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E05878: Romanos the Melodist composes his kontakia /cantica (hymns) 57 and 58, on the *Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (S00103); they are invoked as heavenly protectors of the state and allies of the emperor at war. Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the mid-6th c. (possibly after 548).

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posted on 2018-06-25, 00:00 authored by erizos
Romanos the Melodist, Cantica 57, 58 (CPG 7570)

Hymn 58

proemium II
 (1) Χαίροις, ὁ στρατὸς    τῆς δόξης τοῦ βασιλέως,
  χαίρετε, φαιδροὶ    φωστῆρες τῆς εὐσεβείας,
  ἐκκλησίας, χαίρετε,    φρουροὶ ἀσφαλεῖς,
βασιλέων κλέος, χαίρετε,    πολιτείας πύργος, χαίρετε,    ἀθληταὶ οἱ τεσσαράκοντα,
:ἐν τῇ μνήμῃ τῇ ὑμῶν    οἰκτείρατε ἡμᾶς.:

'Hail, the army of our King’s glory!
Hail, the bright beacons of piety!
Of the Church, hail, the safe guards!
Of the emperors, hail, the pride! Of the state, hail, the bastion! Oh forty champions!
Pity us on your feast!'

strophe 18
ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ καὶ τότε,    Χριστέ, σωτήρ, βασιλεῦ μου,
  τοῖς σοῖς ἁγίοις    παρέσχες νίκην
  κατὰ δαιμόνων    καὶ τῶν τυράννων,
καὶ νῦν ὡς εὐδιάλλακτος    τῷ πιστοτάτῳ ἄνακτι
  κατὰ βαρβάρων δώρησαι    τὰς νίκας καὶ τὰ τρόπαια,    (10)
εἰρήνην νέμων σῷ λαῷ    ἱκεσίαις καὶ εὐχαῖς    τῆς τεκούσης σε σαρκί,
  τῶν ἁγίων καὶ στερρῶν    ἀθλοφόρων σου ἀεί,
  τῶν λαβόντων παρὰ σοῦ
:δόξαν ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν    καὶ στεφάνων πληθύν.:

‘But as then, Christ saviour, my king,
To your saints did you grant victory
Over demons and tyrants,
Even so now be merciful to our most faithful sovereign;
Grant him victories and trophies over barbarians,
Always awarding peace to your people, by entreaties and prayers of Her that gave you birth in flesh,
And your holy and steadfast champions
Who received from you glory from heaven and a multitude of crowns.’

Text: Maas, Trypanis 1963.
Translation: E. Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Forty Martyrs of Sebaste : S00103 Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Type of Evidence

Literary - Poems Liturgical texts - Hymns


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

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

Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family


Romanos the Melodist was born to a Jewish family in Emesa of Syria, and moved to Constantinople under Anastasius (491-518), where he joined the clergy of the church of Mary in the Kyros quarter. He is the earliest and most important author of Kontakia (cantica), which he seems to have composed between 536 and 555. The Kontakia/Cantica were sermons in verse, accompanied by music, which became very popular in the Greek Church between the 6th and 9th centuries. They have a metrical form, and were probably chanted from the pulpit by the preacher, joined by the choir or the congregation in the refrain. Their music is now lost.


The fact that the hymn invokes protection for one emperor is thought to suggest that it was written after the death of the empress Theodora in 548. The composition of these hymns may be related to celebrations for the Forty Martyrs after the miraculous discovery of their relics during the building of the church of the martyr *Eirene at Sykai (see E04395 and E###).


Text: Maas, P., and Trypanis, C.A., Sancti Romani Melodi Cantica. Cantica Genuina (Oxford, 1963).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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