Jamshid is widely regarded as one of the greatest rulers in the Shahnameh, "Jamshid... becomes the greatest and most famous of the culture-heroes" (Persian Packhum Chapter IV background), ruling for hundreds of years in what people believed to be Persepolis. Persepolis was a hugely important city, and served as the capital for about 220 years, and translated from the name it was given in Persian actually reads "the throne of Jamshid". Jamshid's powerful and divine rule helped to put Persepolis on the map, and it served as one of the most important cities in the entire Persian empire. His prosperous reign ended at the hands of Zahhak, known for being an evil ruler with two snakes on his shoulders. Although regarded as a generous and benevolent ruler, towards the end of his reign he became arrogant which ultimately led to his people turning on him, and his deposing. But perhaps even more well-known than Jamshid himself was the cup he owned, which was said to grant immortality to those who drank from it. This cup played a key role in Jamshid’s reign lasting as long as it did. It shares a lot of traits with another cup that grants immortality to the person who drinks it, European culture’s Holy Grail. The similarities were seen by Adolf von Schack, though as Gowen mentions, "he hesitated to identify" (Henry Gowen 274) these similarities, likely recognizing that he was treading on thin ice. Whereas the Shahnameh was written between the tenth and eleventh century, the first recorded mention of the Holy Grail is seen in the twelfth century. It is very possible that the cup of Jamshid heavily influenced the creation of the Holy Grail in European literature, which in turn became very commonly used in European culture. Although they both share similarities, they’re different in many ways as well. The Cup of Jamshid belonged to the aforementioned ruler in the Shahnameh, and served more as an example of Jamshid’s power and affluence. Though God did flex his muscles in the Shahnameh, it wasn’t necessarily for the purpose of religious propagation, and mainly served as a check to the power and arrogance of the rulers. The Holy Grail, however, holds mainly religious origins and importance. One of the most widely recognized interpretations of its origins is the cup Jesus used during the Last Supper. Although both cultures were deeply religious, we see a more secular take on literature in the middle east as compared to Europe.
Ferdowsi. "Ferdowsi's Shahnameh." PHI Persian Literature in Translation. Trans. George Warner and Edmond Warner. Trubner Company, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
Gowen, Herbert Henry. "Immanuel of Rome and the Jew as Middleman in Literature." The Sewanee Review 33.3 (1925): 266-83. JSTOR. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.