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Nicholas metropolitan of Corinth and hypertimos (twelfth/thirteenth century)

Accession number BZS.1955.1.4975
Diameter 37 mm
Field diameter 28 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 25.2; Laurent, Corpus V/3, no. 1749. See also Wassiliou-Seibt, Siegel mit metrischen Legenden I, no. 540.


Saints Theodore Tiron and Theodore Stratelates standing, raising their hands toward Christ. Between them are two shields leaning on spears. Christ places his hands on the saints' halos as though placing martyr's crowns on their heads, in a scene reminiscent of Christ crowning emperors (e.g. Lihačev, Molivdovuly, pl. 83; V. Lazarev, Storia della pittura bizantina [Torino, 1967], pl. 251). On the left, the inscription: |ΘΕΟ|..|ΡΟΣ|ΟΤΗ|ΡΩ|Ν: ὁ ἅγιος Θεόδωρος ὁ Τήρων. On the right: |ΘΕ|Ο|ΔΩ|ΡΟΣ|ΟΡ|Α|ΛΑΤ: ὁ ἅγιος Θεόδωρος ὁ Στρατηλάτης. Border of dots.

Γραφῶν Κορίνθου ποιμένος Νικολάου


Inscription of six lines preceded by a cross. Border of dots.


ὑπερτίμου γένοισθε μάρτυρες κῦρος


Γραφῶν Κορίνθου ποιμένος Νικολάου ὑπερτίμου γένοισθε μάρτυρες κῦρος.

May you martyrs sanction the documents of Nicholas, metropolitan of Corinth and hypertimos.


Two dodecasyllabic verses. Laurent mistook the name as Theodore (and proposed an attribution that must be discareded) and read ἔσοισθε in the fourth line. The representation of the obverse seems to explain and poorly preserved eleventh century seal (Corinth XII, no. 2798 = Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 561): two male saints raising their hands toward Christ who touches their haloes. Between them, traces of objects (shield and spears?) appear. This identification is important because the Corinth seal bears the metrical inscription Σφραγὶς βοηθοὺς τοῦ Κορίνθου δεικνύει (the seal shows the assistants of the metropolitan of Corinth), obviously alluding to the special protection that the metropolitan of Corinth entreated from the two Theodores. In fact, we know that the city had a church from which the Normans took a famous image of St. Theodore Stratelates in 1147 (Choniates, 76). We assume that this must have been the metropolitan church, where the cult of the Theodores continued after the removal of the icon. This would explain why at least one St. Theodore (probably the Tiron, whose icon, lavishly decorated, was given to Corinth by Manuel I Komnenos) appears on most of the known metropolitans' seals: Laurent, Corpus V/1, nos. 561, 562, 564, 565; V/3, nos. 1748, 1749 (by contrast, we have only two seals with the Virgin and one with St. Gregory, the latter belonging to a metropolitan named Gregory himself). Cf. Anna Avramea, "Επαρχιακά ιερά κειμήλια στην Κωνσταντινούπολη από τον Μανουήλ Κομνηνό," Εὐφρόσυνον. Ἀφιέρωμα στὸν Μανόλη Χατζηδάκη I (Athens, 1991), 29-33.

The owner of the present seal must have had it made after 1175, when the title of hypertimos was first granted to more than one prelate (V. Grumel, "Titulature des metropolites byzantins II. Métropolites hpertimes," Mémorial Louis Petit [Archives de l'Orient Chrétien 1], [Paris, 1948], 163 ff), and before the capture of Corinth by the crusaders in 1205, when the succession of orthodox hierarchs was interrupted. It seems almost certain that he is the metropolitan Nicholas who resisted Leo Sgouros and was defeated and later assassinated by him (ca. 1204) (Kominis, Gregorio, 57-58). It is not impossible that Nicholas was named Chrysoberges (ibid., 56). His ordination to the see of Corinth must have occurred some time after 1166, when his last known predecessor, Theodore, is attested (ibid., 54-56).