GĒV, one of the foremost heroes of the national epic in the reigns of Kay Kāvūs and Kay Ḵosrow (qq.v.). According to the Šāh-nāma, he is the son of Gōdarz and father of Bēžan/Bīžan and a direct descendant of Kāva the Smith (Kāva-ye Āhangar; qq.v.) through his paternal grandfather, Kašvād. He probably was a historical personality from the Parthian era who, contrary to traditional accounts, was the father of Gōdarz II, who shared the throne with Vardanes in the middle of the first century C.E. (Nöldeke, pp. 30-31). Ṭabarī (I, p. 601) has recorded his name as Bīy, and Ḥasan b. Moḥammad Qomī (p. 69), who also credits him with the foundation of a rural district (rostāq) in Qom, as Bīb. According to Nöldeke (p. 31, n. 2), the forms Bīy/Bīb derives from the older form Wēw, which is preserved by Ḥamza Eṣfahānī (p. 36) and the author of Mojmal al-tawārīḵ (ed. Bahār, p. 436).

Gēv’s most illustrious exploit was his seven-year search for Kay Ḵosrow and bringing him back from Tūrān to Iran (Šāh-nāma, ed. Khaleghi, II, pp. 419-70; Ṭabarī, I, p. 601). In return for this service, he received Sīāvoš’s invincible coat of mail (Šāh-nāma, ed. Khaleghi, II, p. 430, l. 167). His other significant exploits include avenging the death of his brother Bahrām (q.v.), killed at the hands of Afrāsīāb’s son-in-law Tažāv (ibid., III, pp. 96-99), and his victory over Gorūy Zereh, Sīāvoš’s murderer, in a single combat in the battle of Davāzdah roḵ (q.v.; ibid., IV, pp. 118-19; Ṭabarī, I, p. 612).

He is one of the five heroes who accompanied Kay Ḵosrow on his journey into the wilderness until Kay Ḵosrow met the angel Sorōš and disappeared (according to the local tradition, in a cave called Ḡār-e Kay Ḵosrow in Kohgīlūya; Enjavī, II, pp. 278, 293-95). They all died in a snow storm on their return journey (Šāh-nāma, ed. Khaleghi, IV, pp. 365-69). A mountain pass called Molla-ye Bīžan in the Kohgīlūya district is believed by the local people to be the place where the heroes died (Fārs-nāma, ed. Rastgār, p. 1472; Enjavī, II, p. 174). This tradition is at odds with the one recorded in Bundahišn (tr. Anklesaria, 29. 7), where Gēv is mentioned as one of the immortals who will help Sošyant, the Zoroastrian Savior. Bundahišn refers to him as Beirazd i kūxšišn kardār (Beirazd the wrestler). Ferdinand Justi (Namenbuch, p. 366) considered beirazd as the equivalent of the Arabic barrāz (combatant), which may be the same as varāz, the title given to Gostaham (q.v.) in the Mojmal (ed. Bahār, p. 91).

Gēv figures prominently in other epics as well. In the Bānū Gošasb-nāma, he was the only one among the suitors of Gošasb Bānū (q.v.), Rostam’s daughter, who successfully went through the trial Rostam put them to: Ṭōs, Zanga, Aškaš, Gorgīn, and Gēv stood along with four hundred horsemen on a huge carpet, then Rostam pulled the carpet from underneath them all. Gēv was the only one who managed to remain steadfast on his feet. On the wedding night, however, his bride, Bānū Gošasb, threw him to the ground and tied him up; he was eventually released by Rostam’s mediation (for Gēv in popular tales, see Enjavī).

Although Gēv is mentioned as an army commander in the accounts of the reigns of Kay Kāvūs and Kay Ḵosrow, his personality in the story is somewhat overshadowed by those of Gōdarz and Bīžan; for this reason, it is difficult to make an outline of his character. It is only in his expression of paternal sentiments in his confrontational dialogue with Bīžan in the episode of the Davāzdah roḵ that anything of his personality is reflected (Šāh-nāma, ed. Khaleghi, IV, pp. 40-46).



A. Christensen, Les Kayanides, Copenhagen, 1932; tr. Ḏ. Ṣafā as Kayānīān, Tehran, 1350 Š./1971.

Dīnavarī, ed. Guirgass, p. 16 (Zavv for Gēv). Ebn al-Balḵī, p. 48.

A. Enjavī, Mardom wa qahramānān-e Šāh-nāma, n.p., n.d.; repr. as Ferdowsī-nāma: Mardom wa Šāh-nāma, 3 vols., Tehran, 1369 Š./1980.

Th. Nöldeke, Persische Studien II, Sitz. Phil.-hist. Kl., Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, 1892.

Idem, “Das Iranische National Epos,” in Grundriss I, pp. 136, 137, 169, 170.

Ḥasan b. Moḥammad Qomī, Tārīḵ-e Qom, ed. S. J. Ṭehrānī, Tehran, 1313 Š./1934.

Ḏ. Ṣafā, Ḥamāsa-sarāʾī dar Īrān, Tehran, 4th ed., 1363 Š./1984.

Ṯaʿālebī, Ḡorar, p. 238.

E. Yarshater, “Iranian National History,” in Camb. Hist. Iran III/2, pp. 357, 376, 400-402, 452, 458, 460-61.

(Djalal Khaleghi-Motlagh)

Originally Published: December 15, 2001

Last Updated: February 9, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 6, pp. 577-578