Attalos I and the Conquest of Pessinus. I.Pessinus 1 Reconsidered

Altay ÇOŞKUN   53–62

 

Abstract: Only very few sanctuaries of the ancient world can boast such a broad and diverse literary, epigraphic and numismatic tradition as the temple state of Kybele Agdistis in Pessinus. And yet, inconsistencies or lacunae in the sources have resulted in countless controversies on the history of the cult place. In particular, the most detailed account of the Roman quest for the sacred meteorite of the goddess in 205/4 BC (Livy 29.10.4–29.11.8; 29.14.5–14) has often been rejected as later fabrication. An important argument is that King Attalos I of Pergamon, the guide of the Roman embassy according to Livy, did not yet have access to Eastern Phrygia at the time. The close relation between the Attalid kings and the sanctuary is attested by Strabo (12.5.3), who remains unspecific in chronological terms though, and through a number of royal letters addressing Attis, the ruling priest of Pessinus, which have traditionally been dated to 163/156 BC. However, Christian Mileta (2010) has convincingly shown that I.Pessinus 1 should rather be identified as a letter by King Attalos I to one of his own military officials, providing instructions for the conquest of “Pessongoi” in 207 BC. All attempts at not identifying this place with Pessinus have failed, and Mileta’s argument for the high date can be further enhanced by a closer study of the letter and its addressee. This way, we shall be in a much better position to understand what happened in the Gallos Valley at the end of the 3rd century BC.

Keywords: I.Pessinus 1; Pessongoi; Kybele Agdistis; Attalos I; Galatians; Gallos Valley.

 

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