In his insightful study on narrative patterns in late antique biography, Matthew O’Farrell points to markers that allow for comparison between unrelated texts, in this case, the accounts of the life of Ardashīr I (r. 224–41 CE), founder of the Sasanian Empire (224–651), as preserved in the khwadāynāmag tradition described in tenth- and eleventh-century Islamic sources, on the one hand, and hagiographies of Constantine the Great (r. 324–37) that gained currency in the ninth century, on the other. The historicized lives of Ardashīr I and Constantine share important features not because their protagonists emerged within similar cultural contexts or founded similar political orders but because they catered to similar political needs. In broad terms, “both men came to be seen as responsible for the marriage of political and religious ideologies within their kingdom.”1 Their remembrances converge because historians have striven “to give an authoritative beginning and an antique solidity...

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