Saint NamePeter the Apostle : S00036
Saint Name in SourceΠέτρος
Image Caption 1Drawing. From: IGLS 4, 196.
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Evidence not before460
Evidence not after480
Activity not before460
Activity not after480
Place of Evidence - RegionSyria with Phoenicia
Syria with Phoenicia
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcApamea on the Orontes
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Apamea on the Orontes
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Monarchs and their family
SourceTwo conjoining fragments of a basalt slab. Found partially buried to the north of a tower. The fragment with the monograms is broken and lost at its right-hand end. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.84 m; W. 0.99 m. The inscription is in low-relief. Height of the monograms: 1. 0.15 m; 2. and 3. 0.21 m.
First recorded by Sir Richard Francis Burton during his stay in Syria (with Charles Tyrwhitt Drake) and published by him in 1872, with the aid of W.S.W. Vaux (these scholars did not note the presence of the monograms and were able to identify only several words from the poem, though the drawing they offered showed many more letters and was used by Georg Kaibel to suggest an interpretation of the poem). Later seen and copied by Hans Lucas, followed by his publication in 1905 (also without the monograms). The monograms were first published by William Prentice in 1922; republished, with a different interpretation, by René Mouterde in 1955.
DiscussionThe first monogram almost certainly denotes the name Peter. Prentice did not comment on the identity of this person, but Mouterde suggested that this might have been the Apostle, or a local man of importance. Whether this is really the name of the Apostle is, of course, highly speculative and it is possible that we have here simply the name of a local aristocrat.
The second monogram was read as 'the Holy Spirit' by Prentice, but Mouterde argued that it is more likely to be the epithet πανεύφημος/'all-glorious', describing the person whose name was given in the third monogram. According to Mouterde this person is Leontia, daughter of the emperor Leo I (457-474) and wife of the usurper Marcian (479). This interpretation has some support, as Leontia and her father Leo are praised in another poem found at the site (IGLS 4, no. 1600), emphasising the loyality of its author to the imperial family and his hostile attitude towards barbarians: 'Guard me, O God: I pay no honour to barbarians! (...) (We), who write these lines, boast (ourselves) a race devoted unto Leo, (the) father, and Leontia (...) Leontia is gracious, abounding in wisest words.' (Translation: W. Prentice). The poem possibly refers to the rebellion of Leontia's husband, Marcian against the emperor Zeno, a man of Isaurian descent, and therefore occasionally mocked as a barbarian. The name of Marcian, not mentioned in the text, may have been omitted because his claims were based only on his affinity to Leo through marriage with Leontia.
Prentice believed that the monograms were to avert evil from the building, where they were displayed, but this depends on an interpretation of their meaning as referring to holy figures.
Dating: probably 460s-470s, based on the identity of the people mentioned.
Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, Cl., Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 4: Laodicée, Apamène (BAH 61, Paris: Librairie orientalise Paul Geuthner, 1955), no. 1599.
Prentice, W.K. (ed.), Publications of the Princeton University of archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904-1905 and 1909, Division III: Greek and Latin Inscriptions, Section B: Northern Syria (Leyden: E.J. Brill, 1922), 94, nos. 1017-1018.
Lucas, H., "Griechische und lateinische Inschriften aus Syrien, Mesopotamien und Kleinasien", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 14 (1905), 51, no. 80.
Burton, R. Fr., Drake, Ch.F.T., Unexplored Syria: visits to the Libanus, the Tulúl el Safá, the Anti-Libanus, the northern Libanus, and the ʼAláh, vol. 2 (London: Tinsley brothers, 1872), 381, no. 25, and plate II, no. 25.
Witkowski, S., "Epigraphische Studien zu den griechischen Inschriften Syrien", Mélanges Maspero, vol. 2 (Mémoires publiés par les membres de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale du Caire 67, Le Caire: Impr. de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 1934), 196.