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E00105: Łazar P'arpec'i's History of Armenia, written in Armenian in around AD 500, recounts the martyrdom of *Yazd (Armenian nobleman and martyr, ob. 480s, S00665), from the province Siwnik', in Bagawan, at the chapel of *Gregory the Illuminator (converter of Armenia, S00251) and his burial in the chapel, all in 480s.

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posted on 29.10.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
Łazar P'arpec'i, History of Armenia, Book 3, Chapter 76

Vahan Mamikonean and the Persian general Mihran were having a discussion when Mihran was summoned back to the Persian court (for the full context see $E00120). He took with him Hrahat (brother of Narseh Kamsarakan), the blessed Yazd, and other prisoners, as hostages. Hrahat was miraculously enabled to escape through the intercession of Gregory the Illuminator. As a result, Yazd was brought before the Persian court and interrogated. They offered him the choice to convert to Mazdeism in exchange for his life, which Yazd refused, preferring to die as a Christian than to live and enjoy a thousand times a thousand years in apostasy.

զգլուխ երանելւոյն հրամայեցին, մերձ ի տեղի սուրբ մատրանն առաքելանման նահատակին սրբոյն Գրիգորի, ի գեաւղն որ կոչի Բագաւան, ի նահանգին Բագրեւանդայ, ի լանջակողման լերինն որ անուանի Նպատ. մաւտ ի սուրբ տեղի մատրանն որպէս երկու քարընկեցաւք։ 18  Եւ կատարեալ սրբոյ Սիւնի սեպհին Յազդայ զընթացս նահատակութեան իւրոյ յամսեանն հոռի, որ աւր վեշտասան էր ամսոյն, եւ ամփոփեալ նշխարք նորա եդան անդէն ի սուրբ մատրանն Գրիգորի։

'When the impious judges heard such words from saint Yazd, they commanded the blessed one’s head to be cut off with a sword near the site of the holy chapel of the apostle-like champion Gregory, in the village called Bagawan in the province of Bagrewand, on the flank of the mountain called Npat about two stones’ throw from the holy site of the chapel. The holy noble of Siwnik’, Yazd, completed his heroic course in the month of Hori, on the sixteenth day of the month (12 September). And his relics were interred in the holy chapel of Gregory.

Text: Kouymjian 1985. Translation: Thomson 1991, 199.

History

Evidence ID

E00105

Saint Name

Yazd, Armenian nobleman and martyr from Siwnik' : S00665 Gregory the Illuminator, Converter of Armenia : S00251

Saint Name in Source

Իազդ Գրիգոր

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

493

Evidence not after

500

Activity not before

483

Activity not after

483

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Łazar P‘arpec‘i

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Ceremonies at burial of a saint

Source

Łazar is mentioned by name only late in the Armenian tradition: the earliest reference to him by name dates to the 11th c., when Stephanos of Taron lists previous historians and names Łazar as an historian after Ełiše (which is chronologically incorrect). Earlier writers, such as Sebeos and Movsēs Xorenaci, clearly referred to Łazar's work, without naming him, but as an historian he only became popular much later, and knowledge of his History was quite scarce before 1000. The earliest surviving manuscript is even later and dates to 1672 (though some fragments have survived from the 15th c., and one fragment predates the year 1200). The late date of the manuscript tradition is not necessarily an argument for its late composition. As R. Thomson points out “a long succession of quotations and adaptations over the centuries points to their popularity”, but “we cannot be sure to what extent … radical editing was undertaken by well-meaning scholars, or perhaps deliberate and tendentious changes were introduced” (Thomson 1991, 4-5.) With reasonable certainty, Łazar and his work can be placed at the end of the 5th c. or the first years of the 6th, apart from the famous vision of Katholikos Sahak, which is clearly a later interpolation. As with other late antique Armenian historians, Łazar had a patron; specifically he wrote for the Mamikonean clan and their leader Vahan Mamikonean. He explains explicitly that he had been urged to write his History by his patron Vahan, the marzpan of Armenia, to whom Łazar owed the restoration of his fortunes. The purpose of the book, according to the author, was also moral, to provide his readers with role models and to encourage them to emulate the virtues of the holy, spiritual or valiant men who were the heroes of the History. Łazar also clearly places himself in the literary tradition of his predecessors and perceives his own work as a continuation of Agathangelos’s and of the Epic Histories, wrongly attributed to 'Faustos of Byzantium'. Łazar starts his History at the division of Armenia in 428 (where the Epic Histories had stopped) and continues down to the day when Vahan Mamikonean became the marzpan of Armenia in 485.

Discussion

The martyrdom of Yazd is used in Łazar’s narrative to further promote the cult of Gregory and of Bagawan as the holy site of Armenia. Bagawan is a composite of two words: Iranian Bag 'god' + Armenian awan 'town'. It was an important pagan site in pre-Christian Armenia, with a temple dedicated to Ahura-Mazda. King Vałarš also instituted there the celebration of the feast of Nawasard. This was the site, where according to all Armenian accounts, Gregory the Illuminator baptised King Trdat and others. Subsequently a shrine of John the Baptist was established there.

Bibliography

Text: Ղազարայ Փարպեցւոյ Պատմութիւն Հայոց և Թուղթ առ Վահան Մամիկոնեան [Łazar P‘arpec‘i’s History of the Armenians and the Letter to Vahan Mamikonean], a photographic reproduction of the 1908 Tiflis edition, with a new introduction and critical bibliography by D. Kouymjian (New York: Caravan Books, 1985). Translation: Thomson, R., The History of Łazar P‘arpec‘i (Atlanta: Scholar’s Press, 1991). Studies: Garsoïan, N., The Epic Histories Attributed to P'awstos Biwzand (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989).

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