Philetaerus

17 August 2015
Phileaterus

Phileaterus

Pergamon was a small town on a steep hill, dominating a fertile plain. It was the perfect place to keep a treasure: the hill was easy to defend, the plain offered sufficient opportunities to feed the garrison. So in 301 one of Alexander’s successors, Lysimachus, decided to store his money in Pergamon. The commander of the city, a man named Philetaerus, promised to take care of it.

Except that he didn’t. Somewhere in the 280s, after he had improved the fortifications, he decided to leave his master and collaborate with Seleucus, the “king of Asia”, who claimed (with some justification) to be Alexander’s true successor. We don’t know exactly why Philetaerus changed his mind: our sources state that he got involved in a conflict within Lysimachus’ family, but that may well be propaganda.

[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine.]

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Killing a King

10 August 2015
The road from Cirrha to Delphi, site of the attack.

The road from Cirrha to Delphi, site of the attack.

The story is told by Livy: in 172 BC, King Eumenes of Pergamon came to Rome, where the Senate received him with all pomp and fanfare the Romans believed to be due to one of their most loyal allies. The king had something to say indeed: he warned the conscript fathers that King Perseus tried to restore Macedonian power and might become dangerous.

After the summit, Eumenes returned to the east, making a brief stop in Cirrha, the port of Delphi, because he wanted to visit the sanctuary of Apollo. Apparently, Eumenes’ religious sympathies were well-known, because a Macedonian agent had sent assassins, who knew that the king would want to pay his regards to the god. They knew where to strike.

The report that the Macedonians had killed a king confirmed all suspicions against Macedonia and during the winter of 172/171, diplomats traveled everywhere to create coalitions for the war that had become inevitable. The Third Macedonian War lasted from 171 to 168 and was the end of Macedonia.

[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine.]