This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources prepared and mounted by Paul Stephenson.


By Leonora Neville, included here by permission

Byzantine promotion ceremonies


Byzantine imperial titles were granted either by the emperor through the ceremonial bestowal of a prize, brabeion , or through an oral pronouncement of the emperor or his subordinate. The titles granted through brabeion appear to have been honorary while those granted orally, dia logou, concerned offices.



The late ninth-century treatise on court precedence, the Kleterologion of Philotheos, described the process of receiving a title dia brabeiou:



The gifts of imperial honors, given by the grace of God and as chosen by God, are bestowed upon the worthy by the divinely promoted emperors on the holy and wondrous imperial steps of the brilliant chysotriklinos on auspicious days with the whole order of the imperial hall standing nearby and with their prizes lying near the imperial authority. They who are about to be honored are clothed in garnet cloaks and prepared outside of the curtain by the appointed imperial protospatharios . Before their entrance, three spatharophoroi of the same rank as those about to be honored enter with the imperial doorman, and making the customary reverence, they wait standing before the curtain for the presence of the candidate. And just as the curtain falls, the protospatharios of the imperials enters with the imperial doorman leading the one who is about to be received. [The protospatharios] urges him to make a prostration in three places. He stands him before the face of the emperor to take the prize of honor from the emperor's own hands. Soon after he gets it, the same protospatharios pulls him away backwards and adorns him with the prize given by the emperor and, immediately moving [the candidate] forward makes him embrace the holy feet of the emperor. Then led down to those below, he is greeted by the men of the same rank as a friend of equal honor. Then, completing the reverence to the emperor, they shout thanks with a prostration and go out with [the candidate]. [1]




The De cerimoniis includes numerous protocols for promotion to an office by proclamation, dia logou. The following is fairly typical:



The emperor orders the logothete to introduce the one who ought to be promoted . . . and having come inside the swept curtain of the chrysotriklinos, he falls to the ground, prostrating before the emperor. Then the logothete stands and precedes him. [The candidate] comes forward and stands a little way from the emperor. The emperor exhorts him to manage and direct the service entrusted to him with truth, justice, and the fear of God, and to regard the subjects irrespective of gifts and persons, and to do all others things befitting those entrusted with such a charge. If he happens to be a domestikos of the scholai or a general or some other of the military officers, the emperor also exhorts him with rousing and stirring things about courage and nobility. After the proper things have been said, the emperor says to him: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, my God-given majesty promotes you domestikos of the God-guarded scholai.” And immediately he falls to the ground and makes a prostration, then he kisses the feet of the great emperor and thus little by little he is led out by the logothete to the clock that is in the door of the chrysotriklinos . And the logothete hands him over to the praipositoi saying: “Our holy and God-led emperors promoted this one domestic of the scholai. ” And the praipositoi make the customary prayers for the emperors and they take him up and they lead him to the Lausiakos and the protopraipositos says to all: “Our holy and God-led emperors promoted this one domestic of the scholai. ” And everyone prays the “many-years.” [2]






[1] Treatise of Philotheos ed. Nicolas Oikonomides, Les listes de préséance byzantines des IXe et Xe siècles . Paris: Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 1972, 85-87.


[2] J. J. Reiske, ed., De Cerimoniis Aulae Byzantinae, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus , Book II chapter 3, pages 525-27. This chapter is dated to the reign of Constantine VII.




© Leonora Neville, January 2004

Revised by Paul Stephenson, November 2006; January 2012