Persian Literature (1/5)

The inscriptions from Perspolis (the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire) of about 500 BCE is considered to be among the oldest written works in Persian. Old Persian had a cuneiform writing system at that time. After Achaemenid Empire and Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire, the Parthian Empire (247 BCE-224 CE) and Sasanian empire (224-651 CE) were on the throne and the Middle Persian language (called Parthian language in Parthian era and Pahlavi language in Sasanian era) was the writing system.

After Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BCE), comes the Arabs conquest of Persia (633-654 CE) and :

After the Arabs conquest of Persia, the New Persian language (called Dari) engulfed Iran and its speakers were the former Sasanian court and the later empires after the Arabs conquest in the Greater Khorasan (including current Khorasan, Samarkand and Bukhara cities in Uzbekistan, and Balkh and Ghazni cities in Afghanistan).

Since the development of New Persian in the last 1000 years, the phonological, morphological, and syntactic systems of Persian became simpler and more efficient; words were then shorter and more euphonious after some modifications; As some examples, “daena” in Old Persian and Avestan languages was changed into “din” in New Persian (meaning “religion”), “framānā” was changed into “farman” under a similar procedure (meaning “command”), and “zasta” was changed into “dast” (meaning “hand”). Words also became more gender-neutral; there were three genders masculine, feminine and neutral.

The Persian language has not seen many changes from Dari until now; the primary Middle Persian written works are Tarikh-i Bal’ami (963 CE), The Shahnameh of Abu-Mansur (957 CE), and al-Tabari’s tafsir (883 CE). This means there exists no other Persian book from earlier empires before Samanian and all written literature of the Persian language is dated from the Arabs conquest. The three above-mentioned books can be read by contemporary Persian society. Some pre-Islam literature works are also existing, such as Avesta and other Zoroastrian works such as Ayadgar-i Zariran, Drakht-i Asurig, Arzhang, and some books by Mani.

August 30, 2022