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Leo Arianites, proedros and katepano of the Optimatoi (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.1003
Diameter 21 mm
Condition Chipped
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 71.27. Cf. Wassiliou-Seibt, Siegel mit metrischen Legenden I, no. 1263.

Similar seal published in Sig., 245, no. 2.


St. Michael standing in military dress, holding scepter with trefoil ornament and globus. Vertical inscription.: Μ|Ι.: Μι[χα(ήλ)]. Border of dots.


Inscription of six lines. Border of dots.


Λέοντα φέρω πρόεδρον, κατεπάνω τῶν πτιμάτων, γένους Ἀριανίτην


Λέοντα φέρω πρόεδρον, κατεπάνω
τῶν Ὀπτιμάτων, γένους Ἀριανίτην

Leo is the name I bear, proedros, katepano of the Optimatoi, Arianites by descent.


The restitution of φέρω (first verse) is not secure, but it fits the metre and meaning.

This seal is very similar to one published by Schlumberger, notwithstanding the differences that his copy shows in comparison: πρωτοπρόεδρον instead of φέρω πρόεδρον, καὶ κατεπάνω, and, at the end, σκέποις με Μιχαήλ; ours seems to have been reworked to create a metrical inscription. For another katepano at the Optimatoi, see BZS.1958.106.5410.

St. Michael's military attire reproduces the costumes described for heavily armed soldiers in the military treatise known as the Praecepta militaria of Nikephoros Phokas: short tunic to the knees, cuirass with a decoration in the center (or perhaps a gird for hanging the sword), short sleeves with covers, arm guards (zava), greaves, and a long cloak thrown back. See E. McGeer, Sowing the Dragon's teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century (Washington, D.C., 2008), 34-36.