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Today a story and poem from the land of Armenia……

 

The story of  ARTASHES AND SATENIK (From the History of Armenia) by MOSES OF KHORENE

AT this time the Alans united with all the people of the mountain country, and having taken possession of the half of Georgia, spread themselves in great multitudes over our land. And Artashes collected a mighty host together, and there was war between the two great nations. The Alans retreated somewhat, and crossing over the river Kur they encamped on its northern bank. And when Artashes arrived, he encamped on the southern hank, so that the river was between them. But because the son of the King of the Alans was taken captive by the Armenian hosts and brought to Artashes, the King of the Alans sought peace, promising to give to Artashes whatsoever he should ask. And he swore an eternal peace unto him, so that the sons of the Alans might not be carried away captive into the land of the Armenians. And when Artashes would not consent to give back the youth, his sister came to the river’s bank and stood upon a great rock. And by means of the interpreters she spoke to the camp of Artashes, saying:–“O brave Artashes, who hast vanquished the great nation of the Alans, unto thee I speak. Come, hearken unto the bright-eyed daughter of the Alan King, and give back the youth. For it is not the way of heroes to destroy life at the root, nor for the sake of humbling and enslaving a hostage to establish everlasting enmity between two great nations.” And on hearing such wise sayings, Artashes went to the bank of the river. And seeing that the maiden was beautiful, and having heard these words of wisdom from her, he desired her. And calling Smpad his chamberlain he told him the wishes of his heart, and commanded that he should obtain the maiden for him, swearing unto the great Alan nation oaths of peace, and promising to send the youth back in safety. And this appeared wise in the eyes of Smpad, and he sent messengers unto the King of the Alans asking him to give the lady Satenik his daughter as wife unto Artashes. And the King of the Mans answered, “From whence shall brave Artashes give thousands upon thousands and tens of thousands upon tens of thousands unto the Alans in return for the maiden?”

 

Concerning this the poets of that land sing in their songs:–

 

“Brave King Artashes
Mounted his fine black charger,
And took the red leathern cord
With the golden ring.
Like a swift-winged eagle
He passed over the river,
And cast the golden ring
Round the waist of the Alan Princess;
Causing much pain
To the tender maiden
As he bore her swiftly
Back to his camp.”

 

Which being interpreted meaneth that he was commanded to give much gold, leather, and crimson dye in exchange for the maiden. So also they sing of the wedding:–

 

“It rained showers of gold when Artashes became a bridegroom.
It rained pearls when Satenik became a bride.”

 

For it was the custom of our kings to scatter coins amongst the people when they arrived at the doors of the temple for their wedding, as also for the queens to scatter pearls in their bridechamber.

 

Artashes and Satenik from Armenian Poetry and Legends

 

——————

THE SORROWS OF ARMENIA

 

IN many a distant, unknown land,
My sons belovèd exiled roam,
Servile they kiss the stranger’s hand;
How shall I find and bring them home?

 

The ages pass, no tidings come;
My brave ones fall, are lost and gone.
My blood is chilled, my voice is dumb,
And friend or comfort I have none.

 

With endless griefs my heart is worn,
Eternal sorrow is my doom;
Far from my sons, despis’d, forlorn,
I must descend the darksome tomb.

 

Thou shepherd wandering o’er the hill,
Come weep with me my children lost;
Let mournful strains the valleys fill
For those we loved and valued most.

 

Fly, crane, Armenia’s bird, depart;
Tell them I die of grief; and tell
How hope is dead within my heart–
Bear to my sons my last farewell!

 

————————-

From ARMENIAN POETRY AND LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-18-9

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_apl.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to the Centre for Armenian Information and Advice (CAIA) in London.

Armenian Poetry and Legends

From the History of Armenia

by

MOSES of KHORENE

FOR a few years before the death of Ninus, Ara reigned over Armenia under his Protectorate, and found the same favour in his eyes as his father Aram had done. But that wanton and lustful woman Semiramis, having heard speak for many years of the beauty of Ara, wished to possess him; only she ventured not to do anything openly. But after the death or the escape to Crete of Ninus, as it hath been affirmed unto me, she discovered her passion freely, and sent messengers to Ara the Beautiful with gifts and offerings, with many prayers and promises of riches; begging him to come to her to Nineveh and either wed her and reign over all that Ninus had possessed, or fulfil her desires and return in peace to Armenia, with many gifts.

And when the messengers had been and returned many times and Ara had not consented, Semiramis became very wroth; and she arose and took all the multitude of her hosts and hastened to the land of Armenia, against Ara. But, as she had beforehand declared, it was not so much to kill him and persecute him that she went, as to subdue him and bring him by force to fulfil the desires of her passion. For having been consumed with desire by what she had heard of him, on seeing him she became as one beside herself. She arrived in this turmoil at the plains of Ara, called after him Aïrarat. And when the battle was about to take place she commanded her generals to devise some means of saving the life of Ara. But in the fighting the army of Ara was beaten, and Ara died, being slain by the warriors of Semiramis. And after the battle the Queen sent out to the battlefield to search for the body of her beloved amongst those who had died. And they found the body of Ara amongst the brave ones that had fallen, and she commanded them to place it in an upper chamber in her castle.

But when the hosts of Armenia arose once more against Queen Semiramis to avenge the death of Ara, she said: “I have commanded the gods to lick his wounds, and he shall live again.” At the same time she thought to bring Ara back to life by witchcraft and charms, for she was maddened by the intensity of her desires. But when the body began to decay, she commanded them to cast it into a deep pit, and to cover it. And having dressed up one of her men in secret, she sent forth the fame of him thus: “The gods have licked Ara and have brought him back to life again, thus fulfilling our prayers and our pleasure. Therefore from this time forth shall they be the more glorified and worshipped by us, for that they are the givers of joy and the fulfillers of desire.” She also erected a new statue in honour of the gods and worshipped it with many sacrifices, showing unto all as if the gods had brought Ara back to life again. And having caused this report to be spread over all the land of Armenia and satisfied the people she put an end to the fighting. And she took the son of Ara whom his beloved wife Nouvart had borne unto him and who was but twelve years old at the time of his father’s death. And she called his name Ara in memory of her love for Ara the Beautiful, and appointed him ruler over the land of Armenia, trusting him in all things.

From “Armenian Poetry and Legends”- ISBN 978-1-907256-18-9

URL http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_apl.html

Armenian Poetry and Legends