Detail, The Court of Jamshid. View full »
The reign of King Jamshid ushered in the first golden age in Iran’s history. “The imperial farr was his. The world submitted to him, quarrels were laid to rest ….” Jamshid introduced the sciences, arts and crafts, medicine, shipbuilding, mining, and the use of perfumes. He organized society in accordance with the professional classes, and he established Now-ruz (New Day) on the first of Farvardin (21 March), when he finally rested from his endeavors. For three hundred years Jamshid ruled over a country where “men knew nothing of sorrow or evil … and the land was filled with music,” but he became increasingly arrogant with his achievements.

Jamshid surveyed the world, and saw none there
Whose greatness or whose splendor could compare
With his: and he who had known God became
Ungrateful, proud, forgetful of God’s name.

Such hubris cost him divine glory (farr), the most important attribute of kingship. Iran was soon filled with dissension and revolt, and the once-glorious Jamshid went into hiding for a hundred years. When he reappeared on the shores of the Sea of China, he was killed by the demon-king Zahhak.