Obviously there are a lot of important works of literature that have been created over the years and across the many cultures of the world, so if I were to describe Abu’l-Qasim Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh as simply a great work of literature I would be doing it something of an injustice. It is a great work of literature, but its importance to history runs deeper than that. It has been argued, pretty reasonably, that this epic is responsible for saving Iranian civilization and the Persian language from extinction–or, at least, from being completely marginalized. Which is not to say that Ferdowsi did that all by himself, but he and his poem were instrumental in the effort.
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