Kings 09 Saiawush

HomeIranPoetryFerdowsi Epic of Kings - Zimmern

The Epic of Kings
By Ferdowsi
Written 1010 A.C.E.
Translated by Helen Zimmern


On a certain day it came about that Tus, Gew, Gudarz, and other brave knights
of Iran went forth to chase wild asses in the forests of Daghoui. Now when
they were come into the wood, they found therein a woman of surpassing
beauty, and the hearts of Tus and Gew burned towards her in love. And when
they had questioned her of her lineage, and learned that she was of the
race of Feridoun, each desired to take her to wife. But none would give
way unto the other, and hot words were bandied, and they were like to come
unto blows. Then one spake, and said-
"I counsel you, let Kai Kaous decide between you." And they listened
to the voice of the counsellor, and they took with them the Peri-faced,
and led her before Kai Kaous, and recounted to him all that was come about.
But Kai Kaous, when he beheld the beauty of the maid, longed after her
for himself, and he said that she was worthy of the throne; and he took
her and led her into the house of his women.
Now after many days there was born to her a son, and he was of
goodly mien, tall and strong, and the name that was given to him was Saiawush.
And Kai Kaous rejoiced in this son of his race, but he was grieved also
because of the message of the stars concerning him. For it was written
that the heavens were hostile unto this infant; neither would his virtues
avail him aught, for these above all would lead him into
In the meantime the news that a son had been born unto the Shah
spread even unto the land of Rustem. And the Pehliva, when he learned thereof,
aroused him from his sorrow for Sohrab, and he came forth out of Zaboulistan,
and asked for the babe at the hands of its father, that he might rear it
unto Iran. And Kai Kaous suffered it, and Rustem bare the child unto his
kingdom, and trained him in the arts of war and of the banquet. And Saiawush
increased in might and beauty, and you would have said that the world held
not his like.
Now when Saiawush was become strong (so that he could ensnare a
lion), he came before Rustem, bearing high his head. And he spake,
"I desire to go before the Shah, that my father may behold me,
and see what manner of man thou hast made of me."
And Rustem deemed that he spake well. So he made great preparations,
and marched unto Iran with a mighty host, and Saiawush rode with him at
their head. And the land rejoiced when it looked on the face of Saiawush,
and there was great joy in the courts of the King, and jewels and gold
and precious things past the telling rained upon Rustem and Saiawush his
charge. And Kai Kaous was glad when he beheld the boy, and gave rich rewards
unto Rustem; but Saiawush did he place beside him on the throne. And all
men spake his praises, and there was a feast given, such as the world hath
not seen the like.
Then Saiawush stayed in the courts of his father, and seven years
did he prove his spirit; but in the eighth, when he had found him worthy,
he gave unto him a throne and a crown. And all was well, and men had forgotten
the evil message of the stars. But that which is written in the heavens,
it is surely accomplished, and the day of ill fortune drew nigh. For it
came about that Sudaveh beheld the youth of Saiawush, and her eyes were
filled with his beauty, and her soul burned after him. So she sent unto
him a messenger, and invited him to enter the house of the women. But he
sent in answer words of excuse, for he trusted her not. Then Sudaveh made
complaint before Kai Kaous that Saiawush had deafened his ear unto her
request, and she bade the Shah send him behind the curtains of the women's
house, that his son might become acquainted with his sisters. And Kai Kaous
did that which Sudaveh asked of him, and Saiawush obeyed his
But Sudaveh, when she had so far accomplished her longing that
she had gotten him within the house, desired that he should speak with
her alone. But Saiawush resisted her wish. And three times did Sudaveh
entice him behind the curtains of the house, and three times was Saiawush
cold unto her yearning. Then Sudaveh was wroth, and she made complaint
unto the Shah, and she slandered the fair fame of Saiawush, and she spread
evil reports of him throughout the land, and she inflamed the heart of
Kai Kaous against his son. Now the Shah was angered beyond measure, and
it availed nought unto Saiawush to defend himself, for Kai Kaous was filled
with the love of Sudaveh, and he listened only unto her voice. And he remembered
how she had borne his captivity in Hamaveran, and he knew not of her evil
deceits. And when she said that Saiawush had done her great wrong, Kai
Kaous was troubled in his spirit, and he resolved how he should act, for
his heart went out also unto his son, and he feared that guile lurked in
these things. And he could not decide between them. So he caused dromedaries
to be sent forth, even unto the borders of the land, and bring forth wood
from the forests. And they did so, and there was reared a mighty heap of
logs, so that the eye could behold it at a distance of two farsangs. And
it was piled so that a path ran through its midst such as a mounted knight
could traverse. And the Shah commanded that naphtha be poured upon the
wood; and when it was done he bade that it be lighted, and there were needed
two hundred men to light the pyre, so great was its width and height. And
the flames and smoke overspread the heavens, and men shouted for fear when
they beheld the tongues of fire, and the heat thereof was felt in the far
corners of the land.
Now when all was ready, Kai Kaous bade Saiawush his son ride into
the midst of the burning mount, that he might prove his innocence. And
Saiawush did as the King commanded, and he came before Kai Kaous, and saluted
him, and made him ready for the ordeal. And when he came nigh unto the
burning wood, he commended his soul unto God, and prayed that He would
make him pure before his father. And when he had done so, he gave rein
unto his horse, and entered into the flame. And a great cry of sorrow arose
from all men in the plains and in the city, for they held that no man could
come forth alive from this furnace. And Sudaveh heard the cry, and came
forth upon the roof of her house that she might behold the sight, and she
prayed that ill might befall unto Saiawush, and she held her eyes fastened
upon the pyre. But the nobles gazed on the face of Kai Kaous, and their
mouths were filled with execrations, and their lips trembled with wrath
at this deed.
And Saiawush rode on undaunted, and his white robes and ebon steed
shone forth between the flames, and their anger was reflected upon his
helmet of gold. And he rode until he was come unto the end of the pathway,
and when he came forth there was not singed a hair of his head, neither
had the smoke blackened his garments.
Now when the people beheld that he was come forth alive, they rent
the welkin with their shouting. And the nobles came forth to greet him,
and, save only Sudaveh, there was joy in all hearts. Now Saiawush rode
till he came before the Shah, and then he got him off his horse, and did
homage before his father. And when Kai Kaous beheld him, and saw that there
were no signs of fire about him, he knew that he was innocent. So he raised
his son from off the ground, and placed Saiawush beside him on the throne,
and asked his forgiveness for that which was come to pass. And Saiawush
granted it. Then Kai Kaous feasted his son with wine and song, and three
days did they spend in revels, and the door of the King's treasury was
But on the fourth day Kai Kaous mounted the throne of the Kaianides.
He took in his hand the ox-headed mace, and he commanded that Sudaveh be
led before him. Then he reproached her with her evil deeds, and he bade
her make ready to depart the world, for verily death was decreed unto her.
And in vain did Sudaveh ask for pardon at the hands of the King, for she
continued to speak ill of Saiawush, and she said that by the arts of magic
alone had he escaped the fire, and she ceased not to cry against him. So
the King gave orders that she be led forth unto death, and the nobles approved
his resolve, and invoked the blessings of Heaven upon the head of the Shah.
But Saiawush, when he learned it, was grieved, for he knew that the woman
was beloved of his father. And he went before Kai Kaous, and craved her
pardon. And Kai Kaous granted it with gladness, for his heart yearned after
Sudaveh. So Saiawush led her back, and the curtains of the house of the
women hid her once more behind them, and the Shah was glad again in her
Then it came about that the love of Kai Kaous for Sudaveh grew
yet mightier, and he was as wax under her hands. And when she saw that
her empire over him was strengthened, she filled his ear with plaints of
Saiawush, and she darkened the mind of the Shah till that his spirit was
troubled, and he knew not where he should turn for truth.
Now while Kai Kaous thus dallied behind the curtains of his house,
Afrasiyab made him ready with three thousand chosen men to fall upon the
land of Iran. And Kai Kaous, when he learned it, was sad, for he knew that
he must exchange the banquet for the battle; and he was angered also with
Afrasiyab, and he poured out words of reproof against him because he had
broken his covenant and had once more attacked his land. Yet he made him
ready to lead forth his army. Then a Mubid prayed him that he would not
go forth himself, and he recalled unto Kai Kaous how twice already he had
endangered his kingdom. But Kai Kaous was wroth when he heard these words,
and he bade the Mubid depart from his presence, and he sware that he alone
could turn the army unto good issue.
But Saiawush, when he heard it, took heart of grace, for he thought
within his spirit, "If the King grant unto me to lead forth his army, perchance
I may win unto myself a name of valour, and be delivered from the wiles
of Sudaveh." So he girded himself with the armour of battle and came before
the King his father, and made known to him his request. And he recalled
unto Kai Kaous how that he was his son, and how he was sprung from a worthy
race, and how his rank permitted him to lead forth a host; and Kai Kaous
listened to his words with gladness, and assented to his desires. Then
messengers were sent unto Rustem to bid him go forth to battle with his
charge and guard him. And Kai Kaous said unto his Pehliva-
"If thou watchest over him, I can slumber; but if thou reposest,
then doth it beseem me to act."
And Rustem answered and said, "O King, I am thy servant, and it
behoveth me to do thy will. As for Saiawush, he is the light of my heart
and the joy of my soul; I rejoice to lead him forth before his
So the trumpets of war were sounded, and the clang of armour and
the tramp of horsemen and of foot filled the air. And five Mubids bare
aloft the standard of Kawah, and the army followed after them. And they
passed in order before Kai Kaous, and he blessed the troops and his son,
who rode at their head. And he spake, saying-
"May thy good star shine down upon thee, and mayst thou come back
to me victorious and glad."
Then Kai Kaous returned him unto his house, and Saiawush gave the
signal to depart. And they marched until they came unto the land of
Now when they were come there they rested them a while, and feasted
in the house of Zal. And while they revelled there came out to join them
riders from Cabul and from Ind, and wherever there was a king of might
he sent over his army to aid them. Then when a month had rolled above their
heads they took their leave of Zal and of Zaboulistan, and went forward
till they came unto Balkh. And at Balkh the men of Turan met them, and
Gersiwaz, the brother of Afrasiyab, was at their head. Now when he saw
the hosts of Iran, he knew that the hour to fight was come. So the two
armies made them in order, and they waged battle hot and sore, and for
three days the fighting raged without ceasing, but on the fourth victory
passed over to Iran. Then Saiawush called before him a scribe, and wrote
a letter, perfumed with musk, unto Kai Kaous his father. And when he had
invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his head, he told him all that was
come to pass, and how he had conquered the foes of Iran. And Kai Kaous,
when he had read the letter, rejoiced, and wrote an answer unto his son,
and his gladness shone in his words, and you would have said it was a letter
like to the tender green of spring.
But Afrasiyab, when he learned the news, was discomfited, and that
which Gersiwaz told unto him was bitter to his taste, and he was beside
himself for anger. Now when he had heard his brother to an end, Afrasiyab
laid him down to slumber. Yet ere the night was spent there came out one
to the house of Gersiwaz and told unto him that Afrasiyab was shouting
like to a man bereft of reason. Then Gersiwaz went in unto the King, and
he beheld him lying upon the floor of his chamber roaring in agony of spirit.
Then he raised him, and questioned him wherefore he cried out thus. But
Afrasiyab said-
"Question me not until I have recovered my wits, for I am like
to one possessed."
Then he desired that torches be brought within to light up the
darkness, and he gathered his robes about him and mounted upon his throne.
And when he had done so he called for the Mubids, and he recounted to them
the dream that had visited his slumber. And he told how that he had seen
the earth filled with serpents, and the Iranians were fallen upon him,
and evil was come to him from Kai Kaous and a boy that stood beside him
on the throne. And he trembled as he related his dream, and he would take
no comfort from the words of Gersiwaz.
Now the Mubids as they listened were afraid, and when Afrasiyab
bade them open their lips, they dared not for fear. Then the King said
that he would cleave open their heads if they spake not, and he sware unto
them a great oath that he would spare them, even though the words they
should utter be evil. Then they revealed to him how it was written that
Saiawush would bring destruction upon Turan, and how he would be victorious
over the Turks, and how, even though he should fall by the hands of Afrasiyab,
this evil could not be stayed. And they counselled Afrasiyab to contend
no longer against the son of Kai Kaous, for surely if he stayed not his
hand this evil could not be turned aside.
When Afrasiyab heard this message, he took counsel with Gersiwaz,
and he said-
"If I cease from warring against Saiawush surely none of these
things can come about. It beseemeth me to seek after peace. I will send
therefore silver and jewels and rich gifts unto Saiawush, and will bind
up with gold the eye of war."
So he bade Gersiwaz take from his treasures rich brocades of Roum,
and jewels of price, and bear them across the Jihun to the camp of Saiawush.
And he sent a message unto him, saying-
"The world is disturbed since the days of Silim and Tur, the valiant,
since the times of Irij, who was killed unjustly. But now, let us forget
these things, let us conclude an alliance together, and let peace reign
in our borders."
And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab bade, and he went forth, and a train
of camels bearing rich presents followed after him. And he marched till
he came within the tents of Saiawush.
Now when he had delivered his message unto Saiawush, the young
King marvelled thereat; and he took counsel with Rustem how they should
act, for he trusted not in the words of Afrasiyab, and he deemed that poison
was hidden under these flowers. And Rustem counselled him that they should
entertain Gersiwaz the space of seven days, and that joy and feasting should
resound throughout the camp, and in the mean season they would ponder their
deeds. And it was done as Rustem said, and the sounds of revelry were abroad,
and Gersiwaz rejoiced in the presence of Saiawush. But on the eighth day
Gersiwaz presented himself before Saiawush in audience, and demanded a
reply. And Saiawush said-
"We have pondered thy message, and we yield to thy request, for
we desire not bloodshed but peace. Yet since it behoveth us to know that
poison be not hidden under thy words, we desire of thee that thou send
over to us as hostages an hundred chosen men of Turan, allied unto Afrasiyab
by blood, that we may guard them as a pledge of thy
When Gersiwaz heard this answer, he sent it unto Afrasiyab by a
messenger quick as the wind. And Afrasiyab, when he heard it, was troubled,
for he said-
"If I give way to this demand I bereave the land of its choicest
warriors; yet if I refuse, Saiawush will deny belief unto my words, and
the evils foretold will fall upon me."
So he chose out from among his army men allied to him by blood,
and he sent them forth unto Saiawush. Then he caused the trumpets to sound,
and retreated with his army unto Turan, and restored unto Iran the lands
he had seized.
Now when Rustem beheld the warriors, and that Afrasiyab had spoken
that which was true, he suffered Gersiwaz to depart; and he held counsel
with Saiawush how they should acquaint Kai Kaous with that which was come
to pass, for Saiawush said-
"If Kai Kaous desire vengeance rather than peace, he will be angered
and commit a deed of folly. Who shall bear unto him these
And Rustem said, "Suffer that I go forth to tell them unto Kai
Kaous, for verily he will listen unto that which I shall speak, and honour
will fall upon Saiawush for this adventure."
Wherefore Rustem went before the King, and told him they had conquered
Afrasiyab, and how he was become afraid, and how there was concluded a
peace between them. And he vaunted the wisdom of Saiawush that was quick
to act and quick to refrain, and he craved the Shah to confirm what they
had done. But Kai Kaous was angered when he heard it, and he said that
Saiawush had done like to an infant. And he loaded reproaches upon Rustem,
and said that his counsels were vile, and he sware that he would be avenged
upon Turan. Then he recalled all they had suffered in the days that were
past at the hands of Afrasiyab, and he said the tree of vengeance could
not be uprooted. And he desired Rustem that he turn him back unto Balkh,
and say unto Saiawush that he should destroy these hostages of Turan, and
that he should fall again upon Afrasiyab, nor cease from fighting. But
Rustem, when he had heard him to an end, opened his mouth and said unto
the Shah-
"O King, listen to my voice, and do not that which is evil! Verily
I say unto thee that Saiawush will not break his oath unto Afrasiyab, neither
will he destroy these men of Turan that were delivered into his
When Kai Kaous heard his speech his anger was kindled, and he upbraided
Rustem, and said that his evil counsels had caused Saiawush to swerve from
the straight path; and he taunted him and bade him go back unto Seistan,
and he said that Tus should go forth as Pehliva unto his son. Then Rustem
too was angered, and he gave back the reproaches of the Shah, and he turned
him and quitted the courts and sped him back unto his kingdom. But Kai
Kaous sent Tus unto the army at his borders, and he bade him speak his
desires unto Saiawush his son.
Now Saiawush, when he learned what was come about, was sore discomfited,
and he pondered how he should act. For he said, "How can I come before
Ormuzd if I depart from mine oath? Yet, however I shall act, I see around
me but perdition."
Then he called for Bahram and Zengueh, and confided to them his
troubles. And he said how that Kai Kaous was a king who knew not good from
evil, and how he had accomplished that wherefore the army went forth, yet
how the Shah desired that vengeance should not cease. And he
"If I listen to the commands of the King, I do that which is evil;
yet if I listen not, surely he will destroy me. Wherefore I will send back
unto Afrasiyab the men he hath placed within my hands, and then hide me
from sight."
Then he sent Zengueh before Afrasiyab with a writing. And he told
therein all that was come about, and how that discord was sprouted out
of their peace. And he recalled unto Afrasiyab how he had not broken their
treaty though Kai Kaous had bidden him do it, and he said how he could
not return unto the King his father. Then he prayed Afrasiyab that he would
make a passage for him through his dominions, that he might hide him wheresoever
God desired. For he said-
"I seek a spot where my name shall be lost unto Kai Kaous, and
where I may not know of his woeful deeds."
And Zengueh set forth and did as Saiawush desired, and he took
with him the hundred men of Turan, and all the gold and jewels that Afrasiyab
had sent. And when he was come within the gates Afrasiyab received him
right kindly, but when he had heard his message he was downcast in his
spirit. Then he called for Piran, the leader of his hosts, and he took
counsel with him how he should act. And Piran said-
"O King, live for ever! There is but one road open unto thee. For
this Prince is noble, and he hath done that which is right, for he would
not give ear unto the evil designs of Kai Kaous, his father. Wherefore
I counsel thee, receive him within thy courts, and give unto him a daughter
in marriage, and let him be to thee a son; for verily, when Kai Kaous shall
die, he will mount upon the throne of Iran, and thus may the hate of old
be quenched in love."
Now Afrasiyab, when he had listened to the words of Piran, knew
that they were good. So he sent for a scribe, and dictated a writing unto
Saiawush. And he said unto him how the land was open to receive him, and
how he would be to him a father, and how he should find in Turan the love
that was denied of Kai Kaous. And he said-
"I will demand of thee nought but what is good, neither will I
suffer suspicion against thee to enter my soul."
Then he sealed the letter with his royal seal, and gave it unto
Zengueh the messenger, and bade him depart there with speed. And Saiawush,
when he had read it, was glad, and yet he was also troubled in his spirit,
for his heart was sore because he was forced to make a friend of the foe
of his land. Yet he saw that it could in nowise be altered. So he wrote
a letter to Kai Kaous, and he told him therein how it seemed that he could
not do that which was right in his eyes, and he recalled unto him the troubles
that were come upon him from Sudaveh, and he said how he could not break
an oath he had made. Then he confided this writing unto Bahram, and he
bade him take the lead of the army till that Tus should be come forth from
Iran. And when he had chosen out an hundred warriors of renown from out
the host, he departed with them across the border.
Now when Tus arrived and learned what was come to pass, he was
confounded; and when tidings thereof reached Kai Kaous, he was struck down
with dismay. He cried out against Afrasiyab, and against Saiawush his son,
and his anger was kindled. Yet he refrained from combat, and his mouth
was silent of war.
In the meantime Saiawush was come into Turan, and all the land
had decked itself to do him honour. And Piran came forth to greet him,
and there followed after him elephants, white of hue, richly caparisoned,
laden with gifts. And these he poured before Saiawush, and gave him welcome.
And he told him how Afrasiyab yearned to look upon his face, and he
"Turn thee in amity unto the King, and let not thy mind be troubled
concerning that which thou hast heard about him. For Afrasiyab hath an
ill fame, but he deserveth it not, for he is good."
Then Piran led Saiawush before Afrasiyab. And when Afrasiyab saw
him, he rejoiced at his strength and his beauty, and his heart went out
towards him, and he embraced him, and spake, saying-
"The evil that hath disturbed the world is quieted, and the lamb
and the leopard can feed together, for now is there friendship between
our lands."
Then he called down blessings upon the head of Saiawush, and he
took him by the hand and seated him beside him on the throne. And he turned
to Piran, and said-
"Kai Kaous is a man void of sense, or surely he would not suffer
a son like unto this to depart from out his sight."
And Afrasiyab could not cease from gazing upon Saiawush, and all
that he had he placed it at his command. He gave to him a palace, and rich
brocades, and jewels and gold past the counting; and he prepared for him
a feast, and there were played the games of skill, and Saiawush showed
his prowess before Afrasiyab. And the sight of Saiawush became a light
to the eyes of the King of Turan and a joy unto his heart, and he loved
him like to a father. And Saiawush abode within his courts many days, and
in gladness and in sorrow, in gaiety or in sadness, Afrasiyab would have
none other about him. And the name of Saiawush abode ever upon his lips.
And in this wise there rolled twelve moons over their heads, and in the
end Saiawush took unto himself to wife the daughter of Piran the Pehliva.
And yet again the heavens revolved above his head, and he continued to
abide within the house of Afrasiyab. Then Piran gave counsel unto Saiawush
that he should ask of Afrasiyab the hand of his daughter to wife. For he
"Thy home is now in Turan, wherefore it behoveth thee to establish
thy might; and if Afrasiyab be thy father indeed, there can no hurt come
near to thee. And peradventure, if a son be born unto thee of the daughter
of Afrasiyab, he will bind up for ever the enmity of the
And Saiawush listened to the counsel of Piran, for he knew that
it was good, and he asked the hand of Ferangis of her father, and Afrasiyab
gave it to him with great joy. Then a mighty feast was made for the bridal,
and Afrasiyab poured gifts upon Saiawush past the telling, and he bestowed
on him a kingdom and a throne, and he blessed him as his son; and when
at length he suffered him to go forth unto his realm, he sorrowed sore
at his loss.
Now the space of one year did Saiawush abide in his province, and
at the end thereof, when he had visited its breadth, he builded for himself
a city in the midst. And he named it Gangdis, and it was a place of beauty,
such as the world hath not seen the like. And Saiawush built houses and
planted trees without number, and he also caused an open space to be made
wherein men could rejoice in the game of ball. And he was glad in the possession
of this city, and all men around him rejoiced, and the earth was the happier
for his presence, and there was no cloud upon the heaven of his life. Yet
the Mubids told unto him that Gangdis would lead to his ill-fortune, and
Saiawush was afflicted thereat. But when a little time was sped and he
beheld no evil, he put from him their words, and he rejoiced in the time
that was; and he was glad in the house of his women, and he put his trust
in Afrasiyab.
But that which is written in the stars, surely it must be accomplished!
So it came about after many years that Gersiwaz was jealous of the love
which Afrasiyab his brother bare unto Saiawush, and of the power that was
his; and he pondered in his heart how he might destroy him. Then he came
before Afrasiyab, and prayed the King that he would suffer him to go forth
and visit the city that Saiawush had builded, whereof the mouths of men
ran over in praises. And Afrasiyab granted his request, and bade him bear
words of love unto Saiawush his son. So Gersiwaz sped forth unto the city
of Gangdis, and the master thereof received him kindly, and asked him tidings
of the King. And he feasted him many days within his house, and he showed
freely unto him all that was his; and when he departed he heaped gifts
upon his head, for he knew not that Gersiwaz came in enmity unto him, and
that these things but fanned his envy.
Now when Gersiwaz returned unto Afrasiyab, the King questioned
him concerning his darling. Then Gersiwaz answered and
"O King, he is no longer the man whom thou knewest. His spirit
is uplifted in pride of might, and his heart goeth out towards Iran. And
but that I should make my name to be infamous unto the nations, I would
have hidden from thee this grief. But it behoveth me to tell unto thee
that which I have seen and which mine ears have heard. For it hath been
made known unto me that Saiawush is in treaty with his father, and that
they seek to destroy thee utterly."
When Afrasiyab heard these words he would not let them take root
in his spirit, yet he could not refuse countenance to the testimony of
his brother. And he was sad, and spake not, and Gersiwaz knew not whether
the seeds he had strewn had taken root. So when a few days were gone by
he came again before the King and repeated unto him the charges that he
had made, and he urged him to act, and suffer not Turan to be disgraced.
Then Afrasiyab was caught in the meshes of the net that Gersiwaz had spread.
And he bade Gersiwaz go forth and summon Saiawush unto his courts, and
invite him to bring the daughter of Afrasiyab to feast with her father.
And Gersiwaz sped forth with gladness, and delivered the message of Afrasiyab
unto the young King. Then Saiawush said-
"I am ready to do the will of Afrasiyab, and the bridle of my horse
is tied unto thy charger."
Then Gersiwaz thought within him, "If Saiawush come into the presence
of Afrasiyab, his courage and open spirit will give the lie unto my
So he feigned before Saiawush a great sorrow, and when the King
questioned him thereof he consented to pour out before him the griefs of
his spirit. And he said to him how that he loved him tenderly, and how
he was in sorrow for his sake, because that the ear of Afrasiyab had been
poisoned against him, and he counselled him that he should not seek the
courts of the King. And he said-
"Suffer me to return alone, and I will soften the heart of Afrasiyab
towards thee; and when he shall be returned unto a right spirit, I will
summon thee forth unto his house."
Now Saiawush, who was true and void of guile, listened unto these
words, for he knew not that they were false. So he sent words of greeting
and of excuse unto Afrasiyab, and he said that he could not quit the chamber
of Ferangis, for she was sick and chained unto her couch. And Gersiwaz
rode forth bearing the letter, and he sware unto Saiawush that he would
cement the peace that was broken. But when he came unto Afrasiyab he delivered
not the writing, but spake evil things of Saiawush, and maligned him. And
he fed the anger of Afrasiyab, until the King commanded that the army be
led forth to go against Saiawush his friend, and he took the lead thereof
Now when the men of Turan came nigh unto the city that Saiawush
had builded, Gersiwaz sent an envoy unto Saiawush, saying-
"Flee, I counsel thee, for my words have availed nought, and Afrasiyab
cometh forth in enmity against thee."
When Saiawush learned this he was sore downcast in his spirit,
and he went unto Ferangis and charged her how she should act when he should
be fallen by the hands of Afrasiyab, for he held it vile to go forth in
combat with one who had been to him a father. So he made ready his house
for death. Now when he came to his steed of battle he pressed its head
unto his breast, and he wept over it and spake into its ear. And he
"Listen, O my horse, and be brave and prudent; neither attach thyself
unto any man until the day that Kai Khosrau, my son, shall arise to avenge
me. From him alone receive the saddle and the rein."
Then he bade the men of Iran that were about him go back unto their
land, and when all was ready he went forth beyond the gates. But even yet
he hoped to turn from him the suspicions of Afrasiyab, and he would not
suffer his men to offer combat unto the men of Turan. So he went before
Afrasiyab, and questioned him wherefore he was come out in anger against
him. Now Gersiwaz suffered not Afrasiyab to reply, but heaped reproaches
upon Saiawush, and said that he had received him vilely, and that he had
slandered his benefactor. And Saiawush, when he had listened, was confounded,
and in vain did he strive to bear down the upbraiding of his foe. For the
heart of Afrasiyab was angered yet the more, now that his eyes rested yet
again upon the face of Saiawush, whom he loved, because he deemed that
he must give credit unto the words of his brother, and because distrust
of Iran was graven in his soul. So he hardened himself against the speech
of Saiawush, and he bade the army fall upon his beloved. But Saiawush remembered
his oath, and he stretched not forth his hand against Afrasiyab, neither
did he defend himself from the assaults of his men, and he bade the warriors
that were with him that they unsheathe not the sword. So speedily were
they mown down, and their bodies lay round about Saiawush their King. And
when all were slain a knight stretched out his hand against Saiawush, yet
he slew him not, but bound him with cords, and led him before Afrasiyab
the King. And Afrasiyab commanded that Saiawush be led forth into a desert
place, and that his head be severed from off his trunk. Now the army murmured
when they heard this command, and beheld the beauty of Saiawush and his
face of truth, and there stepped forth one from among the nobles to plead
for him. But Gersiwaz would not suffer the heart of Afrasiyab to be
Now while Gersiwaz yet spake evil of the young King, there came
forth from the house of the women Ferangis, the daughter of Afrasiyab,
and she demanded audience of her father. And when he would have denied
it, she forced herself into his presence, and she pleaded for her lord,
and she sware that evil tongues had maligned him, and she entreated of
her father that he would not destroy the joy he had given to her. And she
"Listen, O King! if thou destroyest Saiawush, thou becomest a foe
unto thyself. Deliver not by thy folly the land of Turan unto the winds,
and remember the deeds that have been done of Iran in the days that are
gone by. An avenger will arise from out the midst of the Kaianides. Mayest
thou never recall my counsel too late."
But the world grew dark before the eyes of Afrasiyab with anger.
And he spake, and said-
"Go hence, and trouble not again my face; for how canst thou judge
of that which is right?"
Then he commanded that she should be bound, and cast into a
Now Gersiwaz, when he beheld the anger of the King, deemed that
the time was ripe. He therefore gave a sign unto the men that held Saiawush
in bondage, and desired that they should slay him. And by the hairs of
his head they dragged him unto a desert place, and the sword of Gersiwaz
was planted in the breast of the royal cedar. But when it was done, and
they had severed the head from the trunk, a mighty storm arose over the
earth, and the heavens were darkened. Then they trembled and were sore
afraid, and repented them of their deed. And clamour arose in the house
of Saiawush, and the cries of Ferangis reached even unto Afrasiyab her
father. Then the King commanded that she should be killed also. But Piran
spake, and said-
"Not so, wicked and foolish man. Wouldst thou lift thine hand against
thine offspring, and hast thou not done enough that is evil? Shed not,
I counsel thee, the blood of yet another innocent. But if thou desire to
look no more upon Ferangis, I pray thee confide her unto me, that she may
be to me a daughter in my house, and I will guard her from
Then Afrasiyab said, "Do that which seemeth best in thy
And he was glad in his heart, for he desired not to look upon the face
that should recall to him the friend that he had loved. So Piran took Ferangis
unto his house beyond the mountains, and Afrasiyab returned unto his courts.
But the King was sorrowful in his spirit and unquiet in his heart, and
he could not cease from thinking of Saiawush, and he repented of that which
he had done.