28740 - Persian Language and Literature I (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Docente: Nahid Norozi
  • Credits: 12
  • SSD: L-OR/15
  • Language: Italian

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has the basic knowledge of Persian grammar (alphabet and elementary morphology of the parts of the speech) and is able to support simple dialogues and to read passages of limited syntactic complexity. He also broadly knows the origins and development of the neo-Persian literature of the early centuries, both in relation to the Arab and ancient-Iranian heritage and to the historical and cultural context of Muslim Iran. In particular, he also becomes familiar with the main poetic genres (ghazal, roba'i, mathnavi, qaside) and deepens the relationship between poetry and Islamic mysticism or Sufism.

Course contents


Lectures are open not only to Bachelor's and Master's degree courses pertaining to the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LILEC), but also to students of other Bachelor's degrees (ARCO, SVIC) and Master's degrees (Historical and Oriental Sciences).

Students with examinations of less than 9 CFU will have a reduced bibliography. (see "Readings/Bibliography")




Many think, erroneously, that it is a minor language, in fact today Persian is the official language of at least three countries (Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan) and is also spoken by large minorities in Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and other places of former Soviet Union. Contrary to languages such as Arabic or Turkish, Persian is a language of great morphological simplicity, whose grammar may be learned even in a few days; in the Middle Ages it was the "lingua franca" of merchants and travelers on the "Silk Road" that led from the Mediterranean area to China through Central Asia. Everything important (scientific, religious, philosophical, literary texts etc.) that was written in Arabic has always been readily translated into the easiest Persian. So Persian is a sort of extraordinary "via brevis" to enter the main door into the Islamic world and its vast and varied culture that has lasted for 14 centuries and has been expressed not only in Arabic and Persian, but also in Turkish Urdu, Malay etc. .


Classical Persian literature takes place between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, providing genres and forms (especially in poetry), themes and motifs that will largely influence not only the writers of Iranian origin but also those of the nearby literatures, in particular the Ottoman Turkish one and the Indian one (in Urdu language). Poets writing in Persian can be found even in the Ottoman era of Bosnia, from which came Sudi the major commentator of Hafez (or Hafis), the great Persian poet who - translated into German at the beginning of the 800- inspired the West-Oestlicher Divan of Goethe; also authors from the English-speaking area such as Fitzgerald and Emerson. In medieval Persian poetry we find themes such as the "journey of the soul" in the afterlife, which feeds a vast cycle of Islamic "divine comedies"; or that of love for a splendid "friend" with an ambiguous physiognomy, in which sometimes it is given to see a symbol of the absolute, of the divine. Some genres, such as the romance in verse have striking parallels in contemporary European literature, sometimes even some indirect influence is assumed (for example between Vis and Rāmin of Gorgāni - 11th century -  and the Tristan cycle). In short, we find themes that have an obvious European pendant in medieval Romance and Germanic literatures. Numerous are the mystic poets, who investigate the forms of spiritual initiation, as in the case of 'Attar or Rumi; but there are also poets expressing a worldly and nonconformist spirit, often veined by a corrosive skepticism, a radical philosophy of the "carpe diem", as occurs in the case of the quatrains of the famous and multi-translated 'Omar Khayyam. The study of this literature, in particular of its poetic expressions, can open up new horizons and together (partially) familiar, which make us understand how the idea of a West strictly bounded by its Greek-Roman-Christian matrix is perhaps in need of a deep review.



The course consists of two parts

1. a linguistic part carried out in both courses: Persian Language and Culture (taught by the main lecturer Prof. Nahid Norozi), and Persian Language Practice (with native speaker tutor Dr. Zahra Eghtedari). Three meetings per week are scheduled for each course.
During the Persian Language and Culture course, in addition to Persian literature (see below), general grammar of the language will be studied, while the Persian Language and Culture Exercises course will be devoted mainly to practising the language (guided exercises, conversation).

The Persian language part includes the alphabet, the morphological-syntactic presentation of the language and, above all, many practical exercises for beginners, relating to the alphabet, grammar, reading, conversation (with elementary sentences and structures of the language). Directions for materials and handouts will be provided during the lessons.

2. A literary part, conducted with the main lecturer (Prof. Nahid Norozi), is divided into two sections:

-the introductory section aims to trace an outline of medieval Persian literature, with a special focus on the main poetic genres and related forms and developments: qasidé (encomiastic poetry), Roba'i (quatrain); ghazal (lyric ode) with hints also at the ghazal form in contemporary times; the mathnavì (narrative poems) with a special focus on the novel in verse. As part of the course there will also be readings and commentaries of excerpts in the original from various Persian poets of the classical and contemporary periods

-the monographic section includes the reading and commentary of a classical author and one or two contemporary authors


Students with examinations of less than 9 CFU will have a reduced bibliography. (see below)


Thorough reading of at least one of the following monographs. The second one is recommended for beginners:

- C. Saccone, Viaggi e visioni di re sufi e profeti. Storia tematica della letteratura persiana, vol. I, Luni, Trento-Milano 1999

- C. Saccone, Il maestro sufi e la bella cristiana. Poetica della perversione nella Persia medievale. Storia tematica della letteratura persiana, vol.II, Carocci, Roma 2005

- C. Saccone, Il re dei belli, il re del mondo. Teologia del potere e della bellezza nella Persia medievale. Storia tematica della letteratura persiana, vol.III, Aracne, Roma 2014

- J.C. Buergel, La parola è nave, il significato un mare. Saggi sull'amore e il viaggio nella poesia persiana medievale, a cura di C. Saccone, Carocci, Roma 2005

- A. Bausani, Il pazzo sacro, a cura di M. Pistoso, Luni Ed., Milano-Trento 2000 (distribuito da Carocci Ed.)

Lo studente più curioso o intenzionato a chiedere una tesi di argomento iranistico, può fare eventuali approfondimenti, a piacere, nei testi seguenti:

- J.Scott Meisami, Persian medieval court poetry, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1987

- J.T.P. De Bruijn, Persian sufi poetry, Curzon Press, Richmond 1997

- A. Schimmel, Stern und Blume. Die Bilderwelt der persischen Poesie, Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1984

- N. Norozi, Esordi del romanzo persiano. Dal Vis o Rāmin di Gorgāni (XI sec.) al ciclo di Tristano, Ed. Dell'Orso, Alessandria 2021 (2022, 2a ed.)



Accurate reading of two (ONLY one for students with less than 9 CFU exams) texts in translation, chosen at will from the following classical and contemporary works:

A. classical works

in verse:

- Farid ad-din ‘Attār, Il verbo degli uccelli (Mantiq al-Tayr), a cura di C. Saccone, Centro Essad Bey-CreateSpace IPP, Charleston 2016 (libro distribuito da Amazon)

- Farid ad-din 'Attār, La rosa e l’usignuolo, a cura di C. Saccone, Carocci, Roma 2003

- Farid ad-din 'Attār, Il poema celeste, a cura di M.T. Granata, BUR-Rizzoli, Milano 1990

- Hāfez, Coppiere di Dio, (con i testi persiani in appendice) a cura di C. Saccone, Centro Essad Bey Amazon IP, Seattle 2019

- Sa'di, Il Verziere (Bustān). Un manuale di saggezza morale e spirituale dalla Persia del ‘200, Centro Essad Bey-Amazon, Seattle 2018

- Sa‘di, L’argento di un povero cuore. 101 ghazal di Sa‘di Shirāzi, a cura di S.Manoukian, Ist. Cult. Della Rep. Isl. d'Iran, Roma 1991

- Sanā'i, Viaggio nel regno del ritorno, a cura di C. Saccone, Luni, Milano-Trento 1998 (prima ed. Pratiche Ed., 1993)

- Omar Khayyām, Quartine, a cura di A. Bausani, Einaudi, Torino 1956 (ristampa recente, oppure in ed. Newton Compton, a cura di F. Gabrieli, Roma 1973)

- Fakhr al-Din Gorgani, Dieci lettere di Vis a Ramin sulla crudeltà. Il più celebre epistolario amoroso del medioevo persiano, a cura di N. Norozi, con una prefazione di Mario Mancini (Collana "Biblioteca Medievale"), Carocci, Roma 2022

- Nezami, Leylà e Majnun, a cura di G. Calasso, Adelphi, Milano 1985

- Nezāmi, Le sette principesse, a cura di A. Bausani, BUR-Rizzoli, Milano 1982

- Nezāmi, Il libro della fortuna di Alessandro, a cura di C. Saccone, BUR-Rizzoli, Milano 1997

- Nāser-e Khosrow, Il Libro della Luce (Rowshanā'i-nāme), Centro Essad Bey, Seattle 2017 (libro distribuito da Amazon)

- Nezāmi, Khosrow e Shirin, a cura di D. Meneghini, Ariele, Milano 2017

- Rumi, Poesie mistiche, a cura di A. Bausani, BUR-Rizzoli, Milano 1990

- Amir Khusrau di Delhi, Le otto novelle del paradiso, a cura di A.M. Piemontese, Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 1996

- Amir Khusrau di Delhi, Lo specchio alessandrino, Rubbettino, a cura di A.M. Piemontese, Soveria Mannelli 1999

- ‘Abdallāh Hātefi, I sette scenari, a cura di M. Bernardini, Ist. Univ. Orientale, Napoli 1995

- Khwāju di Kerman, Homāy e Homāyun. Un romanzo d'amore e avventura dalla Persia medievale, a cura di N. Norozi, Mimesis, Milano 2016

- Mahsati Ganjavi, La luna e le perle, a cura di R.Bargigli e D. Meneghini, Ariele Ed., Milano 1999

- Nasimi di Shirvan, Nel tuo volto è scritta la Parola di Dio. Il canzoniere persiano del poeta-martire dell’Hurufismo, Centro Essad Bey-Amazon, Seattle 2020

- Sarmad di Kashan, Dio ama la bellezza del mio peccato, a cura di C. Saccone, Centro Essad Bey-Amazon IP, Seattle 2022

- R. Bargigli (a cura), I poeti della pleiade ghaznavide [Farrokhi, ‘Onsori, Manuchehri], Ariele Ed., Milano 1995

in prose:

- Sa‘di, Il roseto (Golestān), a cura di C.M. Guzzetti, San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo 1991 (reperibile anche in ed. Bollati Boringhieri, a cura di P. Filippini-Ronconi)

- 'Obeyd Zākāni, Dissertazione letifica, a cura di G.M. D'Erme, Carocci, Roma 2005

- Kay Kā'us ibn Iskandar, Il libro dei consigli, a cura di R. Zipoli, Adelphi, Milano 1981

- Nizām al-Mulk, L'arte della politica, a cura di M. Pistoso, Luni Ed., Milano-Trento 1999

- Shihāb al-din Y. Suhrawardi, Il fruscio delle ali di Gabriele, a cura di S. Foti, Mondadori, Milano 2008

B. Contemporary poetry:

- Abbas Kiarostami, Un lupo in agguato, a cura di R. Zipoli, Einaudi, 2003

- Sohrāb Sepehri, Sino al fiore del nulla. 99 poesie (con testi a fronte), a cura di N. Norozi, Centro Essad Bey, (libro - Edizioni CreateSpace IPP), 2016

- N. Norozi, Il cavallo selvaggio dell’ira. Introduzione all’opera di Ahmad Shāmlu, poeta ribelle del ‘900 persiano, (con ampia antologia) prefazione di Maurizio Pistoso, Centro Essad Bey (Collana "Kharabat"), Charleston 2017 (libro - Edizioni CreateSpace IPP)

- Forugh Farrokhzad, È solo la voce che resta, a cura di F. Mardani, Riccardo Condò Editore, Roma 2018

- N. Norozi, “La mia spada è la poesia”. Versi di lotta e d’amore nella poetessa persiana Simin Behbahāni (con ampia antologia di poesie tradotte e commentate con gli originali in appendice), WriteUp Books (“Ferdows. Collana di Studi iranici e islamici”), Roma 2023.


FOR THE LINGUISTIC PART reference works are:

- Dizionario persiano. Italiano-persiano, persiano-italiano, a cura di F. Mardani, Vallardi

- Further material will be sent during the course in the form of telematic handouts.

- - (REQUIRED for NON-attending students) Meneghini D.; Orsatti P., Corso di lingua persiana (con 2 CD audio), Hoepli, Milano 2012, pp. 1-192.

to deepen (optional):

- Coletti A.; Gruenbaum H., Dizionario Persiano-Italiano, Centro Culturale Italo-Iraniano, Roma 1978

- Lambton A. K. S., Persian grammar, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1984

- Coletti A., Grammatica della lingua persiana, Nuova Cultura, Roma 2007

- D’Erme G. M, Grammatica del neopersiano, Istituto Universitario Orientale, Napoli 1979

- Piemontese A. M., Grammatica persiana in nuce, Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali, Pisa-Roma 2004.

Teaching methods

Lectures, listening to musical texts, possible seminars or lectures

Assessment methods

Students who attend at least 75% of the lessons are considered to be attending.

At the end of the course, there will be two separate exams, a written language test (followed, on the same day of the exam, by a short oral interview) and an oral literature test (which may also be on a different roll). For the contents of the examination, see 'Course Contents' and 'Reading/Bibliography' above. The final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two parts.

The student's achievement of the ability to comment comprehensively on the selected texts, both linguistically and historically, and to express an organic vision of the topics addressed in the lessons with a good command of expression and specific language will be assessed with marks of excellence.

A mnemonic knowledge of the subject, together with skills of synthesis and analysis articulated in a correct but not always appropriate language, will lead to fair marks.

Formative deficiencies and/or inappropriate language - albeit in the context of minimal knowledge of the examination material - will lead to grades that do not exceed sufficiency.

Formative deficiencies, inappropriate language, lack of orientation within the bibliographical materials offered during the course will lead to negative marks.

Teaching tools

books, handouts, audio-visual media, magazine websites and other useful materials

Office hours

See the website of Nahid Norozi


Quality education Gender equality Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.