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West Asia

The national deity of the ancient Armenians, who seem to have entered Asia Minor from Thrace during the seventh century bc. Vahagn, the god of war, was popular enough not to share the fate of lesser deities, whom the Persian gods replaced after Armenia was conquered by Cyrus. Vahagn was associated with the sun, lightning, and fire. At birth ‘he had hair of fire, he had a beard of flame, and his eyes were suns’. His exploits in slaying dragons led to identification with Heracles, though he would have reminded Hannibal rather of Melqart when the Carthaginian general took refuge in Artaxata. In 190 bc Artaxias, the Seleucid commander of the province, declared his independence and Hannibal, a fugitive from the Romans after the disastrous invasion of Italy, assisted the rebel in founding a dynasty.

Subjects: Religion.

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