AḠRĒRAṮ (Av. Aγraēraθa), Turanian warrior and brother of Afrāsīāb (in the older and more reliable copies of the Šāh-nāma, including the Florence ms. of 614/1217, the final letter is correctly t; in later mss. it has changed to ṯ, as in the case of Kayōmarṯ and Ṭahmōraṯ). In the Avesta Aḡrēraṯ is mentioned in several passages. In Yašt 9.18 it is said that Haoma, the yazad or genius of the plant haoma, offered sacrifice to the goddess Drvāspā so that he might chain Afrāsīāb and deliver him to Kavi Haosravah (Pers. Kay Ḵosrow), who would slay him to avenge the blood of Syāvaršan (Pers. Sīāvoš) and the valiant Aγraēraθa (cf. Šāh-nāma, ed. Mohl, I, pp. 430-31). In Yašt 17.42 Kavi Haosravah asks the same boon from the goddess Ašī, and in Yašt 19.77 we read that he carried out his wish. In Yašt 13.127, sacrifice is offered to Aγraēraθa’s fravaši and to those of other Zoroastrian saints. His name (aγraē + raθa) means “[one whose] chariot [goes] ahead” (but see Darmesteter, Le Zend-Avesta, Paris, 1892-93, II, p. 436, n. 23 for other possibilities). His recurrent epithet in the Avesta is narava, possibly “manly, brave” (but see Darmesteter, loc. at.; Ch. Bartholomae, AirWb., col. 1053; and A. Christensen, Les Kayanides, Paris, 1928, p. 30, who take the word as the designation of his clan). No mention is made in the Avesta of his blood relation to Afrāsīāb. Although the Avesta does not elaborate on his legend, it is obvious that he was considered a victim of Afrāsīāb, and probably belonged to the cycle of Sīāvoš’s legends. Later sources, however, which amplify the Avestan data, place the episode of his death prior to the appearance of Sīāvoš.
According to the Šāh-nāma (I, pp. 389ff.), Ṯaʿālebī’s Ḡorar (pp. 111ff.), and the Bundahišn (tr., 35.17; tr. E. W. West, Pahlavi Texts I, SBE, Oxford, 1880, p. 117), Aḡrēraṯ was a son of Pašang and a brother of Afrāsīāb and Garsēvaz (q.v.). Although a Turanian, he is treated in the Avestan and Pahlavi texts as a Zoroastrian saint. In the Šāh-nāma he is fairly prominent in the early stages of the struggle between Afrāsīāb and Iran; his first appearance occurs when Pašang, sensing the weakness in the Iranian kingdom, appoints his son Afrāsīāb to attack Iran at the head of a powerful army. Aḡrēraṯ as a man of peace and reconciliation, cautions against the war but is ignored (I, p. 390). In his second appearance he is able to save the lives of 1,200 Iranian soldiers captured by Afrāsīāb by persuading the latter to allow him to take them into his own custody (I, p. 424). According to the Bundahišn (35.23), when Afrāsīāb captured Manōčehr and the Iranian warriors in the Padašxwār mountains (in Ṭabarestān) and let loose pestilence and want upon them; Aḡrēraṯ prayed for and received a boon from God (yazdān) to save the Iranian captives from hardship, and for that reason Afrāsīāb slew him. But the Šāh-nāma places the episode after the reign of Manōčehr; Nōḏar, Manōčehr’s successor, is defeated, seized, and killed by Afrāsīāb, and 1,200 of his warriors are taken captive (I, p. 410; on the discrepancies here between the Šāh-nāma and the majority of the sources, see supra, p. 572). Later some of Afrāsīāb’s generals suffer defeat and the Iranian captives fear for their lives because of his wrath; they appeal to Aḡrēraṯ their constant friend and a supporter of peace. He is reluctant to gainsay Afrāsīāb openly, but he agrees to retreat and leave the prisoners behind so that they can be saved if an Iranian army attacks. This plan is followed and Kašvād, the Iranian general, takes the prisoners with him from Sārī to Ray (I, pp. 426-30). Learning of this, Afrāsīāb flies into a rage and cuts his brother in two with his sword. Though the Avesta agrees with later sources on the general lines of Aḡrēraṯ’s legend, it makes no reference to the Iranian prisoners. According to the Bundahišn (tr., 35.23), in recompense for Aḡrēraṯ’s good deed, God gave him a son called Gōbad-šāh, who, in Pahlavi books, is counted among the Zoroastrian immortals (for sources, see Christensen, Les Kayanides, pp. 153ff.). There is some confusion about Gōbad-šāh, since according to another passage in the Bundahišn (tr., 29.5; West, p. 117), this title belongs to Aḡrēraṯ himself, and according to Mēnōg ī xrad (62.31-36), Gōbad-šāh is a man-bull. See Gōbad-šāh.
See also Justi, Namenbuch, s.v. AghraeÂ¡ratha. Christensen, Les Kayanides, pp. 56-57.
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 28, 2011
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Vol. I, Fasc. 6, pp. 612-613