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  • 5/14/2007

Ferdowsi , a gifted persian poet

Ferdowsi Tomb

Ferdowsi was born in Khorasan in a village near Tous, in 935 A.D. His great epic “Shahnameh" (The Epic of Kings) was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan. During Ferdowsi"s lifetime this dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks, and there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan, Mahmoud of Ghaznavi, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 A.D. in poverty but his poems were famous.

“Shahnameh" or The Epic of Kings is one of the definite classics of the world. It tells hero tales of ancient Persia. The contents and the poet"s style in describing the events takes the readers back to the ancient times and makes he/she sense and feel the events. Ferdowsi worked for thirty years to finish this masterpiece.

For nearly a thousand years the Persians have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterwork in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form. It is the history of Iran"s glorious past, preserved for all time in sonorous and majestic verse. Though Shahnameh has written about 1,000 years ago, but it is attractive for people. The language, based as the poem is on a Pahlavi original, is pure Persian with only the slightest admixture of Arabic.

According to Nezami, Ferdowsi was a landowner, deriving a comfortable income from his estates. He had only one child, a daughter, and it was to provide her with a dowry that he set his hand to the task that was to occupy him for more than 30 years.


An important feature of this work (Shahnameh) is that during the period that Arabic language was known as the main language of science and literature, Ferdowsi used only Persian in his masterpiece. As Ferdowsi himself says "Persian language is revived by this work".


Amongst the national heroes and the literately greats of all times, Ferdowsi has a very special place. His one man crusade to preserve the national identity, language and heritage of his homeland put him in great personal harms way at the same time that it won him fame for one of the great literally masterpieces of all time.

One epic that is little known in the west is the Persian epic.: Shahnameh is an enormous poetic opus written in the 10th century CE by a gifted Iranian poet, Ferdowsi. This single work not only illustrates what a people consider to be their history, but also reflects its values, its ancient religion, and its sense of nationhood at the point in their history when they had lost their national independence. In addition, while there are heroes of the classical type in this work, the real, ongoing hero is Iran itself.

In short, a study of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) gives us a literary excuse for exploring how culture moves across time and space, becoming part of the global common heritage.

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