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E00564: Greek epigram from Ephesos (western Asia Minor), recording the crowning of Justinian and Theodora by *John (the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042), probably on an image depicting this scene, 527/548. 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), 91

Εἰς Ἰουστινιανὸν τὸν βασιλέα, ἐν Ἐφέσῳ

Ἰουστινιανὸν καὶ ἠγαθέην Θεοδώρην
στέψεν Ἰωάννης Χριστοῦ ἐφημοσύναις.

'On the emperor Justinian, in Ephesos

By the command of Christ, John crowned Justinian and noble Theodora.'

Text and translation: Paton and Tueller 2014. Translation modified by Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Images described in texts Literary - Poems


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople Ephesus

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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul Ephesus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

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 - Use of Images

  • Commissioning/producing an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

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 probably accompanied a mosaic image of Justinian and Theodora in the basilica of John the Evangelist in Ephesos. This was probably a dedicatory portrait of the imperial couple, commemorating the refurbishment of the basilica during their reign. The phrasing seems to imply that the imperial couple was depicted flanking the figure of John, and being crowned by him, perhaps with Christ blessing from heaven. Such iconography is well known from later periods, but not documented by any surviving example from Late Antiquity.


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). Epigraphic collections: Grégoire, H., Recueil des inscriptions grecques chétiennes d'Asie Mineure (Paris: Leroux, 1922) [=IGC], no. 100(3). Wankel, H. et al., Die Inschriften von Ephesos (Bonn: Habelt, 1979- ) [= I. Ephesos], 1354/3. Merkelbach, R., and Stauber, J., Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten. 5 vols. (Stuttgart: Teubner 1998-2004) [= SGO], 03/02/50. Further reading: Andaloro, M., “La decorazione pittorica degli edifici cristiani di Efeso: La chiesa di Santa Maria e il complesso di San Giovani”, [in:] Pillinger, R., Kersten, O., Krinzinger, F., Russo, O. (eds.), Efeso paleocristiana e bizantina = Frühchristliches und byzantinisches Ephesos: Referate des vom 22. bis 24. Februar 1996 im Historischen Institut beim Österreichischen Kulturinstitut in Rom durchgeführten internationalen Kongresses aus Anlass des 100-jährigen Jubiläums der österreichischen Ausgrabungen in Ephesos (Denkschriften: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse 282, Archäologische Forschungen 3, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1999), 55-57.

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