|←Death of Minúchihr||Shah Nameh by , translated by James A. Atkinson
|Afrásiyáb Marches against Nauder→|
Upon the demise of Minúchihr, Nauder ascended the throne, and commenced his reign in the most promising manner; but before two months had passed, he neglected the counsels of his father, and betrayed the despotic character of his heart. To such an extreme did he carry his oppression, that to escape from his violence, the people were induced to solicit other princes to come and take possession of the empire. The courtiers labored under the greatest embarrassment, their monarch being solely occupied in extorting money from his subjects, and amassing wealth for his own coffers. Nauder was not long in perceiving the dissatisfaction that universally prevailed, and, anticipating, not only an immediate revolt, but an invading army, solicited, according to his father's advice, the assistance of Sám, then at Mázinderán. The complaints of the people, however, reached Sám before the arrival of the messenger, and when he received the letter, he was greatly distressed on account of the extreme severity exercised by the new king. The champion, in consequence, proceeded forthwith from Mázinderán to Persia, and when he entered the capital, he was joyously welcomed, and at once entreated by the people to take the sovereignty upon himself. It was said of Nauder:
The gloom of tyranny has hid
The light his father's counsel gave;
The hope of life is lost amid
The desolation of the grave.
The world is withering in his thrall,
Exhausted by his iron sway;
Do thou ascend the throne, and all
Will cheerfully thy will obey.
But Sám said, "No; I should then be ungrateful to Minúchihr, a traitor, and deservedly offensive in the eyes of God. Nauder is the king, and I am bound to do him service, although he has deplorably departed from the advice of his father." He then soothed the alarm and irritation of the chiefs, and engaging to be a mediator upon the unhappy occasion, brought them to a more pacific tone of thinking. After this he immediately repaired to Nauder, who received him with great favor and kindness. "O king," said he, "only keep Feridún in remembrance, and govern the empire in such a manner that thy name may be honored by thy subjects; for, be well assured, that he who has a just estimate of the world, will never look upon it as his place of rest. It is but an inn, where all travellers meet on their way to eternity, but must not remain. The wise consider those who fix their affections on this life, as utterly devoid of reason and reflection:
"Pleasure, and pomp, and wealth may be obtained--
And every want luxuriously supplied:
But suddenly, without a moment's warning,
Death comes, and hurls the monarch from his throne,
His crown and sceptre scattering in the dust.
He who is satisfied with earthly joys,
Can never know the blessedness of Heaven;
His soul must still be dark. Why do the good
Suffer in this world, but to be prepared
For future rest and happiness? The name
Of Feridún is honoured among men,
Whilst curses load the memory of Zohák."
This intercession of Sám produced an entire change in the government of Nauder, who promised, in future, to rule his people according to the principles of Húsheng, and Feridún, and Minúchihr. The chiefs and captains of the army were, in consequence, contented, and the kingdom reunited itself under his sway.
In the meantime, however, the news of the death of Minúchihr, together with Nauder's injustice and seventy, and the disaffection of his people, had reached Túrán, of which country Poshang, a descendant from Túr, was then the sovereign. Poshang, who had been unable to make a single successful hostile movement during the life of Minúchihr, at once conceived this to be a fit opportunity of taking revenge for the blood of Sílim and Túr, and every appearance seeming to be in his favor, he called before him his heroic son Afrásiyáb, and explained to him his purpose and views. It was not difficult to inspire the youthful mind of Afrásiyáb with the sentiments he himself cherished, and a large army was immediately collected to take the field against Nauder. Poshang was proud of the chivalrous spirit and promptitude displayed by his son, who is said to have been as strong as a lion, or an elephant, and whose shadow extended miles. His tongue was like a bright sword, and his heart as bounteous as the ocean, and his hands like the clouds when rain falls to gladden the thirsty earth. Aghríras, the brother of Afrásiyáb, however, was not so precipitate. He cautioned his father to be prudent, for though Persia could no longer boast of the presence of Minúchihr, still the great warrior Sám, and Kárun, and Garshásp, were living, and Poshang had only to look at the result of the wars in which Sílim and Túr were involved, to be convinced that the existing conjuncture required mature deliberation. "It would be better," said he, "not to begin the contest at all, than to bring ruin and desolation on our own country." Poshang, on the contrary, thought the time peculiarly fit and inviting, and contended that, as Minúchihr took vengeance for the blood of his grandfather, so ought Afrásiyáb to take vengeance for his. "The grandson," he said, "who refuses to do this act of justice, is unworthy of his family. There is nothing to apprehend from the efforts of Nauder, who is an inexperienced youth, nor from the valor of his warriors. Afrásiyáb is brave and powerful in war, and thou must accompany him and share the glory." After this no further observation was offered, and the martial preparations were completed.