Thursday, September 10, 2009


Hakim Abol Ghasem Ferdosi Tosi , more commonly translisterated as Ferdowsi or Firdusi is a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh , the national epic of Iran and related societies.Ferdowsi, is best known for his literary epic, Shahnameh to which he devoted most of his life. Shahnameh was originally drafted by Ferdowsi for the Princes of Samanids, who were responsible for revival of the Persian cultural traditions after the Arab invasion.

Ferdowsi would live to see the Samanids, conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks। The new ruler Mahmud of Ghaznavi would lack the same interest in Ferdosi 's work as that shown by the Samanids, resulting in him losing favor with the royal court. Ferdosi would die in 1020 C.E. in "poverty and embittered by royal neglect" though confident that the masterpiece that he had created would last the test of time.Written at the end of the tenth century and the beginning of the eleventh century C.E., Shahnameh would mainly concern pre-Islamic Iran, through its fictional protagonist, Rostam a Persian hero and legend who is a greater-than-life figure (akin to Hercules) living for more than five hundred years, undergoing seven trials of strength, Batteling foes of man, beast, and dragon, and serving more than five Persian monarchies. Ferdosi 's Rostam is an epitome of bravery, heroism, and loyalty to the Persian throne.

Rostam however is more than just a legend and a hero, in that he is constantly on the edge, and always resolute to assert that he is "his own man" able to define his own destiny and make his own choices, regardless of needs of others even those of the kings he so faithfully serves.Ferdosi lived at a critical historical period and so his book not only reflects the uncertainties and challenges of the era but his own resilience and determination in creation of a stable Persian literary identity that was unique and different from its Arab counterpart. Ferdosi in fact was a "dehqan" or a member of the indigenous landed aristocracy who had in a severely attenuated way survived the Arab conquest and now had to adapt to the new world order. Shahnameh in many ways reflects this ongoing challenge.

No comments: