A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king's cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness and courage.
|Egyptian hieroglyph for a cup-bearer|
The cup-bearer as an honorific role, for example with the Egyptian hieroglyph for a cup-bearer, was used as late as 196 BC in the Rosetta Stone for the Kanephoros cup-bearer Areia, daughter of Diogenes; each Ptolemaic Decree starting with the Decree of Canopus honored a cup-bearer. A much older role was the appointment of Sargon of Akkad as cup-bearer in the 23rd century BC.
Read more about Cup-bearer: Cup-bearers in The Bible, Cup-bearers in Greek Myth, Cup-bearers As Palatine Officers in Visigothic Spain, Cup-bearers As A Great Office in The Holy Roman Empire, Cup-bearer in Shakespeare
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... 'Ay and thou His cupbearer,whom I from meaner form Have benched and reared to worship, who mayst see Plainly as heaven sees earth sees heaven, How I am galled, Might bespice a cup To give mine enemy a lasting wink Which draft to me were cordial.' (Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale 1.2). ...
... The cup-bearer (Latin pincerna, architriclinus, or propinator) was the official in charge of keeping the royal court fed ...