University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E00555: Six Greek epigrams, inscribed in the church, commemorating the refurbishment of the church of *Euphemia (martyr of Chalcedon, S00017) in the quarter of Olybrios in Constantinople, by the Anicia Iuliana, 500/527. The church had been built and embellished in 462/472 by the former West Roman empress Licinia Eudoxia and her daughter Placidia (Anicia Iuliana's grandmother and mother). Recorded in the 10th c. Greek Anthology.

online resource
posted on 2015-05-27, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Greek Anthology, Book 1 (Christian Epigrams), 12-17

Εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν Εὐφημίαν τὴν Ὀλυβρίου

Εἰμὶ δόμος Τριάδος, τρισσὴ δέ με τεῦξε γενέθλη.
πρώτη μὲν πολέμους καὶ βάρβαρα φῦλα φυγοῦσα
τεύξατο καί μ᾽ ἀνέθηκε Θεῷ ζωάγρια μόχθων
Θευδοσίου θυγάτηρ Εὐδοξία· ἐκ δέ με κείνης
Πλακιδίη κόσμησε σὺν ὀλβίστῳ παρακοίτῃ·
εἰ δέ που ἀγλαΐης ἐπεδεύετο κάλλος ἐμεῖο,
τήνδε μοι ὀλβιόδωρος ὑπὲρ μνήμης γενετήρων
δῶκεν Ἰουλιανὴ καὶ ὑπέρτατον ὤπασε κῦδος
μητέρι καὶ γενέτῃ καὶ ἀγακλέϊ μητρὶ τεκούσης,
κόσμον ἀεξήσασα παλαίτερον. ὧδ᾽ ἐμὸν ἔργον.

'On Saint Euphemia [in the quarter] of Olybrios

I am the house of the Trinity, and three generations built me. First Eudoxia, the daughter of Theodosius, having escaped from war and the barbarians, erected and dedicated me to God in acknowledgement of her rescue from troubles. Next her daughter Placidia with her most blessed husband adorned me. Thirdly, if perhaps my beauty was at all deficient in splendour, magnificent Iuliana invested me with it in memory of her parents, and bestowed the height of glory on her mother and father and her mother’s illustrious mother by augmenting my former adornment. Thus was I made.'

Εἰς τὸν αὐτὸν ναὸν ἔνδοθεν τοῦ περιδρόμου

Κάλλος ἔχον καὶ πρόσθεν ἐπήρατον, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ μορφῇ
τῇ πρὶν ἀρειοτέρην νῦν λάχον ἀγλαΐην.

'In the same church, inside the gallery

I had loveliness before, but now in addition to my former beauty I have acquired greater splendour.'


οὕτω γῆρας ἐμὸν μετὰ μητέρα καὶ μετὰ τηθὴν
ξῦσεν Ἰουλιανή, καὶ νέον ἄνθος ἔχω.


Thus did Iuliana, after her mother and grandmother, scrape off my coat of old age, and I blossom anew.'


Ἦν ἄρα καὶ κάλλους ἔτι κάλλιον· εὖτ᾽ ἐμὸν ἔργον,
καὶ πρὶν ἐὸν περίπυστον, ἀοίδιμον ἐς χθόνα πᾶσαν,
ἀγλαΐης προτέρης ἐς ὑπέρτερον ἤγαγε κάλλος
τόσσον Ἰουλιανή, ὅσον ἄστρασιν ἀντιφερίζειν.


So there was then something even more beautiful than beauty! For Iuliana has raised my ornament – also formerly widely known and famous all over the earth – to a beauty so superior to its former splendour, that it rivals the stars.'


Αὐτὴν ἐργοπόνοισιν ἐπιπνείουσαν ἀρωγὴν
εἶχεν Ἰουλιανὴ μάρτυρα νηοπόλον·
οὔποτε γὰρ τοῖόν τε τόσον τ᾽ εὐδαίδαλον ἔργον
ἤνυσεν, οὐρανίης ἔμπλεον ἀγλαΐης.


Iuliana had the martyr herself, the patroness of the church, to inspire and help the artificers. For never would she have accomplished otherwise so great and so elaborate a work, full of heavenly splendour.'


Οὐκέτι θαυμάζεις προτέρων κλέος· οὐ διὰ τέχνης
εὖχος ἐν ὀψιγόνοις λίπον ἄσπετον, ὁσσάτιόν περ
κῦδος Ἰουλιανῆς πινυτόφρονος, ἣ χάριν ἔργων
ἀρχεγόνων νίκησε νοήματα πάνσοφα φωτῶν.


You no longer marvel at the glory of those in former times: by their art they did not leave a fame so great as the glory of wise Iuliana, who by her work surpassed the skilled design of her ancestors.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Euphemia, martyr in Chalcedon, ob. 303 : S00017

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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


  • 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

Renovation and embellishment of cult buildings

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Monarchs and their family Aristocrats


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.


The epigrams of Anicia Iuliana (462-527) provide the most reliable testimony for the history of one of the most notable churches dedicated to the Chalcedonian martyr Euphemia in Constantinople. The church stood in the quarter of Olybrios in central Constantinople. This quarter contained the residences of several members of the Theodosian imperial house, including Anicia Iuliana. According to the text, the founder was the former West Roman empress Licinia Eudoxia, and her daughter Placidia with her husband Olybrius. Eudoxia, Placidia, and Placidia's elder sister Eudocia, were captured by the Vandals during the sack of Rome by Gaiseric in 455, and were taken as hostages to Carthage. In about 461, Eudoxia and Placidia were released and went to Constantinople (Eudocia was forced to stay in Carthage and marry Gaiseric's son Huneric). In Constantinople, Placidia married Anicius Olybrius, a Roman senator to whom she had been betrothed before the sack of Rome, and who had moved to Constantinople to escape the sack. In 472, Olybrius returned to Rome (without his wife and daughter), and was briefly West Roman emperor before dying a few months later. Consequently, the church was founded between 462 and 472. The dedication of the basilica to Euphemia may have been a statement of Licinia Eudoxia’s support for Chalcedonian Orthodoxy, since the cult of Euphemia was closely associated with the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon, which convened at her basilica in 451. Anicia Iuliana was the daughter of Olybrius and Placidia, born c. 462. She lived in Constantinople throughout her life, marrying a leading general, Flavius Areobindus. According to the epigrams she refurbished the church, but the date of the refurbishment is uncertain. Their grandiloquent celebration of Iuliana’s imperial lineage may suggest a period towards the end of the reign of Anastasius or after the accession of Justin I (518), when she hoped in vain to have her husband enthroned as emperor. The refurbishment of the church of Euphemia perhaps paralleled her rebuilding of the other great church of the Olybrios quarter, namely the basilica of *Polyeuktos (see E00553). Further reading: Janin 1969, 124-125.


Edition and Translation: Paton, W.R., rev. Tueller, M.A. (ed. and trans.), The Greek Anthology, Books 1-5, 2nd ed. (Loeb Classical Library; London, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2014). Other editions: Beckby, H. (ed.), Anthologia Graeca (Munich: Ernst Heimeran Verlag, 1957). Conca, F., Marzi, M., and Zanetto, G. (eds.), Antologia Palatina. 3 vols. Vol. 1 (Classici Greci; Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 2005). Waltz, P. (ed.), 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).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager