Persepolis and Zahhak

Persepolis is one of the most famous and valuable monuments of Iran and there are various stories about it. It may be interesting to note Ferdowsi Tusi mentioned to Persepolis in his book Shahnameh. One of those stories is Zahhak.

Zahhak’s narration in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh

One of the interesting narratives in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is the story of Zahhak, the bad son of Mardas. Mardas was one of the righteous kings who had a son named Zahhak. According to the narration of this person in the Shahnameh, Zahhak is one of the bad guys of the day who, because of his despicable nature, is tempted by the devil and commits inappropriate things.

According to Shahnameh:

One day, the devil turned himself into a good man and went to Zahhak. After a while, he was able to persuade him to kill his father, using the defamation that Ahriman had for Zahhak. Using the advice given by Ahriman to Zahhak,he dug a hole and Mardas fell into that when he went to the garden for a walk in the morning. In this way, despite his pure background, Mardas conspired with the devil and lost his life!

However, the devil did not give up on Zahhak, and found another way to his life. After Merdas was assassinated, Zahhak became king, and at the same time, Ahriman (Devil) appeared as a chef with an incredible breadth in Zahhak life. Knowing that Zahhak is a glutton, Ahriman quickly found a place in his heart and attracted his attention. So, after a while, Zahhak told the chef that he would fulfill whatever he wanted. The only thing the chef wanted was to let him kiss Zahhak’s two shoulders. But when the chef kissed Zahhak’s two shoulders, he quickly disappeared and two snake appeared on Zahhak’s shoulders.

The presence of the two snakes on his shoulders frightened him and everyone else. Because every time a snake was killed, another snake would quickly appear on his shoulders. So he called on all city doctors to help him solve the problem. But again the only medicine that had a solution to control the snakes was the devil who had killed Mardas …. This time, the devil that intended to destroy the human race, suggested that he should control the snakes by feeding them two brains of humans daily.

Jamshid narration in Shahnameh:

Jamshid was also one of the good kings who lost the government and the glory of the kingdom because of his pride. Zahhak took advantage of the people’s dissatisfaction against him and ousted him from the throne and killed him. In doing so, he came to the throne and captured Jamshid’s daughters, Shahrnavaz and Arnavaz, and used human brains to feed the snakes.

 

The reason for naming Persepolis

It is interesting to know that the reason for naming Persepolis in some way goes back to the narrative of Persepolis in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. Because when Alexander and the Arabs invaded Iran, because they could not read the cuneiform, they only named Persepolis Parseh from the pictures inscribed on the inscriptions of the guerrillas. The images carved on the rocks represent the throne of the kingdom on the hands of the people.

But when the archaeologists examined the inscriptions, they found out its original name Parseh. Therefore, this place is now known in Iran as Parseh or Takhte Jamshid.

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