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Definition: Pergamum from Collins English Dictionary


1 an ancient city in NW Asia Minor, in Mysia: capital of a major Hellenistic monarchy of the same name that later became a Roman province

Summary Article: Pergamum
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Ancient Greek city in Mysia in western Asia Minor, which became the capital of an independent kingdom in 283 BC under the Attalid dynasty. As the ally of Rome it achieved great political importance in the 2nd century BC, and became a centre of art and culture. It had a famous library, the contents of which were transported to Alexandria when they were given by Mark Antony to Cleopatra, queen of Egypt. Pergamum was the birthplace of the physician Galen. Most of its territory became the Roman province of Asia in 133 BC, when the childless King Attalus III bequeathed it to Rome. Close to its site is the modern Turkish town of Bergama.

Said to have been founded by Aeolian Greeks, Pergamum is first mentioned in Xenophon's Anabasis (written about 370 BC), but was a place of some importance as early as 420 BC. After the death of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, 323 BC, Lysimachus obtained possession of the city, but was ousted 283 by Philetaerus, governor of the fortress. Philetaerus died 263, bequeathing Pergamum to his nephew Eumenes I, who died 241 and was succeeded by his cousin Attalus I. Attalus and his son Eumenes II allied themselves closely with Rome, as a result of which their territory was progressively enlarged until it included almost the whole of western Asia Minor. Attalus III died 133 BC and the territory was bequeathed to Rome; most of it was formed into the province of Asia, with the exception of Great Phrygia which was given to Pontus. Pergamum was the home of the celebrated school of sculpture, largely influenced by Lysippus and Scopas. The modern word ‘parchment’ derives from the name of Pergamum, which was the great centre of its manufacture.


ruins at Pergamum, Turkey

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