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Leo imperial protospatharios epi ton oikeiakon, anagrapheus and epoptes of the Opsikion (tenth century)

Accession number BZS.1958.106.5158
Diameter 23 mm
Condition The seal was struck off-center, and most of the inscribed surface survives despite a break along the channel and the loss of considerable pieces of lead on the side and at bottom.
Previous Editions

DO Seals 3, no. 39.6.


Patriarchal cross (on steps?) with fleurons rising from base (up to second cross bar). Faint traces of a circular (invocative?) inscription. Indeterminate border.


[Κύριε βοή]θ(ει) τ[ῷ σῷ δούλῳ]


Inscription of at least five lines preceded by an inverted fleuron decoration.


Λέων(τι) β(ασιλικῷ) (πρωτο)[σπ]αθ(αρίῳ) ἐπὶ τ(ῶν) οἰ[κι]ακ(ῶν), ἀν{ν}αγρ[αφ(εῖ) (καὶ)] ἐπόπτῃ [τ(οῦ)] Ὀψικίου...


Κύριε βοήθει τῷ σῷ δούλῳ Λέωντι βασιλικῷ πρωτοσπαθαρίῳ ἐπὶ τῶν οἰκιακῶν, ἀνναγραφεῖ καὶ ἐπόπτῃ τοῦ Ὀψικίου...

Lord, help your servant Leo, imperial protospatharios epi ton oikeiakon, anagrapheus and epoptes of the Opsikion.


The section missing at bottom could easily have accommodated another line of text with the man's family name or with the name of another province. An eighth/ninth-century anagrapheus of the Opsikion is in Zacos-Veglery, no. 2095.

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.