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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Abu Nuwas

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ABU NUWAS [Abu 'Ali Hal-asan ibn Hani'al-Hakami] ( c. 756-810), known as Abu Nuwas, Arabian poet, was born in alAhwaz, probably about 756. His mother was a Persian, his father a soldier, a native of Damascus. His studies were made in Basra under Abu Zaid and Abu `Ubaida, and in Kufa under Khalaf al-Ahmar. He is also said to have spent a year with the Arabs in the desert to gain purity of language. Settling in Bagdad he enjoyed the favour of Harun al-Rashid and al-Amin, and died there probably about 810. The greater part of his life was characterized by great licentiousness and disregard of religion, but in his later days he became ascetic. Abu Nuwas is recognized as the greatest poet of his time. His mastery of language has led to extensive quotation of his verses by Arabian scholars. Genial, cynical, immoral, he drew on all the varied life of his time for the material of his poems. In his wine-songs especially the manners of the upper classes of Bagdad are revealed. He was one of the first to ridicule the set form of the qasida (elegy) as unnatural, and has satirized this form in several poems. See I. Goldziher, Abhandlungen zur Arabischen Philologie (Leyden, 1896), i. pp. 145 ff. His poems were collected by several Arabian editors. One such collection (the MS. of which is now in Vienna) contains nearly 5000 verses grouped under the ten headings: wine, hunting, praise, satire, love of youths, love of women, obscenities, blame, elegies, renunciation of the world. His collected poems ( Diwan ) have been published in Cairo (1860) and in Beira (1884). The wine-songs were edited by W. Ahlwardt under the title Diwan des Abu Nowas. 1. Die Weinlieder (Greifswald, 1861). (G. W. T.)


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Abu Nuwas'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/a/abu-nuwas.html. 1910.

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