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Matthew Arnold's Sohrab and Rustum, a link between Iliad and Shahnameh


 Start Page 67 | End Page 85


Matthew Arnold’ s “ Sohrab and Rustum” is a poem in English literature composed as an imitation of Ferdowsi’ s “ Rustam and Sohrab” . This work, typically known as a free translation and a re-composition, has earned great fame and propagation for Shahnameh in England. Matthew Arnold has primarily adapted the underlying motif from Ferdowsi. Then, he has conformed and decorated the work with the epic literature of ancient Greece. It is actually stated to be a combined poetical work. In general, we can definitely state that the work owes its inspiration to Shahnameh. However, for its mode of expression, descriptions, similes, as well as literary and epic traditions, the work is quite inspired by Homer’ s Iliad. Arnold has left out most essential parts of the story such as the missing of Rakhsh, Tahmineh’ s falling in love, Hajir’ s captivity, Rustam’ s conflict with Kavus, asking for antidote, etc. Moreover, he has made changes to some parts such as Sohrab’ s being killed, Rustam’ s knowing about his son’ s gender, and the like. Although he is claimed to have greatly damaged the story’ s main plot, Matthew Arnold has made up for some deficiencies of Ferdowsi’ s Shahnameh in several cases. In both stories, maximum similarities are considered as the basis. Thus, the present study merely points to some of the differences, and instead, it mostly deals with Matthew Arnold’ s inspiration from Iliad; something that has already been overlooked by critics.


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