Sempad the Constable
Sempad the Constable was a noble in Cilician Armenia, an older brother of King Hetoum I. He was an important figure in Cilicia, acting as a diplomat and military officer, holding the title of Constable or Sparapet, supreme commander of the Armenian armed forces, he was a writer and translator known for providing translations of various legal codes, the creation of an important account of Cilician history, the Chronique du Royaume de Petite Armenie. He organized and fought in multiple battles, such as the Battle of Mari, was trusted by his brother King Hetoum to be a key negotiator with the Mongol Empire. At the time of Sempad's birth there were two key dynasties in Cilicia, the Rubenids and the Hetoumids, he was related to both. Sempad was the son of Constantine of Partzapert. Other siblings included John the Bishop of Sis, Ochine of Korykos and Hetoum, who became co-ruler in 1226; the earlier ruler had been Queen Isabella of Armenia, married to Philip, son of Bohemond IV of Antioch. Constantine arranged for Philip to be murdered in 1225, forced Isabella to marry his son Hetoum on June 4, 1226, making him the co-ruler, sole ruler after Isabella's death in 1252.
Cilicia was a Christian country, that had ties to Europe and the Crusader States, fought against the Muslims for control of the Levant. The Mongols were a threat, as Genghis Khan's Empire had been pushing westward in its unstoppable advance; the Mongols had a deserved reputation for ruthlessness, giving new territories one opportunity to surrender, if there was resistance, the Mongols moved in and slaughtered the local population. In 1243, Sempad was part of the embassy to Caesarea, where he negotiated with the Mongol leader Baiju. In 1246 and again in 1259, Sempad was in charge of organizing the defense of Cilicia against the invasion of the Sultanate of Rum. In 1247, when King Hetoum I decided that his wisest course of action was to peacefully submit to the Mongols, Sempad was sent to the Mongol court in Karakorum. There, Sempad met Kublai Khan's brother Möngke Khan, made an alliance between Cilicia and the Mongols, against their common enemy the Muslims; the nature of this relationship is described differently by various historians, some of whom refer to it as an alliance, while others describe it as a submission to Mongol overlordship, making Armenia a vassal state.
Historian Angus Donal Stewart, in Logic of Conquest, described it as, "The Armenian king saw alliance with the Mongols – or, more swift and peaceful subjection to them – as the best course of action." Armenian military leaders were required to serve in the Mongol army, many of them perished in Mongol battles. During his 1247-1250 visit to the Mongol court, Sempad received a relative of the Great Khan as a bride, he had a son with her, named Vasil Tatar, who would be captured by the Mamluks at the Battle of Mari in 1266. Sempad returned to Cilicia in 1250, though he returned to Mongolia in 1254, accompanying King Hetoum on his own visit to the court of the Great Khan, Möngke. On the death of his father, Sempad became Baron of Papeŕōn and resided in its small, but lavish baronial palace. Sempad died in 1276 either in the Second Battle of Sarvandikar, fighting against the Mamluks of Egypt, or against an invasion of the Turcomans from Marash; the Armenians won the battle. Sempad was a member of the Armenian supreme court, the Verin or Mec Darpas, which examined government policies and the legal codes.
He created a translation of the Assizes of Antioch from French, created in Middle Armenian a Datastanagirk', based on and adapted from the earlier work of Mkhitar Gosh. Sempad is best known for providing eyewitness written accounts of his era, he wrote the "Chronique du Royaume de Petite Arménie" which begins around 951/952, ends in 1274, two years before his death. He worked from older Armenian, Syriac and Byzantine sources, as well as from his own observations. Sempad's writings are considered a valuable resource by historians, although some have criticized them as unreliable, as Sempad was writing for reasons of propaganda rather than history. Multiple translations exist in varying levels of completeness. According to historian Angus Donal Stewart, there are both French and English translations, which cover the period up until the 1270s. In the 19th century, it was translated by Eduard Dulaurier and published in Receuil des Historiens des Croisades, Historiens Armeniens I, together with some other continuation excerpts by an anonymous author which cover the period after Sempad's death, up through the 1330s.
This edition includes excerpts from the work of Nerses Balients, writing in the fourteenth century. Sempad was enthusiastic about his travel to the Mongol realm, which lasted between 1247 and 1250, he sent letters to Western rulers of Cyprus and the Principality of Antioch, describing a Central Asian realm of oasis with many Christians of the Nestorian rite. On February 7, 1248, Sempad sent a letter from Samarkand to his brother-in-law Henry I, king of Cyprus (who was married to Sempad's sister Stephanie: "We have found many Christians throughout the land of the Orient, many churches and beautiful.. The Christians of the Orient went to the Khan of the Tartars who now rules, he received them with great honour and gave them freedom and
Ara the Beautiful
Ara the Beautiful is a legendary Armenian hero. Ara is notable in Armenian literature for the popular legend in which he was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis waged war against Armenia to capture him and bring him back to her, alive. Ara is sometimes associated with the legendary King of Armenia, known as Arame of Urartu, who ruled the Kingdom of Urartu Biainili during the 9th century BC. According to the legend, Semiramis had fallen in love with the handsome Armenian King and asked him to marry her; when Ara refused, Semiramis, in the heat of passion, gathered the armies of Assyria and marched against Armenia. During the battle Semiramis was victorious, but Ara was slain despite her orders to capture him alive. To avoid continuous warfare with the Armenians, reputed to be a sorceress, took his body and prayed to the gods to raise Ara from the dead; when the Armenians advanced to avenge their leader, Semiramis disguised one of her lovers as Ara and spread the rumor that the gods had brought Ara back to life, convincing the Armenians not to continue the war.
In one persistent tradition, Semiramis' prayers are Ara returns to life. During the 19th century, it was reported that a village called Lezk, near Van, traditionally held that it was Ara's place of resurrection. Hayk The Origins - Ara The Beautiful Ara the Beautiful
Armenian literature begins around AD 400 with the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop Mashtots. Only a handful of fragments have survived from the most ancient Armenian literary tradition preceding the Christianization of Armenia in the early 4th century due to centuries of concerted effort by the Armenian Church to eradicate the "pagan tradition". Christian Armenian literature begins about 406 with the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Mesrop for the purpose of translating Biblical books into Armenian. Isaac, the Catholicos of Armenia, formed a school of translators who were sent to Edessa, Constantinople, Antioch, Caesarea in Cappadocia, elsewhere, to procure codices both in Syriac and Greek and translate them. From Syriac were made the first version of the New Testament, the version of Eusebius' History and his Life of Constantine, the homilies of Aphraates, the Acts of Gurias and Samuna, the works of Ephrem Syrus. In these first years of the 5th century were composed some of the apocryphal works which, like the Discourses attributed to St. Gregory and the History of Armenia said to have come from Agathangelus, are asserted to be the works of these and other well-known men.
This early period of Armenian literature produced many original compositions. Eznik of Kolb wrote a "Refutation of the Sects", Koryun the "History of the Life of St. Mesrop and of the Beginnings of Armenian Literature"; these men, both of whom were disciples of Mesrop, bring to an end what may be called the Golden Age of Armenian literature. The Golden Age was to large extent a commentary and exegesis of Hebrew and Christian literary tradition and the history of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenia is known to have been a nation occupied by nearby powers, such as the Sassanid Empire; the beginning of the Medieval era was marked by the Arab conquest of Armenia. The people started to talk of a great hero who would be able to liberate them and reestablish Armenian sovereignty. David of Sasun, known as Sasuntsi Davit', is the medieval Armenian equivalent of Hercules. For over a thousand years the legend of David was passed from grandfathers to their grandsons thanks to the Armenian oral tradition, it is difficult to classify his stories as ancient or medieval.
In 1873, the story was first written down by Archbishop Karekin Servantzdiants, who copied word for word the tale as told by a peasant storyteller from Moush named Grbo. Other versions of the tale from various regions of Armenia were copied down in the ensuing years, during the early Soviet era in Armenia, the stories were collated into a "unified version". One of the most famous treatments of the story was the verse rendition made by Hovhannes Toumanian in 1902, his poem only covers the story of David, only one of 4 parts of the story, although the central portion. The four portions of the story are named after their heroes: Sanasar & Balthazar, Lion-Mher, David of Sassoun, Mher the Younger. Sanasar is the father of Lion-Mher, the father of David, the father of Mher the Younger. Mher the younger is cursed to never bear progeny and his superhuman powers are too much for the world to handle, so he is enclosed in a mountain cave where he waits until the end of the world to come out and restore order.
Despite the Christian flavor of the epic, numerous fantastic creatures and evil, influence the action. One of the ancestors of the legendary David is the Lady Dzovinar, who agrees to marry the 90-year-old King of Baghdad in order to save her people. Sanasar and Balthasar were their two sons. Sanasar moves to Sassoun, the fortress-town of Armenia, now located in Turkey, he has the eldest of them being the Great Mher of Sassoun, with superhuman powers. Mher's veritable son is David of Sassoun. However, he gets another son from the Arabic queen of Egypt, he is known as Misra Melik, which means "The sovereign of Egypt". He is the figure of all of what the Armenians resented. Throughout the years the half-brothers fought, David chops his nemesis in half; the medieval period opens with comparative sterility. It was important in the 8th century, that of John Otznetzi, surnamed the "Philosopher". A "Discourse against the Paulicians", a "Synodal Discourse", a collection of the canons of the councils and the Fathers anterior to his day, are the principal works of his now extant.
About the same time appeared the translations of the works of several of the Fathers of St. Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Alexandria, from the pen of Stephen, Bishop of Syunik, it was two centuries that the celebrated "History of Armenia" by the Catholicos John V the Historian came forth, covering the period from the origin of the nation to the year A. D. 925. A contemporary of his, Annine of Mok, an abbot and the most celebrated theologian of the time, composed a treatise against the Tondrakians, a sect imbued with Manicheism; the name of Chosrov, Bishop of Andzevatsentz, is honoured because of his interesting commentaries on the Breviary and Mass-Prayers. Gregory of Narek, his son, is the Armenian Pindar from whose pen came elegies, odes and homilies. Stephen Asoghtk, whose "Universal History" reaches down to A. D. 1004, Gregory Magistros, whose long poem on the Old and New Testaments displays much application, are the last writers worthy of mention in this period. The modern period of Armenian literature
Komitas I Aghtsetsi or Komitas I of Aghdznik known as Komitas Shinogh —an allusion to his many works of restoration and constructions. Catholicos and Supreme Patriarch of All Armenians and musician, he was instrumental in realization of several architectural projects. He renovated the Cathedral at the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and constructed the Church of St. Hripsime, which stands to this day, he built the Church of St. Gregory in Dvin, he was a Catholicos of Armenia and bishop of Taron from 615 through 628. He is known to have been a hymn writer, he pulled down the original chapel and rebuilt the St. Hripsime Church at Etchmiadzin as it is seen today. Komitas was the editor of the collection of Armenian translations of patristic texts known as the Seal of Faith. A devout Catholic, he was never far away from disputes regarding the faith, he was a vociferous participant in doctrinal disputes. He sided with the orthodox school of thought of the Armenian Church during the Council of Ctesiphon; the Council concluded with the acceptance of Monophysitism.
His exceptional poetical and lyrical sharakan "Andzink nviryalk" earned him a special place in the Armenian Church hymn-book. The'Devoted Souls' was written as a eulogy to mark the completion of the Church of St Hripsime; the work marked not just the beginning of a new church but heralding a new age in Armenian spiritual literature. The work departed from previous sharakans in that it diverted from the tradition of dwelling on the Virgin Mary or The Bible. Instead, it spoke on subjects that were first raised in History, the celebrated work of the fifth-century Armenian historian Agatangeghos, which talks about Armenia's conversion to Christianity. Catholicos Komitas, Le sceau de la foi, Etchmiazin, 1914
Thomas of Metsoph
Thomas of Metsoph was an Armenian cleric and chronicler who left an account of Timur’s invasions of the Caucasus. What we know of Thovma's life comes from a biography written by his own student Kirakos Banaser as well as a number of 15th-century colophons. Born in Aghiovit, north of Lake Van, Thovma received his early education at the monastery of Metsob, northwest of the city of Arjesh, he had to spend a peripatetic life fleeing the repeated attacks by the Turkoman armies. He engaged in teaching and literary activity at several religious centers of Armenian, including Sukhara, Tatev and Metsob, he was involved in the struggle against the influence of Roman Catholicism within the Armenian Church, helped transfer the Armenian catholicosate from Sis in Cilician Armenia to back to Echmiadzin in Greater Armenia. His major work is The History of Timur and His Successors, an eyewitness account written for the most part from memory. Although not flawless, it is an important source for Armenia and Georgia in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
The classical Armenian text was published K. Shahnazarian in Paris in 1860, translated into French by Felix Neve in 1855, into English by Robert Bedrosian in 1977. Timur's invasions of Georgia Turkoman invasions of Georgia English translation of the History of Tamerlane and His Successors
David the Invincible
David the Invincible is the name given to a Neoplatonist Armenian philosopher of the 6th century. His works survive in medieval Armenian translation, he was given the byname of "invincible" in Armenian tradition; this byname had earlier been was transferred to the philosopher. Due to confusion with other authors called David and due to an abundant body of medieval legend nothing is known with certainty about the historical David. Armenian tradition makes him a native of Taron, but this is not substantiated in contemporary sources and may be due to conflation with another person, he was active in Alexandria in Byzantine Egypt, known as an expert in Aristotle's Physics. He received the byname "invincible" for his exceptional oratory and argumentative skills. David is said to have returned to his native Armenia in life, where he was active as a teacher, but he was persecuted by the church and died in exile in Haghbat. Of the number of works attributed to him, many are doubtful; the works which can be attributed to him with certainty or at least with some plausibility are not scholarly treatises but propedeutic handbooks for use in teaching beginners.
They survive only in Armenian translation. Philologically, these translations are important representatives of the "hellenizing" tradition in Armenian literature of the 6th to 8th centuries; the David Anhaght Medal, the highest-ranking medal granted by the Armenian Academy of Philosophy, is named after him. David the Invincible is a 1978 film by Levon Mkrtchyan. David
David of Sassoun
David of Sassoun is the main hero of Armenia's national epic Daredevils of Sassoun, who drove Arab invaders out of Armenia. The Daredevils of Sassoun is an Armenian national epic poem recounting David's exploits; as an oral history, it dates from the 8th century, was first put in written form in 1873 by Garegin Srvandztiants. He published other ethnographic books. David of Sassoun is the name of only one of the four acts, but due to the popularity of the character, the entire epic is known to the public as David of Sasun; the epic's full name is Sasna Tsrer. In 1902 the prominent Armenian poet and writer Hovhannes Tumanyan penned a poem of the same name retelling the story of the David of Sasun in a more modern language