(Κύπρος), the modern Kebris, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, and next to Sicily in importance. It is about 140 miles in length, and varies in breadth from 50 to 5 miles. The interior of the island is mountainous, a ridge being drawn across the entire length, attaining its highest elevation near the central region anciently called Olympus. It had several names in early ages, mostly poetical. From its numerous headlands and promontories, it was called Κεραστίς, Cerastis, or the Horned; and from its exuberant fertility, Μακαρία, Macaria, or the Blessed (Horace, Carm. 3, 26, 9). Its proximity to Asia Minor, Phoenicia, and Egypt, and its numerous havens, made it a general rendezvous for merchants. "Corn, wine, and oil," which are so often mentioned in the Old Testament as the choicest productions of Palestine (De 12:17; 1Ch 9:29; Ne 10:39; Jer 31:12), were found here in the highest perfection. The forests also furnished large supplies of timber for shipbuilding, which rendered the conquest of the island a favorite project of the Egyptian kings. It was the boast of the Cyprians that they could build and complete their vessels without any aid from foreign countries (Ammian. Marcell. 14:8, § 14). Among the mineral products were diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones, alum, and asbestos; besides iron, lead, zinc, with a portion of silver, and, above all, copper, the far- famed oes Cyprium. The principal mines were in the neighborhood of Tamassus (Strabo, 14:6; 3, 245, ed. Tauchn.). Pliny ascribes the invention of brass to this island (Nat. Hist. 34:2). Cyprus is a famous place in mythological history. The presiding divinity of the island was Venus, who had a celebrated temple at Paphos, and is hence often called the Paphian goddess. The inhabitants were luxurious and effeminate (Herod. 1:199; Athen. 12, p. 516; Clearch. apud Athen. 6, p. 255). Nevertheless, literature and the arts flourished here to a considerable extent, even at an early period, as the name of the Cypria Carmina, ascribed by some to Homer, sufficiently attests (Herod. 2:118; Athen. 15, p. 682). Situated in the extreme eastern corner of the Mediterranean, with the range of Lebanon on the east and that of Taurus on the north distinctly visible, it never became a thoroughly Greek island. Its religious rites were half Oriental, and its political history has almost always been associated with Asia and Africa. — Smith's Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v. SEE PAPHOS.
Cyprus was originally peopled from Phoenicia (Gesenius, Mon. Phoen. p. 122). Amasis I, king of Egypt, subdued the whole island (Herod. 2:182). In the time of Herodotus the population consisted of Athenians, Arcadians, Phoenicians, and Ethiopians (vii. 90); and for a long time the whole island was divided into nine petty sovereignties (Xenoph. Cyrop. 8:6, 21; Pliny, v. 35; Diod. Sic. 16:42). It became a part of the Persian empire (Herod. 3, 19, 91), and furnished ships against Greece in the expedition of Xerxes (ib. 7:90). For a time it was subject to Greek influence, but again became tributary to Persia. After the battle of Issus it joined Alexander, and after his death fell to the share of Ptolemy. In a desperate sea-fight off Salamis (q.v.), at the east end of Cyprus (B.C. 306), the victory was won by Demetrius Poliorcetes; but the island was recovered by his rival, and afterwards it remained in the power of the Ptolemies, and was regarded as one of their most cherished possessions (Livy, 45:12; Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 4; Strabo, 14:684; Diod. Sic. 19:59, 79; 20:21, 47). It became a Roman province (B.C. 58) under circumstances discreditable to Rome (Strabo, 14:684; Flor. 3, 9; Veil. Pat. 2:38; Dion Cass. 38:31; 39:22). At first its administration was joined with that of Cilicia, but after the battle of Actium it was separately governed. In the first division it was made an imperial province (Dion Cass. 53:12). From this passage and from Strabo (xiv, p. 683) it has been supposed by some, as by Baronius, that Luke (Ac 13:7) used the word ἀνθύπατος (proconsul, "deputy"), because the island was still connected with Cilicia; by others, as by Grotius and Hammond, that the evangelist employs the word in a loose and general manner. But, in fact, Dion Cassius himself distinctly tells us (ib. and 54:4) that the emperor afterwards made this island a senatorial province, so that Luke's language is in the strictest sense correct. Further confirmation is supplied by coins and inscriptions, which mention other proconsuls of Cyprus not very remote from the time of Sergius (q.v.) Paulus. The governor appears to have resided at Paphos, on the west of the island. Under the Roman empire a road connected the two towns of Paphos and Salamis, as 'appears from' the Peut. Table. One of the most remarkable events in this part of the history of Cyprus was a terrible insurrection of the Jews in the reign of Trajan, which led to a massacre, first of the Greek inhabitants, and then of the insurgents themselves (Milman, History of the Jews, 3, 111, 112). When the empire was divided it fell to the share of the Byzantine emperors. Richard I of England conquered it in 1191, and gave it to Guy Lusignan, by whose family it was retained for nearly three centuries. In 1473 the republic of Venice obtained possession of it; but in 1571 it was taken by Selim II, and ever since has been under the dominion of the Turks. Cyprus was famed among the ancients for its beauty and fertility, and all modern travelers agree that in the hands of an industrious race it would be one of the most productive countries in the world, but Turkish tyranny and barbarism have reduced it to a deplorable condition. Through the neglect of drainage, the streams that descend from the mountain range form marshes, and render the island particularly unhealthy. Imperfectly as it is cultivated, however, it still abounds in every production of nature, and bears great quantities of corn, figs, olives, oranges, lemons, dates, and, indeed, of every fruit seen in these climates; it nourishes great numbers of goats, sheep, pigs, and oxen, of the latter of which it has at times exported supplies to Malta. The most valuable product at present is cotton. The majority of the population belong to the Greek Church; the archbishop resides at Leikosia. — Penny Cyclopoedia, s.v.; M'Culloch's Gazetteer, s.v.
"This island was in early times in close commercial connection with Phoenicia, and there is little doubt that it is referred to in such passages of the O.T. as Eze 27:6. SEE CHITTIM. Josephus makes this identification in the most express terms (Ant. 1:6, 1; so Epiphan. Haer. 30:25). Possibly Jews may have settled in Cyprus before the time of Alexander. Soon after his time they were numerous in the island, as is distinctly implied in I Maccabees 15:23 (comp. Josephus, Ant. 13:10, 4; Philo, Opp. 2:587). The name also occurs 2 Maccabees 10:13; 12:2. The copper mines were at one time farmed to Herod the Great (Josephus. Ant. 16:4, 5), and there is a Cyprian inscription (Bockh, No. 2628) which seems to refer to one of the Herods. The first notice of it in the N.T. is in Ac 4:36, where it is mentioned as the native place of Barnabas. In Ac 11:19-20, it appears prominently in connection with the earliest spreading of Christianity, first as receiving an impulse among its Jewish population from the persecution which drove the disciples from Jerusalem at the death of Stephen, and then as furnishing disciples who preached the Gospel to Gentiles at Antioch. Thus, when Paul was sent with Barnabas from Antioch on his first missionary journey, Cyprus was the first scene of their labors (Ac 13:4-13). Again, when Paul and Barnabas separated and took different routes, the latter went to his native island, taking with him his relative Mark, who had also been there on the previous occasion (Ac 15:39). Another Christian of Cyprus, Mnason, called 'an old disciple,' and therefore probably an early convert, is mentioned Ac 21:16. The other notices of the island are purely geographical. On Paul's return from the third missionary journey, they 'sighted' Cyprus, and sailed to the southward of it on the voyage from Patara to Tyre (ib. 3). At the commencement of the voyage to Rome they sailed to the northward of it on leaving Sidon, in order to be under the lee of the land (Ac 27:4), and also in order to obtain the advantage of the current, which sets northerly along the coast of Phoenicia, and westerly with considerable force along Cilicia." SEE SHIPWRECK (OF PAUL).
All the ancient notices of Cyprus are collected by Meursius (Opera, vol. 3, Flor. 1744). Comp. Cellarii Notit. 2:266 sq.; see also Engel's Kypros (Berlin, 1843) and Ross's Reisen nach der Insel Cypern (Halle, 1852). Further accounts may be found in Mannert, Geographia, VI, 2:422-454. Modern descriptions are given by Pococke, East, 2:210-235; Wilson, Lands of Bible, 2:174-197; Turner, Levant, 2:40, 528; Mariti, Viag. in
Cyper. (Flor. 1679); Unger and Kotschy, Die Insel Cypern (Wien, 1865); Cesnola, Cyprus (Lond. 1877).