The Dates of Composing the Praise of Mahmoud Ghaznaviand the Shahnameh's Stories

Researching the events of Ferdowsi's life is difficult; because the information about him is not clear. The available details to scholars, apart from Shahnameh, which is a cited recourse, are contradictory contents found in the Chahar Maqaleh (Four Discourses), Hajwnameh (verse lampoon) attributed to Ferdowsi, Introductions of Shahnameh and other sources, which all can easily confuse the researchers. It is therefore advisable to start with the context of Shahnameh which needs to be carefully analyzed and the result of this analysis can be considered as the basis for further research about this great Iranian poet.There are two dates that most scholars have now agreed on and both dates are based on the evidences presented in Shahnameh; one is Ferdowsi's birthday in 329 or 330 AH, and the other is the beginning of composing Shahnamehin 369 or 370 AH.At the end of some manuscripts of Shahnameh and in the translation of "Bondari Isfahani", the finishing date of Shahnameh is stated to be 384 AH, which isin contrast with what is mentioned inmost of other manuscripts (i.e., 400 AH). That year is related to the first compilation of Shahnameh, which was before Mahmoud Ghaznavi's throne in389 AH. Hence, if we accept it, Ferdowsi has written a part of Shahnamehbetween370 and384 AH (14 years). Three years later, shortly after 387 AH, when he was 58 years old, he began the composition of the second part of Shahnameh, when Mahmoud Ghaznavi reached the power and Ferdowsi, who realized it, decided to present Shahnameh to Mahmoud Ghaznavi. In the second phase of composing Shahnameh, Ferdowsi covered the remainder of Abu-Mansouri's Shahnameh. Some scholars believe that the praise of Mahmoud in Shahnameh had been done in 393 AH which is presented to Mahmoud in 400 AH. This is based on a date mentioned at the end of some manuscripts of Shahnameh, referring to the Ferdowsi's 25-year endeavor and his own age (i.e., 65), and praise of Mahmoud Ghaznavi at this age; therefore, some scholars have considered 394 or 395 AH as the year Shahnameh was presented to Mahmoud Ghaznavi.


Ferdowsi started that the composition of Shahnameh and finished some parts in his first edition, and after Mahmoud Ghaznavi's throne, he added some verses to the praises (second edition).It is not acceptable to consider composing of these verses only in 394 or 395 AH or after the finishing of Shahnamehin400 AH; These praises had been added during the composition of Shahnameh in the second edition in which Ferdowsi referred to his age; however, it is not acceptable to assert that Ferdowsi completed Shahnameh, and then included some verses to mention his own age. According to Shahnameh's content, it does not seem logical for Ferdowsi to mention his age as 58 years old in one verse, and 60, 61 or 65 in other verses, but on the contrary, during the process of composing Shahnameh, he mentioned his exact age. Therefore, the questions that arise are: at what year Ferdowsi composed each story, when was Mahmoud Ghaznavi praised, and what are the relationships between these two aspects? The following article, which is written in an analytical-documentary manner, attempts to determine the date of composing the second edited stories and the praise of Mahmoud Ghaznavi.


The correction of Khaleghi Motlagh has 49533 verses, and based on the evidences extracted from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, it should be found that how many verses were composed from the time he was 58 years old or when he began the story of Siavash to the time he finished Shahnameh? It should be noted these verses are related to the second part of his work; once the number of verses of the second composition part have been determined, it can be concluded that the remaining verses had been done in the first part of his work.According to Shahnameh, when he was between 58 and60, Ferdowsi first composed Siavash's Story (2524 verses), and then Siavash's Revenge (490 verses).After that, Kingdom of Khosrow I (4517 verses) was composed at the ages of 61 and 62; After this part end, during the next two years (at the age of 62, until the end of his age of 64), he composed the Parthian kingdom part until the end of Kavad's reign (6566 verses). Afterwards, at the age of 65, he started the Great War of Kay Khosrow (3141 verses) and right after finishing this part, he has resumed the Sassanid kingdom and composed Khosrow Parviz Kingdom (4107verses) when he was between66 and68.Ferdowsi probably during the time he was between 68 and 71 years old, had composed The Story of Shirouyeh and Yazdegerd IIIKingdom (1657 verses), along with scattered sections such as The Story of Hormizd IV (1926 verses), with a total of 3583 verses. Therefore, it can be said that Ferdowsi composed a total of 24,928 verses in the second edition. If we reduce 24928 verses of Shahnameh from a total of49533 verses, 24605 verses will remain, and after reducing 1028 verses of Daqiqi, 23577 verses will remain that are probably the result of the first edition of Shahnameh. Ferdowsi composed the first edited part (23577 verses) between370 and384 AH (14 years), and the second edited part of Shahnameh (24928 verses) between387 and400 AH (13 years). Considering the dates, it can be concluded that Ferdowsi have not been disciplined in composing the stories of its source (Shahnameh of Abu-Mansouri). As a matter of fact, Daqiqihas begun composing Shahnameh from middle of stories (the story of the Goshtasp kingdom). In fact, it is normal that Ferdowsi composes a story according to the poetic nature, studies and conditions of his life and social and historical events of its time.Based on the evidences, Ferdowsi praised Mahmoud Ghaznavi at the same time he composedthe second edited stories and added some to the first edited section including praising Mahmoud in the introduction. The word of Daqiqi and The word of Ferdowsi were probably added in 390 AH during the composition of Khosrow I Kingdom. On the other hand, 394 AH is the year Ferdowsi decided to send Shahnameh to the court of Ghaznah at the age of 66 after composing The Great War of Kay Khosrow. Although Shahnameh had not been finished on that date, Ferdowsi first sent the incomplete book to the king, and after becoming aware of Mahmoud Ghaznavi's not paying attention, and because of misconduct and jealousy of some courtiers, he had mentioned this disappointment in some verses of Khosrow Parviz story.When Ferdowsi was 61 years old in 391 AH, during composing Parthian Kingdom, he refers to the half tax pardon which the scholars mistakenly attribute to the famine of Khorasan 401 AH. But Ferdowsi, in the praise of Mahmoud Ghaznavi and his younger brother Abu al-Muzaffar Nasr ibn Nasr al-Din, did not mention the famine and problems of the people of Tus, Neyshabur and Khorasanat the beginning of this story, which contradicts with Ferdowsi's text in other Shahnameh stories. Therefore, with the evidences in historical texts, such as The History of Beyhaqi, it is better to regard the tax pardon as one of Mahmoud Ghaznavi's political actions to satisfy the people of Khorasan, which happened before 400 AH.


Ferdowsi mentioned his age in Shahnameh which indicates he had not composed the stories in a specific order. In the first edition of Shahnameh (370 to 384 AH), he mostly composed myth and epic's stories, but also some historical stories can be found such as The Kingdom of Alexander. The praise of Mahmoud Ghaznavi also was not included in the first edition. The second edition (387 to 400 AH) contains historical stories of Parthians and Sassanians, except for three sections: The Story of Siavash, The Story of Siavash's Revenge and The Great War of Kay Khosrow. It is the part that Ferdowsi praised Mahmoud Ghaznaviand mentioned his own exact age in the verses, and also he has added some praises of Mahmoud Ghaznavi to the first edition. He composed The Kingdom of Khosrow I in 390 AH and at the same time, Mahmoud Ghaznavi's praise was added to the Introduction, The word of Daqiqi and The word of Ferdowsi and it seems Ferdowsi made the final decision to donate Shahnameh to Mahmoud Ghaznavi in that year. Ferdowsi in 391 AH, when he was 62, in the part of Mahmoud Ghaznavi's praise mentioned the half tax pardon in the 14 Shawals that probably Mahmoud Ghaznavi made this decision because of conquer of Neyshabur and dominating Khorasanand it should not be attributed to 400 or 401 AH.In392 AH and at the age of 63, Ferdowsi composed Mahmoud Ghaznavi's praise at the same time he composed the stories of Shapur Son of Ardeshir I and Bahram IS on of Shapur.In394 and at the age of 65, Ferdowsi composed Mahmoud Ghaznavi's praise at the beginning of the story of the Great War of Kay Khosrow which seems that he decided to send Shahnameh to Ghazni after the story ended, and Ferdowsi's reference to jealousy of courtiers in the story of Khosrow Parviz kingdom indicates that Shahnameh has already been sent to Ghazna. In the same story, and at the end of Shahnameh in 400 AH, he praised Hayat Qatibah, who was the person in charge of the tax in Tus, and except of the few verses that appear in the end of the Shahnameh, there is no more praise about Mahmoud Ghaznavi. Therefore, there is not any date in Shahnameh after 400 AH and nothing should be attributed to it after 400 AH.

Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Literary Studies, Volume:52 Issue: 4, 2020
43 - 68  
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