The Invasion of Alans – Artashes and Satinik

The Invasion of Alans – Artashes and SatinikIn the mid-180s BC, a powerful horde of Sarmatians crossed the Volga river and defeated the Scythians, who until then had reigned in the near Caucasian and Black Sea steppes. The leaders of the Scythians were destroyed or assimilated. Mostly, they merged with the Sarmatian ranks, further strengthening the latter.

In the pre-Caucasian and Black Sea steppes, a powerful Sarmatian power, the Alanian kingdom, was created, which immediately adopted an aggressive policy towards neighboring countries. One of the manifestations of this policy was the Armenian-Alanian War of 184 BC.

“…Around this time, the Alans united with all the mountaineers, attracted half of the Iberian country to their side, and with a huge crowd, invaded our country. King Artashes also formed his own army, and a battle between two brave archer nations took place. The Alans were a little inferior and, having retreated, crossed the river Kur and settled on its northern banks. Artashes set up a camp on the southern bank.

But since the Alanian prince had been captured by Armenian soldiers and had been brought to Artashes, the Alanian king was forced to ask for peace, offering Artashes everything that he wished. He even proposed an eternal oath and an agreement so that the Alans would not commit more robbery raids on the Armenian country.

And since Artashes refused to extradite the young man, the Alanian prince’s sister went to the bank of the river, to a steep hill, and addressed the camp of Artashes through interpreters:

“I turn to you, valiant man Artashes, who defeated the brave Alans. Agree with the words of the daughter of the Alans and hand over the boy, for it is not appropriate for heroes to take away the life of the descendants of other heroic nations out of hate or keep them in the rank of slaves and spread eternal enmity between the two brave nations.”

Hearing such wise speeches, Artashes went to the bank of the river and desired the beautiful maiden upon seeing her and hearing her reasonable words. He called his teacher Smbat and revealed the desire of marrying the Alanian princess, concluding a treaty and alliance with the brave people, and releasing the young prince in peace.

Having approved this, Smbat sent a message to the king of the Alans, in which he offered to marry the Alanian princess Satinik off to Artashes. The king of the Alans said, “Where will the brave Artashes find thousands and tens of thousands for the high-born maiden, the Alanian princess?”

Outlining these events in the form of a legend, the story-tellers in their songs said:

“The brave king Artashes jumped on the handsome black horse and took out a lasso of red leather with a gold ring. Like a fast-winged eagle, he rushed across the river and launched his lasso. Having embraced the Alanian princess, which inflicted severe pain on the gentle maiden, he quickly took her to his camp.”

The true meaning of the above is this: since the Alans have been fond of red leather, Artashes gave a lot of red paint and gold as “ransom” and took the regal maiden Satinik. That is symbolized by the red-leather lasso with a gold ring. In the same way, allegorically, they describe the wedding:

“The rain was golden when Artashes was the groom and it was pearl when Satinik was the bride.”

For it was in the tradition of our kings to scatter coins like the Roman consuls when the grooms approached the doors of the palace. Also, the queens scattered pearls in the wedding halls. This is the true meaning of these words.

Satinik, the first among the wives of Artashes, gave birth to Artavazd and other sons, whose names we deem more appropriate to cite not now but when we get to their deeds.”

“History of Armenia”, Movses Khorenatsi

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