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Secret Societies of the Middle Ages

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Author Topic: Secret Societies of the Middle Ages  (Read 1861 times)
Trena Alloway
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« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2009, 11:23:42 pm »

p. 135

The mention of Ghilan and of Ky Kaoos presents an opportunity, which we are not willing to let pass, of diversifying our narrative by an excursion into the regions of Persian geography and romance, which may cast a gleam of the sunshine of poetry over the concluding portion of our history of the dark and secret deeds of the Ismaïlites.

The mountain range named Demavend, on the south side of which Roodbar, the territory of the Ismaïlites, lies, is the northern termination of the province of Irak Ajemee, or Persian Irak. Beyond it stretches to the Caspian Sea a fertile region, partly hilly, partly plain *. This country is divided into five districts, which were in those times distinct from and independent of each other. At the foot of the mountains lay Taberistan and Dilem, the former to the east, the latter to the west. Dilem is celebrated as having been the native country of the family of Buyah, which, rising from the humblest station, exercised under the khalifs, and with the title of Ameer-al-Omra (Prince of the Princes), a power nearly regal over Persia during a century and a half †. North of Dilem lay Ghilan, and north of Taberistan Mazenderan, the ancient Hyrcania. In the midst of



p. 136

these four provinces lay Ruyan and Rostemdar, remarkable for having been governed for a space of 800 years by one family of princes, while dynasty after dynasty rose and fell in the neighbouring states. In these provinces the names of the royal lines recall to our mind the ancient history, both true and fabulous, of Irân (Persia), as we find it in the poem of Ferdoosee, the Homer of that country. The family of Kawpara, which governed Ruyan and Rostemdar, affected to derive their lineage from the celebrated blacksmith Gavah, who raised his apron as the standard of revolt against the Assyrian tyrant Zohak; and the family of Bavend, which ruled for nearly seven centuries, with but two interruptions, over Mazenderan and Taberistan, were descended from the elder brother of Noosheerwan the Just, the most celebrated monarch of the house of Sassan.

This region is the classic land of Persia. When, as their romantic history relates, Jemsheed, the third monarch of Iran after Cayamars, the first who ruled over men, had long reigned in happiness and prosperity, his head was lifted up with pride, and God withdrew from him his favour. His dominions were invaded by Zohak, the prince of the Tauzees (Assyrians or Arabs); his subjects fell away from him, and, after lurking for a hundred years in secret places, he fell into the hands of the victor, who cut him asunder with a saw. A child was born of the race of Jemsheed, named Feridoon, whom, as soon as he came to the light (in the village of Wereghi, in Taberistan), his mother Faranuk gave to a herdsman to rear, and his nourishment was the milk of a female buffalo, whose name was Poormayeh. Zohak meantime had a dream, in which he beheld two warriors, who led up to him a third, armed with a club which terminated in the head of a cow. The warrior struck him on the head with his club, and took him and chained

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him in the cavern of a mountain. He awoke with a loud cry, and called all the priests, and astrologers, and wise men, to interpret his dream. They feared to speak. At last they told him of the birth and nurture of Feridoon, who was destined to overcome him. Zohak fell speechless from his throne at the intelligence. On recovering, he sent persons in all directions to search for and put to death the fatal child; but the maternal anxiety of Faranuk was on the watch, and she removed the young Feridoon to the celebrated mountain Elburz, where she committed him to the care of a pious anchorite. Zohak, after a long search, discovered the place where Feridoon had been first placed by his mother, and in his rage he killed the beautiful and innocent cow Poormayeh.

Zohak is represented as a most execrable tyrant. Acting under the counsel of the Devil, he had murdered his own father to get his throne. His infernal adviser afterwards assumed the form of a young man, and became his cook. He prepared for him all manner of curious and high-seasoned dishes; for hitherto the food of mankind had been rude and plain. As a reward, he only asked permission to kiss the shoulders of the king. Zohak readily granted this apparently moderate request; but from the spots where the Devil impressed his lips grew forth two black snakes. In vain every art was employed to remove them, in vain they were cut away, they grew again like plants. The physicians were in perplexity. At length the Devil himself came in the shape of a physician, and said that the only mode of keeping them quiet was to feed them with human brains. His object, we are told, was gradually in this way to destroy the whole race of man.

The design of the Devil seemed likely to be accomplished. Each day two human beings were slain, and the serpents fed with their brains. At length

p. 138

two of the tyrant's cooks discovered that the brain of a man mixed with that of a ram satisfied the monsters, and, of the two men who were given to be killed each day, they always secretly let go one, and those who were thus delivered became the progenitors of the Koords who dwell in the mountains west of Persia. Among those unfortunate persons who were condemned to be food for the serpents was the son of a blacksmith named Gavah. The afflicted father went boldly before the tyrant, and remonstrated with him on the injustice of his conduct. Zohak heard him with patience and released his son. He also made him bearer of a letter addressed to all the provinces of the empire, vaunting his goodness, and calling on all to support him against the youthful pretender to his throne. But Gavah, instead of executing the mandate, tore the tyrant's letter, and, raising his leathern apron on a lance by way of standard, called on all the inhabitants of Iran to arise and take arms in support of Feridoon, the rightful heir to the throne of Jemsheed.

Meantime Feridoon, who had attained the age of twice eight years, came down from Elburz, and, going to his mother, besought her to tell him from whom he derived his birth. Faranuk related to him his whole history, when the young hero, in great emotion, vowed to attack the tyrant, and avenge on him the death of his father; but his mother sought, by representing the great power of Zohak; to divert him from his purpose, and exhorted him to abandon all such thoughts, and to enjoy in quiet the good things of this life. But a numerous army, led by Gavah in search of the true heir to the throne, now came in sight. Feridoon, joyfully advancing to meet them, adorned with gold and precious stones the leathern banner, placed upon it the orb of the moon, and, naming it Direfsh-e-Gavanee (Gavah's Apron),

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