Saint NameGeorge, martyr in Nicomedia or Diospolis, ob. c. 303 : S00259
Saint Name in SourceΓεοργίος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Literary - Hagiographical - Accounts of martyrdom
Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles
Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts
Liturgical texts - Other
Evidence not before400
Evidence not after600
Activity not before400
Activity not after500
Place of Evidence - RegionAsia Minor
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcNȳsa
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Nȳsa
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesAngels
SourceA rectangular whitish calcareous block found at the Byzantine cemetery at Topaklı (sector O15, tomb 9) near Nevşehir (area of ancient Nȳsa, Cappadocia, eastern Asia Minor) in 1968, during the excavations directed by Luigi Polacco. Broken above and on both sides. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.185 m; W. 0.645 m; Th. 0.29 m; letter height 0.02-0.035 m. Currently kept at the Nevşehir Museum (inv. no. 928). When recorded, it had been reused in a tomb. The cemetery has been tentatively dated to the 7th c., but some blocks of an earlier date were evidently reused at the site. They come probably from a “presumed ecclesiastical structure”, located in the vicinity, possibly a martyr shrine of George (see Sheppard 1979, p. 208). The script of the inscription is of very poor quality.
DiscussionThe inscription offers us a piece of hagiographical or liturgical writings on the martyr George. The preserved passage is very fragmentary and hard to read, but it seems that the text it records is otherwise unknown. Line 3 contains a reference to angelic (Seraphic and probably Cherubic) choirs and line 5 an invocation of George as a holy martyr. Line 3 begins with a partially lost word [- - -]̣γοφορον. If the letter after the lacuna was correctly identified as Γ, the word can only be completed as [μαστι]̣γοφόρον or [μαστι]̣γοφόρων, 'the scourge-bearer(s)', which may refer to people torturing George or angels inflicting divine punishments. But if the letter was Τ, we can propose more options, for example [Xρισ]̣τοφόρον, 'the Christ-bearer' (i.e. a Christian) or [πνευμα]̣τοφόρον, 'the spirit-bearer'.
A.R.R. Sheppard, the editor of the inscription, points at several loose parallels in the orthodox liturgy of the Great Vespers: for example in the hymns for 22 April, the eve of the feast of George, the saint is asked to intercede for the living together with the heavenly powers (σὺν ταῖς ἄνω Δυνάμεσι, see: Sheppard 1979, 209). In hagiographical writings devoted to George, angels also play a prominent role – they come together with Christ, and revive George after tortures. The closest parallel to our inscription is probably a passage from an encomium by bishop Theodotos of Ankyra (early 5th c.), preserved in a Coptic translation: 'Verily thou art most blessed, O George, the beloved of God and His Angel and of the Cherubim and Seraphim' (trans. Budge 1888, p. 300). Sheppard notes that George is also associated with the angelic hosts in a building inscription from Izra/Zorava near Bostra in the Roman province of Arabia, dating to AD 514, see E01754.
Dating: 5th-6th c., based on the study of the archaeological context of an ecclesiastical structure, apparently a martyr shrine, excavated in sectors GH 13-14 at Topaklı, where the inscription may originally have been displayed.
Sheppard, A.R.R., "St. George and the angels. An inscribed fragment from Cappadocia", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 36 (1979), 208-210.
Budge, E.A.W., The Martyrdom and Miracles of St. George of Cappadocia. The Coptic Texts Edited with an English Translation (Oriental Text Series I, London: D. Nutt, 1888), 300.
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), 100.
Polacco, L., "Topaklı: Campagna di Scavo 1968 – Relazione Preliminare", Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici 10 (1969), 54-68.
Bulletin épigraphique (1980), 529.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 29, 1534.