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Winter 2024 | T 13 – 15

The Book of Kings: Persian Myth, History, and Art



The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (History, Literature)
St. George
Room: BF
Maria E. Subtelny

The Shahnameh, or Book of Kings, is the single most important book in Iranian national culture and one of the great epics of world literature. Composed in Persian by the poet Ferdowsi in the late 10th–early 11th centuries, it had a deep and lasting impact not only on Iran, but also on those cultures that came under the influence of Persian language, literature, and courtly traditions. The course examines, in English translation, the Shahnameh’s presentation of the history of the mythical dynasties of the ancient kings of Iran from the creation of the world to the Sasanians, the last historical dynasty to rule Iran before the Muslim Arab conquests. As the Shahnameh was frequently illustrated, attention will also be devoted to the manuscript tradition, which exhibits some of the finest examples of medieval Persian painting.