This paper will look at how 3rd/9th and 4th/10th century historical and literary sources assess Abbasid rulers as scholars, poets and authors, and whether and how such assessment is tied to their legitimacy. Starting from the authors and works recorded in the Kitāb al-fihrist by Ibn al-Nadīm (d. 380/990) and surveying works of adab and historiography, we shall review the production of specific caliphs and rulers, investigating several questions: whether a ruler’s works are assessed with the same criteria as other scholars’; whether there are subjects which are deemed more appropriate for a ruler to master and write about than others; whether prose and poetry are valued differently; how rulers’ written works were collected and preserved; and whether being an author, as opposed to being learned, is linked explicitly to being a better ruler. Notwithstanding the importance of culture for good rulership, is there a difference between admiring scholars and poets, learning from them, and being one?
Monarchs, kuttāb, orators, epistolographers, land-tax officials, heads of bureaux : abbasid rulers and their standing as authors / L. Osti. ((Intervento presentato al convegno Rulers as Authors in the Islamic world: Knowledge, authority and legitimacy tenutosi a Hamburg nel 2017.