), a Thessalian, the friend and minister of Pyrrhus, king of Epeirus.
He was the most eloquent man of his day, and reminded his hearers (in some degree) of Demosthenes, whom he heard speak in his youth. Pyrrhus prized his persuasive powers so highly, that "the words of Cineas (he was wont to say) had won him more cities than his own arms."
He was also famous for his conversational powers, and some instances of his repartees are still preserved. (Plin. Nat. 14.12
That he was versed in the philosophy of Epicurus is plain from the anecdote related by Cicero (Cat. Maj.
13) and Plutarch. (Pyrrh.
But this is no ground for assuming that he professed this philosophy.
At all events he did not practise it; for, instead of whiling away life in useless ease, he served Pyrrhus long and actively; and he took so much interest in the art of war, as to epitomise the Tactica of Aeneas (Aelian, Tact.
1); and this, no doubt, is the work to which Cicero refers when he speaks of Cineas' books de re militari
9.25). Dr. Arnold says Plutarch mentions his Commentaries, but it does not appear to what he refers.
The historical writer referred to by Strabo (vii. fin. p. 329) may be the same person.
The most famous passage in his life is his embassy to Rome, with proposals for peace from Pyrrhus, after the battle of Heraclea (B. C. 280). Cineas spared no arts to gain favour. Thanks to his wonderful memory, on the day after his arrival he was able (we are told) to address all the senators and knights by name (Plin. Nat. 7.24
); and in after times stories were current that he sought to gain them over by offering presents to them and their wives, which, however, were disdainfully rejected. (Plut. Pyrrh. 18
; Diod. Exc. Vatic.
xxii.; Liv. 34.4
The terms he had to offer were hard, viz. that all the Greeks in Italy should be left free, and that the Italian nations from Samnium downwards should receive back all they had forfeited to Rome. (Appian, Samn. Fragm.
x.) Yet such was the need, and such the persuasiveness of Cineas, that the senate would probably have yielded, if the scale had not been turned by the dying eloquence of old Appius Caecus. [CLAUDIUS, No. 10.] The ambassador returned and told the king (say the Romans), that there was no people like that people,--their city was a temple, their senate an assembly of kings. Two years after (B. C. 278), when Pyrrhus was about to cross over into Sicily, Cineas was again sent to negotiate peace, but on easier terms; and though the senate refused to conclude
a treaty while the king was in Italy, his minister's negotiations were in effect successful. (Appian, Samn. Frayem.
xi.) Cineas was then sent over to Sicily, according to his master's usual policy, to win all he could by persuasion, before he tried the sword. (Plut. Pyrrh. 22
.) And this is the last we hear of him.
He probably died before Pyrrhus returned to Italy in B. C. 276, and with him the star of his master's fortune set.
He was (as Niebuhr says) the king's good genius, and his place was filled by unworthy favourites .