Firdousi's own education eminently qualified him for the gigantic task which he subsequently undertook, for he was profoundly versed in the Arabic language arid 1'itefature and had also studied deeply the Pahlavi or Old Persian, and was conversant with the ancient historical records which existed in that tongue.
At Surat he succeeded, by perseverance and address in his intercourse with the native priests, in acquiring a sufficient knowledge of the Zend and Pahlavi languages to translate the liturgy called the Vendidad Sade and some other works.
He began successfully to decipher the Pahlavi inscriptions of the Sassanian kings (1787-1791).1 In 1792 he retired from the public service, and lived in close seclusion in a cottage near Paris till in 1795 he became professor of Arabic in the newly founded school of living Eastern languages.
But there also developed a rather extensive Pahlavi literature, not limited to religious subjects, but containing works in belles letires, modernizations of the old Iranian sagas and native traditions, e.g.
Should the evil and the good be equally balanced, the soul passes into an intermediary stage of existence (the Hamestakans of the Pahlavi books) and its final lot is not decided until the last judgment.
In the 6th century A.D., a translation into Pahlavi of a number of these old fables was made by a physician at the court of Chosroes I.
Firdousi had been always strongly attracted by the ancient Pahlavi records, and had begun at an early age to turn them into Persian epic verse.
We possess no other document written in it, and on this account modern Parsee scholars, as well as the older Pahlavi books, speak of the language and writing indifferently as Avesta.
Zend asha for Sanskrit tha, Old Persian aria (in dy taxerxes); fravashi for Pahlavi fravardln, New Persian ferrer tn ie spirits of the dead).
Besides this important monument, which is about twice as large as the Iliad and Odyssey put together, we only possess very scanty relics of the Zend language in medieval glosses and scattered quotations in Pahlavi books.