1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pessinus

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PESSINUS (Πεσσινοῦς, Πεσινοῦς) , an ancient city of Galatia in Asia Minor, situated on the lowest southern slope of Mt Dindymus, on the left bank of the river Sangarius, not far from its source. The ruins, discovered by Texier, lie round the village of Bala-Hissar, 8 or 9 m. S.E. of Sivri-Hissar. They include a theatre in partial preservation, but they have been mostly carried off to Sivri-Hissar, which is largely built out of them. Originally a Phrygian city, probably on the Persian “Royal Road,” it became the capital of the Gallic tribe Tolistobogii and the chief commercial city of the district. It contained the most famous sanctuary of the mother of the gods (Cybele), who here went by the name of Agdistis, and was associated with the god Attis, as elsewhere with Sabazius, &c. Her priests were also princes, who bore rule not only in the city (the coinage of which, beginning about 100 B.C., was for long issued by them) but also in the country round, deriving a large revenue from the temple estates; but in the time of Strabo (A.D. 19-20) their privileges were much diminished. The high-priest always bore the god's name Attis. In the crisis of the second Punic War (205 B.C.), when the Romans lost faith in the efficacy of their own religion to save the state, the Senate, in compliance with an oracle in the Sibylline books to the effect that the foreign foe could be driven from Italy if the Idaean Mother (Cybele) were brought from Pessinus to Rome, sent ambassadors to the town, who obtained the sacred stone which was the symbol of the goddess and brought it to Rome, where the worship of Cybele was established. But the goddess continued to be worshipped in her old home; her priests, the Galli, went out to welcome Manlius on his march in 189 B.C., which shows that the town was not yet in the hands of the Tolistobogii. Soon after this a splendid new temple of the goddess was built by the Pergamenian kings. Some time before 164 B.C. Pessinus fell into the power of the Gauls, and the membership of the priestly college was then equally divided between the Gauls and the old priestly families. Like Ancyra and Tavium, Pessinus was Romanized first and Hellenized afterwards. Only about A. D. 165 did Hellenic ways and modes of thought begin to be assumed; before that we find a deep substratum of Celtic feeling and ways, on which Roman elements had been superimposed without filtering through a Hellenic medium. Christianity was introduced late; it cannot be traced before the 4th century. When Galatia was divided into two provinces (A.D. 386-395) Pessinus was made the capital of Galatia Secunda or Salutaris, and it became a metropolitan bishopric. After the 16th century it disappears from history, being supplanted, from the beginning of the period of Saracen invasion, by the impregnable fortress Justinianopolis (Sivri-Hissar), which became the capital and the residence of the bishop, thenceforward called “archbishop of Pessinus or of Justinianopolis.” (J. G. C. A.)