Armenian National Epic Poem

The Armenian national epic “Daredevils of Sassoun” reveals all the national traits of Armenians – honesty, justice, kindness and courage. The epic is mainly called "David of Sassoun", but it is the name of the hero of the third cycle. The epic is also known as "Daredevils of Sassoun", "Rebels of Sassoun", etc.

The Armenian national epic consists of four cycles, and each branch tells about the heroes who are ready to fight till death to defend their homeland, their people, their traditions and culture, but at the same time they are very kind, fair, and even a little naive.

The Plot of the Epic

The Armenian national epic poem"Daredevils of Sassoun" begins with the wedding of the Baghdad Caliph with the Armenian princess Tsovinar. The Caliph hears about the Armenian king Gagik’s daughter’s beauty, and when he sees her, immediately falls in love and asks for her hand, and in case of refusal, threatens to start a war against Armenia. To avoid bloodshed, Tsovinar agrees to marry him. Before leaving the homeland, Tsovinar drinks two handfuls of water from the spring, which miraculously appears for a short time, and then she gets pregnant. According to the agreement between the Caliph and Gagik, Tsovinar lives in a separate palace in Baghdad, where she gives birth to the twins, Sanasar and Baghdasar. Wonderful twins are strong and smart, and grow unusually fast. When they grow up, the Caliph decides to execute Tsovinar along with her children, but Sanasar and Baghdasar fight with the Caliph’s army and win. Then the Caliph cancels his execution order. After a while, he again starts a war against Armenia, but this time he loses the war. Staying alive in this war, he promises the idols to sacrifice Sanasar and Baghdasar. Tsovinar sees a dream which warns her of danger, so the twins leave Baghdad, arrive to Armenia, where they build Sassoun.

The second cycle of "Daredevils of Sassoun" tells about the son of Sanasar, Mher, who at the age of fifteen tears the man-eating lion apart with his bare hands and saves Sassoun. When Mher grows old enough, he liberates a beautiful captive princess Armaghan and marries her. After a while, Mher fights against Msra-Melik (the elder), but having equal forces, no one wins. Then they make peace and come to an agreement that after the death of one of them, the second is obliged to take care of the family of the deceased. After the death of Msra-Melik, his widow Ismil, under the pretext of protection from the disobedience of the princes, calls Mher to her and seduce him. Ismil gives birth to a son - Msra-Melik (younger) from Mher. Seven years after leaving, Mher returns to Sassoun and, in the end, reconciles with his wife. Armaghan gives birth to an heir, a legitimate son of Mher - David of Sassoun. Soon after the birth of David, Mher and his wife die.

The third cycle of "Daredevils of Sassoun" tells about David of Sassoun and Msra-Melik (the younger). After the death of David’s mother, the only way to save him is to send him to Msyr where Ismil feeds and raises him. All time long Msra-Melik tries to kill David, but fails. One day they have a duel where David kills him.

David of Sassoun marries Khandut, and she gives birth to Mher the Younger, the hero of the fourth cycle, who also fights against the enemies of Sassoun, and in the end gets captured by the rock.

Heroes and Characters

The main heroes of the epic are Sanasar and Baghdasar, Mher the Elder, David of Sassoun and Mher the Younger, but the uncles Toros and Ohan also play a significant role in the epic.

Uncle Toros – a warrior of the king Gagik, later a Sassoun prince. The image of Toros appears in the epic even before the miraculous birth of the twins, then accompanies all four generations of the main characters. The final lines of the national epic tell that Uncle Toros dies of grief.

Ohan is the second son of Sanasar, the elder brother of Mher the Elder, the uncle of David. His character is controversial, although generally positive. A number of episodes shows his lack of courage, but definitely he stands next to the heroes. His main feature is surprisingly loud voice.

The king Gagik, Tsovinar, Lady Ismil, Msra-Melik senior and Msra-Melik junior also have equally important roles.

Each hero of the epic ensures the integrity of the storyline of the Armenian national epic "Daredevils of Sassoun".

Features of the Epic

The peculiarity of the epic is the heroic invincible spirit that all the heroes of all four cycles possess. Mythical heroes with their unique strength and courage are ready for any act of bravery to save their people.

Sources of the Epic

The Armenian national epic contains layers of various eras – from historical legends and myths of the 1 st millennium BC till the stories of the beginning of the 2nd millennium AD. The epic has its own chronology, its own geography, its own truth. At the same time, the historical core of the epic is undoubtedly this one: "Daredavils of Sassoun" reflects the struggle of the Armenian people (and the Armenian nobility) against the Arab Caliphate. However, it is difficult to find exact details of this struggle in the epic. The storytellers mainly left the names of the historical figures, changing their biographies, destinies, real historical roles, age and even gender.

Monument to David of Sassoun

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The monument to David of Sassoun, the legendary hero of the third cycle of the Armenian national epic "Daredevils of Sassoun", is on the square where the main railway station is located and is recognized as a universal cultural value.

The Armenian epic "Daredevils of Sassoun" is also included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List

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