Where does the name Scheherazade come from?
Scheherazade (Persian: شهرزاد Šahrzād also called Shahrazad) is the legendary Persian queen and the storyteller and narrator of The Nights. She is the daughter of the kingdom’s vizier and sister of Dunyazad (Persian: دنیازاد).
She marries King Shahryar, who has vowed that he will execute a new bride every day. For 1001 nights, Scheherazade tells her husband a story every night, stopping at dawn with a cliffhanger, forcing the King to keep her alive for another day.
Shahryar or Shahriar or Shariar or Shahriyar or Schahryar or Sheharyar or Shaheryar or Shahrayar or Shaharyar (Persian: شهریار – Šahryār, “city-server” or the king) is the fictional Persian Sassanid King of kings who is told stories by his wife, Scheherazade.
He ruled over a Persian Empire extended to India, over all the adjacent islands and a great way beyond the Ganges as far as China, while Shahryār’s younger brother, Shahzaman (Persian:شاهزمان – Šāhzamān) ruled over Samarkand.
In the frame-story, Shahryar is betrayed by his wife, which makes him believe that all women will, in the end, betray him. So every night for three years, he takes a wife and has her executed the next morning, until he marries Scheherazade, his vizier’s beautiful and clever daughter. For 1001 nights in a row, Scheherazade tells Shahryar a story, each time stopping at dawn with a cliffhanger, thus forcing him to keep her alive for another day so that she can complete the tale the next night. After 1,001 stories she has told Shahryar, she tells him that she has no more stories to tell him. However, during the stories, Shahryar has grown into a wise ruler and rekindles his trust in women.
Dunyazad, Dunyazade, (also called Dunyazatde, Dinazade, or Dinarzad) (Persian: دنیازاد) is the younger sister of Queen Scheherazade. In the story cycle, it is she who (at Scheherazade’s instruction) initiates the tactic of cliffhanger storytelling to prevent her sister’s execution by Shahryar. Dunyazad, brought to her sister’s bedchamber so that she could say farewell before Scheherazade’s execution the next morning, asks her sister to tell one last story. At the successful conclusion of the tales, Dunyazad marries Shah Zaman, Shahryar’s younger brother.
She is recast as a major character as the narrator of the Dunyazadiad segment of John Barth’s novel Chimera.
Scheherazade’s Father, sometimes called Jafar (Arabic: جعفر), is the vizier of King Shahryar. Every day, on the king’s order, he beheads the brides of Shahryar. He does this for many years until all the unmarried women in the kingdom have either been killed or run away, at which point Scheherazade offers to marry the king.
The vizier tells Scheherazade the Tale of the Bull and the Ass, in an attempt to discourage his daughter from marrying the king. It does not work and she marries Shahryar anyway.
At the end of the 1001 nights, Scheherazade’s father goes to Samarkand where he replaces Shah Zaman as sultan.
Shah Zaman or Schazzenan (Persian: شاهزمان – Šāhzamān) is the Sultan of Samarkand, sometimes called Samarcande and brother of Shahryār. Shah Zaman catches his first wife in bed with a cook and cuts them both in two. Then, while staying with his brother, he discovers that Shahryār’s wife is unfaithful. At this point, Shah Zaman comes to believe that all women are untrustworthy and he returns to Samarkand where, as his brother does, he marries a new bride every day and has her executed before morning.
At the end of the story, Shahryār calls for his brother and tells him of Scheherazade’s fascinating, moral tales. Shah Zaman decides to stay with his brother and marries Scheherazade’s beautiful younger maiden sister, Dunyazad with whom he has fallen in love.