We are delighted to welcome Olga M. Davidson for a CHS Open House discussion on Thursday, November 5 at 11:00 a.m. EST when she will be talking about why she went on from Homer to Ferdowsi, and introducing his epic Shāhnāma.
In her book Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings:
Olga M. Davidson argues that….whenever the Shāhnāma was performed by the poet or by later practitioners of his poetry, the performer could interact with his grand characters by re-engaging with their stories, as if for the first time. After documenting the oral poetic performance traditions underlying the text of the Shāhnāma in all its variations, Davidson argues that the heroic tradition of this epic is deeply ancient, stemming from Indo-European poetic traditions. A primary example is the great warrior Rostam, who upholds Iranian kingship while at the same time posing a threat to kings who prove unworthy of the crown.
(Harvard University Press: ‘About Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings‘)
Olga M. Davidson
Olga M. Davidson earned her Ph.D. in 1983 from Princeton University in Near Eastern Studies. She is on the faculty of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations, Boston University, where she has served as Research Fellow since 2009. From 1992 to 1997, she was Chair of the Concentration in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Since 1999, she has been Chair of the Board, Ilex Foundation. She is the author of Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1994; 2nd ed. Mazda Press: Los Angeles, CA, 2006; 3rd ed. distributed by Harvard University Press, 2013) and Comparative Literature and Classical Persian Poetry, Bibliotheca Iranica: Intellectual Traditions Series (Mazda Press: Los Angeles, CA, 2000; 2nd ed. distributed by Harvard University Press, 2013), both of which have been translated into Persian and distributed in Iran. Her articles include “The Haft Khwân Tradition as an Intertextual Phenomenon in Ferdowsi’s Shâhnâma.” In Honor of Richard N. Frye: Aspects of Iranian Culture (ed. C. A. Bromberg, Bernard Goldman, P.O. Skjærvø, A. S. Shahbazi), Bulletin of the Asia Institute 4 (1990) 209-215; “The Text of Ferdowsi’s Shâhnâma and the Burden of the Past.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 118 (1998) 63–68, and “The Burden of Mortality: Alexander and the Dead in Persian Epic and Beyond,” Epic and History (David Konstan and Kurt Raaflaub, eds., Wiley-Blackwell, Malden / Oxford 2010) 212–222.
Image credit: detail from Rustam fights Afrasiyab, from Walters manuscript W.602
The Walters Art Museum, Creative Commons License.