Warfare > Siege of Kitium

Siege of Kitium


The Siege of Kitium, also known as the Siege of Citium, took place in 498 BCE during the Ionian Revolt, an uprising of Greek city-states in Asia Minor against Persian rule. Kitium (modern-day Larnaca in Cyprus) was a strategically important city under Persian control. The siege was part of the broader conflict between the Greek rebels and the Persian Empire. Here is an overview of the siege and its significance:


  1. Ionian Revolt:

    • The Ionian Revolt began in 499 BCE when several Greek city-states in Ionia, supported by Athens and Eretria, rebelled against Persian rule.
    • The revolt quickly spread to other regions, including Cyprus, where Greek cities also sought to overthrow Persian control.
  2. Cyprus and Persian Rule:

    • Cyprus had been under Persian domination since the conquests of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses II.
    • The island was strategically important for controlling the eastern Mediterranean and maintaining Persian influence over maritime trade routes.

The Siege

  1. Outbreak of the Revolt in Cyprus:

    • The Cypriot cities, inspired by the Ionian Revolt, rose in rebellion against the Persians. Leaders like Onesilus, the brother of the king of Salamis, played a key role in mobilizing the Cypriots.
    • Onesilus successfully persuaded most of the cities on the island to join the revolt, although the city of Amathus remained loyal to Persia.
  2. Siege of Kitium:

    • Kitium, being a significant city with strong Persian garrisons, became a focal point of the rebellion.
    • Onesilus and his forces laid siege to Kitium, attempting to capture it and eliminate the Persian presence on the island.
  3. Persian Response:

    • The Persian Empire, under Darius I, responded swiftly to the rebellion in Cyprus. A large Persian fleet and army were dispatched to suppress the uprising and relieve the besieged city of Kitium.
    • The Persian forces included not only Persians but also Phoenician contingents who were skilled in naval warfare.


  1. Death of Onesilus:

    • During the siege, Onesilus was killed in battle, which significantly weakened the morale and leadership of the Cypriot rebels.
    • Following his death, the siege of Kitium failed, and the rebels were unable to capture the city.
  2. Defeat of the Cypriot Rebels:

    • After lifting the siege of Kitium, the Persian forces decisively defeated the Cypriot rebels in subsequent battles.
    • The rebellion in Cyprus was crushed, and Persian control over the island was reestablished.


  1. Strategic Impact:

    • The failure of the siege and the subsequent suppression of the revolt in Cyprus demonstrated the military resilience and strategic capabilities of the Persian Empire.
    • Control over Cyprus was crucial for maintaining Persian dominance in the eastern Mediterranean and securing maritime trade routes.
  2. Broader Context of the Ionian Revolt:

    • The events in Cyprus were part of the larger Ionian Revolt, which continued until 494 BCE with varying degrees of success for the Greek rebels.
    • Although the Ionian Revolt ultimately failed, it set the stage for future conflicts between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire, including the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis.
  3. Legacy:

    • The siege highlighted the complexities of Greek-Persian relations and the challenges faced by Greek cities under Persian rule.
    • The Ionian Revolt, including the siege of Kitium, is remembered as a significant precursor to the Greco-Persian Wars, which shaped the course of ancient history.


The Siege of Kitium was a pivotal event during the Ionian Revolt, reflecting the broader struggle between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire. Despite the initial enthusiasm and efforts of the Cypriot rebels, the superior military response from Persia ensured that Kitium remained under Persian control. The siege exemplified the determination of the Persian Empire to maintain its dominance and the ongoing resistance of the Greek cities, which would continue to influence the historical dynamics of the region.

Persian Warfare

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