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Christophoros patrikios, imperial protospatharios and komes of the Opsikion (ninth century)

 
 

Obverse

Cruciform invocative monogram (type V). In the quarters: .-σ.|.. : Wreath border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει [τ]ῷ σ[ῷ δ]ούλ[ῳ]

Reverse

Inscription of four lines. Wreath border.

.χρισΤ.
..Ρπατρ.
..παθ/Sκο.
..ψΙΚΙ

Χριστ[οφό]ρῳ πατρ[(ικίῳ), β(ασλικῷ) (πρωτο)σ]παθ(αρίῳ) (καὶ) κό[μητι τ(οῦ) Ὀ]ψικίου

Obverse

Cruciform invocative monogram (type V). In the quarters: .-σ.|.. : Wreath border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει [τ]ῷ σ[ῷ δ]ούλ[ῳ]

Reverse

Inscription of four lines. Wreath border.

.χρισΤ.
..Ρπατρ.
..παθ/Sκο.
..ψΙΚΙ

Χριστ[οφό]ρῳ πατρ[(ικίῳ), β(ασλικῷ) (πρωτο)σ]παθ(αρίῳ) (καὶ) κό[μητι τ(οῦ) Ὀ]ψικίου

Accession number BZS.1958.106.3823
Diameter 33.0 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.25b.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 1792b.

Translation

Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Χριστοφόρῳ πατρικίῳ, βασλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ κόμητι τοῦ Ὀψικίου.

Mother of God, help your servant Christophoros, patrikios, imperial protospatharios, and komes of the Opsikion.

Commentary

This seal and BZS.1958.106.2875 come from the same boulloterion. BZS.1958.106.4531 belongs to the same person.

At the beginning of the first line of the reverse one sees one pellet, but we assume that it might be a rest of the cross.

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)