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E00131: The History of the Albanians, written in Armenian, recounts the martyrdom of a certain "lad of Čiłb" and priest *Daniel (martyr and priest in Caucasian Albania, S00595) during the reign of King Vačē of Albania. Their relics were taken to Syria and a monastery was constructed on their grave. Written probably in Caucasian Albania, possibly in the 6th c. or 7th c.

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posted on 01.11.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
History of the Albanians, Book 1, Chapter 14

The story is inserted in the fourteenth chapter of Book I, which is entitled: 'A brief account of Saint Gregory, Illuminator of the Armenians, and about his venerable sons; the ordination of Saint Grigoris, son of Vrtanēs, grandson of the great Saint Gregory, to the katholikosate of the Albanians and Iberians; his coming to the land of the Albanians for its illumination; his martyrdom and the bringing of his relics.' Here is very briefly summarised the story of Armenia's conversion by Gregory the Illuminator, followed by the conversion of Iberia. Then the author carries on with the story of Yusik and his brother Grigoris, who allegedly converted Iberia and Albania and became the first Katholikos of the latter. This is followed by an account of Grigoris transferring the relics of the martyrs to Albania and his own eventual martyrdom.

Իսկ ընդ ժամանակս ընդ այն բերդաքաղաքն անուանեալ Ցռի՝ ապստամբեալ յԱղուանից արքայէն, ձեռն տայր ՛ի Պարսից արքայն. եւ եկեալ Արգեսացիք ունէին զքաղաքն։ Իսկ գտեալ զերէցն, զաշակերտ մանկանն Գրիգորիսի, զոր թողեալ էր ՛ի սպասաւորութիւն սրբոցն՝ զերէցն զՑռւոյ եւ զմանուկն մարտիրոսացուցին։ Քանզի էր նորա գտեալ ճիղբ մանուկ մի, որ լսէրհաւատոյն Քրիստոսի, եւ հաւատացեալ առնոյր զքրիստոսական կնիքն եւ անդէն աշակերտէր երիցոյն եւ կամէր խելամուտ լինել վարուց քրիստոնէութեան. զերկոսեան զսոսա ՛ի կապանս եւ ՛ի չարչարանս արկեալ՝ ստիպէին լինել մոխրապաշտ դիւթացն աղտեղութեան։ Իբրեւ ոչ կարէին կամագիւտ լինել բռնութեամբ՝ մաղթէին զճիղբ մանուկն եւ ասէին. "՛Ի մերոյ աշխարհիս մարդ ես, զմեր կամս արա եւ մեծարու առնեմք զքեզ ՛ի մերում իշխանութեանս"։ Եւ երանելին պատասխանի արարեալ՝ "Լաւ լիցի յառաջագոյն քան զերէցն մեռանել ինձ վասն անուանն Քրիստոսի, քան բնականալ ՛ի յարկս մեղաւորաց"։ Եւ վաղվաղակի սրով գլխատեալք՝ ընունէին զերանութեան զպսակ եւ զամենավայելուչ նահատակութեան յաղթանակ մրցանակն ըստ իւրեանց հոգեւոր հօրն՝ մանկանն Գրիգորիսի։ Զորս առեալ Ասորեաց ոմանց աբեղայից տանէին ՛ի Հակու անուանեալ գիւղն, եւ անդ եդեալ ՛ի գերեզմանի՝ եւ ինքեանք ՛ի տեղւոջն վանս շինէին։ Եւ անդ Ե, ասեն՝ նշխարք երանելեացն մինչեւ ցայսօր։ Եւ լինէր այն առ քաջիւն Վաչէիւ՝ Աղուանից արքայիւ։ Եւ ամրածածկեալ կային երանելեացն վկայից ամենասուրբ նշխարք մինչեւ ցթագաւորութիւն երրորդ բարեպաշտ Վաչականայ Աղուանից արքայի։ Քանզի ՛ի քաջէն Վաչականայ մինչեւ ցՎաչէ թագաւորք էին Աղուանից թուով ինն, յորոց տասներորդ էր բարեպաշտ եւ աստուածասէր թագաւորն Վաչական Աղուանից արքայ։


'In that period the fortified city called C'ri rebelled from the king of the Albanians and gave assistance to the Persian king, and the Argesac'ik' came and captured the city. There they discovered the priest Daniel, whom Saint Grigoris had designated to serve the [relics of the] saints, and a lad of Čiłb [nationality]. [The Čiłb] had found the priest and had been baptized a Christian, learning about the faith in Christ and believing it and further studying with the priest. And he had wanted to follow the Christian way.

They put them both into chains and tortured them to make them worshippers of the filthy diabolical ashes [i.e. Zoroastrians]. When they could not forcibly convince them, they entreated the Čiłb lad, saying: "You are a man of our land, do our will and we will exalt you in our principality." But the venerable [youth] responded: "It is better that I die before the priest for the name of Christ, than dwell in the midst of sinners." They immediately beheaded them with a sword and thus did they receive the crown of holiness and the prize of victorious martyrdom as had their spiritual father, the young Grigoris. Some Syrian priests took them to a village called Haku, where they were put into a grave. They themselves constructed a monastery over the spot. And they say that the relics of these venerable ones remain there to the present.

This transpired during [the reign of] the valiant Vač'ē, king of the Albanians [440-463]. The most blessed relics of these venerable ones remained hidden until the reign of the pious Vačakan III, [487—510] king of the Albanians, son of Yazdgird, brother of the blessed king Vačē. For from the [time of] valiant Vačakan until Vačē, there were nine kings of the Albanians, according to the list. The tenth was the pious, God-loving King Vač'akan [sic], king of the Albanians".

Text: Arakelyan 1983, 39-40. Translation: Bedrosian 2004, 12-16.

History

Evidence ID

E00131

Saint Name

Grigoris (Katholikos and Martyr in Caucasian Albania, ob. early 4th century) : S00062 Daniel, martyr and priest in Caucasian Albania (4th c) : S00595

Saint Name in Source

Գրիգորիս Դանիէլ

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

600

Evidence not after

1000

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Albania in Caucasia Armenia

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

Urekan Ուռեկան Urekan Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

History of the Albanians

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - monastic

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Zoroastrians

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

The History of the Albanians is one of the most controversial texts of the medieval Armenian corpus. It is relatively obvious that the text known today as the History of Albanians is a compilation, sometimes a rather crude one, of various narrative sources, historical documents, or oral narratives, the latest of which dates as late as the 11th century. The authorship is usually attributed to a certain Movsēs Dasxuranc'i, who is most probably one of the 10th century compilers or editors of the corpus. There exists yet another Movsēs (Kałankatwac'i) to whom the History is also attributed, although here again we are dealing with a continuator or a compiler. It is equally unclear whether these two Movsēses are one and the same persons or not. Therefore, despite the traditional attribution to a Movsēs, we refer to the text by its title only. In spite of all these uncertainties, the information provided by the History of the Albanians is invaluable in many ways. First of all it is the only history that specifically treats Caucasian Albania, secondly, it constructs the history of Albania specifically around its saints and their cult, presenting the Christian history of the Kingdom in line with the established Armenian tradition, which also emphasises its unique character and cultural autonomy. The History provides great details on cultic practices, perhaps more than we have from any other contemporaneous Caucasian texts. In our database only the first book of the History is considered, as it is the part of the narrative that can be dated to the late antique period with the highest degree of confidence. The most important section of the Book I is perhaps the life and deeds of the Albanian King Vač'agan III (r. 487-510). J.P. Mahé and K. Zuckerman distinguish this component from the rest of Book I and date it to the 6th century. The rest must be a 7th century composition. The 6th century chronicler must have recounted these events soon after the death of King Vač'agan in the early 6th century (Mahé 2009, 114-115). Mahé suggests that Vač'agan symbolizes a certain unity of two parts of Albania, the north, which was predominantly Albanophone, and the south, where Armenian was used as an official language. The author also wishes to highlight the close cultural ties between Armenia and Albania. Vač'agan's principle challenge was to eliminate the continuous spread of paganism in Albania. Apart from strict measures taken against 'sorcerers' and pagans, Vač'agan instituted schools to re-educate the children of pagans. Vač'agan's particular concern with the cult of the relics is also a part of his anti-pagan project. Thus, the entire first part of Book I is a long quest for the relics of the saints, narrated with striking details.

Discussion

The obscure toponym Čiłb is usually identified with Silvi of Pliny the Elder (Doswett, Movsēs, 23), who claims that 'after passing the confines of Albania, the wild tribes of Silvi inhabit the face of the mountains' (Natural History 6.11). The are also associated with the Mask'utk' and are normally located in the north-central Caucasus (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 366). Just as in numerous other instances, here the author tries to establish and promote the memory of the great Albanian kings Vačagan and Vačē and associate them with the discovery of the relics of of the first martyrs of Albania. Vačagan is universally praised by the History of Albania as a particularly pious king and a collector of relics of the first martyrs of Albania, an activity which would further sanctify his domains and his memory among the Albanians.

Bibliography

Critical edition: Arakelyan, V. (ed.), Մովսէս Կաղանկատւացի, Պատմութիւն Աղուանից Աշխարհի (Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1983). Translations: Bedrosian, R., Movses Daskhurants'i's History of the Aghuans (Long Branch, New Jersey: Sources of the Armenian tradition, 2010). Dowsett, C.J.F., The History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movsēs Dasxuranc'i (London: Oxford University Press, 1961). Smbatyan, S.V., Мовсэс Каланкатуаци, История страны Алуанк [Movsēs Kalankatuac'i, History of the Land of Albania] (Yerevan, 1984). Studies: Bais, M., Albania Caucasica: Ethnos, Storia, territorio attraverso le fonti greche, latine e armene (Milan: Mimesis, 2001). Hewsen, R.H., "On the Chronology of Movsēs Dasxuranc'i", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 27:1 (1964), 151-153. Mahé, J.-P., "Vac'agan III le Pieux et le Culte des Reliques", Révue des Etudes Armeniennes 35 (2013), 113-129. Yuzbachian, K.N., “Einige Bemerkungen über die Entwicklung der nationalen Bewusstseinsbildung im kaukasischen Albanien", in: W. Seibt (ed.), Die Christianisierung des Kaukasus (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002), 181-189. Zuckerman, C., "The Khazars and Byzantium. The First Encounter", in P.B. Golden, H. Ben Shamai, A. Róna-Tas (eds.), The World of the Khazars: New Perspectives. Selected Papers from the Jerusalem 1999 International Khazar Colloquium (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 8: Uralic and central Asian Studies, 17; Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2007), 399-432.

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