Kirakos Ganjakets'i's

History of the Armenians

1. Brief history of the period from Saint Gregory to the present, written by Kirakos of the renowned congregation of Getik.

[1] The desire to want to learn about things which have transpired or about events which will take place, is implanted in the nature of man by the care of the Creator.

It is not possible to know about and become competent in such endeavors without much work and lengthy efforts.

It is necessary to become fatigued and exhausted through labor and many pains that perchance something useful be discovered which may satisfy the desires of the inquisitive. [g3]

One must read Christian and secular histories with diligence, not negligence.

To make the ignorant wise, and the irrational rational, the power of the Holy Spirit must also be considered.

One must believe in Him with unwavering and unblemished faith.

[2] For everything is created and directed according to His will, both the visible and the invisible.

With a pure holy heart and without bias must one hear the celestial and inner divine words, and read the writings, which can give to the seeker what he seeks. [Translator's note: The first letter of each first word of the preceding paragraphs form an acrostic which reads K-I-R-A-K-O-S in the Armenian.]

For these are divine precepts: "Fathers must teach their sons so that the next generation learns [Psalms 78. 5,6]" as the prophet David enjoins, and as the great prophet Moses advised the sons of Israel: "Meditate on this by day and by night, sitting at home, travelling along the way, sleeping and arising [Joshua I. 8; II Deuteronomy 6, 7; 11, 19]." Among those who have helped in this education have been many men of God who left behind a living monument—their writings for all generations succeeding them. Such a person was [g4] the great Eusebius who left two books. One is the Chronicle which begins with the ancestor Adam, in which Eusebius compared the barbarous names of the Patriarchs found in pagan histories to the names in Christian histories, continuing [3] until the Coming of Christ and beyond, and including the names of chiefs and kings of many peoples of this region. The other book is the History of the Church which begins with the birth of the Sun of Righteousness and contains accounts of the kings and the missionary activities of the holy Apostles, describing who of them did what and where each went and how he was martyred. It describes the holy bishops and the work and bravery of distinguished men, down to the days of the pious Constantine, where the book ends. The book of the learned Socrates Scholasticus, written with forceful expression, begins with Saint Sylvester, the bishop of Rome, describes Constantine the Great, and proceeds until the days of Theodosius the Younger, narrating the deeds and accomplishments of each of the kings and bishops, the virtuous and the wicked, the acts of many councils, good and bad, in a lengthy and extensive work [end of grabar (Classical Armenian text) page 5; henceforth shown as, for example, [g5].

Many Armenian historians [also] have produced works. Among them are the venerable and brilliant Agat'angeghos (which translates "glad tidings") who, at the order of the mighty, brave king Trdat, put down the details of events which transpired among the Armenians at the hands of Saint Gregory the Parthian, the confessor of Christ; deeds, miracles and [4] wonders, and the circumstances of the illumination of the land of Armenia, all in a beautiful and clear narration. After Agat'angeghos was Movses Xorenats'i, richer in knowledge and wisdom than many holy men of God, who composed the history of the Armenians concisely and carefully beginning with the first man and including the affairs, works and deeds of many peoples from the days of Trdat and Saint Gregory to the death of Saint Sahak, patriarch of the Armenians. He concludes with a lament pronounced over the land of Armenia. After Xorenats'i was the blessed Eghishe who narrated the brave deeds of Vardan, Saint Sahak's grandson, and his companions who (in the hope of Christ) gave themselves up [g6] to death and were crowned by Christ. He wrote about the courageous deaths of the blessed Yovsep'eants', how the Armenian naxarars (lords) willingly surrendered to the royal fetters for their conviction for Christ, voluntarily; and about the patient martyrdom of the saints Xoren and Abraham, which this wonderful man set forth precisely. And then there is the rhetorician, Ghazar P'arbets'i, who begins with the days of Saint Sahak and narrates events in the same style. And following him P'awstos Biwzand, who relates what transpired in Armenia between the Iranians and us. And the history of Heraclius was written by bishop Sebeos. And the history of the wonderful Koriwn. And Xosrov. And the history [5] of the priest Ghewond which is about what Mahmet and his successors did all over the world and especially among the Armenian people. And the vardapet T'ovma, historian of the house of Artsrunik'. And Shapuh Bagratuni. And lord Yovhannes, kat'oghikos of the Armenians. And Movses Kaghankatuats'i, historian of [Caucasian] Aghbania/Aghuania. And Uxtanes, bishop of Urha (Edessa), who wrote about the [doctrinal] separation of the Georgians from the Armenians by Kiwrion. And the vardapet Step'annos, surnamed Asoghik. And the vardapet Aristakes called Lastivertts'i. And Samuel, the priest from the [g7] cathedral of Ani. And the learned and brilliant vardapet called Vanakan.

It was the concern of each of these blessed men to leave behind a good written memorial for the future, for the benefit of the listeners and as a recompense for these same saints, an undying memorial to endure until the coming of Christ.

Now as for our undertaking, let no one consider it bold. But rather, it is a work of goodly emulation. For our mind has compelled us not be be silent about such calamitous disasters which we heard about with our own ears and saw with our own eyes. These times brought to mind all the prophecies previously prophesized about the difficulties which would [6] come later on; and this came to pass in our own time. As our Savior and God, Lord Jesus Christ, said: "Nations shall rise up against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms," "and this is but the beginning of the sufferings [Matthew 24.7-8; Mark 13.8.]." The appearance of the son of destruction whom we fear, may happen in our own day. For everything done today points to this. Love has dried up, cruelty reigns, worship has declined [g8], and irreligion has increased. Altars and masses are silent and priests have fallen to the sword without mercy. Women and children are taken into slavery and men suffer violent deaths. For what saint Nerses, that man of God, prophesied about the Nation of the Archers and about the destruction of the land of the Armenians has now been fulfilled by the people called T'at'ars. For they have wiped out many nations and tribes, as we shall relate in the proper place, if the Lord allows.

Each of the former scholars working before us found a certain place, [his work] being sponsored either by a distinguished king or by nahapets of distinguished families. Yet now we are deprived of any such support since the Arsacid and Bagratid kingdoms have long since vanished and nowhere are there princes of the line of Hayk remaining except for those who are crouched and hiding in foreign lands. The one hope we have we place on the grace and the might of the mystery of this day. For today, the day on which we began this work, is the feast of the coming of the most Holy Spirit to the Upperchamber among the ranks of the [g9] Apostles, when Christ sent them throughout the world, fortified with fiery tongues, to summon all to Life Everlasting, with the net of the Gospel.

We, confident of the same Spirit, have plunged ourselves into a task which is above our abilities. Therefore, we beseech those coming after us, not to denigrate our work, not to scoff at or disdain it as unlettered, but accept it with brotherly condescension and let it be for your remembrance, for posterity. For among the disciples of Christ all must be accomplished through conciliation as we learn in the Scriptures. But let us attack the task which we have started and present first, concisely, the names of the occupants of the [kat'oghikosal] throne of Saint Gregory, beginning with the latter and extending to our own times. Let it be for us a cemetary monument, not like the pillar of Absolom [II Kings 18.18], but a living memorial on which the name of Kirakos will be remembered. [8]

Brief history of Saint Gregory and a list of the names of his successors on the [kat'oghikosal] throne.

Our spiritual father, Saint Gregory, born in Christ, [g10] is worthy of all praise and exalted by a good memory. After he had enlightened the land of Armenia with the knowledge of God, with orthodox regulations and canons, and after ordaining more than 430 bishops, he went with the great King Trdat to Rome to see the relics of Saints Peter and Paul, and the great King Constantine and the holy patriarch Sylvester to make a vow and an alliance with them. Blessed Constantine and the great patriarch received the blessed Gregory at court with great honors, exalting him as a confessor and a witness of Christ, possessing the gifts of an Apostle. They gave him the dignity of patriarch, like a vicar of Peter. And they gave him a part of the relics of the Apostles: the left hand of the Apostle Andrew, and many other gifts.

In Jerusalem [There seems to be a lacuna in the Armenian text after the word Jerusalem.] they showed Golgotha, the place of Christ's crucifixion, [the church] of Saint James, and a place for saying mass in the rear of [the church] of the Holy Resurrection. [9] They say that Saint Gregory placed a lamp over the tomb of Christ and beseeched God with his prayers that on the feast of Easter, the place be lit with an immaterial light, something which occurs down to our own day. Likewise they honored the great Trdat in a manner befitting his valor, making an alliance by the blood of Christ and with faith in Him to maintain inviolable love between the two peoples, in times after themselves [g11].

Constantine asked Saint Gregory, "How great is the joy of the angels at the discovery of so many sheep which have strayed?" He replied: "Very great indeed. But let us, the sons of Adam, not be considered as sheep by the Heavenly Host." And the emperor said: "Let us, the saved, never stop associating with them during your coming."

And he ordered all the cities to celebrate with the sacrificing of sheep. The Jews and pagans who had remained unconverted were washing with the blessed salt, for Saint Gregory and Sylvester had blessed salt. And Saint Gregory said to the Jews: "You perform circumcision on the uncircumcised, contrary to the laws. Animals offered in sacrifice to God as a dedication to the saints, or in memory of the dead without the blessing of salt, are like the sacrifices of pagans."

[10] He then came to our land with great rejoicing and spiritual gladness, and our lands were greatly adorned with all the Christian laws. During his life he ordained his blessed son Aristakes head bishop of the Armenians, Georgians, and [Caucasian] Aghbanians/Aghuans. He himself then pursued a solitary life, so that he be crowned with every sort of crown—Apostle's [g12], martyr's, patriarch's, cenobite's—which more accustoms man to speaking with God tranquilly. When Aristakes returned from the Council of Nicea, Saint Gregory thereafter appeared to no one. After a long life, he passed away in Christ, having occupied the patriarchate for 30 years. Shepherds, discovering him dead, piled a heap of stones over his body.

Later, under the influence of the Spirit, a certain hermit and saint named Garhnik found him and took him to T'ordan village. In the days of the Emperor Zeno [474-91], they took some of his remains and those of the holy Hrhip'simeans to Constantinople, and, fashioning a coffin of silver, they put the relics of the saints in it. Writing upon it the names of each [saint], they placed [the reliquary] in a marble sepulcher and sealed it with a ring. It remained obscure for a long time, no one knowing whose remains it contained, only that it was of some saint [g13].

[11] Now in the days of the Emperor Basil [I, 867-86] and of Ashot Bagratuni, king of the Armenians, it came to light in the following way. A youth was seized by an evil spirit while praying in that very church where the relics of the saints were. The child was lifted up by the dew (demon) and thrown upon the tomb of the saints, crying and saying: "Saint Grigorios, illuminator of the Armenians, don't torture me. And you, lady Hrhip'sime, have come to torture me; and you, Gayane, are torturing me." He was shouting this for a long while.

When the multitude heard these words, they notified the king who ordered the coffin opened. As soon as they opened it, a strong light gleamed forth from the relics of the saints. And the emperor ordered that the marble coffin be overlaid with gold and that the names of the saints be written on it, so that everyone would know whose tomb it was. An imperial eunuch came and related all this to King Ashot, and when he heard it, he glorified God and instituted a feast of Saint Gregory on that day, Saturday in the sixth week of Lent. This feast is observed to this day.

Now the blessed Aristakes cared well for the flock which was entrusted to him, and reprimanded without exception those [12] not reforming. It happened that a certain Ark'eghayos who [g14] had been made supervisor of so-called Fourth Armenia, had been reprimanded by Aristakes because of his evil deeds. Meeting [Aristakes] in the district of Tsop'k', Ark'eghayos killed him and went as a fugitive to Cilician Tarsus, out of fear of King Trdat. Aristakes held the episcopacy for seven years and was translated to Christ with a martyr's death.

In place [of Aristakes] King Trdat put on the patriarchal throne the great Vrt'anes, senior son of Saint Gregory, the brother of the blessed Aristakes. He himself [Trdat] liked the solitary life as had Saint Gregory. Thenceforth from time to time he did not appear among his forces, instead fasting and praying for forty days at a time. Going to him, his forces beseeched him to occupy the throne. But he did not agree to this, calling them traitors, superficially practising their piety. They swore vows and sealed decrees to practise Christianity with sanctity and to serve [the king) without prevarication. And Trdat acceded to their wishes, occupied his throne, and became an example of all kinds of virtues [g15].

But becoming weary of his piety, they planned to kill him treacherously. Taking him to the hunt, they attacked him [13] with bow and arrow, as if by accident. Seeing that he did not die from that, they gave him poison. And thus they murdered him. They snuffed out the life of this man, an individual whose enemies had been unable to hurt him due to his titan-like bravery, because he triumphed in every battle. What was considered impossible to accomplish by force—since the reputation of [Trdat's] bravery had spread throughout the entire world—they accomplished with treachery and so extinguished the glowing torch of their own lives. The pious and God-loving Trdatios thus died, having reigned for 56 years.

Now the great Vrt'anes went to Emperor Constantine to have Xosrov, son of the brave and virtuous Trdat made king. This was done and Xosrov was given much support to oppose the Iranian king Shapuh in war.

But Sanatruk—who had been set up as overseer of the Aghbanian/Aghuanian areas by Trdat—as soon as he learned of the king's death, murdered the blessed Gregoris, son of Vrt'anes and [g16] brother of Yusik, by tying him to the tail of a wild horse in the Vatnean [Mughan] plain. Then Sanatruk himself went [14] to Shapuh, king of Iran, and adopted the appearance of sovereignty, separating his land from Xosrov.

Xosrov, considering his remaining land sufficient, did not care to make war but spent his life peacefully, obedient to the counsel of great Vrt'anes. He transferred [the capital] from the city of Artashat to Dwin and planted oak forests for a place of recreation. Having reigned for nine years, he died in piety. His son Tiran [c. 339-50] ruled in his stead.

Now Saint Vrt'anes spent his life doing good deeds. Although the naxarars wanted to kill him many times, God did not allow this to occur. Instead, Vrt'anes died peacefully and passed to Christ, the hope of all. King Tiran replaced him with his son, the blessed Yusik, brother of Gregoris, kat'oghikos of Aghbania/Aghuania.

However, Tiran did not rule the kingdom according to the rules of God, but with evil deeds which the blessed Yusik vigorously reprimanded [g17]. Tiran despised Yusik and later murdered him for the following reason. After the death of the son of the great Constantine, Emperor Constantius, Julian the Apostate ruled over the Romans [361-63]. He sent a tablet on which was painted the picture of satan and next to [15] him that of Julian, in order that it be placed in the Armenian church. Tiran, out of fear of Julian, did as he was ordered. However, the blessed Yusik was opposed to this and did not allow the painting to enter the church. Instead he grabbed it from [Tiran's] hands, threw it on the ground and trampelled it with his feet, shattering it to bits. The angered Tiran ordered Yusik to be beaten to death with clubs. [Yusik] occupied the episcopal throne for six years.

Then Tiran called the great suffragan bishop Daniel, an Assyrian, whom Saint Gregory had placed as overseer over [certain] districts. He was a saint and a miracle-worker. And when he arrived, Daniel reprimanded the king with severe oaths on account of the murder of the holy chief priest Yusik. Tiran became angry and ordered him strangled. Thus the blessed man died a martyr's death. Tiran then placed on the patriarchal throne a certain P'arhnerseh, not of the line of Saint Gregory, but from the village of Ashtishat in Taron. He reigned for five years. [g18]

The king of Iran, Shapuh, treacherously called Tiran before him, and en route had his eyes blinded with coals. This was revenge granted by God for Tiran's unjust murder of Yusik and Daniel. Later his own son, Arshak, strangled him. [Tiran] ruled [16] for thirty years.

By the order of Shapuh, Arshak occupied the throne of his kingdom [350-67]. And all his naxarars and all the bishops of the land of Armenia came to him requesting a patriarch from the worthy clan of Saint Gregory. They found a youth of fine stature, pleasing to the sight of the Lord, whose name was Nerses, son of Yusik's son, At'anagines. Yusik had two sons, one named Pap and the other At'anagines. While Yusik was alive he did not ordain either of them for any work in the church because they were unworthy. But after Yusik's death, they were forcibly ordained deacons. But they abandoned the work of the church, occupying themselves with eating and drinking. Instead of psalms and spiritual songs, they contented themselves with gusans [minstrels], singing women and whores.

One day when they were sitting in the church eating [g19] and drinking with women and servants, a fire fell from heaven and consumed both of them, disgracing them with an unheard-of death. And they remained inside the church for many days, since no one dared enter and remove the corpses.

Nerses the marvellous was worthy of the epithet by which [17] he was called, for he was a rightous and blessed man. He had been a soldier of King Arshak who raised his steel sword in service to the king and considered himself unworthy of such honor. But King Arshak ordered the old bishop P'ostos to ordain him deacon. And gathering together a great force, the king sent him to Caesarea to be ordained patriarch. Returning from Caesarea, Nerses enlightened the land of Armenia with diverse laws, he built monasteries and poor-houses, and he gathered together the lepers and afflicted ones and arranged for their maintenance and stipulated stipends.

But Arshak did not rule the kingdom according to the law of God, for he slayed his brother's son, Gnel, and took Gnel's wife, P'arandzem, for his own wife. The blessed man of God, Nerses, then cursed him; while Shapuh, king of the Iranians, and Valens emperor of the Greeks (who ruled piously after Jovian) became his enemies. Arshak beseeched Nerses to go to Emperor Valens [364-78] in an embassy. [g20]

Saint Nerses went to make peace between the two kings. However, Valens was then persecuting the orthodox, since he was fermenting in the sects of Arios and Makedon. As soon as he saw Saint Nerses and heard that the man was a miracle-worker, he said to him: "Heal my son, for he is sick unto death." And the saint said: "If you turn from [18] your ill-advised sect, I will cure him." And [the emperor] agreed. The holy man prayed and the child came out of his illness. But Valens then returned to the same heresy as before and the child died immediately.

Valens ordered that the blessed man be exiled to an uninhabited island where there would be no green plants, but only sand. At the saint's prayers, a fountain with delicious water flowed forth and the sea threw fish onto the shore and wood which burst into flame of its own accord. They dined this way for nine months.

When Arshak learned that Saint Nerses had been exiled, he began to work great evil. He built a city and gathered all the criminals there and said that there would be no trial against anyone who commited crimes and then went there. The city filled up with injustice. It was named Arshakawan. [g21]

Valens the emperor was killed barbarously, giving an example to this world of the future eternal Gehenna. He was burned to death. T'eodos [Theodosius I, 379-95] the Great took the crown at the order of Gratianos. And he released Saint Nerses from exile and kept him near himself with great [19] honor until the gathering of the Council of One Hundred Fifty in Constantinople, at which were assembled Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nisa, brother of Saint Basil and many other fathers, because of the heresy of Macedonius.

Now Nerses was sent to his [patriarchal] throne. He saw the unjust deeds of Arshak and cursed Arshakawan. Its population wickedly perished and the populous city became deserted. Shapuh called Arshak to him and had him put in prison. Arshak killed himself with his own hands. He reigned for thirty years.

Saint Nerses beseeched the great Theodosius and he enthroned Pap, Arshak's son, over the Armenians [367-74]. Because Pap was a dissolute man, Saint Nerses went to reprimand him. Pap gave him poison and caused that upright man to die. As he was dying, [Nerses] called his flock to him and blessed it, and prophesied much about the Nation of the Archers [the Mongols] and the destruction of Armenia, about the antichrist and the troubles he would spread throughout the entire world. Then the saint died a martyr's death, leaving his weeping flock. [g22] He held the patriarchate for thirty-four years. A certain Shahak succeeded him on the [patriarchal] throne. Shahak was not of the same [Gregorid] line, but [20] rather was a son of Albianos, from Manazkert in Hark'. He ruled for four years.

When pious Theodosius saw the evil deeds which Pap was doing, he ruined him in accordance with his wicked actions. [Pap] ruled for seven years. Then Theodosius the Great enthroned as king of Armenia a certain Varazdat of the Arshakuni line, a powerful, strong man. After Shahak, his brother Zawen held the kat'oghikosate for four years.

Varazdat planned to rebell against Theodosius and to ally with the Iranians. Manuel Mamikonean, brother of the brave sparapet of the Armenians, Mushegh, whom Varazdat treacherously killed, chased the king away. Varazdat went to Greece [Byzantium] where he died, after ruling four years.

After Zawen, the brother of Shahak and Zawen, Aspurakes, ruled the kat'oghikosate for five years. Manuel seated on the throne Pap's two sons, Arshak and Vagharshak, and made them his sons-in-law. They ruled for four years. [g23]

Then [in 387] the Byzantine and Iranian kings divided the land of Armenia into two parts. In the Byzantine sector Arshak ruled at the command of Arcadius and Honorius, sons of Theodosius the Great. Now Shapuh enthroned as king in [21] his sector a certain Xosrov of the same Arsacid line. And there was a battle between Arshak and Xosrov, since the princes who were under Arshak made off with his treasury and went over to Xosrov.

Xosrov, after the death of Aspurakes, seated the blessed Sahak, son of Nerses the Great, on the patriarchal throne. In these days the patriarch of Constantinople was that wonderful blazing torch of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom who enlightened the universal Church of Christ with doctrine of the Word of Life. He was at first ridiculed by some people for not being able to speak Greek well, because on his father's side he was Syrian. After he was baptised he did not drink wine, he did not laugh or swear or make people take oaths, and he did not anathematize anyone. When they took him into exile, he stretched forth his hand to the Church, saying: "Be well, holy Church, abode of the glories of the Lord, and do not forget my work; for of the gifts which I received [g24] from God the most valuable are the eight hundred books and twelve thousand homilies." He was patriarch for five years, was in exile for three years, and died in [the city of] Comana at fifty years of age.

When Xosrov had ruled for five years, the Iranian king deposed him and enthroned Vrhamshapuh. More than anyone [22] Saint Sahak made the Church of Christ resplendent with various virtuous laws and with canonical legislation.

In this period, a great light of learning dawned in Armenia since the venerable Mesrop went to Saint Sahak to inquire whether it would be possible to create letters for the Armenian language. [Mesrop] found [Sahak] more than desirous of such a thing, because until that time they did not have Armenian letters but used Greek or Syriac characters. They acquainted King Vrhamshapuh with the plan. And the king said: "While I was in the Syrian areas, a certain Syrian bishop named Daniel told me that he had characters for the Armenian language. I neglected this matter at the time." And they sent a certain naxarar named Vaxrich (Vahrich) to Daniel to request the alphabet from him. He sent it [to them] by [g25] the priest Habel. As soon as they saw it, they rejoiced and began to translate into Armenian all the books of the Bible. But looking at [the alphabet], they realized that it was not sufficient for correctly producing all the syllables, conjunctive particles, and words, and again they became concerned. When they had exhausted all human possibilities, they took refuge with Him for whom all is possible, petitioning the Lord with prayers and undertaking rigorous fasting and prayers. He who fulfills the desires of His pious followers and listens [23] to their prayers did not neglect their goodly requests. A mighty writing on stone appeared to Mesrob and it made manifest all the particulars. Arising, Mesrob created the alphabet.

Thereafter they gathered many children and instructed the entire land. They divided the young children the learned, the soft-voiced and patient into two groups, and founded Syrian and Greek schools. Those youths, after studying all sorts of Christian and secular disciplines, became veracious translators. They translated all the books of the Old and New Testament, beginning with the Proverbs of [g26] Solomon. They did them all. They were not only translators, but doctors and teachers and prophets speaking of the future.

They were filled with the Holy Spirit, speakers of the languages of nations, translators from generation to generation, they transformed the obscure into the evident; they explained deep words, making them clear.

They were pillars of the Church and the well-fastened gates for Her sons. They were light-giving towers and blazing torches, generally spreading their rays to the extremities of the universe.

They were theologians of the Word of Life, givers of [24] drink to the thirsty, coolers of the fiery heat of the devil and bringers of warmth to those cooling in the faith.

They were singing swallows, sweet voiced and prudent doves, lovers of holiness, and dishononers of impurity.

They were teachers of the children and good examples for the youth, ornaments of virgins, laws of the married, comforters of the old, counselors of the weak, callers to those sinking, who turned sinners from their ways. They [g27] served as goads to awaken the lazy, encouraging the enthusiastic. They were lovers of study and reprimanders of the wicked.

Their vardapets and teachers were saints Sahak and Mesrop and their principal students, the blessed Yovsep', Yovhan, Ghewond the Priest (erets'), Sahak, Movses K'ert'oghahayr, and Mambre Veratsanogh, his brother Eznak, Koriwn, the blessed Eghishe, the philosopher Dawit', Yovhannes, lord Abraham, Ardzan, Mushe, Ardzan, Xosrov, Ghazar, and then Step'annos bishop of Siwnik' and Hrhap'anos Samostats'i who fashioned the beautiful characters, and many others, some of whom had reached the rank [25] of bishop, and others who were set up as leaders over the people. Some composed their own books, beyond the translations, such as the History of the Armenians of the marvellous Movses at the request of Sahak Bagratuni and his History of the Holy Mother of God and Her Picture at the request of the Artsrunid princes and Petk' at the request of a certain T'eodos, and the Eulogy of the Blessed Hrhip'simeans, and On the Transfiguration (Vardavarh) and other sermons and philosophical homilies. Koriwn wrote the History of Saint Mesrop and of other times. Eghishe's History of the Holy Vardaneans, [g28] the Book of Canons and exegeses of sacred writings and the passion of our Savior. And Ghazar's book. Eznak too left many discourses for the benefit of posterity. Dawit' the Philosopher's Book of Limits and Being, the Interpretation of Aristotle, the Introduction of Porphry and other questions and answers, the Eulogy on the Holy Cross, and On the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Similarly, Mambre Vertsanogh wrote a eulugy on Palm Sunday, on the coming of Christ to Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Then the great bishop Step'annos of Siwnik' left many interpretations of sacred writings, a summary of the Gospels, and of the books of Job, Daniel, and Ezekiel and the answers to the letter of the patriarch of Constantinople, Germanos.

[26] They also wrote sharakans (hymns) of a sweet and lovely quality and with great imagination on the birth of Christ and the forty days of His coming to the temple, on His baptism and His arrival in Bethany and Jerusalem on the great week of His Passion and Resurrection, His Ascenscion and the coming of the Spirit on the Cross, and the Church and on other feasts [g29] of the Lord and on all the saints, on repentance and on all the reposed, varied, diverse and countless, [hymns] which to this day are used in the churches of Armenia.

Now the holy vardapet Mesrop, as soon as he elevated Armenia through learning and translations, entrusted his works to kat'oghikos Sahak and went to Aghbania/Aghuania where he created an alphabet for them, too. Leaving vardapets there for them, he went to Georgia and created an alphabet for them in accordance with the grace given him from on High. And thus gladdening all the lands with boundless joy he left them vardapets from among his students and he himself returned to Armenia and found the great Sahak occupied with translating.

Now King Vrhamshapuh, having ruled the country for twenty-one years, died in peace. Then his brother Xosrov ruled again for one year and then Artashes (or Artashir) ruled after him.

[27] During that time the pious Theodosius the Lesser [II, 408-450], son of Arcadius, ruled the Byzantines. And Saint Sahak [g30] sent the vardapet Mesrop and his own grandson, Vardan [Mamikonean], with a letter to Emperor Theodosius so that he give an order to those under his sway to study the Armenian alphabet for [the emperor's] overseers had not given permission to do this, out of their jealousy. Then the mild Theodosius accused [Mesrop], saying: "Why did you search for an alphabet from the Syrians and not from the Greek scholars who are in our city?" And Mesrop replied that the completion of the alphabet took place because of the grace of the Spirit. Then the pious king thanked God and ordered that Mesrop be honored as a true and wise vardapet. He and the patriarch Attikos, together with all the faithful of the Church and the king enrolled Mesrop among the foremost doctors of the Church, with At'anasius and the two Gregories, Basil and John Chrysostom.

The pious Theodosius made Vardan stratelat. They also wrote letters to the great Sahak giving him exalted honor. [The emperor] gave the order throughout his kingdom to assemble [g31] intelligent young men to study the alphabet, while maintenance and expenses were seen to by the court. He gave an order to build a city in the Karin district of Armenia and named [28] the city Theodosiopolis (T'eodopolis), which presently is called Karin city. When Mesrop arrived [in Armenia] he also instructed that half [of the Armenian] people under Theodosius' rule.

Now the king of Armenia, the youth Artashir, was lewd and wanton, worked unworthy deeds not only at night, but during the day, and did not heed the advice of Saint Sahak. Therefore, all the naxarars became disgusted and went to Saint Sahak so that together with him they might denounce Artashir to the Iranian king and overthrow him. But Saint Sahak refused to toss a lamb to the wolves. [The naxarars] went to the Iranian king Vahram [(Vrham) Gur, 421-438/39], removed Artashir from the throne and also removed the blessed Sahak from his throne for he had not agreed with them. Thus the kingdom of the Arsacids was ended following Artashir, who reigned for six years. The Arsacid kingdom in Armenia lasted 568 years. The pontificate ended in the worthy clan of Saint Gregory [g32], although the blessed Sahak lived sixteen years after this event and made the land resplendent with his luminous doctrine. This was during the time of unworthy overseers and Iranian marzpans such as Vehmihrshapuh in place of King Artashir and the vengeful Surmak instead of Saint Sahak. [Surmak] [29] lived one year. After Surmak came the Syrian Brkisho, who was worse than his predecessor. He ruled for three years. And then Shmuel ruled for five useless years.

Now Saint Sahak was occupied with prayers and doctrine. Then all the naxarars of Armenia threw themselves before him confessing their sins, requesting a pardon from him, and begging him to return to his throne, but he did not consent. And when they had pressed him a great deal, he related to them the vision which he saw, [namely] that it was because of the Lord that the line of Saint Gregory ceased to occupy the patriarchate and the Arsacid house had ceased to occupy the throne. And that close to the appearance of the antichrist, God would again restore the kingdom of the Arsacids and the [g33] patriarchate in the line of Saint Gregory. The naxarars gave him leave to do as he wished. The Iranian king made Vardan marzpan of Armenia and placed the country in his hands.

After occupying the patriarchate for fifty-one years, Saint Sahak passed in peaceful death to the ranks of the angels, giving his throne to Saint Mesrop, who also passed from this life during the same year, leaving a good testimony of himself to the future. He died at the beginning of the first year of [the reign of] Varham II's son Yazkert [II, 439-457], the king of Iran. [30] Their blessed student, Yovsep', occupied the patriarchal throne.

King Yazkert forced all Christians to apostasize and to turn to the Mazdean faith, a thing which the Armenian troops did not accept. They turned against the order and killed the mogs and mogpets who had come to destroy the churches and extinguish the faith. As soon as Yazkert heard all about that, he sent many troops to war with the Armenian forces (whose leaders were the holy Vardan and his comrades). The Iranians devastated the country and at the advice of the apostate Vasak took into slavery the remaining naxarars and the blessed Yovsep', Sahak, Ghewond, and their comrades [g34], taking them to the [Iranian] court in shackles. Subsequently they killed the blessed Yovsep' and his companions, keeping the naxarars in prison until the days of King Peroz [459-84] when, by the grace of God, they were freed from their bonds and, having inherited the name of confessors, they returned to the land of Armenia.

After the death of pious Emperor Theodosius, Marcian [450-57] took over the kingdom. He convened the council of 636 bishops at Chalcedon, to wreck the orthodox faith. Their blasphemy spreads throughout the world until the present.

Continued on Next Page


Kirakos Table of Contents

Historical Sources Menu
History Workshop Menu

--   This is a mirror of one of Robert Bedrosian's web pages   --