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Pergamum

Pergamum, in Mysia c.24 km. (15 miles) from the Aegean, a natural fortress of great strategic importance commanding the rich plain of the river Caïcus; important historically as the capital of the Attalid kings and, later, as one of the three leading cities of provincial Asia, and archaeologically as the only excavated Hellenistic royal capital outside Macedonia. First attested in Greek sources in 401 bce, Pergamum enters history's mainstream as a treasury of Lysimachus, who entrusted it (c.302) to Philetaerus (2), founder of Attalid fortunes (for the political history of the dynasty see also eumenes(1–2) and attalus i–iii). An indigenous community (in spite of the Attalid claim to foundation by the Heraclid Telephus (1)), Pergamum had adopted Greek civic organization (see polis) by c.300 (OGI265) at the latest, and this was upheld by the Attalids, who maintained control in practice through their assumption (from Eumenes I) of the right to appoint the chief magistrates (stratēgoi). As a royal capital as well as a polis, the city was the chief showcase of Attalid patronage. From Attalus I on the kings promoted Athena, the city's presiding deity, as dynastic protectress, especially of military success; she acquired the title Nikephoros, ‘victory-bearer’, and her sanctuary in the upper city was adorned with the famous statues of defeated Galatians (see epigonus). Strabo (13. 4. 2) credits above all Eumenes II his power and wealth vastly augmented by the Peace of Apamea, with the enlargement and beautification of the city. To his reign dates the ‘Great Altar’, masterpiece of the Pergamene ‘school’ of Greek sculpture, as well as the royal libraries and the terraced, fan-shaped plan of the upper city, its focus the royal palace—a remarkable statement of royal absolutism (see urbanism); an inscription (SEG 13. 521; Eng. trans. in M. M. Austin no. 216) preserves a royal law on municipal administration showing the efforts made to keep the city clean and in good repair (see astynomoi). This royal programme aimed at transforming Pergamum into a Hellenistic cultural capital, for which the model was Athens, recipient of generous Attalid patronage in the 2nd cent. bce. Declared free in his will by Attalus III, Pergamum lost its Roman status of allied city for its support of Mithradates VI (88–85 bce); ensuing hardship at the hands of Roman troops and businessmen was mitigated by the diplomacy of Diodorus Pasparos, a leading citizen, deified by the grateful city (C. Jones, Chiron, 1974, 183 ff. for the redating). Although politically and economically subordinate to Ephesus, Pergamum under the Principate was head of a conventus and a centre of the (Roman) ruler-cult. Its prosperity and prestige can be gauged from such new monuments as the temple of Trajan and Zeus Philios and, in the lower city, the Asclepieum (see asclepius), transformed under Hadrian, and from its tally of six senatorial families by ce 200 (H. Halfmann, Die Senatoren aus dem östlichen Teil des Imperium Romanum (1979), 68). Attacked by the Goths in the mid-3rd cent., the city contracted. Despite unimpressive physical remains from late antiquity, it remained an important intellectual centre, where the future emperor Julian studied philosophy and the medical writer Oribasius worked.

Bibliography

Excavations

Altertümer von Pergamon, 1– (1912– ).Find this resource:

    Pergamenische Forschungen, 1–  (1972– ).Find this resource:

      Modern studies

      E. Hansen, The Attalids of Pergamon (1971), 485 ff.Find this resource:

        R. Allen, The Attalid Kingdom (1983), ch. 7.Find this resource:

          S. Price, The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (1984), esp. 252 ff.Find this resource:

            W. Radt, Pergamon. Geschichte und Bauten etc. (1988).Find this resource:

              H. Koester (ed.), Pergamon (1998).Find this resource:

                M. H. Hansen and T. H. Nielsen (eds.), An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (2004), no. 828.Find this resource:

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