Armenian News Network / Groong



Armenian News Network / Groong
October 20, 2008

By Eddie Arnavoudian


`Daredevils of Sasun: Poetics of an epic' (263pp, 2008, Mazda,
translated into English by Peter Cowe) is a timely and erudite study
of the Armenian epic born of the 7/8th century resistance to Arab
occupation. On Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 October its English
edition was launched first in London and then in Oxford by its author
Professor Azat Yeghiazaryan Director of the Manuk Abeghyan Institute
of Literature of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia.

With reference to European, Russian and Eastern epics Azat
Yeghiazaryan set an international context for appreciating the
singularity of the Armenian epic. A tale of solidarity, patriotism,
courage and honour `Daredevils of Sasun' was, uniquely, created,
developed and preserved as an oral tale and survived for a thousand
years with no connection to official Armenian literature. It was
written down only in the 19th century. In this aspect `Daredevils of
Sasun' is a genuine people's epic, a reality evident the epic's
history, its art, democratic sensibility and its moral compass.

The Daredevils of Sasun are like the heroes of other epics are indeed
kings, princes and knights. But they are so only formally. Their
palaces are cottages little different from those of the common people.
They live their daily lives among the people. They are extraordinary
individuals but they are simultaneously from and of the common
people. They do not regard themselves different from or opposed to the
common people and they put their extraordinarytalents to the
collective interest, primarily the battle against foreign oppression.
In their epic fights for freedom there is no glorification of violence
that one finds elsewhere. They slay, but only in self defence and
readily spare ordinary Arab soldiers sent to war against their will.

Discussing these and numerous other ways in which the `Daredevils of
Sasun' differs from other international epics, Azat Yeghiazaryan
revealed how this epic preserves a mode of human existence which has a
great deal to say to us today.

To obtain copies please contact Abril Bookstore (
in the USA or the Armenian Institute in London

Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from
Manchester, England, and is Groong's commentator-in-residence on
Armenian literature. His works on literary and political issues
have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open
Letter in Los Angeles.
Redistribution of Groong articles, such as this one, to any other media, including but not limited to other mailing lists and Usenet bulletin boards, is strictly prohibited without prior written consent from
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