Vis and Rāmin

Vis and Rāmin

Vis and Rāmin ( _fa. ويس و رامين, "Vis o Rāmin") is an ancient Persian love story. The epic was composed in poetry by the Persian poet Asad Gorgani (فخرالدين اسعد گرگاني) in 11th century.

The story dates from pre-Islamic Persia. Gorgani claimed a Sassanid origin for it. However, it is now being regarded as a Parthian dynastic origin, probably the first century AD. It has also been suggested that Gorgâni's story reflects the traditions and customs of the period immediately before he himself lived. This cannot be ruled out, as stories retold from ancient sources often include elements drawn from the time of their narrator.Dick Davis (January 6 2005), [ "Vis o Rāmin"] , in: "Encyclopaedia Iranica Online Edition". Accessed on April 25, 2008.]


The framework of the story is the opposition of two Parthian ruling houses, one in the west and the other in the east. The existence of these small kingdoms and the feudalistic background point to a date in the Parthian period of Iranian history. The popularity of this pre-Islamic story in the Islamic period is mentioned by the poet himself, and shows that there was a demand for ancient themes and traditional lore.


The story is about Vis, the daughter of Shāhrū and Kāren, the ruling family of "Māh" (Media) in western Iran, and Ramin (Rāmīn), the brother to Mobed Monikan, the King of Marv in northeastern Iran. Monikan sees Shahru in a royal gala, wonders at her beauty, and asks her to marry him. She answers that she is older than she looks and is already married, but she promises to give him her daughter if a girl is born to her.

Several years later, Shahru gives birth to a girl and calls her Vis or Viseh. She sends Vis to Khuzan to be raised by a wet-nurse or nanny who also happens to be raising Ramin, who is the same age as Vis. They grow up ten years together and afterwards, Vis is recalled to her mother. After Vis reaches adolescence, she comes back to mother and Shahru marries her to her son, Vis's brother, Viru. The marriage remains unconsummated because of Vis' menstruation, which by Zoroastrian law makes her unapproachable. Mobad Monikan finds about the marriage celebration and sends his brother Zard to remind Shahru of her promise and to bring Vis to him. Vis definitely rejects Mobad Monikan's request and refuses to go. Monikan feels aggrieved and campaigns against Māh-abad. In a battle, Qārin, Vis's father, is killed, but Monikan also suffers a defeat from Viru. Mobad Monikan, although defeated in this battle, takes his army to Gurab, where Vis is waiting the outcome of the battle. He sends a messenger to her, offering her various privileges in return for marrying him. But Vis rejects Mobad's offer proudly and indignantly. Mobad asks advice from his two brothers Zard and Ramin. Ramin, who is already in love with Vis attempts to dissuade Mobad from trying to Vis. However, Mobad's brother Zard suggests bribing Shahro as a way of winning over Vis. Mobad listens to Zard and sends money and jewels to Shahru and bribes her to gain entry to the castle. He then takes Vis away, much to the chagrin of Viro.

On the journey back to Marv, Ramin catches a glimpse of Vis and is consumed with love for her, so much so that he falls of his horse and faints. Vis is given residence in the harem [Harem is the royal ladies quarter of the King] of Mobad and gifts are bestowed upon her. Vis's nurse also followers her to Marv, and attempts to persuade her to behave pragmatically, accept Mobad and forget Viro. Vis at first has a hard time accepting her fate, but eventually resigns herself to Mobad's Harem.

Vis refuses to give herself to Mobad for a year and she was still mourning the death of her father. At this time, the nurse makes a talisman that renders Mobad impotent for one month. The spell can only be broken if the talisman is broken, and it is swept away in a flood and lost, so that Mobad is never able to sleep with his bride. While Vis was being taken to Marv, Ramin was in her escort and saw her, recognized her, and fell in love with her.

Vis was mourning her father's death and her separation from her brother and first husband, Viru. Ramin pleads with the Nanny to inform Vis about his love. Vis gets angry and refuses any meeting. Finally, after a lot of talks and communication through Nanny, and while King Mubad Monikan is on campaign, Vis and Ramin meet. Vis falls in love with Ramin and the two consummate their love.

After Monikan returns, they decide to go and visit Vis's family in Mah. There Monikan overhears a conversation between the nurse and Vis, and realizes his wife loves Ramin. Monikan demands a trial by fire, passing through fire, for Vis to prove her chastity. But Vis and Ramin elope. Monikan's mother makes peace between her two sons Ramin and the king, and they all go back to Marv.

Monikan takes Ramin along on a campaign against Romans but Ramin falls sick and is left behind. Ramin goes back to Vis, who is imprisoned in a castle by Monikan and guarded by the king's other brother Zard. Ramin scales the wall and spends his time with Vis until Monikan comes back from the war and Ramin escapes.

Ramin thinks that his love with Vis has no future, so he asks Monikan to sends him to Maah on a mission. There, Ramin falls in love with a woman called Gol and marries her. Vis finds about this and sends the Nanny to Ramin to remind him of their love. Ramin sends back a harsh reply. Vis sends an elaborate message pleading with him to come back. At this time, Ramin was bored from his married life and after he receives the second message he goes back to Vis. But when he reaches Marv on his horseback in a snow storm, Vis goes to the roof of the castle and rejects his love. Ramin goes off desperately. Vis regrets what she has done and sends the Nanny after Ramin. They reconcile.

Monikan takes Ramin hunting and Vis and the Nanny and some other women attend a fire temple nearby. Ramin becomes absent from the hunting, disguises himself as a woman to enter the temple, and leaves with Vis. They go back to the castle and, with help from Ramin's men, kill the garrison and Zard as well. They then escape to Dailam, on the coast of Capsian Sea. Monikan is killed by a boar during the hunt. Vis and Ramin come back to Merv and Ramin sits on the throne as the king and marries Vis. Ramin reigns for 83 years. In the 81st year Vis dies and Ramin hands over the kingdom to his eldest son with Vis and goes and mourn on Vis' tomb for 2 years, after which he joins her in the afterlife.


The Vis and Ramin story had a noticeable influence on Persian literature. Significantly, Nezami, himself a major poet of Persian romantic traditions, took the bases of much of his rhetoric from Gorgani.

The romance also has had its influence beyond Persian culture. The story became very popular also in Georgia through a 12th-century free translation in prose known as "Visramiani" which proved to have a long-lasting effect on the Georgian literature. Being the oldest known manuscript of the work and better preserved than the original, it is of great importance for the history of the Persian text and helps restore several corrupted lines in the Persian manuscripts.Gvakharia, Aleksandre [ "Georgia IV: Literary contacts with Persia"] , in: "Encyclopaedia Iranica Online Edition". Accessed on April 24, 2008.]

The great scholar Vladimir Minorsky did a four part study of the story and was convinced of its Parthian origin.

Some scholars have suggested that Vis u Ramin may have influenced the Tristan and Iseult legend, and the two plots have distinct resemblances. Nevertheless views have differed about the connection between these two stories. [George Morrison, Julian Baldick et al (1981), "History of Persian Literature: From the Beginning of the Islamic Period to the Present Day", p. 35. Brill, ISBN 9004064818.]


An excerpt where the beauty of Vis is described:

"She grew into a silver cypress tree, "Her heart was steely, and her spirit free, "And Wisdom gazing on her lovely face "Was baffled to describe her radiant grace. "It said, "She is a garden burgeoning "With all the freshness of the early spring, "Her eyes are two narcissi, and her hair "The purple violets darkly nestled there, "Her face is formed from tulips and wild roses." "Bet then it said, "It's autumn that composes "Her loveliness, not spring, and she is made "Of fruits that ripen in autumnal shade: "Her hair is clustered grapes, her breasts now show "The shape of pomegranates as they grow, "Her chin is like an apple, sweet and round." "And then it said, "In this sweet girl is found "The riches all the world desires, and she "Is like a wealthy royal treasury: "Her skin is silk, her face is rich brocade, "Her hair the essence from which scents are made, "Her body's made of silver, and beneath "Her ruby lips peep priceless pearls, her teeth." "And then it said, "But God has formed her of "His own refulgence, and celestial love, "And in her body all components meet "That makes the walks of paradise so sweet, "The water and the milk, her cheek's red wine, "The honey of her lips, are all divine." "It's no suprise if Wisdom missed the mark, "Since heaven's eye, in seeing her, grew dark. "Her cheeks would steal spring's heart, when Patience spied "Her lovely eyes it sighed for them and died; "Her face was like the sun, in coquetry "She was the mistress of all sorcery. "Like some pale Western king, her face white; "Her braids were guards, dressed blackly as the night, "And, like a royal African's, her hair "Glowed from her cheek's bright torches, burning there. "Her curls were like a black cloud, and amid "Its darkness Venus, her bright earring, hid. "Her fingers were ten reeds of ivory, "Their nails were filberts fitted cunningly, "Her necklace was like ice that coalesced "Upon the conflagration of her breast, "As though the splendid Pleiades were Strewn "Across the shining surface of the moon, "As though a glittering torque should somehow be "Fitted around a silver cypress tree. "She was a Houri in loveliness, "In inward strength she was a sorceress, "Her eyes doe's eyes, and you'd say that her "Plump rump belonged upon an onager. "Her lips rained sugar down, and everywhere "She walked musk wafted from her perfume hair; "And you would say that subtle mischief made; "Her face to plunder hearts as its cruel trade, "Or that this lovely creature had been given, "All the beauty that was owned by heaven

Original Persian:

چو قامت بر کشید آن سرو آزاد که بودش تن ز سیم و دل ز پولاد

خرد در روی او خیره بماندی ندانستی که آن بت را چه خواندی

گهی گفتی که این باغ بهارست که در وی لالهای آبدارست

بنفشه زلف و نرگس چشمکانست چو نسرین عارض لاله رخانست

گهی گفتی که این باغ خزانست که در وی میوهای مهرگانست

سیه زلفینش انگور ببارست زنخ سیب و دو پستانش دونارست

گهی گفتی که این گنج شهانست که در وی آرزوهای جهانست

رخش دیبا و اندامش حریرست دو زلفش غالیه، گیسو عبیر است

تنش سیمست و لب یاقوت نابست همان دندان او درّ خوشابست

گهی گفتی که این باغ بهشتست که یزدانش ز نور خود سرشتست

تنش آبست و شیر و می رخانش همیدون انگبینست آن لبانش

روا بود ار خرد زو خیره گشتی کجا چشم فلک زو تیره گشتی

دو رخسارش بهار دلبری بود دو دیدارش هلاک صابری بود

بچهر آفتاب نیکوان بود بغمزه اوستاد جادوان بود

چو شاه روم بود آن ری نیکوش دو زلفش پیش او چون دو سیه پوش

چو شاه زنگ بودش جعد پیچان دو رخ پیشش چو دو شمع فروزان

چو ابر تیره زلف تابدارش بار اندر چو زهره گوشوارش

ده انگشتش چو ده ماسورهء عاج بسر بر هر یکی را فندقی تاج

نشانده عقد او را درّ بر زر بسان آب بفسرده بر آذر

چو ماه نَو بر او گسترده پروین چو طوق افگنده اندر سرو سیمین

جمال حور بودش، طبع جادو سرینِ گور بودش، چشم آهو

لب و زلفینش را دو گونه باران شکر بار این بدی و مشکبار آن

تو گفتی فتنه را کردند صورت بدان تا دل کنند از خلق غارت

وُ یا چرخ فلک هر زیب کش بود بر آن بالا و آن رخسار بنمود



* Julie Scott Meisami, Medieval Persian Court Poetry, Princeton, 1987.
* Vladimir Minorsky, "Vis u Ramin: A Parthian Romance," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. XI, 1943-46, pp. 741-63; Vol. XII, 1947-1948, pp. 20-35; Vol. XVI, 1954, pp. 91-92; "New Developments". Vol. XXV, 1962, pp. 275-86.

English translations

* Vīs and Rāmīn, by Fakhr al-Dīn Gurgānī, translated from Persian by George Morrison, UNESCO collection of representative works: Persian heritage series, no. 14, xix, 357 p. (Columbia University Press, New York, 1972). ISBN 0231034083.

* Gorgani, Fakhraddin. Vis and Ramin Trans. Dick Davis. Washington DC: Mage, February 2008 ISBN 1933823178. []

See also

* Shahnameh ("Iran's national epic book")
* Firdowsi ("Writer of Shahnameh")
* Persian literature
* Persian mythology

External links

* "Vīs u Rāmīn", The Persian Epic on The Love of Vīs and Rāmīn, by Fakhr al-dīn Gorgānī, "Persian Critical Text" composed from the Persian and Georgian oldest manuscripts by Magali A. Todua and Alexander A. Gwakharia, edited by Kamal S. Aini (Tehran 1970). Digitized text: [ University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany] .
* "Vīs u Rāmīn", audiobook, recorded by Ahmad Karimi Hakkak at [ University of Washington, USA] .

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  • Vis o Ramin — (en persan : ویس و رامین) est une histoire d amour antique dans la Littérature persane écrite par Fakhredin Assad Gorgani  …   Wikipédia en Français

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