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E00749: Movsēs Xorenac'i's History of Armenia, written in Armenian and traditionally considered a 5th c. text, but most probably of the early 8th c., summarises the conversion of Armenia and the results of the conversion, celebrating the appearance of the martyr shrines of the saints and the Hellenization of the Armenian religion.

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posted on 28.09.2015, 00:00 by naleksidze
Movsēs Xorenac'i, History of Armenia, Book III, Chapter 62

Սորա առաջի այժմ ոչ անցեալ նստի Պղոտենիոս հինգակատար գագաթամբն, զանսպառ աշխարհ պատելով, այլ Մարկոս աւետարանական քարոզութեամբն. եւ ոչ վիշապազին դիւցազնակաց գերեզմանք, այլ սրբոցն վայելչանան վկայարանք: Եւ ոչ ի քսան եւ հինգն Տուբի՝ տօնի աղճատանք, զբեռնաբարձս պսակելով գրաստս, եւ պաշտօն տանել լորտուաց, եւ աթերաց առնել բաշխումն, այլ ի մետասան նորին Տուբի՝ յայտնութեանն Տեառն կատարի տօն. զյաղթող նահատակս գովել, եւ օտարաց առնել ընդունելութիւն եւ յաղքատս տուրս: Եւ ոչ զոհել չար դիւին Սարապեայ, այլ զՔրիստոսի արիւնն մատուցանել պատարագ. եւ ոչ խնդրել հրաման պատասխանւոյ ի սանդարամետէն Պրոդէիադայ, այլ ուսանել զզօրութիւնս պէսպէս իմաստից ի նորն Պղատոնէ, յիմն ասեմ վարդապետէ, որում ոչ անարժան գտայ աշակերտ, եւ ոչ անկատար վարժմամբ ի յանգ ելեալ արուեստից՝ ինքնացայ:

'Its leader is no longer that Proteus who in the past sat enveloping the infinite world with its five peaks, but Mark with the preaching of the gospel. No longer do there exist tombs of heroes descended from the dragons, but the splendid martyria of the saints. No longer on the twenty-fifth of Tubi is celebrated the superstitious festival of crowning beasts of burden, the worshipping of snakes, and the distribution of cakes; but on the eleventh of the same month of Tubi is celebrated the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, the praising of the victorious martyrs, the welcoming of strangers, and the giving of presents to the poor. No more do they sacrifice to the evil demon Serapis, but they offer the sacrifice of Christ's blood. They no longer seek oracles from Proteus, god of the underworld, but they study the power of various sciences from the new Plato, I mean from the teacher of whom I was not found an unworthy pupil; nor was my study incomplete through which I became accomplished in the arts.'

Text: Thomson 1981, 345-346; Translation: Thomson 2006, 201-203.

History

Evidence ID

E00749

Saint Name

Saints, unnamed : S00518

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Armenian

Evidence not before

450

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

450

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Armenia

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

Hadamakert Հադամակերտ Hadamakert Başkale

Major author/Major anonymous work

Movsēs Xorenaci (History of Armenia)

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Considerations about the veneration of saints

Source

The author In the introductory paragraph the author identifies himself as Moses of Khoren (Xoren), although no such town is otherwise attested. He claims to be an active member of the circle of Maštoc' and Sahak of the early 5th century and to have witnessed some of the events he described. But the authorship and date has been challenged convincingly, as the author reveals knowledge of sources much later than the 5th century, and, as Robert Thomson points out, it was only after the year 900 that Movsēs's claim to have been a student of Sahak and Maštoc' was shared by other Armenian authors (Thomson 2006, 2-3). The first reference to the History of Movsēs Xorenac‘i appears in the 10th century, when he is used as a source. It is in the early 11th century that lists first appear in which Movsēs is listed as a 5th century author. Thereafter Movsēs was canonically considered as the 5th century “father of Armenian history”. Currently the most convincing suggested date for the compilation and composition of Movsēs’s history is the first half of the 8th century. Movsēs frequently cites unnamed earlier sources in support of what he writes, but there is no way of telling whether these really existed, or whether they are a rhetorical device. Xorenac'i’s agenda Movsēs overtly writes for his Bagratid patrons, who ascended to power in Armenia in the early 8th century. He seeks to connect the Bagratid family to the period before the official conversion of Armenia, and to assert their perpetual Christianity. According to Movsēs, the Bagratids were even associated with the preaching of Thaddaeus in Edessa, before the latter came to Armenia. Tobias, in whose house Thaddaeus had lodged in Edessa, was, according to Movsēs, a Jewish Bagratid prince. This claim is crucial for Movsēs, as previous historians, who mostly wrote for the rival Mamikonean clan, had closely associated this latter family with Gregory the Illuminator. The Mamikoneans had, according to this tradition, married into the family of Gregory. Therefore Movsēs’s primary agenda was to elevate his patrons’ prestige vis-à-vis the Mamikoneans by pointing out their even older Christian connections (Thomson 2006, 29-30). As part of this agenda, Movsēs promoted the cult of the early apostles Thaddaeus and Barthlomew in Armenia, and adapted the story of the Syrian King Abgar into the Armenian tradition, having made Abgar Armenian.

Discussion

As a hellenophile author, writing in the eighth century and promulgating the pro-Byzantine policy of his Bagratid patrons, Movsēs is keen to present and summarise the history of Armenia as a radical turn from its Persian identity to becoming part of the Christian and Hellenic oikoumene. Movsēs considers the establishment of the cult of saints and the veneration of their relics as an attestation of such a radical detour.

Bibliography

Edition: Thomson, R.W., Moses Khorenats'i, Patmut'iwn Hayots' (History of the Armenians), a facsimile reproduction of the 1913 Tiflis edition (New York: Caravan Books, 1981). Translation: Thomson, R.W., Moses Khorenats'i, History of the Armenians (Ann Arbor: Caravan Books, 2006).

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