Sebeos' History


Prologue


[1] At the time of the waning of the rule of the Arsacids in the land of Armenia [when] the rule of king Vramshapuh was done away with, there ruled over Armenia the people of the Kark'edovmayets'i principality. [The latter], with the unity of the venemous, grandee mages and all the principal naxarars (lords) of [the ruler's] kingdom adopted an awesome and frightful plan: to eliminate the fruits of piety (Christianity) in the land of Armenia. But nothing availed [the Iranian king in his plan], rather, he was damaged. And [Christian] piety more than ever blossomed and sparkled.

Now others have written about [all of the following events], as that very same History points out: regarding [2] the days of wicked [king] Yazkert's reign, how he wanted to destroy the divine orders (the clergy); how the brave naxarars of Armenia and the zealot of God, the nahapet Vardan called "Karmir" ("the Red") of the Mamikonean House with a brigade of armed comrades, their friends and troops organized and armed for war. [They] took in hand the shield of Faith and zeal for the divine Word clothed them like armor of security and truly before their very eyes you might say that they saw their halos descend to them [end of grabar (Classical Armenian) text page 22; henceforth shown as, for example, g22]. Thus did they scorn death, considering it better to die on the Divine Path. [The History alluded to above also tells] how the Iranian troops came against them with severe violence and how, when they clashed [the Vardaneank'] received martyrdom and how the blessed witnesses of Christ who had been captured by the pagans underwent martyrdom at Apr Shahr, close to the city of Niwshapuh, at a place called T'eark'uni.

But I wished to concisely write down and narrate to you [information] about all the following [events]: all the evil which transpired in Peroz' time; Vardan's rebellion against Xosrov; the rebellion of the Iranian troops from Ormizd; Ormizd's death and the enthronement of Xosrov; Maurice's death and the reign of Phocas; the taking of Egypt; [3] the destruction of Alexandria; the appeal of Heraclius to the king of the T'eatalats'ik' in the Northern parts and the sending of countless multitudes of peoples [in response to Heraclius' appeal]; the Byzantines' raiding in Atrpatakan, the loot and booty; the return via P'aytakaran; the coming of Iranian troops from the east to strike at him; the war which occurred in the land of [Caucasian] Aghbania; the emperor's turn to the city of Naxchewan and the fight at Archish; the emperor's departure thence to his own borders; the other attack on Xosrov; the warfare which occurred at Ninue; the raid upon the city of Ctesiphon (Tisbon); the return to Atrpatakan; Xosrov's death; the enthronement of Kawad; the reconciliation which occurred between the two kingdoms [Byzantium and Iran]; then the ceding of borders to the Byzantines; the return of the divine Cross to the Holy City. [Then I shall describe] the arousal of fathomless [divine] anger and the final disasters [brought on] by the marauders from the Southern parts [the Arabs]; how the armies of the Ishmaelites unexpectedly moved forth and, in a moment's time, overthrowing the might of both kings [g23], seized [territories extending] from Egypt to this side of the great Euphrates river and to the border of the Armenians [ts' sahman Hayastaneayts'], from the shores of the great sea in the West [the Atlantic] to the gate/court of the Iranian kingdom, [taking] all the [4] cities of Mesopotamia of the Syrians, and Ctesiphon, Veh Artashir, Marand, Hamatan as far as the city of Gandzak, and the great Hrat which is located in the district of Atrpatakan.



Chapter 1

Vahan's rebellion from Peroz, the seizure of authority and triumph in battle. Peroz' death, the enthronement of Kawad, and the honoring of Vahan with the marzpanate. Kawad's death and the enthronement of Xosrov called Anush Eruan (Anushirvan). The rebellion of Vardan and service to the Byzantines. The war and defeat of Xosrov.


During the years of Peroz, king of Iran [A.D. 459-84], the suppression [bardzumn] of all principalities, and orders and laws of Christianity and such danger of persecutions and contempt were visited upon the princes that they threw off the yoke of service. Vahan Mamikonean rebelled, persecuted the Iranians, and seized authority by force.

Then king Peroz released upon him many Hun troops, commanding that the rebels be killed with great severity and that all males be put to the sword. Sparapet Vahan hastened against this [army] with 30,000 select armed men. They massed in order, brigade against brigade, front against [5] front, and with all possible speed they attacked each other, to the sound of trumpets, in the plain of Geran.

The Word of God came to aid [the Armenians], stirring up the wind and pouring upon the Iranian troops a dust storm which in midday enveloped them like a dark eclipse. There was enormous destruction on both sides and it was impossible to distinguish Iranian from Armenian among the [g24] corpses. However, eventually the army of the Armenians drove back the army of Iranians, making fugitives of the remainder and pursuing them. They turned back from this with great triumph.

Vahan both collected the taxes of the land of Armenia and also [re]built the very great churches which the Iranians had ruined in the city of Vagharshapat, in Dwin, in Mzur [ i Mzrays], and in many places in the land of Armenia. Building the country up, he again renewed it.

Now despite the fact that the Iranian king Peroz wanted to mass troops against Armenia again, he had no opportunity since news of [the coming of] enemies forced him to go to the Kushan area because it was from that very border that the [6] king of the Kushans himself was coming against [Peroz] with a large army.

Assembling his troops, [Peroz] went against [the Kushan king] with great haste, saying: "First I shall expel him, then, having nothing further to do, I shall go to Armenia once more and shall spare neither man nor woman from my sword."

When [Peroz] arrived, he quickly went to face the enemy in the East. An intense battle took place and [the Kushans] struck at and destroyed the multitude of Iranian troops, so much so that none was left alive to flee. King Peroz and seven of his sons died in the battle.

Then [Peroz'] son Kawad ruled the land of Iran [488-96, 498-531]. Because the strength of the multitude of his troops had been shattered, he did not want to make war with anyone; rather, he made peace on all sides [including] reconciliation with the Armenians. He summoned Vahan to court and exalted him with great honor. He gave him the marzpanate of the land [of Armenia] and the lordship of the Mamikonean [House]. He promised much in service and benevolently sent [Vahan] back to his country.

After Vahan, authority was wielded by his brother Vard Patrik [who ruled] for a short time [505-509, or 510-514], and died. After him came Iranian marzpans. The Armenians were [g25] unable to rebel, and remained in obedience until [the time of] the marzpan Suren and Vardan, lord of the Mamikoneans.

In the 41st year of the reign of Kawad's son Xosrov, Vardan rebelled with all Armenia united behind him and stopped serving the Iranian king. [They] killed the marzpan Suren unexpectedly in the city of Dwin, took much loot, and went in service to the Byzantines.

Prior to this rebellion the prince of the land of Siwnik', named Vahan, broke away from the Armenians. He requested of the Iranian king Xosrov that they take the diwan of the land of Siwnik' from Dwin to the city of P'aytakaran, and that the city be ranked in the Atrpatakan Shahrmar, so that the name "Armenia/Armenian" no longer be applied to them. [Xosrov] so ordered.

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