Satenik

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King Artaxias I meets Princess Satenik, his future Queen

Satenik was the name of the princess who married Artashes, the king of Armenia. Their love story, known as Artashes and Satenik, is presented by the Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi in his History of Armenia. Movses noted that the story, which he directly quotes from, was a well-known epic during his time among the common people of Armenia told by traveling storytellers and minstrels.[1] Satenik is a popular feminine name among Armenians today.

Background[edit]

Artashes, whose name is also seen in the Greek form as Artaxias, had risen to throne of Armenia in around 189 BC and was recognized as such by both Rome and Parthia.[2] The invasion of the Kingdom of Armenia by the Alans during the reign of King Artashes I (189–160 BC) serves as the backdrop of the romantic tale between Artashes and Satenik. Following their conquering of the lands of Georgia, the Alans moved further southwards, crossing the Kur River and, effectively, into Armenia.[3] Artashes gathered a large force to meet the Alanian threat and a fierce war took place between the two sides, resulting in the capture of the young son of the Alanian king. The Alanians were forced to retreat back to the Kur river and there they set up a base camp on the northern side of the river. Meanwhile, Artashes' army pursued them and established their camp on the southern side of the Kur.[4] The Alanian king asked for an eternal peace treaty to be concluded between his people and the Armenians and promised to give Artashes anything he wanted so long as he would release his son, but the Armenian king refused to do so.[3]

Romance with Artashes[edit]

At this time, Satenik came near the shore and, through an interpreter, called on Artashes to release her brother:

Classical Armenian Modern Armenian English translation
«Քեզ ասեմ, այր քաջ Արտաշէս,

Որ յաղթեցեր քաջ ազգին Ալանաց,
Ե՛կ հաւանեա՛ց բանից աչագեղոյ դստերս Ալանաց՝
Տալ զպատանիդ.
Զի վասն միոյ քինու ոչ է օրէն դիւցազանց՝
Այլոց դիւցազանց զարմից բառնալ զկենդանութիւն.
Կամ ծառայեցուցանելով ի ստրկաց կարգի պահել,
Եւ թշնամութիւն յաւիտենական
Ի մէջ երկոցունց ազգաց քաջաց հաստատել»

«Քեզ եմ ասում, քաջ այր Արտաշես,

Որ հաղթեցիր քաջ ազգին ալանաց .
Ե՛կ լսի՛ր ալանների գեղաչյա դստերս խոսքերին
Եվ տուր պատանուն:
Որովհետև օրենք չէ՝ որ քենի համար դյուցազունները
Ուրիշ դյուցազն զարմերի կենդանությունը ջնջեն
Կամ իբրև ծառա ստրուկների կարգում պահեն,
Եվ երկու քաջ ազգերի մեջ
Հավերժական թշնամություն հաստատեն»[5]

I speak to you, oh brave Artashes,

For you have defeated the brave Alan people;
Come, listen, to the bright-eyed Alan princess
And return the youth.
For it is unbecoming of heroes
To destroy the liveliness of other great warriors
Or to take and keep them in enslavement,
So that two valiant peoples
Are consigned to perpetual enmity.

Hearing these words, Artashes traveled down to the river and upon seeing Satenik, was immediately captivated by her beauty.[6] Artashes called on one of his close military commanders, Smbat Bagratuni, and confessing his desire for Satenik, expressed his willingness to conclude the treaty with the Alans and ordered Smbat to bring her to him. Smbat dispatched messengers to the Alanian king, who gave the following reply:

«Եւ ուստի տացէ քաջն Արտաշէս հազարս ի հազարաց եւ բիւրս ի բիւրուց ընդ քաջազգւոյ կոյս օրիորդիս Ալանաց»

"And whence shall brave Artashes give thousands upon thousands and tens of thousands upon tens of thousands for the maiden of the brave Alan people?"[6]

Artashes remained undaunted and instead sought to abduct Satenik since bride abductions were considered more honorable during this period than formal acquiescence:[3]

Classical Armenian Modern Armenian English translation
«Հեծաւ արի արքայն Արտաշէս ի սեաւն գեղեցիկ,

Եւ հանեալ զոսկէօղ շիկափոկ պարանն,
Եւ անցեալ որպէս զարծուի սրաթեւ ընդ գետն,
Եւ ձգեալ զոսկէօղ շիկափոկ պարանն
Ընկէց ի մէջք օրիորդին Ալանաց.
Եւ շատ ցաւեցոյց զմէջք փափուկ օրիորդին,
Արագ հասուցանելով ի բանակն իւր»:

«Հեծավ արի Արտաշես արքան գեղեցեկ սևուկը

Եվ հանելով ոսկեգօծ շիկափոկ պարանը,
Եվ անցնելով գետն իբրև սրաթև արծիվ,
Եվ նետելով ոսկեօղ շիկափոկ պարանը,
Ձգեց մեջքը ալանաց օրիորդի,
Եվ շատ ցավեցրեց մեջքը փափուկ օրիորդի ,
Արագաբար իր բանակը հասցնելով»:[6]

King Artashes mounted his handsome black horse,

And taking out a red leather rope studded with golden rings,
And crossing the river like a sharp-winged eagle,
And throwing his red leather rope studded with golden rings,
Cast it upon the waist of the Alanian maiden,
And this hurt the delicate maiden's waist,
Quickly taking her back to his camp.

Marriage[edit]

Following Satenik's abduction, Artashes agreed to pay to the Alans vast amounts of gold and red leather, the latter of which, was highly valued material among the Alans. With this, the two kings concluded a peace treaty and a lavish and magnificent wedding took place.[3] Movses stated that during the wedding a "golden shower rained down" on Artashes and a "pearl shower" rained down on Satenik. It was a popular tradition among the Armenian kings, according to Movses, to stand in front of the entrance of a temple and drop money from above his head and to shower the queen's bedroom with pearls.[3] They had six sons: Artavasdes (Artavazd), Vruyr, Mazhan, Zariadres (Zareh), Tiran and Tigranes (Tigran). The Artashesyan, or Artaxiad, dynasty lasted until the beginning of the next century, expiring in around 14 AD.[7]

Later life[edit]

The later relationship between Artashes and Satenik remains largely unknown.[8] Early on in History of Armenia, Movses had stated that Satenik had fallen in love with Argavan, a descendant of a race of dragons (vishaps, in Armenian),[9] but the remainder of the story that was sung by the minstrels is missing and believed to be lost.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Armenian) Movses Khorenatsi. History of Armenia, 5th Century (Հայոց Պատմություն, Ե Դար). Annotated translation and commentary by Stepan Malkhasyants. Gagik Sargsyan (ed.) Yerevan: Hayastan Publishing, 1997, 2.50, p. 165. ISBN 5-540-01192-9.
  2. ^ Bournoutian, George A. (2006). A Concise History of the Armenian People: From Ancient Times to the Present. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda, pp. 27-28. ISBN 1-56859-141-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e (Armenian) Anon. «Արտաշես և Սաթենիկ» ("Artashes and Satenik"). Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia. vol. ii. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1976, p. 140.
  4. ^ Movses Khorenatsi. History of Armenia, 2.50, p. 164.
  5. ^ Movses Khorenatsi. History of Armenia, 2.50, p. 165. The translation from Classical Armenian, which Movses wrote in, into modern eastern Armenian is by Stepan Malkhasyants.
  6. ^ a b c Movses Khorenatsi. History of Armenia, 2.50, p. 165.
  7. ^ Bournoutian. Concise History of the Armenian People, pp. 27-37.
  8. ^ Hacikyan, Agop Jack, Gabriel Basmajian, Edward S. Franchuk, and Nourhan Ouzounian. The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the Oral Tradition to the Golden Age, Vol. I. Detroit: Wayne State University, 2000, p. 54. ISBN 0-8143-2815-6.
  9. ^ Movses Khorenatsi. History of Armenia, 1.30, p. 110.
  10. ^ Hacikyan et al. Heritage of Armenian Literature, p. 54.