The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (Part I)


Nazy Kaviani
by Nazy Kaviani

Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

I am not a Persian literature scholar. At best I am an ordinary reader of it. In addition to reading, I also love to tell stories. Among the thousands of Iranian poets, next to Ferdowsi, I believe the greatest storyteller of all times to be the Iranian poet, Nezami Ganjavi (1141-1209). The most beautiful love story of Persian literature was told in verse by Nezami. That story is none other than the Story of Khosrow and Shirin. Using a small book of Persian Literature Love Stories by Eghbal Yaghmaee (Hirmand Publishers, Tehran, 1996), summarizing the epic, I have further summarized and translated the story into English, so that it can be enjoyed by those who have heard of the story, but have never been able to read it in its original Farsi version. Rest assured no one has read this story properly unless they have read it in its original language and form. However, my small and humble effort is to bring it to those who for whatever reason are unable to read it in Farsi. I write it most humbly and cognizant of errors literary experts can find with it. Please consider my good intentions when reading it and finding any errors.


Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian literature. It will be summarized. If you can, please do seek it in Farsi and in its original form, because any efforts to summarize or translate it fall hugely short of doing service to this gem of a Persian tale. Remember this story. Tell it to your children. They will always remember that they heard about love from you first. Celebrate love Persian style.


Hormoz was the King of Iran. He was a kind king who loved his people and cared about his kingdom. After waiting a long time, he became father to a baby boy. They named him Khosrow Parviz. He was a good looking boy who was trained by teachers to become a well-educated prince. By ten years of age, he had learned riding, fencing, and archery. He loved to learn new things. He had a companion, named Shapour, who was a master painter, and best friend to Khosrow. As Khosrow turned into a handsome young man, one day Shapour told him about the Queen of Arman (istan), Shamira, who ruled over a vast territory, and was unmarried and had no heir other than her beautiful niece, Shirin. He described Shirin's beauty for Khosrow, and told him that she was always accompanied by a group of beautiful companions, and had a gem of a horse, named Shabdiz who ran faster than the wind. Several days later Khosrow told Shapour that he thought he had fallen in love with Shirin, and Shapour had to go to Arman territory to find out if Shirin would marry him. Shapour assured Khosrow that he would take action to make sure Shirin would fall in love with him.

Shapour went to Arman territory. After researching Shirin's daily whereabouts, he found out that Shirin and her companions would be going to a day outing in a forest nearby. Shapour arrived at the forest before the ladies arrived. He had painted Khosrow's picture on a piece of paper, hung it on a tree, and left quickly. When Shirin and her friends arrived, they started playing, dancing, and having a good time, until Shirin suddenly saw the picture of Khosrow on the tree. She fell in love with his likeness in the painting. The next day, Shapour went and did the same thing again, and when Shirin and her friends arrived, she saw Khosrow's picture again. This time, she was impatiently looking for someone to tell her the name of the man in the picture. At this time Shapour just happened to come by (!) and told Shirin that this was a picture of Khosrow Parviz, the Prince of Iran. He also told her that Khosrow is in love with her. Shirin begged Shapour to tell her what to do and how to see Khosrow, and Shapour told her that she would have to run away from her companions to meet Khosrow half-way towards Iran. He also gave her a ring Khosrow had sent her. He told her that if per chance she couldn't find Khosrow on the way, she should continue towards Madaen and once there, she should show the ring to the court attendants and wait for Khosrow there.

Shirin ran away the next day on Shabdiz and nobody could follow her. After galloping away for miles and miles, she came to a pond, got off her horse and seeing nobody around, took off her clothes and stepped into the pond to take a bath. In the meantime, Khosrow was galloping fast towards the Arman territory. On the way he came to a resting stop not too far from where Shirin had stopped. Walking around, he came to the pond where Shirin was bathing, and saw her in the water. Standing there admiring the beauty of this anonymous naked woman in the moonlight, Shirin saw him suddenly and became anxious. He turned his eyes. Shirin left the pond, quickly got dressed, got on Shabdiz and started on the road to Madaen again. Each of them who had found the other attractive, remembering the one they were pursuing, turned and went in opposite directions.

(To be continued…)



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Nezami was a Swiss

by A nonymous (not verified) on

Freddie boy, actually, Shirin was a Swiss national because some (a very few) Swiss national morons insist so by their fictitious lies, like yours, so stand back in line. (I used swiss nationals as an example to make the point).

Nazy Kaviani, I read that book and you have are doing very well with your presentation.

Nazy Kaviani

A Persian Love Story

by Nazy Kaviani on

Dear All:

Thank you so very much for reading this story. I am touched and honored to know that my humble effort would receive so much attention, bringing real focus and attention to Nezami and his beautiful love story of Khosrow and Shirin.

As I mentioned in the preface, this story is translated from a Farsi book, which has attempted to summarize Nezami's poetic tale. To those of you who were (good-naturedly) asking me to revise the story and to update it in keeping up with today's world, I would (smile and) say that as is, I am most probably in enough trouble with experts who believe I am not qualified enough to touch Nezami's poetry! To touch and change and revise what is in the story and the book would truly put me over the line and get me into trouble! I'm sure many of you wouldn't want me to get into that much trouble until I have told you the rest of the story!

Seriously, though, to read how Nezami describes Shirin, his ideal woman, in the 12th and 13th century Iran, brings tears of joy and pride to me everytime. Nezami's Shirin is of course a beautiful princess, but also educated, refined, artistic, poetic, a sportswoman adept in polo, riding, and archery, and a woman of sound social and moral values, in touch with her femininity and bound with her honor. The remarkable triumph of this story is just that, suggesting to us an Iranian woman who could be all that without inhibition and shame and the need to cover up. Reading this story makes me so proud every time, and I hope it does the same for you.

I will post another installment sometime tomorrow. Thank you all again for your sweet and kind attention. You make it worth the labor of love.


looking for my khosrow

by XerXes (not verified) on

I recall having encounters with boys while in Iran, so these love stories are not limited to hetrosexual people.


Persian Poetry

by Leili (not verified) on

I've always wanted to read these beautiful Persian poetry/tales but my Persian is not that good to be able to understand the Persian text.
I'm sure reading the poetry in Persian is a whole different world unto itself!
Thanks Nazy. I'll patiently wait for the rest of the story...


maybe he actualy loves iran

by AnonymousTabriz (not verified) on

maybe he actualy loves iran and want to show we are different


Thank goodness.....

by Nadias on

They deleted him from the thread. Such a lovely love story which needs to remain lovely.

 Yikes!!!! He is back. He keeps springing up like daisies only not as pleasant. :o)

solh va doosti


Kouroush Sassanian

Why delete?

by Kouroush Sassanian on

I asked whether Khosro was 53 and Shireen was 9! That's all! Why get your panties twisted in a bunch! Nadia answered the question and clear it up! I know remember it was the Prophet Mohammad[GAM] who was 53 and Ayeshe who was 9 when they knocked boots! I had forgotten - so nasty!

I thought nothing was sacred!


Oh No Nut case is in this page too

by Mahrab (not verified) on

Shoot, now we have to deal with this Nut(zi) Kourosh S here. And notice that he keeps answering or commenting by different names to say that there are people like him. JJ Please get this Nut(zi) case out of here. Thanks


Look forward to the next installment

by Nadias on

of this love story. :o)

solh va doosti



Nezami too was Azari

by Fred (not verified) on

In the age of calls for accommodating everyone and every ideology, please consider posthumously changing Nezami’s epic love story. The Poem was originally written in Azari by the visionary Nezami who knew such dialect would become into being in distant future. He also knew his Kurdish mom will be unacceptable so moved to Ganjeh to reaffirm his Azerbaijani identity when many many centuries later such republic is created and annexed by the Russians. And since Armenia and the said republic have issues now, Shirin too knew better than being Armenian and was in fact an Azari through and through. BTW love the way you compact and yet don’t miss much of the story, only if you could be accommodating too.


Patriot jan, If you do

by P K (not verified) on

Patriot jan, If you do research which I am sure Nazy Kaviani has done, and which I did on the internet and also in Persian, Shirin is known to be Armenian in Nezami's work.
Good luck.


Shirin was Azeri Turk not

by Patriot (not verified) on

Shirin was Azeri Turk not Armenian.


I'll be waiting

by lida (not verified) on

I'll be waiting for the rest of this tale of love~!