Abstract

The notion of “cupbearer” is central to Persian Bacchic poetry. The cupbearer appears in descriptions of convivial courtly gatherings from the earliest specimens of Persian poetry, usually as a young agreeable companion, adroit in dancing, music, and singing in the festive arena. This paper gives a brief background of the cupbearer in order to analyze the rise and the usages of curt sāqīnāma passages in Niẓāmī of Ganja’s Alexander romance (Iskandarnāma). I argue that such passages not merely are invocations of an imagined cupbearer or wine but have narrative functions, containing flash-forward allusions, through which the poet teases the audience, making him wonder how specific images and metaphors can be connected to the main elements of the episode the poet is going to narrate.

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