Epi tes trapezes

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The epi tēs trapezēs (Greek: ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς τραπέζης, "the one in charge of the table") was a Byzantine court post, responsible for the imperial banquets.


The office, more fully known as the domestikos tēs basilikēs trapezēs (δομέστικος τῆς βασιλικῆς τραπέζης, "Domestic of the imperial table"), epi tēs basilikēs trapezēs (ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς βασιλικῆς τραπέζης) or epi tēs trapezēs tou despotou (ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς τραπέζης τοῦ δεσπότου, "in charge of the lord's table"), is first mentioned as extant in the mid-7th century, but the source, a hagiography of Maximus the Confessor, is of much later date. It is, however, amply attested in seals from the 8th century on, often holding the offices of koubikoularios or parakoimōmenos as well.[1][2] The epi tēs trapezēs was responsible for introducing guests to the imperial banquets, waiting to the Byzantine emperor along with the pinkernēs, and carrying dishes from the imperial table to the guests. Historical sources, however, show that some holders of the post were entrusted with leading troops or various other special assignments. Like many palace posts involving close access to the Byzantine emperor, it was restricted to eunuchs.[1] There was also the epi tēs trapezēs tēs Augoustēs (ὁ ἐπὶ τῆς τραπέζης τῆς Αὐγούστης, "in charge of the table of the Augusta"), who filled the same duties for the Byzantine empress, and in addition supervised her private barques.[1][3]

The epi tēs trapezēs was assisted by a staff, the so-called hypourgia (ὐπουργία), headed by the domestikos tēs hypourgias (δομέστικος τῆς ὐπουργίας) and including also secretaries styled notarios tēs hypourgias (νοτάριος τῆς ὐπουργίας).[1][3] The German scholar Werner Seibt proposed that the epi tēs trapezēs absorbed the main functions of the kastrēsios, an earlier official with an apparently similar role.[4] Another official with similar duties, the kēnarios, is attested only a couple of times during the first decades of the 9th century. Seibt considers him either a subaltern official to the epi tēs trapezēs or an intermediate stage between the kastrēsios and the final absorption of his duties into the epi tēs trapezēs.[5]

From the 13th century on, the epi tēs trapezēs and the variant domestikos tēs trapezēs became purely honorary court titles, bereft of any specific duties. In this vein, Nikephoros Gregoras reports that this dignity was allegedly conferred and made hereditary to the princes of Russia from the time of Emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306–337) on.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Kazhdan 1991, p. 722.
  2. ^ Bury 1911, pp. 125–126.
  3. ^ a b Bury 1911, p. 126.
  4. ^ Kazhdan 1991, pp. 723, 1111–1112.
  5. ^ Kazhdan 1991, pp. 723, 1120.
  6. ^ Kazhdan 1991, p. 723.