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Polyeuktos magistros, judge of the Velum and praitor of the Opsikion (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.2091
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 23 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.42.


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


Θ(εοτό)κε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Πολυεύκτῳ μαγίστρῳ


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


κριτῇ τοῦ βήλου καὶ πραίτωρι τοῦ Ὀψικίου


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Πολυεύκτῳ μαγίστρῳ, κριτῇ τοῦ βήλου καὶ πραίτωρι τοῦ Ὀψικίου.

Mother of God, help your servant Polyeuktos, magistros, judge of the Velum, and praitor of the Opsikion.


On both sides, the lines of text have been separated by rulings done with a knife after the seal was struck: would this be a signal to be recognized by knowledgeable correspondents?

In any case, the two sides of the boulloterion belong to different stages: for example, the division in lines and the size of the letters both differ. It seems that the reverse, in much better condition than the obverse, may have been carved later, when Polyeuktos was appointed praitor of the Opsikion.

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.