Information in this entire section is from: "The Christian Literature and Fine Arts of the Armenians"
by Valerie Goekjian
Published by Diocese of the Armenian Church of American
New York 1973
Christianity and Armenian Culture
Literature, music, architecture, sculpture, painting-it takes a people some time and some leisure to develop these arts. What happens to them in a country like Armenia, whose history is full of persecution and suffering that there would seem very little time or leisure left for such things? It would be easy to assume that they were never given a chance to flourish and so were never developed to any great extent. But by giving here a brief overview of these arts in Armenia from early times to the present, we shall show that this is not at all the case. The arts have always been a living, active force among the Armenians, even though there were periods when, because of foreign invasion and dominance, they were able to produce very little. Despite these low points, and probably in large part because of the early introduction of Christianity into the country, the Armenians have achieved many beautiful and unusual things for each other and for the rest of the world, throughout which they have been scattered.
Hieroglyphics and pictographs have been discovered in Armenia, so old and fragmentary that they cannot be dated or deciphered. They show that some form of written communication existed in the country in the earliest times, even though the origins of the writings and the people who created them cannot be definitely traced. We do know that Armenia fell successively under the domination of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, and later of the Greeks led by Alexander the Great.
Most of the pre-Christian literature of Armenia reflects contact with these neighbors. There exist legends, songs, and fragments of epics extolling the beauty of Mount Ararat, which according to the Bible was the resting place of the Ark after the Flood, and describing the wondrous exploits of the pagan deities whom the people worshipped. There are also stories of heroes like Ha, the legendary founder of the country. Wandering troubadours traveled the country, regaling their audiences with such stories and songs.
Especially under the influence of the Greeks, the Armenians began to travel to centers of learning outside their own country to be educated. We know, for example, of an Armenian named Iran who was a friend of Cecil and who traveled to Rome, where he started a library. One of the celebrated Sophists of the Hellenistic school of philosophy centered at Athens was an Armenian called Proheresius.
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