(Book of Kings), the title of prose and verse collections of myths, epic legends, and historical chronicles of the Persian peoples. The most significant was the epic by Ferdowsi. Other collections have survived only in excerpts recounted by various authors. Originally the collections were entitled Khvatay-namak, and the title Shah-nameh appeared later.
The collections were first compiled during the rule of the Sassanids (third to sixth centuries) in Middle Persian, and in the eighth and ninth centuries they were translated into Arabic. None of these collections survives today in the original or in Arabic. In the tenth century, works entitled Shah-nameh were compiled in Farsi, based on the Khvatay-namak and other Middle Persian works, as well as on their Arabic translations.
The poet Masudi Marwazi wrote a verse Shah-nameh, which evidently incorporated the mythology, epos, and court chronicle of the Sassanids. The poet Abul Muayyad Balkhi wrote a prose Shah-nameh, which included dastans and episodes not found in Ferdowsi’s work. In 957 the Abu Mansur prose collection was completed; the work was named for a Samanid military commander who financed its writing. Ferdowsi’s version was begun by the poet Daqiqi, who managed to write no more than 1,000 beyts (couplets). The first version dates to 994, but it was not a complete version of the poem. The definitive version was written in 1010–11.
REFERENCESBartol’d, V. V. “K istorii persidskogo eposa.” Soch., vol. 7. Moscow, 1971.
Osmanov, M. -N. “Svody iranskogo geroicheskogo eposa (Khudai-Name i Shakhname) kak istochniki Shakhname Firdousi.” Uch. zap. In-ta vostokovedeniia, 1958, vol. 19.
Safa, Z. Khamasesarai dar Iran. Tehran, 1946.
M. -N. OSMANOV