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HELPS FOR STUDY

What myths and legends of the creation of the world do you know of?

What was the “Mystic Floating Bridge” of Japanese mythology?
Who were Izanami and Izanagi?
What is the mythical story of the formation of Japan?
What is the Japanese story of the sun goddess and the moon god?

How did Susa-no-o differ from the other two children of Izanagi and Izanami?

What do you think was represented by Susa-no-o in Japanese mythology?

What was the “Nether-world”?
What did Susa-no-o's parents decide to do with him?
How did he behave then?
What did he say to his parents?
How did Ama-terasu know Susa-no-o was approaching her domain?
What did she do?
Was there need for all this preparation?
What did Susa-no-o say to his sister?
How did she regard his remarks?

What did Susa-no-o do to cause Ama-terasu and her maidens to leave heaven?

How was the world affected by the departure from heaven of Ama-terasu?

What did the Eighty Myriads of Gods do? How did the gods succeed in getting the sun goddess to come out of the cave?

What change came over the world after she went back to dwell in heaven?

What heroic deed did Susa-no-o perform?

VOCABULARY

Ama-terasu (äm-ä-ter-ä'sū)
Ashi (ash'ē)
Inada (ē-nä'dä)
Izanagi (ē-zä-nä-gē)

Izanami (ē-zä-nä'mē)
Sake (sä'kē)
Susa-no-o (sū-sä'nö-ö)
Uzumé (ū-zü'mā)

THE STORY OF SOHRAB AND RUSTUM

The story of Sohrab and Rustum is only an episode in the Persian epic, the Shah-Namah,or “Books of the King,” which is to Persia what the Nibelungen Liedis to Germany. Its author was a learned Arabian scholar, 5 named Abul Casim Mansur, born about 941 B. C. The Sultan of Persia wished an epic to be written that should celebrate the legendary heroes of Persia, and a contest of poets was arranged, that one might be chosen for the task.

At one of these contests Abul improvised so successfully 10 that the name of Firdusi (Paradise) was bestowed upon

him, because, as the Sultan said, he had made the court a paradise.

Firdusi won the appointment, and for thirty years he labored at his task. He wrote sixty thousand verses and 15 for each verse had been promised a gold piece, with which

he intended to build a dike for his native town of Tus. Accordingly, when the payment was made in silver, the angry poet sent back the gift with scorn and for many years

lived a wandering life. At last in his old age he returned 20 to his native town to die, and as his body was borne out

of the town, the camels of the repentant Sultan entered, bearing the promised gold. As a tribute to the poet's memory, the great stone dike of Tus was built with the gold.

The original story of Sohrab and Rustum was as follows:

Once, while the great Persian hero, Rustum, was hunting near the borders of Turan, some young men of the province stole away his famous horse, Ruksh. In great wrath, Rustum went to the king in the city of Samangan, who

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received him kindly and restored his horse. Here he was entertained with royal splendor and fell in love with the beautiful princess, Tahminah. After their marriage, however, Rustum's adventurous spirit revived and he departed 5 in search of fresh conquests, leaving his bride an amulet of onyx, which she was to fasten upon their child to shield it from harm. If the child was a girl the amulet was to be worn in the hair, but if a boy, upon the arm.

The child proved to be a son, but Tahminah feared that 10 if Rustum heard of it he would take the boy from her, so

she sent him word that it was a girl. The father took no more interest in the child, and the boy, who was named Sohrab, grew up a brave and fearless youth, like the great

Rustum himself. Afrasiab, the Tartar King, conceived a 15 great fancy for him and gave him a prominent place in his

army, but Sohrab's one desire was to find his father, who was Afrasiab's enemy. The crafty king hoped that when his Tartar hordes marched upon the kingdom of the Sultan,

Kai Khosroo, Sohrab would unwittingly slay his mighty 20 father, and thus the kingdom would fall a prey to its

enemies. Therefore he concealed Rustum's presence in the Persian army from Sohrab.

Great was the terror of the Persians at the approach of the Tartar army, especially since the Sultan had angered 25 Rustum, who refused to fight, and sulked in his tent. At

last, however, after the Sultan himself had asked pardon, and sent him rich gifts, Rustum prepared for the contest. When the two armies were face to face on the banks of the

Oxus, Sohrab challenged Kai Khosroo to single combat, 30 but he sent Rustum in his place. Both combatants felt

a premonition of the true state of affairs, but the combat began, and they fought until sundown and they were both wearied out. In the night Sohrab sought Haman and de

manded to know whether his foe was the great Rustum or 35 not. But Haman pretended ignorance, and next day the battle was renewed. Again they fought until the day was done and another night they rested.

When the day dawned Rustum rushed upon Sohrab and threw him to the earth with such force that his back 5 was broken. He bore down his sword to kill him, when Sohrab cried: “I sped not forth for empty glory, but I went to seek my father, for my mother had told me by what tokens I should know him, and I perish for longing after

him. And now have my pains been fruitless, for it hath 10 not been given unto me to look upon his face. Yet I say

unto thee, if thou shouldst become a fish that swimmeth in the depths of the ocean, if thou shouldst change into a star that is concealed in the farthest heaven, my father would

draw thee forth from thy hiding place and avenge my death 15 upon thee when he shall learn that the earth is become my

bed. For my father is Rustum the Pehliva, and it shall be told unto him how that Sohrab, his son, perished in the quest after his face.” Thereupon he showed Rustum the amulet and died.

Rustum burned his tent, his throne and his arms, crying that his heart was "sick unto death," and bore his son's body to Seistan, where he placed it in a splendid tomb. Rustum never knew joy again and when the news reached

Samangan, the old king tore his garments, and Tahminah, 25 after mourning a year, died of grief.

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HELPS FOR STUDY

What is an “episode”?
What is an “epic”?
Why are the “Sha-Namahand the “Nibelungen Liedepics?
Do you know of any other poems that are epics?
Explain "improvise."
What is a dike”?
Why did Firdusi treat the gift of silver with scorn?
What did Rustum do when his horse was stolen?
What is an “amulet”?

What is “onyx”?
Why did Tahmina send word to Rustum that the child was a girl?
What was Sohrab's one desire?
Who were the “Tartar hordes”?
What did Afrasiab hope would happen?
What did he do in order that this might come to pass?

Why did the Persians especially fear the approach of the Tartar army?

What did Kai Khosroo do?
Did Sohrab feel that his foe might be the great Rustum?

What did Sohrab say to his father when he bore down his sword to kill him?

What did he mean by “perished in the quest after his face?

What effect did Sohrab's death have upon his father and mother and the old king?

Read "Sohrab and Rustum” by Matthew Arnold, the great English poet.

NOTES

285: 16 Tus. In the Middle Ages, the capital of Khorasan, Persia.

285: 27 Turan. In opposition to “Iran,” the name of their own country, the Persians called the countries lying north of it Turan, and this name is still used as meaning Turkestan.

286: 19 Kai Khosroo. The Persian name for Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian empire.

286: 29 Oxus. The ancient name of the Amu Daria, the principal river of Central Asia.

287: 22 Seistan. A region in eastern Persia and southwestern Afghanistan.

VOCABULARY

Afrasiab (ä-frä-si-äb')
Firdusi (fir-dū'-sē)
Kai Khosroo (ki-kos-rö')
Ruksh (röksh)
Rustum (rus'tum)

Sha-Namah (shâ-na-me')
Sohrab so'räb)
Tahmina (tä-mēn' ä)
Turan (tū-rān)
Tus (töz)

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