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Antar Begins His Quest


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(North Africa)

The story of Antar, a mythic hero, evolved out of a Bedouin tradition. Antar is an Arab hero from Egypt to Morocco. The epic takes place in Nubia, the Zaghawa kingdom of Kanem, and medieval Ghana.

Shaddad ibn Qurad, a raider of the Bani Abs, captures a slave, Zabiba, and she bears him a son, Antar, who does not know who his father is and grows up as Shaddad's slave. As he grows up, he kills animals with his bare hands and learns the arts of war. He falls in love with his cousin, Abla, and sends her love poetry, which infuriates her father. Shaddad, also angered, plots Antar's death, but when they see him kill a lion with his bare hand, their plans are cooled. Antar later saves the ten sons of King Zuhair; he learns that Shaddad is his father, and when he demands that Shaddad acknowledge this, his father beats him. Antar leaves home, sets out to conquer Algeria and Morocco, and fights with the king of Ethiopia, struggling with mighty forces and with spirits. His quest takes him beyond Arabia and his own time period to Iraq, Syria, Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Constantinople, Rome, and the Sudan, bringing him into contact with a Byzantine emperor and with Frankish, Roman, and Spanish kings. See also: Abu Zayd.

Subjects: Religion.


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