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

Accession number BZS.1958.106.807
Diameter 32 mm
Condition Half missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.30.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 2039. Cf. T. Lounghis, "Researching Seals in a Byzantine Chronography Data Base System," SBS 2 (1990) 7-15.


Cruciform invocative monogram (of indeterminate type). In the surviving quarters: τ|λ. Wreath border.

Κύριε or Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ [δού]λῳ [σου]


The name of the seal's owner is in the form of a cruciform monogram; two letters are visible: η (right) and ω (below). His titles are inscribed in the quarters, two of which are preserved:


[Ἰσ]ώῃ [πατ]ρι[κίῳ καὶ] κόμ[ητι τ]οῦ θε[οφυλ]άκτου [βασιλ]ικοῦ Ὀ[ψικ]ίου


Κύριε or Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ δούλῳ σου Ἰσώῃ πατρικίῳ καὶ κόμητι τοῦ θεοφυλάκτου βασιλικοῦ Ὀψικίου.

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


The owner of this seal has been rightly identified by Lounghis with Isoes who was count of the Opsikion in 717-719. Two more of his seals, from different boulloteria, are published in Lihačev, Molivdovuly, 206-7 (LXXII, 7 and 8); cf. V. Šandrovskaja in Iz kollecij akademika N. P. Lihačeva. Katalog vystavki. (Saint Petersburg, 1993), 54, no. 80.

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.