The Mythical Analysis of the Great War in the Illustrations of Shamloo’s Shahnama, The Illustrated Epic of Kings Based on Northrop Frye’s Archetypal Approach

Document Type : Research Paper


1 M. A. in Arts Research, Department of Art, Faculty of Art, Ghaemshhr Branch, Islamic Azad Unuversity, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Faculty of Art, Islamic Azad Unuversity, Ghaemshhr, Iran.


The art of any nation is deeply rooted in the beliefs, ideology, and mythology of its people, and decoding it requires knowledge of their myths. Mythical criticism is an interdisciplinary approach that deals with the interpretation of a literary work and identifying the sources of myths in that work based on anthropology, psychology, the history of religions, and the history of civilization. Since the Shahnama, The Epic of Kings by Ferdowsi has a profoundly mythological plot line, it’s worthy of archetypical analysis. This research attempts to analyze and interpret the archetype of the Great War in the Epic of Kings based on Northrop Frye’s viewpoint. Thus, the selected illustrations in this essay are analyzed using structuralism. Frye’s view is based on the zeitgeist and draws attention to placing art and literature in the space created by archetypal symbols and the seasonal cycle with a universal classification. For this purpose, first, the theoretical definitions and the way the myths were created are studied. Then, the statistical population is introduced and described. In the following sections of the research study, the analysis will be done using Frye’s approach as the dominant approach. At the end of the research, it turned out that the narrative of The Great War and The Selected illustrations of the Epic of Kings are significantly compatible with Frye’s mythical approach. Frye’s archetypal symbols, which are three types of archetypal, demonic, and analogical imagery, have covered a high percentage of selected illustrations of Shamloo’s Epic of Kings. It can be concluded that mythological and archetypal concepts and themes can be identified in the stages and elements of the illustrations. And these images are the messengers that convey the archetypal symbols and the way concepts and meanings are displayed in different literal and visual stages.


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