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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/660

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MOSES


5')8


MOSSUL


ifiQiif (Paris, ISSft), 78, 252, 259,

James F. Driscoll.

Moses of Chorene (Moses Chorenensis), perhaps the best known writer of Arineiiia, called by his eoun- trvmen "the father of history" and the "father of Bcliolars", and celebrated as a poet, or hymn writer, and a grammarian. A native of Choren or Chorni in the province of Darou, when young, he was sent by Mesrop, the founder of Armenian literature, to study in Edessa, Constantinople, Alexandria, Athens, and Rome. Upon hi.s return, he is said to have assisted Mesrop (407— i:i:i), in the translali(m of the Bible into Armenian. Tlie date of his birth is unknown, but the above fact would indicate that he wa.-' Iioni towards the end of the fourth century, and his death is gener- ally i)laced about the end of the hfth. The following works are attributed to him: "Treatise on Rhetoric"; "Treati.sc on (leography"; "Letter on Assumption of IJ. V. M."; "Ilomily on Christ's Transfiguration"; "Oration on Hripsinia, an Armenian Virgin and Mar- tyr"; "Hymns used in Armenian Church Wor.ship"; "Commentaries on the Armenian Grammarians"; and "Explanations of Armenian Church Offices". The most celebrated work, however, is the "History of Armenia Major", practically the only work pre- serving the early history and traditions of pre-Chris- tian Armenia, but like other histories of this kind, abounding in legendary and fictitious narratives, his- torical inaccuracies, etc. It is divided into three parts: (1) "Genealogy of Armenia Major", embrac- ing the history of Armenia from the beginning down to the foundation of the Arsacide dynasty (149 B. c); (2) "History of the middle period of our ancestors", extending from 149 b. c. to the death of St. Gregory the Illuminator and the reign of King Terdat (a. d. 149-332) ; (3) the third part brings the history down to the overthrow of the Arsacide dynasty (a. d. 428); a fourth part was added to the work by another and later writer who brought the history down to the time of the Emperor Zeno (474-491). Recent researches, however, have shown that this famous "History of Armenia" is not the work of Moses of Chorene.

The reasons for discarding the traditionally received attribution have been ably summarized by Dr. Bar- denhewer as follows. The author of the "History of Armenia Major" calls himself Moses of Chorene and pretends to belong to the fifth century, to be a disciple of Saint Mesrop, and to have composed his work at the request of Isaac (Sahak), the Bagratunid prince who fell in battle in 482. These personal statements are shown to be untrustworthy for internal and ex- ternal reasons. In his account of his own life the author contradicts such fifth-century writers as Ko- riun and Lazarus of Pharp. Carriere has shown recently that he makes use of historical sources poste- rior to the sixth and even the seventh century, e. g. Arm(!nian versions of the "Vita St. Silvestri" and the "Church History" of Socrates. Only since the ninth century have traces of his work been found in Arme- nian literature. This, however, does not dispose of the historical personality of Moses of Chorene, who is one of the venerabh; fathers of the Armenian Church, and who really lived in the fifth century. Lazarus of Pharp bears witness to the existence in the fifth cen- tury of an Armenian bishop named Moses and a dis- tinguished writer. We do not know the reason why this eighth- or ninth-century writer assumed the name of Moses of Chorene. He makes it clear that he in- tends to glorify the Bagratunid dynasty which from the end of the seventh century surpiissed in splendour all the other noble houses of Armenia. In 885 Aschot I, a descendant of that house, was recognized by the Caliph as King of Armenia. Vetter conjectures that the secret aim of the pseudo-Moses of Chorene was to prepare the way for the accession of this house. In spite of its really late date, the author's narrative is


generally speaking, trustworthy. He draws largely on ancient authorities, though occasionally modifying them in a capricious way, and iiiiliddics his own ideas in their context ; but it cannot be Muiiiilaincd, as some have done, that he invented tlicse authorities. His witiu'n.scs for the ancient history of Armenia, even as late as the second or third century after Christ, were Iirini-i|):dly legends and folk-.song, and it is precisely this IcKi-ndai-y element that lends to the work its special charm and value. The "Geography" and "Rhetoric" mentioned above are of course no more genuine works of Moses of Chorene than the "His- tory". All three works are by the same author, as is evident both from the testimony of the manuscripts and from intrinsic criteria. The author's own state- ment leads us to believe that the " Geograjihy " is an extract from the description of the world by Pappus, an Alexandrine author of the fourth century of our era. The "Rhetoric" is entitled " Chria" in the Greek man- uscripts, and follows such Greek models as Aphthonius and Theon. The minor writings mentioned above await a more thorough examination into their genuineness (Patrology, Shahan, 1908, pp. 595-6). The first edition of the "History of Armenia" was published at Amsterdam, 1095; the second at Lon- don, with a Latin translation, 1736; the third at Venice, 1752; it was translated into French (Venice, 1841), and Itahan (ibid.). The best translation is that made by Langlois in his "Historiens Anciens de I'Armenie" (Paris, 1867), II, 47, 175. The Armenian Mechitarist Fathers of Venice have issued several edi- tions of the work in 1827, 1843-64, etc.

Smith and Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography;^ Vet- ter in Kirchenlex., VIII, 1955-63; Chevalier, Repertoire des sources historiques du Moycn Age (Paris, 1907), a. v.

Gabriel Oussant.

Mossul, the seat of a Chaldean archdiocese, a Syr- ian diocese, and an Apostolic Mission. The origin of the town is unknown. It is not the Mosel of Ezechiel, xxvii, 19, which is but a mistranslation of I'zzal, a town in the north of Arabia. It is probable that there always has been on the right bank of the Tigris a small town named Mo.ssul, which grew in importance as Nineveh on the left bank decayed and finally dis- appeared. In Arabic Mossul is called El-Mosil, the junction. Perhaps the name was originally Motsal, a cotton or muslin thread. Near Mossul at the gates of Nineveh took place in 627 the great battle in which Heraclius finally broke the power of the Persians. Then the town passed into possession of the Arab caliphs, afterwards to the Hamdanids, the Beni-Okail (991), the Beni-Mervan (1102), and eventually to the Seljuk Turks. Melek-Shah, known also as Djelal- Eddin, built schools and academies there. His suc- cessors fought against the Franks of the First Crusade, and Kerboga was conquered 28 June, 1098, with an army of 200,000 men, under the walls of Antioch. Five years later (1103) Baldwin, Count of Ede-ssa, was defeated and led prisoner to Mossul. In December, 1144, the famous Zenki took possession of Edessa; his son Nour ed-Din continued his conquests, and built many fine edifices at Mo.ssul. On his death in 1174, Saladin was driven from Mossul, but it soon after yielded to him. In the middle of the thirteenth cen- tury, when the Mongolian Houlagou took the town, the Sultan Loulou, of the Zenki family and famous for his generosity and justice, was living there. Subse- quently Mossul was taken and sacked by Timur (Tamerlane), the Turkomans, the Shah of Persia Is- mail, and the Turkish Sultan Selim I (1516). Idris, the historiographer of this Sultan, was afterwards charged with the reorganization of the province. The Persians under Nadir Shah vainly attempted to re- capture the town in 1733; but they were driven back, as tradition says, by the Blessed Virgin, and in conse- quence the Turks allowed the Chaldeans and Syrians to build in her honour two churches which are still