University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E04339: Procopius of Caesarea, in his On Buildings, reports that the emperor-to-be Justinian (r. 527-565), during the reign of his uncle Justin I (r. 518-527) built, or rebuilt several shrines and churches devoted to martyrs and saints in the city and suburbs of Constantinople. He lists a shrine of *Platon (martyr of Ancyra, S00650), the church of *Mokios (martyr of Byzantion, S01265), the resting-place of *Thyrsos (martyr of Bithynia, S00612), a temenos of *Theodore (soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480), a sanctuary of *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092), and one of *Theodote (martyr of Nicaea, S00257). Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the 550s.

online resource
posted on 2017-11-08, 00:00 authored by julia
Procopius, On Buildings, 1.4.27-29

μικροῦ με τὸ μαρτύριον ἐκεῖνο παρῆλθεν εἰπεῖν, ὃ Πλάτωνι ἀνεῖται ἁγίῳ, ἱεροπρεπές τε ὡς ἀληθῶς ὂν καὶ σεμνὸν ἄγαν, οὐ πολλῷ τῆς ἀγορᾶς ἄποθεν ἣ βασιλέως Κωνσταντίνου ἐπώνυμός ἐστιν· ἔτι μέντοι καὶ τὸν Μωκίῳ μάρτυρι ἀνειμένον νεών, οὗπερ τὰ ἱερὰ πάντα μεγέθει ἐλάσσω. πρὸς δὲ καὶ τὸ Θύρσου μάρτυρος ἕδος καὶ μὴν τὸ Θεοδώρου ἁγίου τέμενος πρὸ τῆς πόλεως κείμενον ἐν χώρῳ καλουμένῳ Ῥησίῳ, καὶ τό τε Θέκλης μάρτυρος ἱερόν, ὃ παρὰ τὸν τῆς πόλεως λιμένα ἐστὶν ὅνπερ ἐπώνυμον Ἰουλιανοῦ ξυμβαίνει εἶναι, καὶ τὸ Θεοδότης ἁγίας ἐν προαστείῳ καλουμένῳ Ἑβδόμῳ. ταῦτα γὰρ ἅπαντα ὁ βασιλεὺς οὗτος ἐπὶ τοῦ θείου Ἰουστίνου βασιλεύοντος ἐκ θεμελίων ἐδείματο, ἀπαγγέλλεσθαι μὲν οὐ ῥᾴδια λόγῳ, θαυμάζεσθαι δὲ ὄψει κατὰ τὴν ἀξίαν ἀμήχανα.

'I have almost omitted to mention that martyr's shrine (martyrion) which is dedicated to St. Platon, a truly holy and much revered building, not far from the market-place which bears the name of the Emperor Constantine; also the church (neōs) dedicated to the martyr Mokios, to which all other shrines yield in size. In addition to this, the resting-place (hedos) of the martyr Thyrsos, and likewise the precinct (temenos) of St. Theodore, situated outside the city at a place called Rhesion, as well as the sanctuary (hieron) of the martyr Thekla, which is by the harbour of the city which chances to bear the name of Julian, and that of St. Theodota in the suburb called Hebdomon. All these our present Emperor built from the foundations during the reign of his uncle Justin. To describe them by word is not easy, and there is no way of admiring them by sight as they deserve.'

Text: Haury 1913. Translation: Dewing 1940, modified.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Platōn, martyr of Ankyra (Galatia, central Asia Minor), ob. c.303-305 : S00650 Mokios, martyr of Byzantion : S01265 Thyrsos, martyr of Nikomedia (Asia Minor), ob. 3rd c.? : S00612 Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita : S00480 Thek

Saint Name in Source

Πλάτων Μώκιος Θύρσος Θεόδωρος Θέκλα Θεοδότη

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work


Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family


Procopius of Caesarea, (c. 500 – c. 560/561 AD) was a soldier and historian from the Roman province of Palaestina Prima. He accompanied the Roman general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian (527-565). He wrote the Wars (or Histories), On Buildings and the Secret History. On Buildings is a panegyric in six books. It lists, and sometimes describes, the buildings erected or renovated by the emperor Justinian throughout the empire (only on Italy is there no information). The bulk of these are churches and shrines dedicated to various saints; the Buildings is therefore a very important text for the evidence it provides of the spread of saintly cults by the mid 6th c. On Buildings dates from the early 550s to c. 560/561; a terminus post quem is 550/551 as the text mentions the capture of Topirus in Thrace by the Slavs in 550 and describes the city walls of Chalkis in Syria built in 550/551; a probable terminus ante quem is 558 when the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople collapsed, which is not mentioned in the book; or before 560 when the bridge on the river Sangarius was completed, as Procopius reports on the start of works. On Buildings thus belongs to the later years of Justinian’s reign. The work is not finished and is probably Procopius’ last work. It glorifies Justinian, depicting him as a great builder and an emperor restlessly transforming the state, expanding and reforming it, destroying paganism, extirpating heresy, and re-establishing the firm foundations of the Christian faith (Elsner 2007: 35). More on the text: Downey 1947; Elsner 2007; Greatrex 1994 and 2013. Overview of the text: Book 1. Constantinople and its suburbs Book 2. Frontier provinces of Mesopotamia and Syria. Book 3. Armenia, Tzanica, and the shores of the Black Sea. Book 4. Illyricum and Thrace (the Balkans). Book 5. Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. Book 6. North Africa, from Alexandria to central Algeria.


Procopius here describes, with a degree of exaggeration on the scale of building involved, work carried out during the reign of Justinian's uncle and predecessor, Justin I (r. 518-527), since, according to Procopius, Justinian was the effective ruler during Justin's reign. To describe the various shrines, he uses a bewildering number of different terms, but these were probably selected for literary variety, and not because they mark significantly different types of building. The information given on the church of Platon contradicts the Patria of Constantinople (3.28), which states that it was built by the emperor Anastasius (r. 491-518) and that Justinian renovated it. It was located in the vicinity of the forum of Constantine, probably on the Mese (the main artery of Constantinople), near the modern Grand Bazar. The church of the local martyr Mokios was one of the Constantinian churches of Constantinople (Patria of Constantinople, 3.1; 41.). It was a pagan temple converted to Christian use, located on the South Mese Street outside Constantine's Walls. The shrine of Thyrsos, founded a century earlier, was in the same area (see E04058). In Constantinople there were three or four sanctuaries dedicated to Theodore; the church which Procopius describes as in the district of Rhesion cannot be located with precision. It may have been the church of Saint Theodore of Bathys Rhyax which is mentioned by Anna Komnene (Alex. 8.3) and Niketas Choniates (Hist. p. 231). The church has not survived. The church of Thekla, as indicated by Procopius, was near the harbour of Julian (on the south side of the city), but its precise location is unknown. The church of Theodote is one of three churches founded by Justinian in the quarter of Hebdomon but its precise location is unknown. Hebdomon, located at the seventh milestone from the centre of the city, was a place for military exercises and the assembly of troops, neighbouring an area with villas and palaces, amongst which were imperial summer residences: the Magnaura Palace and the Jucundiana Palace. Further reading: Demangel 1945: 5-16; Janin 1950, 408-411; Janin 1969, 404 (Platon), 354-358 (Mokios), 247-248 (Thyrsos), 150-151 (Theodoros), 146 (Theodote), 142 (Thekla).


Edition: Haury, J., Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia, vol. 4: Περι κτισματων libri VI sive de aedificiis (Leipzig: Teubner, 1962-64). Translations and Commentaries: Compagnoni, G.R., Procopio di Cesarea, Degli Edifici. Traduzione dal greco di G. Compagnoni (Milan: Tipi di Francesco Sonzogno, 1828). Dewing, H.B., Procopius, On Buildings. Translated into English by H.B. Dewing, vol. 7 (London: William Heinemann, New York: Macmillan, 1940). Grotowski, P.Ł., Prokopiusz z Cezarei, O Budowlach. Przełożył, wstępem, objaśnieniami i komentarzem opatrzył P.Ł. Grotowski (Warsaw: Proszynski i S-ka, 2006). Roques, D., Procope de Césarée. Constructions de Justinien Ier. Introduction, traduction, commentaire, cartes et index par D. Roques (Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2011). Veh, O., and Pülhorn, W. (eds.), Procopii opera. De Aedificiis. With a Commentary by W. Pülhorn (Munich: Heimeran, 1977). Further Reading: Downey, G.A., “The Composition of Procopius’ ‘De Aedificiis’," Transactions of the American Philological Association 78 (1947), 171-183. Elsner, J., “The Rhetoric of Buildings in De Aedificiis of Procopius”, in: L. James (ed.), Art and Text in Byzantine Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 33-57. Greatrex, G., “The Dates of Procopius’ Works,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 18 (1994), 101-14. Greatrex, G., “The Date of Procopius Buildings in the Light of Recent Scholarship,” Estudios bizantinos 1 (2013), 13-29. Janin, R., Constantinople byzantine: développement urbain et répertoire topographique (Paris: Institut français d'études byzantines, 1950). Janin, R. La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire Byzantin I 3: Les églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969). Krautheimer, R., Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). Mango, C., "Constantine's Mausoleum and the Translation of Relics," Byzantinische Zeitschrift 83 (1990): 151-162. Mango, C., Studies on Constantinople (Aldershot: Variorum, 1997 [repr. of 1993]). Van Millingen, A., Byzantine Churches in Constantinople. Their History and Architecture (London: Macmillan, 1912).

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager