Tigran Yervanduni – Rulers of Ancient Armenia

Tigran Yervanduni – Rulers of Ancient Armenia

Tigran Yervanduni was the son and heir of Yervand I Sakavakyats (“short-staying”, reigned in 570-560 BC). Tigran reigned in 560-535 BC.

He was a hunting companion to the founder of Achaemenid Persia Cyrus the Great. Tigran was the one to kill the king of Media Azhdahak. During his reign, the territory of Armenia also spread throughout the Armenian Highlands in a 400 thousand square kilometer area.

Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi mentions Tigran as the wisest, bravest, and the most powerful of the Armenian kings.

The Armenians had two famous kings named Tigran – one was the son of Yervand Sakavakyats, while the other was the grandson of Artashes I and reigned in 95-55 BC. The former is known as Tigran I the Great and the latter as Tigran II the Great.

According to a legend, Tigran Yervanduni was a brave archer, and no one was able to beat him in accuracy. His hunting companion Cyrus knew he was unable to defeat Tigran while he was sober. And so he decided to first intoxicate him and only then enter into competition with him.

On the plain at the foot of Mount Zarasp on the border between Armenia and Persia, many people gathered for the archery competition. Here were not only the Armenian and Persian warriors but also famous princes, noble women, and girls from the two countries.

An hour before the start of the competition, the herald claimed that this was the first competition in the world that even the gods themselves would admire.

Before entering the arena, the archers had to drink ten glasses of wine in front of everyone, and only after that would they be allowed to pick up a bow and arrow. And as you could guess, after taking nearly a dozen glasses of wine, it was hardly possible to see anything.

The audience was most interested in Cyrus and Tigran among all the contenders.

Commander Cyrus first entered the arena. Everyone saw him drinking ten glasses of wine and then staggering toward the shooting range. But unbeknownst to everyone, Cyrus took anti-intoxication herbs out of his pocket and began to consume them. The herbs had been given to Cyrus by Persian doctors.

Cyrus was not aware, however, that the Armenian doctors had given Tigran similar herbs and that the Armenian king came to the shooting range quite sober, having had time to consume the herbs in advance.

Finally, the competition began. Wooden plates soared into the sky. Out of every four plates, Cyrus hit two on average. Tigran hit all his shots.

After the competition, Cyrus and Tigran approached and clapped each other on the shoulder. Accepting his defeat and realizing that he was unable to outwit Tigran Yervanduni, Cyrus said:

“No, wine cannot defeat men like you and me. No matter how much we drink, we will not get drunk. And I will miss four out of two, but you will not.”

Source: “Kings of Armenia” by Hayk Khachatryan.

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