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Arsavir patrikios, imperial protospatharios and komes of the Opsikion (ninth century)

Accession Number:
BZS.1958.106.776

Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.23a.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 1733a.

Details

Diameter:
26 mm
Condition:
Rusted.

Obverse

Arsavir patrikios, imperial protospatharios and komes of the Opsikion (ninth century)

Cruciform invocative monogram (type V). In the four quarters: τ. Wreath border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ

Reverse

Arsavir patrikios, imperial protospatharios and komes of the Opsikion (ninth century)

Inscription of four lines. Wreath border.

+ρσβ
ηρπτρικ/β/
/σπθˊSκομ/
τοψικ/

Ἀρσαβὴρ πατρικ(ίῳ), β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)σπαθ(αρίῳ) (καὶ) κόμ(ητι) τοῦ Ὀψικ(ίου)

Translation

Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ἀρσαβὴρ πατρικίῳ, βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ καὶ κόμητι τοῦ Ὀψικίου.

Mother of God, help your servant Arsavir, patrikios, imperial protospatharios and komes of the Opsikion.

Audio

Commentary

This seal and BZS.1958.106.4283 come from the same boulloterion.

The form of the letter β points to a date in the early ninth century. It seems that in the late eighth and the ninth centuries several persons with the name Arsavir were active in the imperial administration, including the quaestor who was deposed in 807 (the father-in-law of Leo V the Armenian, cf. Theophanes, 483; Genesios, 16); many seals recording persons with this name are listed in Zacos-Veglery III, 1812, including some who were strategoi of themes or commanded the tagmata of the scholai and of the exkoubitoi.

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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