James R. Russell, Magic Mountains, Milky Seas, Dragon Slayers, and Other Zoroastrian Archetypes


The first century B.C. Armenian king Tigran the Great was regarded as a belonging to the seed of the god Verethraghna, Armenian Vahagn; and Movses Xorenac'i incorporated into his genealogy of Greater Armenia the hymn on the birth of the latter, which for all its brevity is one of the most thematically and phonetically intricate poems in the Indo-European language family. The Tigranid epic adapts from the narrative of Cyrus and Astyages and the functions of Vahagn the topos of battle with a tyrannical dragon, Azhi Dahaka/Azhdahak. The paper explores the poetics and mythology of the Armenian pre-Christian oral epic text.