The Knight in the Panther’s Skin
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 252
Publication Date: This translation by Marjory Wardrop, 1912
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The Knight in the Panther's Skin is a Georgian medieval epic poem, written in the 12th century by Georgia's national poet Shota Rustaveli. A definitive work of the Georgian Golden Age, the poem consists of over 1600 Rustavelian Quatrains and is considered to be a "masterpiece of the Georgian literature". Until the early 20th century, a copy of this poem was part of the dowry of any bride. The poem takes place in the fictional settings of exotic "India" and "Arabia", and tells the friendship of two heroes, Avtandil and Tariel, and their quest to find the object of love, Nestan-Darejan, an allegorical embodiment of Queen Tamar (known as Tamr the Great, she reigned as the Queen of Georgia from 1184 to 1213).
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32. There was in Arabia Rostevan, a king by the grace of God, happy, exalted, generous, modest, lord of many hosts and knights, just and gracious, powerful, far-seeing, himself a peerless warrior, moreover fluent in speech:
33. No other child had the king save one only daughter, the shining light of the world, to be ranked with nought but the sunny group; whoever looked on her, she bereft him of heart, mind and soul. It needs a wise man to praise her, and a very eloquent tongue.
34. Her name is T’hinat’hin; let it be famous! When she had grown up to full womanhood, she contemned even the sun. The king called his viziers, seated himself, proud yet gentle, and, placing them by his side, began to talk graciously to them.
35. He said: "I will declare to you the matter on which we are to take counsel together. When the flower of the rose is dried and withered it falls, and another blooms in the lovely garden. The sun is set for us; we are gazing on a dark, moonless night.
36. "My day is done; old age, most grievous of all ills, weighs on me; if not to-day, then to-morrow I die--this is the way of the world. What light is that on which darkness attends? Let us instate as sovereign my daughter, of whom the sun is not worthy."
37. The viziers said: "O king, why do you speak of your age? Even when the rose fades we must needs give it its due; it still excels all in scent and fair colour. How can a star declare enmity even to the waning moon!
38. "Speak not then thus, O king. Your rose is not yet faded. Even bad counsel from you is better than good counsel from another, It was certainly fitting to speak out what your heart desires. It is better. Give the kingdom to her who prevails against the sun.
39. "Though indeed she be a woman, still as sovereign she is begotten of God. She knows how to rule. We say not this to flatter you; we ourselves, in your absence, often say so. Her deeds, like her radiance, are revealed bright as sunshine. The lion's whelps are equal (alike lions), be they male or female."
40. Avt’handil was general, son of the commander-in-chief. He was more graceful than the cypress; his presence was like sun and moon. Still beardless, he was to be likened to famous crystal and glass. The beauty of T’hinat’hin and of the host of her eyelashes was slaying him.
41. He kept his love hidden in his heart. When he was absent and saw her not, his rose faded; when he saw her, the fires were renewed, his wound smarted more. Love is pitiable; it makes man heart-slain.
42. When the king commanded that his daughter should be enthroned as king, gladness came upon Avt’handil; the extinction (concealment) of that jewel irks him. He said to himself: "Often will it now fall to my lot to gaze upon her crystal face; perchance I may thus find a cure for my pallor."
43. The great sovereign of the Arabs published throughout Arabia an edict: "I, her father, appoint my T’hinat’hin king; she shall illumine all, even as the shining sun. Come and see, all ye who praise and extol!" (or, praise and extol her!).
44. All the Arabians came; the crowd of courtiers increased. The sun-faced Avt’handil, chief of ten thousand times a thousand soldiers, the vizier Sograt, the nearest to the king of all his attendants. When they placed the throne the people said: "Its worth is beyond words!"
45. T’hinat’hin, radiant in countenance, was led in by her sire. He seated her, and with his own hands set the crown on her head; he gave her the sceptre, and clad her in the royal robes. The maiden looks on with understanding, all-seeing, like the sun.
46. The king and his armies retired and did homage. They blessed her and established her as king, many from many places told forth her praises; the trumpets were blown and the cymbals sounded sweetly. The maiden wept, she shed many tears; she drooped her raven eyelashes (the tail feathers of the raven).
47. She deemed herself unworthy to sit on her father's throne; therefore she weeps, filling the rose-garden (of her cheeks) with tears. The king admonishes her: "Every father hath a peer in his child," quoth he. "Until now the raging fire in my bosom has not been extinguished."
48. He said: "Weep not, daughter, but hearken to my counsel: To-day thou art King of Arabia, appointed sovereign by me; henceforth this kingdom is entrusted to thee; mayest thou be discreet in thy doings, be modest and discerning.
49. "Since the sun shines alike on roses and middens, be not thou weary of mercy to great and small. The generous binds the free, and he who is already bound will willingly obey. Scatter liberally, as the seas pour forth again the floods they have received.?
50. "Munificence in kings is like the aloe planted in Eden. All, even the traitor, are obedient to the generous. It is very wholesome to eat and drink, but what profits it to hoard? What thou givest away is thine; what thou keepest is lost."
51. The maiden hearkened discreetly to this her father's advice; she lent ear, she heard, she wearied not of instruction. The king drank and sported; he was exceeding joyful. T’hinat’hin contemned the sun, but the sun aped T’hinat’hin.
52. She sent for her faithful, trusty tutor, and said: "Bring hither all my treasure sealed by thee, all the wealth belonging to me as king's daughter." He brought it; she gave without measure, without count, untiringly.
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