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E00951: Fragmentary inscription with a Greek dedicatory poem commemorating the foundation of a church and monastery of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found at Nikaia/Nicaea (Bithynia, north-west Asia Minor). Probably c. 650-717.

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posted on 08.12.2015, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Dedicatory poem consisting of four dodecasyllable verses:

[τόνδε τὸν να]ὸν ἐγίρο συ παρ\θ/(ένε)
φέδρυνον οὖν μυ ψυ\χ/(ὴν) τωκ(αι)τ\õͺ/ σ[ου]
[- - - - - - - - - -π]ολεμίον με ῥῦσε
σὸν Ὑάκινθον μο(να)χ(ῶν) πυμνιά[ρχην]

v. 1. [τόνδε τὸν να]ὸν Rhoby

'[This church] I build for you, the Virgin, cheer my soul by giving birth (to Christ) [- - - - - - - - - -] save me from enemies (i.e. demons?), your Hyakinthos, shepherd of monks.'

Text: Rhoby 2014, vol. 3/1, no. TR94.

History

Evidence ID

E00951

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

παρθένος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

650

Evidence not after

717

Activity not before

650

Activity not after

717

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Nikaia

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

Nikaia Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Monastery

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Other miracles with demons and demonic creatures

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots

Source

A fragment of a marble lintel found at İznik (Nikaia, Bithynia, central Asia Minor) at the site of the former church of the God-Bearer (also called the church of the Dormition), destroyed in 1922. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.16 m; W. 1.18 m; Th. 0.49 m. It was decorated with a carving of a cross-shaped monogram that can be deciphered as 'Of Hyakinthos' / Ὑακείνθου. First edited by Cyril Mango, from a photograph communicated to him by Urs Peschlow. The original location of the lintel is not known. Normally such commemorative inscriptions were displayed above the main doorway leading from the narthex to the nave. In this church, however, this space was occupied by another monogram of Hyakinthos. Thus it is possible that the lintel was located elsewhere, for example over the doorway connecting the narthex with the outer surroundings of the church. It may have been displaced and stored away after the earthquake in 1065, which heavily damaged the building.

Discussion

The inscription commemorates the foundation of a church by Hyakinthos, abbot of a monastery associated with the church. The commemorative poem consists of two lines of text, which give us fragments of four dodecasyllable verses. The abbot says that he dedicates the church to the Virgin and, in exchange, he asks for the protection from unnamed enemies, perhaps demons. For references to parallel phrasing in early Byzantine poems, see Rhoby 2014, vol. 3/1, 700-701. Rhoby comments that this is a classic example of Byzantine dedicatory poetry, though its prosody is surprisingly poor. Dating: Late 7th c. (?). The inscription must be contemporary to the foundation of the church, which certainly existed by the time of the council of Nikaia / Nicaea in 787. In its acts the complex is mentioned as 'the monastery of Hyakinthos' / μονὴ τοῦ Ὑακίνθου. It is generally supposed that the church was built before the outburst of iconoclasm in the 730s, and probably even before the Arab raids of 717/718.

Bibliography

Edition: Rhoby, A., Byzantinische Epigramme in inschriftlicher Überlieferung, vol. 3/1: Byzantinische Epigramme auf Stein (Denkschriften (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse) 474, Denkschriften (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse). Veröffentlichungen zur Byzanzforschung 35, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2014), no. TR94. Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten II, no. 09/05/94 (only verse 1 is reprinted). Mango, C., "Notes d’épigraphie et d’archéologie: Constantinople, Nicée. III. Nicée, église de la Théotokos", Travaux et Mémoires 12 (1994), 351. Reference works: Chroniques d'épigraphie byzantine, 422. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 44, 1007. For the identity of Hyakinthos, see: Mango, C., "Notes d’épigraphie et d’archéologie: Constantinople, Nicée. III. Nicée, église de la Théotokos", Travaux et Mémoires 12 (1994), 351. Möllers, S., "Nikaia", in: Reallexikon zur byzantinischen Kunst, vol. 6 (2005), 998-1001.

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