Time and Fate in Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh

It was at the initiative of Jamshid, the greatest mythical Iranian king in shahnameh, that cosmic time acquired human and chronological dimensions. It was, however, in the reign of Fereydoon that Iranians were separated from the Turanians and thus formed a new entity. This separation ushered in Iran’s mythical history with new its own specific characteristics and led to the embodiment of the idea of Iran as a geographic domain where peoples with deep and long-held bonds of common destiny had come to live together as one. With the advent of history, the land was no longer the mere site of geographic features, mountains, rivers and deserts. It went beyond a mere expanse of earth and turned into God’s land and the home of an identifiable and distinct people.

Furthermore, it was only with the passage of time that common bonds of language, religion, and social behavior marked the destiny of the inhabitants of the land. It is with the creation of separate homelands, that time and space play a pivotal role in bringing into historical harmony the separate destinies of the members of the community. Thus, Iranians, have for millennia developed their own particular identity, ideals and social order.

In Iranian mythology, the bounded time, which has heralded the existence of good and evil and their constant confrontation, covers three successive millennia. At the end of each millennium, one of Zaratushtra’s sons is destined to battle the forces of evil and save the world. In both mythology and religion time is endowed with similar characteristics. In religion, following the final victory and resurrection, the bounded time will transform into infinity and motion dissolves into inertia where man finally enjoys eternal and godly peace. In mythology, too, the bounded time arrived in Jamshid and Fereydoon’s reigns when the idea of separation, confrontation and unity materialized.

Shahrokh Meskoob
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