V 6. Cherson. Building inscription of Zeno, 487–488 C.E.





White marble. 

Dimensions (cm)

H. 70.0, W. 121.0, Th. 16.0.

Additional description

Panel in the shape of tabula ansata, decorated with crosses on the right and left ansae. Chipped along the top and right side, and at the top and bottom right corners of the front. 

Place of Origin


Find place

Sevastopol (Chersonesos). 

Find context

Tower XVII ("Zeno's Tower"), masonry. 

Find circumstances


Modern location

Sevastopol, Crimea. 

Institution and inventory

National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, 3340. 


May 1999, August 2001, September 2002, September 2003, September 2004, September 2005, September 2006, September 2007. 

Epigraphic field


Over the entire central area of the panel, slightly encroaching on the ansae. 


Lapidary. Alpha with a slanting and straight crossbar; alpha, delta and lambda have an upward projecting right hasta; lunate epsilon and sigma; kappa with shortened diagonals. Word division marks. 

Letterheights (cm)




Building inscription. 


487–488 C.E. 

Dating criteria

Epigraphical context. 


L1. Pallas 1801, 74; 1.1. CIG II, 90; 1.1.1. CIG IV 8621; 2. Waxel 1801, № 5; 2.1. Waxel 1803, № 5; 3. Clarke 1815, 457; 3.1. Walpole 1820, 586–587, № 51; 4. Cousinéry 1831, 268; 5. Bertye-Delagard 1893; 6. Latyshev 1896, 7–15, № 7; 7. Shestakov 1906, 140–151; 8. Vinogradov 2007, 257, № 2; 9. Yashaeva, Denisova, et al. 2011, 421, № 1, fig. 1. 


+ Αὐτοκράτωρ κε͂σαρ Ζήνων εὐσε[β]ὴς νικ[ητὴς]
τροπεοῦχος μέγιστος ἀεισέβαστος·
φιλοτιμησαμένη ἡ αὐτῶν εὐσέβια, ὡς ἐν̣
πάσαις ταῖς πόλεσιν, καὶ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ αὐτοῦ
5πόλι, ἐδωρήσατο χρημάτων δόσιν, τὰ συνα-
γόμενα ἐκ τοῦ πρακτίου, φημὶ τοῦ ἐνταῦθα
βικαράτου τῶν καθοσιωμένων βαλλισ-
τραρίων, δι᾿ ὧν ἀνανεοῦντε τὰ τείχη πρὸς
σωτηρίαν τῆς αὐτῆς πόλεως. Καὶ εὐχαρισ-
10τοῦντες ἀνεθήκαμεν τόδε τὸ τῖτλον
εἰς μνημόσυνον ἀείδιον τῆς αὐτῶν
+ βασιλείας. +
+ Ἀνανεώθη δὲ ὁ πύργος οὗτος, πρά-
ττοντος τοῦ μεγαλοπρ(επεστάτου) κόμ(ητος)
15+ Διογένου, ἔτους φιβ´, ἐν ἰνδ(ικτιῶνι) ια´ +



EpiDoc (XML)

<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc">
    <lb n="1"/><g ref="#stauros"/> <roleName>Αὐτοκράτωρ</roleName>
       εὐσε<supplied reason="lost">β</supplied>ὴς
       νικ<supplied reason="lost">ητὴς</supplied>
    <lb n="2"/>τροπεοῦχος μέγιστος ἀεισέβαστος·
    <lb n="3"/>φιλοτιμησαμένη ἡ αὐτῶν εὐσέβια, ὡς
    <lb n="4"/>πάσαις ταῖς πόλεσιν, καὶ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ
    <lb n="5"/>πόλι, ἐδωρήσατο χρημάτων δόσιν, τὰ συνα<lb n="6" break="no"/>γόμενα ἐκ τοῦ πρακτίου, φημὶ
      τοῦ ἐνταῦθα
    <lb n="7"/>βικαράτου τῶν καθοσιωμένων βαλλισ<lb n="8" break="no"/>τραρίων, δι᾿ ὧν ἀνανεοῦντε τὰ τείχη
    <lb n="9"/>σωτηρίαν τῆς αὐτῆς πόλεως. Καὶ εὐχαρισ <lb n="10" break="no"/>τοῦντες ἀνεθήκαμεν τόδε τὸ τῖτλον
    <lb n="11"/>εἰς μνημόσυνον ἀείδιον τῆς αὐτῶν
    <lb n="12"/><g ref="#stauros"/> βασιλείας. <g ref="#stauros"/>
    <lb n="13"/><g ref="#stauros"/> Ἀνανεώθη δὲ ὁ πύργος
      οὗτος, πρά<lb n="14" break="no"/>ττοντος τοῦ 
    <lb n="15"/><g ref="#stauros"/> Διογένου,
      <date>ἔτους <num value="512">φιβ</num>, 
    ἐν <expan><abbr>ἰνδ</abbr><ex>ικτιῶνι</ex></expan> <num value="11">ια</num></date>
      <g ref="#stauros"/>
Apparatus criticus

4: αὐτῶν Boeckh
8: ἀνανεοῦντε<ς> Kirchhof 1825–1860, Shestakov
15: ια´ Bertye-Delagard, Latyshev, Shestakov ιδ´ Pallas et alii


Emperor Caesar Zeno, pious, victor, triumphant, the greatest, eternal Augustus: His Worship, having made a donation, in this town of his, as well as in others, made a monetary gift - which comes from the prakteion, that is, from the local vikaratos of faithful ballistrarii: by whose efforts the walls are being renovated for the sake of this city's safety. In gratitude, we have set this inscription in eternal commemoration of His reign. Also this tower was restored by the efforts of the most magnificent comes Diogenes, in the year 512, in the 11th indiction.



On the detailed research history of this inscription, see Latyshev 1896, 7-15, № 7; Bertye-Delagard 1893; Tunkina 2002, 503, 508, 516, nn. 113, 143, 187.

The inscription consists of two parts marked off by crosses: the decision of the Chersonian residents with the expression of gratitude to Zeno and concerning all the walls; and the building inscription of comes Diogenes, concerning one tower, and marked off by crosses.

1. On the titles αὐτοκράτωρ, καῖσαρ, εὐσεβής and νικητής, see Rösch 1978, 35–38, 42–43, 45–46

2. On the titles τροπαιοῦχος, μέγιστος and ἀεισέβαστος, see Rösch 1978, 35, 46–47. The entire assemblage of titles (type I, according to Rösch 1978, 89–90) fully corresponds to the titulature of Zeno as attested in CIG IV 8619. This fact suggests that the text either originated in Constantinopole, or was composed under the influence of the Byzantine capital.

3. The verb φιλοτιμέομαι in the sense "to make a donation" is used in Byzantine epigraphy specifically with respect to emperors: MAMA VIII 270 (Obruk in Lycaonia), IGLS 618 (Juvania, 544 C.E.). The expression ἡ αὐτῶν εὐσέβεια (ср. I. Creticae IV 284a; 381–383 C.E., Gortyn) is a paraphrase, in the 3rd person singular, of the typical imperial title ἡ ἡμετέρα (resp. ἡμῶν) εὐσέβεια (cf. Grégoire 1929, № 4). In the example cited by Spieser 1983, № 8 (Thessaloniki, 688–689 C.E.), this title is also found in conjunction with the verb φιλοτιμέομαι.

3-5. A parallel for the juxtaposition of the city on whose behalf the donation had been made with other cities is found in Grégoire 1929, № 303 (Attalia, 915–916 C.E.). On the subject of Zeno's gifts to other cities, the opinion of Bertye-Delagard 1893 that the financial help was extended to the cities that had suffered from the earthquake of 477 (or 480) C.E., has always been the opinio communis. We should point out, however, that the sources mention only Propontis in connection with this earthquake (Guidoboni, Comastri, Traina 1994, 302–305), while earthquakes on the southern coast of the Black Sea usually do not affect the northern coast.

6. The rare term πρακτεῖον is explained, since Kirchhoff, as "state service, public office," with incorrect reference to "Basiliсa" (see Ducange, s.v.). In this case, the "collection from the πρακτεῖον" should be understood as a form of tax collected from citizens for the upkeep of ballistrarii (on these, see below), which were redirected by Zeno towards the construction of city walls, although this arrangement would have left the ballistrarii without their provisions. In Early Byzantine texts (almost contemporaneous with our inscription), this term is used only to mean "an official appointment, a public post" (IGLS 9045–9046; Bosra, 491–518 C.E.): in this example we find a prohibition on the sale of the prakteion of doukas. In this sense, the Chersonian prakteion can be understood as the honourable office of a vicar of the ballistrarii, for which the office holder had to pay a fee to the state, and which funds could then be diverted towards the reconstruction of city walls.

7. The use of the term βικαρᾶτος is hapax. If the prakteion is understood as "government service," βικαρᾶτος would refer to the service of ballistrarii, but if it stands for the "official post" then βικαρᾶτος would signify the post of the vicar of the ballistrarii.

7-8. Concerning ballistrarii, see Vinogradov 2010a, 94-100.

8. Grammatically, the words δι᾿ ὧν should be taken not with τὰ συναγόμενα, as it is usually done, but with the ballistrarii, the word that comes immediately before. In this reading, the reconstruction of the walls is undertaken by the ballistrarii for the sum of money donated by the emperor.

9. The expression "for the city's safety" finds no parallels in Early Byzantine epigraphy. The only known analogy is dated to the Xth century (Grégoire 1929, no. 302).

10. The word τῖτλον is very rarely used in Christian epigraphy to mean something different than tombstone (cf. V 10, I.Side 7 и SEG 43.904: in the latter case, the term is connected with the imperial decree that follows). The use of the verb ἀνατίθημι in conjunction with τῖτλον, instead of the usual ἀνίστημι or ποιέω, might have to do with the Northern Black Sea tradition: cf. I.Tomis 291.

11. The formula εἰς μνημόσυνον ἀΐδιον is also found in an inscription from Sinai (Ševčenko 1966, 264).

13. The formula ἀνενεώθη is common in Early Byzantine epigraphy, including usage in reference to a tower (TAM II 553; IGLS 9115; Welles 1938, 274) and walls (IdC 104, Bandy 31, Philai II 194, 226).

13–15. As had already been suggested by Walpole 1820, the Diogenes of our inscription might be identical with another comes Diogenes (PLRE II, 360–361) who was a "benefactor of Hellenic cities," and had, among other things, donated money for the reconstruction of the walls of Megara.

15. On the local Chersonesian era, see Bertye-Delagard 1893 and the commentary to V 24. We should point out here that the parallel use of the local era and of the indiction does not mean that the two coincided – that is, the year 512 of the Chersonesian era would correspond to the period of time between September 486 C.E. (if its end coincides with the beginning of the 11th indiction) and August 488 C.E. (if its beginning coincides with the end of the 11th indiction).



(cc) © 2015 Andrey Vinogradov (edition), Irene Polinskaya (translation)
You may download this inscription in EpiDoc XML. (This file should validate to the EpiDoc schema.)