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Literature / Daredevils of Sassoun
aka: David Of Sasun

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Daredevils of Sassoun, sometimes spelled Sasun (Armenian: Սասնա ծռեր; Sasna tsrer) is an Armenian Epic Poem. Many modern printings title it David of Sasun (Armenian: Սասունցի Դավիթ; Sasuntsi Davit), renaming it after its most popular character.

As an oral tale, it dates to the 10th century, and was for centuries rehearsed by village bards. It wasn't put in written form until Garegin Srvantdziantz in 1873, and was published the following year.

The story chronicles warriors from Sasun (a historical Armenian province, west of Lake Van) struggling against Egyptian rule in the 8th to 10th centuries. Egypt has never actually conquered Sasun or Armenia, but the poem was composed during a time when Islamic empires were growing in the region. The Egyptians were originally stand-ins for the Arabs, who were known to tax non-Muslims to ridiculous extremes when they ruled Armenia. One reason for the poem's continued popularity through the centuries was it's applicability given Turkish dominance of Western Armenia for most of the last millennium.

The work consists of four cycles, correlating to four generations of a family. When told, normally at least one of the four cycles would be left out, but David's — the most popular — almost never was.

  1. Sanasar and Baghdasar
  2. Great Mher, also known as Lion Mher
  3. David
  4. Little Mher

     3rd Cycle 
Lion Mher regrets that he has no heir in his old age, due to his queen being unable to conceive. He is visited by an angel who informs him that his queen will bear a son, but in exchange both of them will die. He agrees, and nine months later David is born, and his parents die. With Lion Mher dead, Sasun is invaded by Egypt and its citizens forced to pay them tribute. David is sent to live with his paternal uncle Big-Voiced Ohan, now the ruler of Sasun, who surrendered to Egypt. David is told nothing of his past due to the wishes of Ohan's wife, wary of him because David might try to take the throne from Ohan. David is sent outside most of his childhood, befriending wild animals and terrorizing the town by bringing them home with him. One day he meets an old hag in the woods, who tells him about his father. With this knowledge David decides to become a warrior, take back his throne and challenge Egypt for Sasun's independence.


  • Poet Hovhannes Tumanian's wrote a rhymed version of the third cycle, now in the Public Domain, which can be read here.
  • In 2010, after ten years of Development Hell, an Animated Adaptation was produced in Armenia directed by Arman Manaryan called Sasna Tsrer, covering the first three cycles.

Daredevils of Sassoun contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 


    1st Cycle 
  • Mystical Pregnancy: Tsovinar conceivers her twin sons, Sanasar and Baghdasar, by drinking from a sacred spring.

    2nd Cycle 

    3rd Cycle 
  • Dirty Coward: Melik, instead of fighting David, at first traps him in a deep pit and closes the top of the pit with a boulder.
  • Evil Uncle/ Wicked Stepmother: Ohan's wife is really the evil one, Ohan is just too much of a push-over to stand up to her.
  • The Herald: The old hag sets the hero David on his adventure by revealing to him his true parentage.
  • Super-Scream: Big-Voiced Ohan. He's meek and cowardly throughout most of the story, but he has the hidden superpower of a voice loud enough to shatter stone. He does this to free David from Melik's trap.
  • Super-Strength: David was able to walk in iron boots, among other feats of strength.

    4th Cycle 
  • Chaste Separating Sword: When Gohar does a Lysistrata Gambit, she lays a sword between them in bed at night.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: Little Mher and Gohar get married, and Gohar refuses to have sex with her new husband until he puts an end to the unfair taxation of the Armenians by the King of the West. So Mher leads a battle against the king, wins, then comes home and has sex with his wife.

Alternative Title(s): David Of Sasun