[Or. IX.]—On the occasion of a festival held by Nikokles in memory of his father Evagoras, Isokrates sends this encomium as his tribute. The
words in § 78—（πολλάκις σοι διακελεύομαι περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν
）—have been taken as indicating the Letter To Nikokles,
and as showing, therefore, that the Evagoras
is later than that work1
. The scholiast further remarks that, though the speech is an epitaphios, it lacks two regular elements of such a composition— the lament (τὸ θρηνητικόν
) at the beginning and the consolation (τὸ παραμυθητικόν
) at the end; a fact for which he accounts on the supposition that many years had elapsed since the death of Evagoras2
. Neither this inference nor that drawn from § 78 appears safe. Another, perhaps of greater weight, may however be derived from another circumstance. The death of Evagoras was violent. He was assassinated in 374 B.C. by Thrasydaeos, a eunuch whose master, one Nikokreon, had just fled from Salamis on the detection of a plot against the king's life3
. Now, §§ 70—72 of this speech are so worded as to imply, without saying, that Evagoras had closed a prosperous life by a happy death4
. If Isokrates had been writing while the memory of the king's death was fresh, could he have written thus? The Letter To Nikokles
may, as we saw, be placed in 374 or 373, the Nikokles
between 372 and 365. The Evagoras
is probably as late as 365; possibly later5
The speech is arranged as follows:—I. Proem, §§ 1—11. II. Evagoras: (1) his lineage and his acquisition of the throne, §§ 12—40: (2) his character, and his domestic reforms, §§ 41—50: (3) his wars, §§ 51—64: (4) general retrospect of his career, §§ 65 —72. III. Hortatory conclusion, §§ 73—81.
I. ‘Seeing you, Nikokles, bringing costly offerings to
the tomb of your father,—honouring his obsequies with contests of athletes and of poets, with chariot-races and trireme-races,—I, too, wish to bring my tribute. If the soul of Evagoras is aware of what is done on earth, I believe that nothing could be more grateful to him than the commemoration of his virtues and his trials. The splendour of shows, the rivalry of self-glorifying poets, does not supply this; plain prose, then, shall attempt it. If it were the fashion to extol contemporary, instead of ancient heroes, a double gain would accrue; the panegyrist would be forced to respect truth, and his hearers would be encouraged to effort by the hope of praise. Envy hinders this. But the custom prescribed by envy must be broken through; without innovation there can be no improvement. The task is hard, since prose does not command the graces of poetry; yet it shall be tried whether merit cannot be praised without the help of metre6
II. ‘The descent of Evagoras, well-known though it be, must be mentioned. The house of the Aeakidae, the
noblest in Greece, was founded by a son of Zeus, Aeakos, to whom stands the temple in Aegina—a memorial of that intercession with his father by which he once delivered Greece from a sore drought (§ 18). From Aeakos sprang Peleus and Telamon; from Peleus, Achilles; from Telamon, Aias and Teukros. Teukros, after the taking of Troy, founded in Cyprus the town of Salamis and the present dynasty (§§ 12—18).
‘That dynasty has not, however, reigned uninterruptedly.
How Evagoras won the throne.
A Phoenician exile came of old to Cyprus; won the trust of the king; ousted him, and took his throne7
. The usurper's descendants still ruled when Evagoras was born. Distinguished in youth by beauty, strength, temperance, in early manhood by courage, wisdom, justice, Evagoras gave uneasiness, but not alarm, to the reigning house. He seemed too brilliant for a private lot, and yet too honest to snatch a royal one. Fortune fulfilled both auguries. It gave him a crown without driving him to a crime. One of the powerful nobles8
formed a conspiracy against the
despot, and slew him; and sought at the same time to lay hands upon Evagoras, who fled to Soli in Cilicia. He there rallied round him a band of fifty men; landed with them in Cyprus; and, forcing his way the same night into Salamis, attacked the palace. The mass of the inhabitants standing neutral, he succeeded in taking it; expelled the usurpers; and restored the sceptre to his own house9
‘If I were to say no more, the surpassing merit of Evagoras would have been sufficiently proved. No hero of legend or of history ever won kingly power in a manner so brilliant. Take the most famous instance of all—that of the elder Cyrus, who transferred the empire from the Medes to the Persians. Cyrus conquered by his army; Evagoras by his own courage: Cyrus slew his mother's father; Evagoras incurred no guilt’ (§§ 33—40).
‘His use of power was worthy of the manner in which he had gained it. Gifted with great and ready talents, he was at the same time minutely and incessantly diligent. He attended personally to all affairs; knew every citizen; did nothing on hearsay. The love of the gods for him, and his own love of men, were so apparent in his government that strangers visiting Cyprus envied the subjects no less than the king. Enemies found him resistless, friends pliant; he was dignified, but never harsh; consistent in deeds as in words; versatile in taking from every form of constitution its best part; at once a friend of the people, a large-minded statesman, and a far-seeing general (§§ 41—46).’
‘The history of his reign will be found to justify these
praises. He found the State barbarised by the Phoenicians; ignorant of arts, without commerce, without even a harbour; at enmity with all Hellas10
. He not only repaired these evils, but acquired territory, built forts, created a fleet, and thus put his city on a par with any in Greece. His civilising influence reached even the barbarian countries adjacent to Cyprus. That island itself became a resort of distinguished settlers from the rest of Greece11
‘Foremost among these was Konon. The friendship,
His friendship with Konon.
closer than kinship, which at once sprang up between him and Evagoras was strengthened by the bond of a common sympathy for humiliated Athens. That Persia made the war against Sparta a maritime and not a land war, was due to the joint council of Konon and of Evagoras. They saw that a victory on the Asiatic continent could benefit only the Asiatic Greeks; but that a victory at sea must benefit all Hellas. And so it proved. The battle of Knidos was fought, and the bondsmen of Sparta were freed. Statues of Konon and Evagoras, placed side by side near the statue of Zeus the Deliverer, commemorated the gratitude of Athens (§§ 51—57).
‘Meanwhile Artaxerxes had viewed uneasily the genius
and the fortune of Evagoras; and he now seized a pretext for hostilities. Though utterly without material resources, Evagoras, by his own ability and that of his son Pnytagoras, triumphed more marvellously than before. He reduced almost the whole of Cyprus; ravaged Phoenicia; stormed
Tyre; threw Kilikia into revolt; filled Persia with mourning and with loathing of the war, until, against all precedent, the Great King made peace before the rebels were in his hands12
. In a war of less than three years, Persia had stripped Sparta of Empire; after a war of ten years13
, Persia was compelled to leave Evagoras in full possession of his kingdom (§§ 57—64).
‘Legend celebrates the conquest, by united Hellas, of the town of Troy; but must not that achievement yield to the defeat, by the single city of Salamis, of all Asia? Or where in history is the man who, after winning a throne and civilising a kingdom, won victories which changed the destinies of a race? It is hard to decide whether Evagoras is most admirable for his warfare against Sparta, for his warfare against Persia, for his acquisition, or for his exercise of power.
‘If the gods ever bestowed immortality in reward for virtue, surely it may be deemed that they have given it to Evagoras. During his lifetime, their favour graced him with all gifts of mind and body, with unchanging prosperity, with fame, with years, with noble children (§§ 65—72).
‘Failing powers have not suffered me to praise Evagoras aright; yet a slight tribute, at least, has been offered; and the portrait of a man's character is a better memorial than an image of his body. For you, Nikokles, and for your children, that character should be a spur to excellence. Most men have to take example from strangers; you need not go beyond your own family. I did not forget that you have begun your course well; I exhort you only as
bystanders cheer a runner who is winning. Persevere, and you will prove worthy of yourself’ (§§ 73—81).
is professedly an encomium; but the praise which it awards does not, on the whole, appear to be exaggerated. The chief facts known about Evagoras speak for themselves; they show him to have been a man of unusually strong character, and of great abilities both military and political. A memoir of him is valuable not only on this account, but also on account of the peculiar position in which he was placed. Cyprus was divided between Phoenician settlements, such as Citium and Paphos, and later Greek settlements, such as Salamis and Soli. But the bulk of the population was, till long after the time of Evagoras, Phoenician14
; and continual contact with the non-hellenic East must always have tended to depress the Greek element in Cyprus. Evagoras was the champion of Hellenism against
The Cyprian Salamis an out-post of Hellas.
barbarism at this out-post; first, as restorer of that Greek civilisation which the Phoenician and Tyrian masters of Salamis had effaced; afterwards, as antagonist of Persia in a War of Independence. Perhaps the most striking passage in the memoir is that which describes how commerce, arts, letters, humane intercourse with the outer world, having become extinct under the rule of the barbarian, speedily sprang into a new life under the rule of the Hellene15