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Pantoleon paraphylax of “our lord” the Theologos (eighth/ninth century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.2041
Diameter 30 mm
Condition Chipped and corroded.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 14.1.

Zacos-Veglery, no. 2283.


Cruciform invocative monogram (type V). In the quarters: τω-σω|δ-λω. No visible border.

Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ


Inscription of four lines, probably beginning with a cross. A decoration resembling an arrow between tendrils below. Wreath border.


Παντολ[έ]ων παραφύλ[αξ] τοῦ κυροῦ το[ῦ] Θεωλώγου


Θεοτόκε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Παντολέων παραφύλαξ τοῦ κυροῦ τοῦ Θεωλώγου.

Mother of God help your servant Pantoleon, paraphylax of the lord Theologos.


Zacos-Veglery note a suggestion of V. Laurent that the word κυροῦ should indicate the governor of Theologos and that the whole phrase should translate as “paraphylax of the governor of Theologos”; but they prefer (and we follow them on this point) to understand that κυρός is indicating St. John himself. Thus, Pantoleon boasts that he is the guardian of John the Theologos, whose church and relics were inside the walls of the fortress that he governed.

The ancient city of Ephesos was abandoned in the seventh century in favor of the security of the inland fortress of Theologos, where the famous basilica (and major pilgrimage center) of St. John the Evangelist stood (near modern Selçuk). The name (Ἅγιος) Θεολόγος, Theologo, Ayasoluk was currently used when speaking of the medieval town and its administrators, such as the commander of the fortress, the paraphylax, or the archon (eighth/ninth century: Zacos-Veglery, no. 2282A) and the (undoubtedly naval) droungarios (ninth century: ibid., 2561A; Konstantopoulos, no. 135). But the old name, Ephesos, also survived in civil administration: Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos informs us that the theme of Samos, which is first attested at the very end of the ninth century, had control over the tourma of Ephesos (Ἐφέσιον: De Them., chap. XVI, line 14), while we have mentions of tax collectors (dioiketes) of Ephesos (ActaSS November III, 540; Zacos-Veglery, no. 2487). We have the impression that Theologos was the local usage, while Ephesos came from the learned circles of Constantinople and was the name that prevailed alone in the ecclesiastic administration.

Ephesos was a major metropolis, with no less than 39 suffragans attached to it at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, claiming to preserve the remains of the Apostle John (whose representation appears on the obverse on some seals of metropolitans). It is mentioned in all notitiae.

See Laurent, Corpus V/1, 178; Culerrier, Suffragants d'Ephèse; ODB I, 706; W. Seibt, “Drei byzantinische Bleisiegel aus Ephesos,” Litterae numismaticae vindobonenses Roberto Goebl dedicatae (Vienna, 1979), 145–54; W. Brandes, “Ephesos in byzantinischer Zeit,” Klio 64 (1982): 611–22; Brandes, Städte, 83–85.