Onesilus

Onesilus

Onesilus or Onesilos (Greek: Ονήσιλος (d. 497 BC) was the brother of king Gorgos (Gorgus) of the Greek city-state of Salamis on the island of Cyprus.

Cyprus was a part of the Persian Empire but when the Ionians rebelled from Persian rule, Onesilos used the occasion to capture the city of Salamis and usurp his brother’s throne; he was able to win every city on the island except for the Graeco-Phoenician city-state of Amathus, which stayed loyal to the Persians.

The Persians, with the help of the Phoenician navy, soon mounted an attack on Cyprus; some of the Ionian colonies sent ships to assist Onesilos and they faced, and defeated, the Phoenician navy; Onesilos led the army against the Persian general, Artybius, and was defeated; the Ionian ships retreated and five months later, the Persians had regained control of the island.

Gorgos was reinstated as king of Salamis and Onesilos’ head was placed on a pole on the gates of the city of Amathus; as time passed, bees built a hive in Onesilos’ hollow skull and the people of Amathus asked an oracle what they should do; the oracle advised them to bury the skull and institute a yearly sacrifice in honor of Onesilos.

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