1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Eumenes

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EUMENES, the name of two rulers of Pergamum.

1. Eumenes I. succeeded his uncle Philetaerus in 263 B.C. The only important event in his reign was his victory near Sardis over Antiochus Soter, which enabled him to secure possession of the districts round his capital. (See Pergamum.)

2. Eumenes II., son of Attalus I., was king of Pergamum from 197–159 B.C. During the greater part of his reign he was a loyal ally of the Romans, who bestowed upon him signal marks of favour. He materially contributed to the defeat of Antiochus of Syria at the battle of Magnesia (190), and as a reward for his services the Thracian Chersonese and all Antiochus’s possessions as far as the Taurus were bestowed upon him, including a protectorate of such Greek cities as had not been declared free. In his quarrels with his neighbours the Romans intervened on his behalf, and on the occasion of his visit to Rome to complain of the conduct of Perseus, king of Macedonia, he was received with the greatest distinction. On his return journey he narrowly escaped assassination by the emissaries of Perseus. Although he supported the Romans in the war against Macedonia, he displayed so little energy and interest (even recalling his auxiliaries) that he was suspected of intriguing with the enemy. According to Polybius there was some foundation for the suspicion, but Eumenes declared that he had merely been negotiating for an exchange of prisoners. Nothing, however, came of these negotiations, whatever may have been their real object; and Eumenes, in order to avert suspicion, sent his congratulations to Rome by his brother Attalus after the defeat of Perseus (168). Attalus was received courteously but coldly; and Eumenes in alarm set out to visit Rome in person, but on his arrival at Brundusium was ordered to leave Italy at once. Eumenes never regained the good graces of the Romans, who showed especial favour to Attalus on his second visit to Rome, probably with the object of setting him against Eumenes; but the ties of kinship proved too strong. The last years of his reign were disturbed by renewed hostilities against Prusias of Bithynia and the Celts of Galatia, and probably only his death prevented a war with Rome. Eumenes, although physically weak, was a shrewd and vigorous ruler and politician, who raised his little state from insignificance to a powerful monarchy. During his reign Pergamum became a flourishing city, where men of learning were always welcome, among them Crates of Mallus, the founder of the Pergamene school of criticism. Eumenes adorned the city with splendid buildings, amongst them the great altar with the frieze representing the Battle of the Giants; but the greatest monument of his liberality was the foundation of the library, which was second only to that of Alexandria.

See Livy xxxix. 51, xlii. 11-16; Polybius xxi.-xxxii.; Appian, Syriaca; Livy, Epit. 46; Cornelius Nepos, Hannibal, 10; A. G. van Cappelle, Commentatio de regibus et antiquitatibus Pergamenis (Amsterdam, 1841). For the altar of Zeus, see Pergamum; for treaty with Cretan cities (183 B.C.) see Monumenti antichi, xviii. 177.