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1 Mythico-Legendary Figures and History between East and West

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Chapter Summary

Historians, heirs to a long tradition of distrusting myth, have often reduced it to a product of the imagination devoid of historical value. Written history, anxious to establish factual precision by comparing alternative accounts and critically analysing sources, thus distinguished itself from mythical and legendary narrative. Firdawsī's Shāh-nāma marks the culmination of the tradition it represents. The declamation of the Book of Kings at the court of the Ghaznavid sultan embodied the fusion of the past and present, celebrating the lofty deeds accomplished by the great figures who had marked the glory of ancient Iran. Equally famous is Aḥmad al-Tabrīzī's Shāhānshāh-nāma. It is a history of Genghis Khan and his successors. The constant reinterpretations, in line with the vicissitudes of history, of figures such as Baybars and Genghis Khan, bear witness to a cultural memory shared by East and West.

Keywords: Baybars; Book of Kings; Genghis Khan; legendary narrative; mythical narrative; Shāhānshāh-nāma; Shāh-nāma; written history

10.1163/9789004280649_003
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