Alexander the Great in the Persian Tradition: History, Myth and Legend in Medieval Iran

Alexander the Great in the Persian Tradition: History, Myth and Legend in Medieval Iran

by Haila Manteghi


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Alexander the Great (356-333 BC) was transformed into a legend by all those he met, leaving an enduring tradition of romances across the world. Aside from its penetration into every language of medieval Europe, the Alexander romance arguably had its greatest impact in the Persian language.Haila Manteghi here offers a complete survey of that deep tradition, ranging from analysis of classical Persian poetry to popular romances and medieval Arabic historiography. She explores how the Greek work first entered the Persian literary tradition and traces the development of its influence, before revealing the remarkable way in which Alexander became as central to the Persian tradition as any other hero or king. And, importantly, by focusing on the often-overlooked early medieval Persian period, she also demonstrates that a positive view of Alexander developed in Arabic and Persian literature before the Islamic era. Drawing on an impressive range of sources in various languages - including Persian, Arabic and Greek - Manteghi provides a profound new contribution to the study of the Alexander romances.Beautifully written and with vibrant literary motifs, this book is important reading for all those with an interest in Alexander, classical and medieval Persian history, the early Islamic world and classical reception studies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781788310307
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
Publication date: 05/30/2018
Series: Library of Medieval Studies
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.11(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.01(d)

About the Author

Haila Manteghi is a lecturer at the University of Munster and recently completed her second PhD on the Persian Alexandrian tradition, at the University of Exeter. Her first PhD, on the same topic, was completed at the University of Alicante, and she has published in peer-reviewed jourbanals and edited collections.

Table of Contents

List of Tables ix

List of Plates x

Foreword xii

Acknowledgements xiv

Introduction 1

A Review of Key Secondary Sources on the Alexander Romance 5

1 Greek and Syriac Versions of the Alexander Romance and their Development in the East 10

The Greek Background 10

Syriac Sources Relevant to this Study 13

The Development of the Alexander Romance in the East 17

2 Alexander the Great and the Legacy of Sasanian Historiography 21

Introduction 21

Arabic Sources and Historical Tradition in Pre-Islamic Iran 24

The Khudaynamag: Content and Sources 25

Alexander the Great in the Khudaynamag 41

Conclusion: The Origin and Development of the Alexander Romance in the Arabo-Persian Tradition 43

3 Alexander the Great in the Shahnama of Firdawsi 46

Sources and Concent of the Shahnama 47

Summary of the Alexander Romance in the Shahnama 48

Distinguishing Characteristics and Motifs of Firdawsi's Alexander Romance 52

Syriac Materials in the Shahnama 62

Conclusion: Firdawsi's Sources and his Portrayal of Alexander 70

4 Alexander in the lskandarnama of Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209) 71

Literary and Historical Contexts of Alexander's Personality in Nizami's Sharafnama 72

Alexander's Birth and Early Years in Nizami's Sharafnama 90

Of Banquets and Battles (bazm u razm): Alexander as a Warrior 95

The Further Adventures of Alexander: Journeys to China, Russia, India and the Land of Darkness 111

Conclusion 125

5 Alexander in the Iqbalnama of Nizami Ganjavi 128

Introduction 128

Alexander in Wisdom Literature 131

Alexander in the Dhu'l-Qarnayn Tradition 137

Mirabilia: Alexander and the Marvels of the World 141

Conclusion 154

Conclusion 158

The Genesis of the Persian Alexander Romance 159

The Shahnama of Firdawsi 164

The lskandarnama of Nizami Ganjavi 165

Appendix: Summary of the Syriac Alexander Romance 167

Notes 175

Bibliography 232

Index 251

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