The Wonders of Ṭabaristán.

Mount Damáwand. 'Alí b. Zayn al-Kátib, in his work entitled Firdawsu `l-Ḥikmat*, says that the ascent is made from the village of Ask in two days. It is a conical peak, and is covered with snow, save for a space of thirty jaríbs at the summit, which is free from snow both in summer and winter, and is covered with sand (? ashes) into which the feet sink. At and about the summit are thirty craters and fissures, whence issue forth smoke, sulphurous fumes, and strange rumbling noises, whereby men know that there is fire within the mountain. No animal can live on it, because of the violent winds which blow about it, and it is said that the Philosopher’s stone of the Alchemists (<Arabic>) is to be found there (f. 40a). Al-Yazdádí relates that in the time of Qábús Shamsu`l-Ma'álí (A. D.,976—1012) there was a youth called the son of Amír Ká (<Arabic>) who found this “Red Sulphur” (<Arabic>) there, and with it made gold, until this matter became known to the King. In Mount Damáwand, it is said, Solomon imprisoned Ṣakhr, the jinní who stole his ring, praying God to torment him there till the Resurrection; and this tradition is vouched for on the authority of 'Alí b. Abí Ṭálib. But the stories told concerning Bívarasp (i. e. Azhidaháka, or Dahák), which were enquired into by the Caliph 'Abdu`lláh al-Má`mún, and [what happened] in the reigns of Hurmuzd and Khusraw Parwíz, the Sásánian kings, and the story of Músá b. 'Isá as-Sarwí, which are related in the Book of Pírúz-Mihrján, and other similar legends*) are here omitted as incredible and unauthenticated. In the books of the Herbeds and Magians it is related that Núshírwán the Just sent a trusty messenger to Ṣakhr the jinní, who, when the messenger came and saluted him, enquired who had sent him. On learning that it was Núshírwán, he rose to his feet, prayed, and gave three things to the messenger in a sealed packet, bidding him deliver them to the King, and entreat him in return to effect the release of the giver. These three things were three drugs, one to keep off old age, one to quicken digestion, and one an aphrodisiac. When these confections were brought to Núshírwán, he said, “I have no need of them, for old age is the ornament of man, and a source of dignity and honour: would that I were already old! Sexual desire, again, is only necessary for the continuance of the human race: whatever exceeds this is evil, not good. And artificial aids to digestion are only needful to him who eats too much; to the temperate man, who only eats to maintain his strength, they are useless and even pernicious (f. 40b). Over and above all this, these drugs may not pos­sess the properties alleged, and may have been given me for my destruction.” Then he ordered the drug which was supposed to be a cure for old age to be given to a dog, and its head swelled up till it was as large as a cow’s, until it died in great agony, and was secretly buried by Núshírwán’s order.