day returns with its golden splendor and
night with its eloquent mystery; seed-time and harvest, the planting and
the fruiting, succeed each other with unfailing regularity. There is war
in nature, because it contains powers that work for evil, as well as
those that work for good. Hence the unceasing struggle goes on, and it
is never more apparent to the human eye than in a storm, where a fiend
seems to bear away the waters which the earth so sadly needs, and fights
with the god who at last brings them to the thirsting plants. Amidst all
the various myths of the Indo-Īrānian system there is a monotheism and
an unconscious dualism. But both of these disappeared in the further
development of Hindū mythology. Mazdeism, however, lost neither of these
two ideas; it clung strongly to them both.

Hence we have the Ahūra-Mazda, “the lord of high knowledge,” “the all-
embracing sky.” He was the Varuṇa of the Hindūs, but this name was lost
in Īrān, or remained only as the name of a mythical region—the Varena,
which was the scene of a mythical fight between a storm-fiend and a
storm-god.

Ahūra, the heaven-god, is white, and his body is the fairest and
greatest of bodies. He is wedded to the rivers, and the sun is his eye,
while the lightnings are his children, and he wears the heavens as a
star-spangled garment.

In the time of Herodotus, the Persians, while invoking Ahūra-Mazda as
the creator of heaven and earth, still called the whole vault of the sky
the supreme god. This deity slowly brought everything under his sway,
and the other gods finally became, not only his subjects, but also his
creatures.

While the single elements of Mazdeism do not differ essentially from
those of the Vedic and the Indo-European mythology generally, still the
grouping of these elements in a new order presents them in a new form.
Thus we find that in Mazdeism everything is referred either to Ahūra
Mazda or to Angra Mainyu as its source, and hence the world is divided
into two parts, in each of which a strong unity prevails, representing
the dualism of this system. Ahūra is all light, truth, goodness and
knowledge, while Angra Mainyu, or Ahriman, is all darkness, falsehood,
wickedness and ignorance.

Man, according to his deeds, belongs to Ormazd or to Ahriman. He belongs
to Ormazd if he sacrifices to him, and helps him by good thoughts, words
and deeds; if he enlarges his dominion and makes the realm of Ahriman
smaller by destroying his creatures; while the man who is a friend of
Ahriman and represents evil thoughts and evil deeds, who slays the
creatures of Ormazd, is classed as a demon. Even animals are classified
as belonging to one spirit or the other, in accordance with the idea
that they had been incarnations of either the god or the fiend.

Killing the Ahriman creatures is killing Ahriman himself, and many sins
can thus be atoned for, while killing Ormazdean animals is an
abomination like the killing of the god. The struggle between the good
and evil, however, is limited, for the world is not to last forever, and
Ahriman will be defeated at last.

There had been an old myth that the world would end in a fearful winter
like that of the Eddic Fimbul, which would be succeeded by an eternal
spring, but as a storm is the ordinary symbol of strife, the view which
finally obtained in their mythology, is the prediction that the world
will finally end in a battle of the elements.

The Pārsīs came at last to a pure monotheism, and to a certain extent
this change may have been influenced by the creed of the Moslem that
“there is one God, and Mohammed is his prophet,” but the difference in
sentiment cannot be ascribed to any one generation, for it is really
deeper and wider than the movement which, in earlier times, brought the
Magi from an imperfect form of dualism to one which was much more
decided in its presentations.[176]

                              THE GĀTHAS.

The five Gāthas which have been attributed to Zarathuśtra are doubtless
the earliest portions of the Zend-Avesta. They comprise seventeen
sections of poetical matter, equal in extent to twenty-five or thirty
hymns of the Ṛig-veda. They are composed in the ancient Āryan metre, and
ascribe supreme power to Ahūra Mazda, who is opposed constantly by the
spirit of evil.

In these early songs, the kine, as the representative of the people,
laments the burden which is laid upon Īrānian life. The effort to win
their bread by honest labor is opposed, although not entirely
frustrated, by the Deva-worshipping tribes, who still struggle with the
Zarathuśtrians for the control of the territory. The kine, therefore,
lifts her wail to Ahūra, who responds by the appointment of Zarathuśtra
as the being who is entrusted with her redemption; and he, accepting his
commission, begins his labors. We then have a series of lamentations and
praises addressed by Zarathuśtra and his immediate associates to Ahūra;
also exhortations which are addressed to the people.

These hymns were composed amidst an agricultural people, many of whom
were also herdsmen. Their land and their cattle being their most
valuable property, the raids of the Deva-worshippers were looked upon as
most terrible visitations. In the course of these invasions, we have
also intimations of an organized effort on the part of the foe to
overwhelm the Zarathuśtrians, and it appears that at times they very
nearly accomplished their object, sanguinary conflicts being repeatedly
alluded to. It may be inferred by the prevalence of the thankful tone in
the Gāthas, that the Zarathuśtrians were not conquered during the Gāthic
period, although at the time that the last hymns of the series were
written, the struggle was by no means over.

There is an historical tone in the Gāthas, which should be carefully
observed. Their doctrines and exhortations concern an actual religious
movement, which was taking place at the time of their composition, and
that movement was apparently pure and earnest. Their tone is always
serious, and nearly all the myths are dropped; even the old Āryan gods,
who reappear in the later Avesta, being ignored with a single exception.

In the first Gātha, the soul of the kine, as representing the herds of
the Īrānian people, raises her voice in lamentation. She asks why and
for whom she was made, since afflictions compass her and her life is
constantly threatened by the incursions of predatory tribes. She also
beseeches the Bountiful Immortals to instruct her as to the benefits of
agriculture, and confirm her protectors in the science, as the only
remedy for her sufferings.

                         THE WAIL OF THE KINE.

     “Unto you, O Ahūra and Asha, the soul of the kine cried aloud,
      ‘For whom did ye create me?
      And for whom did ye fashion me?
      On me comes the assault of wrath and of violent power;
      The blow of desolation and thievish might.
      None other pasture given have I than you;
      Therefore do ye teach me good tillage
      For the fields, mine only hope of welfare.’”

Ahūra speaks:

      “Upon this the Creator of the kine asked of Righteousness,
       ‘How was thy guardian for the kine appointed by thee,
       When having power over all her fate ye made her?
       In what manner did ye secure for her, together with pasture
       A cattle-chief who was both skilled and energetic?
       Whom did ye select as her life’s master
       Who might hurl back the fury of the wicked?’”

Asha answers:

         To him the Divine Righteousness answered:

        “Great was our perplexity;
         A chieftain who was capable of smiting back their fury
         And who was himself without hate
         Was not to be obtained by us.”

Zarathuśtra intercedes:

    “The Great Creator is himself most mindful
     Of the uttered indications which have been fulfilled beforehand
     In the deeds of demon gods.
     The Ahūra is the discerning arbiter;
     So shall it be to us as he shall will.
     Therefore it is that we both,
     My soul and the soul of the mother kine,
     Are working our supplications for the two worlds
     To Ahūra, and he will answer,
     ‘Not for the righteous—
     Not for the thrifty tiller of the earth,
     Shall there be destruction together with the wicked?’”

Ahūra speaks:

             Upon this the Lord spake thus:
            “Not in this manner is a spiritual master found;
             Therefore _thee_ have I named
             For such a head to the tiller of the ground.
             ... This man is found
             Who alone has hearkened to our enunciations:
             Zarathuśtra Spitama
             I will give him the good abode
             And authoritative place.”

Voice of the Kine:

          Upon this the soul of the kine lamented:
         “Woe is upon me
          Since I have obtained for myself in my wounding
          A lord who is powerless to effect his wish,
          The voice of a feeble and pusillanimous man;
          Whereas I desire one who is lord over his will,
          And able as one of royal state,—
          Who is able to accomplish what he desires to effect.”

Zarathuśtra:

   “Do ye, O Ahūra, and thou, O Righteousness,
    Grant gladness unto these:
    Bestow upon them the peaceful amenities of home
    And quiet happiness....
    Do ye now therefore assign unto us your aid in abundance
    For our great cause.
    May we be partakers of the bountiful grace of these your equals,
    Your counsellors and servants.”

Zarathuśtra, having entered upon the duties of his office, composes a
liturgy for the benefit of his colleagues, which is given in the second
hymn. The doctrine of dualism is next taught. The progress and struggles
of the cause are presented. There is a song of thankfulness offered in
gratitude for improved fortunes.

In the third Gātha, salvation is announced as universal for believers,
and also contains the reflections of Zarathuśtra upon the sublimity and
bountifulness of Ahūra. There are also personal hopes and appeals.

                            THE LAST GĀTHA.

While the matter of this hymn is homogeneous with that of the other
Gāthas, it bears some evidence of having been composed in the latter
portion of Zarathuśtra’s life. The subject is a marriage song of a
political and religious character. The freshness and vigor of the style
may indicate Zarathuśtrian influence, if not authorship. The marriage
festival of the prophet’s daughter must have been a semi-political
occasion, and the author would naturally express himself in reference to
the struggle which was still going on.

                           THE MARRIAGE SONG.

          “That best prayer has been answered,
           The prayer of Zarathuśtra Spitama
           That Ahūra Mazda
           Might grant him those boons
           Which flow from the Good Order;
           Even a life that is prospered for eternal duration;
           And also those who deceived him;
           May he also grant him,
           As the good faith’s disciples in word and in deed.”

The master of the feast then speaks as follows:

          “And him will they give thee,
           Oh Pouroukista,
           Young as thou art of the daughters of Zarathuśtra,
           Him will they give thee
           As a help in the true service Asha and Mazda,
           As a chief and a guardian.
           Counsel well then together,
           And act in just action.”

The bride answers:

        “I will love him,
         Since from my father he gained me.
         For the master and toilers,
         And for the lord-kinsman,
         He, the Good Mind’s bright blessing.
         The pure to the pure ones.
         And to me be the insight which I gain from his counsel.
         Mazda grant it for good conscience forever.”

Priestly master of the feast:

    “Monitions for the marrying,
     I speak to you, maidens,
     And heed ye my saying:
     By these laws of the faith which I utter
     Obtain ye the life of the good mind
     On earth and in heaven.
     And to you, bride and bridegroom,
     Let each one the other in righteousness cherish,
     Thus alone unto each shall the home life be happy.
     Thus real are these things, ye men and ye women
     From the lie-demon protecting
     A guard o’er my faithful
     And so I grant progress and goodness
     And the hate of the lie with the hate of her bondsmen
     I would expel from the body—
     Where is then the righteous lord that will smite them from life
     And beguile them of license?
     Mazda! there is the power which will banish and conquer.”[177]

                               THE YASNA.

The word Yasna means worship including sacrifice. This was the principal
liturgy of the Zarathuśtrians, in which confession, invocation, prayer,
exhortation and praise are all combined. The Gāthas are sung in the
middle of it and in the Vendīdad Sadah; the Visparad is interpolated
within it. Like other compositions of its kind, it is largely made up of
the fragments of different ages and modes of composition. We have no
reason to suppose that the Yasna existed in its present form in the
earlier periods of Zarathuśtranism, but the fragments of which it is
composed, may, some of them, reach back to that era, and even its
present arrangement is comparatively early in the history of Mazdean
literature. The following extracts have been chosen as representing the
finest specimens of poetic fervor to be found in the Yasna:

                     COMMENCEMENT OF THE SACRIFICE.

 “I will announce and I will complete my Yasna to Ahūra Mazda,
  The radiant and glorious, the greatest and best,
  The one whose body is the most perfect,
  Who has fashioned us,
  And who has nourished and protected us,
  Who is the most bounteous spirit....

 “I will announce and I will complete my Yasna to the Good Mind,
  And to Righteousness the best,
  To the Universal Weal and Immortality,
  To the body of the Kine and to the Kine’s soul,
  And to the fire of Ahūra Mazda,
  Who, more than all the Bountiful Immortals
  Has made the effort for our success....

 “I will announce and I will complete my Yasna to Mithra of the wide
    pastures,
  Of the thousand ears, and of the myriad eyes
  The Izad of the spoken name.[178]

 “I celebrate and complete my Yasna to the Fravishas[179] of the saints,
  And to those women who have many sons,

  And to a prosperous home life
  Which continues without reverse throughout the year,
  And to that might which strikes victoriously....

 “I announce and complete my Yasna to the Māhya,
  The monthly festivals, lords of the ritual order,
  To the new and the later moon, and to the full moon which scatters
     night....

 “I announce and complete my Yasna to the yearly feasts....
  Yea, I celebrate and complete my Yasna
  To the seasons, lords of the ritual order....

 “I announce and complete my Yasna
  To all those who are the thirty and three,[180]
  Lords of the ritual order....

 “To Ahūra and to Mithra, to the star Tiśtrya,
  The resplendent and glorious,
  To the moon and the resplendent sun,
  Him of the rapid steeds, the eye of Ahūra Mazda.”

The sacrifice is long continued, and the gods are again approached with
interminable ritual, and the naming of the objects of propitiation; the
offerings are then made to each of the gods, the fire of earth receiving
especial attention, as well as the stars of heaven and all the Bountiful
Immortals.

At each presentation of the offering by the priest, the object of
propitiation is named. There are invocations and dedications almost
without number, Zarathuśtra being also mentioned as an object of
worship.

 “And we worship Zarathuśtra Spitama in our sacrifice,
  The holy lord of the ritual order,
  And we worship every Izad as we worship him;
  And we worship also the Fravisha of Zarathuśtra Spitama, the saint.
  And we worship the utterances of Zarathuśtra and his religion,
  His faith and his love.
  And we worship the former religions of the world devoted to
     Righteousness,
  Which were instituted at the creation,
  The holy religion of Ahūra Mazda,
  The resplendent and glorious....
  And we worship the milk offering and the libation,
  The two which cause the waters to flow forth,
  And we worship all waters and all plants,
  And all good men and all good women.”[181]

                      COMMENTARY ON THE FORMULAS.

This commentary is written in the Zend language, and is valuable as a
specimen of early exegesis. Zarathuśtra is here represented as holding a
conversation with Ahūra Mazda, and in reply to his questions Ahūra says:
“Whoever in this world of mine shall mentally recall a portion of the
Ahuna-vairya (formulas), and having thus recalled it, shall undertone
it, and then utter it aloud; whoever shall worship thus, then even with
threefold safety and speed I will bring his soul over the bridge of
_K_invaḍ (Chinvat). I who am Ahūra Mazda will help him to pass over it
to heaven, the best life, and to the lights of heaven.”

“And whoever, O Zarathuśtra, while undertoning the parts of the Ahuna-
vairya, takes aught therefrom, I who am Ahūra Mazda will draw his soul
off from the better world; yea, so far will I withdraw it as the earth
is large and wide.

“And this word is the most emphatic of the words which have ever been
pronounced, or which are now spoken, or which shall be spoken in the
future, for this utterance is of such a nature that if all the living
world should learn it, and learning, hold fast by it, they would be
redeemed from their mortality.”[182]

                        THE YASNA HAPTANG-HĀITA.

This Yasna of the “Seven Chapters” appears to rank next in antiquity to
the Gāthas, but the tone is considerably changed, although the dialect
remains the same. We have here a stronger personification of the
Bountiful Immortals, while fire is still worshipped; also the earth and
grass. We find here praise to Ahūra and the Immortals, to fire, to the
creation, to the earth and to sacred waters. The sacrifice to the “Soul
of the Kine” is also given, and the sacrifices to both earth and heaven,
to the stormy wind that Mazda made, also to the peaks of the beautiful
mountain.

“And we worship the Good Mind and the spirits of the saints. And we
sacrifice to the fish of fifty-five fins, and to the Unicorn which
stands in Vourūkasha, and to the sea where he stands, and to the Haoma,
golden flowered, growing on the heights. We sacrifice to Haoma, that
driveth death afar, and to the flood streams of the waters, and to the
great flight of the birds, and to the approach of the Fire-priests as
they approach us from afar,[183] and seek to gain the provinces and
spread the ritual law.”[184]

The Yasna also includes several Yaśts, or hymns of praise, some of which
contain poetry as well as praise. As Sraosha is the only divinity of the
later groups mentioned in the first four Gāthas, the Yaśt which is
dedicated to him appears to rank in antiquity next to those fragments
which are found in the Gāthic dialect. The name of Sraosha appears still
to retain its meaning as the abstract quality of obedience although it
is personified.

                           THE SRAŌSHA YAŚT.

    “Propitiation be to Sraosha, Obedience the blessed, the Mighty,
     The incarnate mind of reason,
     Whose body is the Mithra,—
     Him of the daring spear devoted to the Lord
     For his worship, homage, propitiation and praise.

    “We worship Sraosha, the blessed, the stately,
     Him who smites with the blow of victory,
     For his splendor and his glory,
     For his might and the blow which smites with victory.

    “I will worship him with the Yasna of the Izads.
     And we worship all the words of Zarathuśtra
     And all the deeds well done for him...

    “We worship Sraosha, the blessed,
     Whom four racers draw in harness,
     White and shining, beautiful and powerful
     Quick to learn and fleet,
     Obeying before speech,
     Heeding orders from the mind,
     With their hoofs of horn, gold-covered,
     Fleeter than our horses, swifter than the winds;
     More rapid than the rain-drops as they fall,
     Yea, fleeter than the clouds or well-winged birds,
     Or the well-shot arrow as it flies
     Which overtake not these swift ones
     As they fly after them pursuing,
     But which are never overtaken when they flee,
     Which plunge away from all the weapons
     And draw Sraosha with them,
     The good Sraosha and the blessed.

    “We worship Obedience, the blessed,
     Who, though so lofty and so high, yea, so stately,
     Yet stoops to Mazda’s creatures, even to the girdle....
     For his splendor and his glory,
     For his might which smites to victory.
     I will worship him with the Yasna of the Izads,
     And may he come to aid us,
     He who smites with victory.
     Obedience the blessed.”[185]

                         THE YASNA CONCLUDING.

This Yasna, having been composed long after the supposed time of
Zarathuśtra, can hardly be genuine in its present shape. It may,
however, be an elaboration of an earlier document.

“Frashaośtra the holy, asked the saintly Zarathuśtra, ‘What is, in very
truth, the memorized recital of the rites? What is the completed
delivery of the Gāthas?’”

“Zarathuśtra said, ‘We worship Ahūra Mazda with our sacrifice as the
holy lord of the ritual order, and we sacrifice to Zarathuśtra likewise
as the holy lord of the ritual order, and we sacrifice to the Fravisha
of Zarathuśtra, the saint.

‘And we sacrifice to the Bountiful Immortals, the guardians of the
saints, and we sacrifice to all the good, heroic and bounteous Fravishas
of the saints.... And we worship all the five Gāthas, the holy ones and
the entire Yasna, and the sounding of its chants.

‘And we sacrifice to all the springs of water and to the water streams
as well, and to growing plants and forest trees, and to the entire land
and heaven, and to all the stars, and to the moon and sun, even to all
the lights without beginning....

‘We sacrifice to the active man and to the man of good intent, for the
hindrance of darkness, of wasting of the strength and life, and to
health and healing.

‘We sacrifice to the Yasna’s ending words, and to them which end the
Gāthas, and we sacrifice to the bounteous hymns themselves, which rule
in the ritual course, the holy ones....

‘And we sacrifice to the souls of the dead which are the Fravishas of
the saints, and we sacrifice to that lofty Lord who is Ahūra Mazda
himself.’”



                              CHAPTER VII.
                TEACHINGS OF THE ZEND-AVESTA, CONCLUDED.

THE VENDĪDAD—FARGARD II—THE VARA OF YIMA—THE LAWS OF PURIFICATION—
    DISPOSITION OF THE DEAD—PUNISHMENTS—THE PLACE OF REWARD—THE
    VISPARAD—TEACHING OF THE MODERN PĀRSĪS.


This portion of the Zend-Avesta is also a collection of fragments,
although the Pārsī tradition claims that it has been preserved entire.
The Vendīdad has often been called the book of the laws of the Pārsīs,
but the greater portion of the rules here given pertain to the laws of
purification. The first two chapters deal largely with mythical matter,
and are remnants of an old epic and cosmogonic literature—the first
dealing with the creation of Ahūra and the marring of his work by the
evil principle, and the second treating of Yima as the founder of
civilization. Three chapters of a mythical nature about the origin of
medicine are placed at the end of the book, and the nineteenth Fargard
or section treats of the revelation of the law by Ahūra to Zarathuśtra.
The other seventeen chapters deal largely with observances and
ceremonies, although mythical fragments are occasionally met with, which
have more or less connection with the text, many of them, perhaps, being
interpolations of a later date. About eight chapters[186] are devoted to
the impurity of the dead and the method of dispelling it; this subject
is also treated in other Fargards, while two long sections are devoted
to the care of the dog, the food which is due him and the penalties for
offenses against him.[187] The apparent lack of order is, perhaps,
largely due to the form of expression which was adopted by the first
composers of the Vendīdād. The law is revealed by Ahūra in a series of
answers, which are given in reply to the questions of Zarathuśtra, and
as these queries are not of a general character, but refer to details,
the matter is presented in fragments, each of which (consisting of a
question with its answer) appears as an independent passage.

                              FARGARD II.

This is the most poetical chapter in the work, and is devoted to Yima.
Ahūra here proposes that Yima, the son of Vīvanghat, shall receive the
law from him and carry it to men. Yima, however, refuses to do so,
whereupon Ahūra gives him a commission, bidding him to keep his
creatures and make them prosper. Yima, therefore, makes the creatures of
Ahūra to thrive and increase, keeps death and disease away from them,
and three times enlarges the earth, which had become too small for its
inhabitants. On the approach of a dreadful winter, which was to destroy
every living thing, Yima, being advised by Ahūra, built a Vara to
preserve the seed of all animal and vegetable life, and there the
blessed still live happily under his rule. The world, after lasting a
long year of twelve millenniums, was to end in a dire winter, to be
followed by an everlasting spring, when men, being sent back to earth
from the heavens, should enjoy upon the earth the same happiness which
they had found after death in the realms of Yima. But when a more
definite form was taken by the Mazdean cosmology the world was made to
end by fire, and therefore the Vara of Yima, instead of remaining the
paradise from which the inhabitants of earth return, came to be a
comparatively modern representative of Noah’s Ark. In the Vedas, Yama is
the first man, the first priest and “the first of all who died”; he
brought worship here below, as well as life, and “first he stretched out
the thread of sacrifice.”

Yima had at first the same right as his Hindū prototype to the title of
a founder of religion, but he lost it, as in the course of the
development of Mazdeism, Zarathuśtra became the law-giver. Zarathuśtra
asked of Ahūra Mazda:

         “Who was the first mortal before myself, Zarathuśtra,
          With whom thou, Ahūra Mazda, did’st converse?
          To whom did’st thou teach the law of Ahūra?”

Ahūra answered:

 “The fair Yima, the great shepherd,
  O holy Zarathuśtra!
  He was the first mortal before thee
  With whom I, Ahūra Mazda, did converse—
  Whom I taught the law of Ahūra—
  The law of Zarathuśtra.

 “Unto him, O Zarathuśtra,
  I, Ahūra Mazda, spake, saying:
  ‘Fair Yima, son of Vīvanghat,
  Be thou the bearer of my law,’
  But the fair Yima replied,
  ‘I was not born, I was not taught
  To be the preacher and the bearer of thy law.’
  Then I, Ahūra Mazda, said thus unto him:
  ‘Since thou wantest not to be my preacher
  And the bearer of my law,
  Then make thou my worlds to thrive—
  Make my worlds increase;
  Undertake thou to nourish, to rule
  And to watch over my world.’
  And the fair Yima replied unto me:
  ‘Yes, I will make thy worlds thrive—
  I will make thy worlds increase—
  Yes, I will nourish and rule
  And watch over thy world.’
  Then I, Ahūra Mazda,
  Brought the implements unto him,
  A golden ring and a poniard
  Inlaid with gold,[188]
  Behold here Yima bears the royal sway.”

 Thus, under the sway of Yima, three hundred winters passed away,
 And the earth was replenished with flocks and herds,
 With men, and dogs and birds, and with red blazing fires,
 ‘Till there was no more room for flocks and herds and men.
 Then Yima stepped forward toward the luminous space
 To meet the sun, and he pressed the earth with the golden ring
 And bored it with the poniard, saying, thus:
 “O Spenta Ārmaiti,[189] kindly open asunder, and stretch thyself afar
 To bear flocks and herds and men.”

And Yima made the earth grow larger by one-third than it was before, and
there came flocks and herds and men, at his will, as many as he wished.

                           THE VARA OF YIMA.

Ahūra Mazda then called a council of the gods, and here he spake to Yima
saying, “Upon the material earth the fatal winters are going to fall
that shall make the snow-flakes thick and deep on the peaks of the
highest mountains, and all the beasts shall perish that live in the
wilderness, and those that live on the mountains, and those that live in
the bosom of the vale. Therefore make thee a Vara, long as a riding-
ground on every side of the square, to be an abode for men and a fold
for flocks. There thou shalt make the waters flow, there thou shalt
settle birds by the evergreen banks that bear the never-failing food.
There shalt thou establish dwelling places and bring the greatest, the
best and the finest of the earth, both men and women; thou shalt bring
the animals, and the seeds of the trees, two of every kind to be kept
there, so long as men shall stay in the Vara.”

And Yima made a Vara, and brought into it all the varieties of cattle
and of plants, and the men in the Vara which Yima made, live the
happiest life,[190] and he who brought the law of Ahūra into the Vara
was the bird Karśipta. And Yima sealed up the Vara with the golden ring,
and he made a door and a window which was self-shining within. And Ahūra
Mazda said “There the stars, the moon and the sun, only once a year seem
to rise and set, and the year seems only a day.”

                       THE LAWS OF PURIFICATION.

The larger portion of the Vendīdad is devoted to a description, with
numberless repetitions, of the Mazdean laws of purification and the long
ceremonies pertaining to them. Impurity or uncleanness may be described
as the condition of a person or thing that is possessed of a demon, and
the process of purification is for the purpose of expelling the evil
presence. Death is the triumph of the demon, and therefore it is the
principal cause of uncleanness; when a man dies, as soon as the soul has
left the body, the Drūj Nasu, or Corpse-Drūj, comes from the regions of
hell, and falls upon the body, and whoever thereafter touches the corpse
is not only unclean himself, but every one whom he touches is also
unclean.

The Drūj is expelled from the dead by the Sag-dīd, or “the look of the
dog;” “a four-eyed dog,” or “a white one with yellow ears,” must be
brought near the body, and made to look upon the dead, and as soon as he
has done so the Drūj hastens back to hell.[191] The Drūj is expelled
from the living by a process which is too revolting for description. The
ceremonies are accompanied by the constant repetition of spells like the
following: “Perish, O fiendish Drūj! Perish, O brood of the fiend! Rush
away, O Drūj! Perish away to the regions of the north, never more to
give unto death the living world.”

The feeling out of which these ceremonies grew was not original with
Mazdeism; the Hindū also considered himself in danger while burning the
corpse, and he cried aloud, “Away, go away, O Death! injure not our sons
and our men.”[192]

The Pārsīs, not being able to find a four-eyed dog, interpreted the law
to mean a dog with two spots above the eyes, while in practice they are
still less particular, and the Sag-dīd may be performed by a house-dog,
or by a dog four months old. As birds of prey are fiend-smiters as well
as the dog, the devotee may claim their services when there is no dog at
hand. The four-eyed dog, which the ceremony originally called for, is
doubtless a reproduction of “the four-eyed dogs of the tawny breed of
Saramā,” belonging to Yama,[193] which guard the realms of death in
Hindū mythology. The identity of the four-eyed dog of the Pārsīs with
the dogs of Yama is confirmed by the tradition that the yellow-eared dog
watches at the head of the Chinvat bridge, and, as the souls of the
faithful pass over, he barks to drive away the fiend who would drag them
down to hell. Wherever a corpse is carried, death walks beside it all
the way, from the house to the last resting-place, and the fatal
presence constantly threatens the living who are near the path-way.

                        DISPOSITION OF THE DEAD.

As the centre of contagion is in the corpse, it must be disposed of in
such a way that death may not be spread abroad. The old Indo-European
customs have in this respect been completely changed by Mazdeism. The
corpse was formerly either burned or buried; both of these customs,
however, are held to be sacreligious in the Avesta. The elements, fire,
earth, and water, are holy, and even during the Indo-Īrānian period they
were already so considered, being represented in the Vedas as objects of
worship. But this did not prevent the Hindūs from burning their dead,
and the dead man was really considered as a traveler to the other world,
while the kindly fire was supposed to carry him on flashing pinions to
his heavenly abode. The funeral fire, like that of the sacrifice, was
the god that goes from earth to heaven, the mediator most friendly to
man.

In Persia, however, it remained more distant from him and represented
the purest offspring of the good spirit; therefore no uncleanness could
be allowed to enter it. Its only function appears to be the repelling of
the fiends by its blaze. In every place where the Pārsīs are settled, an
everlasting fire is still kept, which is always fed by perfumes and
costly woods, and wherever its flames are carried by the wind, it kills
thousand of fiends. No degradation must be inflicted upon this sacred
element, even blowing it with the human breath is a crime, because the
outgoing breath is unclean; burning the dead is therefore the most
criminal act; in the time of Strabo[194] it was a capital crime, and the
Avesta places it in the list of sins for which there is no atonement.

Water was looked upon in the same light, and throwing dead matter into
it was as unpardonable as to pollute the sacred flame with its presence.
The Magi are said to have overthrown a king for having built bath-
houses, and the Jews were forbidden to practice their ablutions; in some
cases the sick were even forbidden to drink it, unless it was decided
that death would be caused by longer abstinence. The earth was equally
holy, for in her bosom there dwelt Spenta Ārmaiti, the goddess of the
earth, and to defile her sacred dwelling by burying the dead was also a
deed for which there was no atonement.

In earlier times the Persians practiced burial even after burning had
been forbidden. Cambyses aroused the national indignation by cremating
the body of Amasis, and years later the Persians were still burying
their dead. Afterward, however, when the Mazdean law became dominant,
the worship of the earth was included, although it was sometime before
it was considered as sacred as fire and water. In later times the
Persians builded Dakhmas, or “Towers of Silence” for the bodies of their
dead; these towers were about twenty feet high, and they enclosed an
annular stone pavement on which the bodies were placed. These towers
were usually built on the summit of a mountain far from the haunts of
men. A barren cliff was chosen, free from trees or water, and the tower
was even separated from the earth herself, for it was isolated by a
layer of stones and bricks, while it was claimed that a golden thread
ran between the tower and the earth. Here, afar from the world of men,
the dead were left to lie “beholding the sun.” The Avesta and commentary
are especially emphatic upon this point, for “it is as if the dead man’s
life were thus prolonged, since he can still behold the sun.”

                              PUNISHMENTS.

The penalties for the violation of the Persian law were very severe, and
human life was considered of very little value, capital punishment being
inflicted even for the killing of a dog. Their laws were far more
barbarous than those of England in Sir William Blackstone’s time, when
one hundred and sixty offenses[195] were declared by act of Parliament
to be worthy of instant death;[196] and death was the most humane of the
Persian punishments, when it was promptly inflicted, for their methods
were too terrible for description. Two hundred stripes were awarded if
one tilled land in which a corpse had been buried within a year, or if
the mother of a very young child drank water. Four hundred stripes were
the penalty if one covered with a cloth a dead man’s feet, and eight
hundred if he covered the whole body. The penalty for killing a puppy
was five hundred stripes, six hundred for killing a stray dog, eight
hundred for a shepherd’s dog, and ten thousand stripes for killing a
water-dog.[197]

In the old Āryan legislation there were many crimes which were
considered more criminal than murder, and Persians who defiled the earth
were not more severely punished than were the Greeks who defiled the
ground of Delos, nor would the Athenians, who put Atarbes to death, have
wondered at the awful punishment inflicted for the killing of the
Persian water-dog. There are but few laws in the Vendīdad, however
absurd, that may not find a counterpart in the legislation of the Greeks
or Latins.

Every crime, according to the Persian law, makes the guilty man[198]
liable to two penalties, one here on earth and another in the next
world, but in ancient Persia, as in modern legislation, there was a
money value attached to many crimes, and the rich criminal escaped by
paying his fine, so far as this present world was concerned. In the
next, however, his money is of no value to him; when he comes to the
head of Chinvat bridge, his conscience becomes a maiden, either of
divine beauty, or of fiendish deformity, according to his merits. The
bridge itself, which reaches over the awful chasm of hell to the
heavenly shore on the other side, widens, if he be a good man, to the
width of nine javelins; but for the souls of the wicked it narrows to a
thread and they fall down into hell.

                          THE PLACE OF REWARD.

“O, Maker of the material world! where are the rewards given? where does
the rewarding take place?”

Ahūra Mazda answered: “When the man is dead, when his time is over, then
the hellish evil-doing Daevas assail him; and when the third night is
gone—when the dawn appears and brightens up, and makes Mithra, the god
with the beautiful weapons, reach the all-happy mountains, and the sun
is rising. Then the fiend carries off in bonds[199] the souls of the
wicked, who live in sin. The soul enters the way made by Time, and open
both to the wicked and the righteous. At the head of the Chinvat bridge,
the holy bridge made by Mazda, they ask for the reward for the goods
which they have given away here below. Then comes the well-shapen,
strong and noble maiden, with the dogs (that keep the Chinvat bridge) at
her side—she is graceful and of high understanding.

“She makes the soul of the righteous one to go up above the Hara-
berezaita; above the Chinvat bridge she places it in the presence of the
heavenly gods themselves; Vohu-manō from his golden seat exclaims, ‘How
hast thou come to us, thou holy one, from that decaying world into this
undecaying one? Gladly pass the souls of the righteous to the golden
seat of Ahūra Mazda—to the abode of all the other holy beings.”[200]

                             THE VISPARAD.

The word Visparad means “all the chiefs,” referring to “the lords of the
ritual,” therefore the various chapters are merely used in the course of
the sacrifice. The following extracts will give the reader a definite
idea concerning the literary merit of this portion of the Zend-Avesta:

 In this Zaothra, with this Baresman,
 I desire to approach the lords of the ritual
 Which are spiritual with my praise;
 And I desire to approach the earthly lords as well.

 And I desire to approach the lords of the water with my praise
 And the lords of the land;
 And I desire to approach with my praise,
 Those chiefs which strike the wing,
 And those that wander wild at large,
 And those of the cloven hoof, who are chiefs of the ritual.

 And in this Zaothra with this Baresman,
 I desire to approach thee, Zarathuśtra Spitama,...
 I desire to approach the man who recites the ritual rites
 Who is maintaining thus the thought, well thought,
 And the word well spoken, and the deed well done.
 I desire to approach the seasons with my praise
 The holy lords of the ritual order,....
 And I desire to approach those mountains with my praise,
    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
 Which shine with holiness, abundantly glorious,
 And Mithra of the wide pastures,
 And I desire to approach the question,
 Asked of Ahūra, and the lore of the lord—
 And the farm-house of the man possessed of pastures,
 And the pasture produced for the kine of blessed gift,
 And the holy cattle-breeding man.

 And we worship the fire here, Ahūra Mazda’s son,
 And the Izads, having the seed of fire in them;
 And we worship the Fravishas of the saints
 And we worship Sraosha who smites to victory
 And the holy man, and the entire creation of the clean.
    *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
 And we sacrifice to the fields and the waters...
 We take up our homage to the good waters,
 And to the fertile fruit-trees,
 And the Fravishas of the saints, and to the kine.

 And we sacrifice to that listening, that hears our prayers,
 And to that mercy, and to the hearing of our homage,
 And to that mercy shown in response to our praise,
 And we sacrifice to that good praise which is without hypocrisy.
 And which has no malice as its end.
     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
 With this chant fully chanted,
 And which is for the Bountiful Immortals
 And by means of these ceremonial actions,
 We desire to utter our supplications for the kine.
 It is that chant which the saint has recognized
 As good and fruitful of blessed gifts,
 And which the sinner does not know.
 May we never reach that misfortune
 That the sinner may outstrip us in our chanting.
 Nor in the matter of the plan thought out,
 Or in words delivered, or ceremonies done,
 Nor yet in any offering whatever, when he approaches us for harm.[201]

                     TEACHING OF THE MODERN PĀRSĪS.

This résumé of the ancient books will be closed by a brief explanation
of their faith in Dualism, as given by some learned Indian Pārsīs of
Bombay to Sir M. Monier-Williams during his stay in India. In speaking
of the Dualism of Zoroaster, as understood in modern times, Prof.
Williams says:

“The explanation given to me was that Zoroaster, although a believer in
one Supreme Being, and a teacher of Monotheism, set himself to account
for the existence of evil, which could not have its source in an all-
wise Creator.

He therefore taught that two opposite—but not opposing, forces, which he
calls ‘twins,’ were inherent in the nature of the Supreme Being, called
by him Ahūra Mazda (or in Persian Ormazd), and emanated from that Being,
just as in Hindūism, Vishṇu and Śiva emanate from the Supreme Brahmā.
These two forces were set in motion by Ahūra Mazda, as his appointed
mode of maintaining the continuity of the Universe.

The one was constructive, the other destructive.

One created and composed. The other disintegrated and decomposed, but
only to co-operate with the creative principle by providing fresh
material for the work of re-composition.

Hence there could be no new life without death, no existence without
non-existence.

Hence, also, according to Zoroaster, there was originally no really
antagonistic force of evil opposed to good.

The creative energy was called Ahūra Mazda’s beneficent spirit (Spento-
Mainyus), and the destructive force was called his maleficent spirit
(Angro-Mainyus, afterwards corrupted into Ahriman), but only because the
idea of evil is connected with dissolution.

The two spirits were merely antagonistic in name.

They were in reality co-operative and mutually helpful.

They were essential to the alternating processes of construction and
dissolution, through which the cosmical being was perpetuated.

The only real antagonism was that alternately brought about by the free
agent, man, who could hasten the work of destruction, or retard the work
of construction by his own acts.

It is therefore held, that the so-called dualistic doctrines of
Zoroaster were compatible with the absolute unity of the one God
(symbolized especially by fire).

Ultimately, however, Zoroastrianism crystallized into a hard and
uncompromising dualism. That is to say, in process of time, Spento-
Mainyus became merely another name for Ahūra Mazda, as the eternal
principle of good, while Angro-Mainyus or Ahriman became altogether
dissociated from Ahūra Mazda, and converted into an eternal principle of
evil.

These two principles are believed to be the sources of two opposite
creations which were incessantly at war.

On the one side is a celestial hierarchy, at the head of which is
Ormazd; on the other side, a demoniacal, at the head of which is
Ahriman. They are opposed to each other as light to darkness—as
falsehood to truth.

The whole energy of a religious Indian Pārsī is concentrated on the
endeavor to make himself—so to speak—demon-proof, and this can only be
accomplished by absolute purity (in thought, word and deed), symbolized
by whiteness. He is ever on his guard against bodily defilement, and
never goes out to his daily occupation, without first putting on a
sacred white shirt and a sacred white girdle. Even the most highly
educated and Anglicized Pārsīs are most rigorous observers of this
custom, though it is probable that their real creed has little in common
with the old and superstitious belief in demons and evil spirits, but
rather consists in a kind of cold and monotheistic pantheism.

How far Zoroastrian dualism had affected the religion of the Babylonians
at the time of the Jewish captivity is doubtful, but that the Hebrew
prophets of those days had to contend with dualistic ideas seems
probable from these words: ‘I am the Lord, and there is none else. I
form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil. I the
Lord do all these things.’[202] The New Testament, on the other hand,
might be thought by a superficial reader to lend some support to
dualistic doctrines.... I need scarcely point out, however, that the
Bible account of the origin, nature, and destiny of Satan and his angels
differs, _toto cælo_ from the Zoroastrian description of Ahriman and his
host. Nor need I add that the various monistic, pantheistic, and
dualistic theories, briefly alluded to in this paper, are utterly at
variance with the Christian doctrine of a Personal, Eternal and Infinite
Being, existing and working outside man, and outside the material
universe, which He has Himself created, and controlling both, and in the
case of human beings, working not only outside man, but in and through
him.”[203]

-----

Footnote 176:

  Sa. Bks. of the East, Vol. IV, Int., pp. 56, 83.

Footnote 177:

  Sa. Bks. of the East, Vol. XXXI, pp. 6-194.

Footnote 178:

  Having an especial Yast.

Footnote 179:

  The first month is called Fravisha, and indicates the particular time
  of this celebration. Fravisha also means the departed souls of
  ancestors, and these angels or protectors are numberless. Every being
  of the good creation, whether living, dead or still unborn, has its
  own Fravisha or guardian angel, who has existed from the beginning.

Footnote 180:

  Haug was the first to call attention to this striking coincidence with
  Hindu mythology; in the Aitareya, and Satapatha Brahmanas, in the
  Atharva-veda, and in the Ramayana, the gods are numbered at thirty-
  three.

Footnote 181:

  Yasna, xvi.

Footnote 182:

  See Yasna, xix.

Footnote 183:

  This expression probably points to an immigration of Zarathustranism.

Footnote 184:

  Yasna, xlii.

Footnote 185:

  Yasna, lvii.

Footnote 186:

  From the fifth to the twelfth.

Footnote 187:

  When a dog dies his spirit passes to Ardvi Sura, the goddess of the
  living waters that pour into the celestial sea. The penalty for
  frightening a pregnant dog was from ten to two hundred stripes.

Footnote 188:

  As the symbol and instrument of sovereignty. He reigned supreme by the
  strength of the ring and of the poniard.

Footnote 189:

  Spenta Armaiti is a general name for heavenly counsellors, and they
  represent also the genii of the earth and waters. Under Ahura were six
  Amesha Spentas, which were at first mere personifications of virtues
  and moral powers, but as their lord and father ruled over the whole
  world, in later times they took each a part of the world under
  especial care. The dominion of the trees and waters was vested in
  Haurvatad and Ameretad, or Health and Immortality; here we find the
  influence of the old Indo-Iranian formulæ, in which waters and trees
  were invoked as the springs of health and life. Perfect Sovereignty
  had molten brass for his emblem, as the god in the storm established
  his empire by means of that “molten brass,” the fire of lightning, and
  he thus became the king of metals in general. Asha Vahista, the holy
  order of the world, as maintained chiefly by the sacrificial fire,
  became the genius of fire. Armaiti seems to have become a goddess of
  the earth as early as the Indo-Iranian period, and Vohu-mano, or Good
  Thought, had the living creation left to his superintendence. These
  Amesha Spentas projected, as it were, out of themselves as many demons
  who were hardly more than inverted images of the gods they were to
  oppose; for instance. Health and Immortality were opposed by Sickness
  and Decay, but these very demons were changed into the rulers of
  hunger and thirst when they came in contact with the genii of the
  waters and the trees. Vohu-mano, or Good Thought, was reflected in
  Evil Thought, and after these came the symmetrical armies of
  numberless gods and fiends.—_Darmesteter in Sa. Bks. E._

Footnote 190:

  According to the hymns of the Rig-veda, “Yama the king, the gatherer
  of the people, has descried a path for many which leads from the
  depths to the heights; he first found out a resting place from which
  nobody can turn out the occupants; on the way the forefathers have
  gone, the sons will follow them.”—Rig-veda, X, 14, 1, 2.

Footnote 191:

  The Druj went back to hell in the shape of a fly. The fly that came to
  smell of a dead body was thought to be a corpse-spirit that came to
  take possession of the dead in the name of Ahriman.

Footnote 192:

  Rig-veda, X, 18, 1.

Footnote 193:

  Hindu Literature, p. 35.

Footnote 194:

  Strabo XV, 14; Herod. I, 138.

Footnote 195:

  The Mosaic law mentions only seventeen crimes as being worthy of
  capital punishment.

Footnote 196:

  Blackstone’s Commentaries, IV, 4. 15, 18.

Footnote 197:

  Says Prof. Darmesteter: “It may be doubted whether the murder of a
  water-dog could actually have been punished with ten thousand stripes
  unless we suppose that human endurance was different in ancient Persia
  from what it is elsewhere; in the time of Chardin the number of
  stripes inflicted on the guilty never exceeded three hundred; in the
  old German law, two hundred; in the Mosaic law, forty.”—_Sa. Bks. E.,
  Vol. IV, p. 99, Int._

Footnote 198:

  The penalties for uncleanness in men were far more severe upon woman;
  after giving birth to a child she was forbidden to taste of water, as
  her touch would defile the element, and at times her food was handed
  to her upon a long-handled spoon. Woman was made a creature of
  contract, and disposed of by a bill of sale; like land or cattle, she
  was classed under “the fifth contract,” being considered more valuable
  than cattle, but far cheaper than real estate. They were sometimes
  sold in the cradle and often when only two or three years of age.—_See
  Dosabhoy Framjee’s work on The Parsis, p. 77._

Footnote 199:

  Every one has a noose cast around his neck; when a man dies, if he is
  righteous, the noose falls from his neck; but if wicked, they drag him
  with that noose down to hell.—(_Farg., V, 8._)

Footnote 200:

  Fargard, xix, 27-32.

Footnote 201:

  Visparad, II, V, XVI, XXII.

Footnote 202:

  Isaiah xlv, 6.

Footnote 203:

  Sir M. Monier-Williams, Trans. Vic. Ins., Vol. XXV, p. 10.



                             DIVISION III.
                  THE TIME OF THE MOHAMMEDAN CONQUEST
                             AND THE KORĀN.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                               THE KORĀN.

SUCCESSOR OF THE ZEND-AVESTA—AUTHOR OF THE KORĀN—FIRST REVELATIONS—THE
    HIGRAH—CONTINUED WARFARE—DEATH OF MOHAMMED—RECENSION OF THE TEXT—
    TEACHING OF THE KORĀN—HEAVEN—HELL—PREDESTINATION—POLYGAMY—LITERARY
    STYLE OF THE KORĀN.


The Korān or Qur’ān[204] was the immediate successor of the Zend-Avesta
upon Persian soil. When the star and crescent of the Arabian banners
floated in triumph over the land of Īrān, and the altars of the Pārsīs
were stricken down, when the people themselves were either driven from
their native land or humiliated by their conquerors, then the new creed
supplanted the old, and the war-cry of Islām became the watchword of the
new faith.[205] By methods peculiarly their own, the invaders set up the
standard of their prophet, and his law became the law of the land.

The Arabian peninsula extends southward from Babylonia and Syria down to
the Indian Ocean; its eastern coast is washed by the waves of the
Persian Gulf, while the western boundary forms the shore of the Red Sea.
The low lands on these shores lie at the feet of barren ranges of hills,
which lead upward from the coast of the Red Sea to the highlands beyond
them. This rugged frontier was the barrier from whence the desert tribes
had effectually resisted the attacks of the nations who fought around
them for the dominion of the Orient. Persia, Egypt and Rome had each
unsuccessfully tried to penetrate this rocky fortress of Arabia and
conquer its hardy defenders. Although the Arabs were mostly a nomadic
race, whose wealth consisted largely of camels and horses, still their
country contained cities and towns, and of these the most important were
Mecca and Medīna, where the creed of Islām found its early home.

The religion of the Arabs was Sabænism, or the worship of the host of
heaven, but in the time of Mohammed the comparatively simple star-
worship had been greatly corrupted, and countless superstitious rites
and practices had been introduced. The wandering Arabs had peopled the
desert wastes with imaginary beings, and they fancied that every rock
and cavern—every stream in the oasis—and every palm tree had its
presiding genius.

The vast solitudes, with their terrible stillness—the simoon and the
sand column—the breaking of a storm on a distant mountain, and the
change of a dry ravine into a rushing torrent—these and other
surroundings produced a strong effect upon the vivid imaginations of the
children of the desert; and at last their pantheon contained three
hundred and sixty-five idols.

When, therefore, the voice of Mohammed rang out upon the startled air,
with the cry “There is one God, and Mohammed is his prophet,” it came as
an omen of strife and bloodshed. Devotion to his tribe and to his gods
being one of the strongest characteristics of the Arab, innovations were
fought against, with all the fierceness of a vindictive race. A few
followers gathered around the new prophet, and then began that series of
conflicts, which, after years of fraternal strife, resulted in the
triumphant rule of the new creed.

Christianity had long been partially established in Arabia, and some of
the more important tribes had embraced it, but neither Christianity nor
Judaism was generally accepted by these restless sons of the desert; the
logic of the sword, however, is an argument that every man can
appreciate, and Mohammed proved to be a successful military leader,
giving the spoils of war to his followers in this world as well as
promises of reward in the next. Knowing the value of unity of action
among his followers, he never abandoned his designs upon Syria, and thus
the turbulent tribes of the desert found ample scope for their warlike
propensities, while a successful raid was always rewarded with rich
booty. The triumphs of Islām were largely due to the love of exciting
raids, and the desire for the spoils of conquest.

                        THE AUTHOR OF THE KORĀN.

However fiercely the contest may be waged around the origin of the Zend
Avesta, there is no question among scholars in relation to the
authorship of its successor. The individual portions of the Korān were
not always written down immediately, as Mohammed often repeated them
several times, sometimes forgetting the original statement, and
sometimes changing it; he says, however: “Whatever verse we may annul or
cause thee to forget, we will bring a better one than it or one like
it.”[206] It is seriously questioned among the Arabs whether he could
read or write—one party claiming that he could and the other maintaining
that he could not. On some occasions he certainly employed an
amanuensis, and tradition claims that he would frequently direct in
which sūrah the passage dictated should be placed. The arrangement of
the Korān, however, was left to those who came after him.

The exact date of Mohammed’s birth is uncertain,[207] but he began life
in the shadow of poverty; all that he inherited from his father being
five camels and a slave girl. The boy having lost his mother when he was
only six years old was obliged, in his youth, to attend the sheep and
goats of the Meccans in order to obtain a livelihood, and this position
is still considered by the Bedawīn to be very degrading to any one
except a woman. At the age of twenty-four he married a rich widow, who
was fifteen years his senior, and it is said that this marriage was
eminently a happy one. Three years after her death he married Āyesha,
who was in the habit of saying that she never was jealous of any of his
wives except the first. Six children were born of this marriage, two of
whom were sons, but they died at an early age.

                           FIRST REVELATIONS.

Mohammed had reached his fortieth year when he claimed to receive the
first revelations. Perhaps they might be considered the natural result
of his mode of life, his habits of thought and especially of his
physical condition. For many years he had suffered from nervous
troubles, and tradition claims that the disease was epilepsy. Medical
men of to-day would, perhaps, be more likely to diagnose the case as one
of the forms of hysteria, which is often accompanied with hallucination,
and also with a certain amount of deception, both voluntary and
otherwise. Persons who were thus afflicted were supposed by the Arab to
be possessed by an evil spirit, and the complaint is made in various
places in the Korān that he was regarded in this light by his own
people. His faithful wife Hadi_g_ah[, however, believed in him from the
first. The earlier chapters of the Korān are full of enthusiasm, and
they indicate that the author at that time believed in the reality of
his revelations. His daughters soon became converts to his teachings,
and they were followed by other relatives and friends. Although his
first converts were mostly women and slaves, he afterward secured the
adhesion of influential chiefs. But the new faith incurred the open
hostility of the great majority of the Meccans, and the position of its
converts became critical. While the more powerful were comparatively
secure, the weaker ones, especially the slaves and women, were severely
persecuted, and in some cases they suffered martyrdom.

The surroundings became so dangerous that Mohammed advised his little
band of followers to seek safety in flight, and they emigrated to the
Christian country of Abyssinia until the colony there numbered about one
hundred souls. The Qurāiś were much annoyed by the escape of the
Muslims, and sent a deputation to the king of Abyssinia demanding the
return of the fugitives. The request was refused, and the failure of
their attempt increased the hostility of the Qurāiś toward those who
still remained in Mecca.

Being left almost alone, and exposed to constant danger, Mohammed
conceived the idea of a compromise. The Qurāiś promised that if he would
recognize the divinity of their three principal idols—Allāt, Al ’Huzzā
and Manāt, they would acknowledge him to be the apostle of Allāh. He,
therefore, recited one day before a public assembly, the following words
from the Korān:[208] “Have ye considered Allāt and Al ’Huzza and Manāt
the other third?” He then added: “They are the two high-soaring cranes,
and verily their intercession may be hoped for.” When, therefore, he
came to the last words of the chapter, “Adore God, then, and worship,”
the Meccans, true to their promise, prostrated themselves to the ground
and worshipped as they were bidden.

A great political victory was thus gained, at the sacrifice, however, of
the very principle that many of his followers had given their lives to
maintain. He keenly felt his own humiliation in the matter, and on the
morrow he hastened to recant from his new position, and condemned his
own cowardice in a manly way, declaring what he undoubtedly believed,
that the words had been put into his mouth by Satan. The recantation
brought upon him redoubled hatred, and at last his whole family were
placed under a ban to such an extent, that they could not join the
Meccan caravans, and being unable to equip one of their own, they lost
their means of livelihood. At last they took refuge, with what few
provisions they could collect, in a ravine in the mountains, being able
to sally forth for food only during the sacred months, when every man’s
person and property were safe. After two years of privation their foes
became tired of the restriction which they had placed upon the clan, and
voluntarily allowed the prisoners to mingle with the rest of the world.

Mohammed, however, again incurred the contempt of the public by adding
another wife to the three he already possessed. It was not the number of
his household that created the Arabian scandal, but the fact that the
new candidate for his favor had been divorced from her husband with this
object in view—having been surrendered by him when he learned that
Mohammed admired her.

The prophet claimed, however, that he had a revelation sanctioning his
conduct in this matter.

                             THE HI_G_RAH.

Between the inhabitants of Yaṭ[h.]rib and those of Mecca there existed a
strong feeling of animosity, and therefore the former tribe were
inclined to favor the claims of the new prophet. After some careful
negotiations, the leaders espoused his cause, and the persecution of the
Qurāiś then became so violent that the followers of Mohammed at Mecca
fled from the city. At last there were only three members of the new
faith left in the community, and these were Abū Bekr, Alī and Mohammed
himself.

His enemies now held a council of war, and decided that eleven men, each
belonging to one of the most influential families in the city, should
simultaneously attack and murder Mohammed, and by thus dividing the
responsibility, avoid the deserved penalty, as the clan of the prophet
would not be sufficiently powerful to avenge themselves upon so many
families. Mohammed, however, received a warning of their design, and
giving Alī his mantle, ordered him to pretend to be asleep on the couch
usually occupied by himself, and thus divert the attention of his
enemies. In the meantime Mohammed and Abū Bekr escaped from a back
window in the house of the latter, and hid themselves in a cavern of a
mountain more than a mile from Mecca, before their absence was
discovered. A vigorous search was at once instituted, and for three days
they lay concealed, while tradition claims that a spider wove a web
across the mouth of the cave and the pursuers, thinking that no one had
entered it, passed by in their search.

At length they ventured out once more, and succeeded in reaching
Yaṭ[h.]rib in safety. Here they were soon joined by Alī, who had been
allowed to leave after a few hours’ imprisonment. This was the
celebrated Hi_g_rah or “flight,” from which the Mohammedan era is
dated.[209]

As soon as possible after he was established at Medīna, Mohammed built a
mosque and proceeded to institute regular rites. He also appointed
Bilāl, an Abyssinian slave, to call the believers to five daily prayers.
He tried to conciliate the Jews of Medīna by adapting his religion as
far as possible to their own, but when it became evident that they would
never accept him as their prophet, he withdrew his concessions, and
instead of turning his face toward Jerusalem while in prayer, he turned
toward the Kaābah at Mecca.

As soon as he felt sufficiently strong, he began to agitate the idea of
a crusade against the city of his birth, which had compelled him to fly
from her borders, in order to save his life. After some petty raids upon
their property he decided to attack a rich caravan which was returning
from Syria laden with valuable merchandise. The returning Arabians were,
many of them, influential men of Mecca, and they sent a swift messenger
to the city for aid. Their call was responded to by nearly a thousand
men, but although the contest was long and bitter, the Muslims won the
victory; some of Mohammed’s bitterest foes were slain, many prisoners
were captured and rich booty was taken. Of the captives six were
executed by Mohammed’s order, some embraced his views and others were
ransomed by their friends.

This victory[210] gave Mohammed so much military prestige that he lost
no time in following up the advantage thus gained. The Jews were the
first people upon whom his vengeance was visited, and his first victim
amongst them was a woman, who was put to death, and soon afterward a
whole Jewish tribe was attacked, their property confiscated and the
people sent into exile.

                           CONTINUED WARFARE.

Years of bloodshed followed the early military triumphs of Islāmism, and
the contest between Mecca and Medīna was continued, with varied results,
until a truce of ten years was agreed upon;[211] any of the Meccans who
chose to do so were allowed to join the ranks of Mohammed, by the
conditions of the treaty, while upon the other hand those who preferred
to leave him and espouse the cause of the Meccans were permitted to do
so.

This was a political triumph for Mohammed, as it recognized his position
as an independent chief, and he availed himself of the opportunity thus
given him to reduce the neighboring tribes to submission. He also wrote
letters to the king of Persia, to the Byzantine Emperor and the ruler of
Abyssinia, ordering them to embrace his faith and submit to his rule.
One favorable reply only was received, which came from a governor of
Egypt, and he sent in addition to other presents two female slaves, one
of whom was a Coptic girl, whom Mohammed added to his already numerous
family of wives. The Muslim troops afterward experienced a terrible
defeat on the Syrian frontier,[212] but the prestige of the leader was
soon re-established by new victories and the accession of various
tribes. Two years after the conclusion of the treaty, a tribe which was
under the protection of Mohammed was attacked by a tribe which was an
ally of the Meccans. This was a violation of the compact, and Mohammed
gladly availed himself of the opportunity thus offered him for the
renewal of hostilities. Explanations and apologies were alike useless,
and he prepared for an expedition against Mecca.

On becoming master of the capital of Arabia, his first act was to repair
the Kaābah, or ancient shrine of Arabian worship, and then proclaiming a
general amnesty, the Meccans readily embraced the creed of Islām, and
flocked to his standard, hoping for the rewards which the prophet
promised in Paradise, as well as the rich spoils from the conquered
tribes around them. In his first victories he gave the Meccan chiefs
more than their share of the booty, for the purpose of kindling their
enthusiasm, but in so doing he incurred the displeasure of his old
adherents, and he only appeased their wrath by promising never again to
make his residence at Mecca or to desert their own city.

                           DEATH OF MOHAMMED.

The ninth year after the flight is called “the year of deputations,” as
it marked the adhesion of numerous tribes to his cause; it was also the
last year in which Mohammed was able to conduct military expeditions in
person. The Arabs, with characteristic fickleness, were not always loyal
to their chief, even during his lifetime. Tribe after tribe raised the
standard of revolt, and required the close attention of the chieftain
during the last years of his life.

He controlled them largely by keeping them occupied with new conquests,
and animated by the constant hope of still greater booty, and this
became the bond of unity, which, perhaps more than anything else, saved
his newly established government from disruption.

At the time of his last pilgrimage to Mecca he stood upon an elevation
and addressed the assembled thousands of his followers, admonishing them
to stand firmly by the faith which he had taught them. Soon afterward
his health failed, but he rallied a little and went to the mosque at
Medīna, where a large congregation had gathered to hear the latest news
from their leader. Mounting the lower steps of the pulpit, he said a few
parting words to the people, and then gave some careful injunctions to
the general whom he had entrusted with the command of an army to Syria;
having finished his admonitions he went to the rooms of his favorite
wife, Āyesha, and here he breathed his last.[213] That his successors
were able military leaders, is abundantly proven by the later story of
Persia and other conquered lands.

                         RECENSION OF THE TEXT.

At the time of Mohammed’s death, no collected edition of the Korān was
in existence. Many fragments were in possession of his followers, which
had been written down at different times, and upon various materials,
but by far the greater portion was preserved only in the memories of
men, and liable at any moment to be carried away by death. Abū-Bekr, or
Omar, had a collection made during his reign, and he employed a native
of Medīna to collect and arrange the text from the best available
material. This he did, collecting the texts which were written on palm-
leaves, skins, blade-bones, and other material, besides recording what
could be gathered from the memories of men. He then presented the Caliph
with a copy, which was, perhaps very much like the one we now have. It
was compiled without reference to any chronological order, and with very
little regard to the logical connection of the various portions. The
longer chapters were placed at the beginning, and the shorter ones at
the end, without regard to the order in which they were written, and
there were many odd verses inserted, apparently for no other reason,
than because they were in harmony with the rhythm. There were very few
vowel points, and these often make a great difference in the meaning of
words. The wording of many passages which were copied from memory, was
disputed, for the reason that the persons who remembered them did not
agree in their statements.

In the present recension of the text there are comparatively few
different versions recognized, but it is evident that great variations
have existed from the time when the first copy was collected, as even
then the various wordings were hotly contested.

Some twenty years later, the Caliph Othmān appointed a commission,
consisting of Zāid, the original editor, and three men of Mohammed’s own
tribe, to decide more definitely upon the proper text.

When this edition was completed, Othmān sent copies to all the principal
cities in the empire, and his recension has remained the authorized
text, having been adopted by all schools of Mohammedan theologians from
the time of its completion[214] to the present.

No attempt was made in this work to present any chronological
arrangement, although the chapters have prefixed to them the name of the
place where they were supposed to be revealed. Attempts have been made
by both Arabic and European scholars to prepare an intelligible
chronological arrangement, but it will be seen that the work is one of
great difficulty. The most critical effort upon this subject, and the
most successful, has been made by Nöldeke, whose arrangement is the best
which Arabic tradition, combined with European criticism, can furnish.

                         TEACHING OF THE KORĀN.

The Korān is largely composed of fanciful stories, which have been woven
around the characters and incidents of Biblical narration. There are
however some cardinal points of doctrine which are freely taught, and
the great central creed of Mohammedanism is that “There is no god but
God, and Mohammed is his prophet.”

The confession of this Kelimah, or creed, is the first duty of every
convert, and after this he is required to pray, fast, give alms, and
make pilgrimages. The name of God in Arabic is Allah, being composed of
the article al, “the,” and ilāh, “a god.” It is a very old Semitic word
and is evidently connected with, or derived from the El and Elohīm of
the Hebrews. According to Muslim theology, Allāh is eternal, and
everlasting—comprehending all things, but comprehended of nothing. His
attributes are expressed by ninety-nine epithets which are used in the
Korān, and which in Arabic are single words, and generally participial
forms, but in the translation they are sometimes rendered by verbs as
“He creates” for “He is the creator.”

Besides a belief in God, the Korān requires a belief in angels; it is
claimed that they are pure, without distinction of sex; are created of
fire, and neither eat nor drink. Two angels are appointed for each human
being, and one stands at his right hand, and the other at his left; the
one recording his good deeds, and the other his transgressions of the
law. Munkīr and Nakīr are the two angels who preside at the “examination
of the tomb.” They visit a man in his grave immediately after his
burial, and examine him concerning the soundness of his faith. If he
acknowledge that there is but one God, and that Mohammed is his prophet,
they allow him to rest in peace, otherwise they beat him with iron maces
until he roars so loud that he is heard by all the beings in the
universe, except men and ginns. They then press the earth down upon him,
and leave him to be torn by dragons and serpents until the resurrection.

The ginns (collectively gāhn) represent a class of beings who are
inferior to the angels, but they are also created out of fire, and are
both good and evil. Their abode is Mount Qāf, the mountain of emerald
which, in Persian mythology, surrounds the world.

                                HEAVEN.

Heaven, according to the Korān and the traditions, consists of seven
divisions, as follows: The Garden of Eternity—The Abode of Peace—The
Abode of Rest—The Garden of Eden—The Garden of Resort—The Garden of
Pleasure—The Garden of the Most High, and The Garden of Paradise. “Who
created seven heavens in stories?... Why, look again! canst thou see a
flaw?... And we have adorned the lower heaven with lamps; and set them
to pelt the devils with: and we have prepared them for the torment of
the blaze.”

 “And the fellows of the right hand—what right lucky fellows!
  These are they who are brought nigh in gardens of pleasure!
  And gold-weft couches, reclining on them!
  Around them shall go eternal youths, with goblets and ewers and a cup
     of flowing wine; no head-ache shall they feel therefrom, nor shall
     their wits be dimmed!
  And fruits such as they deem the best;
  And flesh of fowls as they desire;
  And bright and large-eyed maids like hidden pearls;
  And the fellows of the right—what right lucky fellows!
  Amid thornless lote trees
  And trees with piles of fruit;

  And outspread shade,
  And water outpoured;
  And fruit in abundance, neither bitter nor forbidden;
        *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
  And God will guard them from the evil of that day and will cast on them
     brightness and joy;
  And their reward for their patience shall be Paradise and silk!
  Reclining thereon upon couches, they shall neither see therein the sun
     nor piercing cold;
  And close down upon them shall be its shadows;
  And lowered over them its fruits to cull;
  And they shall be served round with vessels of silver and goblets that
     are as flagons—
  Flagons of silver shall they mete out!...
  And there shall go round them eternal boys;
  When thou seest them thou wilt think them scattered pearls;
  And when thou seest them thou shalt see pleasure and a great estate!
  On them shall be garments of green embroidered satin and brocade;
  And they shall be adorned with bracelets of silver.”[215]

                                 HELL.

Hell also has seven divisions, which are arranged in the following
order: Gehenna—The Flaming Fire—The Raging Fire that splits everything
to pieces—The Blaze—The Scorching Fire—The Fierce Fire—The Abyss.

“It is thus that we reward sinners; for them is the couch of hell-fire
    with an awning above them! Thus do we reward the unjust!...

    The fellows of the fire shall call out to the fellows of Paradise,
    ‘Pour out upon us water, or something God has provided you with.’
    They will say ‘God has prohibited them both to those that
    misbelieve.’ ...

    Faces on that day shall be humble, laboring, toiling—shall broil
    upon a burning fire; shall be given to drink from a boiling spring!

    No food shall they have save from the foul thorn, which shall not
    fatten nor avail against hunger!

    And the fellows of the left—what unlucky fellows!

    In hot blasts and boiling water;

    And a shade of pitchy smoke,

    Neither cool nor generous!

    Verily, they were affluent ere this, and did persist in mighty crime
    and say ‘What, when we die and have become dust and bones, shall we
    then indeed be raised?’

    Then ye, Oh ye who err! who say it is a lie!

    Shall eat of the Zaqqūm tree!

    And fill yourselves with it!

    And drink thereon of boiling water!

    And drink as drinks the thirsty camel.

    This is their entertainment on the judgment day!

    Whenever a new troop is brought forward to be thrown into hell they
    shall hear its brayings as it boils, for it shall well nigh burst
    for rage, and the treasures of hell shall come forward and shall ask
    them, ‘Did not a warner come to you?’ They shall stay, ‘Yea! a
    warner came to us, and we called him a liar,’

    And they shall say, ‘Had we but listened or had sense we had not
    been among the fellows of the blaze!’”[216]

                            PREDESTINATION.

The Korān teaches the doctrine of predestination in its most radical
form; every act of every living being having been written down from all
eternity in “the preserved tablet.” This predestination is called taqdīr
“meeting out,” or quismeh, “apportioning.”

It is said in the Korān that “God leads astray whom he will, and guides
whom he will.”[217]

The Arabians were glad to argue that they were not responsible for their
deeds, but every act of theirs being foreordained it was therefore
justified. They were forbidden to turn back in battle, for he who turns
back “save turning to fight or rallying to a troop, brings down upon
himself wrath from God, and his resort is hell, and an ill journey shall
it be.”

They were exonerated from all charge of killing unbelievers, even in
battle, for it is said, “Ye did not slay them, but it was God who slew
them; nor didst thou shoot, when thou didst shoot, but God did
shoot.”[218] When the Abyssinian, Abrahat el Aśram, marched upon Mecca
with a large body of troops and elephants, he was suddenly defeated, and
when the Korān was written it was said, “Hast thou not seen what thy
Lord did with the fellows of the elephant? Did he not make their
strategem lead them astray, and send down on them birds in flocks, to
throw down on them stones of baked clay, and make them like blades of
herbage eaten down?”[219] This legend of the destruction of an army by
flocks of birds who carried stones in their beaks has been repeated in
various forms in Oriental story. The object of the invader was supposed
to be the destruction of the Kaābah, a shrine to which devotion had been
paid from time immemorial. This was the one thing which the scattered
Arabian people had in common, and which gave to them a national feeling.
Mohammed, therefore, did not abolish it, but cleared it of its idols and
dedicated it to the new faith. As it was predestinated that the Kaābah
should stand throughout the ages, it was readily supposed that even the
birds of heaven would repulse the forces of the infidel invader.

                               POLYGAMY.

One of the most fatal blots upon the creed of Islām is the open
countenance which it gives to polygamy. We have not here the case of a
prophet placed in the midst of an ignorant and barbarous people, who
confronted and modified institutions which he could not at once
suppress, but we have Mohammed inculcating the doctrine of polygamy, by
both precept and example. It is repeatedly taught in the Korān, and men
are commanded to “Marry what seems good to you of women, by twos, or
threes, or by fours.”[220] When his other wives objected to the
introduction of the Coptic slave girl, Mary, into the harem of Mohammed,
he claimed to receive a revelation from heaven justifying his conduct.
He also divorced the woman who gave the information to the others, and
banished them all (except the Coptic girl) from his presence for the
space of a month. He enjoined his followers to treat their wives and
slaves more kindly, but they could marry and divorce them at pleasure;
the Korān, however, states that “If he divorce her a third time, he
cannot marry her after that until she marry another husband:” if the new
husband divorces her, however, the first may marry her again.

They were also allowed to exchange wives, but it is said: “If ye wish to
exchange one wife for another, and have given one of them a talent, then
do not take from it anything.”[221]

They required the most careful conduct and seclusion in their wives, and
the penalty for adultery was imprisonment for life, but of their
partners in guilt it was said, “if they turn again and amend, leave them
alone.”[222] Again it is said, “Men stand superior to women.... But
those wives whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them
into a bedchamber and beat them; but if they submit to you, do not seek
a way against them.”[223]

The Mohammedans of Persia have by no means forgotten their early
training, and they still fill their Anderoons with as many women as they
can afford. Every Persian house is constructed on the plan of secrecy.
No windows are visible from the street, but the interior is built around
courts or gardens, with beautiful fountains and fragrant flowers;
indeed, there may be groves of fruit trees which cannot be seen from the
street. In the main portion of the house the lord of the mansion lives
and transacts his business during the day, while the inmates of his
Anderoon are kept in the most rigid seclusion, passing their time as
best they may, in doing fine embroidery, and possibly acquiring some
proficiency in music or painting. They cannot go out at all without a
mantle or veil which covers them from head to foot; and when the wives
of the Shah go upon the street they are not only followed by the royal
guards, but the event is announced by a herald, the shops are closed and
the streets must be deserted.

Still, it is claimed that with all their seclusion and ignorance, the
women of Persia have a certain amount of influence, and if one man
wishes the assistance of another, he confides the matter to one or all
of his wives, and they visit the wives of the man whose aid is needed,
and by solicitation and costly presents the object is often
accomplished. It is said that many important transactions in Persia are
conducted in this way.

                      LITERARY STYLE OF THE KORĀN.

The language of the Korān is generally considered the most perfect form
of Arabian speech. It must be remembered, however, that the acknowledged
position of the book, as a work of divine authorship, made it impossible
for any Muslim to criticize the Korān, either in regard to its mode of
expression or its doctrinal teaching. On the contrary, it became the
standard by which other Arabian compositions must be judged. All
literary critics assumed that the Korān must be right, and therefore
other works only approached merit in proportion as they more or less
successfully imitated its style.

The language of this literary model of Arabia is surely rugged and
forcible, even though it is not elegant or refined. Mohammed often spoke
with a rude and startling eloquence; there was no mistaking the language
of his fierce denunciations, for instance: “Verily, those who disbelieve
in our signs, we will broil them with fire; whenever their skins are
well done, then we will change them for other skins, that they may taste
the torment.”[224]

Each chapter of the Korān is called a Sūrah—an Arabic word which
signifies a course of bricks in a wall. These Sūrahs resolve themselves
into two different classes; the one claiming to have been given at
Mecca, the other including only the revelations which were supposed to
be received at Medīna after the flight. The earlier Sūrahs have a tone
of enthusiasm and impassioned eloquence, which is not found in the later
productions. The style of these earlier chapters is often poetic, and
sometimes almost sublime; the principal doctrine found in them is
monotheism, and the author seeks to impress his followers by his
eloquence rather than by his logic; by appealing to their emotions
rather than to their reason. He called upon nature to witness the
presence of God, and proclaimed vengeance against those who still clung
to their idols. He also gave the most glowing pictures of the future
reward of believers, and the most revolting descriptions of the unending
tortures designed for those who refused to accept his message.

In the Sūrahs of the later portion of the Meccan period, we find long
stories which are woven in a fanciful way around the characters of
Biblical narrative, still showing, however, more or less of the poetic
fire and eloquence of Mohammed’s earliest productions.

At a later period he appears in Medīna, as a military leader of great
ability and influence. He is now surrounded, not only by the loyal
friends who have shared his persecutions, and accompanied him in his
flight, but also by a large class who have been forced to adhere to his
cause, and whose sincerity is so questionable that they are openly
called “hypocrites.”

The style of the Sūrahs which were given amidst these surroundings, and
during the later years of the author’s life, varies greatly from that of
the earlier chapters. We find here incidents which are scarcely
embellished, and which are often expressed in the most prosaic language.
Instead of the impassioned appeal of an orator, we have the more
authoritative language of an acknowledged chief, giving his people
whatever instruction they may require. He still follows, however, the
rhythmical style of expression, which has so long been characteristic of
the Arabians. The Arabs of the desert still employ it to a great extent
in their formal orations, while the peculiar style of the Korān remains
their standard of literary excellence.

-----

Footnote 204:

  The word Qur’an, a reading, comes from the verb qara’a, “to read.” It
  is also called El Forqān, “the discrimination,” a word borrowed from
  the Hebrew. It is also designated by the words El Mus-haf, volume, or
  El Kitāb, the book.

Footnote 205:

  The chronology of this conquest is in many points uncertain, as the
  accounts differ. The most important event, however, in the long war
  was the battle of Nehāwend, which took place probably about A.D. 641.

Footnote 206:

  Chap. II, v. 100.

Footnote 207:

  It was probably about A.D. 571.

Footnote 208:

  Chap. liii, v. 19-20.

Footnote 209:

  It took place on June 16, A.D. 622.

Footnote 210:

  A.D. 624.

Footnote 211:

  About A.D. 629.

Footnote 212:

  A.D. 629.

Footnote 213:

  June 8, A.D. 632.

Footnote 214:

  A.D. 660.

Footnote 215:

  Koran, Chaps. 56, 67, 76, Palmer’s Trans. The more sensuous portions
  of these descriptions are necessarily omitted.

Footnote 216:

  Chap. vii, v. 88, 56, 67.

Footnote 217:

  Chap. xiv, v. 95.

Footnote 218:

  Chap. viii, v. 15.

Footnote 219:

  Chap. xv.

Footnote 220:

  Chap. iv, v. 1.

Footnote 221:

  Chap. iv, v. 24.

Footnote 222:

  Koran, iv, v. 15-20.

Footnote 223:

  Koran, iv, v. 38.

Footnote 224:

  Chap. iv, v. 59.



                              DIVISION IV.
                  THE PERIOD SUCCEEDING THE MOHAMMEDAN
                               CONQUEST.



                              CHAPTER IX.
                          THE ANWĀR-I-SUHALI.

HISTORY OF THE WORK—PREFACE—THE BEES AND THEIR HABITS—THE TWO PIGEONS—
    THE BLIND MAN AND HIS WHIP—AMICABLE INSTRUCTION—THE PIGEONS AND THE
    RAT—THE ANTELOPE AND THE CROW—THE ELEPHANT AND THE JACKAL—GEMS FROM
    THE HITOPADEŚA.


There were two collections of early fables in Sanskṛit literature,
called the Panćatantra and the Hitopadeśa, and during the reign of the
Sassanian kings a quaint old book containing these stories was brought
to the Persian court and translated into the Pahlavī tongue. This was a
notable event in the history of Āryan literature, and since that
time[225] this rare collection of simple stories has passed through more
mutations than has the Roman Empire; it is now extant, under various
names, in more than twenty languages, the Persian version being known as
the Anwār-i-Suhali, or “The Lights of Canopus.”[226] It is recorded that
King Nūshirvan commissioned an officer of state to procure a translation
of this work, and, being obtained after years of difficulty, it was
deposited in the cabinet of the king’s most precious treasures, and was
regarded as a model of wisdom and didactic philosophy. But at the time
of the Arabian conquest, this work, with many others, was destroyed by
the vandals of the desert. More than a hundred years later the book was
discovered and translated into Arabic by Almokaffa,[227] it then passed
through the hands of several Arabic poets, and was afterward
retranslated into Persian, first into verse, by Rudāki in the tenth
century, and into prose in the twelfth century by Nasrāllah. As early as
the eleventh century the Arabic work of Almokaffa was translated into
Greek by Simeon, and then passed into the Italian. Again the Arabic text
was translated into Hebrew by Rabbi Joel, and this Hebrew version became
the principal source of the European books of fable. Before the end of
the fifteenth century, John of Capua had published a Latin version, and
a more elegant Persian rendering was made in the beginning of the
fifteenth century by Husain Va’iz. A Turkish translation had been made
early in the tenth century, but there was no Hindūstānī version until
much later. The number of translations indicated the extreme popularity
of the work in Europe, and in the sixteenth century it was read in
German, Italian, Spanish and French. The English has not so many
versions, although both Sir William Jones and Prof. Max Müller have
translated the Hitapodeśa, and Prof. Eastwick has given us a faithful
reproduction of Husain Va’iz’s work, the Anwār-i-Suhali.

The Persian version is the book which candidates for the position of
interpreter are required to read after the Gūlistān, as the great number
of words and the variety of its style make it the best book in the
language to be studied by one who wishes to make rapid progress in
Persian. In the present century Major Stewart, professor of Persian at
the East India College at Haileyburg, published a translation of the
seventh book of this work, and dedicated it to the civil and military
employés of the East India Company. The repetition of metaphor and
highly florid style of composition is often offensive to the English
reader, but these very characteristics form its greatest attraction in
the eye of Persian _litterateurs_, and many stories are delightful to
them which are wearisome or repulsive to the simpler taste of the
western student. In this fanciful work kings are represented as sitting
on thrones as stable as the firmament, while they touch the stars with
their foreheads, and have all other kings to serve them. Royalty is
always just, wise, valiant and most beneficent—ministers are invariably
gifted with intellects which are an ornament to the world, and they can
solve all problems with a single thought. Mountains rival the planets in
their height, and all gardens are fair as dreams of paradise, while the
heroes conquer animals so furious that even their appearance frightens
the constellations out of the heavens. These absurdities are so
prominent that they tempt the student to turn away in disgust, but those
who patiently peruse the book will discover many beautiful thoughts,
many striking and practical ideas, which are forcibly and often
beautifully expressed.

The preface is similar to that of many other Persian works, being
composed very largely of a eulogy upon Mohammed, and especially upon the
royal dignitary to whom the work is dedicated.

A brief extract from this literary curiosity will give the reader an
example of the fulsome praise which Persian authors thought best to
bestow upon the kings or court officials who encouraged their pursuits.

“And he is the great Amīr, the place where all excellences and high
qualities centre, through the sublimity of his spirit, ... who, without
compliment, is the star Canopus shining from the right hand of Yaman,
and a sun diffusing radiance, from the dawning place of affection and
fidelity.

             Where Canopus falls thy ray, and where
             Thou risest, fortune’s marks are surely there.

“With a view to the universal diffusion of what is advantageous to
mankind, and the multiplying of what is beneficial to the high and low,
he condescended to favor me with an intimation of his high will, that
this humble individual, devoid of ability, and this insignificant person
of small capital, should be bold enough to clothe the said book in a new
dress, and bestow fresh ornament upon the beauty of its tales of
esoteric meaning, which were veiled and concealed by the curtain of
obscure words and difficult expressions, by presenting on the stages of
lucid style and the chambers of becoming metaphors after a fashion that
the eye of every examiner, without a glance of penetration, may enjoy a
share of the loveliness of these beauties, of the ornamented bridal
chamber of narrative, and the heart of every wise person, without the
trouble of imagining, may obtain the fruition of union with those
delicately reared ones of the closet of the mind.”[228]

A preface of this kind is surely calculated to deter the student from
seeking further for the beauties of this peculiar work, but when
divested of the cumbersome verbiage these stories will be found both
quaint and pleasing. A few of the best of them are here given in simple
phrase:

                       THE BEES AND THEIR HABITS.

There stood in the garden an old tree, whose leaves had fallen, and
there was no vitality with which to replace them. The hatchet of the
peasant Time had mutilated its limbs, and the saw of the carpenter
Fortune had sharpened its teeth in making shreds of its warp and woof.
The centre of the tree had become hollow, and a busy swarm of bees had
made it their fortress. When the king heard the buzzing of the little
workers, he inquired of his sage why these little insects gathered in
the tree, and at whose command they resorted to the meadow. Then the
minister replied: “O, fortunate prince, they are a tribe doing much good
and little harm. They have a queen larger in bulk than themselves, and
have placed their heads on the line of obedience to her majesty; she is
seated upon a square throne of wax, and she has appointed to their
several offices her vizier and chamberlain, her porter and guard, her
spy and deputy. The ingenuity of her attendants is such that each one
prepares hexagonal chambers of wax, having no inequality in their
partitions, and the best geometricians would be unable to do such work
without instruments. When this work approaches completion they come
forth from their abode at the queen’s command, and a noble bee explains
to them that they must not exchange their cleanliness for grossness, nor
pollute their purity by evil associations. They therefore sit only
beside the fair lily or fragrant rose, in order to draw therefrom the
purest honey. When they come to the home the warders try them by
smelling, and if they have kept their sacred trust and avoided all
impure associations, permission is given them to re-enter the immaculate
chambers of white wax. But there are many blossoms which, though
beautiful to the eye, will poison those who touch them, and the foolish
bee who is attracted by their deceitful loveliness is also polluted by
their fatal breath; when he comes to the portals of the hive the quick
scent of the warders detect the fact if he has been polluted by evil
surroundings, and the offender is quickly punished by decapitation. If,
however, the warders should be negligent enough to allow the culprit to
enter, and the queen of this spotless palace should detect the offensive
taint, both the culprit and the careless warders will be conducted to
the place of punishment and the warders will be executed first. It is
recorded that Jamshid, ‘Emperor of the World,’ borrowed from these wise
disciplinarians the regulations respecting warders and guards, the
appointment of chamberlains and door-keepers, and also the arrangement
of thrones and regal cushions, which, in the course of time, perfected
our customs.”

Upon hearing this wonderful illustration of the effects of bad company
upon the unfortunate bee, and learning that every man carries with him a
portion of the vileness of his evil companions, the king exclaimed: “I
have been convinced to-day that the society of some persons is more
hurtful than the poison of a viper, and the association with them more
dangerous than a position which involves the peril of one’s life, and I
reason therefrom that it may be better to live in seclusion.” But the
sage replied: “Great leaders have preferred the companionship of the
good and true, but when a sincere friend is not to be found, then indeed
solitude is better than society.”

                            THE TWO PIGEONS.

There were two faithful pigeons who at one time consorted together in
one nest, with their loyal hearts undisturbed by treachery, and free
from misfortune. One was named Bāzindah (playful), and the other was
called Nawāzindah (caressing), while every morning and evening their
voices were mingled in the soft notes of love. But some were envious of
the happy pair, and evil counsellors attempted to “sever love, and
friend from friend divide.”

An anxious desire for travel was carefully instilled into the ambitious
heart of Bāzindah, and he said to his loving mate, “How long shall we
continue in one nest, and spend our time in one abode? I feel a desire
to wander through different parts of the world, for, in a few days of
travel, many marvelous things are seen, and many experiences are gained.
There is no honor awarded until the sword comes forth from the scabbard
upon the field of the brave; the sky is ever journeying, and it is the
highest of all things, while the earth which is ever still is always
trampled down, and kicked by all things, both high and low:

           ‘View the earth’s sphere and the revolving skies,
            This sinks by rest, and those by motion rise;
            Travel, man’s tutor is, and glory’s gate,
            On travel, treasure and instruction wait,
            From place to place had trees the power to move,
            No saw nor ax could wrong the stately grove.’”

To this his gentle mate replied, “My beloved, when thou removest thy
heart from the society of thine own, thou dost sever the cord of unity;
thou mayest unite with new comrades, but never wilt thou find them so
loyal, as those which long years of trial have shown to be true.
Remember the precept of the wise man, and

              ‘Do not an old and well tried friend forego
               For new allies, for this will end in woe,’

Thou mayest transgress, and what impression will my word have upon thee
then? Remember that

           ‘He shall his foeman’s fondest wish fulfill,
            Who to well wishing friends bends not his will.’”

Bāzindah, however tore his heart away from his loving mate, and set
forth upon the wing, exulting in his liberty and freedom from her gentle
admonitions. With great curiosity, and perfect pleasure, he traveled for
a while through the blue air, and passed over the bright hills and
gardens of roses and lilies. After a time he came to a mountain, and at
its feet lay a beautiful meadow; its green surface was delightful as the
gardens of heaven, and the northern breeze swept down from the cool
hills, laden with the perfume of a thousand flowers.

           “There countless roses their pavilions kept,
            The grass moved wakeful, while the waters slept,
            The roses painted with a thousand hues,
            Their heavenly fragrance each a league diffuse.”

The setting sun was bathing the hills with its glory when the weary
pigeon reached the lovely spot, and he nestled gratefully down amidst
the green grass and fragrant flowers to spend the night in peace and
happiness; with his head tucked under his wing, he did not see that a
shadow had darkened the fair sunset; he did not see that its glory was
shaded by an angry storm-cloud. But soon the restless wind was tossing
the canopy of clouds into the high court of the air, and Bāzindah’s
heart was quaking with terror as the fiery lightnings flashed around
him, consuming the hearts of the tulips beside him; the pitiless hail
dashed the bright narcissus to the earth, while the thunderbolts seemed
to tear the very heart of the mountain.

 “In pieces was the mountain’s breast, by the lightning’s arrows riven,
  And earth to its foundations shook, at the fearful voice of heaven.”

Bāzindah had no shelter from the storm—no refuge from the pitiless hail
and searching wind; in vain he tried to hide beneath some friendly
branch or amidst the leaves and grass, still the cruel hail pelted him
like some remorseless foe, and the cold rain still poured upon him.

              “Night! gloomy night!—Heaven’s awful voice—
               What tempest shower so fierce as this?
               What care the gay in banquet halls?
               Our perils do not mar their bliss.”

In terror and peril, the traveler passed the night thinking of the home-
nest, and the gentle mate who would so gladly shield him from the storm
with her own pinions, and who was even now grieving her life away in
loneliness, because he came not.

But whatever feelings of penitence may have been cherished during the
perils of the night, were quickly dissipated by the beauty of the
morning light.

                 “From the east then drew the sun,
                  His golden poniard bright,
                  And through the earth’s dark regions
                  Spread a flood of yellow light.”

Bāzindah again arose upon his faithful wings, and pursued his journey;
but a royal white falcon was abroad looking for prey,—a falcon which
descends upon the head of its quarry, swifter than the rays of the sun,
and when soaring on high he reaches heaven quicker than the sight of
man.

           “Attacking now, it left the thunderbolt behind,
            And soared more swiftly than the chilling wind.”

For the pitiless bird had marked the pigeon for his prey, and the
victim’s heart began to flutter, while his wings, paralyzed with fear,
seemed to lose all power of motion.

               “When on the dove the rapid falcon swoops,
                The helpless quarry unresisting droops.”

In that moment of helpless terror, Bāzindah thought again of his
faithful mate, and quickly resolved that could he but escape this deadly
peril, he would be content at home in her downy nest. He was already
beneath the claw of the falcon, when the flashing eye of an eagle fell
upon them,—an eagle whose talons were so sharp that the sign of Aquila
was not safe in the nest of the sky, and who, when hungry, carried off
from the meadows of heaven the signs of Aries and Capricorn.

               “Aries itself, through fear of him
                Would gaze not on the sky,
                Save that Bāhram,[229] the blood drinker
                Each day stood watchful by.”

This fearful bird was on the wing searching for food, and seeing the
falcon and the pigeon, he said to himself, “Although this pigeon is only
a mouthful, nevertheless one may break one’s fast upon it,” and quickly
he dashed at the falcon:

             “The feathered rivals then to fight began,
              The quarry, dodging, from between them ran.”

While the fight went fiercely on, Bāzindah threw himself under a stone,
and crowded himself into a hole hardly large enough for a sparrow, and
here he passed the day and another night, quivering with terror and
distress. But the morning light again illumined the mountain peaks, for
the white-pinioned dove of the dawn began to fly from the nest of
heaven, and the black raven of night went to his rest like the Sīmūrgh,
behind the shades of the distant mountains. Bāzindah began to flutter
his weary wings, and look hungrily around him, when he gladly spied
another pigeon, with a little grain scattered before him. Rejoicing to
see one of his own species, he fluttered eagerly to the grain, but alas!
his foot was caught in a snare.

                “Satan’s the net, the world’s the grain,
                 Our lusts the enticements are,
                 Our hearts, the fowl which greediness
                 Soon lures within the snare.”

With bitter reproaches upon the captive pigeon who had thus lured him to
destruction, he trembled and struggled, until he broke the decayed net,
and turned his tired face toward the home-nest, and flew as rapidly as
his forlorn condition would permit. Fearing to attempt again to satisfy
his hunger, he was nevertheless compelled to rest, at last, on a wall
near a field of corn. A thoughtless boy sent an arrow toward him, and
wounded he fell, but he lay so quietly that the young hunter failed to
find his game, and at last, weak and wounded, hungry and discouraged, he
fluttered by short flights homeward. Nawāzindah heard the flutter of his
wings, and flew joyously out to meet him saying:

            “’Tis I whose eyes expand, my love to find—
             How shall I thank thee—thou so true and kind.”

But when she had caressed him, she saw that he was weak and thin, and
she exclaimed, “Oh, beloved, where hast thou been?”

Bāzindah replied:

           “Ask me not what woes, my love,—
            What pangs have been my lot,
            All the grief that parting brings,
            I’ve tasted—ask me not.
            For travel’s conflict I’ll not lust again,
            With home and friends perpetual pleasures reign.

The truth of the matter is, that I have had much experience, and as long
as I live, I will not make another journey, nor go forth until compelled
from the corner of our nest.” Then the gentle wife flew out and brought
him the daintiest food she could find, and tenderly she caressed the
wounded wing with her loving bill, and no thought of reproaches entered
her grateful heart. Gently she nursed him back to health and strength,
and together they cooed and nestled in their quiet home.

                      THE BLIND MAN AND HIS WHIP.

A sage, who was discoursing to a king upon lessons of wisdom and
morality, gave him the following illustration of an important principle:
“Once upon a time a blind man and his friend were making a journey
together, and they halted in a wild place for the night; the morning
found them cold and little rested, for the weather had suddenly grown
severe. In searching for his whip the blind man picked up a frozen
snake, which he found smoother and more nicely polished than his whip,
and greatly pleased he mounted his horse, forgetting the faithful old
whip which he had lost. His friend, however, could see, and when he
beheld the snake in the hand of the blind man, he cried out: ‘Oh, my
friend! what thou takest for a whip is a poisonous snake, fling it away
before it makes a wound upon thy hand.’ But the blind man fancied that
his friend was jealous of his great success in finding so beautiful a
whip, and he answered: ‘Oh, friend! it is owing to my good luck, that I
have found a better one, and I am not going to be wheedled out of my
good fortune by idle tales.’ His friend continued to plead, but the man
was obstinate and conceited, as well as blind, and he became angry and
frowned upon his faithful friend, while he clung closely to what he
believed to be a beautiful thing. After a time the sun rose higher in
the heavens, and the air grew more balmy, the snake was also comforted
by the warmth of the blind man’s body, and recovering from her torpor,
she turned backward, and bit the poor fool who had, clung to her because
he fancied she was beautiful; he died of the venom given in the wound.”
Then said the sage, “I have adduced this story that thou mayst not be
deceived by appearances or fascinated with outward charms, which are as
deceitful as the beauties of a snake. Be not attracted by the softness
and delicacy of flattery and hypocrisy, for their poison is deadly and
their wound is fatal; it is far better to listen to the admonitions of a
faithful friend, even though his advice may not always be agreeable,
than to be led into the snare of the flatterer, by the poison of her
honeyed words.

           ‘Think not sweet sherbert from the world to drink,
              Honey with poison is mingled there,
            That which thou, fondly, dost sweet honey think,
              Is but the deadly potion of despair.’“

                       AMICABLE INSTRUCTION.[230]

It is said that there lived a wise and virtuous prince, who was greatly
afflicted with the conduct of his sons. The young princes “knew no books
and were continually working in evil ways,” therefore the rāja asked
himself, “Of what use is it that a son should be born who has neither
learning nor virtue? Of what use is a blind eye except to give pain? Of
a child unborn, dead or ignorant, the two first are preferable, since
they make us unhappy but once, and the last by continual degrees. A
numerous family under such circumstances is poison, as is a young wife
to an old man.”

Considering these things, the king gave orders for a council of learned
men to be called, in order that they might study the solution of his
problem, and devise, if possible, some method by which his sons might be
taught the lessons of morality and wisdom.

Among the wise men who were thus called together, there was a great
philosopher named Vishnu-sārman[231] who understood the principles of
ethics. He declared that as these young princes were born of good family
there was still a hope of their reformation, and he offered to give them
the necessary instruction.

His proposition was gladly accepted by the anxious father, and soon the
class was called together on the roof of the palace to receive the
instruction of the sage. The teacher decided to interest his listeners,
and also to convey the lessons of morality by repeating fables.
Therefore, with many wise admonitions, and carefully pointing the moral
of each lesson, he told them the following stories:

                        THE PIGEONS AND THE RAT.

Near the Godāvarī river there stood a large Salmali tree, on which the
birds found their nightly rest. One morning, when the darkness had just
departed, leaving the moon—friend of the night flowers—still in his
mansion, a raven who sat in the tree saw a fowler approaching like the
genius of death, and he said to himself, “This morning an enemy appears,
and I know not what poisonous fruit is ripening.” The fowler went on,
however, fixing his net and scattering grains of rice. Soon a flock of
pigeons, led by their prince Ćitāgriva, or _painted neck_, came flying
that way. They saw the rice and were eagerly descending, when the leader
counseled caution, for he feared a snare; but led away by their
appetites, they all flew downward upon the rice, being followed, even by
the leader, who was unwilling to desert the flock. In a moment more they
were snared. But although covetousness had brought them into trouble,
the leader counseled that a wise unity of action might even yet deliver
them from it. He ordered that they should all fly together, and doing
so, they raised the net and carried it along with them. They were
followed by the fowler, who expected to see them soon fall into his
power.

In a wood near by dwelt a rat, who was a friend of Ćitāgriva’s, and to
him they directed their flight, coming down near his hole. The prisoned
birds then besought him to gnaw the strings that held them. The rat
replied that “to abandon our own is not the conduct of moralists. Let a
man for the sake of relieving his distresses preserve his wealth; by his
wealth let him preserve his wife, and by both wife and riches let him
preserve himself.” “I am but weak,” said he, “and my teeth are small,
but as long as they remain unbroken will I continue to cut thy strings.”
And gnawing diligently away, he severed their bonds and received them as
guests.

Thus the sage taught the princes that “covetousness leads to lust, to
anger, to fraud and illusion.” He taught also that the union, even of
the small and the weak, is beneficial, and also that the humble friend
who stands by us faithfully, in the hour of adversity, is of more value
than the flatterers, who are watching for our prosperity, in order that
they may absorb our gain.

                       THE ANTELOPE AND THE CROW.

In the country of Magādha there was a forest, in which an antelope and
crow had long dwelt in friendship. The antelope was fat, and his flesh
was greatly desired by a jackal, who sought to obtain it by gaining his
confidence. Going to him, therefore, she pleaded for his friendship,
saying, “I am friendless and alone like a dead creature, but having
gained thy friendship I shall live again, and I will ever be thy
servant,” and saying this, she slipped into his home under the branches
of a tree, where dwelt the friendly crow. Then the crow inquired of the
antelope, “Who is this comrade of thine?” And the antelope replied, “It
is a jackal who is my chosen friend.” “O my beloved,” said the crow, “it
is not right to place thy confidence with too much celerity.” But in
vain the faithful bird pleaded with the infatuated antelope, who still
listened eagerly to the flatteries of the jackal, until the aggrieved
and disgusted friend flew away to another part of the wood.

“My beloved antelope,” said the jackal one day in her softest and
sweetest tones, “at one side of the wood is a field of corn, I will take
thee there.” The antelope found the corn rich and tender, and going
there he fed freely. The owner of the corn perceived his loss as the
wily jackal had anticipated, and he spread a strong net there, wherein
the antelope was captured. The jackal crept softly near, saying to
herself, “It has befallen as I wished, and soon I shall satisfy my
appetite on his tender flesh.” As soon as the antelope perceived his
false friend he was glad, for he anticipated deliverance by the gnawing
of his bonds. The jackal examined the net, and congratulating herself
that it was strong, she said, “Oh, my beloved, I cannot do it to-day,
but to-morrow I will come and deliver thee,” and going away, a short
distance she awaited for him to die in order that she might regale
herself upon his flesh. The crow, however, in flying over the wood, saw
the condition of his imprudent friend, and hastened to his side. “This,”
said the antelope “is the consequence of rejecting friendly counsel. The
man who listens not to the words of affectionate friends, will give joy
in the moment of distress to his enemies.”

“Where is the jackal?” inquired the crow. “She is near by,” answered the
antelope, “waiting to feed upon my flesh.” “This I predicted,” said the
crow. “I escape such calamities because I place no such trust; the wise
are continually in dread of wicked associations. A pretended friend who
flatters thee should be shunned as a dish of milk with poison at its
brim. Contract no friendship with flatterers; at first they fall at your
feet in their anxiety to drink your blood; they hum strange tunes in
your ears with soft murmurs, and, having found an opening, they will
ruin you without remorse.”

The faithful crow watched until he saw the farmer approaching, then he
said to the antelope, “Feign to be dead and remain motionless until thou
hearest me make a noise, then run swiftly away.”

The owner of the corn, with his eyes flooded with joy, saw the antelope
who pretended to be dead, so he took away the snare, and was busily
engaged in taking care of his net, when the crow cried out, and the
antelope hearing the signal, bounded to his feet and ran away with great
speed. The disappointed farmer threw a club after him, and struck the
deceitful jackal, who was hidden in a bush, for thus it is written: “In
three years, in three months, in three days, the fruit of great vices
may be reaped, even in this world.”

                     THE BRĀHMAN AND THE ICHNEUMON.

There was a Brāhman named Modeva, who lived alone with his wife and
their infant daughter. One day the mother went away to perform her
ablutions and acts of adoration. She therefore left the child in the
father’s care. Soon after the mother left home a great rāja sent for the
Brāhman to perform a religious ceremony called the Srāddha, or offerings
to the ghosts of his ancestors. It is customary upon these occasions to
bestow rich presents upon the officiating Brāhman or priest, and this
was an opportunity that ought not to be lost. Knowing that if he did not
go promptly another would be called in his place, he committed the care
of his child to a faithful ichneumon, which he had long cherished, and
having done so, he hastened away to obey the call of the rāja. Soon
after he went away a terrible serpent crawled into the little home and
approached the child. He was attacked, however, by the faithful
ichneumon, who killed him and cut him in pieces; then seeing his master
returning the animal ran to meet him, even while his mouth and paws were
still wet with the blood of the serpent. Seeing him thus, the Brāhman
promptly decided that he had killed the child, and in his rage he slew
the ichneumon. Then going to his house he found the babe sleeping
peacefully with the mangled body of the snake beside it. Then, indeed,
he knew that, in his haste and unreasonable anger, he had slain the
faithful protector of his child. Therefore, he who knows not the first
principle, and the first cause, and who is in subjection to his wrath,
is tormented like a fool. Let not a man perform an act hastily. Want of
circumspection is a great cause of danger.

                      THE ELEPHANT AND THE JACKAL.

In a forest there lived an elephant in quietness and in peace, but there
were hungry jackals around him who thirsted for his blood. They
conferred among themselves, and decided to accomplish by stratagem that
which they could not hope to effect by force. Then a wily old jackal
approached the elephant, and saluting him most humbly he thus addressed
him, “Royal sir, wilt thou grant me an interview?” “Who art thou,” said
the elephant, “and why dost thou come hither?” “I am a jackal,” he
replied, “and my name is Little and Wise. I am sent into thine august
presence by the assembled inhabitants of these woods. Since this vast
forest ought not to be compelled to exist without a king, it is
therefore determined to perform the ceremony of washing thee, and thus
installing thee as the sovereign of the forest. It is said that he who
is eminent in birth, in virtue and justice—he who is perfect in words,
is fit to be the ruler of the world. Therefore, we salute thee as our
king. Now I beseech thee to come quickly, lest the fortunate time for
thine inauguration should slip away.” So saying he walked hastily away,
and the conceited elephant elated with the hope of royalty, followed the
jackal until he came into a little pool, wherein his immense weight
caused him to slowly sink in the mud at the bottom.

“Friend Jackal,” said he “what can be done for me? I have fallen into
the mire so deeply that I cannot rise out of it.” Thereupon the jackal
laughed loudly and rushed away to find those who were to feast with him
upon the flesh of the elephant.

Then said the elephant sadly, “Such is the fruit of my confidence in
your deceitful speeches. It is, indeed, true that if thou enjoyest the
company of the good, then wilt thou thyself be happy and virtuous, but
if thou fallest into the company of the wicked, then thou wilt fall
indeed.”

So saying he resigned himself to his fate, and soon became the food of
his flatterers. It is safe to contract no friendship—not even
acquaintance with the deceitful, for the hypocrite resembles a coal,
which when hot burneth the hand, and when cold blackens it.

                       GEMS FROM THE HITOPADEŚA.

As there are many gems in this quaint old volume of fables which are
well worthy of preservation, the best of them are here presented:

1. “Always avoid flatterers and hypocrites; their tongues claim to be
covered with honey, while their hearts are filled with poison, and a
desire to suck the blood of their victim.”

2. “The learned man may fix his thoughts on science and wealth, as if he
were never to grow old or to die; but when death seizes him by the locks
he must practice virtue.”

3. “Knowledge produces mildness of speech; mildness of speech a good
character; a good character wealth, and wealth, if virtuous actions
attend it, produces happiness.”

4. “Among all possessions, knowledge appears eminent; the wise call it
supreme riches, because it never can be lost, has no price, and can at
no time be destroyed.”

5. “Knowledge acquired by a man of low degree places him on a level with
the prince, as a small river at last attains the ocean, and his fortune
is then exalted.”

6. “The science of arms and the science of books are both causes of
celebrity, but the first is ridiculous in an old man, and the second is
in all ages respectable.”

7. “Learning dissipates many doubts, causes things otherwise invisible
to be seen, and is the eye of every one that is not absolutely blind.”

8. “Knowledge forgotten is poison, food is poison to him who cannot
digest it; a numerous family is poison to the indigent, and a young wife
is poison to an old mate.”

9. “Life, action, property, knowledge, and death, these five were formed
for all.”

10. “The potter forms what he pleases with moulded clay, so a man
accomplishes his own works.”

11. “Prosperity is acquired by exertion, and there is no fruit for him
who doth not exert himself; the fawns go not into the mouth of a
sleeping lion.”

12. “Knowledge is destroyed by associating with the base, with equals
equality is gained, and with the distinguished, distinction.”

13. “Virtues to those who know their value are virtues, but even these,
when they come in the way of the vicious, are vices; as rivers of sweet
water are excellent, but when they reach the sea are not fit to be
tasted.”

14. “He who restrains his appetite, a dutiful son, a prudent and good
wife, and he who acts considerately, give birth to no misfortune.”

15. “In perils we prove a friend; in battle a hero; in contracted
fortunes a wise man, and in calamity our kinsmen.”

16. “Thus may the character of treacherous persons be described; at
first they fall at your feet, and then drink your blood; thus the false
friends and black gnats practice alike every mode of treachery.”

17. “Make no league with an avowed enemy, or with a flatterer. Water,
though well warmed, would quench, nevertheless, the fire that warmed
it.”

18. “If the friendship of the good be interrupted their minds admit of
no long change; as when the stalks of the lotus are broken, the
filaments within them are more visibly connected.”

19. “Charity, forbearance, participation in pains and pleasures,
goodness of heart, and truth; these are the sciences of friendship.”

20. “Goodness and truth are discerned by a man’s discourse, but
cowardice and a variable mind are easily discerned by his conduct.”

21. “It is one thing to hear the words of a friend whose heart is pure
as water, and another to hear the words of a base dissembler.”

22. “A wise man walks slowly and circumspectly, and lives in one place,
nor having seen another station should he desert his former abode.”

23. “It is easy for all men to display learning in instructing others,
but it is the part of one endued with a great mind to form himself by
the rules of justice.”

24. “As those who have caught cold, take no pleasure in moonshine, or
those who have fever, in the heat of the sun, so the mind of a woman
delights not a husband where there is great disparity of years.”

25. “It is better to pull up by the roots a loose tooth, and a wicked
counsellor.”

26. “He is a friend whom favors have not purchased, and he is a man who
is not subdued by his senses.”

27. “The seed of good advice must be cherished with extreme care, it
must not be broken ever so little, if it be, it will not grow.”

28. “A hundred good words are lost upon the wicked; a hundred wise words
are lost upon a fool; a hundred good precepts are lost upon the
obstinate, and a hundred sciences upon those who never reflect.”

29. “A serpent drinking milk only increases his venom, thus a fool being
admonished is provoked, but not benefitted. A sensible man may be
admonished, but not a fool.”

30. “He who knows not his own weakness must be routed by flatterers and
enemies.”

31. “A great man becomes little, and his virtue is diminished by
associating with an unprincipled person.”

-----

Footnote 225:

  About A.D. 570.

Footnote 226:

  Canopus was a star which stood at the right in the heavens when the
  observer was looking from Hirat, and consequently it lay in the
  direction of Arabia, which the prophet claimed as the home of wisdom,
  and therefore wisdom was represented by Canopus.

Footnote 227:

  Translated by Almokaffa about A.D. 770.

Footnote 228:

  See preface, Eastwick’s version, p. 10.

Footnote 229:

  The planet Mars.

Footnote 230:

  From Sir Wm. Jones’ revision of the Hitopadesa.

Footnote 231:

  Sometimes called Pilpay.



                               CHAPTER X.
                            PERSIAN POETRY.

SEVEN ERAS—THE FIRST PERIOD—THE HOMER OF ĪRĀN—THE SHĀH NĀMAH—HISTORY OF
    THE PERSIAN EPIC—FIRDUSĪ—INVECTIVE—MŪTESHIM—THE SHĀH’S REPENTANCE—
    DEATH OF FIRDUSĪ—THE POEM.


The history of Persian poetry may be divided into seven distinct periods
of from one to two centuries each.

The first period reaches from the beginning of the tenth century to the
close of the eleventh, and it may be said to represent the national
poetry in its original purity. Previous to this time, there had been
fragments of verse, which had been composed by Bāhram Gor, a Sassanian
king, and a few other authors, but this early literature had perished at
the hands of the Moslem invaders. The conquerors not only destroyed, as
far as possible, the literature of Īrān, but even discarded the
language, using Arabic in all official documents. The vitality of the
Persian tongue, however, was so great that the patriotic people finally
founded another national literature, under the patronage of the Samanian
kings.

To this period belonged, Rūdāki, who has been called “The father of
Persian poetry,” and who was said to be the author of one hundred
volumes of verse, besides his metrical version of the work which has
been discussed in the previous chapter under the Persian name of Anwār-
i-Suhali. To this period also belonged Omar Khayyām, who was a
mathematician as well as a poet. His beautiful quatrains are a great
improvement upon the rubā’ī of Abu Sa’īd, who was his predecessor in
this peculiar style of verse, and his rhapsodies upon love and wine
resemble those of Hāfiz.

The position of “King of Poets,” which was established by Mahmūd the
Ghaznevide, is still maintained at the court of Persia, as well as in
England, where Tennyson so long filled the office of Poet Laureate.
Firdusī was the great literary light of the first period of Persian
poetry, indeed he was the Homer of Īrān, and his great epic will always
command the first position among the poetical productions of his native
land.

                            THE SHĀH NĀMAH.

During the reigns of the Sassanian and Ashkanian princes over Persia,
extensive researches were made to collect the most authentic
materials[232] for a general history of that country. This work having
been accomplished during the reign of Yezdejird, that monarch called
upon the priests of the Fire worship to write out the annals of Persia
from the reign of Keiūmers down to the end of that of Khosru Parviz.
Their work was completed, but this and other valuable manuscripts were
carried away with the spoil of the conquerors after the great victory of
Saad Vekas over Yezdejird.[233] It was brought before Omar, and he sent
it, with other portions of the spoils to the king of Abyssinia, who had
several copies made, and distributed them among his friends in different
portions of the East. In this way the valuable work was preserved, and
in the course of years reached Khorasān. In the ninth century[234] the
Persian king, Yakub bin Leith called a council of the most learned Fire-
worshippers, and with their assistance selected the best materials for
continuing the history of Persia down to the final defeat of Yezdejird,
and they also added to it the ancient history by Danishber Dehkan, which
in the meantime had been translated into modern Persian.

When Shāh Mahmūd Sabuktugīn came to the throne, he conceived the idea of
having the history of Persia versified in such a form that it would be
appreciated by his poetry-loving people, and after many tests of the
poetic ability of his literary subjects, he finally confided the works
to the hands of

                                FIRDUSĪ.

This celebrated poet, whose true name was Abul Kāsin,[235] was a native
of Tus, a city of Khorasān, and many happy hours of his boyhood were
spent on the banks of the beautiful river that swept along its course
near his home. But the rebellious waters occasionally flooded their
banks, leaving ruin in their path, and the dream of the young poet’s
life was the hope that some day he might command the means to build a
suitable bridge over this turbulent stream, and also to confine its
rising waters within banks of solid masonry. When, therefore, he
received the royal commission to write the long Persian epic, he felt
that this great public improvement was within his reach, and he gladly
undertook the task. After several samples of his poem had been presented
to the Shāh, the prime minister was ordered to pay the poet a thousand
drachms of gold for every thousand couplets which he produced until the
work was completed.

A magnificent residence was erected for Firdusī near the palace of the
king, and the best painters of the age were employed to cover the walls
with the portraits of kings and heroes, with paintings of battles and
sieges, with the most imposing military scenes, and everything that
could excite the martial valor and fire the imagination of the writer.

The only member of the court with whom the poet was not upon friendly
terms was the conceited prime minister, who expected, and generally
received, almost as much adulation from the court poets as the king
himself. Firdusī refused to render him this servile homage, and not only
so, but finally ignored him to such an extent that he would not go to
his house to receive the payment of gold coin which became due upon the
completion of each thousand couplets. The only reason he gave for this
was that he preferred to receive the whole amount at once, and thereby
be enabled to carry out his favorite project and build a bridge in his
native city.

All of these little exhibitions of animosity on the part of the poet
combined to make him offensive to the vizier, and gave opportunities to
other envious courtiers to cultivate the favor of the prime minister by
flatteries of himself, and curses upon the head of Firdusī.

At the end of thirty years of hard work the Shāh Nāmah was completed,
consisting of sixty thousand couplets. The vizier then revenged himself
upon the poet by misrepresenting the condition of the treasury to the
king, and, urging upon him the absurdity of paying such an enormous
price for a poem, he finally induced him to send to the poet sixty
thousand drachms of silver instead of the gold which he had promised.

Firdusī was coming out of his bath when the bags of silver arrived from
the treasury, and learning the value of their contents he contemptuously
gave them away, giving recklessly, and without judgment, until the sum
was exhausted.

This insult to the Shāh was duly reported and exaggerated by the prime
minister, and while the monarch was furious with rage, the poet, at the
suggestion of the vizier, was condemned to be trampled to death by
elephants. His apartments, however, being close to the royal residence,
he took advantage of that fact and threw himself at the king’s feet,
suing for pardon, and this was granted upon the condition of his
immediate departure from the city. Sick at heart, and burning with
indignation, he sought the apartment of the king’s favorite attendant,
Ayaz, who had always been a faithful friend to the bard. To him Firdusī
related his story, and from him received the fullest sympathy. Here he
wrote a bitter poetic invective against the Shāh, and having sealed it
up, requested Ayaz to deliver it to him after the poet’s departure, and
also to choose the time for doing so when some defeat had rendered the
Shāh more low-spirited than usual.

                               INVECTIVE.

              “In Mahmūd shall we hope to find
               One virtue to redeem his mind?
               A mind no generous transports fill,
               To truth, to faith, to justice chill.

              “Son of a slave. His diadem
               In vain may glow with many a gem.
               Exalted high in power and place,
               Outbursts the meanness of his race.

              “Place thou within the spicy nest,
               Where the bright phœnix loves to rest
               A raven’s egg—and mark it well,
               When the vile bird has chipped its shell,
               Though fed with grains from trees that grow
               Where Salesbel’s[236] sweetest waters flow—
               Though airs from Gabriel’s wings may rise
               To fan the cradle where he lies;
               Though long these patient cares endure,
               It proves at last a bird impure.

              “A viper nurtured in a bed
               Where roses all their beauties spread,
               Though nourished with the drops alone
               Of waves that spring from Allah’s throne,
               Is still a poisonous reptile found,
               And with its venom taints the ground.

              “This truth our holy prophet sung—
               All things return from whence they sprung.
               Pass near the merchant’s fragrant wares,
               Thy robe the scent of amber bears;
               Go where the smith his trade pursues,
               Thy mantle’s folds have dusky hues.

              “Let not those deeds thy mind amaze
               A mean and worthless man displays.
               An Ethiop’s skin becomes not white,
               Thou canst not change the clouds of night.
               What poet shall attempt to sing
               The praises of a vicious king?

              “Hadst thou, degenerate prince, but shown
               One single virtue as thy own,
               Had honor, faith, adorned thy brow,
               My fortunes had not sunk as now;
               But thou hadst gloried in my fame,
               And built thyself a deathless name.

              “Oh Mahmūd, though thou fear’st me not,
               Heaven’s vengeance will not be forgot.
               Shrink, tyrant, from my words of fire,
               And tremble at a poet’s ire.”

The indignant and unfortunate bard escaped from Ghizni by night, on foot
and alone, for his friends dared not incur the enmity of the king by
rendering him any assistance. Ayaz alone had the generous courage to
brave the Shāh’s displeasure by aiding the refugee. He sent a trusty
slave after him, who soon overtook him, and giving him the horse and a
sum of money and other little comforts for his journey, besought him in
the name of Ayaz to hasten out of the territory of Shāh Mahmūd if he
valued his life.

                               MŪHTESHIM.

In the meantime reports of the vizier’s animosity and of the sultan’s
cowardice were spread all over the country, exciting universal
detestation of the king and his minister. The accounts of the poet’s
misfortunes and the king’s injustice reached Mūhteshim, the prince of
Kohistan, about the time the fugitive approached his seat of government.
This prince was the dear friend of Shāh Mahmūd, and bound to him by ties
of gratitude for countless favors, but he hesitated not to show his
respect for genius, and he sent a deputation of learned and
distinguished men to meet Firdusī and invite him to the royal presence.
In the midst of this flattering and honorable reception Mūhteshim
learned that the offended poet intended to publish a satirical work,
holding up to the detestation of the world the treachery of Mahmūd, and
he endeavored to dissuade him from this act of revenge, which he
considered unworthy of the greatest literary genius of the age. The poet
afterward sent him an hundred indignant couplets, that the prince might
destroy them himself. Firdusī stated in a letter sent with the lines
that, although he dreaded not the anger of Mahmūd, still, out of
grateful friendship for the generous Mūhteshim, he gave up the cutting
rebuke. The closing paragraph states that—

“On thy account, most amiable prince, do I now consent to transfer my
just revenge from this vain world to a higher court.”

Mūhteshim presented Firdusī with a goodly sum of money and forwarded him
on his journey, fearful lest the sultan’s rage or the vizier’s malice
might overtake and ruin him.

This proved to be a wise precaution, for the king had discovered a
sarcastic epigram which Firdusī had written on the wall of the great
mosque the night of his departure, and on the next day Ayaz delivered to
the furious monarch the insulting letter which the poet had left with
him for that purpose, and a large reward was offered for the
apprehension of the fugitive. At length, however, the sultan received a
long letter from his friend Mūhteshim, who related his meeting with
Firdusī, now, in his old age, a penniless wanderer, after having devoted
the best years of his life in the constant exercise of his great talents
for the execution of his king’s wishes, and gently reproached the Shāh
for allowing himself to be imposed upon by the evil advice of malicious
courtiers; he also informed him of the forgiving spirit the poet had
manifested in destroying his own brilliant satire which was composed at
the monarch’s expense, and closed the letter by quoting the couplet
which Firdusī had used in the letter to himself.

The complaints from his subjects also began to come to the royal ears,
and all of this, together with the reproaches of his own conscience,
produced in his mind a strange combination of grief and rage, of
indignation and regret. He disgraced the malicious vizier, and fined him
sixty thousand drachms of gold, the same amount which he had prevented
him from paying to Firdusī, and deeply regretted his own injustice to
the gifted bard; but still, he could not forgive the cutting satire of
the letter which had been brought him by Ayaz, in which the poet had
taunted him with his low birth as being one of the causes of his
cowardice and meanness.

                           DEATH OF FIRDUSĪ.

Firdusī was protected by the Arabian government, and after some years
returned and lived with his family at Tus, but he was old, grieved and
broken down, and at last he died in his quiet home, at the age of
eighty-three. In the meantime Shāh Mahmūd, hearing of his return to Tus,
and anxious to render justice, though tardily, to the man he had
wronged, sent an envoy with sixty thousand drachms of gold, together
with quantities of silks, brocades, velvets, and other costly presents,
to Firdusī as a peace offering. But as the royal train of loaded camels
entered one gate of the city a mournful procession went out of another,
and followed the dead poet to the place of his burial.

The Shāh’s ambassadors offered the presents intended for Firdusī to his
only daughter, but she possessed her father’s spirit, and haughtily
dismissed the courtiers, rejecting their gifts with proud disdain.

The Shāh, wishing to make some offering to the memory of the departed
poet, ordered the sum which had been intended for him to be expended in
erecting a caravansera and bridge in Tus, in accordance with Firdusī’s
life-long ambition. These monuments of the poet’s fame and of the king’s
tardy justice existed for many years, until destroyed by an invading
army of Ousbegs under Obeid Khan.

                               THE POEM.

This great epic, which was written under royal favor, though its author
afterward suffered from royal scorn, is a valuable Persian classic. In
the Persian tongue it exists only in manuscript form, and its text was
corrupted by ignorant transcribers to such an extent that it excited the
indignation of the sultan (a grandson of Timur, who reigned in the
fifteenth century), and he collected a vast number of copies of the
work; from these he had a transcript made, which was, perhaps, tolerably
correct.

But since that time copies have been so greatly multiplied and their
contents differ so widely, that it is only by a careful collation and
comparison of manuscripts that scholars can hope to arrive at a
reasonable degree of correctness. These manuscripts are finely executed
and highly ornamental, having the frontispiece and titles beautifully
illuminated and sprinkled with gold; the volumes are often profusely
illustrated by colored drawings of exquisite finish. They cost about one
hundred guineas, or about five hundred and twenty-five dollars each. But
although these manuscripts can only be multiplied at such great expense,
the original work has lived through eight centuries, and is still the
most popular epic in the Persian tongue.

The author of the Shāh Nāmah[237] has often been called the Homer of the
East, Firdusī occupying the same position in relation to other Persian
poets that Homer has so long held in the West. Like Homer, too, he
describes a rude age, where muscular strength and animal courage were
chiefly valued. The correspondence is very striking between the old
heroic times which were described by Firdusī and Homer, and the pictures
which are sometimes given us of the age of European chivalry. It is well
known that the Moors carried into Spain the poetry and romance of Arabia
and Persia, and some of our best fiction is supposed to be derived from
that source.

Although Firdusī wrote in the beginning of the eleventh century, it was
not until the twelfth that the romances of chivalry began to amuse the
Western world. The “Orlando Innamorato,” a poem by Bayardo, which was
afterward improved and paraphrased by Berni, gave life and character to
a great number of the stories of chivalry. In a similar way the Shāh
Nāmah was largely indebted to the Būstān-Nāmah, which comprised the
chronicles, histories, and traditions of the Persians, collected under
the patronage of Yezdjird, the last king of the Sassanian race. Like the
beautiful Rāmāyana and the martial Mahā-bhārata of the Hindūs, the Shāh
Nāmah claims to be a history in rhyme. It is supposed to comprise the
annals and achievements of the ancient kings of Persia from
Kaiūmers[238] down to the Saracenic invasion and conquest of that
empire,[239] an estimated period of more than three thousand six hundred
years. But this bold lyric can lay but little more claim to historic
accuracy than can the Hindū epics whose gorgeous colorings mock the very
name of history. The Shāh Nāmah, like the other Oriental poems, abounds
in adventures of the wildest description, in fabulous feats of strength
and valor, and the heroines of the Persian bard are as intrepid and
beautiful as the maidens who conquered the heroes of Western poetry.

The legends of all nations are rich with terrible dragons, which are
vanquished by unconquerable knights. Even England has her St. George,
and other countries boast of cavaliers who were equally valiant.

The hero of the Shāh Nāmah is Rustem, the Persian Hercules, and the
strong similarity between the myths pertaining to them is another
argument in favor of the common origin of various mythologies.[240] The
labors of Rustem, however, were only seven, while those of Hercules were
twelve. In the Shāh Nāmah, Isfendiyār has his seven labors as well as
Rustem, and both succeeded in the overthrow of devouring monsters, and
the destruction of talismans and works of enchantment. Isfendiyār is
always accompanied, however, by a troop of horsemen, while Rustem
performs his exploits alone, being mounted upon his magnificent horse
Rakush. This splendid animal will often remind the reader of the horses
of Indra, the Hindū “Lord of the Thunderbolt,” or Jove with his “steeds
of light,”

“Adorned with manes of gold, and heavenly bright.” Indeed, the boldest
heroes of all people rode to battle upon gallant chargers like those of
Rhesus, which were “swift as the wind, and white as winter snow.”

The splendid picture of the Northern god would have lost its force
without the presence of the fleet-footed Sleipnir, and Neptune were
scarcely the king of ocean without his celestial steeds,

             “Fed with ambrosial herbage from his hand,
              And their fetlocks linked with golden band.”

Achilles, too, drew the reins over

          “Xanthus and Balius, of immortal breed,
           Sprung from the wind, and like the wind in speed.
             *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
           From their high manes they shake the dust, and bear
           The kindling chariot through the parted war.”

Būddha is represented, too, as deserting his wife and child, riding upon
his coal-black steed, Kanthāka, which was said to be thirty feet in
length, and able to clear the high gates of the palace, or the broad
rivers that flowed across his pathway, at a single bound.

The Persian poem, like the colossal epics of India, is of such
interminable length that the readers of modern times would not be
willing to scan the many pages of endless description and hyperbole. We
therefore give, in simple phrase, the best incidents of this heroic
legend.

-----

Footnote 232:

  That there were historic materials of great antiquity, we have the
  testimony of Herodotus and Ctesius, and also of the book of Esther—“On
  that night the king could not sleep and he commanded to bring the
  books of records of the chronicles, and they were read before the
  king.”—Esther vi, 1. Also it is written. “And all the acts of his
  power and his might and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai,
  are they not written in the books of the chronicles of the kings of
  Media and Persia?”—Esther x, 2.

Footnote 233:

  A.D. 636.

Footnote 234:

  A.D. 837.

Footnote 235:

  The name of Firdusi is said to have been given him by the Governor of
  Tus, because his garden, which was called Ferdus (Paradise), was
  looked after by the father and brother of the poet, and it was in this
  delightful spot that he began the versification of the great national
  epic, the Shah Namah.

Footnote 236:

  The sacred well at Mecca, the waters of which are claimed to have
  wondrous healing power.

Footnote 237:

  In addition to the Shah Namah, Firdusi composed a poem of nine
  thousand couplets on the loves of Yusuf and Zulaikha, that abounds in
  elegant and spirited diction, but it is inferior to the greater epic,
  partly in consequence of his adoption of the same metre which he used
  in the Shah Namah, and which was well adapted to that martial poem,
  but not at all appropriate for the expression of the gentle strains of
  a love song.

Footnote 238:

  Kaiumers is represented as the grandson of Noah.

Footnote 239:

  About A.D. 636.

Footnote 240:

  See Hindu Literature, Chapters II and III.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                        STORY OF THE SHĀH NĀMAH.

SĀM SUWĀR—THE SĪMŪRGH’S NEST—THE FATHER’S DREAM—RŪDABEH—THE MARRIAGE—
    RUSTEM—THE TŪRĀNIAN INVASION—THE WHITE DEMON.


In the golden age of Persian chivalry there lived a famous warrior by
the name of Sām Suwār. He was the son of the great chieftain Narimān,
and he was the commander-in-chief of the Persian armies, and not only a
valiant hero upon the battlefield, but more than once he had warred
against the allied hosts of demons, and come off victorious. He had
conquered the furious monster Soham, which was of the color and nature
of fire, and, bringing it beneath the obedient rein, he made it his war
horse in all his later battles with the demons.

Suwār had an heir born to him, and knowing that a son would inherit his
own power and fame, his heart was filled with exultation. But when the
child was placed in his arms, this dark-haired Persian warrior was
appalled, for the babe, otherwise perfect, had a head of silvery white
hair.

               “His hair was white as a goose’s wing,
                His cheek was like the rose of spring,
                His form was straight as a cypress tree,
                But when the sire was brought to see
                That child with hair so silvery white,
                His heart revolted at the sight.”[241]

The gentle mother gave the child the name of Zāl, but the superstitious
people began to whisper that this white-haired child was an evil omen to
the house of Suwār. Surely it could bring only calamity into the family.
It must be that in some way the child belonged to the demon race, or,

                    “If not a demon, he, at least,
                     Appears a parti-colored beast.”

The father bore the sneers and reproaches of the people for a time, and
then resolved to abandon the boy upon the mountain crags to be destroyed
by beasts of prey. In vain the faithful mother pleaded to be allowed to
retain her babe; in vain she promised to keep him in seclusion so sacred
that the sight of him should never again offend the father’s eye; her
child was torn from her arms, and carried to a distant mountain in the
depths of the night, and there deserted by the cruel and superstitious
father.

                          THE SĪMŪRGH’S NEST.

An inaccessible cliff of the Alborz mountains is said to be the home of
the Sīmūrgh,[242] a mammoth bird with golden plumage, who carries
elephants to her nest for her birdlings to feed upon. Far beyond the
reach of man, this wondrous nest is hidden amidst the white cliffs,
which are threaded thickly with veins of golden quartz, while around the
base of the structure there gleam the stones of fire—the amethyst, the
topaz and ruby, and in the rocks not far away the sunset fires have left
their glow in the heart of the opal. The bird of golden plumage loves
these precious stones, for they flash back the fire of her eye, and seem
to warm her heart with their gleaming beauty. The night was dark, for
even the stars were hidden behind the floating clouds that told of a
coming storm, then

                “A voice not earthly thus addressed
                 The Sīmūrgh in her mountain nest—
                 To thee this mortal I resign,
                 Protected by the power divine.
                 Let him thy fostering kindness share,
                 Nourish him with maternal care;
                 For, from his loins in time will spring
                 The champion of the world, and bring
                 Honor on earth, and make thy name
                 The heir of everlasting fame.”

The bird listened to the voice, and peering down between the mountain
crags and rocky cliffs, she saw a man with coward heart leaving a tender
babe upon one of the foot-hills. Her mother-heart beat faster while she
waited a moment listening to the coming storm, and then the strong wings
moved upward through the darkness, and circling round in stately flight,
she swept nearer and nearer to the desolate babe. Down she came at last,
and the little one looked up with wondering eyes upon the great mass of
plumage that seemed to have been borne to him upon the wings of the
coming storm, and the boy smiled and reached out his baby hands toward
his new-found friend. The tender mother-bird fastened her talons
carefully in his little dress, and floated away past mountain stream and
rocky crags, beyond the foothills and the higher peaks, until she
reached the wondrous nest hidden amidst the stones of fire. A sweet,
familiar note caused the nestlings to cling more closely together, and
here, in the newly made space, the banished child was laid, and his
shelter from the cruel storm that night was the golden feathers of the
Sīmūrgh.

When the sunlight touched the white cliffs and lighted up the fires in
ruby and opal, the great bird was awakened by a strange cry beneath her
wing, and she remembered the human nestling within her habitation. Then,
like the sacred bird of Jove, she rises from her nest, and

           “Wide as appears some palace gate displayed,
            So broad the pinions stretched their ample shade,
            As stooping dexter with resounding wings,
            The imperial bird descends in airy rings.”[243]

Not as a guide to the tent of Achilles does the Sīmūrgh wheel her lofty
flight, but to find food for the helpless babe within her walls. With
dainty bits within her bill she comes again to her mountain home, and
the stranger babe is fed before her own young have broken their fast.
The Sīmūrgh’s nestlings learned from the mother-bird the lessons of
mercy and love, and soon on tender wing they too brought dainties to the
banished child, and year after year he lived in the Sīmūrgh’s home, or
played amidst the rough jewels in the crags around her nest.

                          THE FATHER’S DREAM.

The years went by with muffled feet, bringing no balm to the heart of
the bereaved mother. The cruel way in which her child had been torn from
her arms by the unnatural father, to suffer a still more cruel fate, had
left a wound in her heart that her husband’s later kindness had no power
to heal. The father, too, was ashamed of his own brutality, but too
cowardly to confess his fault, no word of repentance had ever passed his
lips. The only sign of remorse was seen upon his head, for the dark
locks of the Persian chieftain had grown as silvery white as the hair of
the banished child. His sleep was disturbed, and he was haunted night
after night by strange and troubled dreams. One night there flashed
before his vision a gallant youth of martial bearing, who rode at the
head of a troop of horsemen, with banners flying before him, and coming
into the warrior’s presence, he cried:

           “Unfeeling mortal, hast thou from thine eyes
            Washed out all sense of shame? Dost thou believe
            That to have silvery tresses is a crime?
            See thine own head is covered with white hair,
            And were not both spontaneous gifts from heaven?”

Suwār awoke with a scream and called the astrologers around him. They
declared that the boy was still alive, and in the early morning the
father went to the lonely mountain, and climbing into its cliffs as far
as possible, he bemoaned his child and prayed for his return. His cry
went up to the wondrous nest amidst the stones of fire, and the Sīmūrgh
shook her golden plumage as she looked lovingly down upon the white-
haired child that played with unpolished gems upon the cliffs beneath
her.

Rising from her nest, she nestled down beside him, and while he stroked
her feathers, she caressed him with her beak, and said: “I have fed and
protected thee, but now the Persian warrior has come for his boy, and I
must give thee up.” The child wept and flung his arms around the soft
neck of his foster mother, but the Sīmūrgh told him it were better so,
and taking from her wing one golden plume, she gave it to him with the
promise that she would not desert him. “Take this,” said she, “and when
thou art in danger put the feather upon the fire, and I will instantly
come to thine aid.”

Then the Sīmūrgh took the boy carefully in her talons and in graceful
circles she slowly swept down toward the wondering father. “Receive thy
son,” said the wondrous bird. “He is worthy of a throne and diadem.”
Then the repentant father gladly caught his rescued boy in his arms, and
bore him exultingly homeward, where he placed him in the glad arms of
his mother, who wept tears of joy over the white-haired child. The
beautiful plume was laid carefully away as one of the treasures of the
household, to be used by the boy only in times of greatest need.

When the Persian king Minūchir heard the story, he sent to Suwār a
splendid troop of horsemen, led by the heir to the throne, and they
conveyed the royal congratulations to the warrior and his son, and
escorted them into the royal presence. Here

             “Zāl humbly kissed the earth before the king,
              And from the hands of Minūchir received
              A golden mace and helmet. Then those who knew
              The stars and planetary signs were told
              To calculate the stripling’s destiny;
              And all proclaimed him of exalted fortune,
              That he would be prodigious in his might,
              Outshining every warrior of the age.“

The delighted king then presented the boy with Arabian horses and
gorgeous armor, with gold and rich garments, and appointed the father to
be the ruler of Kabūl, Zabūl, and Ind. Zāl accompanied his father upon
the return homeward, and then he was placed under the care of renowned
instructors at Zabūlistān.

                                RŪDABEH.

While the Persian youth was reaching the age of manhood, in the
delightful pursuits of art and science, he was also occasionally
intrusted with the care of the province during the father’s absence.
Kabūl, one of the provinces which the Persian king had assigned to
Suwār, had been ruled over by a chieftain named Mihrāb, who was
descended from Zohāk, and this chieftain still retained a subordinate
position in the government by paying an annual tribute to Suwār.

Mihrāb had a beautiful daughter named Rūdabeh, and although she was kept
in the most careful seclusion, still the fame of her great loveliness
was spread among the neighboring princes.

              “If thou wouldst make her charms appear,
               Think of the sun so bright and clear,
               And brighter far with softer light,
               The maiden strikes the dazzled sight.
               Think of her skin, with what compare?
               Ivory was never half so fair!
               Her stature like the sabin tree,
               Her eyes! so full of witchery,
               Glow like the Nigris[244] tenderly,
               Her arching brows their magic fling,
               Dark as the raven’s glossy wing.
               Soft o’er her blooming cheek is spread
               The rich pomegranate’s vivid red;
               Her musky ringlets unconfined
               In clustering meshes roll behind.
               Possessed of every sportive wile,
               ’Tis heaven, ’tis bliss, to see her smile.”

Zāl was not insensible to the charms he had heard so vividly described,
but he remembered that Mihrāb was descended from Zohāk, the Serpent
King,[245] and he knew that if he made any advances toward the fair
daughter of the fatal line he should provoke the rage of his father, and
also of the Persian monarch Minūchir.

Mihrāb had occasion to communicate with Zāl, and on his return homeward
his wife, Sindokht, inquired after the white-haired youth, asking what
he was like in form and feature, and what account he gave of his stay
with the Sīmūrgh.

Mihrāb described his host in the warmest terms of admiration, telling of
his valor, his accomplishments, and his manly beauty, his only defect
being the strange crown of silvery hair.

The beautiful princess was present, and, with her dark eyes fixed upon
her father’s face, she drank in every word of his eulogy, and her heart
warmed toward the stranger. When she retired to her own apartments, she
confided to her maid the fact that she was deeply impressed with the
description she had heard, and a few days later she declared to the
attendant that she was deeply in love with the stranger, and besought
the maid’s assistance.

The servant was startled and frightened by this confession, and
remonstrated with her beautiful mistress upon the absurdity of her
position:

               “What, hast thou lost all sense of shame,
                All value for thy honored name!
                That thou in loveliness supreme,
                Of every tongue the constant theme,
                Should choose, and on another’s word,
                The nursling of a mountain bird!
                A being never seen before,
                Which human mother never bore!
                And can the hoary locks of age
                A youthful heart like thine engage?“

But her remonstrance was in vain, the willful Persian beauty had set her
heart upon a man whom she had never seen,[246] and she quietly answered:

          “My attachment is fixed, my election is made,
           And when hearts are enchained ’tis vain to upbraid.
           Neither Kizar nor Faghfūr I wish to behold,
           Nor the monarch of Persia with jewels and gold;
           All, all I despise, save the choice of my heart,
           And from his beloved image I never can part.”

When the attendants learned that the princess was so deeply in earnest
they loyally entered into her feelings far enough to aid her in every
possible way in bringing about a meeting with the man she loved.

It was springtime in the beautiful vales of Persia, and the earth was
rich with many colored flowers, while the breath of hyacinths and lilies
of the valley floated upon the air. The glittering pheasant moved
through the undergrowth, and the bulbul sang his love song in the lofty
trees.

A party of maidens strayed near the tent of Zāl in their earnest quest
for the most beautiful roses to be found in that sunny vale. Already
their baskets were laden with fragrance, but still they lingered, until
the prince asked his attendants why these girls presumed to invade his
territory. He was told that the damsels were sent by the beautiful
princess of Kabūlistān from the palace of Mihrāb to gather roses for her
boudoir. His eyes brightened, and calling a servant to bear his bow and
arrows, he rose carelessly and started for a ramble along the winding
river. He was not far from the maidens, when he sent an arrow through a
beautiful bird sailing above them. The bird fell at their very feet, and
his servant was sent to bring it.

When he approached them they inquired who this skillful archer was. He
answered, “Know you not that this is Zāl, the greatest warrior ever
known.” The maidens then told him that they belonged to a beautiful
princess, the star in the palace at Mihrāb, and cautiously inquired why,
as these young people were of equal rank, a marriage might not be
arranged between them. The servant reported the question to his master,
and was sent back with royal presents for Rūdabeh.

               “They who to gather roses came—went back
                With precious gems and honorary robes,
                And two bright finger-rings were secretly
                Sent to the princess.”

The maids returned exultant, but still the way was full of peril, and
political difficulties seemed to forbid even an interview between the
lovers. There was, however, a beautiful summer retreat seldom visited in
the absence of the Persian king, which was luxuriously furnished and
adorned with paintings of Persia’s most illustrious chieftains. It stood
midway between the two territories, and to this resort the princess and
her maids retired while on a pleasure excursion, and Zāl was duly
invited by the attendants to visit them as soon as the stars came out.

The shadows of evening had fallen upon the rose gardens, and the air was
heavy with their fragrance, when the young warrior cautiously approached
the balcony from which he heard a sweet voice singing. Soon the low
musical tones of a manly voice were borne upon the breeze as he softly
chanted—

                 “How often have I hoped that heaven
                  Would in some secret place display
                  Thy charms to me, and thou hast given
                  My heart the wish of many a day.”

And soon the singer stood by the woman he sought. They passed hand in
hand within the gorgeous chambers, where the porphyry pillars upheld the
rich fretwork of gold in the roof, and the vast illuminated halls were
silent and bright, save the gentle music of the waters that were
rippling from many a jasper fountain. The royal abode was glowing with
softly colored lights, which reflected the rare beauty of painting and
statuary, but Zāl could scarcely see what art had done, for his eyes and
thoughts were absorbed with the witching radiance of his love. Long they
remained rapt in admiration of each other. At length the warrior rose
and exclaimed: “It becomes us not to be forgetful of the path of
prudence. How will my father rave with anger when he hears of this
adventure? How will King Minūchir indignantly reproach me for this
dream?—this waking dream of rapture! But I call high heaven to witness
that whoever may oppose my sacred vows, still I am thine, affianced
thine, forever.”

And Rūdabeh answered,

“Thou hast won my heart, and kings may sue in vain; thou art alone my
warrior and my love.”

Then Zāl, with fond adieus, softly descended from the balcony and
hastened to his tent.

The loyal son wrote a letter to his father, frankly telling him the
story of his love, and asking his sympathy and co-operation. To his
great joy, these were promptly accorded, and he wrote an exultant letter
to the princess, informing her of the fact. But the girl was detected by
the queen in carrying messages and presents to the princess, and the
queen approached her daughter, who frankly told the story, and it was
thus communicated to Mihrāb, whose rage knew no bounds. The infuriated
king drew his sword, and would have rushed to his daughter’s room and
slain her upon the spot, if his wife had not thrown herself at his feet
and pleaded that time at least might be given her.

The daughter was then summoned to her father’s presence, but she
disdained to come as a culprit or a suppliant, therefore she fearlessly
appeared in the royal presence, and proudly told him of the valor of her
betrothed. She retired from his presence without harm, but when
Minūchir, king of Persia, was apprised of the loves of Zāl and Rūdabeh,
another storm broke over the heads of the royal lovers, for he
anticipated only the ruin of his kingdom if so valiant a warrior as Zāl
joined his fortunes with a member of the house of the Serpent King.

When Suwār returned, however, from his successful expedition against the
demons, he ingeniously pleaded his son’s cause before the king:

           “I am thy servant, and twice sixty years
            Have seen my prowess. Mounted on my steed,
            Wielding my battle-ax, o’erthrowing heroes,
            Who equals Suwār the warrior? I destroyed
            The mighty monster[247] whose devouring jaws
            Unpeopled half the land, and spread dismay
            From town to town. The world was full of horror;
            No bird was seen in air, no beast of prey
            In plain or forest: from the stream he drew
            The crocodile: the eagle from the sky.
            Armed for the strife, I saw him towering rise
            Huge as a mountain, with his hideous hair
            Dragging upon the ground: his long black tongue
            Shut up the path; his eyes two lakes of blood.
            Forward I sprang, and in a moment drove
            A diamond-pointed arrow through his tongue,
            Fixing him to the ground. Another went
            Down his deep throat, and dreadfully he writhed
            And deluged all around with blood and poison.
            There lay the monster dead, and soon the world
            Regained its peace and comfort. Now I’m old,
            The vigor of my youth is past and gone,
            And it becomes me to resign my station
            To Zāl, my gallant son.”

But while approving cordially of the work already done, he gave the
warrior a new commission, which was no less than the destruction of
Kabūl by fire and sword, especially the house of Mihrāb, and declared
that the ruler of the serpent-race and all of his adherents were to be
put to death. In vain the horror-stricken warrior pleaded the cause of
mercy, the king’s vindictive intentions were well known, and the
greatest consternation reigned at Kabūl, especially in the family of
Mihrāb.

Mihrāb himself a tyrant, and consequently a coward, could see no way of
avoiding the king’s wrath except by putting his wife and daughter to
death.

At last in his desperation, Suwār sent an earnest letter to the king,
and sent it by the hand of Zāl, who thus obtained permission to plead
his own cause. The king finally consulted the astrologers, who informed
him that the marriage was most propitious, and from it would be born a
hero of matchless strength and valor—the champion of Persia. So at last
the faithful lover bore back to Rūdabeh the joyous tidings that the
greatest obstacle was removed, after which it was an easy matter to
pacify Mihrāb, and the approbation of all parties was finally secured.

                             THE MARRIAGE.

The marriage was celebrated at the beautiful royal retreat where the
lovers first met, and it was a scene of unequaled magnificence. There
were splendid horses with gold and silver housings, and multitudes of
richly attired damsels bearing golden trays of jewels and perfumes.
There were camels laden with the richest brocades and velvets of the
East; there were Indian swords and elephants; there were bowers of roses
and orange blossoms, and garlands of fragrant lilies, and finally there
was a golden crown and throne. Having consented to the union, the
Persian king taxed the treasury to the utmost to make it the grandest
wedding in the land.

After several days had been devoted to the festivities, the newly
married pair settled down amid the roses and fruits of their vine-
wreathed home. From the white crown of a distant mountain down to the
river that flowed by their garden temples, the very air seemed tinted
with a golden haze, while every breeze was laden with rich perfume.

The time passed blithely and rapidly to the young chieftain and his
beautiful wife; but one night there was darkness in the garden temples,
and gloom in the thickets of roses where the night-bird trilled his
sorrowful song to the drooping flowers. There was darkness upon the
inner room, for the shadow of death was falling upon court and hall—the
fair young wife lay in terrible peril, from which there seemed to be no
rescue. The court physicians held council in the adjoining room, while
the agonized husband bent over his suffering wife.

At last he bethought him of the Sīmūrgh’s plume, and, hastily unlocking
the casket, the golden feather was laid upon the fire. His heart stood
still while he waited and listened, and lo, there came the rushing sound
of a tempest, as the wing of the Sīmūrgh gleamed through the darkness,
and she stood beside her foster child. Zāl’s eyes lighted up with hope
and gladness as he threw his arms around her soft golden neck, and
leaned upon the gorgeous plumage. Then she bent her head caressingly
toward his face and whispered a few directions into his ear. Immediately
her command was obeyed and the court physicians were interrupted in
their solemn conclave, for the cry of a newly-born babe was wafted to
their ears, and the young wife was shedding happy tears in the arms of
her joyous husband.

                                RUSTEM.

The boy who was born that night was a herculean babe, and he became the
champion of Persia.[248] As the years went by his marvelous strength
became the wonder of the nation, and the especial pride of his father
and the old chieftain Suwār.

                 “In beauty of form and vigor of limb,
                  No mortal was ever equal to him.”

Before Rustem reached the age of manhood the king of Persia died, and
the kingdom fell into the hands of weaker princes. The Tartar chieftain,
Afrāsiyāb, improved the opportunity which he long had sought, of making
an invasion upon the rich provinces of Persia, and collecting an immense
army he marched to the front, under the pretext of avenging old wrongs.

             “Afrāsiyāb a mighty army raised,
              And passing plain and river, mountain high,
              And desert wild, filled all the Persian realm
              With consternation and universal dread.”

The Persian hosts were in confusion, for the Tartar chief was
continually threatening the border. The people looked to Zāl as their
natural preserver, but Zāl decided to place his boy at the head of the
army, for although very young, Rustem had been carefully trained in
warlike exercises, and the long line of warrior blood from whence he
came, thrilled his veins with martial valor.

All the horses of the imperial stables were brought forth, that the
young commander might take from them a steed to bear him through the
campaign. But Rustem was not content to choose from these, for his eye
fell upon a wild horse of wondrous strength and beauty which was the
offspring of a demon. After a fearful struggle the magnificent animal
was conquered, and placed beneath saddle and rein, when the young
warrior rode into the conflict.

                         THE TŪRĀNIAN INVASION.

Mihrāb, the ruler of Kabūl, was the leader of one wing of the Persian
army, and Gustāhem of the other, while Rustem led the front, and the
glorious banner of Kāvah[249] was flung to the breeze. The Tūrānian king
rode in black armor at the head of his dark legions, while his ablest
generals led the wings and protected the rear of his vast army.

There was one terrific onslaught in which it seemed as if heaven and
earth had closed in deadly conflict. The clattering of hoofs, the shrill
roar of the trumpets and the rattle of brazen drums were mingled with
the cries of dying men, while the glittering spear hastened to the
deadly work, and the Tartar king believed that the imperial crown of
Persia was just within his reach.

When the tide of battle ebbed for a moment, Rustem shouted to his father
that he intended to engage the hostile monarch in single combat, but Zāl
endeavored to dissuade him from so hopeless a task.

             “My son, be wise and peril not thyself;
              Black is his banner, and his cuirass black—
              His limbs are cased in iron—on his head
              He wears an iron helm—and high before him
              Floats the black ensign; equal in his might
              To ten strong men....
              Then beware of him.
              Rustem replied: ’Be not alarmed for me—
              My heart, my arm, my dagger, are my castle.”

He bravely urged his splendid horse toward the foe, and the warriors
closed in a long and doubtful struggle. At last, however, Rustem caught
him by the belt and dragged him from his horse. He intended to drive his
captive thus to the Persian king, but the belt gave way and the Tartar
fell upon the ground, and was quickly borne off by his own warriors, but
not before Rustem had snatched off the monarch’s crown, which he carried
away as a trophy with the broken girdle.

The fight now became general again, and the earth shook with the
trampling of the steeds; the drums rattled; loud clamors from the troops
echoed around, and by the mailed hands of contending warriors many a
life was sacrificed. With his huge mace, cow-headed, Rustem flooded the
ground with the crimson blood of his foes, and wherever seen he was
impatiently urging forward his fiery horse. Severed heads fell like the
withered leaves in autumn when he brandished his sword, horseman and
steed falling together. On that dreadful day, with sword and dagger,
battle-ax and noose,[250] he cut and tore, and broke and bound the
brave, slaying and making captive. The Tartar hordes fled in dismay, and
their black banner trailed upon the earth until captured by the Persian
troops.

Day after day the conquered legions pursued their noiseless retreat, for
neither drum nor trumpet told their foes which way they took. The
Persian host, burdened with a multitude of prisoners, fell slowly back
to the capital, where Rustem was received with the wildest
demonstrations of joy. Soon there came from Tūrān a messenger bearing
proposals of peace. To this the Persian king replied that the war had
not been of his seeking, but he would accept the overtures of peace upon
condition that Afrāsiyāb take his solemn oath never to cross the
boundary line formed by the river Jihun, or disturb the Persian throne
again. Peace was accordingly concluded, and the highest honors were
conferred upon Rustem and Zāl. Rustem was appointed captain general of
the armies, under the title of the “champion of the world.” He was also
given a golden crown, and the privilege was granted him of giving
audience while seated upon a golden throne.

                            THE WHITE DEMON.

After many years a new king, Kai-kaus,[251] ascended the Persian throne.
Lacking the wisdom of his father, he sought the fascinations of the wine
cup, and while under this influence he astonished and mortified his
people by his intense self-admiration and pride. One day, when he was
half-crazed with his favorite beverage, a demon, disguised as a
musician, waited upon him and sang a song extolling the beauties of
Mazinderān:

                “And thus he warbled to the king,
                 Mazinderān is the bower of spring,
                 My native home; the balmy air
                 Diffuses health and fragrance there.
                 So tempered is the genial glow
                 Nor heat, nor cold, we ever know;
                 Tulips and hyacinths abound
                 On every lawn; and all around
                 Blooms like a garden in its prime,
                 Fostered by that delicious clime.
                 The bulbul sits on every spray,
                 And pours his soft melodious lay;
                 Each rural spot its sweets discloses,
                 Each streamlet is the dew of roses.
                 And mark me, that untraveled man
                 Who never saw Mazinderān
                 And all the charms its powers possess,
                 Has never tasted happiness.”

No sooner had the king heard the minstrel’s lay concerning the unknown
land than he began to foster the desire for conquest, and he declared to
his warriors that the glory of his reign should exceed that of his most
illustrious predecessors. The warriors, more cautious, protested against
their monarch’s insane idea of making war upon the demons, and Zāl was
chosen as the most influential of their number to bear their protests to
the king. But the conceited king announced that he was superior in might
and influence to any of his predecessors—that he had a bolder heart, a
larger army, and a fuller treasury than any of them. He haughtily
announced that he needed neither Zāl nor Rustem, that they might stay at
home and care for the kingdom, while he himself conducted the campaign
in person. The keys of the treasury and the jewel chamber were left in
the hands of Milād, with instructions to act under the advice of Zāl and
Rustem. Then the great army was put in motion, while at its head rode
the conceited king, with his magnificent retinue of richly caparisoned
horses and camels.

When the columns came near to Mazinderān, the king ordered his favorite
general, Gīw, to select two thousand of his bravest men, the boldest
wielders of the battle-ax, and proceed rapidly toward the city. In
accordance with the king’s command, this was a vandal march, marked by
fire, sword, and the pitiless murder even of women and children.

While the terrible work of slaughter and destruction was going on under
the hands of his chosen men, the Persian king was encamped in splendid
state on a plain near the city, indulging in the wildest dreams of
complete victory, and intending to follow his advance guard with the
main body of his army the next day.

But when the insulted king of Mazinderān saw this ruthless invasion of
his beautiful realm, he called the White Demon[252] to his aid, and that
night the dark storm-clouds rolled over the Persian host, and pitiless
hailstones fell upon the panic-stricken army. The morning light found
the troops dismayed and scattered, while many of them were killed
outright, and the conceited king with his leading warriors were smitten
with blindness.

There were selected from the demon army twelve thousand chosen warriors
to hold in custody the Īrānian captives, which were easily taken,
together with the treasures and horses of Kai-kaus. Arzaṉg, one of the
demon leaders, having taken possession of the wealth, the crown, and
jewels of the audacious invaders, escorted the captive king and his
troops to Mazinderān, where they were placed in the custody of the
guards.

The blind king, however, succeeded in sending information concerning his
condition to Zāl, and that warrior, though furious over the conduct of
the royal imbecile, was still loyal enough to attempt his rescue, and
turning to Rustem, he said, “The sword must be unsheathed since Kai-kaus
is bound a captive in the dragon’s den. Rakush must be saddled for the
field, and thou must bear the weight of this campaign.”

Rustem replied that it was a long journey to Mazinderān, and the king
was six months upon the road. But Zāl replied that there were two roads,
one of them being very short, but filled with dangers, lions and demons
haunting the pathway. Still, if he could overcome these foes, he might
reach the capital city of demon-land in seven days.

The gallant warrior promptly chose the shorter road, saying:

                 “It is not wise, they say,
                  With willing feet to track the way
                  To hell: Though only men who’ve lost
                  All love of life by misery crossed,
                  Would rush into the tiger’s lair,
                  And die, poor reckless victims there;
                  I gird my loins whate’er may be,
                  And work and wait for victory.”

He then donned his armor and walked toward the richly caparisoned
Rakush, who stood impatiently waiting for his master. The young warrior
took his beautiful mother in his arms and kissed her tenderly, then
mounting his gallant steed he rode away into the unknown dangers of his
perilous campaign.



                              CHAPTER XII.
               THE HEFT-KHĀN, OR SEVEN LABORS OF RUSTEM.

A LION SLAIN BY RAKUSH—ESCAPE FROM THE DESERT—THE DRAGON SLAIN—THE
    ENCHANTRESS—CAPTURE OF AULĀD—VICTORY OVER DEMONS—SEVENTH LABOR, THE
    WHITE DEMON SLAIN—THE MARRIAGE OF RUSTEM—SOHRĀB.


With only his faithful horse for company, the young chieftain set out
upon his perilous attempt to rescue the infatuated monarch from the foe
in whose hands he was so justly suffering. The generous steed pushed
rapidly forward, making two days journey in one, and after a time they
entered a gloomy forest, which was filled with herds of gor.[253]
Oppressed with hunger, Rustem saw not the dangers of the chase, and at
last captured one of the animals, which was quickly slain.

A fire was built, and a portion of the meat was roasted upon the point
of his spear, while Rakush grazed near his master. His hunger appeased,
the young warrior lay down upon the wild herbage with his faithful sword
under his head, and fell asleep. The odor of the gor’s flesh had
attracted another enemy, and a pair of fiery eyeballs moved stealthily
around the dying fire. The watchful horse scented the foe and stepped a
little closer to his unconscious master. Here he waited for the attack,
and soon a huge lion bounded from the underbrush, and would have struck
the sleeping man, but he was received with a terrific and well-aimed
kick that sent the astonished assailant back into the bushes from whence
he came, and before he had time to recover from his amazement the
furious horse was upon him, and was still stamping, in his rage, the now
lifeless carcass when Rustem awoke.

               “Ah Rakush,[254] why so thoughtless grown,
                To fight a lion thus alone?
                For had it been thy fate to bleed,
                And not thy foe, Oh gallant steed!
                How could thy master have conveyed
                His helm, and battle-ax, and blade?”

Then Rustem again composed himself to sleep, and rested until the
morning light tinted the distant mountain peaks with rose and amber,
then rising, he saddled his faithful horse, and pursued his perilous
journey.

                        ESCAPE FROM THE DESERT.

The morning hours passed quickly to both man and horse, but when the
noontide sun poured its heat upon the heads of the travelers it found
them in a desert, where the burning sand seemed to possess the elements
of fire. Horse and rider were tortured with the most maddening thirst.
At last, unable to endure it longer, Rustem alighted and vainly wandered
around in search of relief until his eye fell upon a desolate sheep,
which he followed, and came to a fountain of water. He afterward killed
a gor, and lighting a fire he again roasted the savory flesh and
satisfied his hunger. By this time the shades of night were coming on,
and he gladly sought for a resting place in the desert, while Rakush fed
upon the stunted herbage around him. Before lying down, however, he gave
his horse a parting injunction:

                  “Beware, my steed, of future strife,
                   Again thou must not risk thy life;
                   But should an enemy appear,
                   Ring loud thy warning in my ear.”

                           THE DRAGON SLAIN.

The bright constellations in the tropical sky pointed to the hour of
midnight, when the horse was again startled. A colossal dragon-serpent
eighty yards in length moved slowly toward them. It was the terror of
the desert, and neither elephant, lion, nor demon dared to venture near
its lair. Rakush stepped nearer to his unconscious master and neighed
loudly, but the noise so startled the dragon that when Rustem awoke and
looked around he could see nothing, and lying down he went to sleep
again. The darkness became thicker and more impenetrable, but in its
midst the watchful horse again saw the gleaming of the snaky eyes, and
again he roused his master, who rose up in alarm but tried in vain to
penetrate the darkness around him. Then annoyed by these apparently
needless alarms, he spoke sharply to Rakush:

               “Why thus again disturb my rest,
                When sleep had softly soothed my breast?
                I told thee if thou chanced to see
                Another dangerous enemy
                To sound the alarm; but not to keep
                Depriving me of needful sleep.”

Rustem again went to sleep, while the tireless watcher stood undaunted
by his side, even though grieved and wounded by unjust reproaches. The
dragon appeared, and the faithful horse tore up the earth with his feet
in trying to arouse his master. Rustem again awoke, and sprang angrily
to his feet, but in that moment he caught a gleam of the snaky eyes of
the foe, then quickly he drew his sword and closed in strife with the
huge monster. Dreadful was the shock, and perilous to Rustem; but when
Rakush saw that the contest was doubtful, with his keen teeth he
furiously bit and tore away the dragon’s scaly hide, when quick as
thought the champion severed the ghastly head, and deluged all the plain
with horrid blood.

                            THE ENCHANTRESS.

When Rustem again resumed the saddle, his way lay through a land of
enchantment. The feathered palm trees along his way whispered to the
listening gods, and the softly breathing pīpal boughs told to the south
wind the story of their lives. Citrons and rose-apples lay in rich
profusion upon the ground, and the broad bananas flaunted their silken
flags around the ripening fruit. A crystal stream flowed along between
verdant banks of luxurious foliage, and the bulbuls chanted in the
depths of the wood. And lo, in this beautiful wilderness was a daintily
spread table awaiting the hungry traveler, where the richest tropical
fruits lay beside a roast of venison, and the cups were filled with
purple wine, while the sweet voice of an invisible singer was borne upon
his ear. As he alighted and approached the table, the voice of the
singer came nearer, and soon there stood revealed upon the other side of
the tempting table, a woman of peerless beauty.

Her complexion was like shell-tinted ivory, and her dark, love-lighted
eyes were curtained with long, sweeping lashes. Her cheeks were tinted
with rose color, like the pearly tints of morning, and her beautiful
figure was scarcely concealed by the misty Oriental robes that she wore.
Rustem gazed upon her rich beauty in a dazed and helpless way, while she
came nearer, and nearer—singing as she came, and holding out her little
hands to him. At last she stood almost within his arms, and turning her
beautiful face up towards his, she chanted a low love song, pleading
with the warrior for a place in his heart. A moment—one perilous moment—
he wavered, and nearly became her victim, but his conscience and his
manliness came to his rescue. “Away,” he cried, “thou beautiful
sorceress,” and as he drew his sword the figure vanished, and the low,
mocking laugh of a fiend was heard in the distance. Gone the dainty
table with its tempting viands and poisoned wine—gone the beautiful
enchantress—and the brave warrior was again the victor.

CAPTURE OF AULĀD.

Then, proceeding on his way, he approached a region destitute of light,
a void of utter darkness. Neither moon nor star shone through the gloom;
no choice of path remained. Therefore throwing loose the rein, he gave
Rakush liberty to travel on unguided. At length the darkness was
dispersed, the earth became a scene of light, and the soil was covered
with waving grain. There Rustem paused, and dismounting from his steed,
he laid himself down and slept, with his shield beneath his head and his
sword before him.

While he slept his faithful horse grazed upon the growing corn, and the
keeper of the grounds came and saw, and, hastening away, told his
master, Aulād, that a black demon and his horse were destroying the
growing grain. Then Aulād hastily gathered his troops to take the
warrior prisoner, but their leader was killed by Rustem, and great
numbers of his men were scattered lifeless over the plain. Aulād himself
was taken prisoner, for the warrior needed a guide, and thus he spoke to
his captive:

“If thou wilt speak the truth, and faithfully point out to me the caves
of the White Demon and his warrior chiefs, where Kai-kaus is prisoned,
thy reward shall be the kingdom of Mazinderān, for I myself will place
thee on that throne. But if thou play’st me false, thy worthless blood
shall answer for the foul deception.”

“Stay! Be not wroth,” Aulād at once replied. “Thy wish shall be
fulfilled, and thou shalt know where Kai-kaus is prisoned, and also
where the White Demon reigns. Between two dark and lofty mountains, in
two hundred caves, immeasurably deep, his people dwell. Twelve hundred
demons keep the watch by night upon the mountain’s brow, and like a reed
the hills tremble whenever the White Demon moves. But dangerous is the
way. A stormy desert lies full before thee, which the nimble deer has
never passed. Then a broad stream two farsangs wide obstructs thy path,
whose banks are covered with a host of warrior demons guarding the
passage to Mazinderān. Canst thou o’ercome such fearful obstacles as
these?” The champion simply said, “Show me but the way.”

Aulād proceeded, Rustem following fast, mounted upon Rakush. Neither
night nor day they rested—on they went until they reached the fatal
field where Kai-kaus was overcome. At the midnight hour a piercing
clamor echoed through the woodland, and blazing fires were seen, while
numerous lamps gleamed brightly on every side. Rustem inquired what this
might be. “It is Mazinderān,” Aulād rejoined, “and the White Demon’s
chiefs are gathered there.” Then Rustem bound to a tree his obedient
guide—to keep him safe—and, to recruit his strength, laid down awhile
and soundly slept. When morning dawned he rose, and mounting Rakush put
his helmet on. The tiger skin[255] defended his broad chest, and
sallying forth he sought the Demon chief, Arzaṉg, and summoned him to
battle with such a call that stream and mountain shook. Arzaṉg sprang
up on hearing a human voice, and from his tent hastily issued. The
champion met him, and tearing off the gory head, he cast it far into the
ranks of the shuddering demons, who fell back and fled, lest they should
likewise feel that dreadful punishment.

                          VICTORY OVER DEMONS.

The principal chieftain of the White Demon having met this fearful death
at the hands of the Persian warrior, he released Aulād from his bonds,
and commanded the guide to show him the way to the place where Kai-kaus
was confined. Entering Mazinderān by night, the guide led the way to
Kai-kaus and his fellow captives, the blind and helpless warriors. Great
rejoicing heralded his arrival, for the prisoners looked to Rustem for a
deliverance from their sorrows. The blind king told the Persian hero
where to find the stronghold of the demons, away in the caverns of the
Seven Mountains, where, within a deep and horrible recess, lived the
White Demon.

“Conquer him, destroy that fell magician, and restore to sight thy
suffering king and all his warrior train. The wise in cures declare that
the warm blood from the White Demon’s heart dropped in the eye cures all
blindness. It is then my hope that thou wilt slay the fiend, and save us
from the misery of darkness without end.”

Rustem therefore hurried on toward the enchanted heights of the Heft-
khān, or Seven Mountains. He found every cave guarded by companies of
demons, and, consulting with his guide, he determined to make the attack
at noonday, when the demons were overpowered by the heat, and were
accustomed to sleep. He therefore waited the auspicious hour, and
binding Aulād again to a tree, he drew his sword and rushed into the
horde of demons, slaying first the few sentinels who were awake, and
then rapidly destroying the slumbering fiends. When one awoke he
received his death blow so suddenly that he had no time to give the
alarm. The mountain ravines received the slaughtered demons, and the few
that escaped fled screaming into the deepest caves, and left the Persian
victorious upon his chosen field.

SEVENTH LABOR—THE WHITE DEMON SLAIN.

In this preliminary carnage Rustem had discovered the stronghold of the
White Demon, and he determined to give battle to this king of fiends.
Advancing to the cavern, he looked down, down into its gloomy recesses—
dismal as hell itself—but not one of the sorcerers could be seen. Awhile
he stood and waited, holding his faithful falchion in his grasp, until
there slowly came in sight a mountain form, with flaming eyes, and
covered over with long white hair. The colossal shape filled the mouth
of the huge cavern as forth he came, bearing a great stone in one
mammoth hand. His fiery breath came quickly, and his eyes flashed with
ire, as he haughtily asked:

             “Art thou so tired of life that reckless thus
              Thou dost invade the precincts of demons?
              Tell me thy name, that I may not destroy
              A nameless thing.”

The warrior then replied, “My name is Rustem, sent by Zāl, my father,
who was descended from Sām Suwār, to be revenged on thee; the king of
Persia being now a prisoner at Mazinderān.”

When the demon heard the name of Suwār he cringed with fear. Then
springing forward he hurled the huge stone against his adversary who
fell back, and thus avoided the fearful blow.

The demon frowned more darkly, and Rustem wielding high his sword,
severed one dreadful limb. Then they grappled in a death struggle, and
the mountain trembled beneath the shock. The flesh of both was torn, and
the streaming blood crimsoned the earth. As the fearful strife went on,
Rustem said in his heart, “If I survive this dreadful day I am surely
immortal,” and the White Demon muttered to himself, “I now despair of
life—sweet life—nevermore shall I be welcomed at Mazinderān.”

And still they struggled on, while sweat and blood were mingled at every
strain of muscle, until Rustem, gathering all his power for one last
effort, raised up the gasping demon in his arms and threw him over the
face of the cliff into a yawning chasm below. The monster fell, and the
life-blood oozed from the crushed and mangled form. Then rushing down
the steep incline, beside the mountain, he tore out the heart of the
conquered demon, and releasing his fettered guide he hastened away to
restore the sight of the king and his helpless warriors.

                “The Champion brought the demon’s heart
                 And squeezed the blood from every part,
                 Which, dropped upon the injured sight,
                 Made all things visible and bright.”

The restored monarch immediately returned to his throne, and the return
march of his warriors was a triumphal one; but Rustem stayed until he
conquered the whole demon host, and placed Aulād upon the throne of
Mazinderān, according to the promise he had made. Then he returned to
receive the highest honors the Persian king could lavish upon him.

                        THE MARRIAGE OF RUSTEM.

Weary at last of the luxuries and honors pertaining to the court, Rustem
set out upon a hunting expedition. Mounted upon his splendid steed he
soon passed the confines of the Persian domain and reached the beautiful
wilds of Tūrān; here the herds of onager roamed at will from the sullen
grandeur of the uplands to the fairer vales below them. He urged the
gallant Rakush on through wood and glen, while the swift-footed gor
dashed through the thickets or sported over the plain; his quivering
darts were often sent through the glossy skin of the dangerous game, and
when he wearied of the sport the hunter sought the shade of a thicket,
and far above his head the palm trees waved their plumes, while doves
and sunbirds fluttered through their swinging crowns. A little stream
near by, flashed in the sunbeams and rippled away midst the flowers. The
gallant horse was allowed to graze while the master slept, and tempted
by the rich herbage he wandered away from the sleeper. A band of Tartar
horsemen saw his perfect form and marked his splendid chest and well-
poised head. Slowly they approached and quickly flung a noose over the
noble head, then coming near to make the capture sure the animal charged
upon his foes, and two of them bit the dust beneath his steel-clad
hoofs.

The others had grown more cautious, and another noose was thrown. Then
another horseman ventured near, only to be torn in pieces by the quick
feet of the horse. Another was thrown, and this time no approach was
made, but with long lines on either side the victim was led between the
Tartar chiefs until they reached their own encampment.

Rustem awoke and called his steed, but no answering neigh rang out the
glad reply. Long he searched, but searched in vain. He knew that Rakush
had not willingly strayed away, and indignantly he traced his steps to
Samenegān, the capital of Tūrān, for the broad track of his horse led
that way.

As he approached the shining turrets of the city he met the king with
all his court, anxious to do honor to the distinguished guest. But
Rustem haughtily refused the proffered friendship until his horse should
be restored.

            “Ive traced his footsteps to your royal town.
             Here must he be, protected by your crown.
             But if retained—if not from fetters freed,
             My vengeance shall o’ertake the felon deed.”
            “My honored guest,” the wondering king replied,
            “Shall Rustem’s wants or wishes be denied?
             If still within the limits of my reign,
             The well-known courser shall be thine again.
             For Rakush never can remain concealed
             No more than Rustem on the battle-field.”

Then again he urged his royal hospitality upon the Persian hero, as he
sent out men to look for the horse. Pacified with the royal promise of
restoration, Rustem accepted the hospitality of the king. Soon

            “The ready herald by the king’s command,
             Convened the chiefs and warriors of the land,
             And soon the banquet social glee restored,
             And china wine cups glittered on the board;
             And cheerful song, and music’s matchless power,
             And sparkling wine beguiled the festive hour.”

When the royal banquet was over a magnificent couch was prepared for the
great chieftain, and in the perfumed bed the weary traveler slept
soundly. One watch of the night had already passed when Rustem was
awakened by a light in his room, and there before his astonished eyes
stood the peerless daughter of the Tartar king in all her wondrous
beauty. She stood with frightened look, the rich color flushing her
olive cheeks, her dark eyes beaming beneath the splendid lashes, and her
mouth, flower-soft and sensitive, seemed moulded for an expectant kiss.
Her black ringlets were snares[256] for a warrior’s heart. Her graceful
hands were perfectly formed and stained with henna upon the dainty
palms. But she was fully robed, and she, the daughter of the king, had
not come alone into the room of this stranger guest—her faithful maid
stood beside her, and bore the taper from which a soft radiance filled
all the room.

The astonished warrior asked what stranger this, and why she had broken
upon his rest. “What is thy name?” he said. “Fair vision, speak!” Then
from the mouth of rose and pearl there fell the accents of sweetest
music:

         “No curious eye has yet these features seen,
          My voice unheard beyond the sacred screen.
          But often have I listened with amaze
          To thy great deeds, enamoured of thy praise.
          How oft from every tongue Ive heard the strain,
          And thought of thee, and sighed, and sighed in vain.
          The ravenous eagle hovering o’er his prey,
          Starts at thy gleaming sword and flies away!
          Thou art the slayer of the demon brood
          And the fierce monsters of the echoing wood.
          Enchanted with the stories of thy fame,
          My fluttering heart responded to thy name.
          Oh, claim my hand, and grant my soul’s desire,
          Ask me in marriage of my royal sire!”

Not a word was lost upon Rustem, whose heart beat out a glad response to
her plea, and before another day had passed his suit had been duly
presented to the king.

             “Oerjoyed the king the honoring suit approves,
              Oerjoyed to bless the doting child he loves,
              And happier still in showering smiles around,
              To be allied to warrior so renowned.”

The nuptials were not long delayed, and the marriage bower were crowned
with roses and decked with white lilies, while the royal abode was
flooded with music and light. It seemed to Rustem that all the world,
like some vast tidal wave, had rolled away and left him on a golden
shore—alone with his beloved.

                                SOHRĀB.

Not long could the Persian warrior remain with his Tartar bride, for his
king claimed his allegiance, and summoned him to lead important
campaigns. Before their son was born he was called away, but he left a
radiant bracelet set with rare and peculiar gems as a heritage for his
child, and mounted upon his faithful Rakush he was borne away to the
field of conflict.

The wife Tamīneh was later blessed with a wondrous boy—the image of his
noble sire. But when the father’s fond inquiry came, the coward-heart of
the mother betrayed her into falsehood. Fearing that the boy might be
taken away and educated at the Persian court, and thus alienated from
his Tartar blood, she sent her husband word that it was a daughter that
had been born unto them, and the fact was carefully hidden from the
father that he had a son. So little were daughters prized in the East,
that he never asked to see the child, and the boy came to manhood with
very little knowledge of his father. Sohrāb bore the splendid physique
of his noble race; as a hunter or wrestler he had no equal in all the
realms of Tūrān. The Tartar king placed him at the head of his armies,
and mounted on his splendid horse—the son of Rakush—the gallant youth
took his place at the head of the glittering host.

          “His grandsire pleased beheld the warrior train
           Successive throng and darken all the plain.
           And bounteously his treasures he supplied,
           Camels and steeds and gold. In martial pride
           Sohrāb was seen—a Grecian helmet graced
           His brow—and costliest mail his limbs embraced.
           The insidious king sees well, the tempting hour
           Favoring his arms against the Persian power,
           But treacherous, first his martial chiefs he prest
           To keep the secret fast within their breast;
           For this bold youth shall not his father know,
           Each must confront the other as his foe.
           Unknown, the youth shall Rustem’s force withstand,
           And soon o’erwhelm the bulwark of the land.
           Rustem removed, the Persian throne is ours,
           An easy conquest to confederate powers.”

By the careful intrigues of the king, the Tartar host was soon arrayed
against Persia, and all unknown to each, the father and son were drawn
up in battle array against each other. When the eye of Rustem fell upon
the magnificent figure of the young Tartar prince, he was astonished at
his martial bearing, for he seemed to wear the manly form of his own
race. He marked the strong shoulders, so much resembling Zāl, and knew
that this strong warrior knight sat his splendid horse like Rustem’s
self. He thought:

              “He cannot be my son unknown to me;
               Reason forbids the thought—it cannot be.
               At Samenegān, where once affection smiled,
               To me Tahmīneh bore her only child.
               That was a daughter.”

Then the trumpets clang announced the attack of the invader, as the
Tartar horde sprang into the fight. The troops of horse and foot were
blended in the wild disorder of Oriental battle, and the very earth
seemed to shake beneath the shock, while the dust driven in dark eddies
whirled high in air, obscuring the very face of heaven.

The bright steel armor glittered over all the plain, but alas, it
covered the forms of fallen heroes as often as it shielded the daring
hearts of living riders. The light flashed from the gold emblazoned
shields as the glittering spears struck the bright surface, until it
seemed as if the clouds were pouring showers of sparkling amber upon the
plain.

Thus the tide of battle ebbed and flowed, while thousands were falling
on either side, until the shades of night came down upon the fearful
scene. Then a council of the chiefs on either side was called, and it
was decreed that the next day the question of victory should be decided
by single combat between the leaders of the forces. Thus was Rustem
brought into close conflict with his only child. Father and son, unknown
to each other, struggled in awful strife, while the treacherous Tartar
chiefs looked gladly on, glorying in the thought that they would be rid
of either a dangerous foe or a still more dangerous rival—possibly both.
The younger blood and stronger sinews of Sohrāb won the first victories,
but Rustem sprang again upon him and inflicted a fatal blow. As Sohrāb
fell he felt that his wound was fatal, and he cried out, “I came here
hoping to find my father, but have found only death instead.” “Who is
thy father?” demanded the Persian champion. “My father is Rustem, and my
mother is the daughter of the King of Samenegān.”

The words went through the father’s heart like a poisoned spear, and he
fell almost unconscious beside his murdered boy. “Ungird my mail,”
faltered the dying warrior, “and behold the bracelet my mother bound
upon my arm. An instinct was ever at my heart that thou wert Rustem, but
the Tartar chiefs ever and always told me nay—that thou wast not in the
fight—that only thy servant led thy troops.”

The sight of the amulet was a fearful blow to Rustem, for it proved at
once the identity of his murdered son, and the falsehood of his
treacherous wife.

             “Prostrate he falls. ‘By my unnatural hand
              My son, my son is slain—and from the land
              Uprooted.’ Frantic in the dust, his hair
              He rends in agony and deep despair.
              The western sun had disappeared in gloom,
              And still the Champion wept his cruel doom.
              His wondering legions marked the long delay,
              And seeing Rakush riderless astray,
              The rumor quick to Persia’s monarch sped,
              And there described the mighty Rustem dead.

The king’s chosen men were sent to find the warrior, whether he be slain
or wounded. They found him in his terrible grief, and the war-spirit
seemed dead in his bosom.

“Go,” said he, “to the Tartar chiefs, and say to them, ‘No more shall
war between us stain the earth with blood.’” A moment more, and the
young warrior was dead, and on a Persian bier his lifeless form was
laid, while Rustem, sick of martial pomp and show, ordered the gorgeous
pageantry of war to be consigned to the flames,[257] for all the
warrior’s pride lay in dust and ashes as he followed the bier to the
imperial resting place which was provided for Sohrāb. But to the mother
was carried the most fearful blow, when the Tartar chiefs led back the
splendid steed all riderless, and laid at her feet the coat of mail her
son had worn, while they told the story of his fall beneath his father’s
hand. What a terrible penalty her falsehood had brought upon her head
and heart!

           “Distracted, wild, she sprang from place to place,
            With frenzied hands deformed her beauteous face.
            The strong emotion choked her panting breath,
            Her veins seemed withered by the cold of death.
            Then gazing up, distraught, she wept again,
            And frantic, seeing midst her pitying train
            The favorite steed—now more than ever dear—
            The hoofs she kissed and bathed with many a tear;
            Clasping the mail Sohrāb in battle wore,
            With burning lips she kissed it o’er and o’er.
            His martial robes she in her arms comprest,
            And like an infant strained them to her breast.

Day after day, night after night, she gave way to her helpless grief.
Unceasingly she raved and wept by turns for one long year, then nature
gave way, and she found rest in the arms of Death—“the great Consoler.”

Footnote 241:

  Unless otherwise indicated, the poetical quotations in this legend
  will be from Atkinson’s Translation.

Footnote 242:

  The Anka of the Arabians.

Footnote 243:

  Iliad, B. 24.

Footnote 244:

  The Narcissus, to which the beautiful eyes of Eastern women are often
  compared.

Footnote 245:

  Called the “Serpent King” because he at one time allowed an evil
  creature to kiss his shoulder, and from the spot two fearful serpents
  sprang that required human brains for their food. The king used to
  select the victims by lot, and when the blacksmith Kaveh found his
  name upon the fatal register he tore the document in pieces, and

                     “On his javelin’s point
                He fixed his leathern apron for a banner,
                And lifting it high he went abroad
                To call the people to a task of vengeance.”

  The multitude of rebels joined a foreign foe, and the hated Zohak was
  destroyed, and then the leathern banner was splendidly adorned with
  gold and jewels, and it is said that this legend gave rise to the
  blacksmith’s apron as the royal ensign of Persia.

Footnote 246:

  It appears to have been not unusual amongst the secluded women of the
  East to fall deeply in love with men of whom they knew very little.
  Josephus claims that the king’s daughter betrayed the city of Sava in
  Ethiopia into the hands of Moses, having fallen in love with his valor
  and bravery as she saw him from the walls of the city gallantly
  leading the Egyptian host. Dido was won merely by the fame of Æneas,
  and Kotzebue has pictured Elvira as enamored of the glory of Pizarro;
  but when at last she discovered the savage and merciless disposition
  of the conqueror, she taunted him with being a fraud. The lovely
  Desdemona affords another instance:

            OTH.—“Her father loved me; oft invited me;
                  Still questioned me the story of my life.
                    *     *     *     *     *     *
                 “I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
                  Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances.
                    *     *     *     *     *     *
                 “She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
                  And I loved her that she did pity them.”
                                   (_Othello, Act. 1, Sc. 3_)

Footnote 247:

  This picture is highly suggestive of the Demon King of Ceylon, who is
  so prominent in Hindu mythology, especially in the Ramayana.

Footnote 248:

  Firdusi thought proper to bestow upon his hero a gigantic stature and
  marvelous physical powers, but other classic writers have done the
  same. It will be remembered that Hercules had but completed his eighth
  month before he strangled the serpents that Juno sent to devour him,
  and Homer says of Otus and Ephialtes:

           “The wondrous youths had scarce nine winters told,
            When high in air, tremendous to behold,
            Nine ells aloft they reared their towering heads,
            And full nine cubits broad their shoulders spread.
            Proud of their strength and more than mortal size,
            The gods they challenge and affect the skies.”
                                            _Odyssey XI, 310._

Footnote 249:

  The blacksmith’s apron.

Footnote 250:

  Herodotus speaks of a people confederated with the army of Xerxes who
  employed the noose.

Footnote 251:

  Kai-kaus, the second Persian king belonging to the dynasty of
  Kainanides.

Footnote 252:

  In the Shah Namah, where so much fiction is founded upon so little
  historic fact, we find, as in Hindu literature, an active race of
  demons. These are generally defined as being in human shape, with
  horns, long ears, and sometimes with tails, like the monkeys in the
  Ramayana. Again, they assume the characteristics of the Rakshasas in
  Hindu mythology, and appear as enchanters, sorcerers, etc.—(_Compare
  Hindu Literature, pp. 189-232._)

Footnote 253:

  The gor is the onager, or wild ass of the East, and in its native
  wilds is a very dangerous foe to encounter. Its flesh is often used
  for food when the hunter is driven to extremity.

Footnote 254:

  It was evidently the custom, even among the Greeks also, to harangue
  their horses, for Homer repeatedly puts these speeches into the mouths
  of his heroes. Hector addresses his horses in the Eighth Book:

             “Be fleet, be fearless, this important day.
              And all your master’s well-spent care repay.
              Now swift pursue, now thunder uncontroll’d,
              Give me to seize rich Nestor’s shield of gold.”

  And in the Nineteenth Book, Achilles reproaches his horses with the
  death of Patrocles, when

              “The generous Xanthus as the words he said
               Seemed sensible of woe and drooped his head;
               Trembling he stood before the golden wain,
               And bowed to dust the honors of his mane,”

  before he makes a spirited reply foretelling his master’s death.

Footnote 255:

  This “tiger skin” is supposed to be a magic garment which had the
  power of resisting the impression of every weapon. It was proof
  against fire, and would not sink in water. According to some classic
  authorities, he received it from his father, Zal; others say it was
  made from the skin of an animal which Rustem killed on the mountain of
  Sham. It will be remembered that the heroes of ancient poets
  frequently wore the skins of animals. Hercules wore the skin of the
  Nemæan lion. The skins of panthers and leopards were worn by the Greek
  and Trojan chiefs, and Virgil says of Alcestes:

   “Rough in appearance, with darts, and a Libyan bearskin around him,
    Whom once a Trojan mother had borne to the river Cremisus.”
                                                  (_Æn., Book V, 36._)

Footnote 256:

  Compare Shakespeare—

                          “Here in her hairs
               The painter plays the spider—and hath woven
               A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men
               Faster than gnats in cobwebs: but her eyes.”
                             —_Merchant of Venice, iii, 2._

Footnote 257:

  In Virgil there is a similar scene, where Dido bids her sister erect a
  pile to burn the arms and the presents of Æneas.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                              ISFENDIYĀR.

THE HEFT-KHĀN OF ISFENDIYĀR—THE BRAZEN FORTRESS—THE CONFLICT WITH
    RUSTEM—THE FALL OF THE WARRIORS.


            “Rustem had seven great labors—wondrous power
             Nerved his strong arm in danger’s needful hour.
             And now Firdusī’s legend strains declare
             The seven great labors of Isfendiyār.”

When the old Persian king, Kai-Khosrou, abdicated in favor of his
successor, he gave to Rustem the dominions of Zabūl, and Kabūl and
Nimruz, and in course of time Gushtāsp,[258] the Constantine of the
Fire-worshippers, came to the throne of Persia. This monarch had two
sons. One of them was Bashūtān, and the other was Isfendiyār, a knight
whose valor was only second to that of Rustem. He had led his father’s
armies in many a long campaign—had invaded Hindūstān and Arabia, and
several other countries, and had, to a greater or less extent,
established the religion of the Fire-worshippers in them all. But
Arjasp, a demon king, had invaded the Persian empire, and carried
captive two daughters of Gushtāsp. The fair prisoners were confined in a
brazen fortress on the top of an almost inaccessible mountain, which was
also the palace home of Arjasp, and he required the most servile labor
from the Persian maidens.

             THE HEFT-KHĀN, OR SEVEN LABORS OF ISFENDIYĀR,

were therefore undertaken in order to conquer Arjasp, and restore the
sisters of the warrior. Like Rustem, he chose the shortest and most
perilous passage to the stronghold of the enemy, and in the first stage
of his journey he slew two monstrous wolves who disputed his advance. In
the second stage he conquered an immense lion and his ferocious mate. In
the third he slew a dragon, whose roar made the very mountains tremble
with fear, while the poisonous foam dropped from his hideous jaws. Upon
the fourth day he withstood the wiles of a beauteous woman, who appealed
to him most piteously to rescue her from the power of a demon, whom she
claimed had stolen her from her home and friends. She expressed the
strongest admiration for Isfendiyār, and pleaded with him

            “To free me from his loathed embrace,
             And bear me to a fitter place,
             Where in thy circling arms more softly pressed,
             I may at last be truly loved and blest.”

Isfendiyār called the beautiful tempter to him, and she came beaming
with smiles, and dropping words of sweetest flattery from her crimson
lips. Then he threw his noose around her, and writhing in the bonds she
could not break, the enchantress became first a cat, then a wolf, and at
last appeared in her true character of a black demon, with flames
issuing from her mouth, whereupon she was slain by Isfendiyār.

On the fifth day he had the misfortune to offend a Sīmūrgh, who attacked
him intending to bear him away to her mountain nest, but he succeeded in
slaying the angry bird with his trenchant sword.

The sixth labor consisted in bringing his troops safely through a
furious storm of wind and snow, when all the earth was covered with
whiteness, while “keenly blew the blast and pinching was the cold.” But
the seventh trial of his fortitude was found in the passage of a desert
waste, of which it was said

               “Along these plains of burning sand
                No bird can move, nor ant, nor fly,
                No water slakes the fiery land,
                Intensely glows the flaming sky.
                No tiger fierce, or lion ever
                Could breathe that pestilential air,
                Even the unsparing vulture never
                Ventures on blood-stained pinions there.”

But a rain had fallen and partially cooled the scorched earth, so that
this danger was safely passed.

                          THE BRAZEN FORTRESS.

When the darkness of night had fallen upon the landscape, Isfendiyār and
a few chosen men advanced rapidly and carefully up the long, precipitous
path, and examined the bulwarks of the brazen fortress that crowned the
summit of the cliff. They found its iron bulwarks and brazen gates
impregnable on every side, and returned to the command discouraged and
dismayed. It had been a difficult undertaking, and they came into camp
just as the tints of morning were lighting up the eastern sky.

It was indeed useless to attempt to storm this metallic fort, where
neither sword nor spear nor battle-ax could be wielded to advantage,
therefore Isfendiyār collected a hundred camels, and loaded a few of
them with embroidered cloths, and others with pearls and precious
jewels, while upon each of the others two chests were placed, and one
warrior was hidden in each chest.[259] Other warriors were disguised as
camel drivers and servants, so that altogether this caravan, which
carried apparently only merchandise, was quite a warlike host.

Then Isfendiyār arranged with his brother to lead the rest of the troops
to the attack as soon as he saw signal fires upon the summit, and set
out with his caravan of merchandise for the fortress. He was received as
a Persian merchant bringing valuable goods, and the avaricious demons
exulted in the thought that a rich caravan had unsuspiciously fallen
into their very hands. Isfendiyār carried rich presents to the king, and
besought permission to sell Persian goods to his subjects. The
liberality of the newcomer won the heart of the king, and the rich
Persian wines that he brought proved especially attractive. Soon the
king and his court, and also his leading warriors, were helpless under
its influence. Then the signal fires were lighted, and the warriors were
released from the chests, while the brazen gates were opened to admit
the invaders. Soon the Persian banner floated from the walls, for the
demon king and his leading warriors were slain, and the sisters of
Isfendiyār were rejoicing in the arms of their brother. The conqueror
issued a proclamation offering pardon to all who would swear allegiance
to the Persian king, then with his camels laden with the richest
treasures of Arjasp he returned in triumph to his native city. The royal
banners were flung to the breeze when the prince returned with his
recovered sisters and heavy spoils. A great banquet was given, and the
wine flowed freely. Isfendiyār was placed in a golden chair to receive
the adulations of the multitude, while he gave them the thrilling story
of his great Heft-khān and the capture of the demon fortress.

                       THE CONFLICT WITH RUSTEM.

Partially crazed by prosperity, and also instigated by jealousy against
his own son, Gushtāsp demanded of Isfendiyār that he should lead a
campaign against the provinces over which Rustem reigned, and either
slay that chieftain or bring him in irons to the Persian king. In vain
the son pleaded the loyalty and nobility of the warrior, the father
answered that by the foolishness of his predecessor nearly half of
Persia had been given into Rustem’s hands, and he demanded a restitution
of the territory, and the captivity of their ruler. “Take with thee,”
said the king, “my whole army and all my treasure. What wouldst thou
have more? He who has conquered the terrific obstacles of the Heft-khān,
and has slain Arjasp, and subdued his kingdom, can have no cause to fear
any other chief.” Isfendiyār replied that he was not prompted to decline
the campaign from cowardice, but that Rustem had been the monitor and
friend of their ancestors, enriched their minds and taught them to be
brave, and he was ever faithful to their cause. “Besides,” said he,
“thou wert the honored guest of Rustem two long years; and at Sistan
enjoyed his hospitality and friendship—his festive social board; and
canst thou now, forgetting that delightful intercourse, become his
bitterest foe?”

Gushtāsp replied: “’Tis true he may have served my ancestors, but what
is that to me? His spirit is proud, and he refused to yield me needful
aid when danger pressed; that is enough, and thou canst not divert me
from my settled purpose.” Kitabūn, the mother of Isfendiyār, begged him
to disobey the king rather than to undertake so dangerous and
dishonorable a campaign. She claimed that curses must fall upon the
throne, and ruin seize the country which returned evil for good and
spurned its benefactor, and pleaded with him to restrain his steps, and
engage not in a war which could do him no honor.

But Isfendiyār replied that his word was pledged to his royal father,
and taking a tender leave of his mother and bidding the king a formal
farewell, he placed himself at the head of the Persian host, and set out
upon the campaign in which he had so little heart. When he arrived in
Rustem’s province, that chieftain rode out to welcome him, and cordially
invited him to accept their hospitality. Isfendiyār was obliged to
refuse the kindly offer and explain the unpleasant nature of his
mission, whereupon Rustem promptly declined to be bound and carried in
fetters to the Persian king. In order to save unnecessary bloodshed, it
was decided to settle the matter by single combat, and the next morning
Rustem rode out to meet his unwilling foe, and both were clad in shining
mail.

Rustem sat upon Rakush, while Isfendiyār rode a night-black charger,
swift as the driving cloud, and in his stride he scattered the desert
stones as if a hail-storm reveled around his master’s head. The
chieftains closed in the long and useless fight, while many javelins
whizzed upon the air, and helm and mail were bruised. Spear fractured
spear, and then with gleaming swords the strife went on until they too
snapped short. The battle-ax was next wielded in furious wrath; each
bending forward struck the bewildering blows—each tried in vain to hurl
the other from his fiery horse. Wearied at length, they stood apart to
breathe, their chargers covered with foam and blood, and the strong
armor of steed and rider both were rent. So severely was Rakush wounded
that Rustem dismounted and impelled his arrows from the ground, while
the gallant horse pursued his way painfully homeward.

When Zūara saw the noble animal riderless crossing the plain he gasped
for breath, and in an agony of grief he hastened to the fatal spot,
where he found his gallant brother fighting still, even while the blood
was flowing copiously from every wound. Isfendiyār had escaped with
fewer wounds, and Zūara placed Rustem upon his own steed and offered
himself as a substitute; but Rustem refused, saying that to-morrow he
would continue the fight.

Isfendiyār retired sadly to his tent and wrote a letter to his father,
saying: “Thy commands must be obeyed, and Heaven only knows what may
befall to-morrow.” When Rustem arrived at his court Zāl discovered that
he, as well as his gallant steed, was terribly wounded. The old
chieftain carefully dressed the wounds of his son, and Rustem said to
his father: “I never met with any foe, be he warrior or demon, with such
amazing strength and bravery as this. He seems to have a brazen body,
for my arrows, which I can drive through an anvil, cannot penetrate his
chest. If I had applied the strength which I have exerted to a mountain
it would have been moved from its base, but he sat firmly in his saddle
and scorned my efforts.”

“Let us not despair,” replied the father. “Did not the Sīmūrgh promise
her assistance in the time of greatest need.” So saying, Zāl took the
precious feather, which had been only slightly burned before, and going
out upon the cliff he burned it in a censer. The darkness grew deeper
for a moment, and then there was the rush of mighty wings, as the
mountain bird circled slowly down out of the darkness and stood in her
rich and massive beauty beside her foster child, now an old and retired
warrior. Zāl’s eye lighted up with hope and love as he gently laid his
hand upon her golden plumage and told her of his sad affliction.

The faithful Rakush stood near by with drooping head and bleeding form,
and he first caught the eye of the loving mother-bird. Going to him she
pulled out the cruel arrows with her beak, and gently passed the
feathers of her wing over the wounds; they quickly healed, and the old
war horse raised his gallant head and stamped his feet impatiently as if
he longed again to hear the trumpet call to battle. The Sīmūrgh then
went to Rustem and soothed him with the gentle caresses of her head and
beak, and drawing forth the hidden darts from his body she sucked the
poisoned blood from out the gaping wounds, and then they closed and
healed; so the champion was soon restored to life and strength. Being
thus invigorated under her magic care, he sought her aid in the battle
of the coming day. But the bird replied: “There never appeared a more
brave and perfect hero than Isfendiyār, for in his Heft-khān he
succeeded in killing a Sīmūrgh, and the further thou art removed from
his invincible arrow the greater will be thy safety.”

But Zāl interposed, saying: “If Rustem retires from the contest his
family will be enslaved—we shall be in bondage and affliction.” Then she
told Rustem to mount Rakush and follow her. He obeyed, and she led him
far away across a broad river, and on the other side she came to a low
marsh filled with reeds, where the moonlight flashed on the white wings
of the pelicans and the night bird sang his lowest notes to the pale and
drooping lilies. Then from the stems that bloom on the banks of Īrān’s
rivers she chose the Kazū[260] tree, and directed Rustem to take from it
a straight shaft and form it into an arrow and shoot it into the eye of
his enemy. “The arrow,” said she, “will make him blind, and I would that
it were only so, for he who spills the blood of Isfendiyār will never
again in life be free from calamity.” Then she escorted Rustem, who
carried the charmed arrow, back to his tent, and caressing his face with
her beak and soft feathers she spread her golden pinions and soared away
into darkness.

                       THE FALL OF THE WARRIORS.

Isfendiyār was amazed to see Rustem bearing gallantly down upon him,
clad in full armor, and riding the self-same steed that seemed wounded
to the death the day before. “How is this?” he cried.

               “But thy father Zāl is a sorcerer,
                And he by charm and spell
                Has cured all the wounds of the warrior,
                And now he is safe and well.
                For the wounds I gave could never be
                Closed up except by sorcery.”

Rustem replied, “If a thousand arrows were shot at me they would fail to
kill, and in the end thou wilt fall at my hands. Therefore come at once
and be my guest, and I swear by the Zend-Avesta that I will go with
thee, but unfettered, to thy father.”

“That is not enough,” returned Isfendiyār. “Thou must be fettered, I
will not disobey the commands of the king,” and he seized his bow to
commence the combat. Rustem did the same, and as he placed the Sīmūrgh’s
arrow in the bowstring, he exclaimed, “I have wished for a
reconciliation, and I would now give all my treasures and wealth to go
with you to Īrān and avoid this conflict, but my offers are disdained,
for you are determined to consign me to bondage and disgrace.”

An arrow from Isfendiyār came quickly against his armor, but by turning
himself he eluded its point, and in return he quickly lodged the
Sīmūrgh’s arrow in the eyes of his antagonist.

               “And darkness overspread his sight,
                The world to him was hid in night,
                The bow dropped from his slackened hand,
                And down he sunk upon the ground.”

Bāhman, the son of Isfendiyār, seeing his father fall, uttered loud
lamentations, and all the Persian troops drew near in sorrow and
mourning. The stricken man was carried to his tent, and the next day
both Zāl and Rustem came to offer their sympathy and condolence.

The wounded prince replied, “I do not ascribe my misfortunes to thee;
fate would have it so, and thus it is. But I consign my son Bāhman to
thy care and guardianship; instruct him in the science of government,
the custom of kings, and the rules of the warrior, for thou art perfect
in all things.” Rustem readily promised, saying that it should be his
duty to see that the young prince was firmly seated upon the throne of
his fathers.

Then Isfendiyār sent a message to his father, and with a few tender,
loving words for his mother, he lay back and died. Then Rustem returned
home, carrying with him as a sacred trust the son of the slain prince,
who was carefully instructed in all the arts of war and the
accomplishments of peace, and finally placed upon the throne that should
have been his father’s.

But the blood of the gallant Isfendiyār carried with it a curse, as the
Sīmūrgh had said, and Rustem himself fell a victim to the treachery of
his half-brother. He and his gallant horse fell together in a pit which
had been prepared for them while on a hunting excursion, and although
Rakush bounded gallantly out of the first, it was only to fall into
another, and they struggled on, until mounting up the edge of the
seventh pit, and covered with deep wounds, both horse and rider lay
exhausted. With one supreme effort, Rustem sent an arrow through the man
who had betrayed him, and then Persia’s gallant son was dead, and not a
kingly follower remained. Zūara and other followers had fallen and
perished in other pits dug by the traitor king and traitor brother. All
were lost save one, who escaped and carried the sad tidings to Sistan,
where Zāl in agony tore his white hair and cried, “Why did I not die for
him, why was I not present fighting by his side?” And never again did
the land of Īrān bear a chieftain like the gallant Rustem slain.

-----

Footnote 258:

  There is a tradition that Gushtasp was Darius Hystaspes, and that his
  son Isfendiyar was Xerxes.

Footnote 259:

  Compare the wooden horse that caused the fall of Troy, also the fall
  of Arzestan, which the Saracen general conquered by smuggling into the
  city a portion of his troops in chests, having obtained leave of the
  governor to deposit there some old lumber which impeded his march.

Footnote 260:

  Pichula, used anciently for Persian arrows. During the rainy season it
  blooms profusely on the banks of the rivers, where it is interwoven
  with twining Asclepias.—_Sir W. Jones in “Botanical Observations._”



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                             SECOND PERIOD.

ANWĀRI—NIZĀMĪ—LAILĪ AND MAJNŪN—A FRIEND—THE WEDDING—DELIVERANCE—THE
    MEETING IN THE DESERT—DEATH OF THE LOVERS—THE VISION OF ZYD.


The second period of Persian poetry reaches from the beginning to the
end of the twelfth century, and it may be termed the panegyric age, from
the fact that the poets of this period, nearly all of them, devoted
their talents indiscriminately to the laudation of the princes of their
times. But we find also in this age, the beginning of the mystic school
which was so fully developed in the thirteenth century. It was during
this period that Amig of Bukhara composed the Egyptian story of Yūsuf
and Zulaikhā, which was the original of many poetic versions. A few good
satires also belong to the twelfth century, but the greatest panegyric
poet of this period was

                                ANWĀRI.

There is but little known of this Poet Laureate of Persia; he appears to
have been born, however, in the twelfth century at Bedeneh, a village in
Khorasān. He was a poor student in the town of Tus, and near the college
grounds one day, he happened to see the grand equipage of the Sultan,
and observing that one member of his suite was mounted upon a more
magnificent horse, and was more gorgeously equipped than the others, he
inquired who he was. On being told that he was the court poet, the
ambitious student aspired to the same position, and that very night he
prepared a poem in praise of the Sultan, which was presented at court
the next day. The royal vanity was so greatly pleased by this offering,
that the young poet was offered a position at court, which he promptly
accepted. He attended the Sultan in all of his warlike expeditions until
his death.[261] He wrote a few long poems, and also some simple lyrics
that were worthy of preservation, but perhaps the best of these
productions was “The Tears of Khorasān.” Khorasān was overrun by a
barbarous tribe of Turkomans, who committed every species of cruelty,
and this poem was a plea to the Prince of Samarcānd for relief. The
following extract, which is the opening stanza of his petition, will
give a sufficient idea of his style:

          “Waft, gentle gale, Oh, waft to Samarcānd,
           When next thou visitest that blissful land,
           The plaint of Khorosānia plunged in woe
           Bear to Tūrānia’s king our piteous scroll
           Whose opening breathes forth all the anguished soul
           And this denotes whate’er the tortured know.”

                                NIZĀMĪ.

The greatest poet of this period, however, was Nizāmī,[262] whose
pathetic love songs are the best productions of the kind in the Persian
tongue. He lived the greater part of his life at Ganja, and is therefore
known as Nizāmī of Ganja. His first important work was called “The
Storehouse of Mysteries.” This was followed by the beautiful poem of
“Koshrū and Shirīn,” the theme of which was taken from ancient Persian
history. In the latter part of the twelfth century he wrote his Diwan, a
collection which was said to contain twenty thousand verses, but few of
these, however, have come down to our own times. Soon afterward the
great poet wrote his famous love story entitled “Lailī and Majnūn,”
which was followed by his Book of Alexander, an epic which was devoted
to the glory of the Greek conqueror. His last work was the “Seven Fair
Faces,” and this was presented in the form of romantic fiction, and
consisted merely of seven stories which were told to amuse the king by
the seven wives of Bāhram Gor. These five works are known as the “Five
Treasures of Nizāmī.” His eulogies were sung by the greatest Persian
poets who lived after him.

It was of him that Sa’di wrote: “Gone is Nizāmī, our exquisite pearl,
which Heaven in its kindness, formed of the purest dew, as the gem of
the world.”

His most popular work, and one of the best of the Persian classics, is
the poem of Lailī and Majnūn, which, for tenderness, purity and pathos,
has been seldom equaled. We give here a short prose version of the
legend:

                           LAILĪ AND MAJNŪN.

Every nation has its favorite romance of love and chivalry. France and
Italy have their Abelard and Eloisa, their Petrarch and Laura, while
Arabia and Persia have their Lailī and Majnūn, the record of whose
sorrows is constantly referred to throughout the East as an example of
the most devoted affection. This story, which has been versified by
several Persian authors, is of Arabian origin, and hence it bears the
impress of Arabic thought.

The poem contains the mystic lights and shadows of Bedawīn life—the
fervid loves and passionate yearnings, the hopeless grief and stoical
endurance, which belong to the sons of the desert.

Majnūn was the son of a haughty chief, while Lailī belonged to an humble
Arab tribe, but her father carried in his veins the pride of his desert
race, and the bitter hatreds of the Moslems. Lailī is described as being
very beautiful, with the crimson of her cheek flashing through the dark
olive shades of her face, and her heavy ringlets, “black as night,”
hanging in graceful profusion around her shapely neck.

              “When ringlets of a thousand curls
               And ruby lips and teeth of pearls,
               And dark eyes flashing quick and bright,
               Like lightning on the brow of night—
               When charms like these their power display
               And steal the wildered heart away—
               Can man, dissembling, coldly seem
               Unmoved as by an idle dream?
               Kais[263] saw her beauty, and her grace
               The soft expression of her face;
               And as he gazed and gazed again
               Distraction stung his burning brain;
               No rest he found by day or night—
               She was forever in his sight.”

But the wandering tribe to which the girl belonged folded their tents
and slipped away to the solitudes of the mountains. They had left no
trace of their going—no hint of where they might be found, and the
luckless maid found herself far from her lover with no possible means of
communicating with him, while the frantic boy was wandering through the
wilds in the almost hopeless search for his love.

         “He sought her in rosy bower and silent glade,
          Where the palm trees flung refreshing shade;
          Through grove and frowning glen he lonely strayed,
          And with his griefs the rocks were vocal made.”[264]

Alarmed by the condition of his son, the old chieftain gathered his men
for an organized search, and at last they found the mountain stronghold
of the tribe they sought.

They were challenged by a stern voice beyond the rocky barriers, which
demanded:

                 “Come ye hither as friends or foes?
                  Whatever may your errand be,
                  That errand must be told to me;
                  For none, unless a sanctioned friend,
                  Can pass the line that I defend.”

This challenge touched the chieftain’s pride, and he haughtily responded
that he came in friendship, to propose the marriage of his son to the
Arab maiden to whom he had taken a silly fancy.

                                         “With shame,
                Possess’d of power, and wealth, and fame,
                I to his silly humor bend,
                And humbly seek his fate to blend
                With one inferior. Need I tell
                My own high lineage known so well?
                If sympathy my heart incline,
                Or vengeance, still the means are mine.
                Treasure and arms can amply bear
                Me through the toils of desert war;
                But thou’rt the merchant pedler chief,
                And I the buyer; come, sell, be brief!
                If thou art wise, accept advice;
                Sell and receive a princely price!”

The haughty tone of the applicant was little calculated to call forth a
favorable response, and the proud father replied:

             “Madness is neither sin nor crime, we know,
              But who’d be linked to madness or a foe?
              Thy son is mad—his senses first restore;
              In constant prayer the aid of heaven implore.
              But while portentous gloom pervades his brain
              Disturb me not with this vain suit again.
              The jewel sense no purchaser can buy,
              Nor treachery the place of sense supply.
              Thou hast my reasons, and this parley o’er,
              Keep them in mind and trouble me no more.”

The scorn of the father’s reply had been, if possible, more bitter than
the insulting demand, and Syd Omri turned indignantly to his followers
and ordered the homeward march. The desert fates were stern, and

               “When Majnūn saw his hopes decay,
                Their fairest blossoms fade away,
                And friends and sire who might have been
                Kind intercessors, rush between
                Him and the only wish that shed
                One ray of comfort round his head,
                He beat his hands, his garments tore,
                He cast his fetters on the floor
                In broken fragments, and in wrath
                Sought the dark wilderness’s path,
                And there he wept and sobbed aloud,
                Unnoticed by the gazing crowd.”

The kinsmen of Lailī brought to the encampment the news that a youth,
insane and wild, was haunting the desert wastes below the mountain, and
the fair Lailī blushed when she heard the tidings, but dared not venture
forth to meet her maniac lover. The Arab chief swore vengeance against
the hapless youth, and ordered his followers to slay him in the desert.
The father of Majnūn heard of the cruel decree and sent his own
followers into the wilderness to rescue his son.... Again and again he
was carried to his father’s home, and as frequently he made his escape,
always wandering, with unerring instinct, near to his beloved.

               “Lailī in beauty, softness, grace,
                Surpassed the loveliest of her race.
                The killing witchery that lies
                In her soft, black, delicious eyes—
                Her lashes speak a thousand blisses
                Her lips of ruby ask for kisses;
                Her cheeks, so beautiful and bright,
                Have caught the moon’s refulgent light;
                Her form the Cypress tree expresses,
                And full and plump, invites caresses.
                With all these charms, the heart to win,
                There was a ceaseless grief within,—
                Yet none beheld her grief, or heard,
                She droop’d like broken-winged bird.
                Her secret thoughts, her love concealing,
                But softly to the terrace stealing
                From morn to eve, she gazed around
                In hopes her Majnūn might be found.”

An oasis with its cooling streams was near the rocky fortress of the
Bedawīn encampment, and here the tall palms seemed to lean against the
sky, while the doves cooed in the thickets of foliage. Here the gentle
Lailī came day after day, hoping that her lover might venture near. She
gathered the lilies that bloomed around her feet, as she wandered
through the fragrant grove, but her dark eyes were heavy with unshed
tears, when she reclined beneath a mournful cypress tree and softly
chanted her song of faithfulness:

                 “Oh, faithful friend and lover true,
                  Still distant from thy Lailī’s view;
                  Still absent, still beyond her power,
                  To bring thee to her fragrant bower;
                  Oh noble youth! still thou art mine,
                  And Lailī, Lailī still is thine.”

As she pensively sat one day beneath the cypress tree, a youth of kingly
mien passed that way. His eyes rested a moment upon her crimson lips,
and the flowing tresses which were dark as the plume of a raven’s wing—
he saw too the full form with its shapely curves and the beaming
softness of the dark eyes, with their heavy lashes. Ibn Salām was the
honored name of this young prince, who with his suite had sought for a
moment the cooling shades of the palm-tree grove, and he it was who
hastened to her father with a plea for his daughter’s hand. Dazzled by
the gold and position of the suitor, the father of Lailī gave a cordial
consent to the proposed union.

                               A FRIEND.

The chief of the domain where Majnūn wandered in his pitiful loneliness,
looked with compassion upon him, for one day, while in pursuit of a
bounding deer, he saw the wasted frame and wild look of the despairing
lover. Dismounting from his splendid steed, Noufal, the Arab chief, came
kindly to him and listened to the story so constantly told of love and
suffering. With kindly words the chieftain soothed the restless spirit,
and gently drawing the tortured mind away from its painful thought he
offered nourishment to the sinking body. A change for the better came
over him, and he took the proffered cup and drank, although he drank to
Lailī’s name. Refreshed by Noufal’s kindly ministry and drawn by gentle
urging, Majnūn went with his new friend to his home, and there received
the best of care and hopeful cheer.

                 “An altered man, his mind at rest,
                  In customary robes he dressed;
                  A turban shades his forehead pale,
                  No more is heard the lover’s wail,
                  His dungeon gloom exchanged for day,
                  His cheeks a rosy tint display;
                  He revels midst the garden sweets,
                  And still his lip the goblet meets;
                  But so intense his constant flame
                  Each cup is quaffed in Lailī’s name.”

The generous Noufal was not content with the change so nearly wrought,
but he gathered his bravest men in battle array, and marched at their
head to the mountain fortress of the Bedawīn encampment. The troops of
Arabian horsemen were halted and sword and helmet glittered in the sun,
while Noufal sent his messenger forward with a demand for the hand of
the coveted bride. His request was haughtily refused, and when the
messenger was again sent forward with a threat of revenge if his wishes
were not complied with, his power and vengeance were alike defied. Then
the word of command rang along the glittering lines. There was a
rattling of helmets and spears, a twanging of the bowstring and a
gallant charge was made upon the foe that was so well entrenched in the
mountain fastnesses. Amidst the clangor of brazen drums and trumpets,
the fearful fight went on and

            “Arrows, like birds, on either foeman stood,
             Drinking with open beak the vital flood;
             The shining daggers in the battle’s heat
             Rolled many a head beneath the horse’s feet;
             And lightnings hurled by death’s unsparing hand
             Spread consternation through the weeping land.”

There was no pause in the sound of the trumpets, no stay in the wild
flight of the arrows, as the dreadful work went on, and the dripping
swords were bathed with the crimson tide of shame.

The shades of night came down ere the fate of the battle was decided,
but the assaulting party had suffered most, and in another hour of
conflict the friends of Majnūn had been undone. With the coming of the
morning light the assault was renewed, and the desert rang again with
the sounds of war; all along the long line glittered the sword and
buckler, the helmet and spear; swords clashed and the desert sands were
wet again with the blood of the fallen. At last the tribe of Lailī’s
sire gave way, and Noufal won the bitter fight, though many of his
bravest men lay bleeding on the burning sand.

             “And now the elders of that tribe appear,
              And thus implore the victor. Chieftain, hear!
              The work of slaughter is complete;
              Thou seest our power destroyed; allow
              Us wretched suppliants at thy feet
              To humbly ask for mercy now.
              How many warriors press the plain?
              Khanjer and spear have laid them low;
              At peace, behold our kinsman slain,
              For thou art now without a foe.

              Then pardon what of wrong has been;
              Let us retire unharmed—unstay’d—
              Far from this sanguinary scene,
              And take thy prize—the Arab maid.”

The aged father came forth with dust and ashes upon his hoary head, and
admitted that his tribe was fully conquered, and offered the life of his
daughter for a peace offering, while still refusing to allow her to wed
with a maniac.

           “My daughter shall be brought at thy command;
            The red flames may ascend from blazing brand
            And slay their victim, crackling in the air,
            And Lailī dutiously shall perish there.
            Or, if thou’dst rather see the maiden bleed,
            This thirsty sword shall do the dreadful deed;
            Dissever at one blow that lovely head,
            Her sinless blood by her own father shed!
            In all things thou shalt find me faithful, true,
            Thy slave I am—what would’st thou have me do?
            But mark me; I am not to be beguiled;
            I will not to a demon give my child;
            I will not to a madman’s wild embrace
            Consign the pride and honor of my race,
            And wed her to contempt and foul disgrace.”

The chivalry of the desert disdained to tear the child from her father’s
arms, even though that father was a conquered foe. The gallant Noufal,
feeling that he was himself defeated, and that in vain the blood of his
brave men had stained the desert sands, sadly gave the order that the
conquered tribe should be allowed to retire unmolested from the well
fought field.

              “And thou and thine may quit the field.
               Still armed with khanjer, sword and shield;
               Both horse and rider. Thus in vain
               Blood has bedewed this thirsty plain.”

With a heavy heart the gallant chief pursued his homeward way with
Majnūn, reckless and desperate, by his side. He tried again to calm the
poignant pangs of hopeless love, and to bless, with gentleness and
tender care, the wounded and despairing spirit.

            “But vain his efforts; mountain, wood and plain
             Soon heard the maniac’s piercing woes again;
             Escaped from listening ear and watchful eye,
             Lonely again, in desert wild to lie.”

In another part of the wild domain a cloud of dust on the horizon of the
desert tells of the coming of a troop of horsemen, and soon a wearied
and broken column is seen beneath the clouds of sand which obscure the
blue of heaven. The women of the conquered tribe, who had been placed in
safer quarters, come forth to meet the returning warriors. As the
trampling steeds come nearer they hear the leader’s angry word, as he
breathes his curses, loud and deep, upon the victor in the fight, for he
scarcely cares to survive the blow while burning with the disgrace of
defeat. Poor Lailī listens sadly to the story of her fate, but no hope
of aid can enter her crushed and broken heart. And still the story of
her beauty is borne on every gale, and the neighboring tribes are
wondering for whom her father is keeping the beauteous gem.

                              THE WEDDING.

At last, the lover comes with his magnificent offerings of embroidered
robes, and carpets worked with silk and gold; the rarest gems were
brought to lay at her feet, and a long line of camels, with their
tinkling bells, were laden with costly presents for the bride of Ibn
Salām.

Beautiful steeds were proudly stepping to the low music of his march,
for a long line of the purest Arabian blood was coursing in their veins.
But while the nuptial pomp and nuptial rites engaged the chieftain’s
household, and every square was ringing with the rattle of drums and the
voice of pipe and cymbal, the stricken bride was sitting sad and lone in
her retreat, mourning for her betrothed, and pleading that she might be
allowed to die rather than to wed the man that she could never love. The
joyous bridegroom came with gorgeous litter and golden throne for the
chosen bride to occupy. He came in richest garb, with happy smiles and
costly jewels, into the presence of his promised bride, but the Arabian
maiden turned with flashing eyes upon the intruder, and informed him
that the betrothal had been made by her father without consulting her.
She declared she would rather die than become a wife unloving, for in
her heart she could find only hatred for the man who was willing to
claim her under circumstances so revolting, and then with the air of a
queen she ordered him to leave her alone. When Ibn Salām heard her
frenzied words, he turned away from the indignant girl and poured his
woes into her father’s ear. The pitiful pleadings of the girl were
unheeded, and the fearful mockery of marriage went on amidst the glare
of trumpets and sounding drum,—went on, with jewels and costly gifts for
the unwilling bride, and all the outward show of happiness and joy. But
though Lailī’s plighted faith to Majnūn seemed so sorely broken, she
still cherished his memory with tenderest thought, and

                “Deep in her heart a thousand woes
                 Disturbed her days’ and nights’ repose
                 A serpent at its very core
                 Writhing and gnawing evermore;
                 And no relief—a prison room
                 Being now the lonely sufferer’s doom.”

Amidst all the heartaches of humanity the slow movement of sun and stars
still goes on, and the bare horizon of the desert is illumined by the
lamps of heaven. Night with her coolness and dews, comes down upon the
burning sands with the restful touch of peace. Her primeval fountains of
light have gathered for all time around the desert steppes, watching
their silent mysteries, and touching with glory the far-away crowns of
their palms.

Lailī sat in her prison tower, looking out upon the peaceful beauty of
the night, and its soft repose crept into her troubled heart, bringing
with it a message of hope. For days and years she had lived within that
guarded tower, shut like a gem within its stony bed, surrounded by the
dragon watch which her husband still supplied. But hark! there is an
unusual sound beneath her casement; there are flickering lamps and
wailing cries; confused voices are bearing messages to and fro; there is
a death-note in the wild chant which is ringing out upon the night.

            “Beneath her casement rings a wild lament,
             Death-notes disturb the night; the air is rent
             With clamorous voices; every hope is fled,
             He breathes no longer—Ibn Salām is dead!
             The fever’s rage had nipp’d him in his bloom;
             He sank unloved, unpitied, to the tomb.”

Lailī looked up to the face of the moon, and thought of its chilling
rays that fell upon the haggard form of her desert love. She gazed upon
the flashing star that stood like a guardian above his restless sleep,
and then she turned to receive the messengers who brought the formal
tale that her jailor now was dead. And must she mourn for the man she
loathed? Ah, yes; the Arab law must be obeyed, and she must assume the
garments of woe! It was easy for her to weep,

                  “But all the burning tears she shed
                   Were for Majnūn, not the dead.’”

The days went by with weary feet, and the night still looked upon a
lonely heart, for the Arab law maintained that years must pass before
one breath of freedom could be given to the woman in the rock-bound
tower. But Lailī arose one morn with a new light in her dark eyes, and
called her faithful Zyd, the boy who had long served his gentle lady,
and to whom her word was the law supreme. To him she said:

                 “To-day is not the day of hope,
                  Which only gives to fancy scope;
                  It is the day our hopes completing,
                  It is the lover’s day of meeting!
                  Rise up! the world is full of joy;
                  Rise up! and serve thy mistress, boy;
                  Together, where the cypress grows,
                  Place the red tulip and the rose;
                  And let the long dissever’d meet—
                  Two lovers, in communion sweet.”

                       THE MEETING IN THE DESERT.

Then with her faithful attendant she went cautiously forth, and together
they threaded their way over the desolate sand and through the grove of
palms; but she stayed not to gather the lilies blooming around her feet—
she waited not to catch the breath of the roses, or to drink of the tiny
stream, whose life-giving waves had made this little oasis to bloom like
a garden in the midst of the desert. But she hastened on her way, and
the boy ran by her side wondering why she sped so quickly through the
grove. On, beyond its cooling shade and over the barren steepes, she
pressed with unfaltering feet until she saw the haggard form of her
lover; then she stepped gently to his side and laid her hand upon his
arm. “Ah! Majnūn, it is thy Lailī that has come;” his mind awoke with
one glad cry, for the familiar voice with its caressing tones rang with
the notes of peace and joy through the darkened chambers of his brain.
For one glad moment he held her in his arms, and then, overcome with
emotion, he fainted at her feet. She quickly knelt beside him, and then

                “His head which in the dust was laid
                 Upon her lap she drew, and dried
                 His tears with tender hand and pressed
                 Him close and closer to her breast;
                 ‘Be here thy home beloved, adored,
                 Revive, be blest;—oh! Lailī’s lord.’

                 At last he breathed, around he gazed,
                 As from her arms his head he raised—
                 ‘Art thou,’ he faintly said, ‘a friend
                 Who takes me to her gentle breast—
                 Dost thou in truth so fondly bend
                 Thine eyes upon a wretch distressed?

                 Are these thy unveiled cheeks I see
                 Can bliss be yet in store for me?
                 I thought it all a dream, so oft
                 Such dreams come in my madness now.
                 Is this thy hand so fair and soft?
                 Is this in sooth my Lailī’s brow?

                 In sleep these transports I may share
                 But when I wake ’tis all despair!
                 Let me gaze on thee—e’en though it be
                 An empty shade alone I see;
                 How shall I bear what once I bore
                 When thou shalt vanish as before?’”

Then the beauteous vision rested within his arms, with her dark ringlets
flowing around her smooth neck, and the sweet confession of her love
beaming in her tremulous eyes. He saw her chin of dimpled sweetness, and
the soft cheek with its crimson flush, then her matchless voice came
again to his ears with its message of tenderness.

              “To hope, dear wanderer, revive;
               Lo Zemzems,[265] cool and bright,
               Flow at thy feet—then drink and live
               Seared heart! be glad for bounteous heaven
               At length our recompense hath given,
               Beloved one, tell me all thy will
               And know thy Lailī faithful still.

               Here in this desert, join our hands,
               Our souls were joined long, long before;
               And if our fate such doom demands,
               Together wander evermore.
               Oh Kais! never let us part,
               What is the world to thee and me?
               My universe is where thou art
               And is not Lailī all to thee?”

The tempted lover listened, with his soul in his longing eyes, but he
knew that he could not make her his wife according to the Arab law—they
could not be legally wedded, and his love for her was too pure and
unselfish to accept the sacrifice that she proposed to make. To him,
then, was given the hardest task ever given into lover’s hands—that of
saving the woman that he worshipped from his own embrace. After the
years of suffering that had been his, could he push the tempting cup
from his thirsting lip? Was the weakened frame strong enough to carry
out the dictates of his will? Nay, did God require such a sacrifice
after all these years of loyalty and truth? Were they not already wedded
in his pure sight? Had she not always been his own in the eyes of
heaven? These questions surged through his throbbing brain as he held
the woman he loved in his close embrace. One sweet taste of heaven,
surely the Lord had given, in the desert of his wasted life—one moment
of bliss wherein he might taste the lips he had hungered for, so long.
But should he therefore outrage his own conscience, and sacrifice the
woman he loved, for the temporary enjoyment of the present life? His
manhood and his conscience answered, never. He clasped her closer to his
aching heart—he kissed again the tempting lips—his eyes lingered with
one long sad look upon the lovely face, and then he slowly answered:

               “How well, how fatally I love,
                My madness and my misery prove;
                All earthly hopes I could resign—
                Nay, life itself, to call thee mine.
                But shall I make thy spotless name—
                That sacred spell—a word of shame?

                Shall selfish Majnūn’s heart be blest
                And Lailī prove the Arab’s jest?
                The city’s gates though we may close
                We cannot still our conscience’s throes.
                No—we have met,—a moment’s bliss
                Has dawned upon my gloom in vain
                Life yields no more a joy like this,
                And all to come can be but pain.

                Thou, thou, adored! might be mine own
                A thousand deaths let Majnūn die
                Ere but a breath by slander blown
                Should sully Lailī’s purity!
                Go, then—and to thy tribe return,
                Fly from my arms that clasp thee yet;
                I feel my brain with frenzy burn—
                Oh, joy, could I but thus forget!”

With another kiss upon the silent lips—another close embrace, the manly
lover tore himself away to another struggle between death and life;
still warring in the unequal strife with fate, he told to the desert
wind, his piteous tale:

                “The fevered thoughts that on me prey
                 Death’s sea alone can sweep away.
                 I found the bird of Paradise
                 That long I sought with care;
                 Fate snatched it from my longing eyes—
                 I held—despair.
                 Wail, Lailī, wail our fortunes crossed,
                 Weep, Majnūn, weep—forever lost.”

                          DEATH OF THE LOVERS.

Time passed by on leaden feet, for he no longer carried in his hands the
flowers of hope. No longer the bare horizon of the desert was illumined
with the mirage of rivers and palms. Fate had done her worst, and Death,
the great consoler, waited near to place his seal with the touch of
peace upon the weary brow. The flower of the desert lay again in the
tower where she had passed so many wasted years, and feeling that her
life was going out with the glory of the setting sun, she called her
mother to her side and pleaded that when she was gone Majnūn might be
allowed to weep over her grave.

          “Again it was the task of faithful Zyd,
           Through far extending plain and forest wide,
           To seek the man of woes, and tell
           The fate of her, alas! he loved so well.
           With bleeding heart he found his lone abode,
           Watering with tears the path he rode.

           And beating his sad breast, Majnūn perceived
           His friend approach, and asked him why he grieved?
           ‘Alas!’ he cried, ‘the hail has crushed my bowers,
           A sudden storm has blighted all my flowers;
           Thy cypress tree o’erthrown, the leaves are sear;
           The moon has fallen from her lucid sphere;
           Lailī is dead.’

His sad duty was done, and the bereaved lover lay unconscious at his
feet. With gentle ministry the stricken man was roused from his swoon,
and then he started toward the loved one’s grave.

                             “Now he threads
          The mazes of the shadowy wood, which spreads
          Perpetual gloom, and now emerges where
          No bower nor grove obstructs the fiery air;
          Climbs the mountain’s brow, o’er hill and plain
          Urged quicker onward by his burning brain,
          Across the desert’s arid boundary hies
          Zyd, like a shadow, following where he flies.

          And when the tomb of Lailī meets his view,
          Prostrate he falls, the ground his tears bedew;
          ‘Alas!’ he cries, ‘no more shall I behold
          That angel face, that form of heavenly mould,
          For thou hast quitted this contentious life,
          This scene of endless treachery and strife;
          And I, like thee, shall soon my fetters burst,
          And quench, in draughts of heavenly love, my thirst.
          There where angelic bliss can never cloy,
          We soon shall meet in everlasting joy;
          The taper of our souls, more clear and bright,
          Will then be lustrous with immortal light.’”

The troubled day was closing fast in night, and though he received the
kindly ministry of his friends, only a few more weeks had passed away,
when the stricken lover was found with his head resting lovingly upon
her tomb, while upon his loyal brow there rested the peaceful touch of
death. His weary heart had found rest at last, rest beyond the fevered
dream of life, with all its anxious hopes and fears. Reverent hands
opened Lailī’s tomb, and they laid the stilled heart beside her own.

            “One promise bound their faithful hearts—one bed
             Of cold, cold earth united them when dead.
             Severed in life, how cruel was their doom!
             Ne’er to be joined but in the silent tomb!”

                           THE VISION OF ZYD.

No heart more loyal was left behind than that of the faithful page who
so long had done the lady’s bidding. He often pondered on the faith and
devotion of the lovers, and one night he slept alone beneath the desert
sky, when the canopy of heaven seemed to roll away. A new morning seemed
to dawn in glory upon the waiting earth, and touch the distant mountain
peaks with crowns of light. Beneath the radiance of its coming, the
secrets of the earth, which had been written in the roll-call of the
ages, were read by the waiting millions, for the age of recompense had
come. The desert sands gave way to vistas of golden fruit and blooming
roses; the white lilies gleamed amidst the green verdure, and the almond
blossoms waved in silvery sprays upon the passing breeze. The
nightingale sang in fadeless bowers, and the low, sweet voices of the
ring-doves were heard among the feathery plumes of the palms. The desert
voices gave way to the rich melodies from harp and shell. The fronded
palms pressed upward, and a royal throne, with gems and gold, stood
beneath their protecting shade.

                “Upon that throne, in blissful state,
                 The long divided lovers sate,
                 Resplendent with seraphic light,
                 They held a cup with diamonds bright.”

This cup was filled with the nectar of immortality, and, quaffing its
rich contents, they wandered away, hand in hand, through the long aisles
of unfading flowers.

                “The dreamer who this vision saw,
                 Demanded with becoming awe,
                 What sacred names the happy pair
                 In Irem-bowers were wont to bear.
                 A voice replied: ‘That sparkling moon
                 Is Lailī still—her friend Majnūn;
                 Deprived in your frail world of bliss,
                 They reap their great reward in this!’”

Zyd wakened from his wondrous dream, and, rejoicing, told the story of
his glad vision. The sons of the desert took up the mystic theme, and
still repeat the promise that pure and loyal love can never fail of its
final reward.

                 “Saki! Nizāmī’s song is sung;
                  The Persian poet’s pearls are strung;
                  Then fill again the goblet high!
                  Thou wouldst not ask the reveler why
                  Fill to the love that changes never!
                  Fill to the love that lives forever!
                  That purified by earthly woes,
                  At last with bliss seraphic glows.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                             THIRD PERIOD.

GENGHIS KHĀN—JALAL-UDDIN RŪMI—SĀ’DĪ—WORKS OF SĀ’DĪ—THE BŪSTĀN—THE PEARL—
    KINDNESS TO THE UNWORTHY—SILENCE THE SAFETY OF IGNORANCE—DARIUS AND
    HIS HORSE-KEEPER—STORIES FROM THE GŪLISTĀN—THE WISE WRESTLER—DANGERS
    OF PROSPERITY—BORES.


The third period of Persian poetry, which may be called the mystic and
moral age, is assigned to the thirteenth century.

It was at this time that Genghis Khān, the Tartar chief, swept like a
mountain torrent over the East. His first attack was upon the countries
beyond the Oxus, where the devotees of science had taken refuge during
the invasion of Persia by the Arabs. Bokhāra and Samarcānd were then the
homes of scholars and the centres of civilization. Their colleges and
libraries were celebrated throughout the Orient, but during the great
Tartar invasion these cities were both destroyed, being stormed and
burned by the Tartar horde, while more than two hundred thousand lives
were sacrificed to the cruelty of the invading host. Bagdad was also
devastated, the colleges destroyed and the most valuable books in the
libraries were thrown into the Tigris.

During these stormy times the courts of the descendants of the Selucidæ
were sought by scholars as places of refuge, some of their princes being
literary men. A prince of this dynasty, by the name of Alladin Kaikūbad,
became somewhat celebrated in the world of letters, and during his reign
Iconium became the refuge of scholars from the Asiatic nations, who felt
that on the western frontiers of the continent they were more secure
from the attacks of the barbarians. The brightest ornament of this court
was the mystic poet and philosopher,

                         JALAL-UDDIN RŪMI.[266]

His father was the founder of a college at Iconium in Syria, but after
his father’s death Jalal-uddin went to Aleppo and Damascus to continue
his studies, and finally succeeded to the direction of the college. His
literary fame rests upon his Mesnevi, a work in six volumes, which is a
series of stories with moral maxims. Some portions of this work may be
compared to the Hitapodeśa, while other parts appear to be an imitation
of the Book of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. He was, however, the author of
several lyrics that are worthy of preservation; of these the following
is, perhaps, the best:

                           THE FAIREST LAND.

               “Tell me, gentle traveler, thou
                Who hast wandered far and wide—
                Seen the sweetest roses blow,
                And the brightest rivers glide;
                Say, of all thine eyes have seen,
                Which the fairest land has been?”

               “Lady, shall I tell thee where
                Nature seems most blest and fair,
                Far above all climes beside?
                ’Tis where those we love abide,
                And that little spot is best
                Which the loved one’s foot hath pressed.
                Though it be a fairy space,
                Wide and spreading is the place;
                Though ’twere but a barren mound,
                ’Twould become enchanted ground;
                With thee, yon sandy waste would seem
                The margin of Al-Cawthar’s stream;
                And thou canst make a dungeon’s gloom
                A bower where new-born roses bloom.”

The most important bard of this period was

                                 SĀ’DĪ.

Shaikh Sā’dī, as he is called, was born at Shīrāz,[267] while his
country was under Turkish rule. He was educated at a college in Bagdad,
where he lived until he was sixty-four years of age, when he had
obtained an enviable reputation as a poet and orator. In later years,
when the Tartar Chief Halāku Khān had overrun the adjacent territory and
captured Bagdad, Sā’dī, with many others, was obliged to flee. He
visited different parts of Europe, Africa, and even Asia as far as
India.

The poet was twice married, but his caustic criticisms upon womankind
would indicate that both of these ventures were unfortunate; the last
was especially so. He had been living at Damascus, but becoming tired of
the society that he found there, he wandered into the desert of
Palestine. Here he was captured by the Crusaders, and forced to work in
the mud with the Jewish captives, upon the fortifications at Tripoli. A
chief belonging to Aleppo found him there, and recognizing him, he paid
ten pieces of silver as the poet’s ransom, and carried him to his own
home in Aleppo. It appears that the chief had a beautiful daughter, with
a temper like a vixen; she had a dower, however, of an hundred pieces of
silver, and by a little careful management of her temper and an artful
exhibition of her beauty she finally succeeded in marrying Sā’dī. Of
course his home was far from being a paradise, and her beauty soon lost
its charms for her husband. Upon one occasion she tauntingly asked him,
“Are you not the fellow that my father bought for ten pieces of silver?”
“Yes,” retorted the poet, “and he sold me to you for an hundred pieces.”

Sā’dī had a son and a daughter, who were the children of his first wife;
the son, to whom he was devotedly attached, died in infancy, but the
daughter lived to become the wife of the celebrated poet Hāfiz. Sā’dī
closed his long life at Shīrāz, where it began, having lived more than a
hundred years.[268] He is honored as a saint by the Mohammedans, and his
tomb called Sādiya, near Shīrāz, is visited by many pilgrims, and is
also a resort for European travelers.

                          THE WORKS OF SĀ’DĪ.

This author was an accomplished linguist, and M. De Tassy[269] claims
that he was the first poet who wrote verse in the Hindūstānī dialect. He
also wrote freely in Arabic as well as Persian. His style is vigorous
and unusually simple for a Persian poet, but like all the others, he
sometimes indulges in fulsome flattery, and florid description. His
largest work is the Diwān, which is a collection of lyric poetry, but it
is not so much admired as some of his smaller works. Indeed his lyric
poems do not possess the graceful ease of Hāfiz’s songs, but they are
full of pathos, and like his other works, they show a fearless love of
truth, and a tone of pure morality. Although he was the author of many
works, the most popular among European scholars are the Būstān, or Fruit
Garden, and the Gūlistān, or Rose Garden, both of which are dedicated to
the reigning king.

                              THE BŪSTĀN.

This is a work consisting of ten chapters of didactic verse, and it
teaches lessons of morality and prudence in the form of poetic fable. It
has been published in Calcutta, Lahore and Cawnpore, as well as in the
capitals of Europe. It has been translated into German, French, English
and other tongues, always retaining more or less of the popularity which
it still enjoys in its native idiom.

The following[270] are the best specimens of this peculiar verse:

                               THE PEARL.

         “From the cloud there descended a droplet of rain;
          ’Twas ashamed when it saw the expanse of the main,
          Saying, ‘Who may I be, where the sea has its run?
          If the sea has existence, I, truly, have none!’
          Since in its own eyes the drop humble appeared,
          In its bosom, a shell with its life the drop reared;
          The sky brought the work with success to a close,
          And a famed royal pearl from the rain-drop arose.
          Because it was humble it excellence gained;
          Patiently waiting till success was obtained.”

                       KINDNESS TO THE UNWORTHY.

     “I have heard that a man some home sorrow endured,
      For bees in his roof had their dwelling secured
      He asked for a big butcher’s knife from his dame—
      To demolish the nest of the bees was his aim.

      His wife said, ‘Oh, do not effect your design!
      For the poor bees, dispersed from their dwelling, will pine.’
      The foolish man yielded and went his own way;
      His wife, with their stings was assaulted one day.

      The man from his shop to his dwelling returned,
      At his wife’s stupid folly, with anger he burned.
      The ignorant woman, from door, street and roof,
      Was shouting complaints, while the man gave reproof!

      ‘Do not make your face sour in men’s presence, oh wife!
      Deprive not, you said, the poor bees of their life!
      On behalf of the bad, why beneficence show?
      Forbear with the bad, and you make their sins grow.’
      When the ruin of men, by flattery you note
      With a two-edged sword, cut the flatterer’s throat.”

                    SILENCE THE SAFETY OF IGNORANCE.

      “A good natured man who in tatters was dressed,
       For a season in Egypt, strict silence professed.
       Men of wisdom, from near and from far, at the sight,
       Gathered round him like moths, seeking after the light.
       One night he communed with himself in this way;
       ‘Beneath the tongue’s surface the man hidden lay;
       If I carry my head for myself in this plan,
       How can people discover in me a wise man?’

       He spoke, and his friends, and his foes all could see,
       That the greatest of blockheads in Egypt was he!
       His admirers dispersed and his trade lost its note;
       He journeyed and over a mosque’s arch he wrote:
       ‘Could I have myself in a looking-glass seen,
       Not in ignorance would I have riven my screen.
       So ugly, the veil from my features I drew,
       For I thought that my face was most charming to view.’

       Oh, sensible person! In silence serene
       You have honor, and people unworthy, a screen.
       If you’ve learning, you should not your dignity lose!
       If you’re ignorant, tear not the curtain you use!
       The beasts are all dumb, and man’s tongue is released;
       A nonsensical talker is worse than a beast!
       A speaker should talk in a sensible strain;
       If he can’t; like the brutes, he should silence maintain.”

                      DARIUS AND HIS HORSE-KEEPER.

       I have heard that Darius of fortunate race
       Got detached from his suite, on the day of the chase.
       Before him came running a horse-tending lout;
       The king from his quiver an arrow pulled out,—
       In the desert ’tis well to show terror of foes,
       For at home not a thorn will appear on the rose;
       The terrified horse-keeper uttered a cry,
       Saying:—“Do not destroy me! no foeman am I.
       I am he who takes care of the steeds of the king;
       In this meadow, with zeal to my duty I cling.”
       The king’s startled heart found composure again;
       He smiled and exclaimed:—“Oh most foolish of men!
       Some fortunate angel has succored you here;
       Else the string of my bow, I’d have brought to my ear.”

       The guard of the pasturage smiled and replied:—
       “Admonition from friends it becomes not to hide,
       The arrangements are bad and the counsels unwise,
       When the king can’t a friend from a foe recognize.
       The condition of living in greatness is so,
       That every dependant you have you should know.
       You often have seen me when present at court,
       And inquired about horses and pastures and sport,
       And now that in love I have met you again,
       Me you cannot distinguish from rancorous men.
       As for me, I am able, oh name-bearing king!
       Any horse out of one hundred thousand to bring.
       With wisdom and judgment as herdsman I serve;
       Do you in like manner your own flock preserve!”
       In that capital anarchy causes distress,
       Where the plans of the king than the herdsman’s are less.

                       STORIES FROM THE GŪLISTĀN.

The Gūlistān is the best of Sā’dī’s works, and one of the most popular
of the Persian classics. It has been translated into the dialects of
India, as well as the languages of Europe, and the Latin version of
Gentius has long been popular with European scholars.

It has acquired a greater popularity, both in the East and the West,
than any other work by the same author, on account of the graceful style
of its composition, and the varied character of its contents. It is a
collection of short stories, each of which is intended to illustrate
some cardinal principle. There are one hundred and eighty-eight of these
sketches, while the final chapter is devoted to “Rules for the Conduct
of Life.” Many of these rules, like the Dhammapada of Būddha, appear to
have been founded upon the proverbs of Solomon. Of the sketches, the
following[271] are the best.

                           THE WISE WRESTLER.

A celebrated athlete taught the art of wrestling to Persian youths, and
so great was his dexterity that his pupils learned hundreds of different
methods whereby an antagonist could be thrown. Indeed, it was said that
the teacher understood three hundred and sixty capital sleights in this
art, and every day exhibited some new feat to his pupils. He had one
favorite pupil, whose fine proportions and manly bearing were the
admiration of the master, and he taught him three hundred and fifty-nine
of these sleights. The young man became very proficient, and at length
very boastful. He gloried in his youth and fine physical development, as
well as his proficiency in the art, and after a time he boasted, even in
the presence of the Sultan, that no one was able to cope with him—that
he merely allowed his master to maintain a superiority over him in
deference to his years, and also in consideration of the fact, that he
had been his tutor.

The Sultan was disgusted with the conceit of the young wrestler, and
commanded him to make a trial of his skill in the royal presence,
choosing his former tutor as his opponent. The ministers of state and
many officials of the court were in attendance, and the young champion
entered the field with all the confidence and insolence of his nature—
indeed it is said that “he entered with a percussion that would have
removed a mountain of iron.” The old master stood calmly awaiting the
fiery youth, whose strength he well knew far excelled his own, but when
he came up to him, the tutor made the attack with the sleight the
knowledge of which he had kept to himself.

The young boaster was taken at a disadvantage, and was helpless in the
hands of the master, who took him up from the ground, and threw him over
his head, leaving him prostrate upon the earth.

The wildest cheers of delight rang through the assembled multitudes, and
the Sultan commanded that a rich reward be given to the tutor. The
discomfited youth complained to the royal donor that his master had not
gained the victory over him through strength or skill, but had kept from
him one little feint in the art of wrestling, and by this means had
taken the advantage of him.

The master then observed, “I reserved it for an occasion like this; the
sages have taught us not to put oneself so much in the power of a
supposed friend that, should he become an enemy, he may be able to
injure you.”

                         DANGERS OF PROSPERITY.

A certain king, who was dying without an heir to the throne, directed in
the royal will that, on the morning after his death, the first person
who came in through the gates of the city should receive the crown of
royalty and the care of the kingdom. It happened that the first man who
came in, was in the depths of poverty, and his life was a struggle with
hardship and suffering. The ministers of state, however, placed the
crown of royalty upon the head of the astonished man, and he was
delighted with the wonderful change in his fortune. After a time,
however, the nobles of his court rebelled against his rule, the
surrounding kings formed hostile combinations against him, and he
learned that no position in life is exempt from trials. His troops were
thrown into confusion, the peasantry sympathized with the leaders of the
revolt and he soon lost possession of the disputed territories.

In the midst of these political misfortunes and military defeats, an old
friend, who had been the companion of the king in the days of his
poverty, returned from a long trip, and called to congratulate him upon
the radical change in his fortunes.

But the unfortunate monarch replied, “Oh, my brother! this is not a time
for congratulations, but for condolence; when you last saw me I was
anxious only to obtain my bread, but now I have all the cares of the
world to encounter. There is, indeed, no calamity greater than worldly
prosperity; if therefore you want riches, seek only for contentment,
which is inestimable wealth. If a rich man should throw money into your
lap, consider yourself under no obligations to him, for the kindness of
a humble and genuine friend is better than the alms of the rich.”

                                 BORES.

A busy student complained to his teacher that his time was constantly
taken up by visitors. People, whose time is of no value to them, do not
consider that any one else may value theirs; they therefore present
themselves continually and gossip of people or things, merely to pass
away the time and waste the golden hours. “How can I be relieved of
them?” pleaded the pupil. His tutor replied, “To such of them as are
poor, lend money, and from those that are rich, ask favors; then you may
rest assured that they will cease to trouble you. If a beggar were the
leader of the Mohammedan army, the infidels would flee to China, through
fear of his importunity.”



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                             LATER PERIODS.

THE FOURTH PERIOD—LITERARY KINGS—HĀFIZ—PĪR-I-SEBZ—SHĪRĀZ—THE FEAST OF
    SPRING—MY BIRD—FIFTH PERIOD—JĀMI—THE WORKS OF JĀMI—RECEPTION—THE
    SIXTH PERIOD—THE SEVENTH PERIOD.


The fourth period, which began at the close of the thirteenth century
and continued until the beginning of the fifteenth, represents the
highest development of lyric poetry and rhetoric, although these were
stormy times in the political and literary world.

During this period Persia had many men of culture, and, indeed, she
boasted of one literary king.

Sultān Ahmed Ilkhāni, who reigned over Bagdad, Azerbaijān, and some
parts of Asia Minor, conducted his court with great pomp and splendor.
He was one of the most accomplished men of the age, being an artist and
illuminator as well as a musical composer. His beautiful calligraphy, in
various languages, was highly celebrated, and his poetical productions,
in both the Persian and Turkish tongues, were considered very
meritorious. His moral character, however, presented a sad contrast to
his intellectual attainments, and his remorseless cruelty made him an
object of detestation to his subjects. He was entirely merciless when
intoxicated with opium, and on these occasions he would put people to
death on the most trivial pretenses. His conduct provoked the enmity of
the influential families of Bagdad, and at length the public sentiment
against him became so strong that letters were written by the principal
men, inviting Amir Timūr (Tamerlane) to the conquest of their country,
and pledging him their assistance. The invitation was gladly accepted,
and when the hostile intentions of the conqueror became known, the
poetical Sultan sent him the following message:

     “Why should we bare our neck on the block of misfortune?
      Why should we despond at every trifling attack of adversity?
      Like the Sīmūrgh, let us pass over seas and mountains
      And thus bring the earth and water under our wings.”

The sentiment was given in Persian verse, and Timūr soon found a poet
who could write a suitable response, when the following answer was
returned:

 “Place thy neck on the block of adversity, and move not thy head.
  Thou canst not consider trifling a most severe misfortune.
  Like the Sīmūrgh, why shouldst thou attempt to climb the mountain, Qāf?
  Rather like the little sparrow, gather in thy wings and feathers and
     retire.”

Soon afterward Timūr approached Bagdad,[272] and he not only captured
that city and province, but he proved to be the veritable scourge of the
Orient. The country had scarcely recovered from the ravages of Genghis
Khān when Timūr conquered the whole of ancient Persia, and, flushed with
success, he invaded India and sacked Delhi, where he obtained the
richest spoils of his campaign. It was said that he erected towers of
human heads,[273] waded through streams of blood, and marched over the
ruins of burning cities, in order to achieve his triumphs.

Such men are scarcely calculated to encourage the science of letters,
but it is claimed that he was friendly to scholars, and it is certain
that history was developed during this period.

                                 HĀFIZ.

Not only history, but also poetry flourished under the rule of the
Mongol conqueror.[274] This was the period which gave birth to the
finest lyric poet of Persia, and when the great Timūr conquered Fārs and
put Shah Mansūr to death, Hāfiz was in Shīrāz.

It was at this time that he was ordered into the presence of the new
ruler, and severely reproved for writing such a line as the following:

“For the black mole on thy cheek, I would give the cities of Samarcānd
    and Bokhāra.”

Timūr sternly said to the poet, “I have taken and destroyed, with the
keen edge of my sword, the greatest kingdoms of the earth, to add
splendor and population to the royal cities of my native land,—Samarcānd
and Bokhāra; and yet you would dispose of them both at once for the
black mole on the cheek of your beloved.”

Instead of being daunted by the sternness of the reproof, Hāfiz calmly
replied, “Yes, sire, and it is by such acts of generosity that I am
reduced, as you see, to my present state of poverty.”

Timūr smiled, and bestowed upon him some splendid marks of the royal
favor.

The name of Hāfiz was a _nom de plume_, the poet’s true name being
Shemsuddin Muhammed; he was born in Shīrāz early in the fourteenth
century, and it was here that he died at an advanced age. He was a
student from his childhood, but his especial talent was the gift of
song. His style is clear, his imagery harmonious, and his work had a
certain fascination of its own to the poetry-loving Persians, who are
still charmed with the peculiar accent of his musical rhythm, and the
flights of his vivid imagination. He was invited to make his home with
the reigning Sultan, but he preferred to live in retirement, enjoying
the society of friends and scholars, to the splendor and insecurity of
court life.

Hāfiz was also invited to the court of one of the Indian princes, at a
time when many poets of Persia and Arabia found favor with a literary
king, and this courtesy he intended to accept, as the monarch sent a
liberal amount of money with the invitation to present himself at the
royal abode. The poet gave a portion of the money to his creditors, and
supplied the needs of his sister’s children, before he started out upon
his journey. When he had crossed the Indus and traveled as far as
Lahore, he met a friend who was in great distress, having been robbed by
banditti, and to him he gave all his means without considering his own
needs. But fortunately he soon met two Persian merchants, who were
returning from Hindūstān, and who proposed to pay his expenses for the
pleasure of his company. They journeyed together to the Persian Gulf,
and he even went with them on board the ship that was to bear them away,
but before the anchor was weighed a terrible storm arose, and the poet
turned his back upon his friends, and returned home.

Before leaving the shore, he sent on board the ship an apology to his
friends, and this was couched in graceful verse, but it was to the
effect that at first the horrors of the sea seemed light in
consideration of the pearls which it contained, but the terror of the
storm had taught him that “the infliction of one of its waves would not
be compensated for by an hundred-weight of gold.”

PĪR-I-SEBZ.

There is a legend connected with his youth which is supposed to explain
his wondrous gift of poesy. Tradition claimed that the youth who should
pass forty successive nights at Pīr-i-sebz without sleep, would become a
great poet. Young Hāfiz therefore made a vow, that he would fulfill the
conditions with the utmost exactness. For thirty-nine days he went
faithfully to his post, walking every morning by the home of the girl he
loved, and on the fortieth morning she called him in, but he remembered
his vow and the evening found him again at the place of his lonely
vigil.

The uneventful night passed slowly away, and the gray dawn began to tint
the distant mountain tops, but no other light was visible save the gleam
of the morning star, when the watcher saw in the distance a figure
approaching him. It was a venerable man wearing a green mantle,[275] and
his white beard flowed down upon his garments like a cascade of silver.
He bore in his hand a cup, filled with the nectar of immortality, and
the reverent youth bent low before the genius of the mountain, and then
drank eagerly of the proffered cup; therefore he still lives in the
memory of man.

He was loyal to his native land, and the following lines indicate his
strong attachment to the city of his birth.

                                SHĪRĀZ.

               “May every blessing be the lot
                Of fair Shīrāz, earth’s loveliest spot.
                Oh Heaven! bid Time its beauties spare,
                Nor print his wasteful traces there.

                Still be thou blest of him that gave
                Thy stream, sweet Ruknabad, whose wave
                Can every human ill assuage,
                And life prolong to Khizer’s age.

                And oh the gale that wings its way
                Twixt Jaffrabad and Mosalay;
                How sweet a perfume does it bear!
                How grateful is its amber air!

                Ye who mysterious joys would taste,
                Come to this sacred city—haste;
                Its saints, its sages seek to know,
                Whose breasts with heavenly rapture glow.

                And say, sweet gale—for thou canst tell—
                With lovely Lailī was it well,
                When last you passed the maiden by,
                Of wayward will and witching eye?

                Why, Hāfiz, when you feared the day
                That tore you from her arms away,
                Oh why so thankless for the hours
                You passed in Lailī’s lovely bowers?”

In his youth Hāfiz sang freely of love and wine, and his verse upon
these themes too often betrayed a coarse sentiment, for it seems
impossible for some bards to appreciate the perfect purity of honest
affection. Of his love songs the following is the best:

                          THE FEAST OF SPRING.

                “My breast is filled with roses,
                   My cup is crowned with wine,
                 And the veil her face discloses—
                   The maid I hail as mine.
                 The monarch, wheresoe’er he be,
                   Is but a slave compared to me.

                 Their glare no torches throwing,
                   Shall in our bower be found—
                 Her eyes, like moonbeams glowing,
                   Cast light enough around;
                 And other odors I can spare
                   Who scent the perfume of her hair.

                 The honey-dew thy charm might borrow
                   Thy lip alone to me is sweet;
                 When thou art absent, faint with sorrow
                   I hide me in some lone retreat.
                 Why talk to me of power or fame?
                   What are those idle toys to me?
                 Why ask the praises of my name,
                   My joy, my triumph is in thee.

                 How blest am I! around me swelling
                   The notes of melody arise!
                 I hold the cup with wine excelling,
                   And gaze upon thy radiant eyes,

                 Oh Hāfiz—never waste thy hours
                   Without the cup, the lute, and love
                 For ’tis the sweetest time of flowers
                   And none these moments shall reprove.
                 The nightingales around thee sing
                   It is the joyous feast of spring.”

As Hāfiz grew older he became attached to the Sufi[276] philosophy, and
his poetry contained so many figurative allusions that the Mussulmans
called his productions “the language of mystery,” others claim that even
his most sensual poems are figurative and should be thus interpreted. Of
his graver poems the following is the best:

                                MY BIRD.

  “My soul is as a sacred bird, the highest heaven its nest,
   Fretting within its body-bars, it finds on earth its nest;
   When rising from its dusty heap this bird of mine shall soar
   ’Twill find upon the lofty gate the nest it had before.

   The Sidrah,[277] shall receive my bird, when it has winged its way,
   And on the Empyrean’s top, my falcon’s foot shall stay,
   Over the ample field of earth is fortune’s shadow cast,
   Where upon wings and pennons borne this bird of mine has past.

   No spot in the two worlds it owns, above the sphere its goal,
   Its body from the quarry is, from “No Place” is its soul.
   ’Tis only in the glorious world my bird its splendor shows,
   The rosy bowers of Paradise its daily food bestows.[278]

The poet’s life had been such that the clergy refused to read the burial
service over his body when he died, his friends, however, obviated the
difficulty by stratagem, and it was decided that scattered couplets from
his odes should be placed in a bowl and drawn therefrom by a child, the
disposition of the body to be settled by the sense of the couplet thus
drawn out. The child took out the following distich:

            “Withhold not your step from the bier of Hāfiz,
             For, though sunk in sin, he goes to Paradise.”

And upon the strength of the evidence thus received the body was given
an honorable burial.

                             FIFTH PERIOD.

The fifth period of her literature, beginning with the fourteenth
century, and ending about the close of the fifteenth, marks a stationary
condition in the Persian world of letters.

The sons and grandsons of Timūr, although at variance in their political
interests, vied with each other in the encouragement of scholars, and
for a time the literary world retained its brilliancy. Astronomy as well
as history flourished at this period, and great mathematicians were also
in favor with royalty.

                                 JĀMI.

The most distinguished poet of this period was Nuruddīn Abdurrahman, who
very wisely chose the briefer and more euphonious name of Jāmi. He was a
native of Jām, a small town near Herāt, the capital of Khorasān, and it
was from this circumstance that he called himself Jāmi, which signifies
a drinking cup, as well as a native of Jām.

It is said that he began his career as a student of science, and
attained great proficiency in his chosen field of investigation, but
wishing to learn the mysteries of the philosophy of the Sufis, he became
a pupil of the Shaikh al Islām Saaduddin, and remained with him until he
became a master of the mystic doctrine. On the death of the Shaikh, he
succeeded to his position, and filled it so well that kings and princes
came from distant lands to obtain his advice, while his home was the
resort of scholars, as well as court officials.

He was not only the most celebrated poet of his time, but, in the
opinion of many, he was superior to his predecessors, and being also a
Doctor of the Musselman law, he was honored by all the princes and
nobles of the age in which he lived.

He was the last great poet and mystic of Persia, and he seemed to
combine the moral tone of Sā’dī, with the imagination of Jalal-uddin,
the ease of Hāfiz, and the pathos of Nizāmī.

He was a master of the Persian language and a most prolific author; Shir
Khān Lūdi, in his “Memoirs of the Poets,” claims that he was the author
of ninety-nine different works, which continue to be admired in all
parts of Īrān and Hindūstān.

The enormous expense which has been incurred in the illumination of fine
transcripts of his manuscripts, indicates the high position which his
works still occupy in the literature of the East.

A work entitled “Khorasān in Affliction” was transcribed at Lahore for
the Emperor of Hindūstān, during the sixteenth century,[279] which
represents an expenditure of many thousand dollars. The calligraphy is
the work of a famous scribe, who, on account of his beautiful
penmanship, was called “The Pen of Gold.”

Sixteen eminent artists were engaged in the embellishment of this
manuscript of one hundred and thirty-four pages; five were employed upon
the illuminations and marginal arabesques; and five upon the finely
colored illustrations; there were three engaged upon the hunting scenes
and animals, while three others painted the faces in the vignettes and
margins.

The leaves of the book are of soft silken Kashmīrian paper, tinted in
the softest shades of various harmonious colors. The broad margins are
illuminated with chaste designs painted with liquid gold, and no two
pages are alike. Some of these designs represent mosaic work, others are
in running patterns, and many of them are delineations of field sports,
where the simple outlines of gold indicate, with marvelous accuracy, the
various forms of animal life. This was placed in the library of Shāh
Jehān,[280] with the emperor’s autograph, as the gem of his collection,
and underneath it is a second autograph of another of the royal
descendants of Timūr.

This elaborate manuscript is not only indicative of the great popularity
of Jāmi, but it also shows the liberal patronage which existed for all
works of art under the princes of the house of Timūr. The grave of Jāmi
is at Herāt, where he was laid[281] at the age of eighty-one years, and
this illustrious name completes the list of the seven great poets of
Persia who have been called “The Persian Pleiades.”

                           THE WORKS OF JĀMI.

Although this author was a voluminous writer, still his most important
works may be briefly summarized; there is a book on ethics and education
containing anecdotes and fables, written both in prose and verse, after
the manner adopted by Sā’-dī, and like the Gūlistān, it is divided into
eight chapters.

One of his books, entitled “Irshad” or “Instructions,” was dedicated to
a Turkish Sultan—Al Fāteh, “The Conqueror.” “The Seven Thrones” is
considered by an eminent native critic[282] to combine the most
exquisite compositions in the Persian language, except the “Five Poems”
of the celebrated Nizāmī. The seven gems which are thus alluded to bear
the following titles: (1) The Chain of Gold; (2) Selmān and Absāl; (3)
The Present of the Just; (4) The Rosary; (5) The Loves of Lailī and
Majnūn; (6) Yūsuf and Zulaikhā; (7) The Book of Alexander the Great.

The character of Jāmi’s style may be represented by the following
extract from Yūsuf and Zulaikhā, which is a description of the reception
of a Persian bride at an Egyptian court:

                               RECEPTION.

            With a drum of gold the bright firmament beat
            At morn the signal for night’s retreat.
            The stars with the night at the coming of day
            Broke up their assembly and passed away.
            From that drum, gold-scattering, light was shed,
            Like a peacock’s glorious plumes outspread.

            In princely garb the Vizier arrayed,
            Placed in her litter the moon-bright maid.
            In the van, in the rear, on every side,
            He ordered his soldiers about the bride,
            And golden umbrellas a soft shade threw
            O’er the heads of Zulaikhā’s retinue.

            The singer’s voices rang loud and high,
            As the camels moved at the driver’s cry,
            And the heaven above and below the ground
            Echoed afar with the mingled sound.
            Glad were the maids of Zulaikhā’s train
            That their lady was free from sorrow and pain,
            And the prince and people rejoiced that she
            The idol and queen of his home should be.

                           THE SIXTH PERIOD.

The sixth period, beginning near the close of the fifteenth century, and
extending to about the commencement of the seventeenth, marks a gradual
decline in poetry, although history and other literature still attract
much attention. The so-called poets of this age are unworthy of notice,
but a few good Persian historians made their appearance.

India now began to vie with Persia in the production of great historical
works, under the government of the Mongol emperors from Baber downwards.
The pantheistic doctrines of the Sufis were doubtless brought into
Persia from India, and both the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahā-bhārata were
translated into Persian by the order of Akbar. This monarch was the most
enlightened sovereign that ever reigned on the throne of India. He was
the patron, not only of learning and art, but he also richly rewarded
the calligraphers and other artists that he employed to copy and
illustrate Persian manuscripts. This illustrious patron of Persian
literature was a descendant of Timūr, and therefore belonged to the race
of Mongol emperors, usually styled the “Great Moguls.” The history of
his own times was provided for by the appointment of forty-four
historians, ten of whom were on duty each day to record every event as
it occurred. By Akbar’s order the “History of a Thousand Years” was
composed, several authors being engaged upon it, each one having a
certain number of years assigned to him. A society for literary
composition had thus been organized in India about two hundred years
before that of Guthrie and Grey had been established in England.

                          THE SEVENTH PERIOD.

The seventh period, beginning near the close of the sixteenth century
and continuing until about the end of the eighteenth, shows a marked
decline in Persian literature. With Shāh Akbar[283] and Shāh Abbas,[284]
who occupied respectively the thrones of India and of Persia, the
brilliancy of Persian literature, and especially of her poetry, entirely
disappeared. During this period no poet has arisen above mediocrity, and
no historian has appeared who could be compared with his predecessors.
The successors of Akbar, it is true, left contributions to the history
at their time, and a valuable dictionary of the Persian language was
compiled from forty similar works, but in lieu of poetry and history,
letter-writing began to flourish in both India and Persia. Elegant
calligraphy was now carried to an extreme, and a vast amount of time and
labor were expended upon private as well as official letters. The state
secretaries vied with each other in the production of elaborate
credentials for their ambassadors, and generally men of education who
were well read in the best Persian poets, and able to recite their best
passages, when occasion permitted, were selected for ambassadors.

From the time of Nadīr Shāh up to the present, Persia has suffered many
revolutions, wars and famines, and although they could not destroy the
admiration still bestowed upon their great poets, the genius of the race
appears to have become extinct. The poetry of the eighteenth century is
of little value, and the dominant spirit of the nineteenth is pure
mysticism, as embodied in the doctrines of the Sufis.

Nations, as well as individuals, have their periods of mental growth and
decay, and when once fallen they seldom rise again. History, however,
has some splendid exceptions to this rule, and Persia has had three
successive periods of intellectual prosperity,—three times has the
national spirit awakened as from a torpor, and for a season it has
gleamed like a star in the Orient, but three times it has either died
out, or been crushed beneath the storm of conquest.

Elated with their success under the brilliant leadership of Cyrus, a
change which was almost fatal took place in Persian character, between
his reign and that of Darius. Thus his own people proved the truth of
the warning words of Cyrus, to the effect that “the effeminate clime
produces effeminate inhabitants, nor can the same soil produce excellent
fruits and men who are valiant in war.”[285] Under the Sassanian kings,
however, the national spirit revived, and the literature of Persia
sprang to life, only to be trampled beneath the foot of the Arabian
invader. Toward the close of the ninth century her world of letters
again revived and flourished in various forms during the six periods
which have been previously discussed.

Henceforth she has a national literature, with its own peculiar faults
as well as beauties, even though her best works belong to her past. No
poetry has ever been more peculiarly national than that of Persia, for
three centuries her lyre has been virtually silent, and yet her people
cherish with peculiar fondness the memory of her poets. The finest odes
of Hāfiz and the most beautiful passages of her Shāh Nāmah still live,
even in the memory of her peasants; and the sorrows of Lailī and Majnūn
will be chanted by Persian and Arab as long as the sons of the desert
are found amidst the roses of Īrān.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                          MEHER AND MŪSHTERI.

PERSIAN ROMANCE—THE TWO COMRADES—THE SEPARATION—THE QUEEN—THE DEPARTURE—
    THE ANNOUNCEMENT.


Persian romance, as well as Persian poetry, is burdened with florid
description, and the redundancy of style which is everywhere found in
the works of even their best authors makes them tedious to the reader.
In these books of Oriental romance, it often happens that a new story is
begun before the first is finished, being introduced as a narrative by
one of the characters, and the second is in turn interrupted by a third,
when the author apparently forgets to finish any one of his fables
except the last. Whole volumes are constructed in this way, legends
being repeated as often by a bird or an animal as by men and women.
Story-telling was esteemed a great accomplishment in the East, and those
who excelled in the art were favorites at court as well as in other
grades of society. It sometimes happened that a victim who had been
selected for capital punishment, either deservedly or otherwise, could
save his life if he could find an opportunity of telling a pleasing tale
to some official, who would bear the news of his ability to the king.
Royalty considered this an easy method of entertainment, and the members
of the harem as well as the princes of the courts were often favored in
this way. It sometimes happened that a favorite of the king owed her
position in the affection of his majesty to the fact that she could
entertain him for hours together with pleasing myths of her own
composition.

In the life of Bāhram Gor, the poet prince, his seven wives are
represented as competing with each other for the royal favor by weaving
various romances for his amusement. But amidst all the literary rubbish
which is thus formulated for the public eye, there is an occasional gem
which is well worthy of preservation. One of these is an affecting story
of fraternal love which was written by Assar, an author of much ability,
although the Persian chronicles have preserved but little concerning his
life. The story of Meher and Mūshteri is considered the masterpiece of
Persian romance, and as it is deservedly a favorite with the literati of
the East, we give a brief outline of the story, which in the original
fills a superb manuscript of four hundred and thirty-four pages. It is
transcribed in beautiful Nastaalik characters, within lines of red,
blue, and gold, on paper which is richly powdered with gold. The double
title page is also richly ornamented, and the heads of the chapters are
illuminated in four colors, while the text is illustrated with miniature
paintings.[286] The plot, the characters and the incidents are of
Persian origin; the author has chosen, however, to tell the story in
simpler form and briefer phrase than any Persian writer would present
it.

                           THE TWO COMRADES.

Far from the dangerous boundaries, which were repeatedly crossed and
recrossed by invading kings, stood the beautiful city of Persepolis.
Amidst the mountains of Persia, the foundations of her palaces were laid
upon the solid rock, and the gray marble pillars reached upward to hold
cornice and roof above the gilded galleries.

Within were tesselated floors, and fountains whose silvery spray was
perfumed with the costly odors of the East.

The walls were hung with pictured annals of earlier thrones, and draped
with the richest tapestries of Persian looms, while silver urns gleamed
here and there, bearing fragrant fires fed with costly sandal wood, or
the spicy rods from more distant lands.

Beside this marble city there flowed the river Pulwār. Springing from
the dark mountains in the distance, it came down to water the gardens of
kings; the sunlight tinted its waves with gold, the blossoms opened
their velvet hearts upon its banks, and rich odors were wafted from
clusters of pink and purple.

The gray mountains stood like guardian kings above the capital city,
wearing crowns of snow and the heavy forest grew around their feet.

Here were gathered the treasures of Persia, the crown jewels, and the
imperial regalia, besides other wealth in goodly store; but the
conquering troops of Alexander marched upon the mountain city, her
store-houses were plundered, her palaces were destroyed, and her people
massacred by the ruthless invader.

It was afterward rebuilt, and, under the name of Iśtaker, it became the
capital of Shapur, the Sassanian king, who reigned with justice over his
great domain. He was blessed with a Vizīr, who was not only wise and
just, but also most loyal to his king; there was no service that he
would not gladly perform and by his wisdom and discretion he was enabled
to greatly lighten the responsibilities of royalty.

For a long time neither the king nor his faithful Vizīr were blessed
with children, but after a time a son was born to the royal house, and
while the songs of joy and shouts of congratulation were still ringing
through the land, a child was given to the grand Vizīr.

The young heir of the Persian throne was named Meher (the sun), while
the son of the Vizīr was called Mūshteri, or Jupiter. So intimate were
the relations between the monarch and his principal officer, that the
two beautiful children were brought up almost together; they saw each
other daily, even during their early childhood, and when it was time to
educate them they were taught by the same masters. They learned to ride,
to bear arms, and a little later in life they entered upon the study of
the sciences together. A strong attachment sprung up between them, and
long before they reached the age of manhood, they were united to each
other by a bond as strong as that of fraternal love; there was no
feeling of superiority on the one hand, no shade of envy on the other,
but hand in hand with each other, life seemed one long dream of
happiness.

There was one official, however, of the king’s house-hold, who looked
with disfavor upon this growing intimacy, for in time the young heir
would wear the crown of Persia, and then, unless their friendship could
be destroyed, the playmate of his childhood would surely occupy the
highest position within the gift of the king. The politic father at last
succeeded in having his own son Behrām appointed as the attendant of the
prince, and the son, who was fully in sympathy with his father’s evil
designs, became a spy upon the conduct of his master. The innocent boys
worked or played together in their happy friendship, all unconscious of
the schemes of their enemies; but at last the father of Behrām succeeded
in persuading the tutor of the boys, that Mūshteri was not a proper
associate for the heir of the throne. The tutor was a kind and
benevolent man, but he was somewhat advanced in years, and the testimony
of Behrām was so strong and so carefully prepared that he innocently
fell into the bold conspiracy, and when requested to do so he informed
the king that the son of the Grand Vizīr was not a suitable companion
for the prince.

                            THE SEPARATION.

The monarch was greatly excited by the advice of the tutor, and the
conspirators took good care that other reports should be borne to his
ears at the proper time, so at last he sent for his faithful Vizīr and
angrily commanded him to remove his son at once, and to see that no
further communication took place between the two youths.

The Vizīr took steps to enforce the unreasonable decree, but he was
sorely grieved, both by the evident cruelty of the command and the
unusual severity of the monarch, who for years had been, not only his
king, but also his warm personal friend. The tutor was ordered to attend
the prince in his own chambers, but the unhappy boy was in no mood for
study, and the work that had given him pleasure when his friend was by
his side became so irksome that the old tutor despaired of any success
in his efforts.

Mūshteri bore up bravely for a time in his cruel banishment, but at last
he drooped beneath his long suffering and fell seriously ill. He had a
faithful attendant, a boy named Bader, who volunteered to bring to his
master some tidings from his friend, and to this end he bribed the tutor
to allow him to visit him while he was instructing the prince.

He thus obtained access to the apartments of Meher, but Behrām, the ever
watchful and envious attendant, was constantly on the alert, and for a
long time there was no opportunity for Bader to communicate in any way
with the prince. At last, however, Meher succeeded in writing to his
friend, and confided the letter to the care of Bader; an occasional
correspondence was thus carried on until Behrām obtained one of the
letters, which he hastened to lay before the king.

Finding that his express commands were being disobeyed, the anger of the
Shāh knew no bounds, and sending for Mūshteri and his faithful attendant
he ordered them both to be executed in the royal presence. Meher was
also brought into the presence of his indignant father, and after being
bitterly reproached for his love for his friend, the command was given
that he too should be executed. A thrill of horror ran through the suite
of attendants when they heard this inhuman decree, and Behzād, who was a
nephew of the king, threw himself at the feet of the monarch and pleaded
for mercy for the victims; his plea was treated with scorn, and for a
time it looked as if the intercessor might share in the fate of the
condemned. But the brave boy was undaunted by the royal displeasure, and
continued to plead, even while he was answered by threats, until at last
the king consented to pardon Mūshteri and Bader upon condition that they
leave the kingdom at once and forever, while the punishment of the
prince was commuted to imprisonment. Still it was feared that the king
might even yet order the culprits beheaded, and Behzād hastily supplied
them with wardrobes, money and horses, advising them to make all
possible haste in leaving the Shāh’s dominions.

The Vizīr was tenderly attached to the prince, and knowing that he was
imprisoned and constantly in the power of a father whose whole nature
had been changed by evil associations, he grieved as much for him as for
his own banished boy; he grieved, too, over the estrangement which bad
influences had been able to effect in the heart of his royal friend
towards himself, and being advanced in years, his health gradually
failed beneath the weight of care and suffering.

One day the news was brought to the palace that the faithful Vizīr was
dead, but so completely was the king in the power of his evil
counsellors that he scarcely seemed to care for a loss which would have
caused him the greatest pain when his mind was in a normal condition.
The faithful Behzād was untiring in his efforts for the release of the
prince, and the king found also that the mother of the captive was very
far from approving of the course of her husband, even though she said
very little upon the subject, and after a time he was released. Finding
himself again at liberty, the prince paid no attention to his royal
father, but he went where his heart told him that he should find a warm
welcome—to the apartments of his mother.

                               THE QUEEN.

The dark-eyed queen sat alone in her splendid rooms, for she had sent
her maids away. Around her was all the beauty and luxury that art could
furnish or money could purchase; the ceilings of her apartments were
wrought in the richest mosaics, and the walls sparkled with designs
which seemed to be traced with diamonds.[287]

The rooms were draped with the richest portiéres of Kermān, and the pure
white centres were surrounded with heavy borders, where the soft colors
were blended in floral design; behind those Persian hangings were vases
of silver and gold where burned the costly gums from Thibet, filling the
air with the fragrance of incense.

The great windows opened into gardens where the citrons and rose-apples
kept their bright blossoms and gleaming fruits, and the broad leaved
bananas waved their silken flags in the sunlight. There were fountains
where jets of water, smooth and unbroken, gleamed like silver in the
sunshine, and in the marble basins below them the birds dipped their
wings in the cooling wave, and the bulbul sang of mornings without
clouds.

But amidst all the splendor which surrounded her, the eyes of the queen
were heavy with unshed tears; there were no flowers in her dark hair, no
jewels upon her shapely neck, for her heart was with her lonely boy in
his prison cell, and all her womanhood rebelled against the cruelty of
the Shāh. He who had been so kind, so just, so loving in his home, had
yielded himself so completely to the influence of his evil advisers that
his whole character seemed transformed. He was no longer gentle, patient
and loving, even to his wife; he was selfish and irritable, being
possibly troubled with some pangs of conscience, although he was a man
of such intense egotism that he usually looked upon his own conduct with
the utmost complacency.

A gentle knock disturbed the sad reverie of the queen, and in a moment
more her boy was in her arms; in her splendid isolation she had not
learned of his release, and the welcome that she gave him showed that he
had not been mistaken in the unfailing strength of mother-love. Long
they remained together, talking softly of the happy past and the future
with its threatening clouds; the boy dared not stay within reach of the
unreasonable father, who was liable at any moment to throw him into
prison, or hasten him away to the executioner, and he was also anxious
for the fate of the loyal friend who had suffered banishment for his
sake. He was determined therefore to leave the Shāh’s dominions, and he
had come to his mother for her consent and her blessing.

It was a sad trial to the queen, but true love is ever self-sacrificing,
and she could not ask him to stay in constant danger, preferring rather
that he should risk the unknown perils of a strange land.

Another difficulty, however, presented itself. Meher had no money, his
allowance having been cut off at the beginning of the trouble with his
father, and the queen was no better supplied, for the women of the East
were not supposed to have judgment enough to handle anything more than
the very small amounts required for the purchase of a few trinkets which
were comparatively worthless.

At length, however, the queen arose and went to a casket of jewels,
where rubies and amethysts reflected their color in the light of
diamonds whose purity seemed to mock the sunlight. Taking up in her
shapely hands the glittering mass of stones, she carried them to her son
and begged him to take them all; he refused to do so, saying that a very
small portion of these radiant gems would amply satisfy his modest
needs. The mother, however, pressed upon him a goodly share of them, for
they would be current in any clime, and being small in bulk they were
easily carried. Hours were passed in this last interview, for the mother
felt that she might never look into his loved face again, and she clung
to him with a devotion that would not be denied.

At last, however, he was compelled to bid her adieu, and make his
preparations for departure; his own magnificent Arabian steed was
standing in the royal stables, besides several other horses which were
rightfully his, though they were usually mounted by his attendants.
There were also among his friends, three young men whose loyalty he knew
that he could depend upon, and to them he hastily communicated his
wishes; these Persian youths were not averse to adventure, and an
opportunity to see the great world around them, in the company of the
prince, was a temptation which they could not resist.

                             THE DEPARTURE.

Softly the night came over the Persian city, and the moon swung high
above the eastern peaks, as the cool air floated down from the mountains
and caught the fragrant breath of the night-flowers in the valley. There
was the cautious tread of trained horses, for so sensitive were the
high-bred steeds that they caught the spirit of their riders as the
little cavalcade moved slowly out of the massive gateway. The moonlight
touched the river with silver, and all the sleeping land lay hushed in
fragrance, while the prince and his three faithful attendants rode
slowly down beside the stream and took the road leading to Hindūstān.
Thus they journeyed onward in easy stages until they reached the
seaside, where merchant-ships were trimming their white sails for long
voyages; here they were compelled to sell their horses, and the prince
stood long beside his petted steed, stroking the shapely head and
arching neck, while the magnificent animal pushed his face closely to
that of his master, and received the caresses with sadness, as if he too
knew that a long separation was coming. The dark eyes of Meher were
heavy with tears as he bade his faithful horse good bye, and stepped
upon the ship that was to bear him far away from his home, and far away
from the loving mother who wept alone in her splendid apartments.

                           THE ANNOUNCEMENT.

In the rich audience room of the Persian palace the Shāh was seated upon
the massive throne, and robed in royal raiment; he was holding a council
with his high officials, when a messenger was announced who bore news of
the greatest importance to the king. Then he learned that the heir of
his throne had deserted his domain, and was perhaps even now beyond the
reach of pursuit. The anger of the monarch was so uncontrolled that his
court officials were paralyzed with fear, knowing that any one of them
who spoke an unfortunate word might be hurried away to the executioner.
But his rage soon gave way to the most heart-rending grief, and he
demanded that he be carried at once to the apartments of his wife. Half
fainting and wholly helpless, he was taken through the luxurious halls
and fragrant gardens to the rooms of the queen. Here he was laid upon
the soft couch, rich with its costly cushions and embroidered hangings;
the anger of the indignant woman was softened by his evident suffering,
and she ministered gently to his needs, and listened to his wailings for
his only child. His pride was broken and his vindictiveness conquered,
for he could see only a cruel death for the unfortunate fugitive, who
knew so little how to care for himself among the barbarous tribes
whither he had doubtless gone.

For many hours he lay thus, and when he returned the next day to the
duties of his court, it was only to be approached by the hypocritical
Behrām, who was ever on the watch for an opportunity to promote his own
interests at the expense of others.

He came into the royal presence affecting the greatest grief for the
loss of his young master, and pleaded with the Shāh for an expensive
outfit, that he might follow him and bring him back.

“Give me,” said he, “a caravan, in order that I may pass for a merchant,
and thus travel without suspicion through the country, and I will find
my young master or lose my life in the attempt.”

“My ever faithful servant,” replied the king, “I will give thee camels
and money and goods and slaves, and thou shalt follow him even to the
far countries beyond my realm; if he is alive thou wilt bring him back,
for I know that I can depend upon thy loyalty to thy young master.”

Only a few days elapsed before a costly caravan was equipped, and Behrām
passed through the gates of the city with a long line of camels laden
with rich merchandise, and twenty slaves to do his bidding. He went
exulting on his mission, for if he found and returned the fugitive he
was sure of a rich reward, while if he failed he had wealth enough in
his caravan to enable him to live in affluence in other lands far beyond
the power of the Shāh.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONTINUED.

       THE EXILES—THE DESERT—A SHIPWRECK—THE RESCUE—THE CAPTURE.


Mūshteri and his solitary companion passed out of the city by the light
of the morning sun on the day after their release, for except a few
faithful friends there were none who cared whither the victims of the
Shāh’s displeasure might go, as long as they obeyed the royal edict.

The sorrowful exiles rode slowly onward, all unmindful of the beauty of
the morning, which was gilding with glory the crowns of the palm-trees.
They were leaving behind them all that they held most dear, and going
forth into the world with no provision for the future, save the little
sum that the generous Behzād had been able to provide.

Merely to gratify the unreasonable whim of a royal autocrat, they were
thus banished from home and friends, and with hearts full of bitterness
they scarcely cared whither they went.

They had taken the road to Isfahān, but before they reached the city
they saw in the distance an old gray castle which looked as if it had
withstood the storms of centuries, and with half a mind to test the
hospitality of the occupants, they reined their horses toward it. The
castle gates were opened as if some kindly eye had noted their coming,
but a little band of horsemen issued therefrom, and, fearing some
unfriendly act, the travelers turned away. Their caution came too late,
for in a moment more they were attacked and overpowered by the banditti,
and being bound they were carried captive to the castle where they had
hoped for a kindly reception.

Here they were robbed of every article of value upon their persons, and
an order was issued for their execution; but behind the Persian hangings
of the castle hall there were white hands moving nervously amidst the
rich colors of silken embroidery, and a woman’s heart listened
breathlessly to the cruel death sentence.

Then the beautiful wife of the chief went to her room, and sent a
messenger into the council of the banditti with an urgent summons for
the presence of her lord.

“How canst thou be so cruel?” she demanded with flashing eyes, “hast
thou not robbed these illfated youths of every jewel upon their persons—
nay hast thou not even taken the most costly articles from their
wardrobes? Why shouldst thou add to thy guilt the crime of murder?” Half
ashamed of his cruel decree, and wholly afraid of forfeiting the respect
of his wife, the chieftain promised to commute their punishment, and
hastily returning to the castle hall he demanded that the captives be
taken to the desert and abandoned without food amidst its pitiless
sands.

                              THE DESERT.

And thus it happened that Mūshteri and his faithful Bader found
themselves alone and destitute in a desert where no caravans might pass
for many months—where no palm-tree lifted its plumes in the distance, to
tell of the spring in the oasis beneath its feet. The evening was cool
and restful, even in the desert, and the exiles slept, for their lives
were spared, and though their chance was small, it was surely better
than certain death.

But the sun arose as if in anger, and as it climbed higher and higher
the air became hot as that crimson haze, by which the prostrate caravan
is often buried in the red desert, when the simoon is abroad on its
mission of death. They wandered hopelessly, looking in vain for some
sign of an oasis, until overpowered by the intense heat, Mūshteri, still
weak from recent illness, fell upon the burning sand. Then Bader bent
above him, trying to shield him from the pitiless sun as far as
possible, by the shelter of his own body, and thus they remained until
night came down again with its cooling shadows. They passed day after
day in terrible suffering, until all hope of relief had fled, and they
awaited the coming of death with hope rather than fear.

The faithful Bader was no longer able to shield his master with his own
body, but lay helpless by his side, when the sun again came forth from
the chambers of the east and began to beat upon them with apparently
redoubled fury; but the boy raised his head to search once more the
fiery horizon, and in the distance he seemed to see the figure of a
camel. He wondered if the delirium of death was cheating him with a hope
of deliverance, and he gazed until another seemed to appear behind the
first; then he aroused Mūshteri by telling him of his great hope, and
together they watched what seemed to be the slow coming of a caravan.
After a time a long line of camels could be seen moving patiently and
wearily over the heated sands, but they were not coming directly toward
the exiles, and unless they could change their position considerably,
the caravan must pass them far to the southward. With an effort they
struggled to their feet, and Bader, who was still the stronger,
partially supported Mūshteri, while they slowly and painfully traveled
toward the line of the caravan’s march. They could now see that the
camels were laden, apparently with goods, and it was probably some
merchant’s expedition returning from a long journey.

They tried to call attention by waving their hands, but their efforts
remained unnoticed, and Mūshteri sank once more with exhaustion. Bader
could now see no hope of deliverance, but the master insisted that his
attendant should push onward, leaving him to be rescued when the caravan
had been reached; reluctantly he did so, and Mūshteri anxiously watched
his friend as he slowly approached the line of march, trying with
frantic gesture to attract their attention. Would he succeed, or must
they die within the very sight of aid? At last the foremost camel turned
his head, and courage revived the efforts of the man who was struggling
toward him, while hope lighted the heart of the faint watcher upon the
desert sands; but the camel turned away again and with long swinging
step resumed his way to the southward—nay, he seemed to lengthen and
quicken his pace, while his head pointed straight towards the horizon as
if the wide nostrils were drinking in the welcome smell of water. A
cloud had been gathering in the west, and when it floated over the
blazing sun the soft shades of gray brought relief to the strained eye
and a passing shelter from the fierceness of the heat. It seemed to give
new life to Bader, and he struggled on with renewed hope, passing slowly
over the long reaches of sand which were sometimes smooth as the beaten
beach, and again were heaped together in long ridges like the drifted
snow of a northern clime.

At last a driver turned his head, and fancied that he saw a dark object
upon the pathless tract; he looked again, thinking there were signs of
life, then he called to his companion, and the two drivers gazed until
they were sure it was a man upon the desert waste; a halt was called,
and then the course of the caravan was slightly changed, and the line
bore down toward Bader. He was sure it was coming, and the reaction was
so strong upon his exhausted frame that he fainted before it reached
him, but onward came the great camels careening like ships on the sea of
sand, swinging forward with long elastic tread; noiselessly they came,
keeping the line so exactly that they all seemed to step in the very
tracks of the leader. The exhausted man was taken up and a gurglet of
skin containing water was brought from their stores, when the kindly
leader sponged the face and hands of the exile; a little of the precious
water was forced down his throat and then nature caught eagerly at the
great restorative and he drank of the life-giving fluid.

The owner of the caravan was Mohiār, a Persian merchant, and he quickly
ordered food for the sufferer; out of the strange baskets, closely woven
from the fibers of the palm, they took dates and Syrian pomegranates,
wine in gurglets of skin, and meats which were dried and smoked, but
Bader, being unable to eat or to speak, was placed in a cot suspended by
the side of a camel, and the caravan made ready to depart.

They had traveled a little way before the agonized man was enabled to
tell them that his friend lay dying on the desert sands; then the line
was turned again, and soon Mūshteri heard the tinkling bells fastened to
the brazen chains of the camels; soon he saw their long slender necks
and the scarlet fringe upon the bridle across their foreheads; he saw
them, but in a dazed, indifferent way, as if it mattered little to him
whence they came or whither they went. But in a moment more he was
raised in strong arms, and water, life-giving water, passed over his
face and was poured down his swollen throat. They were soon able to
taste of refreshing fruits, and then the caravan moved on its course,
carrying the exiles upon restful cushions, while above them was
stretched a kindly shade. That night they rested beside a cool spring
and beneath the trees of an oasis; the generous Mohiār ordered a stay of
a few days at the feet of the cooling palms that his own men, and
especially the weakened exiles, might become refreshed. They were then
taken beyond the desert boundaries and generously entertained at the
city of their host.

                              A SHIPWRECK.

Although in the care of hospitable friends they were still in the
dominions of the Shāh, and liable at any moment to be apprehended and
punished; therefore as soon as they were strong enough their host
provided them with a little money, and with his own horses carried them
down to the shores of the Caspian Sea, where a ship was standing in
port, ready to start on a trading voyage to other lands.

Fearful of losing this opportunity they had traveled all the latter part
of the night, and they stepped upon the deck of the merchant-ship in the
early morning. After they had bidden their friends farewell, Mūshteri
turned thoughtfully toward the soft green waves beyond him and said to
his friend: “Surely here is a welcome change from the desert waste; the
cooling breath of the water has a caressing touch, and the morning light
is strewing the sea with opals.”

“Ah, yes!” replied Bader, “the sea hath no perils like the desert heat,—
better the cooling wave, even though it wraps our dying limbs than the
hot breath of the simoon, and a terrible death amidst the bleaching
bones of perished caravans.”

Soon the order was given to raise the anchor, and with a merry shout the
sailors sprang to their task; the ship drifted outward, slowly at first,
and then as her sails caught the welcome breeze she sped over the waves
like a thing of life.

The exiles felt that they were at last beyond the reach of the
unreasonable monarch, beyond the reach of the Persian banditti, and far
from the torrents of burning sand rolling before the desert winds, and
they looked into each other’s eyes with renewed hope and gratitude. Day
after day passed by in restful calm, but the water itself was an ever-
changing picture to the loving eye of Mūshteri; the early morning found
him always on the deck watching the waves and listening to the changing
voices of the sea.

One night he sat alone at his favorite post, even the faithful Bader had
grown weary and gone to his nightly rest, but Mūshteri was watching the
evening star, that seemed to lie cool and dim in the moving water; the
young moon was swinging high in the heavens, while her faint light
touched the waves with silver and gleamed on the white wings of the
night-birds. But a quick wind caught the sail and a cloud swept over the
face of the moon, the sailors sprang to their posts and orders were
hastily given. A storm was gathering in the eastern sky and soon the
sails were reefed and the good ship was placed in readiness to ride out
as best she could the coming peril.

The Persian youth had no thought now of leaving his post; if the sea had
been beautiful in her peaceful sleep, how much grander was the picture
when the storm-spirit swept her waves into a fury,—when the wind smote
the rigging like the edge of a hissing spear and the breakers dashed
angrily against the hull. As the danger grew more imminent he went below
and aroused Bader, but even while they were coming on the deck he
perceived that the storm was increasing in fury and the gale was driving
the helpless ship before it.

They were at the mercy of the blast, and soon a fearful shock told the
story of the good ship’s doom: she had struck a rocky coast and rapidly
her timbers parted. The two exiles were thrown together into the water,
but after a few minutes of struggling and swimming, Mūshteri caught a
floating beam and at last succeeded in getting himself and Bader to this
position of temporary safety. The storm still raged, but they clung to
this their only hope of life, while the greater part of the passengers
and crew were drowned around them.

At last the tempest had exhausted its fury; the winds moaned over the
angry billows and the sorrowing sea-birds wept; the morning star gleamed
behind the passing clouds, but it looked upon a scene of desolation.
After striking the coast the ship had floated back in fragments, while
here and there a human being clung to a portion of the wreck, but they
were now too far from the shore to be able to reach it, and there was
little hope that they would be seen and rescued. All day they tossed
upon the waves—all day they looked anxiously for aid, but night came
down without hope, and another morning found them still at the mercy of
the waters. A beautiful land covered with stately trees lay like a
mirage in the distance, but no friendly wave carried them to the shore.

                              THE RESCUE.

The king of Derbend was hunting on the coast, and the wild gor that he
was pursuing ran close to the water’s edge, where he received the fatal
arrow before the king’s suite had overtaken the royal rider. While the
monarch waited the coming of his attendants he rested beneath a tree and
looked out upon the waste of waters; there he saw fragments of the
wreck, and looking more closely he fancied there were human beings
beyond. When his suite came up he ordered a boat to be manned, and soon
the victims of the storm were gathered upon his hospitable shore; they
were chilled, exhausted, and some of them died even there beneath the
friendly hands that strove to bring the life-tide back.

Mūshteri and his friend were among the survivors and they became the
guests of the generous king, who soon learned their story and took them
to his palace home not far from the shore.

Their way lay through the low lands, where the tall bamboos bristled
like spears in the battle ranks, but afterward the road was shaded with
green-plumed dates and bel-trees, gorgeous with their crimson blossoms.
The palace itself was placed in gardens where the blossoms hung in
silvery sprays on the mango-trees, and the many colored fountains played
like broken rainbows in marble basins. Within those royal courts it was
a maze of light and loveliness; music from pipe and lute was borne
through the cool casement, and beautiful dancing girls seemed to float
through the soft measures. In the whirl of these graceful motions one
could see rings and pearls and emeralds shining everywhere, while round
the white necks of the dancers hung necklaces of diamonds that glowed
like fire in the light of many lamps.

Such was the scene that greeted the eyes of the exiles when, after being
provided with food and raiment, they were ushered into the home of their
newly-found friend, and the air of rest and luxury was most grateful to
the exhausted travelers.

Long they tarried as the guests of their royal host, but the heart of
Mūshteri was never at rest; he grieved for his lost friend, and not even
the luxuries of a court could in any way atone for his absence. Grateful
for the kindness of the king, he was still wasting away in very grief
for the companion of his childhood; Bader sought in vain to cheer him,
to divert his thoughts with the luxury everywhere around him, but
Mūshteri was ever haunted by a conviction that somewhere, at sometime,
the happy companionship would be renewed, and he seemed to live only in
this great hope.

Persian traders were sometimes found even in the dominions of the king
of Derbend, and when the news came to the court that the heir of the
Persian throne had deserted his inheritance, Mūshteri determined to
either find his friend or lose his life in the attempt.

No offer of the kindly king could tempt him to remain longer in idle
luxury, and, still accompanied by the faithful Bader, he set out to
cross the great mountain range that seemed to separate him from the rest
of the world. Day after day they toiled over the rugged heights, and
night after night they slept beside the sheltering rock; at last they
had passed the summit, but the descent on the other side was scarcely
less difficult and dangerous.

After a time however, they reached the beautiful valley lying at the
foot of the range, and then it seemed that their toil was abundantly
rewarded, for here were trees laden with fruit, and vines, which were
burdened with clusters of gold and purple. Here were mango-trees and
orange blossoms, while the river that flowed beside them seemed fragrant
with the breath of her newly blown lilies.

Wearied with their long and tiresome journey, they made their simple
couch in the shade of a great tree, and lay down to find refreshing
slumber.

                              THE CAPTURE.

When the cool and malicious Behrām left the dominions of the Persian
king, not only supplied with money but also in possession of a rich
caravan, he cared very little whether or not he ever found the fugitive
prince; but he determined to find a safe retreat for himself, where he
could enjoy his ill-gotten gains, far from the hope of successful
pursuit by the agents of the Shāh. He therefore pursued his way by a
safe route and easy stages to a distant province.

His caravan encamped for the night a few miles out of the city of
Khārizm; the heavy loads of merchandise were removed from the backs of
the camels, and food was taken from the baskets of palm leaves, but
finding the water of the river near them was somewhat foul, Behrām sent
two slaves nearer to the fountain head of the stream for a supply. They
walked slowly toward the foot of the mountain, where the stream gushed
in a silvery torrent from the rocks, and soon they were in the beautiful
valley of fruits and flowers, where Mūshteri and his faithful attendant
had found repose. They gazed for a few moments upon the lovely scene,
and quickly decided that if their master would consent to remove the
camp, this would be a more desirable locality, as there was not only an
abundance of pure water but also a bountiful supply of fruits. As they
were turning however to go back, after having filled their leathern
gurglets with water, one of them saw two men under a tree apparently
asleep; fearing that they might be in the vicinity of a powerful foe,
they approached cautiously to learn at least the nationality of their
new neighbors. The wearied sleepers remained unconscious of their
careful approach and after a time they came nearer; they had already
discovered the men were Persians, and a closer scrutiny convinced them
that the faces which they looked upon were none other than those of
Mūshteri and Bader.

Hastening back to their master with this information, their message was
received with incredulity, but nevertheless, Behrām made haste to go
into the valley with eight of his strongest slaves, while the others
remained with the camels and merchandise. When he saw that Mūshteri and
Bader were really lying before him, his malignant eyes flashed with
triumphant malice, and quickly giving a whispered order, the young
exiles were partially bound, even before they wakened.

Being aroused by the handling of their captors, they found themselves
utterly helpless in the power of their most dreaded foe, but even in
this condition they scorned to ask for mercy which they knew would be
denied them. Behrām ordered a slave to go back to the old encampment
with the message that the camels and goods should be brought to the
newly chosen ground, and when the campfires were lighted, the camels
fed, and the wants of both master and slaves provided for, the beautiful
valley witnessed a cruel scene.



                              CHAPTER XIX.
                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONTINUED.

 THE FUGITIVES—ROYAL INTERVIEWS—THE CONFLICT—A GARDEN SCENE—AFTERWARDS—
                             THE DECISION.


It was a ship belonging to a distant province that carried the Persian
prince beyond the reach of the angry Shāh, and after a long trading
voyage, during which they battled with angry seas and perilous rocks,
they landed upon the friendly coast.

The commander was also a merchant, and he bore the name of Sherf; he had
become greatly attached to the prince during the weeks they had spent
together, even though he knew not of his royal rank, for Meher had given
strict orders to his attendants that no hint of his identity should be
given; he was known, therefore, simply as a Persian youth, who, with his
companions, had chosen to seek his fortune in travel.

On his arrival in port the merchant sold his ship, and fitting out a
large caravan he made ready for the journey to his native city. He
warmly urged the prince and his friends to join his party, and Meher
consented to do so, not only because of the greater safety thus
afforded, but also because he disliked to be separated from his newly
found friend.

The known wealth of the merchant caravan, however, was a source of
danger, as the country was infested with banditti, and they were only
three days’ journey from the coast when a night attack was made upon the
encampment; the men were hastily awakened by the guard; but in the
confusion of the darkness the well-planned assault proved only too
successful, and with one daring raid much valuable merchandise was
seized, and several men left in a wounded and dying condition. Meher
sprang to his horse, and calling to his attendants to follow, he rode
away in bold pursuit of the banditti, who were only a few minutes ahead
of him; his horse was in good condition, and the rider well trained, but
the banditti knew every inch of the ground which was new to their
pursuers, and they were thus enabled to pursue a circuitous path which,
for a time, baffled them.

After a long chase in the darkness, however, they were overtaken, and a
desperate struggle ensued. Meher had been followed, not only by his own
attendants, but a few of the more daring among the servants of Sherf had
also answered to his call. The banditti were armed only with arrows and
spears, while the prince and his attendants carried the best Persian
fire-arms, and the men of the caravan were also well equipped, or would
have been, but for the suddenness of the attack.

The banditti were overpowered, for they had depended largely upon the
panic they caused for an opportunity to make their escape in the
darkness, and their quivers were only partially filled with arrows. The
prince had been carefully trained in the use of his weapons, and his
quick and repeated firing brought man after man to the ground, and
though several of his own party had fallen, he soon had the robbers in
his power. He then demanded the stolen property, which was surrendered;
but not satisfied with this, he determined that they should pay more
dearly for their baseness, and he required the stolen jewels which he
knew must be hidden upon their persons, and also their finest horses.
They protested that they had no jewels, but the argument which demanded
their treasures or their lives was inexorable, and the pursuers bore
away more than double the wealth which had been stolen. The morning
dawned before they reached the encampment, and then the prince divided
the booty among the servants of Sherf, who had bravely followed him in
the hour of peril. The wounded men were carried to the camp, and they
received a double share of the spoils.

The owner of the caravan was more than grateful, for he knew that he
could never have recovered the property but for the bravery of the
gallant strangers.

His admiration for Meher knew no bounds, and when order was again
restored and the line of march resumed, he declared that only one woman
in the world was worthy to be his wife, and that was the beautiful
princess Nahīd, the daughter of the king of Khārizm.

Meher answered that his whole anxiety at present was to find a dearly
loved friend, and when that was accomplished perhaps he might think of
marriage.

On their arrival at the city, Sherf insisted that Meher and his friends
should take up their abode in his own spacious home, and for the time
being they consented to do so.

The next day the prince visited the public bath, and his splendid
physique won the admiration of all beholders, greatly to the
satisfaction of his friend. The merchant, on his return from his long
journey, went to the court of King Keiwan, and laid costly gifts at his
feet, as was the custom on the completion of a successful expedition.
The king was anxious to hear the adventures of the traveler, and
listened long to the story of his voyage and wonderful escapes.

The merchant was glad of an opportunity to thus communicate with the
king, and always loyal to Meher he related at length the story of the
night attack, and the daring pursuit of the Persian youth, who succeeded
not only in restoring the property of his host, but also in gaining from
the banditti a rich reward for the servants who so bravely responded to
his call.

                           ROYAL INTERVIEWS.

The king was greatly interested in the gallant stranger, and he
immediately sent a chamberlain to request his presence at court.

Meher stepped with easy grace into the royal presence and saluted with
due courtesy, but there was no fear in his manner, no awkwardness in the
salute, and the keen-eyed monarch saw at once that he was accustomed to
the presence of royalty, and suspected that he carried noble blood in
his veins.

He was most graciously received, and after a long conversation the king
presented him with a beautiful horse; delighted with the gift, Meher
sprang to the saddle, and rode away like the prince that he was, while
the king looked admiringly on.

The next morning he received another invitation to visit the palace, and
on this occasion he presented a poem which he had written in honor of
the king, when the eloquence of his diction, the music of his rhythm,
and the historical knowledge betrayed by his allusions to the past, made
his production an object of admiration to the literati of the court. It
was customary for those who were presented to make an offering to
royalty, and after apologizing for the humble character of his gift,
Meher ordered one of his attendants to present to his majesty a little
casket which he carried in his hand. With a feeling of curiosity,
mingled with a desire to extend an especial favor, Keiwan received the
gift in his own hands, and upon opening the casket he was astonished to
find richer jewels than any that gleamed in his own treasury. There was
one ruby in that little collection, which, on being placed in water,
radiated a light which colored the water like the blood of the grape,
and the diamonds flashed back the green and purple fire of the emerald
and amethyst beside them.

Here was another factor in the problem which was agitating the mind of
Keiwan, for unless this youth was of royal birth he must surely belong
to some band of robbers who had successfully raided a king’s treasury.
But with true Oriental reticence he forbore to express his surprise,
determined to wait until he could solve the mystery without questions.

Again Meher was summoned to the court and challenged to a game of drafts
with a skillful opponent; being successful in this, he was invited to a
contest in chess with the best player of the kingdom. The king looked on
and saw his young friend checkmate the veteran with six moves. Afterward
the monarch sent him a letter requiring an immediate reply at a time
when his secretary was known to be absent. The messenger waited a few
minutes, and then carried to his royal master a letter which was a model
in its literary style as well as in its mechanical execution. Every
triumph of this kind raised the Persian youth more highly in the
estimation of the king, but he was not yet satisfied, and after a time
he was invited to a trial of strength and agility; the contest took
place in front of the palace, while the queen and the princess Nahīd
looked upon the combatants from behind a screen. Meher rode into the
arena upon his white Arabian steed, and never royal rider mounted a more
magnificent animal, or rode with more grace and ease; as the horse
circled proudly around the arena, his young master shot his arrows
through the distant target until the quiver by his side was empty, then
he threw the javelin, and in a later contest with spears, he carried off
the prize.

Safely hidden behind her costly screen, the beautiful princess watched
the contest, and the victor won not only the plaudits of the multitude,
but also the heart of Nahīd; the prince rode quietly away, but the
princess went to her rooms, with her cheeks flushed and her heart
beating with terror. Already offers had been received from foreign
courts for her hand, and her father had hesitated only to find a more
powerful ally. Full well she knew that, according to the custom of the
East, she was liable to be bargained away at any time, without even a
question in relation to her own preference, for the Eastern woman is
supposed to give her affection wherever policy decides that her hand
shall go. At last she went to her faithful nurse, and told the story of
her love for the stranger, told her how impossible it would be for her
to love any other than the gallant youth who now held her heart in his
hands, and declared that she would take her own life if she were
compelled to marry another.

The nurse was frightened by her strong emotion, and hastened to the
queen with the information; the mother received the message with great
agitation, and soon afterward she sought the presence of the king. Long
and carefully the subject was considered, for they were both favorably
impressed with the stranger, but an alliance of the royal house could
not be lightly made, and whatever might be the accomplishments of Meher
they were obliged to content themselves with his own representations,
for surely there could be no good reason why a man of royal birth should
deny his parentage.

No decision was made, but it must be confessed that Meher stood still
nearer to their hearts on account of the love which their only daughter
bore him. Although a confessed favorite at court, and living in the
enjoyment of luxury, the heart of the prince was oppressed with grief
and loneliness, for he constantly mourned the absence of his friend, and
the fearful uncertainty which hung over his fate.

                             THE CONFLICT.

A messenger from the king of Samarcānd bore to the court of Keiwan an
offer for the hand of the princess, for the fame of her wondrous
loveliness had spread through all the neighboring kingdoms. The
ambassador came laden with the costliest jewels and the richest brocades
of the East as presents for the bride, for there was no thought in the
heart of King Kāra Khān that his offer might be refused.

Keiwan had long considered the fading rose on the cheek of his beloved
daughter, and more than once he had asked himself if her happiness was
not worth as much as an alliance with some neighboring monarch, who was
liable to betray his trust whenever it might be considered profitable to
do so.

There was a shade of superiority, too, in the manner of the ambassador—
an evident feeling that his master was bestowing a high honor that stung
the proud spirit of King Keiwan, and he returned an unqualified refusal
to the proposition.

This decision was made in opposition to the advice of the Grand Vizir,
who dreaded to insult so powerful a prince, but the king refused to
reconsider his action, and the ambassador went away in anger.

King Kāra Khān received the message of refusal, first with incredulity,
and afterwards with rage; having never seen the girl, he cared nothing
for her personally, but his indignation knew no bounds when he learned
that his expressed wish had been disregarded.

As the Vizir had feared, the return of the disappointed ambassador was
promptly followed by a declaration of war, and soon the Tartar horde was
marching directly upon Khārizm.

King Keiwan was almost overcome with dismay when the news of the
invasion was brought to him, for the Tartar chief was not a foe to be
despised; the court was in more or less confusion on account of the
suddenness of the attack, and in the midst of the general terror, the
nurse of Nahīd went to Meher and told him the story of the great love
that the princess bore for him, and informed him that it was in
deference to this feeling that the king had refused to give his daughter
to the king of Samarcānd.

Feeling that he was the unfortunate cause of the attack upon his royal
friend, the prince went to the king and offered to withstand the foe
with five hundred chosen men. Although the offer was refused, being
looked upon as a useless sacrifice, Meher and his friends insisted that
they should be allowed the privilege of joining the army which marched
out to repulse the attack of the Tartars.

Soon the wild horde of mountaineers bore down upon the Khārizmians, and
it could be seen that the attacking force greatly outnumbered them, but
the troops of Keiwan stood bravely at their post and sent their death-
dealing arrows into the ranks of the foe.

The Tartar chief clad in black armor was leading his troops in person,
and he looked a very fiend as his bloody falchion made great vistas in
the ranks that opposed his progress. The heads of horsemen rolled
beneath his splendid charger, and it seemed that only another Rustem
could withstand the fury of his attack. The black banners were spread
upon the air, and the wild music of gong and tymbalons cheered his
reckless hordes in their fatal work.

There was the clash of spears, the ringing of armor, and the shouts of
the chieftains, mingled with the trampling of horses and the cries of
dying men; still onward came the Tartar chief, cleaving his path through
the opposing forces, even while blade for blade sprang up to meet him.
The Khārizmians were falling back before the irresistible fury of the
onset, and victory was surely perching upon the black banner above the
fatal field. Confusion already reigned amidst the flying troops, when a
warrior youth with a broidered vestment rode out of the retreating ranks
and called upon the men to follow him.

It was a voice of imperial command, the order of a man who rode
fearlessly into the ranks of the foe, and the troops of Keiwan quickly
rallied, the officers reformed their lines, and followed the new leader
into the very jaws of death.

Kāra Khān laughed mockingly as he saw the stripling, who had turned the
retreating lines, riding towards him, but in another moment the boy was
by his side, and before he could draw his sword a quick motion had
thrown him from his horse; the cry went through the Tartar ranks that
the king was slain, and, in the momentary panic caused by the false
alarm, he was captured by the dauntless youth, who hurried him back
within the Khārizmian lines.

Leaving his prisoner in the hands of his own attendants the prince again
turned his horse to the front, and again he led the troops of Keiwan,
this time to an easy victory; the fate of the day being turned by the
capture of the Tartar king, the hordes of the invader either fled from
the field or surrendered to the new leader.

When the royal prisoner was brought before the victorious king, the
order was issued according to the barbaric custom, that he should be
beheaded; but Meher interfered, with the plea that it were far better to
send him back to his own dominions pledged to make an annual tribute to
Keiwan. This would not only increase the royal revenue, but it would
hold the Tartar host in subjection, and also preserve the peace;
whereas, upon the execution of their king his successor would declare
perpetual war against the Khārizmians.

After a time Meher succeeded in convincing the king of the wisdom of a
humane policy, and the captive was allowed to depart in peace, having
taken a solemn pledge to send a rich tribute to the conqueror every year
on the anniversary of his attack.

Keiwan acknowledged that the victory had been secured by Meher, and he
was escorted back to the palace by a portion of the royal guard, while
the honors bestowed upon the prince were second only to those received
by the king himself.

                            A GARDEN SCENE.

The enameled cupola of the palace, rich with its arabesques of gold, was
partially hidden by the boughs of the tall trees that stood like
sentries around it; at their feet were fountains that poured their
silvery streams into marble tanks, where the gold-fish glided through
the waves, and white lotus blossoms rose above them, filling all the air
with their fragrant breath. There were aloes with their spikes of
silvery blossoms, and pink oleander sprays were reflected back in the
water of the lilied tanks. The bulbul sang in the thickets of roses, and
the sunbirds fluttered through the taller trees, where their eggs of
mottled gray were safely hidden.

As the triumphant warriors returned to the palace the low sun dappled
the green with creeping shadows, and rays of golden light tinted the
trees with splendor. The prince was exhausted with the strong excitement
of the last few days, and especially wearied by the bitter conflict
which he had just passed through: the voices even of victory seemed to
jar upon his ears and he sought in the cool shades of the garden the
rest which he could not hope to find within the palace walls. Here, upon
a bank of verdure, he laid his weary form, and soon fell asleep amidst
the flowers.

On the other side of the tall trees, the princess Nahīd was walking with
her nurse, and they were talking in low tones of the great victory, the
news of which had reached even the apartments of the women. The princess
stood beneath an orange tree, and the tints of rose were blushing
through the soft olive shades of her face, while the dark eyes were
beaming with a wondrous light, for she had heard the name of her beloved
in connection with the deeds of valor upon that well fought field. Her
love-lighted eyes were curtained with long sweeping lashes, and the
mouth of rose and pearl was curved with a smile divine, as they walked
through the green aisles and spoke in joyous whispers of this new
triumph, which could not fail to bring Meher nearer to the heart of the
king. Nahīd was walking slowly in advance of her attendant when she came
to a little opening in the trees, and there upon the bank lay the man
she loved, still held in the restful arms of sleep. She checked the
exclamation of surprise that sprang to her lips, and, cautiously
advancing, she bent above the silent figure and looked long and lovingly
upon the face she knew so well.

The sleeping prince felt her presence, and through his mind there passed
a vision of loveliness; he dreamed that a beautiful woman bent above his
couch holding a pomegranate blossom—the flower of faith. Upon her dark
hair there rested a little cap sewn thick with beaded pearls, and
something whispered in his dream that this was the princess who had
scorned a Tartar king for his sake.

And still the prince dreamed on, and still the bright face bent above
him, all unheeding the frantic gestures of the attendant who would call
the imprudent Nahīd away. But the bulbul in the rose-tree had bolder
grown, and his voice rose higher in a joyous song,—the sleeping prince
awoke, and lo! the vision of his dream was bending o’er him; with one
quick movement, all unheeding Eastern law, he caught her in his arms,
and, as she lay blushing and trembling there, he told her the sweet old
story, which is ever new to the listening heart.

In vain the attendant pleaded that he had no right to even look upon her
unveiled face—in vain she warned them that if this meeting came to the
ears of the king, the life of Meher must pay the penalty of the
forbidden kiss; long he held her there in his warm embrace, and then a
Huma bird floated slowly above them and the attendant thought that a
future king and his queen were before her; for never doth this bird of
happy omen fly around a human head but it will sometime wear a crown.
The sun had rolled away behind the crimson curtains of the west before
the princess stole to her room, but not to sleep, for if a treacherous
eye had seen her with Meher, she might be called with the dawn to
witness his execution.

                              AFTERWARDS.

The prince went to his chambers with his heart filled with conflicting
emotions; on the one hand was the beautiful princess, who had confided
her love to him, and on the other was the humiliating knowledge that he
had betrayed the trust of his royal friend, the king, who had taken an
unknown youth into his heart and home. Full well he knew that he had no
right to even look into the unveiled face of the princess, no right to
touch the soft hands which were henna stained upon the palms, and yet he
had violated the most sacred law of hospitality by holding her in his
arms—nay, he had even pressed her crimson lips with his own; in that
hour of strong self-condemnation he did not dread the righteous anger of
the king, he felt rather, that it devolved upon him to go into the
court, and make a full confession of his base act and bravely receive
the deserved punishment.

Another bitter thought added not a little to his self-reproach, for was
he not also a traitor to the sacred trust of friendship? His chosen
friend was in constant peril, he knew not where, and he was living in
ease and luxury without trying to find him; he thought he could go to
the king, and, by proving his royal birth and his claim to the Persian
throne, he could hopefully ask for the hand of the princess, but this
would be a virtual desertion of the cause of his friend, and he could
not consent to thus sacrifice the sacred claims of fraternal love for
his own pleasure and happiness. Long he tossed upon his sleepless couch
and still the matter was far from settled; at last he fell into a
feverish slumber which was haunted by a fair face, with dark, loving
eyes, but there were also visions of a loyal friend who was suffering on
account of his unyielding devotion to the prince—even the vindictive
face of Behrām passed before his mind, and the morning found him still
weary and disturbed. He decided, however, to pursue his search for
Mūshteri, even at the risk of losing Nahīd, for was not this his first
and most sacred obligation?

Having resolved to follow what seemed the path of duty, at whatever
cost, his tempest-torn heart was at rest. Surely the sacrifice and
renunciation were better than the gratification of self-love, and when
he had found his friend he would present to the king a formal request
for the hand of Nahīd. While yet he pondered, a messenger was announced
from the king with an order for his immediate presence in the council
chamber of the palace.

                             THE DECISION.

The imperative nature of the summons bore with it an air of danger; it
was not the kindly invitation which he had been wont to receive, or at
least the messenger did not deliver it as such, and the scene in the
garden with all its possible consequences, flashed before the mind of
the prince. He dismissed the chamberlain with the reply that the call
would be promptly obeyed, and then sat down to collect his thoughts in
order to be prepared for whatever ordeal might await him.

He could not avoid the conviction that he must now pay the penalty for
his betrayal of the king’s trust, and he thought of the broken-hearted
mother who was grieving her life away over the uncertain fate of her
child; he had no hope that he could even send her a message, for
Oriental monarchs were not in the habit of granting such privileges to
men who were condemned to execution.

But he had little time for sad reflections, and soon he was on his way
to obey the imperial summons. He was ushered into the royal presence and
was received with the usual courtesies, but the king ordered the Vizir
to leave the room, and then Meher knew that he should soon learn his
fate.

The monarch slowly recounted the principal incidents of their
acquaintance, and after giving an account of the battle and the victory
which Meher had snatched from the very hands of defeat, he said: “I have
consulted with my principal counselors, and we have decided that the
only suitable reward which we can confer upon the unknown Persian youth
is to give him the Princess Nahīd in marriage.”

Meher fell upon his knees in an ecstacy of gratitude, and it was some
time before he could even thank the king for his great kindness; but he
could not prove himself further unworthy of this great trust, and after
expressing, as best he could, his appreciation of the priceless gift, he
proceeded with true manliness, to tell his whole story to King Keiwan.
He told of his parentage, his claims to the crown of Persia, his
unchanging friendship with Mūshteri, who was exiled for his sake, of his
determination to find his friend, and his great appreciation of the
kindness of his royal host.

Nothing was hidden in this manly confession; the scene in the garden was
given with unfaltering truthfulness, even while the narrator watched the
dark frown that was gathering upon the brow of Keiwan. The angry king
listened in dismay, though he could but admire the moral courage of the
prince, who, when he had finished, threw himself upon the clemency of
Keiwan.

There was a silence that seemed to bode little good to Meher, and then
the king said: “I have seen how thou could’st forgive, even a foe; I
have seen thee plead for Kāra Khān, who would gladly have taken thy
life, if it were in his power; a king cannot afford to be less
magnanimous than thyself—arise and receive my forgiveness. But the
grateful prince remained at his feet and there expressed his devout
thankfulness.

In this long and candid interview he also told Keiwan that while he held
in his heart a great love for the beautiful princess, and nothing in
life could give him greater joy than to call her his own, still he dared
not give up, even for her sake, his search for the friend of his
childhood, who might even now be in jeopardy on account of his loyalty.
Again he braved the royal displeasure, by seeming to undervalue the
priceless gift, even while his own heart cried out for his love. Again
that ominous frown passed over the brow of the king, and his words were
followed by a silence so profound that he could hear his own heart-
beats. After a time the king spoke, but only to chide him for his ill-
chosen friendship, only to tell him that his hope was useless, and to
urge him to give up the fruitless search.

Meher replied that it was impossible—that he could not be happy in
heaven itself, if he had betrayed the trust of his friend, and whatever
might be the cost, he must either find him or give his life to the
unavailing search; he was then dismissed from the king’s presence, and
went away feeling that although he was under the royal displeasure, he
must still be true to himself.



                              CHAPTER XX.
                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONTINUED.

        THE CAPTIVES—ARREST AND TRIAL—ROYAL FAVOR—THE SENTENCE.


A caravan which was approaching Khārizm was observed to have in custody
two prisoners, who had evidently been cruelly beaten. The report was
carried to the city, and the king’s officers were sent out to
investigate the circumstances. They questioned the owner of the caravan
in relation to the matter, and he informed them that these men were his
slaves, who had escaped from his service and carried off with them large
quantities of stolen goods; he had pursued them many days and at great
expense, had finally captured them, but had succeeded in obtaining only
a small portion of his merchandise, the rest having been sold and the
proceeds expended in riotous living.

The man was evidently a Persian, and the captives seemed to be Persian
also, therefore the story seemed probable, and the officers returned to
the king with the statement that the matter had been fully investigated,
and that the master of the caravan had evidently good reasons for
whatever severity might have been used, and thus the matter was allowed
to rest, while the strangers encamped in security just outside the city
limits. A close guard was kept over the prisoners, and they were
constantly told that if they varied from this story, in case they were
questioned, that their lives should pay the forfeit of their imprudence.
In view of the dreadful beating they had already received, they had good
reason to believe that they would not only be murdered, but that, too,
in the most barbarous manner, in case of exposure; Mūshteri decided to
tell the truth if he were questioned, whatever the result might be, but
there was little prospect that such an opportunity might present itself,
for they were not only closely guarded, but the indolent officers of the
crown were glad to have the matter so easily disposed of.

After a few days of rest, therefore, in the suburbs, Behrām gave the
order to proceed, and the men under his command slowly packed the camp
utensils, and the caravan made its way into the city, where some of the
merchant’s goods were offered for sale. The rich Persian stuffs brought
high prices, and the burdens of the pack animals were not only lightened
but the master was rapidly changing his wealth into a more portable
form. One of the attendants of Meher was attracted by the sale, for with
his longing for home was mingled a desire to obtain some of the goods
which had a familiar look in their fabric. He was merely looking on,
however, at a short distance, for the crowd around the caravan was not
easy to penetrate, and he wondered in an indolent way what portion of
Persia the new comers were from, when he was startled by the sound of a
familiar voice; the indifference in his manner quickly vanished, and he
listened eagerly until he heard it again, for he could not at first
recall the tone that seemed so strangely familiar. He pressed anxiously
nearer, and at last caught sight of the face of Behrām, who was so
deeply engaged in the sale of his goods that he did not notice an eager
look upon the face of one of the bystanders, and the man hurried away to
carry the news to Meher. Feeling that he had possibly found a clue to
the whereabouts of his friend, the prince applied for an interview with
the king; but his cordial relations with royalty had been greatly
interrupted by what the monarch chose to consider his indifference to
the princess, and he refused to see him, sending out a message to the
effect that he was too busy to be interrupted.

The prince sent his friend back to watch, unobserved, the movements of
the caravan, and also to see if possibly he might not have been mistaken
in the identity of Behrām. This was all he could do at present, and he
realized that even if it should prove to be his old attendant his
discovery might not lead to any information concerning Mūshteri. The man
returned, however, to Meher with the information that it was surely
Behrām, and he carried two captives, but they were so closely guarded
that it was impossible to see who they were. In an agony of suspense the
prince again applied for an audience with the king, but only to meet
with a second refusal. In the morning he learned that, having sold all
the goods which he wished at present to dispose of, Behrām was preparing
to leave the city.

                           ARREST AND TRIAL.

Meher would have been willing to follow and attack him with the aid only
of his own attendants, but he knew that in case of an attack Behrām’s
first act would be to slay his captives, whoever they might be; he
therefore wrote a most piteous appeal to the king, saying that he knew
the owner of the caravan to be a man of basest purpose, and beseeching
that he might at least be arrested and more thoroughly examined.

Keiwan at last consented to this plan, but the caravan was already two
days’ journey from the city. The king’s officers overtook them, and
brought them back to appear before the tribunal in the council hall.
Meher had succeeded in obtaining an audience with the king, who treated
him with great formality. He consented, however, that the prince should
be present at the forthcoming examination of the prisoners, and he chose
to do so without being himself observed.

Behrām and his slaves were brought into the hall and the prisoners were
also compelled to appear, all the excuses of Behrām having been
unavailing with the officers, who had strict orders from Keiwan. Meher
looked closely and anxiously at them from behind his screen, but they
had been so completely changed by the barbarous treatment to which they
had been subjected that he could not recognize them. Feeling grievously
disappointed, he lost to a great extent his interest in the trial, for
he cared little to have Behrām punished merely as a matter of revenge.

The owner of the caravan was first plied with questions, and he told
with great freedom the story which he had first given to the king’s
officers. He declared that both of his prisoners were his former slaves,
and one of them being his treasurer had been intrusted with large sums
of money; he had betrayed his trust, however, and with his companion had
stolen a vast amount of money and jewels, taking them to a foreign land.
The owner had pursued them at great expense of both time and money, and
now having secured them he was taking them back to deliver them up to
the proper officers. He then called his slaves to swear to the truth of
his story, which they promptly did.

As the story proceeded, Meher was stirred with indignation, and with
great difficulty succeeded in keeping his place behind the screen. He
contented himself, however, with writing out questions to be asked the
prisoner, and sending them by his attendant to the proper officer.

In this way he soon had the traitor involved in a mass of hopeless
contradictions and lost in wonder at the ingenuity of a stranger who
seemed to understand his entire history.

At last one of the captives was brought forward to testify in his own
behalf, and Mūshteri took the stand. His head had been shaved and his
face painted; his clothing was in fragments, and he was so weakened by
the brutalities to which he had been subjected that he could hardly
stand. His own mother would not have recognized him when he was led
forward, but when the first question was put to him and he began to
reply, the tones of his voice carried his identity to Meher, and, unable
to conceal his emotions, the prince came quickly forward and caught him
in his arms. The captive gave one glad cry of recognition, and then
fainted at the feet of his friend. Keiwan was melted to tears by this
scene of fraternal devotion, and, quickly giving an order to have Behrām
placed in irons, he called for restoratives to be applied to the victim
of his cruelty. The face of Mūshteri was bathed in rose water, and when
he revived he was driven with Bader to the apartments of the prince.

Their wounds were carefully dressed, and the most delicate food placed
before them; wardrobes were provided, and every luxury that art could
devise or money could purchase, was placed at their disposal.

Long hours were spent in recounting to each other the history of the
past, before Meher could consent to leave his friend, even to visit the
palace.

                              ROYAL FAVOR.

When Meher again applied for an interview with the king, his request was
not refused, for Keiwan could but honor the loyalty of a man who had so
persistently followed his friend, and at last rescued him from the hands
of a man who would soon have murdered him in the most barbarous manner
but for the timely intercession of the prince.

After enjoying the cordial reception which the king vouchsafed to him,
Meher said: “I have a right to speak to thee now, for no other duty
intervenes. I come before thee as the heir of the Persian throne, and
come to ask the hand of the beautiful princess in marriage. Having
discharged the most sacred duties of friendship, I ask thee to give me
also the blessings of love.”

The king replied that the man who could be so loyal in his friendship
could not be unworthy the hand of even the princess Nahīd, and their
betrothal was formally sealed.

A message was sent to the apartments of Nahīd to inform the happy
princess of her betrothal to the man she loved, and thus it happened
that in an Eastern court a woman’s heart was given with her hand. She
was not allowed to see her lover, even the stolen interview in the
garden being looked upon as criminal; but she told the story to the
bulbul in the rose-tree, and the bulbul sang a sweet new tune as he
looked down into the sheltered nest where three blue eggs were waiting
the touch of life.

The princess told her story to the lotus blossoms, and they breathed a
sweeter fragrance; she told the pomegranate tree that had witnessed
their first betrothal, and the rich flowers grew more vivid and seemed
to tremble with a new happiness; the sunbirds flew more joyously through
the branches of the trees, and even the skies were of rose and pearl.

                             THE SENTENCE.

There came a day when Behrām was brought forth from his dark cell to
receive his sentence, and there beside the throne stood Meher and
Mūshteri, while Bader was only a little way in the background.

The face of the culprit was dark with shame and the poison of defeated
malice, as he stood in the presence of those whose lives he had so
nearly wrecked. There was a cloud even upon the face of the prince, for
he remembered the suffering which this man had brought upon the friend
of his boyhood, and, more than all, upon his gentle mother in her
loneliness and grief.

The list of his crimes was formally read to the prisoner, and then his
sentence was pronounced by the king, and the executioner was ordered to
lead him away.

Mūshteri looked upon the guilty wretch before him, and remembered the
years of malice with which this man had followed him. He remembered the
faithful father who but for him might still be living, and he felt that
the sentence was just, but was not mercy the better part of valor? Could
another death bring back the dead or aid in any way the living? Surely
not; and stepping forward with the grace of one who was accustomed to
the presence of royalty, he besought the king to forgive this relentless
foe and let him go back in peace to his aged father. Keiwan looked in
astonishment upon this gallant youth who could plead for so relentless a
foe, almost as soon as he was released from his power, and he hesitated
to grant the strange request.

Mūshteri then knelt before the king and continued his plea, while the
officers of the court looked on in wonder. At last, however, the king
yielded, and told Mūshteri that he might loosen the bonds of the
prisoner. There was no reproach in the kind eyes of the victor as he
came forward and unfastened with his own hands the fetters of Behrām.
The prisoner looked amazed and humiliated; he had nerved himself to meet
the executioner with a sullen courage; but freedom, and that, too, from
the man whom he had so grievously and persistently wronged, he was
unprepared for, and he broke down in a flood of tears.

Mūshteri led him to the door of the council chamber, and bade him go to
his home and friends. “Alas!” said he, “I have no home—I have no
friends. I have outraged the confidence of the Shāh, there is no room
for me in his dominions, and even the father who taught me the lessons
of hypocrisy is now ashamed of his son. I have no home but the desert—no
friend but death.”

He went away, but the disappointed malice, and the hopeless future, had
wrought a change in the strong man that he was powerless to overcome; he
returned to his caravan which had been restored to him by the
intercession of Meher and Mūshteri, but in a few days his lifeless body
was found upon the plains, and his servants claimed that he had died by
his own hand.

-----

Footnote 261:

  About A.D. 1200.

Footnote 262:

  Born A.D. 1141, and died A.D. 1203.

Footnote 263:

  Kais was the proper name of the lover, but he received the cognomen of
  Majnun on account of his madness.

Footnote 264:

  Except the desert scene, the poetical extracts in this chapter are
  from Atkinson’s translation.

Footnote 265:

  Zemzem is the sacred well enclosed by the temple at Mecca, and even a
  stone dipped in its waters is thought to possess marvelous virtues.

Footnote 266:

  Born at Balkha, A.D. 1297.

Footnote 267:

  A.D. 1176.

Footnote 268:

  Some authorities say that he died at the age of one hundred years,
  while others claim that he lived to be one hundred and sixteen.

Footnote 269:

  Journal Asiatique, Jan., 1843.

Footnote 270:

  From Davies’ version.

Footnote 271:

  From Gladwin’s Translation.

Footnote 272:

  A.D. 1388.

Footnote 273:

  It is claimed that he used ninety thousand human heads in erecting
  pyramids to illustrate his horrible triumph.

Footnote 274:

  Timur was also of Mongol origin, and a descendant of Genghis Khan.

Footnote 275:

  Khizer was the prophet who, according to Oriental tradition,
  discovered and drank of the Fountain of Life, and it was he who bore
  the nectar to the waiting poet.

Footnote 276:

  Most of the Asiatic poets are Sufis, and claim to prefer the
  meditations of mysticism to the pleasures of the world. Their
  fundamental tenets are that nothing exists, absolutely, except God,
  and that the human soul is an emanation from his essence, and will
  finally be restored to him.

Footnote 277:

  Sidrah—Tree of Paradise.

Footnote 278:

  Bichnel’s Trans.

Footnote 279:

  Finished about A.D. 1575.

Footnote 280:

  A.D. 1611.

Footnote 281:

  A.D. 1430.

Footnote 282:

  Haji Luft Ali.

Footnote 283:

  A.D. 1556-1605.

Footnote 284:

  A.D. 1585-1628.

Footnote 285:

  Herodotus IX.

Footnote 286:

  Ousley, Biog. Pers. Poets, p. 202.

Footnote 287:

  A very popular style of decoration in Persia is the kainah-karree;
  while the plaster is yet soft, the surface is inlaid with minute
  mirrors of every conceivable shape. The amount of work and skill
  necessary to inlay a room in this style is almost incalculable, and
  although the materials are comparatively cheap, the immense amount of
  labor required make the work very expensive. The effect, however, is
  one of bewildering splendor as if the light were flashed from the
  polished facets of millions of gems.—_Benjamin, Persia and Persians,
  p. 279._



                              CHAPTER XXI.
                     MEHER AND MŪSHTERI—CONCLUDED.

     THE WEDDING—A COUNCIL—ROYAL CAVALCADE—THE MESSENGER—RECEPTION.


A pavilion was built beneath the palm trees, and the fire-flies lit
their signals afresh in the thickets of foliage, for it was amidst the
shades of the garden that the singers were placed, whose sweetest notes
were to be poured forth at the royal wedding. Within the palace, the
courts were all ablaze with light and loveliness; lamps of graven silver
were swinging from the fretted roof, suspended by long chains, and fed
with the perfumed oils of distant lands. Their soft light fell on silken
hangings and tapestries from Eastern looms, while crystal vases gleamed
here and there, filled with branches of orange trees or sprays of
magnolia blossoms. It was here that Meher received his royal bride, and
when the ceremony was finished, the notes of music floated in through
the casement, and mingled with the breath of the flowers. Still nearer
seemed to come the dream-like harmonies, as the tones of pipe and lute
were mingled with the voices of the singers and the musical ripple of
the fountains.

Then the dancing girls floated into the bright halls, and swayed
gracefully through the soft measures, and all was motion, light and
jewels. Golden chains were woven in their dark hair, and silver bangles
gleamed upon the shapely ankles, where little bells kept time with
gliding feet. Each dancer held a dainty lute of gold and sandal wood,
which answered to the swaying of her arms and the soft beat of graceful
hands. And still the music from without floated through the lattice and
mingled with the harmonies within. But in this festal scene Love was the
honored guest. He came to rule the court and grove; his were the
symphonies that breathed a richer note than all the garden singers; his
were the harmonies that shaped the loyal lives, and led the happy feet
along the aisles of time.

Bewildered with the beauty and love of his bride, Meher lived for weeks
unheeding the lapse of time, for all the days were crowned with gold and
radiant with the blossoms of love. But there came a morning when the
picture of his grieving mother was forced upon his heart and mind with
all its power, and he remembered that not alone to his lovely wife
belonged his fealty.

They were sitting together beneath the sheltering branches of a great
magnolia tree, whose creamy flowers were bursting from the green sheath
of the bud, and the air was rich with fragrance. On the green bank
beyond them, the peacocks drew their gorgeous trains, and birds sang in
the tall trees in the distance.

The dark eyes of the prince had a look of sadness in them, and there was
a cloud, the first that Nahīd had ever seen upon his handsome brow; she
drew closer within the sheltering arm, and her soft, dark eyes looked
anxiously into his. His own heart read her pleading question, even
before her lips had framed it, and then he told her of the loving mother
who was grieving her life away amidst the splendors of another court—of
the faithful heart that looked longingly for his return and refused to
be comforted, because he came not.

“But what can we do?” questioned the princess. “Thou canst not leave the
wife to go even to the mother.”

“No,” answered the prince, “but can I not take my bride with me? Can I
not take my peerless pearl to the royal court which is my rightful
inheritance? Can I not bear to her arms the beauteous daughter that I
have given her? Surely my wife should receive my mother’s blessing! Let
me take thee there before the faithful mother-heart is cold in death.”

“But my father,” faltered Nahīd, “will he consent? Will he allow thee to
bear me away to a strange land to claim the lost inheritance?”

“The king should remember that not only filial love demands my return,
but I can never make my bride the queen that she should be—I can never
place a royal crown upon her lovely brow unless I return to the land of
my fathers,” answered the prince; and then he told her, with loving
thought, of the land where the palms grew higher by striving toward the
sun, of the marble palaces of Istakhar, standing beside the river that
came down from the heights rippling with low harmonies, as the waves
dashed on the sanded shores; told her, too, of the mountains beyond the
marble city, where the wild swans came to their nesting places,—white
voyagers on the seas of blue, calling, in soft notes, down the line,
while love was leading them homeward, to the sheltered nooks beside the
pools of the mountain stream.

Long they stayed in loving converse, and when they turned to the palace
court, the prince had won from his bride a promise that she would see
the king, and win, if possible, his consent to the long bridal trip,
that she now looked forward to with pleasure.

                            ROYAL CAVALCADE.

The king listened patiently to the plea of Nahīd, for though he knew
that the long journey would take her from him, perhaps forever, he also
knew that the throne of Persia might be waiting for their coming, and at
last he consented that the prince should bear his bride away to wear a
crown in the halls of the proud Sassanian kings.

But she should not go dowerless to the home of her husband. Keiwan
therefore gave orders for the fitting out of a magnificent cavalcade,
comprising a thousand camels of the purest Syrian blood, a thousand
splendid Arabian steeds and a thousand Indian slaves, besides a military
escort composed of the finest troops in the service of the king.

The morning was radiant with golden sunlight when the splendid
procession left the city of Khārizm; the streets were gorgeous with
flags, and branches of flowering trees stood by every doorway, while the
palace itself was covered with silken banners, lightly draped with
wreaths of flowers. The excited horses, with their golden caparisons,
tossed their heads in the air, and pranced with joy as the strains of
music rang out from the balconies around them, and the camels gently
shook their light-toned bells in every passing breeze. Hundreds of
banners floated above the troops and waved like the wings of birds in
the sunlight; the gleaming swords of the warriors were pointed up to
heaven, and a thousand voices rang with joyous acclamation. Keiwan and
his queen rode in the imperial chariot immediately behind the camels
bearing the luxurious cushions of the prince and his bride, for they
traveled a day’s journey with them before bidding their children
farewell, and then returned sorrowfully to their lonely palace home.

The gorgeous cavalcade moved slowly onward, over hill and plain, and
through a forest where all the branches laughed with songs of birds, and
trusses of scarlet pomegranate blossoms gleamed here and there through
the rich foliage. When night came down upon the landscape an encampment
was made beside a river, and pavilions of scarlet and gold were
furnished with costly cushions that invited repose.

                             THE MESSENGER.

The uneventful days passed slowly by, and still the great cavalcade was
far from its destination, when Meher ordered his especial attendant to
mount one of the swiftest Arabian horses and carry a letter to his
father asking if he wished him to return.

The Persian monarch was sitting in the council hall surrounded by his
counselors, and they were considering an important affair of state when
a messenger was announced. He was ordered into an adjoining room to wait
until King Shapur was ready to receive him, and here he could look upon
the once familiar form of his sovereign.

He was astonished to see how greatly the Shāh had changed with the
passing years; only three times had the seasons made their cycles, and
yet the stalwart form was bent as if with age, the dark hair was already
silvered and the furrows upon the weary brow told that grief and remorse
were leaving their impress upon his once serene countenance. At last the
word was brought that the messenger could now approach the king, but he
replied that his was a secret mission, he must see his majesty alone,
and after a time he was ushered into the private audience room.

He then told the king that he brought him news from Behrām, who had
obtained a magnificent caravan under the pretext of finding the prince.
The king listened eagerly while the messenger gave a graphic description
of the pursuit and capture of Mūshteri but his brow darkened with an
ominous frown as the recital continued. He had been the prey of evil
advisers who cared only to flatter him for their own gain, and in the
years that had gone he sadly missed the faithful advice and unfailing
loyalty of his old Vizir. He often reproached himself as the indirect
cause of his death, and decreed in his heart that if the banished son
could be found he should be recompensed, so far as lay in his power, for
all sufferings of the past. When, therefore, he learned of the
persistent brutality of Behrām his anger grew almost uncontrolable. He
inquired anxiously for the prince. “You bring me bad news enough;” he
cried, “can you give me no knowledge of my son?” And he answered: “Oh,
king, great and mighty ruler of the wide realm, I can bring thee news of
the prince, for I have seen him in a foreign court.” “Where didst thou
see him? What is he doing, and why does he not return to the land of his
fathers?” he rapidly questioned. “He has risen, oh, king, to great
eminence at the court of a foreign potentate, and he hath no need to
return to thee, but his heart yearns for his native land; he cares much
to spend his years near to the father whom he still loves, and he longs
to take his beloved mother into his arms again. I have brought thee a
letter from him,” and then he placed the document in the royal hand. “A
letter!” cried the Shāh, “a letter from my son!” and he ceased to be a
king, for now he was only a father, and the manly tears coursed down his
cheeks as he caught the precious missive and pressed the hand of the
messenger.

As soon as he could read the communication from Meher he called for
writing materials, and with his own hand he penned a long and loving
letter to his son, telling him that not only his home but also the
Persian crown awaited his coming, urging him to return and bring with
him the faithful friend who had suffered so much on account of his
loyalty to the prince. Then he hastened the messenger away, that he
might reach Meher at the earliest possible moment, and he himself went
to bear the glad tidings to the sorrowful queen.

The next day a proclamation was issued that the heir of the throne was
coming to the capital city, and orders were given to the Grand Vizir, to
the chamberlains and other officers of the crown that suitable
preparations be made to welcome the prince and his bride.

                             THE RECEPTION.

The announcement of his coming was a signal for general rejoicing; even
the children loved the young heir and knew the story of fraternal
affection between him and Mūshteri. The Shāh had been bitterly blamed in
the hearts of his subjects, although such was the force of Oriental
despotism that a man scarcely knew the thought of his neighbor. Never
were the imperial orders more willingly obeyed than when the Shāh
commanded a festal scene to be arranged for the reception of Meher, and
never was the marble city fairer than when the coming of the royal
cavalcade was announced. Silken banners waved in triumph from every wall
and battlement, while strains of martial music floated through the air,
and the streets were strewn with white lilies and the fragrant roses of
Persia. Gilded barges on the river wore their festal flags, and bore the
minstrels down the stream to the shore, where the voices of singers were
mingled with the notes of lute and psaltery.

Without the city the Persian road of palms was festooned with arches of
roses and strewn with the flowers of the valley, for all the way was
glad with blossoms and vocal with the songs of welcome.

In the early morning a swiftly-mounted courier had been stationed on an
eminence a few miles from the city, where he could see the approaching
cavalcade far down the valley, and when he rode into the city with the
message that the advance guard was already in sight there were loud
acclamations of joy. For hours the finest horses in the royal stables
had stood impatient, with tossing plumes and gorgeous trappings, waiting
for the advance, and now the Shāh, with his chosen guard, rode out in
royal state to meet the coming prince.

The white Arabian steeds, the costly armor of the troops and the rich
raiment of the Shāh, made a gorgeous picture in the sunlight, when they
swept down through the rose-covered arches and under the palms. As they
rode onward a new strain of music saluted their ears, and a long line of
camels came swinging slowly into view, their heads tufted with bright
tassels, while their light-toned bells were shaking silvery notes upon
the air, and their drivers were singing and playing on pipes. But lo!
the lines were opened for a small troop of horsemen who galloped towards
the Shāh, and Meher, swinging gracefully down from the saddle, came to
his father’s feet.

King Shapur quickly recognized the familiar face, and hastily
dismounting, he caught his son in his arms. The hardy Persian soldiers
turned away from the sacred scene with tears in their eyes, but after a
time Mūshteri came forward, and humbly kneeling at the monarch’s feet he
craved forgiveness. The Shāh laid his hand upon the head of him who, in
his childhood, had seemed almost as near as his own son, and freely gave
the royal pardon; then the lines were reformed, Meher and Mūshteri
riding on either side of the king, and the horses were turned toward
Istakhar.

The sun was sinking behind the western mountains when the cavalcade
approached the gates of the city, and the dark thickets by the roadside
were vocal with the song of the nightingale; but his voice was soon
hushed by the notes of martial music and the triumphant shouts of
welcome that greeted their first appearance to the people who had been
held back by the spears of the soldiery. Although the distant peaks
still wore the crimson crowns of sunset, the side of the mountain was
already dark with the gathering shades of twilight, and signal fires
flashed from the gray depths of the forest or blazed upon the leafless
slopes of granite beyond them. Within the city all was joyous tumult;
but Meher had little heart for the general rejoicing, and scarcely
waiting to be announced he hurried away to the apartments of his mother.
A little later the Princess Nahīd was ushered into the rooms of the
queen, and was folded closely to the warm, loving heart, so fully
prepared to receive her. Little cared the mother for the wondrous beauty
of the princess, but much she valued the loyal heart which had been
given so fully into the keeping of her son, and from that day forth she
was cherished as a loving daughter in the royal household.

The days flew by on joyous feet, but King Shapur was weary of the cares
of state—weary of a life whose very pleasures were burdened with
responsibility and embittered with the knowledge that treachery waited
only for a favorable opportunity to show her cruel fangs. He therefore
abdicated in favor of his son, and voluntarily invested Meher with the
robes of sovereignty.

All the resources of the kingdom were taxed to provide for the splendors
of the coronation ceremony. Again the royal procession swept through the
streets, and feasts were given where the richest wines of the East were
poured in jeweled cups and the tables were laden with the choicest
viands from many climes. There were plantains, golden and green, and
grapes of gold; there were apples and pomegranates from Kabūl, apricots
from the fairest gardens of Īrān, and the sunniest fruits in all the
lands of the Orient.

Again the dark face of the mountain blazed forth at night with the
signal-lights of victory, the river was covered with barges bearing
illuminations, and the night rivaled the day in the splendor of its
offerings at the feet of the new Shāh, and Mūshteri, his Grand Vizir.



                             CHAPTER XXII.
                              CONCLUSION.

               SUMMARY—PRIESTLY RULE—RUSSIAN OPPRESSION.


We have now passed in review the principal features of a great
literature from its early mythology to the time when the rule of
priestcraft, combined with political tyranny, seems to have quenched the
fire of Persian genius.

The empire gathered to herself the culture of ancient Nineveh and the
poetic dreams of Chaldea, but, not content with the heritage which she
received from more ancient kingdoms, she developed, from resources
peculiarly her own, a literature which is rich in all that pertains to
Oriental fancy. Her mythology, like that of other Āryan races, is
traceable to the system of sensual idolatry which flourished in the
valley of the Euphrates; the origin of her myths was found in the
“sacred groves of Baal,” and around the altars of Ashtaroth.

Merodach and Nebo, Moloch and Chemosh reappeared in later times in other
lands, and under different names, but still with the same
characteristics which they had in the land of their birth.

We have seen the gradual growth of her Zend-Avesta with the inauguration
of her system of worship, and noted the fact there was originally a
close connection between the Veda and the Zend-Avesta, although the
Persian work was of later origin.

Some of the Hindū gods bear the same names in the Avesta that were
applied to them in the Sanskṛit poems, although in the later books they
may appear as evil spirits, and the same god is sometimes represented as
an angel, and again as a fiend.

Indra, the storm-king of the Veda, was the god of war, for whom the
Ṛishis made and drank the intoxicating Soma, while in the Vendīdad[288]
he is expressly mentioned in the list of evil spirits, and is second
only to Ahriman, the arch-fiend of the Avesta. But another name for
Indra in the Vedic songs is Vṛitrahā, and this name is recognized as
that of the angel Verethragna; hence it follows that under one name the
god is cursed and feared as a fiend, while under another he is
worshipped as an angel.

The name of Deva in the Vedas, and in all Brāhmanical literature, is
applied to divine beings who are still worshipped by the Hindūs, while
in the Avesta, from the earliest to the latest texts, and even in modern
Persian literature, Deva is a name applied to a fiend. The word Asura,
although used in a good sense in the early songs of the Rig-veda,
becomes, in the later portions of that literature, as well as in the
Brāhmaṇas and Purāṇas, a term which is applied only to evil spirits;
they are represented as the constant enemies of the Hindū gods, always
making attacks upon the sacrifices offered by devotees. In the Avesta,
Asura, in the form of Ahura, becomes a component part of Ahura Mazda,
which is the name of God among the Pārsīs, whose faith is called “the
Ahura religion”[289] in order to distinctively indicate its opposition
to the Deva religion.

The Vedic god, Vāyu (the wind), is readily recognized in the spirit Vāyu
in the Avesta, who is supposed to be roaming everywhere.

Another instance of a deity who is scarcely changed in any way is
Mithra, the Sanskṛit form of which is Mitra. In the Ṛig-veda “Mitra
calls men to their work; Mitra is preserving earth and heaven; Mitra
looks upon the nations always without shutting his eyes.” In the Avesta
he is also the lord of the morning, the god of day, and the object of
profound adoration.

These are but a few out of many similarities, and the careful student of
the Veda and the Avesta will also notice the identity of many terms
referring to priestly functions. The very name of “priest” in the Zend-
Avesta is _atharva_, and it is merely another form of _atharvan_, which
is the term applied to the priest of fire and Soma, in the Vedas.[290]

These and many other similarities do not necessarily prove that the
Zend-Avesta was partially copied from the Veda, but they do prove that
“the Veda and the Zend-Avesta are two rivers flowing from one fountain
head; the stream of the Veda is the fuller and purer, and has remained
truer to its original character; that of the Zend-Avesta has been in
various ways polluted, has altered its course, and cannot, with
certainty, be traced back to its source.”[291] Nevertheless, their
common origin must be assigned to the early Indo-Īraniān traditions.

Besides the official copy of the sacred books, which was burned by
Alexander with the palace of the Persian king at Persepolis, there were
other copies, or at least portions of them, and these the first
Sassanian kings collected, and compiled from them, as far as possible,
their sacred literature. For more than five centuries after Alexander,
the empire of Persia suffered from foreign despotism and internal
dissensions, but during this long period of political unrest, the
Sassanian kings were able to collect a large proportion of the old
writings, even though the literature which was thus restored consisted
chiefly of fragments; it appears, however, that some portion of nearly
every book was recovered by the zeal of these monarchs, and therefore
the total disappearance of some of them must be assigned to more recent
times.

A still greater disaster awaited the books of the Persians at the hand
of the Moslem invader, when the Arabian horde swept over the hills and
valleys of Persia like a simoon from the desert. Every tree and flower
seemed to feel the withering touch of the barbarian, and the authority
of the Korān was enforced with the logic of the sword. “Ye know your
option, ye Christian dogs; the Korān, tribute, or the sword,” was the
dictum of the conqueror wherever the Moslem flag was triumphant, and at
last the Star and Crescent floated over the land of “the Lion and the
Sun”—her nationality was humiliated and crushed, while her treasures of
literature were again destroyed by a foreign foe. The kingdom of Persia
now entered upon the long night of Mohammedan rule. Her sacred books
were swept from the land, the Korān became the successor of the Zend-
Avesta, and many of the Pārsīs went into voluntary exile, finding upon
the shores of India that freedom which was denied them upon their native
soil. Even the Persian tongue was placed under a ban, and Arabic became
the legal language of court and council hall.

The Persians were conquered, but not subdued; the national spirit still
lived in their hearts, and in more than one instance the conquest was
repeated—for, in the defence of their nationality and their faith, they
rebelled in different portions of the country and fought desperately
against the hated Arab. They were subjugated at last, and, to a certain
extent, accepted even the religion of the invader, but the vitality of
the Persian character was not destroyed.

After a time, a few of the subordinate rulers, who were natives,
rebelled against the tyranny of the Arabic tongue, and succeeded in
establishing the Persian language to a great extent in its rightful
domain. The national spirit again rallied, Persian poets were
encouraged, traditions of the empire were once more collected, and the
composition of a great national epic became possible. The Shāh Nāmah,
which was written under royal patronage, has lived through the
vicissitudes of more than eight hundred years, and is still the most
popular Persian classic. Other centuries followed, bearing the names of
distinguished poets and scholars, the cities of Bokhāra, Samarcānd and
Bagdad became great literary centers, their colleges and libraries being
celebrated throughout the East.

But again the power of brute force was destined to sweep away the
bulwarks of civilization, and Genghis Khān, the Tartar chief, came down
like a mountain storm upon the fairest provinces of the Orient. The
principal cities were pillaged and burned by the Tartar horde, colleges
were destroyed, and the most valuable books in the libraries were thrown
into the Tigris.

These were times which tried the hearts of men, for more than two
hundred thousand lives were sacrificed to the cruelty of the invading
host. Scholars were driven to various places of refuge, and the science
of letters received an almost fatal blow.

There are, however, a few illustrious names upon the records of the
Persian literati, even after the close of the thirteenth century, and
such was the intellectual vitality of the people that lyric poetry and
rhetoric were well developed during these stormy times in the political
and military world, for the empire had still many men of culture, and
also boasted of one literary king.

                             PRIESTLY RULE.

Nations, as well as individuals, have their periods of growth,
prosperity and decay. It is seldom that they arise from an age of great
prostration and regain their former strength and brilliancy.

History, however, furnishes bright exceptions to this general rule, and
Persia has repeatedly recovered herself from the ravages of foreign
conquest. Three times her territory has been invaded when the design of
the conqueror has apparently been the extermination of the science of
letters, and three times she has rallied bravely from the shock and
rebuilded her institutions of learning, founding a new national
literature upon the ruins of the old.

Her literature of to-day is profuse in quantity, consisting largely of
the various forms of romance,[292] but the best works of Persian authors
belong to the centuries past. Perhaps she might rally even the fourth
time, and resume her old position in the world of letters, but she is
held in a state of lethargy by the benumbing influence of a Mohammedan
priesthood. Even the Shāh rules only by the permission of this power,
being looked upon as the vicegerent of the prophet, and the laws of the
nation are subject to the dictation of the priests.

They stand in the way of all progress, as even a railway cannot be laid
without their permission, much less can institutions of learning be
carried on outside of their control. Official corruption, which seems to
threaten the very existence of some of the Eastern nations, gathers new
power from the influence of these Mohammedan mollāhs, and a large share
of the money which is appropriated for public improvement eventually
finds its way into the coffers of the king’s ministers.

There is little hope of intellectual growth under this baneful
influence. At the beginning of the present century Īrānian poetry
assumed a dramatic form, but, like the Greek drama, and the “Mysteries”
of the Middle ages, it is the offspring of a religious ceremony, and the
great attraction of the Persian stage is a Moslem passion play,[293]
even the drama of the empire being under the control of her conquerors.

                          RUSSIAN OPPRESSION.

Not only is the nation firmly held in the chains of priestly rule, but
her political position is far from enviable. Upon her northern border
stands the most unscrupulous power among the nations of the East. The
black eagles of the Czar are ever watching for an opportunity to invade
her dominions, ever looking for some unusual sign of internal weakness
which may throw her completely into their power. Russia has justly
earned a reputation which, for political treachery, is unequaled among
the children of men. She makes treaties and signs the most solemn
pledges of national co-operation, apparently with the utmost sincerity,
and then breaks them, without even a word of apology, whenever she can
gain a point or a province by so doing.

For centuries Russia has coveted Constantinople as the key of the East.
For centuries she has looked with envious eyes upon the wealth of India,
and she has hesitated at no policy which might advance her interests by
extending her boundary line.

Great Britain stands as the strongest bulwark in the world of nations
against the insidious diplomacy of the Muscovite, which seems to be the
enemy of all civilization, and therefore in every move that is made in
the political world of either Europe or Asia, Russia is ever on the
alert to defeat the plans of England, and the coming conflict in the Old
World will doubtless be led by these two great powers. Intending some
day to wrest India from the hand of Great Britain, she finds Persia
standing in the way of her design, and it must therefore be conquered or
absorbed. By the most unscrupulous methods known to nations, she has
already acquired much of Persian territory, and the process of
absorption is renewed whenever the opportunity offers.

She hesitates at no oppression, and has already ruined Persian commerce,
as far as lay in her power, by permitting the transportation of goods
across her territory, only under restrictions which are practically
prohibitory. Flattering promises are carefully combined with threats in
order to promote her designs, and the emissaries of Russia are abundant
in Persia, and even in Northern India, where their mission is to educate
a public sentiment by constantly instilling into the minds of the people
false ideas of the magnificence and generosity of Russia. These men are
not Russians, for they would attract attention and arouse public
apprehension, but they are Asiatics, who are kept at work by Russian
gold, making lavish promises of Muscovite benevolence when northern
barbarism shall succeed English civilization.

While engaged in thus duping the Asiatic tribes, she is pushing her
railway as rapidly as possible toward India, and preparing for war on a
greater scale than ever before in her history.

The record of her political policy proves that she will fasten her iron
hand upon the vitals of a nation, and crush out, as far as possible,
every effort toward progress, until the crippled empire falls into her
fatal embrace. Persia has little hope of escaping the Russian policy of
oppression and absorption, unless either English or German troops are
allied with her native forces against the common foe. There is no
longer, therefore, a hope that Persian literature may be revived, and
the intellectual resources of the empire again developed, unless the
civilized nations of Europe come to her rescue. The yoke of Mohammedan
rule must be broken, and the tyranny of the northern barbarian removed,
before the Persian mind and heart can be stimulated to intellectual and
moral activity.

-----

Footnote 288:

  Ven., XIX, 43.

Footnote 289:

  Yasna, XII, 9, p. 174.

Footnote 290:

  Dr. Haug, Essays, p. 2. 67

Footnote 291:

  Prof. Roth, Tubingen. Chips, p. 85.

Footnote 292:

  There are also many so-called historical works, which, although
  deficient in sound criticism, and to a greater or less extent
  unreliable, still furnish some curious and noteworthy data. They have
  translations of the Maha-bharata, the Ramaya_n_a and other standard
  works of Sanskrit literature, but the original fire of Persian genius
  appears to be hopelessly crushed.

Footnote 293:

  The Tazieh is the outgrowth of a ceremony which, for centuries, the
  Persians have annually performed in the holy month Moharrem. At this
  time they celebrate the tragic death of Hossein, the grandson of the
  Prophet who perished with all his house at the hands of a rival for
  the honors of a caliphate. The month of mourning is largely occupied
  with the recitals and ceremonies pertaining to the event; halls being
  especially constructed for these rhapsodies, as after more than seven
  hundred years, the terrible scenes of the tragedy were dramatized and
  placed upon the Persian stage. In the royal Takieh, or theatre, the
  great drama is unfolded for ten successive days, during the month of
  mourning, while in all other portions of the empire it is reproduced
  with more or less power, at the same time.



                                 INDEX.


                                   A.

 Abbas, Shah, 335.
 Accad, 1, 2, 3, 4, 33, 51.
 Accadian, 66.
 Accadian Tongue, 6, 31, 55.
 Achæmenes, n 46.
 Achæmenian, 44, 46, 48.
 Achæmenidæ, 50.
 Adarbad, 114.
 Adonis, 68, 77.
 Adonis Phrygian, 42.
 Afrasiyab, the Tartar Chief, 244, 245, 247.
 Age, Babylonian, 7.
 Agathokles, 10.
 Agni, 66, 107.
 Ahasuerus, 49.
 Ahriman, 48, 54, 99, 106, 129.
 Ahura Mazda, 86, 94, 99, 108, 128, 161.
 Akbar, Shah, 334, 335.
 Akhuni, 59.
 Alborz, Mount, 91, 98, 103.
 Alexander, 13, 14, 20, 21, 52, 112, 113, 406;
   book of, 333.
 Allah-il-Allah, 23.
 Al-Fateh, 333.
 Almokaffa, 190.
 Alp Arslan, 27.
 Amicable Instruction, 189, 203.
 Anāhid, 69.
 Anat, 56.
 Anderson, n 96.
 Angra Mainyu, 127, 129.
 Annatu, 70.
 Antelope and Crow, 189, 205.
 Anthon, 76.
 Anu, 56, 69, 70.
 Anwāri, 284.
 Anwār-i-Suhali, 189, 215;
   history of, 190;
   preface of, 192.
 Apaosha, 101, 105.
 Aphrodite, 76.
 Apis Egyptian, 87.
 Arabs, 166, 176, 183, 188.
 Arabia, 7, 46, 48, 166.
 Arabian Conquest, 1, 22, 25.
 Arabian Nights, 28.
 Arbela, 40.
 Architecture of Persepolis, 18.
 Ardvi Sura Anāhita, 93, 94.
 Arjasp, 272;
   defeated by Isfendiyār, 276.
 Armenia, 15, 48, 69.
 Arrianus, n 36.
 Art, Asiatic, 17.
 Art, Greek, 5.
 Art, Persian, 1, 16, 17, 18.
 Artaxerxes, 13, 30, 44, 49, 50.
 Aryan, 23.
 Arzang, the Demon Chief, 259.
 Asia, 1, 8, 23, 39, 48.
 Ashtaroth, 8, n 10, n 54, 67, 68, 77, 108.
 Assur, 53, 58, 59.
 Assur-banipal, 6, 36, n 37, 55, 69.
 Assyria, 6, 15, 33, 34, 35, 39, 46, 48.
 Assyriologists, 34.
 Astarte, n 10, 68.
 Asura, 404.
 Asteria, 68, 70.
 Atar, 86, 100.
 Augustus, 7.
 Aulād, 252;
   capture of, 257.
 Avesta, 23, 54, 104, 107, 114, 115, 116, 404.

                                   B.

 Baal, 8, 53, 66, 76, 107, 108.
 Baal Moloch, 10.
 Babylon, 1, 6, 7, 10, 17;
   fall of, 30, 36, 39, 41, 43.
 Babylonia, 3, 6, 15, 33, 55, 61;
   North, 3, 40, 65.
 Babylonians, 9, 41.
 Bāhram Gor, 214.
 Bagdad, 311, 321, 407.
 Balder, 77.
 Bardes, 47.
 Bāzindah, 195;
   misfortunes of, 198;
   return of, 201.
 Beer, 44
 Bees and their Habits, 189, 193.
 Behistun Inscriptions, 17, 30, 45, 114.
 Behistun Rock, n 20.
 Bel, 10, 36, 40, 42, 52.
 Bel Merodach, 56, 61, 62.
 Bellona, 69.
 Belshazzar, 35, 40, 42, 43.
 Benfey, 44.
 Berosus, 69.
 Beth-anath, 56.
 Bi-frost, (Rainbow Bridge), 103.
 Birds, Mythical, 86, 95.
 Bird, My, 321, 329.
 Birs, Nimrud, 37.
 Blackstone, Sir Wm., 156.
 Blind Man and his Whip, 189, 201.
 Bokhāra, 309, 323, 407.
 Bombay, 161.
 Bores, 309, 320.
 Boscawen, W. St. Chad, 40, n 43.
 Bosphorus, 13.
 Bournouf, 31, 44, 116.
 Brāhman and Ichneumon, 208.
 Brockhaus, 116.
 Buddha, 227.
 Budge, E.A., n 5, n 37.
 Bundehesh, 112.
 Bustān, 25, 225, 309;
   extracts from, 313.

                                   C.

 Calligraphy, 19, 335.
 Cambyses, 44, 45, 87.
 Canaan, 63.
 Canopus, lights of, 190.
 Captives, The, 383.
 Capua, John of, 190.
 Capture, the, 351, 352, 362.
 Cappadocia, 48, 69.
 Carthage, 48.
 Carthaginians, 10.
 Caucasus, 7.
 Cerberus, 102.
 Chaldea, 4, 64, 65, 103.
 Chaos, wife of Hea, 59, 60.
 Chemosh, 53, 60, 63, 64, 65, 108.
 Chinvat Bridge, 86, 103, 141, 153, 157, 158.
 Chips from a German Workshop, n 109, n 126.
 Christians persecuted, 104, 121.
 Christianity, 125, 167.
 Citagriva, 204.
 Circe, 74.
 Commentary, 127, 140.
 Comrades, the two, 338, 340.
 Conquest, Mohammedan, 165.
 Constellations, King of, 67.
 Coptic Girl, 174, 184, 185.
 Creation, legend of, 54.
 Cuneiform inscriptions, 3, 6, 30.
 Curtius, n 36, n 113.
 Cutha, 54, 61.
 Cyprus, 6.
 Cyrus, 12, 15, 20, 28, 30, 40, 44, 47, 52, 118;
   decree of, 20.

                                   D.

 Dagon, 63.
 Daniel, n 36, 40, 41.
 Damascus, 311.
 Darius, 9, 13, 20, 29, 45, 47, 49, 50, 52;
   and his Horsekeeper, 309, 316.
 Darmesteter, Prof., 20, n 110, n 150, n 156.
 Dastur, 125.
 Datilla, River of Death, 107.
 Dead, Disposition of, 146, 153.
 Delos, 68.
 Devas, 105.
 Demon, White, 248, 252, 257, 260;
   slain, 260.
 Desert, the, 351, 353.
 Diana, 75, 108.
 Dihkans, 22.
 Diodorus, 5, n 113.
 Diocletian, 114.
 Domitian, 50.
 Dogs, importance of, 147, 152, 153, 156;
   of Yama, 153.
 Druj, 152.
 Dungi, 3.
 Duza, 42.
 Dynasty, Achæmenian, 25;
   Gaznevides, 24, 25;
   Sassanian, 20, 21, 22.

                                   E.

 Eastwick, Prof., xiii, 191.
 Ecbatana, 20, n 43.
 Ecclesiastes, book of, 310.
 Egebi, 9.
 Egypt, 6, 7, 15, 39, 46, 48, 49, 61.
 Elam, 7, 11, 69.
 Elamites, 3.
 Elephant and Jackal, 189, 209.
 England, 16, 411.
 Epic, Persian, 24, 25, 214.
 Ephesus, 76, 108.
 Ephesians, 76.
 Eridu, 56, 67.
 Esar-haddon, 9, n 37.
 Euphrates, 3, 5, 16, 35, 37.
 Evil Spirits, seven, 56, 57.
 Exiles, the, 351.
 Exodus, 3.

                                   F.

 Features, physical, 1, 15.
 Fimbul Eddic, 130.
 Fire god, 56, 57, 66, 107, 124.
 Fire, sacred, 100, 124, 154, 155.
 Fire worshippers, 124.
 Firdusi, 22, 25, 26, 118.
 Firdusi, life of, 216;
   invective of, 214, 219;
   death of, 214, 223.
 Flattery, wiles of, 206, 209, 210, 212.
 Flood, 33.
 Formulas, 140.
 Fravishas, 140, 160.
 France, 16.
 Frey, 77.
 Freyja, 76.
 Fugitives, the, 365.

                                   G.

 Ganges, 92, 96, 107.
 Garuda, 96.
 Garden scene, 365, 377, 381.
 Gāthas, 20, 111, 113, 119, 127, 130, 144.
 Gātha, Last, 135.
 Gaznevides, dynasty of, 24, 25.
 Genesis, 33.
 Genghis Khān, 309, 323.
 Gold, chain of, 333.
 Gobyras, 43.
 Greece, 4, 17, 27, 75.
 Griffin of Chivalry, 96.
 Grotofend, 31, 44.
 Gulf, Persian, 3, 15, 51.
 Gulistān, 25, 309;
   stories from, 317.
 Gushtasp, 272, 277.
 Gyöll, 93, 107.

                                   H.

 Hades, 78;
   queen of, 60.
 Hāfiz, 26, 321, 323, 331, 337;
   songs of, 313, 326, 327.
 Halicarnassus, 49.
 Haoma, 142.
 Hara Berezaita, 93, 99, 107, 158.
 Haug, Dr., 116.
 Hea, 53, 59, 60, 82.
 Hea-bani, 53, 60, 61.
 Heaven, 165, 180.
 Hecate, 70, 74, 75.
 Helbon, 14.
 Hel, 77.
 Hell, 165, 181.
 Herodotus, 20, n 36, 45, n 87, 129.
 Hercules, 63.
 Hermöd, 77.
 Hezekiah, King, 35.
 Higrah, the, 165, 172.
 Hindus, 9, 58, 65, 92, 95;
   mythology of, 89, 104.
 Hincks, Dr., 32.
 Hitopadesa, 22, 189, 191, 310;
   gems from, 189, 210.
 Holtzman, 44.
 Homer, 225;
   of Iran, 215.
 Hyde, Dr., 118.

                                   I.

 Iliad, 97.
 Ifing, 93.
 Im, 53, 57, 66.
 Incantations, 53, 65.
 India, 4, 6, 15, 27, 48, 78.
 India House, 62.
 Indra, 66, 87, 95, 99, 404.
 Indus, 15.
 Inscriptions of Artaxerxes, 30, 49.
 Inscriptions, Bavian, 36;
   Cuneiform, 3, 30;
   Darius, 17, 30, 45, 114;
   Western Asia, n 34, n 41, n 67;
   of Nebuchadnezzar, 30, 38;
   of Xerxes, 30, 49.
 Invasion, Turānian, 228, 245.
 Ionians, 48.
 Irān, 1, 11, 52;
   laws of, 12.
 Irānian romance, 27.
 Isaiah, 21.
 Isfendiyār, 226, 272, 274;
   conflict with Rustem, 276;
   death of, 272, 282.
 Israel, prophets of, 39.
 Israelites, 35.
 Ishtar, 10, 42, 53, 60, 68, 69, 74, 75;
   of Arbela, 53, 69;
   of Erech, 53, 70;
   descent of, 53, 78.
 Ishtar and Izdubar, 53, 71.
 Isis, 95.
 Ithaca, 74.
 Iyar, month of, 50.
 Ixion, wheel of, 77.

                                   J.

 Jalal-uddin Rumi, 309, 310, 331.
 Jāmi, 26, 321, 330, 332;
   works of, 321, 332, 333;
   grave of, 332.
 Jehān, Shāh, 332.
 Jericho, 38.
 Jeremiah, n 11, 39, n 41, n 62.
 Jerusalem, 38, 42;
   siege of, 35.
 Joel, Rabbi, 190.
 Jones, Sir Wm., 191.
 Joshua, book of, 56.

                                   K.

 Kaābah, 173, 175, 184.
 Kabul, 234, 245.
 Kai-kaus, 248, 257, 258.
 Karsipta (mythical bird), 97, 120, 151.
 Khorassān, 216, 285, 331.
 Kindness to the unworthy, 309, 314.
 Kine, soul of, 141.
 Kine, wail of, 127, 131.
 Kings, Achæmenian, 20.
 Kings, Assyrian, 5, 36, 58, 88.
 Kings, book of, 67.
 Kings, Babylonian, 88;
   of Judah, n 62;
   literary, 321;
   Moslem, 27;
   Persian, 35, 43, 54, 78;
   Samanian, 214;
   Sassanian, 23, 24, 189, 336.
 Korān, 19, 23, 103, 165;
   arrangement of, 168;
   author of, 165, 168;
   extracts from, 180, 182, 183;
   literary style of, 165, 188;
   teaching of, 165, 178, 179, 185.
 Krishna, 67.

                                   L.

 Lady of battles, 69;
   of kingdoms, 10, 41;
   of Tiggaba City, 80.
 Laili, description of, 287;
   wedding of, 284, 296, 297;
   deliverance of, 299;
   death of, 304;
   and Majnun, 233, 284, 286.
 Land, fairest, 310.
 Lassen, 31, 44.
 Layard, 31.
 Law, Mosaic, 64, n 156.
 Leopard, torn by dogs, 73, 75.
 Leviticus, n 82.
 Literature, Assyrian, 76;
   Babylonian, 4, 6;
   early, 1, 19;
   modern Persian, 1, 24;
   of Nineveh, 1, 5;
   Persian, 1, 28, 54, 409;
   Oriental, 17.
 Loftus, 44, 50.
 Loki, 66.
 Lydia, 6, 7, 15.

                                   M.

 Mahā-bhārata, 90, 106, 225, 334.
 Majnun, 284, 286;
   temptation of, 302;
   victory of, 303;
   death of, 306.
 Manuscripts, 1, 19, 35, 109, 115.
 Manuscripts, Persian, 19, 20, 224, 331, 339.
 Manuscript, Yasna, xvii, 117.
 Marathon, 52, 121.
 Marchesvan, month of, n 43.
 Mardtmann, 44.
 Marriage song, 127, 135.
 Mazdeism, 118, 121, 129.
 Mazinderān, 248, 251, 261.
 Medea, 74.
 Medes, 20, 40, n 43.
 Media, 7, 11, 15, 48, 49.
 Medians, 12, 47.
 Meher and Mushteri, 338.
 Merodach, 8, n 36, 53, 61.
 Mesapotamia, 30.
 Metamorphoses, Ovid’s, n 75, 76.
 Mir Amar, 19.
 Moabite stone, 64.
 Mobeds, 20.
 Mohammed, 165;
   birth of, 168;
   family of, 168, 169, 171, 175, 184;
   death of, 165, 175.
 Mohammedanism, see Koran.
 Molech, 8, 10, 63, 64, 108.
 Mountains, Alborz, 91, 103, 229;
   Ausindom, 28;
   Elvend, 18, 44, 49;
   Median, 13;
   Meru, 90, 107;
   mother of, 91;
   mythical, 88, 88;
   Nida, 90, 107;
   Nubian, 7;
   Oāf, 90, 180, 322;
   twin, 89;
   world, 107.
 Müller, Prof. F. Max, xiii, 109, 117, 191.
 Museum, British, n 5, 33, 35, 37, 49, 67, n 84.
 Muhteshim, 214, 221.
 Mythology, Asiatic, 108;
   Assyrian, 53, 55, 61, 65, 76;
   Chaldean, 54, 107;
   early, 1, 53;
   Greek, 5, 54, 63, 66, 68, 70, 75, 77;
   Hindu, 99, 128;
   Indo-European, 105;
   of Mazdeism, 105;
   Norse, 66, 76, 77, 90, 96, 103;
   Persian, 53, 54, 93, 98, 403;
   of tablets, 53.

                                   N.

 Nabonidas, 40, 41.
 Nadir Shāh, 336.
 Nawāzindah. 195.
 Naram Sin, 33.
 Nebo, 8, 36, 40, 52, 53, 62, 69.
 Nebuchadnezzar, 7, 8, 9, 31, 36, 40, 62.
 Neptune, 59, 63, 227.
 Nergal, 53, 61.
 Nile, 3, 92.
 Nineveh, 5, 6, 14, 51, 54, 60, 76;
   arts of, 17, 18.
 Ninip, 53, 60, 63.
 Nin-ci-gal, 53, 60, 79, 82, 83.
 Nimrod, n 2, 43.
 Nisan, month of, 40.
 Nizāmi, 25, 285, 307, 331.
 Norris, 44, 45.
 Noufal, 292.
 Nushirvan, 22, 190.

                                   O.

 Odin, 77.
 Odyssey, 74.
 Olympus, 107, 108.
 Olympians, 77.
 Omar, 22, 216.
 Omar Khayyām, 215.
 Oppert, Dr., 31, 32, 44, 49, 61, 66, 68, 114.
 Oppression, priestly, 403, 410.
 Ormazd, 12, 48, 106, 112, 121, 161;
   symbol of, 17.
 Osirus, 77.
 Ovid, 74.
 Outline, Historic, 1.

                                   P.

 Pacorus, 50, 51.
 Pahlavi, 22, 109, 112, 117.
 Palestine, 7, 39.
 Pancatantra, 22, 189.
 Pārsis Early, 109, 121.
 Pārsis Modern, 109, 123, 161;
   teachings of, 146, 161;
   laws of, 146;
   anglicized, 163.
 Pearl, the, 309, 313.
 Periods, Seven, 214.
 Period, First, 214;
   second, 284;
   third, 309;
   fourth, 321;
   fifth, 321, 330;
   sixth, 321, 334;
   seventh, 321, 335;
   later, 321.
 Persia, 1, 46, 49;
   government of, 14;
   modern, 15, 24;
   physical features of, 1, 15, 87.
 Persian corruption, 14;
   magnificence, 14;
   romance, 1, 27, 338;
   scholars, 27, 191, 216, 284, 309, 323, 330, 334;
   texts, 44, 45.
 Persians, 12, 14, 40, 50.
 Persepolis, 13, 18, 20, 30, 44, 47, 49, 113, 340.
 Pigeons, the two, 189, 195.
 Pigeons and the Rat, 189, 204.
 Pir-i-sebz, 321, 325.
 Pinches, Theo. G., xiii, n 3.
 Pleiades Persian, 332.
 Pliny, n 36, n 69.
 Pluto, 60, 102.
 Polygamy, 165, 184.
 Prophets, Hebrew, 11, 41, 163.
 Proserpine, 60, 77.
 Prosperity, dangers of, 309, 319.
 Proverbs, Book of, 310.
 Punishment, 146, 156.
 Purification, laws of, 146, 154.
 Pyramus and Thisbe, 76.

                                   Q.

 Qāf Mount, 90, 180, 332.
 Queen, the, 338, 345.
 Quāris, 170, 172.

                                   R.

 Rakush, 226, 252, 278.
 Rāmayāna, 96, 225, 334.
 Rassam, 31.
 Rask, Dr., 116, 117.
 Rawlinson, Sir Henry, 32, n 35, 44.
 Records of the Past, n 34, n 38, n 84.
 Rivers, mythical, 86, 91.
 Rig Veda, 114.
 Rule, priestly, 403, 408.
 Rudabeh, 228, 234, 243, 244.
 Russian influence, 16, 403, 410.
 Rustem, birth of, 244;
   labors of, 226, 252, 254, 259;
   marriage of, 252, 262;
   conflict with Isfendiyār, 276;
   battle with his son, 269;
   death of, 283.

                                   S.

 Sacred Books of the East, n 20, n 115, n 150, n 156.
 Sa’di, 25, 286, 311, 331;
   works of, 309;
   death of, 312.
 Sag-did, 152, 153.
 Samanians, dynasty of, 24.
 Samarcānd, 309, 323, 371, 373, 407.
 Sam Suwār, 228, 261, 279.
 Sardanapalus, 6.
 Sargon, 3, 33, 51, 60.
 Sayce, Prof. A.H. xiii, 2, n 4, n 9, n 10, 31, n 34, 55, 64, n 95.
 Sea, Ægean, 6, 107;
   Arabian, 15;
   Caspian, 15.
 Sennacherib, 31, 34, 85, 36, n 37.
 Serpent King, 235, 241.
 Seven Eras, 214.
 Shapur, 114, 121, 397, 400.
 Shāh Mahmud, 216, 218, 222.
 Shāh Nāmah, 19, 22, 25, 214, 228;
   extracts from, 228, 232, 234, 241, 287.
 Shinar, 2, 4.
 Shirāz, 11, 14, 311, 321, 326.
 Sidon, 67, 108.
 Silver, value of, n 9.
 Silence the Safety of Ignorance, 309, 315.
 Silence, towers of, 155.
 Simurgh, 91, 200, 279, 322;
   nest of, 98, 228, 229.
 Sin, the Moon God, 53, 60, 65, 76.
 Siva, 67, 161.
 Sleipner, 77, 227.
 Society, Royal Asiatic, 32, 45.
 Sohrab, 252, 266, 269.
 Spiegel, 44, 110, 116, 117.
 Spenta Armaita, n 150, 153, 155.
 Storm Spirits, Seven, 56.
 Styx, 107.
 Sumer, 1, 2, 3.
 Suez, 44, 49.
 Susa, 44, 49, 50, 69.

                                   T.

 Tablets, 1, 3, 30, 53;
   historic, 5, 30, 33;
   Persian, 50.
 Talbot Fox, 31, 32, 56, n 84.
 Tamineh (wife of Rustem), 266;
   death of, 271.
 Tammuz (the sun god), 42, 53, 63, 67, 68, 108;
   month of, 42, 43.
 Tantalus, 77.
 Tazieh, the (Persian Drama), n 410.
 Tiamat, 55, 56.
 Tigris, 5, 16, 40.
 Tiglath-Pileser, 32, n 36, 67.
 Timur, 322, 330, 332, 334.
 Tistrya (storm god), 98, 100, 102.
 Transactions Vic. Institute, n 37, n 40, n 43.
 Tukulti-Ninip, n 36.
 Tyre, 2, 38, 66.

U.

 Ur of the Chaldees, 3, 40.
 Ugbaru, n 43.
 Ulysses, 74, 75.

                                   V.

 Valhal, 90.
 Var or Vara of Yima, 97, 146, 147, 150, 151.
 Vārengana (the raven), 97.
 Varuna, 99, 128.
 Vedas, 58, 110.
 Vedic deities, 25.
 Vedfolner (hawk), 96.
 Vendidad, 95, 111, 126, 146, 151, 159
 Venus, 69, 76;
   Babylonian, 87.
 Vishnu, 92, 96, 161.
 Visparad, 111, 146, 158.
 Vouru Kasha, 94, 95.
 Vulcan, 63.

                                   W.

 Water, sacred, 154.
 Water Dog, 157.
 Westergaard, 44, 110, 116.
 Williams, Sir M. Monier, xiii, 161, n 164.
 Women, penalties upon, n 157.
 Women, unprincipled, 123.
 Wrestler, the Wise, 309, 317.

                                   X.

 Xerxes, 44, 52;
   inscriptions of, 30, 49.

                                   Y.

 Yasna, 111, 126, 127, 137, 142;
   concluding, 127, 144.
 Yasts, 112, 119, 127, 142.
 Yasna Haptang-haita, 127, 141.
 Yast Sraosha, 127, 142.
 Yazatas or Angels, 100, 112.
 Yemen, 2, 23.
 Yezdejird, 22, 215, 216, 225.
 Ygdrasil, 96.
 Yima, 86, 97, 98, 102, 148;
   Vara of, 146, 147, 150, 151.
 Yusuf and Zulaikhā, 26, 333.

                                   Z.

 Zal (the white-haired child), 18, 228, 234, 245, 261;
   banishment of, 229;
   sheltered in Simurgh’s nest, 230;
   restoration of, 233.
 Zedekiah, king, 38.
 Zend, 110, 117.
 Zend Avesta, 20, 109, 111:
   age of, 109, 113;
   divisions of, 109, 111;
   derivation and language of, 109;
   extracts from, 135, 140, 142, 148, 152, 159;
   teaching of, 127, 146.
 Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, 109, 112, 118, 127, 141, 144, 148;
   life of, 118.
 Zoroastrianism, 124, 162.
 Zoroastrian Period, 25.
 Zyd, vision of, 284, 306.

------------------------------------------------------------------------


                               Footnotes:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           Transcriber’s Note

Footnote 172, the first on p. 123, has no referent in text, and refers
to a topic that is not obviously apparent in the text.

Small lapses of punctuation in the Index have been regularized with no
further comment.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
For index entries, the middle reference is to the column. Corrections in
footnotes are referred to solely by the number as it appears, re-
sequenced, in this version.

 10.21      to Baal-Moloch[.]”                             Added.

 17.6       tropical in its luxuriance and gorgeous in its Removed.
            decor[r]ations.

 37.18      from the river of Egypt unto the river         Added.
            Euphrates.[”]

 48.19      and the Maka.[”]                               Added.

 59.16      Hea was the god of ch[oa/ao]s or the deep      Transposed.

 45.22      The casts of the S[c]ythic version             Inserted.

 65.9       the[,] god of day,                             Removed.

 76.n105    which fell down from Jupiter?[”]               Added.

 99.9       the As[u/ū]ra is represented as a black demon  Replaced.

 102.5      We sacrifice unto Tiśt[yr/ry]a                 Transposed.

 113.20     are writ[t]en in the old Āryan metre           Inserted.

 116.19     were also enthus[i]astic students              Inserted.

 120.10     which Ah[u/ū]ra gave him                       Replaced.

 147.28     the seed of all animal and vegetable life[./,] Replaced.
            and

 158.14     [“]She makes the soul of the righteous one     Added.

 192.26     [“]With a view to the universal diffusion      Added.

 201.14     With home and friends perpetual pleasures      Removed.
            reign.[”]

 205.18     And gnawing dil[l]igently away                 Removed.

 249.12     against their mon[o/a]rch’s insane idea        Replaced.

 249.28     the columns came near to Mazinder[a/ā]n        Replaced.

 278.7      Rustem sat [n/u]pon Rakush                     Inverted.

 293.11     The generous No[n/u]fal was not content        Inverted.

 341.21     even during their early chi[l]dhood            Inserted.

 345.15     in the richest mos[ia/ai]cs                    Transposed.

 358.23     she could the coming peril[,/.]                Replaced.

 377.7      she knew so well[.]                            Added.

 384.28     what portion of Persia [t]he new comers        Added.

 408.21     boasted of one literary king[,/.]              Replaced.

 416.2.39   Ba[b]ylonian,                                  Inserted.





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