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Omar Khayyam is a Persian poet whose line "battered caravanserai" was used to describe the city of Rome, according to A Short Guide to Catholic Church History (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies, 52).

Inspiration

Omar Khayyám (1048-1131) was a Persian mathematician, philosopher, physician, and poet[1].  Bellairs is likely referencing poet Edward FitzGerald’s English translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a translation of about a thousand poems attributed to Khayyám, specifically stanza XVII[2]:

Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose Doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
 Abode his Hour or two, and went his way.
A caravanserai a roadside inn having a central courtyard where caravans can rest[3].

References

  1. Wikipedia: Omar Khayyam
  2. Wikipedia: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
  3. Wiktionary: caravanserai

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