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E02652: Greek epitaph for the deaconess Theodora who sought refuge at 'a great martyr' (certainly *Theodore, soldier and martyr of Amaseia and Euchaita, S00480). Found at Çorum in the territory of Amaseia, close to Euchaita (Helenopontus, northeastern Asia Minor). Late antique.

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posted on 01.04.2017, 00:00 by pnowakowski
+ τῷ ξενοδόχῳ με[γ]-
άλῳ μαρτύρει Χ(ριστο)ῦ προ-
σέφυγεν ἡ τοῦ θ(εο)ῦ δού-
λη Θεοδώρα δυάκο-
νος Σεβαστουπόλε-
ως

'+ At the receiver of strangers, the great martyr of Christ, sought refuge the servant of God Theodora, deacon (of the city) of Sebastopolis.'

Text: Marek & Adak 2016, no. 99.

History

Evidence ID

E02652

Saint Name

Theodore Tiro, martyr of Amaseia (Helenopontus, north-eastern Asia Minor), ob. 306 : S00480 Unnamed martyrs (or name lost) : S00060

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

400

Evidence not after

700

Activity not before

400

Activity not after

700

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor Asia Minor Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Amasea Euchaita Çorum

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

Amasea Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Euchaita Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia Çorum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of an individual

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Foreigners (including Barbarians)

Source

A large stone stele topped by a gable with small acroteria. The inscription is framed by a tabula ansata. Dimensions not specified. First published by Christian Marek and Mustafa Adak in 2015 (with a photograph).

Discussion

The epitaph commemorates a woman who held the function of a deaconess in Sebastopolis (modern Sulusaray), sited c. 100 km to the southeast of the find-spot of the inscription. It says that Theodora sought refuge (προσέφυγεν) at a great martyr of Christ. Marek and Adak rightly point out that this must be Theodore whose magnificent sanctuary was located to the east of Çorum, in Euchaita. As a parallel they quote a boundary stone of a shrine of Michael the Archangel from Çiftlik near Ancyra in Galatia (see: E00996) and two inscriptions from the Near East with regulations on the zone protected by the privilege of asylum (E04405: El Bassah/Betzet in Palestine and E01764: from the territory of Tyre), where derivatives of that verb are used to denote people seeking the protection of asylum. However, we suggest that as the inscription is an epitaph, and not a legal text, it is more likely to refer to the spiritual protection expected from the saint, and may actually commemorate a burial ad sanctos. For similar phrasing, see: nos. E00979; E01009; E01017. In line 1 the saint is described by a peculiar epithet, ξενοδόχος. Normally the word means 'the receiver of strangers', and this makes sense also in our case, as the shrine of Theodore in Euchaita was a major pilgrimage destination. It is possible that Theodora, a native of Sebastopolis, died during her pilgrimage to Euchaita, and that is the reason why the hospitality of Theodore is stressed here (he offered her an 'eternal' stay at his shrine and in Heaven). On the other hand, Hesychios notes that the term ξενοδόχος was actually a synonym of the word 'martyr': ξεινοδόκος· ὑποδεχόμενος ξένους καὶ μάρτυς/'xeinodokos: the one who receives strangers, and martyr'. A request for help for strangers (ξένοι), addressed to Saint John the Baptist, is recorded on a pilgrim ampulla found at Sardis (see SEG 55, 1301: ἅγηιε Ἰοάννη Βα(πτιστᾶ) | βοείθε τ(ο)ὺς ξέν(ο)υς).

Bibliography

Edition: Marek, Ch., Adak, M., Epigraphische Forschungen in Bithynien, Paphlagonien, Galatien und Pontos (Philia Supplements 2, Istanbul: Kabalcı Yayınevi, 2016), no. 99.

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