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Antonios monk and metropolitan of Sarde (ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4802
Diameter 30 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 32.4.

Laurent, Corpus V/2, no. 365 bis (see V/2, p. 455); Zacos-Veglery, no. 1327.


The Virgin standing, holding Christ in her left arm. Cruciform invocative monogram on either side. Border of dots.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει


Inscription of four lines. Border of dots.

νιμονχ /
Sμητροπολ /

Ἀντωνίῳ μοναχ(ῷ) (καὶ) μητροπολ(ίτῃ) Σάρδις


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Ἀντωνίῳ μοναχῷ καὶ μητροπολίτῃ Σάρδις.

Mother of God, help Antonios, monk and metropolitan of Sarde.


Laurent (Orghidan, no. 381 = Laurent, Corpus, V/1, no. 365) published a different seal of an Antonios of Sardeis (who did not claim to be a monk), which he dated to the tenth century and ascribed to a correspondent of Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos about the year 914 (Nicholas I, Letters, nos. 142, 180). Laurent (Corpus V/2, p. 455) subsequently attributed the present specimen to the same prelate. All this needs reexamination.

The DO seal of Antonios belongs to a type characteristic of the iconophile revival of the years 787-815. Zacos-Veglery, no. 1327, prudently dated it to the early ninth century without ruling out its being issued just after 843, when the types of the period 787-815 were copied. We think that this last date, 843 or thereabout, is the only possibility for the present seal. For the whole period of the iconophile revival another metropolitan, (Saint) Euthymios, occupied the throne of Sardeis. We know from his biography, written by patriarch Methodios (d. 847), that he was ordained as a young man shortly before 787, and that despite being sent into exile more than once and kept away from his seat, he was never deposed until his death, on 26 December 831 (J. Gouillard, "La Vie d'Euthyme de Sardes, une oeuvre du patriarche Méthode," TM 10 [1987] 105). It is not clear whether he was replaced for some time, but even if this did happen, the new metropolitan of Sardeis was a certain John, an iconophile correspondent of Theodore Stoudites (Theodori Studitae, Epistulae, rec. G. Fatouros 1 [Berlin-New York, 1992], nos. 157, 451). This brings us well into the maelstrom of the second iconoclasm, under Emperor Theophilos, and so the present specimen, decorated with the Virgin, cannot date from before 843. Because of its type and epigraphy, the surest parallels of which can be found on the seals of Patriarch Ignatios (847-858, 867-877: Dated Seals, nos. 51, 52), it cannot be dated much later. We refer to this possible owner as Antonios 1.

The Orghidan specimen is decorated with a bust of the Virgin holding a medallion of Christ; the whole piece is executed in the style of Patriarch Photios' seal (858-867, 877-886: Dated Seals, no. 53) or of the Metropolitan of Athens Sabas (d. 913: Dated Seals, no. 56). Thus the Orghidan seal could be attributed to the correspondent of Nicholas Mystikos, whose dates, ca. 912, 916, are based on the assumption that Nicholas' correspondence comes from his second patriarchate. We call this candidate Antonios 2.

We know the following metropolitans of Sardeis, whose reigns seem to have separated those of Antonios 1 and Antonios 2:

Peter I (ex-bishop of Miletos) appointed by Photios early in 859; he probably drowned in 867/868 (Grumel, Regestes no. 457; PG 105, 512C, 544C);
Theophylaktos, who attended the Council of 879 (Mansi XVII, 373B);
Peter II, a partisan of Patriarch Euthymios, who disappeared in 912 and was presumably replaced by Antonios II: Nicholas I, Letters, 590.

Sardeis (modern Sart), was capital of Lydia and seat of a metropolitan, attested since 325. The non-hellenic name appears on seals as well as in the notitiae in two main forms, the classical Σάρδεις, -εων, and the popular Σάρδη, ἦς, or non-declined Σάρδης (whenever in doubt, we have restored the classical form). From the seals we learn that it was also a fiscal center. See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 260-61 (add Zacos, Seals II, nos. 670, 869); Zgusta, 541-42; C. Foss, Byzantine and Turkish Sardis (Cambridge, Mass., 1976); Brandes, Städte, 86-88; ODB III, 1843.