GRATSIANSKIY M.V. The Dispute between Nicaea and Nicomedia over the Status of Metropolis at the Council of Chalcedon: The Civic Aspect


Mikhail V. Gratsianskiy

Candidate of Sciences (History), PhD, Leading Researcher,

Centre of Byzantine and the Black Sea Region Studies, Faculty of History, Lomonosov Moscow State University,

Prosp. Lomonosovsky, 27–4, 119192 Moscow, Russian Federation;

Leading Researcher,

Centre for Complex Historical and Archaeological Research of the Byzantine Black See Region,

Sevastopol State University, Universitetskaya St, 33, 299053 Sevastopol, Russian Federation

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Abstract: Introduction. The subject of research in this paper refers to the imperial edict, conferring the title of metropolis on the city of Nicaea in 364 AD, and the imperial rescript of the same year, confirming the rights of Nicomedia to the same title and the status of the first city of the province. The documents were presented by bishops of Nicaea and Nicomedia in the course of litigation between them at the 4th Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon (451 AD). The objectives of this work are to present the translation of these documents and substantiate its correctness in comparison with other available translations into foreign languages. Further task is to identify and highlight through commenting those realities of the Roman world, which are reflected in the analyzed documents.

Methods. The work is based on the application of the historical-critical method of analysing source data of the original texts, compiled in Greek.

Analysis. The article deals with the dating of the documents, the peculiarities of the terms and expressions used in them, which regard to intercity relations in Roman times, the issue of city statuses and traditional elements of the provincial ceremonies associated with the imperial cult. In this context, special attention is given to the edict for Nicaea, which is dedicated to the metropolis status of Nicaea, and deals with peculiar ceremonial issues of “coronation”, “procession”, and the office of Bithyniarch.

Results. The litigation between Nicaea and Nicomedia is a clear evidence of the preservation of ancient Hellenistic and Roman traditions in the era of the Christian empire. The fact that the bishop of Nicaea at the Ecumenical Council, in justifying the ecclesiastical and administrative rights of his city, resorted to arguments drawn from the sphere of intercity relations within the framework of the traditional provincial assemblies, speaks for the connection between the institutions of provincial assemblies and church councils. The author concludes that the traditional forms of urban life, intercity relations within the province and determination of the status of cities by traditional criteria were of key importance for the position of the city in the system of the provincial church hierarchy.

Key words: Ecumenical Councils, the Council of Chalcedon, Bithynia, Nicaea, Nicomedia, the title of metropolis, Bithyniarch, the Primacy of Honour.

Citation. Gratsianskiy M.V. The Dispute Between Nicaea and Nicomedia over the Status of Metropolis at the Council of Chalcedon: The Civic Aspect. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2022, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 74-89. (in Russian). DOI:

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The Dispute between Nicaea and Nicomedia over the Status of Metropolis at the Council of Chalcedon: The Civic Aspect by Gratsianskiy M.V. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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