Interpreting the Epic Narratives by Transformational and Structural: Formulas to display the didactic messages for the Community
Affiliation: Tabriz University

The Persian national epic “Shahname” (book of kings) which has reached us within the frame of a literary composition and has been designated as an epic chronicle poem, consists of different cycles of heroic legends which from one hand the heroic stratum of Shahname provide us with the oral history of the nation and from the other hand has played an important role as a source of entertainment and spread the cult of “coffee house story telling” in the whole country for centuries. Thus I believe that stories and narratives are of the most common and important means and devices of communication and transferring the experiences of the generations throughout the history of a nation. Therefore in my opinion, one of the most important goals and targets of the folklorist could be searching for the meanings and messages hidden in the narratives and revealing their communicational roles and purposes. In this way narratology finds its significance in the field of cultural studies. Because the story is a vital form of processing information in human communication and it is probable that stories are the most common category of discourse in folklore materials. As “narrative” is means of describing action and “story” is a specific concept, it can be defined as an account of an action or event or series of events, and the account is structured according to a formal narrative scheme. According to Van Dijk (1980,13-14) and William Labov (1972,359-75) the main components of the story are setting, complication, resolution, evaluation and moral while analysis of the characters casted for the positive and negative roles help s to chart the world view of the stories (Liszka 1989,121-28). Every individual action of the story is framed by a particular locality and milieu. The characters possess a number of different attributes (Propp1970,87-91 ; Jason 1977,103-245; Chatmann 1980,96-145). In analyzing each semantic level of the stories we should compare the concepts and images expressed in the narrative with the supporting culture of the narrator. There are two main points in this comparison. The first is the actual living conditions of the community producing and using the narrative. The second is the world-view, the ideology and cultural concepts of the narrators and readers (Levi-Strauss 1969,17-21)

“Shahname” , The Persian national epic contains several famous stories which are considered as the most tragic narratives, such as the tales of Rostam and Sohrab, Bizhan and Manizhe, Kavus-Siyavash and Sudabe. A comparative study of these narratives shows that they are not formed only to satisfy the curiosity of the audience, but are instrumental devices for educational purposes. In other words, they are the communicational mediums for transmitting some specific messages throughout the generations and hand over the moral heritage of the ancestors to their successors. In order to interpret these narratives which consist of a recurring theme and reach the message, one should take into consideration their deeper structure and disregard minor details of the surface structure in order to find the syntagmatic relationship of the narrative’s main components. It is obvious that because of the same arrangement of motifs on the syntagmatic axis, these narratives come to the same conclusion, while the displacement of the constituents will change the message. As for the above mentioned stories, the conclusion reached by this method of investigation is “warning the king and hero from exogamy” .