This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources produced and mounted with historical introduction and commentary by Paul Stephenson.


Theodore Daphnopates

Born probably between 890 and 900, Theodore Daphnopates became head of the imperial chancery, responsible for imperial correspondence ( prôtasêkrêtis ), under the emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (920-44), with the rank of patrikios . Dujcev suggests that he was later “private secretary” ( mystikos ) to Romanos I. He composed letters on behalf of the emperor, ten of which, written between 925 and 933, are extant (ed. & French tr. Darrouzès and Westerink, 1978, pp. 30-141, epp. 1-10). One of these ten letters is to the Pope (ep. 1), one is to the Metropolitan of Herakleia (ep. 2), a third is addressed to all metropolitans (ep. 3), and a fourth is to the Emir of Egypt (ep. 4). Letters five, six and seven, with which we are here concerned, are all addressed to Symeon, “ eksousiatês of the Bulgarians”   and “spiritual brother” (ep. 5), later “archon of Bulgaria” but still “spiritual brother” (epp. 6, 7). The protocols of these letters can usefully be compared to those prescribed in an addendum to the contemporary compilation, the De Cerimoniis .


Daphnopates left also a corpus of private letters (epp. 12-35; the attributions of 36-40 are more problematic), plus seven or eight works of hagiography or homiletic (listed by Darrouzès and Westerink, 1978, pp. 4-6). It is also now generally agreed that he is reponsible for the final part of the work known as [Symeon] the Logothete's chronicle. (He is referred to as an historian in the preface to Skylitzes' chronicle .) His cursus honorum can be derived from the lemmata to these texts, for example three works, including Vita A of Theodore the Studite (which some manuscripts attribute to Daphnopates; others to the monk Michael), reveal that he held the rank of magistros towards the end of his life. Between 933 and his death after c. 963, he wrote a few commissioned works, including a discourse on the translation of the hand of John the Baptist in 956 for the emperor Constantine VII. He continued to hold the position of prôtasêkrêtis , although there is no record that he served any high political or diplomatic function during that emperor's sole reign (944-59). This was most likely a consequence of his intimate association with Romanos I, usurper of Constantine VII's throne. In contrast, Constantine's son and successor, Romanos II (959-63), appointed Theodore eparch of Constantinople , an extremely high office, at which time he had already been – presumably immediately before this promotion – logothêtês of the army, still at the rank of patrikios . Thus we might posit his promotion to magistros and the rehabilitation of his reputation c. 960, following a period out of favour.


Basic Bibliography

Théodore Daphnopatès correspondance , ed. and French tr. J. Darrouzès and L. G. Westerink (Paris, 1978)

I. Dujcev, “On the treaty of 927 with the Bulgarians,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 32 (1978), 217-95

R. J. H. Jenkins, “The classical background of the Scriptores post Theophanem,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 8 (1954), 13-30

R. J. H. Jenkins, “The peace with Bulgaria (927) celebrated by Theodore Daphnopates,” in: Polychronion, Festschrift F. Dölger zum 75. Geburtstag (Heidelberg, 1966), pp. 287-303

P. Karlin-Hayter, “The homily on the peace with Bulgaria of 927 and the ‘coronation' of 913,' Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 17 (1968), 29-39

A. Stauridou-Zafraka, “O anônymos logos ‘Epi tê tôn Boulgarôn symbasei',” Byzantina 8 (1976), 345-406
A. Kazhdan, A History of Byzantine Literature, II: 850-1000, ed. C. Angelidi (Athens, 2006), 152-7



Oration referring back to the "coronation" of Tsar Symeon of Bulgaria in 913, attributed to Daphnopates (disputed)

Letters, to follow


Paul Stephenson, January 2004

Revised January 2012