CYPRUS, an island in the eastern Mediterranean off the southern coast of central Anatolia, not men­tioned in any of the Old Persian imperial inscriptions but under Achaemenid control from the reign of Cambyses son of Cyrus (520s B.C.E.) to the reign of Darius III (336-31 B.C.E.). It was never organized as a separate satrapy with its own governor. Herodotus (3.91) reported that it was part of the satrapy of Syria, but as the satrap was never mentioned as managing Cypriot affairs, not even in times of great instability, the report is probably incorrect. In contrast to the situation in the Achaemenid holdings in Anatolia, Persian settlement in Cyprus was neither substantial nor encouraged.

Sources. There is no continuous narrative of the history of Cyprus under Achaemenid control. Instead, the history of the island must be pieced together from notices by Greek and Roman historians (e.g., Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus) and orators (e.g., Isocrates), usually focused on episodes of warfare. The predominance of Hellenic cultural forms resulted in a pro-Hellenic interpretation of events in these ancient sources (e.g., in Isocrates, 9.16-20, Euagoras I [q.v.] of Salamis is presented as a Greek hero, whereas in 9.47 his prede­cessors, of Phoenician descent, are said to have “barbarized” the city); a similar bias informed reports on Caria. Such interpretations remained almost unchallenged until recently (for attempts to correct biases and misinterpretations like those in Gjerstad, pp. 488ff., see Maier; Watkin). There are virtually no indigenous written sources. One notable exception is an inscribed bronze tablet from Idalion (for the text, see Solmsen and Fraenkel, pp. 9-12) containing a report that Achaemenid troops assisted in defense of the city against forces from Kition.

Material remains from the Achaemenid period re­veal very little Persian influence (see below). Further­more, their interpretation reveals a similar Hel­lenocentric bias. It has been supposed, for example, that they reflect unceasing ethnic strife between Greeks and Phoenicians, presumed to be more loyal to their Persian masters. The floor plan of a residence at Paphos, perhaps that of an official, which was thought to display parallels with the Apadana at Persepolis, has been considered evidence of this con­flict (Schäfer; cf. observations in Petit). The large quantity of Cypriot coins minted in each major city usually bear the local king’s title and name in Greek, Cypriot, or Phoenician. Often these coins are difficult to assign and to arrange in a relative chronology (for issues from Phoenicia incorrectly assigned to the Cyp­riot ruler Euagoras II, see Betlyon, pp. 18-20). These issues ceased after the imposition of more centralized control by the Macedonian king Ptolemy I of Egypt in the late 4th century b.c.e. (see below). Their princi­pal documentary value is in revealing the multitude of political entities with which Achaemenid authorities had to deal and also the absence of any political order imposed on the island from abroad. There are also occasional finds of imported Achaemenid luxury goods and evidence of military action from the period (e.g., the destruction at Tamassos and the siege mound at Paphos; Nicolau; Erdmann, passim; Murray, pp. 484­-85).

Events in Cyprus under the Achaemenids. It was Cambyses who extended Achaemenid control to Cyprus, which then willingly provided support for his conquest of Egypt (Herodotus, 3.19.3; cf. 2.182; for a refutation of Xenophon’s evidence, in Cyropaedia 1.1.4, that the Cypriots submitted to Cyrus, see Watkin). The main value of the island to the Persians was as a naval base; most of the surviving historical data are related to wars in which Greek forces participated, and most of them are thus focused on the port city of Salamis. The major features of these conflicts were always the same: internal instability (e.g., coups in Salamis), intercity fighting (for which the Idalion tablet provides unique evidence), involvement of Achaemenid forces (usually from Anatolia) to reestab­lish order, and, finally, attempts by Cypriot and other opponents of Achaemenid control to exploit one an­other (e.g., the half-hearted support by Akoris of Egypt for Euagoras I; see below). Furthermore, the Greek and Roman authors tended to view the Cypriots as Hellenes fighting for ideals upheld by the Hellenes of Europe and the Aegean. This perception was echoed in official documents of the time (e.g., Inscriptiones Graecae I, p. 113: Euagoras I granted Athenian citi­zenship; cf. Demosthenes, 23.141, 23.202: non-Hel­lenic members of the satrapal family in Dascylium, made citizens).

An early example of the instability noted above occurred in 497-96 b.c.e., during the reign of Darius I (521-486 b.c.e.). Conflict within the ruling family of Salamis led to the expulsion of King Gorgus by his brother Onesilus, who then embarked upon an expansionist policy. He persuaded other Cypriot cities­—Amathous being the notable exception—to join a Greek revolt against Achaemenid control. A punitive cam­paign, prompted in part by Gorgus’ complaints and leading to his reinstatement, was dispatched under the command of the Persian Artybius, who defeated Onesilus and his supporters, including some of the Ionian rebels (Herodotus, 5.104, 5.108-16). The most notable feature of the campaign was the Achaemenid mastery of siege technology and artillery (at Soli and Paphos; Wallinga, 1984; Murray, pp. 484-85). For the remainder of the 5th century information is relatively scanty. Cypriot forces led by their own rulers partici­pated in border operations by Darius and Xerxes I (486-65 b.c.e.; Herodotus, 6.6, 7.90, 7.96, 8.11, cf. 7.98-99). At that time Cyprus was suffering repeated raids by Spartan and Athenian pirate fleets, which, however, succeeded in maintaining only transitory control of a few cities (for the operation of the Spartan Pausanias in the 470s, see Thucydides, 1.94; Diodorus, 11.44; for that of the Athenian Cimon in the 450s, see Thucydides, 1.112; Diodorus, 12.3-4; for argments that the Achaemenid fleet was more centrally orga­nized before the 470s, see Wallinga, 1987).

From about the turn of the 4th century information is more abundant, though largely limited to Salamis and its royal family, the Teucridae (see Table 31). The historical tradition, preserved for the most part by Diodorus Siculus, was much influenced by Isocrates’ erroneous perception of the Achaemenid empire as in a state of decline, seething with discontent and secret disloyalty to the great king. In Isocrates’ writings Euagoras I and his family emerge as Greek heroes, but the disruptions caused by him and his successors were exaggerated by both Isocrates and his pupil, the historian Ephorus, on whom Diodorus relied extensively (Isocrates, 9: the speech on Euagoras; Diodorus, 14.98, 14.110, 15.2ff.).

The early years of Euagoras’ reign (ca. 411/10-391) did not attract hostile Achaemenid attention, despite expulsions of his rivals (Isocrates, 9.19, 9.26, 9.31-32, 9.72; Diodorus, 14.98.1; Theopompus, spud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103) and renewed Salamian expansionism (Ctesias, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 688 fr. 30; Diodorus, 14.98; Theopompus, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103). Events elsewhere in the Aegean, Egypt, and Anatolia (e.g., the rebellion of Cyrus the Younger; see cyrus vi) were more pressing. Susa was finally spurred to action by the direct appeals of the kings of Amathous, Soli, and Kition, all objects of Euagoras’ aggression (Diodorus, 14.98.2). A puni­tive campaign was launched by Artaxerxes II (405-359 b.c.e.). According to the Isocratean tradition (Isocrates, 9.64; Diodorus, 15.9.2), approximately ten years of hostilities between Euagoras and Artaxerxes ensued. It is more accurate, however, to perceive Salamis as the object of two distinct campaigns, the more important of which occurred only after the Greek and Egyptian problems had been settled (Isocrates, 4.140; Diodorus, 14.110.5; cf. Xenophon, Hellenica 5.1.28ff.; cf. Reid; Tuplin; for a philhellenic descrip­tion of Euagoras’ reign, see Spyridakis, but cf. Costa; for 4th-century Achaemenid policing operations in Cyprus, see Judeich, pp. 113-36, 170-79).

In the first campaign (391/90) the generals were Hecatomnus, satrap of Caria, and Autophradates, a lesser officer (pace Theopompus, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103). Although Diodorus (15.2.3; cf. Isocrates, 4.161) claimed that Hecatomnus had become a “secret” ally of Euagoras, it is more likely that this first campaign, about which little is known, reduced some of Euagoras’ power without depriving him of his position. The second campaign (382-80; cf. Diodorus, 15.2ff., who assigned it to the wrong years) was commanded by more senior officers, former colleagues in the satrapy of Armenia: Tiribazus (who had become satrap of Lydia) and Orontes (satrap of Armenia). More is known of the fighting, in which Euagoras exploited and was exploited by Akoris, the king of rebellious Egypt, who sought to tie up Achaemenid forces that might otherwise be deployed against the rebellious regions of Egypt. Indeed, the Greek authors tended to see Euagoras and Akoris behind every instance of trouble in western Asia (Isocrates, 4.140-41, 4.161, 9.62; Diodorus, 15.2; Theopompus, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103), as in the unprovable claim that Euagoras held Tyre. After a single sea battle off Kition the power of Salamis crumbled (Diodorus, 15.3); the subsequent siege of the city was prolonged as a result of tensions between the Achaemenid commanders (Diodorus, 15.10-11; Theopompus, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103). The campaign ended with Euagoras restricted to his own territory, obedient to the Persians, and paying tribute. Although he was assassinated in about 374, his family continued to rule Salamis (Isocrates, 3.33-34, 9.72). His son Nicocles probably reigned into the 360s; he restored a measure of politi­cal and economic stability to the island (Isocrates, 3.31). He, too, was subject to the great king and did not attempt territorial expansion.

The final recorded Achaemenid policing operation was a minor campaign against Salamis, ending in 344; at that time the city was ruled by Pnytagoras. Diodorus claimed that the whole island was involved and that the Cypriots were imitating contemporary uprisings in Phoenicia and Egypt (16.40,16.42). It is clear from the details of the campaign, however, that Salamis was again suffering from dynastic rivalries, which had resulted in the expulsion of Euagoras II (Diodorus, 16.42.7). Achaemenid military operations were su­pervised by Idrieus, satrap of Caria, and conducted in the field by the mercenary commander Phocion and Euagoras himself. The main events of the campaign were a siege of the city and the steady arrival of mercenaries anxious to share in the booty. In the end Pnytagoras remained king, and Euagoras was given a post in Asia, which he mismanaged. He fled to Cyprus and was killed (Diodorus, 16.42, 16.46). It should be noted that all these operations were relatively minor frontier skirmishes, limited in duration and extent and resulting in no major changes on the island.

Cypriot forces assisted in the defense of the Achaemenid empire against the Macedonian invasion (Arrian, Anabasis 1.18, 2.13), but after the fall of coastal Anatolia and Phoenicia the leading Cypriot kings surrendered and were left in place. Some even supported the Macedonian forces then besieging Tyre and supplied experts on siege machinery (mēchano-poioí; Arrian, Anabasis 2.20-22, 2.21.1).

After a period of instability in the late 320s Cyprus threw its support to Ptolemy of Egypt (Diodorus, 19.59, 19.62). Nevertheless, in 312 he ousted all the Cypriot kings except Nicocreon of Salamis, whom he appointed chief Ptolemaic officer on the island and to whom assigned the cities and revenues (Diodorus, 19.79). After Nicocreon’s death in 311, Menelaus, Ptolemy’s younger brother, assumed this role, and the institution of monarchy on Cyprus was abolished. The island remained a Ptolemaic and then a Roman (80 b.c.e.) possession and was never again in Persian hands. In 619 C.E. it served as a refuge for Byzantine officials during the Sasanian domination of Egypt (Frye, p. 169).

Resources and Achaemenid administrative features. Scattered notices in classical sources (e.g., Diodorus, 16.42.8), as well as Strabo’s description of Cyprus, provide some information about resources that could have been valuable to the Achaemenids: timber, grain, silver, and copper (Strabo, 14.6.2, 14.6.5). It is nevertheless difficult to trace the ways in which such re­sources were converted into revenues for the great king. Herodotus (3.91) implied that Cyprus contrib­uted to the tribute of 350 talents assessed on the satrapy of Syria, but there are also indications that individual Cypriot political entities were directly responsible for payment of funds; for example, Euagoras I of Salamis was in trouble for not paying (Ctesias apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 688 fr. 30; cf. Diodorus, 15.9.2). There is anecdotal evidence that the Cypriot kings could dispose of resources (e.g., grain; Hesychius, s.v. Rhoikoû krithopompía; cf. Andocides, 2.20ff.) as they pleased. Strabo (14.6.5), relying on a report he found in a work (now lost) by Eratosthenes, the 3rd-century b.c.e. historian and geographer (also the ultimate source for Hesychius’ reference), described an administrative practice that may have originated in the Achaemenid era: Before the 3rd century, when for­ested land was far more common, anyone who cleared land of timber could have the land tax-free. The timber was used for shipbuilding and smelting copper and silver.

Not only was Persian settlement not encouraged on Cyprus, but also no Persian officers were stationed there permanently. It is thus inappropriate to look for an administrative pattern in which a satrap owned a large estate and lesser estate-owning officers provided cavalry, as in the Anatolian satrapies (e.g., Cappadocia). Diodorus (12.4.4) mentioned hēgemó′nes(chiefs) and satraps in Cyprus, but he was actually referring only to commanders of Achaemenid forces on cam­paign. Phoenicia provides a closer parallel to Cyprus, for each of its cities was ruled by native kings, who minted their own coins and provided the empire with ships.

Nevertheless, the Cypriot administration under Achaemenid rule did exhibit Achaemenid features, specifically the imposition of fiscal and military responsibilities. Cyprus paid tribute and supplied ships, naval personnel, or both for Achaemenid campaigns (on Darius’ operations in the 490s, see, e.g., Herodotus, 6.6, 7.90.96; on those of Xerxes in the 480s and 470s, Herodotus, 7.8.11; on the defense of the frontier against Greek pirates, Diodorus, 11.60-61, 12.3-4; on Pharnabazus’ naval victories in the 390s, Diodorus 14.39; cf. references to Cypriot mercenaries in Nepos, Conon 4; idem, Hellenica Oxyrhynchia 20). As no Achaemenid naval officers were stationed on Cyprus, on one occasion an outsider, the satrap of Dascylium, ordered Cypriot authorities to prepare ships (Diodorus, 14.39). In Greek and Roman sources Achaemenid garrisons are sometimes mentioned (Diodorus, 11.44; cf. Nepos, Pausanias 2.1), but they were limited to the period when the island was threatened by Greek pi­rates (see above). Accounts of the 4th-century puni­tive campaigns against Euagoras I reveal the absence of permanent garrisons: All non-Cypriot troops were drawn from outside the island (Diodorus, 15.2) and departed after the conclusion of the fighting (Diodorus, 15.9; cf. 15.18, where the troops withdrawn seem to have provided the power base for the rebel officer Glōs).

Prominent among indigenous administrative fea­tures were the native kings (Strabo, 14.6.6). Diodorus (16.42.4) reported that each of the nine major cities was ruled by a king obedient to the great king and that each city exercised influence over smaller surrounding settlements. Disputes over these spheres of influence and attempts by one king to supplant some or all of his fellows lay behind most of the internal struggles that troubled the island during the Achaemenid period. The major cities were Salamis, Kition (with Idalion and Tamassos), Marion, Amathous, Kourion, Paphos, Soli, Lapethos, and Keryneia. Each of these small monarchies possessed its own internal structure, about which little is known. There are a few moralizing accounts of the Cypriot courts (Athenaeus, 255f-256a), and the titles ánaktes and ánassai “lord” are known for members of royalty (Harpocration, s.v. ánaktes kaì ánassai; Suda, s.v. ánaktes kaì ánassai). The Idalion tablet attests that the city had a civic structure (though not a Greek-influenced democratic constitution, as suggested by Gjerstad, p. 498), which was tolerated by the local king, as the Carian Hecatomnids tolerated local political organizations.

The Cypriot monarchs possessed a certain latitude in governing their domains, but it is doubtful that they enjoyed a status superior to that of royally appointed provincial officers elsewhere. The insistence of Euagoras I of Salamis that he should obey Artaxerxes II as a king obeys a king and not as a slave obeys a master involved an issue apparently raised only during his reign, which was, however, better documented than those of other kings (Diodorus, 15.8.1-15.10.2). Euagoras made a number of capital improvements in Salamis (harbor, walls, triremes), relying on the skills of foreign workmen (Isocrates, 9.47, 9.51). Furthermore, he helped to secure the services of Conon as commander of Pharnabazus’ fleet (Ctesias, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 688 fr. 30; Pausanias, 1.3.2; Xenophon, Hellenica 2.1.29; Isocrates, 9.54-56) and maintained good relations with a number of satraps (cf. Inscriptiones Graecae I, p. 113: mention of Tissaphernes in an Athenian inscription honoring Euagoras). He received honors from Athens, where he was counted, mistakenly, among the Hellenes (Inscriptiones Graecae II, p. 20; Pseudo Demosthenes, 12.10; cf. Lewis and Stroud). As Eugene A. Costa has shown, none of these activities was detrimental to Achaemenid control, and none seems to have elicited an unfavorable imperial response.

Direct Achaemenid intervention in Cyprus was spo­radic, occurring only during periods of serious politi­cal destabilization on the island (see above; Herodotus, 5.104ff.; Diodorus, 14.98.1-2; Theopompus, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103): It also happened that Cypriot political authorities themselves some­times appealed to the great king (Herodotus, 5.104; Diodorus, 14.98.2-3), who might, however, refuse to call upon his resources for what were normally considered minor frontier problems (Diodorus, 14.98.3-4, 14.110.5; on the greater importance of a stable Egypt, cf. Aristotle, Rhetorica 1393a3-b4). In fact, Achaemenid authorities seem to have been generally uninterested in Cypriot political vagaries. For ex­ample, none of the political coups in Salamis in the later 5th century (Isocrates, 9.19-20, 9.26, 9.27-32; Diodorus, 14.98.1) elicited a response from Susa; when the Achaemenids did trouble to subdue rebel­lious kings, the latter were allowed to continue in power if they promised future obedience (e.g., Diodorus, 15.9, 16.42, 16.46). Nor did violent deaths of these tributaries stir the great king (on the death of Euagoras I, cf. Theopompus, apud Jacoby, Fragmente, no. 115 fr. 103; Aristotle, Politica 1311b5; on that of Euagoras II, cf. Diodorus, 16.46).

Persian cultural influence. Aside from the possibly Achaemenid plan of one house in Paphos (see above), two major kinds of archeological finds in Cyprus reflect Persian origins or influence. The first consists of objects that may have belonged to Persians on the island, for example, jewelry and metalwork, including a gold earring in the form of an ibex found at Vouni (Stern, p. 151). The second consists of indigenous products incorporating Persian elements. For ex­ample, Antoine Hermary (p. 699) has interpreted a Hathor-headed column at Amathous as evidence of the influence of the Achaemenid artistic ethos, as such columns were also found in the Achaemenid homeland.



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Table 31. The Teucrid Kings of Salamis

(Michael Weiskopf)

Originally Published: December 15, 1993

Last Updated: November 2, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VI, Fasc. 5, pp. 508-512