Sources of Ferdowsi’s poem “Shahnāma”

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The article explores one of the central problems of Ferdowsi “Shahnāma” (10th century) studies, e.g. its’ sources. In modern Iranian studies coexist different points of view and continues a discussion between the disciples of the theory of Ferdowsi’s use of prose sources and those who consider the poet rather a brilliant compiler and innovator, who transformed epic tales about kings and heroes (folklore oral poetry in the middle Persian language) into the new Persian language (dari). The discovery and accumulation of philological arguments indicating that the middle Persian epic poetry is “hidden” in the poem under the cover of the new Persian verse belongs to the current problems of “Shahnāma studies”, since this poetry was not recorded and original texts have not survived till nowadays. The arguments of supporters of both points of are briefly presented. To test the theory about the possible reliance of the Ferdowsi epic on the oral poetic tradition, a certain number of lines of the poem containing the name “Ahriman” were selected and analyzed using the Parry - Lord oral theory, and as a result the formulaic rhyme was discovered. The stability of rhymes and formulaic expressions in which the word “Ahriman” occurs in the poem allows to conclude that, apparently, there was an oral tradition of describing the Evil Spirit, dating back to the times of Ancient Iran and the creation of the Avesta, which survived until the time of Ferdowsi. This analysis supports the idea that Ferdowsi’s epic is based on the oral poetic tradition.

About the authors

Maria N. Bondar

Russian State University for Humanities

Author for correspondence.

postgraduate of the Department of History and Philology of Southern and Central Asia of the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies

Russian Federation, 125993, Moscow, Miusskaya square, h. 6


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Copyright (c) 2020 Bondar M.N.

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