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ARMENIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

Nicene canons, of which the Armenian text as preserved is barely intelligible, of the eucharistic rites called of *Basil, *Chrysostom, *Ignatius and others; also the *Hours or Breviary, the *Rites of Ordination, Baptism, of the making and release of Penitents, of Epiphany, and perhaps the many rites of animal sacrifice, for these are partly originals, partly versions of lost Greek texts. A mass of martyrs’ acts were also rendered in this century, including parts of the lost collection made by Eusebius. Among these the *Acts and Apology of Apollonius restore a lost 2nd-century text. The *Canons of Sahak also purport to be translated from a Greek original about the year 330.

The Armenians were so busy in this century translating Greek and Syriac fathers that they have left little that is original. Still a number of historical works survive: *Faustus of Byzantium relates the events of the period A.D. 344-392 in a work instinct with life and racy of the soil. It was perhaps first composed in Greek, but it gives a faithful picture of the court of the petty sovereigns of Armenia, of the political organization, of the blood feuds of the clans, of the planting of Christianity. Procopius preserves some fragments of the Greek.

The *History of Taron, by Zenobius of Glak, is a somewhat legendary account of Gregory the Illuminator, and may have been written in Syriac in the 5th, though it was only Armenized in a later century.

  • Elisaeus Wardapet wrote a history of Wardan (Vardan), and of the war waged for their faith by the Armenians against the Sassanids. He was an eye-witness of this struggle, and gives a good account of the contemporary Mazdaism which the Persians tried to force on the Armenians. *Lazar of Pharp wrote a history embracing the events of the 5th century up to the year 485, as a continuation of the work of Faustus.
  • A history of St Gregory and of the conversion of Armenia by Agathangelus is preserved in Greek, Armenian and Arabic. The Arabic edited by Professor Marr of St Petersburg seems to be the oldest form of text. The Greek is a rendering of the Armenian. It is a compilation, and the second part which contains the Acts of Gregory and of St Rhipsima seems wholly legendary. The Greek and Armenian texts were edited together by Lagarde.
  • The History of Armenia by Moses of Khoren (Chorene) relates events up to about the year 450. It is a compilation, devoid of historical method, value or veracity, from all sorts of previous authors, mostly from those which already existed in an Armenian dress. Some critics put down the date of composition as low as about 700, and it was certainly retouched in the late 6th century.
  • A long volume of rhetorical exercises, based on Aphthonius, is also ascribed to Moses of Khoren, and appears to be of the 5th century. The *geography which passes under his name may belong to the 7th century. Various homilies of Moses survive, as also of Elisaeus.

Gorium wrote in this century a *Life of Mesrop, and Eznik a *Refutation of the Sects, based largely on antecedent Greek works. The sects in question are Paganism, Mazdaism, Greek Philosophy and Manicheism. A volume of *homilies under the name of Gregory the Illuminator, but not his, also belongs to this century, and a series of ascetic discourses attributed to John Mandakuni, who was patriarch 478-500.

Of the 6th and 7th centuries few works survive except anonymous versions of the *Acts of Thomas (perhaps from the Syriac), of the *Acts of Peter and Paul, *of John (pseudo-Prochorus), *of Bartholomew, and of other apostles; also of *the Acts of Paul and Thekla, *of Titus, *of the Protevangel, *of the Testaments of the patriarchs, of the *Gospel of Nicodemus, or Acts of Pilate, of the *Book of Adam, of the *Deaths of the Prophets, of the *History of Baruch, of the *Apocalypses of Paul and of the Virgin Mary, of the *Acts of Sylvester, and of an enormous number of other similar apocryphs. Some of these may be of the 5th century. Two volumes of these apocryphs of the Old and New Testaments have recently been published at Venice. To these centuries belong also the versions of the Acts of the council of Ephesus, of Gangra, Laodicea and of other councils. To the late 7th century belong the *calendarial works of Ananiah of Shirak, who also has left a *chronicon compiled from Eusebius, Andreas of Crete, Hippolytus and other sources. In the *Letter-book of the Patriarchs, lately printed at Tiflis, are to be found a number of controversial monophysite tracts of these and the succeeding three centuries, important for church history. It includes a mass of documents relative to the churches of Iberia and Albania. The chief literary monument of the 7th century is the history of the wars of Heraclius and of the early Mahommedan conquests in Asia Minor, by the bishop Sebeos, who was an eye-witness. The *history of the Albanians of the Caucasus, by Moses Kalankatuatzi, also belongs to the end of this century. To the middle of the 7th century also belong the translations of Aristotle’s treatises *On the Categories, and *On Interpretation, and of *Porphyry’s Isagogē, as well as of voluminous Greek commentaries on these books; the version of the *Grammar of Dionysius Thrax and an incomplete Euclid. The translator was one David called the Invincible, who also wrote monophysite tracts. At the end of this 7th century one Philo of Tirak is supposed to have made the version of the *History of Socrates, unless indeed it was made earlier. To this century also seems to belong the Armenian version of a *history of the Iberians, by Djuansher, a work full of valuable information.

The early 8th century was a time of great literary activity. Gregory Asheruni wrote an important *commentary on the Jerusalem Lectionary, and his friend *John the catholicus (717-728) commentaries on the other liturgical works of his church; he also collected all existing canon law, Greek or Armenian, respected in his church, wrote *against the Paulicians and Docetae, and composed many beautiful hymns. *Leoncius the priest has left a history of the first caliphs, and Stephanus, bishop of Siunik, translated the *controversial works of Cyril of Alexandria (whose Glaphyra and commentaries, however, seem to have been translated at an earlier period). He also translated the works of Dionysius the Areopagite, commented on the Armenian breviary and wrote hymns.

In the 9th century Zachariah, catholicus, the correspondent of Photius, wrote many eloquent homilies for the various church feasts. Shapuh Bagratuni wrote a history of his age, now lost. Mashtotz, catholicus, collected in one volume the Armenian rituals.

In the 10th century (c. 925) the catholicus John VI. issued his *history of Armenia, and Thomas Artsruni a *history of his clan carried up to the year 936. Ananias of Mok (943-965) wrote a great work against the Paulicians, unfortunately lost. Chosroes wrote a *commentary on the eucharistic rites and breviary, *Mesrop a history of Nerses the Great; *Stephen of Asolik wrote a history of the world, and a commentary on Jeremiah; *Gregory of Narek his famous meditations and hymns; Samuel Kamrdjtsoretzi a commentary on the Lectionary based on Gregory Asheruni.

In the 11th century the catholicus Gregory translated many Acts of Martyrs, and John Kozerhn wrote a history, now lost, as well as a work on the Armenian calendar; Stephen Asolik a *history of Armenia up to the year 1004; *Aristaces of Lastiverd a valuable history of the conquest of Armenia by the Seljuk caliphs. We may also mention a *monophysite work against the Greek doctor Theopistus by Paul of Taron; *letters and poems of Gregory Magistros, who also was the translator of the *Laws, Timaeus and other dialogues of Plato.

The 12th century saw many remarkable writers, mostly in Cilician Armenia, viz. Nerses the Graceful (d. 1165), author of an *Elegy on the taking of Edessa, of *voluminous hymns, of long *Pastoral Letters and Synodal orations of value for the historian of eastern churches. *Samuel of Ani composed a chronicle up to 1179. Nerses of Lambron, archbishop of Tarsus, left a *Synodal oration, a *Commentary on the liturgy, &c., and his contemporary Gregory of Tlay an *Elegy on the capture of Jerusalem, and various *dogmatic works. In this century the *history of Michael the Syrian was translated; Ignatius and Sargis composed *commentaries on Luke and *the catholic epistles, and *Matthew of Edessa a valuable history of the years 952-1136,