Shah Nameh/Jemshíd

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Shah Nameh by Hakīm Abol-Qāsem Firdawsī Ṭūsī, translated by James A. Atkinson
Jemshíd


Jemshíd was eminently distinguished for learning and wisdom. It is said that coats of mail, cuirasses, and swords and various kinds of armor were invented and manufactured in his time, and also that garments of silk were made and worn by his people.

  Helmets and swords, with curious art they made,
  Guided by Jemshíd's skill; and silks and linen
  And robes of fur and ermine. Desert lands
  Were cultivated; and wherever stream
  Or rivulet wandered, and the soil was good,
  He fixed the habitations of his people;
  And there they ploughed and reaped: for in that age
  All labored; none in sloth and idleness
  Were suffered to remain, since indolence
  Too often vanquishes the best, and turns
  To nought the noblest, firmest resolution.

Jemshíd afterwards commanded his Demons to construct a splendid palace, and he directed his people how to make the foundations strong.

  He taught the unholy Demon-train to mingle
  Water and clay, with which, formed into bricks,
  The walls were built, and then high turrets, towers,
  And balconies, and roofs to keep out rain
  And cold, and sunshine. Every art was known
  To Jemshíd, without equal in the world.

He also made vessels for the sea and the river, and erected a magnificent throne, embellished with pearls and precious stones; and having seated himself upon it, commanded his Demons to raise him up in the air, that he might be able to transport himself in a moment wherever he chose. He named the first day of the year _Nú-rúz_ and on every _Nú-rúz_ he made a royal feast, so that under his hospitable roof, mortals, and Genii, and Demons, and Peris, were delighted and happy, every one being equally regaled with wine and music. His government is said to have continued in existence seven hundred years, and during that period, it is added, none of his subjects suffered death, or was afflicted with disease.

  Man seemed immortal, sickness was unknown,
  And life rolled on in happiness and joy.

After the lapse of seven hundred years, however, inordinate ambition inflamed the heart of Jemshíd, and, having assembled all the illustrious personages and learned men in his dominions before him, he said to them:--"Tell me if there exists, or ever existed, in all the world, a king of such magnificence and power as I am?" They unanimously replied:--"Thou art alone, the mightiest, the most victorious: there is no equal to thee!" The just God beheld this foolish pride and vanity with displeasure, and, as a punishment, cast him from the government of an empire into a state of utter degradation and misery.

  All looked upon the throne, and heard and saw
  Nothing but Jemshíd, he alone was king,
  Absorbing every thought; and in their praise,
  And adoration of that mortal man,
  Forgot the worship of the great Creator.
  Then proudly thus he to his nobles spoke,
  Intoxicated with their loud applause,
  "I am unequalled, for to me the earth
  Owes all its science, never did exist
  A sovereignty like mine, beneficent
  And glorious, driving from the populous land
  Disease and want. Domestic joy and rest
  Proceed from me, all that is good and great
  Waits my behest; the universal voice
  Declares the splendor of my government,
  Beyond whatever human heart conceived,
  And me the only monarch of the world."
  --Soon as these words had parted from his lips,
  Words impious, and insulting to high heaven,
  His earthly grandeur faded--then all tongues
  Grew clamorous and bold. The day of Jemshíd
  Passed into gloom, his brightness all obscured.
  What said the Moralist? "When thou wert a king
  Thy subjects were obedient, but whoever
  Proudly neglects the worship of his God,
  Brings desolation on his house and home."
  --And when he marked the insolence of his people,
  He knew the wrath of Heaven had been provoked,
  And terror overcame him.