The tale is told that Rustam had at first
Such strength bestowed by Him who giveth all
That if he walked upon a rock his feet
Would sink therein. Such puissance as that
Proved an abiding trouble, and he prayed
To God in bitterness of soul to minish [sic]
His strength that he might walk like other men.
According to his prayer his mountain-strength
Had shrunk, but face to face with such as task,
And pierced by apprehension of Suhrab,
He cried to God and said: “Almighty Lord!
Protect Thy slave in his extremity.
O holy Fosterer! I ask again
My former strength.”
God granted him his prayer,
The strength which once had waned now waxed in him.
— from The Book of Kings
Firdawsi (940–1020) was a Persian poet, considered to be the Virgil of Iran, whose reputation rests primarily on The Book of Kings, the world’s longest epic poem created by a single poet, and the national epic of Iran and other Persian speaking countries. It relates a mytho-historical account of the Persian empire’s founding through to the 7th Century. It is also important to adherents of Zoroastrianism because the poem traces the historical origins of this religion through the poem — and its abridgement with the rise of Islam.