An illustrated manuscript of the Shahnama or Book of Kings has been added to Collection 2.4 – Persian, Greek and Byzantine History. The Shahnama is the Persian national epic originally written by the poet Firdausi (Ferdowsi/Firdawsi/Firdusi/Firdousi) in 1010. After the Shahnama similar works surfaced in Persian over the centuries based in style and method on Firdausi's original. However, none attained the fame and popularity of Firdausi's masterpiece.

Firdausi is also imporant in that his works kept in tact and served to codify the Persian language. For this reason he is revered for his role in preserving not only the Persian language (Farsi) but Persian culture as a whole. It is for this reason, and not only for the literary merit of his works including the Shahnama, that he surpasses other Persian literary figures in significance.

Some scholars also allude to the Shahnama as a book of political thought, in that it underlines the transience of earthly power and human existence and exhorts rulers to avoid cruelty, lying, avarice and other evils. In his Book of Kings, Fardausi's great rulers are those who strive for justice, truth and order, bringing happines, honour and meaning to both ruler and subjects.


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