1. Founder of the kingdom of Pergamus, was a native of the small town of Tieium in Paphlagonia, and was an eunuch in consequence of an accident suffered when a child (Strab. xii. p.543
, xiii. p. 623).
According to Carystius (apud Athen.
xiii. p. 577b.) he was the son of a courtezan, though writers who flourished under the kings of Pergramus did not scruple to trace back their descent to Hercules.
He is first mentioned in the service of Docimus, the general of Antigonus, from which he passed into that of Lysimachus, and soon rose to so high a degree of favour with that monarch as to be entrusted by him with the charge of the treasures which he had deposited for safety in the strong fortress of Pergams.
He continued faithful to his trust till towards the end of the reign of Lysimachus, when the intrigues of Arsinoe, and the death of the young prince Agathocles, to whom he had been closely attached, excited apprehensions in the mind of Philetaerus for his own safety, and led him to declare in favour of Seleucns.
But though he hastened to proffer submission to that monarch he still retained in his own hands the fortress of Pergamus, with the treasures that it contained, and, after the death of Seleucus (B. C. 280), took advantage of the disorders in Asia to establish himself in virtual independence.
By redeeming from Ptolemy Ceraunus the body of Seleucus, which he caused to be interred with due honours, he earned the favour of his son, Antiochus I., and by a prudent, but temporizing course of policy, contrived to maintain his position unshaken for nearly twenty years; and at his death to transmit the government of Pergamus, as an independent state, to his nephew Eumenes.
He lived to the advanced age of eighty, and died apparently in B. C. 263 (Lucian, Macrob.
12; Clinton, F. H.
vol. ii. p. 401). His two brothers, Eumenes and Attalus, had both died before him; but their respective sons successively followed him in the sovereign power (Strab. xiii. p.623
; Paus. 1.8.1
; Van Cappelle, de Regibus Pergamenis,
Numerous coins are extant bearing the name of Philetaerus (of which one is given below), but it is generally considered by numismatic writers, that these, or at least many of them, were struck by the later kings of Pergamus, and that the name and portrait of Philetaerus were continued in honour of their founder. Other authors, however, regard the slight differences observable in the portraits which they bear, as indicating that they belong to the successive princes of the dynasty, whom they suppose to have all borne the surname or title of Philetaerus.
But it may be doubted whether this view can be maintained. (Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 473 Visconti, Iconogr. Grecque,
vol. ii. p. 200-210 ; Van Cappelle, pp. 141-146.)