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Gregory (?) anthypatos, patrikios and komes of the Opsikion guarded by God (ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.142
Diameter 30 mm
Condition Blank too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.29.

Zacos-Veglery, 1962; cf. no. 3113A for a better preserved specimen. A third specimen, that could come, according to us, from the same boulloterion: J.-C. Cheynet, "Les Sceaux du Musée d'Iznik," REB 49 (1991) 225-26, no. 8 (dated to the second half of the eighth century).

Obverse

Cruciform invocative monogram (type VIII). In the quarters: τ-σ.|δ-λ. Indeterminate border.

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σ[ῷ] δούλῳ

Reverse

Inscription of six lines. No visible border.

.....
οριαν
θΥπατρΙ..
.Μτουθ..
ΦΒοψικ
ιου

[Γρηγ]ορίῳ ἀνθυ(πάτῳ), πατρι(κίῳ) [(καὶ) κό]μ(ητι) τοῦ θ[εο]φ(υλάκτου) β(ασιλικοῦ) Ὀψικίου

Translation

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Γρηγορίῳ ἀνθυπάτῳ, πατρικίῳ καὶ κόμητι τοῦ θεοφυλάκτου βασιλικοῦ Ὀψικίου.

Lord, help your servant Gregory anthypatos, patrikios, and komes of the Opsikion, guarded by God.

Commentary

Note the unusual abbreviation signs in the form of lines placed under the appropriate letter. Zacos-Veglery (no. 3113A) have rightly stressed that our seal dates from the early ninth century and is one of the earliest attestations of the combination of the titles anthypatos and patrikios; in fact the title of anthypatos appears as an office still in the Taktikon Uspenskij, which dates to 842-843 (Listes, 49). Cf. also BZS.1947.2.121.

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.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.142
Diameter 30 mm
Condition Blank too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.29.

Zacos-Veglery, 1962; cf. no. 3113A for a better preserved specimen. A third specimen, that could come, according to us, from the same boulloterion: J.-C. Cheynet, "Les Sceaux du Musée d'Iznik," REB 49 (1991) 225-26, no. 8 (dated to the second half of the eighth century).

Notes

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.142
Diameter 30 mm
Condition Blank too small for die.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.29.

Zacos-Veglery, 1962; cf. no. 3113A for a better preserved specimen. A third specimen, that could come, according to us, from the same boulloterion: J.-C. Cheynet, "Les Sceaux du Musée d'Iznik," REB 49 (1991) 225-26, no. 8 (dated to the second half of the eighth century).