Inhalt: Ferdowsi's Shahnameh is the Iranian national epic. It deals with the history of ancient Iran, but was composed in Islamic times. It has profoundly influenced Persian literature and culture, and its influence continues to be felt in modern time.
The present study investigates the contents of the Shahnameh in the light of the evidence of Zoroastrian sources. The work analyses the way in which the Shahnameh represents Zoroastrianism. It seeks to discover how much of Ferdowsi’s material is based on genuine Zoroastrian traditions, which elements were added on the basis of later sources, and which originated with the poet himself or with popular Moslem beliefs about Zoroastrianism. In order to do this, the work focuses on the reception of Zoroaster in the Shahnameh, on Ferdowsi's descriptions of pre-Islamic beliefs and Zoroastrian rituals. Where Ferdowsi's account does not directly represent Zoroastrian realities, the question is asked, to what extent the poet has adapted his representation of ancient Iranian culture to contemporary Islamic sensibilities. The work also seeks to establish the quantity and nature of the changes the poet has made to the Zoroastrian materials to which he had access.
Since Ferdowsi's work was probably composed with the expectations of a contemporary audience in mind, this work makes an important contribution to our understanding of the genesis of the Shahnameh, and of the attitudes of the Islamic public for which his work was intended.
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