History of the Armenians
Gnel travelled with great speed throughout the entire night with all of his organization, to reach the royal banak. For at daybreak of the next morning, Sunday, began the feast day in honor of the great John [the Baptist] which had been designated by Gregory and Trdat in the awan of Bagawan. To that commemoration [came] lay people who had assembled, many bishops from different districts, and the great archbishop sent [g126] his co-adjutor Xad in his place, as well as his episcopal archdeacon named Murik, to go and do what had to be done there. He himself remained in the royal  banak to perform the communion there. That evening the great night service was conducted there in the banak in the presence of the kat'oghikos.
Now at daybreak Gnel's battalion reached the royal banak, and when he entered, the king was informed of his arrival. An order was issused from the court that he be held outside, taken and killed. While [Gnel], mounted on his horse, was coming into the banak, as he approached the royal concourse, many attendants came forth from the court—armed swordsmen, spearmen, sabre-bearers, axemen, armed with bayonets, and infantrymen bearing shields. They approached the lad Gnel, seized him and threw him from his horse, tied back his arms, and took him to the place of execution. Now his wife had come in her husband's battalion in a palanquin. When she saw that they had seized and bound him, she quickly rushed to the people in the camp chapel when morning prayers were being offered to God by the people of the banak and where the great  archbishop Nerses was. The woman reached the archbishop and screamed loudly the bad news to him about the unjust loss of her husband. She cried: "Hurry and come, they are still murdering my husband without him committing any crime or misdeed." Now [Nerses] interrupted the service and rushed to the royal tent and passed through the door to the king. When the king saw the great chief priest, knowing that he had come to intercede for [Gnel's] life, he pulled his sable over his head and proceeded to grunt with his face covered, as though asleep, so that he would not have to hear [Nerses'] words [g127].
The blessed Nerses shook the king and spoke, saying: "King, remember your Lord Who out of love for us descended from His natural heights and became a brother to us, His unworthy servants. This was done for no other reason than to be the vardapet of love, so that we spare each other, looking to the divine vardapet and love each other in piety, and so that we dare not harm each other. Now if you do not spare your brother, co-servant, comrade and harazat, the Lord Who willingly became our brother, will not spare you.  For He said this to us: 'He who hears you, hears me; he who accepts you, accepts me; but he who dishonors you, dishonors me.' Heed Christ Who now is speaking with you through us, so that you not be ruined, fall from your kingdom, and wander about merely alive, but without anyone to help you. Now heed Christ and save yourself. Do not shed the blood of your harazat brother and kill a righteous [man] in merciless injustice."
But the king, having become fossilized, did not listen. He did not uncover his face of the shirts and did not want to respond. Rather, he remained covered and wrapped up in one side of his chair, and did not even want to move. While [Nerses] was saying these words of entreaty to the king, the chief executioner, Erazmak, entered the royal tent and began to relate: "I have fulfilled all the royal commands. I took Gnel as far as the wall of the [horse] arena, killed him, and buried him there."
 Then the blessed Nerses began to speak: "Just as the basilisk-snake shut its ears so as not to hear the voice of the skilled sorcerer, and not to take the medicine from the wise dispenser of medicine, so you have shut your ears and blocked your hearing so as not to hear the beneficial words of [g128] divine wisdom; rather, with the behavior of a beast, you have begun to devour human flesh. So what was said about the beasts will be visited upon you: 'God will crush their teeth in their mouths and smash the lions' claws.' Because you went against the command of Christ your Lord, you will become as dishonored as spilled water, and will weaken when He strings the bow. And the destruction which the prophet spoke of will be visited upon you. The azg of the Arsacids will drink the last cup; will drink, become drunk, be destroyed, and never be restored again. When the Lord comes, the threat of eternal fire will be visited upon you, you will fall into the darkness and never again see the sun of the glory of the Son of God. You, Arshak, because you committed the act of Cain, will receive the curse of Cain. Alive, you will fall from your kingdom, will be tormented more than your father Tiran was, and will end your life with a bitter death, in great suffering."
 When the great chief-priest Nerses had said all this to the king, he left him and did not return to that banak. They had taken the lad Gnel close to the royal arena and executed him on the hill of the mountain named Lsin, close to the wall of the enclosed hunting ground, opposite the bun camping ground across from the myrtle-grove [where] the fountains [and] the royal benches were.
Then the king issued an order for everyone in the banak great and small, that all of them without exception should go and mournfully lament the killing of Gnel the great Arsacid sepuh. The king himself went to weep and sat there crying for the nephew whom he himself had killed. He went and sat near the corpse weeping and commanded that a great mourning be held near the body. P'aranjem, the wife of the slain man, tore her clothes [g129] and with her hair disheveled and her breasts bared, sobbed in the lamentation, screaming, piteously crying and making everyone weep. Now king Arshak, weeping, saw the wife of the slain, lusted  for her, and kept his eye on her, to make her his wife.
Now Tirit' who had plotted that vengeful treachery against his harazat had done this because of [Gnel's] wife with whom he was greatly in love. He got the king to accomplish the treacherous murder. Now when the mourning had become more intense, Tirit' was unable to control his lust. He sent a messenger to the wife of the dead man, saying: "Do not mourn so much, for I am a better man than he was. I loved you and therefore betrayed him to death, so that I could take you in marriage." Tirit' sent such a message while the mourners were fanatically weeping around the corpse. [P'aranjem] raised a protest, pulling out her hair and screaming as she mourned: "Listen everyone, the death of my husband occurred because of me. For the one who had an eye on me had my husband killed."
When this important circumstance had been openly revealed to everyone, [P'aranjem] became the head of the professional mourners, and all the professional mourners began to sing the circumstance: Tirit''s lust, how he placed his eye on her, the vengeance, the plot of murder, the killing. They moaned and  quavered tenderly over the slain man. As they were singing the circumstances were exposed. When king Arshak heard this, he realized what had happened, investigated, and was stunned, finally grasping the situation. Then he began to speak, striking his hands together and greatly regretting what he had done, saying: "Because Tirit' was seized with undeserving love for Gnel's wife, he plotted this evil, a grudge, and this senseless and [g130] unjust death. And he involved us in the shedding of innocent blood through his abomination. He had his brother destroyed, and made us inherit unbelievable evils and curses which will not go away".
When the king had definitely confirmed and authenticated the circunstances of the case, for a while he was quiet and pretended to do nothing about it. But after the slain man had been buried in the place where he was killed, and after a goodly number of days had passed since the deed was committed, Tirit' sent a message to the king. He said: "King, I want you to order that I be allowed to marry Gnel's wife, P'aranjem." As soon as the king heard this, he said: "Now I know for sure that what I have heard is accurate. Gnel's death occurred for his wife." Then  the king plotted to kill Tirit' also, in return for Gnel's murder. When Tirit' learned about this, he was seized with fear of the king, and fled at night. King Arshak was informed of Tirit''s flight and ordered the azatagund of the banak to pursue, catch up with, and kill him on the spot. Many braves went after the fugitive Tirit', caught up with him in the forests of the district of Basen, and killed him there.
After this Arshak himself married P'aranjem, the wife of the slain [Gnel]. But to the degree that king Arshak loved the woman, the woman loathed king Arshak, saying: "Physically, he is hairy, and his color is dark". When king Arshak saw that the woman was not reconciled with him, he sent to the country of Byzantium requesting that a woman by azg of the imperial tohm be sent him as a wife. Her name was Oghompi [Olympias]. He loved her madly and this stirred the envy of his first wife. P'aranjem therefore had a grudge against Olympias and sought to kill her. But then P'aranjem bore the king a son whom they named Pap. They nourished him and he grew up. When he reached puberty and became robust, they gave him as a hostage to the emperor's court in the country of Byzantium.
 However P'aranjem continued in her great envy and grudge toward Olympias and sought to kill her with drugs. But when she was unable to effect anything (since [Olympias] was extremely careful, especially in matters of food and drink, eating only the food offered by her own maids, and drinking only the wine they provided), when [P'aranjem] could find no way of giving her poison, she approached a certain presbyter of the royal court who happened to be there at the time. The impious P'aranjem involved this man, whose name was Mrjiwnik, from the Arshamunik' areas from the nahang of Taron district. He committed an unworthy deed, never done before, an indelible, unforgettable evil, deserving of eternal torments, a deed unexampled, unheard of—mixing poison with the potion of Life. They mixed poison with the Lord's holy and divine body, the bread of communion. And the presbyter named Mrjiwnik administered this to queen Olympias in the church, and killed her. For implementing the most evil wishes of the impious P'aranjem, this non-presbyter was granted the village whence he came, a village named Gomkunk' in the nahang of the district of Taron.
 Now the blessed kat'oghikos Nerses did not see king Arshak again until the day of his ruination. In place of Nerses they established a certain Ch'unak as the head of the Christians who was one of the slaves from the court's slaves. Then the king ordered that all the bishops of the land of Armenia be summoned to ordain Ch'unak into the kat'oghikosate of Armenia. But no one consented to come. Only the bishops of Aghjnik' and Korduk' came and ordained Ch'unak as kat'oghikos according to the king's order. Ch'unak was a discreet man, never advising or reproaching, but agreeing with whatever the king did. [g132]
In that period, the king of Iran, Shapuh, summoned Arshak, king of Armenia, and exalted him with much honor, great glory, many treasures of gold and silver, and all the grandeur of the kingdom [Shahpur II (310-379), Arshak (350-367)]. [Arshak] was treated well by him, as a brother or a son, and [Shapuh] gave him the second great tun in the land of Atrpatakan. During the period of merry-making, they sat together on one and the same gah [throne], wearing clothing of the same color with identical ornaments.  Each day the Iranian king prepared identically adorned crowns for both of them. The two of them, like inseparable harazat brothers, gorged themselves during the merry-making and were indescribably happy together.
Now it happened one day that Arshak, king of Armenia, went walking in one of the Iranian king's stables. The Iranian king's stable-master was seated inside the stable. When he saw the king, in no way did he exalt him properly or show him honor, but rather, he dishonored him with insults, saying in the Iranian language: "King of the Armenian goats, come and sit on this bale of hay." When these words were heard by the sparapet general of Greater Armenia whose name was Vasak of the Mamikonean tohm, he became greatly irritated and angered. He drew the sword which he had at his waist and beheaded the Iranian king's stable-master right there in the stable. [g133] For he was unable to hear or bear the insults to his king, many times regarding it better to die than to hear evil insults hurled at his lord. He did such a deed suddenly and fearlessly [even though] they were in the land of Iran, in another's place, in another's concourse. Now when the king of Iran heard about this, he expressed great thanks to  general Vasak, marvelling at his brave-heartedness and courageousness. And he greatly rewarded him, making him worthy of much honor, as he praised his bravery and love for his master. As a result of that deed [Shapuh] felt great affection for [Vasak], honored him in accordance with his worth, and exalted him every day so that there was reconciliation and peace between them.
Now while the king of Armenia was with the king of Iran and there was great affection and peace between them, Shapuh, the king of Iran, nonetheless feared that perhaps Arshak, king of Armenia, would violate that affection, might unite with the Byzantine emperor, or somehow be pried away from him. He did not believe that [Arshak] would preserve the intimate affection he had for him or remain true to the oath of alliance with him. Therefore he requested a vow from him and intensely pressured him, saying: "Consent and vow to me according to your faith that you will not be false to me." Under severe pressure and insistent force [Arshak] became harassed. They commanded that priests from the church of the city of Ctesiphon (the leader of whom was Mari) be summoned. They brought the blessed Gospel and Shapuh, the king of Iran, had Arshak, king of Armenia, swear on the divine Gospel that  he would never again break his vow to him, but keep his oath and preserve his treaty. Since the intermediary in these matters was Vardan, the tanuter nahapet of the Mamikonean tohm and the senior brother of Vasak the sparapet, king Shapuh felt great affection for him. But his brother Vasak the general of Armenia was envious of his senior brother Vardan. [g134] He wanted to create a disturbance between Arshak king of Armenia [and the king of Iran] [Translator's note: Apparently a page is missing which described Vasak's actions. The text resumes with the king speaking with Mari and the priests.]... and flee. But Shapuh said: "If you made the vow sincerely, how could he oppose it or flee. Rather, I know that you deceived me through witchcraft. You liked the one who holds your faith, you treacherously plotted with him, making him flee. You too want the Arsacid lordship over you, and sought for this."
And king Shapuh vowed by the sun, water, and fire, that he would not permit a single Christian man to live. He ordered that they all be taken and killed. They took their leader, the presbyter Mari, and other priests and deacons (more than seventy men) and killed them all together in one ditch. And [Shapuh] ordered that the blessed Gospel on which king Arshak had vowed should be bound with an iron  chain, sealed with his ring, and kept carefully.
When the presbyter Mari and the seventy others were killed, king Shapuh began a great persecution of members of the Christian faith. He oppressed them with taxes, diverse sorrows and blows. Then he issued an order throughout all the places under his sway: "Whoever under my authority even bears the name of a Christian shall be removed and put to the sword, so that there will be no one under my authority who calls himself a Christian." [g135] So they destroyed myriads upon myriads and thousands upon thousands, for such was the king's order, that no Christian reside within his borders.
Now Vardan, the tanuter of the Mamikonean tohm, came on a mission from the king of Iran to king Arshak of Armenia, and presented him with the hrovartak. And he told him about [Shapuh's] words of peace and reconciliation and the confirmation by oaths. And he presented the message: "The crime in what has occurred will be overlooked, but after this stand firm in the vow and do not  transgress the oath you swore according to you faith. Otherwise know that you have violated your faith." Now king Arshak received and heard the message with affection and believed what had been said. He peacefully released the great nahapet to his tun so that he might go and rest from the fatigue of the long journey. And [Vardan] went.
When the nahapet Vardan had come to Arshak, his younger brother, Vasak, was not with the king. But subsequently Vasak arrived and stirred the king up against his senior brother, saying: "It was Vardan who betrayed you to the Iranian king and wants to destroy you. If you do not hurry and kill him immediately, you and the land of Armenia will be lost." Furthermore, [Arshak's] wife also aroused the king with similar words and made him accept general Vasak's words as reliable. For [P'aranjem] held a grudge against Vardan since it was this Vardan who had treacherously, fraudulently, and with a great oath summoned her husband Gnel for king Arshak to kill. Because the woman had kept her grudge against Vardan she even more provoked the king against him. [g136] Indeed, a force was assembled against Vardan to go and kill him, and his own brother Vasak went to effect it.
 They went and found him in his district of Tayk', in his secure fortress which was named Eraxani. When [Vardan's people] saw that it was Vasak's brigade, they neither feared, took precautions nor felt any doubt. They reasoned that since it was the force of [Vardan's] brother, he had come in peace. So [Vasak's troops] came and descended to the door of the tent, since [Vardan] had pitched his tent in the valley, at the foot of the fortress. Vasak's troops were all secretly armed, wearing their [regular] clothing on top. While [Vardan], naked, was washing his head, many men with swords reached him, and stabbed him as he was bent over to pour water over himself. He did not even have time to arise, since they struck and killed him from the side.
[Vardan's] wife was pregnant, and the day of delivery had arrived. While she was seated on her chair in the upper part of the fortress, the terrible news came. When she heard the bad news, she jumped from her chair and as she ran, the baby was born. The child was named after its father, Vardan.
 Now when the blessed archbishop Nerses had quit the royal banak, there was no one to reproach the king or give him contrary counsel, and so [Arshak] went along according to his evil wishes. He destroyed many of the naxarars, extirpated many azgs, and confiscated many tuns for the court. He extirpated the tohms of the Kamsarakans who were the lords of districts, of Shirak and Arsharunik', and he made [their] districts ostan [g137].
However, the general of Armenia, the sparapet Vasak concealed and saved a tiny child from that azg, named Spandarat, who subsequently became the inheritor of [their] land. King Arshak ordered that a secure fortress be constructed for him in the district of Arsharunik', a fortress named Artagers. And he laid in store victuals in preparation for the district in the fortress, since that fortress was extremely secure.
Previously when king Arshak had fled from king Shapuh and dishonored him through his vow, Shapuh, the king of Iran, tried no severity [in dealing] with him, for there was still intense warfare between himself and the emperor of Byzantium. As the war dragged on, king Arshak of Armenia conceitedly waited to see which of them would call him to aid them in fighting. He enthusiastically wanted to go to the aid of the emperor of Byzantium, but [the Byzantines] did not call on, magnify or exalt him.
But the Iranian king Shapuh sent messages of peace to him, reminding him of his previous vow, saying: "Your brother wants you to come and help him fight with your brigade. I know that if you are on our side, we shall triumph." Now when Arshak, the king of Armenia, heard this, with great joy he wanted to go to aid and assist Shapuh, king of Iran. So he ordered his sparapet, Vasak, to assemble a brigade and prepare troops. [Vasak] [g138] quickly implemented the king's orders. [He assembled] 400,000 well armed troops of select warriors full of manly heroism: spearmen, swordsmen, powerful archers who did not miss their mark, men with sabres and battle-axes who were fearless before champions,  the entire cavalry wearing armor, with helmets, banners, with notable multi-sounding trumpets.
King Arshak with a multitude of naxarars went through his principality, through Aghjnik', and came out into the Aruac'astan country, opposite the city of Mcbin (Nisibis), which was to be the battle site. Now when [the Armenians] arrived at the place and time designated for the battle between the two sides, they saw that the Byzantine troops had already arrived and encamped in a multitude as dense as the sand on the seashore, while the Iranian troops had not yet come. The troops of the king of Armenia arrived before the Iranians and waited in place. Now the Armenian troops grew restless with waiting and did not want to wait for or heed the Iranian troops, but rather wanted to attack the Byzantine king themselves and wage war without the Iranians. Every man of the Armenian troops, self-willed and unbridled, moved forth. This was especially true of their general Vasak, who, more than anyone, was going back and forth unrestrained, unwilling to wait for the Iranians to come. Rather, he wanted them to wage the war themselves.
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