Saint NameSergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023
Saint Name in SourceΣέργιος
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before550
Evidence not after700
Activity not before550
Activity not after700
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcḤimṣ/Emesa
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Ḥimṣ/Emesa
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - dependent (chapel, baptistery, etc.)
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
- Towns, villages, districts and fortresses
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsConstruction of cult buildings
SourceA fragmentary stone, broken and lost on top. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.41 m; W. 1.87 m. Dimensions of the inscribed field: H. 0.33 m; W. 0.77 m; letter height 0.035-0.04 m. The inscription is within a tabula ansata. To the right of the tabula there is a carving of a cross within a circle, the letters Α and Ω (inverted), and remnants of another framed field.
Seen and copied by Martin Hartmann on 21 May 1887 at Salamiye (ancient Salamias). When recorded the stone was reused in the jamb of the doorway of a garden, in the northwest part of the city. Revisited by Max von Oppenheim, who forwarded his copy (squeeze) to Hans Lucas, and by William Prentice. The copy published by Hartmann was of very poor quality with various erroneous readings, which we do not reproduce in full in the apparatus. In 2002 the stone was seen by Jean-Claude Decourt during his survey of Salamias, and was republished by him in 2010. Decourt notes that the stone is reused in a house in the modern city, and that only lines 4-5 are legible.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the construction of an oratory dedicated to Sergios. This is a rare case, where it is explicitly said that the oratory was not an independent place of cult, but a chapel or chamber inside another structure (here named simply ktisma/'building'). We can suppose that this chapel was a martyr shrine, designed for the veneration of relics of the saint. Denis Feissel believes that the main building (the ktisma) was the fortress mentioned in E01946. He suggests that the founder of that building, stressing the fact that he was a namesake of the saint, could also be the builder of the present oratory. For a very similar formula (a ktisma built 'in the name of the God-Bearer'), see E01944.
The epithet, used in line 2 to describe the whole building, is partially lost. Martin Hartmann, the first editor, did not attempt to reconstruct it. Hans Lucas, based on von Oppenheim's squeeze, supposed that the adjective should be read as ἀναμάρτητον/'blameless, undefiled'. This reading, however, requires a serious editorial intervention and does not agree with the later copy, made by William Prentice. Prentice read this term as ἀληθάργητον and translated it as 'of continual service'. Surprisingly, the editors of Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie rejected his reading, arguing that “such an adjective would fit the akoimetai monks rather than a building”. We prefer to follow the suggestion of Prentice, as it is based on his good quality copy, and was further elaborated by Louis Robert. The latter convincingly showed that the term belonged to the vocabulary of late antique dedicatory inscriptions, and could also be used as an epithet for magnificent buildings, probably in the meaning 'unforgettable' or 'everlasting', see: Robert 1960, 356.
Dating: Hartmann dated the inscription to the mid-6th-7th c. based on the contents and the form of letters. Other editors do not discuss the dating. It is possible, Hartman says, that the frame to the right of our inscription contained the name of the founder and the date, expressed as a local era year. A date between 430-431 has been suggested based on an unjustified connection of our text with a dated colonnette from Salamias, but it is rightly refuted by Elisabeth Key-Fowden (1999, 113).
Decourt, J.-Cl., "Inscriptions grecques de Salamya/Salamias", in: P.-L. Gatier, B. Geyer, M.-O. Rousset (eds.), Entre nomades et sédentaires. Prospections en Syrie du Nord et en Jordanie du Sud (Travaux de la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée 55; Conquête de la steppe 3, Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2010), 115-116, no. 6.
Robert, L., “Recherches épigraphiques”, Revue des études anciennes 62 (1960), 354-356.
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2530.
Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Greek and Latin inscriptions (Publications of an American archaeological expedition to Syria in 1899-1900 3, New York: Century 1908), 242, no. 300.
Lucas, H., "Griechische und lateinische Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 14 (1905), 26, no. 10.
Hartmann, M., "Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Syrischen Steppe (Schluss)", Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 23 (1901), 109-110.
Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of California Press, 1999), 113.
Bulletin épigraphique (2011), 600.
Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 20, 383; 60, 1687, 1697.