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The Maxims and Wisdom of Khikar & Volume 2 of Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle


We are excited to announce our forthcoming publication of The Maxims and Wisdom of Khikar and Volume 2 of Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle as part of our growing Dual Language Series. These titles will be published on December 1, 2021.

The Maxims and Wisdom of Khikar. Among the first works ever translated into Classical Armenian, The Maxims and Wisdom of Khikar has had a resounding influence on Armenian authors from the 5th to the 19th centuries (including upon such figures as Eznik of Kołb, Ghazar P’arpec’i, Yeghishe, Aristakes Lastivertc’i, Nerses Shnorhali and the famed 19th century authors, Raffi and Hagop Baronian). The story follows Khikar—the vizier of King Sennacherib of Assyria—who was famous for his wisdom in morality and politics. But he had a problem, in that he did not have a son to whom to pass down his wealth and wisdom. Taking his sister’s son, Nathan, he raised him as his own and introduced him to Sennacherib as his own successor. The adult Nathan then turns on his uncle, framing him as a traitor, and Sennacherib sentences Khikar to death. But when Khikar’s executioner turns out to be a man whose life Khikar once saved, they devise a plot to keep him alive…

Smbat Sparapet's Chronicle (Volume 2). Smbat Sparapet’s Chronicle is a major source for the history of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Roughly three-quarters of the work consists of a summary of Matthew of Edessa’s Chronicle which describes the period from 951 to 1136 and its continuation by Gregory the Priest, covering the period from 1136-1162. Given that Matthew’s work has survived, by far the most important part of Smbat Sparapet’s Chronicle is its original contribution, devoted to the period from 1163 to 1272. Volume II covers the period from 1151 to 1272. As a statesman and general, Smbat Sparapet (“the Constable”) was a major participant in Cilician civil, military, and diplomatic affairs of the second half of the 13th century. An educated and literate individual, Smbat translated the Assizes of Antioch from French into Armenian, and probably also had some familiarity with Greek, Arabic, Turkish and Persian. He visited the Mongol court in Karakorum in 1248 and recorded some of his observations in a short letter in French to his brother-in-law Henry I of Cyprus. Such an individual certainly was uniquely well-informed to write a chronicle of his times. 

These editions were translated by Beyon Miloyan and Robert Bedrosian. Beyon is the translator of the novels Harem, Jalaleddin, The Fool and Prohaeresius (co-translated with Kimberley McFarlane) and The History of Vartan and the Armenian War and The Maxims and Wisdom of Khikar. He maintains the Armenian Antilibrary. Robert received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1979, specializing in ancient and medieval Armenian history, followed by a decades-long successful career in computer programming. Since 2009, he has uploaded over 2,000 documents online about ancient and medieval Armenian culture, making his History Workshop the prime website for students of Armenian and Near East history.