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E00151: The Epic Histories, traditionally attributed to P'awstos, written in Armenian in the second half of the 5th c., recount the death in c. 340 of *Vrt'anēs (patriarch of Greater Armenia, ob. 341, S00297), and his burial and commemoration at T'ordan beside the body of *Gregory the Illuminator (converter of Armenia, S00251).

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posted on 04.11.2014, 00:00 by naleksidze
The Epic Histories, Book III, Chapter 11

The chapter recounts yet another war between the Persians and the Armenians (see $E00246 for context). After the war king Xosrov passed.

Եւ յետ սորա փոխեցաւ եւս յաշխարհէ մեծ քահանայապետն Վրթանէս. եւ ժողովեցան ամենայն աշխարհն Հայոց, եւ մեծաւ պաշտմամբ, սաղմոսիւք եւ երգովք հոգեւորօք, կանթեղօք եւ մոմեղինօք եւ խնկածու հոտովք, արքունական կառօք զսուրբն Վրթանէս, անհնարին բեկմամբ` վասն իւրեանց յայնմ բնակ տեառնէն կամ ի հոգեւոր վարդապատութենէն որբ մնալոյ, մեծաւ լալեաց տրտմութեամբ մինչեւ ի գեւղն Թորդան ի Դարանաղեաց գաւառն յուղարկէին: Եւ անդ առ մեծի հայրապետին Գրիգորի զսորա սուրբ զոսկերսն հանգուցանէին. եւ զմշակատար զսորա կենդանի յիշատակն ի վերայ կատարեալ, դառնային:

'And after him [King Xosrov], the great high-priest Vrt'anes also went from [this] world. The entire realm of Armenia assembled and [they brought] Vrt'anes in a royal carriage with great ceremony, psalms, and spiritual songs, lamps and candles, and the fragrance of incense. And in profound affliction, because they had been left orphaned by their own true-lord and by their spiritual-teacher, they accompanied [him] with deep [and] tearful sorrow to the village of T'ordan in the district of Daranalik'. And there they laid his holy bones to rest next to the great patriarch Gregory [the Illuminator], and returned home after celebrating the commemoration of his living memory.'

Text: Garsoïan 1984. Translation: Garsoïan 1989, 80-81.

History

Evidence ID

E00151

Saint Name

Vrt'anes, patriarch of Greater Armenia (333-341) : S00297 Gregory the Illuminator, Converter of Armenia : S00251

Saint Name in Source

Վրթանէս Գրիգոր

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

460

Evidence not after

470

Activity not before

340

Activity not after

341

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

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

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Epic Histories (Buzandaran Patmut'iwnk')

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Burial ad sanctos

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Crowds Monarchs and their family

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body

Source

The History, traditionally attributed to a certain P‘awstos Buzandac'i (usually translated as 'Faustos of Byzantium') covers Armenian history from the later Arsacid dynasty (c. AD 330) to the partition of the Armenian kingdom between Byzantium and Iran (AD 387). The History is the earliest source covering this specific period of history, which was later treated by Movsēs Xorenac'i. As N. Garsoïan points out, despite the evident importance of the material contained in the History for the study of 4th century Armenia, it was never included into the received Armenian tradition, and medieval historians preferred to refer to Movsēs Xorenac‘i, the most authoritative source for later authors, as the sole authority for 4th century events. Łazar P'arpeci, for example, considered the information provided by P‘awstos as false and absurd, and so apparently did the rest of medieval scholarship. Date and language The authorship of the text has long been debated. The author claims to have been an eyewitness of the events he describes, but if this was indeed the case he could not have written in Armenian, as the Armenian script was only created in the 5th century. Thus, he was often considered a Greek historian, a supposition 'supported' by a misunderstanding of the word Buzand (in his name) as 'Byzantium' (see below). Other external evidence has also been cited to favour the idea that the work was originally written in Greek, and only later translated into Armenian. There has also been a theory in favour of a Syriac original, mostly advanced by Peeters and based on multiple Syriacisms in the text. The most convincing theory, however, favours an Armenian original, and is mostly based on internal linguist evidence, such as the use of scriptural quotations that derive from the Armenian version of the Bible, various colloquialisms, and the spelling of proper names. As to the date of the composition, the author’s own claim cannot be accepted as trustworthy as he is far too ignorant of 4th century events to be considered a contemporary; he presents 4th century historical events as filtered through folk memory, often projecting events of the 5th century into the previous century. Based on the Epic Histories' quotations from Koriwn (who wrote in the first half of the 5th century), and a reference to the Histories by Łazar P‘arpeci (writing at the very end of the 5th century), who places 'P‘awstos' immediately after Agathangelos, Garsoïan suggests convincingly that the date of composition was around 470, arguing that 'it is difficult to imagine a time more suitable for a work glorifying the role of the Mamikonean family in Armenian history than the generation immediately following the sparapet Vardan Mamikonean's heroic defense of Armenian Christianity in 451' (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 11). The author The claim by some late antique and medieval sources that P‘awstos was Greek rests on a misunderstanding of the word Buzand, which was considered to mean 'Byzantium'. Medieval reception 'corrected' the form Buzand to Buzandac‘i ('from Byzantium') to support the Greek origin of the author. The actual title appended to the text is Buzandaran Patmut‘iwnk‘. A. Perikhanian has found a definitive solution to the problem, showing that the word buzand derived not from the toponym ('Byzantium') but from the Parthian bozand , 'a reciter of epic poems, a bard' , with the suffix –aran as an adjectival qualifier. The title can thus be translated as Bardic or Epic Histories. So, as N. Garsoïan has shown, the work generally titled History of Armenia and attributed to Faustos of Byzantium is in fact a compilation of tales assembled by an anonymous historian in the 5th century. In our database the text will be consistently referred to as the Epic Histories. The author’s agenda From the perspective of the author’s representation of cultic practices, Garsoïan’s conclusion (as follows) is noteworthy: 'The author may have been a native of the southwestern district of Taron because of his unreserved devotion to the Mamikonean lords of the district and to its holy site Aštišat, which he invariable presents as the original centre of Armenian Christianity, as against the focus of the contemporary 'Agathangelos Cycle' on the northern city of Vałaršapat'/Dwin, and the nearby holy site of T'ordan' (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 16). The author is a rigourous defender of Nicene orthodoxy and is thus strongly antagonistic toward the Armenian crown, which 'sought to conform with the Arianizing policy of the successors of Constantine through much of the fourth century' (Garsoïan, Epic Histories, 15).

Discussion

Vrt'anes was the elder son and immediate successor of *Gregory the Illuminator. He was buried at T'ordan (within a patriarchal domain), beside his father. This was as much a dynastic act (establishing a mausoleum for the Gregorid patriarchs of Armenia), as a cultic one (a burial next to the grave of a saint). But in the early Armenian tradition, with dynasty and sainthood closely associated, the two motivations are not easily separated.

Bibliography

Edition: Buzandaran Patmut'iwn (The Epic Histories) also known as Patmut'iwn Hayoc' (History of Armenia) Attributed to P'awstos Buzandac'i, a facsimile reproduction of the 1883 St. Petersburg edition with an introduction by Nina G. Garsoïan (New York: Caravan Books, 1984). Translation: Garsoïan, N.G., The Epic Histories Attributed to P'awstos Buzand (Buzandaran Patmut'iwnk') (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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