The History of the Persian Empire: Part I

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The History of the Persian Empire: Part I
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

The western understanding of Iran has largely been influenced by the past 40 years as in 1979, revolution sparked when Atatollah Khomeini (pronounced “eye-ah-toll-ah ho-main-ee”) transformed Iran into an Islamic republic.

Iranians are the only Middle Eastern culture to preserve both their identity and language despite scores of invasion and revolution throughout history. The people of Northern Africa once spoke Latin, however now most people in this region of the world speak Arabic and the Syrians and Egyptians once spoke Greek, but they too now speak Arabic. It is only the Persians who have kept their language throughout antiquity as no other civilization in this part of the world has managed to capture this same fate.

Keeping the Persian language was accomplished because of the Shahnameh, (pronounced “shaw- nah-may”) a publication which allowed Persian culture and language to survive. The Shahnameh is a compendium of stories relating to Iran’s pre-Islamic monarchs, with characters depicted as part mythical and part historical, depicting heroic deeds and adventures and battling both divine and mortal enemies. The Shahnameh has been referred to as an “adult storybook” because of the fantastical, poetic tales of the supernatural, conquest, and romance. This masterpiece of literature which includes stories, history, and language, was composed in the 10th century and acts to bind together 3000 years of Iranian history and culture.

The Shahnameh is central to Persian identity during the modern day, and has been referred to as the “soul” and “essence” of Iran. Stage performances of the epic stories included in the Shahnameh are performed in theaters and tea houses all across Iran.

The Shahnameh was written by Abul-Qasem Ferdowsi, (pronounced “ah-bool kah-sem fer-doh- see”) a composition which was passed down generationally becoming Iran’s national mythology. Ferdowsi took 30 years to create this work, and it has been in circulation for 1000 years, traveling far outside the borders of Persia.”

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