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Aristonicus (Eumenes III) – self-proclaimed king of Pergamon

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Kingdom of Pergamon in 188 BCE
Kingdom of Pergamon in 188 BCE

In 133 BCE, Attalus III died on the throne of the Kingdom of Pergamum (the western part of present-day Turkey). In his will, he handed over his country to Roman rule. As the Romans were very slow in securing their rights, a certain Aristonicus raised a rebellion against the decision of the former king.

Although Aristonicus had no dynastic connections, he considered himself the illegitimate son of the late king Eumenes II (father of Attalus III) and took the name of Eumenes III. Aristonicus sought support for his actions. Among other things, he tried to get help from the Greeks living on the Anatolian coast. In addition, he guaranteed freedom to slaves and property to poor people if they joined his army in return. He managed to implement the plan partially, because the Greeks were not eager to help. It turned out that the army of Aristonicus consisted largely of craftsmen, slaves and poor peasants. The insurgents began to dream of a state based on freedom and mutual respect.

Initially, the fights were carried out with Pontus, Bithynia, Paphlagonia and Cappadocia. Eumenes III gradually strengthened his position; he even managed to capture a large Pergamon fleet. Naturally, the Romans, who wanted to execute the will of the late king of Pergamon, could not afford such a turn of events. The first Roman army, led by Publius Licinius Crassus, entered Asia Minor in 131 BCE. However, Eumenes III defeated the Romans, the Roman commander himself was captured, and then died.

However, already in the year 129 BCE Eumenes III was defeated at Stratonicaja by a large Roman force. The Romans were led by Marcus Perperna, consul for the year 130. Finally, Eumenes took refuge in Stratonikaia, but after a long siege, he was taken prisoner. After the defeat, Eumenes took part in the Roman triumph, which culminated in being strangled in the Tullianum prison (the so-called Mamertine Prison).

The successor of consul Perperna – Manius Aquilius – finally suppressed the uprising. The quick break of the rebels’ spirit was due to his trick – poisoning the source of drinking water. In this way, he conquered many cities. After the end of the conflict, he divided the lands of Pergamum between Rome, Pontus and Cappadocia.

  • Iwaszkiewicz Piotr, Łoś Wiesław, Stępień Marek, Władcy i wodzowie starożytności. Słownik, Warszawa 1998
  • Jaczynowska Maria, Historia starożytnego Rzymu, Warszawa 1983
  • León Vicki, Barwny półświatek starożytnego Rzymu, Warszawa 2008

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