Pergamus, titular see, suffragan of Ephesus. This city was situated on the banks of the Selinus. It was at first a city of refuge, as its name indicates, for the people of the plain, and has been regarded as a colony of Arcadians. The Greek historians have reconstructed for it a complete history because they confused it with the distant Teuthrania. It is mentioned for the first time by Xenophon (“Anab.”, VII, viii, 8; “Hellen.”, III, i, 6). Captured by Xenophon in 399 and immediately recaptured by the Persians, it was severely punished in 362 after a revolt. It did not become important until Lysimachus, King of Thrace, took possession, 301 B.C. His lieutenant Philetairos enlarged the town, which in 281 he made the capital of the new kingdom which he founded. In 261 he bequeathed his possessions to his nephew Eumenius I (263-41 B.C.), who increased them greatly, leaving as heir his cousin Attalus I (241-197 B.C.).
Its highest prosperity was reached under his son Eumenius II (197-59 B.C.). He founded a school of sculpture, built in memory of his exploits a magnificent marble altar adorned with a battle of the giants (Ampelius, “Miracula Mundi”, 14), the splendid remains of which are in the museum of Berlin, and finally founded the celebrated library. Attalus III at his death in 133 B.C. bequeathed his kingdom to Rome. Aristonicus, natural son of Eumenius II, endeavored to restore the monarchy, but he was captured in 129 B.C. by Perpenna, and the kingdom was annexed to the Roman Empire under the name of Asia Propria. It is worthy of mention that parchment was discovered there, and that the physician Galen was a native.
The Apocalypse (ii, 12), mentions the martyr Antipas in connection with Pergamus. Gaius, to whom was addressed the Third Epistle of St. John, became bishop of this city, according to the Apostolic Constitutions (vii, 46). Attalus, martyred at Lyons under Marcus Aurelius, was a native of Pergamus. Eusebius of Caesarea (Hist. eccl., IV, 15, 48), mentions the martyrs Carpus, Papylus, and Agathonice, executed in March, 250. Out of a population of 120,000 inhabitants which Pergamus then possessed, a large number were Christians. Among its bishops may be mentioned: Theodotus who about 150 was active against the Gnostic sect of Colorbasiani; Eusebius, present at the Councils of Sardica and Philippopolis in 344; Dracontius, deposed in 360 at the Council of Constantinople; Philip, present at the Council of Ephesus in 431; Eutropius, at the Robber Synod of 449; John, d. about 549; Theodore, at the Sixth Oecumenical Council in 681; Basil, at the Seventh in 787; Methodius at the Eighth in 878; George, living in 1256; Arsenius, 1303-16. Pergamus was a suffragan of Ephesus until the twelfth century, when it became a metropolitan see. Although long occupied by the Turks the town was still a metropolis in 1387, when the title was removed and it became once more a diocese (Miklosich and Müller, “Acta patriarchatus Constantinopolitani”, II, 103, 397). The diocese itself soon disappeared.
In 610 the body of Emperor Phocas was burned in a brazen ox brought from Pergamus. In the seventh century an Armenian colony, much attached to Monophysitism, and from which sprang the Byzantine Emperor Philippicus Bardanes (711-13), established itself there. In 716 the Arab general Maslama captured the town. From this period dates its decline. It was rebuilt on a smaller scale and formed part of the theme of Thrakesion. Constantine Porphyrogenitus still speaks of it (De themat., I, 24, 5-13) as a brilliant city of Asia. In 1197 the French of the Second Crusade halted there. The town had already suffered from Turkish incursions. It then became the capital of the theme of Neocastra, and a stronghold against the sultans of Iconium. In 1306 the Emir of Karasi captured it from the Greeks, but thirty years later Sultan Orkhan took it from him. Save for the temporary occupation of Timur-Leng in 1402, it has since belonged to the Osmanlis. Under the name of Bergama it now forms a caza of the vilayet of Smyrna and numbers 20,000 inhabitants, of whom 10,000 are Turks, 700 Jews, and 9,300 Christians (300 Armenians and 9000 Greek schismatics). The latter have two schools for boys and girls, with about 800 pupils, and five churches. The remains of three ancient churches have been discovered, among them the magnificent basilica of St. John. The church of St. Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1398.