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E01229: Greek inscription referring to a 'holy Isidoros' (possibly *Isidoros, soldier and martyr of Chios, S00425, or a local holy monk). Found on the island of Tinos (the Aegean Islands) at the site of the present-day church of Panagia Evangelistria. Probably 6th c.

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posted on 2016-03-29, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Φῶς Ζῶης
οἰκίδιον διαφέρον
τῷ δεσπότῳ μου τῷ ἁγίῳ Ἰσιδώρῳ
[- - -]ΔΦ

2. ΚΟΙΚΙΔΙΩΝ Georgantopoulos || 3. δεσπότῳ = δεσπότῃ or δεσπότου Grégoire || 4. [ΤΤΞ]ΔΦ = τοῦτο τὸ ξύλον δαίμονες φρίττουσιν Philippidis and Lambakis

'The Light of Life. The little house belonging to my lord, the holy Isidoros [- - -].'

Text: Feissel 1980, no. A1.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Isidore, martyr of Chios, ob. 249/251 : S00425

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tinos Tinos (city)

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

Tinos Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia Tinos (city) Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits


A marble plaque, rounded on the right- and left-hand side. H. 0.26 m; W. max. 0.85 m; letter height 0.02-0.04 m. Found reportedly in 1823 during excavations at the site of the present-day church of Panagia Evangelistria in the city of Tinos. In 1835 seen and copied by Ludwig Ross – it was then fixed above the northern gate of the church, where it is still present. Revisited by G. Paraskevas (who made a copy and a squeeze) before 1963, and by Denis Feissel in 1975. The plaque was perhaps originally displayed on the tympanon of a gate or in an arcosolium, but it is also possible that its shape was recut in modern times. The inscription is written to the right and to the left of a cross.


The inscription begins with an acclamation φῶς ζωῆς / 'The light of life', quite frequent in 6th c. inscriptions from Syria. It derives from the Gospel of John 8:12 (Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου· ὁ ἀκολουθῶν ἐμοὶ οὐ μὴ περιπατήσῃ ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ, ἀλλ’ ἕξει τὸ φῶς τῆς ζωῆς/'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life'), and is often written as a cross-shaped monogram. The wording of the second part of the inscription is unusual. In lines 2-3 we read that an oikidion (a diminutive of the word oikos/'house') belongs to a certain 'holy Isidoros', styled as the writer's master (despotes). Ross, Evangelidis, Grégoire, and Halkin suggested that this expression referred to a chapel, dedicated to Isidoros, the martyr of Chios. It is also said that, during the excavations at the find-spot of the inscription, the ruins of a small chapel were found, which Ross, the first editor of the inscription, believed to have been dedicated to this Isidoros. Feissel says that, if this interpretation is correct, the figure was called despotes/'Lord', because people venerating saints frequently identified themselves as douloi / 'servants' of saints in inscriptions. On the other hand, Feissel (as earlier Georgantopoulos) notes that the term diapheron/'belonging' is characteristic of epitaphs placed on the tombs of ordinary people. Therefore, it is also possible that Isidoros was a local man of importance, buried by his real servant, and the term hagios / 'holy' was used in the sense of 'Christian' or 'of blessed memory' as it is sometimes used, for example in epitaphs from southern Asia Minor. Georges Kiourtzian adds yet another interpretation. He observes that the term oikidion may also mean 'monastery' or 'hermitage'. Based on this meaning, he hypothesises that our Isidoros was a monk, considered a holy man by the locals, and buried inside his cell/hermitage by his most faithful disciple (a practice not uncommon in the East). Phane Drossoyianni is not entirely convinced by this Kiourtzian's argument, and points out that oikidion, being a diminutive of oikos commonly used to described tombs, probably refers to a regular grave (see Drossoyianni 2002, 695). Line 4 contains only two legible letters: ΔΦ. Leonidas Philippidis, following a suggestion of Georgios Lampakes, completed it as [ΤΤΞ]ΔΦ, which he understood as an abbreviated sentence: τοῦτο τὸ ξύλον δαίμονες φρίττουσιν ('demons fear this tree/cross'). Such a completion is however, highly speculative, and was rejected by Denis Feissel.


Edition: Kiourtzian, G., Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, de la fin du IIIe au VIIIe siècle après J.-C., (Travaux et mémoires du Centre de recherche d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance. Monographies 12, Paris: De Boccard, 2000), no. 141 (after Feissel's edition). Feissel, D., "Inscriptions byzantines de Ténos", Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 104/1 (1980), no. A1 (after the examination of the stone). Philippidis, L., "Συμβολὴ εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησιαστικὴν ἱστορίαν τῆς νήσου Τήνου", Ἐπετηρὶς Ἐταιρείας Κυκλαδικῶν μελετῶν 3 (1963), 28-45 (after Paraskevas' copy and squeeze). IGC - Grégoire, H (ed.), Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d'Asie Mineure, vol. 1 (Paris: Leroux, 1922), no. 216 (after Ross' edition). LBW, no. 1881bis (after Ross' edition). Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum IV, no. 8845 (after Ross' edition). Ross, L., Inscriptiones graecae ineditae, vol. 2 (Athenis, E Typographeo Regio, 1842), 17, no. 105. Ross, L., Reisen auf den griechischen Inseln des Ägäischen Meeres, vol. 1 (Stuttgart and Tübingen: J.G. Gotta'schen, 1840), 17, note 7. Further reading: Drossoyianni, Ph., "[Review:] G. Kiourtzian, Receuil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes des Cyclades, De la fin du IIIe au VIIe siècle après J.-C.", Βyzantinische Ζeitschrift 95 (2002), 695. Georgantopoulos, E., Τηνιακά (1889), 51. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie. Supplément", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 341. Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 369. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 30, 1068; 50, 806.

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