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E01368: Greek inscription with an invocation of *Nicholas (probably the bishop of Myra under Constantine, S00520), asked to help a village and possibly all regions. Found near the village of Agioi Deka, close to ancient Gortyna (southern Crete). Probably 6th c. or later.

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posted on 15.05.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
Face A:

ἅγιε Νικό-
λαε βοήθ-
ησον τῷ χω-
ρίῳ τούτῳ
καὶ πάντα

καπάντα = κατὰ πάντα Guarducci

'Saint Nicholas, help this village and all (regions?)!'

Face B:

+ + +
ἅ γ-
ι ο-
ς ὁ
θ ε-
[ό ς]

'Holy God!'

Text and translation: Bandy 1971, no. 24.

History

Evidence ID

E01368

Saint Name

Nicholas, bishop of Myra (Lycia, south Asia Minor), ob. 343 : S00520

Saint Name in Source

Νικόλαος

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.) Images and objects - Sculpture/reliefs

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

1000

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

1000

Place of Evidence - Region

Aegean islands and Cyprus Aegean islands and Cyprus Aegean islands and Cyprus

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Crete Agioi Deka Gortyn

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

Crete Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia Agioi Deka Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia Gortyn Salamis Σαλαμίς Salamis Salamis Farmagusta Far Κωνσταντία Konstantia Constantia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Peasants

Source

A white marble stele with extensions on top, that was almost certainly the upper branch of a stone cross. Broken and lost at the bottom. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.17 m; W. 0.115 m; letter height 0.01 m. Inscribed on both faces. Found in 1884 by Federico Halbherr in the village of Agioi Deka, in a private house. Said to have been brought there together with rubble from the ruins of a praetorium, which lay near the Temple of the Pythian Apollo and a ruined church. Currently kept in the Museum of Agioi Deka.

Discussion

This may be a boundary stone of the territory of a village or a cross erected in a field to protect the crops. The inscription on Face A is an invocation of Nicholas, probably the bishop of Myra, asked to aid a village (chorion) and other people or institutions (or 'regions', as presumed by Anastasios Bandy). Here Nicholas could be invoked as a patron of sailors, eagerly venerated by Greek islanders. The inscription on Face B is an acclamation of God, almost certainly deriving from the Trisagion hymn, popular since at least the council of Chalcedon (451). The phrase is quite frequent in this region of Crete. The letter forms show that Face B could have been inscribed in a later period than Face A. The first editor of the inscriptions, Federico Halbherr, supposed that the reference to a village allowed one to date the inscription to the period when the city of Gortyna was superseded by several villages, and proposed that the help was requested precisely for a settlement at the site of Metropolis, where a modern church of Nicholas was sited, or for Agioi Deka, or for the church near the Temple of Apollo, where the inscription was found. Based on these conclusions Giuseppe Gerola implausibly dated the inscription to the 9th or 10th c. - after the destruction of Gortyna by Arabs in 824 or after the restoration of Byzantine rule on Crete in 960. The letter forms and phrasing of the invocation on Face A point, however, to a date in the 5th or 6th c. For a similar request for help for a village, see: E00733; E01014.

Bibliography

Edition: Bandy, A.C., (ed.), The Greek Christian Inscriptions of Crete (Athens: Christian Archaeological Society, 1971), no. 24. Guarducci, M., Inscriptiones Creticae, vol. 4: Tituli Gortynii (Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1950), no. 471. Gerola, G., Monumenti veneti nell'isola di Creta, vol. 4 (Venice 1932), 554, no. 33. Halbherr, F., "Greek Christian inscriptions in the Cyclades and in Crete", Athenaeum (1891), 459. Further reading: Halkin, F., "L'Egypte, Chypre, la Crète et les autres îles grecques. La Grèce continentale et les pays balkaniques. L'Italie et la Sycylie", Analecta Bollandiana 70 (1952), 120-121. Kiourtzian, G., "Pietas insulariorum", [in:] Eupsychia: mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler, vol. 2 (Série Byzantina Sorbonensia 16, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998), 375.

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