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E00554: Greek epigram, probably from an inscription in the church, commemorating the dedication of the church of *Kosmas and Damianos (brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385) in the quarter of Basiliskos in Constantinople, by the empress Sophia in 565/576, and her prayers for the victory and health of her husband, the emperor Justin II. 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), 11

Εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους Ἀναργύρους τοὺς εἰς τὰ Βασιλίσκου

Τοῖς σοῖς θεράπουσιν ἡ θεράπαινα προσφέρω
Σοφία τὸ δῶρον. Χριστέ, προσδέχου τὰ σὰ
καὶ τῷ βασιλεῖ μου μισθὸν Ἰουστίνῳ δίδου
νίκας ἐπὶ νίκαις κατὰ νόσων καὶ βαρβάρων.

'In the church of the holy Anargyroi [Unmercenaries] on the property of Basiliskos

I, your servant, Sophia, O Christ, offer this gift to your servants. Receive what is yours, and to my emperor give as a reward victory upon victory over diseases and barbarians.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs in Syria, ob. 285/287 : S00385

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Poems Literary


  • 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

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Monarchs and their family


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 commemorates the dedication by the empress Sophia of the church of Kosmas and Damianos, the Unmercenary Physicians (Anargyroi), in the quarter of Basiliskos in Constantinople. The church was in close vicinity to the residence where Sophia and Justin II stayed before the latter’s accession to the throne in 565. The area between the Harbour of Julian (or Harbour of Sophia, mod. Kardirga) and the Hippodrome was occupied by aristocratic residences, which, during the 6th century, were most used by members of the Justinianic House, namely relatives of Justin I, Justinian and Theodora. This shrine, known in the sources as the church of the Anargyroi in the quarter of Basiliskos (ἐν τοῖς Βασιλίσκου) or in the quarter of Dareios (ἐν τοῖς Δαρείου), was one of two major shrines dedicated to Kosmas and Damianos in Constantinople, alongside the Kosmidion in the quarter of Paulinos (up the Golden Horn). According to the 10th century Patria (3.123), the church in the quarter of Basiliskos was built by Justin and Sophia. Her specific vow for the health and victory of Justin II makes it likely that this dedication took place in the 570s, when the empire suffered serious defeats from Persia and the Avars, and when Justin’s mental health gradually deteriorated, leading him to appoint Tiberius II Constantine as co-emperor in 574.


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: Janin, R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire byzantin. I: Les églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. (2nd ed.; Paris, 1969), 284-285.

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