Meaning of 'ANTAR, ROMANCE OF in English


tales of chivalry centred on the black Arab desert poet and warrior 'Antarah ibn Shaddad, one of the poets of the celebrated pre-Islamic collection Al-Mu'allaqat. It was composed anonymously between the 8th and the 12th century, though the Romance itself credits the 9th-century philologist al-Asma'i with its authorship. Written in rhymed prose (saj') interspersed with 10,000 poetic verses, it is commonly divided into 32 books, each leaving the conclusion of a tale in suspense. The Romance relates the fabulous childhood of 'Antar, son of an Arab king by a black slave girl, hence regarded as a bastard by his people, and the adventures he undertakes to attain the hand of his cousin 'Ablah in marriage. These take him beyond Arabia and his own time period to Iraq, Iran, Syria, Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Constantinople, Rome, and the Sudan; they bring him in contact with a Byzantine emperor and with Frankish, Spanish, and Roman kings. Though childless by 'Ablah, 'Antar fathers several children, including two crusaders, Ghadanfar (by the sister of the king of Rome) and Jufran (by a Frankish princess). The Romance of 'Antar evolved out of a Bedouin tradition that stressed nobility of character and desert chivalry and of which 'Antar was made the epitome. With the advent of Islam, it assumed a new outlook that reinterpreted 'Antar as a precursor of the new religion. A strong Persian hand in the later authorship of the Romancedemonstrated by the detailed knowledge of Persian history and court lifethen shows 'Antar in Iran. The Romance finally incorporated European elements encountered among the crusaders.

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