There are numerous entertaining stories about Saՙdi’s life, many from his own works, but their accuracy is uncertain. A few miraculous stories are obviously saints’ legends, while others have a suspiciously legendary cast, such as the symmetrical division of his life into thirty years of study, thirty years of travel, and thirty years of writing (some versions stretch this last period out to forty, fifty, or sixty years). In the preface to The Rose Garden, Saՙdi says that he took stock of his wasted life and settled down around the age of fifty, but he also says that his fame as a writer was already widespread. The unembellished truth about Saՙdi is hard to establish, but what follows is a compendium of generally accepted information.
Saՙdi’s real name was apparently Mosharrif Al-Dn ibn Moṣliḥ al-Dn, Saՙdi being a takhallus (pen name) adopted from the Atabeg rulers of Fars Province, Saՙd ibn Zang, his son Ab Bakr ibn Saՙd, and his grandson Saՙd ibn Ab Bakr. Effusive flattery of rulers then was commonplace, even necessary for survival, since, as The Orchard and The Rose Garden show, these rulers were as capricious as they were powerful. Saՙdi also perhaps had reason to feel genuine gratitude. Apparently Saՙdi’s father, a minor court official, died when Saՙdi was a child, and Saՙd ibn Zang supported Saՙdi’s education, first at Shrz and then at the Nizamiya College in Baghdad. According to...
(The entire section is 553 words.)