He was born in the province of Khorasan, in a village near Tus, in 935. He was responsible for the rebirth of Persian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest in the 7th century. In his lifetime, various medieval texts describe the lack of interest of the new ruler of Khorasan, Mahmud Gaznavida, in Ferdowsi and his work. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 AD. in poverty and embittered by royal abandonment, although he trusts in his final fame and in his poem. The “Shahnameh” (Book of Kings) is one of the world’s best-known classics and tells the epic of the heroes of ancient Persia. The content and style of the description of the events by the poet make the reader go back to antiquity feeling them. Ferdowsi strove for thirty years to perfect this masterpiece. For almost a thousand years, the Persians have continued to read and listen to the stories of their masterpiece, in which the Persian national epic found its final form. It is the story of Iran’s glorious past, forever preserved in sonorous and majestic verses. Although it was written about 1000 years ago, this work is also understandable to modern Iranians. The language, an original Pahlavi, is a pure Persian with few Arabicisms.

The Shahnameh, finally completed in 1010 AD, was presented to the famous Sultan Mahmud, who was disappointed with the result. The sultan had promised him his reward in dinars (60,000 dinars), but ended up giving him 20,000 dirhams (100 dirhams = 1 dinar). According to some, it was the jealousy of the poets who worked at court that caused this discontent. According to some sources, he refused the money or, according to others, he gave it to a man selling wine.

The most important characteristic of Shahnameh is that, at a time when Arabic was the main language of science and literature, Ferdowsi only used Persian to create his masterpiece. As the poet himself says, “the Persian language revives with this work.”


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