Ara the Handsome

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Shamiram stares at the corpse of Ara the Handsome (painting by Vardges Sureniants, 1899).

Ara the Handsome[1][2] (Armenian: Արա Գեղեցիկ Ara Gełec‘ik) is a legendary Armenian hero. Ara is notable in Armenian literature for the popular legend in which he was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis waged war against Armenia to capture him and bring him back to her, alive.

Ara is sometimes associated Arame of Urartu, who ruled the Kingdom of Urartu Biainili during the 9th century BC.

The legend[edit]

According to the legend, Semiramis (Shamiram in Armenian) had fallen in love with the handsome Armenian King and asked him to marry her. When Ara refused, Semiramis, in the heat of passion, gathered the armies of Assyria and marched against Armenia. During the battle Semiramis was victorious, but Ara was slain despite her orders to capture him alive. To avoid continuous warfare with the Armenians, Semiramis, reputed to be a sorceress, took his body and prayed to the gods to raise Ara from the dead. When the Armenians advanced to avenge their leader, Semiramis disguised one of her lovers as Ara and spread the rumor that the gods had brought Ara back to life, convincing the Armenians not to continue the war.[3][4] In one persistent tradition, Semiramis' prayers are successful and Ara returns to life.[3][5] During the 19th century, it was also reported that a village called Lezk, near Van, traditionally held that it was Ara's place of resurrection.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Petrosyan 2002, p. 78.
  2. ^ Petrosyan 2015, p. 46.
  3. ^ a b c Agop Jack Hacikyan (2000). The Heritage of Armenian Literature: From the oral tradition to the Golden Age. Wayne State University Press. pp. 37–8. ISBN 0-8143-2815-6.
  4. ^ Louis A. Boettiger (1918). "2". Studies in the Social Sciences: Armenian Legends and Festivals. 14. The University of Minnesota. pp. 10–11.
  5. ^ M. Chahin (2001). The Kingdom of Armenia: A History. Psychology Press. pp. 74–5. ISBN 978-0-7007-1452-0.


External links[edit]