Firdausi

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Firdausi

or

Ferdowsi

(both: fərdou`sē), c.940–1020, principal Persian poet, author of the Shah Namah [the book of kings], the great Persian epic. His original name was Abul Kasim Mansur; he is thought to have been born of a yeoman family of Khorasan. He received a thorough education in Muslim learning and in the Persian language and antiquities. The course of his life is not certain because of the immense accretion of legend about it. He lived at the court of Mahmud of GhaznaMahmud of Ghazna
, 971?–1030, Afghan emperor and conqueror. He defeated (c.999) his elder brother to gain control of Khorasan (in Iran) and of Afghanistan. In his raids against the states of N India, Mahmud, a staunch Muslim, destroyed Hindu temples, forced conversions to
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, with a group of antiquarians. In order to glorify Persia's past, Firdausi undertook his epic history, which opens with the creation of the universe and, combining history and myth, tells the story of ancient Persia, beginning with its first king and ending with its 7th-century conquest by Muslim Arabs. He dedicated the work to the king, who paid him less than Firdausi expected. In retaliation, the poet wrote a savage satire on the king (usually used as a preface to editions of the Shah Namah) and fled. He wandered from court to court and arrived in his old age at his home. His poem, in nearly 60,000 verses, is the first great work of modern Persian literature. In it Firdausi set the mark for Persian poetry with his even rhyme, stately cadences, and continuous flow. The poem has taken a singular place in Iran, and long sections of it are commonly recited by ordinary citizens and illiterate tribespeople alike. The version of the Shah Namah illustrated for the Shah Tahmasp in the early 16th cent., now known as the Houghton Shah-Nameh (facsimile ed. 1972), is one of the masterpieces of world art.

Bibliography

See Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (tr. 2006).

Firdausi

, Firdusi
pen name of Abul Qasim Mansur ?935--1020 ad, Persian epic poet; author of Shah Nama (The Book of Kings), a chronicle of the legends and history of Persia
References in periodicals archive ?
I thought of Charon's obol; of the obol for which Belisarius begged; of Judas' thirty coins; of the drachmas of Lais, the famous courtesan; of the ancient coin which one of the Seven Sleepers proffered; of the shining coins of the wizard in the 1001 Nights, that turned out to be bits of paper; of the inexhaustible penny of Isaac Laquedem; of the sixty thousand pieces of silver, one for each line of an epic, which Firdusi sent back to a king because they were not of gold; of the doubloon which Ahab nailed to the mast; of Leopold Bloom's irreversible florin; of the louis whose pictured face betrayed the fugitive Louis XVI near Varennes (158-59; 108-09).
He is a master of punning, with a breathtaking range of vocabulary from the vulgar to the sublime, and his poetry is saturated with cultural allusions (evident already in the names of precursors such as Firdusi, Bakchylides, Belman, Benn, and Ringelnatz mentioned in Wenn -- aber dann, among whom he desires "im Himmel einen Platz"), and the erudition is often turned into utter and often ironic, indeed parodistic, playfulness.
Ferdowsialso spelled Firdawsi, Firdusi or Firdousi, pseudonym of Abu ol-Qasem Mansur(b.