Ghazar P'arpec'i's

History of the Armenians


[20] 8. Because of their unworthy deeds, the Arsacid line was found unworthy of the district of Ayrarat, such a coveted extraordinary district, full of everything that the all-caring creator God could provide. [The Arsacids were unworthy of] this illustrious, rich district which is the chief [district] in the land of Armenia, which in its abundance resembles the Biblical country of Egypt and God's Paradise. [The Arsacids were unworthy of] the native sephakan property of the Arsacid line, the city of Vagharshapat, the ostan dwelling of the Arsacid kings, the countless loftily built mansions, the delight of those most lush plains, the foundation of the blessed House of God—the great church cathedral—the dimensions of which were pointed out by an angel, and the martyria of the venerable ascetic virgins. [The Arsacids were found unworthy] in accordance with the words of that holy man of God, Nerses, that they would be among those shunned by God. They were betrayed by the division of the great land of Armenia between the two kings of Byzantium and Iran who caused them to do service.

Thus did Arshak, king of Armenia, quit the district of Ayrarat as if going into captivity. He considered it better to go to the much smaller sector [of Armenia] in a believing country, where he would be subject to the Byzantine emperor, [21] than to remain in such a luxuriantly comfortable district [as Ayrarat] and witness daily the ridicule of the [Christian] religion, enmity directed against the holy Church, the insults born by clerics of the divine covenant from the impious mages [g11], and the scorn shown to his line and kingdom from the arrogant princes of the Iranian lordship. So he preferred to live out this inconsequential and measured life in peace as a Christian rather than remain dwelling there in false glory, as one who is scorned, and, not attaining eternal life, be betrayed to the inextinguishably burning eternal fire. Thinking all of this over, suddenly he made up his hesitant mind to leave the good inheritance of his ancestors, and to enter the service of the Byzantine emperor.

9. After some time had passed, those Armenian naxarars who were under Iranian lordship displayed their hatred toward their king Xosrov. [This was done] in order to further weaken the rule of the Arsacid line. Because of their increasingly wicked deeds (which the blessed patriarchs of the past had mentioned, as did numerous other virtuous men, badly complaining about and reproaching their unworthy actions and the betrayal to the burden of severe and impious service of the Iranians), [the naxarars] went to the Iranian king, Shapuh, complaining that "Xosrov gives you to think that he likes and is loyal to you, but all his displays are false and fraudulent. For he has [22] a secret oath and counsel with the Byzantine emperor, and is always discussing peace with him by means of hrovartaks and messengers. Would you, if you knew the extent of his deception, dare to requite him accordingly [Bayc' duk' orpes imanayk' hatuc'anel nma est nora xabeut'eann zayn duk' och' ishxek']?" In their stupidity, these slanderers hoped to destroy [Xosrov] and to be the cause of personal gain as well as cultivation of the land. But they did not know that because of their sins God had condemned them to suffer yet longer and had betrayed them to an evil servitude.

The Iranian king Shapuh heard this [complaint] with great delight and eagerness. He ordered that Xosrov be quickly summoned to court by a hrovartak. Knowing nothing about the accusation of the Armenian princes, [Xosrov] hurriedly went to court, as if going to his prince and friend. Shapuh inimically threatened him. Perhaps it was because there was such enthusiasm for deposing [Xosrov] that [Shapuh] did not want to confront him with his accusers. Rather, [Shapuh] quickly stripped Xosrov of the authority of his realm, vowed that he would never again see the land of Armenia, and kept him there in Iran. Now as soon [g12] as Xosrov was denied the kingdom, the Armenians requested another [23] king of their own from Shapuh. Agreeing, [Shapuh] enthroned Vrhamshapuh, Xosrov's brother, of the Arsacid line, and dispatched him to Armenia.

10. During the period of his reign the most provident God favored [Armenia] with a truthful man named Mashtoc.' He was from the district of Taron, from the village of Hac'ekac', son of a man named Vardan. In his childhood he had studied Greek. He enlisted/served as a soldier at the court of the Armenian king Xosrov and was established among the group of scribes, as a royal scribe. For in that period the royal scribes treated the affairs of Armenia's kings in Syriac or Greek, as well as decisions and hrovartaks. For years he served there properly and without reproach, but then he began to long for the monastic life. He went to a monastery of many brothers, assumed the monastic life and became the most select and venerable of all. He rejected all temporal worldly pursuits. Then he moved to the deserts and became wondrous and renowned. He dwelled in numerous caves in the desert, with great virtue, practising strict asceticism together with many other prayer-loving brothers and clerics of blessed behavior until the fifth [24] year of king Vrhamshapuh, brother of Xosrov. Should someone wish to confirm this, he may read the history of that desirable man Koriwn, a student of the venerable Mashtoc' which provides information about [Mashtoc's] life, his Armenian letters, about when, where and by whom [the Armenian letters] were found, and about the enthusiastic entreaties of Armenia's king Vrhamshapuh. Koriwn, the aforementioned spiritual man, wrote all of this down accurately. We have read [Koriwn] numerous times, and so confirmed our information.

Thus did humane and caring God accept the plan of that venerable man Mashtoc' which the latter had been thinking about for a long time. God strengthened him with the spirit of His mercy. The venerable Mashtoc' had always been concerned and saddened, seeing the great effort and even more the expenses [involved in educating] the clerics of the land of Armenia. With many stipends, [obliged] to travel distant roads, and with long study [did these students] pass their days in Syrian schools. For the services in the church and readings from [25] Scripture were conducted in Syriac in the monasteries and churches of the Armenian people. As a result, the populace of such a large land was unable to comprehend or benefit [from the services]. The unusualness of the Syrian language gave labor to the officiants while bringing no profit to the people. For a long while the venerable Mashtoc' had been [g13] considering this situation. He was grieved that there existed no letters for the Armenian language by which it would be possible to win the souls of men and women in all the churches by utilizing the language itself and not a foreign language. Strengthened by the encouragement of the holy spirit, [Mashtoc'] went to the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia, Sahak, and informed him of the problem about which he had been thinking for such a long while. [Mashtoc'] received encouraging good news from him. "Remain strong," [Sahak said] "and take along priests whom I shall order to assist you. Wherever you falter in establishing the syllables, bring the work to me and I shall correct it, for what you propose to do would make things much easier. But first it would be worthwhile for us to make the king feel the need for such a great and important thing. Because not many days ago in church someone raised the issue of the need [26] for such a thing, and told the king that he had seen Armenian letters in the possession of a certain bishop in one village. The king recalled what had been said, since he also told me about it."

The blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia, Sahak, and the venerable Mashtoc' went into king Vrhamshapuh's presence and informed him of the issue. The king himself recalled what the monk had said to him regarding this matter and delighted [them] by relating it. When they heard this from the king they urged him to make haste, saying: "Exert yourself regarding finding such a great and useful device for the land of Armenia during your own reign, for it will benefit you later on, bestowing upon you an unforgetable remembrance, and you will have brought more benefits of worldly convenience [by this means] than the might of your realm or that of your predecessors, your ancestors of the Arsacid line, did." The king heard this and, rejoicing, glorified God that it was during his reign that the desire of such a spiritual life was inherited by the land of Armenia.

[The king] immediately dispatched an ambassador called Vahrich (by his parents) giving him a hrovartak, and sending him to a certain presbyter named Habel who earlier had spoken to the king and who was related to the pious bishop Daniel who had the Armenian letters. The venerable Habel accepted the [27] hrovartak from Vahrich, listened to what he had to say, and then quickly hastened to the wondrous bishop Daniel. [Habel] learned the system of the letters from Daniel himself, and took [a copy of the letters] from him to the king, to the blessed patriarch [g14] of Armenia, Sahak, and to the venerable Mashtoc'. They received the letters from Habel, and were happy.

So it was that after fortuitously receiving the discovered letters, the venerable Mashtoc' set to work adapting [the alphabet] to [the recommendations of] the blessed patriarch of Armenia, Sahak, putting the letters in an easily accessible order and correct syllabic pronunciation. [Sahak] gave him assistants and other learned and scholarly men from among the Armenian priests who, as the venerable Mashtoc', were only slightly familiar with Greek syllabification. Among them were, first, Yohan from Ekegheac' district; second, Yovsep' from Paghanakan Tun [Yovsep' i Paghanakan tanen]; third, Ter from Xorjean, and fourth, Mushe from Taron who aided and [28] strengthened the venerable Mashtoc', who put the Armenian [g15] alphabet in the same order as the Greek, frequently asking and learning from the blessed kat'oghikos Sahak information about the alphabet, based on the infallible Greek alphabet. For [this group] was not able to unerringly deal with modifications without the guidance of the blessed patriarch Sahak. Sahak was quite competent, having studied with many learned Byzantines. He was fully versed in musical notation, exhortatory rhetoric, and especially philosophy.

Once they had arranged the letters of the Armenian alphabet, adapted from the Greek copy—guided by the Savior—they wanted to establish schools and teach the multitude of clerics. For everyone enthusiastically wanted to study Armenian and were delighted that they had been freed from the torments of Syriac as if escaping from darkness to light. But they hesitated when it came to [translating] the holy Bible. For as yet there was no Armenian translation of the holy testaments for the Church. The venerable Mashtoc' and the honorable priests who were with him lacked the strength to attempt such an intense and important labor, as translating the books [of the Bible] from Greek into [29] Armenian, because they were not so very adept at Greek.

11. Then all the senior priests of the land of Armenia, with the venerable Mashtoc', all the naxarars of Armenia and the grandee tanuters assembled by the king of Armenia, Vrhamshapuh and, together with the king, they began to beseech the blessed kat'oghikos Sahak to apply himself to this spiritual work and to translate the Biblical testaments from Greek into Armenian. The orders of the senior priests said to the blessed patriarch:

"We who stand before you, and the venerable Mashtoc' [urge you to undertake the translation]. Divine grace awoke [in Mashtoc'] the desire to put into order the list of letters long-since devised, which no one had bothered about putting into use. Rather [the literate class] labored with the difficult, useless and arrogant Syriac language. As a result, the multitude of the people [seeing matters as] futile and vain ceased going to church, while the instructors, straining and sighing, regretted their empty exertions. Consequently no learned individual perceived any benefit from the doctrine of spiritual counsel which is food and nourishment for those seeking knowledge. [30] When [Mashtoc'] found the letters, Christ aided him and made him even stronger. Let the [final] arrangement of all this effort be accomplished with your virtuous knowledge. Now, just as the blessed champion of [g16] Christ, Gregory, by the aid of mighty [God], was kept unharmed throughout the torments, and was given [by God] to accomplish the illumination of [Christian] knowledge in the land of Armenia, so for you too, his descendant, an inheritance-share of this glowing religion has been kept. Begin this cultural work and be like your blessed ancestor who guided the land of Armenia from ignorance to the truth of recognition of God. Lead the many people of this big land from that useless borrowed language to correct, spiritually-uplifting rationality which will adorn the church. Fill this void which has existed from [the time of] your blessed ancestors. God kept you for this and it is a great task which no other person in the land of Armenia is capable of doing. For we were unable to become as informed of and learned in the study [of Greek], as you who were given brilliance from On High because of your virtuous and modest spirit. In this regard, truly, you take after your venerable father, Nerses."

When Sahak, the pious kat'oghikos of Armenia, heard all of this from Vrhamshapuh, king of Armenia, from the venerable Mashtoc', from the entire covenant of the priesthood, and [31] especially from the senior tanuters and all the naxarars of Armenia, his soul rejoiced and he glorified the Savior of all, lord Jesus Christ. With willing enthusiasm he gave himself up to the work, proud of the assistance of God Who had graced him with such superb knowledge. Tirelessly working day and night, [Sahak] translated all the testaments, spoken by the true prophets of the Holy Spirit, confirmed and sealed by the luminous, envivifying sermons of the new testaments [pronounced] by the blessed Apostles, [filled] with the same Spirit.

Now when the blessed patriarch of Armenia, Sahak, had completed this work of great spiritual effort, immediately afterwards schools were established for teaching the flock. The ranks of writers swelled, and, vying with each other, they embellished the worship of the holy Church. They encouraged multitudes of men and women to attend the Savior's feast days and to visit the shrines of the martyrs. These people, full of spiritual gain, after communing in the great mystery, went in joy, each to his home, grandees and children saying psalms and anthems (kc'ords) everywhere, in the squares, in the streets, and at home. The churches grew radiant and the martyria of the [32] saints became majestic with offerings of the testaments which were always blossoming within them. Ceaseless streams of exegesis flowed from the speakers who, in explaining the secrets of the prophets, placed the most lavish tables of spiritual [g17] delicacies before the entire people. Those seekers of wisdom who supped of this found [the meal] to their liking and, as the psalm states, the words of doctrine were sweeter than a honeycomb. Let me say, in the words of the blessed prophet Isaiah, that the entire country of Armenia filled with the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the ocean, thanks to the spiritual rivers of the blessed patriarch Sahak. And thanks to the all-caring Savior Christ, all of this was accomplished during the time of Vrhamshapuh, as was written earlier. After thls, king Vrhamshapuh lived for many years. Having reached old age, he died peacefully in his bed in the land of Armenia.

12. Subsequently, the Iranian king Shapuh died [A.D. 388] and was succeeded by his son Vrham [Vahram IV, A.D. 388-399] who was the Krman shah [or er Krman ark'ay] It was from this ruler that the Armenians [33] again requested that Vrhamshapuh's brother, Xosrov, be made their king. This was the same Xosrov whom the Armenians previously had had the Iranian king Shahpuh remove from the kingdom of Armenia, through their accusations. [Vahram IV] fulfilled their request and once more enthroned Xosrov who was an extremely old man. Xosrov came to the land of Armenia but was gathered to his fathers after only eight months.

After the death of Vahram, king of Iran, his brother Shapuh's son Yazkert [I, A.D. 399-421], ruled over the land of Iran. Not wanting to enthrone anyone from the Arsacid line over Armenia, Yazkert instead enthroned his own son who was named Shapuh (after [Yazkert's] father). The man had some evil thoughts in his head. First, [he reasoned] that the land of Armenia was large and useful, a border and gateway to the Byzantine realm. Many [members] of the Arsacid line had submitted [to Byzantine rule]. It was possible that, like brothers, the peoples under our sway and under Byzantine authority might grow fond of each other, and with this mutual affection unite, talk peace with the Byzantine emperor, gladly submit to him, and rebel from us. Just as [the Byzantines] have made work for us many times [in the past], with the addition [of the Armenians] it will be even worse, and they will trouble us with [34] warfare. Secondly, [the Armenians] are strangers to our religion, and hate it, while they share faith and religion [with the Byzantines]. Now, should someone of our line rule over the land of Armenia, our kingdom will not be troubled by such doubts, and [the Armenians] will serve us with constant fear and trepidation, nor will they attempt anything strange or [g18] think about anything harmful. And when this becomes the custom, they will conceive a liking for our faith, since [Armenians and Iranians] will constantly be talking with each other and will become intimate friends [by participating] in the hunts and games which take place among them. Furthermore through intermarriage they will communicate with each other while those [Armenians] thus separated [from Christianity] will grow to love [their spouses] as well as their [Zoroastrian] customs.

Although [Yazkert] had such thoughts, he did not know about the words of the Holy Spirit which say: "The Lord knows the vanity of human plans." Quickly these words became a verdict which was actually carried out, for Yazkert did not rule for long, and died. The very same day, in a plot hatched by people from court, [Yazkert's] son Shapuh whom [Yazkert] had [35] made king over the land [of Armenia] instead of an Arsacid was killed at court there. After the death of Yazkert (son of Shapuh [III]), king of Iran, [Yazkert's] son Vahram [Vrham, Vahram V Gur, 421-38/39] ruled over the land of the Aryans. Princes from the land of Armenia came before Vahram, king of Iran, and requested that they be given a king from the Arsacid line. [Vahram] enthroned Artashes (Vrhamshapuh's son) from the line of the kings of Armenia.

13. Artashes was a cad, a luster after women, and reigned with much debauchery. Now because the naxarars of Armenia were unable to stand the dissolute and deviant conduct of king Artashes, they assembled in numbers by the great patriarch of Armenia st. Sahak, son of st. Nerses, from the Part'ew line. They said: "We can no longer bear the impure and foul actions of the king. We consider it better to die than to constantly see and hear about such filthy things. Moreover, because of conscience, we are unable to commune in the great, honored, and divine mystery after seeing such obscenity every day yet remaining silent about it. For we learned from you and from the doctrine of your ancestors that not only those who commit such [36] things are guilty, but even those who countenance them. Now, first you ought to seek some way out of this unbelievable calamity and do away with such a lewd monarch who so openly—like an unbeliever—scornfully tramples what is holy, and fearlessly works this filthy pollution."

When the blessed patriarch of Armenia, Sahak, heard these words from the Armenian naxarars, he replied as follows: "I know what you are talking about, and have heard nothing new from you today. I also know that it is with bitter hearts that you speak. I am unable to say whether what you say has been distorted or incorrectly related by you. But now as regards strategems, worthy spiritual folk should find some solution to this, and everyone should think about it and implement it" [g19].

[The naxarars] one and all replied to the blessed kat'oghikos Sahak, saying: "We are unable to find any solution to this, except to complain to the king of Iran to remove him from the throne. [Artashes] himself by his actions proved that he was unworthy of the inheritance. We can think of doing nothing other than this. Now we beg you to support our plan. It is not fitting to be an accomplice to such blasphemous and obscene acts as the king commits."

When the blessed spiritual kat'oghikos of Armenia, Sahak, [37] heard all of this from the Armenian naxarars and when he realized accurately that all the nobles of the land had the same sentiments and were set in this plan, he sank into great sadness and unconsolable mourning. Shedding rivers of tears in front of the multitude of Armenian naxarars, [Sahak] refused to reply for many days. He shut himself in his room and only the sound of lamentation and weeping could be heard [by those who] approached the chamber door. The man of God [wept] because by the power of the holy Spirit he saw the [coming] total destruction of the land of Armenia. Now many days later some bishops who were always in attendance at the saint's door (and were unable, even for a short time to stand going without the abundantly flowing and grace-filled doctrine of the man [a doctrine] which, to those spiritual and wise listeners who dined on the mysteries, had a sweet taste, as the prophet Daniel said, sweeter than a honeycomb) and some of the honorable presbyters and deacons (who were from the holy covenant of the patriarch), and others of Armenia's azat nobility dared to enter [Sahak's] room and spoke with him beseechingly. At this [38] the blessed patriarch was consoled somewhat and, through the spiritual wisdom and counsel which were a part of him from his childhood, he ceased crying for a while and was silent.

Now after many days the entire united azatagund of the land of Armenia assembled and repeated the same sentiments before the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia, urgently beseeching him to join with them. When the saint observed that in no way had they retreated from their former intentions and plans—because the daily increasing impure actions of the king, leading to his ruin, caused the unity of the princes to grow even stronger—with great lamentation [Sahak] raised his voice and said to them one and all:

"I, and you too, as we learned from God, should speak in a spiritual manner. Bearing for a moment the man's shortcomings, beseech the most merciful Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, with tears and entreaties for some way out. For [g20] [Artashes], because he was baptised is our brother and of our flesh, even though he is a sinner. Remember the doctrine of the blessed Apostle Paul, which your spiritual father and patriarch, the blessed Gregory, taught you: 'If one limb [of the body] causes pain, then all the other limbs ache along with it. And if one limb is healed, then all the other limbs rejoice with it.' It is worth recalling and reflecting on the grief, discomfort, imprisonment and shackles of saint Gregory; [and about] his [39] entreaties and prayers to God for the salvation of the entire land; and how thanks to the Holy Spirit, he turned everyone from unbelief to belief; how he persecuted the demons of deviance and made them flee from you; and how he caused the seed of true faith, of recognition of God, to flower among you. Following his example, you ought to seek mercy for that blameworthy limb and not betray him to the infidels, and make the blessed mystery of our religion an object of ridicule and contempt. Remember my and your blessed father and vardapet [st. Gregory] who with sighs and ceaseless entreaties, morning and night, moved Christ (the creator of all) to pity and to transform back to a human shape [king Trdat] who had been changed into a beast. You who are students of his spiritual doctrine—all of you together, men, women, old, and young—with entreaties and tears make peace with all-powerful God for Whose awesome commands of might nothing is impossible. He accomplishes in a humane fashion what appear to us to be extremely difficult [matters]. Indeed, truthful God ordained for those who make requests loyally and with complete faith that, 'wherever two or three [people] assemble in my name, whatever they seek from my Father will be given to them.' Now if God grants whatever two or three sincere petitioners request, how much more will He grant the requests of such a multitude, and quickly. [40] This is especially so because the petitions are made untiringly, with fervent sighs and sincere hope. Perhaps He will grant much more than is requested.

"As regards what you said about me, that I should join with you, God forbid that I should be the betrayer of our correct faith and betray the wandering sheep of my fold [i.e., Artashes] to the scorn of non-believers. Despite the fact that he is blameworthy, nonetheless, having received holy baptism, he is knowledgeable regarding the question of salvation and has heard the good news preached in the Gospel of Life. Were it a question of taking this injured sheep of my church to a healthy physician, I would do so quickly and without delay, but I [g21] will never consent to offer up my son whose soul is sick to that most disease-ridden tribunal. Were it a question of taking [Artashes] before a believing king for reprimand, I might make bold to do it with the hope of saving [him] from ruin. But I will not agree to denounce a believer's sins before a non-believer. In this my teacher is Paul who protested: 'When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? [41] Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, matters pertaining to this life! If then you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who are least esteemed by the church! I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no man among you wise enough to decide between members of the brotherhood, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?' [I Corinthians 6]. And now, how could I, who have advised others, not take my own advice? I would rather die than have a believer betrayed to an unbeliever, because of his unworthy deeds. Even if they be prostitutes, they bear the seal of Christ's flock upon themselves. They are physically corrupt, but are not unbelievers and pagans; foul, but not fire-worshipers; womanizers, but not worshipers of the elements. They are ill with one disease, but are not infected with all diseases as the impious are. And why should we plot to destroy someone with a few failings by betraying him to someone who is a complete blasphemer? May such thoughts be far from you, my children. Plan it not, and do not attempt, as some of your ancestors did, to destroy your natural/native lords."

[42] The blessed kat'oghikos tirelessly spoke these words and many others of counsel with many tears and entreaties before the Armenian nobility, but was unable to get them to retreat from their earlier unity and from the position which they had fixed in their minds. For the curse of that holy man of God, Nerses, had descended upon them. They had fallen under the burden of evil service to pagans, and the affair would not end until the matter came to a head. [The nobles] united replied to the blessed patriarch: "Because you did not heed our words and refused to ally with us, know that just as we are resolved not to have [Artashes] rule over us as king, any longer, so we promise that you shall not reign as patriarch over our land for long." When all the senior tanuters of the land of Armenia [g22] had thus spoken before the patriarch Sahak, they departed, angered at his advice. Nor did they want to turn to the venerable patriarch Sahak again. For the curse of the venerable patriarch Nerses had surrounded and enveloped them [because of] their plan, leading to total destruction.

[43] 14. Thereafter, united, [the naxarars] went to the court and later stood in the presence of the Iranian king Vahram. Among them was a presbyter named Surmak from the Bznunik' district, from the village known as Arcke. He was descended from the line of the district's priests. Having allied with the Armenian naxarars, and having broken with the counsel of the blessed patriarch Sahak, he spoke more coarsely and crudely about king Artashes in the presence of the Iranian nobles than did all the Armenian naxarars. He befriended the Armenian naxarars because some of the Armenian nobles had promised him the throne of the kat'oghikosate of the land of Armenia. First they informed Suren and other Iranian nobles about the cause of their unhappiness, since Suren Pahlaw, at that time was hazarapet of the royal court. He and others of the court grandees saw to it that the complaint reached Vahram, king of Iran.

[44] When the king of Iran heard such protest from the azatuni he did not permit them to speak a moment before [their] adversary had come to court. He immediately sent an emissary to king Artashes of Armenia ordering [Artashes] to come to him at once. He wrote that the great patriarch of Armenia, Sahak, was to come with him. When they had come to court, the king of Iran first questioned Artashes king of Armenia separately, as king: "What happened that the naxarars of Armenia are accusing you"? He replied: "I have no idea what slander they are saying about me. But it is their natural custom to be hostile to their own lords. Following their custom, they now want to implement this wicked deed. For they have always changed their princes and have hated their lords." Then Vahram, king of the Aryans, commanded that the blessed kat'oghikos of Armenia be summoned into his presence alone. For he exalted him first, because of the man's lineage, and second, [45] because God shows his blessed servants to be respected and revered in the presence of unbelievers. [Vahram] inquired of the venerable kat'oghikos, hoping to hear him [confirm] all the words of the slanderers of Armenian kings. But [Sahak] responded: "I do not know what they say about him. Let them speak, and you listen to it from them. And may they themselves be requited according to what they say in your presence. Do not ask me anything about that matter, for you will hear nothing from me of slander, be it good or bad."

King Vahram then summoned Suren pahlaw his hazarapet who was of the same azg and tohm as the great patriarch [g23] Sahak to get [Sahak] also to unite with the other naxarars of Armenia, to testify to their slander. Then he would be returned to the authority of his kat'oghikosate and land, covered with many honors and in great luxury. Suren took the king's message to the venerable Sahak promising him, as Vahram said, great luxury, and saying he would benefit from the king: "If you consent and do as he wants—to confirm the testimony of the Armenian naxarars—you will return to your authority, exalted by many honors. But if you stubbornly resist and do otherwise, you will lose your [46] kat'oghikosal tun and will be rejected from your authority. Because we are of the same azg, I want what is good for you. It is not lightly that I give you this loving advice." With such words did [Suren] try to persuade the blessed patriarch Sahak. For they wanted to do away with the kingdom.

But the holy man would in no way consent to such words and confirm the testimony of the Armenian princes. Rather, holding firm to his beliefs, he said: "I know of no evil committed by Artashes which merits trial and contempt by you. For though according to our holy faith he is worthy of dishonor and disgrace, according to your polluted faith, he deserves praise and exaltation."

When Suren heard this reply from Sahak, the great patriarch of Armenia, a man of his own tohm, he went and related it to the king of the Aryans. The king became furiously enraged and ordered that the Armenian naxarars and Artashes should be questioned before the great multitude of the tribunal. The princes of Armenia heaped many obscenities and diverse unworthy remarks on their [47] king, not talking about what had actually happened, but in a hostile manner causing him much damage through embellishments. Though they disowned Artashes, things were not as they said, and those listening did not believe them. But they had resolved to abolish the Arsacid line's rule in the kingdom. [The Iranians] wanted this all the more] when the king of the Aryans with all of the nobility of the court heard [the following remarks] from Artashes' accusers: "What need is there any more for a king? Rather, let an Iranian prince come to oversee us from time to time and, learning of our loyalty or disloyalty, tell you about it."

When Yahram, and all the nobility of the court, heard this he was delighted and ordered immediately that Artashes be removed from the kingship. At the same time [he ordered] that the kat'oghikosal tun be taken from [g24] saint Sahak, and possessed by the court since [Sahak] had [48] not joined in giving testimony with the naxarars of Armenia. So resolved, the order of the Iranian king was implemented. Thereafter the rule was taken from the Arsacid line in the sixth year of Artashes. This happened in accordance with the word of the venerable man of God, the great patriarch Nerses. And the land of Armenia fell under the burden of servitude to the impious authority of the Iranians. Resembling the silver which Joseph's brothers took from the Ismaelite merchants for him, so for betraying, a price was paid by the kings of Iran to the Armenian princes, [and they were also given] honors and greatness. Thus leaving the court, they came to their own land.

15. The Armenian tanuters who had promised the kat'oghikosate to the presbyter Surmak Arckec'i, seated him on the throne of the kat'oghikosate of Armenia. But a short time later, resisted by some princely generals of Armenia, they rejected and removed him from the authority of the kat'oghikosate. Thereafter an Iranian marzpan was sent to the land of Armenia by Vahram king of Iran. Then [the Armenians] fell completely under the burden of servitude to the impious Iranian people. The curse of the [49] great patriarch Nerses was thus realized. [This curse had been pronounced] because of the daily increase in deeds of impure wickedness within the royal Arsacid tohm which they were always shamelessly doing with enthusiastic boldness. When saint Nerses observed the unjust death which Arshak treacherously inflicted on his own brother's son Gnel, he was especially aroused and was unable to tolerate such impious deeds. Thus Nerses, the holy man of God, with an enraged heart said [the following], as is written in the 15th charh in the Second History (= P'awstos): "You wrought very great evils, more than did your father Tiran, more than your other ancestors who were evil and unrighteous [members] of the Arsacid line. You did not strive to resemble the good and virtuous men of your tohm, who, having inherited the honor of the kingship of their fathers, strived even more to be the heirs of [their] good deeds of virtue. But [in your case] day by day, without embarrassment you increased and carried out all kinds of [50] obscenities. Moreover, you found reason to shed the innocent blood of your nephew, Gnel. Now you will be dumped on the ground like water which had been used for washing, and you will weaken when the bow from On High is strung. And the destruction described by the prophet will be visited upon you: 'The Arsacid line will drink the last [g25] cup. You will drink, become drunk, be destroyed, and not reestablished.'" Other heavy and awesome additions were made to the words pronounced by the blessed patriarch over the Arsacid line.

Then the naxarars of Armenia requested a kat'oghikos from the court, and king Vahram gave them a certain Syrian named Brk'isho. He came to the land of Armenia with people from his district who had come with him from Syria practising their dissolute religion, in accordance with their custom, with mistresses. And they did not live in accordance with the holy and pure religion which had been set and established in all the churches of Armenia by the blessed champion Gregory. The grandee tanuters of Armenia, the senior sepuhs and the entire multitude of the people became disgusted with the behavior of the people who had [51] come with the kat'oghikos Brk'isho which in no way resembled the canon and doctrine of the angelic faith set forth by the blessed champion Gregory who taught, nourished, and established all according to heavenly policy. The marvellous priests of the holy Church who had been ordained by the right hand of the blessed patriarch Sahak—which resembled an Apostle's—mourned and wept even more unconsolably. Unable to long endure such a foul and unworthy arrangement, they scorned Brk'isho and rejected him from the patriarchate of Armenia. They told king Vahram that "His customs and ways are not those of the teachings of our land. Give us another man as a leader, someone of our native order, who will be a supervisor, and firmly keep the order of the holy Church." King Vahram acceded to their request, and gave them as kat'oghikos another Syrian named Shamuel. He came to the land of Armenia and conducted himself in accordance with Brk'isho's faith. After a short while [Shamuel] died in the land of Armenia.



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