Ancient Cypriot Historians and Philosophers

ολλ νο... ο Ancient Cypriot Historians and Philosophers By Nicos Kranidiotis. jN the Fifth Century B.C. Athens was in her prime and a surprising development in Greek letters and art took place. ° The Greeks’ moral and spiritual world took, in Attica, its definite shape and, thanks to the development of philosophy and drama, it grew to an unprecedented cultural force. The brilliance of the Greek spirit rushed through the limited boundaries of Greece to form new ideals elsewhere. That era was one of the most decisive and momentous in the history of humanity. The people who had the advantage of being under the immedi- ate influence of Athens entered a new period of civilisation and progress, whilst the less fortunate lagged far behind. Cyprus, which since the time of the early Arcadian settlers had entered the Greek spiritual sphere, at that critical time, found itself perplexed by serious internal conflicts and com- pletely isolated from Hellenism. A STRONG RIVAL The Greek Cypriots had to face a strong and active rival : the Phoeni- cians. From about 800 B.C., this Semitic people had begun to develop dangerous activitiés in the Island and in some areas, thanks to their com- mercial spirit, they had imposed or expanded their economic and political domination. The contrast between the two races was not easily felt at first the struggle which was going on was yet unorganised and unconscious. But, with the passing of years, the chasm between the Greek-Cypriots and the Phoenicians widened. In 470 the Persians recaptured the Island from the Greeks and twenty years later General Kimon’s campaign did not succeed in altering the political regime of Cyprus. The Phoenicians then found the opportunity to ‘act they penetrated into the Island with: the aid of the Persians, suppressed the Greeks and tried to change the inhabitants’ character. Thus, about the middle of the sth Century, Cyprus found itself outside the’ Greek political area, absorbed in her internal adven- tures and contrasts. Two opposite worlds were standing face to face in the Island: The Greeks, who were the bearers of the European traditions to the Island, and the Phoenicians, who represented Asiatic thought. Cyprus was again found amidst two conflicting ideologies at the cross- roads of two different civilisations. A GREAT CYPRIOT At that critical moment for Hellen-~ ism, a great Cypriot appeared : Eva~ goras, the philathenian “ King of Salamis. The result was surprising. The Greek writer, Isocrates, stated that, before Evagoras came to power, the citizens of Salamis and their neigh- bours were so unapproachable and fierce that they thought that he who ill-treated the Greeks was the most suitable King for them. But after Evagoras’ rise to power, they changed so much that they began competing so as to find who could prove himself to be the most philhellenic, and were happier using Greek domestic utensils and Greek habits than their own. So, there began to come to Cyprus more friends of music and the arts and a new drive was given to Greek letters and education. , Of course, the spiritual effect of the reforms introduced by Evagoras was not felt immediately. The chasm which had been created in the fifty years that preceded could not be filled easily. Cyprus had lost contact with Greece, just at the time when, in Attica, drama was being developed and philosophy was reaching its highest peak. - EVAGORAS’ INFLUENCE However, the influence exercised by Evagoras was immense. Greek orators, musicians and artists came to Salamis at his invitation to teach Greek philosophy and art. One of these was the sophist Polycra- tes, pupil of the Isocrates. The great Athenian orator-teacher, Isacrates, who was an intimate friend of Evagoras and teacher of Nikokles, was also closely connected with “Cyprus, al- though he had never been to the Island. It is to the same period that the Cypriot doctor of medicine, Syennesis, who lived most probably in Cilicia and wrote medical treatises in Greek, also belongs. In the years that followed, the desire for learning appeared again in the Island, and many young men left their homeland for Greece to pursue higher studies. So, we find that, at the begin- ning of the 4th Century, the Cypriot philosopher Eudemos pupil of Plato and friend of Aristotle, settled in Ashens. - -Diogenes A PRACTICAL CHARACTER ‘A few years later, another Cypriot, Zeno of Citium (336—263) established, in Athens, a philosophical school of his own-+-the Stoa—and became one of the greatest philosophers of the ancient world. Zeno, expres- sing the political and social- require- ments of his time, gave to Greek philosophy a more practical character. Laertiog preserved, inter~ alia, the titles of Zeno’s works, from which one can easily understand the broadmindedness of that Cypriot philosopher. Among Zeno’s pupils was Persaios, son of Demetrios, also from Citium. Persaios was Zeno’s slave, but later on became one of his pupils and also one of the most prominent Stoic philoso- phers. He lived in the Court of Antigonos Gonatas and was a friend of Aratos, Alexander the Aetolos and other distinguished men of his era. Antigonos held Persaios in high esteem and awarded him the rank of General. OTHER GREAT CYPRIOTS From Citium comes also Doctor Apollonios, who, together with another Cypriot, the occulist Diagoras, wrote comments on Hippocrates. Cypriots were also the writers of histories about Alexander the Great, Asclepiades and Aristos of Salamis, as well as the histo- sians Klearchos of Soli, Democharis of Soli and Demetrios of Salamis, whom Athenaios mentions, At the end of the first and at the beginning of the second centuries. B.C., another distinguished Cypriot philosopher lived in Athens, the cynic Demonax, who professed self-suffici- ency and independence of worldly pleasures and was a votary of frugality and freedom. The death of Demonax closed the period of ancient Cyprus philosophy and a new spiritual era began for the Island, the era of new religious fermentations and new philosophic conceptions carried by Christianity. Αφιοςσοσοο σσ νοο σος φυφφφουσο.ο:φφο”-ο οφ: οσο. THE OLYMPIC TORCH TO GO το ENGLAND. . Arrangements are now in hand for relaying the burning torch from the village of Olympia in Southern Greece to the Stadium at Wembley to mark the opening of the Olympic Games. The torch is due to arrive on His Majesty’s ships at Dover from Calais on the evening of Wednesday, July 28th, and it will be run through the night in relays of about two miles by a team of some 75 runners. It is due to reach Wembley on the after- noon of Thursday, July z9th, in time for the ceremony at which. the King has provisionally consented to declare the Games open,