Sūdābeh and Rūdābeh: Mythological Reflexes of Ancient Goddesses

in Iran and the Caucasus
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Many female characters in the Šāhnāmeh are striking for their extraordinary independence and self-assertion, qualities not typically associated with women in the medieval Islamic society in which Ferdowsi lived. This may be an indication that such female figures have superhuman roots, possessing features that may be derived from those attributed to goddesses in ancient mythology. The characters of Sūdābeh and Rūdābeh who can be seen as representing opposing archetypes of feminine power are analyzed in terms of their possible derivations from female divinities in Iranian and Mesopotamian mythology.

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