There is no figure in the history of Persian literature and in fact of Persian and Islamic thought in general who is so famous in the West and yet remains so unknown as far as the totality of his thought is concerned as 'U mar Khayyam. Practically the object of a cult, Khayyam has been seen by many as a hedonist and fatalistic poet since the beautiful but inaccurate rendition of his quatrains by Fitzgerald. Yet, far from being solely the antidote to Victorian moralism, Khayyam was a gnostic and philosopher, a scientist, historian and an expert on calendars and chronology who also wrote poetry of some consequence and beauty in his mother tongue. But he was not Persia's greatest poet whereas he was one of her greatest mathematicians and the foremost philosopher-scientist between Ibn Sina and Suhrawardi.