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E01002: Greek poetical dedicatory inscription of a church of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), addressed as '(our) Lady'. Found at Ankyra (Galatia, central Asia Minor). Probably 7th-9th c.

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posted on 2015-12-17, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Greek poetical dedicatory inscription. There have been three attempts to reconstruct the poem. The text is presented here in dodecasyllable verses:

Mitchell's edition:

+ τόνδε μὲν οἶκον ἤ[γει]|ρε τῇ Δεσποίνῃ
Ἀνδρ̣α|γάθιος ὃν νῦν ὁρᾶς ἐ̣ν | γραφῇ:
σκέπης δὲ ἔ̣τυ[χε] | τῇ αὐτῆς παροικίᾳ
[- - -]|̣μη τούτῳ τὸν Υ(ἱὸ)ν Κ̣Λ [- - -]|ΤΩCΗC:
κρίνειν μέλ̣λ[ον]|τα ̣ΤΟΙCΙ κατ' ἀξίαν

κ̣ε[κύ]|μητ(ε) μη(νὶ) Μαρτίου ̣Λ | ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ζ΄ | +

'Andragathios, whom you are seeing now in the picture, built this house for the Lady. He enjoyed the protection by her presence [- - -] by this (or: for him) the Son (?) [- - -] is going to judge [- - -] according to one's merits.

He fell asleep on the 30th (or: 1st) (day) of the month of March, in the 7th indiction.'

Text: Mitchell 1977, no. 38.

Packard Humanities Institute database edition:

+ τόνδε μὲν οἶκον ἤ[γει]|ρε τῇ Δεσποίνῃ
Ἀνδρ̣α|γάθιος, ὅν νῦν ὁρᾷς ἐ̣ν γραφῇ:∶
σκέπης δὲ ἔ̣τυ[χε] | τῇ αὐτῆς παροικίᾳ. [:]
[τι]|̣μῇ τούτῳ τὸν Υ(ἱὸ)ν κ̣ἀ[μίψα(?)]|τ’, ὣς ἠς :
κρίνειν μέλ̣λ[ει με]|τὰ ̣τοῖσι κατ’ ἀξίαν.

κε̣[κύ]|μητ(ε) μη(νὶ) Μαρτίου ̣λ΄ | ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) ζʹ. | +

'Andragathios, whom you are seeing now in the picture, built this house for the Lady. He enjoyed the protection by her presence. As a compensation (?) plead (your) Son for him, as He is going to judge with them (?) according to one's merits.

He fell asleep on the 30th (or: 1st) (day) of the month of March, in the 7th indiction.'

Text: PHI database, PH266992.

Rhoby's edition:

+ τόνδε μὲν οἶκον ἤ[γει]|ρε τῇ Δεσποίνῃ
Ἀνδρ[α]|γάθιος ὃν νῦν ὁρᾷς ἐ[ν] γραφῇ·
σκέπης δ' {ε} ἔ[τ]υ[χε] | τῇ αὐτῆς παροικίᾳ·
[- - -|- - -] μὴ τούτῳ τὸν ὑ(ιὸ)ν ἐ[λατ]|τώσῃς
κρίνειν μέλ[λον]|τα <αὐ>τοῖσι κατ' ἀξίαν·

κ[εκοί]|μητ(αι) μη(νὶ) Μαρτίου λ΄ | ἰνδ(ικτιῶνος) [ζ΄]

'Andragathios, whom you are seeing now in the picture, built this house for the Lady. He enjoyed the protection by her presence [- - -] keep an eye on (your) Son, who is going to judge them (i.e. the mortals) according to their merits.

He fell a[sle]ep on the 30th (or: 1st) (day) of the mo(nth) of March, in [the 7th] ind(iction).'

Text: Rhoby 2014, vol. 3/1, no. TR17.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions Literary - Poems Images and objects - Images described in texts Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs Images and objects - Wall paintings and mosaics


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Ankyra Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult activities - Use of Images

  • Public display of an image

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people Aristocrats


A square pinkish slab of conglomerate stone, with a carving of a tabula ansata. Broken into two parts. Part A: H. 0.71 m; W. 0.77 m; Th. 0.14 m.; Part B: H. 0.41 m; W. 0.74 m; Th. 0.14 m; letter height 0.02-0.03 m. Stephen Mitchell supposes that the slab was originally mounted on the wall of a church or chapel, probably near a portrait of the donor (mentioned in verse 2). Currently kept at the epigraphical depot at the Roman baths at Ankara.


The inscription commemorates the foundation of a sanctuary dedicated to *Mary, Mother of Christ, by a certain Andragathios. It seems that the inscription was displayed near an image of Andragathios (probably a painting), as from verse 2 we find out that the reader can see the founder, while reading the text. The name Andragathios was very rare in Late Antiquity. Rhoby points out that we actually know only two important figures that bore it: a magister equitum of the emperor Gratian and a sophist at Antioch who taught John Chrysostom and was known to Libanios. A more popular version of this name was Andragathos. As the middle section of the inscribed face of the stone is badly weathered, the letters are hardly visible, and editors suggested several, varying readings and completions of the text. Stephen Mitchell, the first editor, did not identify this dedication as a metrical inscription. The possible poetical character of the text was not hinted at, either in his communication in Bulletin épigraphique by Louis Robert, and the inscription was not reprinted by Reinhold Merkelbach and Josef Stauber in their corpus Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten. However, Cyril Mango argued that at least the first two lines contain Byzantine dodecasyllables (rather than iambic trimeter), which is even more probable as columns of dots, probably markings of the end of the metrical verses, are seen at several points in the text. The monument is classified as a metrical inscription in the Packard Humanities Institute database and in the third volume of Byzantinische Epigramme in inschriftlicher Überlieferung by Andreas Rhoby. The poem apparently consists of five verses and is followed by a sentence in prose, specifying the date of death of the founder. Stephen Mitchell summarises the contents of the inscription as follows. A certain Andragathios founded a church of the Lady (certainly Mary, Mother Christ), and in exchange, he enjoyed her protection in his lifetime, as well as after death. Mitchell notes that the church must have been constructed close to the house or tomb of this man (or he was buried at the church), as the inscription says that Mary's protection is granted by her closeness (παροικία). The middle section of the inscription refers to Christ as presiding at the Day of Judgment, and it is probably stated that Mary, having received such a magnificent gift from Andragathios, will intercede on his behalf, and will remind her Son about this generous offering. Nonetheless, as the inscribed face of the slab is mutilated, the actual phrasing of the poem can be questioned. Though Andreas Rhoby provides the most coherent reconstruction, it poses several problems regarding the length of lacunas (not to mention the fact that Rhoby does not use underdots and marks partially visible letters by square brackets, normally reserved for completely lost text). Examination of the photograph, published by Mitchell, shows that at the right-hand edge just one or two letters are missing in each line. Therefore, the reconstructed passages must be very short. In verse 1 ἤ[γι]|ρε is probably a better reconstruction than ἤ[γει]|ρε, argued by all editors. The most puzzling passages are, however, in verses 4 and 5. Here the opinions of editors greatly differ. In verse 5 the reconstruction κρίνειν μέλ̣λ[ι με]|τὰ ̣τοῖσι κατ’ ἀξίαν is certainly too long, though the interpretation of the phrase ΤΑ ΤΟΙΣΙ as με]|τὰ ̣τοῖσι / 'with them' would be very attractive (the phrase is frequent in epic poetry, for example: Hom. Il. X 62; XI 502; Apollonios of Rhodes, Argonautica II 144; Theognis, Elegiae I 33, etc.), but there is too little space in the lacuna to insert με. From the palaeographical point of view the best reconstruction would be κρίνειν μέλ̣λ̣[ει] | τὰ τοῖσι κατ' ἀξίαν or even κρίνειν μέλ̣λ̣[ι] | τὰ τοῖσι κατ' ἀξίαν. The participle μέλ[λον]|τα, suggested by Rhoby is a bit too long to be fitted in the lacuna. Moreover, this reconstruction leads to an ungrammatical expression κρίνειν <αὐ>τοῖσι as κρίνειν cannot go with pronouns in the dative (which is rightly noted by Rhoby himself). The poem undoubtedly requires further study. Dating: 7th-9th c. (based on the presence of the dodecasyllable verses, the letter forms point to the earlier half of this period).


Edition: Rhoby, A., Byzantinische Epigramme in inschriftlicher Überlieferung, vol. 3/1 (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2014), no. TR17. The Packard Humanities Institute database, PH266992. Mango, C., "Sépultures et épitaphes aristocratiques à Byzance", in: Cavallo, G., Mango, C. (eds.), Epigrafia medievale greca e latina: ideologia e funzione: atti del seminario di Erice (12-18 settembre 1991) (Spoleto: Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo, 1995), 102 (verses 1-2) and Tab. IV (photograph). Mitchell, St., "R.E.C.A.M. Notes and Studies No. 1: Inscriptions of Ancyra", Anatolian Studies 27 (1977), no. 38. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (1978), 496. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 27, 872.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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