Music in Khusraw Va Shirin

  • Firoozeh Khazrai


There is an episode in the Iqbāl-nāmah, the first part of Iskandar-nāmah, that raises the question of the role of music and musicians in Nizami’s poetry. In the section entitled “Plato’s Music Making,” the philosophers of Alexander’s court are vying for superiority, and the competition intensifies between Aristotle and Plato. Plato becomes so indignant at Aristotle’s claim to superiority over all the other philosophers that he leaves the court in search of the music of the universe. In doing so he invents the organun (arghanon) with which he is able to make other beings, human or animal, sleepy or alert, or induce whatever mood in them that he desires. When Aristotle hears of Plato’s invention he strives to match his creativeness, and although he is able to induce sleep in his subjects, he is unable to wake them up. Aristotle feels humiliated. He confesses his own shortcomings, apologizes to Plato for his arrogance, and seeks his guidance on the science of music.2 In this episode Nizami demonstrates the supernatural potency of music and its superiority to logic—a quality that might be extended to include Nizami’s own art, that is, poetry, since it, too, is often characterized as appealing to the emotions rather than to reason.


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© Kamran Talattof and Jerome W. Clinton 2000

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  • Firoozeh Khazrai

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