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Some claim that Ferdowsi also used Zoroastrian nasks, such as the now-lost Chihrdad, as sources as well.Many other Pahlavi sources were used in composing the epic, prominent being the Kārnāmag-ī Ardaxšīr-ī Pābagān, which was originally written during the late Sassanid era and gave accounts of how Ardashir I came to power which, because of its historical proximity, is thought to be highly accurate.There are many shāhs who come and go, as well as heroes and villains, who also come and go.The only lasting images are those of Greater Persia itself, and of a succession of sunrises and sunsets, no two ever exactly alike, yet illustrative of the passage of time.Traditional historiography in Iran has claimed that Ferdowsi was grieved by the fall of the Sassanid Empire and its subsequent rule by "Arabs" and "Turks".
There is a Phaedra-like story of Shāh Kay Kāvus, his wife Sūdābeh, and her passion for and rejection by her stepson, Sīyāvash.
The work is divided into three successive parts: the "mythical", "heroic", and "historical" ages.
Father Time, a Saturn-like image, is a reminder of the tragedy of death and loss, yet the next sunrise comes, bringing with it hope of a new day.
According to one account of the sources, a Persian named Dehqan in the court of King Anushehrawan Dadgar had composed a voluminous book in prose form, known as Khoday Nameh.
After the fall of the Iranian Empire, Khoday Nameh came into the possession of King Yaqub Lais and then the Samani king Nuh ordered the poet Daqiqi to complete it, but Daqiqi was killed by his slave. The Shahnameh provides a poetic account of the prehistory and history of Iran, beginning with the creation of the world and the introduction of the arts of civilization (fire, cooking, metallurgy, law), and ending with the Islamic Conquest of Persia.