Outing Iran: Shahnameh

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

How about Shahnameh comic books for kids? Shahnameh is an Iranian classic by Ferdowsi.

One of the heroes of Shahnamedh is Rostam, a giant of a man, and looking at the way he is depicted here it makes me wondering if the creator of the film 300 used Rostam as an inspiration (or orientalized transmogrification) for his Xerxes.

Wikipedia says:

Shahnameh is an enormous poetic opus written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi around 1000 AD and is the national epic of Iran. The Shāhnāmeh tells the mythical and historical past of Iran from the creation of the world up until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th century.

Aside from its literary importance, the Shāhnāmeh, written in almost pure Persian unmixed with adoptions from Arabic, has been pivotal for reviving the Persian language after the massive influence of Arabic. This voluminous work, regarded by Persian speakers as a literary masterpiece, also reflects Persia's history, cultural values, ancient religions (Zoroastrianism), and profound sense of nationhood. Ferdowsi completed the Shâhnameh when national independence had been compromised. While there are memorable heroes and heroines of the classical type in this work, the real, ongoing hero is Persia itself.