Pharnavaz I of Iberia
|Predecessor||Azo of Iberia|
|Successor||Saurmag I of Iberia|
|Saurmag I of Iberia|
Pharnavaz I the Great (Georgian: ფარნავაზი) was the first king of Kartli, an ancient Georgian kingdom known as Iberia to the Classical sources, who is credited by the medieval Georgian written tradition with founding the kingship of Kartli and the Pharnavazid dynasty. Based on the medieval evidence, most scholars locate Parnavaz’s rule in the 3rd century BC: 302–237 BC according to Prince Vakhusht, 299–234 BC according to Cyril Toumanoff and 284–219 BC according to Pavle Ingoroqva.
According to Leonti Mroveli, Parnavaz descended from Uplos, son of Mtskhetos, son of Kartlos, who was one of the powerful and famous eight brothers, who from their part were descendants of Targamos, son of Tarsi, the grandson of Japheth, son of the Biblical Noah. He is not directly attested in non-Georgian sources and there is not definite contemporary indication that he was indeed the first of the Georgian kings. His story is saturated with legendary imagery and symbols, and it seems feasible that, as the memory of the historical facts faded, the real Parnavaz "accumulated a legendary façade" and emerged as the model pre-Christian monarch in the Georgian annals.
According to the c. 800 chronicle The Life of Kings, Parnavaz had a distinguished genealogy, tracing back to Kartlos, the mythical ethnarch of Kartli. His paternal uncle, Samara, held the position of mamasakhlisi ("father of the house") of the Georgian tribes around Mtskheta. Parnavaz’s mother is claimed to have been an Iranian. The entire story of Parnavaz, although written by a Christian chronicler, abounds in ancient Iranian-like imagery and mystic allusions, a reflection of the archaeologically confirmed cultural and presumably political ties between Iran and Kartli of that time. The name "Parnavaz" is also an illustrative example with its root par- being based upon the Persian farnah, the divine radiance believed by the ancient Iranians to mark a legitimate dynast (cf. khvarenah). The dynastic tag Parnavaziani ("of/from/named for Parnavaz") is also preserved in the early Armenian histories as P'arnawazean (Faustus 5.15; fifth century) and P'arazean (Primary History of Armenia 14; probably the early fifth century), an acknowledgment that a king named Parnavaz was understood to have been the founder of a Georgian dynasty.
Perhaps the most artistically rounded section of the Georgian annals, the narrative follows Parnavaz’s life from birth to burial. The small Parnavaz’s family is destroyed, and his heritage is usurped by Azon installed by Alexander the Great during his mythic campaign in Kartli. He is brought up fatherless, but a magic dream, in which he anoints himself with the essence of the Sun, heralds the peripeteia. He is persuaded by this vision to "devote [himself] to noble deeds". He then sets off and goes hunting. In a pursuit of a deer, he encounters a mass of treasure stored in a hidden cave. Parnavaz retrieves the treasure and exploits it to mount a loyal army against the tyrannical Azon. He is aided by Kuji of Colchis, who eventually marries Parnavaz's sister. The rebels are also joined by 1,000 soldiers from Azon's camp; they are anachronistically referred to by the author as Romans, and claimed to have been entitled by the victorious Parnavaz as aznauri (i.e., nobles) after Azon (this etymology is false, however).
In the ensuing battle, Azon is defeated and killed, and Parnavaz becomes the king of Kartli at the age of 27. He is reported to have acknowledged the suzerainty of the Seleucids, the Hellenistic successors of Alexander in the Middle East, who are afforded by the Georgian chronicles the generic name of Antiochus. Parnavaz is also said to have patterned his administration upon an "Iranian" model, and have introduced a military-administrative organization based on a network of regional governors or eristavi. While Georgian and Classical evidence makes the contemporaneous Kartlian links with the Seleucids plausible (Toumanoff has even implied that the kings of Kartli might have aided the Seleucids in holding the resurgent Orontids of Armenia in check), Parnavaz's alleged reform of the eristavi fiefdoms is most likely a back-projection of the medieval pattern of subdivision to the remote past.
Parnavaz is then reported to have embarked on social and cultural projects; he supervises two building projects: the raising of the idol Armazi – reputedly named after him – on a mountain ledge and the construction of a similarly named fortress.
Parnavaz made alliances with various North Caucasian peoples during his reign, to whom he called upon for help against both Macedonia and internal foes. He took a Dzurdzuk woman in marriage, in order to consolidate the alliance of Iberia with the Dzurdzuks, who helped him consolidate his reign against his unruly vassals, while similarly he married his sister to a Sarmatian chief.
|“||და ესე ფარნავაზ იყო პირველი მეფე ქართლსა შინა ქართლოსისა ნათესავთაგანი. ამან განავრცო ენა ქართული, და არ-ღა-რა იზრახებოდა სხუა ენა ქართლსა შინა თჳნიერ ქართულისა. და ამან შექმნა მწიგნობრობა ქართული. და მოკუდა ფარნავაზ, და დაფლეს წინაშე არმაზისა კერპისა.
And here Pharnavaz was first king of Kartli from race of Kartlos. He spread the Georgian language, and there was no language but Georgian only in land of Kartli. And he created the Georgian script. And died Pharnavaz, and he was buried in front of Armazi.
Several modern scholars have been tempted to make identification between the Parnavaz of the medieval Georgian tradition and the Pharasmanes of the Greco-Roman historian Arrian, a 2nd-century AD author of Anabasis Alexandri. Arrian recounts that "Pharasmanes (Фαρασμάνης), king of the Chorasmians", visited Alexander the Great with 15,000 horseman, and pledged his support should Alexander desire to campaign to the Euxine lands and subdue Colchians, whom Pharasmanes names as his neighbors. Apart from the similarity of the names of Pharasmanes and Parnavaz (both names are apparently based on the same root, the Iranian farnah), it is interesting to note that the king of Chorasmia in Central Asia reports Colchis (today’s western Georgia, i.e., the western neighbor of ancient Kartli/Iberia) to be a neighboring country. Some Georgian scholars have suggested that the Greek copyists of Arrian might have confused Chorasmia with Cholarzene (Chorzene), a Classical rendering of the southwest Georgian marchlands (the medieval Tao-Klarjeti), which indeed bordered with Colchis and Pontus.
|“||At this time also came Pharasmanes, king of the Chorasmians, to Alexander with 15,000 horsemen, who affirmed that he dwelt on the confines of the nations of the Colchians and the women called Amazons, and promised, if Alexander was willing to march against these nations in order to subjugate the races in this district whose territories extended to the Black Sea, to act as his guide through the mountains and to supply his army with provisions. Alexander then gave a courteous reply to the men who had come from the Scythians, and one that was adapted to the exigencies of that particular time; but said that he had no desire for a Scythian wedding. He thanked Pharasmanes and concluded a friendship and alliance with him, saying that at present it was not convenient for him to march towards the Black Sea. After introducing Pharasmanes as a friend to Artabazos II of Phrygia, to whom he had intrusted the government of the Bactrians, and to all the other viceroys who were his neighbours, he sent him back to his own abode. He told Pharasmanes that his mind at that time was engrossed by the desire of conquering India; for when he had subdued them, he should possess the whole of Asia. He added that when Asia was in his power he would return to Greece, and thence make an expedition with all his naval and military forces to the eastern part of the Black Sea through the Hellespont and Propontis. And he desired Pharasmanes to reserve the fulfilment of his present promises until then.||”|
- Georgian royal annals, Life of Kartli, Invasion of Alexander the Great and the Pharnavazianni Kings, Life of Pharnavaz, page of edition 20, line of edition 17
- Georgian royal annals, Life of Kartli, Invasion of Alexander the Great and the Pharnavazianni Kings, Life of Pharnavaz, page of edition 20, line of edition 18
- Rapp, p. 274.
- Rapp, p. 276.
- Rapp, pp. 275-276.
- Rayfield, p. 60.
- Rayfield, p. 61; Rapp, p. 276.
- Rapp, p. 275.
- Rapp, p. 277; Suny, p. 12.
- Toumanoff, p. 185.
- Rapp, p. 277.
- Anchabadze, George. The Vainakhs. Page 19: "In the end of the 4th century B.C., Parnavaz, an Iberian of noble family rose in rebellion against the placeman of the Macedonian conquerors and called to the Sarmatians and highlanders for help. Having gained a victory over the enemies and proclaimed himself King of Iberia, Parnavaz concluded a long-term military and political alliance with the tribes of the Northern Caucasus. According to custom of those times the alliance was strengthened with dynastic marriages; so, Parnavaz married his sister to one of the Sarmatian chiefs and he got married himself to the Durdzuk woman."
- Jaimoukha, Amjad. The Chechens: A Handbook. Page 31: "They [the Dzurdzuks] helped Farnavaz, first King of Georgia, against his unruly vassals and consolidated his reign. The marriage of Farnavaz to a Dzurdzuk princess cemented the Iberian-Kartvelian alliance with the Dzurdzuks."
- Georgian royal annals, Life of Kartli, Invasion of Alexander the Great and the Pharnavazianni Kings, Life of Pharnavaz, page of edition 26, line of edition 8-9-10
- Lang, David Marshall. Iran, Armenia and Georgia. In: Yar-Shater, p. 515.
- Georgian royal annals, Life of Kartli, Invasion of Alexander the Great and the Pharnavazianni Kings, Life of Pharnavaz, page of edition 25, line of edition 14
- Rapp, p. 280.
- Rapp, p. 279.
- Giorgi L. Kavtaradze. The Interrelationship between the Transcaucasian and Anatolian Populations by the Data of the Greek and Latin Literary Sources. The Thracian World at the Crossroads of Civilisations. Reports and Summaries. The 7th International Congress of Thracology. P. Roman (ed.). Bucharest: the Romanian Institute of Thracology, 1996.
- Arrian, Alexander the Great: The Anabasis and the Indica, p. 118 4-5-6
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- Toumanoff, Cyril (1963), Studies in Christian Caucasian History. Georgetown University Press.
- Yar-Shater, Ehsan (ed., 1983), The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-24693-8.
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- Стефан Х. Рапп, (2003), Studies In Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts And Eurasian Contexts. Peeters Bvba ISBN 90-429-1318-5.
- Otar Lordkipanidze, « La Géorgie à l'époque hellénistique », dans Dialogues d'histoire ancienne, vol. 9, 1983, p. 197-216.
- Marie-Félicité Brosset, Histoire de la Géorgie, Saint-Pétersbourg, 1849.
- Toumanoff Chronology of the early Kings of Iberia Traditio, Vol. 25 (1969), p. 1-33
|King of Iberia
c. 299 – 234 BC