By Richard Evans
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Additional info for A History of Pergamum: Beyond Hellenistic Kingship
This is a somewhat naive assessment of the realities of the political interaction between states then or now and avoids the recognition of pragmatism as a way of survival, whether in the East or elsewhere. Power politics are in constant evolution – some, indeed, would argue for a perpetual anarchy in the Ancient World2 – and there is some truth in this perspective when observed with the benefit of hindsight. Yet some measure of common sense and diplomatic skill was necessary to survive even in the Hellenistic World; and for the Hellenistic king to maintain his position and perhaps even thrive he needed perspicacity and the ability to keep ahead of the pack.
He ruled over his citizens with complete justice and was especially loyal to his allies. He was kind to his wife and sons, of whom four survived him and was courteous and generous to his friends. He left the throne sound and strong so that it could be passed down to the third generation. 1–6) 32 A History of Pergamum Attalus’ son and successor, Eumenes II, inherited much respect among the international community but no real and substantial resources to withstand the Seleucid onslaught when it began in the mid–190s, and he was soon on the back foot against Antiochus III for the very existence of his kingdom.
The attempt was launched by hired assassins during a visit by the king to Delphi, on his way home from Rome to Pergamum in late 172 BC, after his participation in negotiations between Macedonia and Rome which had ended in deadlock. With war seemingly imminent, Perseus perhaps felt that he had nothing to lose by murdering Rome’s closest ally in the region. It must be said, however, that not only was the plan, if Macedonian in conception, extremely ham-fisted in its undertaking, but even if successful was guaranteed to point the finger to the guiding hand of Perseus himself.
A History of Pergamum: Beyond Hellenistic Kingship by Richard Evans