Sunday, 23 November 2014

Saint Bartholomew & Astyages

Reading the legends of Saint Bartholomew I came across the legend of him being in Armenia.

The legend has him converting a king of Armenia, by the name of Polymius, to Christianity.

Polymius' brother Astyages then had Bartholomew executed, the account has him flayed alive then crucified.

Saint Bartholomew is said to have lived in the 1st century A.D.

So no later than 100 A.D.

There are no records of any Armenian King of the Arsacid dynasty, ever, with the name Polymius, be it before Saint Bartholomew was alive or after his execution.

Surely they had records of the names of the kings of Armenia in Armenia?

Movses Khorenatsi wrote in the 5th century A.D.  about King Tigran II, of the Artaxiad dynasty which predated the Arsacid rule in Armenia, in the 1st century B.C.

So there clearly were records even of Kings who predated the Arsacid rule in Armenia in Armenia.

So how can the King Polymius and his brother Astyages be explained?

Polymius would be a Greek name that has been Latinised.

So it would have been "Polymios".

Polymios equates to "Great Strength", and is more likely to have been an epithet than a birth name.

There is no Arsacid King of Armenia that can be equated to this epithet for the era of
Saint Bartholomew.

King Tigranes VI, 59 - 62 A.D. is not recorded having Saint Bartholomew at his court.
King Tiridates I, 66- 88 A.D. is not recorded having Saint Bartholomew at his court.

King Sanatruk, 88 - 110 A.D. is also not recorded having Saint Bartholomew at his court.

The name Astyages is similar to the legendary evil king Azhdahak recorded in Movses Khorenatsi's story about King Tigran II.

Can only assume that "Polymios" (Great Strength) and "Astyages" were invented as a "good, hero Christian king" versus evil man (Azhdahak), that Azhdahak became the eternal evil ruler in Armenian legend.

This has a dualistic, even Zoroastrian, notion about it, Good versus Evil.

Paradoxically, Movses' legend of Tigran II must be based on the legend of king Cyrus and the Median king Astyges written by Herodotus in the 5th century B.C.

A monastery complex, still existing in ruins, in what was the south-west of the Armenian province of Vaspurakan, was said to be built over the site that Saint Bartholomew was executed.

However, there is also a legend of a king Polymius and his brother, also a king, called Astreges and is set in India, where Saint Bartholomew is also said to have been.
More on this can be read here.

As far as Armenia is concerned, there never was a king Polymius or a king or prince of the name Astyages.

Most Churches, not just in the kingdom of Armenia, were built upon pre-existing religious sites that had been Temples.