Apelles' table. A pictured table, representing the excellency of sobriety on one side, and the deformity of intemperance on the other.
Tables of Cebes. Cebes was a Theban philosopher, a disciple of Socrates, and one of the interlocutors of Plato's Phædo. His Tables or Tableau supposes him to be placed before a tableau or panorama representing the life of man, which the philosopher describes with great accuracy of judgment and splendour of sentiment. This tableau is sometimes appended to Epictetus.
Table of Pythagoras. The common multiplication table, carried up to ten. The table is parcelled off into a hundred little squares or cells. (See Tabulae.)
Knights of the Round Table. A military order instituted by Arthur, the “first king of the Britons,” A.D. 516. Some say they were twenty-four in number, some make the number as high as 150, and others reduce the number to twelve. They were all seated at a round table, that no one might claim a post of honour.
The Twelve Tables. The tables of the Roman laws engraved on brass, brought from Athens to Rome by the decemvirs.
Turning the tables. Rebutting a charge by bringing forth a counter-charge. Thus, if a husband accuses his wife of extravagance in dress, she “turns the tables upon him” by accusing him of extravagance in his, club. The Romans prided themselves on their tables made of citron wood from Mauritania, inlaid with ivory, and sold at a most extravagant price - some equal to a senator's income. When the gentlemen accused the ladies of extravagance, the ladies retorted by reminding the gentlemen of what they spent in tables. Pliny calls this taste of the Romans mensarum insania.
It is also used for “audi alteram partem,” and the allusion is then slightly modified - “We have considered the wife's extravagance; let us now look to the husband's.”
“We will now turn the tables, and show the hexameters in all their vigour.” —The Times.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894