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1 The History of the Kings, the Sistāni Cycle, and the Manuscript Tradition

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Chapter Summary

Around the turn of the eleventh century, over a period of some thirty-five years, Abuʾl-āsem Ferdowsi composed his Shāhnāme. Its title literally meaning the 'Book of Kings', the Shāhnāme presents the legends and histories of fifty successive kings of pre-Islamic Iran. In the legendary section that deals with the later Pishdādid and the Keyānid kings, important roles are reserved for different warriors from a few major Iranian families. The focus lies especially on several members of the ruling dynasty of Sistān. Without a doubt, the most famous member of this dynasty, as well as of all the Shāhnāme heroes, is Rostam. The Sakas' contribution to the national legend is assumed to have consisted of stories dealing with the famous Shāhnāme hero Rostam and his ancestors and offspring, also known as the 'Rostam cycle' or the 'Sistāni traditions'.

Keywords: Abuʾl-āsem Ferdowsi; legendary section; pre-Islamic Iran; Shāhnāme; Sistāni tradition



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