FORŪD (or Ferōd), son of Sīāvaḵš and half brother of Kay Ḵosrow. His mother is Jarīra (according to the Šāh-nāma; Ṭabarī mentions Borzāfarīd as her name), the eldest daughter, or the sister (Mojmal, ed. Bahār, p. 29), of Pīrān, the commander-in-chief of Afrāsīāb’s (q.v.) army. In his first campaign against Afrāsīāb to avenge the murder of Sīāvaḵš, Kay Ḵosrow instructs Ṭōs, his commander-in-chief, not to take the route crossing Forūd’s territory of Dež-e Kalāt (Kalā Dez or Dez-e Forūd in the area of Saraḵs according to Bundahišn 9.38) in order to avoid a clash between the army and Forūd. Ṭōs, however, ignoring the king’s instruction and the advice of his officers, leads the army toward Kalāt. Forūd, on the advice of his mother, decides to join the Iranian army in avenging the murder of his father. Forūd knows none of the Iranians, so he takes along with him a hero called Toḵᵛār, who is to point out to Forūd the paladins in the Iranian army. Ṭōs, seeing two men watching the movements of the army from the peak of the mountain, becomes suspicious and sends Bahrām, son of Gōdarz (qq.v.), to kill or capture them. Forūd reveals his identity to Bahrām, who returns to the army with the news. Ṭōs interprets Bahrām’s action as an act of insubordination and a sign of the enmity of the Gōdarz family. Thereupon, he sends his son-in-law, Rēvnīz, to accomplish the mission. Forūd, who sees that, contrary to the previous arrangement with Bahrām, a different person is approaching, considers it as an act of treachery and a direct personal affront. He therefore kills Rēvnīz and then Zarasp, the son of Ṭōs. Thereupon Ṭōs resolves to take the field himself to avenge the murder of his son and son-in-law. Forūd, unwilling to disrupt the campaign and the original plan of the Iranian army, refrains from killing Ṭōs but shoots down his horse. Humiliated and on foot, Ṭōs returns to the camp under a barrage of laughter and ridicule from the ladies of the fortress who had been watching from the parapet. Deeply affected, the Iranian heroes take this as an insult to their honor and the prestige of their army. Gēv (q.v.), Gōdarz’s son, considers Forūd’s action less tolerable than the rashness of Ṭōs and sets off to face Forūd. He, too, suffers the same fate and withdraws on foot amid an onslaught of ridicule and derision by the women. Even his own son, Bēžan/Bīžan (q.v.), taunts him with bitter words. After his father hits him with a whip, Bēžan vows to destroy Forūd and sets off in the company of his uncle, Rohhām. Forūd, unable to withstand the joint attack of the two, withdraws to the fortress wounded and dies moments later. His mother slaughters Forūd’s horses, sets the castle on fire, and kills herself beside her son. The ladies of the castle also kill themselves by jumping from the walls as desired by the dying Forūd so that they may not fall captive to the enemy (Šāh-nāma, ed. Khaleghi, II, pp. 296-97, 321, III, pp. 27-59; Ṭabarī, I, pp. 605-6; Ebn Balḵī, p. 44).
According to Balʿamī (ed. Bahār, I, p. 603), Ṭōs had no intention to fight Forūd, but it was Forūd who was belligerent from the outset. Kay Ḵosrow’s instruction that the army should avoid the route by Kalāt also suggests that Forūd was expected to be hostile. Balʿamī’s report may reflect the idea of a dispute between the two brothers over the question of succession to the throne, to which Forūd, as the elder brother, could have had a legitimate claim. Age alone, however, cannot always be the deciding factor, since other considerations such as religion, nationality, and the status of the mother’s family are also significant (cf. Herodotus, 5.2-3). Forūd’s mother is the daughter of Pīrān, whereas Kay Ḵosrow is the son of Farangīs, Afrāsīāb’s daughter, which makes Kay Ḵosrow outrank Forūd on the mother’s side.
The suicide or killing of women lest they fall into the hands of the enemy has historical parallels. The Parthian king Phraates IV killed all his concubines before fleeing to Scythia from the forces of Tridates II (Gutschmid, p. 103).
The legend of Forūd is one of the most dramatic episodes in the Šāh-nāma. The poet’s skillful depiction of characters greatly enhances the dramatic effect of the story, which develops around the main theme of a conflict resulting in repeated clashes of heroic honor. At first the reader’s heart goes out to Forūd, whose honorable intention is to join his brother’s army, while Ṭōs, with his arrogant rejection of Forūd’s extended hand of friendship, seems to be the villain. But, as the story develops and Ṭōs becomes the subject of constant humiliation, the original antipathy towards him turns into sympathy, creating a kind of balance of legitimacy on both sides of the conflict, thereby bringing the story to a dramatic climax.
A. Enjavī, Ferdowsī-nāma, 3 vols., Tehran, 1363 Š./1984, III, pp. 185-93 (popular versions of the story).
A. V. Gutschmid, Geschichte Irans, Tübingen, 1888.
M. Mīnovī and M. Rowšan, ed. with commentary, Dāstān-e Forūd az Šāh-nāma-ye Ferdowsī, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1990.
J. Ḵāleqī Moṭlaq (Khaleghi-Motlagh), “ʿAnāṣer-e derām dar barḵ-ī az dāstānhā-ye Šāh-nāma,” Īrān-nāma 10/1, 1370 Š./1991, pp. 52-75.
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: January 31, 2012
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