The Shahnameh: Iran's National Epic

Cultural Outreach Events

The Shahnameh: Iran

Day 1 of a two-day conference examining Iran's national epic, composed in the 10th century CE by Iran's national poet Ferdowsi.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
9:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Faculty Center
Downstairs Lounge
Los Angeles, CA 90095

The Shahnameh, Iran’s national epic, was composed from a prose literary archetype in the 10th century CE by Iran’s national poet, Ferdowsi (c. 940 – 1020 CE), whom many Iranians consider to be the father of their language. It exists in more than a thousand complete and fragmentary manuscripts, some of which are beautifully illustrated by excellent specimens of classical Persian art. It is some 50,000 distiches (100,000 lines) long, which makes it nearly twice the size of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. The Shahnameh as Iran’s national epic is central to Iranians’ sense of cultural identity. It is the text that defines who is culturally Iranian regardless of that person’s citizenship, language, or religion. In addition to Iranians who live in Persia proper, many Tajiks, Kurds, Beluchis, and others relate to the narrative of the Shahnameh as their “ethnic history.” For this reason, its influence and importance extends beyond the borders of Iran and the limits of Persian literature.


Tuesday May 25: Faculty Center, Downstairs Lounge

 9:30 AM:  Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:00 AM-12: 00 PM: Panel 1: Comparative Epics

Chair/Discussant: Rahim Shayegan

Olga Davidson, Boston University
Women's Lamentations and the Ethics of War in Medieval Persia and Ancient Greece

Amin Banani, UCLA
Reflections on Re-reading the Iliad and the Shahnameh

Lunch open to the public

2:00-5 PM: Panel 2: Theory and Poetics

Chair/ Discussant: Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine

Mahmoud Omidsalar, CSU Los Angeles
An Epic Unity: The Hero Pattern and the Shāhnāma

Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University
Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh:  The Epic of the Conquerors at the Time of their Defeat

Reception open to the public



Cost : Free and open to the public.

Johanna Romero, Center for Near Eastern Studies
(310) 825-1455

Sponsor(s): , ILEX Foundation, Farhang Foundation