Eumenes of Cardia

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Eumenes of Cardia (ancient Greek: Εὐμένης: * 362 BC or 361 BC; † 316 BC ) was a secretary to Alexander the great and one of his successors. He was the only non-Macedonian and non-military among the Diadochi, and for that reason an outsider. Nevertheless, he is considered to be one of the most capable generals of the Diadoch Wars .

Origin and advancement

The Greek Eumenes came from the Milesian Apoikie Kardia , which was at the northern end of the Thracian Chersonese (today: Gallipoli ). His father's name was Hieronymos, which is why Eumenes is believed to be related to his compatriot and follower, the later historian Hieronymos von Kardia .

Because his father was an opponent of the tyrant Hecataeus of Cardia , he exiled with the young Eumenes to the court of King Philip II of Macedonia , with whom he was on friendly terms. Eumenes was noticed by his intelligence and bravery in the wrestling match, whereupon he accepted him into his service as secretary. He took the same post after the murder of the king in 336 BC. Under his successor Alexander the Great, whose confidante he became, but whom he could not win for the liberation of his hometown, since Hecataus has proven himself to be a compliant vassal of Macedonia.

Eumenes took part in the entire Asian campaign, which he allegedly documented in the ephemeris he wrote based on the Persian model (although the existence of the script is controversial). While the Macedonians followed their king with a spear and shield, he did so with a pen and tablet, or so at least one traditional saying goes. During this time Eumenes was an intimate enemy of Hephaestion in the fight for the favor of Alexander, who always gave both of them the same gifts so that neither of them felt neglected. Eumenes is said to have enriched himself beyond measure during the campaign. When Alexander asked his companions for the necessary financial support for the naval expedition of Nearchus , because the royal treasury was already heavily strained, Eumenes contributed one hundred talents, although he was said to have owned three hundred. To clear this up, Alexander had his secretary's tent set on fire one night. After it burned down, a thousand talents in gold emerged. However, his entire archive was also destroyed in the process, whereby this valuable source of Alexander's deeds was lost, whereupon Alexander deeply regretted his deed.

In India, Eumenes was first entrusted with the command of independent operations, he was also one of the Trierarchs of the Indus fleet. At the mass wedding of Susa he was born in 324 BC. Married to Princess Artonis , daughter of Artabazos and great-granddaughter of Great King Artaxerxes II . After the death of Hephaistion, he eventually became the commander of the Companion cavalry appointed, the main military unit of the army , as a substitute for the chiliarchs been moved Perdiccas .


The death of Alexander in 323 BC Chr. In Babylon changed Eumenes' personal situation permanently. Among both kings he had served, being a born Greek was not a particular barrier to career. Philip II promoted Greek education in Macedonia, and Alexander even treated Persians on an equal footing with his subjects. Under the now beginning regiment of the Macedonian warrior caste, however, his origins had a stigma. Although Eumenes maintained friendly relations with some generals, from now on he always had to fight for the acceptance of the Macedonians.

When it came to the question of succession and the power struggle for reign in the Alexander Empire, Eumenes was initially left out. It was only when the situation escalated into a war between the infantry and the cavalry that he used his diplomatic skills to find a compromise to ease the situation. At his suggestion, both Philip III. Arrhidaios and the soon-to-be-born Alexander IV Aigos recognized as kings. Likewise, his mediation for Perdiccas paved the way to regency, to which Eumenes was henceforth committed. In gratitude he received in the Babylonian imperial order was appointed satrap of the province, ruled by Cappadocia , which, however, still of the Persian princes Ariarathes I. was held.

In the autumn of 323 BC Eumenes accompanied General Leonnatos to the Hellespontian Phrygia in order to tackle the conquest of Cappadocia together with Antigonus Monophthalmos according to the instructions of Perdiccas . There, however, on behalf of Antipater, who ruled Macedonia, Hecataus of Kardia arrived, who called Leonnatos with his troops to Europe to assist Antipater in the Lamian war against Athens. At the same time, Hekataios brought an offer of marriage from Princess Cleopatra of Macedonia for Leonnatos. Although he was asked by Leonnatos to accompany him to Europe, Eumenes preferred to set himself apart for a night with 300 cavalrymen, 200 infantrymen and 5,000 talents in gold. Above all, he feared being murdered in Macedonia by Antipater, who had hated him for a long time and had been hired by Hecataeus. The withdrawal of Leonnatos and the unwillingness of Antigonus to support him in the submission of Cappadocia, however, also represented a clear refusal to give orders to the regent Perdiccas, to whom Eumenes returned to Babylon to report the incidents. In the spring of 322 BC Perdiccas and Eumenes moved with the imperial army from Babylon to Asia Minor, conquered Cappadocia and executed Ariarathes.

Since Perdiccas wanted to punish Antigonus' refusal to command (Leonnatos had fallen in the meantime) and pursued higher ambitions himself, there was an open rupture with generals Antipater , Krateros and Ptolemy , which triggered the first war of the Diadochs. Since he did not have great confidence in the Macedonians under his command, Eumenes prepared for the imminent fighting by forming a cavalry army of young locals in Cappadocia. From Perdiccas he was also appointed satrap of the strategically important province of Phrygia on the Hellespont (Little Phrygia ) and strategist of Asia Minor, with which the leadership in the fight against Antipater and Krateros was connected. Perdiccas himself wanted to march against Ptolemy in Egypt . In the spring of 321 BC The fighting began, and Antipater and Krateros advanced across the Hellespont to the center of Asia Minor. Eumenes could not prevent it, as he first had to turn to the renegade satrap Neoptolemus . Against him he achieved his first victory, whereupon he received an invitation to defeat from Antipater. Eumenes rejected it, pointing out that he stood for and not against the cause of the kings. He then moved to the Hellespont, cutting Antipater off from his center of power in Macedonia. Antipater responded by sending Krateros to meet him with a large army. Kraterus was one of the most capable generals of Alexander the Great and was highly regarded by the Macedonians, and Eumenes had also been friends with him. In the following battle on the Hellespont , Eumenes was able to win surprisingly for everyone over Krateros, who fell in battle; Eumenes granted him an honorable burial. This brought him new hatred, but also admiration from the Macedonians. The victory was in vain, however, since 320 BC. Perdiccas on the Nile failed and was murdered by his own men.

Fight against Antigonos Monophthalmos

At the Triparadeisus conference , Eumenes and all other surviving Perdiccans were ostracized by the victors. He retired to Cappadocia, where he had a secure base. The new strategist of Asia, Antigonos Monophthalmos, was charged with fighting it . Eumenes tried in vain to ally himself with Perdiccas' brother Alketas , who refused the alliance because he did not want to submit to the command of a Greek. After he came from Antigonus in the spring of 319 BC. Was defeated in the battle of Orkynia , Eumenes had to retreat to the mountain fortress Nora . Here he managed to withstand a siege that lasted for months until the death of the imperial regent Antipater saved him. Antigonus wanted to position himself as well as possible in the power struggle that was now to be expected and could therefore not dwell on the fight against Eumenes. He therefore proposed a peace to him if Eumenes showed himself ready to take an oath on him. Eumenes, however, insisted that the formula of the oath be changed to the names of the two kings and Queen Olympias , which Antigonus agreed. This move favored Eumenes above all, as he could continue to feel obliged to the cause of kingship and not to the interests of Antigonus.

In the now beginning of the second Diadoch war, Antigonus Monophthalmos allied with Kassander against the new regent Polyperchon . He in turn made contact with Eumenes in order to win him over as an ally to bind Antigonus in Asia. Eumenes received a letter from the regent, written in the name of the kings, in which he was appointed strategist of Asia and charged with fighting Antigonus. Eumenes first moved to Cilicia , where he increased his financial resources with the imperial treasure stored in the fortress of Kyinda . Its military clout was to be reinforced by the division of the "silver shields" ( Agyraspiden ) stationed in Cilicia . This troop consisted of the oldest warriors of the Macedonian army, most of them had still fought for Philip II. Their decades of combat experience earned them a reputation for being invincible. But the ancient warriors were not prepared to place themselves under the command of a Greek, although Eumenes was authorized to do so by the king's letter of the regent. Eumenes resorted to a ruse and claimed that Alexander had appeared to him in a dream and had entrusted him with the authority of the "silver shields". He decided that Alexander's royal tent and his armor should now be set up every morning and a sacrifice made to him. With this religious exaggeration of their idol, Eumenes led the warriors to join him.

In the spring of 318 BC BC Eumenes marched to Phenicia and conquered the coastal cities held by Ptolemy. He began building a fleet with which he wanted to cross over to Europe in order to be able to unite with Polyperchon, because the land route over the Hellespont was blocked by Antigonos. No sooner was his fleet ready for departure than the crew mutinied in the face of an Antigonid fleet and went over to it. So completely cut off from Europe, Eumenes marched to the east, pursued by Antigonus, in order to ally himself with the satraps there. Seleucus and Peithon refused to join him and allied with Antigonus. In Susa, the satraps of the upper provinces joined him with a large army under the leadership of Peukestas . The satraps were not ready to accept Eumenes as commander in chief, at best as an ally. Above all, Peukestas demanded the supreme command for himself and thus got into an argument with Antigenes , the leader of the "silver shields". With diplomatic skill, Eumenes was able to push through a compromise in which none of the generals take over sole high command, but decisions should be made in a joint council. In this way, however, Eumenes was able to maintain his claim to leadership, especially since he was in possession of the treasure and was responsible for the wages of the warriors.

When Antigonus appeared in front of Susa, Eumenes was able to destroy a detachment of several thousand men from the enemy by clever tactics on the Kopatres River ( Battle of the Kopratas ). Antigonus' withdrawal to the media gave Eumenes the chance to cut off his way to the West by taking a train to Syria and still come to the aid of Polyperchon. The plan was rejected by the satraps because they did not want to expose their own provinces. He had to hide in inaccessible mountain regions. After Antigonus in the autumn of 316 BC When a new offensive had started, the battle of Paraitakene saw the first major meeting. Although Eumenes lost almost all of his left wing, he was able to break through the center of the opponent with his phalanx and inflict far greater losses on him. Then he let the orderly retreat begin, with which the battle ended in a draw. He had his army rearranged to deal the last blow to Antigonus, but then the Macedonian generals, who wanted to lead their troops to the winter quarters, refused to serve him. Eumenes assured himself of her continued loyalty to him by faking a letter from the Armenian satrap Orontes , who was considered a friend of Peukestas. In it he announced to his allies that Kassander had fallen in Europe, that Olympias had taken over the reign and that Polyperchon had already advanced into Asia Minor with an army and that the cause of kingship was on the verge of final victory.

End in Gabiene

By the end of 316 BC In Persia the news of Kassander's victory against Polyperchon and Olympias spread in Europe. Eumenes position became more difficult because he remained as the last representative of the kingship. Antigonus now wanted to force the decision and marched at a rapid pace on the shortest route through a salt lake in the Gabiene region to surprise the nearby Eumenes. Since his army was still in the winter quarters, this again used a ruse to avoid the danger. During the nights he had several fires lighted over the neighboring mountains of the salt lake, giving the impression that he had gathered his entire army. Antigonus fell for the bluff, ended his express march and led his army to a fertile area where they could recover. This gave Eumenes the necessary time to actually pull his army out of the quarters. Then he saved his approaching elephants from an attack by Antigonus. These successes earned him the admiration of the common soldiers, but also the resentment of the generals for Antigenes and Peukestas when they recognized the superior military skills of the Greeks.

In the battle of Gabiene it finally happened in the winter of 316 BC. To the decisive meeting. Antigonus was superior to cavalry, but Eumenes had about 47,000 men in the center, plus 114 elephants. In the battle, Eumenes was abandoned by Peukestas, who led the cavalry on the left wing. His right wing also disintegrated after the elephants got out of control and attacked their own men. In return, however, his center remained closed with the "silver shields", which again managed to break through Antigonus' center and to flee. Complete victory was possible, but Peukestas was unwilling to return to the battlefield to deal the final blow to Antigonus. So the battle ended again in a stalemate, and Eumenes had to withdraw his army again, albeit in an orderly manner.

In the council he tried to convince the generals that Antigonus could be defeated in a second battle after the loss of his infantry, but the generals spoke out against it. The leaders of the “silver shields” in particular refused, since Antigonos had, under the protection of the churned up dust, conquered their encampment unnoticed by a cavalry division, in which the relatives and the belongings of the warriors were. Antigonus had already made contact with the "silver shields" and encouraged them to betray them. Before Eumenes could flee, he was captured by them and delivered to Antigonus. In his council of war, the native Greek Nearchus and the young Demetrios Poliorketes stood up for his life, but the majority of the Macedonians demanded his death. Antigonus, however, hoped to be able to win his military talent for his own cause. But when a threatening unrest arose in the army, he ordered that the prisoner be refused food. When the army left for Persepolis on the third day , Eumenes was killed with a spear by an unknown person without the knowledge of Antigonus. Antigonus arranged an honorable funeral service and sent Eumenes' ashes in a silver urn for burial to his wife in Cappadocia. But the Agyraspids, who had lost Antigonus' trust through their betrayal, did not get away unscathed. They were sent to the provinces in the east, where they should gradually wear themselves out in hopeless fighting.


Eumenes was one of the most prominent figures in the early phase of the Diadoch Wars. Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos each dedicated a biography to him. Plutarch compared him in his parallel biography with the Sulla opponent Quintus Sertorius . Nepos praised him, the Greek, as the most loyal pillar of the Macedonian kingdom, while the Macedonian generals brought about the downfall of the house of Alexander. The German historian Johann Gustav Droysen recognized that Eumenes' Greek origins had always tied him to the fate of kingship and thus to a lost cause, as he could never have fought on his own due to the constant lack of acceptance among the Macedonians. But despite the resentment and suspicion of his subordinate Macedonians, he was always a dangerous opponent to his enemies through his cleverness, diplomatic skill and military ability, who could only be defeated in the field by betrayal.


The Japanese manga series Historie ( ヒ ス ト リ エ ) by Hitoshi Iwaaki , which has been published since 2003, is loosely based on the biography of Eumenes.


  • Edward M. Anson: Eumenes of Cardia. A Greek among Macedonians. Brill, Boston et al. 2004, ISBN 0-391-04209-2 .
  • Waldemar Heckel : Eumenes. In: Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great. Prosopography of Alexander's Empire. Blackwell, Malden et al. 2006, ISBN 1-4051-1210-7 , pp. 120-121.
  • James Romm: The ghost on the throne. The death of Alexander and the murderous struggle for his inheritance. CH Beck, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-68803-4 .
  • Christoph Schäfer: Eumenes von Kardia and the struggle for power in the Alexander empire (= Frankfurt ancient historical contributions. Volume 9). Clauss, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-934040-06-3 .

Web links


  1. For the father's name, see Arrian, Indike 18, 7.
  2. Plutarch, Eumenes 1, 1-2; Cornelius Nepos, Eumenes 1, 4-5.
  3. Plutarch, Eumenes 3, 4.
  4. Plutarch, Eumenes 2, 4-5.
  5. Plutarch, Eumenes 2, 2-3.
  6. ^ Arrian , Indike 18, 7.
  7. Arrian, Anabasis 7, 4, 6; Plutarch ( Eumenes 1, 7) calls Eumenes' wife Barsine.
  8. Cornelius Nepos, Eumenes 1, 6.