Ստորև դուք կը կարդաք Պ. Սևակի «Թրի դէմ գրիչ»-ի հոյակապ և սքանչելի թարգմանութիւնն որն արել է իմ լաւ ընկեր Զոհրաբ Հեղինեանը, դեղագործ, վկայեալ Բէյրութի Ամերիկեան Համալսարանից, նախկին Սուրիահայ, բայց 45 տարուց աւելի ամերիկայում բնակւող, լաւատեղեակ հայերէնին, անգլերէնին և արաբերէնին: Այսպիսի թարգմանութեան շատ քիչ լինի որ հանդիպէք:
Սա իմ 1999-ի արխիւներից է հանւած և փոխանցւած ԵՈՒՆԻՔՈԴԻ:
THE SWORD v THE PEN
Լավ սկիսբը գործի կեսն է",- այս ծանոթ խոսքի ճշմարտության կշիռը ոչ մի տեղ թերեւս այնպէս չես զգում, ինչպէս Մաշթոցի մասին գրելիս:
"A good start is half the job",- the weight of this familiar saying has never been felt so keenly as it applies when writing about Mashtotz.
How does one begin?
Perhaps- "start/beginning" is the keyword.
It is true, Armenians have existed many centuries before Mashtotz.
It is true, that they had governments and philology, they knew how to erect monuments, build temples, extract wine, they knew about metallurgy, they attended theaters and enjoyed dove fingered dancers, those who "sang with their hands".
Imagination and real pictures are not always synonymous. Imagination is the domain of children while adults can only picture things.
Mashtotz came to revolutionize our way of picturing, the picture of our very being, of our reality.
Children are born, they sprout teeth and they learn to walk, they begin to talk and develop a sense of judgment, but those first 3 to 4 years might as well be something outside their lives, they remember very little if any of those early years. Based on that we can assert that the actual birth of a child is not the day they first see the light of day, as parents would like to celebrate, it would be more correct if parents were to celebrate the day when their child begins to remember them.
While we measure man's life in years , people measure their lives in centuries. In that sense our pre-Mashtotz life has been virtually lost with "no memory". And it was Mashtotz that came to become our memory, the memory of our very existence, our memory about ourselves. This is not an exaggeration, it is merely a conclusion of 16 centuries of our life, a summary of our meandering existence since Mashtotz.
Who was Mashtotz in reality?
The Armenian Church which ever since we lost our statehood had virtually been our sole embodiment of national identity, has been for many centuries celebrating the Feast of the Holy Translators. Therefore Mashtotz has been appreciated for all those centuries albeit as the chief translator of the Bible. Our historians have not failed to make that their central theme in regards to Mesrop. As any student would know- Mashtotz is the creator of our letters.
Many peoples, before us and after, have invented their own alphabets and have translated the Bible too. And just as well, in the case of all those peoples, the invention of their own writing has been as significant as the translation of the Bible.
But for us...?
Of all the other inventors of alphabets the world has recognized
Mashtotz as unique. Here is what Markward, the famous German orientalist
had to say:
"When we consider the circumstances under which Mashtotz and Sahak awakened the Armenian people's ecclesiastical and national consciousness, and we compare this with the likes of the Danish Pepinos Frank, who gave the German people their gift of language, only then we will notice that Pepinos, along with his comrade in arms Wingfried, will come up as dwarves compared to Mesrop and Sahak".
This was uttered by a German who, one would like to believe, is free of our msiguided national pride and vainglory. The German scientist was acting no more than a mere scribe (քարտուղար) who, as a scientist was viewing the matter solely from a position of our "to be or not to be".
This is why, today looking back from this high point of 16 centuries, Mashtotz seems to us as; "first and foremost a huge politician" who, with his "bloodless" victories can very easily be compared to and surpasses our most glorious and victorious commanders'(սպարապետ) triumphs.
(I may have forgotten to note that I will be taking some, very little, idiomatic liberty to elucidate some phrases as it fits the English language. This will not obscure or compromise the gist of the message).
THE SWORD v THE PEN
Yes! Mashtotz, may be the discoverer of our letters and the founder of our scripture, before he was the founder, he was our greatest politician.
Would it perhaps be an exaggeration if we say that Armenians have not shown great talent in the area of politics? Furthermore, our ancient as well as recent history has proven this time and again with unobliterable proofs and incorrigiible mistakes. We have used the term "right", աջ (as in direction. ZH), a word from which we have derived hundreds of other word forms, yet it is plenty evident that our ancestors were operating from the vantage of the "left (ձախ) hand". Consider words like:
"dzakhordutyun" (failure) «ձախորդութիւն»,
"dzakhaverutyun" (awkwardness/clumsiness) «ձախաւերութիւն»
"dzakhakoghmyan" (the left) and «ձախակողմեան»
"dzakhoghakutyun" (total failure) «ձախողակութիւն»
Indeed, the history of our political acumen would have been pitiful if not for one or two victories. Let us be fair and add here that the word "great" as applied to those victories would be meager if those victories were not so fateful, fate shaping and decisive. "Որտեղ հաց` այնտեղ կաց" (Where bread, there we stop). No doubt that bankrupt philosophy is a legacy of another culture, it seems we feel obligated to emulate the “թափառական հրեա", "the wandering Jew", that unenviable fate. Many centuries before the latter quotation there was another adage, a wisdom coined by the same Jew much before that miserable label. That was " Ոչ միայն հացիվ կեցցէ մարդ." ("Man does not live by bread alone"). "Not by bread alone...", not by the body but also by the spirit, i.e "the word"*. Thus, land and might are not the only guarantees of a peopl's survival. Three are other factors which are in no way less decisive (վճռական). The Babylonians and the Assyrians, the Chaldeans and Hattis did not suffer the Jews' fate of losing their land and homeland. They perished on their very own lands, because just as man, so do people, not only they live by the "bread" but also by the "word" (բանիւ). And indeed, just like in ancient times, also today, conquerors don't, can't assimilate their neighbors by force but by general/universalizing ideas and styles that of world conquests spread. If the Roman and Greek pantheons were different, eparate from ours, if only in nomenclature, that difference was virtually absent when compared to the Armenian-Persian pantheons. And, doubtless, Trdat III was wise enough, so as not to be swallowed by that pan-heathenistic reality surrounded himself with "thorns". Thorns as in the "crown of thorns" of Jesus. His Christian successors were not any more foolish or any less seers of the future, who, after two centuries understood that the new "general" and "universalizing" Christianity had similarly turned into an equally great threat, just as that during our heathen times.
It is impossible to lag behind the lifestyle and the mindset of mankind. Sooner or later all peoples will have to keep step with the rest. Christianity could not help but spread and reign over our Homeland. But Christianity, just as all other disciplines, was not a cloak without a lining (աստառ). Christianity had its lining as well, which was Romanization or Byzantization. The argument over "one" or "two" natures of Christ, if He was "man" or "God", one or both was nothing but an excuse for Rome and Byzantium to assert themselves and hold on to their territories. That is when the word "imperialism" was created. The heavenly kingdom of Christ was used to create and consolidate worldly "empires". The crucifix (of Christ) was dragged from country to country not to be hoisted on the domes of houses of prayer, but to crucify those lands' independence and (national) identity. It was impossible to elude that cross, specially for Armenia, since the god of geography had been abandoned and our Homeland had become the crossroads armchest (caisson/ գայիսոն) to vanquish the thick and heavy Persian cudgel/club (մական) by creating a huge cross. Trdat understood that very well, in order not to be swallowed by powerful neighbors every small nation had to emphasize their difference. He used Christianity to counter heathenism. Yet, Christianity was fast becoming a universal order as well. Turning back to our previous faith was not an option, considering that even the Persians, a couple centuries after, also abandoned their native faith for Islam. So, how do we still emphasize that "difference" without which we would have not been. A few centuries after Trdat's death our ancestors found the answer to that dilemma, they devised a way to "how" to assert our difference once again. This can be deemed one of our best political victories. Today, all those endeavors may sound ridiculously laughable. When we consider all those "universal councils" and the creeds emanating from them it all seems so odd. The humble birth of that Jesus the Nazarene, and the circumstances surrounding it have become earth shattering storms to rock the very foundations of the so called civilized world. Was the one born of Maryam God or man? Were godliness and humanness intertwined in Jesus' person or were they separate entities? Subsequently, was He a monophysite (միաբնակ) or diphysite (երկաբնակ)? Today this argument may sound ridiculously unbelievable. This humble son of a carpenter from Nazareth and his equally humble fishermen disciples were being used to create and consolidate big empires. Scholastic minds are ezpending blood and life for those poor generations, those generations who were the contemporary of those times when all those arguments were being debated. Following generations, while laughing about those days, are enjoying the fruits of those difficult times. There are times when nothing is easier than to kill (a)man, specially when huge states are doing it. Mankind is living just such days. The empty and bankrupt debate about Jesus' nature was being brewed with thousands of human lives and was reaping the blood of many others. Many small nations' fate of being or not hung on Jesus' one or two natures. It determined if many peoples were to be or not to be. There are times when a simple "yes" or "no" can mean life or death, even if it may seem like heroism. During those days our "yes" or "no" had an enormous meaning, whether we would be or not be. Our ancestors said "no". And today that meaningless "Council of Chalcedon" has and that "monophysite" have become one of our history's most meaningful captions...
That internationally significant event was happening a mere 10 to 11 eleven years after Mesrop's demise, during the year 451 AD. A very familiar date. A time when ours were waging a war of life or death at Avarayr, perhaps oblivious to the fact that at that very moment, when they were preparing for that battle at Avarayar, in a sector of modern Polis known as Kad@ Keoy, which was known as Chalcedon then, we were spared the participation in yet another war. Our people could not participate in that "war". They were busy at Avarayr. We did not win at Avarayr, yet we did not lose either. Avarayr was a victory, a victory with a big V. Persia was forced to call back its forces from Armenia and recall Zardousht back home. We remained Christians. But ours could not evade the battle at Chalcedon, where they would not win as well, yet they were not defeated either, it was a victory and a victory with yet another big V. Rome took back her crooked cross and would call us "Christian Armenians"... Of course today this wording is purely religious, but during those days to be known as "Christian Armenians" was our ancestors way to be distinguished us as unique in a sea of alikes. They practiced the art of "agreeing" with "disagreement". With that univarsalist uniqueness they were armed to combat Zoroaatrianism as well as Islam further down, just as by that same token they resisted the Hellono-Byzantian all-equalizing and dangerous current.
Wow! Powerful! Powerful! Why didn't I think that!
Paruyr knew the Bible better than some of our clergy. How about Sevak for Catholicos? He is dead you say? So what! Some of the potential candidates are DOA also.
Wow! I'm jealous! Is he a wordmongerer or what!? I promised not to comment. I lied. I could not resist. It has been said that "a prophet is not welcome in his own village", that prophets are not prophets until after their death. We did not listen to Paruyr, he was from our own village, we did not heed, he was still alive, not yet sanctified/canonized. What is our excuse now?
THE SWORD v THE PEN
For a moment it may seem like all this has no relevance to the main subject-Mashtotz, specially the Battle of Avarayr and the Council at Chalcedon which happened some decade after his death. But by nature, not only Mesrop is relevant in those instances, he may as well be a participant in those bloody or bloodless battles, as the case may be.
The Battle of Avarayr, did not, if you will, happen in 451 at the banks of Tghmout River but it actually happened about fifty years ago in those caves and caverns of the region of Goght where Mashtotz, according to his disciples "was burdened with grave worries and deep thoughts as to how to find a solution to that puzzle". How to help his "brothers and compatriots" when he took it it upon himself to tend to his "entire
(Armenian) world and people". How to liberate them.
Let us not forget that Vardan Mamikonian, grandson of Sakak Partev was one of the first pupils of Mashtotz. He was one of those very few who learned the Mesropian letters and could recite the "Ayb-Ben-Gim.." Were Vardan not from a house of commanders he would surely end up as one of those scribe-poets whom we know as the first "translators", not unlike some of his classmates-Hovsep Vayotzdzoretzi, Ghevond Yeretz, Eznik, Koryun and others. Many of the Vardanank were also pupils of Mashtotz, the reason why many of the Vardanank were first Mashtotzians, major and minor pupils of Mesrop. And, aside from that, to be able to repel the Persian elephants of war and battling the mighty Median forces they had to know how to repel that Persian "bad cult". For that reason, before waging war against the enemy at the banks of Tghmout they had to learn to wage war as in "Եղծ Աղանդոց " (Curse of the Cults), whose original author was Mesrop himself, later to be aired by his pupil
In other words, to resist the Zoroastrian one had to be a non-Zoroastrian. Yet, were things so in Armenia before the times of Mashtotz...?
It had been more than a hundred years since Christianity was declared the official religion of the country. Every vestige of the previous civilization, every temple and every heathen altar was destroyed, and instead churches were cropping up, even if unplastered and wooden. But that cross, even before it was thrust into the skies was
first being used to stab the peoples' hearts. Contrary to the teachings of humility and tolerance Christianity was being spread with overt oppression, volunteerism was preached while force was used, with the cliches of "thou shalt not kill" rivers of blood flooded the countryside, and those who were spared were expelled.
The people had a tough time adjusting to this new lifestyle. After centuries of polytheism they were now condemned to worship ONE god.
Where Anahit, Astghik and Nane resided, where Aramazt, Vahakn, Mihr and Tir commanded respect that Hebrew had installed his mother's image. In hearths where the flames would reach the heavens now there would be a puny flickering candle. Yesterday's visible and solid gods, cast in gold or sculpted in granite were now replaced by that non-being who not only was invisible but also unintelligible...
And indeed, that alien religion had also brought with it an alien tongue, liturgy and rites were now being recited in Greek or Assyrian. The only tongue that that yesterday's illiterate people possessed was now taken away from them, their hymns and prayers, their sayings and legends were robbed and now instead a newfangled, unintelligible idea, and in an alien tongue, no less!
An unbearable condition prevailed, man was robbed of his centuries old faith, and there was nothing to replace it. Only words. Only unintelligible words. Everything old and sacred was destroyed, and nothing was built to replace them, if even so, only in talk which was also unintelligible. It was not possible to benefit from the old and
from the new- it was impossible, because there really was not a "new", and what was, was incomprehensible. Ancient songs and music were prohibited, old games and amusements as well. And after all this, even weeping was prohibited, "mourning songs" were taboo. Weeping and sobbing were rewarded with severe punishment...
This is not enough to draw a picture of those days, not even an skeletal sketch...
Christianity, that was being spread as pan-humanistic, anti-national teaching, even as early as that had already shown its true colors as anestablisher of classes and national realities. Having spread first in the Roman Empire and from there on, it turned into a new and powerfultool in the strengthening and deepening of the Byzantine Empire.
They were preaching equality and brotherhood while at the same all that glory, all that ethos, all those songs and language was being ceded to the mighty. Under the guise of monotheism the new religion was seizing and chaining man, who, by nature was accustomed to variety, just like nature itself to which man was a part. Even this was not enough. In reality, that one and only God was keeping to itself the Byzantian....the only pureblooded.
A universal and only God was being promoted while, in fact, that law was being used as a forcible suggestion in the hands of the Byzantian.
The faith that claimed to spread new light and new hope had reached an impasse of controversy of word against work, it had reached at such and acute junction that it was impossible to undo the stitch that held it.
But those stitches were already being cut and would continue so.
"World Councils" that were being convened to soften those controversies and to blunt those sharp edges were in fact asserting the ruination of them.. This way Constantinople was being severed from Rome, Alexandria was being taken away from Alexandria, Antioch from Antioch, Kesaria from Kesaria, Hayastan from Hayastan and Vrastan... Rome accepted Christianity to first try and patch together her tattered apricot (purple)mantle and to cover that mantle with the Papal sash. And now she herself was tearing that sash apart while the bearers of the purple could not hurry fast enough to do the patching. And they hurried.
Western Armenia was finally united with Byzantium, the dissection of Armenia became an eternal reality that would last a long time. Armenian statehood not only received a temporary wound but was stricken with an incurable disease of the spinal column, a disease that would only be followed by death.
THE SWORD v THE PEN
The average politician could not but understand that what had happened to Western Armenia could soon happen the Eastern Armenia, total colonization. Eastern Armenia in fact was not really an independent kingdom but a quasi-colony of Persia. The lords of Armenia in fact were nothing but playthings in the hands of higher authorities. This was the reality in its actuality so that the local lords would only worry about their throne, their pillow and their chair. Just so they would not lose favor with their overlords. To only keep their throne, their pillow and their chair, and if at all possible to reach for higher office, higher pillow and higher chair. Of course it will be a grave injustice if we did not add that these were totally insensitive, that they did not realize that under those chairs a "bottomless pit was soon to open". And it would not be fair to to blame them as to why they so worried about their thrones and chairs. In the final analysis they were not guilty, because due to cruel events, that were not only inevitable were also in spite of their good will, and this had taken us down a one way path with no exit.
The country could not even expect salvation from the spiritual lords. Not to forget that these spiritual leaders, as collaborators were as guilty in the destruction of the country earlier that century.
These latter were the ones who ruined our faith and culture, the life and order of yesteryears. Everything was toppled, turned upside down, so that it would be rebuilt in the new manner. Yet it remained in ruins, upside down. Something had to be done. But what? And How?
THE SWORD v THE PEN
[This installment contains segments from the authors poem "Yev Ayr Mi, Mashtotz Anoun"(And A Man Named Mashtotz).]
Something had to be done. But what? And How? They were all asking, there was no answer. And at that fateful time someone was born, someone whom our historians describe in a amazingly simple terms:
«Եւ այր մի` Մաշտոց անուն...»
(yev ayr mi Mashtotz anun”
This man, born in Taron's Hatzek village
did not come to augment the burgeoning ranks of the questioners.
He came to find the answer.
Where did he come from? How? By what miracle was he born?
This yet another puzzle.
The answer was not given then and
it has not been answered even now 1600 years later.
How, by miracle was he born?
«Նրաց ծնունդը միշտ էլ թւում է անսպասելի...»
(Nrantz dznound@ misht el tvoum e anspaseli...)
Their birth has always seemed unexpected
An even later, for many centuries they still amaze us
But those are always born to life for one reason only,
That we have waited so for their arrival.
They are born only for their parents' helplessness,
So they turn into new and bigger might.
They are born of what would be an ingenious toil,
So they will turn into the genius.
They are born to show the world,
That the end sometimes will into a beginning.
They are born to show the world,
That there's no miracle
But there is need.
They are born to show the world,
That there only charm begins,
Where exhausted is every means..."
Thus was born "Ayr Mi, Mashtotz Anoun"...
In that darkness of of our heathen world,
In a terminal yearning for our independence
In the suspenseful midnight of a dark tomorrow
He whispered; "Yeghitzi Luys"
"Yev yeghev luys".
The answer to that torturous question had been found
It was very simple, because it was unique.
Armenia could not rebuild its unity with brute force or with muscle power, neither could it regain its independence. What's more, Mashtotz would live the last days of his life in total absence of statehood. Toil and struggle were not sufficient to fight against alien tongues, specially when those bear the stamp of officialdom. People survive not only by the land but also by the tongue. Sometimes more so by the tongue.
To counter the terribly imbalanced and mighty foe, not to become prey to the ravenous enemy there remains only one weapon; "Ճանաչել զիմաստություն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ", to combat physical force with spiritual fortitude, against the fearsome arm- mighty mind, against universalism-identity, against "divide and rule "(բաժանեա` զի տիրեսցես) - "ծանիր զքեզ" (Know thyself)...
This is the only way to answer the question- "Who was Mashtotz"?
Mashtotz was that man who came to answer our peoples' ages old question;
"To be ot not to be?" And his answer was;"To be!"
Our fatherland was halved already
Our ancestral and centuries old land was put asunder.
That crack would constantly get deeper and wider,
It would turn into an abyss subjecting our people to an unbearably futile condition.
We needed a man who would look in both eyes at once.
Mashtotz was that man, who
Was not born of a mother,
He materialized of that rift suddenly,
So he would fill that crack all by himself.
And yes, indeed he filled that crack,
Our divided lands, once again he filled
He was the one who brought together
And united them... as if in one mind.
And ever since then
And until today
That union still stays unwavered...
Our statehood was already taken from us
Reerecting it was next to impossible
And it would remain so many many years.
Our fathers' throne had seen a terrible fall,
Rebuilding it was not feasible.
So Mashtotz was that man who...
Was not born of a mother,
He was of that rift in a miracle,
So that ruin would stand up again.
And that ruin indeed came alive
In place of our destroyed state
A new state was born, a spiritual state,
Instead of wasted houses of our kingdom
He started a new kingly dynasty...
Not on those lands taken from us,
Not on that divided fatherland,
But on our undivided!
On our indivisible
But in our souls that cannot be robbed.
And that kingly house became unending.
All of our subsequent intellectual kings,
From Khorenatzi up until Narekatzi,
From Narekatzi until Abovyan and Raffi,
And from them until Varouzhan and Charents,
All of them with no exception, and each of them..
Without any doubt would
Be born of that same house,
From that same race
And with great honor and with glory bear
That same patrinym,
THE SWORD v THE PEN
According to that beautiful legend of ours, after his father' s death Artavazd, King Artashes exclaimed; "Աւերակացս ու՞մ թագաւորեմ". (Whom shall I rule over these ruins?) Whether Armenia was indeed destroyed during Artavazd times is a subject for debate. But it is a fact that in Mashtotz days Armenian was indeed ruined both in material and spirit. Hence those words would become Mesrop more than Artavazd.
We also know that Artavazd, rather than rebuild his kingdom, he chose immortality in the valleys of Masis, while all the while flirting with the idea of destroying the entire world, a wish that only the mallets of the iron mongers would prevent. We also know that Mashtotz, only Mashtotz became that iron monger to mend our land together. First he rebuilt our ruins, repaired the destroyed, for that reason he became immortal in reality and not in legend...
It was Mashtotz who replaced our ruined faith with new a creed, a faith that became a belt around around our waist rather than a cloak on our backs. In place of our the windblown old culture he began a new culture that would give us world class masterpieces, just as the sight of Zvartnotz and the spirit of Narekatzi. It would give Shirakatzi and his bare eyes and Hambatzoumian with his telescope. From the ear of Komitas to the baton of Khachaturian, from the fingers of Toros Roslin to the brush of Martiros Saryan, from the Sayat Nova's dialect to Charents' lyre, from Ani that would be reborn as Yerevan...
It was he who built on the ruins of our unwritten writings- our scripture and our poetry, in place of the silenced singers of Goght he gave us our magnificent spiritual music, instead of our pagan ignorance he spread the legendary tablecloth of knowledge on which cloth we would relish the food given to us by those from Khorenatzi to David the Invincible, from Tatevatzi to Gosh, from Alishan to Nalbandian, from Abeghyan to Ajaryan, to Orbeli and Alikhanyan...
It was he who, once again rescued our language from that unenviable state, just like the poor relative would look in a rich cousin's house. Only by the translation of the Bible our language lived its glorious feast, showing that we were capable to completely and fully express ourselves not only in matters of the spirit but also to write history, law, public rhetoric, poetry, botany and zoology, imaginary and romantic literature, divining and prophesy.
Only by the translation of the Bible, which later would be dubbed "the mother of all translations" not by us but by others, or the "queen of translations. The Armenian language that member of the Indo-European family, as if that poor relative in a cousin's palace would suddenly attain a position only fit for kings, find that throne again, and earn its well deserved pillow, so that no one would again dare to steal it from us, now even our aryan and conceited neighbors. And sitting on that pillow we would also sit among the world's most celebrated scholars, Those who would leave their mark on our "guest book" and sign with their luminous monograms, the likes of Schroeder, Hubschmanm, Coniber, Meillet, Markward and Marr...
In place of quantity- arm,
Instead of numbers- flight,
Ink instead of blood,
Instead of sword- pen
And in place of a closet A closet of books (Matenadaran)
Without that self recognition and security, without that hope and that faith, without that new weapon that is called a "pen", we could have no Avarayr, No Chalcedon, just as one cannot fight when half asleep, or give an answer without thinking.
And this why Mashtotz is the true author and organizer of both of our fateful victories, not only for the discovery of out letters to which Avarayr was only a sequel but also the council at Dvin where a esounding "no" was composed towards Chalcedon. Here is why Mesrop is our biggest and incomparable politician...
Sword V Pen
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