The Second Five Ranks
Notarios – Nοτάριος
The notarios was an ecclesiastical rank in the Orthodox Church and existed as a civilian rank in the Byzantine Empire related to the military tribune who could be either a civilian or a military officer. The word notarios in pre-Christian times meant a memorandum writer; and in the middle Byzantine era, a stenographer; and in the later Byzantine era, a notary public. The word notarios derived from the Latin word nota, meaning a written note, and, later, the notarios was the secretary for all situations. In its original meaning, the word meant a stenographer who was hired to record proceedings at meetings.
After the Church was freed from persecution by Emperor Constantine the Great, it expanded with the founding and enthronement of bishops in various cities and towns. The bishops employed a notarios among other assistants—in other words, secretaries, usually clergy who kept the diocesan archives in good order. Athanasius, once a deacon of the Church of Alexandria, served in the beginning as notarios, secretary of Archbishop Alexander (d. 328), whom he succeeded on the throne in Alexandria. Proklos was a notarios (secretary and underwriter) for Patriarch Atticus of Constantinople (406–425). Proklos was a deacon and in 434 was elected Patriarch of Constantinople.
For Ecumenical Synods as well as regional synods, notarii were hired as stenographers and wrote down the proceedings of the synods that were signed by delegate bishops, becoming part of the history of the Church. In the Fourth Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon (Act 9), Damaskos, a military tribune and notarios, was responsible for copying the transactions of the Synod. Act 14 of Chalcedon also mentions the Acts of the Synod of Antioch, which were read and had been copied by Tarianos, a deacon and notarios. In the fourth Synod of Toledo (663), Canon 4, notarii were mentioned who wrote down the Acts of the Synod. In the Synod of Antioch (269), Eusebios of Caesarea mentions that there were stenographers who wrote down the discussions of the conflict between Paul of Samosata and the delegates of the Synod. Socrates Scholasticus (380–450) wrote that there were stenographers, called ὀξυγράφοι or oxygraphers (“shorthand writers”), who copied and preserved the homilies of John Chrysostom. Augustine wrote that those who learned shorthand were called notarii. In his epistles, he also says that, in the service of the Church, notarii or stenographers wrote down everything that was being said so that nothing was lost. In another epistle, he wrote that there were four notarii from each side to chronicle the conflict with the Donatists.
In the fourth and fifth centuries, the notarios was responsible for the management of church property. He was appointed by regional bishops and kept accounting records and gave financial reports. In monastic life, the notarios had writing duties for the correspondence of the monastery as well as the library and its classification and arrangement. He was a brother of the monastery, either a monk or a clergyman. Wherever there was more than one notarios, the oldest received the title of protonotarios. The protonotarios attended divine services and informed the bishop if he noticed any type of disorder or impropriety or omission in the services. He was at the altar during the services, assisting the bishop, and was his chief aide, reading the Gospel excerpt on Palm Sunday. He was to act in accordance with the bishop’s orders. In the twelfth century, during the term of Patriarch George II Xiphilin, the protonotarios was relieved of his duties and was replaced by the protekdikos (chief advocate).
In the Church of Rome, the notarius enjoyed a higher position. He frequently went on confidential missions for the bishop, acted with authority if the need arose, and sometimes signed documents on behalf of the bishop. According to liturgical rubrics, the notarius preceded the bishop in the procession whom he served by carrying the hierarchal staff or crozier whenever he entered the church. During the sixth century, the city of Rome was divided into nine districts, which were called regiones. Each region was headed by a notarius, a regionarius, who was responsible for all ecclesiastical decisions and his regional archives. They were under the jurisdiction of the primicerius notariorum (protonotarius).
In Byzantium, the notarii were secretaries in various departments of the capital and the provinces. There were the Imperial Notarii of the Secretum in every department of the empire and Imperial Notarii of the Sakellion acted as financial secretaries. During the tenth century, the notarii were appointed chief assistants to the chief judge (praetor) in the civil administration of the provinces with the title protonotarii and were subject to the general director of the district. They were called protonotarii of the districts and in time received additional duties to enforce the commands of the provincial authority and help maintain law and order; to equip the army and the navy, providing food for the military and care for other military needs; to transport the baggage of the army and of the emperor during campaigns and arrange for its return to the capital; and to lead prisoners during victory parades. During the eighth century, there was a special school for notarii in Constantinople, and for some centuries, it supplied the empire with imperial notarii who were appointed in financial services or as private secretaries. In financial services, the imperial notarios of the sakellion was under the jurisdiction of the logothetes (minister of finance). As private secretaries, the asekretes of the emperor and the notarios of the secretarial staff were under the protoasekretis (chief secretary). The director of this school was a protonotarios. According to Socrates Scholasticus, the notarios was called an imperial officer and the head of the imperial underwriters. The notarios was considered a legal adviser (lawyer) in various districts, as the tabellion (registrar) or tabellarius (recorder) — the one who wrote up contracts, acting as secretary for citizens and certifying the authenticity of letters with his seal. Leo the Grammarian, a Byzantine historian and chronographer, was also a notarios and legal adviser. During the eleventh century, the protonotarios was the business manager in each military district. All income from taxes was recorded under his supervision, and he paid all military and civilian expenses in his district.
Schlumberger identifies several duties of the notarii. Notarii worked in courts, maintaining archives, registering judicial decisions, and as stenographers, keeping the minutes of each court session. In Byzantine ecclesiastical ranks, the office of protonotarios was bestowed upon presbyters or deacons, sometimes upon laymen, and continues in use today. In the later history of the Church according to ecclesiastical provision, the notarios was for the most part a clergyman in whom the Church had full confidence. The rank of notarios continued as a secretary after the fall of Constantinople and the dissolution of the empire. In civilian life, the rank continued as a solicitor or writer of contracts.
The rank of notarios belongs, according the Holy and Great Church of Christ, in the first place of the second set of five offices.
Kastresios / Kanstrisios – Καστρήσιος
The καστρήσιος is an ecclesiastical, civilian, and military rank in the Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Empire. It is associated with ancient Rome and the Roman army. The soldiers serving at the frontier border areas in fortresses and strongholds (castra) were called kastrisii. In the fifth century, the imperial palace became more involved than ever before in its workforce policies. All who worked in the palace (attendants, grooms, doorkeepers, secretaries, security officers, and others) were organized in groups on a military basis with defined and uniform regulations and terms of advancement under the jurisdiction of an officer called a καστρήσιος. This rank existed throughout the Byzantine era. In the fifth century, with a new classification and reorganization of the department of finance, including establishment of offices in the provinces, a καστρήσιος was appointed to manage each of the provincial offices and received the title of χαρτουλάριος (keeper of archives). In the Theodosian Code 6.35.7, the καστρήσιος was responsible for the provincial office of finances and must not be confused with the notarios who had distinctive financial responsibilities.
In the sixth century, the καστρήσιος was an official in the palace. The κοιτόνιται (cubicularii) were the most prominent of the palace personnel under the jurisdiction of the praepositos. All others who worked in the palace found themselves under the guidance of the καστρήσιος, who in turn served the magister officiorum. These other officials were responsible for cleaning, heating, lighting, and securing the gates of the palace, and were placed under the personal supervision of the καστρήσιος. In the seventh century, the καστρήσιος had an added duty as the “domestikos of the imperial tables.” One such domestikos, named Leontius, was a higher officer of the army. During the reign of Leo VI the Wise (886–912), a person named Constantine was a general with the title, “For the Imperial Table,” and was appointed to lead the military expedition to Sicily. This official was the same one as the domestikos of the ministry (cabinet)—in other words, the military adviser of the emperor. The καστρήσιος was assistant of the domestikos of the ministry. Emperor Constantine VII (913–959) mentions a Constantine who was domestikos of the ministry with John, a καστρήσιος, as an assistant. Philotheos called him “the pleasant kastrisios” and elsewhere “the renowned kastrisios.”
The καστρήσιος was also an ecclesiastical rank. This was bestowed upon deacons, and only rarely upon presbyters. The καστρήσιος assisted at divine services in the altar with a number of duties. He prepared the hierarch’s vestments and, before the reading of the Holy Gospel, took the omophorion of the hierarch and turned it over to the deacon. He held the container with the incense and prepared the censer that he gave to the patriarch during his entry into the altar, censing around the holy altar table and the people preceding the patriarch. During the singing of the Trisagion, he held the aer on his shoulders and sprinkled the people with myrrh. He guarded the chest with the fragrances. At diocesan meetings in the absence of the chartophylax, he would read the minutes of the previous meetings and their decisions. Finally, he often acted as secretary, compiling documents and contracts.
According to the Great Euchologion, the rank of the καστρήσιος belongs in the second place of the second set of five officers.
Referendarios – Ῥεφερενδάριος
The ῥεφερενδάριος was both an ecclesiastical and a civilian rank in the Orthodox Church and the Byzantine Empire. The word referendarius is derived from the Latin refero, which means “carry back” and “transport information and intelligence.” The ῥεφερενδάριος was usually a clergyman, but historians tell us there were lay referendarii as well. In the Byzantine era, he was an ecclesiastical envoy, in other words, a personal representative of the patriarch, undertaking confidential diplomatic missions to other churches, patriarchates, the emperor, or other high officials of the Byzantine government. There were referendarii, in other churches as well as in the other patriarchates, who undertook missions and were personal representatives.
The ῥεφερενδάριος first appeared as an ecclesiastical rank in the fifth century as a special and confidential intermediary. At first, he was chosen in accordance with his education and qualifications as a temporary appointee. In the tenth century, he became a permanent representative and envoy. He was sent by the patriarch to the emperor, carrying either oral or written messages, returning to the patriarch with the emperor’s reply. There was also a ῥεφερενδάριος of the palace, who was especially honored. His duties were to transmit the feelings and petitions of the people to the emperor and to return with the emperor’s response.
According to the Great Euchologion, the rank of the ῥεφερενδάριος belongs in the third place of the second set of five offices.
Logothetes – Λογοθέτης
In the Byzantine Empire and Orthodox Church there were multiple ranks of logothetes and Great Logothetes in both civilian and ecclesiastical spheres. As civilian, a λογοθέτης appeared in one of two specialized categories: the military λογοθέτης, and the general λογοθέτης. They were directors of imperial finances in different departments, with particular titles for their services. In addition to those two groupings, there were other categories: the Logothetes of the Herd, the Logothetes of Communications, and the Great Logothetes. The emperor bestowed the title of λογοθέτης upon high public officials. The rank λογοθέτης corresponded to the rank and position of a cabinet minister today. Nicetas Choniates (c. 1215), a Byzantine historian, describes this rank as follows: “the Latins call him ‘chancellor’ but the Greeks call him ‘λογοθέτης.’” The rank of λογοθέτης appeared in the sixth century, because, at that time, the existing financial system had collapsed and there arose an immediate need for reorganizing the empire’s finances. This rank was one of the most important positions in the empire, corresponding to today’s Secretary of the Treasury. It disappeared in the twelfth century.
Λογοθέτης τοῦ στρατικοῦ
This rank appeared for the first time during the reign of Emperor Heraklios. In 626, he placed the λογοθέτης in charge of the military finances, with jurisdiction over the General Bank as well as the Special Bank for the finances of the imperial army and in charge of the payment of salaries and other military expenditures. The emperor gave him the special title of Military Logothetes. He kept records for the officers and the army in his district. In 680, Julian was the Military Logothetes, “the most glorious military λογοθέτης, descendant of the noblest of patricians.” He was a member of the cabinet and attended the sessions of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, with Emperor Constantine IV Pogonatos (668–685). In 787, during the reign of Constantine VI (780–797), a person named John, with the title of Imperial Ostiarios (Doorkeeper) attended the sessions of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod as a representative of the emperor. Later, he was appointed military λογοθέτης. In 1056, Empress Theodora died, designating as her successor Michael, who had served as military λογοθέτης during her reign and was called “the Military One.” G. Schlumberger published in his study a seventh- or eighth-century seal with the inscription “Eustathios, the military λογοθέτης.”
Λογοθέτης τοῦ γενικοῦ
The General Logothetes inherited the work of the comes sacrarum largitionum as a minister of public finances. This rank first appeared in the seventh century and is referred to by Theophanes, an eight-century monk and historian, as well as by Patriarch Nicephoros II (806–815). The General Logothetes was in charge of the finances of the empire and especially for finding additional sources of revenue. He established special programs, instituted regular and special taxes on large estates of landowners and on merchants, and engaged in importing and exporting. He was also responsible for normalizing conditions in the capital, overseeing the condition of the reservoirs and uninterrupted activity in the mines, and receiving income from them. With offices in the capital and in the provinces, he set tax rates and arranged for tax collections. Those in charge of the offices in the provinces were called Overseers of the Themes. Those responsible for tax-collecting were Administrators, and were called “those designated in charge of collecting public taxes.” They were under the jurisdiction of the General Logothetes with the responsiblity for collecting taxes, and if they were unable to collect the amounts expected, they were punished. Theophanes refers also to Administrators who gathered taxes in Constantinople and the provinces with assistants called Tax Collectors. The position of λογοθέτης was vital to the life of the empire and as a result survived throughout the Byzantine era, disappearing only after the fall of Constantinople and the empire.
The first one called λογοθέτης was Theodotos during the reign of Justinian II and his successor Sergios in 692. In 802, a delegation arrived in Constantinople on behalf of Pope Leo III (795–816) and Charlemagne (768–802) with a marriage proposal between Empress Irene (797–802) and Charlemagne, intended to unite the Eastern and Western Empires and to restore the Roman Empire with Rome as the capital. As soon as the mission arrived, a military insurrection was organized in Constantinople with the cooperation of the highest officials of the government, the palace deposed Irene from the throne, and elevated to the throne Nicephoros I (802–811) who had been a General Logothetes for a number of years. Another General Logothetes, Nicephoros Chumnes (1250–1327), was appointed in 1295. He was a man of vast learning and served during the reign of Andronikos II Paleologos (1282–1328). Prior to this appointment as General Logothetes, he served as minister of justice (kyaistōr or quaestor) and the one in charge of the royal inkstand. In 1309, he was appointed governor of Thessalonike, with broad jurisdiction. In 1272, though young, he had taken part in a special mission to the Khan of the Mongolian nation, north of Persia. He was also actively involved in politics and in the Church. Theodore Metochites (1270–1331) was the last to be appointed General Logothetes and later Great Logothetes. He was a man of great learning and ability and is mentioned by Nicephoros Gregoras as a politician, a scholar, and a historian. He was the main politician and architect of Byzantine politics in his time, serving during the reign of Andronikos II, when there was a complete dissolution of political and financial services due to internal wrangling and continuous strife, as well as to foreign enemies, which in time brought about its fall.
Logothetes of the Herd
Λογοθέτης τῶν ἀγελῶν
This rank also made its appearance in the seventh century. He looked after the breeding and training of the horses and mules indispensable for the army. The Logothetes of the Herd was constantly on the road, supervising boarding places which were specially requisitioned buildings set aside for the breeding and feeding of horses and mules which subsequently received special training and were sent to the stable in Malayina near Constantinople for the army. There were stables in Asia Minor and in other provinces of the empire as well. According to Philotheos, the Logothetes of the Herds was a high officer of the army and held the rank of Field Marshal. This rank existed until the eleventh century, when it disappeared and remained only as a title.
Logothetes of Communications
Λογοθέτης τοῦ δρόμου
The rank originated in the Roman Empire, called in Latin cursus publici praesentalis, and first appeared in the seventh century. Theophanes first mentioned a Logothetes of Communications who had been killed in the battle against the Bulgarians in 759–760. The Logothetes of Communications was responsible for communications services, in other words, postal services. He was in charge of expediting the mailing of correspondence by the officials of the empire, arranging for its transportation and the steady and smooth function of the services. He also had the responsibility for sending the emperor’s gifts to delegates or to ambassadors from other countries who made state visits to Constantinople. In the tenth century, the Logothetes of Communications took on additional duties related to foreign relations of the empire as a minister of external affairs and he was assisted in his mission by experienced personnel, such as interpreters. The Logothetes of Communications was actually the designing architect of Byzantine imperial politics. He substituted for the minister of foreign affairs, the magister officiorum, responsible for foreign relations of the empire.
During the reign of Empress Theodora (843), Theoktistos was the Logothetes of Communications, in charge of the naval expedition to Crete against the Arabs. During the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886–912), Stylianos Zaphtzes was the Emperor’s chief adviser and the architect of Byzantine foreign policy. He was also the father of Empress Zoe and was given a specially created title, Father of the Queen, which had not existed previously. During this period, the rank of Logothetes of Communications was supremely important and much sought after by many. As the chief adviser of the emperor in foreign affairs, the Logothetes of Communications held daily audiences with the emperor for a review of all political matters and disputes that appeared from time to time. The Logothetes of Communications was in charge of law and order in the provinces as well. He also had special jurisdiction over the privileges of the official representatives and ambassadors from other countries. He was present for private or formal audiences with the emperor, high government officials, generals, ministers or cabinet members and other distinguished personages. He was also the minister of the interior. He was always the emperor’s attaché during his visit to the institutions of the capital. With the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204, the rank of the Logothetes of Communications disappeared and remained simply as a title of honor and commemoration.
Logothetes of the Secretum / Great Logothetes
Λογοθέτης τῶν σεκρέτων
The rank of Logothetes of the Secretum was created for the first time during the reign of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081–1118). He was the director of public services of the empire and from the twelfth century on was designated also the Great Logothetes. As such, he replaced the Logothetes of Communications and the Logothetes of the Secretum, becoming the most powerful of all public officials in the empire.
As Great Logothetes, this officer took over the administration of all public services and effectively became the prime minister of the Empire. All services were united under one concentric system and were responsible only to the Great Logothetes as head of all political matters. According to Du Cange, the title of Great Logothetes was first bestowed by Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (1183–1185). The Great Logothetes wielded great influence upon the emperor in all imperial matters, internal, foreign, military, and political as well as in diplomatic relations with other countries. His opinion was always respected and accepted by the emperor. The following Great Logothetes distinguished themselves:
a) George Akropolites (1217–1282) appointed General Logothetes in 1244 and Great Logothetes in 1246. He was very well educated, a historian who traced the events of his times in his Chroniki Syngraphi, a history of Constantinople from its occupation by the Crusaders until its liberation in 1261. Patriarch Joseph I (1268–1275) placed him in charge of a mission to pacify the monks of Constantinople who were divided after the dethronement of Patriarch Arsenios (1255–1260 and 1261–1267), who had opposed reunion of the churches under the conditions set by the Western Church.
b) Theodore Metochites (1260–1332), a Byzantine historian, statesman and philosopher who, in is his book Presbeutikos, outlines very well the events of his time. He was the chief spokesman and guiding spirit for Byzantine foreign policy of his time. An extremely well educated person with many talents and abilities, he became a General Logothetes in 1305 and a Great Logothetes in 1321.
c) Niketas Choniates (1150–1213), a Byzantine historian and theologian, became a Great Logothetes and, in 1189, was appointed governor of the district of Philippoupolis during the arrival of the crusaders under the leadership of Frederic Barbossa. In his work Byzantine History (1118–1206) he presents a true picture of his times with accuracy and good judgment.
d) Constantine Acropolites, the son of George Acropolites, was well educated and one of the most eminent personages of his time. He was named Great Logothetes in 1296 serving until 1321 under Andronikos II. He was also famous as an ecclesiastical writer, compiling lives and encomia of thirty-two saints, and is remembered as “the New Translator.”
e) Nikephorus Chumnos (1250–1327) who undermined and replaced Constantine Acropolites in 1321 as Great Logothetes. He had an extensive education which assured him a speedy climb up the ladder of imperial bureaucracy except that he was a quarrelsome and ungrateful person. He was prolific author writing on philosophical, theological, and military topics.
The rank of Great Logothetes disappeared along with other ranks with the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire. It remained only as a simple title in the Church after the Fall of Constantinople. Gustave Schlumberger mentions various seals with names and titles of λογοθέτης, “the royal private secretary and Logothetes of Communications.” Obviously he had first served as a secretary. Another seal bears the name, “Martinos and Logothetes of the Swift Course.” Another seal bears the name Stylianos, possibly referring to Stylianos Zaphtzes, who served with Leo VI the Wise as Logothetes of Communications. Still another seal mentions “the protonotarios and Special Logothetes.” This seal testifies that some who had risen to the rank of λογοθέτης appparently retained their previous rank as well. There is another seal with the inscription “Hartoularios of the Herds.” Two other seals were found bearing the title of General Logothetes without names, of undetermined date but possibly when the rank of λογοθέτης first appeared.
The ranks of λογοθέτης and Great Logothetes existed throughout the Byzantine era as well as after the Fall of Constantinople. In each diocese as well as in the patriarchate, there was a General Logothetes, treasurer, or a Logothetes of the Household, engaged in secular and social matters and the adviser and comforter, acting on behalf of the church in the name of his bishop. The λογοθέτης was a full member of the diocesan spiritual court, representing the bishop, judging both civil and ecclesiastical cases. He took care of the diocesan correspondence and answered letters in accordance with the bishop’s orders. At the bishop’s request, he spoke on various occasions and ceremonies. He presented representatives of other churches and messengers to the bishop and was present during the discussions. He went on confidential missions, acted as a peacemaker during disagreements, and always spoke and acted on behalf of the bishop. He was the diocesan treasurer collecting income from properties of the churches or the monasteries. He was the social worker of the church in the secular and social problems of its members, always acting on behalf of the bishop. Many times, the λογοθέτης accepted another rank, that of “Legal adviser representing the Church.”
After the fall of Constantinople, the rank of Great Logothetes was revived as an ecclesiastical rank in the Patriarchate with duties assigned only by the patriarch to people distinguished for their character, their education, and their conduct. The Great Logothetes was the liaison between the patriarch and the Turkish Sultan. He was the official translator of all official documents of the patriarch to the sultan and of the sultan to the patriarch in both Greek and Turkish. He took part in the meetings for the election and elevation of the new patriarch. He always stood at the right hand of the patriarch and patriarchal throne in the Patriarchal Church during divine services and ceremonies. He was first in the place of honor among all ecclesiastical officials and the official representative of the people to the patriarch, expressing the feelings of the people, their desires, their regrets, unhappiness, and disappointments. Upon instructions of the patriarch, he answered documents except for official documents addressed to other Churches and to Heads of Churches. He certified the authenticity of documents and cosigned them, corroborating his high post as in 1643 with the Synodical Letter ratifying the Orthodox Confession of Faith of Peter Moghilas, who signed it with Patriarchs Parthenios I of Constantinople, Ioannikios of Alexandria, Makarios of Antioch, and Paisios of Jerusalem. The Great Logothetes, as the personal representative of the patriarch, received special honors and recognitions from Turkish officials. The rank of Great Logothetes disappeared from the Church in the eighteenth century, remaining simply as a title of honor and a symbol of contribution.
The ranks of λογοθέτης and Great Logothetes belong according to the interpretation of the Holy and Great Church of Christ in the fourth place of the second set of five offices and ranks.
Hypomnematographos – Ὑπομνηματογράφος
This is both a civilian and an ecclesiastical rank in the Byzantine Empire and in the Orthodox Church. It originated in the pre-Christian era of the Roman Empire and continued with the establishment of Christianity as a unique administrative position within the larger body of the Logothetes.
In Latin, the λογοθέτης is called commentarius. During the Roman Empire, the commentarii were public officials with secretarial functions primarily. They were also clerks taking care of personal correspondence for high public officials, military officers, or individuals from important and wealthy families; tabulae accepti et expensi, in other words, ledgers; or diaries of various personal and family events. They composed speeches for political and military leaders for delivery, prepared memoranda of legal transactions. The public office of the λογοθέτης was developed in the organizations of clergy (commentarii pontifficum augurum et sacris), in the various public services or departments they took over (commentarii consulares censorii et ardilium), and in the provincial departments of the empire. During the third century, the comentarii aure principis represented newsletter writing (gazettes) for legislative and judicial actions. This system spread throughout the empire under the form of commentaries. The various writers or stenographers of the Roman Emperors had absolute authority over appointments, discussions with other departments, various decrees which were issued, official correspondence and all other publications.
The hypomnematographoi were responsible for the registry for all kinds of property organized in Rome in 78 bce, various plebiscites of the people and decrees of the Senate, recording injustices and punishments inflicted by the courts (penal register) and the roster of citizens (department of naturalization), auditing taxes (department of finances), and a special department for the imperial family. Similarly, they oversaw branch offices in the provinces, especially for the collection of taxes; registry offices in the provincial capitals; provincial offices for imperial decrees; and military offices in the provinces for military legionnaires from the front.
During the reign of Alexander the Great (334-323 bce), newspapers or gazettes were published with imperial minutes, diaries, and notes kept by Eumenes (d. 316 bce) who had been secretary for King Philip (359-36 bce), father of Alexander the Great, and who later became chief secretary for Alexander the Great. They offer us information concerning the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, his private life, and events during his times. This system of imperial messages is influenced by the writers of memoirs or memorandum of the Praefectus Aegypti which received wide circulation in Hellenistic times, from whom we have the commentaries of the Dictator Sulla (138-78 bce) issued by Lucius L. Lucullus. The commentarii of Roman and Hellenistic times were called hypomnematographoi, or recorders (commentarii collegium pontifficum) in the early years of Christianity.
The recorders were public officials with a high rank in the service of the king. When King David ascended the throne of Israel, he created the position of Writers of Memoirs or recorders along with other positions. Many recorders are mentioned including Josaphat, son of Ahiloud the recorder; Joas, the son of Asaph the recorder who at first memorized the imperial decrees and decisions as well as the traditions and customs of the people; Jehosaphat, the son of Ahiloud, the recorder; Joas, the son of Safat the recorder; Jehosaphat, the son of Ahiloud for the records; and again Joah, the son of Asaph the recorder. Jehosaphat served as a writer of memoirs under King David (tenth century bce) and Solomon (d. 933 bce). A writer represented King Hezekiah (720-692 bce) in negotiating a peace treaty with Rapsakon, representative of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king (705-681 bce). Joas, son of Safat the recorder for Hezekiah, announced to him the terms of Rapsakon. Similarly, Joah the recorder came to Hezekiah and announced the terms of Rapsakon. Joas also undertook on behalf of the king the payment for the completion of the temple during the reign of Hezekiah: “He sent…Joas his recorder to strengthen the house of the Lord his God and came to Hilkiah the priest and gave him silver” who apparently had a high rank, equal to governor of the city.
In the early years of the Christian Church, the rank of recorder was created to record various prayers, laws, holy canons and other related items. In the Byzantine period, the literary genre of the chronicle was considered a rough memorandum to remind them of various events and talks which the recorder or scribe recorded later in a logical manner according to Church order. The recorder wrote down the events in chronological form so as to verify their accuracy. For example, the deposition of Patriarch Photios in 886 by Leo VI the Wise is mentioned in the form of a historical memo. John Skylitzes writes concerning the Hungarians who had been converted to Christianity. John Zonaras writes his Epitome of Histories about the Byzantine government in a special descriptive account concerning the Hungarians as descendents of the Turks. The three homilies of John of Damascus (700–754) concerning the holy icons are remarkable in their distinction between worship due only to God and the honored veneration suited to the icon. The most trustworthy account of the iconoclastic controversy is George of Cyprus’ “Advice of an Elder concerning Icons,” wherein he fully explains the purpose of writing. Similarly, the studies and epistles of Theodore Studite (759–826) are an excellent exposition of the iconoclastic controversy. Another exceptional commentary for this period is the Panoply of Patriarch Michael Keroularios (d. 1058) in which he defends the dogmas and teachings of the Eastern Church against the Western Church in the schism of the two churches. All these studies are testimonies that their writers dealt with topics and set forth the official position to be followed by the administration of the Church and the State. For this, they can justly bear the title of writers of memoirs or recorders.
The Book of Provinces of Leo the Wise testifies to a trade union of workers called tabulariii who worked as stenographers in government offices of the empire, as well as private stenographers who were engaged in teaching and training young people in legal subjects preparing them for government positions. Anyone who wanted to become a member of the trade union must know the laws found in the Law Handbook published by Basil I the Macedonian (867–886) and the Basilica published by Leo the Wise. They also needed to know how to read and write well and to demonstrate good speaking ability. The stenographer showed great interest in the laws of the land and in public order. The education of youth in the laws and legislation of all nations prevailed during the Middle Ages using the memoirs in classical and Byzantine history as guides and was both helpful and effective. This we also find in Western Europe during the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries.
The stenographer belongs according to the interpretation regarding offices of the Holy and Great Church of Christ in the fifth place of the second set of five offices.