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Ancient History Sourcebook:
The Karnamik-I-Ardashir, or The Records of Ardashir


Chapter I.

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 horseback.

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."

 

Chapter II.

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 precincts.

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.

 

Chapter III.

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.

 

Chapter IV.

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 thee."

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.

 

Chapter V.

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 property.

 

Chapter VI.

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 his ally."

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.

 

Chapter VII.

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 encamped."

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."

 

Chapter VIII.

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.

 

Chapter IX.

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 instantly.

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 court.

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 concealment.

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 seven years.

 

Chapter X.

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 manner?"

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.

 

Chapter XI.

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 children."

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.

 

Chapter XII.

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 may drink."

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.

Chapter XIII.

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 before.

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.

 

Colophon.

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!

Amen.


Source:

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.

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.


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© Paul Halsall, October 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu