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A figure overlooked in scholarship on Hagia Sophia is Phokas, the praetorian prefect of 532 under whom construction of the church began. He was a pagan who eventually took his own life in one of Justinian’s purges. His initial supervision of the construction of Hagia Sophia is attested by Ioannes Lydos, himself a pagan intellectual, who praised Phokas in superlative terms, despite Phokas’ infamous death. Consideration of all the evidence for an architect of Hagia Sophia, Anthemios of Tralleis, beyond the literary sources usually cited, strongly suggests that he belonged to the pagan wing of the school of Ammonios of Alexandria, as did the architect Isidoros of Miletos. Material presented here explains how the last pagans of New Rome contributed to the making of Hagia Sophia and suggests how they may have interpreted the monument on their own terms.