Wednesday, March 09, 2011

One Thousand and One Nights:

"Quoth Shahrazad:--It hath reached me, O auspicious King of intelligence penetrating, that there was, amongst the Kings of Bassorah, a King who loved the poor and needy and cherished his lieges, and gave of his wealth to all who believed in Mohammed (whom Allah bless and assain!), and he was even as one of the poets described him, 'A King who when hosts of the foe invade, Receives them with lance-lunge and sabre-sway; Writes his name on bosoms in thin red lines, And scatters the horsemen in wild dismay.'" - Nur Al-Din Ali and Anis Al-Jalis.

Having finished listening to Aristotle's Politics during my commute, I started listening to Categories. This gave me a quick headache so I decided to switch to something a little lighter to listen to. How about some fiction?

Checking a bit on the net, this particular translation by Burton gets some criticism for his liberties. Keeping that in mind, I will note a few things to this story. First, it is all about the super wealthy, so the underclasses don't figure much. The poor are mentioned in the above passage, but the first thing that jumps out is that the poor don't merit charity unless they are Muslims. There is much talk of slaves and the young lady Anis Al-Jalis is one of them, although one for whom a lot of money has been invested:

"Her market-value stands at ten thousand dinars, but her owner swears that this sum will not cover the cost of the chickens she hath eaten, the wine she hath drunken and the dresses of honour bestowed upon her instructor: for she hath learned calligraphy and syntax and etymology; the commentaries of the Koran; the principles of law and religion; the canons of medicine, and the calendar and the art of playing on musical instruments."

Before I execute someone, I think I should wait until tomorrow to find out about the fate of this couple.

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