Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/420

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396
THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY

the east the Scythians and the Parthians and Bactrians also drove southward.... For a time there were Greek-ruled Bactrian states becoming more and more Orientalized; in the second century B.C. Greek adventurers from Bactria raided down into North India and founded short-lived kingdoms there, the last eastward fling of the Greek; then gradually barbarism fell again like a curtain between the Western civilizations and India.[1]

 

§ 7

Amidst all these shattered fragments of the burst bubble of Hellenic empire one small state stands out and demands at least a brief section to itself, the kingdom of Pergamum. We hear first of this town as an independent centre during the struggle that ended in the battle of Ipsus. While the tide of the Gaulish invasion swirled and foamed to and fro about Asia Minor between the years 277 and 241, Pergamum for a time paid them tribute, but she retained her general independence, and at last, under Attalus I, refused her tribute and defeated them in two decisive battles. For more than a century thereafter (until 133 B.C.) Pergamum remained free, and was perhaps during that period the most highly civilized state in the world. On the hill of the Acropolis was reared a rich group of buildings, palaces, temples, a museum, and a library, rivals of those of Alexandria of which we shall presently tell, and almost the first in the world. Under the princes of Pergamum, Greek art blossomed afresh, and the reliefs of the altar of the temple of Zeus and the statues of the fighting and dying Gauls which were made there, are among the great artistic treasures of mankind.

In a little while, as we shall tell later, the influence of a new power began to be felt in the Eastern Mediterranean, the power of the Roman republic, friendly to Greece and to Greek civilization; and in this power the Hellenic communities of Pergamum and Rhodes found a natural and useful ally and supporter against the

  1. The stages by which Bactria degenerated into Afghanistan may be studied neatly in the progressive deterioration of its coinage from a decent standard of Hellenic accomplishment into the vague flourishes of Orientalism; it began by displaying a Heracles of pure Greek blood and a pair of horsemen who would hardly have seemed out of place on the frieze of the Parthenon, and it fell steadily to a level of incompetence only equalled by the crude imitations of Roman currency that were being made in pre-Roman Britain about the same time. — P. G.