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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world


A set of five Greek epigrams, referring to Christ, *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033), and *Michael (the Archangel, S00181), probably from inscriptions describing a pictorial ensemble, and possibly from a church dedicated to Michael in Constantinople. Of uncertain date, possibly Middle Byzantine; recorded in the 10th c. Greek Anthology.

Evidence ID

E00557

Type of Evidence

Images and objects - Images described in texts

Inscriptions

Literary - Poems

Major author/Major anonymous work

Greek Anthology

Greek Anthology, Book 1 (Christian Epigrams), 32

This is the last of five epigrams (28-32), three of which refer to Christ, one to the Virgin Mary, and one to Michael. They are ascribed to a certain Marinos

Εἰς τὸν ἀρχάγγελον Μιχαήλ

Ὧδε ταλαιπαθέων χραισμήϊα θέσκελα κεῖται,
ἢ δέμας ἢ κραδίην τειρομένων μερόπων·
καὶ γὰρ ἀνιάζουσα πόνων φύσις αὐτίκα φεύγει
οὔνομα σόν, Μιχαήλ, ἢ τύπον ἢ θαλάμους.


'On the archangel Michael

Here is divine help for wretched people, afflicted in mind or body. For the grievous nature of pain vanishes at once, Michael, before your name, your image (τύπος), or your house.'


Text and translation: Paton and Tueller 2014; translation adapted.

Use of Images

Commissioning/producing an image
Verbal images of saints

Source

The Greek Anthology is a collection of Greek epigrams from dating from the Archaic period to the 9th century AD. It was initially compiled by Meleager of Megara (100-90 BC), whose collection was edited and expanded by Philip of Thessalonica (under Nero), Agathias of Myrina (AD 567/8) and finally by Konstantinos Kephalas (c. AD 900).

The word epigram literally means an inscription. Although most Greek inscriptions were in prose, the word came to be specifically connected to those written in verse, and eventually to include poetic texts which were not necessarily inscribed. From the earliest period of Greek literature, epigrams were mostly sepulchral or dedicatory: they either memorialised the dead or marked the dedication of an object to a god.

Book 1 of the
Greek Anthology contains Christian epigrams from Late Antiquity to the 9th century. It was compiled c. 880-900, containing a considerable number of poems copied directly from monuments. The scholar responsible for the transcriptions may have been Gregorios Magistros, a colleague of Kephalas. Epigrams 1-17 and possibly others were taken down from inscriptions at Constantinople and two of them, namely No. 1 (inscription from the bema arch of St. Sophia) and No. 10 (inscription from the church of St. Polyeuktos) have been found in situ, thus confirming the accuracy of the entries in the Anthology.

Discussion

The date and provenance of this set of epigrams are uncertain, and they may be Middle Byzantine. They seem to refer to an image or set of images in a church dedicated to Michael. The figures were probably depicted in the form of a deesis ('supplication'), with Mary and Michael in poses of prayer, flanking the figure of Christ. Like many other epigrams in the Greek Anthology, it may originate from a church in Constantinople.

Bibliography

Edition and Translation:
Paton, W.R., rev. Tueller, M.A., The Greek Anthology, Books 1-5, 2nd ed. (Loeb Classical Library; London, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Other editions:
Beckby, H., Anthologia Graeca (Munich: Ernst Heimeran Verlag, 1957).

Conca, F., Marzi, M., and Zanetto, G.,
Antologia Palatina. 3 vols. Vol. 1 (Classici Greci; Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 2005).

Waltz, P.,
Anthologie Grecque (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1928).

Further reading on the Greek Anthology:
Cameron, A., The Greek Anthology: From Meleager to Planudes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).


Record Created By

Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified

25/03/2020

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristCertain
S00181Michael, the ArchangelΜιχαὴλCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E00557 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E00557