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By: Djalal Khaleqi-Motlaq


Gêv, one of the foremost heroes of the national epic in the reigns of Kay Kâvûs and Kay Khosrow (qq.v.). According to the Š, he is the son of Gôdarz and father of Bêžan/Bîžan and a direct descendant of Kâva the Smith (Kâva-ye Âhangar; qq.v.) through his paternal grandfather, Kašvâd. He probably was a historical personality from the Parthian era who, contrary to traditional accounts, was the father of Gôdarz II, who shared the throne with Vardanes in the middle of the first century C.E. (Nöldeke, pp. 30-31). Tabarî (I, p. 601) has recorded his name as Bîy, and Hasan b. Mohammad Qomî (p. 69), who also credits him with the foundation of a rural district (rostâq) in Qom, as Bîb. According to Nöldeke (p. 31, n. 2), the forms Bîy/Bîb derives from the older form Wêw, which is preserved by Hamza Esfahânî (p. 36) and the author of Mojmal al-tawârîkh (ed. Bahâr, p. 436).


Gêv's most illustrious exploit was his seven-year search for Kay Khosrow and bringing him back from Tûrân to Iran (Š, ed. Khaleghi, II, pp. 419-70; Tabarî, I, p. 601). In return for this service, he received Sîâvoš's invincible coat of mail (Š, ed. Khaleghi, II, p. 430, l. 167). His other significant exploits include avenging the death of his brother Bahrâm (q.v.), killed at the hands of Afrâsîâb's son-in-law Tažâv (ibid., III, pp. 96-99), and his victory over Gorûy Zereh, Sîâvoš's murderer, in a single combat in the battle of Davâzdah rokh (q.v.; ibid., IV, pp. 118-19; Tabarî, I, p. 612).


He is one of the five heroes who accompanied Kay Khosrow on his journey into the wilderness until Kay Khosrow met the angel Sorôš and disappeared (according to the local tradition, in a cave called GÚâr-e Kay Khosrow in Kohgîlûya; Enjavî, II, pp. 278, 293-95). They all died in a snow storm on their return journey (Š, ed. Khaleghi, IV, pp. 365-69). A mountain pass called Molla-ye Bîžan in the Kohgîlûya district is believed by the local people to be the place where the heroes died (Fârs-nâma, ed. Rastgâr, p. 1472; Enjavî, II, p. 174). This tradition is at odds with the one recorded in Bundahišn (tr. Anklesaria, 29. 7), where Gêv is mentioned as one of the immortals who will help Sošyant, the Zoroastrian Savior. Bundahišn refers to him as Beirazd i kûxšišn kardâr (Beirazd the wrestler). Ferdinand Justi (Namenbuch, p. 366) considered beirazd as the equivalent of the Arabic barrâz (combatant), which may be the same as varâz, the title given to Gostaham (q.v.) in the Mojmal (ed. Bahâr, p. 91).


Gêv figures prominently in other epics as well. In the Bânû Gošasb-nâma, he was the only one among the suitors of Gošasb Bânû (q.v.), Rostam's daughter, who successfully went through the trial Rostam put them to: Tôs, Zanga, Aškaš, Gorgîn, and Gêv stood along with four hundred horsemen on a huge carpet, then Rostam pulled the carpet from underneath them all. Gêv was the only one who managed to remain steadfast on his feet. On the wedding night, however, his bride, Bânû Gošasb, threw him to the ground and tied him up; he was eventually released by Rostam's mediation (for Gêv in popular tales, see Enjavî).


Although Gêv is mentioned as an army commander in the accounts of the reigns of Kay Kâvûs and Kay Khosrow, his personality in the story is somewhat overshadowed by those of Gôdarz and Bîžan; for this reason, it is difficult to make an outline of his character. It is only in his expression of paternal sentiments in his confrontational dialogue with Bîžan in the episode of the Davâzdah rokh that anything of his personality is reflected (Šâh-nâma, ed. Khaleghi, IV, pp. 40-46).






A. Christensen, Les Kayanides, Copenhagen, 1932; tr. Dh. Safâ as Kayânîân, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971. 

Dînavarî, ed. Guirgass, p. 16 (Zavv for Gêv). Ebn al-Balkhî, p. 48. 

A. Enjavî, Mardom wa qahramânân-e Šâh-nâma, n.p., n.d.; repr. as Ferdowsî-nâma: Mardom wa Šâh-nâma, 3 vols., Tehran, 1369 Š./1980. 

Th. Nöldeke, Persische Studien II, Sitz. Phil.-hist. Kl., Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, 1892. 

Idem, "Das Iranische National Epos," in Grundriss I, pp. 136, 137, 169, 170. 

Hasan b. Mohammad Qomî, Târîkh-e Qom, ed. S. J. Tehrânî, Tehran, 1313 Š./1934. 

Dh. Safâ, Hamâsa-sarâ`î dar Îrân, Tehran, 4th ed., 1363 Š./1984. Tha´âlebî, GÚorar, p. 238. 

E. Yarshater, "Iranian National History," in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, pp. 357, 376, 400-402, 452, 458, 460-61.






Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica


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