Hýpatos and the variant apó hypátōn (Greek: , "former hýpatos", literally: "from among the consuls") was a Byzantine court dignity
Byzantine aristocracy and bureaucracy
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, which was inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the pyramid stood the Emperor, sole ruler and divinely ordained, but beneath him a multitude of officials and court functionaries operated the administrative...

, originally the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 translation of Latin consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

(the literal meaning of hypatos is "the supreme one"). The dignity arose from the honorary consulships awarded in the late Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, and survived until the early 12th century. It was often conferred upon the rulers of the south Italian principalities
South Italian principalities
Following the collapse of Roman and later Lombard authority in southern Italy, a group of semi-independent principalities evolved between the 8th and 11th centuries:*Principality of Benevento, a former Lombard duchy independent from 774...

. In Italian documents the term was sometimes Latinised as hypatus or ypatus, and in Italian historiography one finds ipato. The feminine form of the term was hypátissa (Greek: ).

The creation of ordinary consuls in Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 was irregular, although the Greek East and Latin West tended to divide the two consulships; the office, which had become both effectively honorary and quite expensive, sometimes lay vacant for years. The emperors were often ordinary consuls; after 541, with the exception of the emperor, who assumed the office on his accession, no ordinary consuls were appointed. From that point on, only honorary consulships were granted, and the title declined much in prestige. Throughout the 6th to 9th centuries there is ample sigillographic evidence of functionaries bearing the title, usually attached to mid-level administrative and fiscal posts. In the late 9th-century hierarchy, however, as related by the Klētorologion
The Klētorologion of Philotheos , is the longest and most important of the Byzantine lists of offices and court precedence . It was published in September of 899 during the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise by the otherwise unknown prōtospatharios and atriklinēs Philotheos...

of Philotheos
- People :* Philotheos Bryennios , Greek Orthodox bishop* Pope Philotheos of Alexandria, in office 979-1003* Philotheus of Pskov , Russian abbot* Philotheus of Samosata, a companion in martyrdom of Romanus of Samosata...

, it was one of the lower dignities, ranking between the spatharios and the strátōr. Its badge of office, whose award also conferred the dignity, was a diploma. In the Taktikon of Escorial, written circa 975, the hypatos appears to be a regular office instead of an honorary dignity, endowed with judicial duties according to Nicolas Oikonomides. In the 11th century, the title rose again in importance, apparently outranking the prōtospathários
Prōtospatharios was one of the highest court dignities of the middle Byzantine period , awarded to senior generals and provincial governors, as well as to foreign princes.-History:...

, but disappeared entirely by the mid-12th century.

The title was often conferred to the rulers of south Italian city-states of the Tyrrhenian
Tyrrhenian Sea
The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.-Geography:The sea is bounded by Corsica and Sardinia , Tuscany, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Calabria and Sicily ....

 coast, which recognised Byzantine authority in the 9th through 11th centuries. Eventually, with the waning of Byzantine power in the region, these rulers took on more familiar Latin titles like consul and dux
Dux is Latin for leader and later for Duke and its variant forms ....

, modern duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

. The most famous hýpatoi were those of Gaeta
Gaeta is a city and comune in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 km from Rome and 80 km from Naples....

. John I of Gaeta
John I of Gaeta
John I was the second hypatus of Gaeta of his dynasty, a son of Dociblis I and Matrona, and perhaps the greatest of medieval Gaetan rulers....

 won the title patrikios from the Byzantine emperor, as a reward for defeating the Saracens
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

. In Gaeta, the feminine title hypátissa was replaced by doúkissa (Italian: ducissa) during the reign of Docibilis II of Gaeta
Docibilis II of Gaeta
Docibilis II was the ruler of Gaeta, in one capacity or another, from 906 until his death. He was the son of the hypatus John I, who made him co-ruler in 906 or thereabouts....

 and his wife Orania, in the first half of the 10th century.

The title was the root of the titles anthypatos
Anthypatos is the translation in Greek of the Latin proconsul. In the Greek-speaking East, it was used to denote this office in Roman and early Byzantine times, surviving as an administrative office until the 9th century...

("vice-hýpatos", the translation of proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

) and dishypatos
Dishypatos, Latinized as dishypatus , was a Byzantine honorary dignity in the 9th-11th centuries. From then on, and especially during the Palaiologan period, it is attested as a family name....

("twice hýpatos"), as well as the office of hýpatos tōn philosóphōn (Greek: , "chief of the philosophers"), a title given to the head of the imperial university of Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

in the 11th-14th centuries.
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