Abolqassem Mansour Ferdowsi

Ferdowsi was a Persian poet, author of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings), the Persian national epic. He gave the Shahnameh its final and enduring form, although he based his poem mainly on an earlier prose version. He was born around 935 C. E., in a village on the outskirts of the ancient city of Tus, Persia. In the course of time, many legends have been created around the poet's name, but very little is known about the real facts of his life. The only reliable source is Nezami-ye Aruzi, a 12th-century poet who visited Ferdowsi's tomb in 1116 or 1117 and collected the traditions that were current in his birthplace less than a century after his death.

According to Nezami, Ferdowsi was a landowner, deriving a comfortable income from his estates. He had only one child, a daughter, and it was to provide her with a dowry that he undertook the Shahnameh, a poem of nearly 60,000 couplets, which he based mainly on a prose work of the same name that he had compiled earlier. This prose Shahnameh was in turn and for the most part the translation of a Pahlavi (Middle Persian) work, the Khvatay-namak, a history of the kings of Persia from mythical times to the reign of Khosrow II (590-628 C. E.). It also contained the story of the overthrow of the Sassanians by the Arabs in the middle of the seventh century C. E. The first person known to have set this chronicle to verse was Daqiqi, a poet at the court of the Samanids, who came to a violent end after completing only a thousand verses. These verses, which deal with the rise of the prophet Zoroaster, were incorporated by Ferdowsi into his own poem, with due acknowledgments. He finally completed the work in 1010. The exact date of Ferdowsi's death is not known. It is said that he died c. 1020-26, in Tus, and that he lived to be more than eighty years old.