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E00869: Bilingual (Latin and Greek) inscription with an imperial letter of Justin I and Justinian, placing the estates, owned by an oratory (eukterion) of *John the Apostle and Evangelist (S00042), and the peasants cultivating them, under the care of the said emperors. Found near Lagbe (Pamphylia, southern Asia Minor). Dated 1 June 527.

online resource
posted on 2015-11-21, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Bilingual (Latin and Greek) inscription on three faces of a stone block:

Face A:
quando et alias indemnes]
[convenit ser]vari co[ll]at[ores nostros],
[maxime possessio]nes ad ve[ne]ra[bile ora-]
4 [torium sa]ncti apostoli Io[h]an[nis per-]
[tinentes ea] providentia [frui] opor[tet].
[propter ho]c memoratas precibus [pos-]
[sessiones et] e[o]rum colonas vel adscrip-
8 [ticos et c]uratores aut conductores li-
[beros ab om]ni laesione permanere, tam
[a transitu mi]litum vel violentiae prohibit-
[orum qu]am ab illis militibus qui sedes
12[prope ea]sdem possessiones habere nos-
[cuntur], nullo eorum audente quo-
[cumqu]e damnos ex [qua]cumque occasi-
[one eos] adfligere s[i prec]es verae sunt,
16[competent]is oraculi sa[cra sanc]tione decer-
[nimus: quam re]ctor provinciae [u]na cum

Face B:

[officio suo modis omni]bus ob[se]r[v]are ef[fi-]
[ciet severissima p]oenali condemn-
20[natione . . . mini]me defutura cont-
[ra violatores nostror]um apicum, omni obr-
[eptione contra molie]ntium sive per sacrum
[apicem, sive pe]r [v]icem postulation[is]
24[aut] aliquo[libe]t modo facta iam vel
[f]utura cessan[t]e. data Kalendas Iunias
Constantinopoli Mavortio vir[o] clarissi-
mo consule + u[t]emi(n)i rescripto +
28recognovi +

<ὁ>πότε καὶ ἄλλως ἀζημίους προσήκ[ει]
τοὺς ἡμετέρους [φ]υλάττεσθαι συντελεσ-
τάς, μάλιστα τὰς κτήσεις τὰς τῷ σεπτῷ εὐ-
32κτηρίῳ τοῦ ἁγίου ἀποστόλου Ἰωάννου προσ-
ηκούσας ταύτης τῆς προνοίας ἀπολαῦ-
σαι χρή· καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τὰς φερομένας ἐν τε̑˜ς
εἱκετηρίες κτήσεις καὶ τοὺς τούτων γεωρ-
36οὺς καὶ ἐναπογράφους καὶ φροντιστὰς

Face C:

[μισθωτάς τε μ]ένιν ἐ[λ]ε[υθέρους καὶ ἀπὸ στρα-]
[τιω]τῶν [κ]αὶ [βι]οκ[ωλυτῶν παρόδου καὶ ἀπὸ]
τούτων τῶν [ἀ]ριθμῶν οἵτινες πλισίον τού-
40[τ]ων τῶν κτήσεων εἱδρυμένοι γινώσκοντε, μι-
[δ]ενὸς ἐκ τού[τ]ων τολμῶντος οἱᾳδήποτε ζ[η-]
[μί]ᾳ ἐξ οἵας οὖ[ν π]ροφάσεως τούτους συντρί-
βιν, εἰ ἀληθεῖς εἰσιν αἱ δεήσις, διὰ τῆς προσηκού-
44σης θίας νομοθεσίας θεσπίζομεν· ὅν τινα τ[ύ-]
πον τῆς ἡμετέρας θειότητος ὁ λαμπρότατος
ἄρχων τῆς ἐπαρχίας μετὰ τῆς εἰδίας τάξεω[ς]
ἅπασιν τρόποις παραφυλάττεσθαι φρον-
48τιεῖ, βαρυτάτης <π>οιν[ῆ]ς οὐδαμῶς ἐλλιψούσ[ης]
κατὰ τῶν προπετευομένων κατὰ τῶν ἡμε[τέ-]
ρων βασιλικῶν ψήφων, πάσης συναρπαγ[ῆς]
ἀπὸ τῶν ἐναντίων κατασκευαζομέν[ων εἴτε]
52κατὰ θῖον ψῆφον εἴτε κατὰ ἄλλην ἀ[ξίωσιν]
ἢ καὶ ἄλλῳ οἱῳδήποτε τρόπῳ γ[εγενη-]
μένης ἤδη ἢ μελλούσης γίνεσ[θαι παραυ-]
[τίκα] σχολαζούσης Ν. .S +

The following variant readings and reconstructions of the text have been suggested by different scholars. None of them substantially alter the overall meaning of the text.

A1-3. [Impp. Justinus et Justinianus AA. Arche|lao pr. pr. Or. Quia omnes con|venit nostros ser]vari co[ll]at[ores prae|cipue possessio]nes Diehl, quando et alias immunes | convenit ser]vari co[ll]at[ores nostros, | maxime possessio]nes Mommsen, indemnes con|venit Cousin Grégoire || A7. eorum Amelotti & Luzzatto || A8-9. se|[curos Diehl Mommsen, li|[beros Cousin Grégoire || A10. [transeuntium mi]litum Mommsen || A10-11. prohibit|[oribus Diehl, prohibit|[orum Cousin Grégoire || A. 14. damno Diehl, damnos Grégoire || B20. minim]e Diehl, mini]me Grégoire || B22. . . . . .]ntium Diehl, adversa]ntium Cousin, contra venie]ntium Mommsen, contra molie]ntium Grégoire || B24. [aut] alio quo [libe]t Diehl Mommsen, [sive] alio quo [libe]t or aliquo[libe]t Cousin, [aut] aliquo[libe]t Grégoire B25. futura cessante Diehl, [f]utura cessa[n]te Grégoire || B27-28. u[t]emi(n)i rescripto Feissel, ….... rescrip.. + reco|gnovi Amelotti & Luzzatto, .......... rescripsi + reco|gnovi + Diehl, UEmIIVI(?) rescripto +| recognovi + Cousin Grégoire B28. ἀπό τε καὶ Diehl, [ὁ]πότε καὶ Mommsen Grégoire, Αποτε Amelotti & Luzzatto || C37. [καὶ μισθωτὰς ἀβλαβεῖς μενεῖν ἀπό τε Diehl, [μισθωτάς τε μ]ένιν ἐ[λ]ε[υθέρους καὶ ἀπὸ Cousin Grégoire || C38. [παρόδου ἢ βικωλύτων, ἀπό τε] Diehl, [κ]αὶ [βι]οκ[ωλυτῶν παρόδου καὶ ἀπὸ] Cousin Grégoire || C37-38. [ἢ μισθωτὰς σώους πάσης ὕβρεως μένειν στρα|τι]ωτῶν [παρ]ο[δευόντων ἤ βιοκωλύτων ἢ καὶ] Mommsen || C39. πλησίον Diehl, πλισίον Cousin Grégoire || C40-41. [μη|δ]ενὸς Diehl, μι|[δ]ενὸς Cousin Grégoire || C41-42. ζ[ημ|ί]ᾳ Cousin || C48. [π]οινῆς Diehl, [π]οιν[ῆ]ς Grégoire, φοιν[.]ς Amelotti & Luzzatto || C51. κατασκευαζομέν[ων] Diehl, κατασκευαζομέν[ης] Cousin, κατασκευαζομέν[ων εἴτε] Grégoire || C52. α. . . . Diehl, ἀ[ξίωσιν] or α[ἰτήσιν] Cousin, ἀ[ξίωσιν] Grégoire || C54-55. παραυ|τίκα] omittit Mommesn || C55. σχολαζούσης + Diehl, σχολαζούσης N. .S + Cousin Grégoire, σχολαζούσης .... + Amelotti & Luzzatto

Latin version (underlined words are those missing in the Greek version): [Since it is proper that our serfs be kept immune, it is absolutely necessary that the es]tates [belonging] to the rever[end oratory of Sa]int John the Apostle [should benefit from] the same provision. [For this reason] we state, by (the power) of the present divine decision that, [the estates] mentioned in complaints and their peasants (colones) and ascribed peasants (adscriptici), and overseers (curatores) and free tenants (conductores) should be [free from ev]ery burden, from both [the passage of sol]diers or mili[tia (violentiae prohibitores)] and from those soldiers who are kno[wn] to be permanently garrisoned [next to] these estates. May no one of them dare to inflict [any] damage upon [them] on any occasion, if the [complai]nts are true. And the governor of the province together with [his staff must secure this by all me]ans, [and the most severe puni]shment shall in no wise be evaded by [those acting hastily against o]ur rescripts, so that all wi[cked acts committed on the labour]ers, either against [the rescript], or by changing its i[ntention (?)], or by any other means whatsoever, whether already done or likely to be done in the future, cease [immediately]. Issued on the calends of June in Constantinople, under Mavortius, the most excellent consul. + Apply the rescript! + I confirmed (it). +

Greek version (underlined words are those missing in the Latin version): Since it is proper that our serfs remain immune in every other case, it is especially necessary that the estates belonging to the reverend oratory of Saint John the Apostle should benefit from the same provision. For this reason we state by (the power) of the present divine decision that, if the complaints are true, the estates mentioned in (these) complaints and their peasants (γεωργοί) and adscribed peasants (ἐναπόγραφοι), and overseers (φροντισταί), and [tenants (μισθωταί)] should be free from [the passage of soldiers or militia (βιοκωλυταί)] and from those units who are known to be permanently garrisoned next to these estates, and let one of these people dare inflict any damage upon them on any occasion. And the most clarissimus governor of the province together with his staff must secure by all means this decision of our divinity, and the most severe punishment shall in no wise be evaded by those acting hastily against our rescripts, so that all wicked acts committed on the labourers, either against the rescript, or any other dec[ision (?)], or by any other means whatsoever, whether already done or likely to be done in the future, cease [immediately.] N..S +

Text: IGC, no. 314. Translation: P. Nowakowski, E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

Io[h]an[nes] / Ἰωάννης

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Canonical and legal texts


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Lagbe Ephesus

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

Lagbe Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Ephesus Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Awarding privileges to cult centres

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Officials Soldiers Peasants


A limestone block, standing on a circular base (H. 0.2 m), found in 1889 by Georges Cousin in the ruins of unidentified structures, near the village Küçük-ala-Fahraddin Yaïla, in the borderlands of Pisidia and Kibyratis, to the north of Lake Caralitis. All sides of the block were inscribed but only three of them displayed legible text, the illegible face bore very faint traces of letters. Henri Grégoire ascribed the find-spot to the province of Pamphylia, so did Denis Feissel (see Feissel 2010, 242), though on another occasion he identifies the find-spot: “à Lagbè, [ou plutôt Kibyra]” (see Feiseel 2010, 253) and Kibyra belonged to the province of Karia / Caria. Denis Feissel is now working on a new edition of this text.


This bilingual, Latin and Greek, inscription offers us a partially preserved imperial rescript. The Latin version is the original one as it includes a dating formula. We also know that imperial constitutions were usually issued in Latin in Constantinople. The origin of the Greek translation is less clear. It could have been prepared in Anatolia, perhaps at a governor's office, as its language is somewhat corrupted and some phrases are missing, while others are added (these are underlined in the text of the inscription). The preamble, and therefore the name of the emperor, who decreed it, and the name of the addressee, are not preserved in both versions, however, the Latin text gives the consular date ('under Vettius Agorius Basilius Mavortius') and the day, when the law was issued ('calendas Junii'), corresponding to 1 June 527. The reigning monarchs were then: Justin I (who died on 1 August 527, exactly two months after issuing this decision) and Justinian (who had been officially appointed a co-emperor by Justin on 1 April 527). The rescript is aimed at protecting the estates and various categories of peasants cultivating them, that were owned by an oratory of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. The word oratory (εὐκτήριον / eukterion) in Greek is a very generic term for a sanctuary that might refer to a small chapel or to an independent church. The identity of this oratory is disputable. It was most probably a local sanctuary (perhaps to be identified with the ruins seen by Cousin), though Henri Grégoire (see Recueil des inscriptions grecques-chrétiennes d'Asie mineure, p. 110) and Henri Leclercq (see DACL 5/1, coll. 138-139) believed that the rescript referred to the church of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist in Ephesos, on the Ayasoluk hill. There is, however, no solid evidence to support their theory. They argued that a local sanctuary of John would have been mentioned with a local toponym, and as the rescript does not specify it, the emperor must have meant the most renowned sanctuary, i.e. the Ephesian one. Although it is possible that the Ephesian church of St. John was reconstructed already in 527, at the very beginning of Justinian's sole reign (see Karydis 2015), there is no record of any estate attached to it in Pamphylia. One should also remember that the missing local topnonym could be mentioned in the lost preamble (where an addressee should be specified). It is, therefore, more probable that a local shrine is meant. The peasants, mentioned in the text, were harassed by both transient and locally garrisoned soldiers and militia, who were apparently looting villages or violently exacting due supplies. In contrast to a contemporary law awarding the privilege of asylum to a sanctuary of Gabriel the archangel in Miletos (see E00812), only the governor of the province is charged with enforcing the emperors' orders and protecting the lands. The law from Miletos said that also the bishop and municipal officials had the authority to enforce it.


Edition: Amelotti, M., Migliardi Zingale, L., (eds.), Le costituzioni giustinianee nei papiri e nelle epigrafi (Milan: Giuffrè, 1985), 95-100. Amelotti, M., Luzzatto, G.I., (eds.), Le costituzioni giustinianee nei papiri e nelle epigrafi (Milan: Giuffrè, 1972), 85-89. Fontes Iuris Romani Aneiustiniani, vol. 2, 1.97. Grégoire, H. (ed.), Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d'Asie Mineure, vol. 1 (Paris: Leroux, 1922), no. 314. Diehl, Ch., "Note sur deux inscriptions byzantines d'Ephèse", Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 52/4 (1908), 213. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum III, no. 13640. Diehl, Ch., "Rescrit des empereurs Justin et Justinien en date du 1er juin 527", Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 17 (1893), 502-504. Further reading: Amelotti, M., Migliardi Zingale, L., (eds.), Le costituzioni giustinianee nei papiri e nelle epigrafi (Milan: Giuffrè, 1985), 132-136. Destephen, S., 'Quatre études sur le monachisme asianique (IVe-VIIe siècle)', Journal des savants (2010), 203. Feissel, D., Documents, droit, diplomatique de l'Empire romain tardif (Bilans de recherche 7, Paris, 2010), pp. 242 n. 60; 253; 275, n. 86: in line 27 lege: u[t]emi(n)i rescripto, cf. ibidem p. 206 et 381; pp. 289 n. 185; 309; 329; 336; 356; 475 n. 157. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 87. Karydis, N., "The evolution of the Church of St. John at Ephesos during the early Byzantine period", Jahreshefte des österreichischen archäologischen Institutes in Wien 84 (2015), 97-128. Leclercq, H., "Ephese", in: Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie 5/1, coll. 138-139. Liebeschuetz, J.H.W.G., Decline and Fall of the Roman City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 68, n. 255. Tabula Imperii Byzantini, vol. 8/1, 152, 156.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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