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2 The Persian Epic Cycle

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Chapter Summary

From the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, poems were composed that hark back to Ferdowsi's Shāhnāme. The poems for the most part deal with and expand on subject matter of the Shāhnāme's legendary section; recounting stories that are set in the period that runs from kings Jamshid to Bahman, they in a sense may be regarded as the Shāhnāme's supplements. By analogy with the Greek cycle of poems that surround and complement Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the poems that supplement the Shāhnāme have been termed 'the Persian epic cycle'. They are often referred to as 'later epics'. The survival of Ferdowsi's Shāhnāme over the centuries seems to be the result of two of the poem's specific characteristics. In a sense, the Shāhnāme, in both its poetic form and its subject matter, set the tone for the later epics.

Keywords: Ferdowsi's Shāhnāme; Persian epic cycle



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