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Having written a comic book based on the Rostam & Sohrab tale from the Shahnameh, I am somewhat enamored, entranced, and engulfed by the greatest myth and romantic folklore ever written about our homeland.
In the Shahnameh, Ferdowsi's Rostam, is always the reluctant savior of Iran, which seems to be perpetually under attack from the evil Deev manipulating the mortals like Afrasiab into doing their worst bidding.
Rostam is always there, just in time, on the scene, bigger and badder than life, un-defeatable, and saves us from our own misfortunes always at our own hands. Rostam often becomes sullen and despondent from these heroic deeds, and never seems happy with us. One of the many reasons why in spite of many opportunities, Rostam never even contemplates taking the throne for himself. As easy and as obvious as it might be to do.
What has puzzled me is why Ferdowsi put so much trust into one man, and even though he always made fun of Kings in the Shahnameh, he never once did the obvious happy ending and put Rostam on the throne and be done with it.
Now as we look upon Iran, once again thrust into the hands of the evil Deev, with a new Afrasiab doing his evil worst bidding, many have started to look for a Rostam to arise and arrive and save us again.
Ferdowsi's other depiction of Rostam that has also puzzled me, is why is Rostam such a giant of a man? He is always described as huge, far bigger than mortal men, and I have wondered if in fact the depiction is meant to mean that Rostam is the embodiment of the Iranian people. That they should rise up as a giant and defeat evil and rid it from their land.
Maybe we are collectively Rostam? Maybe we are to arise and save Iran from the Deev?
I kind of like this metaphor, even if Ferdowsi did not in fact intend it, or that his depiction of Rostam was simply an outrageously large man with a penchant for a good fight, and hunting the occasional wild proverbial and literal Ass now and then.
But if I am right, then it is too perfect. That the real lesson from The Shahnameh could in fact be that while a "Rostam" (us) always arrives to save Iran from evil, just when he is needed most, almost at the last hour, that if we turn away from our duty as Iranian People ("Rostam") and ignore the cries and look around for a real Rostam, he (we) might never come to save the day.
Maybe we need to understand our duty, and destiny. Maybe we need to get this larger metaphor than Ferdowsi has laid out for us. Maybe we need to collectively be the Rostam and rise up and rid Iran from the Deev and his minions.
If not, then what use is the Shahnameh to us in the end? Maybe we ought to just burn the Shahnameh, and be done with it once and for all, and then sit and wait for a UN resolution and the French air force to save Iran instead.
But that would certainly be much less romantic and heroic and far less fun. For look at all the Asses in Iran that there are to hunt these days!
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