God Vahagn – Legends of Ancient Armenia

God Vahagn – Legends of Ancient Armenia

In Armenian myths, Vahagn was the god of thunder and lightning. He was born in the agonized heaven and earth and the purple sea. Red reed which spewed smoke and fire was also involved in his birth. From the flame appeared Vahagn, a young man with fiery hair, a fiery beard, and eyes like two suns.

After birth, Vahagn clashed with the vishaps (dragons, hence his epithet “Vishapakagh”, meaning “dragon wrestler”) and defeated them.

The myth of Vahagn probably formed in the middle of the 1st millennium BC based on Indo-Iranian myths about thunder deities fighting and defeating serpentine demons.

The etymology of the name “Vahagn” is associated with Hindu deity Indra’s epithet “Vritrakhan” (“the killer of Vritra”}. The struggle of Vahagn with the vishaps is the “thunderous struggle” of a god against the evil personification of storms, tornadoes, or thunderclouds. At the source of the myth is a common mythological motive about the struggle between chaos and space.

In the Hellenistic era, Vahagn was identified with Heracles.

According to one telling of the myth, Vahagn, the ancestor of the Armenians, stole straw from the forefather of the Assyrians Barsham in harsh winter and ran off to the sky. Walking with his loot through the sky, he dropped down small straws. The Milky Way was formed from them (“Tsir Katin” in Armenian, “straw walk”). According to another version, Vahagn was not a god but the son of King Tigran the Dragon Wrestler who killed Azhdahak.

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