Plutarch: The Life of Eumenes

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Alexias
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Plutarch: The Life of Eumenes

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The Parallel Lives by Plutarch
published in Vol. VIII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1919


1. ...After Philip's death Eumenes was thought to be inferior to none of Alexander's followers in sagacity and fidelity, and though he had only the title of chief secretary, he was held in as much honour as the king's principal friends and intimates, so that on the Indian expedition he was actually sent out as general with a force under his own orders,​2 and received the command in the cavalry which Perdiccas had held, when Perdiccas, after Hephaestion's death, was advanced to that officer's position. 3 Therefore when Neoptolemus, the commander of the Shield-bearers, after Alexander's p81 death, said that he had followed the king with shield and spear, but Eumenes with pen and paper, the Macedonians laughed him to scorn; they knew that, besides his other honours, Eumenes had been deemed worthy by the king of relation­ship in marriage. For Barsiné the daughter of Artabazus, the first woman whom Alexander knew in Asia, and by whom he had a son, Heracles, had two sisters; of these Alexander gave one, Apama, to Ptolemy, and the other, also called Barsiné,​3 to Eumenes. This was at the time when he distributed the other Persian women as consorts among his companions.4

2 1 However, Eumenes was often in collision with Alexander, and he got himself into danger through Hephaestion. In the first place, for instance, when Hephaestion assigned to Euius the flute-player the quarters which his servants had already taken up for Eumenes, Eumenes, accompanied by Mentor, came in a passion to Alexander and cried out that it was best for him to throw away his arms and be a flute-player or a tragic actor. The immediate result was that Alexander shared his indignation and heaped abuse upon Hephaestion. Soon, however, he changed his mind and was angry with Eumenes, feeling that he had indulged in insolence towards himself more than in bold words against Hephaestion.

2 Again, when Alexander was sending out Nearchus with a fleet to explore the outer sea, he asked money of his friends, since the royal treasury was empty. Eumenes was asked for three hundred talents, but gave only a hundred, and said that even these had been slowly and with difficulty collected for him by p83 his stewards. Alexander made no reproaches, nor did he take the money, but ordered his servants secretly to set fire to the tent of Eumenes, wishing to take its owner in a manifest lie when the treasure was carried out of it. 3 But before that could be done the tent was consumed, and the destruction of his papers made Alexander repent him of his orders. Still, the gold and silver that was melted down by the fire was found to be more than a thousand talents' worth. Alexander took none of it, however, but actually wrote to his satraps and generals everywhere to send copies of the documents that had been destroyed, and ordered Eumenes to take them all in charge.

4 And still again, Eumenes had a quarrel with Hephaestion about a certain gift, and much abusive language passed between them. At the time, indeed, Eumenes was no less in favour than before; but a little while afterwards Hephaestion died, and the king, in his bitter sorrow, dealt harshly and was severe with all who, as he thought, had been jealous of his favourite while he lived and now rejoiced at his death. Eumenes, in particular, he suspected of such feelings, and often reproached him for his former quarrels with Hephaestion and his abusive language towards him. 5 But Eumenes, who was wily and persuasive, tried to make what threatened his ruin conduce to his salvation. He sought refuge, namely, in Alexander's ardent gratitude towards Hephaestion, suggesting honours which were most likely to adorn the memory of the deceased, and contributing money for the construction of his tomb lavishly and readily.

6 1 Craterus and Antipater, then, after getting this answer, were taking deliberate counsel about the whole situation, when Neoptolemus came to them after his flight, told them about the battle he had lost, and urged them to come to his aid, both of them if possible, but at any rate Craterus; for the Macedonians longed for him exceedingly, and if they should only see his cap and hear his voice, they would come to him with a rush, arms and all. 2 And indeed the name of Craterus was really great among them, and after the death of Alexander most of them had longed for him as their commander. They remembered that he had many times incurred the strong displeasure of Alexander himself in their behalf, by opposing his gradually increasing desire to adopt Persian customs, and by defending the manners of their country, which, thanks to the spread of luxury and pomp, were already being treated with contempt.

13....He said, namely, that Alexander had appeared to him in a dream, had shown him a tent arrayed in royal fashion with a throne standing in it, and had then said that if they held their councils and transacted their business there, he himself would be p119 present and would assist them in every plan and enterprise which they undertook in his name. Eumenes easily convinced Antigenes and Teutamus that this was true. They were unwilling to go to him, and he himself thought it undignified to be seen at the doors of others. 4 So they erected a royal tent, and a throne in it which they dedicated to Alexander, and there they met for deliberation on matters of highest importance.
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