Chi-Rho ☧ originally a Symbol of the Centurion

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,946
Rural Australia
Well ...

Obious humor a part, the abbreviation XP for centurion remains and it indicates that who wrote in Greek [rarely or not ...] used it.
Yes. The Chi-Rho symbol seems to have been used in Greek inscriptions as an abbreviation for centurion.

Perhaps I should actually be asking the question ..... would we expect Constantine (and/or his august counsels) to have been been aware of this prior usage?
 
Feb 2017
427
Rock Hill, South Carolina
I have to agree this is a case of lack of evidence in either direction. But logic says no. Constantine and his forces came from Gaul and Britain, an area where Greek was very uncommon. Education in Greek in the upper and middle classes wasn't as prevalent as it used to be either in these regions.

If I saw evidence of the use of the Chi-Rho to denote centurions throughout the empire, particularly the Latin speaking parts, sure. Using it as an abbreviation of a Greek term happens, but it's a coincidence.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Yes. The Chi-Rho symbol seems to have been used in Greek inscriptions as an abbreviation for centurion.

Perhaps I should actually be asking the question ..... would we expect Constantine (and/or his august counsels) to have been been aware of this prior usage?
Christ itself wasn't an original adjective ... it came from the word for anointed ... [actually from Hebrew Mashiach ... "anointed one", it came Messiah which had translated in Greek as Christ].

So that, I'm open to the possibility of the adoption of terms or symbols with particular meanings to give them a different role.

The ratio of such a choice would have been to offer a kind of "supreme centurion" to the legionaries. The problem was that actually the majority of the troops of Constantine didn't read Greek.

But a symbol is a symbol, you don't need to understand it, you have to receive the message.

When I was a child I didn't know that Christ and Messiah are the same thing, anyway I prayed the Christ ... thinking he was ALSO the Messiah ...
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
The three instances listed in the catalogue at post #6 are these:

1. ☧ ἑκατόνταρχία ‎(hekatóntarkhos‎, hekatontarchés) centurion .... R.A. 1903 B, 437

2. ☧ ἑκατόνταρχης (hekatóntarkhos‎, hekatontarchés) centurion.... W 2532 (177-80)

3. ☧ ἑκατόνταχους (hekatóntarkhos‎, hekatontarchés) centurion .... SARD 17

I have not yet been able to look these up and determine where they are in the empire, although the 2nd one is dated (177-80).

From the bibliography ...

R.A. = Revue Achaeologique
W = Waddington, W.H. ........ Paris 1870
SARD = Sardis, Vol VII ....... 1932

If you or anyone can find images of these, or further information about these three examples, it would be greatly appreciated.
R.A. is available on the net [it requires a bit of patient: your references are not so clear in relation to the site]. It's in French. Knowing that language I will look for the document indicated by Avy.

[Revue archéologique - 95 années disponibles - Gallica]
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
This is the reference to "XP" on the French publication : [Revue archéologique | 1903-07 | Gallica]. Ref. 223.

The section is the review of epigraphic publications.

The publication containing the chi-ro is the

"ARCHIV FUER PAPYRUSFORSCHUNG UND VERWANDTE GEBIETE" t. I, 1901.

[I understand also German: ARCHIVE FOR PAPYRUS FORESTRY AND ADVERTISED AREAS].
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Update: I've found the German text, from 1901. I'm a bit confused about the references to the pages [the French publication is not so clear about ...]. It could be even an other work to be found.

Anyway this is the German work: https://archive.org/details/archivfrpapyru01leipuoft

I'm checking the reference on the French publication.

The first one [Juridici Alexandreae, pag 436 > on the German work 450-467] corresponds as for pages. So now I have to orientate in the French publication to find out to which work it's making reference to ...

I've got it: ... there is the reference to the edition. ID t. II 1902-1903. That's the one we need to find.
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Unfortunately that edition hasn't been digitalized yet. So we have to start from the French publication relying on that not so comprehensive content [the section is a review of other publications].

Now there is the reference to the work by Seymour de Ricci [pag 427-452; 561-571 on the German work] about Roman Egypt. It's a report about Greek inscriptions. The French publication says that on the German work all the inscriptions are transcribed with copious bibliography.

Ref. 223 [where the chi-ro is visible with the explanation in Greek] ends with the indication of A. Koptos [pag 432].

So that I can say that our chi-ro is in an inscription found in Roman Egypt.
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,183
Italy, Lago Maggiore
About William Henry Waddington [who was also French Prime Minister], I've got difficulties in understanding with accuracy which is the publication to find.

With that reference [Waddington 2532] there is a catalogue of coins [of the Waddington collection].

We are more lucky with SARD: this is the work, but I'm confused about that 17
https://archive.org/details/pt1sardispublica07ameruoft