Divisible homology classes in the special linear group of a number eld
29 Pages
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Divisible homology classes in the special linear group of a number eld


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Learn all about the services we offer
29 Pages


  • cours magistral - matière potentielle : notes
  • cours magistral - matière potentielle : note ser
Divisible homology classes in the special linear group of a number eld Dominique Arlettaz and Piotr Zelewski Introduction Let F be a number eld and SL(F ) denote the innite special linear group over F . The integral homology groups of SL(F ) are in general not nitely generated but, it was shown by the rst author in Section 2 of [A1] that, for all integers i 0 , Hi(SL(F );Z) is the direct sum of a free abelian group of nite rank and a torsion group.
  • wedge of eilenberg-maclane spectra
  • iterated homology suspension
  • torsion group
  • nite group
  • mention that the structure of the integral homology groups
  • product of eilenberg
  • divisible homology classes
  • image
  • sl
  • groups



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1Medieval Wisdom Literature and the “Circle of Justice”

Draft Only. Please Do Not Cite or Circulate.

Jennifer London
University of Chicago
Fall, 2007

Comments are welcome: jlondon@uchicago.edu

Key Words: Wisdom, Wisdom Literature, the “Circle of Justice,” Persian Political Thought,
Arabic Political Thought, History of Political thought, Language and Politics.

One of the best tools we have for learning about modern political thought, and for differentiating
it from what is ancient, is to look to how modern scholars invoked the past to express their
2concerns about the present. In this way, Benjamin Constant (1830/1246) and Hannah Arendt
(1974/1395) transported us to ancient Athens, where politics was as it should be, to show us how
far we have fallen. Likewise, we can learn about medieval Islamic political thought by
considering how medieval Arab and Persian kings, ministers and scholars recited sayings from
ancient Greece and Persia. When we look at how these medieval speakers articulated variations
of two popular sayings, sayings that contemporary scholars call the “circle of justice,” we find an
ideal form of political organization that speakers associated with political order and stability and
wished to import into their current environments.
In practical terms, Arab and Persian princes, ministers and intellectuals invoked sayings
that they attributed to ancient Greeks, Persians and Indians in order to advise princes.
Collections of these sayings are called “ ikma” or “wisdom literature.” As political figures
invoked these sayings in distinct medieval Islamic contexts, in Persian, Arabic and Turkish, they
continued pre-existing conversations about political thought (e.g., how to organize society to
insure economic prosperity, social order and peace) in new contexts. In this chapter, I interpret

1 Thanks very much to John Woods, Danielle Allen, Joe Yackley, Jenna Jordan and Leigh Jenco for
comments on an earlier version of this paper. Special thanks to Aram Shahin for weeks of discussions on these texts
and for advising me on sources.
2 For each person mentioned in this dissertation, I write the year of their death in the western calendar
followed by that year in the Islamic calendar. ­
two sayings to observe what they might teach us about medieval Arabic and Persian political
thought. These sayings represent models for how to achieve political stability that kings,
ministers and scholars sought to implement in different ways. My purpose is to learn what
authors might have achieved politically by invoking political wisdom from another context, and
how such invocations enabled elite speakers to advocate a hierarchical vision of social order and
justice that served their interests.
Medieval Arab and Persian kings, ministers and historians invoked two popular sayings
that they attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (322 BCE) and to Ardash īr (ruled 224-241
3CE), the founder of the Persian Sasanian dynasty. While the narrative forms of these sayings
differ slightly, both emphasize the ways that leaders ought to organize society to facilitate
political stability, order and economic prosperity. These two sayings represent an ideology for
4an agrarian economy. They are part of the genres of wisdom literature and of the mirror for
5princes tradition, as they represent wisdom ( ikma) attributed to sages in other cultural contexts,
and medieval scholars incorporate these sayings into works they write to educate princes. They
6The world is a garden (bust ān) ,
7and the fence of it is the dynasty (dawla) ;
The dynasty is authority (sulÔ ān),
and through it customs (sunna) are kept alive;
The customs (sunna) are a way of governing (siy āsa),
that is implemented by the sovereign (malik);
The sovereign (malik) is a shepherd (r ā‘i),
and the soldiers (jaysh) help him;
The soldiers are helpers,
and money provides for them;
Money is livelihood (rizq),
that the flock (ra‘Ðya) gather;

3 Ardash īr was the ruler of Persia (224-241 CE) and the founder of the Sasanian dynasty (226–651 CE).
4 L. Darling, 2002, “Do Justice, Do Justice, For That is Paradise,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa
and the Middle East 22.1-2 (2002), p. 2.
5 The word wisdom ( ikma) connotes an Arabic tradition of Greek, Persian and Indian sayings in
translation that introduce morals about social and political life from other contexts. Analogous to the Greek
gnomologic genre, the sayings that constitute this tradition are scattered and are thus difficult to study in a
systematic way. For an introduction to Arabic gnomologia see Dimitri Gutas’ “Classical Arabic Wisdom Literature:
Nature and Scope” Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 10 (1981), pp. 49-86. See also Gutas’ work Greek
Wisdom Literature in Arabic Translation (New Haven, 1975).
6 A bust ān is “a garden of sweet scented flowers and trees” but according to Arabic lexicons it is associated
with the garden of heaven (janna) (See E.W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon, Part I (London, 1863-1893), p. 202.
7 While dawla in this context means dynasty, it comes from the root “dwl” which means to turn, and is
linked with the turning of fortune from and unhappy state to a good and happy one (See E.W. Lane, Arabic-English
Lexicon, Part I, p. 934). The term dawla can also mean the turning of fortune’s wheel.

The flock are slaves,
devoted to the service of (yata‘abbaduhum) justice (‘adl);
Justice is a norm,
and it is alive in the world;
8-Attributed to Aristotle

There is no authority (sulÔ ān) without men,
and there are no men (rij āl) without money,
and there is no money without cultivation (‘im āra),
and there is no cultivation without justice and good governance
9( usn siy āsa)
-Attributed to Ardash īr

These sayings reveal a vision of political stability that results from keeping social
“estates” (namely farmers, soldiers, tax collectors and the sovereign) localized to their respective
10planes. When speakers recited these sayings they also suggested that the welfare of the various
social groups depended upon one another and that the king and his employees were to insure that
11no group was oppressed by other groups.

8 We find this saying in a text attributed to Aristotle, Kit āb Sirr al-Asr ār (The Book of the Secret of Secrets).
This book is of dubious authenticity. Supposedly, it was a letter that Aristotle wrote to Alexander, as the teacher was
too old to follow his student on his campaign to Persia. There is an Arabic version of the text attributed to the ninth
century Arabic translator Ya y ā ibn al-BiÔr īq (d. c. 800/184), a translator of works of Greek into Arabic (see Ibn al-
Nad īm’s Fihrist, Dodge, tr., (New York, 1970), p. 586). Contemporary scholars, however, consider this treatise
apocryphal and believe that it was written in Arabic in the tenth century. See M. Manzalaoui, Secretum Secretorum:
Nine English Versions. Vol. I. (Oxford, 1977), Introduction. See also the introduction to the book edited by ‘Abd al-
Ra mÁn BadawÐ, al-U ūl al-y ūn ān īya lil-naÛar īya al-siy ās īya f ī al-Isl ām (Cairo, 1954). Badawi believes that those
reading the text in the tenth century thought it was by Aristotle (see his introduction to the text just mentioned in
Arabic). In this chapter, I rely on BadawÐ’s Arabic edition, cited above, of the Kit āb Sirr al-Asr ār (The Book of the
Secret of Secrets), drawn from later Arabic manuscripts (the oldest of which is from the fourteenth century). I
concentrate on the part of the text that corresponds with Aristotle’s letter to Alexander on the image of justice (which
in this edition is called “section three” (al-maq āla al-th ālitha), “on the form of justice” (f ī ūrat al-‘adl), pp. 125-128).
9 We find this saying attributed to Ardash īr in ‘Ahd Ardash īr I s ān ‘Abb ās ed. (Beirut, 1967), p. 98. It is
located in the second part of ‘Abb ās’ edition entitled “Scattered Sayings of Ardash īr.” The editor implies that these
sayings were popular in Arabic at the time the work ‘Ahd Ardash īr was translated into Arabic. We can assume that
literature that contains this saying enters the Islamic tradition in the late Umayyad period (661-750/40-132) through
translations of texts like ‘Ahd Ardash īr. See J. “The Last Days of al-Ghazz āl ī and the Tripartite Division of the Sufi
World.” The Muslim World. Vol. 96 (January 2006), p. 96. I s ān ‘Abb ās claims that the text ‘Ahd Ardash īr, a
corpus of Ardash īr’s political wisdom, existed in Arabic by the middle of the eighth-century (see the introduction to
‘Abb ās ed. of ‘Ahd Ardash īr, 1967, also sited in J. Brown, “The Last Days of al-GhazzÁlД p. 108, ft., 16).
10 See A. Lambton, “Justice in the Medieval Persian Theory of Kingship” Studia Islamica, 17 (1962), pp.
91-119; See also H. Yucesoy’s article “Political Theory”, Vol. 2, pp. 623-628, Medieval Islamic Civilization: An
Encyclopedia (New York: Routledge, 2006), J. Meri ed.
11 See S. Kumar’s “The value of the Adab al-Mul ūk as a historical source” The Indian Economic and Social
History Review Vol. XXII, No. 3., 1985, p. 311.

Contemporary scholars speak of these sayings as a single trope that they refer to as the
12“circle of justice.” They probably chose this title for these two sayings because medieval
13scholars often presented them in the form of a circle. The saying attributed to Aristotle appears
14in later Arabic manuscripts in the form of a circle,

Later medieval scholars, such as the fourteenth-century Arab historian Ibn Khald ūn (1332-
1406/732-808), also pointed out that the maxim attributed to Aristotle was arranged in a circle
16(dā’ira). Likewise, the author of the “Letters” (attributed to the fourteenth century-grand
minister RashÐd al-DÐn (d. 1318/718)) referred to Ardash īr’s four line version as a “circle”
17 18(dā’ira) and he reproduced it as such.

12 e.g. L. Darling in her 2002 article “Do Justice, Do Justice, For That is Paradise” mentioned above.
13 Some scholars, such as Joseph Sadan, refer to the form attributed to Ardash īr as “a ‘closed-circuit’ saying
on practical justice.” See J. Sadan, “A ‘Closed Circuit’ Saying on Practical Justice.” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic
and Islam 10, 1987, pp. 325-41. There are also scholars who refer to the eight line version as the “circle of equity”
(e.g., Cornell Fleischer in B. Lawrence ed. Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Ideology (Leiden, 1984). Antony Black calls
this saying the “circle of power” (see The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present, p.
14 See al-U ūl al-y ūn ān īya lil-naÛar īya al-siy ās īya f ī al-Isl ām ‘Abd al-Ra mÁn BadawÐ, ed. (Cairo, 1954) p.
15 This image, found in later Arabic manuscripts of the pseudo-Aristotelian text, is reproduced from
Badawi’s Arabic edition of the Kit āb Sirr al-Asr ār (The Book of the Secret of Secrets), p. 127.
16 e.g., Ibn Khald ūn’s Muqaddima, ‘Abd al-SalÁm al-ShadÁdÐ ed., Part I (al-D ār al-Bay ḍ ā’, 2005), p. 58;
Rosenthal, tr. (Princeton, 1969) p. 41.
17 The four line maxim attributed to Ardash īr also appears in a circle in later Persian manuscripts (e.g., the
Compendium of Sciences, JÁmi‘ al-‘Ul ūm, written in the late twelfth century by the Khwarazmian philosopher Fakhr
al-DÐn RÁz ī, see Fakhr al-DÐn al-RÁzÐ in Tasbihi ed., 1906, 207 and See also L. Darling’s article “Do Justice, Do
Justice,” footnote 19).
18 For a more complete account of various historical incidences where we find these four and eight line
versions of these sayings see L. Darling’s article mentioned above.
4 The image of kingship in these sayings, where a king orders social groups to maintain
stability and productivity, is reminiscent of an ancient Persian ideal of kingship, in which the
king saves the world from disorder and binds the political world with the cosmological in a way
that promotes stability and productivity on earth. We find on an ancient Persian coin, for
example, an inscription from the reign of the Persian King Darius the Great (Darayavahush)
(522-486 BCE),
Saith Darius the King: Ahura Mazdâh (a Zoroastrian God), when he saw this earth in
commotion, thereafter bestowed it upon me, made me king; I am king. By the favor of
Ahura Mazdâh I put it down in its place; what I said to them, that they did, as was my

This inscription represents the Persian ideal that a king, such as Darius, exists to quell disorder,
and to direct the people in productive social activities. This king is chosen by God to maintain
order on earth.
The sayings may also introduce us to a king endowed with divine glory or farr, which
ancient Persians believed that God bestowed upon a king to help him order society. The story of
the king Jamsh īd in the Persian Poet Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāmeh (written around 1000 A.D.), which
narrates the mythical and historical foundation for the ancient Persian Empire, exemplifies the
ideal of a king divinely inspired with farr. The poet Ferdowsi (d. 1020/411) tells us that imperial
farr belonged to the fourth Persian king Jamsh īd. Because of it,
The world submitted to him; quarrels were laid to rest, and all demons, birds and
fairies obeyed Jamshid’s commands. The Royal throne shone with his luster, and
20the wealth of the world increased.

Jamsh īd trained the people in the arts of war (e.g., constructing helmets and swords), spinning,
weaving, dying and sewing, and then he devoted fifty years to gathering men of different
professions around him. The king then separated the men into four classes: men of religion;
members of the military; farmers and craftsmen. Jamsh īd then devoted fifty years to “arranging
these matters” so that the men from each group were aware of their appropriate duties and knew
21their rank. The story of Jamsh īd introduces us to a king like the one we read about in the two
sayings attributed to Aristotle and Ardash īr, in that he attends to locating and ordering distinct
social classes.

19 Inscription of Naqsh-i Rustam A, Darius I found in R. Kent Old Persian. Grammar, Texts, Lexicon,
second edition (New Haven, 1953) pp. 8-9. Thanks to John Woods for introducing me to this source.
20 Ferdowsi Sh āhn āmeh D. Davis tr. (New York, 2006), p. 6
21Sh āhn āmeh, p. 6
5 Linda Darling interprets the meaning of justice in the sayings that contemporary scholars
call the “circle of justice.” She writes,
Justice here (according to these sayings) must mean not only equality before the law or
adherence to it, but whatever else is necessary to ensure the prosperity of agrarian
society, such as protection, stable administration, a working infrastructure, or provision
for peasant subsistence. The ruler who wished to govern securely had to provide this sort
of broad-based ‘justice’ to the cultivators, who in turn provided taxes to the treasury, in
order that soldiers (‘men’) might be paid to protect the realm, put down unrest, enforce
the ruler's decisions, and refrain from preying on those under their protection. There is
even a sense in which justice could generate prosperity not only by making it easier for
agriculturalists to be productive, but also by ensuring divine benevolence and the
22provision of rain.

Darling suggests that these sayings represent forms of social organization that constitute a just
society, alluding to the roles of farmers (who insure agricultural prosperity), of soldiers (who put
down social unrest), of members of the treasury (who collect taxes), and of the sovereign (who
insures an appropriate economic distribution for each of these groups).
While contemporary scholars could stress the egalitarian aspect of such a circle – one that
23places farmers, tax collectors, soldiers and the sovereign within the very same image of society
and that shows that respective social groups all play important roles in constituting the just society
– how can we ignore the ways that such sayings could have served as discourses of power that
24influential speakers may have articulated to keep individuals in respective social groups?
Speakers often uttered these sayings at moments when they feared dynastic decline for the regime
25that was in power. Did speakers seek to prevent political decline by espousing a particular
vision of political organization that they associated with stability? It is interesting that the Arabic
root for justice (‘-d-l) implies equity, balance and equilibrium, while that of the state (d-w-l)
connotes turning or change, linked with fortune’s wheel. This meaning of the state is appropriate
given the transitions of the Islamic middle periods (c. 1000-1500 AD), in which dynasties were
replacing one another constantly. Perhaps speakers thought that they could implement justice, a

22 L. Darling, “Do Justice, Do Justice,” p.3.
23 e.g., L. Darling “Do Justice, Do Justice,” p. 3.
24 It may also be helpful to think of the small likelihood that people would actually challenge the king’s
authority given the social fear of civil war or fitna. This idea is expressed in popular sayings, like the one invoked
by the Sunni theologian Ibn Taymiyya (1328/707) that “it is better to endure sixty years under an unjust ruler than to
live one day without a sultan.” See Ibn TaymÐya, al-SiyÁsa al-Shar‘Ða (Cairo: DÁr al-Sha‘b, 1971), p. 185.
25 I observe that speakers often recite these sayings at times of great political instability, when speakers
hope to transform the society into a stable and well-ordered place. Cornell Fleischer suggests that the Ottoman
intellectual MuÒÔafÁ ‘ÀlÐ (1541-1600/948-1008) may have recited the circle in a similar fashion in his own context.
See C. Fleischer “Royal Authority, Dynastic Cyclism, and ‘Ibn Khald ūnism’ in Sixteenth Century Ottoman Letters”
in Ibn Khaldun and Islamic Ideology B. Lawrence ed. (Leiden, 1984).

clear order of social estates, as a treatment for the political flux of dynastic regime change, to
26suspend the turns of fortune.
To address these questions, I compare three invocations of the “circle of justice” by Kai
27 28K ā’ ūs (d. c. 1021/412), NiÛ ām al-Mulk (d.1092/485) and Ibn Khald ūn (1332-1406/732-808)
29respectively. I look at three different invocations of these sayings to observe what common
features they might share and how the invocations are particular to the speaker who utters them. I
choose works by these authors as they represent three early medieval scholarly attempts to make
these sayings meaningful in their own contexts, by situating them within contemporary political
30advice or analysis about their surroundings. I do not survey the invocations of this doctrine, as it
31is referenced by countless speakers in many languages. Instead, I consider what speakers wish
to do by invoking these sayings, and how they inflect them with their unique political perspectives
and aims. I ask also how references to the circle, for Kai K ā’ ūs, NiÛ ām al-Mulk and Ibn Khald ūn,
could resemble allusions to ancient Athens for more contemporary political theorists such as

26 For a brief general overview of historic and theoretical trends that characterized the Islamic middle
periods, see Marshall Hodgson’s article, “The Unity of Later Islamic History.” Obtain full reference.
27 Kai K ā’ ūs was the ruler of the Ziy ārids, who governed Óabarist ān (on the south-eastern coast of the
Caspian) and Gurg ān (in North Central Iran) in the tenth and eleventh-centuries. He invokes the saying on justice in
the Q āb ūsn āma, written in 1083/475. The author writes this work for his son and intended successor, G īl ānsh āh
(For an introduction to this work see C.E. Bosworth’s article “Kay K ā’ ūs b. Iskandar” in the Encyclopedia of Islam,
F.R.C. Bagley’s introduction to al-Ghaz āl ī’s Book of Counsel for Kings, xiii-xiv, and Reuben Levy’s introduction to
his translation of Kai K ā’ ūs’ Q āb ūsnama).
28 NiÛ ām al-Mulk was an esteemed minister to the Salj ūq Sultan Maliksh āh (1072-1092/464-485). As
minister, the sultan gave NiÛ ām al-Mulk an enormous amount of political authority. H. Bowen writes that “the
celebrity of NiÛ ām al-Mulk is really due to the fact that he was in all but name a monarch, and ruled his empire (the
Salj ūq empire) with striking success.” See H. Bowen’s article “NiÛ ām al- Mulk, Ab ū ‘Al ī al-Íasan b. ‘Al ī b. IsÎ āþ al-
Ó ūs ī” in Encyclopaedia of Islam. P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, and W. P. Heinrichs,
eds. (Online, 2007). While he does not reproduce the exact forms of the doctrine attributed to Aristotle and Ardash īr,
NiÛ ām al-Mulk alludes to it in both opening parts of his Book of Counsel for Kings (SiyasÁtn āma) dedicated to
Maliksh āh (See H. Bowen’s article on NiÛ ām al-Mulk in Encyclopaedia of Islam). Hubert Darke speaks of NiÛ ām al-
Mulk invoking this doctrine in his introduction to the English translation of the text (NiÛ ām al-Mulk’s Book of
Government (Siyar al-Mul ūk), H. Darke tr., (London, 1978), pp. xviii-xx.
29 Ibn Khald ūn was a natural law theorist who developed what is perhaps the first universal model of
history. We find his reference to the doctrine in his Introduction (Muqaddima) to a theory of history (For an
introduction to his life and history, see M. Talbi, “Ibn Khald ūn, Wal ī al-D īn ‘Abd al-Ra m ān b. Mu ammad b.
Mu ammad in Encyclopaedia of Islam. P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, and W. P.
Heinrichs, eds. (Online, 2007).
30 While I intended initially to interpret the way that the Sunni theologian al-GhazÁlÐ (d. 1111/505) invokes
the “circle of justice” in his book of Counsel for Kings (Na Ð at al-Mul ūk) in this chapter, I will interpret this text in
a separate article. I will interpret this text separately to be able to introduce debates about its authorship and
contents in a more comprehensive manner. For an introduction to the debate about the authorship of this text and its
contents see P. Crone, “Did al-Ghazali write a Mirror for Princes? On the Authorship of Nasihat al-Muluk,”
Jerusalem Studies of Arabic and Islam, 10, 1987, pp. 167-197.
31 For a Survey of invocations of this doctrine see L. Darling’s article “Do Justice, Do Justice, For it is

Hannah Arendt and Benjamin Constant. All five of these scholars sought to prevent the decline of
politics, as they saw it, by alluding to political models from earlier times. I ask how these
different scholars invoked images of politics from earlier times to elevate visions of politics that
they sought to uphold.
The ways that these three medieval Persian and Arab authors invoked these sayings, reflect
their distinct positions within the diverse historic and social environments that they inhabited.
While the writings of king Kai K ā’ ūs and the Salj ūq minister NiÛ ām al-Mulk offer glimpses into
32 33different periods of Salj ūq dominance, Ibn Khald ūn is associated with the Maml ūk period,
though his life and political activities coincided with several dynasties (such as the Íafsids and the
34Mar īnids). King Kai K ā’ ūs, originally king of the Daylam ī dynasty of Ziy ārids (928-1090/316-
483) who became a vassal of the Salj ūq Sultans, wrote this saying as a form of advice to his son as
35he prepared to lose his kingdom to the Salj ūqs. NiÛ ām al-Mulk’s two allusions to the circle
occur at different moments in his career as minister to the Salj ūq Sultan Maliksh āh (ruled 1072-
1092/465-495). NiÛ ām al-Mulk’s authority was unchallenged during the first seven years of
36Maliksh āh’s reign. The way that the minister invoked the circle in the first case, reflects his
happiness with the world around him. As time went by, however NiÛ ām al-Mulk lost favor with
the Sultan, and the minister feared changing social and political trends (e.g., the rising political
power of the Shi‘ites or Shī‘a) in the Salj ūq period. The minister’s later invocation of the circle
reflects his pessimism about the world around him. While Kai K ā’ ūs and NiÛ ām al-Mulk invoked
the circle in “mirrors for princes” texts, Ibn Khald ūn used this saying in a theoretical work on the
rise and fall of dynasties, the Muqaddima. While Ibn Khald ūn spent periods of his life as a
37political adviser, counseling the Mar īnid ruler Ab ū ‘Inān in Fez in the 1350s, the king of Spain

32 The Salj ūqs were a Turkish Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled Middle Eastern and Central Asian lands
from the eleventh through fourteenth centuries.
33 The Maml ūks were a caste of slaves who overthrew their masters and formed their own dynasty,
governing Egypt and Syria from (1250-1517/648-922).
34 For more information of the Dailamites, see the article by V. Minorsk. “Daylam.” Encyclopaedia of
Islam. P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs eds. (Brill Online, 2007)
35 See C. E. Bosworth, “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A.D. 1000-1217),” The
Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. V: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, J.A. Boyle, ed. (Cambridge, 1968), pp. 23-42.
36 See C.E. Bosworth’s “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World (A.D. 1000-1217),” p. 74.
37 See M. Mahdi, Ibn Khald ūn’s Philosophy of History: A Study in the Philosophic Foundation of the
Science of Culture (Chicago, 1964) p. 37. See also the article by M. Talbi, “Ibn Khald ūn, Wal ī al-D īn ‘Abd al-
Ra m ān b. Mu ammad b. Mu ammad b. Ab ī Bakr Mu ammad b. al- Ḥasan.” in the Encyclopaedia of Islam Online.

38Mu ammad V (1354-1391/755-793), and was the prime minister ( ājib) under the Íaf id prince
39(1364/765) Ab ū ‘Abd All āh, he writes his introduction to history (the Muqaddima) as a
theoretical work in which he used what he had learned from his experiences in politics to develop
a model for the rise and fall of dynasties. We can only compare the uses to which these sayings
were put, however, when we situate them in the contexts in which they were written.

A Father’s Advice
So King Kai K ā’ ūs (d. 1087/479), the ruler of the Ziy ārids in the tenth and eleventh-centuries,
40reproduces these sayings in the Q ābūsn āma (1083 M/ 475), a work that he writes for his son
and intended successor G īl ānsh āh during a time of domination by the Salj ūq Turks. These
sayings, which he invokes as advice on how to be a good minister, embody principles relevant
for how to maintain social order and justice that Kai K ā’ ūs wants his son to uphold in any
profession and that have the potential to help the prince in the precarious political climate he
At this time, the Ziy ārids rule part of the southern Caspian area as vassals of the Salj ūq
41 42sultans. The king likely considers the possibility that the Salj ūqs will take his land and that his
son will not become king. Wary of the political climate for his son and of his son’s future, the
king offers G īl ānsh āh advice on multiple professions that he might need to pursue when his father
is gone. F.R.C. Bagley writes,
Proud of his illustrious ancestry, but impecunious and not very secure on his throne as a
vassal of the Salj ūqs, Kay K ā’ ūs was a realist; he was far from sure that his son would be
able to retain the throne, and indeed G īl ānsh āh did not reign long before the Salj ūq SulÔan
Maliksh āh deposed him and put an end to the dynasty. Besides giving advice on
statecraft, war, etiquette, domestic life, and sport, Kay K ā’ ūs tells his son how to practice
other professions to which he might have to turn, namely those of a doctor of religion
(‘ ālim), merchant, doctor of medicine, astrologer, poet, musician, courtier, secretary,
43farmer, craftsman, condottier or darv īsh.

38 See M. Mahdi, Ibn Khald ūn’s Philosophy of History, p. 40.
39 i, Ibn Khald ūn’s Phy of History, p. 44.
40 Kai-Ka'us Ibn Iskandar, A Mirror For Princes (Q āb ūs N āma), Reuben Levy tr., London: Cresset Press,
41 A sultan is a sovereign in an Islamic polity.
42 E. I. J. Rosenthal Political Thought in Medieval Islam (Cambridge, 1968), p. 78.
43 F. R. C. Bagley in al-Gh āz āl ī’s Na i at al-Muluk Bagley tr. (Oxford, 1964), p. xiii.
9Yet the things that the king wishes for his son to uphold, either as an illustrious king endowed
with farr or as an employee of the Salj ūq Turks, reflects the authors elite social and cultural
status within his current epoch.
Kai K ā’ ūs was a Persian king, subject to Turkish Salj ūq forces in an Islamic era. He was
steeped in an old Persian bureaucratic vision that considered a just society to be one in which
divinely chosen kings rule and place other social classes where they can contribute to society
best. Reminiscent of the Shāhnāmeh, kings exist to order the world and keep anarchy at bay.
Kai K ā’ ūs presents the state of nature that existed without kingship, in which “Man has need of
government and regulation; without direction he is brutal [uncivilized] in the respect that he eats
44his daily bread without regard to order and justice and fails to render due thanks to the Giver.”
The King does not want his son to act like Jamsh īd in Ferdowsi’s Shāhnāmeh, mentioned above,
who grew arrogant about his power to order the world and forgot that it was granted by God. As
45a result, God took it away. His view is that the king should act with humility and gratitude
toward God and generosity toward other social classes — seeing that the farmers are never
hungry so that they will help promote the agricultural prosperity of the realm. He indicates that
the king should stay with those who are on fortune’s side, namely Muslims, and thus urges his
46son to be a Muslim. One detects a hint of snobbery against Turks, whom Kai K ā’ ūs depicts as
lowly soldiers. He presents them as pugnacious warriors, devoid of a sense of justice, which he
47associates with propriety, decorum and noble Persian heritage.
For the king to be just, he must be born of a certain hereditary line, connected with the
great kings of Persia, a lineage that Kai K ā’ ūs traces to his son in the opening of his work. The
king must possess divine wisdom that informs him of how to order economic groups. Yet these
characteristics are not enough, as the king must also have virtue, as well as a desire to improve
himself and his community. As Machiavelli would tell Lorenzo de Medici in the Prince, virtue
was for Kai KÁ’ ūs more important than being born with a hereditary fortune or wisdom. Kai
KÁ’ ūs writes,

44 Kai K ā’ ūs, A Mirror For Princes (Q āb ūs N āma), Levy tr., p. 11.
45 This story reminds us of Plato’s Myth of Kronos, where (like Jamsh īd) the people become arrogant and
forgot to be grateful for the social order and prosperity of their world. Thus, God turned the world in the opposite
direction and chaos ensued.
46 Kai K ā’ ūs, A Mirror For Princes (Q āb ūs N āma), Levy tr., p. 14.
47 See Kai K ā’ ūs, A Mirror For Princes (Q āb ūs N āma), Levy tr., p. 103.