“I curse no one without cause”: Identity, power, rivalry, and invective In the early 17th-century Ottoman court
In the early 17th-century Ottoman Empire, a series of sociocultural, administrative, political, and economic changes were underway that left their mark on how the learned and cultural elite viewed the empire and themselves. Though contemporary sources reflect these shifts in many ways, this period’s rich corpus of invective verse, centering around the poet Nefʿī, has been understudied as a historical source. This dissertation rectifies this neglect by examining this invective corpus as a locus of rivalries and enmities revealing how those involved agonistically defined and were defined by their others, thus necessarily defining themselves in the process. Observing this process of definition and self-definition in the light of contemporary historical developments and sources, the dissertation examines invectives produced against both patrons (i.e., vertical invective) and fellow poet/clients (i.e., horizontal invective) in such a way as to demonstrate how the ferocity of the period’s invective verse, and reactions thereto, laid bare how Ottoman elites’ imaginary of themselves was in fact a marginalizing construct. Through analysis of the discourse of the period’s invective corpus alongside contemporary chronicles and advice literature, the dissertation explores how Ottoman elite identity came to be defined, or redefined, during this turbulent period.