Eumenes of Cardia: The Art of a Leaderless Leadership

Eumenes of Cardia: The Art of a Leaderless Leadership

Eumenes of Cardia was born in c. 362 as the son of a waggoner in the Thracian Chersonesus (current Gallipoli). His father was a member of the highest local family in the peninsula. 

Unlike common belief, Eumenes was likely of Scythian origin and not Greek. He received a notable and extensive education in both literature and athletics. Eumenes’ father apparently established a friendship with the then king of Macedon Philip II which allowed Eumenes to become part of the Macedonian king’s retinue. 

Eumenes Career Under Philip II and Alexander

In 343, Philip II appointed Eumenes as the royal scribe or his chief secretary, a position of high honor in the ancient Hellenic world; in contrast with counterparts in the Roman world. The appointment of a foreigner to this position is, alone, a testimony to Eumenes’ high level of literacy and political scent. 

Depiction of Eumenes of Cardia in a stylized letter “E” from “In libris epitomatum illustriorum virorum Plutarch” by Pietro Candido Decembrio.
Depiction of Eumenes of Cardia in a stylized letter “E” from “In libris epitomatum illustriorum virorum Plutarch” by Pietro Candido Decembrio.

As a chief secretary, Eumenes had access to every council attended by the king, allowing him to learn first hand best practices on statehood and military matters. After Philip’s assassination and Alexander’s accession, Eumenes retained his position as chief secretary. 

During the Indian expedition (326), Eumenes commanded a wing of the companion cavalry (hetaerice/hetairike), the elite cavalry unit of the Macedonian army. In 324, at Susa, he was deemed worthy of being among the westerners who married Persian women following Alexander’s initiation of Persian customs among his Macedonians. The Cardian married a sister of Barsine (Alexander’s new wife) whom Plutarch calls also Barsine while Arrian calls her Artonis. Whatever the name, the marriage with Barsine/Artonis made Eumenes a brother-in-law with the king himself, highly elevating his status in Alexander’s quarters. 

After the demise of Alexander the Great (323), Eumenes maintained a neutral, conciliatory position in matters concerning imperial affairs. The Cardian essentially stood in between the party of Perdiccas supporting the continuation of the Argead line and the party of other generals seeking to establish their own dominions.  

Satrap of Cappadocia and Paphlagonia

In the distribution of satrapies that took place at Babylon, Eumenes was awarded the satrapy of Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the Pontic coastline as far as Trapezus. The problem was that this satrapy was not under Macedonian control; in fact, it had remained largely free from Macedonian conquest even during Alexander’s expedition. At the time, most of the territory awarded to Eumenes was largely controlled by the native dynast Ariarathes, appointed in northern Cappadocia by Darius. To take this territory into Macedonian control, Perdiccas ordered Antigonus (satrap of Greater Phrygia) and Leonnatus (satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia) to assist Eumenes against Ariarathes. Antigonus refused outright; Leonnatus, after some hesitance, agreed, with the intermediation of Eumenes’ natural foe and tyrant of Cardia, Hecataeus, to rather involve himself in Europe and assist Antipater in the Lamian War. 

Map showing the appointed provinces/satrapies to the respective generals in the first division of satrapies at Babylon (Europe & Middle East).
Map showing the appointed provinces/satrapies to the respective generals in the first division of satrapies at Babylon (Europe & Middle East).

Eumenes at first joined Leonattus in the hopes of getting his due assistance against Ariarathes. When it became clear to him that Leonnatus had a completely different agenda, Eumenes took his troops and fled to Perdiccas. According to Nepos, Leonnatus plotted to kill Eumenes after failing to persuade him in a joint European undertaking; a plot that Eumenes avoided by leaving him unnoticed during the night. 

Adventure in Armenia

Eumenes left from Leonnatus accompanied by 300 horsemen, 200 armed camp-followers, and with 5,000 talents in gold bullion. He eventually joined Perdiccas, allying himself with him and those in favor of the Argead royalty (i.e. legitimists). His move paid off: Perdiccas led himself the campaign against Ariarathes, defeated and executed him, and formally installed Eumenes in his allotted satrapy. Having installed an ally here, Perdiccas relied on Eumenes to stabilize another troubling and bordering region, Armenia. There, Neoptolemus (one of the principal officers of Alexander) had been appointed strategos, operating with a significant infantry unit with little success. By dispatching Eumenes in Armenia, Perdiccas sought to pacify another region while checking Neoptolemus whom he regarded with suspicion.  

Eumenes joined Neoptolemus in Armenia where he found the situation critical. On one side was the obvious opponent, Orontes, the Achaemenid satrap who then controlled Armenia; on the other was the risk of Neoptolemus turning against him. For this purpose, with the resources at hand, Eumenes raised a force of 6,300 cavalrymen, natives from the Cappadocian hinterland. They were lured by Eumenes’ promises of fiscal exemption. This new force, personally loyal to Eumenes alone, was an ideal counter-army against the threat posed by Neoptolemus’ infantry. 

As for the campaign of Eumenes and Neoptolemus against Orontes and remnant of Ariarathes’ “rebels” in Armenia, nothing is known. We do know, however, that Eumenes was not continuously engaged in it. During the winter of 322/321, the Cardian had time to visit Sardis and present Cleopatra of Macedon residing there with Perdiccas’ offer of marriage.     

All Against One

The visit to Cleopatra and a potential marital match between Perdiccas and an Argead such as Cleopatra became a pretext for war for Antipater and Craterus. They had wrapped up their war against rebellious Greeks in Europe and could now openly declare war against Perdiccas’ party. This marked the first time since Philip II when Macedonian armies began marching against one another; the forces of Craterus moving into Asia Minor and those of Eumenes (the superior commander of Perdiccas’ forces in Asia Minor), moving to halt their advance. As before, Perdiccas, himself campaigning in Egypt, instructed all the generals in the area to follow the orders of Eumenes in order to prevent the foes from crossing the Hellespont. However, the two most important generals, Alcetas (Perdiccas’ brother) and Neoptolemus ignored the instructions. Alcetas bluntly refused, not wishing to use his arms against his fellow-Macedonians Antipater and Craterus. Neoptolemus, meanwhile, began plotting against Eumenes.  

The Hellespont was not the only problematic frontier of Eumenes. He was also facing an invasion of Lydia by the most ambitious general, Antigonus. Thus, Eumenes was mobile with his loyal cavalry during this time in a wide area, from the Hellespont into Ionia. Dispersed as such, he could not prevent the crossing of Craterus and Antipater into Asia Minor aided by treachery of the guarding force. 

Eumenes vs Neoptolemus

In front of such threats, Eumenes needed a unified army under his command. If he could not get a general to obey him then he could get his army. The obvious target was Neoptolemus who had begun an attempt to join his forces with those of Craterus. Hence, the Cardian chose to engage the Epirote somewhere in the interior of the continent. In the following battle, Eumenes would rip the benefits of levying a cavalry loyal to him in advance. Plutarch gives us a short account of the battle: “When his [Eumenes’] infantry had already been defeated, he routed Neoptolemus with his cavalry and captured his baggage, and when the men-at-war of Neoptolemus were scattered in pursuit of their enemies, charged upon them with his entire body of horse and compelled them to lay down their arms and make oath with him to serve under him”. (Plut. Eumenes. V). The defeated Neoptolemus, with only a handful of remaining men, fled to Craterus. 

Ten days later after the victory over Neoptolemus, Eumenes engaged the forces of the famous Craterus. Fearing mass desertion from his side to that of Craterus, Eumenes took elaborate precautions to conceal the identity of the foe to his soldiers. He told his forces that the opposing army was led by Neoptolemus again and a certain Pirgres. Then, Eumenes deployed in the front lines two troops of foreign cavalry (who could not recognize Craterus) with clear orders to engage the enemy without parlaying. Himself, with 3,000 picked horsemen, Eumenes occupied the right-wing seeking to deal with Neoptolemus on that side.

Battle of the Hellespont

The great battle (the so-called battle of the Hellespont) eventually took place somewhere in the hills near modern Manyas, Turkey. Eumenes’ cavalry immediately fell upon the forces of Craterus taking the great commander off guard. 

The fight of Eumenes of Cardia and Neoptolemus at the Battle of the Hellespont; Engraving - 1878.
The fight of Eumenes of Cardia and Neoptolemus at the Battle of the Hellespont; Engraving – 1878.

The first collision was severe, the spears were quickly shattered, and the fighting was done with the swords. Here Craterus did not disgrace Alexander, but slew many foes, and frequently routed the opposing arrays. At last, however, he was wounded by a Thracian who attacked him from the side, and fell from his horse. As he lay prostrate there all his enemies rode past him, not knowing who he was, except Gorgias, one of the officers of Eumenes; he recognized him, dismounted from his horse, and stood guard over his body…In the meantime Neoptolemus also was engaged with Eumenes…Their horses dashed together with the violence of colliding triremes, and dropping the reins they clutched one another with their hands, each trying to tear off the other’s helmet and strip the breastplate from his shoulders. While they were struggling, their horses ran from under them and they fell to the ground, where they closed with one another and wrestled for the mastery. Then Eumenes, as Neoptolemus sought to rise first, gave him an undercut in the ham, and himself got to his feet before his adversary did; but Neoptolemus, supporting himself on one knee, and wounded in the other, defended himself vigorously from underneath. He could not, however, inflict fatal wounds, but was himself wounded in the neck, fell to the ground, and lay there prostrate”. (Plut. Eumenes. VII).


After killing Neoptolemus, Eumenes rode quickly to the other wing where he learned of the fall of Craterus as well. According to Nepos (Life of Eumenes, IV), because of former friendship, the Cardian tried without success to revive Craterus. Then, he honoured his body and delivered it to his family back in Macedon.

The triumph over Craterus and Neoptolemus was an important tactical victory for Eumenes which, on accounts of other events, failed its purpose. Notably, as Eumenes won this battle, his ally Perdiccas was killed in the Nile, leaving the office of the Macedonian regent empty. This left Eumenes, loyal to the Argeads, on his own against all the other generals. At the conference of Triparadeisos (modern Baalbek, Lebanon), among other decisions, the generals condemned Eumenes in absentia to execution. Another decision of note was the appointment of Antipater as the imperial regent (i.e. Perdiccas’ successor).

In these circumstances, Eumenes sought other ties within the remaining members of the royal family. The Cardian was on good terms with Olympias of Epirus, Alexander’s mother. He sought to use this position to again court Olympias’ daughter, Cleopatra, this time for himself. Simultaneously he also increased his troops, especially cavalry, by also taking possession of the royal stabled in the Troad. (mount Ida, modern Kaz). With superior forces of cavalry, he remained in the plains about Sardis, wishing to battle anyone who would make the mistake of attacking him there. As Plutarch narrates, Eumenes was, at the same time, “ambitious to make a display of his forces before Cleopatra, but at the request of that princess, who was afraid to give Antipater any cause for complain, he marched away into upper Phrygia and wintered at Celaenae [modern Dinar, Turkey]” (Plut. Eumenes. VIII).    


By spring 319, Eumenes stood with his army in the plains near the place called Orkynia, Cappadocia. The Cardian numbered 25,000-foot soldiers and 5,000 cavalrymen. In this plain, he hoped to use the strength of the cavalry. Meanwhile, Antigonus set out against him with only 10,000-foot soldiers (half of them Macedonians), 2,000 cavalries, and 30 elephants. Even though he had less than half the army of Eumenes, Antigonus adopted a bold and offensive approach against the enemy. Through a combination of deception, treachery, and positioning, Antigonus triumphed over Eumenes. Notably, the One-Eyed tricked Eumenes into believing that he, who held the high ground, had twice as much infantry that he actually had. Also, Eumenes was betrayed in mid-battle by Apollonides, his commander of the cavalry, who Antigonus had approached prior to the engagement. 

As a result, Eumenes lost the battle, leaving 8,000 victims on the battlefield, and having others change sides to the enemy. However, he managed to escape the chase of Antigonus and execute the traitor Apollonides. The Cardian even came close to capturing Antigonus’ baggage before moving away with a few of his forces. Eventually, Eumenes retreated in the fortress called Nora where he was kept under siege by Antigonid forces.  


Eumenes had plenty of grain and water in the fortress to resist a long siege so that is what he did. Ancient authors, especially Plutarch, liked to represent the place as so small that Eumenes, his men, and the animals, were cramped together in small spaces. In reality, however, the place where Eumenes was stuck was at least the size of a regular American football field (some 6,000-7,000 square meters); comfortable enough for him, and 700 of his followers besieged with him. However, there were 500 war horses stuck in that place too; confinement that did not allow for proper or normal training of these animals. As such, Eumenes invented a device through which he could train and keep the horses fit in an alternative way. The device, attested on Plutarch, Diodorus, and Nepos, lifted the horses partly up so they could still move their legs as during running but without running away. 

Eumenes stood besieged for at least seven months and up to a year in Nora. Meanwhile, Polyperchon had replaced the deceased Antipater into the regency position. Another season of bitter wars and conflicts was on sight. As such, Antigonus tried to pacify Eumenes with the historian Eumenes of Cardia himself acting as an envoy for both parties. By late spring 318, Eumenes likely pledged an oath to Antigonus, relatively recognizing him (and the kings) as his superior. After this, the siege was raised and Eumenes “escaped” from the fortress. 


By summer 318, letters from Olympias and Polyperchon reached Eumenes. Alexander’s mother offered to him the guardianship of Alexander the Great’s son; Polyperchon’s document restored Eumenes in his satrapy and even proclaimed him the royal marshall of all Asia; practical assistance included regal orders to 3,000 Silver Shields to obey Eumenes and 500 plus talents to cover expenses. For Eumenes to gain these favors he had to wage war in Asia against Antigonus.

Weighing all options, Eumenes accepted Polyperchon’s offer and, once again, became Antigonus’ main nemesis in Asia. This clearly angered the One-Eyed who not only felt betrayed but also regretted having let Eumenes escape from Nora. Now on the loose, Eumenes with only 2,000 infantrymen and 500 cavalrymen crossed the Taurus mountain-range and entered Cilicia. There, he met Antigenes and Teutamus, commander of the 3,000 Silver Shields, incorporating them, according to regal orders, into his army. Still, with a small army, Eumenes moved to Phoenicia, apparently hoping to receive other promised assistance from Polyperchon by sea.   

At that same summer season, the fleet of Polyperchon was annihilated in the east Aegean by combined fleets of Cassander and Antigonus. Cut off from his western ally, Eumenes turned his focus inland into the Middle East. Thus, he marched with his army away from Phoenicia and into Coele Syria (modern Beqaa Valley). Eumenes designs were clear; he intended to join his forces with governors of the upper satrapies (provinces east of Tigris all the way into India). These governors were also hostile to Antigonus so their cause matched that of Eumenes.  

Race to the Bottom

Antigonus chased Eumenes at the same pace wishing to deal with him quickly before he could grow his forces. Eumenes, aware of the chase and keen on avoiding confrontation, kept constantly moving inland. Both generals ended up fighting a war of attrition, each trying to starve out the other. By winter, both generals established their quarters in the Iraqi Fertile Crescent; Eumenes in or near Nippur (modern Nuffar) and Antigonus near Babylon (modern Hillah). Prior to and during that winter, both generals competed for the support of the Babylonian governor Seleucus. The latter maintained his support for Antigonus and even endangered the whole of Eumenes’ army when they were crossing the Tigris (actually the Euphrates). Eumenes even had to change the course of Euphrates to save his army from flooding.     

By spring Eumenes moved further east, crossing the Tigris and arriving in Susa (modern Shush, Iran). Here he was joined by the forces coming from the upper satrapies, 18,100-foot soldiers, 4,600 cavalry, and 120 elephants. They were led by Peucestas, a distinguished general of Alexander the Great who enjoyed influence over the Persian population. As such, the troops supporting Eumenes against Antigonus doubled in size overnight. However, the generals competing for the sole-command of this force also increased to an extent that threatened the whole undertaking.

The Tent

Key to Eumenes’ conduct was the fact that he was a foreigner seeking political power among Macedonians. For many, even those Macedonians following him, Eumenes was no more than “an alien and a stranger” (Plut. Eumenes. VIII) whom they envied. For his more threatening foes, he was only a “pest from the Chersonesus…[who] harassed Macedonians with perpetual wars”. (Plut. Eumenes. XVIII). Eumenes himself was aware of his position; he “knew that he himself was a foreigner and had no claim to the royal power, that the Macedonians who were now subject to him had previously decreed his execution and that those who occupied the military commands were filled with arrogance and were aiming at great affairs” (Diod. XVIII. LX. I.). As such, he had to watch out against those who were at present fighting with him as well as against his declared enemies. In the meantime, he had to leverage his soft leadership skills.

After the upper satraps joined Eumenes at Susa, the Cardian had at least three generals among his ranks who sought to outrank him. There were Antigenes and Teutamus from the Silver Shields and Peucestas. To keep them and other generals from turning against him, Eumenes, as other Successors, used the memory of Alexander “the Great” as a motivating, unifying factor. However, himself not a Macedonian, Eumenes could not effectively imitate Alexander himself; if he did or not do so we do not know. Thus, the way Eumenes used the image of Alexander was unique to him alone, different from all his competing Successors. The Cardian made a habit of setting up a tent within which was placed an empty golden throne intended for Alexander, with a scepter and diadem in it. In this tent, Eumenes and his fellow commander would constantly “take counsel about important matters” (Nepos, Eumenes, VII.). They would sit around the empty chair of Alexander and discuss those matters as if that king was still alive, attending the meetings.

A Forgery

This cult of Alexander which Eumenes created worked (as much as it could) both with the commanders of the Silver Shields and, to some degree, with Peucestas. However, Nepos has no illusion and sees through the facade: “For when they gathered not at the general’s tent but at the royal tent and discussed matters there, he [Eumenes] was concealed in a way, but everything was accomplished by him alone”. (Nepos, Eumenes, VII.).  

However, Eumenes needed extra measures to contain the ambition of Peucestas. The favorite of the Persians made deliberate actions to gain the support of the whole army for himself. For when the unified army was marching from Pasitigris to Persepolis, Peucestas “gathered together from the inhabitants [cattle of every king] and distributed without stint to the soldiers, seeking their goodwill” (Diod. XIX. XXI). His efforts culminated in Persepolis when he threw a magnificent feast for the army. 

To counter such actions, Eumenes produced a forged letter in the name of Olympias of Epirus which he made sure all present at Persepolis heard. According to that letter, Olympias had gained solid control of Macedon, established Alexander IV on the throne, and killed Cassander. Also, Polyperchon with the royal army had crossed into Asia, already marching through Cappadocia against Antigonus. Because of this letter, “the sentiment of the entire encampment was changed and all began to turn their attention to Eumenes’ prospects in the belief that he would be able by help of the kings both to promote whomever he wished and to exact punishment from those who wronged him”. (Diod. XIX. XXIII.). Eumenes immediately tested with success the effect of his forgery by removing and condemning  Sibyrtius, satrap of Arachosia, and a close friend of Peucestas.  

Battle of the Coprates River

Before promoting himself through a forged letter at Persepolis, Eumenes established a long front against Antigonus along the western bank of Pasitigris. Antigonus at first arrived in Susa after Eumenes and his joint army had left. There, Xenophilus, commander of the citadel and royal treasure remained loyal to Eumenes. As such, Antigonus left a besieging force under the command of Seleucus whom he appointed satrap of that country (Susiane). Then, the One-Eyed arrived at the front of Eumenes in the Pasitigris, current Khuzestan. Despite the presence of hostile scouts, Antigonus risked the issue and began crossing at the point where the Coprates River (modern Dez) joined the Pasitigris. “But as soon as Eumenes heard from scouts on the enemy’s move, he crossed the pontoon bridge over the [Pasi]tigris with four thousand foot soldiers and thirteen hundred cavalry and surprised the soldiers of Antigonus who had crossed – more than three thousand infantry, four hundred horsemen, and not less than six thousand of those soldiers who were in the habit of crossing in scattered groups in search for forage. Falling upon them while they were in disorder, Eumenes routed the rest of them at once, and those of the Macedonians who resisted he overcame by his onset and by weight of numbers and compelled them all to flee to the river. They all rushed to the boats but these were all submerged by the great number of men who embarked, and most of them who ventured to swim were carried away by the current and drowned, only a few getting safely over. Those who did not know how to swim…were taken prisoners to the number of four thousand. Antigonus, although he saw that great number being destroyed, could not go to their aid on account of his lack of boats”. (Diod. XIX. XX.).  


After the loss at Khuzestan, Antigonus moved north into Media to replenish his forces. Eumenes moved into Persepolis where he dealt with Peucestas in the manner we described. After some time, Antigonus marched against Eumenes in Persia. The Cardian also marched to meet him in an open field.

Illustration of the armies of Eumenes of Cardia and Antigonus “the One-Eyed” at the Battle of Paraitakene.
Illustration of the armies of Eumenes of Cardia and Antigonus “the One-Eyed” at the Battle of Paraitakene.

The two large armies eventually met at Paraitakene (modern Istafan), in a plain below a range of foothills. Antigonus, who held the upper ground, arrayed his army in response to Eumenes’ deployment. Both generals put all their elephants in front aiming to use them as screens against opposing cavalries. Eumenes had placed his faith on his right-wing, intending to exploit his numerical advantage here. Aware in advance, Antigonus had ordered Peithon whom he designated to face Eumenes’ right-wing, to avoid the direct clash here as much as possible.

At battle signals, Peithon and his left-wing cavalry outflanked Eumenes’ strong right-wing. While outflanking, his cavalry shot arrows at the elephants, killing no few from them. Initial success caused Peithon to get carried away and engage deeply rather than standing at a distance as instructed. The Cardian sent cavalry from his left to his struggling right. This forced Peithon and his horsemen into retreat but weakened Eumenes’ left.  Antigonus took advantage of this and exploited a gap in between Eumenes’ left-wing cavalry and infantry. Eventually, Eumenes’ left-wing cavalry left the fight. 

While the cavalries were fighting in the wings, the Silver Shields dominated the fight between the infantry. Antigonus’ infantry retreated. Overall, the battle fought was inconclusive. With darkness falling, both generals ordered their forces to stand out and withdraw. Eumenes’ side could not exploit its numerical advantage; however, Eumenes also rendered Antigonus’ more favorable position useless.

Through the Freezing Desert

Overall, the battle of Paraitacene was inconclusive. However, it clearly was a tactical victory for Eumenes. 540 infantrymen and a few soldiers fell from Eumenes’ side; another 900 were wounded. On the side of Antigonus, there fell 3,700-foot soldiers and 54 cavalrymen; more than 4,000 others were wounded. Out of fear of mass desertion, Antigonus quickly left the battlefield.

With winter upon him, the One-Eyed established his quarters again in Media (in Gadamala). Meanwhile, Eumenes advanced into Gabiene to set up his own quarters. The Cardian had divided the army into six detachments, spread out to gather as much food for the men and animals. Eumenes clearly did not expect an engagement with Antigonus until next spring. 

At this time, Antigonus came up with the bold plan of reaching and engaging Eumenes once again, intending to destroy his six detachments one at a time. Thus, he set out from Media into Gabiane via a nine-day hike through the Iranian Desert, hoping to catch the enemy unaware. Despite Antigonus’ orders of no fire, the fifth consecutive freezing night forced his troops to light campfires for warmth. The scouts reported this to Eumenes who, with his enemy four days’ march away, moved quickly to gather together his dispersed forces. 

Before the Storm

Eumenes also arranged a deception so that the pursuing army would reach his forces later than intended. Notably, “Eumenes sent a fast force of cavalry to light hundreds of fires near Antigonus’ army. Antigonus believed that Eumenes had discovered his winter march and had drawn up his whole army to fight. This deception delayed Antigonus for a couple of days. Finally, recognizing the trickery, Antigonus sent his cavalry to capture Eumenes’ elephants. Antigonus’ cavalry found the elephants division moving quickly toward Eumenes’ army, but with only a small screen of horsemen for defense” (John. M. Kistler). The cavalry of the One-Eyed routed the elephants intending to capture them but the intervention of Eumenes saved them too. Having escaped the danger, Eumenes was able to unite all his forces before all the forces of his opponents caught up with him. As such, the two armies arrayed once again for battle. 


At the battle of Gabiene, Antigonus took once again the initiative from an upper, advantageous position. Eumenes thought his troops surpassed in sheer number those of Antigonus, once again put himself in a defensive position. The battle formation of each general was almost identical to the previous battle of Paraitacene; elephants lined up on the front lines with light troops in between them, with cavalry and infantry behind them. 

Illustration of the Silver Shields by EthicallyChallenged.
Illustration of the Silver Shields by EthicallyChallenged.

When the beasts and cavalry rode against one another across the dry salt plain, dust billowed into the air weakening the visibility on the battlefield. Antigonus used the bad visibility and confusion to send a detachment of his cavalry behind enemy lines and straight for their camp. Concealed by the dust, the riders carried out the orders successfully and seized the opponent’s baggage.  

The armies had meanwhile clashed with one another, again fighting an indecisive battle. Antigonus elephants had prevailed over those of Eumenes, even though they had a three to one disadvantage. This loss crumbles Eumenes’ left-wing forcing his cavalry there to retreat behind the phalanx. However, the Silver Shields again prevailed over their opponents keeping Eumenes in the fight. The Silver Shields would have kept overcoming their adversaries had Antigonus not shown them their seized baggage: a life worth of military fortune and all family members who followed Eumenes’ soldiers. Facing the choice between their camp and the general, the Silver Shields, likely with the influence of Teutamus, sacrificed their general. Eumenes was thus seized by his own soldiers and delivered to Antigonus as a prisoner in exchange for their captured families and baggage. 


Eumenes was eventually strangled by his keepers. Such was the fate of the ambitious Cardian after vying for supreme power among Macedonians. Eudamus, the commander of the elephants under Eumenes suffered the same outcome. The fate of Antigenes was even direr; he was thrown into a pit and burned there alive. Not long after, all 3,000 Silver Shields were killed by the forces of Sibyrtius, governor of Arachosia on Antigonus’ orders. With the disposal of Eumenes, Antigonus had removed the strongest of his opponents. The One-Eyed could once again aim for the supreme control of most or all of Alexander the Great’s empire.

Eumenes of Cardia was the last of Alexander’s generals to fight, genuinely or not, for a united Macedonian empire. His disposal paved the way for not only a divided Macedonian empire but for the elimination of the Argead loyalty. Plutarch bests summarizes the character of Eumenes with the following words: “For he had a pleasant face, not like that of a war-worn veteran, but delicate and youthful, and all his body had, as it were, artistic proportions, with limbs of astonishing symmetry; and though he was not a powerful speaker, still he was insinuating and persuasive, as one may gather from his letters”.


Anson, E. M. (1977). The Siege of Nora: A Source Conflict.

Diodorus. Bibliotheca Historica.

Nepos. Lives of Eminent Commanders; Eumenes.

Pietrykowski, J. (2009). Great Battles of the Hellenistic World. Pen & Sword Military.

Plutarch. Life of Eumenes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *