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Attalus I and Networks of Benefactions

Gregory J. Callaghan

University of Pennsylvania

In the span of a century, the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon grew from a single city to ruling over the majority of Western Anatolia, attaining a remarkable legacy as patrons of the Greek world in the process. Gruen ascribed their success precisely to that patronage (“Culture as Policy: The Attalids of Pergamon” ([UC Press 2000] 17-31). An extensive series of benefactions and euergetistic interventions defined Attalid foreign policy. Network analysis is a powerful tool to visualize these varied benefactions of statues, buildings, financial contributions, and other gifts. Such networks are difficult to generate, as they require a great deal of subjective judgment as to what qualifies as a link, combining evidence from literature, inscriptions, and archaeology. It is well worth the effort, however, as the resultant networks allow for holistic considerations of the entire system of Attalid patronage. The insights generated from such visualizations enable a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the ways in which Attalid foreign policy used “culture.” In this paper, I explore the foreign policy of Attalus I through an analysis of his network of foreign benefactions and alliances.

This analysis reveals three important aspects of Attalus’ foreign policy. First, the scale of his network eclipsed those of Philetaerus and Eumenes I, representing a significant increase in Attalid interstate interactions. Second, the geographic clustering of the network suggests that Attalus approached local, regional, and trans-Aegean interactions differently. Third, his network presents a distinct chronology, which reveals how Attalus’ foreign policy evolved over time in response to various successes and setbacks. Altogether, network analysis of Attalus’ interstate interactions reveals how the dynasty’s interstate relations were shaped by his reign, and the extent to which the kingdom owed its success to his foreign policy. That policy utilized the dynasty’s status in the Aegean—acquired through networks of benefactions—to claim increased interstate authority for the king beyond his military capabilities. 

Session/Panel Title

Social Networks and Interconnections in Ancient and Medieval Contexts

Session/Paper Number

64.6

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