Posts Tagged ‘Armenia’

Thus Spat Zarathustra

Posted in General, On This Day on May 26th, 2018 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

On this day in 451, when the Persians were much more likable….

Imagine having a Trump fan in the family. That dismay was exactly how Persia felt when Armenia converted to Christianity. Really, what is wrong with Zoroastrianism? Even the Jews never complained about it.

Worse, for a Persian satellite, Armenia seemed to be getting a little too cordial to Constantinople, sending bishops to synods. (It hardly mattered that the Armenian bishops were always picking the losing side in the debates on the Trinity. The Persians couldn’t tell the difference) The Persians decided to suppress Christianity in Armenia, replacing priests with magi. The Armenians could tell the difference and rose in rebellion. Of course, with an army three times the size of Armenia’s, Persia won–on this day in 451.   The Persians spent the next thirty years ruling Armenia.  It turned out that the Zoroastrians had no reason to fear the Armenian Church conspiring with Constantinople.  The Byzantines were so obnoxious; their theological quibbling created schisms among Christians.   So Persia finally offered Armenia its independence on these terms:  you can keep your religion but stay our stooge.  For lack of an alternative miracle. Armenia agreed.

Two centuries later, the conquering Arabs made the same offer to Armenia, but–ironically–were far less mellow with Persia. Convert or die. If you have noticed, those Ayatollahs are not magi.

States of Denial

Posted in General on March 5th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Pope Francis risked Turkish anger on Sunday by using the word “genocide” to refer to the mass killings of Armenians a century ago under the Ottoman Empire.

 

I imagine that the Press Secretary of Turkey could offer this explanation:For some reason, the Armenians decided en masse to march into the Anatolian wastelands but in their impetuous whimsy forgot to bring any food. Now this occurred during World War I, so perhaps there was a shortage of updated Michelin guides. (The French army would have been using them to rate the trenches at Verdun.) Those silly Armenians kept missing the Howard Johnsons and ended starving to death–except for the thousands who must have accidently shot or bayoneted themselves.”

For some reason, most people don’t believe the Turkish explanation. However, the Japanese do.
Japan, too, has suffered from an unkind skepticism regarding “accidents” that may have happened in the topsy-turvy of the ’30s and ’40s. Apparently, millions of Chinese civilians died while the Japanese army was in the neighborhood. Given China’s large population, that may have been a statistical inevitability. There also could be a nutritional explanation. If, in 1937, 300,000 people in Nanking evidently chose to massacre and decapitate themselves, that might have been a reaction to all the monosodium glutamate in Chinese food. Yes, well, the Samurai Code evidently does not require credibility.
Fortunately, with my experience in the Chicago financial markets, I have a solution to Turkey’s and Japan’s bad reputations: Guilt Futures. Just pay, trade or coerce another country into taking the blame. It might not be historically valid, but we should let the marketplace determine who wants to be guilty. Sudan probably could use a little extra money to finance its ongoing genocide; an extra massacre or two on its resume would hardly be noticed. France might be willing to swap its Huguenot massacres or Nazi collaboration for more conveniently remote crimes. In the case of Nanking and the other atrocites, China and Japan could overcome history by finding a mutually agreeable scapegoat: Tibet.

Alas for Turkey, it is not a rich country. The guilt future for the Armenian genocide should offer more than a few tons of figs. Of course, if the Turks offered military bases and unlimited use of their airspace, then there might be a willing culprit. After all, what are allies for?….

Today President Obama apologized for America’s massacre of the Armenians. As a national expression of remorse, the President encouraged people to eat raisins and read William Saroyan.

 

 

Byzantine Eugenics

Posted in General, On This Day on July 26th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

July 26, 811:  The Emperor Nicephorus Should Have Stuck to Accounting

Have you ever wondered why the Greeks don’t look like Colin Farrell, Val Kilmer or anyone else in the cast of “Alexander”?

Of course, you could say that Oliver Stone is a lunatic; and that would end the argument. However, if you further added that Macedonians are not Greeks, then I would venture this correction. In antiquity, Macedonians were the equivalent of redneck Greeks. They would have fewer teeth than Athenians, and would probably paste hardware decals on their chariots. Nonetheless, they would have been–barely (over Demosthenes’ battered body)–included in the Hellenic world.

Which brings us back to our original question: why do Greeks look like Armenians? (Come on: you can’t tell the difference, either.) The fact is that they are Armenian, the descendants of a massive relocation program undertaken by the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I. 

By the ninth century, Greece was largely unpopulated. Five centuries of barbarian invasions were not great for demographics. Those Hellenes who had not been massacred or carried off into slavery huddled behind the walls of the few remaining cities. Yet across the Bosphorus, Anatolia was thriving. (Visigoths, Huns, Bulgars and Slavs evidently couldn’t swim.) Emperor Nicephorus (r. 802-811), who was a financier by training, decided to redistribute Anatolia’s surplus population to Greece. The Armenian provinces had people to spare, and the Imperial coercion was mitigated with the promise of free and rich lands.

Of course, there still was a problem with Bulgarian invasions, but the Emperor intended to take care of that. He certainly tried; today is the 1199th anniversary of Nicephorus’ death and defeat of his army. Mountain passes in Bulgaria can be tricky. Nicephorus was a much better accountant than general. He apparently also made an excellent goblet. The Bulgar Khan used Nicephorus’ skull as a drinking vessel.

Nonetheless, Nicephorus’ head had thought of a way to stabilize and revive Greece. It is just that Greeks no longer look like Greek Gods.

Byzantine Eugenics

Posted in General, On This Day on July 26th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

Have you ever wondered why most Greeks don’t look like Colin Farrell or Val Kilmer?

Of course, you could say that Oliver Stone is a lunatic; and that would end the argument. However, if you further added that Macedonians are not Greeks, then I would venture this correction. In antiquity, Macedonians were the equivalent of redneck Greeks. They would have fewer teeth than Athenians, and would probably paste hardware decals on their chariots. Nonetheless, they would have been–barely (over Demosthenes’ battered body)–included in the Hellenic world.

Which brings us back to our original question: why do Greeks look like Armenians? (Come on: you can’t tell the difference, either.) The fact is that they are Armenian, the descendants of a massive relocation program undertaken by the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I.

By the ninth century, Greece was largely unpopulated. Five centuries of barbarian invasions were not great for demographics. Those Hellenes who had not been massacred or carried off into slavery huddled behind the walls of the few remaining cities. Yet across the Bosphorus, Anatolia was thriving. (Visigoths, Huns, Bulgars and Slavs evidently couldn’t swim.) Emperor Nicephorus, who was a financier by training, decided to redistribute Anatolia’s surplus population to Greece. The Armenian provinces had people to spare, and the Imperial coercion was mitigated with the promise of free and rich lands.

Of course, there still was a problem with Bulgarian invasions, but the Emperor intended to take care of that. He certainly tried; today is the 1196th anniversary of Nicephorus’ death and defeat of his army. Mountain passes in Bulgaria can be tricky. Nicephorus was a much better accountant than general. He apparently also made an excellent goblet. The Bulgar Khan used Nicephorus’ skull as a drinking vessel.

Nonetheless, Nicephorus’ head had thought of a way to stabilize and revive Greece. It is just that Greeks no longer look like Greek Gods.