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E01022: Greek epitaph for a girl buried 'in the holy place of John', probably *John the Baptist (S00020). Found near Tyana (Cappadocia, central Asia Minor). Probably late antique.

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posted on 27.12.2015, 00:00 by pnowakowski
ἡ τὴν ἅπασαν
κοσμικὴν ὕλην
θᾶθτον διαλα-
θοῦσα Κελσῖνα,
(5) θυγάτηρ Θεοπ-
ρεπίδος κὲ Οὐι-
κτωρίνου {κελ},
κατὰ χάριν θε-
οῦ ἀμίαντος
(10) παρθένος νεο-
φώτιστος ἄπιμ-
ι πρὸς τὸν θεόν.
τόδε σκήνω{μα}-
μα μου ἐν τῷ ἁ-
(15)γίῳ τόπῳ Ἰωάν-
νου ἔνθα ἔκτισ-
εν ἡ γλυκυτάτ-
η μου μήτηρ {θ}
Θεοπρεπίς

'Having prematurely escaped from all the earthly matter, I, Kelsina, daughter of Theoprepis and Viktorinos, by the grace of God depart to God, just baptised and as an undefiled virgin. My sweetest mother Theoprepis built this tomb of mine inside the holy place of John (en to hagio topo Ioannou).'

Text: I. Tyana, no. 108.

History

Evidence ID

E01022

Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020 John the Evangelist : S00042

Saint Name in Source

Ἰωάννης Ἰωάννης

Image Caption 1

Photograph. From: I. Tyana 2, Tafel 117.

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

800

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

800

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Tyana

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

Tyana Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Other lay individuals/ people

Source

A greyish-white marble slab, found at Bor, Armutlu Mah (near ancient Tyana, Cappadocia, eastern Asia Minor). H. 1.60 m; W. 0.415 m; Th. 0.16 m; letter height 0.03-0.04 m. Photographed by Dietrich Berges. Tyana was one of the most prominent cities in Cappadocia, the capital of the province of Cappadocia Secunda (after its creation by the emperor Valens in 372) and the rival city of Kaisareia/Caesarea.

Discussion

The inscription is the epitaph for a young girl, Kelsina. It is remarkable for its peculiar phrasing and an explicit reference to a burial 'ad sanctos', close to a saint. The author of the epitaph must have had some knowledge of philosophy or theology, and of the technical terms of these disciplines, as death is here described as the escape from 'all earthly matter' / ἡ ἅπασα κοσμικὴ ὕλη. Virginity is praised as the most prominent virtue of the deceased, and the fact the girl was baptised, probably shortly before death, is also important for the author. The second part of the epitaph provides some detail of the place of burial. It was almost certainly a burial ad sanctos, as the inscription says that Kelsina was buried 'in the holy place of John' / ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ τόπῳ Ἰωάννου ἔνθα. The identity of this John is disputable, but he is likely to be John the Baptist, as another epitaph from the area of Bor attests to a burial close to or at a sanctuary dedicated to this saint (see E01023). Unfortunately, it is not stated whether any relics, corporeal or contact, were kept at the sanctuary. It is also not explicit that the saint, and closeness of his shrine, were expected to aid the deceased in any way. The tomb is denoted as σκήνωμα / 'tent, quarters, shrine', which is quite a rare usage. Interestingly, though in lines 5-7 both parents, Theoprepis and Viktorinos, are specified (note that the mother is mentioned before her husband), in lines 17-19 only the mother is indicated as the builder of the tomb. Presumably Viktorinos had died before his daughter. The family was certainly of local importance, as burials ad sanctos were available to a limited number of people in the East and the size of the plaque is much larger than in the case of regular tombstones.

Bibliography

Edition: Die Inschriften von Tyana, no. 108 (after Berges' photograph).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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