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E04283: Procopius of Caesarea, in his On Buildings, reports that the emperor Justinian (r. 527-565) built three churches to *Mary Theotokos, Mother of God (S00033) in the suburbs of Constantinople: at Blachernae (built in the reign of Justin I, 518-527), at Pege, and at the place known as Hieron. Written in Greek at Constantinople, in the 550s.

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posted on 06.11.2017, 00:00 by julia
Procopius of Caesarea, On Buildings, 1.3.3-10

3. τὸν μὲν οὖν ἕνα τῆς θεοτόκου νεὼν ᾠκοδομήσατο πρὸ τοῦ περιβόλου ἐν χώρῳ καλουμένῳ Βλαχέρναις· αὐτῷ γὰρ λογιστέον καὶ τὰ Ἰουστίνῳ εἰργασμένα τῷ θείῳ, ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτοῦ τὴν βασιλείαν κατ’ ἐξουσίαν αὐτὸς διῳκεῖτο, ἐπιθαλάσσιος δὲ ὁ νεώς ἐστιν, ἱερώτατος τε καὶ σεμνὸς ἄγαν, ἐπιμήκης μέν, κατὰ λόγον δὲ περιβεβλημένος τῷ μήκει τὸ εὖρος, τά τε ἄνω καὶ τὰ κάτω ἄλλῳ οὐδενὶ ἀνεχόμενος ὅτι μὴ τμήμασι λίθου Παρίου ἐν κιόνων λόγῳ ἐνταῦθα ἑστῶσι. 4 καὶ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα τοῦ νεὼ μέρη κατ’ εὐθὺ ἑστᾶσιν οἱ κίονες, κατὰ δὲ τὰ μέσα ὑποστέλλονται εἴσω. 5 μάλιστα δὲ ἂν τις ἀγασθείη τοῦ ἱεροῦ τοῦδε εἴσω γενόμενος τὸ μὲν ὑπέρογκον τοῦ σφαλεροῦ χωρὶς τεταγμένον ὁρῶν, τὸ δὲ μεγαλοπρεπὲς τοῦ ἀπειροκάλου ἐλεύθερον.

6. Ἕτερον δὲ ἱερὸν αὐτῇ ἐν χώρῳ καλουμένῳ Πηγῇ ἀνέθηκεν. ἐνταῦθά ἐστι δάσος κυπαρίσσων ἀμφιλαφές, λειμὼν ἐν ἁπαλαῖς ταῖς ἀρούραις τεθηλὼς ἄνθεσι, παράδεισος εὐφορῶν τὰ ὡραῖα, πηγὴ ἀψοφητὶ βλύζουσα γαληνὸν τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ πότιμον, ἱεροπρεπῆ ἐπιεικῶς πάντα. 7 ταῦτα μὲν ὁ ἀμφὶ τὸ τέμενος χῶρος· αὐτὸν δὲ τὸν νεὼν οὐδὲ ὀνόμασιν ἐπαξίοις συλλαβεῖν ῥᾴδιον, οὐδὲ διανοίᾳ σκιαγραφῆσαι, οὐδὲ διαψιθυρίσαι τῷ λόγῳ. 8. τοσοῦτον δὲ μόνον εἰπεῖν ἀποχρήσει, ὡς τῶν ἱερῶν κάλλει τε καὶ μεγέθει ὑπεραίρει τὰ πλεῖστα. 9. ταῦτα δὲ ἄμφω τὰ ἱερὰ πρὸ τοῦ τῆς πόλεως πεποίηται τείχους, τὸ μὲν ἀρχομένου παρὰ τὴν τῆς θαλάσσης ἠϊόνα, τὸ δὲ ἄγχιστά πη τῶν Χρυσῶν καλουμένων Πυλῶν, ἃς δὴ ἀμφὶ τὸ τοῦ ἐρύματος πέρας συμβαίνει εἶναι, ὅπως δὴ ἄμφω ἀκαταγώνιστα φυλακτήρια τῷ περιβόλῳ τῆς πόλεως εἶεν. 10. ἔτι μέντοι κἀν τῷ Ἡραίῳ, ὅπερ Ἱερὸν καλοῦσι τανῦν, τῇ θεοτόκῳ νεὼν οὐκ εὐδιήγητον κατεστήσατο.


‘He built one of the two churches (neōs) of the Mother of God (Theotokos) outside the fortifications in a place called Blachernae. Our emperor must indeed be ascribed also with the works which were carried out under his uncle Justin, for he administered also the latter's government on his own authority. Now this church is coastal, most hallowed and very stately, oblong and of a breadth well-proportioned to its length. In both its upper and lower parts, it is supported by nothing but blocks of Parian stone, which play here the role of columns. And, while in the other parts of the church the columns are set in straight lines, in the central part they bend inwards. When inside this church, one would especially marvel to behold its sheer size being devoid of instability and its grandeur being free from bad taste.

He dedicated to her also another shrine (hieron) in the place called Pēgē [‘the Spring’]. In that place, there is a dense grove of cypresses and a meadow abounding in flowers in its soft land, a park abounding in beautiful shrubs, and a spring bubbling silently forth with a gentle stream of sweet water — all especially suitable to a sanctuary. Such are the surroundings of the sacred precinct (temenos). As for the church itself, it is neither easy to define in appropriate words, nor to muse about its shape, nor to mumble some words about it. It will be enough to say only this: it surpasses most shrines both in beauty and in size.

Both of these sanctuaries were built outside the city wall – the former at the point where the wall starts by the seashore, the latter close to the so-called Golden Gates, near which happens to be the end of the fortifications, in order that both of them may serve as invincible defences to the circuit wall of the city.

Also at Heraion, which they now call Hieron, he built a church to the Mother of God, which it is not easy to describe.'

Text: Haury 1913. Translation: E. Rizos (using Dewing 1940).

History

Evidence ID

E04283

Saint Name

Mary, Mother of Christ : S00033

Saint Name in Source

Θεοτόκος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Other narrative texts (including Histories)

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

550

Evidence not after

561

Activity not before

518

Activity not after

561

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Constantinople

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

Constantinople Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Major author/Major anonymous work

Procopius

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Monarchs and their family

Source

Procopius of Caesarea, (c. 500 – c. 560/561 AD) was a soldier and historian from the Roman province of Palaestina Prima. He accompanied the Roman general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian (527-565). He wrote the Wars (or Histories), On Buildings and the Secret History. On Buildings is a panegyric in six books. It lists, and sometimes describes, the buildings erected or renovated by the emperor Justinian throughout the empire (only on Italy is there no information). The bulk of these are churches and shrines dedicated to various saints; the Buildings is therefore a very important text for the evidence it provides of the spread of saintly cults by the mid 6ht c. On Buildings dates from the early 550s to c. 560/561; a terminus post quem is 550/551 as the text mentions the capture of Topirus in Thrace by the Slavs in 550 and describes the city walls of Chalkis in Syria built in 550/551; a probable terminus ante quem is 558 when the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople collapsed, which is not mentioned in the book; or before 560 when the bridge on the river Sangarius was completed, as Procopius reports on the start of works. On Buildings thus belongs to the later years of Justinian’s reign. The work is not finished and is probably Procopius’ last work. It glorifies Justinian, depicting him as a great builder and an emperor restlessly transforming the state, expanding and reforming it, destroying paganism, extirpating heresy, and re-establishing the firm foundations of the Christian faith (Elsner 2007: 35). More on the text: Downey 1947; Elsner 2007; Greatrex 1994 and 2013. Overview of the text: Book 1. Constantinople and its suburbs Book 2. Frontier provinces of Mesopotamia and Syria. Book 3. Armenia, Tzanica, and the shores of the Black Sea. Book 4. Illyricum and Thrace (the Balkans). Book 5. Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine. Book 6. North Africa, from Alexandria to central Algeria.

Discussion

The shrine of Blachernae was one of the most prominent sanctuaries of the Mother of God in Constantinople. It is known to have been founded by the empress Pulcheria in the 5th c., but Procopius does not mention her. He only talks of the church built under Justin I (518–527), which he includes under Justinian's activity. The shrine is grouped together with that of Pege and Hieron, thus presenting the three shrines as an expression of the emperor's special devotion to Mary, separately and before all other shrines which are described by their topographical distribution rather than dedication. It is unknown what Pulcheria's buildings consisted of, and whether the church of Justin I and Justinian replaced or complemented a pre-existing structure. Cyril Mango (1998) suggests that the 5th c. structure only included the rotunda-like chapel, housing the robe of Mary, to which the church described by Procopius was adjoined. His description of this church seems to suggest an oblong basilican plan, with Parian marble pillars bearing the weight of the roof. Among them, there apparently were colonnades, forming curved exedrae in the central part. This plan could be similar to that assumed for Juliana Anicia's church of *Polyeuktos, the remains of which were revealed by the excavations of Saraçhane. Given the fact that the two churches were contemporary, built in the late 510s or 520s, it would not be unexpected if Justin's basilica in Blachernae and Juliana Anicia's building of Saint Polyeuktos followed the same architectural trends. The Church of the Virgin Mary Theotokos in Pege (known also as 'The Monastery of the Mother of God at the Spring' or Zoödochos Pege, Gr. ζωοδόχος πηγή = 'life-giving spring') was one of the most famous sanctuaries of Constantinople. This church was burnt down by Tsar Symeon the Great of Bulgaria in 924. After many vicissitudes, Patriarch Konstantios I built the present church on the site, which was consecrated on 2 February 1835. It is located outside the city walls, near the Selymbria Gate (called also the Pege Gate) in modern Balıklı, a quarter of Istanbul on the Sea of Marmara. Hieron, or Heraion, is mentioned several times in Procopius' works (On Buildings, 1.3.10; 1.11.16; Wars, 3.1.8; Secret History, 15.36) and is identified either with Fenerbahçe near Kadıköy (Van Millingen 1912, 175) or, more likely, with Anadolu Kavağı (Janin 1934, 47; 1950, 442) in the Asian part of Istanbul, close to the ruins of the Yoros Castle. The name Hieron (Gr. 'temple') is derived from the famous temple of Zeus Urius (Gr. Zeus Ourios, granter of fair winds) which was at this place. The name Heraion, however, perhaps derived from an ancient temple of the Greek goddess Hera that once existed on the site (Janin 1964, 487-488; 498-499). Further reading: Janin 1969, 161-171, 223-228; Janin 1950: 257; Mango 1998.

Bibliography

Edition: Haury, J., Procopii Caesariensis opera omnia, vol. 4: Περι κτισματων libri VI sive de aedificiis (Leipzig: Teubner, 1962-64). Translations and Commentaries: Compagnoni, G.R., Procopio di Cesarea, Degli Edifici. Traduzione dal greco di G. Compagnoni (Milan: Tipi di Francesco Sonzogno, 1828). Dewing, H.B., Procopius, On Buildings. Translated into English by H.B. Dewing, vol. 7 (London: William Heinemann, New York: Macmillan, 1940). Grotowski, P.Ł., Prokopiusz z Cezarei, O Budowlach. Przełożył, wstępem, objaśnieniami i komentarzem opatrzył P.Ł. Grotowski (Warsaw: Proszynski i S-ka, 2006). Roques, D., Procope de Césarée. Constructions de Justinien Ier. Introduction, traduction, commentaire, cartes et index par D. Roques (Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2011). Veh, O., and Pülhorn, W. (eds.), Procopii opera. De Aedificiis. With a Commentary by W. Pülhorn (Munich: Heimeran, 1977). Further Reading: Downey, G.A., “The Composition of Procopius’ ‘De Aedificiis’," Transactions of the American Philological Association 78 (1947), 171-183. Elsner, J., “The Rhetoric of Buildings in De Aedificiis of Procopius”, in: L. James (ed.), Art and Text in Byzantine Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 33-57. Greatrex, G., “The Dates of Procopius’ Works,” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 18 (1994), 101-14. Greatrex, G., “The Date of Procopius Buildings in the Light of Recent Scholarship,” Estudios bizantinos 1 (2013), 13-29. Janin, R., Constantinople byzantine: développement urbain et répertoire topographique (Paris: Institut français d'études byzantines, 1950). Janin, R. La géographie ecclésiastique de l'empire Byzantin I 3: Les églises et les monastères de la ville de Constantinople. 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969). Mango, C., Studies on Constantinople (Aldershot: Variorum, 1997 [repr. of 1993]). Mango, C. "The Origins of the Blachernae Shrine at Constantinople," in Acta XIII Congressus Internationalis Archaeologiae Christianae, pars II (Split/Vatican City, 1998), 61-76. Van Millingen, A., Byzantine Churches in Constantinople. Their History and Architecture (London: Macmillan, 1912).

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