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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Pergamos

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Per´gamos or Purgamum, a town of the Great Mysia, the capital of a kingdom of the same name, and afterwards of the Roman province of Asia Propria. The River Caicus, which is formed by the union of two branches meeting thirty or forty miles above its mouth, waters an extensive valley not exceeded in natural beauty and fertility by any in the world. In this valley, in N. lat. 39° 4′, E. long. 27° 12′, stood Pergamos, at the distance of about twenty miles from the sea. It lay on the north bank of the Caicus, at the base and on the declivity of two high and steep mountains, on one of which now stands a dilapidated castle. About two centuries before the Christian era, Pergamos became the residence of the celebrated kings of the family of Attalus, and a seat of literature and the arts. King Eumenes, the second of the name, greatly beautified the town, and increased the library of Pergamos so considerably that the number of volumes amounted to 200,000. As the papyrus shrub had not yet begun to be exported from Egypt, sheep and goat skins, cleaned and prepared for the purpose, were used for manuscripts; and as the art of preparing them was brought to perfection at Pergamos, they, from that circumstance, obtained the name of pergamena, or parchment. The library remained at Pergamos after the kingdom of the Attali had lost its independence, until Antony removed it to Egypt, and presented it to Queen Cleopatra. The valuable tapestries, called in Latin aulæa, from having adorned the hall of King Attalus, were also wrought in this town. The last king of Pergamos bequeathed his treasures to the Romans, who took possession of the kingdom also, and erected it into a province under the name of Asia Propria. Pergamos retained under the Romans that authority over the cities of Asia, which it had acquired under the successors of Attalus, and it still preserves many vestiges of its ancient magnificence. Remains of the Asclepium and of some other temples, of the theater stadium, amphitheater, and several other buildings, are still to been seen. Even now, Pergamos, under the name of Bergamo, is a place of considerable importance, containing a population estimated at 14,000, of whom about 3000 are Greeks, 300 Armenians, and the rest Turks. The town consists for the most part of small and mean wooden houses, among which appear the remains of early Christian churches, showing 'like vast fortresses amid vast barracks of wood.'

In Pergamos was one of 'the seven churches of Asia,' to which the Apocalypse is addressed. This church is commended for its fidelity and firmness in the midst of persecutions, and in a city so eminently addicted to idolatry. 'I know.' it is said, 'thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is' (). Now there was at Pergamos a celebrated and much frequented temple of Æsculapius, who probably there, as in other places, was worshipped in the form of a living serpent, fed in the temple, and considered as its divinity. Hence Æsculapius was called the god of Pergamos, and on the coins struck by the town Æsculapius appears with a rod encircled by a serpent. As the sacred writer mentions () the great dragon and the old serpent, there is reason to conclude that when he says in the above passage, that the church of Pergamos dwelt 'where Satan's seat is,' he alludes to the worship of the serpent, which was there practiced.

 

 

 

 

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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Pergamos'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/p/pergamos.html.

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