HISTORY OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
Mehrespandaan was Moabadan Moabad and minister of Shapur II (309-379 A.C.)
from R. C. Zaehner
My son, think upon virtue and do not turn your thoughts to sin, for man does not
live eternally and the things of the spirit are the more greatly to be desired.
Put out of your mind what is past and do not fret and worry about what has not
yet come to pass.
Put not your trust and confidence in kings and princes.
Do not do unto others what would not be good for yourself.
Be single-minded among rulers and friends.
Do not deliver yourself up as a slave to any man.
Stay far away from any man who approaches you in anger or in enmity.
Hope always and everywhere in the yazads and make friends with such men as will
Strive for the things of the yazads and of the Amahraspands and lay down your
life for them (if need be).
Tell no secret to a woman.
Listen to all that you hear and do not repeat it at random.
Do not let your wife and children (out of your sight) except for reasons of good
manners (frahang) lest care and grievous annoyance come upon you and you
Do not give (alms) out of season.
Give a quick (? si' pas 'ut pêsh) answer (only) if it accords with
Do not mock at anyone.
Do not share your secrets with a wrong-headed man.
Do not make a choleric [bad tempered] man your travelling companion.
Do not take a frivolous man for your counsellor.
Do not make a rich man the companion of your table.
Do not make a drunkard your boon-companion.
Do not borrow from a man of bad character or base lineage or lend to him, for
you will pay heavily in interest, and he will be forever at your door or will
always be sending messengers to your house, and great loss will you suffer
Do not summon an ill-disposed person to help you.
Do not show your property to an envious man.
Do not put into force(?) a false judgement in the presence of rulers.
Do not listen to the words of calumniators and liars.
Do not be over-zealous in punishing others.
Do not pick a quarrel at a feast.
Do not strike others.
Do not strive for position.
Consult men who are of gentle stock, experienced in affairs, clever, and of good
character; make these your friends.
Take great care that no heavy burden is laid on you in battle.
Keep away from vengeful men in a position of power.
Do not come into conflict with a scribe.
Do not tell your secrets to a babbler.
Hold a wise man whose position is exalted in high esteem, ask his opinion and
listen to it.
Do not tell a lie to anyone.
Do not accept the goods of any man who is devoid of shame.
Do not consciously wager on anything at all.
Do not take an oath on either what is true or what is false.
When you are about to set up house, first take stock of the expense.
Woo the woman who is to be your wife yourself.
If you (already) have property, start by buying more irrigated agricultural
land, for even if it fails to yield interest, the capital will remain.
So far as you possibly can, do not bore your fellow men.
Do not seek to be avenged on others and do not try to cause them loss.
Be as generous with your property as you can.
Do not deceive anyone lest you come to grief thereby.
Hold your superiors in high esteem, make much of them, and listen to what they
Borrow only from relations and friends.
Cherish the woman who is modest and give her in marriage to a clever and
knowledgeable man; for clever and knowledgeable men are like the good earth
which yields all manner of produce when once the seed has been planted in it.
Be plain in your speech.
Never speak without reflection.
Lend money only under agreed conditions (pat adhvên).
Cherish a wise and modest woman and ask her in marriage.
Choose a son-in-law who is good-natured, honest, and experienced even though he
be poor, for he will (surely) receive riches from the yazads.
Do not mock at your elders, for you are subject to them.
Do not send a proud and pitiless man to prison, but choose prison-warders from
among big men and (set) an intelligent man (over them).
If you have a son, send him to a grammar-school when he is still a boy, for the
art of reading and writing is exceedingly well seen.
Speak sharply only after much reflection, for there are times when it is better
to speak out and times when it is better to hold your peace; (on the whole) to
hold one's peace is better than to speak.
Choose a man who tells the truth as your messenger.
Do not appoint a bought slave above trustworthy and faithful servants. Spend
according to your means.
Be courteous in your speech.
Keep your conversation courteous.
Keep your thoughts righteous.
Do not praise yourself; only so will you perform righteous deeds.
When in the presence of kings and princes do not appear to be without mercy.
Ask the advice of good men of mature age.
Accept nothing from a thief nor give anything to him: drive him rather away.
As you fear Hell, punish others only after due reflection.
Do not put your trust or confidence in anyone or anything at all.
Make good use of authority so that you may obtain a good position (thereby).
Be without sin so that you may be without fear.
Be grateful so that you may be worthy of good things.
Be single-minded so that you may be faithful.
Speak the truth so that you may be trusted.
Be humble so that you may have many friends.
Have many friends so that you may enjoy a good repute.
Be of good repute so that you may live at ease.
Choose the better part and love your Religion so that you be saved (ahrov).
Think on the state of your soul so that you may go to Heaven.
Be generous so that you may go to Paradise (garothman).
Do not seduce other men's wives, for that is a grievous sin for thy soul.
Do not maintain mean and ungrateful men, for they will not thank you.
Do not destroy your own soul for the sake of anger or vengeance.
When you feel an urgent desire to do or say (something), <ask> politely
and say a prayer, for no one ever broke his back by saying his prayers or got
foul breath by asking politely.
Do not address a low-born person first.
When you attend a gathering, do not sit next to a wrong-headed man so that you
may not yourself appear wrong-headed.
Wherever you sit at a banquet, do not sit in the highest seat lest you be moved
away therefrom and made to sit in a lower seat.
Do not rely on property and the goods of this world, for property and the goods
of this world are like a bird that flies from one tree to another and stays on
Honour your father and mother, listen to them and obey them, for so long as a
man's father and mother live, he is like a lion in the jungle which has no fear
of anyone at all; but he who has neither father nor mother is like a widowed
woman who is despoiled by men and can do nothing about it and whom all men
Give your daughter to a clever and knowledgeable man, for a clever and
knowledgeable man is like the good earth which yields up much grain once the
seed is sown in it.
If you would not be abused by others, do not abuse anyone.
Do not be violent or ill-considered in your speech, for the man who is violent
or ill-considered in his speech is like a fire that falls upon a forest and
burns up all birds and fish and creeping things.
Do not collaborate with a man who ill-treats his father and mother and with whom
they are displeased, lest your justice be turned to injustice(?) and you be
deprived of friends and have no pleasant intercourse with anyone.
Do not out of false modesty or shame deliver your soul up to Hell.
Do not say anything that has a double meaning.
When you sit in an assembly, do not sit next to a liar lest you yourself should
suffer greatly thereby.
Take things easy (lit. 'be easy-footed') so that you may be a welcome guest.
Rise before dawn so that your work may prosper.
Do not make a new friend out of an old enemy, for an old enemy is like a black
snake which does not forget old injuries for a hundred years.
Renew your friendship with old friends, for an old friend is like old wine which
becomes better and more fit for the consumption of princes the older it is.
Praise the yazads and be glad of heart, for it is from the yazads that you will
obtain an increase in the good things (of this world).
Do not curse a man of princely rank, for there are security officers in (all)
the realm who decree what is good for (the king's) subjects.
I say unto you, my son, that in the affairs of men the greatest(?) helper and
the best is wisdom, for if one's wealth is scattered and lost or if one's
livestock die, wisdom remains.
Strive to be firmly anchored in your Religion, for contentment is the highest
wisdom (dânâkîh) and the greatest spiritual hope.
Keep your soul ever in mind.
Do not forsake your duty to preserve your good name.
Keep your hands from stealing, your feet from treading the path of undutifulness,
and your mind from unlawful desires (varan), for whoso practices virtue
obtains his reward, and whoso commits sin receives his punishment.
Whoso digs a pit for his enemies will fall into it himself.
The good man lives at ease but the bad man suffers distress and grievous woe.
Marry a young wife.
Drink wine in moderation, for whoso drinks wine immoderately falls into many a
Since you know well that a snake has many wiles, do not be over-hasty to touch
one lest it bite you and you instantly die.
Even though you know well a stretch of water much frequented by bathers, do not
be over-hasty in going into rough water lest the water carry you away and you
Do not on any account be false to a contract lest you be held accountable(??)
Do not rob others of their property nor keep (what has been robbed) nor add it
to your own, for (then) your own (property) will be destroyed and vanish away,
for when you carry off property that is not your own and keep it and <add>
it to your own ... (gap in text)...
... do not rejoice, for men are like a water-skin full of air. When it is
deflated, nothing remains. Men are like suckling babes, creatures of habit who
cling to their habits.
On the day of Ohrmazd drink wine and make merry.
On the day of Vohuman put on new clothes.
On the day of Ardwahisht go to the Fire Temple.
On the day of Shahrewar rejoice.
On the day of Spandarmad till your land.
On the day of Hordad dig your irrigation channels.
On the day of Amurdad plant shrubs and trees.
On the day of Dae-pa-Adar wash your head and trim your hair and nails.
On the day of Adar (Fire) go for a walk and do not bake bread for it is a
On the day of Aban (the Waters) abstain from water and do not vex the waters.
On the day of Khwarshed (the Sun) take your children to the grammar-school so
that they may become literate and wise.
On the day of Mah (the Moon) drink wine and hold converse with your friends and
ask a boon of King Moon.
On the day of Tir (Sirius) send your children to learn archery and jousting and
On the day of Gosh (the Bull) see to the stables and train your oxen to the
On the day of Dae-pa-Mihr wash your head and trim your hair and nails, and
(pick) your grapes from the vine and throw them into the wine-press so that they
may become good.
On the day of Mihr, if you have been wronged by anyone, stand before Mihr (Mithra)
and ask justice of him and cry out aloud (to him).
On the day of Srosh ask a boon of the blessed Srosh for the salvation of your
On the day of Rashnu life is gay: do, in holiness, anything you will.
On the day of Frawardin take no oath, and on that day sacrifice to the Farohars
(departed spirits) of the blessed so that they may be the better pleased.
On the day of Warharan lay the foundations of your house so that it may be
speedily completed, and go out to battle and warfare so that you may return the
On the day of Ram summon your wife and do (with her) what is done and enjoy
yourself take any suit (you may have) before the judges so that you may return
victorious or acquitted.
On the day of Wad (the Wind) confine yourself to words(?) and do not undertake
On the day of Dae-pa-Den do anything you like, bring your wife into your
quarters, trim your hair and nails and clothe yourself.
On the day of Den (the Religion) kill noxious beasts and reptiles.
On the day of Ard buy any new thing (you need) and bring it home.
On the day of Ashtad deliver over your mares, cows, and pack-animals to their
males so that they may return in good health.
On the day of Asman (the Sky) set out on a long journey so that you may return
On the day of Zam (the Earth) do not take medicine.
On the day of Mahraspand mend your clothes, stitch them, and put them on, and
take your wife to bed so that a keen-witted and goodly child may be born (to
On the day of Anagran (the Endless Light) trim your hair and nails and take your
wife to bed so that an exceptional child may be born (to you).
Do not be overjoyed in  good times nor over-distressed in bad times, for the
good fortune of Time turns <to> misfortune and the misfortune of Time
turns to good fortune, and there is no "up" that has not been preceded
by a "down," and no "down" that is not followed by an
Do not be gluttonous (varanîk) in eating your food, and do not partake
of all foods. Do not be over-hasty to attend the feasts and banquets of the
great lest you return from them abashed.
For there are four things which are most harmful to the body of (mortal) men and
make them have wrong ideas about their body. One is to glory in one's strength.
One is the luxury of pride which (leads one) to pick a quarrel with a
well-established (hangat) man. One is (the case of) the elderly man with
a puerile character who weds an adolescent girl; and one is (the case of) the
young man who weds an old woman.
It should be known that love of one's fellow men (proceeds) from a balanced mind
(bavandak-mênishnîh), and good character from being nicely spoken.
I say unto you, my son, that of all the things that give help to man wisdom is
Make the traveller welcome so that you yourself may receive a heartier welcome
in this world and the next; (17) for he who gives, receives, and (receives) more
abundantly. Seat yourself at a banquet where (your host) bids you be seated, for
the best place is where a good man sits.
Do not strive for (high) office, for the man who strives for (high) office
usually brings disorder on his spirit.
Live in harmony with virtue and do not consent to sin. Be thankful for good
fortune and contented in adversity. Avoid an enemy; do not cause harm in doing
good works; do not aid and abet evil.
Even should the most fearful calamity befall you, do not doubt concerning the
yazads and the Religion.
Do not be unduly glad when good fortune attends you, (22) and do not be unduly
downcast when misfortune befalls you.
Abstain rigorously from churlishness, self-will, enmity to the good, anger,
rapine, calumny, and lying so that your body be not ill-famed and your soul
Do not plot evil against the evil, for the evil man reaps <the fruit of>
his own bad actions. (35) In order to bear with(?) evil men keep the power of
goodness in mind and make it your model. (36) Has there ever been a man who
associated with evil men who did not regret it in the end?
Do good simply because it is good. Goodness is a real good (nêvak) since
even evil men extol it. (38) Do whatever you know to be good and do not do
anything that you know to be not good. (39) Do not do to others anything that
does not seem good to yourself.
Do not underestimate the value of confessing your sins of omission (? mandak) to
the religious judges, of submitting to the disciplinary whip, and of performing
the ... (?) ...
You have (only) one name, you are men. Do not pay attention to both the desires
(of the body and the soul); (42) for the body and the soul do not both have the
same desire. (43) The bodily desires of the body should be satisfied and the
soul-desires of the soul.
Never commit a sin out of vengeance, but always strive your utmost to do good
works. (45) Do not forsake the righteous law out of lust. (46) Do not violently
strike innocent people because you are angry with someone. (47) Do not be false
to a contract out of vengeance lest you be caught up in (the consequences of)
your own actions.
Do not say anything that is not specifically of profit except as a joke (huramîh),
and when joking consider the time and the occasion. (58) For wisdom guards the
tongue, the body's fruit is civilized behaviour (frahang), and the reward
of virtue is Heaven and the receiving and giving of the fruits of the earth;
(59) for all forms of courage need wisdom, wisdom knowledge, knowledge
experience. To be respected one must have a good name. All actions depend on the
proper time and place, while wealth needs to be received and given away, and all
enjoyment depends on freedom from fear.
Do not rejoice overmuch when good fortune attends you, and do not grieve
overmuch when misfortune overtakes you, (61) for both good fortune and
misfortune must befall man. (62) Be grateful to the yazads for any good fortune
that may befall you in this world and share it with the yazads and with good
men. Leave (all such things) to the yazads, for any reward (that is due to you)
will come of its own accord from the place whence it must proceed.
Till the earth and do good, for all men live and are nourished by the tilling of
Spandarmad, the Earth.
Do not sin against water, fire, kine, or other domestic animals, or against the
dog and the dog species, lest you find the way to Heaven and Paradise (garothman)
closed to you.
Do good and keep your doors open to any who may come from far or near, for he
who does not do good and does not keep his doors open, will find the door of
Heaven and of Paradise closed.
Be zealous in the pursuit of culture (frahang), for culture is an
adornment in prosperity, a protection in distress, a ready helper in calamity,
and becomes a habit in adversity. (67) When you have learnt something, put it
into practice, for the man who knows a lot and believes little is the greater
sinner. (68) The wisdom of a learned man, if unaccompanied by goodness, turns to
injustice (sâstârîh) and his intelligence turns to unbelief (ahramôghîh).
Do not mock at anyone at all, for he who mocks himself becomes the object of
mockery, he loses his dignity (khwarr) and is execrated, and only rarely
will he have a decent and warlike son.
Go every day to wherever good men gather together to consult them; (71) for
whoever goes most frequently to where good men gather together for the purpose
of consultation, receives a greater share of and holiness.