The kingdom of Pergamum in western
Asia Minor was one of the smaller states formed out of
Alexander's dominions. The city of Pergamum became a
center of Greek learning second only to Alexandria in
importance. Moreover, under Attalus I. (241-197 B.C.)
and Eumenes II. (197-159 B.C.) it developed an
independent and powerful school of sculpture, of whose
productions we fortunately possess numerous examples.
The most famous of these is the Dying Gaul or Galatian,
once erroneously called the Dying Gladiator. Hordes of
Gauls had invaded Asia Minor as early as 278 B.C., and,
making their headquarters in the interior, in the
district afterwards known from them as Galatia, had
become the terror and the scourge of the whole region.
Attalus I. early in his reign gained an important
victory over these fierce tribes, and this victory was
commemorated by extensive groups of sculpture both at
Pergamum and at Athens.
The figure of the Dying Gaul
belongs to this series. The statue was in the possession
of Cardinal Ludovisi as early as 1633, along with a
group closely allied in style, representing a Gaul and
his wife, but nothing is certainly known as to the time
and place of its discovery.