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Robing, Power, and Legitimacy in Armenia and Georgia

  • Antony Eastmond
  • Lynn Jones
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

This chapter addresses the relationship between ceremonial, robes, and the legitimization and display of royal power in Armenia and Georgia. These Christian states of the Caucasus acted as buffers between the Byzantine empire to the west and the Islamic caliphate to the east and southeast, and for much of the Middle Ages they were dominated by one or the other of their more powerful neighbors. This study concentrates on the ninth and tenth centuries, a period when both Armenia and Georgia began to establish their own power and independent position in the region. It examines the different ways in which ceremonial and the gifts of robes and regalia from the emperor in Constantinople or the caliph in Baghdad or Samarra were used to establish or enhance rulership.

Keywords

Eleventh Century Temporal Power Visual Expression Powerful Neighbor Textual Account 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bagrationi is, in fact, the Georgian equivalent of Bagratid, and will be used in this paper to distinguish the Georgian and the Armenian branches. Some Georgian historians, such as P. Ingoroqva, Giorgi Merchule (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1954), pp. 76–80, have sought to deny the Armenian descent of the Bagrationis (for a summary see K. Salia, History of the Georgian Nation (Paris: Orientaliste, 1980), pp. 127–31), but this has been conclusively demolished by C. Toumanoff, Studies in Christian Caucasian History (Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 1963), 334–36, 407–28.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The date of the Armenian-Byzantine break remains the subject of great debate. I follow the chronology proposed by Nina Garsoïan, “Quelques précisions préliminaries sur le schisme entre les Eglises byzantine et armenienne au sujet du Concile de Chalcédoine, III: Les évéchés méridionaux limitrophes de las Mésopotamie,” Revue des Études arméniennes 23 (1992): 39–80; and “Quelques précisions préliminaires sur le schisme entre les Eglises byzantine et armenienne au sujet du Concile de Chalcédoine, II: La date et les circonstances de las rupture,” L’Arménie et Byzance, Histoire et culture (Paris, 1996), 99–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    During the reign of Ashot I the ostikanate of Armenia was allowed to lapse, and of the former duties expected from Armenian nobility only the collection of taxes remained in place. During the reign of Ashot I’s son, Smbat I, the ostikanates of Armenia and Azerbaijan were joined, reinstating direct Islamic control over the country. The ostikan’s primary residence was in Partaw, in present-day Azerbaijan. The fundamental study of Islamic administration of Armenia, and of Armenian-Islamic interactions, is Aram Ter-Ghewondyan, The Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia, trans. Nina Garsoïan (Lisbon: Livraria Bertrand, 1976).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Yovhannes Drasxanakertc’i, History of Armenia, trans. Krikor H. Maksoudian (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987), 125. For Bagratid presiding princes in the period preceding the war see Joseph Laurent, L’Arménie entre Byzance et l’Islam depuis la conquête arabe jusqu’en 886 (Paris: Fontemoing et cie, 1919), rev. Marius Canard (Lisbon: Librarie Bertrand, 1980), 406. All subsequent citations refer to the revised edition.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Laurent, L’Arménie, 406; Thomas Artsruni, History of the House of the Artsrunik’, trans. Robert W. Thomson (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1985), 270. In 480 CE the Sasanians eradicated the last Arsacid king of Armenia; in the subsequent four hundred years Armenia was contested by Byzantium, Sasanid Persia, and the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    For the standardization of ceremonial by the Abbasid caliphate see Aziz Al-Azmeh, Muslim Kingship: Power and the Sacred in Muslim, Christian, and Pagan Politics (London: I. B.Taurus, 1997), 134–35.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    There was no precedent for the internal election or appointment of an Armenian king. In classical Armenia, kingship was designated and supported by the controlling foreign power, and unless removed, succession was hereditary within the designated family. During this period the royal families of Armenia were most often collateral branches of the suzerain dynasty; the Bagratids were, strictly speaking, the first Armenian kings. In the classical period the Bagratids were the equivalent of coronants, and thus in the ninth century could not lay any historical claim to royal status. See [Ps.] P’awstos Buzand, The Epic Histories Attributed to Pʻawstos Buzand [Buzandaran Patmutʻiwnkʻ], trans. and commentary by N. Garsoïan (Cambridge, MA, 1989) 5.44, pp. 228–29; C. Toumanoff, Christian Caucausian History, 139; C. Toumanoff, “The Third-Century Armenian Arsacids: A Chronological and Genealogical Commentary,” Revue des Etudes arméniennes 6 (1969): 243.Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    For a discussion of the textual sources and bibliography see Averil Cameron, “The Construction of Court Ritual: The Byzantine Book of Ceremonies,” in Rituals of Royalty, ed. David Cannadine and S. Price (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 106–36.Google Scholar
  9. 28.
    S. Peter Cowe, forthcoming, and “New Light on the Evolution of the Byzantine Coronation Liturgy,” Abstracts of the Twenty-Second Annual Byzantine Studies Conference, October 24–27, 1996, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, N.C: University at Chapel Hill, 1997), 11.Google Scholar
  10. 49.
    The date of Ashot II’s imperial visit has been much contested; the arguments are summarized in Steven Runciman, The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929), 249–52. I follow the chronology proposed by Adontz, which is now generally accepted by scholars. Nikolai Adontz, Etudes arméno-byzantines (Lisbon: Livraria Bertrand, 1965), 265–66.Google Scholar
  11. 56.
    There are, for instance, multiple surviving examples of Byzantine portraits that depict the emperor receiving his crown from the hand of God. For an ivory panel depicting the emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos crowned by Christ, see Adolf Goldschmidt and Kurt Weitzmann, Die Byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.–XIII. Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Deutsche Verlag fur Kunstwissenschaft, 1930), no. 35; 35–36. For a manuscript portrait depicting Constantine IX Monomachos crowned by Christ, see Iohannes Spatharakis, The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1976), 99–102, fig. 66. For an illumination of Constantine and his empress, Eudokia, crowned by Christ see ibid., 102–106, fig. 68; for an illumination depicting John II Komnenos and his eldest son Alexios being crowned by Christ see ibid., 79–83, fig. 46. A manuscript portrait of an imperial family, including the crowning of the emperor by Christ, is discussed in Jeffrey Anderson, Paul Canart, and Christopher Walter, The Barberini Psalter. Codex Vaticanus Barberinianus Graecus 372 (Zurich: Belser Verlag, 1989), 15ff., 55–56. An enamel on the Khakhuli Triptych now in the State Museum of Fine Arts in Tbilisi shows Michael VII Doukas and his Georgian empress, Maria, being crowned by Christ; Shalva Amiranashvili, Medieval Georgian Enamels of Russia, trans. F. Hirsch and J. Ross, (New York: Abrams, 1964), 93–111.Google Scholar
  12. 57.
    The church of Mren, dating to the second or third decade of the seventh century, retains depictions of the prince Nerseh Kamsarakan and the prince David Saharuni. See Nicole and Michel Thierry, “La Cathédral de Mrèn et sa décoration,” Cahiers Archéologiques 24 (1975): 73–114. A prince of Siwnik is depicted in the church at Sisavan, dated to 691; see Lucy Der Manuelian, “Armenian Sculptural Images, Fifth to Eighth Centuries,” in Classical Armenian Culture, University of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies 4, ed. Thomas J. Samuelian (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1984), 185, plate 6. Nothing survives from the eighth and ninth centuries.Google Scholar
  13. 59.
    For bibliography see O. Kh. Ghalpaktchian and Adrian Alpago-Novello, Sanahin, Documents in Armenian Architecture 3 (Milan: Edizioni Ares, 1980). The portraits have been differently interpreted by Helen Evans, “Kings and Power Bases: Sources for Royal Portraits in Cilician Armenia,” in From Byzantium to Iran: In Honour of Nina Garsoïan, ed. Jean-Pierre Mahé and Robert W. Thomson (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997), 485–507, esp. 488. Evans suggests that the peaked headdresses worn by the princes at Sanahin are meant to imitate Byzantine crowns, and cites as supporting evidence a thirteenth-century Armenian history that records the gift of a crown to Ashot I in 887 by the emperor Basil I. As has been discussed above and in n. 34, no such imperial gifts are recorded in the surviving contemporary Armenian histories.Google Scholar
  14. 60.
    The church was constructed between 976 and 991. The images at Haghbat are carved in much higher relief than their sculptural counterparts at Sanahin. Stepʻan Mnatsʻakanian and A. Alpago-Novello, Haghbat, Documents in Armenian Architecture 1 (Milan: Edizioni Ares, 1980), 12.Google Scholar
  15. 62.
    The turbans featured here and in the sculpture from Ani, discussed immediately below, reflect the previous assimilation of Islamic modes of dress into the Armenian aristocracy. A turban is also depicted in the portrait of the Georgian Ashot Kuhki, discussed below. This image is dated to 891–918, attesting to the assimilation of turbans in the period contemporary with the first three Bagratid kings of Armenia. It therefore provides supporting evidence that, like their late tenth-century counterparts, the lost portraits of the earliest Bagratid kings of Armenia could also have featured turbans as a sign of royal rank. For a discussion of the contemporary and later use of such “Islamic” dress in Byzantium, see Cyril Mango, “Discontinuity with the Classical Past in Byzantium,” in Byzantium and the Classical Tradition, ed. Margaret Mullett and Roger Scott (Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 1981) 48–57, esp. 51–52.Google Scholar
  16. 65.
    The church is all that survives of the tenth-century city of Aghtʼamar, which originally also featured a royal palace, princely residences, treasuries, gardens, fortified walls, and an enclosed harbor. This is described in Artsruni, History, 354–58. Two subsidiary chapels were added to the northeast of the church sometime after the early fourteenth century, and the southern bell tower and the western chapel were added in the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. For a discussion of these later constructions see Sirarpie Der Nersessian, Aght?mar, Church of the Holy Cross (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 9–10.Google Scholar
  17. 66.
    These birds, with their short beaks and plump bodies, do not appear elsewhere on the Church of the Holy Cross, indicating that they are not a conventional decorative motif. In contrast, the linked concentric circles and the floral brooch that are also part of Gagik’s costume can be seen as elements of the sculptor’s decorative vocabulary, as they reappear in the dress of other figures carved on the church, for example in the figure of St. Sahak on the south facade. Illustrated in Lynn Jones, “The Church of the Holy Cross and the Iconography of Kingship,” Gesta 33/2 (1994): 104–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 67.
    Gagik’s mantle is essentially a cape, shorter in front and trailing to mid-calf length behind. Umayyad portraits are known to have borrowed from the Sasanian tradition of royal representation, and several Umayyad portraits feature such mantles. An example from Qasr al-Hayr West is illustrated in Richard Ettinghausen, Arab Painting (Geneva: A. Skira, 1962) fig. 30. For Abbasid emulation see below and n. 69.Google Scholar
  19. 69.
    For a discussion of Abbasid emulation of Sasanian royal art, see Oleg Grabar, “An introduction to the art of Sasanian Silver,” in Sasanian Silver: Late Antique and Early Medieval Arts of Luxury from Iran. August–September 1967, University of Michigan Museum of Art (Ann Arbor, MI, University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1967) 20–25. For Abbasid familiarity with, and interest in, Sasanian royal art, see Ar-Rawandi, Rahat us-Sudur, ed. Muhammad Igbal (London, 1921), 72; trans, in Thomas W. Arnold and Arnold Grohmann, The Islamic Book (Leipzig: Pantheon, 1929), 67; M. J. de Goeje, ed., Kitab at-Tanbih, Bilbiotheca Geographorum Arabicorum VIII, 106; trans. Arnold and Grohmann, Islamic Book, 1; Kitab taʼRikh sinni muluk al-Ard wa-ʼl Anbiyaʼ (Berlin: Kaviani-Verlag, 1340 A. H. = 1921/22 A. D), 34, trans. Arnold and Grohmann, Islamic Book, 1–2. As noted above, no examples are from the house of the ruling dynasty, as crowns were generally considered inappropriate for Abbasid caliphs. For examples of caliphal headdress, see Mehdi Bahrami, “A Gold Medallion the Freer Gallery of Art,” in Archaeologica Orientalia in Memoriam Ernst Herzfeld, ed. G. C. Miles (New York: J. J. Augustin, 1952) 20, fig. 4a, 17, fig. 2.Google Scholar
  20. 72.
    Illustrated in Janine Sourdel-Thomine and Bertold Spuler, eds., Kunst des Islam, vol. 4, Propyläen Kunstgeschichte (Berlin: Propyläen Verlag, 1973) figs. 155 a, b.Google Scholar
  21. 75.
    For palaces see Ernst Herzfeld, Die Ausgraben von Samarra, vol. 3 (Berlin: Verlag Reimer, 1927), 38, fig. 23. For textiles, Arnold and Grohmann, Islamic Book, 10. For silver, see Arthur U. Pope, ed., A Survey of Persian Art, vol. 4, pl. 208 A. For gold medallions, see Sourdel-Thomine and Spuler, Propyläen Kunstgeschichte, 267, fig. 204c, fig. 205a. For Fatimid examples, see Edmond Pauty, Les Bois Sculptés (Cairo: l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1931), 49–50, pl. XLVII–LVIII; Georges Marçais, “Les figures d’hommes et de bêtes dans les bois sculptés d’époques fâtimite conservés au Musée arabe du Caire,” in Mémoire de l’Institut français, Mélanges Maspero (Cairo: l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, 1935), reprinted in Robert Lacoste, ed., Mélanges d’Histoire et d’Archéologie de l’Occident Musulman, vol. 1, Articles et Conférences de Georges Marçais (Rabat, Algeria: Direction des Beaux-Arts du Gouvernment Général, 1957), 81–92 (pages refer to reprint edition). For multiple Hispano-Umayyad examples and bibliography, see Jerrilynn Dodds, ed., Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain (New York: Abrams, 1992). For use of this iconography in a Christian context, in the extraordinary muqarnas ceiling over the nave of the Capella Palatina in Palermo, see Ugo Monneret de Villard, Le Pitture Musulmane al Soffitto delia Cappella palatina in Palermo (Rome: State Library, 1950); and William Tronzo, The Cultures of His Kingdom (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 57–62.Google Scholar
  22. 77.
    As we have observed, even the Bagratid kings—the frequent recipients of Byzantine robes—did not include such regalia in their portraits. The seminal work on imperial imagery remains André Grabar, L’Empereur dans l’art byzantin: Recherches sur l’art officiel de l’empire d’orient (1936, reprint London: Variorum, 1970).Google Scholar
  23. 81.
    The relevant chronicles for this period are the anonymous Matiane kartlisai (the Book of Kartli), and Sumbat Davitisdze’s Life and History of the Bagrationis, in S. Q’aukhchishvili ed., Kartlis tskhovreba (the Annals of Georgia) (Tbilisi: Sakhelgami, 1955) vol. 1, pp. 249–317, 372–86; Matiane kartlisai is translated by Robert W. Thomson, ed., Rewriting Caucasian History. The Medieval Armenian Adaptation of the Georgian Chronicles. The Original Georgian Texts and the Armenian Adaptation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 255–308; and Sumbat Davitisdze by Gertrud Patsch, Das Leben Kartlis. Eine Chronik aus Georgien 300–1200 (Leipzig: Sammlung Dieterich, 1985), pp. 459–81. On the history of the chronicles, see Stephen H. Rapp, Imagining History at the Crossroads: Persia, Byzantium, and the Architects of the Written Georgian Past (unpublished Ph.D thesis: University of Michigan, 1997), chap. 6, part 2.Google Scholar
  24. 84.
    Robert W Thomson, “The Historical Compilation of Vardan Arewelc’i,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 43 (1989): 182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 85.
    There is no general agreement about the identification and numbering of members of the Bagrationi family. It is very complex as so many collateral branches of the family ruled simultaneously and as certain names recur frequently. In this part of the paper the numbering adopted is that used in Antony Eastmond, Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia (University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 1998), p. 261; however, for clarity the identification numbers used in the stemma produced by Cyril Toumanoff, “The Bagratids of Iberia from the Eighth to the Eleventh Century,” Le Muséon 74 (1961): 5–42, 233–316 will also be cited; in Toumanoff, Adarnase is: No.23, Adarnase IV(II).Google Scholar
  26. 86.
    Cyril Toumanoff, “Armenia and Georgia,” in Joan M. Hussey, ed., The Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 4, part 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966), p. 613.Google Scholar
  27. 87.
    The title of kouropalates was normally reserved for members of the imperial family. However, it had been used irregularly as an honorific title for rulers in Georgia since the sixth century when the emperor Justin bestowed it on Tzathe, king of Lazica (Colchis) in 522: Louis Dindorf ed., Chronicon Paschal (Bonn: Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, 1832), pp. 163–64; Michael Whitby and Mary Whitby, eds., Chronicon Paschale 284–628 AD, Translated Texts for Historians: 7 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989), p. 105. The text that describes the ceremony lays great stress on the nature of the robes given to Tzathe. Interestingly, this first example also establishes the importance of these honors as an instrument of international politics: the Persian ruler Koades immediately complained that the bestowal of the honor was a usurpation of his authority. For a general discussion of the title see Rapp, Imagining History at the Crossroads, chap. 7, part 1.Google Scholar
  28. 90.
    Kartlis tskhovreba 1 (Matiane kartlisai), p. 262, lines 3–7; tr. Thomson, Rewriting Caucasian History, pp. 265: “At that time [904] Constantine, king of the Apkhaz, seized Kartli, and became an enemy of the king of Armenia, Sumbat.” Nothing else is known about Apkhazetian ritual; and the only known image of a ruler of Apkhazeti is in the church of Kumurdo in Javakheti. On this see Eastmond, Royal Imagery, pp. 34–38, 231–32; Valerie Silogava, Kumurdo tadzris epigrapika (The Epigraphy of the church of Kumurdo) (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1994).Google Scholar
  29. 95.
    Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, De administrando imperio, ed. G. Moravcsik and R.J. H.Jenkins, Dumbarton Oaks Texts: 1 (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 1967), chap. 46.49–53. Wachtang Djobadze, Early Medieval Georgian Monasteries in Historic Tao, Klarjeti and Savseti (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1992), p. 118, misidentifies this Gurgen as Gurgen I (= Toumanoff, “Bagratids,” No. 8, Gurgen I).Google Scholar
  30. 98.
    Z. Avalichvili, “La succession du curopalate David, d’lbérie, dynaste de Tao,” Byzantion 8 (1933): 177–202; C. Badridze, “Contribution à l’histoire des relations entre le Tao Géorgie du sud et Byzance. Insurrection de Bardas Skléros,” Bedi Kartlisa 33 (1975): 162–90.Google Scholar
  31. 99.
    Bernadette Martin-Hisard, “L’Athos, l’Orient et le Caucase au XIe siècle,” in Anthony A. M. Bryer and Mary Cunningham, eds., Mount Athos and Byzantine Monasticism, Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies. Publications: 4 (Aldershot: Variorum, 1996), pp. 239–248.; Hélène Metreveli, “Le rôle de l’Athos dans l’histoire de la culture géorgienne,” Bedi Kartlisa 40 (1983): 17–26.Google Scholar
  32. 100.
    These robes are mentioned in a number of sources: I. Kratchkovsky and A. A. Vasiliev, ed. & trans., Histoire deYahya-Ibn-Saʻïd d’Antioche, Continuateur de Saʻïd-Ibn-Bitriq, Patrologia Orientalis: vol. 23 fasc. 3 (Paris: Patrologia Orientalis, 1932), pp. 429–30; John Skylitzes, Synopsis historiarum, ed. H. Thurn (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1973), p. 339.77–79. There are some problems with the chronology of Davit’s titles as one manuscript, dated earlier by a colophon, names Davit as kouropalates. This conflicts with the chronicle accounts. I follow here the chronicle dating since it appears to provide a more compelling explanation of the events of Davit’s reign. Djobadze, Early Medieval Georgian Monasteries, p. 119 n. 421 claims both these texts refer to the emperor Romanos II and the 979 revolt of Bardas Skleros—a historical impossibility and a misinterpretation.Google Scholar
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    Nicolas Oikonomides, Les listes de préseance byzantines du IXe et Xe siècle (Paris: CNRS, 1972), pp. 95.14–21 (magistros) and 97.7–11 (kouropalates).Google Scholar
  34. 109.
    On this site see: V. Beridze, Architecture de Tao-Klardjétie (Tbilisi: Khelovneba, 1981), pp. 299–301; Djobadze, Early Medieval Georgian Monasteries, pp. 10–13; Eastmond, Royal Imagery, pp. 17–19.Google Scholar
  35. 110.
    S. Amiranashvili, Istoriia gruzinskogo iskusstva (The History of Georgian Art) (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1963), pp. 176–77.; N. A. Aladashvili, Monumental’naia skulptura Gruzii (Monumental Sculpture in Georgia) (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1977), pp. 68–74.Google Scholar
  36. 111.
    The inscriptions are analyzed by N. Shoshiashvili, Aghmosavlet da samkhret sakartvelo V–X ss. Kartuli tsartserebis korpusi: Lapidaruli tsartserebi, vol. 1 (A Corpus of Georgian Inscriptions in East and South Georgia, V–X centuries) (Tbilisi: Metsniereba, 1980), p. 286.Google Scholar
  37. 112.
    These are recorded by Nikolai Marr, Dnevnik poezdki v Shavshetiiu i Klardzhetiiu (St. Petersburg: Imperial Press, 1911), pp. 160, 163; Eastmond, Royal Imagery, p. 223.Google Scholar
  38. 118.
    On these churches and their reliefs, see Thierry, “La cathédrale de Mrèn et sa décoration”: 43–77; W. Djobadze, “The Sculptures on the Eastern Façade of the Holy Cross of Mtzkheta,” Orlens Christianus 44 (1960): 112–35 and 45 (1961): 70–77.Google Scholar
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    Djobadze, Early Medieval Georgian Monasteries, pp. 92–141; Beridze, Architecture de Tao-Klardjétie, pp. 297–99. On the reign of Davit III, see Zaza Skhirtladze, “The Mother of All the Churches. Remarks on the Iconographic Programme of the Apse Decoration of Dort Kilise,” Cahiers Archéologiques 43 (1995): pp.101–116.Google Scholar
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    Wachtang Djobadze, “The Donor Reliefs and the Date of the Church at Oshki,” Byzantinische Zeitschrift 69 (1976): 50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 129.
    The evidence for this comes in two inscriptions recorded at the church that mention the donations of Basil II and his co-emperor Constantine VIII: Ekvtime Taqaishvili, Arkheologicheskaia ekspeditsiia 1911-go goda v iuzhnye provintsii Gruzii (The archaeological expedition of 1917 to the southern provinces of Georgia) (Tbilisi: Khelovneba, 1952), pp. 63–64.Google Scholar

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© Stewart Gordon 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antony Eastmond
  • Lynn Jones

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