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Leo Nikerites, protoproedros and anagrapheus of the Peloponnesos (eleventh/twelfth century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.4142
Diameter 20 mm
Condition Chipped.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 22.2.
Cf. similar seal seemingly from the same boulloterion, published (with mistakes in reading) by Mordtmann, RA 1877/1, 297, no.16 (=Sig., 180 footnote, no. 10 = Bees, Zur Sigillographie, 96-98, 233-34, with corrections of Mordtmann's reading = Laurent, Vatican, no. 110). Mordtmann has also published in the Supplement to Ἑλλ. Φιλολ. Σύλλ. 17 (1883) 151, no. 24, another specimen with the same design and titles, but from a different boulloterion.

Obverse

Inscription of five lines. Border of dots.

.ΚΕ.
ΕΟΝΤ..
ΠΡΟΕΔΡ
ΚΑΙΑΝΑ
ΓΡΑΦΕΙ

Κύριε βοήθει Λέοντι πρωτοπροέδρῳ καὶ ἀναγραφεῖ

Reverse

Inscription of four lines. Border of dots.

ΠΕΛ.
ΠΟΝΣ.
ΤΝΙΚ.
ΡΙΤΗ

Πελοποννήσου τῷ Νικερίτῃ

Translation

Κύριε βοήθει Λέοντι πρωτοπροέδρῳ καὶ ἀναγραφεῖ Πελοποννήσου τῷ Νικερίτῃ.

Lord, help Leo Nikerites, protoproedros and anagrapheus of the Peloponnesos.

Commentary

Not the difference in size between the letters of the obverse (which has five lines) and of the reverse (which has only four). This is not unique (cf. the following seal, and the seal of Stephanos Kontostephanos in Dated Seals, no. 114). It may mean, however, that one die had to be replaced, either because it was worn, or to accommodate a new title.

The owner of the present seal may be identical to the eunuch Leo Nikerites, a prominent figure of the reign of Alexios I Komnenos; his career has been outlined, with minor differences, by Laurent, Vatican, no. 110; by Skoulatos, Personnages, 179-80; and by Seibt, Bleisiegel, no. 99. From the Life of St. Meletios the Younger (ed. Vasiljevskij, in Palestinskij Sbornik 6/2 [1886] 60), we know that Leo Nikerites exercised high authority over the Peloponnesos in the 1080s, but the exact nature of this authority is subject to contention. As far as our seal is concerned, we note that the Life asserts that he was a "general," but also that he was served by the "companions of Ares and of Hermes," an obvious allusion to soldiers and to scribes, so we may assume that in this period he could also have exercised the functions of anagrapheus, mentioned on our seal: he may have combined the two offices--as he would do later, when he became grand doux and anagrapheus of Cyprus (REB 15 [1957] 156, no. 117)--or he may have held them at two different moments--and this would explain why the second, military office does not appear on our seal. Has this anything to do with the replacement of one die of the present boulloterion, to which we alluded above?

The ancient name of the Peloponnesos survived throughout the Middle Ages, although it was later (after the 13th century) overshadowed by the popular name Moreas (see DO Seals 2, no. 32). On the seals, it appears usually as Πελοπόννησος (often with spelling mistakes due to  iotacism), but sometimes in odd forms that seem to reflect false etymologies invented by Greek speakers with limited education: Πολοπόννησος (DO Seals 2, 8.22 and 8.23) from πόλος = heaven (?) or the same etymology as the following one with a spelling mistake (?); πολύς, πολλοῦ, πολύπους? Such forms reappear in the Copenhagen manuscript of the Chronicle of the Morea (lines 2333, 2397; cf. Bon, Morée franque, 304-5). There is even a fancier spelling, Φιλοπόννησος (PG 102, 928).

One may presume that the Peloponnesos, at least those regions that remained under imperial control after the Slavic migration, was part of the theme of Hellas (cf. DO Seals 2, §8). The first securely datable mention of a strategos of the Peloponnesos comes from the year 811 (if not already from 805): cf. Seibt, Skleroi, nos. 1 and 2. In fact, there is no sigillographic material available before the 9th century--or, at the most, the very late 8th century. The creation of this new administrative unit around the year 800 coincides with major changes inside the Peloponnesos, such as the return of Greek populations that had fled to Sicily and the creation of the metropolis of Patras (DO Seals 2, § 34); it follows the campaign of Staurakios against the Slavs in 784 (Theophanes I, 456-57) and the creation of the theme of Cephalonia in the West (DO Seals 2, § 1). From then on, the theme of the Peloponnesos, with its capital in Corinth, is regularly attested in all manner of sources; its officials were mainly preoccupied with keeping the Slavic tribes of the interior in check and defending the shores from Arab corsairs (a tourmarches tes paraliou [of the shore] with a fleet of four chelandia is attested in the 10th century: cf. Cer., 665; and N. Oikonomides, in Πρακτικά of the 3rd Panionian Congress [Athens, 1967], 277). Several archontes (DO Seals 2, no. 27.1) and ek prosopou (DO Seals 2, no. 35.1), appointed by the strategos, ensured local commands, while the regular thematic administration is also attested with its anagrapheis, dioiketai, epoptai, kommerkiarioi, protonotarioi, tourmarchai, judges as well as the administrators of imperial estates (DO Seals 2, 22.5). In the late 10th century the Peloponnesos will be often united with Hellas from the financial, fiscal, and judicial point of view, and later they will be both attached to the office of the grand doux (cf. DO Seals 2, § 8).

See Listes, 350 (bibliography); Herrin, ODB III, 1620-21; Kühn, Armee, 240-41.

Accession number BZS.1958.106.4142
Diameter 20 mm
Condition Chipped.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 22.2.
Cf. similar seal seemingly from the same boulloterion, published (with mistakes in reading) by Mordtmann, RA 1877/1, 297, no.16 (=Sig., 180 footnote, no. 10 = Bees, Zur Sigillographie, 96-98, 233-34, with corrections of Mordtmann's reading = Laurent, Vatican, no. 110). Mordtmann has also published in the Supplement to Ἑλλ. Φιλολ. Σύλλ. 17 (1883) 151, no. 24, another specimen with the same design and titles, but from a different boulloterion.

Accession number BZS.1958.106.4142
Diameter 20 mm
Condition Chipped.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 22.2.
Cf. similar seal seemingly from the same boulloterion, published (with mistakes in reading) by Mordtmann, RA 1877/1, 297, no.16 (=Sig., 180 footnote, no. 10 = Bees, Zur Sigillographie, 96-98, 233-34, with corrections of Mordtmann's reading = Laurent, Vatican, no. 110). Mordtmann has also published in the Supplement to Ἑλλ. Φιλολ. Σύλλ. 17 (1883) 151, no. 24, another specimen with the same design and titles, but from a different boulloterion.

Notes

Accession number BZS.1958.106.4142
Diameter 20 mm
Condition Chipped.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 22.2.
Cf. similar seal seemingly from the same boulloterion, published (with mistakes in reading) by Mordtmann, RA 1877/1, 297, no.16 (=Sig., 180 footnote, no. 10 = Bees, Zur Sigillographie, 96-98, 233-34, with corrections of Mordtmann's reading = Laurent, Vatican, no. 110). Mordtmann has also published in the Supplement to Ἑλλ. Φιλολ. Σύλλ. 17 (1883) 151, no. 24, another specimen with the same design and titles, but from a different boulloterion.

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