By Levon Zekiyan
The Orontid (Ervanduni)
The periods of Achaemenian and
first Armenian dynasty was that of the Ervanduni, from the name
Er-Vand (Eruand), known in Greek historiography in the form Orontes or
Aroandes. But it was a short-lived sovereignty, for the Ervanduni were
soon subjugated to the rule of Darius I, who shared out their territory
between the two satrapies, the XIII and the XVII, of his administrative
system. Thus, among the twenty-three populations dominated by Darius were
the Armenians, alongside the Medes and the Susians, in Adapadana of Persepolis.
Then began a long period of Achaemenian
supremacy for Armenia, which still took place within the framework of a
certain internal administrative automomy. It was led by its own dynasty,
the Orontids who, being related to the Persian court, acted as satraps,
or provincial governors. The political supremacy of the Achaemenians
was accompanied by a strong influence, particularly in the use of the Persian
language, which is revealed by the large number of words, often fairly
common ones, borrowed from Persian.
Only Macedonian expansion put an
end to the Achaemenian domination, after the victory of Arbela in 331.
A general tendency towards autonomy ensued, above all in the central-eastern
regions, which were to be called Greater Armenia (Armenia Major).
Xenophon had already spoken of "Western
Armenia" as a distinct administrative entity, but subordinated to "Armenia"
(Anabasis III, 5, 17), which was led not by a satrap, but by a hyparchos,
that is, a lieutenant. Further developments, the consequences of various
political and cultural factors, were to result in the formation of two
distinct territorial entities known respectively, around the middle of
the fourth century, as Greater Armenia and Armenia Minor. The former was
to include the eastem regions of the Euphrates, while the latter extended
roughly over the territory delineated by the present-day cities of Sivas,
Erzincan and Malatya, west and north of the upper elbow of the Euphrates.
Although it often possessed its own
rulers, this area was to be deeply affected by the political and cultural
influence of the Hellenistic world, finding itself in direct contact with
the heavily Hellenized regions of the Pontus and Cappadocia. Greater Armenia,
on the other hand, which was more protected from this point of view, was
to have a more harmonious development, with greater emphasis on Armenian