(legendary, reigned 197 B.C.E. - ca. 160 B.C.E.)
Translated by John Dryden
Duris reports that Eumenes, the Cardian, was the son of a poor wagoner in the Thracian Chersonesus, yet liberally educated, both as a scholar and a soldier; and that while he was but young, Philip, passing through Cardia, diverted himself with a sight of the wrestling matches and other exercises of the youth of that place, among whom Eumenes performing with success, and showing signs of intelligence and bravery, Philip was so pleased with him as to take him into his service. But they seem to speak more probably who tell us that Philip advanced Eumenes for the friendship he bore to his father, whose guest he had sometime been. After the death of Philip, he continued in the service of Alexander, with the title of his principal secretary, but in as great favour as the most intimate of his familiars, being esteemed as wise and faithful as any person about him, so that he went with troops under his immediate command as general in the expedition against India, and succeeded to the post of Perdiccas, when Perdiccas was advanced to that of Hephaestion, then newly deceased. And therefore, after the death of Alexander, when Neoptolemus, who had been captain of his life-guard, said that he had followed Alexander with shield and spear, but Eumenes only with pen and paper, the Macedonians laughed at him, as knowing very well that, besides other marks of favour, the king had done him the honour to make him a kind of kinsman to himself by marriage. For Alexander's first mistress in Asia, by whom he had his son Hercules, was Barsine the daughter of Artabazus; and in the distribution of the Persian ladies amongst his captains, Alexander gave Apame, one of his sisters, to Ptolemy, and another, also called Barsine, to Eumenes.
Notwithstanding, he frequently incurred Alexander's displeasure, and put himself into some danger, through Hephaestion. The quarters that had been taken up for Eumenes, Hephaestion assigned to Euius, the flute-player. Upon which, in great anger, Eumenes and Mentor came to Alexander and loudly complained, saying that the way to be regarded was to throw away their arms and turn flute-players or tragedians; so much so that Alexander took their part and chid Hephaestion; but soon after changed his mind again, and was angry with Eumenes, and accounted the freedom he had taken to be rather an affront to the king than a reflection upon Hephaestion. Afterwards, when Nearchus, with a fleet, was to be sent to the Southern Sea, Alexander borrowed money of his friends, his own treasury being exhausted, and would have had three hundred talents of Eumenes, but he sent a hundred only, pretending that it was not without great difficulty he had raised so much from his stewards. Alexander neither complained nor took the money, but gave private orders to set Eumenes's tent on fire, designing to take him in a manifest lie, when his money was carried out. But before that could be done the tent was consumed, and Alexander repented of his orders, all his papers being burnt; the gold and silver, however, which was melted down in the fire, being afterwards collected, was found to be more than one thousand talents; yet Alexander took none of it, and only wrote to the several governors and generals to send new copies of the papers that were burnt, and ordered them to be delivered to Eumenes.
Another difference happened between him and Hephaestion concerning a gift, and a great deal of ill language passed between them, yet Eumenes still continued in favour. But Hephaestion dying soon after, the king, in his grief, presuming all those that differed with Hephaestion in his lifetime were now rejoicing at his death, showed much harshness and severity in his behaviour with them, especially towards Eumenes, whom he often upbraided with his quarrels and ill language to Hephaestion. But he, being a wise and dexterous courtier, made advantage of what had done him prejudice, and struck in with the king's passion for glorifying his friend's memory, suggesting various plans to do him honour, and contributing largely and readily towards erecting his monument.
After Alexander's death, when the quarrel broke out between
the troops of the phalanx and the officers, his companions, Eumenes, though in
his judgment he inclined to the latter, yet in his professions stood neuter, as
if he thought it unbecoming him, who was a stranger, to interpose in the
private quarrels of the Macedonians. When the rest of Alexander's friends left
Antigonus, already filled with hopes of his own, and
despising all men, took no notice of Perdiccas's letter; but Leonnatus with his
army came down into
But Perdiccas, believing he was able enough to attain his own further objects without assistance, and that the country he left behind him might stand in need of an active and faithful governor, when he came into Cilicia dismissed Eumenes, under colour of sending him to his command, but in truth to secure Armenia, which was on its frontier, and was unsettled through the practices of Neoptolemus. Him, a proud and vain man, Eumenes exerted himself to gain by personal attentions; but to balance the Macedonian foot, whom he found insolent and self-willed, he contrived to raise an army of horse, excusing from tax and contribution all those of the country that were able to serve on horseback, and buying up a number of horses, which he distributed among such of his own men as he most confided in, stimulating the courage of his new soldiers by gifts and honours, and inuring their bodies to service by frequent marching and exercising; so that the Macedonians were some of them astonished, others overjoyed to see that in so short a time he had got together a body of no less than six thousand three hundred horsemen.
But when Craterus and Antipater, having subdued the Greeks, advanced into Asia, with intentions to quell the power of Perdiccas, and were reported to design an invasion of Cappadocia, Perdiccas, resolving himself to march against Ptolemy, made Eumenes commander-in-chief of all the forces of Armenia and Cappadocia, and to that purpose wrote letters, requiring Alcetas and Neoptolemus to be obedient to Eumenes, and giving full commission to Eumenes to dispose and order all things as he thought fit. Alcetas flatly refused to serve, because his Macedonians, he said were ashamed to fight against Antipater, and loved Craterus so well, they were ready to receive him for their commander. Neoptolemus designed treachery against Eumenes, but was discovered; and being summoned, refused to obey, and put himself in a posture of defence. Here Eumenes first found the benefit of his own foresight and contrivance, for his foot being beaten, he routed Neoptolemus with his horse, and took all his baggage; and coming up with his whole force upon the phalanx while broken and disordered in its flight, obliged the men to lay down their arms and take an oath to serve under him. Neoptolemus, with some few stragglers whom he rallied, fled to Craterus and Antipater. From them had come an embassy to Eumenes, inviting him over to their side, offering to secure him in his present government and to give him additional command, both of men and of territory, with the advantage of gaining his enemy Antipater to become his friend, and keeping Craterus his friend from turning to be his enemy. To which Eumenes replied that he could not so suddenly be reconciled to his old enemy Antipater, especially at a time when he saw him use his friends like enemies, but was ready to reconcile Craterus to Perdiccas, upon any and equitable terms; but in case of any aggression, he would resist the injustice to his last breath, and would rather lose his life than betray his word.
Antipater, receiving this answer, took time to consider upon
the whole matter; when Neoptolemus arrived from his defeat and acquainted them
with the ill success of his arms, and urged them to give him assistance, to
come, both of them if possible, but Craterus at any rate, for the Macedonians
loved him so excessively, that if they saw but his hat, or heard his voice, they
would all pass over in a body with their arms. And in truth Craterus had a
mighty name among them, and the soldiers after Alexander's death were extremely
fond of him, remembering how he had often for their sakes incurred Alexander's
displeasure, doing his best to withhold him when he began to follow the Persian
fashions, and always maintaining the customs of his country, when, through
pride and luxuriousness, they began to be disregarded. Craterus, therefore,
sent on Antipater into
This vision Eumenes interpreted at once as boding success to himself, who was to fight for a fruitful country, and at that very time covered with the young ears, the whole being sown with corn, and the fields so thick with it that they made a beautiful show of a long peace. And he was further emboldened when he understood that the enemy's password was Minerva and Alexander. Accordingly he also gave out as his Ceres and Alexander, and gave his men orders to make garlands for themselves, and to dress their arms with wreaths of corn. He found himself under many temptations to discover to his captains and officers whom they were to engage with, and not to conceal a secret of such moment in his own breast alone, yet he kept to his first resolutions, and ventured to run the hazard of his own judgment.
When he came to give battle, he would not trust any Macedonian to engage Craterus, but appointed two troops of foreign horse, commanded by Pharnabazus, son to Artabazus, and Phoenix of Tenedos, with order to charge as soon as ever they saw the enemy, without giving them leisure to speak or retire, or receiving any herald or trumpet from them. For he was exceedingly afraid about his Macedonians, lest, if they found out Craterus to be there, they should go over to his side. He himself, with three hundred of his best horse, led the right wing against Neoptolemus. When having passed a little hill they came in view, and were seen advancing with more than ordinary briskness, Craterus was amazed, and bitterly reproached Neoptolemus for deceiving him with hopes of the Macedonians' revolt, but he encouraged his men to do bravely, and forthwith charged.
The first engagement was very fierce, and the spears being soon broken to pieces, they came to close fighting with their swords; and here Craterus did by no means dishonour Alexander, but slew many of his enemies and repulsed many assaults, but at last received a wound in his side from a Thracian, and fell off his horse. Being down, many not knowing him went past him, but Gorgias, one of Eumenes's captains, knew him, and alighting from his horse kept guard over him as he lay badly wounded and slowly dying. In the meantime Neoptolemus and Eumenes were engaged; who, being inveterate and mortal enemies, sought for one another, but missed for the two first courses, but in the third discovering one another, they drew their swords, and with loud shouts immediately charged. And their horses striking against one another like two galleys, they quitted their reins, and taking mutual hold pulled at one another's helmets, and at the armour from their shoulders. While they were thus struggling, their horses went from under them, and they fell together to the ground, there again still keeping their hold and wrestling. Neoptolemus was getting up first, but Eumenes wounded him in the ham, and got upon his feet before him. Neoptolemus supporting himself upon one knee, the other leg being disabled, and himself undermost, fought courageously, though his blows were not mortal, but receiving a stroke in the neck he fell and ceased to resist. Eumenes, transported with passion and his inveterate hatred to him, fell to reviling and stripping him, and perceived not that his sword was still in his hand. And with this he wounded Eumenes under the bottom of his corslet in the groin, but in truth more frightened than hurt him; his blow being faint for want of strength. Having stript the dead body, ill as he was with the wounds he had received in his legs and arms, he took horse again, and hurried towards the left wing of his army, which he supposed to be still engaged. Hearing of the death of Craterus, he rode up to him, and finding there was yet some life in him, alighted from his horse and wept, and laying his right hand upon him, inveighed bitterly against Neoptolemus, and lamented both Craterus's misfortune and his own hard fate, that he should be necessitated to engage against an old friend and acquaintance, and either do or suffer so much mischief.
This victory Eumenes obtained about ten days after the former, and got great reputation alike for his conduct and his valour in achieving it. But, on the other hand, it created him great envy both among his own troops and his enemies that he, a stranger and a foreigner, should employ the forces and arms of Macedon to cut off the bravest and most approved man among them. Had the news of this defeat come timely enough to Perdiccas, he had doubtless been the greatest of all the Macedonians; but now, he being slain in a mutiny in Egypt, two days before the news arrived, the Macedonians in a rage decreed Eumenes's death, giving joint commission to Antigonus and Antipater to prosecute the war against him.
Passing by Mount Ida, where there was a royal establishment
of horses, Eumenes took as many as he had occasion for, and sent an account of
his doing so to the overseers, at which Antipater is said to have laughed,
calling it truly laudable in Eumenes thus to hold himself prepared for giving
in to them (or would it be taking from them?) strict account of all matters of
administration. Eumenes had designed to engage in the plains of
Good fortune will elevate even petty minds, and give them
the appearance of a certain greatness and stateliness, as from their high place
they look down upon the world; but the truly noble and resolved spirit raises
itself, and becomes more conspicuous in times of disaster and ill fortune, as
was now the case with Eumenes. For having by the treason of one of his own men
lost the field to Antigonus at Orcynii, in
From this time Eumenes, daily flying and wandering about,
persuaded many of his men to disband, whether out of kindness to them, or
unwillingness to lead about such a body of men as were too few to engage and
too many to fly undiscovered. Taking refuge at Nora, a place on the confines of
Then Antigonus, having built a wall round Nora, left a force sufficient to carry on the siege, and drew off the rest of his army; and Eumenes was beleaguered and kept garrison, having plenty of corn and water and salt, but no other thing, either for food or delicacy; yet with such as he had, he kept a cheerful table for his friends, inviting them severally in their turns, and seasoning his entertainment with a gentle and affable behaviour. For he had a pleasant countenance, and looked not like an old and practised soldier, but was smooth and florid, and his shape as delicate as if his limbs had been carved by art in the most accurate proportions. He was not a great orator, but winning and persuasive, as may be seen in his letters.
The greatest distress of the besieged was the narrowness of the place they were in, their quarters being very confined, and the whole place but two furlongs in compass; so that both they and their horses fed without exercise. Accordingly, not only to prevent the listlessness of such inactive living, but to have them in condition to fly if occasion required, he assigned a room one-and-twenty feet long, the largest in all the fort, for the men to walk in, directing them to begin their walk gently, and so gradually mend their pace. And for the horses, he tied them to the roof with great halters, fastening which about their necks, with a pulley he gently raised them, till standing upon the ground with their hinder feet, they just touched it with the very ends of their forefeet. In this posture the grooms plied them with whips and shouts, provoking them to curvet and kick out with their hind legs, struggling and stamping at the same time to find support for their forefeet, and thus their whole body was exercised, till they were all in a foam and sweat; excellent exercise, whether for strength or speed; and then he gave them their corn already coarsely ground, that they might sooner despatch and better digest it.
The siege continuing long, Antigonus received advice that Antipater was dead in Macedon, and that affairs were embroiled by the differences of Cassander and Polysperchon, upon which he conceived no mean hopes, purposing to make himself master of all, and, in order to his design, thought to bring over Eumenes, that he might have his advice and assistance. He, therefore, sent Hieronymus to treat with him, proposing a certain oath, which Eumenes first corrected, and then referred himself to the Macedonians themselves that besieged him, to be judged by them, which of the two forms was the most equitable. Antigonus in the beginning of his had slightly mentioned the kings as by way of ceremony, while all the sequel referred to himself alone; but Eumenes changed the form of it to Olympias and the kings, and proceeded to swear not to be true to Antigonus, only, but to them, and have the same friends and enemies, not with Antigonus, but with Olympias and the kings. This form the Macedonians thinking the more reasonable, swore Eumenes according to it, and raised the siege, sending also to Antigonus that he should swear in the same form to Eumenes. Meantime, all the hostages of the Cappadocians Eumenes had in Nora he returned, obtaining from their friends war-horses, beasts of carriage, and tents in exchange. And collecting again all the soldiers who had dispersed at the time of his flight, and were now wandering about the country, he got together a body of near a thousand horse, and with them fled from Antigonus, whom he justly feared. For he had sent orders not only to have him blocked up and besieged again, but had given a very sharp answer to the Macedonians for admitting Eumenes's amendment of the oath.
While Eumenes was flying, he received letters from those in Macedonia, who were jealous of Antigonus's greatness, from Olympias, inviting him thither to take the charge and protection of Alexander's infant son, whose person was in danger, and other letters from Polysperchon and Philip the king, requiring him to make war upon Antigonus, as general of the forces in Cappadocia, and empowering him out of the treasure at Quinda to take five hundred talents' compensation for his own losses, and to levy as much as he thought necessary to carry on the war. They wrote also to the same effect to Antigenes and Teutamus, the chief officers of the Argyraspids; who, on receiving these letters, treated Eumenes with a show of respect and kindness; but it was apparent enough that they were full of envy and emulation, disdaining to give place to him. Their envy Eumenes moderated by refusing to accept the money, as if he had not needed it; and their ambition and emulation, who were neither able to govern nor willing to obey, he conquered by help of superstition. For he told them that Alexander had appeared to him in a dream, and showed him a regal pavilion richly furnished, with a throne in it; and told him if they would sit in council there, he himself would be present, and prosper all the consultations and actions upon which they should enter in his name. Antigenes and Teutamus were easily prevailed upon to believe this, being as little willing to come and consult Eumenes as he himself was to be seen waiting at other men's doors. Accordingly, they erected a tent royal, and a throne, called Alexander's, and there they met to consult upon all affairs of moment.
Afterwards they advanced into the interior of
The Macedonians, also, while there was no show of danger,
allowed themselves to be corrupted, and made all their court to those who gave them presents, who had their body-guards, and affected to
appear generals-in-chief. But when Antigonus came upon them with a great army,
and their affairs themselves seemed to call out for a true general, then not
only the common soldiers cast their eyes upon Eumenes, but these men, who had
appeared so great in a peaceful time of ease, submitted all of them to him, and
quietly posted themselves severally as he appointed them. And when Antigonus
attempted to pass the river Pasitigris, all the rest that were appointed to
guard the passes were not so much as aware of his march; only Eumenes met and
encountered him, slew many of his men, and filled the river with the dead, and
took four thousand prisoners. But it was most particularly when Eumenes was
sick that the Macedonians let it be seen how in their judgment, while others
could feast them handsomely and make entertainments, he alone knew how to fight
and lead an army. For Peucestes, having made a splendid entertainment in
Antigonus understanding by some prisoners he had taken that Eumenes was out of health, to that degree that he was carried in a litter, presumed it would be no hard matter to crush the rest of them, since he was ill. He therefore made the greater haste to come up with them and engage. But being come so near as to discover how the enemy was drawn up and appointed, he was astonished, and paused for some time; at last he saw the litter carrying from one wing of the army to the other, and, as his manner was, laughing aloud, he said to his friends, "That litter there, it seems, is the thing that offers us battle;" and immediately wheeled about, retired with all his army, and pitched his camp. The men on the other side, finding a little respite, returned to their former habits, and allowing themselves to be flattered, and making the most of the indulgence of their generals, took up for their winter quarters near the whole country of the Gabeni, so that the front was quartered nearly a thousand furlongs from the rear; which Antigonus understanding, marched suddenly towards them, taking the most difficult road through a country that wanted water; but the way was short though uneven; hoping, if he should surprise them thus scattered in their winter quarters, the soldiers would not easily be able to come up in time enough and join with their officers. But having to pass through a country uninhabited, where he met with violent winds and severe frosts, he was much checked in his march, and his men suffered exceedingly. The only possible relief was making numerous fires, by which his enemies got notice of his coming. For the barbarians who dwelt on the mountains overlooking the desert, amazed at the multitude of fires they saw, sent messengers upon dromedaries to acquaint Peucestes. He being astonished and almost out of his senses with the news, and finding the rest in no less disorder, resolved to fly, and collect what men he could by the way. But Eumenes relieved him from his fear and trouble, undertaking so to stop the enemy's advance that he should arrive three days later than he was expected. Having persuaded them, he immediately despatched expresses to all the officers to draw the men out of their winter quarters and muster them with all speed. He himself, with some of the chief officers, rode out, and chose an elevated tract within view, at a distance, of such as travelled the desert; this he occupied and quartered out, and commanded many fires to be made in it, as the custom is in a camp. This done, and the enemies seeing the fire upon the mountains, Antigonus was filled with vexation and despondency, supposing that his enemies had been long since advertised of his march, and were prepared to receive him. Therefore, lest his army, now tired and wearied out with their march, should be immediately forced to encounter with fresh men, who had wintered well and were ready for him, quitting the near way, he marched slowly through the towns and villages to refresh his men. But meeting with no such skirmishes as are usual when two armies lie near one another, and being assured by the people of the country that no army had been seen, but only continual fires at that place, he concluded he had been outwitted by a stratagem of Eumenes, and, much troubled, advanced to give open battle.
By this time, the greater part of the forces were come together to Eumenes, and admiring his sagacity, declared him alone commander-in-chief of the whole army; upon which Antigenes and Teutamus, the commanders of the Argyraspids, being very much offended, and envying Eumenes, formed a conspiracy against him; and assembling the greater part of the satraps and officers, consulted when and how to cut him off. When they had unanimously agreed, first to use his service in the next battle, and then to take an occasion to destroy him, Eudamus, the master of the elephants, and Phaedimus gave Eumenes private advice of this design, not out of kindness or good-will to him, but lest they should lose the money they had lent him. Eumenes, having commended them, retired to his tent, and telling his friends he lived among a herd of wild beasts, made his will, and tore up all his letters, lest his correspondents after his death should be questioned or punished on account of anything in his secret papers.
Having thus disposed of his affairs, he thought of letting
the enemy win the field, or of flying through Media and
After the battle, Teutamus sent a message to Antigonus to demand the baggage. He made answer, he would not only restore it to the Argyraspids, but serve them further in the other things if they would but deliver up Eumenes. Upon which the Argyraspids took a villainous resolution to deliver him up alive into the hands of his enemies. So they came to wait upon him, being unsuspected by him, but watching their opportunity, some lamenting the loss of the baggage, some encouraging him as if he had been victor, some accusing the other commanders, till at last they all fell upon him, and seizing his sword, bound his hands behind him with his own girdle.
When Antigonus had sent Nicanor to receive him he begged he might be led through the body of the Macedonians, and have liberty to speak to them, neither to request nor deprecate anything, but only to advise them what would be for their interest. A silence being made, as he stood upon a rising ground, he stretched out his hands bound, and said, "What trophy, O ye basest of all the Macedonians, could Antigonus have wished for so great as you yourselves have erected for him in delivering up your general captive into his hands? You are not ashamed, when you are conquerors, to own yourselves conquered, for the sake only of your baggage, as if it were wealth, not arms, wherein victory consisted; nay, you deliver up your general to redeem your stuff. As for me I am unvanquished, though a captive, conqueror of my enemies, and betrayed by my fellow-soldiers. For you, I adjure you by Jupiter, the protector of arms, and by all the gods that are the avengers of perjury, to kill me here with your own hands; for it is all one; and if I am murdered yonder it will be esteemed your act, nor will Antigonus complain, for he desires not Eumenes alive, but dead. Or if you withhold your own hands, release but one of mine, it shall suffice to do the work; and if you dare not trust me with a sword, throw me bound as I am under the feet of the wild beasts. This if you do I shall freely acquit you from the guilt of my death, as the most just and kind of men to their general."
While Eumenes was thus speaking, the rest of the soldiers wept for grief, but the Argyraspids shouted out to lead him on, and give no attention to his trifling. For it was no such great matter if this Chersonesian pest should meet his death, who in thousands of battles had annoyed and wasted the Macedonians; it would be a much more grievous thing for the choicest of Philip's and Alexander's soldiers to be defrauded of the fruits of so long service, and in their old age to come to beg their bread, and to leave their wives three nights in the power of their enemies. So they hurried him on with violence. But Antigonus, fearing the multitude, for nobody was left in the camp, sent ten of his strongest elephants with divers of his Mede and Parthian lances to keep off the press. Then he could not endure to have Eumenes brought into his presence, by reason of their former intimacy and friendship; but when they that had taken him inquired how he would have him kept, "As I would," said he, "an elephant, or a lion." A little after, being moved with compassion, he commanded the heaviest of his irons to be knocked off, one of his servants to be admitted to anoint him, and that any of his friends that were willing should have liberty to visit him, and bring him what he wanted. Long time he deliberated what to do with him, sometimes inclining to the advice and promises of Nearchus of Crete and Demetrius his son, who were very earnest to preserve Eumenes, whilst all the rest were unanimously instant and importunate to have him taken off. It is related that Eumenes inquired of Onomarchus, his keeper, why Antigonus, now he had his enemy in his hands, would not forthwith despatch or generously release him? And that Onomarchus contumeliously answered him, that the field had been a more proper place than this to show his contempt of death. To whom Eumenes replied, "And, by heavens, I showed it there; ask the men else that engaged me, but I could never meet a man that was my superior." "Therefore," rejoined Onomarchus, "now you have found such a man, why don't you submit quietly to his pleasure?"
When Antigonus resolved to kill Eumenes, he commanded to keep his food from him, and so with two or three days' fasting he began to draw near his end; but the camp being on a sudden to remove, an executioner was sent to despatch him. Antigonus granted his body to his friends, permitted them to burn it, and having gathered his ashes into a silver urn, to send them to his wife and children.
Eumenes was thus taken off and Divine Providence assigned to no other man the chastisement of the commanders and soldiers that had betrayed him; but Antigonus himself, abominating the Argyraspids as wicked and inhuman villains, delivered them up to Sibyrtius, the governor of Arachosia, commanding him by all ways and means to destroy and exterminate them, so that not a man of them might ever come to Macedon, or so much as within sight of the Greek Sea.