Uta Koschmieder / Faustus of Byzantium

Martin-Luther-Universität / Universität Leipzig

In the FHG “Faustus of Byzantium” is described as a Greek historian who wrote a history of Armenia in the 4th c. A. D. that survived only in its Armenian translation. Recent studies showed that the work “History of the Armenians” is rather a collection of epic tales compiled by an unknown Armenian author in the 5th c. A. D. Nevertheless it can be assigned to the Greek historiographical tradition. The Armenian historiography began after the invention of the Armenian alphabet at the beginning of the 5th c. A. D. Armenia has always been involved in the Greco-Roman World so that Armenian scholars often got their scientific education in Greece. Thus, a big part of the output of the Greek historiographical tradition has been adopted by Armenian historians. In combination with other influences, especially from Persia, the Armenians developed their own literary genre of historiography. The author of the “History of the Armenians”, who has become generally known under the name “Faustus of Byzantium”, is one of the first Armenian historians. The synthesis of different influences becomes very clear by the manner as he compiled tales that reflect elements of the Persian epic tradition in the Greek style. That is, a chronological order with several storylines under a main topic (the struggles between Persia and Byzantium by which Armenia was affected) as well as the division into books. The epic character of the work and the use of mainly oral sources caused a number of anachronisms, confusions and mistakes. Combined with gross exaggerations and inaccuracies this led to the neglect of “Faustus of Byzantium” not only in the Armenian tradition, although the work shows a detailed picture of Armenia in the 4th c. Nowadays the historical value of the “History of the Armenians” is largely recognized.

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Uta Koschmieder / Faustus of Byzantium
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