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Headword: *ku=ros
Adler number: kappa,2776
Translated headword: Kuros, Kyros, Cyrus
Vetting Status: high
of Panopolis,[1] an epic-poet.[2] He lived under Emperor Theodosius the Younger, by whom he was elevated to [the positions of] both Prefect of Praetorians and Prefect of the City;[3] he also attained consular and patrician status.[4] For Eudocia, Theodosius’s wife, being Empress and a patron of literature, had great respect for Cyrus.[5] But when Eudocia was banished from the palace and living in the East in Jerusalem,[6] Cyrus fell victim to a plot[7] and became the Bishop of Cotyaeum in Phrygia[8] and he lived on until the reign of Emperor Leo.[9]
This man established the Church of the Mother of God, known as 'Cyrus’s'.[10]
Greek Original:
*ku=ros, *panopoli/ths, e)popoio/s. ge/gonen e)pi\ *qeodosi/ou tou= ne/ou basile/ws, u(f' ou(= kai\ e)/parxos praitwri/wn kai\ e)/parxos po/lews proeblh/qh: kai\ ge/gonen a)po\ u(pa/twn kai\ patri/kios. *eu)doki/a ga\r h( *qeodosi/ou gameth/, basili\s ou)=sa, u(perhga/sqh to\n *ku=ron, filoeph\s ou)=sa. a)lla\ au)th=s a)posta/shs tw=n basilei/wn kai\ ei)s a)natolh\n e)n *(ierosolu/mois diatribou/shs, *ku=ros e)pibouleuqei\s e)pi/skopos tw=n i(erw=n gi/netai e)n *kotuaei/w| th=s *frugi/as kai\ pare/teine me/xri *le/ontos tou= basile/ws. ou(=tos kti/zei to\n na/on th=s qeoto/kou to\n lego/menon ta\ *ku/rou.
Cyrus of Panopolis (Fl. Taurus Selecus Cyrus Hiera, ? – c.470 CE), a poet and official in the court of Constantinople (kappa 2287) under Theodosius II (theta 145). Noted for his improvements to Constantinople’s illumination and fortifications (Chron. Pasch. s.a. 439; John Lyd. infra), he also promoted the Hellenization of the eastern Empire by issuing praetorian decrees in Greek and reforming the University of Constantinople to promote scholarship in Greek (CTh 14.9.3; 15.1.53). See PLRE II s.v. Cyrus(7).
In addition to this entry, the main sources for his career are his poetry (see Cameron, pp. 225-235, 250-253); imperial law codes; the nearly contemporaneous Life of Daniel the Stylite 31-32, 36 (web address 1); and brief references in later works dependent on Priscus (John Mal. xiv.361-2; John Lydus De mag. 2.12, 3.42; Chron. Pasch, s.a. 450; Theophanes A.M. 5937; and theta 145).
[1] In Egypt. Panopolis was a center of Hellenic culture in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. Numerous important literary figures, such as Horapollon, Nonnus, and Pamprepius, hail from the city, which has been characterized as 'the focal point of pagan intellectual reaction against Christianity' (Browne 177, 192). Nevertheless, Christianity undoubtedly exercised a strong influence on Panopolis - witness its proximity to the White Monastery – and the pagan inclinations of its inhabitants should not be overstated based on the evidence at hand.
[2] Cyrus’s longer works are lost but probably included panegyrics, epithalamia, and perhaps mythological poems. Seven of the short poems preserved in the Palatine Anthology are attributed to 'Cyrus' (7.557; 9.136, 623, 808, 809, 813; 15.9) but only 9.136 (perhaps datable to immediately after Cyrus’s fall) and 15.9, together with the anonymously transmitted 1.99, can reasonably be attributed to Cyrus of Panopolis; see Cameron 226-239. In dismissing Cyrus’s administrative ability, John Lydus claims, 'poetry was all he knew anything about' (De mag. ii. 12), Cyrus’s poetic talent was well respected, and Evagrius singles him out as one of the pre-eminent poets of the early fifth century (HE i.19; the 'Claudian' mentioned there is not demonstrably kappa 1707). The phrase ai)/qe path\r me di/dace (Anth. Pal. 9.136.1) may be imitated by Cyrus’s fellow-townsman Nonnus (xvi.321, xx.372) but priority for the phrase is disputed.
[3] Cyrus became Prefect of the City (Constantinople) in 437 and several sources claim he held this position for four years (John Lydus De mag. ii. 12; John Mal., xiv. 361). Becoming Praetorian Prefect of the East between November 26 and December 6, 439 (CI xi.18.1), he held both offices until at least 441 (CI i.55.10) when he fell from favor. While not a unique honor (see PLRE I, s.v. Limenius(2)), the accumulation of offices was nonetheless highly unusual. For a consideration of CTh ii.7.5, which incorrectly states that Cyrus became Prefect of the City in 426, see Cameron, 224-225. The chronology of this period is notoriously confused; see Cameron 255f. for a thorough discussion.
[4] John Mal. 361; for patri/kos as an early Byzantine title, see POxy. 1206.1 (iv CE), Procopius Pers. 1.8, Just. Nov. 38 tit. Cyrus attained the consulship in 441.
[5] Eudocia was a convert to Christianity and an enthusiastic supporter of literature and philosophy. Selected by Pulcheria (pi 2145) to marry Theodosius II, Eudocia was instrumental in driving Pulcheria from politics in 441. See theta 145, note 6.
[6] Eudocia departed from Constantinople (kappa 2287) under suspicious circumstances in 441. Most sources connect her withdrawal to Chrysaphius’s insinuation that she was unduly intimate with Paulinus, the Magister Officiorum and Theodosius II’s childhood friend, who was executed in 440 (Marcellinus s.a. 440; cf. John Mal. 356-8; Nestorius Book of Heraclides, tr. Nau, p. 331). Eudocia’s definitive break with Theodosius II, however, did not occur until 444 when she personally killed a Theodosian agent who had murdered two of her priests (Priscus fr. 8, Müller, FHG iv.94). For Chrysaphius, see PLRE II, pp. 295-7.
[7] Chrysaphius moved against Cyrus shortly after August 18, 441, the last verifiable date Cyrus was in office. Accused of paganism or pagan sympathies and aiming at the throne (John Mal. xiv.361-2; theta 145), Cyrus was an obstacle to the ambitious Chrysaphius and had exposed himself to Theodosius’s envy after the crowd in the hippodrome chanted, “Constantine founded the city; Cyrus rebuild it” (John Mal. xiv.361; Dagron 1974, 315).
[8] Banishment to the church was a common result of Byzantine political warfare (see theta 145, note 11). Deprived of his powerful patron by Eudocia’s withdrawal and isolated by Chrysaphius from an envious Theodosius, Cyrus was probably allowed to “prove” the falsehood of the charge of paganism by assuming the bishopric of Cotyaeum, a bloodless solution acceptable to all parties. Accepting this bishopric, however, was not without its dangers: the four previous bishops had met violent ends (Vit. Dan Styl. 13; Pris., fr.3a = Chron. Pasch., 450; John Mal., 361). Compelled to deliver his first sermon by skeptical parishioners on Christmas Day, 441, Cyrus responded: "Brethren, let the birth of God, our Savior, Jesus Christ be honored in silence, because the Word of God was conceived in the Holy Virgin through hearing alone. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (John Malalas xiv.361; see J.B. Bury, Later Roman Empire I 227-28). Chron. Pasch. and Theophanes incorrectly give Smyrna as Cyrus’s bishopric; see Cameron 223f. for discussion of this point and the relationship between the various sources. The Life of Daniel records that Cyrus formed a deep friendship with Saint Daniel, who cured Cyrus’s daughter Alexandria of 'a demon'. Later, Cyrus returned and commemorated his debt to the holy man by engraving a brief laudatory poem (Anth.Pal. 1.99) on Daniel’s column (Vita Dan. Styl. 36); see Cameron 243-254.
[9] Leo ruled from 457 to 474; despite the difficult reception in Cotyaeum, Cyrus won over his skeptical and fractious flock and lived in peace until the death of Theodosius II in 450, when he returned to Constantinople (kappa 2287) and ministered to the poor (Vita Dan. Styl. 31).
[10] A marginal addition in ms A, referring to the Church of the Theotokos in Constantinople (kappa 2287). Since theotokos, which implies the unity of Father and Son, was a controversial term in the early fourth century and threatened the unity of the church until the Council of Ephesus established its orthodoxy in 431, the dedication of this church could have had political overtones. No direct attribution of Cyrus’s role in the church’s construction exists before Theophylact Simocatta in the seventh century. Two epigrams by John Geometres, an eleventh-century monk attached to the church, support Cyrus’s involvement; see Cameron 240-243.
Baldwin, B., 'Priscus of Panium', Byzantion 50 (1980), 45
Browne, G.M., 'Harpocration panegyrista', ICS 2 (1977), 184-196
Cameron, A., 'The Empress and the Poet: Paganism and Politics and the Court of Theodosius II', Yale Classical Studies 27 (1982), 217-289
Constantelos, D.J., 'Kyros Panopolites; Rebuilder of Constantinople', GRBS 12 (1971), 45-6
Dagron, G., Naissance d’une capitale. Presses universitaires de France: Paris, 1974, 267-72, 315-16
Dagron, G., 'Aux origins de la civilization Byzantine: Langue de culture et langue d’Etat', Revue historique (1969), 23-56
Gregory, T.E., 'The Remarkable Christmas Homily of Kyros Panopolites', GRBS 16 (1975), 317-24
Holm, K.G., Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity. University of California Press: Berkeley, 1982, 189-193
Janin, Les églises et les monastères 2, La géographie ecclésiastique de l’empire byzantin III.1. Institut français d'études Byzantine: Paris, 1969, 193-5
Seeck, O., RE XII, 188-90
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: architecture; biography; Christianity; chronology; epic; gender and sexuality; geography; history; law; poetry; politics; women
Translated by: Bret Mulligan on 26 October 2003@00:26:51.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (streamlined headword; minor modifications to translation; other cosmetics) on 26 October 2003@05:58:36.
Catharine Roth (coded some titles) on 10 November 2003@20:44:51.
Catharine Roth (added link) on 10 November 2003@20:47:42.
David Whitehead (modified n.2, at the translator's suggestion) on 18 November 2003@08:12:16.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 3 October 2005@07:38:20.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 20 November 2005@10:16:49.
David Whitehead (reinstated original translation at one point, prompted by Dr George Bevan) on 24 August 2010@04:43:18.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaking; raised status) on 25 March 2013@08:52:32.
David Whitehead (note cosmetic) on 9 April 2014@07:56:09.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 2 January 2015@23:35:45.


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