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ARTICLE VII.-ARMENIAN HISTORY.
The ancient history of the Armenians, though involved in the obscurity that reigns over the infancy of all the nations of antiquity, is yet, in many respects, comparing it with the early history of other old nations, somewhat brighter and less confused. It is a peculiar characteristic of Armenian history, that it occupies a perfectly natural position, taking hold of sacred history with one hand, in a spirit of reverence and love, and of profane history with the other, in sympathy with its truth and authority. Its way, through all that traditional and uncertain period of the distant past, is strangely illumined by mysterious and almost sacred lights, which burn more and more brightly the more attentively we consider them. And we venture the prediction, that, in the degree it becomes the subject of faithful research and study, the evidences of its truth will multiply, and still more, that new additions and elucidations will also be given to our present stock of ancient history relating to other nations. Many reasons might be given for this prediction, showing it to be well founded, reasons drawn from the locality of the Armenian people at the original starting point of our race, reasons drawn from the fact of their acknowleged high antiquity, and also from their uninterrupted and intimate relations with the oldest monarchies of Asia, and with all those mighty peoples of the past, rising up giant-like, in darkness, in central and northern Asia, and sending forth, from time to time, their portentous clouds, which successively spread themselves over the continent of Europe. The Armenians, as a nation, have ever been stationed on the Ararat watch-tower, within sight of, and looking out upon, all the great movements of the numberless hosts of nations, peoples, and tribes, that Asia, in the time of her strength and glory, brought out upon the great stage of the historic past. It is our firm conviction that there are many questions relating to ancient history, yet to be solved, by
attention to the history, the literature, the language, and the monuments of Armenia. There are many links in ancient history that yet remain to be supplied. The old Greek and Roman historians do not give them. They must be sought for elsewhere. Monuments, ruins, buried treasures, manuscripts still preserved in monasteries, caves, and sepulchres, inscriptions on tables of stone, old coins and old nations dug up from the past, these are yet to give us light in our researches, till the beautiful distinct light of sacred history blends and harmonizes with that of profane; and every contribution made by the scholar, the historian, the antiquarian, or the numismatist, to secure this result, deserves the reward of the world's approbation and gratitude.
The ancient kingdom of Armenia is one of these curious old relics of the past; and, though the history of this kingdom may not be so important or interesting as that of other eastern kingdoms, yet it should be studied for the light it throws upon the nations and great empires which successively established themselves in this region. One finds in its history the history of the primitive empires of Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, and Media; and though as a kingdom it was less vast and populous than many of those surrounding it, yet, by its native energy and resources, it was frequently able to contend with them, and regain an independence it had temporarily lost. More than fifteen centuries before our era, it is said to have been one of the most powerful monarchies of the East, having its own laws, its own constitution, its dynasty of kings, its language and its literature. There were stone built cities, large and flourishing, upon the plains of Ararat long before the founding of Rome.
But we purpose not, in this Article, to give a philosophy of Armenian history, as affecting or throwing light upon the history of other nations, but rather to introduce the reader to merely one old family or people, still full of life and activ. ity, and which traces back its descent in a direct, continuous, and distinct line, to the first family of the Ararat homestead.
The Armenians, according to their history, are the descendants of Haig or Vlaicus, whose genealogy was as follows: Japhet, the son of Noah, begat Gomer, who was the father of Togarmah and Ashkenaz. Togarmah was the father of Haicus, from whom are descended the Haiks or Armenians. Among themselves they have ever been known, even to the present day, by the name of Haiks or sons of Haicus.
Following the traditional history of the Armenians, which we shall do in this Article, we are told that this Haicus, soon after the deluge, and while Noah was yet living, proceeded to the plain of Shinar, and there resided for a long period. During this time there occurred the building of the tower of Babel, the confusion of tongues, and the founding of Nineveh. It is said by the eminent Armenian historian, Moses of Chorene, that, in this work of building the tower, Haicus was concerned as one of the prefects or directors. The history of this event, curious as a specimen of antiquity, is thus given by the same historian :
“ Terrible and illustrious were those who first came from the gods in the begin. ning of the world, when men began to multiply. And among them there was found a race of giants, of immense structure, with limbs and bodies of vast size and strength, who, filled with arrogance, conceived the wicked purpose of building a tower, and while they were thus occupied, a divine and terrible wind, sent by the anger of God, defeated this proud work of the giants, already carried high. There was also distributed to each one of them an unheard of speech, which caused a great confusion. One of these giants was named Haicus, mighty in throwing the spear and bending the bow.”
A short time after, Bel, or Nimrod, succeeded in establishing his authority in Babylonia, and demanded that all render to him divine homage. Haicus refused to obey, and, taking with him his sons and daughters, and sons sons, brave men, in number about three hundred, together with many home-born servants and strangers attached to him, he left Babylonia, and went northward into the region of Ararat. Bel, or Belus, sent messengers after him, demanding his return and obedience, but not being sucoessful, the tyrant Belus himself went forth to battle with Haicus, and being pierced by an arrow thrown by the latter, was slain. The place where this tyrant was buried received the name Kerezman, i. e. sepulchre, which name it retains to the present day. Haicus is therefore styled “the first champion of religion, for having refused to pay adoration to the statue of Belus, and for killing the latter as being the
first introducer of idolatry among mankind.” According to a very ancient tradition, this first king of the Armenians was a man of extraordinary beauty, possessing an imposing figure and wonderful strength; in height tall, with sharp, penetrating eyes, and hair of silken softness. The Armenians have erer felt proud to be called the sons of Haicus. Their old songs and traditions describe his many noble and virtuous qualities, and these songs and chants have been sung in the mountains and valleys about Ararat for nearly four thousand years. Frequently the traveler is startled by their wild music, as he silently threads his way through some dark gorge, or carefully winds along the almost perpendicular side of some towering cliff in that old land.
Ilaicus, it is said, after having established his authority in the region of Ararat, introducing many laws and wise regulations, founding cities, and thus securing the prosperity of his people, died at the age of nearly four hundred years, about 2028 before Christ, and a few years before the birth of Abraham. He left a numerous family, consisting of twelve sons and twenty-four daughters.
The right of primogeniture was sacredly regarded then as now among the Armenians, and the first born son, Armenag, became the ruler of this Ararat kingdom. Two of his brothers removed to the region near lake Van, and gave their names to their descendants, two distinct families, well known among this people to the present day. In the time of Armenag and his immediate successors, many cities were built in Armenia, among which was Armavir, said to have been very large and beautiful, built of hewn stone, about 2000 before Christ. This city is probably the Armouria mentioned by Ptolemy. At that early period it was one of the central points of the world. Its princes extended their rule east to the shores of the Caspian, and west far beyond the Euphrates. Its situation, so far as can now be determined, was a little north of the river Araxes, near a branch of the same, now called Kasagh. About 1850 before Christ, it was very strongly fortified by Harma, an Armenian king of great renown. He surrounded it by walls higher and thicker than those which heretofore enclosed it.
These walls were all of stone, of huge dimensions. He also embellished it by the erection of several magnificent palaces, and ornamented the adjacent country by building pleasurehouses and caravanserais for the entertainment of travelers. It may at this period have almost rivaled Nineveh in strength and beauty, for it seems to have been built after a similar manner, of great size, with vast and extensive gardens within the walls, and was also the capital of a kingdom which often successfully contended with the kingdom of Assyria.
As Abraham is said to have planted a grove and built an altar unto the Lord, so these Armenian kings are said to have planted groves of poplar in and around their first cities, and in these groves were altars, where the first-born of the family officiated, as priest, in offering to God acceptable sacrifices. It is an interesting fact that these poplar groves have ever been esteemed sacred. From the fact that altars were first reared in them there came the belief that they were the dwelling-place of Jehovah, and in later times, when religion was corrupted, they were still considered the terrestrial residences of the gods. It was, therefore, the custom to consecrate children to these groves, believing that such would be under the special care of the gods, and ever be eminently successful. The Armenian king, Anushavan, 17:25 B. C., was consecrated to these groves in his infancy, and, on this account, was surnamed the Poplar. The trembling of the leaves of these groves by the gentlest breeze, as well as by the most violent wind, was a long time an object of magical science to which the wisest devoted themselves.
The primitive religion of the Armenians, according to tradition, was patriarchal and pure. Founded upon the faith held from the patriarchs, it consisted in the adoration of the true God, sorrow over that forfeiture which our race sustained by the fall, and the expectation of a Supreme Restorer. The worship was the simplest possible, consisting of prayer and a bloody sacrifice. “The father of the family at the same time, as pontiff and king, ruled the members thereof with a wise equity. IIe offered to the Most High, as the chosen mediator, prayers