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the continuity between the Persian tradition of court poetry and that of Arabic, which developed several centuries earlier- a continuity all too often obscured by the fragmentation of lit- erary studies along linguistic, geographical, or political lines- will be stressed throughout this book, in particular with re- spect to the development of panegyric poetry and of the love lyric.
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Under the Sassanians, poets enjoyed an even more privileged position: Musicians and singers of the first rank belonged to the highest class of courtiers, comprising nobles and princes of the royal blood, and were placed on a footing of equaJ- ity with the greatest of them.
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The emerging Arab caliphate, stimulated by the demands of the new, urban society that was rapidly displacing the old tribal one, drew heavily on Persian models of court conduct and etiquette.
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Arab contacts with Persian culture, which had always existed in some form or other, increased markedly, first under the Umayyads but especially with the early Abbasid rul- ers, whose court pro to cols (like their bureaucracy) derived in large part from Sassanian practice. 9 Models were provided through the translation and imitation of works of the "mirror for princes" type, manuals of statecraft which had formed an . important genre of Sassanian prose literature, by secretaries and scribes who were themselves often of Persian origin, like 'Abd al-J:Iamid al-Katib (d. 750) and Ibn al-Muqaffa' (d. 754).10
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Poets were elevated from their earlier roles of tribal panegyrist-satirist or urban minstrel to a position comparable to that enjoyed by the Sassanian court minstrels; and panegyr.ic became the major end of the Arabic qa$tdah, presented to the ruler on ceremonial occasions as well as utilized for the praise of lesser notables. II
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