The Legend of Sasuntsi David

“Msra Meliq, the king of Arabia kills the king, Lion Mher, who was the leader of his nation, and takes his son David to raise. Due to the unnatural strength of the young boy, the king can no longer keep him, so he gives the child to his uncle to raise. As David grows, so do his powers. It is believed that he had weapons that no one else could hold. His horse would fly across town and he could alone destroy large groups of enemy soldiers in one strike. David is represented as a statue in the city of Yerevan swinging his sword back and forth and flying his horse, Kurkik Jalali. The legend of David of Sasun has been integrated in many baby names of Armenian sons. Even my brother is named David, who my father believed would be the hero, the savior, the symbol of our nation.”

The informant was born and raised in Armenia and moved to the United States when she was about fifteen years old. As a child, Sasuntsi David was one of the most common legendary figures that is attributed to explaining the history of Armenia. The legend of David of Sasun is about a young boy who grows up as the hero of the nation. He has become embedded as the symbol of Armenia and determined as the reason their nation still stands today. She learned this as an early child in grade school. In grade school, it is part of the general curriculum to learn the legend to memory and know the hero’s godlike powers by associating it with hope for their nation. She finds this particularly legend compelling. Despite the fact that it is a legend, there are many facts pointing to an actual existence of parts of the legend, such as there being a door of David’s son hidden in the mountains. The legend says that Mher, who was the successor of the supernatural powers and father of David, deemed that the door had some powers. And the people, today, believe that this door will someday open and a new hero will emerge.

I believe the legend of David of Sasun serves as way for Armenia to establish its national identity, since many Armenians are spread out across the European nation. For example, there are Russian-Armenians, Lebanese-Armenians, and Persian-Armenians. It’s a way of saying, “Here I am,” and to convey that their people have not lost a sense of their roots. It also seems that a large part of instilling this legend in school curriculum can come from attempting to have Armenians become well knowledgeable about their culture and history. Just like the United States teaches U.S. history and the national anthem to instill history of the U.S. to its citizens, certain countries have used folkloric means to instill their own history to their people.