ARMĀʾĪL (Mid. Pers. Armāyēl “the Aramean,” with a Georgian ethnic suffix, as noted by Markwart, Provincial Capitals, p. 68), a legendary figure in the myth of Ẓaḥḥāk. In Mid. Pers. literature, he is mentioned in a corrupt passage of Šahristānīhā ī Īrān (sec. 28, in Markwart, op. cit., p. 15, and H. S. Nyberg, A Manual of Pahlavi I, Wiesbaden, 1964, p. 115.10ff.), where he is associated in some way with Ṭabarestān (Padišxwār-gar). Armāʾīl occurs more often in classical Islamic works which drew on Iranian sources now lost, particularly the Mid. Pers. Xwadāy-nāmag. According to the Šāh-nāma, two young Persians of royal stock, the pious Armāyel (ʾrmʾyl, variant: ʾrmʾnk) and the foresighted Garmāyel (variant: grmʾnk) worked as cooks for the tyrant Ẓaḥḥāk ([Moscow] I, p. 52.2ff.; cf. F. Wolff, Glossar zu Firdosis Schahname, Berlin, 1935, p. 54). The two snakes which sprouted from Ẓaḥḥāk’s shoulders were to be fed with the brains of victims, but some of these were saved by the two princes, for which Armāʾīl was rewarded by Ferīdūn (see Markwart, op. cit., p. 69). Ṯaʿālebī (Ḡorar, pp. 24-26) relates the same story; so do Ṭabarī (I, p. 206) and Masʿūdī (Morūǰ III, p. 252), but they do not mention Armāʾīl’s name. (See also Yāqūt, II, p. 607; Dīnavarī, p. 7; and an uncertain passage in the Fehrest, p. 12.28; for other references, see Markwart, op. cit., p. 68.) From the Šāh-nāma version, the anecdote of the princes as cooks entered the Borhān-e qāteʿ (Tehran, 1336 Š./1957, p. 77, s.v. ʾrmʾyyl).
The name Armāʾīl is also attested in Armenian and Georgian sources, e.g., as the name of a member of the Mihrean family of the Sasanian clan (ibid., p. 68).
See also J. F. Dowsett, The History of the Caucasian Albanians by Movsēs Dasxuranċi, London, 1961, pp. 108, 225.
(Jes P. Asmussen)
Originally Published: December 15, 1986
Last Updated: August 12, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. II, Fasc. 4, p. 413