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Constantine Monomachos, grand chartoularios and judge of the Opsikion (eleventh century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.1436
Diameter 19 mm
Field diameter 14 mm
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.10.


Bust of St. George holding spear in his right hand and shield in his left hand. Inscription on either side: : Ὁ ἅ(γιος) Γ(εώργιος). Circular inscription along a border of dots:


[Κ(ύρι)ε β]οήθει τῷ σῷ δούλ(ῳ)


Inscription of five lines followed by decoration. Border of dots.


Κων(σταντίνῳ) μ(ε)γ(άλῳ) χ(αρ)τ(ουλαρίῳ) (καὶ) κριτ(ῇ) τοῦ Ὀψι[κίου] τῷ Μονομάχ(ῳ).


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Κωνσταντίνῳ μεγάλῳ χαρτουλαρίῳ καὶ κριτῇ τοῦ Ὀψικίου τῷ Μονομάχῳ.

Lord, help your servant Constantine Monomachos, grand chartoularios and judge of the Opsikion.


The owner of the present seal could be identical to the future emperor Constantine IX Monomachos, who once served as judge in Hellas (Skylitzes, 423). We have the tenth/eleventh-century seal of a Constantine Monomachos, protospatharios and logothete ton agelon, also decorated with a bust of St. George (SBS 3 [1993] 187); another Constantine Monomachos, protospatharios and protonotarios of the Bοukellarioi, likewise decorated with a bust of St. George (1951.31.5.1006); and a private seal with St. George standing. The monogram of Monomachos was found in Pergamon (Athenische Mitteilungen 32 [1907] 406). The attachment of Constantine IX Monomachos to St. George, well known from his foundation of the monastery of Mangana, was probably related to the fact that he possessed a talisman which contained a piece of St. George's sword (NE 8 [1911] 128).

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.