02 Aug 2013
Abstract: Based on a broad survey of the reception of Firdausī‘s Shāhnāma in medieval times, this dissertation argues that Firdausī‘s oeuvre was primarily perceived as a book of wisdom and advice for kings and courtly élites. The medieval reception of the Shāhnāma is clearly manifested in the comments of medieval authors about Firdausī and his work, and in their use of the Shāhnāma in the composition of their own works. The production of ikhtiyārāt-i Shāhnāmas (selections from the Shāhnāma) in medieval times and the remarkable attention of the authors of mirrors for princes to Firdausī‘s opus are particularly illuminating in this regard. The survey is complemented by a close textual reading of the Ardashīr cycle in the Shāhnāma in comparison with other medieval historical accounts about Ardashīr, in order to illustrate how history in the Shāhnāma is reduced to only a framework for the presentation of ideas and ideals of kingship. Based on ancient Persian beliefs regarding the ideal state of the world, I argue that Ardashīr in the Shāhnāma is represented as a Saviour of the world. Within this context, I offer new interpretations of the symbolic tale of Ardashīr‘s fight against a giant worm, and explain why the idea of the union of kingship and religion, a major topic in almost all medieval Persian mirrors for princes, has often been attributed to Ardashīr. Finally, I compare iii the Ardashīr cycle in the Shāhnāma with nine medieval Persian mirrors for princes to demonstrate that the ethico-political concepts contained in them, as well as the portrayal of Ardashīr, remain more or less the same in all these works. Study of the Shāhnāma as a mirror for princes, as this study shows, not only reveals the meaning of its symbolic tales, but also sheds light on the pre-Islamic roots of some of the ethicopolitical concepts presented in the medieval Perso-Islamic literature of wisdom and advice for kings and courtiers.
TL;DR: In this paper, a comparative analysis of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Israelite view of life is presented, showing that the primitive Asiatic conceived of all creation in a reciprocal nexus wherein the material world was percipient as well as perceived, and Professor Wilson elaborates the same theme by saying that for the Egyptians the world was consubstantial.
Abstract: IT is a pity that Hume, who carried the Cartesian system of philosophy to its logical conclusion, lived too early to contemplate the discoveries of the past century in Egypt and Babylonia, for he would readily have understood and assimilated the ancient processes of thought which arose at the dawn of history in Western Asia--‘ And no truth appears to me more evident ’, he said, ‘ than that beasts are endowed with thought and reason as well as man ’. The arguments are developed in section XVI of ‘ The Understanding ’, where there are many delightful passages of special relevance to the ancient concepts about life. Again, he said that a bird, that ‘chooses with such care and nicety the place and materials of the nest, and sits upon her eggs for a due time, and in a suitable season, with all the precaution that a chymist is capable of in the most delicate projection, furnishes us with a lively instance of animal sagacity’. Locke, on the other hand, in his discussion of animal rationale, had refused to be drawn so far. ‘ And if Balaam’s ass had, all his life, discussed as rationally as he did once with his master, I doubt yet whether any one would have thought him worthy the name ‘man’, or allowed him to be of the same species with himself ’. Of these two statements Hume’s approximates more closely to the earliest Asiatic view of life, and it is on these lines that Messrs. Frankfort, Wilson, and Jacobsen have approached their problem, which, briefly put is-how did the early thinkers of the Near East come to say what they did about creation, the state, and man ? Professor and Mrs Frankfort define the earliest mode of thought as an ‘ I-thou ’ relation-ship, by which they mean that the primitive Asiatic conceived of all creation in a reciprocal nexus wherein the material world was percipient as well as perceived, and Professor Wilson elaborates the same theme by saying that for the Egyptians the world was consubstantial, and that their view of life might be defined as monophysite. Pro-fessor Jacobsen’s contribution illustrates to what extent the Mesopotamian view of life conformed with this outlook, for example how salt and grain were conceived of as animate beings in a close relationship with man, responsible and responsive to him. Other ideas peculiar to the Mesopotamian mind are no less clearly stressed, and herein lies the fascination of the book, that we have a comparative examination of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Israelite approach to life, for Hebrew theology was cast out of a similar matrix. In a concluding chapter by the Frankforts, we see the dawn of a new intellectual era. The Greek physical philosophers, regardless of the data of experience, carried the old basic concepts of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians from a concrete to an abstract frame and worked them to a reductio ad absurdurn, much as Hume did for the concepts of Cartesian philosophy. Their prescience gave birth to science. Nor should we forget that Thales of Miletus prophesied an eclipse, thereby following in the wake of the Babylonian astronomers, who had made similar observations and recorded them centuries earlier.
TL;DR: Yamamoto and Yamamoto discuss how oral tradition inter-connects with Middle Eastern literature and present a Brill Studies in Middle Eastern Literatures (BSIL).
Abstract: KUMIKO YAMAMOTO Brill Studies in Middle Eastern Literatures, 26. Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2003. xxiv + 191 pp. ISBN 90 04 12587 6 The central argument of this book concerns how oral tradition intera...
TL;DR: Jabbari as discussed by the authors argues for a shared discourse of modernity shared between early twentieth-century Iranian and Indian intellectuals, and examines how these intellectuals made use of premodern materials for their modernizing projects, and how nationalism shaped this process.
Abstract: This article makes an argument for literary modernity as a shared discourse produced through scholarly exchange between Iranians and Indians reworking their shared Persianate literary heritage, considering literary history as an important and perhaps overlooked site for the production of literary modernity. Arguing for a verbal as well as textual discourse of modernity shared between early twentieth-century Iranian and Indian intellectuals, Jabbari examines how these intellectuals made use of premodern materials for their modernizing projects, and how nationalism shaped this process. Four aspects of modern literary history writing receive particular focus here: engagement with the tazkirah tradition, inclusion of extraliterary national figures alongside poets, use of a shared set of references and sources, and new sexual aesthetics that break with the homoerotic Persianate past.