Ghazar P'arpec'i's

History of the Armenians

58. King Yazkert entered Hyrcania with the entire mass of the nobility and the troops who were with him. They then permitted residents of the shahastan who were in Niwshapuh in accordance with Denshapuh's order, to free the children of the captive Armenian naxarars (who were in the fortress) and others who were with them to serve their needs and to let them go wherever they chose. When the venerable priests Xoren and Abraham heard this, they immediately went to Hyrcania and publicly fell before the ambarapet, Denshapuh, saying [200] in protest: "You took our spiritual lords and vardapets from Niwshapuh and departed. We wanted to accompany them, but you forcibly ordered us kept here under stringent guard until now. Should it be that you sent them permanently to a foreign country, do us a good turn and say so, so that we, too, can go there with them and not return. We are prepared to go and die there only to see them, and we hope we will be worthy. But if you killed them, be so kind as to issue the same order about us, for we regard such a death as honorable and exalted above all the glories and greatness of the world."

Vehdenshapuh heard these words from them and he and all the multitude of the assembly were amazed at the intrepid boldness of the men. [He] responded to the venerable men: "No one can show the route of your vardapets. But I shall ask the king of kings about you. He will determine what order I should be given about you." Going inside, Denshapuh related to king Yazkert all the words and requests of the venerable priests. The king gave this order: "If no one reveals damage they have done, and there is no accuser, then let them worship the sun and agree to honor the fire. Then they will receive very great honors from us and be sent back to their land. But if they do not accept our order, then they will be crippled and go to Asorestan to do mshakut'iwn along with the royal mshaks, and remain in service until the end of their lives." Denshapuh [201] related the king's command to the venerable presbyters Xoren and Abraham who, upon hearing it, responded as though in unison, saying: "We are prepared not only for crippling, but for flaying and death, for the name of Christ. And as [g105] for what you said about worshipping the sun, we are saddened and disturbed by your crazed madness, and beseech God that he rouses you from the stupor of ignorance, so there is no question of our resembling you [by converting]. God forbid that we should abandon the Creator and worship the created."

When the princes heard such a fearless reply from the venerable priests, they implemented the king's orders. Having cut off the priests' ears, they had the priests taken to Asorestan to the district called Shap'ul, to remain there in service and to perform royal mshakut'iwn. When the believers in the land of Asorestan heard of the coming of these venerable men, they went before them with joy and honored them as though they were remains of the martyred saints. Indeed, they were really deserving of such exaltation. Furthermore, each person brought what equippage and goods he had and laid them at the feet of the venerable ones to take and be used for the spiritual needs of the salvation of each and his family. The venerable priests accepted a fitting portion of the believers' gifts and sent them to the captive Armenian naxarars [202] in the land of Apar. Each individual, with delight and great enthusiasm, beseeched the venerable ones to make him worthy of such a spiritual journey. The venerable priest Abraham, taking the gifts from the southern parts of Asorestan, took and offered them to the captive Armenian champions, in accordance with the needs of each. The Christians of the land did this many times in succession, while the venerable priest Abraham was for many years the courageous bearer of provisions taken from the giving believers of the land to the captive naxarars until their release to the land of Armenia. After the venerable priest Xoren had lived some years, he died there in Asorestan.

Now with the guarantee of the believers of the land (who had written to the court pledging their homes and goods in exchange for [Abraham's] service until the time of his death and courageously fulfilling what had been stipulated for him) the venerable man was released and went to Armenia. Without any doubt the man's visage was like that of an angel to the beholders. He was ordained to the order of the episcopacy of the land of Bznunik', taught many reforms to the people of the land, and died in good old age, holding the same office. May we also be worthy of our lord Jesus Christ to Whom glory forever. Amen.


Part Three

59. We shall record in order what transpired from the preceding part. In the seventeenth year of king Yazkert [A.D. 456] the Iberian/Georgian prince Ashusha (after spending an incalculable amount on each person and especially on the impious hazarapet Mihrnerseh) beseeched the court nobility, and convinced them after great effort, to get them to say to king Yazkert that he should be favored with the sons of the venerable champion Hmayeak of the Mamikonean tohm (whom Vasak, the treacherous prince of Siwnik', had taken from their dayeaks as the sons of people condemned to death and had taken to court to be killed). They were extremely young. Humane God, through the intercession of the holy blood of his fathers, persuaded the king to bestow upon Ashusha his great request, which was more unbelievable than all others, since [Ashusha] was a very dear and deserving man.

When Ashusha saw this and received the great gift from the king, he went into the palace and, in front of everyone fell to the ground, turning this way and that, and then hitting his head against the ground. Thus did he adore [him]. When the king and everyone in the palace observed this, they [204] were greatly astonished, wondering what the man was doing. The king asked him: "Bdeshx of Iberia, what is that new thing you are showing us today?" Ashusha replied: "Benevolent king, you have bestowed upon me a new favor which none of my comrades who serve you have ever received. Therefore it is fitting that I adore you with a new type of reverence, something you have never seen from your other servants." When the king and the entire multitude of the nobility heard such words from Ashusha, they praised the man greatly and were astounded [g107].

50. King Yazkert of Iran lived out the remainder of his life and died in P'arhssum [in A.D. 457] [i P'arssum. The editors, in note 2 p. 108 express doubt about this reading]. After him, his two sons [Hormizd III and Peroz] reigned, but they were at odds with each other. Going against each other in battle, the younger one killed the older one, and ruled himself. His name was Peroz. In the same year of his reign [A.D. 459] [Peroz] dispatched Yazatvshnasp, the son of his dayeak whom he was especially fond of, and commanded that the Armenian naxarars be freed from bondage and that stipends be allocated for them at Hrew. He said: "Let them remain there with the cavalry and do whatever work Yazatvshnasp's father, Ashtat, says and can observe them doing." Yazatvshnasp arrived and [205] gave them good news, saying: "The king of kings has forgiven your death-penalty, and has ordered you freed from your shackles. He has stipulated stipends for you at Hrew, and for your women, in your own land. He has ordered you to do work for the court, to listen to and obey everything that my father, Ashtat, orders you." When the Armenian naxarars heard all of Yazatvshnasp's words, they glorified God, Who cared about their souls and was their benefaetor, and from Whom they with patience awaited yet other benefits, through the intercession of the remains of the saints.

When Yazatvshnasp saw the Armenian naxarars and gradually became familiar with them, he received them as if a God-given blessing, and [especially] liked Arshawir Kamsarakan, the way Johnathan liked David, and was always interceding favorably for the other Armenian naxarars as well. Then the Armenian naxarars were taken to Hrew and a stipend was allocated for each one of them. They were assembled under the care of Ashtat who put them into military service. God exalted them before the military commander of the brigade, clearly showing him their bravery and [also showing this] to all the citizens of Hrew and of the district. Furthermore, thanks to the right hand of God on High, many diverse types of medical healings were accomplished by the remains of the saints which the priests who were with them were secretly keeping. As a result, they earned the reputation of brave and miraculous men from [206] the military commander and from the entire district. The prince of Hrew, Hrew-shnomshapuh, greatly liked the captive Armenians and frequently wrote to the grandees at court and to their friends in the assembly about their bravery, good behavior and ability.

61. There were many who dared to investigate whether there was any physical weakening of the captives, and even were bold enough to ask. These were the people who, in the words of the Savior, having forgotten the beam in their own eyes, complacently and with conceit sought for the mote in the eyes of others. Having heard this, I tremble with horror. For, after observing the various torments they underwent voluntarily with the hopes of a portion of eternity [g108], and seeing the great duration of their patience (scorning greatness, considering authority as nothing, turning away from belongings, giving themselves up to death fearlessly, enduring bondage for a long time, bearing imprisonment and enmity, accepting dishonor rather than glory, suffering from hunger and thirst, loathing the goods of plenty, willingly accepting the condition of poverty, dishonoring ease and loving austerity), and the innumerable other types of severe privations which these men willingly suffered their bodies to withstand, I do not dare to not record any weakening of such individuals. Viewing them as possessing the integrity [207] of the blessed prophets and the holy Apostles, we who are filled with myriads of evils, who have not once recalled or even regretfully thought about our own faults, are unworthy to observe any human traits in them. There is but one truth and holiness, as was said: "I alone have overcome the world [John 16, 33]."

Some of the captive naxarars—whom we heard with our own ears—indeed resembled celestial beings on earth, with the bodies of angels. They set up a school for themselves and studied the testaments of the Church, impressing upon themselves through spiritual religion the virtuous behavior of hermits. They fearlessly performed the stipulated gubgha cannons and selected readings, ceaselessly doing this morning and evening in the corps, as though at home, sometimes openly and sometimes covertly. Bearing arms, they were inwardly worshipping; attacking the enemy, there were prayers in their hearts, and with the aid of the Almighty, they returned from each battle uninjured, victorious, and with renown. As for those who, because of age or because they were by nature dull and were unable to learn, nonetheless [these folk, too] were [208] enthusiastic, willing and not complacent about lengthy praying and standing sleepless [during vigils]. One should have seen all of them, these sons of light and children of the Kingdom.

The same was true of the women whose husbands were the martyred champions, and of the other women whose husbands were in bondage in Hrew. With much modest virtue they urged one another on, each day dying of all kinds of diseases. In the words of the prophet, they were living martyrs. Though words are insufficient to describe it, one may definitely say that in their strict ascetic behavior they surpassed many men. The natural weakness of women's bodies became strengthened more than men's, and they became conquerors. These tender woman who were the daughters of naxarars and the wives of awags, instead of the finest wheat flour, now ate millet; instead of clear wine, they now drank water from a laddle; instead of clothing woven with gold, they now wore coarse wool [g109]; and instead of sleeping on diverse sorts of [comfortable] beds, they now slept on beds of dry brushwood, spread out on the floor. Those who previously persisted in sleeping, now resembled celestial beings, and were sleepless. They did not annoint themselves with oil. They did not arrange the hair on their heads with the comb. And [those traits] which are impossible for women to overcome—talking too much and letting their eyes dart about behind the veil...frequently [209] and they made their tongues reduce superfluous talk [The editors, p. 110 n.6 believe several words are missing].

Most merciful God, seeing the entreaties and labors of both men and women, recalled the heroism of saint Vardan and all who were united with him, as well as the intercession of the priests of God who had been martyred, and generously bestowed upon the captives the favor of returning to the land of Armenia. They each returned to their tuns in the sixth year of Peroz' reign [A.D. 464/65], and having lived the life stipulated for each by the Lord, they died and were buried in the tombs of their fathers, in peace, as God willed it, all of them blessed by the holy kat'oghikos Giwt

62. For after the death of the blessed kat'oghikos Yovsep', lord Melite (who was from the azg of Manazkertec'ik' ) succeeded to the kat'oghikosate of the land of Armenia. He in turn was succeeded by lord Movses who was from the same azg. After this, according to God's providence, lord Giwt (who was from the village of Arahez in the district of Tayk') succeeded to the kat'oghikosate of the land of Armenia [Giwt I Ot'msets'i, 461-478]. He was a man filled with much learning, especially in the Greek language, with [the knowledge of] rhetorical speaking, and copious doctrine.

[210] The wives of men who had been martyred or were in captivity at court, despite the difficulties they faced, nonetheless carefully taught and counseled the young sons of the men who had been martyred with Vardan, be they from the Mamikonean tohm, the Kamsarakan tohm, or from other azgs. They did this not as careless, useless women, but as valiant men might, being full of concern for the beneficial and magnificent training of the lads, This was especially true of the wife of the martyr Hmayeak Mamikonean (saint Vardan's brother) who was a woman renowned and intellectually better than all the women in the land of Armenia. She nourished and counseled her sons in the land of Iberia, in the tun of the bdeshx of Iberia, Ashusha. These were the children whom the Iberian bdeshx Ashusha had requested and received from the king of Iran, Yazkert, as was mentioned [g110] above. He took them and gave them to their mother, whose name was Juik. Juik's sister, whose name was Anushvrham, was married to Ashusha, the bdeshx of Iberia. The lads who were nourished and schooled there became proficient in everything and renowned. While still in their childhood they seemed capable and marvellous. The first was named Vahan, the second, [211] Vasak, and the third, Artashes. But they also had yet another younger brother, named Vard, who was still a boy and was staying with his dayeaks in Tayk'.

63. One should have seen those senseless, harmful, useless, bad and cowardly men who at the time managed to stay in their own tuns, like thieves, having purchased [their] tanuterut'iwn from the Iranians, unworthily through apostasy and not ruling with piety as worthy folk. Some of them wandered in apostasy among the mountain brigands. Some jokingly purchased [images of] gods and outraged both the gods and their stupid merchants. [Such people were] less than real men and were from the line of worthless tohms. One then could have seen goodness having left the land of Armenia, wisdom lost, bravery dead and gone, and Christianity concealed. If before, in the army, the brave forces of Armenia were more prominent than any other, their military commanders renowned and victorious, now they were the ridicule and joke of all. Even king Peroz openly insulted them before the entire assembly on occasion, saying: "Of all the peoples under my authority [up to now] the least useful and the worst brigade has been the Syrian, but the Armenian is even worse than the Syrian." That information [212] merited tears and laments.

Such useless princes of the time watched the daily progress of the sons of the azg of the martyred Mamikoneans who were endowed [with abilities] not through the gifts of man but rather with the aid of heavenly providence, and with the intercession of the holy blood of their ancestors (which they willingly shed for the blessed Church of Armenia). [The Mamikonean youths] lived fearlessly among these so-called princes of Armenia, as though in the midst of enemies. Although they were scorned out of jealousy, nonetheless, they were better than any of the others, renowned in [giving] counsel, intelligent and learned. In archery, they hit their target and in good form; at the hunt, they moved nimbly and were the first to slaughter, having dexterity in both hands, correct and graceful in everything. Those who had many servants were importuning them, the non-servants, for gifts, always requesting one or another type of meat from the hunts, or some other honorable and expensive article, from each land. The suppers of all the tanuters of Armenia were embellished by them. Strangers and family adorned all the houses [g111] with them. Resembling [the Mamikonean youths] in striving to [213] advance quickly, were the sons of the venerable Arshawir Kamsarakan, the lord of Arsharunik' who were related [to the Mamikoneans] through the daughter of the martyr Vardan. They strived to counsel and train in accordance with their wisdom and art.

The senior son of the blessed Hmayeak, whose name was Vahan, was especially attentive to accomplishing such good things, and enthusiastically encouraged it. He was an intelligent man, benevolent, and of sound judgement. Whatever job he undertook, the Lord aided him and strengthened his hand. Even the Iranian officials who came from the court liked and honored him (because of God's support) even though he did not want it. In the presence of the Iranian king they were constantly praising the man's goodness. Even king Peroz himself, once he was thoroughly acquainted with [Vahan], revered and praised him in front of all of them, and regarded him as deserving of honor. However, although [Peroz] thought about honoring [Vahan] in accordance with his wisdom and bravery, nonetheless, recalling the affairs and [214] deeds of [Vahan's] fathers and ancestors, and how they had frequently troubled them with resistance and battle, he delayed and said nothing about giving them deserving honor. This was especially true since [the shah] was constantly hearing the slander of those jealous [beings] who in this time of troubles were called the tanuters of Armenia, who were extremely frightened about the growing advancement of Vahan Mamikonean. [Peroz] was doubtful about disheartening the above [tanuters], the unworthy arrogant ones.

But, surprisingly, there were some worthy men in those times, such as the good man Babik Siwnik' or the wonderful Arhnak Amatuni, and others like them [who had fled] from the soul-killing, fanatical king and from the impious princes of the time and had concealed themselves in the caverns of rocks or in dense places in the forests, like rabbits [protecting themselves] from the swoop of devouring eagles. They considered it better to die with forbearance in the Christian faith, than motivated by lust for glory, apostasize and be lost. [215] In accordance with the word of the Bible, they considered it better to be insulted because of Christ than to temporarily be immersed in the futile glories of the world, yet inherit eternal torment. They saw the fire of impiety raised like the fire of the furnace of Babylon, and there was no one to extinguish it. They had assembled by the blessed patriarch of Armenia, Giwt, who never ceased to deplore the error of the ash-lovers, and who silently sought for ways [g112] of devising expediencies for them, sometimes to flee to a foreign [place], sometimes in connection with helping to rebell. They secretly sent messengers to the Byzantine emperor Leo [I? 457-74] once, then twice, yet although he agreed and wanted to help, he delayed and the plans were dashed.

64. Thereafter the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia, Giwt, was unable to restrain himself and began openly to instigate rancor against the impious apostates, while loving and honoring the side of the suffering believers. He especially held in contempt and scorned Gadishoy Maxaz, who was the military commander of the entire class of the impious, and the one who encouraged them. [Gadishoy], unable [216] to bear the scorn of the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia, Giwt, fabricated a myriad of inimical words, and complained about him to Peroz, the king of Iran, saying: "[Giwt] summons to himself those people who think to accept your faith, like it, and want to implement the command of your will. He deceives some with gifts, and others, with sweet words, and turns them away from these things. For many people have come to me and consented to hold your faith. But [Giwt] then calls them to himself, and, with pretexts, gets them to abandon [that faith] and to ridicule it. Furthermore, he hates and reviles those of us who love you, worship the sun and the fire, and serve your wishes. He himself communicates with the emperor and subordinates himself to him and to the grandees at his court with precious gifts." And he said many other things as he chose in a similarly hostile vein.

When the Iranian king Peroz heard such accusations from Gadishoy Maxaz, he became enraged and commanded that the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia come to court and respond to the accuser's charges. Giwt, the venerable kat'oghikos of Armenia, willingly and enthusiastically went to court and appeared before the court awags. Power from On High dignified this blessed man, and everyone viewed his face as that of an angel. With great care the pagans reverentially honored him. [217] Other Christians, the bishop of Ctesiphon, Khuzistan, and Ray, and all the priests and deacons in those parts, trembled at the blessed man as though he were a prophet of the lord God.

When king Peroz learned about the blessed Giwt's arrival, he sent Yazatvshnasp (the son of Ashtat, from the Mihran tun) to him with each of Maxaz' accusations. Replying to the king's words, the blessed kat'oghikos Giwt said: "Everything that Maxaz has told you about me is not false. Rather, there are things which are true, and others which are not the complete truth. For liking Christianity and whoever is a Christian is not something new which I have chosen to do at present, but something I have done from my childhood on. And I loathe everyone who strays from the truth. I have attempted without cease [g113] to dissuade all who would stray from the truth and travel an incorrect path [not to do so] and have tried to convince them by forceful means if possible, by entreaty, or by [giving] goods, so that such people would not be hopelessly lost. As for what they have told you, regarding his comings and goings to Byzantium the affair is not as [Gadishoy] says or thinks, for that is false. Rather, we have received our schooling in knowledge and understanding of wisdom in the land of Byzantium and I have many acquaintances [218] and classmates there. Furthermore, the cloth for the rainment we use we purchase there, for as it is available in no other land, we are obliged by the needs of the times to buy it there. And as regards the homage of service, our very faith commands us to requite proper and worthy lords."

When the messenger had taken all of these words [to Peroz] the king immediately recognized that the holy man's words were accurate and sensible, and that whatever Maxaz had said about him had been false and the result of a grudge. This was because God, out of pleasure with the blessed man, had made the king heed his words. However, so that it would not appear to the Christians that the rule of his faith was being weakened, [Peroz] abided Maxaz' words in silence and did not ask anything troublesome. But he sent [the following message] to the venerable kat'oghikos Giwt: "To the present, you have held your authority without my order. Servants were the ones who gave you such a great occupation, though you have no assurance from me. However, now, if you do as I wish, adopt my faith and worship the sun, that position will be yours, for your azg or whomever you wish. I will give a rescript in perpetuity to that effect and will dispatch you to Armenia with such honor that no Armenian will ever have its equal in honor or splendor [219] from our court. But should you stubbornly refuse to do as I wish, I will remove you from the episcopacy and from your position. And you will return to your tun and your land in disgrace and dishonor."

The venerable man of God, the kat'oghikos of Armenia, Giwt, filled with the power of the holy Spirit, replied to the court messenger: "I would prefer to respond to such words personally, in the king's presence. For you cannot and dare not courageously relate to the king everthing that you hear from my mouth in full." The messenger replied to the saint: "Kings have the license to say what is true information between the two sides [in a dispute]. What the messengers hear, they do not dare not to relate." The blessed man of God answered as follows: "Tell the king that I am pleased and willing regarding what he said about since I hold my office not from him but from his servants, either he or one of the servants who gave it to me might [g114] take it from me. For, having lived with the cares of the world in my soul and in privations, I [will] occupy myself with prayer. But as for the episcopal ordination which you say you will take from me, no king or prince can take this [220] honor of ordination away from me, only death can take it. [The king] does not dare, because he cannot do it. I in no way fear the mortal man [who purports] to give this honor to me or take it away. As for your order that I take your faith (for which you promise to give me honors and presents) [I am aware that] there is no earthly being possessing such great honor or powerful authority as you. Regarding the useless and loathesome faith that you hold: in my eyes you, principally, the king, and all the people who hold that faith, are dead, not living beings. I regard your honor and glory as insults, the ridicule and jokes of children."

When the messenger heard such words from the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia, Giwt, he said to the venerable one: "Indeed, if you truly persist with those words, then you were right in what you said, that I would not dare to take your words to the king. You were right, because no one has ever delivered such insolent words before the man, who is king. Try to change your words to be prudent." The blessed man replied: "Do you see? You resist the command of God, and yet do not fear! For you yourself said that whoever breaks the king's command, dishonors God. And you also said that the laws of kings [state] that a messenger should not dare to [221] add to or subtract from what the sender says. So go now and say what you heard from me. For it is impossible for me to think or speak otherwise."

The messenger went into the king's presence and spoke to the king as follows: "Without your order, I dare not boldly repeat the man's words before you." The king commanded him to speak out forthrightly, without fear, and to relate everything he had heard. So one by one he related all of the words of Giwt, the man of God. When the king heard all the bold words of Giwt, he was tranaported with rage, and wanted to give a severe order. But suddenly he stopped himself for a moment and was quiet. Then he began to speak and said: "No. It is not possible. Otherwise he would get what he wants. I will not permit the Christians to kiss his shackles, or worship his bones, as is [their] custom. For I have heard regarding their worship that they do not honor the living as much as the dead. But tell him, that I will not permit him to attain that honor which he hoped to extract from me by making me furious. [Tell him:] 'Go and live wherever you like, but you are removed from the office of the kat'oghikosate. It is no longer yours'" [g115]. br>

[222] When Giwt, the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia heard this, part of him rejoiced, while the other part was saddened to death. He rejoiced upon hearing that he had been removed from office, to rest from the cares of the world. But he was unconsolably disturbed and saddened when he heard that the king had ordered for him neither shackles nor death (which for a long time he had longed to be worthy of), and that he would not attain the object of his desire.

Thereafter, by his own choice the holy kat'oghikos of Armenia, Giwt, remained at court. With much boldness he was honored not only by the priests and the Christians, but even more so by the pagans, who found a cure for each of their diseases from the saint's prayers. Others of the Christians in those parts were desirous of obtaining ordination from the blessed right hand of this man of God. He ordained some into the episcopacy, while establishing many others in the rank of priest. So it was, thusly honored by all, with joyous splendor [Giwt] said farewell to go to the land of Armenia. Blessing them all, he entrusted them to God, and set off on the road to the land of Armenia. Having lived with greater glory than before in Armenia, he died in [223] deep old age and was peacefully placed in the tomb of his fathers in the village called Odmsu geogh in the district of Vanand. With a blessing, he left the entire people to the blessed Church of Armenia.

65. Gadishoy Maghxaz came from the court and assembled around him the groups of apostates. Although they had apostasized for the transitory gloomy joy of life, nonetheless when they saw Vahan Mamikonean so filled with such noticeable growth in goodness, their dye faded and their blossom withered. They sought some pretexts to ruin him and his brothers. They informed the court grandees as well as the one who was king, that there was no way [Vahan] could remain in Armenia without causing rebellion. They reminded the Aryans about [Vahan's] ancestors, one by one, [asking] which of them had not disturbed the Aryan world, had not wrought very great damage and death. Just as it was in the past, they said, so he will raise the same rebellion against you. Those who heard these vengeful words from the constant slanderers, doubted the news, and, looking at the man's ability and wisdom, they were saddened, out of affection [for Vahan].

[224] Vahan, seeing that his detractors had stirred up such a storm around him, and realizing that he would never be able to still the wicked spiteful talk, unable to bear the constant slander, went to court, and weakened in the faith. He came back to Armenia but still was unable to stop the mouths of the slanderers. For he hated anyone who did not know how to say something correctly in the assembly before his prince [g116], and he criticized those who did not know how to shoot, at the hunt or at target-practise. [The slanderers said:] "If we sit idly by, he will put us all to nought." Whenever someone was unable to perform a court assignment because of imprudence, he would lay the blame [on Vahan]. They would say: "He is in charge of everything in the affair, and does not allow anyone else to do it or profit from it." [Vahan] had an associate whose name was Vriw, undistinguished by azg and untried at things, the son of a Syrian man. He especially resembled the Syrians in excessive and idle chatter. [Vriw], unable to perform a court assignment went before king Peroz and blamed Vahan, saying: "In no way did he permit me to approach the work of gold-mining. Having taken [225] to himself all of the gold in the land, he now plans to go the emperor and/or to the land of the Huns, give them gold, request a brigade, and rebel."

When the wise Vahan heard all of these accusations about himself, he quickly took much gold and went to court. King Peroz, hearing how quickly Vahan had arrived, was astonished, and said: "Such a speedy arrival by Vahan goes contrary to what Vriw was saying, especially since [Vahan] has brought something along in addition." In the king's presence [Vahan] informed Peroz that he had indeed brought something with him. When [Perozj heard from Vahan the large amount of gold he had brought, he was greatly delighted. Then [Peroz] had Vriw say in Vahan's presence what he had said before, about him. When Vahan heard all that Vriw said, he replied before the king, saying: "I too know I am stupid, as Vriw has demonstrated for you. But I am not blind, for I have seen the might of the Aryans. That might has struck severe terror into many rebellious peoples, and, having subdued them, now holds them. Now he claims that I want to rebel, something he himself should know. For there is no servant to be found with me who cooks for me, and there are not two or three youths whom I rule over like a lord, so that they serve me out of fear. [226] That is the strength of my brigade. But if there were some oppression I felt from you, and wanted to go to some foreign country and disappear, then why would I bring here such a quantity of gold, enough to provide me with an ample and large stipend for the rest of my life (even if I were to live a long time), and ten others along with me? Nor are any of your ostikans placed above me to compel me to bring such quantity of gold here. But I know you are tiring: You can do as you wish, let me live, or exalt me at once, as you chose."

When king Peroz and all the nobility heard such words [g117] of wisdom from Vahan, they all vindicated his word over Vriw's. Vahan left the atean vindicated while Vriw, the son of the Syrian, departed humiliated and reviled. Bidding farewell to the court, Vahan came to the land of Armenia with exaltation and great splendor.

But there was no peace of mind [for Vahan]. Every day he worried about the bad name of apostasy he bore (as his martyred fathers did, on pretexts, and not in truth), and even more that he had returned from court in splendor. He had doubts within himself that perhaps, deluded by the glories [227] of this world, he might forget his awe for the next world, and be harmed. With this concern ever raging his mind, he familiarized his intimate friends with his worry, and was looking for some strategem. He ceaselessly asked Christ the Savior to grant him a favorable hour, saying to himself: "Through you, lord God, everything is always possible. Nothing can weaken You. Lord, truly be mine. Grant me time for confession of [re]conversion, and teach me to do Your will, for You are my God."

66. While Vahan was in a state of confusion with such mental anguish, suddenly there was tumultuous agitation in the land of Iberia/Georgia, for [king] Vaxt'ang [fl. ca. 446-522] had slain the impious bdeshx Vazgen in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of king Peroz [482; P'arpec'i regards 457 rather than 459 as the first year of Peroz' reign]. This was heard by people from the land of Armenia, many of whom were fighting that year in Aghbania/Aghuania [against] rebel fortress-guards. The military oommander of them all was Zarmihr Hazarawuzt, while the marzpan of Armenia [then] was Atrvnashp Yozmandean. The Christian Armenian men who were fighting that year there, were more afflicted by the insults and envy of the least of the Armenian princes (who at ths time had grown boastfully arrogant [228] through their apostasy), than by the tyranny of the deeds of the Iranian military commanders. When [the Armenian Christians] heard about the rebellion of Iberia's king, they rejoiced with delighted hearts. For they had received news that the king of Iberia had said: "I will not permit anyone to see military action. Rather I will bring forth such a multitude of the Huns that the Iranian forces will be unable to resist." The lovers of Christ were fortified by such news, and personally expected benefit and a goodly visit from On High. But they were afraid that perhaps the Iranian military commanders would take the Armenian brigade and go to the Gate [of the Honk'].

But Christ spared them [the actualization] of such doubts, and they came to Armenia, to the district of Shirak, the plain where the marzpan of Armenia, Atrvshnasp Yozmandean and the hazarapet of Armenia, Vehvehnam, dwelled. Here consultations took place among some of the Armenian naxarars who knew that Vahan Mamikonean had been saddened and confused for a long while because of being labelled a magian. They said: "This hour of salvation is quite appropriate both for him and for us [g118]. [229] For him, it would save him from his pangs of conscience, while it would free us from the constant suspicions and continual assaults of oppressive envy of those whom we are forced to serve. The king of Iberia/Georgia, Vaxt'ang, is very courageous. Who knows, most compassionate God may look upon our difficulties and aid us, and we, together with the Iberians, may perhaps be able to tire out the Iranians a little." A few of the Armenian naxarars were thinking this, and others listened to the plan. As though at God's direction, those who heeded the idea all united, willingly and enthusiastically.

Taking courage one night, they revealed their intentions to Vahan Mamikonean. When he heard it, he said to them all: "Some though not all of those involved in this plan know how dangerously tormented I have been every hour because of the false name which I hatefully bear. For when evening approaches, I am in doubt until morning, yet when morning comes, I feel fright until evening, thinking about what would happen if I should suddenly and unexpectedly die and leave this world bearing such a name. Then I wish—and it would have been preferable to me—that my mother never brought me into this world. Hoping to find some release from my conscience which bothers me, I ceaselessly entreat God. But I am unable and dare not unite with the plan you have thought up, and tell you that your [230] thinking is good, and to proceed. For I know well the force and severity of the Aryans, and the weakness and duplicity of the Byzantines, and I also know you through experience, [and] how you swore oaths to our fathers and then broke them. As for what you said about the king of Iberia/Georgia and the Huns, the Iberians are an especially frivolous people and possess few cavalrymen; while who knows about the Huns—since they are not involved, who knows if they will agree to show up? But more than anything else, I am worried about you, because you are false and unreliable people. If you ask me, and accept what I advise, then abandon what you are saying, and beseech God alone (Who can do anything He wants, easily) to find a resolution of the matter. But do not tire me out with your vain and useless plans."

When the Armenian naxarars heard all of these words from Vahan Mamikonean, they gave a united reply: "Everything that you said, as befits your wisdom, is fully correct and true. But we are placing our hopes not on the Byzantines or the Huns, but primarily on the mercy of God, through the intercession of saint Gregory and through the death of [our] ancestors who, by their martyrdom pleased Christ the Savior. We also [place our hopes] on our own deaths, for we consider it [231] better to die in one hour than to see daily the insults and demolition of the Church and Christianity" [g119].


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