March 8, 1010: Ferdowsi completes the Shahnameh (شاهنامه).

Ferdowsi’s “Book of Kings”, a poem consisting of over 50,000 couplets, took him over three decades to complete; the end result was the poet’s magnum opus and a national epic worthy of the long and rich historical and cultural legacy of Persia and Persian speakers. The poems chronicle the history of Iran over three eras - the mythical age, the heroic age, and the historic age, beginning at the creation of the Earth according to the beliefs of prei-Islamic Persians. In his work Ferdowsi wrote of the legendary shahs of Iran (the earliest kings who ruled for hundreds of years each) and of figures like the epic hero Rostam and Prince Siavash, and finally of the last kings of the Sassanid Empire and the conquest of Persia by the Rashidun Caliphate in the 7th century. The Shahnameh was several times longer than both the Iliad and the Nibelungenlied, and its composition was ordered by Mahmud, emir and later sultan of the Ghaznavid Empire; however, Ferdowsi was also heavily influenced by older compilations that had been commissioned by rulers of the Samanid dynasty, who were instrumental in the revival and celebration of Persian culture through their patronage of poets. 

Other links: English translation of the Shahnameh by Helen Zimmern.

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