The Medieval Reception of Firdausī’s Shāhnāma as a Mirror for Princes

Ardashīr-i Bābakān as an Ideal King


Nasrin Askari explores the medieval reception of Firdausī’s Shāhnāma, or Book of Kings (completed in 1010 CE) as a mirror for princes. Through her examination of a wide range of medieval sources, Askari demonstrates that Firdausī’s oeuvre was primarily understood as a book of wisdom and advice for kings and courtly elites. In order to illustrate the ways in which the Shāhnāma functions as a mirror for princes, Askari analyses the account about Ardashīr, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty, as an ideal king in the Shāhnāma. Within this context, she explains why the idea of the union of kingship and religion, a major topic in almost all medieval Persian mirrors for princes, has often been attributed to Ardashīr.
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Biographical Note

Nasrin Askari, PhD, (2012), University of Toronto, has completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of British Columbia, and is currently a Bahari Visiting Scholar in the Persian Arts of the Book at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Review Quotes

Winner of the 2018 World Award for Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of Islamic/ Iranian Studies.

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Style
List of Appendices
Chapter 1
The Medieval Reception of Firdausī’s Shāhnāma
The Reception of the Shāhnāma on the Part of Sultan Maḥmūd
The Shāhnāma and the ‘Abd al-Razzāqiyān Family
The Reception of the Shāhnāma on the Part of Medieval Writers
Chapter 2
The Portrayal of Ardashīr in the Shāhnāma
Part I – Ardashīr’s Eligibility for Kingship
Part II – Ardashīr’s Successful Kingship
Chapter 3
The Wisdom of Ardashīr and His Advices in the Shāhnāma
Ardashīr’s Customs and Practices (āyīn)
Ardashīr’s Throne Speech (andarz)
Ardashīr’s Testament (‘ahd)
Chapter 4
The Ardashīr Cycle and Medieval Persian Mirrors for Princes
The Pandnāma of Sebüktegin
The Ādāb-i salṭanat va vizārat
The Qābūs-nāma
The Siyar al-mulūk of Niẓām al-Mulk
The Naṣīḥat al-mulūk of Ghazālī
The Aghrāż al-siyāsa fī a‘rāż al-riyāsa
Two Chapters of the Jāmi‘ al-‘ulūm (Sittīnī)
The Marzbān-nāma
The Ᾱdāb al-ḥarb va al-shujā‘a


All interested in Persian literature, Persian mythology, epic poetry, medieval historiography, manuals on statecraft and kingship, and wisdom and advice literature.