ASOŁIK (or Asołnik), “the singer,” the usual name of Stephen of Tarōn, the author of the Tiezerakal patmuṭʿiwn, a Universal History from the origins to 1004 A.D. Of his life little is known. In his History 3.7, Stephen gives a vivid description of the monastic renaissance in all districts of Armenia under the leadership of the Catholicos Ananias Mokʿacʿi (946-68). He ends with the names of seven prominent learned vardapets, such as Ananias Narekacʿi, and adds that he knew personally some of those old men when he was a little boy. The second testimony about Stephen is given in a discourse of Gregor Magistros (1041-57) who speaks of the very old Asołik. The same Gregor in a letter quotes a commentary on Jeremiah composed by Asołik. Stephen dedicated his work to the Catholicos Sargis Sevancʿi (992-1019). Finally, Aristakes Lastiverticʿi, the author of another history up to 1072, tells that under the rule of Gagik I Bagratuni (990-1020), Stephen of Tarōn wrote an admirable book on universal history, from the first man to the death of Gagik. Therefore some scholars think that the portion of Stephen’s History covering the period 1004-20 is lost.
Stephen’s History is divided into three books. The author lists his sources in the Preface: the Bible, Socrates, Agaṭʿangalos, Pʿawstos Buzand, Movsēs Xorenacʿi, Ełišē Vardapet, Łazar Pʿarbecʿi, Sebēos, Łewond, Šapuh Bagratuni, and John Drasanakertecʿi. The two first books do indeed quote those authors. Book III, up to Ašot III’s death in 920, is borrowed from Šapuh. The History is original only for the period 920-1004, although quotations are not always precisely verbatim. For instance 2.3, quoting Sebēos 25, says that Heraclius destroyed the great Atūr Višnasp in Ganzak and Hedak: the last word remains unexplained.
Asołik’s History was first published in Paris in 1859 by K. Shahnazarean. The best edition is that of St. Malkhasean, St. Petersburg, 1885.
Translations: N. Emin, Vseobshchaya Istoriya Stepanosa Taronskago, Moscow, 1864.
E. Dulaurier, Histoire universelle par Etienne açoghʾig du Daron, Paris 1883.
H. Gelzer, Des Stephanos von Taron armenische Geschichte, Leipzig, 1907.
(Michel van Esbroeck)
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 17, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 8, p. 785