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Gregory archbishop of Ephesos (ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4700
Diameter 24 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 14.4.

Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1692.


Bust of St. John the Theologian blessing with his right hand and holding book in his left hand. Along a border of dots, a circular inscription:


Θεολόγε β(οήθει) τῷ σῷ δ(ούλῳ)


Inscription of four lines, probably beginning with a cross. Border of dots.


Γρηγορίῳ ἀρχιεσπισκόπ(ῳ) Ἐφέσου


Θεολόγε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Γρηγορίῳ ἀρχιεσπισκόπῳ Ἐφέσου.

Theologian, help your servant Gregory, archbishop of Ephesos.


Laurent dated this seal to the tenth century. We disagree because the abscence of a vertical identifying inscription on the obverse and the general epigraphy suggest that this seal dates well before the middle of the tenth century; in fact, the closest epigraphic parallel is from the mid-ninth century, the seal of patriarch Methodios (Dated Seals, no. 50). We know of a metropolitan of Ephesos called Gregory who attended the Photian Synod of 879; another Gregory was active in the second and third decades of the tenth century (Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1692; for dates see Nicholas I, Letters, 544, 545, 548). In our view this seal could have belonged to the first of the above prelates.

The ancient city of Ephesos was abandoned in the seventh century in favor of the security of the inland fortress of Theologos, where the famous basilica (and major pilgrimage center) of St. John the Evangelist stood (near modern Selçuk). The name (Ἅγιος) Θεολόγος, Theologo, Ayasoluk was currently used when speaking of the medieval town and its administrators, such as the commander of the fortress, the paraphylax, or the archon (eighth/ninth century: Zacos-Veglery, no. 2282A) and the (undoubtedly naval) droungarios (ninth century: ibid., 2561A; Konstantopoulos, no. 135). But the old name, Ephesos, also survived in civil administration: Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos informs us that the theme of Samos, which is first attested at the very end of the ninth century, had control over the tourma of Ephesos (Ἐφέσιον: De Them., chap. XVI, line 14), while we have mentions of tax collectors (dioiketes) of Ephesos (ActaSS November III, 540; Zacos-Veglery, no. 2487). We have the impression that Theologos was the local usage, while Ephesos came from the learned circles of Constantinople and was the name that prevailed alone in the ecclesiastic administration.

Ephesos was a major metropolis, with no less than 39 suffragans attached to it at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, claiming to preserve the remains of the Apostle John (whose representation appears on the obverse on some seals of metropolitans). It is mentioned in all notitiae.

See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 178; Culerrier, Suffragants d'Ephèse; ODB I, 706; W. Seibt, "Drei byzantinische Bleisiegel aus Ephesos," Litterae numismaticae vindobonenses Roberto Goebl dedicatae (Vienna, 1979), 145-54; W. Brandes, "Ephesos in byzantinischer Zeit," Klio 64 (1982) 611-22; Brandes, Städte, 83-85.