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Shiraz in the Age of Hafez

The Glory of a Medieval Persian City

by John Limbert

Publication Year: 2004

The fourteenth-century Persian city of Shiraz was home to Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafez Shirazi, a classical poet who remains broadly popular today in modern Iran and among all lovers of great verse traditions. As John Limbert notes, Hafez’s poetry is inseparable from the Iranian spirit -a reflection of Iranians’ intellectual and emotional responses to events.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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p. vii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiii

Throughout history, foreign visitors to Shiraz have praised the city’s gardens, its site, its clear air, its wines, and the charm of its people. Today a wine lover will find the city’s name memorialized in a delicious red produced (alas) in Australia. Iranians themselves, however, have long treasured Shiraz as a city of Islam. Its traditional Iranian names—Dar al-Elm ...

Part One: History of Shiraz from its Founding to the Conquest of Timur

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1. History of Shiraz to the Mongol Conquest

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pp. 3-17

Shiraz is the capital of the Iranian province of Fars, the ancient homeland of the Achemenian (ca. 549–330 b.c.e.) and the Sassanian (ca. 224– 651 c.e.) dynasties. The Greeks called this area Persis, from which came our name “Persia” for the entire country. The Iranians derive the name of their beloved national language, Farsi, from the name of this province. ...

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2. Things Fall Apart: Shiraz under the Mongols and Their Successors

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pp. 18-32

Things fell apart in Shiraz soon after the death of Atabek Abu Bakr b. Sa’d in 1260. After the harsh and tough-minded Salghurid rulers, who had known when to yield to superior force, came a series of drunkards, braggarts, and children. Abu Bakr’s immediate successor was his son Sa’d, who was returning from attendance at the Mongol camp at the time of ...

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3. Shiraz as City-State: Abu Eshaq Inju and the Mozaffarids

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pp. 33-46

Contemporaries such as the historian Zarkub and the poet Hafez praised Abu Eshaq Inju for his intelligence, bravery, chivalry,and generosity. After surviving the bloody struggles described in the previous chapter, he took control of Fars and Esfahan, and held them for eleven years. Poets and historians have memorialized him as a lover of art, literature, and religious ...

Part Two: City of Roses and Nightingales

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4. Peoples and Places

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pp. 49-73

The poet Shams al-Din Mohammad Hafez Shirazi (ca. 1320–1389) lived through decades of bloodshed and anarchy in his native city. If his Shiraz was a place of violence,however, it was also a place of piety, scholarship,and artistic genius.While rulers,generals,and ministers played their deadly power games, there was just enough prosperity and stability for Hafez to compose ...

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5. The City Administration

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pp. 74-97

In Hafez’s time,running Shiraz,a city of sixty thousand (sometimes unruly) inhabitants in the fourteenth century, meant keeping the population fed, quiet, and paying the taxes that supported the ruler’s court and army. But if ruling Shiraz was simpler then than now, it still required the rulers to establish and preserve a delicate balance among themselves, their officers, ...

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6. Shirazi Society: Patricians, Poets, and Scholars

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pp. 98-119

In Hafez’s Shiraz, rulers, ministers, and judges took power directly from their o‹ces. One judge might be more or less powerful than another, but there was no question about what a judge was supposed to do. Below these top offcials, however, the picture was different. Nowhere was the power of the kalu, the pahlavan, the teacher, and the sufi sheikh clearly defined. ...

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7. A Very Special Place

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pp. 120-124

Shiraz has always been a special place, whether for its magnificent poetry, its saints, its scholars, or its wine. Of course, the traveler who visits Shiraz today will not find a city resembling the one where Hafez lived, studied, and composed his lyrics. The site is the same, but the physical setting and the social and cultural life have changed radically. The city wall, the gates, ...

Appendix: The First Families of Shiraz

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pp. 125-142


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pp. 143-162


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pp. 163-172


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pp. 173-182

E-ISBN-13: 9780295802886
E-ISBN-10: 029580288X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295983912
Print-ISBN-10: 0295983914

Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 758005969
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Shiraz in the Age of Hafez

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Subject Headings

  • Shīrāz (Iran) -- History.
  • Shīrāz (Iran) -- Description and travel.
  • Shīrāz (Iran) -- Intellectual life.
  • Shīrāz (Iran) -- Social life and customs.
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