The Persian poet Omar Khayyām (c. 1048-1131) is perhaps the sage from the medieval Islamic world most translated into European languages. He became famous in Persia during his lifetime for his scientific achievements, especially his calendar reform, and also for his aberrant ideas about topics such as Resurrection, belief and unbelief, carpe diem, wine and hedonism. The quatrains attributed to him became increasingly popular from the thirteenth century onwards in a wide geographical area. Khayyām achieved worldwide fame when his quatrains were adapted by the Victorian poet, Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883), who published his Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, The Astronomer-Poet of Persia in 1859. The Rubáiyát became a vogue, entering various domains of material culture. Soldiers during World War I kept copies of the Rubáiyát in their pockets in the trenches. It is amazing how these quatrains have achieved such sensational popularity around the world. In medieval Persia Khayyām was seen as a follower of Avicenna’s philosophy, which critically ponders on predestination and resurrection, questioning the eternity of existence. This conference is devoted to Khayyām’s philosophy, his ideas on heresy and resurrection, while also paying ample attention to his textual history and his modern appreciation.
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