1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bahrām

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BAHRĀM (Varahrān, in Gr. Οὐαραράνης or Οὐραράνης, the younger form of the old Verethragna, the name of a Persian god, “the killer of the dragon Verethra”), the name of five Sassanid kings.

1. Bahrām I. (A.D. 274-277). From a Pahlavi inscription we learn that he was the son (not, as the Greek authors and Tabari say, the grandson) of Shapur I., and succeeded his brother Hormizd (Ormizdas) I., who had only reigned a year. Bahrām I. is the king who, by the instigation of the magians, put to a cruel death the prophet Mani, the founder of Manichaeism. Nothing else is known of his reign.

2. Bahrām II. (277-294), son of Bahrām I. During his reign the emperor Carus attacked the Persians and conquered Ctesiphon (283), but died by the plague. Of Bahrām II.'s reign some theological inscriptions exist (F. Stolze and J. C. Andreas, Persepolis (Berlin, 1882), and E. W. West, “Pahlavi Literature” in Grundriss d. iranischen Philologie, ii. pp. 75-129).

3. Bahrām III., son of Bahrām II., under whose rule he had been governing Sejistan (therefore called Saganshah, Agathias iv. 24, Tabari). He reigned only four months (in 294), and was succeeded by the pretender Narseh.

4. Bahrām IV. (389-399), son and successor of Shapur III., under whom he had been governor of Kirman; therefore he was called Kirmanshah (Agathias iv. 26; Tabari). Under him or his predecessor Armenia was divided between the Roman and the Persian empire. Bahrām IV. was killed by some malcontents.

5. Bahrām V. (420-439), son of Yazdegerd I., after whose sudden death (or assassination) he gained the crown against the opposition of the grandees by the help of al-Mondhir, the Arabic dynast of Hira. He promised to rule otherwise than his father, who had been very energetic and at the same time tolerant in religion. So Bahrām V. began a systematic persecution of the Christians, which led to a war with the Roman empire. But he had little success, and soon concluded a treaty by which both empires promised toleration to the worshippers of the two rival religions, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Bahrām deposed the vassal king of the Persian part of Armenia and made it a province. He is a great favourite in Persian tradition, which relates many stories of his valour and beauty, of his victories over the Romans, Turks, Indians and Negroes, and of his adventures in hunting and in love; he is called Bahrām Gor, “the wild ass,” on account of his strength and courage. In reality he seems to have been rather a weak monarch, after the heart of the grandees and the priests. He is said to have built many great fire-temples, with large gardens and villages (Tabari). (Ed. M.)