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Anonymous (eleventh century, first half)

 
 

Obverse

Bust of Saint Panteleimon, holding possibly a scalpel or some other medical tool in his right hand and possibly a closed scroll in his left. Inscription in two columns: |Π|Α|Τ̣|Ε|Λ|Η : ὁ ἅ(γιος) Παντελ(ε)ή(μων). Border of dots.

Reverse

St Hermolaos, the contours of his right hand are indistinct while his left hand holds a gospel book; within his nimbus, pellets encircle his head. Inscription in two columns: ̣|..|̣Λ|Α, : ὁ ἅ(γιος) [Ἑρ]μ(ό)λα(ος). Border of dots.

Obverse

Bust of Saint Panteleimon, holding possibly a scalpel or some other medical tool in his right hand and possibly a closed scroll in his left. Inscription in two columns: |Π|Α|Τ̣|Ε|Λ|Η : ὁ ἅ(γιος) Παντελ(ε)ή(μων). Border of dots.

Reverse

St Hermolaos, the contours of his right hand are indistinct while his left hand holds a gospel book; within his nimbus, pellets encircle his head. Inscription in two columns: ̣|..|̣Λ|Α, : ὁ ἅ(γιος) [Ἑρ]μ(ό)λα(ος). Border of dots.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.3544
Diameter 25.0 mm; field: 16.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 7, 17.2. 

Credit Line Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Thomas Whittemore.

Commentary

This is the only known image of Saint Hermolaos, a priest-martyr, represented on a seal. He is paired with Saint Panteleimon, whom he instructed and baptized. They were martyred one day apart, 26 July (Hermolaos) and 27  (Panteleimon), in Nikomedeia, during the reign of emperor Maximian (SynaxCP, 843-848). Hermolaos, along with Panteleimon, is venerated as a healing saint and one of the anargyroi (unmercenaries). Although not commonly depicted, Saint Hermolaos is, on occasion, shown with his disciple, Saint Panteleimon, as in a tenth-century icon at Sinai (Weitzmann, The Monastery of Saint Catherine, no. B.54, pl. 33). Saint Hermolaos is depicted alone on the early eleventh-century copper votive plaque at Dumbarton Oaks (see Glory of Byzantium, no. 106). On the seal, Hermolaos has a circle of pellets within his nimbus, also a motif not encountered elsewhere.