|The First Ruler of Cyprus (tusks, no beard)
A quick run through the timeline of Cyprus introduces us to some of the most unsavoury imperialists and invaders in history. But the more successful of them all had beards.
The most handsome may have been the Hittite monarch
Suppiluliuma, of whom an extraordinary statue has recently been alleged to have been dug up in
Turkey. But Sargon II, whose beard was longer, annexed Cyprus to the
Assyrian Empire in 709 BCE. The Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis, who did NOT sport a
beard, grabbed it in the mid-sixth century, but the parvenu and bearded Persian
Emperor Cyrus got it off him in 545.
|The Amazing Beard of Sargon II
Despite numerous attempts by the Cypriots to gain independence, their land was repeatedly lost and won by Alexander’s Successors. Cyprus was briefly taken over for Rome by the smooth-cheeked Cato the Younger. But it was lost again when Mark Antony bestowed it on the (probably unbearded) Cleopatra, before she lost it too and it reverted to Rome. As part of the Byzantine realm, Cyprus was continuously harassed by bearded Arab invaders.
|Richard the Lionheart, with well-trimmed fluff
This means that even before everyone in the world poked their noses in during the 1970s, Cypriot Greeks had been interfered with by Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians (twice), Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Levantine Arabs, Brits, Mamluk Sultans, Genoese, Venetians, Ottomans, and Brits again. But is the moral of the story that Cypriots need to grow some beards? Their hairy Orthodox priests have managed to exert a bit more power than most of them. The women who have ruled Cyprus (e.g. Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth II) have always lost control of it. Ominously, the current government of Cyprus, to judge from photographs, is shinily clean-shaven.
|Will Merkel or Anastasiades Get That Beard?