Yovhannēs Drasxanakertc'i's

History of Armenia



Continued from Previous Page [171]

XLVII

The Exploits of Sahak and Vasak, and the Cruelites of Yusuf

1. At this time, Sahak and Vasak, the Hayk-descended legitimate brothers of Grigor, who had been executed by the ostikan for no reason, [172] took constant precautions to protect themselves during the period of the persecutions, and tried to see if they possibly could find a way of escaping these afflictions, and take refuge in the strongholds of their respective domains. They expressed the wish not to go to a foreign land, until the wrath of the Lord had passed away. 2. Thereupon, going on board ship, they sailed by means of swift oars as if in an ark, and found asylum on the island of Sewan with their wives and children and their mother, who was a devout Christian and an ascetic, and the azat troops, for the torrential and muddy turbidity of the Ishmaelite brigands had become more severe than ever, and was blasting at the sandy foundations of our dwelling. 3. But when the cruel Hagarite with the effeminate tongue was made aware of this, he gathered his forces and sent them against the latter. Upon reaching the shores of the lake, the brothers found themselves besieged by the swords of the enemy.

4. Subsequently, the brothers who were strongly attached to one another, considered that the enemy might possibly drive them to a state of desperation, so that being unable to find a place of refuge because of the abysmal waters, they might fall into the muddy and wicked hands of the heathen tyrants. Consequently, strengthening the hands of their sailors, they sailed together with their mother as well as all their family and as much property as they could carry with them, and quickly reached the fortified district of Miap'or. 5. Entering the island-fortress, the Ishmaelite general ravaged whatever was left, and took a considerable amount of booty which he placed under guard. Then, ransacking the country, he followed their trail. 6. Turning back, the brothers attacked the enemy, wounded and slew many of them and put them to flight. Then, they themselves set out and took refuge in the cavernous strongholds of the pine forests of Gardman and Arc'ax, where they waited for the Lord's help. 7. Here, their mother, who was the sister of king Smbat, and a woman renowned among the ascetics for her virtuous and most holy manner of life, died. A few years later, after they had returned and again controlled their ancestral domain, they brought her body and buried her in a grave near the church built by her in Shoghak'a.

8. When the impious ostikan saw, that all of his governors and satraps were withdrawing from action because of the great victories achieved in all the regions of our land, and since there was no one who could stand against him, he sent a detachment of wicked brigands throughout the land of Sisakan, and beyond its borders to Tashirk' and Kangark' and the shore of Lake Gegham. 9. Then, he sent king Gagik together with his [173] naxarars and a large army to the fortress of Vagharshakert, in order to besiege and seize it. The latter came to the fortress and for several days attacked it, but could not do any harm to it. 10. Although the people who were besieged inside the fortress had inflicted wounds on many of the enemy, the latter did not dare to disregard the orders of the wicked ostikan, and continued the siege for many days. 11. Meanwhile, the army which had been sent by the seditious ostikan to the different regions of our land raised [burning] flames throughout our country like fire struck by lightning in order to annihilate the race of Aram. Everyone, the azat as well as the non-azat, the powerful and the warrior, the pentecontarch and the judge, the adviser and the investigator, the wise and the prudent, the old and the young, were all betrayed into the hands of the tyrannical conquerors in accordance with the prophesy: "deceivers shall rule over you." 12. Thus the jealousy of the Lord of hosts showed us what to expect in the future, in the days of retribution.

13. Thereupon, everyone lamented with Jeremias and wished that their heads were seas, and their eyes founts of tears, lest they might cease their lamenting and moaning for the unbearable travails. For the Ishmaelite brigands spread their flames among our people like blazing fires in the woods and reeds. Everyone suffered, and every heart was afflicted with grief.


XLVIII

King Smbat Remains Helpless, and Surrenders to Yusuf: the Escape of Gagik

1. In view of these events, king Gagik and his brother Gurgen at once realized that this wicked storm as well as the horrible crimes were brought upon the Church of Christ and the faithful people of God because of their guidance. Recognizing the deadly snares awaiting them, and terrified of the tyrant, they were admonished as if by the fear of God, and 2. feeling remorse in their hearts, did penance in accordance with the canons and decided to dissociate themselves [from Yusuf] and to return to their domain. However, for the moment their plan did not succeed.

3. Subsequently, Gagik revealed his good intentions to king Smbat, and having come to secret terms with him, waited for the right time in order to carry out his plans and rid himself of the blame of the evil which [174] had occurred by displaying his wonderful piety. 4. Be that as it may, king Smbat had taken refuge in the strongholds of Erasxadzor, and still entertained the hope that he could possibly quell the ignited flames of the wickedness that had been brought upon the people of Ashkenaz. 5. For he had taken into his confidence the great, wise and prudent prince of Armenia Grigor, and had asked the caliph for terms of peace on behalf of the entire flock of Christ, in order to put out the fire that had been set ablaze by the impious ostikan. 6. Although the great prince made every effort in his power, the royal court could not come to the assistance of king Smbat in compliance with the cunning prince's entreaties, because it was in a state of confusion at that time, due to the rebellions in Egypt.

7. But when Basil, the king of the Greeks, heard of these afflictions that had come upon us, he gathered numerous forces in order to come to the succor of Smbat, but suddenly he met his death which is the common lot of all men, and was succeeded by his brother Alexander, whose reign was filled with turmoil created by rebellious men, because of which he also could not come to the aid [of Smbat].

8. In addition the numbers of the kinsmen of our king, the princes, governors and certain chiefs had diminished through the deadly snares of the ostikan, as I narrated earlier. Those [who survived,] whether they were related to him or not, remained aloof from him both in deed and in thought, some very much against their will, and the others for no reason at all. They preferred to recognize [the domain of] foreigners rather than his. Those whom he loved with friendship dissociated themselves from him and joined the enemy. 9. Certain others, who were annoyed at him, even rose and disgracefully attacked him intending to kill him in compliance with the intrigues of the Hagarite, in a manner similar to that which had formerly befallen our Trdat.

10. Above all, the king took note that everyone was following his own wicked desires. Then he lost the hope of being rescued by men, and awaited only the heavenly succor. 11. Subsequently, he took refuge in the rocky fastnesses of Kapoyt, which is in the valley of Erasxadzor. Here he remained, as the place was not accessible to man, and the yoke of Ishmael had become more burdensome than he could endure. 12. After a period of one year, the enemy laid siege to the stronghold. Thereafter, in compliance with the orders of the accursed ostikan the ramik raised the outcry of war and [caused] many people to perish with a horrible tumult which resembled the roar of rending beasts. 13. But the men in the fortress were a select lot, who skilfully calculated the capacity of their weapons, shot arrows from their deeply bent bows, hurled stones with slings, and always inflicted utter carnage on the brave warriors. 14. And as there were many believers in Christ who had joined the forces of the Hagarite, the latter always armed and sent them to fight against the fortress, whereas he spared his own men. 15. In view of all these crimes [175] and the loss of Christians, who were put to the sword, as if by executioners standing at hand, king Smbat offered himself the alternative of corporeal death and pronounced the verdict on himself, whereby he displayed his concern for the safety of others, and denied himself salvation. In accordance with the prophetic words of Joseph before the Lord, he considered that he alone should die, lest the entire people might perish. Like Eliezer he preferred death with valor to life with a stricken conscience. 16. Then, having asked the ostikan for a solemn oath, he descended to meet him. Thus, he saved all of the Christ-confirmed people from the danger of unnecessary death, both those that were under his command in the fortress, and those Christians who had come to serve under the aegis of the Hagarite. 17. But the insidious ostikan, in league with the cunning satan, who had formerly deceived Eve, presently also conversed with the prudent man with pleasant words. First he clothed him in gold-woven lace, laconian ornaments, and gauzy garments, and tried to deceive him with fraudulent schemes, in order to show him that he was faithful to his oath. 18. Also as he was struck with the desire to amass riches in accordance with his avarice, he suspected that the king might possibly have a treasure stored away, and by revealing such equity on his part he might be able to get hold of it. Secretly devising wicked snares, he thought that he could please him like a fruitful tree, and deceive him in the manner of the son of destruction. 19. His wise listener did not trust him, for through his perceptive and keen mind he recognized the sweet [words of] flattery and the bitter outcome. 20. For a short while Yusuf put a stop to his vengeful and insidious actions, and went to the district of Shirak. Subsequently, like the sly serpent of Dan the plot that he had made came to naught.

21. Meanwhile, reflecting on these terrible disasters, the prudent Gagik was stricken with a sense of shame because of his vain deeds. His spirit as well as those of his princes was disheartened, and suddenly mounting his horse, he fled to his domain. Although the ostikan assured him that he would be set up as king of Armenia, Gagik prudently foresaw Yusuf's death-spreading pretext devised by the insidious bitterness of his mind. For he who is afflicted with self-imposed blindness shall never be healed.


[176]

XLIX

The Siege of the Fortress of Ernjak: the Glorious Martyrdom of the Blessed King Smbat, and the Miracles that Appeared Over His Body

1. After the departure of Gagik, the ostikan came to the city of Dvin and harassed king Smbat for no reason at all. Subsequently, he made a conspiracy to put him to death, and blending death with life, confined him in prison and bound his feet with iron fetters. They had prepared for him a hellish prison, where, in accordance with the words of Job, they lay his bed in darkness, and turned his day into night. Light was denied to his eyes because of the darkness of the place. 2. The infliction of such travails, fetters, torments was continued for approximately an entire year. 3. After this, agitated like a boiling cauldron by the thoughts in his mind, the ostikan came to the stronghold called Ernjak, in order to eradicate, destroy and devastate it, for the pious princesses, the mother of Smbat the great prince of Siwnik', and his wife, who was the sister of Gagik, as well as the wife of Smbat's brother Sahak, and other venerable men and women of the azat order had taken refuge there. 4. The ostikan also brought with him king Smbat bound in chains. There, in the vicinity of the fortress, they fought fiercely and ceaselessly raised the din of war.

5. Thereupon, the ostikan wanted Smbat to have a violent death and gradually began to subject him to destructive torments. Anxious to exact vengeance, he gnashed his teeth at him, and gave him up to the impious executioners, who tormented him severely, and poured the poison of their bitterness on him. Armed men caused frequent distress by clubbing and squeezing him between logs as well as torturing him on racks. 6. He was enfeebled and debilitated by severe starvation and thirst not so much because the executioners deprived him of the necessary nourishment, but due to the fact that he fasted more out of his own will, and offered his subsistence to God, just as formerly David, despite his thirst, had offered the water from the well of Bethlehem. 7. Thus, in no way was he spared by them even to a small degree. Whenever he had the opportunity of being alone, or reached the end of the hours of struggle against the executioners, he would devote his time to constant prayers, as well as supplicatory expressions of gratitude and blessings to Christ. Because of his unshaken faith in Christ, he became worthy of the mystery of the divine eucharist at the hands of a certain overseer [bishop?] of the law, who happened to be there due to the providential supervision of the Lord.

[177] 8. But when he was taken to his execution, the sight of the travails that he suffered were much more pitiable and horrible to the onlookers, than the actual tortures, whose memory alone is turning me to tears. 9. For the most defiled carnivorous beasts took possession of the poisonous breath of the serpent, with which the mouths of human beings spurt death. Then, turning from their love for satan to the destructive drug that would bring grief and evil, they took away from the king his towel and forcing it into his mouth, pushed it down his throat by means of rods, almost as far as the membrane of his heart. 10. Then they placed him on the rack, and stretching him from the chin as well as the neck, tied his joints with very strong ropes, as if to the press of a carpenter, and piled many pieces of furniture on top of his head. Often over ten men would fall on him like rocks, and thus by means of such devices try to suffocate him. 11. But after they had put to use the above method, and he did not cease breathing, again they commenced to inflict unspeakable and merciless tortures and torments on his privy parts, until he breathed his last. 12. After such unbearable anguish and agony, and terrible torments, they decapitated him with a sword. He departed from this life after a reign of twenty-two years. 13. Subsequently, the polluted and impious ostikan ordered him not to be buried. They stretched his cadaver on a pole, and crucified him in the city of Dvin. For he, who had been immersed in death with Christ by being baptized, was obliged also to share the cross with Him, and not lose the fortitude of dying like a martyr, in return for which there is considerable compensation. 14. In the place where the blessed and holy king had been crucified on a tall beam, some believers, as well as non-believers, claimed to have seen a brilliant light gleaming like a lamp with a radiant glitter far above the head of the king and bearing a resemblance to him. Those who saw this, testified to the veracity of their account. 15. Be that as it may, let us leave these matters to those who have witnessed [the above portent], and not hesitate to narrate what we ourselves have witnessed with our own eyes. 16. For the soil of the place where the blood from the venerable body had dripped, cured many who were sick, in danger [of death] or diseased. 17. Because of such signs, certain heathens converted to the Christian faith and by means of the light of the baptismal font were reborn in the Holy Spirit of God.


[178]

L

The Assault on the Fortress of Ernjak and Its Conquest: the Valor of Ashot, the son of Smbat, and His Reign

1. The impious ostikan remained where he was, and putting the fortress of Ernjak under siege, did not move away from there, until he had stealthily seized the fortress. He opened the gate of destruction before the inhabitants of the stronghold, and put many of them to the sword which slaughters multitudes. The rest were taken captive for their [Ishmaelites'] wicked and sodomitical intentions. 2. Yusuf also took captive the renowned, religious, and wise mother of prince Smbat of Siwnik', who was blessed among women, as well as his pious wife together with her suckling babe, and the wife of his brother Sahak, the lord of Siwnik'. He transferred the latter from the fortress and kept them in confinement at Dvin, in great distress and agony, so much so, that the mistress among them could not be discerned from the maid. 3. Those, who were caressed and fondled at one time in litters, now earned their living by means of their fingers, and thereby paid for the necessities of their daily subsistence, for their treasures were taken away from them, and their ornaments as well as household were ravaged. 4. Thus, in the royal palaces one could hear much wailing, crying and weeping. 5. But when the ill tidings of the calamity that had happened reached the ears of the beneficient prince Smbat, and his brother Sahak, while the former was in the region of Vaspurakan, and the latter in Gugark', both of them unanimously raised arms with valor in order to fall upon the enemy and liberate their families from captivity. Nevertheless, being unable to marshall their forces immediately, and to come in time from afar in order to carry out their purpose before the confinement [of their families] in prison, they made preparations for a strong defense. 6. It was then, that the great princess, the mother of Smbat, and his son, the prince, died there, and were buried together near the gates of the cathedral of the capital city of Dvin. But the wives of the two princes were taken to Atrpatakan in Persia, where they were confined in prison. 8. On the other hand, king Smbat's son Ashot, who was well renowned and skilled in the art of warfare, displayed during the persecutions much valor accompanied by excessive vigor, and excelled over all his peers in bravery. 9. Before his father suffered the death of a martyr, Ashot, like an eagle soaring through the sky, dashed forward swiftly after the ravenous foreigners who sent their raiding forces [179] throughout our land. At first, in a short period, he reconquered and took possession of all the fortresses that were in his father's domain, and had been taken by the ostikan. 10. He immediately put to the sword the guards [that had been left] by the Saracens, and having fortified the strongholds with guards, bulwarks and large amount of provisions, he went in pursuit of the enemy, wherever there were raiding Ishmaelites. In every respect, through the fortitude of his heart, he almost recreated the Trojan War in his endeavors together with his legitimate brother Abas against his opponents. 11. Then, guided by reason, he put his trust in God, and falling upon the Ishmaelite army, which was encamped in the district of Bagrewand, he put all of them to the sword. 12. Having seized their chief priests, he gave orders to turn them into casks and suspend them from the bastions of the fortress in order to inspire fear to the onlookers. 13. Then, he set out for the district of Shirak and falling upon the [enemy] forces that were stationed there, slew them also by sword, and caused those that had survived to flee.

14. Upon his return, he marched to the region of Gugark' with great speed, and also took possession of all those strongholds in his domain. 15. Then unexpectedly—as if in an ambush—he came upon the army of the Hagarites in Tiflis, the capital city of Iberia. Here, he slew some by the sword, but seized those that were men of distinction, and putting them in iron fetters, confined them in prison, so that he might be able to liberate from captivity those Christians who had been seized by the wicked ostikan, by exchanging the former with the latter. 16. Having taken much booty and loot, he returned [from there] to the district of Tashirk', and learning that the Ishmaelite army had taken refuge in the strongholds of the glens of Aghstew, he chose approximately two hundred select men, and attacked the Ishmaelite forces against whom he fought with great bravery, and putting all of them to the sword, took the loot and returned to his army. 17. Immediately after this, he went to visit prince Gurgen, who was his very dear friend. They took counsel together concerning their mutual problems, and then he went to the strongholds of Arsharunik'. 18. Thereafter the defilers never raided his domain.

19. When the king of Iberia and his armies realized that the Lord had come to the aid of Ashot, protecting him and making him prosperous, they came to an agreement with him, and being of one mind with him, made Ashot king in place of his father. For they considered him to be in the position of honor of a monarch and entrusted the future to God Almighty.


[180]

LI

The Dauntless Feats of King Gagik; and the Disastrous Calamities that Came upon Our Land, and the Martyrdom of Multitudes

1. At that time, king Gagik together with his handsome and pious brother Gurgen made extensive preparations for war against the enemy, who had gathered in the region of Atrpatakan at the orders of Yusuf. 2. Bracing themselves bravely with fortitude, together with the spasalar and payazat forces they felled many of the Hagarites. They did this not once, but quite often at the foot of the province of Korduk' Rotakk' as well as Atrpatakan. As if startled by the horrible roar of pernicious beasts, the enemy forces were hampered [by these] from [carrying out] their savage raids. 3. Also the ostikan caused considerable confusion among the lords and feudal houses of Sisakan, who had retreated to their densely wooded valleys and cavernous fastnesses. The latter made many lightening assaults on the enemy, and sending their armies against them, shed much blood.

4. When the wicked ostikan noticed their consolidated strength in all of the provinces, he roared in great anger, and poured out the poison of his outraged heart rather moderately there. Thereafter, he continued to pursue them to the extent that everyone, both the ramik as well as the non-ramik, fled before the foreign satraps of their respective regions, and some of our people, panting for breath, could barely escape their bloody swords. For sinful passions had grown in the hearts of all and made us fruitful prey for death. 5. The foremost among the nobility had taken refuge in valleys, mountains, deserted places, crags, and strongholds. But the remaining multitude was barefoot, naked, vagrant, worn out by hunger, thirst and despair, and scattered all over the mountains as well as the plains. 6. Some were frostbitten by the wintry chill of the snow, and fainted whereas others were burned and parched by the sizzling heat of the summer. 7. Those who had been exhausted by the sudden flight, and had fallen into the hands of the wicked, were slain without discrimination or mercy and their blood sprinkled the face of the earth. Some were carried into captivity like senseless brutes. Many men and women as well as young children, who had grown weak, were brought [181] into the midst of wolves like lambs in order to be slaughtered. 8. Those, whom they decided to sell, they separated from the rest. They would take away the son from the father, the brother from his brother, the wife from her husband, the mother from her daughter, the daughter-in-law from the mother-in-law, and the suckling babe from the breast of her mother. 9. The spectacle, that one would behold, was wretched, the laments were unsufferable, the cries, the breast-beating, the collapsing of eyelids, the shivering for one's life, the terror in the hearts of men, the wailing, the scratches on comely faces and the tearing of hair were unbearable. 10. Those who were not fit to be sold or used in sodomitic acts, were confined in prison bound with fetters. They tortured the latter severely, and in accordance with the foreign Homeric custom asked for the same amount of gold and silver from the rich and from the poor. 11. They condemned all of them, both young and old, to death through the same agony, and deprived them of life. Like the Solomonian leech, they slowly sucked the blood of the others because of the crazy wicked incentive of avarice and could not be satisfied. 12. As if out of mercy, they tricked some of them to partake of drinks containing deadly drugs, and planted poison in them, and they suffocated the rest in insidious ways. 13. They affected the lives of others with horrors, so much so, that while the latter were still on their feet and alive, they cut them open with a sword from the chest down, and before they had breathed their last, they pulled out their liver, parts of which were distributed among themselves, as if in fulfillment of the impious [precepts] of their religion. 14. Certain others who had been slighted and disregarded by them, and had ventured to depart quietly, they tracked down, and as if they were plants, pruned off their shoots with swords, axes, and sabres, crippled their hands and feet as well as all the other parts. 15. They tied the heads and feet of certain others with ropes, and made numerous strong men pull on them from two opposite ends, until their midriffs tore, and then, with the stroke of a double-edged sword at the waist divided them into two parts. 16. Nevertheless, as they still could breathe, either because of the burning heat of the calamity, or the hope of being saved by others, the part of the body that lies in the direction of the head stooped a little over the cleavage at the midriff, and tried to narrate the happenings during the disaster, or [transmit] the plea of others. Although their agony had made their faculty of speech quick, they could not complete the train of their thoughts.

[Yusuf] ordered the others tied unsparingly, and beat their flanks and abdomen with lashes made out of cattle sinews, until the wounds would cut deeply into the flesh. 18. And while they were still alive, they were dashed to the ground and dragged. 19. They cut off the ears and noses of some, amputated parts of their bodies, and severed their fingers. After intolerable blows, certain others were tied down to logs, and [182] their feet were fastened in holes, so that it was impossible for them either to sit up or to recline in order to alleviate somewhat the fatigue from their tortures. 20. Also there were many among them who were questioned several times because of their faith in Christ, and given the promise of gifts, honors and great riches. They made ready for them robes decked with ornaments and valuable trimmings in order to attract their eye. To certain members of the nobility they offered treasures and estates, on the condition that they convert to their worthless faith.

21. Nevertheless, Christ, Who had awakened in them the redeeming will and the hope of wonderful repose, aroused them with the very same divine fire [to turn] to the holy love of God and kindled in them the inherent faith to withstand the enemy, so that they might be able to reject the wicked wiles of the devil, and wash off the livid smear of the rancor of their opponent, and cut off the roots of avarice in the spiritual war. 22. Thus, considering of no value all of the enemy's diabolically enchanting enticements, they did not stray in the direction of their flattering adulations, nor were they afraid of the horrible threats and torments that were being prepared for them. 23. And thus, as they had all become quite conscious of the responsibility to the Gospel of Christ's glory, they proclaimed from the housetops what was to have been spoken in whispers in closets, namely, "We are Christians and we cannot obey your impious laws." Thereafter, considering those that had not been convicted as guilty, the judges passed the death sentence on the latter and executed them by the sword, whereby they were given the wreath of victory and were crowned by God.

24. Certain others, who had been seized elsewhere, were brought before the judges, 25. and after they had been questioned, [the enemy] made many welcome and delightful offers of goodly gifts, only on the condition that they would consent to convert to the faith of the Koran or Muhammad. 26. The latter did not even deem the judges worthy of an answer, but conversed only with God in their minds, while in their hearts they believed injustice, and through their mouths confessed their salvation. 27. Subsequently, the enemy inflicted blows on their backs, slapped their chins, and clubbed their necks, and drove them to the place of their execution. 28. Grouping the blessed in one body, they posted about them the sabre-bearing executioners like a wall, and thus had the latter slay them by the sword. 29. But certain men of the enemy, who were present there, took notice of a comely and handsome youth by the name of Mik'ayel, from the land of Gugark', who was among the blessed. The virginal growth of his beard had not yet sprouted on his chin. Wishing to save him, the above men snatched him away, lest he might be killed with the rest. 30. The youth, however, raising his tearful eyes to heaven, received fortitude through the assistance coming from High, and tearing himself loose from them, made haste to join his friends, and willingly [183] offered his head to the sword. 31. Thus, he presented himself to Christ as a reasonable sacrifice together with all the other immaculate offerings and immolations, so that the Heavenly Father might smell the sweet savour.

32. At the time, there were also two brothers of Gnuni ancestry, whose names were Dawit' of the one, and Gurgen of the other, both of whom had been seized by the enslavers and brought before the tyrannical ostikan. 33. The ostikan questioned the latter and promised to give them practically half of his domain as well as many robes, gold-broidered ornaments, expensive laconian and purple clothing, byssus, girdles, golden necklaces, and swift steeds richly adorned with armor and decorations. Then, stretching out his arms, he embraced and kissed them frequently, and flattered them with adulations, so that they might obey his commands, and spare the prime of their youth by converting to the impious religion that he himself worshipped. 34. Notwithstanding these, with beautiful passion they clad themselves in the armor of Christ, and proclaimed their good faith openly before everyone: "We are Christians, and do not have the wish to exchange the truth of God, Who holds immortality within himself and dwells in the unapproachable light, for your falsities which are naught and are worth naught." 35. Subsequently, when the hostile [ostikan] realized how their thoughts were fixed thus on the love of the supreme judge Christ, he ordered them put to the sword. 36. As they were brought to the arena like sheep about to be immolated, they offered mournful and supplicative pleas to God, so that He might reckon them among the holy martyrs, who loved the day of His coming. 37. And when the executioners were about to put the older brother to the sword, he begged them to kill his younger brother first, for he took into consideration that should the latter survive him, he might be terrified of the Ishmaelite threats because of his youth, since his newly blossoming beard had but recently sprouted on his chin. 38. Then, turning in the direction of his brother, he said, "Dear brother, first you present yourself to Christ, Who is our hope, and offer yourself as a reasonable sacrifice and votive immolation to Him, Who died for us and restored us to life." 39. The latter gave no thought to the toils, and not considering the agony of an intolerable death, willingly went toward the sword. 40. Thus, he was beheaded, and crowned by Christ with an unfading wreath.

41. Subsequently, the older brother also following a victorious war, and after fulfilling his destiny as well as preserving his faith intact, armed himself with the same spirit, and was killed by the same merciless sword. He came back to life in the eternal bliss of the Heavenly Kingdom. 42. All of these saints, whom I have mentioned, are always justly honored in the holy churches in yearly feasts. The day of their commemoration is set on the 27th day of the month of Mareri. 43. For they suffered [184] the toilsome blows and were enrolled as the sons of the Heavenly Sion. With dauntless faith they surmounted the wiles.of the enemy and pruned off the branches of their death-bearing fruits. For nothing can be horrible there, where dwells the love of God the Father, and nothing can cause pain there, where the glory of Christ is to be found. 44. Thus, with divine wisdom they rejected everything that was defiant and wild, and purifying themselves from the filth of defiled and condemned men, turned death, which is inevitable, to life. Willingly they were driven like sheep in order to be immolated, and at the expense of momentary as well as trivial vexations they were impregnated by the awe and fear of the Lord, and in their labor gave birth to a soul that was redeemed. Their blessed prayers brought down the angels to save them, and because of their humility they reached the apex of Heaven. 45. From afar they heard the good tidings, and with joyful heart they trod upon their sufferings and death like incorporeal creatures. They were like the dauntless martyrs in death, and having set out came near to God in peace. They received the wreath of victory and were reckoned among the company of the children of the Heavenly Jerusalem. 46. As they had begun their agony with valor, by the same token, filled with heavenly love, they completed the contest of Martyrdom, and shone brightly like the sun in the midst of the universe. The names of these men are written in the Register of Life.

47. Nevertheless, certain wretched souls, possessed by satan, and terrified by momentary death, were swayed in their hearts toward their useless and vain promises. They surrounded themselves with the labors of deathly sins and inundated themselves with torrents of wickedness. Straying from the path of the true light, they were blinded by black darkness. Straying from the royal highway, they swerved from the limpid flow of the sweetness of the divine sacrament, and imbibed sufficiently the dregs of bitterness, which is the last [stage] of wickedness and the first step to idolatry. Having forsaken their faith, they were worse than the unbelievers. In no way did they derive any benefit from the promises made by the enemy, except to save their lives. On the contrary, quivering and shaking [in their fear], they were treated with hostility and were abused by all sides. 48. Thus, men of the azat rank were disgraced because of their apostasy, and having reached the limits of utter poverty, went to the extent of visiting the houses of the poor in order to beg for bread. The notoriety of their destructive and disgraceful aberration was the only thing that they achieved. 49. Their lips uttered no confession. In horrible bitterness they descended to hell, where the fires of Gehenna devoured them. 50. I wrote an account of these as a warning for all those who give thought to such acts.

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