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Peter Serblias, magistros, vestes, judge of the Velum and of the Opsikion (eleventh century)

 
 

Obverse

Inscription of five lines followed by decoration. Border of dots.

+κ̅εRθ,
Τσδ
Λπετρ
μαγιστρ
Rεστη
– ·

Κ(ύρι)ε β(οή)θ(ει) τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Πέτρῳ μαγίστρῳ, βέστῃ

Reverse

Inscription of five lines preceded and followed by decoration, the final four letters between pellets. Border of dots.

– ·
κριτη
τRηλ
.τοψικι
τσερ
·Rλια·
– ·

κριτῇ τοῦ βήλου [(καὶ)] τοῦ Ὀψικίου τῷ Σερβλίᾳ

Obverse

Inscription of five lines followed by decoration. Border of dots.

+κ̅εRθ,
Τσδ
Λπετρ
μαγιστρ
Rεστη
– ·

Κ(ύρι)ε β(οή)θ(ει) τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Πέτρῳ μαγίστρῳ, βέστῃ

Reverse

Inscription of five lines preceded and followed by decoration, the final four letters between pellets. Border of dots.

– ·
κριτη
τRηλ
.τοψικι
τσερ
·Rλια·
– ·

κριτῇ τοῦ βήλου [(καὶ)] τοῦ Ὀψικίου τῷ Σερβλίᾳ

Accession number BZS.1955.1.3297
Diameter 23.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.16b.

Translation

Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Πέτρῳ μαγίστρῳ, βέστῃ, κριτῇ τοῦ βήλου καὶ τοῦ Ὀψικίου τῷ Σερβλίᾳ.

Lord, help your servant Peter Serblias, magistros, vestes, judge of the Velum and of the Opsikion.

Commentary

This seal and BZS.1955.1.3297 come from the same boulloterion.

Same person as the judge of Peleponnesos and Hellas and of Seleukeia: cf. DO Seals 2, no. 8.26 (BZS.1955.1.3298 and BZS.1958.106.4718).

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.

Bibliography

  • Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and at the Fogg Museum of Art, Vol. 3: West, Northwest, and Central Asia Minor and the Orient (Open in Zotero)
  • Les listes de préséance byzantines des IXe et Xe siècles (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantine Lead Seals, Vol. 1 (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantine Lead Seals, Vol. 2 (Open in Zotero)
  • Documents de sigillographie byzantine: La collection C. Orghidan (Open in Zotero)
  • Les sceaux byzantins de la Collection Henri Seyrig (Open in Zotero)
  • De Thematibus (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantinische Rang- und Ämterstruktur im 8. und 9. Jahrhundert: Faktoren und Tendenzen ihrer Entwicklung (Open in Zotero)
  • Byzantine Praetorians: An Administrative, Institutional, and Social Survey of the Opsikion and Tagmata, c. 580-900 (Open in Zotero)
  • A Deo conservandum imperiale Obsequium: Some Notes Concering Byzantine Field Troops during the Dark Ages (Open in Zotero)
  • Catalogue of the Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and at the Fogg Museum of Art, Vol. 2: South of the Balkans, the Islands, South of Asia Minor (Open in Zotero)