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index / Ancient Pergamum

W ould the fate of Pergamum have been different if General Philetaerus had not betrayed Alexander the Great’s commander Lysimachus? Perhaps... It might have remained just an ordinary fortress-town, high atop a steep hill, rather than a small empire filled with extraordinary structures that strain the limits of human artistic creativity, power and wealth.

Philetaerus faced generals who were vying for control of the vast world that was Alexander’s legacy. Due to its secure position, Lysimachus had made Pergamum (Turkish Bergama) his base, where he deposited the spoils of his conquests. Philetaerus was supposed to defend this treasure and rule the city. But he chose betrayal instead, proclaiming his hegemony over this great wealth in 281 B.C. Thus commenced the 150-year adventure that would transform Pergamum’s fate. Philetaerus founded a dynasty, and Pergamum inscribed its name among the most splendid ever cities of history as the capital of these rich, divine kings.

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