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Letter 33: The Legend of Yeghegis Եղեգիսի Առասպելը

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We all know that Yeghegnadzor, the town we chose for our residence on top of the mountain in Armenia, is named after the Yeghegis River, which flows along the Silk Road down below our house.* This same river gave its name to the ancient town of Yeghegis which was destroyed by the viith century earthquake and volcanic eruption and which was reconstructed by Orbelyan princes as their capital and it is there that we inaugurated the re-opening last year of the medieval Jewish cemetery.

I was wondering where the river got its name, for ‘yegheg’ means ‘reed’ in Armenian and I was not able to find many reeds along its banks. Meruzhan Khoyents, the local bearded old bard, told me his version of the legend before he died. I thought it was too simple a story and it was left sitting somewhere in my memory. Until,... Until I read the lyrics of the song by Patricia Carli (Carlikian), born in Taranto, whose family has roots in our region and, I guess, must have known about this legend. Patricia’s s…