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History in Verse

THE ‘Shah-nama’ or Book of Shahs is the longest poem composed by a single poet.
The 60,000 couplet epic which encapsulates the complete history of Persia’s kings from BC 700 to AD 700 is the work of the Persian writer, Firdausi (real name – Abul Qasim Mansur). The Shah-nama was written for Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni who promised Firdausi a gold dinar for every couplet he wrote. However, when the poet delivered the work to his royal patron in AD 1010, the sultan went back on his promise and paid him only 60,000 silver dirhams. Legend has it that a few years later, the sultan had a change of heart and sent 60,000 gold dinars to the poet’s house. But Firdausi had died in the meantime.

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