The Esfandyar of legend is best known from the tragic story of a battle with Rostam, as described in Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnameh, or Book of Kings. It is one of the longest episodes in the epic, and one of its literary highlights.
Esfandyar is promised the throne by his father Goshtasp if he manages to repel an invasion in far-off provinces. Esfandyar is successful at this, but his father stalls and instead sends him off on another mission to suppress a rebellion in Turan. Esfandyar is again successful, and upon his return Goshtasp hedges once again and – although he is aware of a prediction that foretells the death of Esfandyar at the hand of Rostam – compels the young hero to go and bring the aging Rostam in chains for his arrogance and not paying due respect to the king. Although Esfandyar initially protests, reminding his father of Rostam’s fame, great age and services to the dynasty, he eventually complies with his father’s wishes and sets out towards Rostam.