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Antara Ibn Shaddad Biography | Poet

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ANTARA IBN SHADDĀD, Arabian poet and warrior of the 6th century, was famous both for his poetry and his adventurous life. His chief poem is contained in the Mo‘allakât. The account of his life forms the basis of a long and extravagant romance. His father Shaddād was a soldier, his mother Zabūba a negro slave. Neglected at first, he soon claimed attention and respect for himself, and by his remarkable personal qualities and courage in battle he gained his freedom and the acknowledgment of his father. He took part in the great war between the related tribes of Abs and Dhubyān, which began over a contest of horses and was named after them the war of Dāhis and Ghabrā. 89He died in a fight against the tribe of Ṭai. His poems, which are chiefly concerned with fighting or with his love for Abla, are published in W. Ahlwardt’s The Diwans of the six ancient Arabic Poets (London, 1870); they have also been published separately at Beirût (1888). As regards their genuineness, cf. W. Ahlwardt’s Bemerkungen uber die Aechtheit der alten arabichen Gedichte (Greifswald, 1872), pp. 50 ff. The Romance of ‘Antar (Sîrat ‘Antar ibn Shaddād) is a work which was long handed down by oral tradition only, has grown to immense proportions and has been published in 32 vols. at Cairo, 1307 (a.d. 1889), and in 10 vols. at Beirût, 1871. It was partly translated by Terrick Hamilton under the title ‘Antar, a Bedoueen Romance (4 vols., London, 1820).

For an account of the poet and his works see H. Thorbeckes, Antarah, ein vorislamischer Dichter (Leipzig, 1867), and cf. the Book of Songs (see Abulfaraj), vol. vii. pp. 148-153.

An´tar, an Arabian warrior and poet of the sixth century, author of one of the seven Moallakas (poems) hung up in the Kaaba at Mecca; hero of a romance analogous in Arabic literature to the Arthurian legend of the English.

The romance of Antar is composed in rhythmic prose interspersed with fragments of verse, many of which are attributed to Antar himself, and has been generally ascribed to Asmai (born A.D. 740, died about A.D. 830), preceptor to Harun-al-Rashid. It has been published in 32 vols. at Cairo (1889).

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