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ΕΥΨΥΧΙΑ. Mélanges offerts à Hélène Ahrweiler

Tome II

Polis and Kastron in Theophanes and in some other historical texts

Alexander Kazhdan

Texte intégral

  • 1 P. Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos. 1143-1180, Cambridge 1993, p. 50. The idea was brou (...)
  • 2 Theophanis Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, Leipzig 1883-85, repr. Hildesheim 1963. The text of Chro (...)

1The idea that the ancient polis underwent a crisis not only in the West but also on the territory of the Protobyzantine empire seems now fairly established. In a recent book on Manuel I’s reign, Paul Magdalino states without doubts: «In many ways, it must seem that the vast majority of Byzantine towns were rural outposts, or at best cheap replicas, of Constantinople. Whether they had survived from Late Antiquity, or came into being after the ‘Dark Age’ crisis, they did so as kastra: fortresses from which the authorities could control the emperor’s soldiers and taxpayers and the orthodoxy of their beliefs. »1 The new perception is based, first and foremost, on archaeological and numismatic materials which, for all their advantages, leave unanswered a signal question: To what extent did the Byzantines themselves notice this urban restructuring, the transition from the ancient polis to the medieval town? In order to answer this question we have to turn toward written texts, and we shall begin with Theophanes Confessor.2

  • 3 The question was raised by C. Mango, Who wrote the Chronicle of Theophanes?, ZRVI 18, 1978, p. 9-1 (...)
  • 4 The main monograph on Theophanes is in Russian: I. Čičurov, Mesto «Chronografii» Feofana v rannevi (...)

2We shall neglect the hot problem whether the Chronography of Theophanes was written by Theophanes himself or whether its author was his older contemporary George Synkellos, whereas Theophanes only trimmed and tailored the text Byzantina Sorbonensia 16 left by his late friend.3 Whoever was the author, the Chronography was completed in the early ninth century, and it encompasses a broad span of time from 284 to 813. Theophanes uses various sources some of which survived while others are lost, and we are still uncertain whether he was a «mechanical» compilator or a man able to adjust his source material to a certain system of views.4

3Already Čičurov has examined the frequency of the term polis in the Chronography (p. 53-59), primarily to emphasize the difference between Theophanes and the patriarch Nikephoros in their treatment of geographical space; he notices that in the so-called original part of the Chronography (dealing with the seventh and eighth centuries) the application of the term polis sharply drops in comparison with the so-called compilatory part, and connects this event with the «disurbanization» of the empire. Let us, first of all, review his calculations.

4Like Čičurov, we shall divide the text into two sections: not because we consider one more compilatory than other, but because we see in the seventh century a watershed dividing Late Antiquity from the medieval period; as the border line we shall take the year 610, the inthronization of Herakleios. It falls on p. 300 and divides the whole bulk of the Chronography into two more or less equal parts.

5In the first section, the term polis is often used in a generic manner: αἱ πόλεις, (p. 115.25, 118.14, 256.10), poleis and «lands» (p. 251.30), polis and eparchia (p. 28.28), poleis and villages, komai (p. 82.31), the poleis of the empire (p. 220.5), 50 Roman poleis (p. 277.7-8), «many poleis» (p. 138.1), «each polis» (p.102.26), «the whole polis» p (p. 110.23, 111.4-5, 172.15), other poleis (p. 172.33, 231.31), various poleis (p. 230.16), neighboring poleis (p. 205.25, 236.20), fortified poleis (p. 237.14), to plunder poleis (p. 260.26), everywhere in poleis (p. 170.26), veterans in poleis (p. 274.13), bishops appointed to poleis (p. 107.13), message sent to bishops in poleis (p. 157.24), travelling across poleis (p. 171.31), eastern poleis (p. 76.16), poleis in Libya (p. 117.6, 207.24), 40 poleis in Dalmatia (277.21). To this we, probably, may add the list of cities captured by Attila: Ratiaria, Naissus, Philippopolis, Arkadiopolis, Constantia «and other numerous polismata» (p. 102.21-22).

6Various individual cities are characterized as poleis: Adramyton (Hadrumetum in Africa) (p. 209.25, 214.11), Alexandria (p. 110.25, 114.11, 291.17, just polis 152.1), Amida (p. 20.23, 145.9, 254.28, cf. 145.13), Anastasioupolis granted «the rights of polis» (p. 150.28-29), Antioch or the polis of the Antiochaeans (p. 51.5, 54.12, 133.5-6, 165.19, 172.2 and 32, 178.7, cf. 172.3, 10 and 32, 173.13, 177.28, 178.7, 247.9, 296.25), Apameia «and other poleis* (p. 218.19-20), «Apeiria» (Apiaria in Moesia) (p. 258.22; phrourion in Simokattes), Aquileia (p. 107.5), Aurelia in Gallia (p. 105.7), Baugais in Africa, «a deserted polis» (p. 206.1), «Beroia» (Verona) and Bringai (Brixia), «Gothic» towns in Italy (p. 237.14-15), Beronike in Africa (p. 208.19), the «great» Berytus (p. 39.4-5), Beste in Africa (p. 208.25), Bosphoros (p. 175.28, 176.10, cf. 175.30, 176.2), Bostra (p. 48.26-27), Botrys in Phoenicia (p. 227.25, cf. 1.28), Bousiris (Theophanes writes Obousiris) in Egypt (p. 6.24), Carthage (the wording is imprecise: once Theophanes speaks of «the polis Kartha-genna [p. 186.25], in other cases the term polis accompanies the toponym Karchedon [p. 191.28, 194.11 and 15, 195.11 and 16, 203.16 and 19, 214.17]), Caesarea of Cappadocia (p. 48.4-6), Caesarea of Palestine (p. 230.6-8), Chalkis in Syria (p. 129.31), Constantia in Phoenicia, previously Antarados (p. 38.8-9), Constantia in Mesopotamia (p. 260.18-20, previously Antoni[n]oupolis - p. 36.11), Daras (p. 180.26-27, 261.32), Diocaesarea in Palestine (p. 40.23), Doliche in Mesopotamia (p. 67.8), Drizipera, defined as polisma (p. 269.24) and also as polis and asty (p. 279.9-10), Dyrrachion (p. 168.8), the «great and famous» polis Edessa (p. 171.19, cf. 146.6, 171.24), Germia in Galatia (p. 240.12-13), Jerusalem («the Holy City» p. 118.25), Justinoupolis, previously Anazarhos in Cilicia (p. 171.14-17), Lepte in Africa (p. 191.18), Leptimagna in Africa (p. 208.3), Membresa in Africa (p. 203.25), Negra, polis of the Himyarites (p. 169.14), Neocaesarea (p. 144.6-9), the polis of the Nikomedaeans (p. 33.17-18) or Nikomedeia (p. 45.25-26), the «great» polis Nisibis - (p. 35.3-5, 39.12-16, 53.32. polis Nisibis - p. 145.13, just polis - p. 35.3, 39.13-16, 23 and 28), Novae in Moesia (p. 274.1), also called asty (p. 275.2, de Boor identifies with her enigmatic Obaisipolis, defined as polis as well [p. 236.25-27]), Noceria (Nocera) in Italy (p. 143.13-14), Palmyra (p. 174.13-15), Pla-centia in Cisalpine Gallia (p. 109.20-21). Pompeioupolis in Mysia (p. 216.17-19), Ravenna (p. 76.22, 119.26, cf. 84.27). Rome (p. 14.11-13, 76.26-27, 77.3-4, 84.14-16, 109.1-2), Salamis on Cyprus (p. 29.25, 37.15), Salon[a] in Dalmatia (p. 10.13), Samosata (p. 59.13-14 and 21, 146.7), Scythopolis in Palestine (p. 107.14-15), Seleukeia in Syria (p. 38.6-7), Serdica (p. 116.30-31), Sidema in Lycia (p. 104.4-5), Singidunum (p. 253.8, 277.5-6; asty in Simokattes), Sirmium (p. 252.32-33), Syllektos in Africa (p. 191.3, 12-13), Tarsus (p. 128.32-129.1), Thessalonike (p. 72.20-21), Tomis in Moesia (p. 257.22, 278.16), Tripolis in Kyrene (just polis - p. 208.7). Five cities are characterized as metropoleis, provincial capitals: besides Edessa, metropolis of Osroene (p. 171.20), and Anazarbos, metropolis of the Cilicia II, named polis as well (see above), here belong Caesarea, metropolis of Mauretania II (p. 207.27), Corinth, metropolis of Hellas (p. 168.10-11), and Itiphis, metropolis of Mauretania I (p. 207.26).

7In the so-called original section of the Chronography, the polis in a generic meaning often appears linked with the «land» (p. 303.30, 325.7-8, 403.26) or villages, komai (p. 307.21, 316.4, 317.24-25, 499.20) and choria (p. 412.13). Also there are districts «across the sea» (περατιὰ μέρη) and their poleis (p. 316.27), poleis deserted after Persian raids (p. 322.20), the remote poleis from Mopsuestia to Fourth Armenia (p. 363.17), all the poleis (p. 375.7, 414.4), «each in his polis» (p. 434.4-5), Syrian poleis (p. 399.21), renowned poleis in Syria (p. 426.8, cf. 1.18). Following individual poleis are mentioned: Bostra and «other poleis» (p. 336.30-337.1); Edessa, Jerusalem and «other poleis» (p. 327.22); Edessa, Alexandria and «other poleis» (p. 322.15); Adrianople (p. 350.21-25), Alexandria (p. 416.14), Amorion (p. 387.3-6, cf. 1.12 and 18), Arados (see below), Charran, famous polis in Mesopotamia (p. 414.7-8, 419.6), Cherson (p. 479.4 and 20-21, cf. 1.6), Chrysopolis (p. 479.18-20), Dastagerd in Persia (p. 322.25, 323.2), Edessa (p. 404.11); the polis of the Emesians (p. 431.18), i.e. Emesa; the inhabitants of Emesa, Heliopolis and Damascus (p. 422.5-6, cf. 1.20-23); Gazakos in Persia (p. 307.24 and 31, cf. 1.29); Jerusalem, «the Holy City» (p. 452.23, 484.15-16, 499.21-22); Kyzikos (p. 417.32), Nicaea (p. 385.27, 462.20 and 28, «the polis of the holy fathers [of the Oecumenical Council]* p. 406.19, the polis of the Nicaeans - p. 464.20), Ninevia (p. 318.2), Pergamon (p. 390.29), Seleukeia-Guedeser in Persia (p. 323.17-18), Thebarmais in Persia (p. 308.3-4, cf. 1.8), megalopolis Thessalonike (p. 461.5), Tiphilios (Tiflis-Tbilisi?) (p. 316.7), Tripolis in Phoenicia (p. 345.18-23), Tyana «deserted until our day» (p. 377.10-12).

8Before we move to the study of these lists, one observation must be made. The first list, that of the poleis in the compilatory part of the Chronography, differs but slightly from an analogous list established by Čičurov (p. 146, appendix 9); at any rate both lists contain approximately the same number of poleis: 61 in Čičurov’s and 64 in my list; hereto we may add three metropoleis and five polismata that will make 72 cities. There is, however, a striking difference in our calculations of poleis in the so-called original section of the book: Čičurov counts (p. 145, appendix 7) only seven provincial poleis, whereas my slate has 28. How can this difference be explained?

9First of all, we may suggest that Čičurov counted only «the cities of the empire called πόλις» as he states on p. 57, but this suggestion does not work: we find in his appendix 7 Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Emesa that were lost by the empire in the seventh century. Another explanation is that Čičurov restricted the second section to the period from the eighth century on (or even from the mid-eighth century on), the earliest reference in the appendix being to p. 426, the reign of Constantine V. This suggestion, however, produces a difficulty creating a gap between the two sections: the latest reference in his appendix 9 is to p. 296, the reign of Phokas, and thus almost a century and a half remain outside examination. Moreover, in my list Amorion appears in the context of the reign of Theodosios III, Kyzikos that of Justinian II, Pergamon that of Leo III, Tyana that of Constantine V, and Cherson even that of Nikephoros I. The difference between the two parts is not that drastic as Čičurov hypothesized, but nevertheless it is substantial.

10One point, however, needs clarification: Theophanes drew upon certain sources which in part have survived; if they have not survived for many chapters of the second half of the book, it does not mean that the historian was here «original»- he obviously used some common sources (or a source) with the patriarch Nikephoros; the terminology Theophanes has used was not necessarily his own. The choice of poleis in the first list is very indicative in this respect: the relatively great number of African and Syro-Mesopotamian poleis does not prove that the urban net was in the Late Roman empire more dense in Africa and Mesopotamia than, say, in Asia Minor - it only reflects the fact that Theophanes lavishly used Prokopios’ books on the wars against the Vandals and Persians. But does this fact impair our conclusions? Did the African and Mesopotamian «urban preponderance» change the general attitude of Theophanes toward the term polis? Not at all. Whether it was Theophanes who applied the term polis in the first half of his book more frequently than in the second half, or whether Byzantine historians (his sources) were more likely to employ this term for the late Roman cities than for the Byzantine towns, makes no difference: the term polis was more popular in (or for) the fourth-sixth centuries than in (for) the following period.

  • 5 See Čičurov, Mesto «Chronografii» Feofana (op. cit.), p. 145, app. 6. The list encompasses only th (...)

11Theophanes applies the term polis not only to provincial centers but to Constantinople as well5. I noticed the following cases in the first half of the book: p. 23.23 and 30, 28.26 and 27, 29.21, 42.32, 44.2, 58.24, 61.14, 65.28, 68.7, 75.25, 76.13, 78.31, 79.6, 17 and 23, 93.7, 96.33, 97.1, 102.5, 105.12, 117.28 and 31, 122.25, 126.5, 127.14, 131.11, 160.17, 181.27, 186.1, 233.11 and 16, 235.1 and 5, 239.7, 242.27, 253.25, 254.6 and 27, 262.13, 271.12, 274.31, 279.16 and 20, 283.13, 288.15, 291.3, 298.24. In the second part of the Chronography, Constantinople appears as polis in following cases: p. 302.1, 313.2, 315.10 and 13, 316.17 and 21, 328.2, 10 and 14, 331.3, 352.20, 370.27 and 29, 371.4. 374.19 and 22, 375.1, 376.29, 377.9 and 28, 380.7-9, 382.23, 384.8 and 12, 385.25 and 31, 386.2 (twice) and 5, 395.19, 396.1 and 13, 397.7, 8 and 20, 398.1 and 25, 400.22, 405.29, 412.12 and 17. 415.3, 15, 18 and 21, 419. 13 and 26, 420.1, 12 and 27, 429. 22 and 24, 433.11, 434.21 and 26, 435.1 and 2, 436.21, 437.25, 440.15 and 24, 441.11, 442.25, 443.18, 444.18, 447.8, 16 and 24, 449.14, 462.8, 13 and 16, 466.27, 468.8, 469.12, 471.1, 13 and 27, 472.15, 476.20 and 25, 478.28, 481.26, 484.27, 499.29, 500.5, 501.3, 502.1, 13, 20, 23 and 31, 503.14. Thus we have 49 cases when Constantinople is called polis in the first section of the Chronography and almost twice as many, 93, in the second part (the latter figure differs substantially from that in Čičurov who counted only 37 cases). The difference becomes even more drastic if we count the cases, in which the historian names Constantinople the royal polis, in the first section Constantinople is called «the royal city» (βασιλεύoυσα or βαιλὶς [πόλις]) but few times (p. 42.30, 69.10, 75.22, 107.1, 189.25, 254.27); not only Constantinople but the Persian capital is titled here the royal city (p. 82.20 and 26). In the second section we have following references to Constantinople as «the royal city»: p. 303.9, 306.20, 328.13-14, 374.8 and 16, 384.6 and 25, 385.1-2, 395.16, 398.8-9, 405.5 and 19, 423.5, 429.28, 444.17, 449.2, 458.26. 461.17-18, 463.6, 474.23, 480.2, 485.12-13, 486.1, 487.21, 489.25, 494.10, 496.17 and 24, 502.7, 503.8-9. Again, my tally is a little higher than Čičurov’s (first of all, in the first 120 pages of the second section): it contains 30 cases against 19, and it is five times longer than the number of references to the royal polis in the first section.

  • 6 On the kastron see T. E. Gregory, Kastro and Diateichisma as Responses to Early Byzantine Frontier (...)

12Theophanes uses, besides polis (and polisma), some other terms to designate settlements: chorion and kome were used for villages, proasteion could mean both a suburb and an estate; analysis of the terminology of rural settlements must be a subject of a separate article. The term πολίχνη is extremely rare: Theophanes speaks of a polichne called Kastellion and located on an island of Arados (p. 344.3-4); it is not clear whether the polis [of Arados] mentioned several lines below (1.7 and 12-14) is identical to Kastellion or Kastellion only formed a [fortified?] part of Arados. More often we meet terms that have the connotation of «fortress, stronghold»: κάστον, καστέλλιον, ὀχύρωμα and ϕρούριον. Let us begin with the kastron6.

13Kastra are mentioned only twice in the earlier half of the Chronography: the so-called kastron Bedzadbe (p. 46.9-10) and «four Persian kastra» (p. 179.26, from Malalas, p. 435.15). From the seventh century on, kastra become common. Theophanes employs the word in a generic sense: he knows «our kastra» (p. 387.29, cf. 389.8) and relates that Constantine V built kastra (p. 447.9), Leo IV commanded to fortify kastra and appointed archons to kastra (p. 452.8 and 9); he also narrates that the Bulgarians conquered kastra and villages of the «Romans» (p. 359.18-19); that the patrikios John liberated all the African kastra (p. .370.12); that Nikephoros I and the Arabs agreed not to fortify kastra. but the emperor immediately broke the accord and started constructing kastra (p. 482.18 and 19); there were many kastra in Cilicia (p. 377.20-21) and in the Crimea (p. 377.30, 378.1 and 21. .379.12), in Thrace (p. 395.19) and in Bulgaria (p. 429.26); Constantine VI led to Constantinople «thousands» of inhabitants of «their kastron» in Armeniakon (p. 469.11-12). The historian names many individual kastra: Anchia-los (p. 376.16-17 and 24), Apollonia(s] (p. 465.8, near the capital- p. 375.1-2), Ateous, occupied by the Arabs (p. 407.2), Charsianon (p. 409.25), Germanikeia (p. 451.20 and 22). «the strongly fortified kastron» Herakleos seized by the Arabs (p. 482.5), Kamachon captured by the Arabs (p. 469.16). Markellai on the border with Bulgaria (p. 467.28), Mistheia and «other kastra» in Pisidia (p. 382.28-29). Nakoleia in Phrygia (p. 456.22; the site is mentioned in the «compilatory section» [p. 55.29] but not defined as kastron), Pouzanes in Opsikion (p. 420.14), Probaton in Thrace (p. 467.8, 496.3), Semalouos in Armeniakon (p. 453.21), Sideron on the Caucasus (p. 393.28-29, cf. 394.5, 9, 14 etc; Theophanes emphasizes that it was fortified - 1.12; is it different from Sideroun captured by the Arabs? - p. 411.11), Sision in Cilicia (p. 372.24), Sykes in Isauria (p. 445.17; its harbor - 1.23), Thebason in Asia Minor (p. 469.20).

14The difference between the two parts of the Chronography so far as the use of the term kastron is concerned is drastic: instead of two accidental mentions in the first half of the book, the second half contains 13 «generic» mentions and names 17/18 individual fortresses. While the use of the term polis for the designation of provincial towns or cities diminished substantially, the term kastron became common.

  • 7 R. Janin, Constantinople byzantine, Paris 1964, p. 454.

15The term kastellion appears infrequently, and therefore conclusions remain questionable, even though they do not contradict observations regarding the term kastron. Theophanes names one kastellion Papyrion in the first part of the book (p. 127.8, 128.31-32, 132.14), and in the second half he speaks of Amaseia «together with other kastellia» seized by Maslamas (p. 382.8); of kastellia in Galatia (p. 396.2-3); and of the kastellion Strongylon in Constantinople (p. 448.18-19), called as well Kyklobion.7 On the other hand, the term phrourion appears predominantly in the first half of the Chronography: Theophanes conveys that Attila conquered every polis and phrouria [in Thrace] except Adrianople and Herakleia (p. 102.26-103.1); he mentions phrouria in Persia (p. 148.11) and African phrouria (p. 207.9), gives names of several phrouria: Athyras near Constantinople (p. 103.2), Beioudes and Mazaron in Persia (p. 259.10-11), Petra in Asia (p. 150.21-22), Petra in Lazica (p. 229.17), Zerboule and Iaudas in Africa (p. 206.10-12). In the second half of the book, I noticed only one phrourion, located on Rhodes (p. 483.7).

16If phrourion is typical of the first section, ochyroma appears there infrequently: Theophanes narrates only that the Romans, afraid of the Persian invasion, hid in ochyromata (p. 222.3). In the second section we meet Bulgarian ochyromata (p. 433.4, 467.30) and the kastron Probaton (see above) with «some other ochyromata» (p. 496.3-4). The data are too insignificant for a substantiated conclusion.

17Summing up, we may say that the term polis for provincial urban centers is more common in the first section of the Chronography than in the second part (64 /72 to 28); on the contrary, the ratio is reversed so far as Constantinople is concerned (49 to 93); even more drastic is the distinction between the use of terms designating Constantinople as «the royal polis» (or «the Queen of cities») - 6 to 30; finally, the term kastron, almost unknown in the first section becomes significant in the second part: 2 to 17/18, even if we omit «generic cases». Other terms for fortresses are too infrequent to draw conclusions; we only have to admit that Theophanes was aware of late Roman strongholds called phrouria. The expansion of the term kastron means not the invention of fortresses but, at least in the vision of our historian, the partial replacement of the ancient polis by a new form of city-like settlement. All the figures, of course, are more or less approximate as the comparison of my lists with those established by Čičurov demonstrates; final results will be possible only when an exhaustive concordance to Theophanes is composed.

  • 8 Nikephoros Patriarch of Constantinople, Short History, ed. C. Mango, Washington 1990 (CFHB 13). Th (...)
  • 9 Čičurov, Mesto «Chronografii» Feofana, p. 144 f., appendix 5, already gathered some material relat (...)

18Is this perception of the urban evolution from polis to kastron the personal view of Theophanes or does it depend on the change of his sources? It is well known that few sources are available for the second (the allegedly «original») part of his book, and not all the sources survived for the first section. But fortunately we have the Short Chronicle (Breviarium) by the patriarch Nikephoros that encompasses the period of 610-769 and is based primarily on the same sources as Theorjhanes’ Chronography8 Let us survey the urban terminology of the Breviarium.9

  • 10 Ibid., p. 145, appendix 5 covers them under a misleading title «Constantinople in the Breviarum of (...)

19Nikephoros speaks generically of poleis in Persia (par. 12.42) and Syria (par. 69.3-4), of Byzan-tion and «other poleis and chorai» (http://par.b3.5-6). and of the conquest of poleis (par. 52.7); he also lists the following towns as poleis: Alexandria («Alexander’s polis») (par. 50.2, 68.7-8), Amastris (par. 45.31), Amorion (par. 64.41-42), Anchialos (par. 43.3 and 8, 76.11-12), Carthage (par. 41.8), Caesarea of Cappadocia ( «Caesar’s polis») (par. 2.12-13), Chalcedon (par. 6.8-9), Cherson (par. 42.31-32 and 33, 45.44, 58, 61 and 65; just polis -par. 45.43 and 50), Ephesus (par. 72.8: archbishop of the polis of the Ephesians), Germanikeia (par. 67.3), Herakleia fin Thrace] (par. 10.11), Kyzikos (par. 65.9), Melitene (par. 70.3, 73.3), Mesembria (par. 36.12), Mesembria and Medeia (par. 74.14), Nicaea, main (προκαθεζομνη) polis of Bithynia (par. 61.4-5, just polis -par. 51,2, 66.16), Nikomedia (par. 66.12), Pergamon (par. 53.2-3, 5 and 12), Selembria (par. 10.15-16), Sinope (par. 49.6), Syllaion (par. 72.10), Theodosioupolis (par. 73.3-4), Thessalonike (par. 38.7-8), Tyana (par. 44.4). We see that Nikephoros mentions 24 individual poleis (Čičurov does not separate the data referring to individual poleis10 and lists summarily all the mentions of the term, that hinders comparison with the list of Theophanes’ towns; Čičurov’s list contains 44 items). The list seems to be commensurate with that in the Chronography (28 individual poleis) but we must take into consideration that the Breviarium is much shorter: 70 pages against 200 (the pages of Mango’s edition seem at the first sight to be smaller than those of de Boor but they are not: in average each contains 280 words against 240 in de Boors); thus the «density» of poleis in the Breviarium is approximately three times higher than in the Chronography. The difference becomes even more striking when we notice that in the second part of Theophanes only nine of 28 poleis (Adrianople, Amorion, Cherson, Chrysopolis, Kyzikos, Nicaea, Pergamon, Thessalonike and Tyana) can be considered Byzantine towns - others are Persian, African, Italian; contrariwise, in the Breviarium only Alexandria, Carthage and possibly Melitene and Germanikeia are urban centers outside Byzantium (all the shifts of the frontier considered). We are coming to the final ratio: 21x3 to 9=7, that makes an enormous difference.

20Nikephoros often calls Constantinople polis: par. 1.20 and 21, 2.1, 4.26, 7.8, 8.5, 10.31, 12.10. 13.24. 26, 32 and 38, 19.4, 24.4, 30.16, 21 and 30, 26.11 and 21, 30.30, 31.1 and 21, 31.30-31, 40.23, 41.23, 26, 28 and 30, 42.45, 48 (twice) and 64, 45.7, 39 and 84. 46.6, 47.7, 48.1 and 17. 49.11-12, 14 and 16. 51.7, 13 and 16. 52.3, 57.15. 60.13. 62.1-2 and 3. 63.15, 64.12, 34 and 36, 66.3, 4 and 8. 74.44 and 47, 81.24, 83.20 and 22-23, 84.17, 86.3. Il makes 64 cases, slightly more than in Čičurov’s calculation (61 items). Three times (and only at the beginning) Nikephoros calls Constantinople asty (par. 1.11-12, 2.25 and 34) and eight times «the royal [polis]» (par. 8.14, 42.44, 49.6, 52.8, 54.3, 56.4, 60.12, 67.4). We can see that the application of the term polis (with asty) to Constantinople is twice as «dense» in Nikephoros (67 cases) as in Theophanes (93, but the number divided into three gives only 31); the terms for «the royal polis» are more or less commensurate (8 in Nikephoros against 30:3 = 10 in Theophanes).

21As we have seen, Theophanes practically ignored the term πόλισμα but Nikephoros used it eight times. Moreover, Theophanes did not draw a line between polisma, polis and asty, applying all three terms to the same town Drizipera (see above); in the Breviarium, however, polisma is a settlement of a lower rank than polis: Nikephoros never names individual polismata but always mentions them as a group and as an appendage to a larger town or city. He speaks of polismata surrounding Carthage (par. 41.15 ef. 1.9), Cherson (par. 45.22), Mesembria and Anchialos (par. 82.2), polismata in Thrace (par. 54.3, 73.2), numerous «Roman» polismata in the area of Pergamon (par. 53.1-2), Misth[e]ia and other polismata (par. 47.13). But if the polisma in Nikephoros is a settlement of a lower rank than the polis, is it not possible to identify it as the kastron of Theophanes? And in fact Theophanes uses the term kastron where in the Breviarium we find polisma: «all the kastra of Africa» (p. 370.12) he says instead of the polismata around Carthage; kastra are in the area of Cherson (p. 377.30); Misth[e]ia is accompanied by «other kastra» (p. 382.29), and the Bulgarians demanded tribute «for the kastra built» in Thrace (p. 429.26).

22The term phrourion is used in the Breviarium in a different way. Nikephoros speaks, at least once, generically of villages and phrouria attacked by the Bulgarians (par. 76.7), but usually he deals with individual phrouria: Philagrios is said to have been exiled to the phrourion called Septai (Ceuta) in Africa (par. 30.8); Justinian II fled to the phrourion called Doros in the land of the Goths (par. 42.6-7); Artabazdos found refuge in the phrourion called Pouzane (par. 66.19), probably located near Nicaea; there was a battle at the phrourion called Markellai on the Bulgarian frontier (par. 73.17); some lumps of ice drifted to «the strongly fortified phrourion» Daphnousia in Pontus (par. 74.31-32); the phrourion called Galata was on the opposite shore from the Acropolis (par. 74.45-46). All the phrouria, save Daphnousia, in the Breviarium are introduced as «so-called» (λεγόμενα) that probably indicates that they were relatively humble and unknown; one of them, Pouzane, is defined in Theophanes (p. 420.14) as kastron. Finally, Nikephoros knows the term ὀχύρωμα but uses it infrequently while speaking of Bulgarian strongholds (par. 36.7) and of the fort of (or in?) the polis Mesembria (par. 36.14).

  • 11 Čičurov (ibid. p. 58) comes to a slightly different evaluation: according to him, it was Theophane (...)

23These observations lead to two conclusions. First of all, we notice a substantial distinction in the urban terminology used by the two historians: Nikephoros employs the term polis more «densely» than Theophanes relating both to the capital11 and especially to provincial towns of the empire; more important is their attitude toward the centers of the second rank: Theophanes (in the second half of the book) designates them primarily by the term kastron (and kastellion) not used by Nikephoros, whereas in the Breviarium polisma and to some extent phrourion serve as equivalent of the kastron; in the Chronography, on the other hand, phrourion appears mostly in the first section and polisma is extremely rare and identical to polis.

24We are accustomed to think of the historians of the period around 800 as compilers slavishly following their predecessors; it is an uncontestable merit of Čičurov’s monograph to emphasize individual features in Theophanes’ treatment and revision of his sources, and Čičurov distinguished, among other things, the treatment of geographical space in the Chronography and the Breviarium. While I doubt that the «space» difference was seminal and that Theophanes was more Constantinopolitan than Nikephoros, their «urban terminology» obviously was different, and this difference could not be based on their sources; this «terminological hue» (kastron against polisma) was the individual contribution of our authors.

25Secondly, their dealing with the «urban terminology» reveals the change in Byzantine urbanistic perception that took place in the seventh and eighth centuries. To begin with, the comparative analysis of two sections of the Chronography shows that some Byzantines (Theophanes or his sources) became reluctant to apply the term polis to provincial centers - the polis in the second part of the Chronography is mainly Constantinople or foreign towns; Nikephoros is more generous in allocating poleis in the Byzantine provinces. Both of them, however, toiled at creating (or elaborating) a specific term for a settlement differing from the polis, for the urban center of a lower rank: it was kastron in Theophanes and polisma and phrourion in Nikephoros.

  • 12 The Arabic original is unavailable to me. I used the French translation by M. J. de Goeje in Bibli (...)

26It is noteworthy that Ibn Khurdadbeh, who composed his Routes and Kingdoms in the second half of the ninth century (revision ca. 885), contrasted the polis and Stronghold as well;12 in his survey of Byzantine provinces he lists 10 fortresses in Thrace. 3 in Macedonia, 5 in Paphlagonia, 3 in Optimaton, 10 in Opsikion, 4 in Thrakesion, 34 in Anatolikon, 4 in Charsianon, 13 in Boukellarion, 16 in Armeniakon, 6 in Chaldia and 19 in Cappadocia, that makes in toto 127 strongholds. Only few «villes» are listed: the ruined city of Nikomedia in Optimaton, Nicaea in Opsikion, «ville fortifiée» Ephesus in Thrakesion, Amorion in Anatolikon, «chef-lieu Kharschana» in Charsianon, Ankyra and Samala in Boukellarion, Koloneia in Armeniakon, that makes eight poleis. The stronghold (kastron in Theophanes, polisma /phrourion in Nikephoros) became the leading form of urban settlement.

  • 13 Costantino Porfirogenito, De thematibus, ed. A. Pertusi, City of Vatican 1952 (Studi e Testi 160). (...)
  • 14 One of these repetitions is the quotation of several coastal cities both in the theme of Opsikion (...)

27Unlike Ibn Khurdadbeh (and Theophanes and Nikephoros), pseudo-Constantine Porphyrogenitos, the author of the Book of Themes (De thematibus)13 written in the mid-tenth century, envisages the Byzantine world as crammed with poleis: in the theme of Armeniakon he counts 19 poleis and a single phrourion (cap.II.58-67), in the theme of Thrakesion (or Asia) 20 poleis or even more (cap.III.33-40, cf. cap. XVI. 10-12), in the theme of Opsikion 10 «significant» (ἐπίσημοι) poleis (cap.IV.26-30), in the theme of Optimaton five «signif-icant» poleis (cap.V.15-18), in the theme of Boukellarion five poleis (cap.VI.19-2.3), in the theme of Paphlagonia six «significant» poleis (cap.VII.18-21), in the eparchia of Thrace or Europe 47 poleis (cap. 1.48-60), in the eparchia of Macedonia 57 poleis (cap.2.33-44), in the theme of Hellas 79 poleis (cap.5.10-13), in the theme of Dyrrachion 24 poleis (cap.9.1-8). Not in every theme is the number of poleis indicated, the author sometimes giving only the name of the provincial capital, such as Smyrna in the theme of Samos (cap.XVI. 16) or Dodo-na in Nikopolis (cap. 11.31); there is no total number of poleis in the theme of Seleukeia, but the writer says that Upper Seleukeia is called Dekapolis and lists 10 settlements forming this district (cap.XIII. 16-20); more complex is his description of the theme of Kibyrrheotai: without giving the total number, the author names ca. 30 poleis, as well as the polismation Syke and the small polismation Selinount (cap. XIV.27-29) and two harbors Laryma and Palaios (cap. XIV. 12 and 29). We may hypothesize that «Constantine’s» description is sometimes inaccurate: some poleis appear repeatedly in chapters on different themes,14 and it is very suspicious that Thrace, Macedonia and Hellas contain many more urban centers than the Asian provinces. The list is incomplete and in several themes no urban center at all is indicated. All this considered, «Constantine’s» empire is nevertheless that of poleis, whereas the kastra are exceptional and located predominantly in the West: besides a phrourion and two polismatia, mentioned above, he lists kastellia (in a general manner) in Mesopotamia (cap.IX.5) and kastra in Sicily (cap. 10.36), Longobardia and Calabria (more than 150-cap.11.32-34) as well as individual strongholds: Koloneia in the theme of the same name (cap.X.l), Ragusa (Dubrovnik) (cap. 11.23), and Bari in Longobardia (cap. 11.31 and 40).

28It goes without saying that the Book of Ceremonies is archaistic, based on late antique sources and by no means reflecting the Byzantine situation of the tenth century. But it obviously reflects the Byzantine view of this situation. The question arises whether Constantine was unique in carrying on this archaistic view.

  • 15 Theophanes Continuatus, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838, p. 3-211.
  • 16 Iosephi Genesii Regum libri quattuor, ed. A. Lesmüller and I. Thurn, Berlin - New-York 1978 (CFHB (...)
  • 17 F. Štejnman, O ličnosti avtora «Istorii carej» Genesija, VV 21, 1914, p. 15-44. Štejnman drew atte (...)
  • 18 See the recent article by Ja. N. Ljubarskij, Theophanes Continuatus und Genesios: das Problem eine (...)

29Two historians worked at the court of Constantine VII. One is known under the conventional name of the Continuator of Theophanes,15 another is usually called Joseph Genesios,16 even though there is no serious evidence to substantiate this name.17 The relation between the two is an object of a long dispute, and the theory «einer gemeinsamen Quelle»18 is probably its best solution. At any rate, the Continuator and «Genesios» cover approximately the same period of time, 813-886 (the end of this period, the reign of Basil I, is described in «Genesios» in a very concise manner, and in the Continuator it forms a separate section, the so-called Vita of Basil I, that I shall consider separately), and illuminate approximately the same events. Let us examine the urban terminology of both historians.

30The Continuator names Constantinople polis 29 times: ThC 17.20. 18.2 and 4, 30.15, 48.11. 59.12, 60.1, 6 and 14, 61.3, 63.14 and 19, 66.1, 12, 18, 20 and 22, 67.1, 68.18 and 21, 69.9, 88.5, 101.15, 115.11, 150.18, 153.14, 196.9, 197.2, 204.18. Once he uses the term megalopolis (p. 51.1). twice «the Queen of cities» (p. 154.14, 163.19), and 15 times «the royal [city]»: p. 56.9, 57.4, 58.20, 65.17, 93.18, 111.17, 114.22, 120.19, 123.13, 124.15, 179.12, 183.14, 188.17, 192.12, 196.13. The first impression of this list is the «growing respect» toward Constantinople: in the first half of the chronicle, the city is called plainly polis 23 times (almost 80% of cases), and in the second half the more pompous expressions (the Queen of cities and the royal city) appear 12 times (70 % of cases).

31«Genesios» mentions Constantinople as polis 17 times (Genes, p. 4.46, 13.90, 27.15, 21 and .32, 28.37, 41, 54 and 59, 28.65, 29.74, 82 and 6, 31.49, .39.78, 51.37 and 43): we must add here three cases when the author speaks of «the polis of Constantino» (p. 27.27-28, 37.31, 39.74). The term polis appears infrequently in the second half of the book. The expression «the Queen of citics» comes much more frequent than in (he Continuator: p. .32.76, 40.24. 43.20, 45.57-58, 72.50-51, 74.14, 79.57, 82.42, 84.21, 90.15. i.e. 10 times; as royal (city] and Constantine’s royal city the capital appears seven times (p. 25.52 and 65, 26.95, 40.22, 76.59 and 70, 85.54), significantly less than in the Continuator. We may state that «the Queen of cities» was «Genesios’s» favorite rendering, whereas the Continuator preferred «the royal city». It is hard to decide whether this difference is accounted for by the individual taste or whether this distinction has already existed in their source[s]. As in the Continuator, these sumptuous expressions are rare in Genesios’ first section, devoted to the events before Michael III (the history of Michael begins on p. 36).

32Now we turn to provincial poleis. The Continuator employs this word generically: poleis will perish in a civil war, he says (ThC, p. 17.21-22); Leo V built anew poleis in Thrace and Macedonia (p. 30.10-11); Thomas (the Slav] demolished poleis (p. 53.18); the author speaks of unexpected transfers (µεταβoλαί) of poleis» (p. 73.9) and of the emperor Michael V’s coming back «from the poleis on the mainland » (p. 71.16-17); Theophilos prohibited monks from entering poleis (p. 100.10), and during an invasion of Syria his army destroyed two unnamed poleis (p. 124.10). On Crete the Arabs occupied 29 poleis (p. 77.13). The Continuator names also several individual poleis: Amastris (p. 136.2), Amotion (p. 42.9. cf. 130.2), Chandax (p. 80.6), Cherson (p. 123.20). Jerusalem (the Holy City - p. 106.9), Mesembria (p. 24.17), Panion and Herakleia (p. 71.15), Samara on the Euphrates river (p. 133.19-20), Samosata (p. 176.7-8), Sinope (p. 112.12). Syracuse (p. 8.3.2). Sarkel is also named polis (p. 123.9) but at the same time the Continuator defines it as kastron (p. 122.21). It is noteworthy that the Continuator not only avoids naming Thessalonike as polis but even describes her as a rural center: when Leo the Mathematician, narrates the Continuator, came to Thessalonike, the land was barren, brought no fruit at all, and famine was imminent (p. 191.7-8); Leo indicated the proper time to go sowing, and the soil produced an abundant crop, so that the inhabitants were provided with victuals for many years (p. 191.14-17).

33«Genesios» seems to be more interested in provincial poleis. Several times he also employs the word in a generic way: the «Scythians» were unable to seize «the Roman poleis» with the help of siege machines (p. 30.35-36); the civil war «ravaged in poleis and in the land» (Genes., p. 21.29-30); the Byzantines plundered «Arab lands and poleis» (p. 50.17); the African Arabs raided numerous poleis in Sicily and Longohardia (p. 82.45); 29 Cretan poleis were captured (p. 33.17-18); Thracian poleis supported the emperor against Thomas [the Slav] (p. 27.12). «Genesios» names the following individual poleis: Amastris (p. 43.88-90), Amorion (p. 45.58. 46.85 and 89), Ankyra (p. 86.86), Armenion in Thessaly (p. 21.44), Arkadioupolis (p. 30.29 and 34, 31.40 and 49), Chandax on Crete (p. 33.14-16), Germanikeia (p. 82.39), Gortyna (p. 33.28), Panion (p. 31.64-65 and 69), Samosata (p. 65.14-15, 82.39), Sinope (p. 38.52, 40.28), Sozopetra, polis of the [Arab] emir (p. 47.3-4), Syracuse (p. 83.80), the deserted polis Tephrika (p. 85.65). Even though the number of individual poleis in both authors is approximately the same (13 in the Continuator, 14 in «Genesios»), we have to take into account that the text of the Continuator is two times as long as that of «Genesios». It is noteworthy that both historians name extremely few poleis in the second half of their narratives, and almost all these poleis are non-Byzantine: Germanikeia, Samara, Samosata, Sarkel, Syracuse, Tefrika.

34Both historians use other terms to characterize towns. The Continuator names Sarkel indiscriminately polis and kastron (see above). Bizye is called πτόλισμα and πτολιεθρον (ThC, p. 68.6-7, 69.6), Euchaita πολίχνη (p. 11.6); some polichnia were located near Constantinople (p. 59.5), and Michael II ordered to draw an iron chain from the Acropolis to a polichnion situated on the other side [of the Golden Horn] (p. 57.15; «Genesios» employs in the parallel passage the term phrourion - Genes. 27.19-20). The polichnia Choirea and Satiana were evidently small, the Continuator dubs them «[set up] above the clouds» (ThC, p. 73.3), meaning probably that they were positioned high in mountains. The stronghold Loulon in Cilicia is defined as ἔρυµα and phrourion (p. 197.10-14). Bizye is polisma in «Genesios» as well (Genes., p. 31.46-47), and he names polichne a small settlement Geron [Mar Adata] (p. 51.36 and 41).

35Our analysis of the Continuator and «Genesios» permits the conclusion that both historians became more interested in the capital in the second parts of their works. Since their sumptuous epithets of Constantinople are dissimilar, we may hypothesize that this growing interest was independent: the more they approached contemporaneity, the more their attention became focussed on the capital. On the other hand, provincial towns show a tendency to disappear from the second half of either book, being overshadowed by Constantinople. The provincial towns (especially in «Genesios») are encompassed predominantly by the term polis (as in the Book of Ceremonies!); other terms (polichne, polisma, kastron, phrourion) are seldom used, inconsistent and in some cases overlap with polis. The clear distinction between polis and kastron as it was in Theophanes is obscured in the works of the tenth-century historians and even replaced by the opposition «the capital - the provincial center».

  • 19 Theophanes Continuatus, p. 211-353.

36The author of the Vita of Basil I,19 whether he was Constantine VII or somebody else at his court, was a contemporary of the Continuator and «Genesios». He speaks several times of the capital as polis (ThC. p. 221.22, 230.14, 248.11, 266.13), usually with a special connotation: in the polis and outside (p. 340.1-2), in front of the polis (p. 245.8), many regions of the polis (p. 261.3), market places in the polis (p. 303.11), the polis and the palace (p. 344.22-345.1), Basil I restored about a hundred churches in the polis (p. 339.20). In toto it makes 10 cases. More common in the Vita are other terms and formulas to define Constantinople: ἂστυ (p. 271.14), admirable Constantinople (p. 215.6), chief (άρχουσα) of all the poleis (p. 223.5-6), and traditional expressions «the Queen [of cities]» (p. 213.12, 223.9, 240.16, 276.18, 300.9, 308.18, 349.21, 350.13) and «the royal [polis]» (p. 213.8 and 14, 221.3, 13 and 23, 222.22, 227.20, 228.16, 229.8, 238.10 and 18, 240.17, 243.18, 256.11, 260.5, 271.3, 284.2, 289.21, 294.2, 307.7, 309.9, 312.1, 317.16 and 23, 338.23). Constantinople is named archousa, basileuousa and basilis 34 times, i.e. three times more often than polis alone. The sumptuous expressions in the Vita have a higher relative frequency than in the Continuator and «Genesios».

37We might have hypothesized that an author so profoundly respectful toward the capital would neglect provincial towns, but this is not the case. Several times the panegyrist of Basil I speaks about poleis in a generic way categorizing, for instance, chorai, topoi and poleis as main types of settlement in the empire (p. 258.22-23); he knows various poleis of the Dalmatians (p. 289.9), poleis in Italy (p. 295.12), coastal poleis in Syria (p. 308.9-10), Manichaean poleis (p. 283.18), and he states that Basil commissioned the depiction in the Kainourgion of the poleis he had conquered (p. 332.18-19). The contrast drawn by the author between the large and royal (βασιλευóµενoι) poleis and humble and ignoble towns is of particular importance; the distinction, however, is neither economic nor political but ethical: in the former righteous natures flourish, in the latter virtues fade and perish (p. 221.6-11). Numerous individual poleis appear in the history of Basil: Adata-Hadas (p. 281.2, 4, 10, 19 and 22, 282.1 and 15), Adrianople (p. 216.17), Amantias in Italy (p. 312.18, 313.8), Caesarea, the first polis of Cappadocia (p. 278.16-17), Euripos on Euboea (p. 299.1, also asty -p. 298.24), Germanikeia (p. 280.21), the Manichaean polis Katabatala (p. 278.8), the «populous polis» Melitene (p. 269.21-22, cf. 270.9 and 16, also asty - 1.8 and 12), Nike, polis in Macedonia (p. 214.5), Panormos and other Sicilian poleis (p. 304.21-22), Philippi, one of Macedonian poleis (p. 214.17-18), Ragousa-Dubrovnik, polis (p. 290.13) and metropolis of the whole tribe of the «Scy-thians» (p. 289.12), Syracuse, famous and brilliant polis (p. 310.16, cf. 1.11 and 14), asty (p. 310.13), metropolis of Sicily (p. 309.18), Taranta, the polis of the Ishmaelites (p. 267.20), Tephrika, the polis of Chrysocheir (p. 267.1 and 5, also asty - 1.9), the Arab polis Zapetra (p. 268.13), the unnamed polis of the Armenian Kourtikios (p. 268.6, see below); the polis attacked by the African Arabs (p. 297.7 and 8) is, probably, Capua or Beneventum (cf. p. 296.12); all in all 18 poleis against 13 in the Continuator (we have to take into consideration that the Continuator is more than 200 pages long, and the Vita has less than 150 pages of the same edition, that makes the approximate ratio 24/13; the «urban density» in the Vita doubles that of the Continuator).

38The term polichnion is not the Vita’s favorite - only Geron (called polichne in «Genesios» - see above) is given this designation (p. 281.5). On the other hand, both kastron and phrourion are more common in the text. The author applies the term kastron primarily to Italian towns; he speaks of 150 kastra in Italy (p. 292.18-19), of kastra in Calabria and Longobardia (p. 305.10-11), of kastra Capua and Beneventum (p. 295.5, cf. 296.16, 297.22), of kastra Bari in Longobardia (p. 290.19, 293.19), Taranto (p. 306.12-13), Tropas and St. Severina (p. 313.10-11). Sometimes Italian «strongholds» are described as poleis (see above). The term kastron is employed for some towns outside Italy: Euripos is not only polis and asty (see above) but kastron as well (p. 298.8, 10 and 12); other kastra are Naupaktos (p. 320.18), Melous (p. 278.6), Phalakrou (p. 279.2) and « the fortified stronghold » Loulon (p. 277.20).

39Phrouria are predominantly connected with the Armenian and Muslim worlds; the historian speaks plainly about the Hagaren phrouria and topoi (p. 283.11) and about phrouria [in the region] of Tarsus (p. 283.18). Individual phrouria in the Vita are Rhapsakion beyond the Euphrates (p. 269.15-16), Kourtikiou (cf. the polis of Kourtikios - see above), Chachon, Amer, Mourinix and Abdela demolished by Basil I (p. 269.19-20), Argaouth, Koutakiou, Stephanou and Rhachat (p. 270.21-22), Psilokastellion and Paramokastellion (p. 278.22-23) - all on the Syrian border, the Paulician forts Abara and Spathe (p. 267.15-16), and finally Plateia Petra (p. 240.22-23) in western Asia Minor. In sum, it makes 11 kastra and 15 phrouria (more than the poleis mentioned in the Vita), but only a few of them are Byzantine fortresses, the majority being located in Italy and in Syria. In general, the author of the Vita distinguishes the polis and the stronghold, but there are several cases when the terms overlap, and one and the same settlement is called asty, polis and fort.

  • 20 Leonis Diaconi Caloensis Historiae libri decern, ed. Ch. B. Hase, Bonn 1828, p. 3-178.
  • 21 See M. Ja. Sjuzjumov in Lev Diakon, Istorija, Moscow 1988, p. 156-160.

40The last historian to be examined in this article is Leo the Deacon.20 He wrote at the very end of the tenth century, and probably used a common source with John Skylitzes, who was a century younger than Leo. The character of this common source has not yet been clarified;21 at any rate, it could not be much older than Leo himself who described the events of 959-976.

41Speaking of Constantinople Leo uses three terms: three times polis (p. 69.16. 78.22, 158.11), six times ἄστυ (p. 64.7, 65.11, 83.23, 93.7, 94.17. 146.13) and 11 times βασιλεὐoµενoι (p. 44.22, 61.6, 74.21, 85.4, 107.10, 124.4, 165.19, 170.16, 173.18, 175.2, 177.20). As in the Vita of Basil I, the expression «the royal [city]» is predominant.

42The term asty, infrequent in the works of earlier historians, is employed by Leo to denote not only the capital but some provincial centers as well. In a generic way Leo mentions houses and ἄστη destroyed by a severe earthquake (p. 68.5): he names also many individual aste: Dorostolon (p. 144.9. 13 and 23. 145.4. 148.24, 149.16). Edessa (p. 71.2 and 9), Miepharkim-Martyropolis, famous for its wealth and - significantly ! - lifestock (p. 161.21-22). Mop-suestia (p. 53.19), Philippopolis (p. 104.6), Preslava (p. 1.33.17, 134.6. 9 and 17. 136.21). Tarsus (p. 51.23, 58.23. 59.19 and 23. 60.1). also called polisma (p. 51.15), Temenos on Crete, also defined as a well fortified ἔρυµα (p. 28.6-8); besides these towns, the capital of Crete is called the asty of the Cretans (p. 8.16. 11.19-20. cf. p. 11.4, 12.21, 14.1, 15.4, 7. 8 and 12. 16.7, 15 and 23, 17.5, 24.17, 25.16. 27.19, 28.1), and on the hill near Antioch Nikephoros Phokas built a strongly fortified asty (p. 74.15-16. cf. p. 82.10 and 17), also named phrourion (p. 74.18). In toto it makes ten aste, all of them located abroad, in Syria or Bulgaria; some of them are considered fortresses and equated with polismata, erymata and phrouria.

43The term polis seems even more common than asty. In a generic manner Leo describes the destruction of poleis during revolts (p. 116.21. cf. p. 169.19) and the escape from poleis and «lands» (chorai) (p. 169.10-11); Nikephoros Phokas demolished thousands (!) of inimical poleis (p. 56.2, cf. p. 33.10); there were poleis in Sicily (p. 66.15 and 19, contrasted with the chora - 1.20) and in Bulgaria (p. 139.1. cf. the poleis of the Mysians - p. 104.21, 105.10). Individual poleis in the History of Leo are the following: the polis of Adrian (p. 126.24), i.e. Adrianople. Antioch (p. 73.1 and 9, 81.23, 82.16 and 21), «famous and large» (p. 82.23), the fortified polis Burzo in Syria (p. 166.17-18), Ekbatana (Bagdad), described as the richest of the poleis that exist under the sun (p. 162.17-18), Emet in Syria (p. 161.19), the polis of Philip (p. 105.5. also the asty Philippopolis -see above), Preslava (p. 131.10, 135.3, 138.8 and 17, also an asty - see above), Tarsus (p. 56.1.3-14, 60.2, io and 20, 61.1 and 5), Tripolis in Syria (p. 71.14-15). In sum, nine towns are categorized as poleis. There is no consistency in the application of terms: the terms asty and polis are used for one and the same settlement, and poleis are both large cities such as Ekbatana or Antioch and insignificant townships like Emet or Burzo. Almost all poleis (except Adrianople) are Syrian and Bulgarian towns.

44Other terms for towns are relatively infrequent. Leo speaks in a generic manner about phrouria and ptolismata in Syria (p. 161.18), about Syrian ptolismata demolished by Nikephoros Phokas (p. 75.4), about ptolismata (including Abydos) conquered by the rebellious Bardas Phokas (p. 173.15). Leo relates that the Haga-renes of Tarsus counted on the strength (ἐρυµνóτης) of their polisma (meaning Tarsus) (p. 51.15-16). In another passage ptolisma appears in a similar context: the Cretan relied upon the strength (ἐρυµνóν) of their ptolisma (p. 15.15). The term is applied to relatively large urban centers, overlapping with such terms as polis and asty.

45Polichne is even rarer and less specific. Leo mentions coastal polichnai in the area of Tripolis (p. 168.9), a sentence that does not reveal the character or size of these settlements, and refers to a mythological polichne Myrmekion on the sea of Maeotis (p. 150.5-6). The term phrourion literally means fort, and Leo contrasts Antioch, the third largest polis of the oikoumene, with «the miserable phrourion» (p. 73.12-15), but at the same time the term is applied to some relatively large towns: Nikephoros Phokas attacked Adana. Anazarbos and more than 20 other phrouria in the area (p. 52.8-9); phrouria are such towns as Edessa (p. 70.14-18, 71.8), Membidge (p. 71.3, 165.21-22). «strong and impregnable » Apameia (p. 166.7), Abydos (p. 170.21, 174.10, also ptolisma - see above). Dorostolon (p. 77.9), and less known Arka (p. 71.17), Tyrannon (? Skylitzes [p. 293. 55] calls it Tyropoios) or Antigous (p. 122.2-3) in Asia Minor, Balaneiai in Phoenicia (p. 166.19). Defeated Bardas Phokas fled to a phrourion (p. 125.1, cf. 1.15. 16 and 24). Frequently Leo speaks of phrouria in plural: Leo Phokas demolished hostile phrouria (p. 19.18), the enemy retreated to phrouria (p. 29.11), but Nikephoros Phokas attacked them (p. 29.17) and captured more than 60 Arab phrouria (p. 30.4), seized Mopsuestia and adjoining phrouria (p. 55.2). He speaks of phrouria near Antioch (p. 73.1. cf. p. 72.19-20, 73.7, 75.5), in Palestine (p. 76.2), in Bulgaria (p. 62.12) and in the hands of rebels (p. 43.2).

46Let us draw some conclusions from this semi-statistical analysis of the works of several ninth- and tenth-century historians. While describing the events of the late Roman centuries, Theophanes (or rather his multiple sources) considered the polis as predominant (or even only) form of urban settlement; there was no cardinal distinction between the capital and the provincial center, the term «royal city» appearing extremely seldom. In the second half of the Chronography- (and in the work of the patriarch Nikephoros) we can observe a clear border line between the royal city (Constantinople), the polis and the stronghold, even though Theophanes and Nikephoros use different terms to denote the fort (probably, Theophanes’ kastron is a technical term, whereas Nikephoros’ polisma is an unsuccessful attempt to coin a word distinct from the traditional polis). The terminology of the tenth-century historians is less clear: here we notice, first of all, the phenomenon that can be defined as the «growing respect» toward the capital, that reaches its peak in the Vita of Basil I: the author practically ceases to consider Constantinople a plain polis and applies to her more sumptuous and prestigious applications - primarily of the type «the royal city», but also asty; the asty, however, did not work with Leo the Deacon, who has widely used it for provincial towns as well. All the historians of the tenth century tackled with the problem of the urban settlement of «the lower rank» (or the stronghold) but none of them attained the coherence and clarity we have seen in Theophanes: their terminology is shaky, they have no common denominator for the «stronghold», and they apply different designations to one and the same town. This oscillation is, to some extent, accounted for by the archaization of the world view typical of tenth-century encyclopedism, most consistently represented in the Book of Themes; the historians who were contemporaries of Constantine VII (or who, like Leo the Deacon, lived a generation or two afterward) felt the necessity to describe the new kind of urban settlement (they even underline, in some cases, the rural nature of these towns) but they were afraid to lose the «salvaging line» to the glorious past and stuck therefore to the term polis, even though they found poleis mostly beyond the state border, far from the milieu they knew well.


1 P. Magdalino, The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos. 1143-1180, Cambridge 1993, p. 50. The idea was brought forth 40 years ago (A. Kazhdan, Vizantijskie goroda v VII-XI vv., So-vetskaja archeologija 21, 1954, p. 164-188), and immediatly became the object of severe criticism -first of all by G. Ostrogorskij, Byzantine Cities in the Early Middle Ages, DOP 13, 1959, p. 47-66, reprinted in his Zur byzantinischen Geschichte, Darmstadt 1973, p. 119-141. Now it is almost a common opinion. Hélène Ahrweiler contributed much to the development of our knowledge of Byzantine fortresses: see, first of all, her L'Asie Mineure et les invasions arabes (viie-ixe siècles), RH 227, 1962, p. 28-32 (= Études sur les structures administratives et sociales de Byzance, London 1971, IX); Les forteresses construites en Asie Mineure face à l'invasion Seldjoucide, Akten des XI. internationalen Byzantinisten Kongresses: München 1958, Munchen 1960, p. 182-189 (ibid., XVII); Chôma-Aggélokastron; une forteresse byzantine, RÉB 24, 1966, p. 278-283 (ibid., X).

2 Theophanis Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, Leipzig 1883-85, repr. Hildesheim 1963. The text of Chronography occupies the first volume of the edition.

3 The question was raised by C. Mango, Who wrote the Chronicle of Theophanes?, ZRVI 18, 1978, p. 9-17; Mango's hypotheses was rejected by I. Čičurov, Feofan Ispovednik - pub-likator, redaktor, avtor?, VV 42, 1981, p. 78-87.

4 The main monograph on Theophanes is in Russian: I. Čičurov, Mesto «Chronografii» Feofana v rannevizantijskoj istoriografičeskoj tradicii (IV-načalo IX v.), Drevnejšie gosudarst-va na territorii SSSR 1981, Moscow 1983, p. 5-146.

5 See Čičurov, Mesto «Chronografii» Feofana (op. cit.), p. 145, app. 6. The list encompasses only the material of the second part of the Chronography.

6 On the kastron see T. E. Gregory, Kastro and Diateichisma as Responses to Early Byzantine Frontier Collapse, Byz. 62, 1992, p. 237 f.

7 R. Janin, Constantinople byzantine, Paris 1964, p. 454.

8 Nikephoros Patriarch of Constantinople, Short History, ed. C. Mango, Washington 1990 (CFHB 13). The book contains Greek text, translation, commentary and introduction.

9 Čičurov, Mesto «Chronografii» Feofana, p. 144 f., appendix 5, already gathered some material related to this theme.

10 Ibid., p. 145, appendix 5 covers them under a misleading title «Constantinople in the Breviarum of Nikephoros». Čičurov includes in this appendix also polismata. That is, as 1 shall try to demonstrate farther, methodologically incorrect, and accordingly incorrect is his assertion (p. 57) that polisma in the Breviarum is synonymical with polis.

11 Čičurov (ibid. p. 58) comes to a slightly different evaluation: according to him, it was Theophanes whose «local cosmos» was restricted primarily by «the walls of Constantinople.» Probably, it was, but Nikephoros’ cosmos was no less Constantinopolitan than that of his younger contemporary.

12 The Arabic original is unavailable to me. I used the French translation by M. J. de Goeje in Bibliotheca Geographorum Aruhicorum 6, Leiden 1889, p. 77-80, reproduced, with insignificant changes, in H. Gelzer, Die Genesis der byzantinischen Themenverfassung, Leipzig 1899, p. 82-85. See A. Miquel, Lu géographie humaine du monde musulman jusqu'au milieu du 11e siècle 2, Paris - The Hague 1975, p. 391-394.

13 Costantino Porfirogenito, De thematibus, ed. A. Pertusi, City of Vatican 1952 (Studi e Testi 160). The authorship, usually attributed to Constantine VII, is questioned: I. Ševčenko (Re-Reading Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Byzantine Diplomacy, ed. J. Shepard, S. Franklin, Aldershot 1992, p. 184 f.) denies Constantine's authorship of the Vita of Basil, the Book of Ceremonies and the Book of Themes. On Constantine, see also Hélène Ahrweiler, Un discours inédit de Constantin VII Porphyrogénète, TM 2, 1967, p. 393-404 (= Etudes..., op. cit., XII); ̒O Κωνστανος Z’ πορφυρογέννητοσ καὶ ἡ Kωνσταντίνεια ἰδεολολγία, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus and his Age, ed. A. Markopoulos, Athens 1989, p. 1-4; and especially Sur la date du De thematibus de Constantin VII Porphyrogénète, TM 8, 1981, p. 1-5.

14 One of these repetitions is the quotation of several coastal cities both in the theme of Opsikion and that of the Aegean sea. Héléne Ahrweiler, Byzance et la mer, Paris 1966, p. 402, suggests a plausible explanation of the reason of this repetition - but for our purpose what matters is not the reason but the fact of this repetition, that increases the amount of poleis mentioned in the Book.

15 Theophanes Continuatus, ed. I. Bekker, Bonn 1838, p. 3-211.

16 Iosephi Genesii Regum libri quattuor, ed. A. Lesmüller and I. Thurn, Berlin - New-York 1978 (CFHB 14).

17 F. Štejnman, O ličnosti avtora «Istorii carej» Genesija, VV 21, 1914, p. 15-44. Štejnman drew attention to the fact that the name of Genesios, on the single manuscript of the book, is a later addition.

18 See the recent article by Ja. N. Ljubarskij, Theophanes Continuatus und Genesios: das Problem einer gemeinsamen Quelle, BSl. 48, 1987, p. 12-27. J. Signes Codoñer, Algunas consideraciones sobre la autoría del Theophanus Continuatus, Erytheia 10, 1989, p. 17-28, launched the hypotheses that the chronicle of the Continuator was authored by Constantine VII himself. I am afraid that stylistic similarity is a dangerous way to establish a Byzantine authorship.

19 Theophanes Continuatus, p. 211-353.

20 Leonis Diaconi Caloensis Historiae libri decern, ed. Ch. B. Hase, Bonn 1828, p. 3-178.

21 See M. Ja. Sjuzjumov in Lev Diakon, Istorija, Moscow 1988, p. 156-160.


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