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Artavasdos patrikios and komes of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God (eighth century)

Accession Number:
BZS.1958.106.1494

Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.24b.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 1471(a).

Details

Diameter:
30 mm

Obverse

Artavasdos patrikios and komes of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God (eighth century)

Cruciform invocative monogram (type V). In the quarters: Τ-σ|δ-λ. No visible border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ

Reverse

Artavasdos patrikios and komes of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God (eighth century)

Inscription of six lines. Wreath border.

+ρτ
υσδ
πτρικι
Sκομ/τθε
φ/βσιλι
ψικ

Ἀρταυάσδῳ πατρικίῳ (καὶ) κόμ(ιτι) τοῦ θε[ο]φ(υλάκτου) βασιλι[κ(οῦ) Ὀ]ψικ[ίου].

Translation

Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ἀρταυάσδῳ πατρικίῳ καὶ κόμιτι τοῦ θεοφυλάκτου βασιλικοῦ Ὀψικίου.

Mother of God, help your servant Artavasdos, patrikios and komes of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God.

Audio

Commentary

This seal and BZS.1958.106.699 have the same inscriptions but come from different boulloteria.

The owner of the present seal could be identical with the son-in-law of Leo III, who also became kouropalates and komes of the Opsikion and who tried to take the throne in 741: cf. Dated Seals, nos. 32, 33. Another Artavasdos, with the dignity of σπαθάριος, is known to have held the post of κόμης of the Opsikion before 775. See Haldon, Praetorians, 360, no. 12; cf. Zacos-Veglery, no. 3079.

Opsikion was one of the earliest themes of Byzantium; its name from the term obsequium (retinue), often called "imperial obsequium guarded by God." Its territory included many provinces and initially encompassed all northwestern Asia Minor; by the mid-eighth century it was subdivided, and the new themes of the Boukellarioi and of the Optimatoi appeared. All three names show that the origins of this theme are to be sought in the regiments of the imperial guard, and according to some scholars, to the milites praesentales of the fifth century.

The commander of Opsikion traditionally bore the titles of komes, probably because initially he was identical to the comes domesticorum. He is first attested in 626 (perhaps already in 615), and, because of his proximity to Constantinople (his residence was in Nicaea), he played an important role in imperial politics. As this happened regularly with all units of the imperial guard, the tagmata (Listes, 329), the second in command of the Opsikion was called for quite some time a topoteretes (cf. Zacos-Veglery, no. 1762). The province was organized as all other themes (with tourmarchai, anagrapheis, judges, protonotarioi, chartoularioi, strateutai [Laurent, Orghidan, no. 218], etc.), and, already in the ninth century, the commander was also called a strategos (see Listes, 264, footnote 23; Zacos, Seals II, no. 850; Seyrig, no. 191).

The littoral of the Opsikion was also part of the theme of Aigaion Pelagos.

See Pertusi, in De Them., 127-30; Winkelmann, Ämsterstruktur, 72-76, 119-20; ODB III, 1528-29; Haldon, Praetorians, passim, esp. 164 ff; T. Lounghis, "A Deo conservandum imperiale Obsequium," ByzSl 52 (1991) 54-60.

 

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