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Pergamum was an ancient Greek city located in modern-day Turkey.  Today, the main sites of ancient Pergamum lies within the Turkish town of Bergama and is considered a major attraction of Turkey. The city was located 16 miles inland from the Aegean Sea, nearly two miles north of the Caicus River in southern Mysia.


During the Roman period, Pergamum became the capital of Asia during the Hellenistic Era and was the first city to make an alliance with Rome, which prompted the city’s expansion; connecting the acropolis of Pergamum to every aspect of the city with terraces, streets, and steps.  Within this era, the city of Pergamum exemplified high culture and focused of the social and cultural aspects of Roman society.  Its buildings were designed for public use, which were built with large public areas designed to where people could walk, gather, and socialize. [i]





A Few Major Features



The ancient Library of Pergamum-


Pergamum’s library is considered to be the second best library in the ancient Greek civilization.  It was believed to have contained 200,000 volumes written on parchment. In Lionel Casson’s Libraries of the Ancient World, he describes the library as being “set up as an adjunct to the Temple of Athena on Pergamum’s fortress hilltop [and occupying] four rooms in the U-shaped colonnade that embraced the Temple. The largest of these rooms is roughly 16 meters long and 14 meters wide. Along with a colossal statue of Athena, bases for busts inscribed with the names of Homer, Herodotus and other noted literary figures were found here.”  He claims that a room that size would served as a place where the library’s learned users would have help meetings, receptions, and conferences. [ii]




The Hellenistic Theatre-


The theatre of Pergamum had a seating capacity of 10,000 and had the steepest seating of any known theatre in the ancient world.  The designed was initially for the reign of the kings of Pergamum, but was later enlarged by the Romans by replacing the old structure of the stage and recovering it with marble. [iii]



The Trajaneum-


The Sanctuary of Trajan was the most important Roman monument in the acropolis of Pergamum. It was built on an artificial terrace supported by a gigantic wall; a net of vaulted passages beneath the temple reduced the impact of earthquakes; part of the temple has been recently reconstructed using some of the capitals and broken columns found on the site.[iv]



The Asclepian-


The Asclepian of Pergamum was the most famous ancient medicine and healing centers, which was made famous by Galen of Pergamum, a second century physiologist, philosopher, and writer who is often considered the most important contributor to medicine following Hippocrates. [v]





The Rhetoricians of Pergamum



Apollodorus of Pergamum


- A Greek teacher of rhetoric selected by Caesar as Octavian’s teacher in 45 BC.  He wrote Art of Rhetoric which mapped out a rigorous form for court speeches consisting of an introduction, narrative, evidence and conclusion, in this precise order.  He was one of the two most prominent teachers of rhetoric in the 1st century BC along with Theodorus of Gadara.  Apollodorus’ students were referred to as Apollodoreans. [vi]



Moschus of Pergamum


- A Greek teacher of rhetoric. He had a prominent reputation in Pergamum before he went to Rome early 20 BC to set up a rhetorical school there.  Though a known rhetorician, his career has its ups and down with accusations of poisoning, which later provided him with the opportunity of having the unsuccessful defensive team made up of Manlius Torquatus, and C. Asinius Pollio. [vii]




Aristides of Pergamum


- A Greek rhetorician born in Mysia and educated at Pergamum and Athens known for his demonstrations of oratory in the main cities of the Greek world.  His public speaking career along with his public appearances in general ended significantly early due to a recurring illness, which led him to spend most of his time in the temple of Asclepius of Pergamum.  His best known speech is “Roman Encomium (In Praise of Rome)” and he is the author of Hieroi Logoi (The Dream Book or Sacred Tales), six books of the dreams and visions he experienced at the temple of Asclepius. [viii]




Cratippus of Pergamum


- A leading Peripatetic philosopher of the 1st century BC who taught at Mytilene and Athens. He was a contemporary of Cicero as well as a close friend (who held a high opinion of him) Cicero though so highly of Cratippus that he declared him the most distinguished among the Peripatetics that Cicero knew. [ix]






[i] Braddy, Nella. "Pergamum." Encyclopaedia Of Facts. 2. Daryaganj, New Delhi: Anmol Publications PVT LTD, 1994. Print.


[ii] Casson, Lionel. Libraries in the Ancient World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001. 69. Print.


[iii] The Cambridge Ancient History. VII, Part 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. 50. Print.


[iv] The Cambridge Ancient History.  Volume XI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. 802. Print.


[v] Valderrama, Rosa. "Pergamum." http://people.usd.edu/~clehmann/pir/asiamysi.htm. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Apr 2011.


[vi] Hazel, John. Who's Who in the Roman World. 2nd. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001. 17. Print.


[vii] Cairns, Francis. Sextus Propertius: the Augustan Elegist. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 64. Print.


[viii] Adkins, Leslie, and Roy Adkins. Handbook of Life in Ancient Rome. 2nd. New York, NY: Facts on File, 2004. 256. Print.


[ix] Cicero, de Officiis, iii. 2. http://www.constitution.org/rom/de_officiis.htm


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