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E01764: Greek inscription with the petition of a presbyter, asking the emperor Tiberius II to grant boundary stones, marking the area of asylum of an oratory (eukterios oikos) possibly dedicated to a female martyr. Provenance: probably the village of 'Chedara' in the Roman province of Phoenicia (near Tyre). Dated 578-582.

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posted on 24.07.2016, 00:00 by Bryan, Nikolaos
[τῷ γῆς κ(αὶ) θαλάσσης κ(αὶ) παντὸς] ἀ̣ν(θρώπ)ων ἔθνους (καὶ) γένους δεσπό(τῃ) Φλ(αουίῳ) Τιβερίῳ
[νέῳ Κωνσταντίνῳ ἐν Χ(ριστ)]ῷ̣ ἡμερωτά(τῳ) μεγίστῳ εὐεργέτῃ τῷ αἰωνίῳ Αὐγ(ο)ύ(στῳ)
[κ(αὶ) Αὐτοκράτορι δέησις κ(αὶ) ἱκε]σ̣ία πα(ρὰ) Ἀναστασίου πρε(σβυτέρου) παραμο(ναρίου) εὐκτηρίου οἴκου
(4) [τῆς ἁγίας μάρτυρος Χριστίν]ης τοῦ ὄντος κ(αὶ) διακειμέ(νου) ἐν κώμῃ Χεδάρων διαφερού(σῃ)
[τῆς - - - πόλεω]ς ἐπαρχίας Φοινίκης Παράλου. ὅσα πρὸς τιμὴν τοῦ
[θ(εο)ῦ κ(αὶ) Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν κ(αὶ) τῆς] ἁγιωτά(της) αὐτοῦ ἐκκλ(ησίας) συντείνει, ἑτοίμως παρέχειν [εἴωθε τὸ θεοφύλακτό]ν σου κράτος· τούτῳ θαρρῶν κἀγὼ ἐπὶ τάσδε ἐλήλυ-
(8) [θα τὰς δεήσεις, δι’ ἃς ἐν] τούτοις ἐν τῷ εἰρημέ(νῳ) εὐκτηρίῳ οἴκῳ ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑμε(τέρας) [βασιλείας, σωτηρίας καὶ νίκ]ης ἀναπέμπονται εὐχαί. ἐπεὶ οὖν λείπεται ὁ αὐτὸς
[εὐκτήριος οἶκος ὅρ]ων ἀσφαλείας διά τε τοὺς ἐκεῖσε προσφεύγοντας κ(αὶ)
[κοσμίως τε καὶ ὁσίως τὰ τῆς ἱκε]τίας ἐκτελοῦντας κ(αὶ) τοὺς οὐχ ὑγιῶς τοῖς θείοις
(12) [χρωμένους σηκοῖς, δέομ]αι προκυλινδόμενος τῶν θείων ὑμῶν κ(αὶ)
[ἀχράντων ἰχνῶν] θεσπίσαι ὅρους ἀσυλίας παρασχεθῆναι
[τῷ εἰρημένῳ εὐκτηρίῳ οἴκῳ δ]ιὰ τοῦ θεοφιλ(εστάτου) τῆς εἰρημένης πόλεως ἐπισκό(που).

4. Χριστίν]ης Rey-Coquais Robert Halkin, Εἰρήν]ης Dain & Ruillard, Θεομν]ήστου or Χρ]ήστου or ἀτειχ]ήστου Gatier || 5. [τῆς Πανεάδος πόλεω]ς Dussaud || 12-13. [δέομ]αι προκυλινδόμενος τῶν θείων ὑμῶν κ(αὶ) | [ἀχράντων ἰχνῶν] θεσπίσαι Feissel & Worp, πάρειμ]ι προκυλινδόμενος τῶν θείων ὑμῶν κ(αὶ) | [προσκυνητῶν ἰχνῶν, αἰτῶν] θεσπίσαι Dain & Ruillard

'[The petition] and supplication from Anastasios, the presbyter and watchman (paramonarios) of the oratory (eukterios oikos) [of the holy martyr Christina (?)], which is situated in the village of Chedara, belonging to (the territory) [of the --- city] of the province of Phoenicia Maritima (Paralia) to the master of [the earth and sea and every] human race and ethnos, Flavius Tiberius, [the new Constantine, in Christ], the most benign benefactor, the eternal Augustus [and Emperor].

As your protected-by-God power is used to voluntarily provide everything which magnifies [the glory of God and our Saviour and] his most holy Church, I also, take the courage to formulate [these requests, just as] here, in the aforementioned oratory (eukterios oikos), prayers are celebrated for your [rule, and salvation, and] victory.

And because this [oratory (eukterios oikos)] lacks the boundaries of safety (horoi asphaleias), which are needed for those who take refuge here and [orderly and piously] perform their supplications, as well as for those who [use] the divine [shrines (sekoi)] in an unhealthy manner, I beg you, having prostrated myself before your divine and [immaculate feet], to decree that the boundaries of the asylum zone (horoi asylias) shall be granted [to the aforementioned oratory (eukterios oikos)], through the most God-fearing bishop of the said city (polis).'

Text: SEG 7, 327 with completions by Feissel & Worp 1988 and Rey-Coquais 2005. Translation: P. Nowakowski.

History

Evidence ID

E01764

Saint Name

Christina, martyr of Tyre, ob. 3rd c. : S00907 Eirene, martyr of Magedon : S02162

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

578

Evidence not after

582

Activity not before

578

Activity not after

582

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Chedara Tyre Caesarea Philippi

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

Chedara Thabbora Thabbora Tyre Thabbora Thabbora Caesarea Philippi Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Monarchs and their family Other lay individuals/ people Crowds Heretics

Source

A fragment of a white marble plaque. Broken and lost on the left-hand side and bottom. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.59 m; ; Th. 0.055 m; the editors suppose that the original W. of the plaque was c. 0.90 m. Letter height 0.005 m. Kept in the Louvre Museum. Provenance unknown, but as the province of Phoenicia Maritima is mentioned in line 5 as the homeland of the author, one can suppose that the inscription comes from this region. First published in 1931 by Alphonse Dain and Germaine Rouillard with the aid of Henri Grégoire. Significant commentaries were later published by Leopold Wenger, Klaas Worp and Denis Feissel, François Halkin, and Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais.

Discussion

What we have here is a monumental publication of a petition sent by Anastasios, a priest (presbyter) and watchman (paramonarios) in charge of a village martyr shrine situated near Tyre, to the emperor Tiberius II. It is noteworthy that the sender of the plea is a local presbyter himself, with the help of the bishop to whom he was subordinated. The last line of the inscription ascertains that the bishop played only the role of a mediator between the priest and the emperor. Under the High Empire it was a very common practice that cities and even individuals addressed emperors, regarding very minor issues. It is said, however, that in Late Antiquity emperors became much less accessible to the masses. We do not know why and where this petition was published as an inscription, and whether it was accompanied by a reply from Tiberius, engraved on a similar plaque. The editors believed that it was displayed at Anastasios' home village. Very possibly the priest aimed at using his correspondence with the emperor to strengthen his social status. Anastasios asks for the grant of horoi asylias, i.e. of boundary stones marking the safe zone within the sanctuary, where supplicants could seek refuge. He says that this is necessary for the proper functioning of the church, because of the influx of people both eligible to refuge and abusing this right. Based on this statement Leopold Wenger suggested that the shrine had already enjoyed the privilege of asylum, and here specifically stone markers, with official signs of the imperial power, were sought for. The fact that the safe zone in churches had to be carefully and precisely demarcated had been noted already about one-and-a-half centuries earlier by the emperor Theodosius II (see: C.Th. IX, 45,4,3) and the church historian Socrates (see: HE VII 33), as negligence of this issue could lead even to the desecration of the altar and the death of clerics, attempting to displace refugees from the most sacred area. The editors, Dain and Rouillard, note that the interpretation of lines 11-12 is problematic, but the passage καὶ τοὺς οὐχ ὑγιῶς τοῖς θείοις χρωμένους σηκοῖς/'for those who use the divine shrines in an unhealthy manner' may mean that the clergy of our shrine had to cope either with people not eligible to benefit from protection within the safe zone (e.g. debtors of the state, murderers, rapists, etc.; in such cases, soldiers could freely enter the sacred space and drag out the asylum seekers) or with non-'orthodox', and thus unwelcome, supplicants, or that here not asylum seekers, but pilgrims suffering from afflictions, and seeking a remedy from the martyr, are meant. The place, where the shrine was situated is named ἡ κώμη Χεδάρων διαφερούσῃ τῆς [- - - ] πόλεως ἐπαρχίας Φοινίκης Παράλου/'the village of the Chedaroi, belonging to (the territory) of the city of [- - - -] of the province of Phoenicia Maritima.' This village is not securely identified. Paul Peeters advised the editors that this might be modern Ḥaḍr near Quneitra and Tyre in southwest Phoenicia and this supposition has been accepted by subsequent scholars. On the other hand, Dain and Rouillad suspended judgement on the name of the episcopal city, to which our village was subordinated. In a review of their work René Dussaud hypothetically completed that name as Paneas, but this is based only on the fact that it was the closest large city to Ḥaḍr, the presumed location of the sanctuary: thus a hypothesis based on a hypothesis. The name of the dedicatee of the shrine is even more problematic. Dain and Rouillad suggest that here a female martyr was venerated, whose name, in the genitive form, ended with the letters ης, still visible in line 4. They opted for Eirene/Irene, a figure that, they say, was 'a popular patron of churches' (and perhaps *Eirene, martyr of Magedon, S02162). In 1949 François Halkin noted that the sanctuary could have been dedicated rather to Christina, as she appears as a martyr of nearby Tyre, the most important city of the province, in Martyrologium Hieronymianum (EXXXXX) and in hagiography (see E02090). Halkin's idea was accepted by Louis Robert (in his note on the inscription in Bulletin épigraphique in 1951) and by Jean-Paul Rey-Coquais. This is of course speculative, as the passage is very poorly preserved and perhaps even a different word, and not a female name, should be read there. In 2011 Pierre-Louis Gatier suggested several alternative completions of the lacuna. He points out that the preserved ending allows one to restore a male name, e.g.: Θεομν]ήστου/'of Theomnestos' or Χρ]ήστου/'of Chrestos/Christos' (both of them assuming that the sequence του identified as an article by former editors is actually an integral element of the name). Furthermore, Gatier suggests yet another interesting possibility: that the lacuna could have accommodated the adjective ἀτειχ]ήστου/'not protected by walls', which could have been the actual reason behind the petition addressed to the emperor. For an inscription with an excerpt of an emperor's letter, probably also concerning the privilege of asylum, found near Tyre, see E04405. Dating: the petition was submitted during the sole reign of the emperor Tiberius II, i.e. 578-582.

Bibliography

Edition: Dain, A., Rouillard, G., "Une inscription relative au droit d'asile, conservée au Louvre", Byzantion 5 (1929), 315-326. Further reading: Dussaud, R., “[Review:] A. Dain et G. Rouillard. — Une inscription relative au droit d'asile...”, Syria 11 (1930), 389. Feissel, D., Worp, K.A., “La requête d'Appion, évêque de Syene, à Théodose II”, Oudheidkundige mededelingen uit het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te Leiden 68 (1988), 105, note 81. Gatier, P.-L., "Tyr dans les sources hagiographiques antiques", in: P.-L. Gatier, J. Aliquot, L. Nordiguian (eds.), Sources de l'histoire de Tyr : textes de l'Antiquité et du Moyen Âge (Beyrouth: PUSJ, Presses de l'Université Saint-Joseph, 2011), 129-153. Halkin, F., "Inscriptions grecques relatives à l'hagiographie, II, Les deux Phénicies et et les deux Syries", Analecta Bollandiana 67 (1949), 92. Rey-Coquais, J.-P., “Tyr aux derniers siècles paléochrétiens: autour du synode de 518”, Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph (Beyrouth, Lebanon) 58 (2005), 519, notes 32-33. Wenger, L., “Ὅροι ἀσυλίας”, Philologus 86 (1931), 427-454. Reference works: L'Année épigraphique, (2011) [2014], 1479. Bulletin épigraphique (2012), 470; (2006), 464; (1951), 19. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum 7, 327; 38, 1583; 61, 1408.

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