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Ancient History Sourcebook:
The Story of King Vahahran & his Queen, c. 300 CE

A Sassanian Story

One day, King Vahahran, seated with his queen in an open pavilion overlooking the plain, saw two wild asses approaching. With his bow the strong man, skilled in the chase, transfixed both of the animals with one well-aimed shot. Turning to his spouse to receive the applause he thought due him, the wife replied: "Practice makes perfect." Angered at the lightness with which his skillful feat was received, he ordered her to be executed, but quickly repented, and simply divorced her from the palace.

In quiet moments, he repented of his haste. For years, he had no trace of the former queen, but when hunting one day he beheld a scene which quickly excited his curiosity and admiration. It was a woman carrying upon her shoulders a cow, with which, indeed, she easily walked up and down the stairs of the country house. On asking her concerning the remarkable feat, she replied, as she dropped her veil: "Practice makes perfect." The king recognized his wife, now no longer young, but still possessing physical charms, and invited her to take her place again in the palace.

The woman had commenced to carry the cow when it was but a tiny calf, and had shrewdly planned the feat in the hope that some day she might win back her husband's respect.


From: Edward B. Pollard, Oriental Women (Philadelphia: Rittenhouse Press, 1908), pp. 193-194

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.

This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, Janaury 1999