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Petronas anthypatos, patrikios, imperial protospatharios and komes of the Opsikion (ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1358
Diameter 28 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.35.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 2607.


Cruciform invocative monogram (type VIII). In the quarters: τω-σω|δ-λω. Indeterminate border.

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of five lines. Indeterminate border.


[Π]ετρ[ον]ᾷ ἀ<ν>θυπ(άτῳ), πα[τ]ρικ(ίῳ), β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)σπα[θ]αρ(ίῳ) (καὶ) κόμι[τ(ι) τ(οῦ)] Ὀψηκίο[υ]


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Πετρονᾷ ἀνθυπάτῳ, πατρικίῳ, βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ κόμιτι τοῦ Ὀψηκίου.

Lord, help your servant Petronas, anthypatos, patrikios, imperial protospatharios, and komes of the Opsikion.


This is a mix-ninth-century seal (cf. Dated Seals, no. 50 of 843-847), a time when a famous Petronas, the brother of Empress Theodora, exercised other comparable offices, such as strategos of the Thrakesion or domestikos ton scholon: Theophanes Cont., 123; Gensios, 67-69. Also, we know two more seals with the same inscription as the present specimen: Zacos-Veglery, nos. 2574A, 3165.

Opsikion was one of the earliest themes of Byzantium; its name from the term obsequium (retinue), often called "imperial obsequium guarded by God." Its territory included many provinces and initially encompassed all northwestern Asia Minor; by the mid-eighth century it was subdivided, and the new themes of the Boukellarioi and of the Optimatoi appeared. All three names show that the origins of this theme are to be sought in the regiments of the imperial guard, and according to some scholars, to the milites praesentales of the fifth century.

The commander of Opsikion traditionally bore the titles of komes, probably because initially he was identical to the comes domesticorum. He is first attested in 626 (perhaps already in 615), and, because of his proximity to Constantinople (his residence was in Nicaea), he played an important role in imperial politics. As this happened regularly with all units of the imperial guard, the tagmata (Listes, 329), the second in command of the Opsikion was called for quite some time a topoteretes (cf. Zacos-Veglery, no. 1762). The province was organized as all other themes (with tourmarchai, anagrapheis, judges, protonotarioi, chartoularioi, strateutai [Laurent, Orghidan, no. 218], etc.), and, already in the ninth century, the commander was also called a strategos (see Listes, 264, footnote 23; Zacos, Seals II, no. 850; Seyrig, no. 191).

The littoral of the Opsikion was also part of the theme of Aigaion Pelagos.

See Pertusi, in De Them., 127-30; Winkelmann, Ämsterstruktur, 72-76, 119-20; ODB III, 1528-29; Haldon, Praetorians, passim, esp. 164 ff; T. Lounghis, "A Deo conservandum imperiale Obsequium," ByzSl 52 (1991) 54-60.