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CONTENTS OF VOLUME V

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THE HANGED POEMS

II. THE POEM OF IMRU-UL-QUAIS (530 A.D.?)
III.-THE POEM OF ANTAR (580 a.d.?).

IV. THE POEM OF ZUHAIR (590 A.D.?)

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The Mohammedans' Central Spot of Earth, the Rock of

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SACRED BOOKS AND EARLY LITERATURE

OF

ARABIA

INTRODUCTION

THE LAST SEMITIC CONQUERORS: THE SUDDEN BLOSSOMING OF ARABIC LITERATURE

THE

HE Arabs are one of the most ancient races known to history. Historical records, which are perhaps earth's earliest, have been recently rediscovered among the ruins of Babylon and the other cities of the Euphrates valley; and these refer frequently to Arab invasions of the fertile valley and to Arab conquests over its fairest regions. The cultured classes of many an ancient Babylonian city were thus of the Arabian race, springing from the intermarriage of the fierce desert conquerors with the defeated valley folk. Yet in their own homeland the Arabs were among the last of Asiatic peoples to develop a written literature. We come down almost to the time of Mohammed, that is, to the sixth century after Christ, before we find among them any written books.

The

That the Arabs were thus slow in creating written literature was due to their peculiar mode of life. The art of words was highly honored among the most ancient Arab tribes. But to these dwellers amid the desert silence, the art was one of spoken, not of written, words, an art of polished and sarcastic oratory or of passionately chanted verse. Arab prided himself upon three virtues: his generosity to those whom he accepted as his friends, his skill in the arts of war that is, his handling of his horse and weapons - and, lastly, his mastery of his language. When a new poet of unusual merit appeared in any tribe, a festival of rejoicing

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