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Dimna’s Trial and Apologia in Kashifī’s Anvār-i Suhaylī. Morality’s Place in the Corrupt Trial of a Rhetorical and Dialectical Genius

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Van-Ruymbeke, C 


This essay challenges the received idea that Ibn al-Muqaffa‘, the 8th-century Arabic translator of the Kalīla-Dimna fables, added the Trial of Dimna, the sequel to the first story of the Lion and the Bull, in order to let morality win in the end. The analysis of this sequel’s synopsis shows the absence of morality and how the ruler uses the judicial to manipulate public opinion and to redress his politically-damaged image. The essay also shows that the sequel’s main purpose and use is to give a practical demonstration of the art of forensic rhetoric, casting Dimna as a pre-eminent and redoubtable sophist. The Anvār-i Suhaylī version, the 15th-century Persian rewriting by Vā’iz Kāshifī, on which the essay is based, also engages with the philosophical conundrum of tasdīq, which seems absent in the Arabic versions of the text.


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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society

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Cambridge University Press