Posted by Roddy Yazdanpour on

A very long time ago there lived a legendary warrior hero in Iran. His name was Rostam and in all the world there was no one as skilful and as powerful as him. Rostam's mother was Rudaba, the princess of Kabul, who was known for her peerless beauty, and Rostam's father was Zal. Zal was one of Persia's most powerful warriors and a great general who conquered many rebellious tribes and ruled over Zabulistan. Zal was known for his wisdom and was unparalleled in riding and fighting on horseback. He once demonstrated his skills to Emperor Menuchihr, to seek his approval to marry his lover Rudaba and won her hand. Rudaba's labor of Rostam was prolonged due to the extraordinary size of her baby. Zal, her lover and husband, was certain that his wife would die in labor. Rudaba was near death when Zal decided to summon the Simurgh (a benevolent mythical bird with magical powers). The Simurgh appeared and instructed him upon how to perform a "Rostamzad" (Persian equivalent for Caesarean section), thus saving Rudaba and the child.

When Rostam was still a boy he single handily slay a mad elephant and when his father saw this he decided to train Rostam and when he was ready sent him on military assignments. One day Rostam’s horse went missing and whilst out looking for him, Rostam entered the kingdom of Samangan where he was welcomed as a guest of the king. The king’s daughter, Tahmina, instantly fell in love with the legendary hero and convinced him to have a child with her in return for the return of his horse. Rostam agreed and handed the princess two jewels. He said to her to braid it into the child’s hair if is it is a girl, or bind it around the child’s arm if it is a boy, and with that Rostam returned to his city. Nine months later Tahmini gave birth to a boy and called him Sohrab. Even though Sohrab knew who his father was, they never met and as time passed Sohrab grew up to be the best fighter in the Turan army of his country.

A new war broke out between Persia and Turan and the soldiers of the two prepared for battle, but because of Rostam’s frightening legacy the Turanian soldiers cowered before the Persian army. In those days the two strongest warriors from each side fought each other to determine the winner and as fate would have it Sohrab was the only Turanian with the courage to face Rostam. Facing his father Sohrab had no idea who he is fighting and neither did Rostam. They wrestled with each other for hours, neither giving in but it was Rostam who finally pushed the dagger into Sohrab’s heart. At that point he saw through Sohrab’s ripped armour the jewel wrapped around his arm and realized that he killed his own son. So great was his grief that he refused to continue the war and managed to broker an end to it.

Sohrab’s mother died of a broken heart a year after his death. Even though this is a tragic chapter in the story of the legendary Rostam, he remains one of the greatest heroes in Iran’s history and the lion is often used to symbolize him.

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