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E00969: Two Greek inscriptions (a summary of a letter of the emperor Anastasius, and a poem) concerning the promotion of a town (almost certainly Euchaita) to the status of a city (polis), with the help of *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480). Found near Amaseia and Euchaita (Helenopontus, northern Asia Minor). 515-518.

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posted on 2015-12-11, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Inscription 1:

A block of light grey stone. H. 0.72 m; W. 2.15 m; Th. 0.43 m.; letter height 0.045 m. The text is framed by a tabula ansata with christograms in the ansae. The lower part of the stone is decorated with a carving of an ivy vine growing out of a vase. Recorded in July 1963 by Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko in the courtyard of a school in Mecitözü near Avkat (ancient Euchaita, Helenopontus, north-western Asia Minor), but probably originally displayed at the sanctuary of Theodore at Euchaita. The two scholars learned that it had been brought to Mecitözü in c. 1953.

+ ὁ ψήφῳ θ(εο)ῦ τῶν ὅλων κρατῶν Ἀναστάσιος εὐσεβὴς αὐτοκρά-
τωρ τόνδε τὸν ἱερὸν χῶρον πολίζι καὶ τὸ κάλλιον ἐνπνευσ-
θεὶς παρὰ τοῦ μάρτυρος ἐγίρει τῷ πολίσματει τεῖχος,
ἄσυλον μὲν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν ἣν πρῶτος αὐτὸν εἵδρυσεν
ἀρχιερατικὴν καθέδραν τηρῶν, ἄξιον δὲ δῶρον θ(ε)ῷ προσ-
ενέγκας καὶ μάρτυρας τῆς εὐσεβίας τοὺς εὖ παθόν-
τας πτωχούς. τοῦτον φυλάττοι Τριὰς ὁμοούσιος ἐν
τοῖς σκήπτροις νικητὴν ἀναδικνῦσα +

'+ The pious emperor Anastasius who rules the world by God's decree has made into a city this holy spot. Happily inspired by the Martyr, he has erected a wall for the city so as to preserve inviolate in all respects the archbishop's seat that he had been the first to found. He has offered God a worthy gift as well as a testimonial of his piety, namely the poor who have fared well (at his hands). May the consubstantial Trinity guard him and prove him victorious in his kingdom. +'

Text and translation (lightly modified): Mango & Ševčenko 1972, 380-381.

Inscription 2:

A block of grey stone, reused in the wall of a mosque. H. 0.93 m; W. 2.01 m; Th. 0.31 m. The text is framed by a tabula ansata. The upper left corner is missing. Found at Amasya (ancient Amaseia, Helenopontus, north-western Asia Minor), but probably originally displayed at the sanctuary of Theodore at Euchaita (near Amaseia). First published by Adolf Kirchhoff from a poor copy communicated to him before 1863 by Andreas David Mordtmann, Consul General of the Hanseatic cities at the High Porte in Constantinople. Later revisited by several scholars who made their own, better copies: Georges Perrot and Edmond Guillaume in 1861; R.P. Girard, a French missionary in Tokat, before 1895 (this copy was passed for publication to Théodore Reinach); and Henri Grégoire in 1907 (best copy, published by Grégoire together with Franz Cumont in 1910).

Here presented in verse form:

+ ὁ τοῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ ἀθλητὴς καὶ τῶν ἐπουρανίων πολί|της
Θεόδωρος ὁ τοῦδε τοῦ πολίσματος ἔφορος |
̣Ἀν̣ασ̣τ̣άσιον ̣π̣ίθε̣ι ̣τὸν εὐσεβῆ τροπεοῦχον |
εἱδρῦσε ̣θρόν̣ον ἱερῶν μυστηρίων ἐπώνυμον· |
̣ο̣ὗπερ λαχὼν Μάμας ̣ὁ ̣καθαρότατος μύστης |
κινεῖ μὲν ἀεὶ τοῖς θεοτεύκτοις ἄσμασιν τὴν | γλῶτταν,
πλη̣ρῶν τῆς πνευματικῆς χορίας τό̣ν|δε τὸν τόπον,
ἕ̣λ̣κ̣ι ̣δὲ φιλοφροσύ̣ν̣η̣ν ̣ὡ̣ς | ̣ἑαυτὸν ἁπάν̣τ(ων) +

'+ Christ's athlete, who is a citizen of Heaven – Theodore, the guardian of this town, has persuaded Anastasius, the pious triumphator, to found a throne bearing the name of the holy mysteries. Mamas, the most-pure priest has obtained it; he constantly moves his tongue in divinely composed song while he fills this place of spiritual congregation, and attracts to himself the good-will of all men. +'

Text and translation: Mango & Ševčenko 1972, 382-383.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480

Saint Name in Source


Image Caption 1

Inscription 1. Photograph by the Avkat Archaeological Project.

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

Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Amasea Euchaita

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

Amasea Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Euchaita Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miraculous power through intermediary Apparition, vision, dream, revelation Miraculous protection - of communities, towns, armies Miraculous protection - of church and church property

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family


Inscription 1 was recently revisited and photographed by members of the Euchaita/Avkat Project directed by John Haldon (Princeton University, NJ) and Hugh Elton (Trent University, Canada). This stone is now in front of the kaymakam's complex by the roundabout in the middle of Mecitözü. We publish the photograph with kind permission of Hugh Elton.


The inscriptions, certainly referring to the same event, the promotion of the town of Euchaita to the status of a city (polis) by the emperor Anastasius, are important evidence for the early engagement of emperors in awarding privileges to provincial centres of the cult of martyrs. Dating: 515-518. The date was established by Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko. They supposed that Euchaita had been promoted to the status of a city and secured by city walls after the invasion of the Sabiri, a Hunnic tribe, who in 515 had almost captured the town (apparently lacking any fortifications), but before the death of the emperor Anastasius (518) who is mentioned in both inscriptions. Inscription 1 is a summary of a letter of the emperor Anastasius. The monarch says that a certain town deserves to become a city (πόλις), receive city walls (ἐγίρει τῷ πολίσματει τεῖχος), perhaps a charitable institution (τοὺς εὖ παθόντας πτωχούς), and its church will be promoted to the rank of an archbishopric (εἵδρυσεν ἀρχιερατικὴν καθέδραν). Anastasius justifies this decision by saying that he was inspired by an unnamed martyr (certainly Theodore, as he is named in Inscription 2). This is much more likely to be a metaphor than a reference to a vision of the saint. Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko note that, despite possible personal motives behind Anastasius' decision, the promotion of this city is perfectly coherent with the then imperial provincial policy in the East. Anastasius is credited with the fortification of Dara (the citadel of Emesa), Europos, Melitene, and Theodosiopolis (Erzerum). Besides, similar promotions happened in the mid-5th c.: the emperor Marcian raised Chalkedon/Chalcedon to the rank of metropolis because of its famous sanctuary of the martyr *Euphemia, and the emperor Zeno promoted Leontopolis in Isauria to the status of a city to distinguish the sanctuary there of *Konon (see: Destephen 2015, 80, note 59 and 80, note 57). It has been disputed which town was actually distinguished by the emperor: Amaseia, where the earlier-known Inscription 2 was found, or Euchaita with its sanctuary of Theodore. Cyril Mango and Ihor Ševčenko convincingly point out that the expression 'a throne bearing the name of the holy mysteries' / ̣θρόν̣ον ἱερῶν μυστηρίων ἐπώνυμον (Inscription 2, verse 4) must refer to Euchaita, deriving its name from 'prayer' (euche) and that the explicit reference to Theodore in Inscription 1 make this supposition even more reliable. The remark on the promotion of Euchaita has been extensively commented on by historians. In literary sources the first reference to Euchaita as a polis occurs in Novel 28, issued by Justinian in 535. Our inscription allows us to set the date of the promotion back to 515/518. Though Euchaita is not counted among cities in the Synecdemus by Hierocles (527/528), we must remember that this list was established, based on outdated, mid-5th c. sources. Inscription 2 is unique – it is the imperial letter re-written as a poem. It was presumably composed by a local man of letters. Henri Grégoire identified verses 1, 3, 5, and 7 as ʻpseudo-hexametresʼ, but was unable to recognise the form of the remaining verses. Merkelbach and Stauber name the metre ‘frühbyzantinische, rhythmische Verse’. Verses 1-2 say that Saint Theodore is a distinguished athlete of Christ (ὁ τοῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ ἀθλητής), a citizen of Heaven (τῶν ἐπουρανίων πολίτης) and the protector of Euchaita (ὁ τοῦδε τοῦ πολίσματος ἔφορος). Then the author of the poem states that the emperor was actually compelled by the martyr (̣π̣ίθε̣ι ̣τὸν εὐσεβῆ τροπεοῦχον) to award the privileges to the town. However, the second part of the poem reveals that even Theodore was not an unprompted causer of this event. He was being constantly besought by an otherwise unknown Mamas, a local ecclesiastic, and that this convinced the martyr to act. The editors of the inscription reasonably suppose that Mamas was the first archbishop of Euchaita and the person responsible for erecting our inscriptions. For a similar image of the martyr Theodore, see a dedicatory inscription from Jerash (E02342).


Edition: Inscription 1: Guarducci, M. (ed.), Epigrafia greca, vol. 4: Epigrafi sacre pagane e cristiane (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato - Libreria dello Stato, 1978), 408-409. Mango, C., Ševčenko, I., "Three inscriptions of the reigns of Anastasius I and Constantine V", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 65 (1972), 380-381. Inscription 2: Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, no. 11/10/01. Guarducci, M. (ed.), Epigrafia greca, vol. 4: Epigrafi sacre pagane e cristiane (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato - Libreria dello Stato, 1978), 409-410. Mango, C., Ševčenko, I., "Three inscriptions of the reigns of Anastasius I and Constantine V", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 65 (1972), 382-383. AASS, Nov., IV, p. 24. Anderson, J.G.C., Cumont, F., Grégoire, H., Studia Pontica, vol. 3, part 1: Recueil des inscriptions grecques et latines du Ponte et de l'Arménie (Brussels: Lamertin, 1910), no. 101 (from a copy by Grégoire). Reinach Th., "Inscriptions d'Amasie et autres lieux", Revue des Études Grecques 8 (1895), no. 22 (from a copy by Girard). Perrot, G., Guillaume E., Delbet, J., Exploration archéologique de la Galatie et de la Bithynie, vol. 1 (Paris : Firmin Didot frères, 1862), no. 160 (from their own copy). Kirchhoff, A., "Inscriptiones Asianae Graecae et Latinae a Mordtmanno descriptae", Annali dell'Instituto di corrispondenza archeologica, (1861), 179-180 (from a copy by Mordtmann). Further reading: Destephen, S., "Martyrs locaux et cultes civiques en Asie Mineure", in: J.C. Caillet, S. Destephen, B. Dumézil, H. Inglebert, Des dieux civiques aux saints patrons (IVe-VIIe siècle) (Paris: éditions A. & J. Picard, 2015), 80-81, 103. Haldon, J., A Tale of Two Saints: The Martyrdoms and Miracles of Saints Theodore ʻthe Recruitʼ and ʻthe Generalʼ (Translated texts for Byzantinists 2, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016). Haldon, J., Elton, H., Newhard, J., "Euchaïta", in: Ph. Niewöhner, The Archaeology of Byzantine Anatolia: From the End of Late Antiquity until the Coming of the Turks (New York: OUP, 2017), 375-388. Halkin, F., “Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure”, Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 95. Mango, C., Ševčenko, I., "Three inscriptions of the reigns of Anastasius I and Constantine V", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 65 (1972), 379-384. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1973), 31. Delehaye, H., "Bulletin des publications hagiographiques", Analecta Bollandiana 30 (1911), 335-336.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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