The Heroic Age of Persia
"Deem every day in thy life as a leaf in thy history;
Be careful, therefore, that nothing be written in it
unworthy of posterity."
A Maxim of Feridun [Feraydun, a ruler of ancient Persia]
From the dawn of history, Persia has been a distinct cultural entity; however, knowledge of the early inhabitants of prehistoric Iran is limited. The earliest written records of the Iranians are the old Persian cuneiform inscriptions of King Darius I in the 6th century BC, but a long history preceded them. This early history is drawn from Persia's legendary past, and reflects the attitudes of society of that time. Much information about the ancient Iranians, their gods and the creation of their world can be found in the religious texts of the Zoroastrians, which include the Avesta and later sources such as the Bundahishn and Denkard.
The Bundahishn or 'Creation' consists of Pahlavi (Middle Persian) translations of parts of the Avesta that no longer exist, while the Denkard gives a summary of the Avesta. These myths which appear in the part of the Avesta known as Yasht include some tales of very ancient pre-Zoroastrian origin, probably belonging to the pagan Indo-Iranian era. They describe the heroic deeds performed by the gods, kings and warriors against both supernatural and human enemies.
Many of these myths reappear in the Shah-namah (The Book of Kings), an epic in rhyme by the poet Ferdowsi, which
was completed in AD 1010. Fifty thousand couplets long, it reflects the history of the country from the creation of the
world to the Arab conquest in the 7th century. The figures in the Shah-namah and their adventures, are known to all in the Persian speaking world.
"Rustam Sleeping while his
horse Rakhsh, fights the lion"
The following sectons are from Volume 1 of the book "A History of Persia",
by Sir Percy Sykes, and provide a brief insight into the age of legends:
PART 1: "The Pishdádián Dynasty" to "Rustam the Champion"
PART 2: "The Keiánián Dynasty" to "The End of the Heroic Period"
( Disclaimer : Although we were able to contact the publishers of the book "A History of Persia",
( MacMillan and Co. Ltd, 1930 ), we were unable to trace Sir Percy Sykes, due to the age of this book. If perchance members of his family come across this page, we hope they will be pleased and we look forward to hearing from them. )
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