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Theodore bishop of Moreas (eleventh/twelfth century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4680
Diameter 22 mm
Condition Oxidated and partly effaced.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 32.1.
Cf. parallel specimen from the Vienna Collection, published by Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 656.


Inscription of four lines. No border visible.


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Θεοδώρῳ


Inscription of four lines, a decoration above. No border visible.



ἐπισκόπῳ Μορέου


Θεοτόκε βοήθει Θεοδώρῳ ἐπισκόπῳ Μορέου.

Mother of God, help Theodore bishop of Moreas.


This see, that gave its name to the province of Elis before giving it up to the whole Peloponnesos in the 13th century, is mentioned on one 11th/12th century seal (cf. below) and in two notitiae episcopatuum as a suffragan of Patras: in the 10th-century notitia, this mention is considered to be a later interpolation. In the 12th century one, it is genuine (Darrouzès, Notitiae, no. 7, line 554, cf. note 554; and no. 13, line 541). It is also known from the following texts:

a) According to an often ignored medieval scholion attributed to Photios (cod. Paris. gr. 1397), Moreas would be the name of ancient town of Dyme, in the gulf of Patras, which is identified as the modern Kato Achaïa.

b) A town called Moros (not Moreas; the name is similar but not identical) is mentioned in the late 10th century in the western Peloponnesos to the north or to the west of Arkadia (Kyparissia); St. Nikon received the monk's habit there (Life of Saint Nikon, 108, cf. 284). At this time, Moros had a Christian population and priest but, apparently, no bishop.

c) In 1111, a monk declared that he belonged to the cathedral Ὠλένης τοῦ Μοραίου (Bon, Morée francque, 307) This has been understood to mean that Moreas was by then the name for the whole Elis, where Olenos (cf. DO Seals 2, § 33) was situated, if indeed it was not already a name used for the whole Peloponnesos.

d) In the 14th century people still define the castle of Pontikos (today Katakolon, in Elis) as being "close to the so-called Moreas" (C. Sathas, Documents inédits relatifs à l'histoire de la Grèce au Moyen-Age I [Paris, 1880], xxxiv). This refers to a specific placename (not to the whole region or peninsula), which, in this case, should be sought in Elis, where Olenos is situated.

e) In the Life of St. Leontios written in karamanlidika, Mora is used to indicate a region which included Athens. This is no doubt a translation of the late-Roman name of Achaïa, a province which included Eastern Mainland Greece (cf. DO Seals 2, § 23). See X. Jacob, "La Vie de Saint Leontios ascète en Lycie," REB 43 (1985) 238.

All this is vague, slightly contradictory, and uncertain. Nothing in the above texts opposes the identification of Moreas as Dyme/Kato Achaïa, but Moreas could as well be sought at Olenos, in Elis; nothing rules out the name being extended to mean the northwest Peloponnesos and then the whole Peloponnesos. Laurent has hypothesized that the bishopric of Moreas must have been created by Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1078-81), which is also possible (but not certain), and that it had a very short life, which is certain. But how this small and temporary bishopric ended up giving its name to the whole region needs explanation. See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 492-93; idem, REB 20 (1962) 181-89; Bon, Morée francque, 306-14; ODB II, 1409.