The Legend of Seyavash

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Mage Publishers, 2004 - Fiction - 144 pages
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The Legend of Seyavash comes from the middle section of the Shahnameh, Iran's national epic by the poet Ferdowsi (c940-c1020) and presents a world of warfare, military prowess, romance, guile, and fierce tribal loyalty. Ferdowsi's epic style and mastery of poetic organisation, however, is matched by the psychological and ethical depth of his insight and his concerns for the primal struggle between good and evil, and man's continual attempt to create justice and civilized order out of the chaos of human greed and cruelty. The Legend of Seyavash begins with the stuff of romance -- a foreign girl of royal blood, found as a fugitive and introduced into the king's harem, gives birth to a son, Seyavash, who is raised not by his father the king, but by the great hero Rostam. On Seyavash's return home Sudabeh, his stepmother, attempts to seduce him, and when he spurns her she accuses him of having attempted to rape her. He undergoes a trial by fire to prove his innocence, and goes on to battle successfully against Iran's rival, Turan, concluding a truce with the Turanian king, Afrasyab, on amicable terms. But Seyavash's father, Kavus, insists that Seyavash surrender the Turanian hostages to slaughter, and with a conflicted conscience and no one to turn to, Seyavash flees to the Turanian court, where he is first given safe harbour, but is once again abandoned. Dick Davis has made a masterful translation of the poem and written a penetrating introduction.

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About the author (2004)

ABOLQASEM FERDOWSI was born in Khorasan in a village near Tus, in 940. His great epic the Shahnameh, to which he devoted most of his adult life, was originally composed for the Samanid princes of Khorasan, who were the chief instigators of the revival of Persian cultural traditions after the Arab conquest of the seventh century. During Ferdowsis lifetime this dynasty was conquered by the Ghaznavid Turks, and there are various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest shown by the new ruler of Khorasan, Mahmud of Ghazni, in Ferdowsi and his lifework. Ferdowsi is said to have died around 1020 in poverty and embittered by royal neglect, though confident of his and his poems ultimate fame.

Dick Davis is an Englishman who has lived for most of his adult life outside his own country - in Greece, Italy, Iran and the United States. He is currently a professor of Persian at Ohio State University in Columbus.

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