Infanticide as Instructing Ethics in "Rostam and Sohrab"

By Shahabi, Hassan; Kouchaki, Marzieh | Canadian Social Science, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Infanticide as Instructing Ethics in "Rostam and Sohrab"


Shahabi, Hassan, Kouchaki, Marzieh, Canadian Social Science


Abstract

The present paper investigates the story of "Rostam and Sohrab" by Abolghasem Ferdowsi - the poet of the fourth century. This paper aims to demonstrate the relationship between infanticide by the major character of this work, Rostam, and ethical dilemmas in the light of Emmanuel Levinas's notion of responsibility and depicts how instructing ethics will appear in the act of infanticide by him. Therefore, this paper shows how infanticide despite of being indecent is considered as an ethical dead in specific circumstances.

Key words: Infanticide; Responsibility; Ethics

INTRODUCTION

It is normally thought that infanticide is considered to be common in various societies. According to the first article of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN General Assembly sanctioned in 1989): "An infant is every human under eighteen who needs legal support." (Zeraat, 1386, no. 50) Infanticide has severe emotional and psychological effects. Therefore, many stories are created based upon that among which the story of "Rostam and Sohrab" by Abol alghasem Ferdowsi is investigated in the present paper. Strikingly different works are generated in relation to this story. Each tried to remove some of the ambiguities. Although infanticide is mentioned in some of the works, none has specifically decoded it.

In connection with the story of "Rostam and Sohrab", it can be said that this story is one of the most painful and doleful stories of Shahnameh. Abol alghasem Ferdowsi depicts the dead story of the young Sohrab who is killed by his father due to the war with Rostam. Numerous works has also been created about this happening. Each has been criticized this issue from different angles.

The present study attempts to investigate the act of infanticide by the main character of this work in the realm of ethics from Emmanuel Levinas's point of view, one of the most important moral philosophers of the twentieth century who is less known in Iran. According to Levinas, "Ethics is paying attention to Others' right and this is not of ontology, for this has a meaning beyond ontology" (Levinas, 2006, p. 46).

This shows for Levinas unlike Heidegger, existence is prior to ontology. Levinas points to the fact that "The ethical relation to the Other is 'something beyond ontology' not 'a part of ontology'" (The same, p. 46). Therefore, the relation between the same and the Other can be considered as the key concept in Levinas's philosophy. In fact, Levinas believes that "In the first relation to the Other, I is always called to the Other, to whom I is held hostage by an unlimited responsibility; for the Other always come first. Therefore, violence may exist in any dialectical relation - kinship relation - to the Other in which the Other is reduced to the same" (Levinas, 1969, p. 58). In other words, he sometimes considers violence as a necessary part of ethics. The present paper tries to investigate the relationship between infanticide by the major character of this work and ethical dilemmas from Levinas's view.

METHOD

The present study is based upon focusing on Ferdowsi's epic story, "Rostam and Sohrab", in the glare of Emmanuel Levinas's concept of responsibility. Having brought some lines from Shahnameh as witness, this study tries to represent how the heroin murders his child consciously as well as how this infanticide can be considered as an ethical deed and the real and imagined virtues and values of heroines despite of its marks of social taboo.

DISCUSSION

The sense of responsibility appears in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh. In order to analyze this sense of responsibility, investigation of the mournful story of "Rostam and Sohrab", one of the magnificent as well as the deepest tragedies of Shahnameh, seems to be necessary. But what is the starting motivation of this war? Whether Sohrab's ambitiousness and foolishness causes him to campaign? Is it possible to consider Rostam as an unwise stubborn who is surrendered to destiny?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Infanticide as Instructing Ethics in "Rostam and Sohrab"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.