They also used to call the tasters (according to the statement of the same Pamphilus) ἐδέατροι, because they ate of dishes before the king with a view to his safety. But now, the person called ἐδέατρος is the superintendent of the whole management of the feast; and that office is very eminent and honourable. Accordingly, Chares, in the third book of his Histories, says that Ptolemy surnamed Soter, was originally appointed as the taster (ἐδέατρος) of Alexander. And it appears that the person whom the Romans now call the taster was at that time called by the Greeks προτένθης. As Aristophanes, in the earlier of his plays, called the Clouds, says—
A. Why then do not the magistrates receiveAnd Pherecrates mentions them, in his Countrymen—
The prytanea on the new-moon's day,
But on the day before?
B. They seem to me
To act like tasters (πρότενθαι) who in hopes to take
The prytanea with all possible speed,
Taste them on this account all on one day.
Do not you marvel; we are of the number[p. 275] And Philyllus says, in his Hercules—
Of skilful tasters (προτένθων), but you know us not.
Must I then tell you who I am to-day?And I find also a decree passed, while Cephisodrus was archer at Athens, in which the tasters are mentioned as a regular guild or college; just like the men who are called parasites. For the decree runs thus:—“Phocus proposed that, in order that the council might celebrate the Apaturia with the rest of the Athenians, in accordance with the national customs, that it should be decreed by the council, that the councillors should be released for the day, as also the other councils have been dismissed, for a holiday of five days from the day which the tasters (οἱ πρότενθαι) celebrate.” And that the ancients had people who were called “tasters” Xenophon tells us in his treatise which is entitled Hiero or the Tyrant, where he says, “The tyrant lives, never trusting either meat or drink, but they order those who minister to them to taste them first, in the place of offering libations to the gods; because they feel a distrust lest they should eat or drink something pernicious.” And Anaxilas, in his Calypso, says—
I am that taster called Dorpia.
First the old woman here shall taste your drink.