Армения между зороастрийския чук и християнската наковалня

Петър Голийски Софийски университет „Св. Климент Охридски“, България

Страници: 344-364


In 301 AD Armenia was converted to Christianity by its King Tiridates or Trdat III (287–330) who thus turned his country into the first state worldwide which embraced Christianity as its official religion. Moreover, Armenia is the first country to tear away from the grip of the Zoroastrian religion for the sake of its faith in Christ, which further resulted in fierce wars between Armenians and Persians. If conversion to Christianity, however, was a single event, the Christianization of Armenia had become a harrowing and meandering process, spanning over 250 years, nevertheless that in the collective consciousness of Armenians of today it is regarded as a one-off event and an irreversible process. Meanwhile, the conversion to the new religion opened the gap of ambivalence between its elites – on the one hand were the pro-Christian and the pro-Roman aristocratic fractions, and on the other hand were the pro-Zoroastrian and the pro- Persian ones. Throughout the 4th century AD those groupings were leading bitter struggles against one another and the conflict between them underlay all misfortunes and incursions which befell Armenia in the same century. The Anti-Christian hostility amongst the population and among aristocracy in particular came to the surface yet in 330, when Tiridates III, dwelling in seclusion, was poisoned by nobles who remained faithful to the old religion, customs and mores. During the reign of King Tiran (338–345) the abandonment of Christianity by a considerable number of aristocrats, obviously adopted pro forma, and their return to the old gods and traditions, became an apparent fact, based on a report of the historian Pavstos Buzand (Faustus of Byzantium). During the reign of Arshak II (345–368) and Pap (368–374) polygamy among aristocracy not only persisted, but the monarchs themselves had been charged by the church hardliner Pavstos Buzand with heathenism. Yet another custom had been preserved by Armenian aristocracy for a long time, which was most probably adopted by the Parthians; namely the incestuous marriages between close relatives aimed at creating a master race. This convention was forbidden at the Council of Ashtishat in 354 and once again banned at the Council of Shahapivan in 444, which evidences that at least 150 years following conversion to Christianity Armenian upper classes had been adhering to the pre-Christian traditions without the slightest bashfulness. In the 4th century the Armenian Church was not particularly successful in the Christian taming of the spirit and mores of Armenian elites and among them the oriental tendency to sadistic cruelty inherited from the pre-Christian age persisted as strong as before. During the age of Khosrov III (330–338) the whole family of the rebelling general Databen had been massacred without distinction of gender and age, and Databen himself had been lapidated. In 371 when King Pap restored his ruling in Armenia, his loyal general Musheł Mamikonean destroyed the newly built Zoroastrian ‘atrushans’ (fire temples), and the followers of Mazdaism had been burned alive. Many chiefs of strongholds who had taken the side of the Sassanids were captured, flayed alive and their skins were stuffed with straw and placed as puppets along the walls of their own fortresses. In 373 the Armenian nobleman Mehruzhan Artsruni, commander of the Persian troops which had been devastating Armenia for years, and who returned to Zoroastrianism, was executed in no less a sadistic manner. A red-hot spit was placed on his head instead of a crown. Armenian common people also found it difficult to espouse Christianization. The Life of Mashtots, for instance, refers to the fact that in 395–396 the future inventor of Armenian alphabet had been a missionary amongst the sill pagan population of the Gołthn canton. Yet much more indicative was the statement of the eyewitness Yełishê that on the night of May 25th, 451 to May 26th, before the crucial Avarayr battle, being the first armed struggle in the world in defence of Christianity, there had been some warriors in the Armenian rebel army which had not yet been converted to Christianity and who were baptised hours before taking the field with the Persians. Meanwhile, however, during the said rebellion two of the most powerful Armenian noblemen, Vasak Siuni and Shavasp Artsruni deserted to the side of the Persians and Списание ЕПОХИ Издание на Историческия факултет на ВТУ „Св. св. Кирил и Методий“ Journal EPOHI [EPOCHS] Edition of the Department of History of “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” University of Veliko Tаrnovo Том / Volume XXV (2017), Книжка / Issue 2 Списание Епохи / The Journal Epohi [Epochs] Том / Volume XXV (2017), Книжка / Issue 2 345 openly returned back to Zoroastrianism, followed by not a few other noblemen and some of the common people. Sometime later Movses Khorenatsi, a prominent historian, when speaking of the poisoning of King Tiridates III, sorrowed for the fact that about that time (circa 480) the people was still a stranger to the beliefs of Christianity and persisted in adhering to the old faith and mores. The last attempt of the Sassanids to restore Zoroastrianism in the vassal Armenia dates back to the 560, during the age of the Persian marzpan (governor) Denshapuhr. He rebuilt the fire temple in the area of R’shtunik’, destroyed in 451, and constructed a new, vast temple in the old Armenian capital Dvin. Asoghik, a historian of the late 10th century, reports that many were killed because of their refusal to follow Zoroastrianism. In 572, during the third anti-Persian rebellion, the Dvin temple was destroyed by Armenians. These events marked the last manifestations of the collision between the Saint Cross and the Sacred Fire in Armenia. A couple of decades later the Arab invasion in the Middle East put an end to their centuries-old enmity.

Ключови думи:

Armenia, Parthians, Persians, Tiridates III, Tiran, Arshak II, Council of Shahapivan, Mazdaism, Zoroastrianism, conversion to Christianity, Pavstos Buzand, Movses Khorenatsi


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