iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Shahnameh of Ferdowsi

Listen now 43 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Shahnameh of Ferdowsi

Duration:
43 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 13 December 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the epic poem the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the 'Book of Kings', which has been at the heart of Persian culture for the past thousand years. The poem recounts a legendary history of Iran from the dawn of time to the fall of the Persian Empire in the 7th century and serves, in a sense, as a creation myth for the Persian nation.

The Shahnameh took Ferdowsi thirty years to write and, consisting of over 50,000 verses, is said to be the longest poem ever written by a single author. Laced with tragedy, Ferdowsi's epic chronicles battles, romances, family rifts and Man's interior struggle with himself. Although the stories may not always be true they have a profound resonance with Iranians even today, and the poem has been referred to as both the 'encyclopaedia of Iranian culture' and the identity card of the Persian people.

With:

Narguess Farzad
Senior Fellow in Persian at SOAS, University of London

Charles Melville
Professor of Persian History at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge

Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis
Curator of Middle Eastern Coins at the British Museum

Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

  • FURTHER READING

    Firuza Abdullaeva and Charles Melville, ‘The Persian Book of Kings: Ibrahim Sultan’s Shahnama’ (Bodleian Library, 2008)

     

    Barbara Brend and Charles Melville (eds.), ‘Epic of the Persian Kings: The Art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh’ (I.B.Tauris, 2010)

     

    Barbara Brend, ‘Muhammad Juki’s Shahnamah of Firdausi’ (Philip Wilson, 2010)

     

    Dick Davis, ‘Epic and Sedition: The Case of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh’ (University of Arkansas Press, 1992)

     

    Ferdowsi (author), Dick Davis (trans.), ‘Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings’ (Penguin Classics, 2007)

     

    Ferdowsi (author), Reuben Levy (trans.), ‘The Epic of the Kings’ (London, 1967 and reprints)

     

    Elizabeth Laird, ‘Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings (Frances Lincoln, 2012)

     

    B. W. Robinson, ‘The Persian Book of Kings: An Epitome of the Shahnama of Firdawsi’ (Routledge, 2002)

     

    Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, ‘Persian Myths’ (British Museum Press, 1993)

     

    Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Sarah Stewart (eds), ‘The Idea of Iran’ (I.B.Tauris, four volumes published between 2005-2009)

     

    A. Shapur Shahbazi, ‘Ferdowsi: A Critical Biography’ (Harvard University Press, 1991)

     

Broadcasts

Featured in...

  • Culture archive

    Popular culture, poetry, music and visual arts and the roles they play in our society.

In Our Time Downloads

melvyn-bragg.jpg

Every episode of In Our Time - available to download to listen to when & where you want.

Podcasts

  1. Image for In Our Time Archive: Culture

    In Our Time Archive: Culture

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature…

  2. Image for In Our Time Archive: History

    In Our Time Archive: History

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

  3. Image for In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    In Our Time Archive: Philosophy

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the…

  4. Image for In Our Time Archive: Religion

    In Our Time Archive: Religion

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of…

  5. Image for In Our Time Archive: Science

    In Our Time Archive: Science

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from…

  6. Image for In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    In Our Time With Melvyn Bragg

    Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas - including topics drawn from philosophy,…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss