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Romanos bishop of Taranto (seventh century)

Accession Number:
BZS.1958.106.2155

Previous Editions

DO Seals 1, no. 11.1.
Zacos-Veglery, no. 2340; the seal is cited in Laurent, Corpus V/3, Concordance, p. 300, no. 926. Laurent published under this number (Corpus V/1) two similar seals from the Carthage and Naples collections, which allow the name of the bishop to be read with certainty. The one reproduced on pl. 926 is from the same boulloterion as the DO specimen.

Details

Diameter:
25 mm
Condition:
Corroded.

Obverse

Romanos bishop of Taranto (seventh century)

Cruciform invocative monogram (type II); in the quarters: the name of the bishop: ..|Μ.|ΝΟΥ. Wreath border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει Ῥωμανοῦ

Reverse

Romanos bishop of Taranto (seventh century)

Inscription of three lines. Wreath border.

EPISC
OPIR
ANI

episcopi Taranti

Translation

Θεοτόκε βοήθει Ῥωμανοῦ episcopi Taranti.

Theotokos, help Romanos bishop of Taranto.

Audio

Commentary

The geographic designation on this seal is probably but not certain (another possible, yet less likely, reading: Tranii, i.e., of Trani). Laurent rightly opted for Taranto and dated the seal to the late sixth/early seventh century, although he was somewhat concerned by the fact that no other bishop of this period appears to be, like Romanos, a Greek. However, in a mixed community, the throne might fall at a given moment to a person of either nationality. Still, based on our seal's epigraphic traits, we prefer a seventh century date and wonder if it might reflect a resurgence of Byzantine influence in the city, a situation that would have been obtained in 663 when Constans II, coming to Sicily to reign over the empire from Syracuse, used Taranto as a base of operations against his Lombard foes.

Situated along the north coast of the Gulf of Taranto, the city was brought under secure Byzantine control in the 550s and was then threatened by the Lombards (from 570 onward), until it passed, along with Brindisi, into the hands of Duke Romoaldo of Beneventum in the 680s (see F. Burgarella, "Bizantino in Sicilia e nell'Italia meridionale," in Il Mezzogiorno dai Bizantini a Federico II [Turin, 1983]). The city again came under Byzantine control during campaigns of 887-888 and was held until 982. Its population was always mixed, Greek and Latin; its ecclesiastical hierarchy seems to have remained mostly in Latin hands, even in the ninth and tenth centuries, and its bishop does not appear in any Byzantine notitia episcopatuum (see Falkenhausen, Dominazione, 166 ff).

 

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