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Born in the heat of war and chaos and ending its days in order and security, the Kingdom of Pergamon has its beginnings in 301BCE when the Hellenistic king of Thrace Lysimachus awarded the town to a governor Philetaerus, as his ward. Although the Kingdom of Thrace collapsed, Philetaerus' line survived through his cousin Attalus who founded the Attalid dynasty and Pergamon became the capital of a new kingdom which would become one of Rome's staunchest allies. The Attalids ruled Pergamon until Attalus III bequeathed the kingdom to the Roman Republic in 133BCE to avoid a likely succession crisis.
The Greeks of IoniaEdit
Long before Alexander struck out on his long road to glory in the Far East, the Greeks were already plying the shores of Ionia — the lands colonised by Greeks along the western Anatolian coast — as early as 1200BCE based on Hittite records recovered from the ruins of Hattusas, now near present-day Böğazköy in present-day Turkey. Even so, Hellenisation of the Ionian coast was sketchy and the region fell under the sway of the Hittites, Phrygians and Achaemenid Persians. Indeed, the Graeco-Persian Wars were thought to have had their origin in the political instability of the region — then consisting of Greek cities like Pergamon, whose resentment of Persian rule often turned them into flashpoints between the two great cultures of the world.
The Lysimachian KingdomEdit
It was only after the Battle of the Granicus River fought between Alexander and Darius III in 334BCE that western Anatolia began to effectively drift towards the Greek cultural sphere. With Alexander's knitting Anatolia into his vast pan-continental empire, the scene was set for the establisment of substantial Greek polities in Anatolia.
After Alexander's passing, the regions of Thrace and Mysia were handed out to a loyal attendant, Lysimachus who then proclaimed himself basileus or king of Thrace. Lysimachus' kingdom, however, would not survive his death — and was divided up between the Macedonians, Seleucids and Egyptians. A lieutenant of Lysimachus, Philetaerus, who was the governor of the city of Pergamon, switched allegiance to the Seleucids who spared him his city and life.
Philetaerus' will had stipulated that his cousin Attalus was to succeed him, and it was under the rule of Attalus that Pergamon began to develop from a backwater town to a major power following his victories over the Galatians.
Menaced by the ambitions of the Macedonians to the west and the vast Seleucid imperium to the east, it was unsurprising that the Attalids would seek to preserve the freedom of their kingdom through diplomacy. First by founding an alliance with Athens (whose rebellion from Macedon they had financed), the Attalids would maintain their links with the Seleucids to prevent the Macedonians from subjugating them. When Seleucid power waned and Roman influence increased, they became some of the most loyal supporters of Rome in the Hellenistic world. Under Attalus I (241–197 BC), they allied with Rome against Philip V of Macedon, during the first and second Macedonian Wars, and again under Eumenes II (197–158 BC), against Perseus of Macedon, during the Third Macedonian War. For their support against the Seleucids, the Attalids were rewarded with all the former Seleucid domains in Asia Minor.
As a consequence of its rise to power, the city expanded greatly. Until 188 BC, it had not grown significantly since its founding by Philetaerus, and covered circa 21 hectares (52 acres). After this year, a massive new city wall was constructed, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) long and enclosing an area of approximately 90 hectares (220 acres).
The Attalids ruled with intelligence and generosity. Many documents survive showing how the Attalids supported the growth of towns by sending in skilled artisans and by remitting taxes. They allowed the Greek cities in their domains to maintain nominal independence. They sent gifts to Greek cultural sites like Delphi, Delos, and Athens. They defeated the invading Celts. They remodeled the Acropolis of Pergamon after the Acropolis in Athens. When Attalus III (138–133 BC) died without an heir in 133 BC, he bequeathed the whole of Pergamon to Rome in order to prevent a civil war. Roman
Not everyone in Pergamon accepted Rome's rule. Aristonicus, who claimed to be Attalus' brother as well as the son of Eumenes II, an earlier king, led a revolt among the lower classes with the help of Blossius. The revolt was put down in 129 BC, and Pergamon was divided among Rome, Pontus, and Cappadocia.
Pergamon reached the height of its greatness under Roman Imperial rule and was home to about 200,000 inhabitants.