Shah Nameh/Invasion of Irán by Afrásiyáb

134151Shah Nameh — Invasion of Irán by AfrásiyábJames Atkinson (1780-1852)Hakīm Abol-Qāsem Firdawsī Ṭūsī


THE intelligence of Káús’s imprisonment was very soon spread through the world, and operated as a signal to all the inferior states to get possession of Irán. Afrásiyáb was the most powerful aspirant to the throne; and gathering an immense army, he hurried from Túrán, and made a rapid incursion into the country, which after three months he succeeded in conquering, scattering ruin and desolation wherever he came.

Some of those who escaped from the field bent their steps towards Zábulistán, by whom Rustem was informed of the misfortunes in which Káús was involved; it therefore became necessary that he should again endeavor to effect the liberation of his sovereign; and accordingly, after assembling his troops from different quarters, the first thing he did was to despatch a messenger to Hámáverán, with a letter, demanding the release of the prisoners; and in the event of a refusal, declaring the king should suffer the same fate as the White Demon and the magician-monarch of Mázinderán. Although this threat produced considerable alarm in the breast of the king of Hámáverán, he arrogantly replied, that if Rustem wished to be placed in the same situation as Káús, he was welcome to come as soon as he liked.

Upon hearing this defiance, Rustem left Zábulistán, and after an arduous journey by land and water, arrived at the confines of Hámáverán. The king of that country, roused by the noise and uproar, and bold aspect of the invading army, drew up his own forces, and a battle ensued, but he was unequal to stand his ground before the overwhelming courage of Rustem. His troops fled in confusion, and then almost in despair he anxiously solicited assistance from the chiefs of Berber and Misser, which was immediately given. Thus three kings and their armies were opposed to the power and resources of one man. Their formidable array covered an immense space.

Each proud his strongest force to bring,
The eagle of valour flapped his wing.

But when the King of Hámáverán beheld the person of Rustem in all its pride and strength, and commanding power, he paused with apprehension and fear, and intrenched himself well behind his own troops. Rustem, on the contrary, was full of confidence.

What, though there be a hundred thousand men
Pitched against one, what use is there in numbers
When Heaven is on my side: with Heaven my friend,
The foe will soon be mingled with the dust.”

Having ordered the trumpets to sound, he rushed on the enemy, mounted on Rakush, and committed dreadful havoc among them.

It would be difficult to tell
How many heads, dissevered, fell,
  Fighting his dreadful way;
On every side his falchion gleamed,
Hot blood in every quarter streamed
  On that tremendous day.

The chief of Hámáverán and his legions were the first to shrink from the conflict; and then the King of Misser, ashamed of their cowardice, rapidly advanced towards the champion with the intention of punishing him for his temerity, but he had no sooner received one of Rustem’s hard blows on his head, than he turned to flight, and thus hoped to escape the fury of his antagonist. That fortune, however, was denied him, for being instantly pursued, he was caught with the kamund, or noose, thrown round his loins, dragged from his horse, and safely delivered into the hands of Bahrám, who bound him, and kept him by his side.

Ring within ring the lengthening kamund flew,
And from his steed the astonished monarch drew.

Having accomplished this signal capture, Rustem proceeded against the troops under the Sháh of Berberistán, which, valorously aided as he was, by Zúára, he soon vanquished and dispatched; and impelling Rakush impetuously forward upon the sháh himself, made him and forty of his principal chiefs prisoners of war. The King of Hámáverán, seeing the horrible carnage, and the defeat of all his expectations, speedily sent a messenger to Rustem, to solicit a suspension of the fight, offering to deliver up Káús and all his warriors, and all the regal property and treasure which had been plundered from him. The troops of the three kingdoms also urgently prayed for quarter and protection, and Rustem readily agreed to the proffered conditions.

Káús to liberty restore,
With all his chiefs, I ask no more;
For him alone I conquering came;
Than him no other prize I claim.”


IT was a joyous day when Káús and his illustrious heroes were released from their fetters, and removed from the mountain-fortress in which they were confined. Rustem forthwith reseated him on his throne, and did not fail to collect for the public treasury all the valuables of the three states which had submitted to his power. The troops of Misser, Berberistán, and Hámáverán, having declared their allegiance to the Persian king, the accumulated numbers increased Káús’s army to upwards of three hundred thousand men, horse and foot, and with this immense force he moved towards Irán. Before marching, however, he sent a message to Afrásiyáb, commanding him to quit the country he had so unjustly invaded, and recommending him to be contented with the territory of Túrán.

Hast thou forgotten Rustem’s power,
When thou wert in that perilous hour
By him o’erthrown? Thy girdle broke,
Or thou hadst felt the conqueror’s yoke.
Thy crowding warriors proved thy shield,
They saved and dragged thee from the field;
By them unrescued then, wouldst thou
Have lived to vaunt thy prowess now?”

This message was received with bitter feelings of resentment by Afrásiyáb, who prepared his army for battle without delay, and promised to bestow his daughter in marriage and a kingdom upon the man who should succeed in taking Rustem alive.