HISTORY OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VII: Ancient Persia, pp. 225-253.
In the records of Ardashir, Founder of the Sassanian
Kingdom, son of Papak, it is written as follows: That after the death of
Alexander [the Great], inhabitant of Arum, there were in the territory of Iran
two hundred and forty princes. Spahan, Pars, and the borderlands that were
nearest to them, were in the hands of Artabanus [Last of the Parthian kings],
the chief king. Papak was the frontier governor of Pars, and was one of the
commissioners appointed by Artabanus. The seat of Artabanus was in Stakhra. And
Papak had no son to preserve his name. And Sasan was a shepherd employed by
Papak, who always remained with the horses and cattle belonging to the latter,
and he was descended from the line of King Darab [Darayavaush or Darius III],
son of Darae.
During the evil reign of Alexander, the descendants of Darab
privately lived in distant lands, wandering with Kurdish shepherds. Papak did
not know that Sasan was descended from the family of Darab, son of Darae. One
night Papak saw in a dream as though the sun was shining from the head of Sasan
and giving light to the whole world. Another night he dreamt that Sasan was
seated on a richly adorned white elephant, and that all those that stood around
him in the kingdom made obeisance to him, praised, and blessed him. The next
third night he, accordingly, saw as if the sacred fires Frobag, Gushasp, and
Burzin-Mitro were burning in the house of Sasan and giving light to the whole
world. He wondered at it, and directly invited to his presence the sages and
interpreters of dreams, and narrated to them the visions he had seen in his
dreams during those three nights.
The interpreters of dreams spoke thus: "The person that
was seen in that dream, he or somebody from among the sons of that man will
succeed to the sovereignty of this world, because the sun and the richly adorned
white elephant that you observed represented vigor and the triumph of opulence;
the sacred fire of Frobag, the religious intelligence of the great men among the
Mobads; and the sacred fire Gushasp, warriors and military chieftains; and the
sacred fire Burzin-Mitro, the farmers and agriculturists of the world: and thus
this sovereignty will fall to that man or the descendants of that man."
On hearing these words, Papak dispatched somebody to
call Sasan to his presence, and questioned him as follows: "From what race
and family art thou? Out of thy fore-fathers and ancestors was there anybody who
had exercised sovereignty or chieftainship before?" Sasan solicited from
Papak his support and protection in these words: "Do me no hurt or
harm." Papak accepted the request, and Sasan declared before Papak his own
secret as it stood. On hearing his reply Papak was delighted, and so he ordered
Sasan thus: "Elevate thy body by taking a bath."
Meanwhile Papak directed his servants that a suit of
clothes fit to be worn by a king should be brought and given to Sasan, and Sasan
wore the royal garments accordingly. Papak further directed in the case of Sasan
that he should be nourished with invigorating, fresh and proper food for several
days. Later on he gave him his daughter in marriage, and according to the law of
nature she, in a short time, was pregnant by Sasan, and from her Ardashir was
born. When Papak observed the youthful body and cleverness of Ardashir, he
interpreted it thus: "The dream which I beheld was true." He regarded
Ardashir as his own son, and brought him up as a dear child.
When Ardashir reached the age which was the time for
higher instruction he became so proficient in literary knowledge, riding, and
other arts that he was renowned throughout Pars. When Ardashir attained the age
of fifteen years information reached Artabanus that Papak had a son proficient
and accomplished in learning and riding. He wrote a letter to Papak to this
effect: "We have heard that you have a son, who is accomplished and very
proficient in learning and riding; our desire has been that you should send him
to our court, and he shall be near us, so that he will associate with our sons
and princes, and we might order for him position and reward according to the
learning which he possesses."
As Artabanus was powerful and very absolute, it was
improper on the part of Papak to do anything contrary to or to evade his
command. Immediately therefore he sent Ardashir well-equipped with ten servants
and a superb present of many marvelous, magnificent, and suitable things for the
acceptance of Artabanus. When Artabanus saw Ardashir he was glad, expressed to
him his affectionate regard, and ordered that he should every day accompany his
sons and princes to the chase and the polo-ground.
Ardashir acted accordingly.
By the help of Providence he became more victorious and
warlike than all, on the polo and the riding-ground, at Chatrang and Vine-Artakhshir,
and in several other arts. One day Artabanus went a-hunting with his chevaliers
and Ardashir. An elk which happened to be running in the desert was then pursued
by Ardashir and the eldest son of Artabanus. And Ardashir, on reaching close to
the elk, struck him with an arrow in such a manner that the arrow pierced
through the belly as far as its feathers, passed through the other side, and the
animal died instantly. When Artabanus and the chevaliers approached them, they
expressed wonder at such a dart and asked: "Who struck that arrow?"
Ardashir replied: "I did it." The son of Artabanus said: "No,
because I did it."
Ardashir became angry and spoke thus to the son of
Artabanus: "It is not possible to appropriate the art and heroism of
another through tyranny, unpleasantness, falsehood, and injustice. This is an
excellent forest, and the wild asses here are many. Let us try here a second
time, and bring into display our goodness or evil nature and dexterity."
Artabanus thereby felt offended and thereafter did not allow Ardashir to ride on
He sent the latter to his stables of horses and cattle,
and ordered him as follows: "Take care of those animals so that you do not
go in the day or night from before those horses and cattle a-hunting, to the
playground or the college of learning." Ardashir understood that Artabanus
spoke in this manner from envy and grudge, and directly wrote a letter to Papak,
stating the facts as they stood. When Papak saw the letter he became melancholy.
He wrote in reply to Ardashir as follows: "You did not act wisely in
disputing with great men on a matter from which no harm could have reached you,
and in addressing them with rough words in public. Now speak out excuses for thy
relief and feel humble repentance, for the sages have said: 'It is not possible
for an enemy to do that for an enemy, which is brought on himself by an ignorant
man from his own actions.' This, too, is said: 'Do not be grieved
narrow-mindedly from a person at the time when you can not pass your life
happily without him.' And you yourself know that Artabanus is a king more
powerful than I, thou, or many people in this world, with reference to our
bodies, lives, riches, and estates. And now, too, such is my strictest advice
unto thee that thou shouldst act in unison with and obediently toward them, and
not deliver up thy own glory to annihilation."
Artabanus had in his service an accomplished maiden,
whom he regarded with greater respect and affection than the other maidens under
him; and this maiden took part in every service that was meant to do honor to
Artabanus. One day, while Ardashir was seated by the horse-stalls, playing a
tune on a drum, singing, and making other kinds of merriment, she beheld
Ardashir, became enamored of him, and afterward frequently visited him, and
formed friendship and love. Always regularly at every night, when the
unfortunate Artabanus went to sleep, the maiden would clandestinely approach
Ardashir, stay with him till the dawn, and then return to Artabanus.
One day Artabanus invited to his presence the sages and
astrologers, who belonged to his court, and put them the following question:
"What do you observe regarding the seven planets and the twelve signs of
the zodiac, the position and the motion of the stars, the condition of the
contemporary sovereigns of different kingdoms, the condition of the peoples of
the world, and regarding myself, children, and our family?"
The chief of the astrologers said in reply as follows:
"The Nahazig [Capricorn] is sunk below; the star Jupiter has
returned to its culminating point and stands away from Mars and Venus, while
Haptoirang [Ursa Major]and the constellation of Leo descend to the verge
and give help to Jupiter; whereupon it seems clear that a new lord or king will
appear, who will kill many potentates, and bring the world again under the sway
of one sovereign." A second leader of the astrologers, too, came in the
presence of the King and spoke to the following effect: "It is so manifest
that any one of the male servants who flies away from his king within three days
from to-day, will attain to greatness and kingship, obtain his wish, and be
victorious, over his king."
The maiden, when she returned to Ardashir at night,
recounted to Ardashir the words as they were told by the astrologers to
Artabanus. Ardashir, when he heard these words, resolved upon departing from
that place. He spoke to the maiden thus: "First of all, if thou art sincere
and unanimous with me, and, secondly, if any one who runs away from his king
within the three fixed days which the sages and astrologers have spoken of,
attains to greatness and kingship, we should run away from here as far as this
world goes, and escape. If by the grace of God, the glory of the kingdom of Iran
falls to our help, and we be delivered and both attain to virtue and goodness, I
shall treat thee so that no one in the world will be regarded as more fortunate
than thee." The maiden consented and said: "I regard you as a
nobleman, and shall obey you in every matter."
As it was nearly dawn, the maiden returned to her own
room near Artabanus's chamber. At night, when Artabanus was asleep, she took
from the treasury of Artabanus an Indian sword, golden saddles, belts of fine
leather, golden crowns, golden goblets full of jewels, dirhems and dinars,
coats-of-mail, highly engraved weapons of war, and many other precious things,
and she brought them to Ardashir.
Meanwhile Ardashir saddled two of Artabanus's horses
that ran seventy frasangs a day. He seated himself on one and the maiden
on the other, took the road leading to Pars, and rode on with speed.
Thus they narrate that, at night, when they approached
to a country, Ardashir feared lest the countrymen might behold, recognize, and
capture them; so he did not enter the country, but passed by one of its
His approach was seen by two women seated together, who
on seeing them exclaimed: "Do not fear, Ardashir the Kai, son of Papak,
thou art of the blood of Sasan, and who hast risen from King Darab; it is not
possible for any evil person to take possession of thee, as thou art destined to
rule over the kingdom of Iran for many years. Make haste until you reach the
sea; and when you see the ocean before your eyes, do not guard yourself, because
when your eyes fall on the ocean, then you will be quite free from the fear of
your enemies." Ardashir became glad on hearing these words, and rode onward
with speed from that place.
When the day commenced Artabanus called for the maiden,
but she was not to be found. The horse-keeper came and spoke to Artabanus as
follows: "Ardashir and two of your steeds are not to be found in their
places." Artabanus thereby became aware that one of his maidens, too, had
run away and gone with Ardashir. And when he heard the information regarding his
treasures his heart burst with grief. He invited the chief of the astrologers,
and said: "Make the best of your time, and observe carefully as to the
place where that offender [Ardashir] has gone with that dissolute harlot, and as
to the time when we shall be able to get hold of them."
The chief of the astrologers observed the position of
the planets, and replied to Artabanus as follows: "As the Aris is dismissed
by Saturn and Mars, and approached by Jupiter and Mercury, and as the lord of
the center of the sky [the Pole Star] stands far below the brightest place of
the Sun, it is clear that Ardashir has fled away and gone, and is now on the
road toward the frontiers of Pars; and if he is not overtaken within three days,
it will not be possible to capture him thereafter."
Immediately Artabanus prepared an army of 4,000 men, and
took the road leading to Pars in pursuit of Ardashir. At midday he reached the
spot where the direct road crossed to Pars. And he inquired of the inhabitants
thus: "At what time did those two riders who came toward this side
depart?" The people said: "At the dawn of day, when the sun brought on
its sharp rays, they passed like a violent wind, and a very powerful eagle was
running after them than which no more handsome eagle could be found; and we
believe that by this time they must have gone to a distance of many frasangs,
and you will not, therefore, be able to overtake them." Accordingly
Artabanus did not hesitate, but hastened onward.
When he reached another place, he asked the inhabitants:
"At what time did those two riders pass this place?" They replied:
"At midday they rode on from here as swiftly as a violent wind, and an
eagle followed them as their companion." Artabanus seemed astonished at
this, and said: "Consider that we know the pair of riders, but what
is the propriety of the eagle following them?"
So he questioned the high-priest his minister, and the
latter answered as follows: "It is the majesty of the Kayanian sovereignty,
which has not reached him up to now, so it is necessary that we should ride on
quickly that we might catch him before that glory is attained by him."
Artabanus impetuously hastened onward with his cavalcade, and the next day they
passed over seventy frasangs.
On the road he met a body of people belonging to a
caravan, of whom Artabanus inquired: "At what place have those two riders
met you?" They said: "Between you and them there is still a distance
of twenty frasangs; and we have noticed an eagle that was very large and swift,
and seated on the horse with one of the riders."
Artabanus asked the high-priest: "What does that
eagle which accompanied them on the horse indicate?" The high-priest
replied as follows: "May you be immortal! It is the Majesty of the
Kayanians which reaches Ardashir; it is not possible to get hold of him by any
such means, so thereafter you and your horsemen should not take any more pains,
nor fatigue the horses any further and kill them; but you should seek means of a
different kind against Ardashir."
When Artabanus heard such advice, he turned back and
came to his capital. Afterward he got his forces and heroes equipped, and
dispatched them with one of his sons to Pars, in order to catch Ardashir.
Ardashir had now taken the road to the seashore, and so
resumed his journey. Several of the inhabitants of Pars, who had been distressed
by Artabanus, placed their wealth, property, and themselves at his disposal, and
expressed to him their unanimity and submission.
When he reached the place which they call Ramishne
Ardashir [ "Delight of Ardashir"] a magnanimous hero of the name
of Banak, an inhabitant of Spahan, who had escaped from the hands of
Artabanus and settled himself there, came personally to Ardashir with his six
sons, many soldiers and heroes. Ardashir was at first afraid of Banak, lest the
latter, having captured him, would deliver him up to Artabanus. Afterward Banak
approached Ardashir, took an oath, and gave him confidence in these words:
"As long as I live, I myself with my sons will remain submissive to
Ardashir became glad, and on that site he ordered a town
to be built, which was called Ramishne-i-Artakhshir. He left Banak there
with a detachment of cavalry, and himself marched toward the sea-coast. When in
his march onward he saw the ocean before his eyes, he offered thanksgiving to
God, called that place the city of Bokht Ardashir, and ordered an Atash-i-Vahram
to be enthroned on that sea-coast. From that place Ardashir returned to Banak
and his cavalry, and prepared an army.
Thence he went to the threshold of the sacred fire
Frobag, which is meritorious, and solicited spiritual gifts from it. Then he
came to battle with Artabanus, killed the entire army of the latter, seized
their wealth, property, horses, and portable lodges, and settled himself in
Stakhar [Ancient Persepolis, the capital of Pars]. He collected soldiers
in large numbers from Kerman, Mokristan, Spahan, and different districts of
Pars, and came to fight with Artabanus himself. So Artabanus sent for soldiers
and provisions from different frontiers, such as Rai [near Tehran, the Arsacid
capital], Demavand [the mountain range near Rai], Delman [modern Gilan], and
Patash-khvargar [an offshoot of the Aparsen Range].
But as the Glory of the Kayanians was with Ardashir, the
latter gained success. He killed Artabanus, whose entire wealth and property
fell into the hands of Ardashir, who married Artabanus's daughter, and went back
to Pars. He built a city which was named Ardashir Gadman, wherein a large tank
was dug, from which water was conveyed by means of four canals; and near that
tank an Atash-i-Adaran was established.
Further, Ardashir excavated a high mountain, and turned
the course of a river into the city through subterranean canals. He bestowed his
patronage on many cities, made them very prosperous, and ordered that several
Atash-i-Vahrams should also be enthroned.
Afterward he (Ardashir), having collected many soldiers
and heroes of Zavul, proceeded to battle against Madig, the King of the Kurds.
There were much fighting and bloodshed, in which the army of Ardashir finally
sustained a defeat. Ardashir became anxious on account of his own army. On his
way back he came at night through a desert which contained neither food nor
water, so he himself with all his troops and horses came to hunger and thirst.
Marching onward he saw, from a distance, a fire
belonging to some shepherds, and there Ardashir went and beheld an old man
living with his cattle on a mountain-steppe. Ardashir passed the night there,
and the next day he asked them (the shepherds) about the road. They said:
"Three frasangs hence there is a very fertile village which has many
inhabitants and plenty of food." Ardashir went to that village, and
dispatched a person to send to his capital his entire cavalry.
The army of Madig boasted thus: "Now there should
be no fear of Ardashir, as on account of his defeat he has returned to
Pars." Meanwhile Ardashir, having prepared an army of four thousand men,
rushed upon them, and surprised them with a night attack.
He killed one thousand of the Kurds, while others were
wounded and taken prisoners; and out of the Kurds that were imprisoned he sent
to Pars their king with his sons, brothers, children, his abundant wealth and
On the road the army of Haftan-bokht, the lord of the
Worm, struck against them, seized the entire wealth, property, and portable
lodges from those cavalry soldiers of Ardashir, and carried them into Guzaran,
one of the boroughs of G;ular, where the Worm had its abode. Ardashir then
entertained this idea: "I shall go to Armenia and Ataropatgan, because
Yazdan-kard of Shaharzur has, with many soldiers and heroes, passed beyond the
frontiers of Shaharzur, concluded a treaty with the ruler of Kerman, and become
But as soon as Ardashir heard of the tyranny and
wickedness of the sons of Haktan-bokht toward his army, he thought: "I
must, first of all, put in order the affairs at Pars and become fearless of the
enemies, and after that begin to meddle with other cities."
Now as regards the Worm idolatry, it grew so powerful
and tyrannical at Guzaran that an army of five thousand men, that composed its
forces in the different frontier lands of the Sind [Northwestern India] and the
coast-towns, now came together to its help. Consequently, the troops and heroes
of Ardashir reassembled around him from different quarters. Haftan-bokht, too,
summoned his own entire army back to his capital. Then Ardashir dispatched an
innumerable army with chieftains to the battle of the Worm.
Now the friends of the Worm deposited their entire
wealth, riches, property, and portable lodges in the citadel and fortress of
Guzaran, and privately took refuge themselves in mountain cavities. And the
cavalry of Ardashir had no knowledge thereof, so they, on reaching the foot of
the fortress of Gular, blockaded the citadel. When night fell, the army of the
Worm attacked them, committed bloodshed, killed many of Artakhshir's troops, and
seized from them horses, saddles, saddle-tackles, property, and portable lodges.
With lamentation and dishonor the troops returned to Ardashir in a disgraceful
condition and unarmed. When the latter beheld them in such a plight he became
much distressed, and, consequently, invited to his capital all his troops from
different cities and territories, and engaged himself with a large army to
battle against the Worm.
When he arrived at the fortress of Guzaran, the whole
army of the Worm had encamped itself inside the fortress, so he, too, encamped
his army round the outer walls of the fortress. The lord of the Worm,
Haftan-bokht, had seven sons, and each of them was appointed by him governor of
a city with one thousand men under him.
At this juncture one of the sons, who was in Arvastan,
came by the passage of a river with a large army composed of soldiers from
Arabia and Mazenderan, and stood against Ardashir in battle. The army of the
Worm, which had been inside the fortress, completely marched out, and zealously
and vehemently struggled and fought with Artakhshir's troops, many being killed
on both sides.
When the army of the Worm came out of the fortress, it
took such a by-road that it became impossible for any of Ardashir's troops to go
out of the camp or to bring in any food for himself or fodder for his horse,
and, consequently, the satiety of all men and animals was changed into want of
food and helplessness. When Mitrok, son of Anoshepat, an inhabitant of Zarham in
Pars, heard that Ardashir was without provision near the capital of the Worm,
and obtained no victory over its army, he accoutered his troops and heroes,
marched toward the residence of Ardashir, and carried away all the wealth and
riches of Artakhshir's treasure.
Ardashir, hearing of such violation on the part of
Mitrok and other men of Pars, reflected upon it for a while thus: "I ought
to postpone the battle with the Worm, and then go to fight out a battle with
Mitrok." He, therefore, summoned all his forces back to their quarters,
deliberated with their commanders, first sought the means of delivering himself
and his army, and then sat himself down to eat breakfast. That very moment a
long arrow, dispatched from the fortress, came down and pierced, as far as its
feathers, through the roasted lamb that was on the table. On the arrow it was
written as follows: "This arrow is darted by the troops of the lord of the
Worm, glorious; we ought not to kill a great man like you, so we have struck
that roasted lamb."
Ardashir, having observed the state of things,
disencamped his army and withdrew from the place.
The army of the Worm hastened after Ardashir, and hemmed
in his men again in such a manner that Ardashir's army could not proceed
farther. So Ardashir himself passed away singly by the sea-coast.
They say that the "Glory of the Kayans," which
had been previously far from Ardashir, now stood near him, and gradually
approached nearer, until Ardashir was led away unmolested from that dangerous
place, from the hands of the enemies, and he reached the town which they call
Alavad. At night, he went to the house belonging to two brothers, one of whom
was named Burjak, the other Burj-ataro, and spoke to them thus: "I am one
of Ardashir's troops, who has come encountering defeat from the battle against
the Worm; today you will please allow me to repose here for a short time, so
that information may reach me as to the land where the army of Ardashir is now
Very sympathetically they replied to Ardashir as
follows: "Accursed be Ahriman, the wicked spirit, who has made that
idolatry so victorious and stubborn that all the inhabitants of the frontier
districts are rendered apostate from the religion of Ahuramazda and the
Amshaspands, and who has finally turned into defeat even a great lord like
Ardashir and the whole army that accompanied him, at the hands of those enemies,
the wicked idolaters."
So saying they held the bridle of Ardashir's steed, led
him into the courtyard, tied him in a stable, and recreated the animal with
barley, stray, and hay; while Ardashir was led in a decent manner to a
sitting-place or room where he reposed himself. Ardashir was at this time very
melancholy and thoughtful.
Meanwhile they [the brothers] performed the darun
ceremony, and requested Ardashir in these words: "Kindly recite the vaz
and take your meal, and do not entertain melancholy and sorrow; because
Ahuramazda and the Amshaspands would find out a means of delivery from these
circumstances, and not let this adversity continue in this manner; for with the
tyranny of Zohak, Frasyav of Tur, and Alexander of Arum, God was at last
displeased, and they were thereby rendered, in spite of their grandeur and
glory, so obscure and unknown as if the world had never known them."
On hearing these words, Ardashir became pleased in mind,
recited the vaz, and took his meal. As those brothers had no wine, they
brought to him a pomegranate, performed the myazd, or offering-ceremony,
and recited blessings, [i.e., the Afrin prayers]. As Ardashir became
unsuspicious regarding their piety, religiousness, unanimity, and
submissiveness, he divulged his own secrets to Burjak and Burj-ataro, saying:
"I am Ardashir myself. Now you contemplate as to how it is possible to
discover the means of destroying the Worm and its troops."
They said in reply as follows: "If it be necessary,
while seeking on your behalf the kingdom of Arian, to deliver up ourselves in
person, our lives, wealth, riches, women and children, we will deliver them up.
But we understand it thus that a means can be sought against this deceitful
creature if thou shouldst dress thyself after the fashion of an inhabitant of
some distant city, on thy way to the fortress, and devote thyself personally in
its service and worship, and take there with thee two men who are religious
pupils and persons conversant with the Revelation, and perform loudly with them
the adoration and extollings of God and the Amshaspands; and when the time of
the Worm comes for taking food, so arrange that thou shouldst have some molten
brass for pouring it into the mouth of that wicked creature, so that it dies,
and the spirit of that Druj, too, can be removed by the sacred adoration and
extollings of the Deity."
Ardashir approved of the advice, meditated upon it well,
and then spoke to Burjak and Burj-ataro thus: "I can achieve this exploit
by your assistance." They replied: "We devote ourselves, body and
life, to do whatever you command."
Thence Ardashir marched again toward Ardashir-Gadman,
undertook the battle with Mitrok, son of Anoshepat, killed Mitrok, and took
possession of his territory, land, wealth, and property. For the purpose of
bringing to an end the battle with the Worm he dispatched a person to Burjak and
Burj-ataro, invited them to his presence, and deliberated with them. He took
with himself many dirhems, dinurs, and garments, dressed himself like an
inhabitant of Khorassan, and arriving at the foot of the castle of Gular with
Burjak and Burj-ataro, spoke to its inmates thus: "I am an inhabitant of
Khorassan. I crave indulgence from that glorious lord, that I may approach him
for the worship of his threshold." The idolaters admitted Ardashir with
those two male companions, and made room for them in the house of the Worm.
For three days Ardashir showed himself engaged in that
sort of worship and unanimity toward the Worm, gave the dirhems, dinars, and
clothes which he had brought with him to the idol-worshipers, and acted in such
a manner that every one of the inmates of the fortress was astonished and
commended him. Afterward Ardashir spoke thus: "Be pleased to so permit that
I may give food to the Worm for three days with my own hands." The
idolaters who were superintendents acceded to it. Ardashir now dispatched a
person with an order that four hundred skilful and zealous men of noble blood
should hide themselves among the mountain cliffs; and he further commanded:
"On the day of Asman if you observe smoke issuing from the fortress of the
Worm, you should perform feats of bravery and show your military skill,
advancing toward the foot of the fortress."
That very day Ardashir had some brass melted himself,
while Burjak and Burj-ataro performed the sacred yazishn ceremony, and
recited the azbaishne praises of God. When it was time for taking food
the Worm cried aloud according to its daily habit. Some time before that,
Ardashir had made the commanding idolaters drunk and unconscious at breakfast,
and he himself, with his own companions, went afterward near the Worm, and
carried to it the blood of large and small cattle, according as it was given it
every day; and no sooner did the Worm turn up its mouth to drink the blood than
Ardashir poured the molten brass into the mouth of the Worm. And the brass
permeated through its whole body, the Worm burst asunder into two pieces, and
such a noise arose from it that all the men in the fortress came on the spot,
and confusion prevailed throughout the stronghold.
Ardashir laid his hands on the shield and the sword, and
committed grievous wounding and massacre in the fortress, while he ordered that
they should make a fire, so that its smoke would become visible to his troops
outside. His companions did so. As soon as the troops, that were on the
neighboring mountain, saw this smoke issuing from the fortress, they, in order
to help Ardashir, came running to its foot, rushed into its gate, and exclaimed:
"Victorious, victorious may Ardashir be, king of kings, son of Papak!"
Instantly the sword was held for use; and in such a
manner the lord of the castle was killed, and everything destroyed, that the
soldiers of Haftan-bokht, in the hurry and conflict of the battle, escaped by
falling from the rampart, while those that remained solicited for protection,
and went into bondage and submission.
Ardashir commanded that the fortress should be razed to
the ground and demolished, while on its site he ordered the city which they call
Guzaran to be erected. In that quarter he caused the Atash-i-Vahram to be
enthroned. He loaded on the backs of one thousand camels the wealth, property,
gold and silver contained in the fortress, and dispatched them to Gobar. He
granted to Burjak and Burj-ataro the share of such a superb reward as zealous
adherents deserve, and entrusted them the chieftaincy and governorship of the
city of Guzaran and its environs.
After the Worm was killed, Ardashir returned to Gobar.
His forces and treasures came to the frontiers of Kerman, and to the battle
against Barjan. Now he had with him two of Artabanus's sons, the other two
having been fugitives at the court of the King of Kabul. The latter dispatched a
message, a written letter, to their sister, as she was the wife of Ardashir, to
the following effect: "It is quite fair that people do not divulge secrets
to such women, since thou hast forgotten the deaths of thy near relations, of
thy illustrious kinsmen, whom that sinner [Ardashir], the enemy of God,
unbecomingly killed to death. Consequently, thou hast abandoned every trace of
love and affection for those two miserable brothers, who are subject to
distress, difficulties, fear, terror, and indignity in exile and in the district
of battles; as well as for those two other unlucky brothers of thine, upon whom
that perfidious man inflicts punishment with the fetters of imprisonment, and
who always wish for death as a gift. Thy mind has been sincere with the
faithless one, so thou hast no sympathy or regard for us.
"That person will pass away distressed who will
henceforward boast of, or trust, any woman in this world. Now this is, likewise,
our mutual vow through thee, that thou shouldst choose some means for our sake,
and dost not fail to avenge the deaths of thy father and thy near relations, who
were illustrious; that thou shouldst accept from this man the fatal poison that
is forwarded to thee with one of our trustworthy male relatives, and, whenever
thou canst, administer it to that sinner and faithless wretch before he takes
his meal, so that he directly dies, and both thy imprisoned brothers be set at
liberty; and we, too, shall return to our native town, country, and land;
thereby thy soul will be made worthy of Paradise, and an eternal fame
established for thyself, while other women in this world will regard thy good
acts as most worthy their respect and esteem."
When the daughter of Artabanus observed the letter sent
to her in that form, along with poison, she contemplated upon the matter thus:
"I ought to act accordingly, and relieve these two brothers from their
fetters." One day as Ardashir was very hungry and thirsty, he went back
from the chase to his residence to take dinner, and when he had finished saying
of the Zarathustrian prayer of grace, his consort handed to him the poison mixed
with flour and milk with these words: "First of all, pray drink this,
because you will thereby refresh yourself from heat and fatigue."
Ardashir, having held it in his hand, was going to drink
it, when, people relate that the glorious fire Frobag, which is victorious, flew
into the room in the shape of a red hawk, struck the goblet containing the flour
with its wing, and the goblet with the entire flour fell from the hand of
Ardashir on the ground. Both Ardashir and his wife got confused when they beheld
this. A cat and a dog that were in the house licked up the contents and perished
Ardashir understood that: "That was some poison
prepared for killing me." He instantly sent for the chief of the Mobads,
and questioned him thus: "O Airpat! what dost thou think of one who
attempts the life of her lord, and what should be done to her?" The Mobad
replied: "May you be immortal! May you attain to your object! She who
attempts the life of her lord is worthy of death, and should be killed."
Ardashir then ordered the Mobad: "Take this dissolute woman, who is a
sorceress, who is the offspring of wicked parents, to the executioner, and order
him to kill her." The high priest, holding the hand of the woman, left the
The latter addressed the priest in these words:
"Inform Ardashir that this day I have completed seven months of pregnancy;
because if I am worthy of death, this offspring that I have in my womb should
not also be regarded as worthy of death." On hearing these words, the high
priest turned about and went back to Ardashir, and addressed him as follows:
"May you be immortal! This woman is pregnant, so she must not be executed,
for a time, until she is delivered of the child; for if she is fit to be killed,
the offspring that is in her womb from your Majesty should not also be
considered worthy of death, and executed." As Ardashir entertained wrath,
he said: "Don't stay a moment; kill her." The high priest knew that
Ardashir was full of wrath, and would have to repent it; so he did not allow the
woman to be killed; but he conveyed her to his house, and kept her in
He then said to his wife: "Keep this woman
respectfully, and say nothing about her to anybody." When the time of
delivery approached, she gave birth to a very worthy son. He was named Shapur
[the later Shapur the Great]; and he was reared there till he reached the age of
One day Ardashir went a-hunting; and, on entering the
forest, he gave his horse loose rein in pursuit of a female elk, when the male
elk coming straight up against Ardashir, rescued the hind, and gave himself up
to death. Ardashir laid low the male animal, and galloped his horse against the
fawn. The mother, on seeing the rider turn his horse in pursuit of her fawn,
came and relieved her young one by delivering herself up to death.
Ardashir, having observed this incident, stopped,
pondering, and became sympathetical; and when he turned back his horse he mused
upon the scene as follows: "Woe be unto man, who ought to follow, but does
not follow, these dumb quadrupeds that are irrational and speechless, but so
faithful toward one another that one lays down his life for the sake of his mate
or his young one." He was then fully reminded of the child she had in her
womb, and he, on horseback as he was, loudly uttered a mournful cry.
When the military chieftains, grandees, nobles, and
princes beheld such a state of things, they stood perplexed for a time, and went
all together toward the head of the Mobads and questioned him thus: "How
could such a thing happen that Ardashir should remain in such a lonely mood, and
be visited by wailing, grief, and sorrow, and should cry aloud in that
The chief of the Mobads, the commander-in-chief of
Arian, the commander of the guards, the chief of the secretaries, and the moral
preceptor of the princes went near Ardashir, fell prostrate on their faces, made
obeisance, and addressed him as follows: "May you be immortal! Pray do not
render yourself melancholy in this manner and fill your heart with grief and
lamentation. If it be possible to contrive means, through human activity, to
undo an act that has been done, make us also cognizant of it, so that we may lay
before you our bodies, lives, riches, wealth, wives and children; but if it be
such a calamity that no remedy can be found, pray do not render yourself and
ourselves, the subjects of the region, full of grief and lamentation."
Ardashir said in reply: "Nothing adverse has now
happened unto me; but today on my personally beholding the dumb, speechless, and
stupid quadrupeds in a certain condition in the forest, I was reminded of the
wife and innocent child that was in the mother's womb, of whose execution I was
the deviser and judge; wherefore a grievous sin should be on my soul." When
the head Mobad observed that Ardashir repented of the act, he fell prostrate on
his face, and addressed him thus: "May you be immortal! Order that the
punishment of margarzan sinners, or of those that disobey the king's
command, should be inflicted upon me."
Ardashir said surprisingly: "Why dost thou speak
so? What crime hast thou committed?" The chief of the Mobads answered:
"That woman and the child, whom you had ordered to kill, have not been
killed by us, and a son has been born, who is more handsome and accomplished
than all the newly born children and princes." Ardashir said with
amazement: "What sayest thou?" The high priest said: "May you be
immortal! It is so as I have said." Ardashir ordered that a superb present
consisting of red rubies, kingly pearls, and jewels, should be made to the Mobad.
Directly somebody entered, bringing in Shapur. On
beholding his own son, Shapur, Ardashir fell prostrate on his face, and offered
much thanksgiving unto Ahuramazda, the Amshaspands, the Glory of the Kavans, and
the victorious Atash-i-Vahram, and he spoke as follows: "What has come to
me has never been the lot of any lord or king. Who was there that came back to
life from amongst the dead, like such a beautiful offspring as mine, before the
millennium, the Resurrection, and the Final Renovation, of Soshyans?" On
that very site he ordered the erection of a city which they call Raye-i-Shapur.
He also established there an Atash-i-Varahran, transferred much riches and
wealth to the building of the "King of the Sacred Fires," and ordered
the continuation therein of many religious duties and acts.
Afterward Ardashir marched toward different frontiers,
and fought many bloody battles with the principal rulers of the territory of
Arian. But always when one of the frontiers was restored to order, another rose
in perfidy and unsubmission. Ardashir largely gave away his riches for this very
purpose; and he communed with himself as follows: "Is it not perhaps
destined for me by Providence that the kingdom of Arian should be restored by me
to an absolute monarchy?"
He, therefore, determined thus: "We ought to
consult several learned and sagacious Indian princes, who are soothsayers, as to
whether it is so that it is not appointed by our destiny to conduct the
sovereignty of the kingdom of Arian, and we ought to remain content with our
lot, to invoke blessings, to abandon these bloody battles, and to rest quietly
ourselves from such drudgery of the time of life."
Consequently, Ardashir dispatched one of his
confidential men to the head Kait of India to put him the question concerning
the restoration of the kingdom of Arian to an empire. When Ardashir's man
reached the presence of the Kait of India, the latter, observing the messenger,
spoke to him, before he could express himself, to the following effect:
"Are you sent by the King of the Persians to put me the question: 'Will the
sovereignty of the kingdom of Arian reach unto me as its emperor'? Now return
and give him this reply from me: 'Such a monarchy can not be restored by any one
except by a person who will be a descendant of two different families; one is
yours, another that of Mitrok, son of Anoshepat.'"
The messenger returned to the presence of Ardashir, and
communicated the opinion of the Kait of India, so that Ardashir became informed
of it. When Ardashir heard his words, he said: "May the day never come
when, from the line of Mitrok, whose soul is perverted, anybody should become
dominant in the kingdom of Arian, because as regards myself Mitrok, who was of a
grievous and mischievous race, was personally my enemy, while his descendants,
who are alive, are all enemies of myself and my children; so if they become
powerful and seek their father's vengeance, they will prove harmful to my
In consequence of wrath and malice, Ardashir went to the
dwelling of Mitrok, and ordered that all his children should be belabored and
killed. There was a daughter of Mitrok's, three years old, whom the village
authorities privately carried away from the house, and gave in charge of a
farmer, directing him that he should bring her up, and attend to her wants. The
farmer acted accordingly and reared her in an excellent manner. And when several
years elapsed the maiden reached the age of womanhood, and the beauty and gait
of her body, her dexterity, her physical strength and power developed so well
that she was regarded as the best and most prominent of all women.
According to the appointment of nature and time, one day
Shapur, son of Ardashir, happened to pass by that town on his way to the
hunting-ground; and at the close of the chase he himself with nine horsemen
returned to the country-farm wherein the maiden lived. The farmer's daughter was
sitting on the top of the well, drawing water from it, and supplying it to the
quadrupeds. The farmer was away on some business. As soon as the maiden beheld
Shapur and his horsemen, she got up, made obeisance, and addressed him as
follows: "You are welcome in health, goodness, and blessings. Pray take
rest, because this place is delightful, and the shade of trees pleasant; and as
the time is hot I will draw out some water, which you yourself and the horses
Shapur was vexed owing to fatigue, hunger, and thirst,
so he answered the maiden peevishly thus: "We will have water for
ourselves; thou needst not trouble thyself about it." The maiden went away
dejected and sat aside. Then Shapur spoke to the horsemen as follows:
"Throw that bucket into the well and draw out water, so that we may drink
it, and you may give it to the quadrupeds to drink. They acted accordingly and
cast the bucket into the well; but owing to the largeness of the bucket it was
impossible for them to draw it up full of water. The maiden was observing this
from a distance.
Shapur, on seeing that his horsemen could not draw the
bucket up from the well, grew angry, went himself to the top of the well, and
abusing those horsemen said: "Shame and disgrace to you who are less hardy
and less qualified than a woman." So saying he seized the rope from the
hands of the horsemen, and applying his own force to the rope he drew up the
bucket from the well. The maiden felt surprised at the strength, skill, and
vigor of Shapur.
No sooner did she see this than she, with the strength,
skill, and vigor that were purely established in her, drew up the bucket full of
water from the well, and went running to Shapur, bowed down to him, and
exclaimed: "May you be immortal, Shapur, son of Ardashir, the best of
heroes!" Shapur laughed and asked the maiden: "How dost thou come to
know that I am Shapur?" The maiden replied: "I have heard from many
people that there is not a single horseman in the kingdom of Arian who can
emulate Shapur, son of Ardashir, in physical strength, vigor, the beauty and
gait of body, and dexterity."
Shapur said to the maiden: "Tell me, truly, whose
offspring art thou?" The maiden answered: "I am the daughter of the
farmer who stays in this village." Shapur said: "Thou dost not say the
truth, since the daughter of a peasant has no such skill, vigor, gait, and
decency as thou possessest. Now we will not believe thee until thou speakest the
truth." The maiden replied: "If thou shouldst give me protection, I
would sincerely tell you the truth." Shapur exclaimed: "Protection!
Don't be afraid."
The maiden said: "I am the daughter of Mitrok, son
of Anoshepat, and brought to this place on account of the fear of Ardashir, and
of the seven children of Mitrok none has survived up to now except myself."
Shapur summoned the farmer before him, solemnly accepted the maiden as his wife,
and remained with her for the night. According to the law of creation, that is,
according to the law of nature, that very night the maiden became pregnant with
Hormazd, son of Shapur [Hormazd I, r. 272, killed in battle by the Roman Emperor
Aurelian]. Shapur kept his wife in royal pomp and respect, and Hormazd, son of
Shapur, was born from her.
Shapur kept Hormazd in secrecy from his father, until he
reached the age of seven years. One day Hormazd went to the race-course with the
youth and princes of the family of Ardashir, and while he was playing polo with
them Ardashir happened to be sitting there in his camp with the high priest, the
commander of the warriors, several noblemen and grandees, and attentively
beholding them. Hormazd, as well as the youth, was victorious and warlike at
riding And naturally one of them struck his polo-club to the ball which fell on
the side of Ardashir, and the latter connived at it. The youth stood
dumbfounded, and none would ride on or proceed further owing to the grandeur of
Ardashir. But Hormazd intrepidly went toward him, took up the ball, and,
striking it back courageously, he raised a cry of Joy.
Ardashir asked one of those present: "Whose boy is
this?" They said: "May you be immortal! We do not know this boy."
Ardashir sent a person, called the boy in his presence and asked him:
"Whose son art thou?" Hormazd answered: "I am the son of Shapur."
Instantly he dispatched a person and summoned Shapur and questioned him thus:
"Whose son is that?" Shapur solicited protection, saying: "Grant
it, O Ardashir." And protection was granted by him to Shapur.
Shapur then said: "May you be immortal! This son is
mine. I kept him in secrecy from you for seven years." Ardashir replied:
"What is the cause of this impropriety of thy withdrawing such a worthy son
from my sight for seven years?" So saying he embraced Hormazd, gave him
many a gift, and garment, and offered thanksgiving to God. He then expressed
himself thus: "This confirms what the Kait of India has predicted."
Afterward, when Hormazd attained to sovereignty, he was
able to bring back the whole kingdom of Arian under an absolute monarchy; and he
actually brought the head rulers of different frontiers under his submission.
And he demanded contribution and tribute from Arum [Rome] and India, and made
the kingdom of Arian more embellished, more efficient, and more famous than
And the Emperor of the Arumians, the Tab of Kabul, the
Rajah of the Hindus, the Khan of the Turks, and other chief rulers of different
countries, had come to his court with sweet salutations.
Completed with gratification, pleasure, and joy.
May Ardashir, the King of kings, son of Papak, and
Shapur, the King of kings, son of Ardashir, and Hormazd, the King of kings, son
of Shapur, be immortal-souled!
May the immortal-souled Rustam, son of Mitro-avan, who
has written this copy, be so, and more so!