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John (bishop) of Argos (eleventh/twelfth century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.3595
Diameter 18 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 2, no. 24.2.
Laurent, Corpus V/1, no. 575.


Indistinct bust of the Virgin (seeming to hold the medallion). On either side the sigla: ̅ΘΥ̅ : Μήτηρ Θεοῦ. Border of dots.


Inscription of four lines, a cross above and a decoration below. Border of dots.


Σῷζε, ὦ Μῆτηρ, σὸν ωάννην Ἄργους


Σῷζε, ὦ Μῆτηρ, σὸν Ἰωάννην Ἄργους.

Mother, save your (servant) John of Argos.


One twelve-syllable verse. Laurent read the inscription slightly differently (σώζοις Μῆτηρ σὸν Ίωάννην τὸν Ἄργους). He correctly identified the owner of the present seal as the second John mentioned in the Synodikon of Argos, the founder of the otherwise unknown Nea (Gouillard, Synodikon, 109, lines 3-4).

Ancient and modern Argos are near the gulf of Nauplion. The see was in existence as early as the 5th century (DHGE 4, col. 80) and is first mentioned in the notitia of Nichoas I Mystikos (10th century: Darrouzès, Notitiae, no. 7, line 490). We know from the Life of St. Peter of Argos (d. ca. 922) and from the letters of Theodore of Nicaea (Darrouzès, Epistoliers, 51-52, 55, 283-84, 314-15) that the bishoprics of Argos and its port city Nauplion came to be united by at least the 10th century (see ODB I, 163-64; II, 1443; Laurent, Corpus V/1, 426, expressed the opinion that this probably took place already by the end of the 9th century; cf. also N. Oikonomides in Πρακτικά of the 3rd Panionian Congress [Athens, 1967], 269-79). It is important to note that this union is not reflected either on the seals or in the notitiae episcopatuum, which mention Argos alone (except an episcopal list of the Tourkokratia: Darrouzès, Notitiae, no. 21, line 52). On inscriptions, Argos appears alone (1149) and with Nauplion (1173/4) (Philippidis-Braat, 309, 310). See also REB 40 (1982) 163-65; Fedalto, 488.