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E01946: Greek building inscription with a poem praising a restorer of a fort (phrourion) as a worthy namesake of the 'glorious martyr Sergios' (soldier and martyr of Rusafa, S00023). Found at Salamiye (ancient Salamias), to the northeast of Ḥimṣ/Emesa (northwest Phoenicia). Probably 6th c.

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posted on 19.10.2016, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ αὕτη ἡ πύλη τοῦ Κ(υρί)ου· δίκεοι εἰσελεύσονται ἐν αὐ[τῇ].
ὅνπερ πολλοῖς μερόπων σωτήριον ὀχύρωμ’ [ἦν],
ἐνδόξου μάρ(τυρος) Σεργίου ἐσθλὸς ὁμόνυμος, [τὸ]
πᾶν φρούρ(ιον) κενουργήσας, ἐτεχνάσατ[ο ἀσ]-
φαλ(ές), αἰώνεσιν μ[νή]μη[ν ἀν]ύσαν. +

For alternative readings which, however, do not change the general sense of the text, see the edition in IGLS.

'+ This gate is of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. The noble namesake of the glorious martyr Sergios made it secure by restoring the entire citadel, this stronghold that was the salvation of many mortals, and has won him eternal memory. +'

Text: IGLS 5, no. 2524. Translation: E. Key Fowden, lightly adapted.

History

Evidence ID

E01946

Saint Name

Sergios, martyr in Syria, ob. 303-311 : S00023

Saint Name in Source

Σέργιος

Type of Evidence

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

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

500

Evidence not after

750

Activity not before

500

Activity not after

750

Place of Evidence - Region

Syria with Phoenicia Syria with Phoenicia

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Ḥimṣ/Emesa Salamias

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

Ḥimṣ/Emesa Thabbora Thabbora Salamias Thabbora Thabbora

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Towns, villages, districts and fortresses

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of an individual

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Aristocrats

Source

Basalt lintel decorated with a low-relief carving of a cross within a wreath, flanked by the letters Α and Ω. Broken and lost at the right-hand end. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.47 m; W. 1.68 m; Th. 0.43 m. Letter height 0.04-0.05 m. First recorded in 1927 by Jeanne du Mesnil du Buisson at a building with a collapsed roof, which she identified as a three-aisled basilica. Revisited by René Mouterde (copy, photograph) and a French officer, captain Piquet-Pellorce (copy). Mouterde notes that the lintel was probably originally displayed not in du Mesnil du Buisson's 'basilica', but at the local fortress that had been used as a garrison until it was destroyed during World War I. The stone was not found by Jean-Claude Decourt during his survey of the site in 2002.

Discussion

The inscription begins with a quotation of line 8 of Psalm 117(118), frequently put on Syriac lintels as an apotropaic text. The quotation is followed probably by a poor quality poem consisting of four verses meant to be hexameters. Mouterde notes that the phrasing is partially borrowed from the Bible (e.g. 2 Reg. 22,2-3). A notable feature of this 'poem' is the explicit statement that the benefactor is a worthy namesake of the martyr Sergios, and the fact that this connection is made in the context of the restoration of a fort. Therefore, the inscription may illustrate an early stage of the development of the veneration of Sergios as a soldier saint. Based on its find-spot and unwarranted connection with several other texts from Salamias the inscription was originally identified by Robert Devreesse as a building inscription for a church dedicated to Sergios allegedly in 430/431. Mouterde rightly refutes this reasoning. For an oratory (eukterion) of *Sergios in Salamias, see: E01680. Denis Feissel suggested in BE that that building was constructed by the same donor, and it could be located in the discussed fortress. Dating: Sergios is usually mentioned in dated inscriptions in Syria and Phoenicia not earlier than in the 6th c.

Bibliography

Edition: Jalabert, L., Mouterde, R., Mondésert, C., Les inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, vol. 5: Émésène (BAH 66, Paris: P. Guethner, 1959), no. 2524. Du Mesnil du Buisson, J., “Séance du 7th Juin: communication”, Bulletin de la societe nationale des antiquaires de France (1939-1940), 191 (with a drawing and a partial transcription). Further reading: Decourt, J.-Cl., "Inscriptions grecques de Salamya/Salamias", in: P.-L. Gatier, B. Geyer, M.-O. Rousset (eds.), Entre nomades et sédentaires. Prospections en Syrie du Nord et en Jordanie du Sud (Travaux de la Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée 55; Conquête de la steppe 3, Lyon: Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 2010), 115-116, no. 6. Devreesse, R., Le Patriarcat d'Antioche depuis la paix de l'Église jusqu'a la conquête arabe (Paris: J. Gabalda et cie, 1945), 207, note 2. Key Fowden, E., The Barbarian Plain: St. Sergius between Rome and Iran (Berkeley, Calif.; London: University of California Press, 1999), 112-113. Reference works: Bulletin épigraphique (2011), 600. Supplementum Epigraphicum Graceum 60, 1697.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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