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E00551: Greek epigram, probably from a dedicatory inscription in the church, recording the dedication of a church to the Apostles *Peter and *Paul (S00036 and S00008) by Justinian (later to become emperor) in the quarter of Hormisdas in Constantinople, c. 519. Recorded in the 10th c. Greek Anthology.

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posted on 2015-05-27, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Greek Anthology, Book 1 (Christian Epigrams), 8

Εἰς τὸν ναὸν τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων Πέτρου καὶ Παύλου πλησίον τοῦ ἁγίου Σεργίου, εἰς τὰ Ὁρμίσδου

Χριστὸν παμβασιλῆα φίλοις καμάτοισι γεραίρων,
τοῦτον Ἰουστινιανὸς ἀγακλέα δείματο νηὸν
Πέτρῳ καὶ Παύλῳ· θεράπουσι γὰρ εὖχος ὀπάζων
αὐτῷ δή τις ἄνακτι φέρει πολυκυδέα τιμήν.
ἐνθάδε καὶ ψυχῇ καὶ ὄμμασι κέρδος ἑτοῖμον·
εὐχαῖσιν μὲν ἕκαστος ὅ τι χρέος ἐστίν ἑλέσθω,
τερπέσθω δὲ ὁρῶν κάλλος καὶ δώματος αἴγλην.

'On the church of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, near St. Sergios on the property of Hormisdas

Honouring Christ, the king of all, by the toils of his love, Justinian built this glorious temple for Peter and Paul. Indeed, by offering prayer to his servants, one brings great glory to the master himself. Here is ready profit for the soul and for the eyes. So let each obtain by prayer what they need, and delight in beholding the beauty and the splendour of the house.'

Text and translation: Paton and Tueller 2014; translation adapted.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Peter the Apostle : S00036 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Πέτρος Παῦλος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Greek Anthology

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Construction of cult buildings


The Greek Anthology is a collection of Greek epigrams from dating from the Archaic period to the 9th century AD. It was initially compiled by Meleager of Megara (100-90 BC), whose collection was edited and expanded by Philip of Thessalonica (under Nero), Agathias of Myrina (AD 567/8) and finally by Konstantinos Kephalas (c. AD 900). The word epigram literally means an inscription. Although most Greek inscriptions were in prose, the word came to be specifically connected to those written in verse, and eventually to include poetic texts which were not necessarily inscribed. From the earliest period of Greek literature, epigrams were mostly sepulchral or dedicatory: they either memorialised the dead or marked the dedication of an object to a god. Book 1 of the Greek Anthology contains Christian epigrams from Late Antiquity to the 9th century. It was compiled c. 880-900, containing a considerable number of poems copied directly from monuments. The scholar responsible for the transcriptions may have been Gregorios Magistros, a colleague of Kephalas. Epigrams 1-17 and possibly others were taken down from inscriptions at Constantinople and two of them, namely No. 1 (inscription from the bema arch of St. Sophia) and No. 10 (inscription from the church of St. Polyeuktos) have been found in situ, thus confirming the accuracy of the entries in the Anthology.


This epigram was apparently inscribed in the basilica of Peter and Paul in the Quarter of Hormisdas, which stood next to the still extant church of *Sergios and *Bakchos. Procopius’ Buildings (1.2.4: E04332) and the 10th-century Patria (3.39) confirm that these two churches were built by Justinian as part of his personal residence in the quarter of Hormisdas. The palace or property of Hormisdas was a residence south of the hippodrome, named after a Persian prince who lived in Constantinople in the 4th century. Justinian and Theodora lived there until his accession as emperor in 527. Procopius informs us that this was the first church dedicated to the two apostles in Constantinople, and that it differed from the octagonal church of Sergios and Bakchos, by its basilical architectural plan. The church was probably built in c. 519, perhaps in celebration of the restoration of communion with the church of Rome at the end of the Acacian Schism. In 519, Justinian requested from Pope Hormisdas contact relics and pieces of the chains of Peter and Paul, and a piece of the grate of *Laurence, in order to have them deposited at the church (E00615, E00616, E00617). Further reading: Croke 2006; Janin 1969, 451; Müller-Wiener 1977, 177-183; Mango 1972; Vasiliev 1950, 377-378.


Edition and Translation: Paton, W.R., rev. Tueller, M.A., The Greek Anthology, Books 1-5, 2nd ed. (Loeb Classical Library; London, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). Other editions: Beckby, H., Anthologia Graeca (Munich: Ernst Heimeran Verlag, 1957). Conca, F., Marzi, M., and Zanetto, G., Antologia Palatina. 3 vols. Vol. 1 (Classici Greci; Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 2005). Waltz, P., Anthologie Grecque (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1928). Further reading on the Greek Anthology: Cameron, A., The Greek Anthology: From Meleager to Planudes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993). Further reading: Croke, B., "Justinian, Theodora, and the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 60 (2006), 25-63. Janin, R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire byzantin. I: Les églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. (2nd ed.; Paris, 1969). Mango, C., "The Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus at Constantinople and the Alleged Tradition of Octagonal Palatine Churches," Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 21 (1972), 189–93. Müller-Wiener, W., Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls (Tübingen: Ernst Wasmuth, 1977). Vasiliev, A.A., Justin the First: An Introduction to the Epoch of Justinian the Great (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1950).

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