I n the year 400/1010, after more than three decades of toil, the poet Abū al-Qāsim Firdawsī completed the second, and probably final, redaction of his Shāhnāmah. 1 The work was begun around 366/976–7, when the Samanid dynasty was still nominally in power, but after 388/998 a new empire, based in Ghaznah, came to control much of Iran and Central Asia (and beyond). The Ghaznavid ruler at this time of expansion was Maḥmūd ibn Sebüktegin (r. 388–421/998–1030), and he apparently became the new dedicatee of the Shāhnāmah by default. As Firdawsī revised and expanded his epic, he added a number of passages in praise of Maḥmūd.
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