ASPET, Armenian title (in contemporary Greek documents also Aspetes) hereditary in the Bagratuni (Bagratid) family. It has been derived from either Old Pers. *viθa/visapati “head of the clan” (N. Adontz, Armenia in the Period of Justinian, tr. and rev. by N. Garsoïan, Lisbon, 1970, p. 312), or, more convincingly, Old Pers. *aspapati, later aspbad/-bed (J. Markwart, “Die Genealogie der Bagratiden und das Zeitalter der Mar Abas und Ps. Moses Xorenaci,” Caucasica 6/2, 1930, p. 68, and H. Hübschmann, Armen. Etymologie, p. 109), which designated the Iranian office of Master of the Horse (commander of the cavalry). Because of this Iranian office, it has been assumed that Aspet, likewise, stood for a similar Armenian office, rather than a title. This is difficult to accept, since the Armenian army, overwhelmingly cavalry, was under the command of the High Constable (sparapet, derived from spādapaiti-, later spāhbad/-bed), which left no room for a Master of the Horse. And there are hardly any references by the Armenian historians of the Arsacid period to any Bagratids in command of the king’s forces. Like the małxaz of the Xorxoṙuni family, Aspet seems to have been a special, gentilitial, title of the Bagratids, who derived from it their other, short-lived, name of Aspetuni. This title disappears in the Arab period of Armenian history. The existence of this title and name may possibly be due to Arsacid Armenia’s imitation of Iran, where one of the Seven Great Houses bore indeed the name of Aspāhbad (in contemporary Greek Aspétios).
See also A. Christensen Iran Sass., pp. 104 n. 1, 107-08.
M. Ehtécham, L’Iran sous les Achéménides, Fribourg, 1946, pp. 21 n. 4, 65.
C. Toumanoff, Studies in the Christian Caucasian History III, Georgetown, 1963, pp. 202, 324-26.
Originally Published: December 15, 1987
Last Updated: August 17, 2011
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