(Persia Digest)The Book of Kings [Shahnameh of Ferdowsi] is one of Iran’s greatest literary legacies still murmuring the heroic lifestyles of ancient peoples and kings of the Empire in verse for the Iranian nation and Persian speakers around the world after the passing of many centuries. It is composed in three parts of mythology, heroism, and history.

Today, 15 May 2018, is Ferdowsi Commemoration Day on the Iranian calendar, named after the poet of the epic Shahnameh Book of Kings. He was born and died in Tous (940 -1020). Shahnameh is the longest epic poem of the Persian language which is known around the world and translated into many languages. It is a book written in Persian with less than 865 Arabic words at a time when the Persian language was in disarray.

Ferdowsi spent thirty years of his life composing the epic story of legendary kings, praising and criticizing them.

In mythology, it begins with the first Persian King, Kiumars, and continues until the days of Fereidoun’s kingdom. In heroism, it narrates the uprising by the blacksmith, Kaveh, through to the hero Rostam’s death. In history, it begins with the rule of Bahman, to the invasion of Alexander the Macedonian, and the invasion of Iran by the Arabs.

The link between the Shahnameh and Zoroastrian beliefs of ancient Persia can be seen in the characters of Zahhak and Fereidoun, who are also the characters of Avesta, the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. The Shahnameh also refers to the appearance of Zoroaster through to the legend of Esfandiar.

Centuries have passed since the Shahnameh was composed by the great Ferdowsi. And yet, it is still a source of inspiration for authors, directors, and theater folk in Iran and Persian-speaking countries elsewhere who use its stories for their works. The Book of Kings is still alive and flowing through modern day Iran.

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