Persian literature

Persian literature (Persian: ادبیات فارسی, romanized: Adabiyâte fârsi, pronounced [ʔædæbiːˌjɒːte fɒːɾˈsiː]) comprises oral compositions and written texts in the Persian language and is one of the world's oldest literatures.[1][2][3] It spans over two-and-a-half millennia. Its sources have been within Greater Iran including present-day Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Turkey, regions of Central Asia (such as Tajikistan) and South Asia where the Persian language has historically been either the native or official language. For example, Rumi, one of the best-loved Persian poets, born in Balkh (in modern-day Afghanistan) or Wakhsh (in modern-day Tajikistan), wrote in Persian and lived in Konya (in modern-day Turkey), at that time the capital of the Seljuks in Anatolia. The Ghaznavids conquered large territories in Central and South Asia and adopted Persian as their court language. There is thus Persian literature from Iran, Mesopotamia, Azerbaijan, the wider Caucasus, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Tajikistan and other parts of Central Asia. Not all Persian literature is written in Persian, as some consider works written by ethnic Persians or Iranians in other languages, such as Greek and Arabic, to be included. At the same time, not all literature written in Persian is written by ethnic Persians or Iranians, as Turkic, Caucasian, and Indic poets and writers have also used the Persian language in the environment of Persianate cultures.

Kelileh va Demneh Persian manuscript copy dated 1429, depicts the Jackal trying to lead the Lion astray. Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
A scene from the Shahnameh describing the valour of Rustam

Described as one of the great literature of humanity,[4] including Goethe's assessment of it as one of the four main bodies of world literature,[5] Persian literature has its roots in surviving works of Middle Persian and Old Persian, the latter of which dates back as far as 522 BCE, the date of the earliest surviving Achaemenid inscription, the Behistun Inscription. The bulk of surviving Persian literature, however, comes from the times following the Muslim conquest of Persia c. 650 CE. After the Abbasids came to power (750 CE), the Iranians became the scribes and bureaucrats of the Islamic Caliphate and, increasingly, also its writers and poets. The New Persian language literature arose and flourished in Khorasan and Transoxiana because of political reasons, early Iranian dynasties of post-Islamic Iran such as the Tahirids and Samanids being based in Khorasan.[6]

Persian poets such as Ferdowsi, Saadi, Hafiz, Attar, Nezami,[7] Rumi[8] and Omar Khayyam are also known in the West and have influenced the literature of many countries.