In accordance with our meta agreement to have topic challenges and a later meta agreement to have topic challenges lasting for two months and overlapping by one month, it is time to announce the August–September 2020 topic challenge.
Based on the number of votes, the eighth topic challenge of the year 2020 will be
What's a topic challenge?
See the meta posts linked above, and also this main meta post. In short, during August and September 2020 we should all try to read the Persian epic poem The Shahnameh.
Participation is not obligatory in any sense, and questions on other works are more than welcome during August and September too; they just won't count as part of this topic challenge.
How can I take part?
By getting hold of the Shahnameh and asking good questions about it. Questions about this epic poem should be tagged with shahnameh, ferdowsi and persian-literature. We'll keep a list of all such questions in an answer to this meta post.
Below is Rand al'Thor's original presentation:
The Shahnameh (شاهنامه) is perhaps the most historically important piece of literature in the Persian language. Written just over one thousand years ago, it is one of the longest epic poems, relating the mythical and historical past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Muslim conquest of Iran in the 7th century. It is said to be the national epic of Greater Iran, a region encompassing parts of a dozen modern-day countries, and it has been one of the main pillars of modern Farsi keeping the language from too much linguistic drift or Arabisation. It covers the culture of Zoroastrianism and pre-Islamic Iran.
- This work is a hugely important part of several cultures in the world today. Our site has a few users from those cultures but not many, so it would be an opportunity for many of us to learn and perhaps for those few to provide answers.
- It is of course old enough to be in the public domain. English translations by Helen Zimmern are available from the Iran Chamber Society and MIT websites.
- Questions might be about the meaning and plot of the story itself, the historical accuracy of the less mythical portions, cultural and linguistic influences both on it and of it, etc.
- Vote for the next topic challenge (September–October), or propose your own!