V 44. Cherson.Invocation of Basileios, late IVth – Vth century C.E.






Dimensions (cm)

H.38.0, W.127.0, Th.17.0.

Additional description

Cornice with a complex moulding. As a result of fire broke into 7 (?) pieces. Broken off on the left, and partially on the bottom and right; chipped in places. 

Place of Origin


Find place

Sevastopol (Chersonesos). 

Find context

Square near the cathedral of St. Vladimir, between Churches 28 and 29. 

Find circumstances

1891, construction works. 

Find place

Sevastopol (Chersonesos). 

Find context

Square near the cathedral of St. Vladimir, between Churches 28 and 29. 

Find circumstances

1892, excavations of K.K. Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich. 

Modern location

Moscow, Russia. 

Institution and inventory

State Historical Museum, no inventory number. 


November 2008. 

Epigraphic field


On the front. 


Lapidary. Alpha with broken crossbar; beta with vertically spaced loops; lambda with elongated top; kappa with elongated vertical; mu with sagging middle; pi with extended horizontal; lunate sigma. 

Letterheights (cm)




Invocative inscription. 


Late IVth – Vth century C.E. 

Dating criteria



L1. Latyshev1892, 36, № 27; 1.1. Latyshev1896, 35, № 28; 1.2. Latyshev1901, 75, № 28; 2. Vinogradov2006, 291–293, № 3; 2.1. Vinogradov2007, 265, № 17; 2.2. Vinogradov2010, 145–149, № n. 


[+ Βοήθει, κ(ύρι)ε (e.g.), ὁ ἀπὸ γῆς ἐγείρων πτωχὸν καὶ ἀ]πὸ κοπρίας ἀνυψῶν πένηταν, κώμητι Βασιλίου ⳨



EpiDoc (XML)

<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc">
      <lb n="1"/><supplied reason="lost"><g ref="#stauros"/> Βοήθει,
      <roleName><expan><abbr>κ</abbr><ex>ύρι</ex><abbr>ε</abbr></expan></roleName> <note>e.g.</note>,
      ὁ ἀπὸ γῆς ἐγείρων
      πτωχὸν καὶ</supplied>
      <supplied reason="lost">ἀ</supplied>πὸ κοπρίας
      ἀνυψῶν πένηταν,
      Βασιλίου <g ref="#staurogram"/>
Apparatus criticus

[ἀ]πὸ κοπρίας ἀνυψῶν πένηταν Papadopoulo-Kerameus apud Latyshev1901 om. Latyshev1892,Latyshev1896; βασ[ιλικῷ]Latyshev


O Lord (?), raising a pauper from the ground and lifting a needy [from]the ash heap, [help?] comes Basileios.



Six fragments of the cornice were found in 1891 (Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich 1893b, 3–4), three of which, those that formed the beginning of the text, were apparently lost early on. Latyshev originally knew only fragments 1–3, found in 1891 (Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich 1893b, 4), but he did not associate with them fragment 4, found a year later (Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich 1892, 14). As a result of missing fragment 4, his restoration of the end of the inscription was incorrect. In the first two editions, Latyshev interpreted the inscription as enigmatic, until a sensible reading of the first half of the text was proposed to him by A.I. Papadopoulo-Kerameus.

Psalm 112, verse 7 is attested several times in Early Byzantine inscriptions: e.g., Milet VI 2 № 999 (on a cornice), Wessel 1989, № 620 (Lison near Concordia (Veneto)), IGLS 1455, 1460 (on the door post), 1461 (all from Apamea) и 2230 (Emesa), in combination with other biblical quotations (Ps. 9, 38; Luke 2, 14) and prayer formulae (εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεός; κύριε, δόξα σοι; Χριστὸς ἀεὶ νικᾷ; πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη). In our case, since the image of a cross after the words κώμητι Βασιλίου signals the end of the text, we could surmise a verb would have introduced the line from the psalm, governing either a dative or a genitive case (since a mix of three cases at once, accusative, dative, and genitive is unlikely, although not impossible; on the mixing of cases in the formula κύριε, βοήθει see IV.3.E.a). Indeed, in such examples as СIG 8912 (Bozüyük in Likaonia) or Ševčenko 1966, 263, № 8 (Sinai, VIth century), this quotation is accompanied by an appeal, which however follows rather than precedes it.

It is conceivable that there is nothing more to this case than a common inclusion of a biblical quote into a building inscription (cf. inscriptions mentioned above). At the same time, we should not exclude the possibility that the specific Psalmic verse is in some way connected to the personal fortunes of comes Basileios who had built this structure (probably, a church) either in gratitude for the elevation to a higher social rank, or for the end to his fall from grace.

Of the known comites named Basileios, we could consider the following as possibly identical with the one in this Chersonian inscription: former comites sacrarum largitiorum: of the West, 382–383 C.E., unclear where in 407 C.E., and of the East before 451 C.E., as well as comes of the East in 503 and 507 C.E., comes rei militaris (?) in 528 (?) C.E. and spectabilis comes in Arsinoe in 618 C.E. (PLRE I, 149; II, 214–215; III, 174, 176).

Unfortunately, palaeographic features of this inscriptions provide only imprecise indications of the date, although the shape of mu suggests the end of the IV – early Vth century. In that case, the most plausible candidate from the comites named above would be one of the first three, and considering geography, probably either the second or the third. On beta with vertically spaced loops, see commentary to V 57, and on mu with looped middle, see commentary to V 21. The symbol finds parallels in chamber tombs located by the Extramural Cruciform Church.

Judging by the height of this cornice (no less than 38cm), it must have belonged to a monumental structure of considerable size located in an agora. According to Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich 1893b, remains of this cornice were found in the south section of the agora, near Churches 28 and 29, and they are mentioned by him right after the description of a base belonging to the statue of Bion, which was found at the threshold of Church 28. In addition, such a monumental cornice would suit the monumental Basilica 28 better than it would suit the cruciform domed Churches 27 and 29, which are half the size of the 28. Its attribution to Chruch 27 is therefore incorrect (Sorochan 2008, 98).

Although the name of the ktitor is not necessarily related to the saint honoured in that church, we should nonetheless note that a St. Basil's church is mentioned in the Old Russian Laurentian chronicle as located "in the town's centre where the Chersonians have a market place" and that was where prince Vladimir was baptised. Conventionally, St. Basil's church of the Laurentian chronicle is identified with the smaller, cruciform Church 27 (Sorochan 2005 2005, 899–900), but no baptistery is attested for that church, while Kostsyushko-Valyuzhinich specifically identifies a baptistery in Church 28 (see Sorochan 2005, 892). That church might have been dedicated to St. Basil as a patron of the ktitor, or it might have acquired that name later on.



(cc)© 2015 Andrey Vinogradov (edition), Irene Polinskaya (translation)
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