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Gregory imperial spatharios and komes of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God (eighth century)

Accession number BZS.1947.2.121
Diameter 26 mm
Condition One-third missing.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.26.


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

Κύριε βοήθει [τ]ῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of six lines. No visible border.


[Γρη]γορί[ῳ] β(ασιλικῷ) σπαθ(αρίῳ) [(καὶ)] κόμ(η)τ(ι) [τ]οῦ θ(εοφυλάκτου) β(ασιλικοῦ) Ὀψικ(ίου)


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Γρηγορίῳ βασιλικῷ σπαθαρίῳ καὶ κόμητι τοῦ θεοφυλάκτου βασιλικοῦ Ὀψικίου.

Lord, help your servant Gregory, imperial spatharios and komes of the imperial Opsikion guarded by God.


Theophanes mentions a certain Gregory Mousoulakios as commander of the Opsikianoi in 777/778; by 802 he was already a patrikios. Cf. Haldon, Praetorians, 360, no. 13. We also know several seals of counts of the Opsikion named Gregory of the eighth and early ninth centuries.

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.