Ante-nicene fathers



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Reign of Abgar; Armenia becomes completely tributary to the Romans; War with Herod’s troops; His brother’s son, Joseph, is killed.

Abgar, son of Archam, ascends the throne in the twentieth year of Archavir, king of the Persians. This Abgar was called Avak-air (great man), on account of his great gentleness and wisdom, and also on account of his size. Not being able to pronounce well, the Greeks and the Syrians called him Abgar. In the second year of his reign, all the districts of Armenia become tributary to the Romans. A command is given by the Emperor Augustus, as we are told in the Gospel of St. Luke, to number all the people in every part. Roman commissioners, sent for that purpose into Armenia, carried thither the statue of the Emperor Augustus, and set it up in all the temples. At this very time, our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world.

At the same period there was trouble between Abgar and Herod: for Herod wished that his statue should be erected near to that of Caesar in the temples of Armenia. Abgar withstood this claim. Moreover, Herod was but seeking a pretext to attack Abgar: he sent an army of Thracians and Germans to make an incursion into the country of the Persians, with orders to pass through the territories of Abgar. But Abgar, far from submitting to this, resisted, saying that the emperor’s command was to march the troops into Persia through the desert. Herod, indignant, and unable to act by himself, overwhelmed with troubles, as a punishment for his wicked conduct towards Christ, as Josephus relates, sent his nephew to whom he had given his daughter, who had been married in the first instance to Pheror, his brother. Herod’s lieutenant, at the head of a considerable army, hastened to reach Mesopotamia, met Abgar at the camp in the province of Pouknan, fell in the combat, and his troops were put to flight. Soon afterwards, Herod died: Archelaus, his son, was appointed by Augustus ethnarch of Judaea.

II.3

Founding of the town of edessa; Brief account of the race of our illuminator.

A little while afterwards, Augustus dies, and Tiberius becomes emperor of the Romans in his stead. Germanicus, having become Caesar, dragging in his train the princes of the kingdom of Archavir and of Abgar, celebrates a triumph in respect of the war waged with them, in which these princes had killed Herod’s nephew. Abgar, indignant, forms plans of revolt and prepares himself for combat. He builds a town on the ground occupied by the Armenian army of observation, where previously the Euphrates had been defended against the attempts of Cassius: this new town is called Edessa. Abgar removed to it his court, which was at Medzpine, all his gods, Naboc, Bel, Patnicagh, and Tarata, the books of the schools attached to the temples, and even the royal archives.

After this, Archavir being dead, Ardaches, his son, reigns over the Persians. Though it is not in the order of the history with respect to time, nor even the order according to which we have begun these annals, yet, as we are treating of descendants of the king Archavir, even of the blood of Ardaches his son, we will, to do honour to these princes, place them, by anticipating the time, near to Ardaches, in order that the reader may know that they are of the same race, of the race of the brave Archag; then we will indicate the time of the arrival of their fathers in Armenia, the Garenians and the Sourenians, from whom St. Gregory and the Gamsarians are descended, when, following the order of events, we come to the reign of the king under whom they appeared.

Abgar did not succeed in his plans of revolt; for, troubles having arisen amongst his relatives in the Persian kingdom, he set out at the head of an army to allay and bring to an end the dissension.

III.4

Abgar comes into the East, maintains ardachès upon the throne of Persia; Reconciles his brothers from whom our illuminator and his relations are descended.

Abgar, having gone to the East, finds on the throne of Persia Ardaches, son of Archavir, and the brothers of Ardaches contending against him: for this prince thought to reign over them in his posterity, and they would not consent to it. Ardaches therefore hems them in on all sides, hangs the sword of death over their heads; distractions and dissension were between their troops and their other relations and allies: for King Archavir had three sons and one daughter; the first of these sons was King Ardaches himself, the second Garene, the third Sourene; their sister, named Gochm, was wife of the general of all the Ariks, a general chosen by their father Archavir.

Abgar prevails on the sons of Archavir to make peace; he arranges between them the conditions and stipulations: Ardaches is to reign with his posterity as he proposed, and his brothers are to be called Bahlav, from the name of their town and their vast and fertile country, so that their satrapies shall be the first, higher in rank than all the satrapies of Persia, as being truly a race of king. Treaties and oaths stipulated that in case of the extinction of male children of Ardaches, his brothers should come to the throne; after the reigning race of Ardaches, his brothers are divided into three races named thus: the race of Garene Bahlav, the race of Sourene Bahlav, and the race of their sister, the race of Asbahabied Bahlav, a race thus called from the name of the domain of her husband.

St. Gregory is said to have sprung from the race Sourene Bahlav, and the Gamsarians from the race Garene Bahlav. We will relate in the sequel the circumstances of the coming of these personages, only mentioning their names here in connection with Ardaches, in order that you may know that these great races are indeed the blood of Vagharchag, that is to say, the posterity of the great Archag, brother of Vagharchag.

Everything being thus arranged, Abgar takes with him the letter of the treaties, and returns to his dominions; not in perfect health, but a prey to severe suffering.

IV.5





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