The 15th of May and its following week is dedicated to the memorial of Abul-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi, or Ferdowsi. Ferdowsi is renowned for his work, the “Shahnama”, or “Book of Kings”. The world’s longest epic poetry written by a single poet. Putting such literary treasure in writing and having it revised, in 500,000 verses, is the result of to the least 30 years of constant effort around more than thousand years ago. This literary masterpiece contains Heroes, Myth, and the history of Iran from its beginning with the creation of the world and the very beginning of the arts of civilization (discovery of fire and metal, learning how to cook, and the rule of law) , and ending with the Islamic Conquest of Persia in the 7th century.
Shahnama has as well had a great influence on international literature. In 1835, Alphonse de Lamartine (French author and poet), on the Civilization Magazine discussed the Tale of Rostam around the topic of contemporary and history’s greatest and the most genius. Amongst many tales and stories in Shahnama, the tale of Rostam and Sohrab became very famous in Europe and was translated into multiple languages and created profound literary beauty. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, and statesman who had a great deal of respect towards Persian literature mentioned Ferdowsi and his greatness at the end of his poetry book West – östlicher Divan. Victor Hugo (Victor Marie Hugo, French poet, novelist, and dramatist) in his work, Les Orientales, has been inspired by Ferdowsi and mentioned him on numerous occasions.
We acknowledge Ferdowsi as the beholder and savior of the Persian language. In his time, Arabic was the language of science and literature in Iran. Ferdowsi put Shahnama in words with such objective that if it was not for him, Persian language would not have built such foundation that would travel as far as Chinese Turkestan to the Mediterranean coast, and from India, Kashmir, Bengal to Caucasus and central Asia, more than half of Asia and even in Europe as far as Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ferdowsi concludes the Shahnameh by writing:
بسی رنج بردم در اين سال سی
عجم زنده کردم بدين پارسی
نميرم از اين پس که من زنده ام
که تخم سخن را پراکنده ام
هر آنکس که دارد هش و رای و دین
پس از مرگ بر من کند آفرین
I’ve reached the end of this great history
And all the land will talk of me:
I shall not die, these seeds I’ve sown will save
My name and reputation from the grave,
And men of sense and wisdom will proclaim
When I have gone, my praises and my fame.
Translated by Dick Davis.
Written by Amir Khojasteh