Pergamon was one of the urban centers of the Hellenistic world. The city’s gymnasion was dedicated by the Pergamene king Eumenes II. shortly after 200 BC as one of the largest gymnasia in the Greek world and one of the largest public buildings of the city. It is astonishing that the Attalid kings engaged in this manner to provide the (still democratically organized) polis of Pergamon with such a civic building, in order to educate the young members of the polis elite.
Since 2004, the sculptural remains set up within this gymnasium were studied in order to understand the changing sculptural design of the building in the 2nd and 1st century BC. The aim of this project is to analyze the modes of visual representation in the gymnasion. It has led to a new reconstruction of a royal statue group including the well-known portrait of ‘King Attalos I’ and a colossal head of Heracles. This paper sheds new light on the function and design of royal statues and the role of kings in Greek gymnasia in the Hellenistic polis – and beyond.