Evagoras, (d.374)

Evagoras (r.411-374 BC) was king of Salamis on Cyprus, and an ally of Athens who eventually fell under Persian domination after a failed revolt against the Empire.

Evagoras was a member of a family that claimed descent from Teucer, the legendary founder of Salamis. His family had been expelled by a Phoenician, whose family had then ruled for several generations, and still controlled the city when Evagoras was born. When Evagoras was a young man the last of the Phoenician rulers was overthrown by Abdymon of Cittium, who then attempted to capture Evagoras. Evagoras escaped to Cilicia a small army and killed Abdymon in his palace.

Evagoras is recorded as being a supporter of Greek civilisation, who was rewarded with Athenian citizenship for his efforts. He was already an Athenian citizen in 405 when the Athenian admiral Conon and some of the few Athenian survivors of the battle of Aegospotami took shelter at Salamis. Conon and Evagoras were already friends, so the Athenians found a safe haven.

At first he was also on good terms with the Persian Empire, and soon after the outbreak of the Corinthian War (395-387) he played a part in gaining Persian support for the Athenians in their struggle with Sparta. He was helped in this by the ongoing Persian-Spartan War, which had begun in 400 after the revolt of Cyrus the Younger.

Evagoras fought on the Persian side at the naval battle of Cnidus (394), a major victory over Sparta which effectively expelled the Spartans from the Aegean. Evagoras had built up a fleet of his own, and commanded this at Cnidus.

In the next few years Evagoras fell out with the Persians, and by 391 he was effectively at war with them. Rather foolishly the Athenians sent an expedition to support him, commanded by Chabrias, alienating their Persian allies. This would eventually help the Spartans come to terms with the Persians. In the short term it appeared to have been a good policy, and Evagoras conquered much of Cyprus and took control of some cities on the coast of Asia Minor. He also raided Phoenicia, the heart of Persian naval power.

In 386 the Corinthian War was ended by the King's Peace, or Peace of Antalcides. Athens withdrew from the eastern Mediterranean, leaving Evagoras without allies. He still managed to hang on for a few more years, but suffered a heavy defeat at Citium in 381 (modern Larnaca, Cyprus). In the aftermath of the battle he fled to Salamis, from where he entered into negotiations with the Persians. He was aided in his efforts by the almost inevitable arguments between the two Persian ommanders, Tiribazus and Orontes. This ended with Tiribazus recalled and Evagoras was able to arrange a peace treaty with Orontes. He was allowed to keep his throne, but as a Persian vassal. He was murdered by a eunuch called Thrasydaeus in 374 as part of a private argument, and was succeeded by his son Nicocles..

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 October 2015), Evagoras, (d.374) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_evagoras.html

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