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E00019: Theophylact Simocatta in his History mentions the coronation in 602 of the usurping emperor Phocas at the church of *John the Baptist (S00020) in the Hebdomon suburb of Constantinople. Written in Greek at Constantinople in the early 7th century.

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posted on 31.08.2014, 00:00 by CSLA Admin
Theophylact Simocatta, History 8.10.1

περιβάλλεται τοίνυν τὸν βασίλειον στέφανον ὁ παλαμναῖος ἐκεῖνος ἀνὴρ ἐν τῷ νεῷ τοῦ προφήτου καὶ βαπτιστοῦ Ἰωάννου.

'Then that murderous man [Phocas] donned the royal crown in the church of the Prophet and Baptist John.'

Text: de Boor and Wirth 1972. Translation: Whitby and Whitby 1986.

History

Evidence ID

E00019

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

620

Evidence not after

640

Activity not before

602

Activity not after

602

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople

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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Theophylact Simocatta

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Other liturgical acts and ceremonies

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family Soldiers

Source

Theophylact Simocatta wrote his History in Constantinople probably in the late 620s. The period covered by his work is the reign of Maurice (582-602), and the main subjects of the historical narrative are the wars of the East Roman Empire with Persia, and with the Avars and the Slavs in the Balkans. Several digressions of hagiographical, chronographical and geographical interest are inserted in the narrative. Using various earlier sources, Simocatta produces a positive account of Maurice, portraying him as a good emperor overthrown by a tyrant (Phocas). In fact, Maurice was very unpopular in his own times, but cleansing his memory was important to legitimise the rule of Heraclius (610-641), who presented his own coup against Phocas as avenging the murder of Maurice. A supporter and successful official of Heraclius’ regime, Simocatta apparently served this particular political agenda. Further reading: Whitby and Whitby 1986, xiii-xxx (introduction); Whitby 1988; Frendo 1988; Olajos 1988.

Discussion

This passage belongs to Simocatta's account of the usurpation of Phocas and the fall of Maurice in November 602. The incident is the proclamation of the usurper as emperor by the rebellious troops at the church of John the Baptist in the Hebdomon. Built under Theodosius I (E###), the church was the most important shrine of the aristocratic suburb of the Hebdomon, standing near the local imperial palace and military parade ground. According to the Book of Ceremonies, it was also the venue of Leo I’s coronation in 457 (De Caerimoniis, append. ad I; ed. Bonn, p. 498). Further reading: Janin 1969, 413-415.

Bibliography

Edition: de Boor, C., and Wirth, P., Theophylacti Simocattae Historiae (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana; Leipzig: Teubner, 1972). Translation: Whitby, M., and Whitby, M., The History of Theophylact Simocatta: An English Translation with Introduction and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986). Further reading: Frendo, J.D.C., “History and Panegyric in the Age of Heraclius: The Literary Background of the Composition of the Histories of Theophylact Simocatta,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988), 143-156. Janin, R., La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire byzantin. I: Les églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. (2nd ed.; Paris, 1969). Olajos, T., Les Sources de Théophylacte Simocatta Historien (Leiden: Brill, 1988). Whitby, M., The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988).

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