Language And Literature Of. The Persian Persia, which for 900 years past has been the cultivated language of Persia, belongs to the Iranic group of the Indo-European languages. The earlier languages of Persia are treated in the article Iranio Races and Languages. The present cultivated form of speech is called Deri, " court language," in distinction from the popular dialects. According to native authorities, each considerable province has a dialect of its own, and that which is spoken in and about Shiraz and Ispahan approximates most nearly to the cultivated tongue. Persian is still spoken, not only throughout the present kingdom of Persia, but all over the Iranian territory, and even beyond its borders; but its prevalence is different in different regions. About the Caspian it is in great measure crowded out by the dialects of the almost exclusively Turkish population. Throughout a great part of Khorasan the Persian is the language of the cities, while the nomadic tribes who occupy the surrounding wastes are of Tartar descent and idiom.
In other parts this relation is in a manner reversed; thus, in Afghanistan and Beloochistan the ruling race is of another, though ultimately kindred lineage, while the mass of the agricultural population is made up of Persian-speaking Tajiks. Nearly the same is the case in the southern portions of Turkis-tan or Independent Tartary, an ancient seat of Iranian religion and civilization; and the Iranian population even extends beyond the Bblor Tagh into some of the provinces of eastern Tartary. Conquests, commerce, and culture have combined to carry the Persian language beyond its ancient limits; the subjugation of India by Persian monarchs introduced it as the court language of Delhi, and made Hindostan long a centre of Persian literary culture; it is but recently that Persian has ceased to be the recognized official language of British India. The Turks have carried it, in a certain way, as far in the opposite direction; the cultivated Osmanli is full of Persian words and phrases, and its literature is in great part founded upon Persian models. - The appearance of the modern Persian language, and the rise of its literature, are contemporaneous with the disintegration of the caliphate of Bagdad, and the resurrection of Persian nationality under native and virtually independent sovereigns in the 10th century.
During the three centuries that Persia had lain under the heel of its Mohammedan conquerors, its national independence destroyed, its religion and social institutions swept away, it had exercised in virtue of its superior culture a powerful influence upon its oppressors, and its scholars had borne a prominent part in starting into life the Moslem literature, philosophy, and science; but not until after the lapse of that interval was there a revivification of elements distinctly Persian. With the latter part of the 10th century, then, begins the career of the modern Persian. This is hardly to be considered as the direct lineal descendant of either of the two ancient dialects, the Achseinenian or the Avestan, but it is more nearly related to the former than to the latter, as is shown by such evidences as the infinitive ending ten, Ach. tanaiy, Av. tee; dest, hand, Ach. dasta, Av. zasta, etc. It is closely connected with the Parsee, and may be considered a slightly modernized form of the Huz-varesh. As an analytical language, exhibiting an almost complete breaking down and abandonment of the ancient system of forms and inflections, and the substitution of independent form-words and connectives, it stands nearly upon a level with the English; its grammar, in striking contrast with the complexity of that of the two ancient dialects, is of the baldest simplicity.
It is always written with the Arabic alphabet, to which, however, it has added four signs, to express the sounds p, tch, zh, and g; on the other hand, eight or nine of the Arabic characters are useless to it, occurring, save in very rare cases, only in Arabic words, and being pronounced, like other letters in the alphabet, without the distinctive Arabic utterance. The spoken alphabet is nearly as follows: vowels, a, e, i, o, u (as to the vowel pronunciation, even of the cultivated dialect, there appears to be much diversity in different regions; the vowels are written, of course, in the very imperfect Semitic fashion, sharing among them only three characters, and generally omitted when short); consonants - guttural, h, kh, q, g, gh; palatal, tch, j; dental, t, d, n; labial, p, f, b, m; semivowels, y, r, I, v; sibilants, s, sh, z, zh; aspiration, h. The Parsee alphabet is almost precisely the same with this, nor does that of the Huzvaresh present any difference worthy of notice. All show a near relationship with the systems of sounds of the ancient dialects, differing from them chiefly by the loss of certain aspirates (the dental), and by the possession of an I. - In treating of declension, we have first to note the fact that the Persian, like the English, has lost all suffixes and terminations distinguishing gender, and that it accordingly agrees with our language in possessing no artificial or grammatical gender.
It is yet poorer than the English in lacking the distinction of gender in the pronoun; it cannot even say " he, she, it;" where a distinction has to be made between masculine and feminine, it employs separate words meaning male and female. The same is the case in the Parsee and Huzvaresh. There are two endings for the plural, an and ha, the former a relic of the ancient genitive plural (asp-an, horses, Av. agpandm, of horses), the latter of the dative and ablative (asp-lid, Av. acpaeibyac, to or from horses; a few Parsee words have the fuller form hyd); an is now regularly restricted to animate objects, but in the Parsee is applied to both animate and inanimate, and in the Huzvaresh is the only plural termination. The syllable ra is used as a sign of the accusative (asp-ra); it is originally an independent word, meaning "way," and in the two elder dialects is not an accusative termination, but adds to the noun the idea, "by way of, by reason of;" if an adjective follows the noun, the syllable is appended to it instead of to the noun (asp-i-bad-rd, the bad horse). Between a genitive and the noun which governs it is inserted the so-called izd-fet, or the vowel i, as asp-i-merd, the horse of the man; the same is also interposed between the substantive and the adjective which agrees with it, as asp-i-murdeh, dead horse.
The beginning of this usage is to be traced even in the Avestan; the inserted syllable is a relic of the relative pronoun ya, which has come to assume the office of indicating alone a relation originally expressed also by the termination of the following word. Thus, the former expression would have been in Avestan acpo yo mas-yehe, the horse which (is that) of the man; the latter, agpo yo mereto, the horse which (is) dead. In the Parsee and Huzvaresh, this i also stands in other connections, as an ordinary relative pronoun. Some philologists, without sufficient reason, have chosen to see in the use of the izafet an imitation of the construct state of the Semitic noun, and so a proof of Semitic influence. Singularity or individuality is indicated by an appended e, as asp-e, a single horse; this e is a remnant of the older aexa, one, and by the two next earlier idioms is used also as an independent numeral. The language possesses neither definite nor indefinite article. The suffixes of comparison of adjectives are ter for the comparative, terin for the superlative; the latter is a peculiar Persian development; the two elder dialects have turn, corresponding to Av. tema (Sans, tama, Lat. timus). The Persian and Parsee pronouns are pure Iranian, modern representatives throughout of those presented by the ancient dialects; the Huzvaresh employs as often, or yet oftener, Semitic forms.
The three later idioms have a complete set of suffix pronouns, which are, for the three persons, singular em, et, esh, plural emdn, etdn, eshdn; in the Persian they are attached especially to nouns and verbs, to express the genitive, dative, or accusative relation, as asp-em, my horse, guftem-esh, I spoke to him; in the elder idioms they are appended only to conjunctions, prepositions, and other pronouns, as ez-et, from thee. They are a perfectly organic growth of the Iranian language, and are -not to be attributed, any more than the izafet, to Semitic influence. - The Persian verb has preserved hardly more of its original structure than the noun. It has indeed a complete and invariable set of personal endings, viz.: em, i, ed, em, ed, end; but its tenses are mostly formed periphrastically. The infinitive ends in ten or den (Parsee usually, Huzvaresh always, tan), which corresponds to the Achae-menian tanaiy; the past participle in teh or deh (Ach., A v., and Sans. ta). From this participle is formed a preterite, by striking off the eh, and appending the forms of the present tense of the auxiliary "to be," which, except in the third person, est, agree precisely with the personal ending just given; thus, from Tcerden, to do, part. Tcerdeh, pret.
Tcerdem. This becomes an imperfect by prefixing mi or hemi, which in Parsee and Huzvaresh is an independent word, meaning always, continually. From the unabbreviated participle, with the present and preterite of the same auxiliary, come a perfect and pluperfect, Tcerdeh em and Tcerdeh rudem. A future is formed by prefixing to the apocopated infinitive the present of the verb to will, to wish, qahem kerd. The imperative of this verb is Tcun; the irregular verbs, which are numerous, and as usual the oldest and the most used of all, present always a discordance between the forms of the root as they appear in the infinitive and imperative respectively, and in this consists their irregularity; these two forms being given, the rest of the verb follows as a matter of course. Sometimes the one, sometimes the other, shows the root in a purer and more original form; in Tcun we have it as affected by the conjugational peculiarity of the ancient present and imperfect; compare Ach. a-Tcun-ush (imp.), Av. Tceren-aoimi, Sans. Tcrn-omi. By adding to the imperative the personal endings, we obtain the only original and simple tense of the Persian, verb, corresponding to the ancient present and imperfect, and having the value of both present and aorist; it is made distinctively the former by prefixing mi or hemi, already spoken of.
Of the ancient subjunctive we have a single trace, in an optative third person singular; kunad, may he do! The passive is formed by the auxiliary shuden, meaning originally to go. - The facility of composition in the Persian is very great; epithets formed of a noun and a verbal, of an adjective and a noun, and of two nouns, are of the most frequent occurrence. A very characteristic feature of Persian style, too, is the formation of a compound or derivative verb by combining an adjective or noun with some one of a large class of half auxiliaries, of which the most frequent are to do, to make, to bring, to have, to show, to come, to become, to take, and to find. It is partly by the favoring influence of such processes of composition that the Persian has become in later times so impregnated with Arabic. The earliest Persian writers, as Firdusi and the translator of Tabari's Arabic history, wrote in a nearly pure Iranian dialect, with no greater infusion of Arabic words than was natural and unavoidable, considering the position and influence in Iran of the Arab religion and culture.
But a less legitimate mixture soon began to prevail; every highly cultivated Persian was as familiar with Arabic as with his own mother tongue, and a depraved and servile taste introduced the practice of drawing upon the Arabic lexicon not only to fill out felt deficiencies of the Persian vocabulary, but, from affectation and pedantry, to such an extent as to half convert the language into Arabic. Often the merest necessary cement of a sentence or paragraph is Persian, all the materials of which it is composed being Arabic; and occasionally such a monstrosity is met with as a sentence or phrase which is pure Arabic, even to its construction. Hence, no one can now make himself a thorough Persian scholar, or gain a familiarity with the Persian literature, who has not first mastered the Arabic. In the present low condition of Persian nationality, any reaction against this abuse is hardly to be looked for; it is the rankest injustice on the part of the Persian toward his mother tongue, which is one of the most copious and flexible, the most sonorous and musical, the most cultivable, highly cultivated, and elegant of modern languages.
The theory of a specially intimate connection between the Persian and the Teutonic (German) languages is entirely destitute of real foundation. - Literature. The scanty literatures of the earlier Persian dialects, the Avestan, the Huzvaresh, and the Parsee, being comprised within the limits of a single work, or connected body of writings, which together make up the sacred scriptures of the modern Parsees, will be best considered together in the article Zend-Avesta. We shall accordingly speak here only of the modern Persian literature. A national feeling, and an active literary spirit, must have been for some time stirring among the masses of the Persian population, to lead to so immediate and hearty a recognition of the claims of song on the part of all the upstart dynasties of eastern Iran, which succeeded one another so rapidly during the 9th and 10th centuries. Each court had its bards, whose productions, and the admiration which they excited, shed lustre upon the throne. Royal patronage has borne an important part in the whole history of Persian literature; one of its chief branches is panegyric, and few of its great names were not attached to the personal suite, or recipients of the special bounty, of some monarch.
Even the wild Tartar tribes which burst one after another into Iran, and subjugated it to their sway, were at once softened and charmed by the strains of Persian song, and their barbarian dynasties became, without exception, its lovers and protectors. Had not the feeling been genuine, the genius strong, the national appreciation universal and hearty, such patronage must soon have corrupted the rising literature, converting it into mere servile adulation. Of servility and adulation there was indeed enough; but along with it a true, healthy, growing, and productive literary life, during more than five centuries. We can give here, of course, but an outline sketch of its development, and can mention only the most prominent and highly considered of the hundreds of authors of note, whose works or whose reputation have come down to later times. Although names and fragments of poetry of an earlier date have escaped oblivion, it is under Mahmoud of Ghuzni, the first Moslem conqueror of India, and on the extreme eastern verge of Iran, that the national literature was fairly launched on its new career. Under this prince, and at his bidding, Firdusi (died in 1020) sang his immortal epic, the Shah Nameh. This earliest of the Persian poets remains unexcelled in genius and dignity by any of his successors.
His work summed up the whole mass of native traditions respecting the national history; it is a true national epic, a final relation, accepted by a whole people, of its own popular legends. No other Persian poem enjoys the wide repute of this; none other has the same high interest to us of the West. Of epic-romantic poets, the most famous is Niza-mi, who flourished a century and a half after Firdusi. His " Quinquiad," or collection of his five best romances, became the model of many a like collection in later times. From among the innumerable crowd of those who have distinguished themselves especially by their panegyrical writings, we need mention but two: Enveri or Anvari, the acknowledged prince of panegyrists, who lived in Balkh about 1150, and Khakani, who lived about a generation later. Both are remarkable for learning, as well as for fertility of fancy and elegance of style. An important branch of Persian literature, and one which began to develop itself very early, is that which represents the doctrines of the Sufis, or religious mystics.
Doubtless we are to recognize a certain resistance on the part of the Persians to the slavery into which they were forced to Arab faith and doctrine, in their general adoption, on the one hand, of the unorthodox and detested tenets of the Shiahs, who accept the Koran and Mohammed, but deny the right of the first three caliphs; and, on the other hand, in the prevalence of mysticism among them. Persia, if not the home of Sufiism, as has been both maintained and denied, is at least the ground where it has most fully developed itself, and held longest and most exclusive sway. The oldest Sufi poet of great celebrity is Ze-nayi, who died in 1180; his works were superseded by the yet more highly esteemed productions of Ferid ed-Din Attar, who, born about 1120, lived more than 100 years, and was slain at last in the Mongol storm and sack of the city where he dwelt. His works are unintelligible in their interior meaning without special commentaries. Among them, the most esteemed are the "Book of Counsel" (Pend Nameh), "Language of the Birds" (Mantih et-tair), and "Essences of Substance" (Jevahir Nameh); the two former have been published and translated in Europe. But even Attar was excelled by his younger contemporary Jelal ed-Din Rumi (died about 1262), the founder of the most widely extended order of Moslem monks, the Mevlevi, and author of the Mesne-vi, the chief oracle of Sufiism, and, next to the Shah Nameh, the most generally known and highly esteemed (in the Orient) of all the productions of oriental literature; its profundity, its sublimity, and its inspired wisdom are regarded as unapproached and unapproachable.
A poet more to our mind, and who has done more than any other for the fame of Persian poetry in the West, is Saadi. He belongs to the same period with the authors last named, having died in 1291, at the age of upward of 100 years. He is said to have spent the second 30 years of his life in travelling, and the third in meditating upon and digesting his acquisitions and experiences, and only the last part of it in the actual composition of his immortal works. If skeptical as to the literal truth of this systematic division of his life, we need not question that he travelled and saw much, and wrote his most esteemed productions at an advanced age. We know that he lay for some time in Christian captivity, taken prisoner in battle with the crusaders. In both these circumstances has been sought an explanation of the cooler fancy, the purer taste, the more practical morality, which distinguished Saadi among oriental authors. He is most eminent as a moral and didactic poet; his two best works, the "Fruit Garden" (Bostari) and "Flower Garden" (Gulistari), are collections of brief tales and apologues, interspersed with aphorisms and lessons of morality, in prose and verse; both have been translated into nearly all the languages of Europe. By his countrymen Saadi is equally esteemed as a lyric poet.
But the greatest of Persian lyrists is Hafiz, of Shiraz, who lived a century later (he died about 1390); in him Persian poetry is regarded as having attained its very highest flight. Though a dervish, deriving his name (Hafiz, retainer) from his knowing by heart the whole Koran, and though living always in contempt of wealth and splendor, he was a thorough free-thinker, and indifferentist in matters of religion, and his inspiration is solely that of the most enthusiastic and intoxicated sensual enjoyment; the unvarying themes of his song are love and wine, the rose and the nightingale. A mystical explanation has been given to the outbursts of his passion, and the same poems which are sung as erotic and drinking odes by the young debauchee, are pored over by the aged devotee as containing the essence of holy ecstasy; but the interpretation is forced and false, and mainly a device to save the pride of Persian literature from condemnation as an infidel and sensualist. Persian poetry has but one other great name to boast after Hafiz; it is that of Jami, who died in 1492, at an advanced age.
He is a poet of the most varied genius, and, though not accounted as the very first in any department, he is excelled only by the very first in each; thus, in panegyric he is esteemed as second only to Enveri, in romance to Nlzami, in mystic poetry to Jelal ed-Din, in moral and didactic to Saadi, in lyric to Hafiz; these, five, with Firdusi and himself, being admired as the seven most brilliant stars in the firmament of Persian poetry Jami is perhaps most highly esteemed as a romantic poet, though prose works of high merit also came from his pen, including a history of the Sufis, and a collection of letters as models of epistolary style, a branch of elegant literature much cultivated by the Persians in later times, and in which Jami is unexcelled. With the 15th century closes the proper history of Persian poetry; since that time, although much increased in extent, it has grown little in value. - We have hitherto spoken only of the poetry of Persia, because that is by far the most important and valuable department of the national literature. Next to it in consequence is the department of history.
For the older traditional history of Persia itself, Firdusi has continued the chief and almost sole authority; later writers have added little to what is recorded in the Shah Nameh. The Mujmil et-tevariM, a historical work by an unknown author, a portion of which has been translated by Mohl in the Journal asiatique (1841), is also important. The Persian extract from a large historical treatise written by the celebrated Moslem Abu Jafar Mohammed ben Jerir ben Yezid, called Tabari, made by Belami in 963, which has recently been translated into French (Ghronique de Tabari, traduite sur la version persane par H. Zoteriberg, Paris, 1867 -'9), is specially valuable. The supplementary works written by the successors of Firdusi are not yet fully known, and several of them, the Gershasp Nameh, Sam Nameh, Barzu Nameh, Jehangir Nameh, Banu Sushasp Nameh, and Bahman Nameh, have been only partly examined. A host of later historians, beginning from rather a recent period, about the middle of the 13th century, have treated of the later Persian history, especially of that of Genghis Khan and his descendants and successors, and of the remarkable overturnings of Asiatic power of which Iran has been a principal scene; and their works are important sources of knowledge respecting the events of the period.
Among the chief names here are Eeshid ed-Din (born 1247), Wassaf (of the same epoch), whose elaborate and excessively ornate style makes him one of the most difficult of Persian authors, and Sherif ed-Din, the historian of Tamerlane. Of later authors, Mirkhond (died in 1498), a writer of universal history, and his son Khondemir, are most distinguished. An important branch of Persian history, too, has India for its native place and its theme. In entertaining or amusing literature, such as fables, tales, anecdotes, legendary and supernatural stories, and the like, Persia is very rich, and it is supposed to be the source whence much of the European literature of this class, dating from the middle ages, was derived. The Anvari soheili, which constitute a Persian paraphrase of the fables of Bidpay, Tuvaini's Na-garistan or " Picture Gallery " (1360), the Bakh-tiyar Nameh, and the Tnti Nameh, deserve special mention. In the 18th century Ferid Gha-fer Khan paraphrased the legends of Hatim ben Ubaid ben Said, which, with those of the bandit and minstrel Kurroglu, form one of the richest collections of oriental fairy stories.
Kheyam, a modern poet, who is also a famous mathematician, is said to bear comparison to Goethe and Heine for extent of knowledge, keenness of wit, and the materialism of his philosophical views. Some of his poems have been translated by Nicolas (Paris, 1867). In recent times have appeared translations of celebrated European works. Noteworthy among these are a version of some of the writings of Descartes (1863), Mirza Habib's translations of Molidre and La Fontaine (1870), which are remarkable for the fidelity and facility with which the niceties of the French language are reproduced, and several medical treatises. Similar works are published every year in Tabriz, Teheran, Bombay, Delhi, and Lucknow. In Moslem theology and jurisprudence, as was to be expected, the Persians are chiefly dependent upon Arabic authorities. In philosophy and the exact sciences nearly the same is the case, yet a large portion of the most highly esteemed scientific works in the Arabic literature are by Persian authors. - The best earlier Persian grammar in English is Sir William Jones's, and there are later ones by Lumsden, Lee, Forbe3, and others, as well as one by a native Persian, Mirza Mohammed Ibrahim; this last has been translated into German, with considerable improvements, by Fleischer (2d ed., 1875). Vul-lers of Giessen has written in Latin a Persian grammar of some pretension, which has reached a second edition; he has also put forth a dictionary, explained in Latin (2 vols. 8vo, 1855-'64, with a supplement, Bonn, 1867), and founded mainly on the native lexicons, of which there are many, the most noted being the Farhang-i-SWuri (Constantinople, 1742), the Burhdn-i-Q&tih (Calcutta, 1818), and the Haft Kul~ zum, "Seven Seas" (Lucknow, 1822). The best Persian-English dictionary is that of Francis Johnson (3d ed., London, 1852). A convenient dictionary in one volume is Berge's Dictionnaire persan-franpais (Paris, 1868).