Gulistan of Saadi
The Manners of Kings
I heard a padshah giving orders to kill a prisoner. The helpless fellow began to insult the king on that
the occasion of despair, with the tongue he had, and to use foul expressions according to the saying:
Who washes his hands of life
Says whatever he has in his heart.
When a man is in despair his tongue becomes long and he is like a vanquished cat assailing a dog.
In a time of need, when a flight is no more possible,
The hand grasps the point of the sharp sword.
When the king asked what he was saying, a good-natured vezier replied: ‘My lord, he says: Those who
bridle their anger and forgive men; for Allah loveth the beneficent.’
The king, moved with pity, forbore taking his life but another vezier, the antagonist of the former,
said: ‘Men of our rank ought to speak nothing but the truth in the presence of padshahs. This fellow
has insulted the king and spoken unbecomingly.’ The king, being displeased with these words, said:
‘That lie was more acceptable to me than this truth thou hast uttered because the former proceeded
from a conciliatory disposition and the latter from malignity, and wise men have said: “A falsehood
resulting in conciliation is better than a truth producing trouble.”‘
He whom the shah follows in what he says,
It is a pity if he speaks anything but what is good.
The following inscription was upon the portico of the hall of Feridun:
O brother, the world remains with no one.
Bind the heart to the Creator, it is enough.
Rely not upon possessions and this world
Because it has cherished many like thee and slain them.
When the pure soul is about to depart,
What boots it if one dies on a throne or on the ground?