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John Hexamilites, patrikios, hypatos, judge of the Hippodrome and of the Opsikion (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.386
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 29 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.14b.

Obverse

The Virgin seated on a backless throne holding Christ on her lap; the throne is seen in perspective with two legs visible (right), but only one leg at left. Sigla: ̅-θ̅υ : Μήτηρ Θεοῦ. Linear border.

Reverse

Inscription of seven lines; decoration above, final two letters between pellets. Linear border.

  
κε.ηθ,
ι̅π̅ρ̅ι̅υπα
τκριτητου
ιοδρομ
τουοψικιου
τεξαμιλ,
·τη·

Θεοτόκε [βοήει Ἰωάννῃ πατρικίῳ, ὑπάτῳ, κριτῇ τοῦ Ἱπποδρόμου καὶ τοῦ Ὀψικίου τῷ Ἑξαμιλίτῃ

Translation

Θεοτόκε βοήθει Ἰωάννῃ πατρικίῳ, ὑπάτῳ, κριτῇ τοῦ Ἱπποδρόμου καὶ τοῦ Ὀψικίου τῷ Ἑξαμιλίτῃ.

Theotokos, help John patrikios, hypatos, judge of the Hippodrome and of the Opsikion.

Commentary

This seal and BZS.1955.1.3052 come from the same boulloterion.

A judge of the Hippodrome named Hexamilites is mentioned in two of the more recent chapters of the Peira (7,16; 41,9). He could be identical to the owner of the present seal. We also have the metrical seal of John Hexamilites, which has nothing to do with the owner of the present specimen, as it is rightly dated to the twelfth century (Konstantopoulos, Stamousles, no. 114 = Laurent, Bulles métriques, no. 189).

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.

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.386
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 29 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.14b.

Notes

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.386
Diameter 33 mm
Field diameter 29 mm
Condition Corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.14b.