Saint NameDemetrios, martyr in Thessalonike, ob. 304-311 : S00761
Saint Name in SourceΔημήτρηος
Image Caption 1A 7th/9th-century Greek dipinto in the basilica of *Demetrios (Soteriou 1952)
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Graffiti
Evidence not before600
Evidence not after900
Activity not before600
Activity not after900
Place of Evidence - RegionBalkans including Greece
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcThessalonike
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Thessalonike
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesMerchants and artisans
DiscussionThis dipinto was written with black paint on the mortar of a pillar of the north colonnade of the nave. It was recorded by Soteriou, but is no longer extant. Soteriou dated it to the 15th century, assuming that the dedicants were a late Byzantine aristocratic family. However, the text is clearly much earlier, as one can deduce both from the style of the letters and the wording. The formula ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ἁγίου (...) is a frequent form of invocation of the help of God by the intercession of a saint in inscriptions, papyri, and texts from the 6th to 9th centuries. The text must postdate the conflagration which damaged the basilica in the early 7th century.
The dedicants are described as the ]όρος τον καναβ[ά]δον = ]όρος τῶν καναβάδων. This very probably refers to a guild of artisans or merchants producing or selling hemp products, like canvas cloth or ropes. It is an interesting case of a professional guild making a dedication/invocation, and requesting blessings on behalf of its members (cf. E01029). The verb πληθύνω/plethyno ('to increase') is often used with reference to the abundance of crops (cf. SEG 44,775,781 = SEG 50, 1014,1017; SEG 34,944; SEG 44,761; Greek and Latin Inscriptions of Caesarea Maritima, 129, 130). Here it is used with the obscure word [_]όρος which can be tentatively reconstructed as πόρος ('revenue/income') in the sense of increasing the revenue of the trade. The group is described by the term γένος/genos ('race, group, fellowship'). In a spirit of corporate solidarity, the dipinto requests prosperity and unity for all the members of the guild: ἥνα πάντες μετὰ πάντον χέρομεν ὑ ἐκ γένους ἠς τὴν διακονήαν τοῦ Θ(εο)ῦ= ἵνα πάντες μετὰ πάντων χαίρωμεν οἱ ἐκ γένους εἰς τὴν διακονίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ ('so that all we fellows may prosper together with everyone in the service of God).
G. Soteriou, M. Soteriou, Ἡ βασιλικὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Δημητρίου Θεσσαλονίκης, Βιβλιοθήκη τῆς ἐν Ἀθήναις Ἀρχαιολογικῆς Ἑταιρείας, 34, Athens, 1952, 234.
Lehmann, C.M., and Holum, K.G., The Greek and Latin Inscriptions of Caesarea Maritima (The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima Excavation Reports 5; Boston, Mass.: The American Schools of Oriental Research, 2000).