This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Said to be from epigast, the lower part of the breast, but here is a different explanation: " In the days when French tax farmers were as remarkable for their ignorance as for their wealth, a gentleman observed to one of them that he had been dining with a poet who regaled him with en epigram. Envious and angry, the dull fellow rushed home and demanded of his cook 'how it came that no epigrams were served up at his table?' The chef fortunately had wit and fancy equal to the emergency, and at the next dinner he served to his employer appeared an epigram of lamb. This was well contrived. Poetical epigrams usually consist in French of alternate verses. The lamb consisted of alternate cutlets, one set of the ordinary kind, cut from the neck; the other made out of the breast of lamb - brazed, boned, pressed between two dishes, and, when cold, carved into cutlet shapes decorated with asparagus points".
The breast cooked in stock till tender, bones pulled out and reserved, meat chopped and made up as for croquettes; flat croquettes made of it, egged, breaded, bone stuck in each to imitate cutlet, fried. Regular mutton chops also prepared and one of each served to each person, with peas or asparagus.