Ferdowsi Tousi (فردوسی طوسی in
Persian) (more commonly transliterated Firdausi, Ferdosi
or Ferdusi) (935–1020)
is considered to be one of the greatest Persian poets to have ever lived.
Among the national heroes and literary greats of all time, Ferdowsi has a
very special place. His life-long endeavour, dedication and personal
sacrifices to preserve the national identity, language and heritage of his
homeland put him in great hardship during his lifetime, but won him fame
and honour for one of the great poetic masterpieces of all time.
Ferdowsi was born in the
Khorasan, in a village near
Tus, in 935.
Shahnama ("The Epic of Kings"), to which he devoted most of his
adult life, was originally composed for eventual presentation to the
princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of
Iranian cultural traditions after the
conquest of the
seventh century. During Ferdowsi's lifetime this dynasty was
conquered by the
Ghaznavid Empire, and there are various stories in medieval texts
describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan,
Mahmud of Ghaznavid, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. According to
historians, Mahmud had promised Ferdawsi a dinar for every word written
Shahnama, but later retracted and presented him with dirhams,
which were at that time, much less valuable than dinar. Ferdowsi
rejected the money and returned home with a broken heart.Ferdowsi is
said to have died around 1020 in poverty and embittered by royal neglect,
though fully confident of his work's ultimate success and fame. Later it
is said that Mahmud sent the amount promised to Ferdowsi's village, but
when the messengers reached his house, he had died a few hours ago.
According to legend, his daughter refused to receive the amount, thus,
making Ferdowsi's Shahnama immortal.
Ferdowsi Mausoleum in
His masterwork, the
Shahnama, is the most popular and influential manifestation of
national epics. The Shahnama, or the "Book of Kings,"
consists of the translation of an even older
Persian) work. It has been a work of exceptional popularity among
the Persians for over a thousand years. In brief it tells the history of
old Persia before Arab conquest of the region, this tale all written in
poetic form and in old Persian language starts from 7000 years ago
telling the story of Persian Kings and their doings.
Scenes from the
Shahnameh carved into reliefs at
Ferdowsi is buried.
Ferdowsi is one of the undisputed giants of Persian literature. After
Ferdowsi's Shahnama a number of other works similar in nature
surfaced over the centuries within the cultural sphere of the Persian
language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and
method on Ferdowsi's Shahnama, but none of them could quite
achieve the same degree of fame and popularity as Ferdowsi's masterpiece.
Of all the great Iranian poets, Ferdowsi stature is the most prolific
because of the strides he made in reviving and regenerating the Persian
language and cultural traditions. In fact, his works are cited as a
crucial component in the persistence of the Persian language, as those
works allowed much of the tongue to remain codified and intact. In this
respect, Ferdowsi surpasses
Asadi Tusi, and other seminal Persian literary figures in his impact
on Persian culture and language.
- E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes,
2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998.
- Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing
Company. ASIN B-000-6BXVT-K
Ferdowsi , Shahnameh