Ferdowsi, the great epic poet of Iran, was born near Tus and spent most of his life in that northeastrn metropolis whose population, before the mongol invation, is to to have been close to half a million people. He was born around 950 A.D. in a dehghan family. Dehghans or the Persian landed gentry, were generally the most independent class in the Persian society. One of the last remnants of the ancient Persian class system, they were relatively well-educated, tradition oriented, and preservers of the old lores and rituals. Ferdowsi's dehghan background and the internal evidence found, in his great work Shah-Nameh, indicate that he was thoroughly educated in Persian and Arabic learning, they also indicate that he was born in a well-to-do family and spent his youth and much of his adult life in relative affluence. It is commonly assumed that Ferdowsi first started his atristic endevors by translating shorter heroic tales, such as the story of Bizhan, from Pahlavi (old Persian) to the Persian language spoken at the time. After these experiments, Ferdowsi undertook to carry on the task of writing the epic Shah-Nameh. He began work on his magnum opus when he was about thirty-five years old. Ferdowsi took many years composing his great epic. The composition of the Shah -Nameh took over thirt-five years to be completed. Ferdowsi died between 1020 A.D. and 1026 A.D. of old age. The great fame of Ferdowsi as the national poet of Iran rests on the Shah-Nameh. The magnitude of his epic alone has been more than enough for Persian speaking peoples to consider him as one of the few truly great poets of the world. The Shah-Nameh can be divided into two parts. The first one is based on the oral tradition of ancient Iranians, and its the most interesting part of the epic. It is here that we read of the creation of the world, the discovery of fire, of the prodigious birth of Rustan, the epic hero of Iran resembling Hercules in many ways. This is the part that bears unmistakeble similarities to folk epics of other Indo-European peoples, such as the Greek Iliad. The second part of the Shah-Nameh consists of a versified edition of the history of Iran, from the defeat of Dara by Alexander to the defeat of the Sassanians by the Arabs. This part of the book reflects fairly accurately the history of Iran as recorded in early Persian and Arab histories.
Research from the book:
A history of Persian Literature
by MAnoochehr Aryanpur
collage of translation