Read story below, and answer:
In the end, do you think Rostam should be considered a hero? Explain your answer.
MLA Format 200-300 words
Sohrab Overcomes Rostam
When the shining sun spread its plumes and night’s dark raven folded its wings, Rostam donned his tigerskin and mounted Rakhsh. His iron helmet on his head, he hitched the sixty loops of his lariat to his saddle, grasped his Indian sword in his hand, and rode out to the combat ground.
Sohrab had spent the night entertained by musicians and drinking wine with his companions. To Human he had confided his suspicions that his opponent was none other than Rostam, for he felt himself drawn to him, and besides, he resembled his mother’s description of Rostam. When dawn came, he buckled on his armor and grasped his huge mace; with his head filled with battle and his heart in high spirits, he came onto the field shouting his war cry. He greeted Rostam with a smile on his lips, for all the world as if they had spent the night in revelry together:
“When did you wake? How did you pass the night?
And are you still determined we should fight?
But throw your mace and sword down, put aside
These thoughts of war, this truculence and pride.
Let’s sit and drink together, and the wine
Will smooth away our frowns—both yours and mine.
Come, swear an oath before our God that we
Renounce all thoughts of war and enmity.
Let’s make a truce, and feast as allies here
At least until new enemies appear.
The tears that stain my face are tokens of
My heart’s affection for you, and my love;
I know that you’re of noble ancestry—
Recite your lordly lineage to me.”
Rostam replied, “This was not what we talked of last night; our talk was of hand-to-hand combat. I won’t fall for these tricks, so don’t try them. You might be still a child, but I am not, and I have bound my belt on ready for our combat. Now, let us fight, and the outcome will be as God wishes. I’ve seen much of good and evil in my life, and I’m not a man for talk or tricks or treachery.” Sohrab replied, “Talk like this is not fitting from an old man. I would have wished that your days would come to an end peacefully, in your bed, and that your survivors would build a tomb to hold your body while your soul flew on its way. But if your life is to be in my hands, so be it; let us fight and the outcome will be as God wills.”
They dismounted, tethered their horses, and warily came forward, each clad in mail and helmeted. They closed in combat, wrestling hand to hand, and mingled blood and sweat poured from their bodies. Then Sohrab, like a maddened elephant, struck Rostam a violent blow and felled him; like a lion leaping to bring down a wild ass, he flung himself on Rostam’s chest, whose mouth and fist and face were grimed with dust. He drew a glittering dagger to sever the hero’s head from his body, and Rostam spoke:
“O hero, lion destroyer, mighty lord,
Master of mace and lariat and sword,
Our customs do not count this course as right;
According to our laws, when warriors fight,
A hero may not strike the fatal blow
The first time his opponent is laid low;
He does this, and he’s called a lion, when
He’s thrown his rival twice—and only then.”
By this trick he sought to escape death at Sohrab’s hands. The brave youth bowed his head at the old man’s words, believing what he was told. He released his opponent and withdrew to the plains where, unconcernedly, he spent some time hunting. After a while Human sought him out and asked him about the day’s combat thus far. Sohrab told Human what had happened and what Rostam had said to him. Human responded, “Young man, you’ve had enough of life, it seems! Alas for this chest, for these arms and shoulders of yours; alas for your fist, for the mace that it holds; you’d trapped the tiger and you let him go, which was the act of a simpleton! Now, watch for the consequences of this foolishness of yours when you face him again.”
Sohrab returned to camp, sick at heart and furious with himself. A prince once made a remark for just such a situation:
“Do not make light of any enemy
No matter how unworthy he may be.”
For his part, when Rostam had escaped from Sohrab, he sprang up like a man who has come back from the dead and strode to a nearby stream where he drank and washed the grime from his face and body. Next he prayed, asking for God’s help and for victory, unaware of the fate the sun and moon held in store for him. Then, anxious and pale, he made his way from the stream back to the battlefield.
And there he saw Sohrab mounted on his rearing horse, charging after wild asses like a maddened elephant, whirling his lariat, his bow on his arm. Rostam stared at him in astonishment, trying to calculate his chances against him in single combat. When Sohrab caught sight of him, all the arrogance of youth was in his voice as he taunted Rostam, “So you escaped the lion’s claws, old man, and crept away from the wounds he dealt you!”
“I brought this on myself, this is from me,
And Fate has merely handed you the key
To my brief life: not you but heaven”s vault—
Which raised me and then killed me—is at fault.
Love for my father led me here to die.
My mother gave me signs to know him by,
And you could be a fish within the sea,
Or pitch black, lost in night's obscurity,
Or be a star in heaven’s endless space,
Or vanish from the earth and leave no trace,
But still my father, when he knows I’m dead,
Will bring down condign vengeance on your head.
One from this noble band will take this sign
To Rostam’s hands, and tell him it was mine,
And say I sought him always, far and wide,
And that, at last, in seeking him, I died.”
When Rostam heard the warrior’s words, his head whirled and the earth turned dark before his eyes, and when he came back to himself, he roared in an agony of anguish and asked what it was that the youth had which was a sign from Rostam, the most cursed of all heroes.
“If then you are Rostam,” said the youth, “and you killed me, your wits were dimmed by an evil nature. I tried in every way to guide you, but no love of yours responded. Open the straps that bind my armor and look on my naked body. When the battle drums sounded before my door, my mother came to me, her eyes awash with tears, her soul in torment to see me leave. She bound a clasp on my arm and said, ‘Take this in memory of your father, and watch for when it will be useful to you’; but now it shows its power too late, and the son is laid low before his father.” And when Rostam opened the boy’s armor and saw the clasp he tore at his own clothes in grief, saying, “All men praised your bravery, and I have killed you with my own hands.” Violently he wept and tore his hair and heaped dust on his head. Sohrab said, “By this you make things worse. You must not weep; what point is there in wounding yourself like this? What happened is what had to happen.”
The shining sun descended from the sky and still Rostam had not returned to his encampment. Twenty warriors came riding to see the battlefield and found two muddied horses but no sign of Rostam. Assuming he had been killed, they sent a message to Kavus saying, “Rostam’s royal throne lies desolate.” A wail of mourning went up from the army, and Kavus gave orders that the drums and trumpets be sounded. Tus hurried forward and Kavus told him to have someone survey the battlefield and find out what it was that Sohrab had done and whether they were indeed to weep for the fortunes of Iran, since if Rostam had been killed, no one would be able to oppose Sohrab and they would have to retreat without giving battle.
As the noise of mourning rose from the army, Sohrab said to Rostam, “Now that my days are ended, the Turks’ fortunes too have changed. Be merciful to them, and do not let the king make war on them; it was at my instigation they attacked Iran. What promises I made, what hopes I held out to them! They should not be the ones to suffer; see you look kindly on them.”
Cold sighs on his lips, his face besmeared with blood and tears, Rostam mounted Rakhsh and rode to the Persian camp, lamenting aloud, tormented by the thought of what he had done. When they caught sight of him, the Persian warriors fell to the ground, praising God that he was alive, but when they saw his ripped clothes and dust-besmeared head and face, they asked him what had happened and what distressed him. He told them of the strange deed he had done, of how he had slaughtered the person who was dearer to him than all others, and all who heard lamented aloud with him.
Then he said to the chieftains, “I’ve no courage left now, no strength or sense; go no further with this war against the Turks, the evil that I have done today is sufficient.” Rostam returned to where his son lay wounded, and the nobles—men like Tus, Gudarz, and Gostaham—accompanied him, crowding round and saying, “It’s God who will heal this wound, it’s he who will lighten your sorrows.” But Rostam drew a dagger, intending to slash his own neck with it; weeping with grief, they flung themselves on him and Gudarz said, “What point is there in spreading fire and sword throughout the world by your death, and if you wound yourself a thousand times, how will that help this noble youth? If there is any time left to him on this earth, then stay with him and ease his hours here; and if he is to die, then look at all the world and say, ‘Who is immortal?’ We are all Death’s prey, both he who wears a helmet and he who wears the crown.”
Rostam replied, “Go quickly and take a message from me to Kavus and tell him what has befallen me; say that I have rent my own son’s vitals with a dagger, and that I curse my life and long for death. Tell him, if he has any regard for all I have done in his service, to have pity on my suffering and to send me the elixir he keeps in his treasury, the medicine that will heal all wounds. If he will send it, together with a goblet of wine, it may be that, by his grace, Sohrab will survive and serve Kavus’s throne as I have done.
Like wind the chieftain bore this message to Kavus, who said in reply, “Which warrior, of all this company, is of more repute than Rostam? And are we to make him even greater? Then, surely he will turn on me and kill me. How will the wide world contain his glory and might? How will he remain the servant to my throne? If, some day, evil’s to come to me from him, I will respond with evil. You heard how he referred to me:
When I am angry, who is Kay Kavus?
Who dares to threaten me? And who is Tus?’”
When Gudarz heard these words, he hurried back to Rostam and said:
“This king’s malicious nature is a tree
That grows new, bitter fruit perpetually;
You must go to him and try to enlighten his benighted soul.” Rostam gave orders that a rich cloth be spread beside the stream; gently he laid his wounded son there and set out to where Kavus held court. But he was overtaken on the way by one who told him that Sohrab had departed this world; he had looked round for his father, then heaved an icy sigh, and groaned, and closed his eyes forever. It was not a castle the boy needed his father to provide for him now, but a coffin.
Rostam dismounted and removed his helmet and smeared dust on his head.
Then he commanded that the boy’s body be covered in royal brocade—the youth who had longed for fame and conquest, and whose destiny was a narrow bier borne from the battlefield. Rostam returned to his royal pavilion and had it set ablaze; his warriors smeared their heads with dust, and in the midst of their lamentations they fed the flames with his throne, his saddlecloth of leopardskin, his silken tent of many colors. Rostam wept and ripped his royal clothes, and all the heroes of the Persian army sat in the wayside dust with him and tried to comfort him, but to no avail.
Kavus said to Rostam, “The heavens bear all before them, from the mighty Alborz Mountains to the lightest reed; man must not love this earth too much. For one it comes early and for another late, but Death comes to all. Accept this loss, pay heed to wisdom’s ways, and know that if you bow the heavens to the ground or set the seas aflame, you cannot bring back him who’s gone; his soul grows old, but in another place. I saw him in the distance once, I saw his height and stature and the massive mace he held; Fate drove him here to perish by your hand. What is it you would do? What remedy exists for this? How long will you mourn in this way?”
Rostam replied, “Yes, he is gone. But Human still camps here on the plains, along with chieftains from Turan and China. Have no rancor in your heart against them. Give the command, and let my brother Zavareh lead off our armies.” The king said, “This sadness clouds your soul, great hero. Well, they have done me evil enough, and they have wreaked havoc in Iran, but my heart feels the pain you feel, and for your sake I’ll think no more of them.”
Rostam returned then to his home, Zabolestan, and when news of his coming reached his father, Zal-Dastan, the people of Sistan came out to meet him, mourning and grieving for his loss. When Dastan saw the bier, he dismounted from his horse, and Rostam came forward on foot, his clothes torn, with anguish in his heart. The chieftains took off their armor and stood before the coffin and smeared their heads with dust. When Rostam reached his palace, he cried aloud and had the coffin set before him; then he ripped out the nails and pulled back the shroud and showed the nobles gathered there the body of his son. A tumult of mourning swept the palace, which seemed a vast tomb where a lion lay; the youth resembled Sam, as if that hero slept, worn out by battle. Then Rostam covered him in cloth of gold and nailed the coffin shut and said, “If I construct a golden tomb for him and fill it with black musk, it will not last for long when I am gone; but I see nothing else that I can do.”
This tale is full of tears, and Rostam leaves
The tender heart indignant as it grieves:
I turn now from this story to relate
The tale of Seyavash and his sad fate.
Rosen, Leonard. The Necessary Absurdity of Reading- And Writing-Fiction. Early World Literature. Asheville, NC: Soomo Learning, 2015. Web.
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