P'awstos Buzandac'i's

History of the Armenians

Book Three


Yusik's sons Pap and At'angines and how they were killed in a blessed place because of their impiety.

The sons of Yusik, Pap and At'anagines led their lives in impiety, lewdness and God-hating. Every day of their lives passed in great audacity, without the fear of God before their eyes. They conducted themselves in a licentious way, in adultery, and ridiculed and scorned the order of God. Now it happened that [61] they were in the Taron country at the church in the awan at Ashtishat, the first church which their grandfather, Gregory, had built, Pap and At'anagenes, the two brothers, went and reached that village. With great impiety they were ridiculing the temple of God. The two brothers went and entered the episcopate located there and drank wine with whores, harlots, bards (gusans), and jesters, and, scorning the blessed and sacred places, they trampled on them.

While they were in great merriment, reclining in the episcopate eating and drinking, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared [g58] in the form of a bolt of lightning, striking the two brothers dead where they sat. The other people who were with them in the temple making merry and sitting with them, up and fled from the temple, one and all. Out of terror not one of them turned back, nor did anyone else dare think of going inside or even of approaching the door which had remained open when they fled. On the following days, no one dared to cross the threshold.

Thus did the two brothers, Pap and At'anagines, perish, felled inside the episcopate in the spot where they reclined. The [62] doors of the temple remained open, and no one dared to approach. Finally their bodies rotted, spoiled, and decomposed, and their bones came apart and scattered. Many months passed. Then [the people] dared to enter, collect and remove their bones which had become withered and dry. They removed them to the church vineyard, which was named Agarak. At'anagines was survived by a son from the king's sister, Bambish, named Nerses. Subsequently [Nerses] came to occupy the throne of the patriarchs, throughout the entire country of Armenia. Pap was not survived by any son from his natural wife. However, he had relations with a concubine from the district of Taron [who was] of the karchazats of Hac'eac' village. From this Hac'ekac'i concubine who was named ____, [name missing] [Pap] was survived by a son called Vrik [g59]. [63]


Regarding king Tiran, and how he was betrayed by his chamberlain P'isak Siwnik'; how he was lost and how, in a period of peace, he was suddenly arrested by Varaz, the Iranian prince; how the entire country of the Armenians was lost and ruined along with him.

There was still friendship between the two kings of Armenia and Iran. In the land of Atrpatakan a high-ranking individual named Shapuh Varaz resided. Now while complete peace existed between the two kings, at the Lord's will agitation was stirred up as a result of some insignificant matter by a certain vile man (who was not less than a demon (dew) in frenzy) named P'isak. He was the chamberlain of king Tiran, and of the Siwnik' azg. He had gone as an ambassador to Varaz Shapuh whom the king of Iran had left in the land of Atrpatakan as a border-guard.

At that time king Tiran possessed a horse which [everyone] greatly marvelled at. The horse's color was roan. It was very brave, renowned, splendid, great, tall, broader than any horse and handsomer. Nothing could be compared with it. When the king's chamberlain, P'isak, went on his embassy, he betrayed [the horse's existence] to Varaz with whom he had become friendly. Taking a letter from him, he brought it to the king of Armenia, who refused [to give the horse up]. However, because he distrusted [64] the man [and feared that] he could stir up disturbance between the two kings, [Tiran] sought out a horse possessing the same color, markings, and appearance (except for size, since he could not find such a large horse anywhere). He found a horse of the same roan color and sent it to Varaz the prince in [g60] Atrpatakan together with deeds (hrovartaks) and gifts, entrusting it to the fanatical P'isak. [Tiran] advised [P'isak] to say: "This is [the horse] that you requested which, out of affection, [Tiran] did not deny you." But when he reached Varaz, he revealed the matter of the retention [of the horse] and tried to aggrevate matters, not wanting to temper his deceitful words. On the contrary, he sharpened his slander further, saying: "The king of Armenia, Tiran, is so filled with envy, jealousy, malevolence, enmity, hatred, ill-will, vacillation and audacity toward the king of Iran and toward all the Iranian forces that to preserve a single hide, he concealed it, ridiculing you. He found another [horse] and entrusted it to me, to bring to you. But that is not the extent of it. He plans to remove the kingship of Iran from the azg of Sasan, relying on the emperor and his troops. For, he [65] says, 'that lordship belonged to our fathers, and [now] to us. I shall not rest until I retrieve the honor (patiw) of my ancestral fathers, and return the former kingdom to the sons of my azg, to my tun and to myself personally.'" With such and similar words did the impious P'isak aggrevate [Varaz] against his own natural lord, and plot to effect the king's death.

When Varaz Shapuh, marzpan of Atrpatakan, heard all this from the desperate dog-mouthed P'isak, he immediately wrote a letter of accusation against the king of Armenia, and sent it to the king of Iran, Nerseh [Translator's note: During the reign of Tiran (339-350) the king of Iran was Sahpuhr II (310-379) not Nerseh (293-302)]. He so angered, inflamed and enraged the king of Iran against the king of Armenia that [Varaz] received an order from him to find whatever means possible—artificial slanders—of hunting and seizing the king of Armenia. Thus, while peace still reigned between the two kings, the anger of the Lord was moved to seek vengeance and to demand [punishment] from impious king Tiran for the blessed blood of the two great, leading priests he had slain [g61].

[66] At that time Varaz sent an emissary to the king of Armenia treacherously speaking with him about peace, and requesting permission to visit him (because of his affection [for Tiran]). When Tiran, king of Armenia heard that, he immediately ordered that [Varaz] be summoned to him, with great delight. But before he arrived, [Tiran] reasoned with his own servants, the eunuch attendants of his chamber, saying: "It is befitting for us to divert and gladden the man who is coming to us, with hunts, banquets, and all sorts of pleasant things. But there is no need for him to see that the hunting places here in our country are so great, because of the malevolent, malicious treachery of the Iranian azg. Rather, places which are not rich in game must be found, sufficient for his recreation. Let us not hunt in places rich in game, nor make a great slaughter of game for the sake of display. Let us do things for the sake of form, because of the bitterness and wickedness of that azg, Let us hunt in the Apahunik' country, at the foot of the great Masis mountain, at the place called k'aghak' [the enclosure of] Aghiorsk'.

[67] Shapuh Varaz arrived with 3,000 men, was met by the king in the Apahunik' country, and greatly exalted by him. Those words which the king had spoken about the hunt immediately reached the ears of the Iranian general. [They were uttered] by that world-destroying man, P'isak, the deceitful informer, [who would] lie to, betray, and kill his lord. For a few days they made merry together. But the Iranian prince craftily kept concealed the enmity he had within him, artificially veiling it, and waiting to work the treachery.

Now it so happened that at that time the generals were not present, having become alienated. Similarly, the grandee naxarars, senior tanuters of the nobility and the royal troops each were remaining in the dwellings of their tuns. No one was [g62] with the king, neither brigade nor cavalry. [Tiran was alone] except for a few attendants, keepers of the hunting hounds, people of the road-crew, the motley force of tent-guards, the rhamikspas troops, the queen and the lad Arshak, the king's son. Thus it was [68] that there were few people present at the time. Although [Tiran] observed that the Iranian general had arrived with a dense brigade—he had some 3,000 arms-bearing men with him—[Tiran] felt no distrust or suspicion. For he saw that [Varaz] had come in peace, bearing great gifts, honorable presents and very grand compliments.

After a few days had passed [the Iranians] invited the king to a dinner, to honor him. When they were drinking wine and the king and those with him became quite drunk, a force which had been lying in wait suddenly, unexpectedly pounced upon the couches where each of them were, seizing them while shield-protected spearmen surrounded king Tiran. Seizing him, they restrained his feet and hands with iron fetters and looted whatever they found in the banak. They took from the Apahunik' country the king's treasures, goods, wife and son, whatever they found in the banak.

[69] When they arrived at a village named Dalarik', the Iranian general entered the village taking the bound king Tiran with him. Varaz said: "Go and find coal to heat iron so we may blind this king of Armenia." They brought coal and blinded king Tiran's eyes. Then Tiran himself began to speak, saying: "Because the light of my two eyes was dimmed in this place, from now to eternity let the name of [this village] be called Acugh [Coal] instead of Dalarik' as a clear sign in memory of me. I recalled and now know that vengeance for the evils and sins I wrought has been demanded from me. For I dimmed this land of which I was king when I deprived it of two radiant vardapets, believing that by [g63] this I would extinguish the light of the true preaching of those two believing men. For this reason, the light of my eyes was extinguished."

Then the prince of the Iranian king immediately left Acugh village travelling quickly and taking along king Tiran and all the captives, heading for the country of Iran. He went to Asorestan, to his lord, the king of Iran. The bad news of all this destruction and unexpected misery reached [the Armenians]. Then the naxarars, princes, officials, military commanders, chiefs (pets) and the entire ashxarhazhoghovk' multitude assembled. Although they assembled and organized a brigade, ready to pursue Varaz, they were not able to catch up. But they took a part of the land of Iran, killed the people, burned the land, and turned it into a ruin. Then they returned, assembling in one place where they wept and mourned for their natural lord, the king of Armenia. They also wept pitifully for the loss of the land, and for the fact that they themselves were left lordless.


How all the lords of Armenian assembled in unity and sent to the emperor of Byzantium, pledging their loyalty; how king Nerseh of Iran came to Armenia with many troops but was defeated and escaped to Iran by a hairsbreadth.

Then people of the land of Armenia assembled in a larger meeting of unity. [This included] the grandee naxarars, awags, governors, rulers of lands, azats, military commanders, judges, chiefs (pets), princes, as well as generals, shinakans, and even rhamiks. Those assembled spoke with their comrades, saying: "What is this [g64] that we are doing, mourning? The enemy will conquer us in this way. Very soon they will invade. Come, let us console ourselves, save ourselves and our land, and seek vengeance for our natural lord." Thus it was that all the people of the land came together [71] and took counsel together to find aid and assistance for themselves.

They sent [a delegation consisting of] the great naxarars of the Armenian nobility carrying gifts to the Byzantine emperor [proposing] that they extend their hand to, and obediently serve him, and that he would aid them and support them in exacting vengeance from their enemies. They sent:

Andovk, nahapet of Siwnik',
Arshawir Kamsarakan, nahapet of Arsharunik'.

They reached the imperial palace of the kings in the land of Byzantium, presented the hrovartak, had the gifts brought forth, and presented the message of the entire land to the emperor. When the emperor heard about this, with great alacrity and preparation he undertook to expedite matters, to help and aid the land of Armenia. This was especially so since he remembered the treaty sealed with an oath and confirmed [which had existed] between the emperor Constantine and king Trdat.

[72] Now while the emissaries who had gone to the imperial palace from the country of Armenia had not yet returned to their land, Nerseh himself, king of Iran, came from the east to burn, ruin, destroy and make the borders of the country of Armenia completely his own. He took all of his troops with the main baggage, all in a great caravan, with a multitude of elephants, unlimited supplies, with the main tents (mashkapachens), all the women and the queen of queens, and arrived at the borders of Armenia. He filled up the entire country. Then the azatazork' of Armenian naxarars took their families and fled to the Byzantine areas, [g65] bringing the bad news to the multi-brigade banak of the emperor's naxarars. Now when the emperor of Byzantium heard all this, he too assembled his troops and came to the country of Armenia, against the king of Iran. He left his army near the city of Satagh. He himself selected two principal wise men from the Armenian army, namely Arshawir and Andovk, who had previously gone to him as emissaries. Then the emperor himself entered the Iranian army in the disguise of a shinakan cabbage-seller.

[The Iranian army] was encamped in the district of Basean, in the village called Osxay. They came and entered the army of the king [73] of Iran, and observed and noted the number of their troops. Then they returned to their camp and prepared their organization. [The Byzantines] came and attacked the army of the king of Iran encamped in that same place, finding them negligently unconcerned and unsuspectingly at rest. Attacking during the daytime, they fell upon the Iranian king, putting everything to the sword and sparing no one. Then they took the banak as loot, the king's women, the bambish [queen of queens] and the women with her their possessions and goods into captivity—their women and treasures, provisions and equippage. Only the king was able to escape by a hairsbreadth and go free as a fugitive, thanks to a swift running pony. And he barely reached his own land. Then the emperor, elevated with great pomp, appeared in the midst of the army. They killed all the mature males, and took the rest as captives to the country of Byzantium. He left the princes Andovk and Arshawir as overseers of the land, exalting them with great gifts and great honors. The emperor entrusted all the princes and their land to them, and then [g66] departed for his own country, Byzantium.

[74] The king of Iran went as a fugitive to his own country. When he got there, he assembled all those remaining under his authority and set about investigating things. He held counsel and conducted an inquiry again so that they could see and reveal how this war had started. On this occasion circumstances were disclosed and it was plainly revealed that it had arisen over an insignificant matter, a malicious slander, that the frenzied Shapuh Varaz had stirred up the disturbance over one single horse. So the king ordered that his patiw be removed, that his robe of honor be stripped from him, and that Varaz be subjected to great torments. After the Iranian fashion, he commanded that [Varaz'] skin be flayed, stuffed with straw, and the body hanged in the view of his concourse, in ignominy. He himself regretted what had happened and sent honorable princes [to the emperor] for peace, to get the captives returned and to beseech him to speak of peace and reconciliation so that at least his women be returned from captivity and he himself released from the ignominy of insulting blame.

[75] The emperor of Byzantium, Vaghes [Translator's note: The Byzantine emperor at the time was actually Constantius (337-361)], wrote a hrovartak to the king of Iran, [saying the following]: "First return the captives you took from the country of Armenia and principally king Tiran, as well as everything else you took thence. When you have done that I will return what I have taken. But first you return their booty and then I will return yours." As soon as the king of Iran heard this command, he immediately implemented it. He removed the captive Tiran from the shackles of the prison house and spoke affectionately with him saying that he would once again [g67] enthrone him in his own land and return him in honor. But Tiran replied: "In my blindness it is useless, improper and indeed impossible for me to hold the reign. But make my son, Arshak, king in my place."

Then [the Iranian king] enthroned Arshak, [Tiran's] son over the land of Armenia, simultaneously returning the king's women, all the other captives, with treasures, presents, and goods. With great preparation, the king of Iran personally organized and dispatched Tiran from his land to the country of Armenia. Thus he faithfully implemented the Byzantine emperor's commands. When he had sent them [76] to Armenia, he then dispatched those emissaries who had come to him from the Byzantine emperor, so that they would go and tell the emperor that he had implemented his commands, and so that the emperor would return what he had captured from the king of Iran. When the emperor of Byzantium heard all this, that the Iranian king had done all he had commanded, returning the Armenian captives and king Tiran, he was pleased. Then the Byzantine emperor returned the captives of the Iranian king. He sent the women of the king of Iran back to him in great honor, and with them, all that had been captured [g68]. [Translator's note: Pages 69-74 contain chapter headings for Book IV, and are not translated. The text resumes on page 75.]


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