Thursday, June 26, 2008

Comes Orientis - The Count of the East

Antioch had its many moments of Imperial visitations of lesser or greater degree. Its status fluctuated over the years from administering diminished versions of Syria to much larger units. Its strongest governmental status came with the creation of the title of Comes Orientis by Constantine. This official had his official residence in Antioch. By some accounts the Museion was converted for this purpose.

One interesting publication of the late Empire was the Notitia Dignitatum a sort of Who's Who at least of official titles. In it one can find not only the Comes Orientis but also his sub-officials and a flock of other titles for positions of the Imperial bureaucracy that may have sometimes been located in Antioch.

Above we have the "insignia" of the Count as reproduced in a 16th century copy of the work. It shows the sixteen provinces that reported to the holder of the title.

Below is a list of functionaires that reported to the Count:
  • Principem, qui de scola agentum in rebus ducenarius adorata clementia principali cum insignibus exit.(Chief of Cabinet)
  • Cornicularium (sub-Chief)
  • Commentariensem (daily record-keeper)
  • Adiutorem (Aide)
  • Ab actis (Archivist)
  • Numerarios (Accountants)
  • A libellis (Petition manager)
  • Subadiuuas (sub-Aide)
  • Exceptores et ceteros officiales.(secretaries & other official)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Basilica of Anatolius

Despite its dry sounding title, Downey's article on the differences in interpretation of the words "stoa" and "basilike" contains more than a few important and unique pieces of information on the basilicae (or stoas) of ancient Antioch.

The comments on those located at the Forum of Valens are included in our chapter on that subject. Here however, we would draw attention to a later period basilica and we quote:

" Another basilike at Antioch, which may likewise have contained an open court, is said by Malalas to have been built under Theodosius II by the magister utriusque militiae per Orientem, Anatolius, who is first found in office in 438. Of this building, Malalas says (360, 7-15)):

He (Theodosius) also built in Antioch the Great a large illuminated basilike (....) very seemly, opposite the so-called Athla, which the people of Antioch call that of Anatolius, because Anatolius the stratelates supervised the construction, receiving the money from the emperor when he was appointed by him stratelates of the East. And for this reason, when he finished this construction of the basilike he inscribed on it in gold mosaic the following "The work of the emperor Theodosius," as was fitting. Above were [ representations of] the two emperors, Theodosius and his kinsman Valentinian, who ruled in Rome."

This is the only mention I have seen of either this basilica and of the Athla. Downey adds that this basilica was damaged in the earthquake of 526 AD and Theodora rebuilt it sending columns from Constantinople for the task. As for the Athla, its role and location are somewhat murky. It means either prizes given in sporting contests (where the word athletics comes from) and these were generally a helmet or a military harness. Or it can mean some magical function as detailed in Marcus Manilius' Astronomica [c 10 - 20 AD.]. The Twelve Lots in classical astrology correspond to twelve areas of life. Manilius describes them as the various Labours of the Round of Time, and relates that the Greeks called them Athla. Neither of these definitions makes much sense in the context of a building but then we cast our minds back to the reports we have mentioned elsewhere of a domed structure with astronomical symbols inside (which may have been part of Museion complex) and we maybe have in the Athla a more possible name for this proto-planetarium.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Müller on the Museum and the Forum of "Valens"

Here we quote from Carl Otfried Müller:

"Nec tamen inter has novorum sacrorum molitiones et fabricas publicis privatisque Antiochenae plebis commodis minus providebatur. Constantini praecipua opera haec erant: basilica quae Rufini dicebatur, quod post Augusti discessum a Rufino Praefecto praetorio absoluta est, qua Mercurii aedis, quae eodem loco fuerat, area occupabatur praetorium in eadem Urbis parte extructum, ut comitis Orientis sedes esset, qui nunc Antiochiae continuo degere iussus est, cui aedificio Musarum templum, quod ad forum fuisse supra ostendimus , insumptum est: denique Xenon sive hospitium, quod aedificium ad excipiendos peregre venientes institutum prope magnam Christianorum aedem extructum est. Cum Plutarchus, Christianus homo, Antiochenorum archon, instruendo hoc Xenone occupatus esset, invenisse traditur statuam Neptuni, et Asphalii quidem, nam ad terrae motus arcendos erecta esse dicitur; ex qua refusa statuam fecit Principis, quae titulo inscripto BONO CONSTANTINO extra Praetorium posita est. Posuit Constantinus etiam matri suae Helenae statuam in Daphnaeo loco, propter quam locus Augustaeum dictus est .

Quod diximus, Musarum templum tum Comitis Orientis praetorii cessisse, non prohibet, quominus etiam post Constantinum Musei apud Antiochenos mentio fiat. Eudocia Augusta, Theodosii minoris uxor, cum Antiochiam coram Antiochenis splendida oratione laudasset, statua ei posita est in Museo. Publicam scholam Libanius commemorat ad Museum prope Calliopen. Hinc intelligitur, hoc quod tum supererat Museum diversum fuisse ab illo, quod forum attigisse ostendimus. Calliopes autem templum videtur ad mediara portam fuisse, qua Parmenio ex monte defluebat. Non aliud autem fuisse opinor Museum , quod ab Antonino Pio conditum esse supra memoravimus, id enim cum Nympheo coniunctura erat, ac Nymphaeum fuisse ad Calliopes aedem, ex confusa quadam et obscura Malalae narratione divinari potest. Bibliotheca Antiochena, quae in Museo Antiochi Philopatoris fuerat, quid factura sit, non magis definiré licet, quam fortuna eius bibliothecae , cui Antiochus Magnus olim Euphorionem praeposuerat; aliam bibliothecam, in aede, quae Traiani olim fuit, dispositam combussisse traditur Jovianus princeps".

NB: the Xenon referred to here is a hospital