The Armenians were widely valued for their military prowess. In the aftermath of the Byzantine defeat some enterprising commanders moved to Egypt under the Fatimids where the Armenian Badr al-Jamaii (1074-94) founded a dynasty of viziers lasting almost a century. Though most adopted Islam, they acted as patrons of the older Christian Armenian community established there, which underwent something of a renaissance. This is reflected in the building of some thirty churches and monasteries, of which the White Monastery near Sohag is the best preserved, featuring several frescos and inscriptions, the work of the artist T'eodor of K'esun.18
Although Armenians were often wary of Byzantium's hegemonic ambitions, many in this era still looked to Constantinople as the primary representative of Christendom in the Near East. The capital possessed a growing Armenian population, which exploited its position as a conduit for renewed translation from Greek into Armenian. Their activities had great influence on the development in the eleventh and twelfth centuries of the Armenian menologion (yaysmawurk') and of the liturgy of St Athanasius, which drew on elements from its Byzantine counterpart attributed to St John Chrysostom.19 Moreover, the energetic catholicos Grigor II earned his epithet 'Martyrophile' (Vkayaser) through commissioning a range of vitae and other texts from Greek and Syriac, an enterprise which several of his successors advanced into the late thirteenth century.20 While the focus of these endeavours tended to be older patristic works not yet available in Armenian, Armenian Chalcedonian translators operating in areas under Byzantine and Georgian control placed their emphasis on post-Chalcedonian Fathers, for example St John Klimax and St John of Damascus.21 Their monasteries, such as K'obayr, K'iranc' and Axt'ala (Plnjahank'), which flourished in the thirteenth century in the northern region of Lori, manifest the middle Byzantine penchant for fresco programmes
18 Kapoi'an-Kouymjian, Égypte, I5-I6; Sèda B. Dadoyan, The Fatimid Armenians [Islamic History and Civilization Studies and Texts I8] (Leiden: Brill, I997), 85-I05.
19 Nèrsês Akinean, 'Yovsèp' Kostandnupolsec'i, targmanic yaysmawürk'i (99I)' [Yovsep' Kostandnupolsec'i as translator of the menologiüm], Handês Amsoreay 7I (I957), I-I2; H.-J. Feulner, Die armenische Athanasius-Anaphora [Anaphoraè orientales i] (Rome: Pontificio istitüto orientale, 2001), 456-8.
20 Garègin Zarbhanalèan, Matenadaran haykakan t'argmanuteanc' naxneac' (dar D-ZG) [Library of Ancient Armenian Translations (Fourth-Thirteenth Centuries)] (Venice: St Lazar's Press, 1889), xxviii-xxxi; Lèvon Ter Pètrossian, Ancient Armenian translations (New York: St Vartan's Press, 1992), 9-11.
21 S. P. Cowe, 'Medieval Armenian literary and cultural trends (twelfth-seventeenth centuries)', in History ofthe Armenianpeoplefrom ancientto modern times, èd. R. G. Hovannisian (New York: St Martin's Press, I997), I, 3II.
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