Murder of Seyavash: Unknown artist, Shiraz style 1630-40.
Courtesy British Library
Fathers against sons
In the Shahnameh, shahs are almost always in the wrong
September 15, 2000
Excerpt from Fathers
and Sons: Stories from the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, Vol II, translated
by Dick Davis (2000, Mage Publishers).
Volume II opens and closes with tales of tragic conflict between a king
and his son: Prince Seyavash and Prince Esfandiyar are both driven from
the court by their foolish fathers to confront destiny and death in distant
lands. It includes more than 180 illustrations, mostly taken from miniatures
in the great Shahnameh made in the 1520's and 30's for the Safavid
monarch, Shah Tahmasp. See excerpt from introduction
to Volume II here.
Also see excerpt from Volume I here.
A Turkish Princess Is Discovered
One day at cockcrow Tus, Giv, and a number of other knights rode out
from their king's court; taking along cheetahs and hawks, they set off
for the plain of Daghui to hunt for wild asses. After they'd brought down
a great quantity of game, enough for forty days, they saw that the land
before them was black with Turkish tents. In the distance, close to the
border between the Persian and Turkish peoples, a thicket was visible,
and Tus and Giv, followed by a few others, rode over to it. To their astonishment,
they discovered a beautiful young woman hiding there, and Tus said to her,
"How is it a girl as radiant as the moon is in this thicket?"
She answered, "Last night my father beat me; he came back drunk from
a feast and, as soon as he saw me, he drew a dagger and began shouting
that he would cut my head off, and so I fled from our home."
The knights asked her about her family, and she explained that she was
related to Garsivaz who traced his lineage back to Feraydun. Then they
asked how it was that she was on foot. She said that her horse had collapsed
in exhaustion, that the quantity of gold and jewels she'd brought with
her, together with her crown, had been stolen from her by bandits on a
nearby hill, and that one of them had beaten her with the scabbard of his
sword. She added, "When my father realizes what's happened, he'll
send horsemen out to find me, and my mother too is sure to hurry here to
stop me going any further."
The knights could not help but be interested in her, and Tus said quite
shamelessly, "I found this Turkish girl, I rode on ahead of the rest
of the group, she's mine." Giv responded, "My lord, didn't you
and I arrive here together, without the others? It's not fitting for a
knight to get so argumentative about a slave girl." Their words became
so heated that they were ready to cut the girl's head off, but to resolve
the matter one of the company suggested they take her to the Persian king's
court, and that both should agree to whatever the king decided. And so
they set out for the court, but when Kavus saw the girl he laughed and
bit his lip and said to the pair of them, "I see the hardships of
the journey were well worth it, and we can spend a day telling stories
about how our heroes went hunting with cheetahs and snared the sun. She's
a delicate young doe, and prey like that's reserved for the very best."
He turned then to the girl and said, "What family are you from, because
your face is like an angel's?" She answered, "My mother's nobly
born, and my father's descended from Feraydun; my grandfather is Garsivaz,
and his tent is always at the center of our encampment." Kavus said,
"And you wanted to throw to the winds such a fine lineage, not to
speak of your lovely face and hair? No, you must sit on a golden throne
in my harem and I'll make you the first of all my women." She answered,
"My lord, when I saw you, of all heroes I chose you for my own."
Enthroned within his harem now-arrayed
With rubies, turquoise, lapis, gold brocade-
She was herself an unpierced, precious gem,
A princess worthy of a diadem.
The Birth of Seyavash
When spring with all its glorious colors came, Kavus was told that his
encounter with this radiant beauty had resulted in the birth of a splendid
son. The loveliness of the boy's face and hair was rumored throughout the
world; the king, his father, named him Seyavash and had his horoscope cast.
But the horoscope was not auspicious; taking refuge in the will of God,
Kavus was saddened to see that the stars did not augur well for the boy's
Shortly afterwards Rostam came to the court and addressed the sovereign:
"It's I who should undertake the education of this lion cub; no courtier
of yours is more suited to the task; in all the world you won't find a
better nurse for him than I shall be." The king pondered the suggestion
for a while and, seeing that his heart had no objection to it, he handed
into Rostam's arms his pride and joy, the noble infant warrior. Rostam
took the boy to Zavolestan and there constructed a dwelling for him in
an orchard. He taught him how to ride and all the skills appropriate for
a horseman; how to manage bridle and stirrups, the use of bow and lariat;
how to preside at banquets where the wine goes round; how to hunt with
hawks and cheetahs; what justice and injustice are; all that pertains to
the crown and throne; what wise speech is; what warfare is and how to lead
his troops. He passed on to him all the arts a prince must know, toiling
to teach the boy, and his labors bore good fruit. Seyavash became a prince
without a peer in all the world.
Time passed and now the youth was hunting lions with his lariat. He
turned to Rostam and said, "I need to see my king; you've taken great
pains in teaching me the ways of princes, and now my father must see the
skills that Rostam's taught me." Rostam gathered presents for him-horses,
slaves, gold, silver, seal-rings, crowns, thrones, cloth, carpets-and whatever
his own treasury could not supply he sent for from elsewhere. He had Seyavash
splendidly equipped, since the army would be observing him, and to keep
the boy's spirits up, he accompanied him part of the way. His people decked
the road in splendor, mixing gold and ambergris and sprinkling the mixture
on him as he passed. Every house and street was decorated and the world
was filled with joy, gold coins were scattered beneath the horses' hooves,
their manes were smeared with saffron, wine, and musk; in all Iran there
was not one sad soul.
Seyavash was welcomed at the court with great pomp and ceremony; festivities
were held and Kavus lavished gifts on his son, reserving only the royal
crown, saying that the boy was as yet too young for such an honor. But
after eight years had passed he made him lord of Kavarestan, the land beyond
the Oxus, and the royal mandate was inscribed on silk according to ancient
Sudabeh's Love for Seyavash
Now when the king's wife, Sudabeh, saw Seyavash, she grew strangely
pensive and her heart beat faster; she began to waste away like ice before
fire, worn thin as a silken thread. She sent someone to him saying, "If
you were to appear in the royal harem one day it would cause no alarm or
surprise." Seyavash replied:
"I don't like harems and I won't agree
To plots and intrigues, so don't bother me."
At dawn the following day Sudabeh hurried to the king and said, "Great
lord, whose like the sun and moon have never seen, whose son's a matchless
paragon, dispatch this youth to your harem where his sisters and your women
can set eyes on him; we'll do him homage and give him presents, and the
tree of loyalty will bear sweet fruit." Kavus replied, "Your
words are wise, your love is equal to a hundred mothers' love." He
called Seyavash to him and said, "Blood ties and love will not stay
hidden long; you've sisters in my harem, and Sudabeh loves you like a mother.
God has created you in such a way that everyone who sees you loves you,
and those who are your kin should not have to be content with glimpsing
you from a distance. Pay a visit to my womenfolk, stay with them for a
while and let them honor you." But when Seyavash heard the king's
words, he stared at him in astonishment:
He strove to keep his heart unstained and clean And pondered what it
was the king might mean:
Perhaps Kavus felt some uncertainty
And meant to test his faith, or honesty.
He knew the king was sly and eloquent,
Watchful and warily intelligent.
He thought, "And if I go there, Sudabeh
Will corner me and pester me to stay."
He said, "Send me to men of proven sense,
To councilors of deep experience,
To those who'll teach me how to fight, who know
How I should wield a sword, or shoot a bow,
Who know how kings hold court, how courtiers dine,
The rules that govern music, feasts, and wine:
What will I gather from your women's quarters?
Since when has wisdom lived with wives and daughters?
But if these are your orders, I will do
Whatever seems appropriate to you."
The king replied, "Rejoice, my son, and may wisdom always guide
you; I've heard few speeches so eloquent and it does a man good to hear
you talk like this. But don't be so suspicious; be cheerful, drive away
such gloomy thoughts. Now, your loving sisters and Sudabeh, who loves you
like a mother, are all waiting for you in the harem." Seyavash said,
"I shall come at dawn and do as you command." There was a man,
whose heart was cleansed of all evil, called Hirbad, and he had charge
of the king's harem. To this wise man Kavus said, "When the sun unsheathes
its sword, pay attention to what Seyavash tells you." Then he told
Sudabeh to prepare jewels and musk to scatter before his son. When the
sun rose above the mountains, Seyavash came to his father and made his
obeisance before him; Kavus talked to the boy for a while then summoned
Hirbad and gave him his orders. He said to Seyavash, "Go with him,
and prepare your heart for new delights."
The two went off together lightheartedly enough, but when Hirbad drew
back the curtain from the harem's entrance, Seyavash felt a presentiment
of evil. The womenfolk came forward with music to welcome him; he saw bowls
of musk, gold coins, and saffron on every side, and as he entered gold,
rubies, and emeralds were scattered before his feet. He trod on Chinese
brocade worked with pearls and saw facing him a golden throne studded with
turquoise and draped in gorgeous cloth; there sat the moon-faced Sudabeh,
a paradise of tints and scents, splendid as Canopus, a tall crown set on
the thick black curls that fell clustering to her feet. Beside her stood
a slave, her head humbly bowed, her mistress's gold-worked slippers in
As soon as she saw Seyavash enter, Sudabeh descended from the throne;
She walked coquettishly forward, bowed before him, and then held him in
a lengthy embrace. Slowly she kissed his eyes and face, gazing as if she
could never grow weary of him. She murmured, "Throughout the day and
for three watches of the night I thank God a hundred times for your existence.
No one has ever had a son like you, no king has ever had a prince like
you." Seyavash knew what all this kindness meant, and that such friendship
was improper; he hurried over to his sisters, who greeted him respectfully
and sat him on a golden throne. After spending some time with them he returned
to the king's audience hall, and the harem buzzed with chatter: "That's
what I call a real prince, so noble and so cultivated S," "He
seems an angel, not a man at all S," "And his soul just radiates
Seyavash went to his father and said, "I have seen your harem;
all the splendor of the world is yours, and you can have no quarrel with
God. In treasure and power and glory you surpass Jamshid, Feraydun, and
Hushang." The king was overjoyed at his words and had the castle decorated
like a spring garden; father and son passed the time with wine and music,
giving no thought to the workings of Fate. At nightfall Kavus made his
way to the harem and questioned Sudabeh: "No secrets from me now,
tell me what you thought of Seyavash, of his behavior, of how he looks,
of his conversation. Did you like him? D'you think he's wise? Is he better
from report or when you see him face to face?" Sudabeh replied, "The
sun and moon have never seen your equal, and who in all the world is like
your son? This is not something to be secretive about! Now, if you agree,
I'll marry him to one of his own kin; I have daughters from you and one
of them would surely bear him a noble son." Kavus replied, "This
is my desire exactly; the greatness of our name depends on it."
When Seyavash came to his father the following morning Kavus cleared
the court and said: "I have one, secret, unfulfilled request of God:
that my name should live through a son of yours, and just as I was rejuvenated
by your birth, so you will know delight in seeing him. Astrologers have
said you will father a great son, to keep our name alive in the world.
Now, choose some noble girl as your consort; look in King Pashin's harem,
or there is King Arash's clan; look about for someone suitable." Seyavash
said, "I am the king's slave, obedient to his wishes; but Sudabeh
shouldn't hear of this, she won't like it. And I'm having no more to do
with her harem." The king laughed at Seyavash's words; he thought
all was firm ground and had no notion of swampy water lurking beneath the
straw. "You worry about choosing a wife," he said, "and
don't give Sudabeh a thought. She speaks well of you and only wants what's
best for you." Seyavash showed pleasure at his father's words and
bowed before the throne, but inwardly he still brooded over Sudabeh's intentions.
Sudabeh Tries Again
The next day Sudabeh sent Hirbad to Seyavash, saying, "Tell him
to put himself to the trouble of honoring us with his noble presence."
Seyavash came to the harem and saw her seated on her throne, her crown
set on her bejeweled hair, her beautiful womenfolk standing by, as if the
palace were a paradise. She descended from her throne and sat him there,
then stood before him submissively, her arms folded across her chest, like
a serving girl. She motioned to the young women, lovely as uncut jewels,
and said, "Look on this place, and on these gold-crowned virgin girls
whose characters are compounded of coyness and modesty. If one of them
pleases you, tell me: go forward and examine her face and stature."
Seyavash glanced at the girls, but they were all too shy to return his
gaze. One by one they passed before his throne, each silently reckoning
her chances of being chosen. When the last had gone by, Sudabeh said, "How
long will you stay silent? Won't you tell me which one you like? Your face
is like an angel's, and anyone who glimpses you in the distance wishes
you were hers. Look carefully at these girls, and choose whichever's suitable
for you." But Seyavash sat there silent, thinking that it would be
wrong to choose a wife from among his enemies; the story of what the king
of Hamaveran had done to Kavus came to his mind, and the fact that Sudabeh
was this man's daughter and, like him, was full of wiles and hatred for
the Persian people. As he opened his mouth to answer, Sudabeh removed her
veil and said:
"The moon's of no account beside the sun,
And now you see the sun. Come now, choose one
Of these young virgins, and I'll have her stand
Before you as your servant to command.
But first, swear me an oath you'll never try
To wriggle out of: King Kavus will die,
And when that happens I will turn to you:
Value me then as he was wont to do.
I stand here now, your servant girl, I give
My flesh to you, the soul by which I live;
Take anything you want from me, I swear
I won't attempt to slip free from your snare."
She clutched his head and ripped her dress, as though
All fear and shame had left her long ago.
But Seyavash's cheeks blushed rosy red,
Tears filled his eyes, and to himself he said,
"May God who rules the planets succor me
And save me from this witch's sorcery.
If I speak coldly to her she'll devise
Some spell to make the king believe her lies.
My best course is to flatter her; to calm
Her heart with glozing chat and gentle charm."
And so he said to Sudabeh: "Who in all the world is your equal,
who is fit for you except the king? Your daughter is enough for me, no
better bride for me exists. Suggest this to the king and see what he replies.
I swear I'll look at no one else until she's grown as tall as I am. As
for this liking you've conceived for my face, well, God has made me as
you see me; but keep this as our secret, tell no one, and I too will keep
the matter dark. You are the first of all our womenfolk, and I think of
you as my mother." Then he left, with sorrow in his heart.
When Kavus arrived in the harem, Sudabeh told him of Seyavash's visit,
saying that he had seen all the young women there but only her own daughter
had pleased him. Overjoyed, the king had the treasury doors flung open
and a great treasure prepared, while Sudabeh watched in wonder. She was
determined to bend Seyavash to her will by any means possible, or, if she
could not, to destroy his reputation. Once more she sat upon her throne
arrayed in all her splendor and summoned Seyavash. She said, "The
king has prepared treasures for you, crowns and thrones such as no man
has ever seen, immeasurable quantities of goods, enough to weigh down two
hundred elephants. And he's going to give you my daughter as a bride. But
look at me now; what excuse can you have to reject my love, why do you
turn away from my body and beauty? I have been your slave ever since I
set eyes on you, weeping and longing for you; pain darkens all my days,
I feel the sun itself is dimmed. Come, in secret, just once, make me happy
again, give me back my youth for a moment. I'll reward you with far more
than the king has offered- bracelets, crowns, thrones. But if you refuse
me and hold your heart back from my desires, I'll destroy you with the
king and make him look on you with loathing."
Seyavash replied, "God forbid I should lose my head for the sake
of my heart, or ever be so disloyal to my father as to forget all manliness
and wisdom. You are the king's consort, the sun of his palace; such a sin
is unworthy of you." Then Sudabeh sprang from her throne and stretched
out her claws at him, crying, "I told you all the secrets of my heart
and now you want to ruin me, to make me a laughingstock?" She tore
her clothes, clawed at her cheeks, and screamed so loudly the sound was
heard in the streets. A tumult of wailing went up from the palace and its
gardens, and hearing it, Kavus sprang from his throne and hurried to the
harem. When he saw Sudabeh's scratched face and the palace abuzz with rumors,
he asked everyone what had happened, never suspecting that his hard-hearted
wife was the cause of all this. Sudabeh stood wailing and weeping in front
of him, tearing at her hair, and said, "Seyavash came to my throne
room and clasped me tightly in his arms, saying he had never wanted anyone
but me; he flung my crown aside and tore my clothes from my breasts."
Kavus questioned her closely, and in his heart he said, "If she
is telling the truth, and is not simply trying to stir up trouble, the
only possible solution is for Seyavash to be executed. The wise say that,
in cases like this, honor demands blood." He cleared the harem of
everyone but Sudabeh and Seyavash, and then, turning first to Seyavash,
calmly said, "You must hide nothing from me. You didn't do this evil,
I did, and now I must bear the consequences of my own foolish talk; why
ever did I order you to go to the harem? Now I must suffer while you tell
me what happened. Keep your eye on the truth now, and tell me exactly what
Seyavash told him the story and of how wild with passion Sudabeh had
been, but Sudabeh broke in, "This is not true, he wanted no one in
the harem except me. I reminded him of all the king had given him, of our
daughter and all the treasure that was to be his, and I said I'd add more
in gifts to the bride; but he said he wanted only me, and that without
me girls and treasure were nothing to him. He flung his arms about me,
his embrace was unyielding as a rock, and when I wouldn't do what he wanted,
he yanked at my hair and scratched my face. I'm pregnant with a child of
yours, my lord, and I suffered so much I thought I would lose our baby
there and then; the world turned dark before my eyes."
Kavus said to himself, "I can't trust what either of them says;
this is not something to be decided quickly, crises and worry cloud a man's
judgment. I have to search out carefully which of the two of them is guilty
and deserves to be punished." To this end he sniffed at Seyavash's
hands and at his arms and body. Next he turned to Sudabeh, and on her he
smelt the scents of wine, musk, and rosewater. There was no trace of such
scents on Seyavash; there was no evidence that he had touched her. Kavus
grew grim, despising Sudabeh in his heart, and to himself he said, "She
should be hacked to pieces with a sword." But then he thought of Hamaveran
and of the outcry that would arise if Sudabeh were harmed, and also he
remembered how when he had been in captivity there, alone and friendless,
she had ministered to him day and night; the memory of this tormented him
and he said nothing.
Thirdly, she was a loving woman and he felt she should be forgiven for
her faults. And fourthly, he had young children by her, and he could not
bear the thought of their grief if anything should happen to their mother.
But Seyavash was innocent, and the king recognized his righteousness. He
said to him, "Well, think no more of all this; follow the ways of
wisdom and knowledge. Mention this matter to no one; we mustn't give gossip
any kind of encouragement."
Sudabeh's Plot Against Seyavash
When Sudabeh realized that Kavus despised her, she began to plot against
Seyavash, nourishing the tree of vengeance with her wiles. One of her intimates
was a witch who was enduring a difficult pregnancy, and Sudabeh gave her
gold, persuading her to take a drug that would abort the twins she carried.
Sudabeh said she would tell Kavus the babies were hers, and that she had
miscarried because of Seyavash's evil behavior. The woman agreed; when
night fell she swallowed the drug, and two ugly devil's spawn were still-born
from her. Sudabeh hid her and then lay groaning on her bed as if in labor.
Her maidservants came running and saw the two dead devil's spawn on a golden
salver, while Sudabeh screamed and tore at her clothes. Kavus woke trembling
at the noise and was told what had happened to his wife. He hardly drew
breath for the rest of the night and at dawn he hurried to the harem, where
he saw Sudabeh stretched out, her quarters in an uproar, and the two dead
babies lying pathetically on the golden salver. Her eyes awash with tears,
Sudabeh said, "See the work of this paragon of yours, and like a fool
you believed his lies!"
Kavus was sick at heart; he knew this was something he could not ignore
and he brooded on how to resolve the situation. He had astrologers summoned;
he told them of Sudabeh's history and of the war with Hamaveran, then showed
them the dead babies, and asked their opinion. The men set to work with
their astrolabes and charts and after a week declared that poison did not
turn to wine by being placed in a goblet, and that these two babies were
not Sudabeh's or the king's, but the spawn of an evil race. For a week
Kavus kept his own council, but then Sudabeh appealed to him again saying,
"I was the king's companion in adversity, and my heart's so wrung
with grief for my murdered babies I hardly live from one moment to the
next." But Kavus turned on her and said, "Be quiet, woman, enough
of these sickening lies of yours." Then he ordered the palace guards
to search high and low throughout the city for the babies' mother; they
found her nearby and dragged her before the king. For days he questioned
her kindly and made her promises, then he had her tied up and tortured,
but she refused to confess. Finally he gave orders that she was to be threatened
with execution and that, if she still stayed silent, she be sawn in two;
but her only reply was that she was innocent and did not know what to say.
When Kavus was told of her response he went to Sudabeh and informed
her of what the astrologers had said, but Sudabeh's reply was that they
only said this because they were afraid of Seyavash. She added that, even
if he felt no grief for their dead children, she had no other recourse
than him and was content to leave the resolution of this quarrel to the
world to come. She wept more water than the sun draws up from the Nile,
and Kavus wept with her.
He dismissed her and summoned his priests and explained the situation.
They advised that he try one of the two by fire, for the heavens would
ensure that the innocent would not be harmed. He had Sudabeh and Seyavash
called and said that in his heart he could trust neither of them unless
fire demonstrated which of the two was guilty. Sudabeh's answer was that
she had demonstrated Seyavash's guilt by producing the two miscarried babies,
and that he should undergo the trial as he had acted evilly and sought
to destroy her. Kavus turned to his young son and asked him his opinion.
Seyavash replied that hell itself was less hateful than her words, and
that if there were a mountain of fire, he would pass through it to prove
his innocence. Torn between his love for Sudabeh and his regard for his
son, Kavus decided to go ahead with the trial. He had a hundred caravans
of camels and another hundred of red-haired dromedaries bring wood, and
servants piled it into two huge hills, between which was a narrow pathway
such as four horsemen might with difficulty pass through. While the populace
watched from a distance,
Kavus had priests pour thick pitch on the pyre;
Two hundred men dashed out to set the fire
And such black clouds of smoke rose up you'd say
Dark night usurped the brilliance of the day.
But then quick tongues of flame shot out and soon
The plain glowed brighter than the sky at noon,
Heat scorched the burning ground, and everywhere
The noise of lamentation filled the air;
They wept to see the prince, who came alone
On a black horse before his father's throne;
His helmet was of gold, his clothes were white
And camphor-strewn, according to the rite
That's used in preparation of a shroud.
Dismounting from his horse, he stood, then bowed.
Gently his father spoke, and in his face
The prince saw conscious shame and deep disgrace.
But Seyavash said, "Do not grieve, my lord,
The heavens willed all this, and rest assured
The fire will have no strength to injure me;
My innocence ensures my victory."
When Sudabeh heard the tumult she came out on the roof of her palace
and saw the fire; muttering to herself in rage, she longed for evil to
befall the prince. The whole world's eyes were fixed on Kavus; men cursed
him, their hearts filled with indignation. Then Seyavash wheeled, urging
his horse impetuously into the fire; tongues of flame enveloped him and
both his horse and helmet disappeared. Tears were in all eyes, the whole
plain waited, wondering if he would re-emerge, and when they glimpsed him
a shout went up, "The young prince has escaped the fire!" He
was unscathed, as if he'd ridden through water and emerged bone dry, for
when God wills it, he renders fire and water equally harmless. Seeing Seyavash,
all the plain and city gave a great cry of gratitude, and the army's cavalry
galloped forward scattering gold coins in his path; nobles and commoners
alike rejoiced, passing on the news to one another that God had justified
the innocent. But Sudabeh wept and tore at her hair and scored her cheeks
with her nails.
Seyavash appeared before his father and there was no trace of fire or
smoke or dust or dirt on him; Kavus dismounted, as did all the army, and
the king clasped his son in his arms, asking his pardon for the evil that
had been done. Seyavash gave thanks to God that he had escaped the flames
and that his enemy's designs had been destroyed. The king heaped praise
on him and the two walked in state to the palace, where a royal crown was
placed on the prince's head and for three days the court gave itself up
to wine and music.
But on the fourth day Kavus sat enthroned in majesty, his ox-headed
mace in his hand, and peremptorily summoned Sudabeh. He went over what
she had claimed, then said, "Your shameless behavior has tormented
my heart for long enough; you played foul tricks against my son, thrusting
him into the fire; you used magic against him, and no apology will avail
you now. Leave this place and prepare yourself for the gallows; you do
not deserve to live and hanging is the only fit punishment for what you
have done." She answered, "If my head's to be severed from my
body, I am ready, give your orders. But I want you to harbor no resentment
against me in your heart, so let Seyavash tell the truth-it was Zal's magic
that saved him." But the king burst out, "Still at your tricks?
It's a wonder you're not hunchbacked with the weight of your impertinence!"
And then he turned to the court crying, "What punishment is suitable
for the crimes she has committed in secret?" All answered, "The
just punishment is that she suffer death for the evil she has done."
Kavus said to the executioner, "Take her and hang her in the public
way, and show no mercy." When all abandoned Sudabeh in this fashion,
the women of the court broke into loud lamentation, and Kavus turned pale,
his heart wrung by their cries.
Seyavash said to the king, "Torment yourself no more about this
matter; forgive her for my sake. Now, surely, she'll accept good guidance
and reform her ways." And to himself he said, "If Sudabeh's destroyed,
the king will regret it eventually, and when that happens he'll blame me
for her death." Kavus, who had been looking for some excuse not to
kill Sudabeh, replied, "For your sake I forgive her." Seyavash
kissed his father's throne and then rose and left the court; the women
of the harem flocked about Sudabeh, bowing before her one by one. And after
some time had passed the king's heart once again inclined to Sudabeh, and
his love was such that he could not tear his eyes from her face. Once again
her evil nature reasserted itself and she began to weave her secret spells,
plotting against Seyavash. And, listening to her, Kavus once again began
to turn against his son; but, for the moment, he concealed his suspicions.
See excerpt from introduction to Volume II
Also see excerpt from Volume I here.