Can you imagine Armenia without Christianity? How different would history be if Gregory the Illuminator would never have survived his childhood? To add on top of that, can you imagine the same fate for Armenia’s first Christian king?
Well, all of that almost happened!
In a fifth century compilation called “Agat’angheghos’ History”, which describes in epic style Armenia’s conversion to Christianity, claims that the lives of the future king Trdat (Armenia’s first Christian king, ruled ca. 303-330) and the future Gregory the Illuminator or Grigor Lusavorich were saved at a very early age from extermination. Both Grigor and Trdat were rescued in their infancies from extermination attempts directed against their clans.
Agat’angeghos narrates how the shah of Iran plotted the murder of Trdat’s father, King Xosrov, in the late third century. The shah sent to Armenia an Iranian noble named Anak the Parthian who vowed to endear himself to King Xosrov and then to kill him at an opportune moment. When that moment presented itself some months later, Anak assassinated Xosrov.
But, with his dying breath, Xosrov ordered that Anak’s clan be exterminated. Then (the Armenians) began to destroy and kill them, not even sparing the children who did not yet know their right from their left. They also put the women to the sword. Only two infant sons of Anak the Parthian were saved. They took the babies and fled, taking one to Iranian territory, and the other to Greek [Byzantine] territory.
The son of Anak who was spirited away to the city of Caesarea was baptized Grigor and given a Christian education. As for the future king Trdat, the shah of Iran searched for this heir of his old adversary. But someone saved and rescued from destruction one of the sons of the slain king Xosrov of Armenia, an infant named Trdat. His caregivers took him and fled to the court of the emperor in Greek territory.
A Twist Of Epic Fate
By a twist of epic fate, both Trdat and Grigor grew up in the same geographical area. According to Agat’angeghos, when Grigor’s caregivers informed him of his true parentage, Grigor sought out Trdat wishing to enter his service, to expiate for his father’s crime. Grigor concealed his past and his religion from Trdat for some time. But eventually, Trdat learned that Grigor’s father was the regicide Anak. It was then that the imprisonment of Grigor began.
From the paper:
Dayeakut’iwn in Ancient Armenia by Robert Bedrosian.