Eumenes of Cardia or Eumenes of Cardia (in ancient Greek Ευμένης Eumenes), born about 362 BC, died in 316, was the chancellor (or archigrammate, “first secretary”) of Alexander the Great. Only non-macedonian among the Diadoques, it takes part in the first war of the Diadoques at the sides of the chiliarque of the empire, Perdiccas, then of the regent of Macédonia, Polyperchon. But weakened by the insubordination of the satraps and the generals rallied with the cause of Argéades, it is overcome and carried out by Antigone the Borgne.
Its course can be summarized as follows: secretary in the royal administration of Pella (satrape of Cappadocia) (strategist of the royalty in Asia (319-316).
Considered as a model of political skill by the ancient authors, quoted as example in the Roman stratagems and listed among the great characters of the Greek history by Plutarch which devoted one of the parallel Lives to him, Eumène profits from a favorable reputation. His origins foreign to the Macedonian aristocracy as well as his fidelity with regard to the Argean dynasty make of him a model of wisdom and ambition which knew how to inspire the ancient authors, prompt to magnify his rise and to judge his reverses of fortune. His political and military work is in any case particularly known because he proves to be the compatriot and the friend of the historian of Diadoques, Hieronymos of Cardia.
Influence of Hieronymos de Cardia
The historical work of Hieronymos of Cardia is the primary answer to the problem of a tradition favorable to Eumenes. That Hieronymos is not the sole source of Diodorus and Plutarch does not diminish the value of this historiographical legacy. Some moderns consider Hieronymos as the unique and direct source of Diodorus, others admit the possibility of an intermediary, perhaps Agatharchides. The tradition stemming from Hieronymus does not prohibit the use of other sources for books XVIII and XIX: Douris, Diyllos or Alexandrian authors.
Hieronymos, fellow citizen, friend or relative of Eumenes, was the mediator between him and the other Diadochs. With the death of Eumenes in 316 BC, he passes to the service of Antigone then of Démétrios. Hieronymos, who would have been also secretary (grammateus) in the Macedonian administration in Pella, appears initially like one of the principal collaborators of Eumenes, in any case during the war against Antigone. It is also possible that Hieronymos arrived at Eumenes when the latter took possession of Cappadocia in 322. Hieronymos is mentioned in Diodorus (in books XVIII and XIX) and Plutarch (Life of Eumenes) only in connection with negotiations carried out with Antipater and Antigone. In 319, Eumène takes refuge indeed in the fortress place of Nora, with the borders of Cappadocia and Lycaonia. In order to avoid the siege undertaken by Antigone, it chooses his compatriot like ambassador near Antipater. With its return of Macédonia, Hiéronymos meets Antigone which charges him to negotiate with Eumène. These embassies show that Hiéronymos can negotiate with the adversary while proving his fidelity towards the cause of Eumène, or that of the kings.
Eumenes through the late authors
Diodorus, Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos mention the case of Eumenes at length. Apart from these essential authors, it is impossible to use the epigraphic corpus and the collections of official texts as an aid to research. For, with the exception of the Royal Ephemerides, a document reduced to fragments, the writing and perhaps the publication of which were the work of Eumenes, there is no archive from this short period that can, for example, support the decisions of the chancellor. The reflection is therefore based solely on literary sources and the interpretation that comes from them; this does not fail to raise some questions as to the historical value of the texts, to their partial and moralizing aspect.
Plutarch devotes one of his Parallel Lives of Illustrious Men to the destiny of Eumenes, whereas no other Diadochus is entitled to such a treatment. The legacy of Hieronymos, well attested in the author”s work, gives a certain credibility to the text. It is certain that Plutarch also used the Makedonika of Douris which he quotes from the beginning of the biography, which would explain the few notable differences between his account and that of Diodorus. Plutarch first emphasized the qualities of Eumenes rather than focusing on the supposed role of Fortune, which is omnipresent in his biographies. Plutarch writes as a summary in spite of the contempt attached to his trade of secretary; it thus found not only less resources to rise to the capacity, but still of greater obstacles to increase it “. For as much the biographer gives himself the liberty to blame Eumenes, guilty in his eyes of immoderate ambition and cowardice in front of death. It seems unlikely that Hieronymos thus judged his compatriot, these reproaches would emanate from Plutarch himself, or then they would be borrowed from Douris.
Cornelius Nepos, Latin polygraph of the first century BC, delivers in one of the sixteen books (De Viris Illustribus) a short biography of Eumenes, listed among the great generals of non-Roman history alongside (all the same) Themistocles, Alcibiades and Hannibal. He writes: “If the merits of our hero had been accompanied by an equal happiness, the admirable man that he was would have had, not more greatness, but much more reputation and glory (…)”, testifying to the survival of a laudatory tradition with regard to Eumenes.
Eumenes is mentioned only four times in Arrien”s Anabasis, without the author mentioning once his action at the head of the royal chancellery. The origin of the sources (Ptolemy and Aristobulus) as well as the nature of the work may explain this deficiency. Arrien does not have the same moralizing pretension as Douris, Diodorus and Plutarch; his Anabasis, which is primarily a military account, excludes praise and blame for illustrious men (except for Alexander). It is also difficult to believe that Ptolemy had an advantage over Eumenes in his account of Alexander”s conquest: Eumenes did not take part in the great battles of Asia, while his allegiance to the cause of Perdiccas completes the explanation of Ptolemy”s plausible bias in his Memoirs. Arrien is also the author of a History of the succession of Alexander, largely drawn from Hieronymus and now reduced to fragments, in which Eumenes is not mentioned.
Eumenes through minor or fragmentary sources
Douris of Samos (3rd century B.C.), disciple of the peripatetic philosopher Theophrastus and tyrant of Samos, left a work, now fragmentary, which shows through a tragic ideal a conception of History far from the pragmatism of Thucydides and from rhetorical historiography. His main work, known as Makedonika, deals with a period from the death of Amyntas III, father of Philip II, to the battle of Courupedion (370 to 281). It is possible that Douris was at the origin of another tradition considered favorable to Eumenes. It offers via Plutarch and Justin, a variant with the account of Diodorus; because although this last used in book XIX the History of Agathocole of Douris, the recourse to Makedonika is much less ensured for the account of the wars of succession. According to a historical tradition, Douris would not have shown a great consideration towards the Macédonians. It would have opposed by Greek patriotism the virtuous Démosthène, Phocion and Eumène to the excessive and immoral Diadoques: Polyperchon shows an immoderate taste for the drink; Démétrios loses himself in the luxury and the temperance. It is nevertheless difficult to prove that Douris actually opposed Eumenes to the Macedonian Diadochi. Elien, who is inspired here by Samian, compares on the contrary negatively the supposedly modest origins of Polyperchon, Antigone and Eumenes. As for the remarks of Douris on the morals of the Diadochi, they hardly damage their political prestige. The Life of Démétrios, which Plutarch drew from the Makedonika, does not indeed testify to any hostility towards the Antigonid. Douris also seems to have spared Lysimachus and also Cassander, protector of the peripateticists to whom Theophrastus dedicated a treatise peri basileas. If Douris did offer a favorable portrait to “Eumenes the Greek” it is perhaps not at the expense of the Diadochi.
Frontinus (1st century AD), consul and governor of Brittany, tells in his Stratagems about the ingenious training of horses during the siege of Nora. Polyen (2nd century), rhetorician and lawyer under Marcus Aurelius, is also the author of Stratagems. He refers to the episode of the ceremony of the empty throne of Alexander. The presence of Eumenes alongside the great generals of antiquity can be explained by the fact that Hieronymos is one of the attested sources of Frontinus and Polyen.
Justin (around the 3rd century), endeavors to summarize the Philippic Histories of Trogue-Pompée (composed in the 1st century) which are inspired partly by Douris of Samos, while enlivening his account of moral digressions. Justin (or Trogue-Pompée) does not deliver a particular opinion on Eumenes for whom he has only a secondary interest; he offers nevertheless an account which can demonstrate the skill of the Cardian. Justin shows a fascination for the successors of Alexander of which Eumenes could finally be the incarnation.
Finally Photios (IXth century), theologian and patriarch of Constantinople, endeavored in his Library to summarize and comment on the authors of Antiquity. Only the brief summary of Arrien”s History of the Succession of Alexander is of interest for a study of the Eumenes case.
Secretary to the Court
Eumène was born about 362 BC in Cardia, an ancient Athenian cleruchy of modest size located in Chersonèse of Thrace, although he lived since his childhood in Pella, his father having been attached to Philip II. Its social origin is however not clearly established. Plutarch mentions two hypotheses as for his origins. According to the Makedonika of Douris, Eumène would have had “humble” origins, his father being a cart driver. One can immediately object that carting was a considered profession. Eumenes would have received a “liberal” education (he learned letters and wrestling at the palestra. According to another tradition, which is undoubtedly based on Hieronymos, Eumenes would have come from a noble family, his father being linked to Philip by recognition (zenian) and friendship (philian). Cornelius Nepos confirms the second source of Plutarch, namely that Eumenes descends “from a noble lineage”. This is perhaps not contradictory with the tradition from Douris; it is indeed conceivable that Eumenes” father had suffered reverses of fortune. Elien states in his Histories Varied: “Eumenes was born of a father who had no means and who played the aulos at funerals”. Does the author, who draws his sources from Douris, seek to make fun of the Diadochi (Lysimachus would have been a highwayman, Antigone a peasant), or on the contrary, whereas they started from little they reached the tops of the power, does it seek to make their rise even more meritorious? The sources do not therefore offer any certainty; but two traditions emerge from Douris and Hieronymos respectively via the biographers of Eumenes. It seems more likely that Eumenes is of noble lineage although his father is “unknown”. In fact, only Arrien mentions Eumenes” father, although he may be mistaken, since he refers to him as Hieronymos; as for the other authors, they never mention his father.
Plutarch offers, once again, two versions which explain the interest of Philip for Eumene. According to Douris, Philip, of passage to Cardia in 342, time during which it makes of Thrace a province of Macedonia, attends in the palestra of the city an exercise of fight during which Eumene illustrated himself. Plutarch suggests rather that Eumene is enrolled because of the loyalty of his father towards Philip: the father of Eumene could indeed have fought against the Athenian strategist Diopeithès and to facilitate the rallying of the city. There is finally another explanation with this departure of Cardia for Macedonia. Plutarch indeed regards Eumène as being banished (phugas) of its city. In 342, Philip places at the head of Cardia the tyrant Hecateus, hereditary enemy of the family of Eumenes; what could have caused its exile. Moreover in 322, Eumène refuses to rally Greece with Léonnatos to help Antipater because he would have feared that the regent of Macédonia does not deliver it to Hécatée.
Eumène would have received in company of Alexander, and its principal Companions of which Héphaistion, Ptolémée and Perdiccas, the teaching of Aristotle as from 342. According to Cornelius Népos, he is the secretary of Philip during seven years, that is to say from 342 to 335. Philip having been assassinated in August 336, Eumène would then have preserved this function during the first months of the reign of Alexander before being promoted according to Plutarch to the rank of chancellor. Cornelius Nepos affirms that Eumenes was the private secretary of Philip and that he formed part of the royal Council; he declares in addition that Eumenes would have enjoyed the friendship of Philip. It should be noticed that Cornelius Nepos does not distinguish the functions of secretary of Philip and those of chancellor of Alexander. What maintains the doubt as for its real functions; since Plutarch affirms without ambiguity that it is well Alexander who names it chancellor. It thus seems probable that Cornelius Nepos made a mistake by widening the prerogatives of the chancellor (seat with the Council, particular service near the king) with the reign of Philip.
Chancellor of Alexander
Eumène is quickly honoured by Alexander who designates him in 335 BC archigrammate, i.e. responsible for the royal chancellery. Cornelius Nepos evokes in his biography of Eumenes the characteristics required to be secretary in a Greek administration; but one can think, considering the confusion committed by the author between the functions of secretary and those of chancellor, that this qualifies rather the post of chancellor: “It is necessary to belong to a considered family and to offer guarantees of safety and talent, because it introduces in the participation of all the secrecies of the State”. This summary definition is with the image of what the sources deliver to us on this subject. Because apart from knowing that Eumenes was a minister of first order, we must bow to the silence of authors such Diodorus or Arrien. We know of the administration of the chancellery only the allusions relating to the royal Ephemeris as well as two collaborators of Eumenes: Myllènas the secretary and Diodote the scribe of the Ephemeris. It seems difficult to prove whether the chancellery actually evolved towards the Achaemenid model. The ephemerides, Persian heritage, being the best known work of the chancellor, they undoubtedly mask the reality of this evolution.
The chancellor”s primary mission was to be responsible for the royal correspondence and archives. His duties also included the drafting of royal decrees. He was also responsible for writing the Royal Ephemeris, a kind of official journal in which the king”s acts were reported. Eumene, who bears the title of Companion, is a member of the Royal Council. This council includes at the end of the reign of Alexander, in addition to the chancellor, the sômatophylaques (of which Perdiccas, Ptolémée, Lysimaque, Léonnatos, Peucestas and Peithon) as well as the generals closest to the king, Héphaistion and Cratère.
In addition, Eumène would have been charged with the logistics of the Macedonian army in campaign, thesis which the antique sources do not make it possible to corroborate: provisioning in food for the men and fodder for the animals, provisioning in ammunition, weapons, transport by animals of pack or of draft. To achieve this while avoiding the plundering of the conquered regions, something that Alexander wanted to avoid, the chancellor would have proceeded in the following way: he constituted a true intendance divided into two bodies: a body of secretaries in charge of foreseeing the needs and a body of troops in charge of the requisitions; he made constitute stocks as important as possible before the launching of the war; he proceeded for the provisioning either by organized requisition (he constituted deposits of foodstuffs all along the campaigns.
A time in disgrace with the death of Héphaistion, Alexander in resentment with all those which had disagreements with his favorite, Eumène returns in the good graces of the sovereign by offering a very important sum of money for the edification of the tomb of the deceased. he is also sufficiently skilful to suggest to the Companions to contribute to the heroisation of the favorite of Alexander. Not having any more to fear the competition of Hephaistion, he is certainly part of the first circle in the last months of Alexander”s reign. In May 323, he takes part in the Dionysian banquet (komos) fatal with Alexander in company of the closest Friends (philois).
Editor of the Royal Ephemeris
Upon the death of Darius III in the summer of 330 B.C., Alexander entrusted his chancellor with the writing of the royal ephemeris according to a Persian custom that dates back to Xerxes I. As the new king of Asia, Alexander logically followed Darius in the Achaemenid chronicles, as distinguished from the triumphal annals of the Assyrian kings. This daily account of Alexander”s deeds is different from the epic biography composed by Callisthenes. Indeed, from the beginning of the conquest, Aristotle”s nephew was charged with writing an account of Alexander”s campaign; this one ending around the years 330-328, Alexander would have chosen a new type of diary at the very moment when he introduced the Persian customs within the court. These Ephemerides would have contained technical, budgetary, diplomatic data or personal notes of Alexander. The Ephemerides are lost and remain in a fragmentary state. Their size must have been important according to the fact that Strattis of Olynth made a summary of them in 5 books.
The question of the royal Ephemerides has given rise to many interpretations. Ancient sources agree that Eumenes of Cardia was the editor of the royal Ephemerides, but few contemporary historians agree on the reason for their publication at the death of Alexander and on the different versions that may have circulated at the time. Ptolemy would have used in his Memoirs an authentic version of the royal journal. Plutarch and Athenaeus would have had in their possession apocryphal works, perhaps composed from the accounts of Callisthenes and Aristobulus. The ancient authors who concede using the royal Ephemeris as a source only report on Alexander”s last days in Babylon. From this, one can think that only the end of the diary was published, or that a large part of it was lost. This hypothesis, which seems plausible, comes from Plutarch. He relates that in order to recover an unpaid sum Alexander had his chancellor”s tent burned down (but he asserts that Alexander would have ordered that the lost archives be copied, although it seems difficult to replace a diary. Many scholars are uncertain about the status of the Ephemerides after this incident, whether they were lost and thus redone after the fact (Pearson) or whether the fragments are indeed authentic (Wilcken).
There are several hypotheses as to the reasons for the publication of the royal Ephemeris. In 319, Antipater would have, with the favour of an inventory of the royal files, published the extracts relating the drinking of Alexander; it seeks to make cease the rumours of a poisoning fomented by its two sons, Iollas, cupbearer of the king, and Cassander, or even to discredit Alexander depraved by the Eastern manners. This part of the royal Ephemeris could have been published by Eumenes to exonerate Antipater; thesis which is refutable by advancing as element of contradiction the “mortal enmity” opposing the two men. It is quite possible that this publication could have been used as a bargaining chip during peace negotiations between Eumenes and Antipater in 319. On the other hand, if Eumenes was responsible for this publication for personal reasons, we have little idea of the interest it really represented for him. The publication of the Ephemerides could show his privileged relations with Alexander and thus reinforce the adhesion of his army.
Eumène and the succession of Alexander
At the time of the first fights for the division of the empire of Alexander, Eumène shows a certain loyalty towards the Argéade dynasty. Indeed, this loyalty conditions its survival; as a Greek, it cannot claim the same honours as the generals of Alexander and must, in fact, support the cause of a maintenance of the imperial unit which would guarantee the safeguard of Alexander IV even Philip III.
It attaches initially its cause to that of the queen-mother Olympias, probably its first ally and protector. Olympias also incarnates for Eumenes the pledge of a certain independence vis-a-vis Polyperchon, regent of Macedonia after the death of Antipater. Strategist of Asia in 319 BC, Eumenes holds its powers of the regency in the name of Philip III; but while engaging for the survival of Alexander IV, it supports of this fact the cause of Olympias. It is mentioned of several correspondences which show that Olympias offered to Eumène a legitimacy in the exercise of its command. In 319, Eumenes indeed receives a letter of Olympias which proposes to him to return in Macedonia to ensure the protection of Alexander IV. According to Plutarch, Olympias would have even offered to him to become tutor of the young king. Moreover, she asks him advice in order to know if she must remain in Epirus or gain Makedonia with the king. Eumène would have assured him his fidelity towards Alexander IV and committed to remain in Epirus. But it could be about a forgery in writing, knowing that the former archigrammate of Alexander is broken with this exercise.
Finally, Olympias sends in the name of the kings the order to the argyraspides and the treasurers (gazophylaques) of Cyinda to obey to him, although Polyperchon had already given an order in this direction. This shows one last time that the queen-mother puts all works about it to ensure the legitimacy of Eumène and to cause by the conferred honors a full adhesion to the (lost) cause of the Argéades. However, in the context of its encirclement in Nora, this letter appears as a forgery forged by Eumène and his brother to make lift the siege of the citadel.
Eumène intends moreover to show his attention for the sister of Alexander, Cleopatra, that he advises Perdiccas to marry. Moreover, after having defeated Cratère in the summer 321 with the battle of Hellespont, Eumène advances from Phrygie hellespontique towards Lydia where he intends to show his troops to Cleopatra before delivering battle to Antipater. This will to parade in front of the sister of Alexander proves indeed that he intends to be attached to the Argéades and to reassure his officers because “they would believe to see the royal majesty on the side where the sister of Alexander was held”
Eumène thus shows his ambition and his political direction by his conciliation in the crisis of succession, by the conquest of Cappadocia, where it manages to be established, and by the choice of its allies.
At the time of the agreements of Babylon which follow the death of Alexander in June 323 BC, Eumene works with a reconciliation between the phalanx and the cavalry of the Companions about the succession of the king. It takes advantage of its statute of not Macédonian to impose an agreement between the respective partisans of Philip III, the half-brother of Alexander, and those of the future Alexander IV, the child to be born of Roxane. At the time of the division of the empire, it obtains satrapies of Cappadocia and Paphlagonie, but those remain to be conquered.
Antigone and Léonnatos are thus charged by Perdiccas to help with the conquest of Cappadocia; but they evade, Léonnatos diverting even a part of the army to launch out in the lamiaque war and Antigone preferring to take refuge near Antipater. The designation of Eumène perhaps carries shade with Antigone which would see there a counter-power in Anatolia. It is finally Perdiccas himself which is charged to seize these provinces. It overcomes Ariarathe, which was proclaimed king of Cappadocia, and installs Eumène with the head of its satrapy. In fact, Eumenes is attached to the cause of Perdiccas and the defense of the integrity of the empire against the “centrifugal forces”.
When the conflict bursts between Diadoques in 322, it is charged by Perdiccas to contain in Anatolia, with the assistance of Néoptolème, the armies of Antipater and Cratère supported by the fleet ordered by Antigone. The suspicions of Perdiccas seem to have been founded, because Néoptolème enters immediately in relation to its rivals, and when it receives the order of Eumène to join him with its contingents, it refuses to submit to it. In retaliation, Eumène immediately marches against him, puts in flight his army and rallies his Macedonian troops, to which it makes swear an oath of allegiance to Perdiccas. Néoptolème nevertheless manages to flee at the head of a small body of cavalry and joined Cratère after this last sought in vain to rally Eumène with their cause. Néoptolème persuades Cratère to march against him while he is still celebrating his victory. Eumène, prudent, does not let himself be surprised and decides to meet his adversaries at the time of a ranged battle.
Victory against Crater and Neoptolemos
During the battle of Hellespont delivered in spring 321 BC, Néoptolème commands the left wing, made up of 20 000 phalangites for the majority Macédonians, which is opposed to Eumène himself, at the head of an infantry of 20 000 men of various origins and 5 000 riders with which it counts to carry the decision. The two leaders, become personal enemies, seek each other on the battlefield in order to face each other in a single combat during which Néoptolème is killed by Eumène, whereas Cratère, at the head of the cavalry, also finds the death in the confrontation.
But the assassination of Perdiccas on the Nile sounds the death knell of its hopes. At the time of the agreements of Triparadisos in 321, Eumène is condemned to death by the “Macedonian assembly” and Antigone receives for mission to fight it as strategist of the regency. Between 321 and 320, it is gradually driven out of Anatolia. It is beaten with the battle of Orcyniaet finds refuge with a small army in the citadel of Nora in Cappadocia, while its ally Alcétas is forced with the suicide in Pisidie. Occupied to reconquer Lydia and Phrygia, Antigone negotiates an armistice with Eumenes by the intermediary of Hieronymos of Cardia, the future historian of the Diadochi.
Strategist of the regency
The death of Antipater in the summer 319 BC modifies the situation deeply. Eumène, always locked up in Nora, is rallied by Polyperchon that Antipater indicated to succeed to him with the regency of Macédonia, with the detriment of his son Cassander. Eumène receives the title of autokrator strategist of Asia, with load for him to overcome Antigone; it recovers in addition the satrapy of Cappadocia. This designation, as well as the campaign which it carries out of Anatolia to Iran, can appear surprising for a man of “pen and cabinet”.
Polyperchon orders to the treasurers of Cyinda in Cilicia, where remains a great part of the treasure of war of Alexander, to give the financial means necessary to Eumène to raise an army. The battalions of 3 000 Argyraspides, veterans of the Asian campaigns, arrange with its ambition to fight fully for the maintenance of the empire and the safeguard of the royalty argéade. Eumène does not hesitate to refuse any personal gratification and to efface himself in front of the memory of Alexander. It is true that its Greek origins constitute a handicap; it is difficult for him to preserve the fidelity of its troops primarily made up of Macédonians without pointing out unceasingly its attachment to Alexander and the Argéades.
The first operation carried out by Eumenes, who quickly found himself at the head of a significant army (more than 20 000 men), was to go down towards Phoenicia at the beginning of 318 BC, his initial objective being to build a fleet in order to join Polyperchon in the Aegean Sea. But the threat of the fleet of Ptolemy, ally of Cassander and Antigone, and the disaster undergone by the fleet of Polyperchon make it give up its project.
It chooses then to go up towards Mesopotamia in order to move away Antigone from its back bases and to rally the satraps of the Eastern part of the empire in revolt against Peithon, the satrape of Media which is allied with Antigone. Eumène winters in Babylonia between 318 and 317 and clashes with Séleucos and Peithon. Eumene delivers battle to Séleucos on the banks of Euphrates and seizes the citadel of Babylon. Eumène tries thereafter to cross the Tigris but Séleucos makes flood the passage by breaking the dikes of a channel. Fearing that his satrapy is completely occupied, Séleucos ends up proposing a truce to Eumène. These events, exposed by Diodorus, seem partly confirmed by the Babylonian chronicles entitled Chronicle of the Diadochi.
Struggle against Antigone
By arriving in Susiane, Eumène receives the reinforcement of the Eastern satraps directed by Peucestas. This army, numerous and experienced must enable him to gain the victory against Antigone but some of his allies are not very reliable and dispute his authority. The workforce of the royal army was increased by troops come from satrapies of High Asia: Mesopotamia, Perside, Carmanie, Arachosie, Arie-Drangiane and India. With its departure of the fortress of Nora, Eumène has 500 horsemen, to which it adds 2 000 infantrymen recruited in Pisidie and Cappadocia. As of its arrival at Cyinda, where the royal treasure is stored, in 318 BC, Eumène dispatches agents in order to recruit mercenaries in Phénicie, in Syria, in Pisidie, in Lycia and in Cyprus. This campaign proves to be fruitful: he manages to enroll nearly 10 000 infantrymen and 2 000 horsemen. Then it advances of Cilicia towards Phénicie to face Ptolémée; and after having left Phénicie under the threat of Antigone, Eumène gains in 317 Susiane from where it sends the royal orders to the satraps of High Asia. The latter having previously joined forces against Peithon, the satrape of Media rallied to Antigone, and having already gathered their troops, explaining that Eumenes could immediately have the levies of High Asia at his disposal.
It is possible to estimate the strength of this army of the Eastern satrapies at 18 500 infantrymen, 4 210 riders and 120 elephants. What gives approximately for the complete manpower of the army commanded by Eumenes: 36 500 infantrymen, 7 000 horsemen and 120 elephants, figures which correspond to those announced by Diodorus for the battle of Paraitacene.
Defeat and death of Eumene
As of its junction with the armies of Upper Asia at the beginning of 317 BC, the authority of Eumenes is disputed. Peucestas, the sômatophylaque of Alexander and satrape of Perside, was promoted strategist in chief because of his rank and the importance of his satrapy. He thus estimates that the command of the “royal army” returns to him of right. Antigénès, the commander of Argyraspides, declares as for him that the strategist must be indicated by the only Assembly of the Macédonians. Eumène nevertheless manages to impose a collegial command, symbolized by the adoption of the ceremony of the throne of Alexander. Plutarch describes the morals in force within the camp, become “a place of festival, debauchery, and also of electoral intrigues for the choice of the generals, quite like in a democratic state”. This sharing of the authority turns out purely formal because it seems that only Eumène delivers sentences and promotions by virtue of his rank of autokrator strategist.
The first meeting with the army of Antigone takes place in autumn 317 with the battle of Paraitacène, with the borders of Susiane and Carmanie, and ends in the victory of Antigone although it undergoes severe losses. The two armies withdraw to winter; when at the beginning of the year 316, Antigone manages by a surprise attack to force Eumène to deliver battle in Gabiène in Médie. In spite of a sharp resistance of Argyraspides, Eumène is overcome because of the treason of Peucestas which breaks the combat with its riders. He is delivered to Antigone by the Argyraspides, whose camp with women and children was taken, and executed in accordance with the decision taken at the time of the agreements of Triparadisos.
Eumene and the satrapic administration
The “policy” carried out by Eumenes in Pontic Cappadocia (increased by Paphlagonia) is known thanks to Plutarch who delivers a precious testimony on the management of a satrapy at the beginning of the Hellenistic time. Plutarch indeed exposes the decisions taken by Eumenes as of its installation with the head of the satrapy during the year 322:
“He entrusted the cities to his friends (philoi), established heads of garrisons (phrourarchous) and left the judges (dikastas) and the administrators (dioikétas) that he wanted (…).”
Eumène thus gives the cities to his friends as delegates of the satrape. He does not however make a gift (dôrea) to his relatives. For one finds here the term parédôké which can mean literally “to give”, as in the surrender of strongholds, indicating that Eumenes acts in conquered territory and that the load of his friends is provisional. The coastal cities of the Pont-Euxinus concerned are undoubtedly Kérasos and Kotyora; one can in all the cases exclude Sinope which preserved its tyrant until 290, Amisos where democracy was restored by Alexander and Héraclée of the Bridge whose tyrant, Dionysios, is supported by Cleopatra, the sister of Alexander. As for the cities of the interior, it could be Hanisa and the capital of Ariarathe, Gaziura. The phrourarques are to be distinguished from the heads of garrisons known in the Hellenistic cities. They are here governors of fortresses, even of strong places sheltering the satrapic treasures because Eumène would have obtained the usufruct of the satrapic treasures. The appointment of the dikastes of Cappadocia, personally chosen by the satrap, is one of the rare cases known for the beginning of the Hellenistic period. One can wonder about their prerogatives, and only a comparison with the attalid dikastes and the lagid laocrites makes it possible to consider them: they would be charged to return justice in the chôra in the name of the satrap. As for the dioicètes, heirs of the Persian stewards, their functions are essentially financial. Under the reign of Alexander, dioicets in charge of collecting the tribute (phoros) are mentioned in Sardis and Babylon. It is conceivable that they exist in all the empire following the Achaemenid heritage, the mission of these stewards being to collect taxes and to manage the satrapic domains.
Eumène thus shows the ambition to be established durably by making of Cappadocia its base of operations, even after its disgrace of the agreements of Triparadisos (it holds hostages cappadocians in Nora and has with its return of horses (estimated at one thousand), beasts of burden and tents. At his death in 316, his wife Artonis as well as their children always reside there.
Eumenes and the raising of native troops
After having organized his satrapy, Eumenes finds Perdiccas and the kings in Cilicia, perhaps during the winter 322-321 BC. The chiliarch then asks him to return in Cappadocia because he needs a sure man who can supervise the actions of Neoptolemos in Armenia; at this date Perdiccas did not entrust yet to Eumenes the defense of Anatolia. It is thus with its return in Cappadocia that Eumenes decides to recruit indigenous riders. This raising has an exemplary character and seems to have had an underlying political interest. Eumène seeks of course to be equipped with a corps of cavalry which can increase its military power. But it also intends to make counterweight with the Macedonian infantry; indeed according to Plutarch the body of the Eastern horsemen is used as antitagma with the phalanx, because this one does not show a great loyalty towards the “Greek scribe”.
Plutarch indicates moreover that Eumenes granted many privileges to the native riders in order to recruit the greatest number of them. He offers exemptions of taxes and delivers honors and presents. What tends to show that this raising is well done in the name of the satrape. Eumenes also buys horses which he gives to “those of his own in whom he had more confidence”, i.e. probably to the riders of his agèma. Lastly, Eumène organizes exercises and maneuvers; even if Cornelius Nepos affirms that his troops miss at this date of drive. The manpower of the cavalry is estimated by Plutarch at 6 300 Cappadocians and Paphlagonians. This number can appear important if one compares it with that of the battles of Gabiène and Paraitacène. It is moreover possible that this cavalry is also made up of Thracians.
Some historians have emphasized the unique character of this levy and make of Eumenes the only one to continue the policy of integration of Alexander. Franz Altheim estimates “that there was only one man (…) to think that it was necessary to call Asians to the military service”. Edward Will affirms that Eumenes “seems to have been the only one, once installed in his government (…) to pursue this policy favorable to the Iranians”. However, contrary to Alexander who incorporated Eastern horsemen (the epigones) in the hipparchies of Companion, Eumenes never operates of tactical fusion. The native riders form distinct units of the Macedonian cavalry. Indeed at the time of the battle of Hellespont against Cratère, the Eastern horsemen form two squadrons, commanded respectively by Phoenix of Ténédos and by Pharnabaze, the brother of Artonis. It should thus be understood that Eumenes adopts here a realistic attitude like many Macedonian satraps at this time: it seeks to give again courage and effectiveness with an army deficient in cavalry, and counts on these recruits, comparable to mercenaries considering the granted privileges, to form an operational corps.
Finally, although Eumène appears to have been under the supervision of Perdiccas, one notes that this last leaves the choice of its administrators to him and that it hardly interferes in the administration of Cappadocia. The chiliarch entrusts vast financial powers to him and offers facilities to him as the exemptions of tribute attest it. One can notice that Séleucos was also the only person in charge of the finances of Babylonia, and that his predecessor, Archon, profits from the same prerogatives. Eumène is thus not the only one to control the satrapic incomes. It is moreover probable that at this time the whole of the satraps have for their own account the incomes of the field, whereas the kings (and their regents) draw them in the treasuries of Sardes, Cyinda or Susa.
Loyalty to kings
Before receiving the title of strategist of the royal army in 319 B.C., Eumène initially held place of adviser and conciliator for the benefit of the Argéades. Among the last close relations of Alexander to defend the cause of the young Alexander IV, and incidentally that of Philip III, Eumenes is the surest ally of Olympias and her daughter Cleopatra. These diplomatic relations are illustrated by three distinct episodes: the meeting between Eumenes and Cleopatra in Sardis, the missed battle against Antipater and the correspondences exchanged with Olympias. Eumenes, banished by the Macedonian generals and isolated since the death of Perdiccas in 321, cannot satisfy his ambition without passing to the direct service of Argéades. Having been destituted of its satrapy by the agreements of Triparadisos, Eumène does not show any more legitimate territorial ambitions, nor even less imperial ambitions in the same way as the Diadoques. The fidelity with regard to the kings answers initially to the threat which represents henceforth Antigone and the orders imposed by Polyperchon and Olympias. The old sources, largely influenced by Hieronymos of Cardia, exalt the disinterested loyalty of the character
This loyalty is illustrated initially by the oath passed by Eumenes in the name of Olympias and the kings at the time of the negotiations with Antigone. Indeed according to Plutarch, following the death of Antipater (319), Antigone would have offered to Eumenes, locked up in the fortress of Nora, to contract an alliance. Eumenes would have placed at the head of the formula the name of the kings and especially, with the difference of Antigone, that of Olympias, gaining in this way the approval of the Macedonian besiegers. But it is possible that it is an invention of Douris taken up by Plutarch who is the only one to evoke this oath. If Eumenes shows such a loyalty towards the Argeades, it is above all that he intends not to submit to Antigone and to show to the Macedonians that he remains with the service of the dynasty. This act testifies to a certain opportunism because it is established that Antigone is not present at the time of the exchange of the oaths, making it possible to Eumène to impose its conditions more easily on a Macedonian army naturally receptive to the modification of the formula in the name of the mother of Alexander.
Relations with Cleopatra
Perdiccas tried with the approval of Olympias, and as Eumène would have advised it, to contract a marriage with Cleopatra, not without having negotiated without success a marriage with Nikaia, daughter of Antipater. Accompanied by Cleopatra and kings, Perdiccas would have been able to march on Macedonia and to depose Antipater. The chiliarch thus entrusts to Eumène the mission to bring the dowry to Cléopâtre. Charged to defend Hellespont against a landing of Antipater and Antigone, Eumène leads his army of Pisidie until in Phrygie hellespontique (March 321). It makes, escorted by its agèma, a passage with Sardes (in Lydia) where Cleopatra took refuge since the death of Léonnatos. The most commonly admitted thesis wants that Eumenes made a halt with Sardes on the way towards Hellespont; but one can also suppose that Eumenes arrived at Sardes after having placed his troops in Hellespontic Phrygia. Antipater and Cratère indeed rally troops on the Hellespont. Nevertheless nothing proves that this army was placed there by Eumenes. Antigone reaches the Ionian side in spring 321 after having unloaded in Hellespontic Phrygia in support of Antipater and Cratère; warned of the presence of Eumène by Menander, satrape of Lydia, Antigone then marches towards Sardis. Eumène is informed of it by Cleopatra and takes the escape with his guard towards Cappadocia. Undoubtedly, Cleopatra seeks to protect a resolute partisan of the dynasty and to serve the cause of Perdiccas, her potential husband, whose next defeat on the Nile is not awaited.
A second episode shows the value of the bond which links Eumène and Cleopatra, and the ascendancy which this last has. After having defeated Cratère in the summer 321 with the battle of the Hellespont, Eumène advances from hellespontic Phrygia towards Lydia where he intends to show his troops to Cleopatra before giving battle to Antipater. That the Cardian had the wish to parade in front of the sister of Alexander indeed proves that he intends to be attached to the Argéades and to reassure his officers because “they would believe to see the royal majesty on the side where the sister of Alexander stood”. But Cleopatra, in order not “to be made accuse at the Macédonians of being the cause of the war”, and especially in order not to be discredited near the powerful strategist of Europe, succeeds in convincing Eumène to leave Lydia. We can note that the meetings between Eumène and Cleopatra took place, not for the benefit of the kings, but well within the framework of matrimonial negotiations and the war of Perdiccas.
Eumène, ally of Olympias
Olympias is certainly the first ally and protector of Eumenes. One can even estimate that this one made himself the spokesman of it. Olympias also incarnates for Eumenes the pledge of a certain independence vis-a-vis Polyperchon, regent of Macedonia since the death of Antipater (summer 319 BC). Strategist of Asia, Eumenes receives its powers of Polyperchon in the name of Philip III; but by also engaging for the survival of Alexander IV, it supports in fact the cause of the queen-mother.
It is mentioned of several correspondences which show that Olympias offered to Eumenes a legitimacy in the exercise of its military command. With the death of Antipater in 319, Eumenes indeed receives a letter of Olympias proposing to him to return in Macedonia to ensure the protection of the small Alexander IV; according to Plutarch, Olympias would have even offered to him to become tutor of the young king. Moreover, she asks him for advice in order to know if she must remain in Epirus or gain Makedonia with the king. Eumène would have assured him his fidelity with regard to Alexander IV and committed to remain in Epirus. Pierre Briant estimates that it is about there a letter invented by the old archigrammate, broken with this kind of exercise: it makes believe for example in 316 in the death of Cassander and the advent of Olympias; it also writes false letters in order to consolidate the loyalty of its troops. At this date, the kings are under the guard of Polyperchon, for which reason the queen implores the assistance of Eumène? Why Olympias would have asked for the opinion of Eumenes when she “knew how to make a decision”. One can object that Alexander IV, although under the guard of Polyperchon, is under the threat of Cassander, his future assassin. Olympias and this last is devoted besides a tangible hatred; what would explain that the queen-mother did not listen to the call of Polyperchon to return in Macédonia.
After Eumène was appointed autokrator strategist of Asia, Olympias sends in the name of the kings the order to the argyraspides and the guardians of the treasure (gazophylaques) to obey him, although Polyperchon had already given an order in this direction. That shows one last time that Olympias puts all works about it to ensure the legitimacy of Eumène and to cause by the conferred honors a full adhesion to the cause of the Argéades.
Relations with the troupe
Compared to his principal rivals, Eumène suffered from many seditions. Those are explained by his non Macedonian origins, his status of condemned to death after Triparadisos and the manoeuvres of the Diadochi, but also by the uses of the mercenarism. It is necessary to distinguish here the relations maintained with the personally recruited troops, the satrapic contingents and the Macedonian veterans, and to notice that the desertions concern more the latter. The nature of the relations between the strategist and his soldiers is well known thanks to the episode of the donations of Phrygia; with the nuance that this episode takes place before the assumption of office of Eumenes at the head of the royal army in 319 B.C. After his departure from Sardis in the autumn of 321, Eumenes indeed takes his winter quarters in Kelainai and pays the soldiers of the Macedonian contingent their wages. Plutarch evokes with precision the nature of the transaction:
“As he had promised to his men (stratiôtai) to pay them their wages within three days, he sold them the farms and the castles (tetrapyrgia) of the country (chôra) which abounded in slaves (sômata) and cattle. The one who received them, commander of corps (hegemônes) or chief of mercenaries, took them by storm with the machines and the engines which Eumène provided to him, and, in proportion to the sum which was due to them, the soldiers shared the booty.”
This text was studied in detail by Pierre Briant. The historian intends to show that it is not a question here of a testimony of the survival of the feudal structures in Phrygia as certain historians, of which Michel Rostovtzeff, considered it. The term sômata does not necessarily mean “slaves”, but also “men”; the tetrapyrgia (literally a square construction provided with four corner towers) could be fortified farms. Moreover this sale does not prove that there was a transfer of the royal ground or the constitution of fields by the hegemons. Eumenes acts indeed to pay the troop, and not to install Macedonian officers at the expense of the local aristocracy. Let us see finally the terms of the contract (homologiai) and the mechanisms of the sale. Usually the salary (misthos) is paid in money and not in kind. The booty and the material goods being due to the soldiers, the strategist reserves for himself the profit of the enslavement of the captured populations. Eumène thus carries out a sale of goods which he does not have yet, with load for the soldiers to seize them. Pierre Briant suggests on this subject that the Macédonians “had only a very limited confidence in the Kardien. By taking themselves of storm the villages and the farms, they were sure that Eumène could not violate the agreement which stipulated the abandonment of its share (…) “.
During all the campaigns of Asia, the Macedonian soldiers of Eumenes kept the control of the booty. In addition to the episode of Kelainai, the soldiers en route to Sardis plundered Aeolus in spring 321. At the conclusion of the battle of Orcynia delivered in spring 320, the Macédonians want to seize the luggage of Antigone. Lastly during the wintering with Susa in 318-317, Eumene pays in advance six months of wages to the argyraspides, very probably by taking the sum in the royal treasure. Eumène thus tried to ensure the fidelity of the soldiers, more precisely of the veteran Macédonians, by making them profit from a very favorable treatment. The advances (prodoma) were common before the great battles.
Sedition of soldiers
The very nature of the hierarchy within the Hellenistic armies explains the fragility of Eumène and the many defections among his troops. The hegemonès appeared as the true employers of the troop and joined the strategist by a financial contract (homologiai). Their treason was most often bought by the opposing generals. The hegemones who commanded regional tagma rallied in their defections of the whole contingents.
As of the beginning of the campaign of Anatolia in March 321, the troops placed on Hellespont go in mass near Antipater and Cratère. At the time of the campaign against Néoptolème, the same year, Eumène faces the defection of Pigrès, one of the leaders of the cavalry cappadocienne. The Macédonians rallied by oath after the death of Cratère quickly escape near Antipater. Shortly before the battle of Orcynia (spring 320), Perdiccas, a high-ranking officer, deserts with 3 000 infantrymen and 500 riders. Eumène then charges Phoenix to attack their camp; the leaders, of which Perdiccas, are put to death and the deserters rallied. In addition, Antigone managed to convince one of the cavalry commanders, Apollonides, to betray Eumène and to flee during the battle. Although defeated because of this treason, Eumenes, pursues the traitor whom he makes execute. The victory of Antigone in Orcynia involves a reinforcement of its army, joined by soldiers formerly with the service of Eumène; but their importance is not known.
For as much Eumène is not the only general to suffer from massive desertions. It is also the case for Antipater and Antigone during the campaign of Anatolia in 321. Antigone also misses to lose in Carie during the winter 320-319 a body of 3 000 infantrymen with the profit of Alcétas.
Insubordination of the satraps of Asia
As of its junction with the satrapic armies in 318, the position of Eumène is disputed. Peucestas, satrape of Perside, promoted strategist in chief by the satraps of High Asia because of its rank and the importance of its satrapy, affirms that the command of the royal army returns to him of right. Antigénès, the head of argyraspides, also declares that the strategist was to be indicated by the only Assembly of the Macédonians. Eumène manages nevertheless to impose a collegial command, symbolized by the adoption of the ceremony of the throne of Alexander. Plutarch describes the morals in force within the camp, become “a place of festival, debauchery, and also of electoral intrigues for the choice of the generals, quite like in a democratic state”. This sharing of the authority proves formal because it seems that only Eumène delivers sentences and promotions by virtue of his rank of autokrator strategist.
In the name of the kings, Eumenes borrows from the satraps and the strategists a sum of 400 talents, “in order to give them confidence and to bring them to spare him by making them tremble for their credits”. At the time of the campaign of Gabiène, Eudamos and Phaedimos would have refused moreover to plot against Eumenes, “not by devotion (…) but by fear of losing the money which they had lent to him”. In the same spirit, Eumène carries out gifts with the satraps in order to ensure their fidelity. Eudamos having brought of Penjab a body of 120 elephants of war, Eumène pretends to compensate it by granting 200 talents taken to him in the royal treasure.
At the time of the banquet of Persepolis, Peukestas has the occasion to consolidate his popularity and his claim to the supreme command. Eumène thwarts these calculations by making circulate false letters in Aramaic, written in the name of the satrap of Arménie, according to which Polyperchon had reached Cappadocia. In addition, Eumène opposes Sibyrtios, satrape of Arachosia and ally of Peucestas. This last having sent back a part of its cavalry in its satrapy, Eumène confiscates its train of luggage (aposkeuè) and makes it pass in judgment. The satrape then takes the escape near Antigone. This defection is not an isolated case. At the time of the campaign of Gabiène, Peucestas tries to flee with the approach of Antigone; but Eumène manages to rally him in time. According to Plutarch, with the day before the battle, the generals would have gathered in order to plot: “they were all of opinion to use for the battle and to kill it immediately afterwards”, except Eudamos and Phaedimos.
The question of the Macedonian veterans
The authority of Eumène does not come from an acclamation of the Macedonian army, but on an exchange of oaths which rests on the orders of the regency which validates a financial contract. The Macedonians “in weapons” had already lent oath to Alexander; but this act symbolizes there a consensus around the national nomos (“customary law”), the soldiers having sworn under oath to follow Alexander at the time of their incorporation. Eumenes exchanges oaths with the Macedonians during the campaign of Anatolia in 321 BC and at Kelainai before the payment of the donations. An oath is very probably passed to Cyinda between the argyraspides and the strategist of the kings; it seems to have been renewed with each payment of the pay, that is to say every three or four months. Thus on three occasions during year 317, the Macedonian veterans swear fidelity to Eumène. This one seems to have preserved the esteem of the troop during the campaigns of Asia. While Antigone approaches Copatres, the soldiers and the Macedonian officers come to claim Eumenes as general in chief. Finally, following the banquet of Persepolis, Eumène falls seriously sick; and when Antigone arranges his army, the Macédonians of the royal army refuse to advance as long as Eumène would not be restored and acclaim it when they see it arriving. These episodes make say to Plutarch that the Macédonians regard Eumène like “the only one able to order and make the war”, and the generals like “brilliant organizers of banquets and festivals”.
Eumène must thus make with the influence of Diadoques which try on many occasions to corrupt argyraspides. Ptolemy sends a delegation in Cilicia as of their incorporation in the army of Eumène. Antigone offers to Antigénès and Teutamos consequent sums in order to rally them. Teutamos lets himself be convinced, but Eumène manages to thwart the plot. Thereafter, Antigone renews without success his proposals in Perside. Lastly, at the time of the campaign of Babylonia, Séleucos also tries to rally the “shields of silver”. One notes nevertheless that the Macedonian veterans respected their engagements. In spite of the offers of Diadoques, they show their loyalty towards royalty, and a certain realism, by remaining at the sides of a strategist who offers comfortable guarantees, as the advance paid for six months and the dôreai of Kelainai shows it. The fate reserved for the veterans at the conclusion of the defeat of Eumène seem to indicate a posteriori that they were right to be wary of Antigone. For as much argyraspides do not feel any hesitation to deliver Eumène after their luggage and their families were taken by the cavalry of Antigone. The Macédonians expressed on many occasions their desire to return to their fatherland. They finally reproach Eumenes that “after so many years of service, at the time when they returned to their country with the spoils of so many wars (…), it had recalled them for new engagements”. This attitude can appear contradictory because they want “at the same time to accumulate wealth and to return to Macedonia”. In front of the treason of argyraspides, Eumène would have answered: “Can you, without goods, without fatherland, spend all your existence exiled in a camp”. Antigone is in charge of the sentence: Antigenes and Teutamos are burned alive; as for the veterans, Antigone sends them to fight in the deserts of Arachosia where they were decimated during vain campaigns.
The military campaigns of Eumène undoubtedly devote a rupture with the ideology of the chief. The armies, made up mainly of Asian mercenaries and Macedonian veterans, bind themselves henceforth by oaths to the strategist. Subjected to the conditions of stipendiés hegemonies and the multiple defections, this one must lean on the prestige of the victory, generating of booty (misthos), more than on the authority entrusted by a royalty in decay. This evolution finds its full measure in the decline of the ta patria observed among the armies of the East, mercenarism replacing the idea of a nation in arms. Let us note however that argyraspides are committed to serving the kings and that they wish to return in Macedonia while appearing in their good right, nuancing the “disintegration of the Macedonian nômos” evoked by Pierre Briant.
Empty Throne Ceremony
As of his assumption of office at the head of the royal army in 319 BC, and whereas it is with Cyinda in Cilicia, Eumène institutes a ceremony around the throne of Alexander. The generals and the satraps rallied thereafter hold then council according to this ceremonial. This recourse to the memory of the Conqueror makes it possible to gain the adhesion of the troop and especially to legitimize a capacity already disputed by the Macédonian soldiers. Eumenes is thus with Ptolemy, holder of the mummy of Alexander, the first to seize the advantage which can confer the image, or the body, of the dead king.
According to the tradition resulting from Hiéronymos of Cardia, Eumène would have made a dream in which Alexander exerts the command since the royal tent; Alexander would have suggested not to take any more decisions apart from the tent and to establish a ceremonial around his throne. Eumène then sets up within the district of the strategists a tent known as “of Alexander”, then he orders that one manufactures a gold throne with the expenses of the royal treasure. He makes deposit the royal insignia (the diadem, the crown of gold and the sceptre) and the weapons of Alexander. A gold table, which supports a brazier and a censer, is placed in front of the throne. These items, except for the throne, were probably taken from the Achaemenid treasury. During the ceremonies, the generals and the rallied satraps burn incense and myrrh and prostrate themselves before the throne.
The royal throne had already assumed a powerful symbolic character during the reign of Alexander. The Babylonian soothsayers had announced a fatal omen after a misguided Messenian had sat on the throne. At the time of the council of Babylon, Ptolémée proposed that one leads the deliberations around the throne and the attributes of Alexander. Eumenes thus takes again with its account the idea of Ptolemy; but it adds to the symbolism of the throne a military worship of the “god Alexander” by mixing Greek traditions (royal insignia) and Persian traditions (royal tent, prostration).
The antique authors are the first to suggest that this recourse to the “religion” is a maneuver of Eumène to establish his authority and to centralize with his profit the command. The troop having accepted without difficulty this new rite, no decision can henceforth be taken apart from the tent of Alexander. Eumène wishes initially to consolidate the fidelity of the Macedonian soldiers, little inclined to follow a Greek general and undoubtedly hostile towards him since the death of Cratère. It also seeks to ensure cohesion between the commanders, because those are treated in an equal way at the time of the council, and not to cause jealousy by treating the business in the only name of Alexander. He maintains however the hierarchy within the camp by establishing his tent near that of Alexander. Eumène thus uses the prestige of the Conqueror because he fears the division between the chiefs, whereas the latter understand that these deliberations near the royal insignia ensure their place within the hierarchy.
Eumène also intends to weaken the Diadoques; by taking the decisions in the shade of the Conqueror, he captures his prestigious inheritance, justifies his military action and counterbalances the power of Ptolemy, made master of the body of Alexander, knowing that the royal cult was already well anchored in the customs of the Macedonians as the heroisation of Hephaistion and the divinization of Alexander testify. Faced with an Antigone devoid of any nostalgia, it can represent an advantage to carry out the business under the spiritual protection of the divinized king.
The question of its Greek origins
Chancellor of Alexander, satrap of Cappadocia and strategist of the regency of Macedonia, Eumenes is regarded by the ancient and modern historians as being the greatest “Greek” figure (not Macedonian) of the beginning of the Hellenistic time. He is with Medios, Nearch, the brothers Erigyios and Laomedon among the Greeks of higher rank within the hierarchy of court of the time of Alexander. His origins foreign to the Macedonian aristocracy as well as his fidelity towards the Argean dynasty make of him a model of ambition and wisdom for Diodorus of Sicily and Plutarch.
The question is to know if finally Eumene failed because of his Greek origins, what tends to make think the antique sources. But it is possible to consider that its origins can have been one of the factors of its rise, because it is in particular necessary for the Macedonian royalty to recruit a personnel educated in the gymnasiums of the Greek cities. Historians underline the fact that the Greeks and the Macedonians do not have a fixed ethnic perception but rather punctual and opportunistic. The relationship between the Macedonian monarchs and their subjects – an ethnically mixed group – may lead to the conclusion that neither ethnicity nor a concept resembling modern “nationalism” are fundamental factors. Relationships are primarily personal, and loyalty to the rulers overrides any other civic, geographic or ethnic loyalty. The question of the relationship between Greeks, Macedonians and barbarians in the ranks of Alexander”s army remains unresolved. But the evidence that demonstrates the ethnic antagonism between Greeks and Macedonians within it remains weak.
Nevertheless, the sources remain clear on one fact: there is a tension, which is not only political, separating Eumenes from the other Diadochs. Member of the Companions, Eumenes did not obtain this status by following the same course as his counterparts. The Macedonian landed aristocracy has links with the land and with the royalty through matrimonial relations. Moreover, these men founded a group cohesion formed in their youth. Eumène was well installed in Pella by Philip II but this one cannot make him bonds of blood. One can also support the idea that Eumène is partly responsible for this ethnic distinction because it is him which, in Plutarch in particular, approaches the question of its origins. Finally, rather than his Greek origins, the ferment of his defeat was the fact that he always referred to the legitimate authority, without being able to choose the winning camp. If he manifests such a loyalty to the cause of the Argeades, it is that he seeks initially his salvation, or to assuage his ambitions, and that he never accepted a subordinate position except towards the kings or their representatives.
An original figure among the Diadochi?
The question which is posed in conclusion is to know if Eumène of Cardia, by its political and military action, incarnates the example even of the Diadoque or then an original figure. From the outset one can notice that Eumenes is not strictly speaking a successor of Alexander in the image of Ptolemy, Antigone or Seleucus, founders of the Hellenistic dynasties. As for knowing if Eumenes is the presumptive heir of the ideals of Alexander, or that he acted by interest and pragmatism, the question remains in suspense. According to Pierre Briant, the “Iranian policy” of Eumenes appears identical to that which his principal rivals carried out. It would have moreover its share of responsibility in the dislocation of the empire because it leans on a “local army” and dominates “a personal principality”. However one can retort that by supporting Perdiccas, it works de facto with the maintenance of the imperial unit; and if it seeks to be established durably in Cappadocia, it is initially that it intends to make respect the agreements of Babylon while having to face the threat of Antipater and Antigone. Moreover, the Macedonian princesses, Olympias and Cleopatra, feel towards him benevolent feelings. What could show that Eumenes really links his cause to that of the Argéade royalty. It is however difficult to know if Eumenes really took the side of Alexander IV, Iranian-Macedonian king of an Asian empire, or rather that of the maintenance of a Macedonian royalty within an empire cut in principalities.
That Eumenes can figure with the same ease the royal secretary and the accomplished strategist shows more the originality of his course than that of his political action. His tragic and violent fate also shows similarities with that undergone by all the intimates of Alexander (Hephaïstion, Cleitos the Black, Cratère, Perdiccas). It fits in a conception nourished within Tychè, “mother of the History”. The originality of the case Eumenes does not lie so much in its action of strategist autokrator, in the relations maintained with the troop or in the stages of a course of study which makes it pass from “scribe to general”, that in its privileged bonds with Hieronymos, the future historian of the Diadoques. If Eumenes holds a particular place in the ancient accounts, it is well that it is necessary to see there the work, inevitably partial and well documented, of his fellow citizen.
Finally, the testimony of Hieronymos explains that one can apprehend certain political, diplomatic and military aspects of the formation of the Hellenistic kingdoms, expenditure of the royal treasure, raising of Asian troops, oaths sworn by the soldiers, ethnic compositions of the armies, diplomatic uses, myth of Alexander, pitched battles, etc. But the problem of the sources and their interpretation cannot be entirely solved because the existence of an intermediary between Hieronymos and Diodorus remains possible.