Gautier, Epopees franCaises (vol.
Gautier, Les Epopees francaises (Paris, 4 vols.
The third volume of the Epopees francaises contains an analysis and full particulars of the chansons de geste immediately connected with the history of Charlemagne.
As in all his following epopees the subject was taken from what pious Moslems call the time of "heathendom" - here, for instance, from the old Sassanian story of Shah Khosrau Parwiz (Chosroes Parvez), his love affairs with the princess Shirin of Armenia, his jealousy against the architect Ferhad, for some time his successful rival, of whom he got rid at last by a very ingenious trick, and his final reconciliation and marriage with Shirin; and it is a noteworthy fact that the once so devout Nizami never chose a strictly Mahommedan legend for his works of fiction.
It has been held that the chansons de geste were formed by joining together " bunches " of these earlier cantilenes, and this was the view taken by Leon Gautier in the first edition of Les Epopees frangaises (1865).
First of all, the old popular traditions, so far as they had not yet been exhausted by Firdousi, were ransacked for new epic themes, and a regular cycle of national epopees gathered round the Book of Kings, drawn almost exclusively from the archives of the princes of Sejistan, the family of Firdousis greatest hero, Rustam.
His other five mathnawis formed the first attempt ever made to imitate Ni~mis famous Khamsah, or five romantic epopees, and this attempt turned out so well that henceforth almost all epic poets wrote quintuples of a similar description.
Many poets followed in JamIs footsteps, first of all his nephew HtifI (see above), and either wrote whole khamsahs or imitated at least one or other of NikamIs epopees; thus we have a Lail u Majnun, for instance, by Maktabi (i49o), HilalI (see above), and Rub-ulamin (d.
We pass over the wellstocked sections of philosophy, ethics and politics, of theology, law and SufIsm, of mathematics and astronomy, of medicine (the oldest thesaurus of which is the Treasure of the sMh of Khwarizam, i ~ Io), of Arabic, Persian and Turkish grammar and lexicography, and only cast a parting glance at the rich collection of old Indian folk-lore and fables preserved in the Persian version of Kalilah u Dimnak (see RUDAG!), of the Sindbdndma, the Tiltinama, or Tales of a Parrot, and others, and at the translations of standard works of Sanskrit literature, the epopees of the Ramdyana and Mahbhdrala, the B/ia gavad-Gita, the Yoga- Vasishtha, and numerous Purdnas and Upanishads, for which we are mostly indebted to the emperor Akbars indefatigable zeal.
But he joined the staff of the Revue des deux mondes, and for some years contributed to it numerous essays, the most remarkable of which was that on Les Epopees francaises du XIIeme siecle, an early, though not by any means the earliest, appreciation of the long-neglected chansons de geste.