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E01112: Greek inscription with a metrical epitaph for a certain *Severos (S00706), presumably a martyred bishop of Laodikeia/Laodicea Combusta (Pisidia, west central Asia Minor). Found at Laodikeia. Probably 3rd/4th c.

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posted on 12.02.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
τὸν Χ(ριστο)ῦ σοφίης ὑποφήτορα τὸν σοφὸν ἄνδρα
οὐρανίου Γενέτου κύδιμον ἀθλοφόρον
[Σ]εβῆρον πόλεων πανεπίσκοπον ἡγητῆρα
[λ]αοῦ σακκοφόρου μνῆμα κέκευθε τόδε
[λεί]ψανον Εὐγενίου τε θ(εο)υδέος ὃν κατέλιψεν
[ποιμ]νῆς πνευματικῆς ἄξιον ἡνίοχον
[οὗτοι] ̣καὶ ζώοντες ἑαῖς π[αλάμαισιν ἔτευξαν]
[αὐτοῖς] ̣ἀ̣σκητὸν μν̣ῆ[μα τόδ' ἀέναον]
[- - -]̣π[- - -]

The following variant readings and reconstructions of the text have been suggested by different scholars. None of them substantially alter the overall meaning of the text.

4. λαοῦ Merkelbach & Stauber || 5. θεουδέος Merkelbach & Stauber || 6. [ποιμ]νῆς Grégoire and independently Turner apud Calder, [Ζώ]νης Calder || 7. [οὗτοι] Calder Merkelbach & Stauber, [ἁγνὸν] Tabbernee MAMA Calder || καὶ ζώοντες ἑαῖς π[αρὰ Λαοδικεῦσιν] Calder, καὶ ζώοντες ἑαῖς π[ληγαῖς ὄνομ' ἔσχον] Tabbernee MAMA || 8. τοῦτ' εὐ]άσκητον μνῆ[μ' ἐπέθεντο σοροῖς] Calder, [νῦν τ' εὐ]άσκητον μνῆ[μ' ἔχει ἀμφοτέρους] Tabbernee MAMA Calder || 7-8. [οὗτοι] καὶ ζώοντες ἑαῖς π[αλάμαισιν ἔτευξαν | αὐτοῖς] ἀσκητὸν μνῆ[μα τόδ' ἀέναον] Merkelbach & Stauber following Wilhelm honoris causa, [ἣν μὲν] καὶ ζώνοτες ἑαῖς πά[λαι ηὔξανον εὐχαῖς], | [νῦν δὲ τόδ'] ἀσκητὸν μνῆ[μα φάος πόλεως] Grégoire

'This monument (mnema) conceals the interpreter of the wisdom of Christ, the wise man, the glorious victor (in the contest) of the Heavenly Father (or Son), Severos, the all-overseeing leader of cities of the sackcloth-wearing folk; also the remains of God-fearing Eugenios, whom he left behind, a worthy director of the spiritual flock. [They built themselves this] well-wrought [eternal] memorial [with their own hands] in their life-time'

Text: SGO III, no. 14/06/04. Translation: W.M. Calder, lightly modified, with the last verses following the reconstruction by Adolf Wilhelm.

History

Evidence ID

E01112

Saint Name

Severos, presumably a martyred bishop of Laodikeia Katakekaumene / Laodicea Combusta (Pisidia, central Asia Minor), ob. 3rd / early 4th c. : S00706

Saint Name in Source

Σεβῆρος

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions Literary - Poems

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

250

Evidence not after

400

Activity not before

250

Activity not after

400

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Laodikeia Katakekaumene / Laodicea Combusta

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

Laodikeia Katakekaumene / Laodicea Combusta Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Heretics

Source

Fragment of a limestone plaque. Broken and lost at the bottom, and on the right-hand side. H. 0.45 m; W. 1.25 m; Th. 0.30 m; letter height 0.025-0.04 m. The inscription is framed within a tabula ansata. Found in 1911 at the site of a cemetery at Laodikeia Katakekaumene by William Ramsay and William Calder. They copied the text and took a photograph. The stone was later transported to the Museum of Konya.

Discussion

The inscription is the epitaph, composed in at least four elegiac couplets, for two ecclesiastics: Severos, named κύδιμος ἀθλοφόρος οὐρανίου Γενέτου/'the glorious victor (in the contest) of the Heavenly Father' (the term athlophoros/'prize-winning victor' was normally reserved for martyrs), and his successor Eugenios, who were buried in the same tomb. It is sometimes considered that this Eugenios is M. Ioulios Eugenios, apparently a confessor: a former soldier who was subjected to some tortures or humiliations and was eventually discharged from the army during the persecutions of Maximinus Daia. Later he became a bishop of Laodkeia Katakekaumene, where he founded a church (for his epitaph, which he composed himself, see: EXXXXXX SGO III, no. 14/06/04; MAMA I, no. 170, lines 1-10: Μ. Ἰού. Εὐ[γέ]νιος Κυρίλλου Κέλερος Κουησσέως βουλ(ευτοῦ) | στρατευσ[ά]μενος ἐν τῇ κατὰ Πισιδίαν ἡγεμονικῇ τάξι | (...) καὶ μετ' ἐπιτει[μ]ίας στρατευσάμενον. | ἐν δὲ τῷ μετσξὺ χρόνῳ κελεύσεως [φ]οιτησάσης ἐπὶ Μαξιμίνου | τοὺς Χρ[ε]ιστιανοὺς θύειν, καὶ μὴ ἀπα[λ]λάσσεσθαι τῆς | στρατεί[α]ς, πλείστας δὲ ὅσας βασάνου[ς] ὑπομείνας | ἐπὶ Διογένους ἡγέμονος. σπουδάσας [τ]ε ἀπαλλαγῆναι | τῆς στρατείας τὴν τῶν Χρειστιανῶν πίστιν φυλάσσων / 'I, Markos Ioulios Eugenios, son of Kyrillos Keler from Kouessa, member of the city council, was a soldier in the governor's unit, assigned to Pisidia (...) and served honestly. But when in the meantime an order was issued under (the emperor) Maximinos (Daia), that Christians must sacrifice (to the pagan gods), and cannot be discharged from service, I was subjected to many different tortures (or humiliations: βάσανοι) under the governor Diogenes. But I saved my Christian faith, having applied for discharge from service'). Based on this identification, William Calder (1920; cf. Grégoire 1924, 698) suggested that Severos was less lucky than Eugenios and was killed under Maximinus Daia and that our inscription was displayed on a wall of a building, perhaps a tomb with two sarcophagi: that of Severos and of M. Ioulios Eugenios. Stephen Mitchell hypothesised that the tomb could in fact be the martyr shrine of Severos (see Mitchell 1982, p. 110). But in fact, though both epitaphs were found in the same area and are similarly decorated, the idea that they refer to the same events and the same persons is highly hypothetical. Furthermore, our epitaph gives us no details on possible cult activities at the tomb of Severos, and is very different from regular building inscriptions for martyr shrines. It has also been suggested that Severos was a 4th c. heretical martyr, killed or harassed by the adherents of the mainstream church or by imperial officials, as he is named ἡγητὴρ πόλεων λαοῦ σακκοφόρου / 'the leader of cities of the sackcloth-wearing folk' in verses 3-4. This group is apparently the Anatolian sect mentioned, for instance, by Basil in his Letter 199,47 and outlawed by the emperor Thedosius I in 381-383 (C.Th. XVI 5,7,3; XVI 5,9,1; XVI 5,11). The sect is sometimes identified as an early monastic movement or a branch of the Novatian sect (see: Mitchell 1993, vol. 2, pp. 102-103, the comments in SGO, no. 14/06/04), but these theories lack solid basis. The last verses of the epitaph are damaged and several different completions have been suggested, which however do not influence the interpretation of the text. Merkelbach and Stauber rightly note that none of them is more trustworthy than others. Dating: Perhaps 3rd/4th c. or 350-380 (based on the lettering and the contents, and on the supposition that Eugenios, mentioned in verse 5 is M. Ioulios Eugenios, a soldier who evaded the persecutions under the Tetrarchs, became a bishop of Laodicea Combusta, and was in office for at least 25 years; for his epitaph see: SGO III, no. 14/06/04; MAMA I, no. 170).

Bibliography

Edition: Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten III, no. 14/06/04. McLean, B.H. (ed.), Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the Konya Archaeological Museum (RECAM IV, London: British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 2002), no. 216. Tabbernee, W. (ed.), Montanist Inscriptions and Testimonia: Epigraphic Sources for Illustrating the History of Montanism (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1997), no. 70. Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua I, no. 171. Wilhelm, A., "Griechische Grabinschriften aus Kleinasien", Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (1932), 838-846 (= Wilhelm, A., Akademieschriften zur griechischen Inschriftenkunde (1895-1951) (Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1974), 382-390). Calder, W.M., "The epigraphy of the Anatolian heresies", in: W.H. Buckler, W.M. Calder (eds.), Anatolian Studies Presented to Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1923), no. 1. Calder, W.M.,"Studies in Early Christian epigraphy", The Journal of Roman Studies 10 (1920), 47-50. Inscriptiones Graecae Christianae database, no. 372: http://www.epigraph.topoi.org/ica/icamainapp/inscription/show/372 Further reading: Destephen, S., "Martyrs locaux et cultes civiques en Asie Mineure", in: J.C. Caillet, S. Destephen, B. Dumézil, H. Inglebert, Des dieux civiques aux saints patrons (IVe-VIIe siècle) (Paris: éditions A. & J. Picard, 2015), 93. Grégoire, H., "Epigraphie chrétienne (les inscriptions hérétiques d'Asie Mineure)", Byzantion 1 (1924), 696-9. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, IX, Asie Mineure", Analecta Bollandiana 71 (1953), 332. Mitchell, St., "The Life of Saint Theodotus of Ancyra", Anatolian Studies 32 (1982), 110. Mitchell, St., Anatolia. Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor, vol. 2: The Rise of the Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 65, 102-103. Reference works: Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 1, 448; 43, 990-1.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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