Cyprus, an island in the Eastern Mediterranean, at the entrance of the Gulf of
Alexandretta. It was originally inhabited by Phoenicians and Greeks, and was famous
for its temples of Aphrodite. Though long autonomous, in the sixth century B.C.
dominion over it was disputed by the Egyptians and the Persians, the latter ruling
it till the invasion of Alexander the Great. From the Ptolemies of Egypt it passed
to the Romans (59 B.C.). Despite Moslem invasions from the seventh to the tenth
century, it remained a part of the Eastern Empire until the end of the twelfth.
ln 1191 it was conquered by Richard the Lion-Hearted, who gave it to Guy de Lusignan,
King of Jerusalem; in 1373 it fell to the Genoese, in 1489 to the Venetians. Finally,
in 1571, it became Moslem territory under Sultan Selim II. In 1878 it was occupied
by England and is now administered by an English high commissioner, assisted by
a board of four English members (Statesman's Year Book, London, 1908). The island
is hilly, with few rivers, and the climate is hot. Its once famous cities have
perished; the chief towns are now Larnaca (the best port), Nicosia, and Limasol.
Its area is 153,584 square miles. The population in 1901 was 237,000 (51,000 Mussulmans,
1100 Maronites, 850 Latins, 300 Armenians, a few Protestants and Jews, and the
rest Greeks). It produces dates, carobs, oranges and other fruits, oil, wine,
and corn. It has also sponge fisheries. Gypsum is mined there and copper mines
were worked in ancient times. Christianity was successfully preached in Cyprus
by St. Paul, St. Barnabas (a native of the island), and St. John Mark. At Paphos
the magician Elymas was blinded and the Proconsul Sergius Paulus was converted
(Acts, xi, xiii, xv). The Byzantine "Synaxaria" mention many saints, bishops,
and martyrs of this early period, e.g. St. Lazarus, St. Heraclides, St. Nicanor
(one of the first seven deacons), and others. In the fourth century we find two
illustrious names, that of St. Spiridion, the shepherd Bishop of Trimithus, present
at the Council of Nicaea in 325 with two other Cypriot bishops, whose relics were
removed to Corfu in 1460, and that of St. Epiphanius (d. 403), Bishop of Salamis,
the zealous adversary of all heresies and author of many valuable theological
works. The Bishop of Salamis (later Constantia) was then metropolitan of the whole
island, but was himself subject to the Patriarch of Antioch. During the Arian
quarrels and the Eustathian schism, the Cypriote Church began to claim its independence.
Pope Innocent I stood out for the rights of the Antiochene patriarch, Alexander
I. However, it was not long before the Council of Ephesus (431) in its seventh
session acknowledged the ecclesiastical independence of Cyprus: the cause was
gained by the metropolitan, Rheginus, who was present at Ephesus with three of
his suffragans. In 488 Peter the Dyer (Petrus Fullo), the famous Monophysite patriarch,
made an effort to recover the ancient Antiochene jurisdiction over the island.
During the conflict, however, the Cypriote metropolitan, Anthimus, claimed to
have learned by a revelation that the site of the sepulchre of St. Barnabas was
quite near his own city of Salamis; he found there the body of the Apostle with
a copy of St. Matthew's Gospel, brought the relics to Constantinople, and presented
them to the Emperor Zeno. Acacius of Constantinople decided in favour of Cyprus
against Antioch, since which time the ecclesiastical independence (autocephalia)
of the island has no more been called in question, the archbishop, known as exarch,
ranking immediately after the five great patriarchs.
From the fifth to the twelfth century the following Archbishops of Constantia (Salamis) are worthy of note: Acadius, biographer of St. Symeon Stylites the Younger, and an uncompromising opponent of the Ecthesis of Heraclius; Sergius, who condemned this document in a council and sent the pertinent decree to Pope Theodore I, but became afterwards infected with the very error he had formerly condemned; George, a defender of the holy images (icons); Constantine, who played a conspicuous part in their defence at the Second Nicene Council (787); Nicholas Muzalon, appointed Patriarch of Constantinople in 1147. Another remarkable prelate is St. Demetrianus, Bishop of Chytraea (ninth and tenth century). After the conquest of Cyprus by the Arabs, 632-647, the Christian population with its bishops emigrated to the mainland. Justinian II built for them, near the Hellespont, a city which he called Nea Justinianopolis; their archbishop enjoyed there the rights he had in Cyprus, besides exercising jurisdiction over the surrounding country (Quinisext Council, can. xxxix, 692). After the death of Justinian II the Cypriotes returned to their island with their hierarchy. Under Nicephorus Phocas (963-969) Cyprus was freed completely from the Arabs, who had sometimes treated it more kindly than the Byzantine emperors. Christianity, however, gained by the restoration. To this period belongs the foundation of three great monasteries, Our Lady of Pity (Eleusa) of Kykkos, Machaeras, and the Encleistra, the last founded in the twelfth century by the recluse Neophytus, author of several ascetical works. The Frankish rule, though at first accepted rather willingly, was finally the source of profound disturbance. In 1196 King Amaury obtained from Celestine III a Latin hierarchy for his kingdom: a resident archbishop was placed at Nicosia (Leucosia), with three suffragans at Paphos, Limasol (Temessos), and Famagusta (Ammochostos, formerly Arsinoe). Knights Templars, Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Benedictines, Cistercians, Carthusians, Regular Canons, Premonstratensian nuns soon had many flourishing monasteries. Splendid churches were built in the Gothic or ogival style, and many Greek churches were changed into Latin ones. Ecclesiastical revenues were assigned (in part) to the Latin clergy; the Greek clergy and the faithful were subordinated to Latin jurisdiction. In the execution of the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) Cardinal Pelagius, legate of Innocent III, showed himself utterly intransigent. Thirteen refractory Greek monks were cruelly put to death. The Greek archbishop, Neophytus, was deposed and exiled, the Greek sees reduced to four, the bishops ordered to reside in small villages and obey the Latin archbishop (1220-1222). Innocent IV and Alexander IV were more favourable to the Greeks (Hergenrother-Kirsch, Kirchengesch., 4th ed., 1904, II, 726), and the Government often defended them against the Latins. The ecclesiastical history of Cyprus during this sad period is one of conflict between the two rival communions, the Greeks being always looked on as more or less schismatic both by the Latins and by the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. An attempted union of the two Churches in 1405 did not succeed, nor was the Union of Florence (1439) more lasting. In 1489, through the abdication of Queen Caterina Cornaro, the island became subject to Venice, whose rule was even more intolerable to the Greeks, so that, as stated, in 1571 they welcomed the Turkish conquerors as true deliverers.
Among the more conspicuous Latin Archbishops of Nicosia may be mentioned Eustorge de Montaigu (1217-1250) who died at the siege of Damietta, a stern defender of the rights of his Church and a skilful administrator; he increased the splendour of the church services, established schools, built the archiepiscopal palace and the magnificent cathedral of St. Sophia; Ugo di Fagiano (1251-1261), distinguished for his zeal and piety, but a zealous adversary of the Greeks; Gerard de Langres (1274), deposed by Boniface VIII for siding with Philip the Fair; Giovanni del Conte (1312), renowned for his charity; Cardinal Elie de Nabinals (1332), a great reformer; Andreas of Rhodes (1447), present at the Council of Florence; Filippo Mocenigo (1559), who assisted at the closing sessions of the Council of Trent, helped the Venetians against the Turks, and, after the loss of Cyprus, retired to Italy. The Latin bishops of Cyprus showed themselves generally worthy of their mission, by resisting the encroachments of the kings, sometimes also of the Latin Patriarchs of Jerusalem, and even of the pontifical legates. The only reproach they deserve is a want of tact in their behaviour towards the Greeks, and also that their clergy at certain times were guilty of moral laxity. Few saints appear in Latin Cyprus; we hear only of the saintly Franciscan, Ugo di Fagiano, and the Dominican, Pierre de La Palu, Patriarch of Jerusalem and administrator of the See of Limasol. Blessed Pierre Thomas, a Carmelite and papal legate, who strove hard to convert the Greeks, died at the siege of Famagusta in 1366.
After frightful massacres, the Turks allowed the Greeks to reorganize their Church as they liked: viz, with an archbishop styled "Most Blessed Archbishop of Nea Justiniana [a blunder for Justinianopolis] and all Cyprus", and three bishops at Paphos, Citium, and Karpasia. In the seventeenth century the last-named see was suppressed, and its territory given to the archdiocese; on the other hand the ancient See of Kyrenia was re-established. Cyprus, like the other autocephalous orthodox Churches, has its "Holy Synod", which consists of four bishops and four priests. In the last three centuries there are few events to mention, apart from simoniacal elections and perpetual domestic quarrels. In 1668 Archbishop Nicephorus held a council against the Protestants. In 1821 the four Greek bishops, with many priests, monks, and laymen, were murdered by the Turks. After 1900 strife arose in the ancient Church of St. Barnabas, and it was found impossible to name a successor to the archbishop who died in that year. The Turkish conquest caused the ruin of the Latin Church: two bishops were then killed with many priests and monks, the churches were profaned, and the Latin Catholics left the island. However, as early as 1572, Franciscans could again reside at Larnaca; after a century they had gathered about 2000 Catholics of various rites. Since 1848 Cyprus has been ecclesiastically dependent on the new Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Franciscans have stations at Larnaca, Limasol, and Nicosia, with schools and five churches; Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition conduct schools in these three towns, and have a hospital and an orphanage at Larnaca.
The Maronites were very numerous during the period of Latin rule, but owing to persecutions of Greeks or Turks have mostly all departed or apostatized. The latter are called Linobambaci; some of them returned to Catholicism. Cyprus, with a part of Lebanon, still forms a Maronite diocese, with 30,000 faithful. They have in the island a few churches and four monasteries, but lack good schools. Among the resident Armenians there is only an insignificant number (12) of Catholics; the rest obey the Gregorian Patriarch of Jerusalem and have two priests and a monastery. Other Christians of Eastern Rites, who lived in Cyprus during the Middle Ages, subject to their own bishops, have now completely disappeared.
S. Petrides, ed.
Transcribed by: Diane E. Dubrule
This text is cited June 2004 from The Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent online edition URL below.
Lobby for Cyprus is a non party political, non sectarian organisation based in the UK with the aim of reuniting Cyprus. Lobby was formed in 1993 and since its inception has campaigned vigorously against the brutal invasion, occupation, ethnic cleansing and destruction of the Hellenic heritage of 37% of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey.
A large island of the Mediterranean, south of Cilicia and west
of Syria, identical, at least in part, with the Hebrew Kittim, which seems to
be its oldest known name; but it appears to be sometimes included in the name
Caphtor, a title that properly belongs to Crete with other islands and coast lands
settled by the Caphtorim. Other ancient names of Cyprus, most of them poetical,
are Aeria, Aerosa, Acamantis, Amathusia, Aphrodisia, Aphelia, Collinia, Cerastis,
Cryptos, Meinis, Ophiusa, Macaria, Paphos, Sphekeia. The derivation of the name
is uncertain, but the principal authorities, ancient and modern, refer it to the
Hebrew kopher or gopher, the name of a tree; sometimes, without adequate reason,
connecting it with cupressus. Another derivation is from cuprum, "copper,"
formerly found in the island; but the chalkos kuprios or aes cyprium probably
took its name from the island, not the island from the metal.
Cyprus is reckoned by Strabo (or Timaeus, whom he follows) to be the third in extent of the Mediterranean isles. Its shape was aptly compared by the ancients to the outspread skin of an ox, or to the fleece of a sheep. Its extreme length, from Cape Acamas (now Cape Arnaouti or Epiphanio) on the west to the promontory Dinaretum (now St. Andrea) on the east, is about 140 miles; its greatest breadth, from Crommyon (now Cormaciti) on the north to Cape Curias (now Cape Gatto), on the south, about 60; its width varying greatly, the long strip that ends at Dinaretum being very narrow and scarcely more than 10 miles across at any point. Off Dinaretum are several small islands called Kleides (Keys). The coast is provided with numerous bays; but the harbors are now mere roadsteads, though the remains of ancient artificial harbor moles are to be seen at several places (as New Paphos, Soli, etc.).
From Crommyon to Dinaretum, along and quite near the coast, extends a mountainous chain, of which the highest peaks are Buffavento (3240 ft.), Pentedactylon (2480 ft.), and Elias (2810 ft.). The principal ranges, however, are in the west and southwest, the highest point being Mount Olympus (Trodos or Troodos, 6590 ft.), nearly midway between Curium on the south coast and Soli on the north, from the top of which a view of the whole island can be obtained. Next in height is Mount Adelphi (Maschera, 5380 ft.), a few miles to the east; still farther east, a hill (4370 ft.) whose ancient name is unknown; and still farther east again, Mount Santa Croce (Stavros, 2300 ft.). The chain extends nearly to Famagousta (Ammochostos, Constantia-Salamis), with frequent spurs to the shore; and spurs also extend from Olympus radially to the north, west, and south. Between the two ranges is a vast plain, now called the Messouria, whose principal river is the Pidias (Pidaeas), emptying into the sea near Salamis. The Messouria to-day is one vast grain-field, interspersed with insignificant villages. The island formerly abounded in trees and timber, of which it is now mostly denuded, though the kharub, olive, fig, orange, date-palm, lemon, nectarines, apricots, etc., and others suited to the climate flourish. Wild grape-vines still grow to an immense size. Wine, of various sorts, is abundant; the best and most famous being the Commanderia wine, so named from its original producers, the Knights of St. John, at Colossi. Formerly Cyprus yielded to no region in fertility, producing an abundance of grain, wine, oil, and fruits. At the proper season the hills and uncultivated plains are carpeted with anemones, ranunculuses, crocuses, hyacinths, squills, and a great variety of other flowers, especially those with bulbous roots. One ancient epithet of Cyprus is euodes. But agriculture, along with irrigation and drainage, is much neglected. Salt lakes, or “Salines,” exist near Larnaca, the ancient Citium, furnishing now, as in the times of Pliny, vast supplies of salt for home consumption and exportation, the salt coating the surface as the summer heat evaporates the water. The climate is still that of the ancient nimio calore.
Although the names of special historians have come down to us, we possess no ancient special treatise or history of the island, but are dependent for information anciently current upon the frequent mention in the Greek and Roman classics, with brief notices in the later historians. These are best collected in Engel's monograph Kypros.
The earliest inhabitants have generally been supposed to be Phoenicians, and it is true that the Phoenician language retained its hold in certain parts of Cyprus as late as anywhere, contemporarily, of course, with the Greek, the Lycian (locally), and later with the Latin. The Cypriotes, however, spoke a language peculiar to themselves, as was long ago evident from the scattered glosses preserved by the grammarians and lexicographers, and as has lately been further and most conclusively shown by the recent discovery and decipherment of inscriptions in the peculiar Cypriote character. This language was essentially Greek; and the Greek of Cyprus to-day embraces many peculiarities of its own. The legendary hero of Cyprus was Cinyras, who is said to have come to the island at the time of the beginning of the Trojan War. Without going into the matter of the legend, it may be said that Greek inscriptions of the "Cinyradae" (the priestly caste of Old Paphos, etc.) have been found in the island within the last twenty years. The chief religion of the island was notoriously the worship of Venus; but with few exceptions (as e. g. Zeus Labranios, introduced near Amathus from Caria) the religion and deities were introduced from Phoenicia, and thus indirectly from the farther East--with, however, some Greek modification. Aphrodite, Apollo, Hercules, and other deities usually called Greek or Roman were thus introduced, the Greek and Phoenician names of some of them appearing now and then on the same bilingual inscription. Aphrodite had her epithet of "Paphian" not only at Paphos, where her rites included all the extravagancies of Mylitta at Babylon, but at the other seats of her worship--Golgos, Dali, Cerynia, etc. Apollo Hylates, who had a temple at Curium, is called by that name and also by his Phoenician name of Resheph Mical on a bilingual inscription found at Dali. A temple to Eshmunmelqarth (=Aesculapius-Hercules), a Phoenician deity much like the Greek Palaemon and the Roman Portumnus, near the Salines at Larnaca, has furnished a number of Phoenician inscriptions of the fourth century b.c.; while a temple to Artemis Paralia, close at hand, has furnished a few Greek inscriptions and an immense number of valuable terra-cotta remains.
Aside from the mythical reign of Cinyras over the whole island, the territory, so far as we know, was broken up into a number of kingdoms, whose detailed history has well-nigh perished. A dynasty of Phoenician kings ruled over Citium, Idalium, and Tamassus in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Salamis, said to have been founded by Teucer, and by him named after his native city, had its own Greek kings at the same period. Paphos had its dynasty of the Cinyradae, who seem also to have extended their power over Amathus and certain other parts. Soli and Cythrea traced their origin to the Athenians; Lapethus and Cerynia to a Lacedaemonian colony under Praxander and an Achaean one under Cepheus; Curium to the Argives. A town Asine, whose site is not known, is said to have been colonized by the Dryopians; Neo-Paphos by Agapenor. The promontory Acamas is said to have its name from the hero of the Trojan War. Old Paphos, Amathus, and Citium were founded by the Ph?nicians; and of these, Citium (with Dali and Tamassus) seems to have retained its Ph?nician character with less modification than the others. Carpassia seems also to have had a Ph?nician origin. Articles of Phoenician manufacture--bronze, gold, silver, pottery, etc.--have been found in abundance all over the island.
Aside from these scattered data, we know that Thothmes III. of Egypt (cir. B.C. 1500) conquered Cyprus; Belus of Tyre was at one time its master; ten kingdoms, including Soli, Chytri, Curium, Lapethus, Cerynia, Neo Paphos, Marium, Idalium, Citium, and Amathus, sent their submission to the Assyrian Esarhaddon (cir. B.C. 890); Sargon put the island to tribute (cir. B.C. 707); Apries (Pharaoh Hophra) of Egypt defeated some Cyprian monarchs near Citium, and returned home laden with their spoils; Amasis of Egypt overran the island and put it to tribute, but the Cyprian rulers joined Cambyses the Persian against the son of Amasis. The king of Amathus revolted from the Persians in the time of Darius, and the longest record extant in the Cypriote character commemorates one of the side issues of this struggle. In B.C. 477, the Athenians and Lacedaemonians conquered part of Cyprus from the Persians; and a war resulted in which the Greeks, with the Tyrians and Egyptians as allies, were on one side, and the Persians on the other. The power of Alexander the Great was both felt and helped in Cyprus, after which, under the Ptolemies, followed wars and doubtful sovereignty, till Demetrius Poliorcetes conquered the island (cir. B.C. 306). About B.C. 296, Ptolemy Soter took the island, after which it remained under Egypt till conquered by the Romans.
Literature and the arts flourished in Cyprus even from a very early period, as witness the "Cypria Carmina," by some attributed to Homer. Citium was the birthplace of Zeno. It is foreign to the present article to trace the history of the island during the Roman rule, the Arabs, the dukedoms of the Crusades, Richard of England, the Lusignans, the Turks, and the recent occupation by the English. Its geographical position made it the field for the exhibition of the arts, deeds, and cults of various nations; and its remains, as brought to light in the explorations of the last twenty-five Vase, with Ph?nician Inscription Burnt on the Clay. [p. 458] years, have given a deeper insight into the ancient life and occupations and attainments of its successive peoples and masters than it had been thought possible hitherto to attain, and necessitated the rewriting of the principal chapters in the history of ancient art. From the time of Pococke, who, nearly three centuries ago, made his famous discoveries of Ph?nician inscriptions (chiefly about Citium), down to the English occupation, scattered and partial explorations have been made. The discovery, in the first half of this century, of inscriptions in a character hitherto unknown, and their decipherment, from 1873 onward, has furnished most valuable clues to the history of religions in Cyprus and the transference of deities thither from the East, besides many minor historical matters and a vast addition to the knowledge of Greek dialects. The characters are syllabic, with peculiar laws of writing, and the language Greek. Some hundreds of these inscriptions are now known (the most of them found by Di Cesnola)--some bilingual (Phoenician and Cypriote) and some digraphic (Greek and Cypriote). The decipherment is a brilliant record--George Smith, of England, discovering the key in a bilingual inscription now in the British Museum; R. H. Lang simultaneously and independently proving the incorrectness of certain previous attempts by others; after which Samuel Birch made additional progress; and complete inscriptions were first read simultaneously and independently by Justus Siegismund and W. Deecke of Strassburg, M. Schmidt of Jena, and I. H. Hall of New York, since which time many writers have contributed lexicographic and dialectic additions.
The discoveries by exploration and excavation have been chiefly made (though the work of others is not inconsiderable) by L. P. di Cesnola, while U. S. Consul at Cyprus, from 1866 to 1877. His work covered nearly all parts of the island, discovering the sites of many ancient cities, and ruins of others whose ancient identity is not yet known, besides many temples, necropoles, ancient aqueducts, and other remains, including over 200 inscriptions, in Assyrian, Cypriote, Phoenician, Greek, and Latin. The greatest number (many thousands) and most important of the objects discovered are deposited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, though many found their way to European museums and private collections. The Cyprian Sarcophagus--Roman Period. statuary, pottery, terra-cottas, glass, gold, silver, and gems are a unique and unrivalled collection, and their value for the study of Phoenician and Greek archaeology, art, and history appears in their unceasing use in the learned publications of all countries. Since the occupation of Cyprus by the English, others have excavated and explored, but by no means on the same scale, the principal works accomplished being the further excavation of the site of the greater temple of Venus at Old Paphos, and some large operations near Salamis.
This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Large island in eastern Mediterranean, off the coast of Syria.
By its location, Cyprus was at the crossroad of many civilizations from the Middle
East, Egypt and Greece,
though its situation as an island and the richness of its soil (especially rich
copper mines that were at the root of its prosperity and induced trade relations
with most of the Middle East) allowed it to keep its specificity over the centuries.
Cyprus had been populated since a very remote past. Around 1450 B. C., Greeks of the Mycenaean civilization established trade posts in the island. Yet, the kings that were reigning over Cyprus stayed in power and managed to keep their autonomy and neutrality in the power struggles that opposed the Hittites kings from Anatolia and the pharaohs of Egypt during the XIVth and XIIIth centuries B.C . Centuries later, toward the end of the IXth century and during the VIIIth century B. C., Phoenician merchants established trade posts on the southern shore of the island, in cities like Citium.
Yet, most of the island stayed under the control of kings of Salamis, vassals of the Assyrian Empire. With the fall of Nineveh (612), the Assyrian dominion over the island was replaced by that of Egypt, followed by that of Persia in the time of Cyrus the Great and his successors.
Greek mythology of classical times links Cyprus to Teucrus, son of Telamon, the king of Salamis and father of the Great Ajax, one of the most prominent Greek heroes during the Trojan war. When he came back to Salamis after the war, where his elder brother Ajax had been killed, his father Telamon exiled him for not having protected or avenged his brother. Teucrus fled to Syria, where the king of the place settled him in Cyprus that he had just conquered. There, Teucrus founded a city that he called Salamis as well.
Back in the historical times, Cyprus, under the leadership of Onesilus, brother of the king of Salamis, took part in 498 in an uprising against Darius, the Persian King, along with Ionian cities led by Aristagoras, ruler of Miletus. But the attempt failed, the combined Ionian fleet and Cypriot army were defeated on sea and land by Darius' troops and his Phoenician navy near Salamis of Cyprus, and Onesilus was killed.
Bernard Suzanne (page last updated 1998), ed.
This extract is cited July 2003 from the Plato and his dialogues URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.
Cyprus (Kupros: Eth. and Adj. Kuprios, Kupriakos, Kuprieus, Kuprites,
Cyprius, Cypriacus: Kibris), an island lying off the coast of Phoenicia and Cilicia.
The physical features and the legends connected with this chosen seat of Aphrodite, have given rise to a multitude of names. 1. Acamantis (Akamantis). 2. Amathusia (Amathousia). 3. Aspelia. 4. Colinia. 5. Cerastis (Kerasrtis). 6. Cryptos (Kruptos). 7. Macaria (Makaria). 8. Meionis (Meionis). 9. Ophiusa (Ophiusia arva, Ov. Met x. 229). 10. Spheceia (Ophekeia).
According to ancient admeasurements the circuit of this island amounted to 3420 stadia. (Strab. xiv. p. 682.) Its greatest length from W. to E., between Cape Acamas and the islands called the Keys of Cyprus (Kleides), was reckoned at 1400 stadia. (Strab. l. c.; Plin. v. 35; Agathem. i. 5.) The principal or SW. part of the island has the form of an irregular parallelogram, and terminates with a long narrow peninsula, running in a NE. direction. Its shape was compared fancifully by the old writers to a fleece (Agathem. l. c.), or to a Gallic shield (Hygin. Fab. 276). The surface of the country is almost entirely occupied by the elevated range of Mt. Olympus, whose culminating points reach the height of 7000 feet. The slopes descend both on the N. and S. shores: on the former side the chain is bold and rugged; on the S. side the scenery is still bolder, presenting a deeply serrated outline with thickly wooded steeps, which are broken by masses of limestone, or furrowed by deep picturesque valleys, in which grow the narcissus, the anemone, and ranunculus.
The mountains contained: copper (chalkos Kuprios, aes Cyprium), the most famous mines of which were to be found at Tamassus, Amathus, Soli, and Curion (Plin. xii. 60, xxxiv. 20), as well as the nobler metals, gold and silver. The precious stones of Cyprus were famous in antiquity. They were: the adamas vergens in aerium colorem (Plin. xxxvii. 15), whether this was the diamond seems doubtful, as it has been thought that Pliny was unacquainted with the real diamond (Dana, Mineralogy, p. 401); the smaragdos (xxxvii. 17), emerald; the chalcosmaragdos turbida aereis venis (xxxvii. 19), malachite (?), or more probably red jasper; paederos (xxxvii. 22), opal; achates (xxxvii. 54), agate; and asbestos (Dioscor. v. 156). The land is described as flowing with wine, oil (Strab. p. 684), and honey (Plin. xi. 14); and the fragrance of its flowers gave it the epithet of euodes - the plaything (athurma) of the goddess of Love. (Eustath. ad Dionys. Per. 508.)
Cyprus lies between Asia and Africa, and the flora and fauna of the island partake of the characteristics of both continents. A list of the plants, birds, quadrupeds, and fishes, found in Cyprus, is given in Walpole (Turkey and Greece, vol. i. p. 253, foll.). The Ferula Graeca - or nartheka, as it is now called, with a slight alteration from the ancient name - is one of the most important plants of the island in respect to its economical uses. The stalks furnish the poor Cyprian with a great part of his household furniture; and the pith is used instead of tinder for conveying fire from one place to another, as taught by Prometheus of old. (Aesch. Prom. 109.)
The level tracts were in the neighbourhood of Salamis and Citium, the former was watered by the river Pediaeus, and the latter by the Tretus; but, as these streams are occasionally dry, marshes have in consequence been formed. Strabo (xiv. p. 682) begins his description of the island with Cape Acamas (Akamas), at the W. extremity of the island, which he describes as a thickly wooded headland, divided into two summits rising towards the N. (Comp. Ptol. v. 14 § 1; Plin. v. 31; Stadiasm. § § 282, 292, 293.) The modern name, after the celebrated metropolitan of Cyprus, is Haghios Epiphanios, which is shortened into St. Pifano. The next point, in a S. direction, is Drepanon (Drepanon, Ptol. v. 14. § 1: Trepano). Then the roadstead and harbour of Paphos (Paphos). The cape which closes the bay of Baffo to the W. is the Zephyrium Promontorium (Zephurion, Ptol. v. 14. § 1; Zephuria akra, Strab. p. 683). To the S. is another headland, Arsinoe (Arsinoe), followed by Phrurium (Phrourion, Ptol. v. 14. § 1: Capo Blanco). At a little distance further inland was Hierocepia (Hierokepia, Strab. p. 684). Then follow Palaepaphos (Palaipaphos: Kukla or Konuklia), Boosura (Boosoura: Bisur), Treta (Treta: Tera), and Curium (Kourion) with a port built by the Argives. Near this was the point of Curias (Kourias: Capo delle Gatte), at a little distance from which are some salt marshes which receive an arm of the river Lycus (Lukos, Ptol. v. 14. § 2). Amathus (Amathous: Old Limasol), which next followed, was a Phoenician colony. Beyond was the little town of Palaea (Palaia, Strab. p. 683), at the foot of a mountain shaped like a breast (mastoeides), Olympus (Olumpos: Monte Sta. Croce). Citium (Kition) was a large town with a harbour that could be closed; to the W. of it was the little river Tetius (Tetios, Ptol. v. 14. § 2: Tesis), and to the E. the promontory Dades (Daides, Ptol. l. c.: Kiti). A rugged line of coast follows for several miles along a bay which lies between this headland and that of Throni (Thronoi: Pila). Above Pedalium (Pedalion: Capo della Grega), the next point on the E. coast, rose a hill with a temple consecrated to Aphrodite. The harbour Leucolla (Leukolla: Porta Arnio dia e Lucola). Ammochostus (Ammochostos, Ptol. v. 14. § 3; Stadiasm. § 287), near the river Pediaeus (Pediaios), a name which has been transmitted by corruption to the Venetian Famagosta. Further N. was Salamis (Salamis), Elaea (Elaia, Ptol. l. c.: Chaulu-bernau), Urania (Ouranies pedon hedres, Nonn. Dionys. xiii. 450), Carpasia (Karpasia), and the promontory called Dinaretum, with the islands called the Keys of Cyprus (hai Kleides). The ironbound shore to the NE. was called the shore of the Greeks (Achaion akte: Jalousa), from the story that Teucer and his colonists had landed here. (Strab.) On this coast, 70 stadia from Salamis, was Aphrodisium (Aphrodision, Ptol. v. 14. § 4; Strab.), Macaria (Makaria, Ptol. l. c.), Cerynia (Keruneia), and Lapethus (Lapethos: Lapitho or Lapta). Cape Crommyon (Krommuon akra) was the most N. point of the island; near this were the towns of Cerbia (Kerbeia) and Soli (Soloi). The promontory of Callinusa (Kallinonsa) completes the circuit of the island. In the interior were the towns of Aepeia (Aipeia), Limenia (Limenia), Tamassus (Tamassos), Tremithus (Tremithous), Leucosia (Leukosia), Chytrus (Chutros), and Marium (Marion). An account of these places will be found under their several heads: most of the towns have now disappeared.
Cyprus seems to have been colonized by the Phoenicians at a very early period, and if we may trust the Syrian annals consulted by the historian Menander (Joseph. Ant. viii. 5. § 3, c. Apion. 1. 18; comp. Virg. Aen. 1, 643), was subject to the Syrians, even in the time of Solomon. We do not know the dates of the establishment of the Greek cities in this island; but there can be no doubt but that they were later than this period, and that a considerable portion of the soil and trade of Cyprus passed from the Phoenicians to the Greeks. Under Amasis the island became subject to the Aegyptian throne (Herod. ii. 182); he probably sent over African colonists. (Comp. Herod. vii. 90.) On the invasion of Aegypt by Cambysses Cyprus surrendered to the Persians, and furnished a squadron for the expedition. (Herod. iii. 19.) It continued to form a part of the Persian empire, and was with Phoenicia and Palestine the fifth satrapy in the arrangement made by Dareius (Herod. iii. 91.) During the Ionian revolt the whole island, except Amathus, threw off the Persian yoke. The Cyprians were attacked by the Persians by land and sea, and after varying success, were defeated, and their leader Onesilus slain. After this the island was again subject to Dareius (Herod. v. 104-116), and in the expedition of Xerxes furnished 150 ships. (Herod. vii. 90.) After the overthrow of the Persians at Salamis, a Grecian fleet was despatched to Cyprus and reduced the greater part of it. (Thuc. i. 94.) The Athenians sent out another expedition against it, but in consequence of a plague and the death of Cimon, the attempt was relinquished. (Thuc. i. 112.) The brilliant period of its history belongs to the times of Evagoras, king of Salamis, when Hellenic customs and civilization received a new impulse. He was succeeded by his son Nicocles; another Evagoras, son of Nicocles, was joined with Phocion, to recover Cyprus for the king of Persia, from whom it had revolted. (Diod. xvi. 42, 46.) Cyprus again became a tributary to the Persians, and remained such till the battle of Issus, when the several states declared for Alexander, and joined the Macedonian fleet with 120 ships at the siege of Tyre. (Arrian. ii. 20.) They were afterwards ordered to cruise off the Peloponnesus with 100 ships along with the Phoenicians. (Arrian. iii. 6.) When the empire of Alexander was broken up, Cyprus fell with Aegypt to the lot of Ptolemy. Demetrius invaded the island with a powerful fleet and army, defeated Ptolemy's brother Menelaus, and shut him up in Salamis, which he besieged both by sea and land. Ptolemy hastened to his relief with 140 ships; and after a sea-fight, one of the most memorable in ancient history, B.C. 306, the whole island fell into the hands of Demetrius. (Diod. xx. 47-53; Plut. Demetr. 15-18; Polyaen. iv. 7. § 7; Justin. xv. 2.) In B.C. 295, Ptolemy recovered the island, and it became from this time an integral portion of the Aegyptian monarchy. (Plut. Demetr. 35, 38.) It formed the brightest jewel in the Alexandrian diadem; the timber of Olympus was used for the navy of Aegypt, and its metallic and other riches contributed to the revenue. Independently of its importance as a military position, the Ptolemies had a personal interest in securing it as a place of refuge for themselves or their treasures, in case of invasion or internal revolutions. Under the Lagid dynasty, the government of the island was committed to some one belonging to the highest class of the Alexandrian court, called the kinsmen of the king. This viceroy had full powers, as it would appear from the inscriptions in which he is entitled strategos kai nauarchos kai archiereus ho kata ten neson. Ptolemy Philadelphus founded the Cyprian cities which bore the name of his wife, Arsinoe. On the decline and fall of Aegypt, Cyprus with Cyrenaica was the only foreign possession remaining to the crown. Polycrates, an Argive, about B.C. 217, was governor of Cyprus, and secured, by his faithfulness and integrity, the island for Ptolemy Epiphanes, the infant son and successor of Philopator. On the division of the monarchy between the brothers Ptolemy Philometor and Euergetes, Euergetes,in contravention of the arrangement was anxious to take Cyprus to his share. In B.C. 154, Euergetes went to Rome, to seek assistance from the senate. Five legates, but no Roman army, were despatched to aid him; but Philometor, anticipating him, had already occupied Cyprus with a large force, so that when his brother landed at the head of his mercenary troops, he was soon defeated and shut up in Lapethus, where he was compelled to surrender, on condition that he should content himself with the kingdom of Cyrene. The Romans did not again interfere to disturb the arrangement thus concluded. During the dissensions of the brothers, Demetrius Soter, king of Syria, had endeavoured to make himself master of Cyprus, but unsuccessfully. On the accession of Ptolemy Lathyrus to the throne of Aegypt, his younger brother, Ptolemy Alexander, went to Cyprus. Afterwards, when by the intrigues of Cleopatra, the queen.mother, Alexander became king of Aegypt, Lathyrus retired to Cyprus, and held it as an independent kingdom for the 18 years during which Cleopatra and Alexander reigned in Aegypt, B.C. 107-89. When Lathyrus was recalled by the Alexandrians to Aegypt, Alexander, his brother, in the hope of becoming master of Cyprus, invaded the island; but was defeated in a naval action by Chaereas, and fell in the battle. While Ptolemy Auletes occupied the throne of Aegypt, another Ptolemy, a younger brother, was king of Cyprus. This prince had obtained from the Roman people the complimentary title of their friend. (Cic. pro Sest. 26; Schol. Bob. p. 301, ed. Orell.) On the pretence that he had abetted the pirates (Schol. Bob. l. c.), he was commanded to descend from the throne. In B.C. 58, Clodius, who had a personal enmity against the king (Appian. B.C. ii. 23; Dion Cass. xxxviii. 30), proposed to deprive him of his kingdom, and confiscate his large treasures to the service of the state. A rogation was brought forward by the tribune, that Cato should be appointed to carry into execution this act of frightful injustice. Cato accepted this disgraceful commission; but half ashamed of the transaction, despatched a friend from Rhodes to deliver the decree, and to hold out to the injured king the promise of an honourable compensation in the priesthood of the Paphian Aphrodite. Ptolemy preferred to submit to a voluntary death. (Plut. Cat. Min. 34, 39.) Cyprus became a Roman province, and the fatal treasures amassed by the king, were poured into the coffers of the state. (Pat. Vell. ii. 45.) The island was annexed to Cilicia (Cic. ad Fam. i. 7; ad Att. vi. 2), but had a quaestor of its own (ad Fam. xiii. 48), and its own courts for the administration of justice (ad Att. v. 21). In B.C. 47, it was given by Caesar to Arsinoe and Ptolemy, the sister and brother of Cleopatra. (Dion Cass. xlii. 95.) M. Antonius afterwards presented it to the children of Cleopatra. (Dion Cass. xlix. 32, 41; comp. Strab. p. 685.) After the battle of Actium, at the division of the provinces between the emperor and the senate, B.C. 27, it was made an imperial province. (Dion Cass. liii. 12.) In B.C. 22, it was given up to the senate (Dion Cass. liv. 4), and was from that time governed by proprietors, with the title of Proconsul, with a legatus and a quaestor. (Marquardt, Becker's Rom. Alt. vol. iii. pt. 1. p. 172; Orell. Inscr. 3102.) The proconsul resided at Paphos. (Act. Apost. xiii. 6, 7.) From the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles (xiii. 4-12), it would seem that a considerable part of the population was of Jewish extraction; and in the fatal insurrection during the reign of Hadrian, they are said to have massacred 240,000 of the Grecian inhabitants, and obtained temporary possession of the island. (Milman, Hist. of Jews, vol. ii. p. 112.) Under the Byzantine emperors it was governed by a Consularis, and the capital was transferred from Paphos to Salamis or Constantia (Hierocl.). In A.D. 648, Moawiyah, the general of Othman, invaded the island, which capitulated, the Saracen general agreeing to share the revenues with the Greek emperor, In A.D. 803-806, it fell into the hands of Harun el Rashid, but was afterwards restored to the empire by the conquests of Nicephorus II. Isaac Angelus lost the island where Alexis Commenus had made himself independent; but was deprived of his conquest by Richard Coeur de Lion, A.D. 1191, who ceded it to the Templars, but afterwards resumed the sovereignty, and in A.D. 1192, gave it to King Guido of Jerusalem. Cyprus was never again united to the Byzantine empire.
Cyprus, lying in that sea which was the extreme nurse of the Grecian race, never developed the nobler features of Hellenic culture and civilization. The oriental character entirely predominated; the worship had but little connection with the graceful anthropomorphism of Hellas, but was rather a deification of the generative powers of nature as common to the Phoenicians, mixed up with orgiastic rites from Phrygia. The goddess, who was evidently the same as the Semitic Astarte, was worshipped under the form of a rude conical stone. (Tac. Hist. ii. 3.) The exuberance of nature served to stifle every higher feeling in sensual enjoyment. (Comp. Athen. vi. p. 257, xii. p. 516.) A description of the constitution was given in the lost work of Aristotle on the Polities, and Theophrastus had composed a treatise upon the same subject. (Suid. s. v. Tiara.) That such men should have thought it worth their while to investigate this matter shows that it possessed considerable interest; as far as the scanty notices that have come down go, it appears to have been governed by petty princes of an oriental character. (Comp. Herod. vii. 90.) For coins of Cyprus, see Eckhel, vol. iii. p. 84; H. P. Borrell, Notice surquelq. Med. gr. des Rois de Chypre. Paris, 1836; Meursius, Creta, Cyprus, &c., Amst. 1675; D'Anville, Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscr. vol. xxxii. p. 548; Mariti, Viaggi, vol. i.; Von Hammer, Topogr. Ansicht. aus der Levante: Turner's Levant: vol. ii. pp. 40, 528; Engel, Kypros; Ross, Reisen nach Kos, Halikarnassos, Rhodos, und der Inseln Cypern, Halle, 1852; Luynes, Numismatique et Inscriptions Cypriotes, Paris, 1852.
This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited September 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.Subscribe now!