Cleomenes (in Greek Kλεoμενης; died 322 BC), a Greek of Naucratis in Egypt, was appointed by Alexander the Great as nomarch of the Arabian district (νoμoς) of Egypt and receiver of the tributes from all the districts of Egypt and the neighbouring part of Africa (331 BC). Some of the ancient writers say that Alexander made him satrap of Egypt; but this is incorrect, for Arrian expressly states, that the other nomarchs were independent of him, except that they had to pay to him the tributes of their districts. It would, however, appear that he had no difficulty in extending his depredations over all Egypt, and it is not unlikely that he would assume the title of satrap. It is told that his rapacity knew no bounds, that he exercised his office solely for his own advantage. On the occurrence of a scarcity of corn, which was less severe in Egypt than in the neighbouring countries, he at first forbad its exportation from Egypt; but, when the nomarchs represented to him that this measure prevented them from raising the proper amount of tribute, he permitted the exportation of the corn, but laid on it a heavy export duty. On another occasion, when the price of corn was ten drachmas, Cleomenes bought it up and sold it at 32 drachmas; and in other ways he interfered with the markets for his own gain.
At another time he contrived to cheat his soldiers of a month's pay in the year. Alexander had entrusted to him the building of the city of Alexandria. He gave notice to the people of Canopus, then the chief emporium of Egypt, that he must remove them to the new city. To avert such an evil they gave him a large sum of money; but, as the building of Alexandria advanced, he again demanded of the people of Canopus a large sum of money, which they could not pay, and thus he got an excuse for removing them. He also made money out of the superstitions of the people. One of his boys having been killed by a crocodile, he ordered the crocodiles to be destroyed; but, in consideration of all the money which the priests could get together for the sake of saving their sacred animals, he revoked his order. On another occasion he sent for the priests, and informed them that the religious establishment was too expensive, and must be reduced; they handed over to him the treasures of the temples; and he then left them undisturbed. Alexander was informed of these proceedings, but found it convenient to take no notice of them; but after his return to Babylon (323 BC) he wrote to Cleomenes, commanding him to erect at Alexandria a splendid monument to Hephaestion, and promised that, if this work were zealously performed, he would overlook his misconduct.
In the distribution of Alexander's empire, after his death (323 BC), Cleomenes was left in Egypt as hyparch under Ptolemy, who put him to death on the suspicion of his favouring Perdiccas. The effect, if not also a cause, of this act was, that Ptolemy came into possession of the treasures of Cleomenes, which amounted to 8000 talents.1
Smith, William (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, "Cleomenes", Boston, (1867)
1 Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, iii. 5, vii. 23; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 82, cod. 92; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, xiii. 4; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni, iv. 33; Pseudo-Aristotle, Oeconomica, ii. 1352, 1353; Demosthenes, Against Dionysodorus, 7; Pausanias, Description of Greece, i. 6; Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, xviii. 14
This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1867).
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