Evagoras I

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Evagoras or Euagoras (Ancient Greek: Εὐαγόρας) was the king of Salamis (411–374 BC) in Cyprus, known especially from the work of Isocrates, who presents him as a model ruler.

The spelling as "Evagoras" reflects Modern Greek pronunciation, while the spelling as "Euagoras" is a direct transliteration of the Greek alphabet letters, and reflects Ancient Greek pronunciation. Both versions have been found in English scholarship for several centuries, in a rare case of a Modern Greek spelling being used in English for a Classical name. Another name where this has been done is that of Evarchus, which is a name mentioned by Thucydides as that of both a tyrant of Astacus and the founder of the colony of Catana in Sicily.

History[edit]

He claimed descent from Teucer, the son of Telamon and half-brother of Ajax, and his family had long been rulers of Salamis, although during his childhood Salamis came under Phoenician control, which resulted in his exile. While in Cilicia, Evagoras gathered the support of 50 followers and returned secretly in 410, to gain possession of the throne. Expecting an eventual Persian response to recapture Cyprus, he cultivated the friendship of the Athenians, and after Conon's defeat at the Battle of Aegospotami he provided him with a refuge. For a time he also maintained friendly relations with Persia, and secured the aid of Artaxerxes II for Athens against Sparta. He took part in the battle of Cnidus of 394 BC which he provided most of the resources for and in which the Spartan fleet was defeated thanks to his efforts, and for this service his statue was placed by the Athenians side by side with that of Conon in the Ceramicus. But relations between Evagoras and the Persians became strained. From 391 they were virtually at war. Aided by the Athenians and the Egyptian king Hakor (Achoris), Evagoras extended his rule over the greater part of Cyprus, crossed over to Asia Minor, took several cities in Phoenicia (including Tyre), and persuaded the Cilicians to revolt.

1/10th stater, (411 – 374 BC), 0.71 g, SNG Copenhagen 733597

One result of the peace of Antalcidas (387), to which Evagoras refused to agree, was that the Athenians withdrew their support, since by its terms they recognized the lordship of Persia over Cyprus. The following years Evagoras carried on hostilities single-handed, except for occasional aid from Egypt, which was likewise threatened by the Persians. The Persian generals Tiribazus and Orontes at last invaded Cyprus in 385 BC, with an army far larger than what Evagoras could command.[citation needed] However, Evagoras managed to cut off this force from being resupplied, and the starving troops rebelled. The war then turned in the Persian favor when Evagoras' fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Citium, and he was compelled to flee to Salamis. Here, although closely blockaded, Evagoras managed to hold his ground, and took advantage of a quarrel between the two Persian generals to conclude peace (376). Evagoras was allowed to remain nominally king of Salamis, but in reality a vassal of Persia, to which he was to pay a yearly tribute. The chronology of the last part of his reign is uncertain. In 374 he was assassinated by a eunuch from motives of private revenge. He was succeeded by his son, Nicocles.

According to Isocrates's Panegyric, Evagoras was a model ruler, whose aim was to promote the welfare of his state and of his subjects by the cultivation of Greek refinement and civilization. Isocrates also states that many people migrated from Greece to Cyprus because of the noble rule of Evagoras. Other sources of this period – Diodorus Siculus 14.115, 15.2-9; Xenophon, Hellenica 4.8 – are not as unrestrainedly complimentary.
Although Cypriots were Greeks and their language a dialect of Greek, the Arcadocypriot, they used to write in an older and more difficult system, called Cypriot syllabary. Evagoras has been called a pioneer of the adoption of the Greek alphabet in Cyprus in place of the older Cypriot syllabary.

References[edit]

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Preceded by
Abdemon
King of Salamis
411–374 BC
Succeeded by
Nicocles