Ophellas

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Ophellas or Ophelas of Pella in Macedonia was later a king of Cyrene ; his father's name was Silenus. He was considered as one of the closest friends of Alexander the Great. He appears to have accompanied his expedition in Asia, but his name is first mentioned as a trierarch of the fleet on the Indus 327 BC. After the death of Alexander, he followed the fortunes of Ptolemy I Soter, by whom he was sent, in 322 BC, at the head of a considerable army, to take advantage of the civil war which had broken out in the Cyrenaica. This object he successfully accomplished, totally defeated Thimbron and the party that supported him, and established the supremacy of Ptolemaic Egypt over Cyrene itself and its dependencies. But shortly after, the civil dissensions having broken out again led Ptolemy himself to repair to Cyrene, which he this time appears to have reduced to complete subjection.

The subsequent proceedings of Ophelias are involved in great obscurity. It seems certain that he was still left by Ptolemy at this time in the government of Cyrene, which he probably continued to hold on behalf of Ptolemy until about the year 313 BC : but no mention is found of his name in the account given by Diodorus (xviii. 79) of the revolt of the Cyrenaeans in that year, which was suppressed by Agis[disambiguation needed] and Epaenetus, the generals of Ptolemy. Yet it could not have been long after that he availed himself of the continued disaffection of that people towards Egypt to assume the government of Cyrene as an independent state. The continual wars in which Ptolemy was engaged against Antigonus I Monophthalmus, and the natural difficulties of assailing Cyrene, secured him against invasion ; and he appears to have continued in undisputed possession of the country for near five years.

The power to which Ophellas had thus attained, and the strong mercenary force, mainly from Athens which he was able to bring into the field, caused Agathocles, during his expedition in Africa in 308 BC to turn his attention towards the new ruler of Cyrene as likely to prove a useful ally against the Carthaginians. In order to gain him over he promised to cede to him whatever conquests their combined forces might make in Africa, reserving to himself only the possession of Sicily. The ambition of Ophelias was thus aroused: he put himself at the head of a powerful army, and notwithstanding all the natural obstacles which presented themselves on his route, succeeded in reaching the Carthaginian territories after a toilsome and perilous march of more than two months' duration. He was received by his new ally with every demonstration of friendship, and the two armies encamped near each other: but not many days had elapsed when Agathocles took an opportunity treacherously to surprise the camp of the Cyrenaeans, and Ophellas himself perished in the confusion. His troops, thus left without a leader, joined the standard of Agathocles. Justin styles Ophellas "rex Cyrenamm,"' but it seems improbable that he had really assumed the regal title. He was married Eurydice of Athens, a descendant of Miltiades, and appears to have maintained friendly relations with Athens.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.