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Copyright © 2014, Farangis G. Yegane. All rights reserved:

The epic Shahnameh tells us about people's behavior in a language full of images. The people and the kings decide for themselves and for others. There are the loved and the unloved rulers, everywhere we come across the intelligent, the stupid, the prudent, the weak, the strong, the active and the apathetic.

One tale of the Shahnameh epic seemed of special interest to Farangis, a story which tells about the human behavior in relation to diet or eating habits, in which a normally neglected aspect is being described of how someone experiences a change in character because of their eating habit.

Today we learn a lot about the impact of our eating habits on our physical health. In this story about Zahhak the attention is directed towards the damaging impact a diet can have on the mental condition or on the soul. The story tells how eating killed animals has changed the character of people. Shouldn't we consider this story as relevant for our current society?

* the passage in the story mainly referred to, is the section "How Iblis turned Cook".


Before Zahhak came to power

Foods then were few, men did not kill to eat
But lived on vegetals of all earth's produce;
So evil-doing Ahriman designed
To slaughter animals for food, and served
Both bird and beast.


Iblis disguised as a cook

He fed the king on blood
To make him lion-fierce, and like a slave
Obeyed him. First he fed his lord on yelk
To make him strong; he liked the flavour much
And praised Iblis, who said: "Illustrious monarch!
For ever live! To-morrow I will serve thee
So as to please thee well."


The young kings second seduction

All night he mused
What strange repast to proffer on the morrow,
And when the azure vault brought back again
The golden Gem he hopefully presented
A meal of partridges and silver pheasants.
The Arab monarch ate and his small wits
Were lost in admiration. On the third day
Iblis served lamb and fowl, and on the fourth
A chine of veal with saffron and rosewater,
Musk and old wine.

» continue to see images 4, 5, and 6. »