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John Pseles, bishop of Polog (?) (ninth/tenth century)

Accession number BZS.1951.31.5.633
Diameter 20 mm
Field diameter 17 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 5 no. 127.1.


Patriarchal cross on three steps. Circular inscription between a double border of dots.


Κ(ύρι)ε βοήθ(ει) τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of four lines, a row of pellets above. Border of dots.


Ἰωάνου Πολογήου τοῦ Ψήλη


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Ἰωάνου Πολογήου τοῦ Ψήλη.

Lord, help your servant John Pseles, bishop of Polog.


The decoration on the obverse, a patriarchal cross on steps without fleurons rising from the base, dates this seal to approximately the last third of the ninth or very beginning of the tenth century. The dating from DO Seals 5 has been changed to reflect this.

An alternative interpretation of the reverse is that John held the office of hypologios. Although the imprint is clear, the reading of the inscription is not wholly certain; the engraver may have neglected to carve a second upsilon (line 2) and in this case the inscription would read: Ἰωάνου <ὑ>πολογήου τοῦ Ψηλῆ. The specimen is mentioned in Zacos, Seals II, no. 258, where the inscription is read: Ἰωάνο<υ> ὑπολογήου τοῦ Ψηλῆ. This reading is favored by W. Seibt (BZ 100 [2007]: 236), though he goes further in suggestion that the seal could also belong to a John, hypologios of Hypsele, a city in the Pontos and a suffragan of Neokaisareia (Österreich II, p. 229).

The term hypologios is rare. It occurs on two late ninth–early tenth century seals published by Zacos (Seals II, nos. 258 and 866); each refers to a Niketas, hypologios of Abydos. Zacos notes the title is found in Symeon Magister (Bonn ed., 623.8), where reference is made to a group of monks who had formerly occupied a monastery in a district ravaged by Arab raiders, but it seems this in not official but idiomatic in character. Ultimately, we note that although the title was in official use, to read it on this specimen, one must postulate an engraver's error.

On the other hand, "πολογήου" is quite close in spelling to Πολούγου, and especially close to its variant Πολόγου, the two forms of the name we find in the Notitiae Episcopatuum. We note another variant that is encountered among the letters of Theophylakt of Ohrid (Ep. 195.2, apparatus): Πολίγιος. Thus the form that we find on our seal is simply a mixture of two spelling variants.