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Ancient Neapolis This ancient city was located on the western slope of Mount Vesuvius, and it was one of the first Greek cities founded in Italy. Many ancient artifacts from ancient Neapolis are preserved in the Museo Nazionale. Its modern name is Naples.
Neapolis The name of a number of ancient cities. I. European 1.Now Napoli (Naples); a city of Campania in Italy on the western slope of Mount Vesuvius and the river Sebethus (Maddalena). It was founded about B.C. 1056 by Aeolian Chalcidians of Cumae, on the site of an ancient place called Parthenopé , after the Siren of that name. Hence we find the town called Parthenopé by Vergil and Ovid. The year of the foundation of Neapolis is not recorded. It was perhaps called the “New City,” because regarded simply as a new quarter of the neighbouring city of Cumae. When the town is first mentioned in Roman history it consisted of two parts, divided from each other by a wall, and called respectively Palaeopolis and Neapolis. This division probably arose after the capture of Cumae by the Samnites, when a large number of the Cumaeans took refuge in the city they had founded, whereupon the old quarter was called Palaeopolis, and the new quarter, built to accommodate the new inhabitants, was named Neapolis. There has been a dispute respecting the site of these two quarters; but it is probable that Palaeopolis was situated on the west side near the harbour, and Neapolis on the east side near the river Sebethus. In B.C. 327 the town was taken by the Samnites, and in 290 it passed into the hands of the Romans, who allowed it, however, to retain its Greek constitution. At a later period it became a municipium, and finally a Roman colony. Under the Romans the two quarters of the city were united, and the name of Palaeopolis disappeared. It continued to be a prosperous and flourishing place till the time of the Empire; and its beautiful scenery and the luxurious life of its Greek population made it a favourite residence with many of the Romans. In the reign of Titus the city was destroyed by an earthquake, but was rebuilt by this emperor in the Roman style. The modern city of Naples does not stand on exactly the same site as Neapolis. The ancient city extended farther east than the modern city, since the former was situated on the Sebethus, whereas the latter does not reach so far as the Fiume della Maddalena; but the modern city, on the other hand, extends farther north and west than the ancient one, since the island of Megaris, on which the Castel del Ovo now stands, was situated in ancient times between Pausilypum and Neapolis. In the neighbourhood of Neapolis there were warm baths, the celebrated villa of Lucullus, and the Villa Pausilypi or Pausilypum, bequeathed by Vedius Pollio to Augustus, and which has given its name to the celebrated grotto of Posilippo between Naples and Pozzuoli, at the entrance of which what is called the tomb of Vergil is still shown. Augustus frequently visited the city, and Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, Titus, and Hadrian favoured it in many ways. In 536 it was taken by Belisarius, and in 543 by the Goths under Totila. Naples is a city of much interest to archaeologists, both because of its proximity to Pompeii and Herculaneum, and because of its remarkable collection of ancient works of art and industry preserved in the Museo Nazionale. - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.
Maps are essential for any serious study, they help students of Roman history understand the geographical locations and historical backgrounds of the places mentioned in historical sources.
NEA´POLIS i. e. “the New City.” I. In Europe. Strab. and Steph., Neapolitanus: Napoli; in French and English Naples), one of the most considerable cities of Campania, situated on the northern shore of the gulf called the Crater or Sinus Cumanus, which now derives from it the name of Bay of Naples. All ancient writers agree in representing it as a Greek city, and a colony of the neighbouring Cumae; but the circumstances of its foundation are very obscurely related. Seymnus Chius tells us it was founded in pursuance of an oracle; and Strabo calls it a Cumaean colony, but adds that it subsequently received an additional body of Chalcidic and Athenian colonists, with some of the settlers from the neighbouring islands of the Pithecusae, and was on this account called Neapolis, or.the New City. (Strab. v. p.246; Scymn. Ch. 253; Vell. 1.4.) Its Chalcidic or Euboean origin is repeatedly alluded to by Statius, who was himself a native of the city (Silv. 1.2. 263, 2.2. 94, 3.5. 12); but these expressions probably refer to its being a colony from the Chalcidic city of Cumnae. The name itself sufficiently points to the fact that it was [2.408] a more recent settlement than some one previously existing in the same neighbourhood; and that this did not refer merely to the parent city of Cumae, is proved by the fact that we find mention (though only at a comparatively late period) of a place called PALAEPOLIS or “the Old City.” (Liv. 8.22.) But the relations between the two are very obscure. No Greek author mentions Palaepolis, of the existence of which we should be ignorant were it not for Livy, who tells us that it was not far from the site of Neapolis. From the passage of Strabo above cited, it seems clear that this was the original settlement of the Cumaean colonists; and that the name of Neapolis was given to the later colony of Chalcidians and others who established themselves on a site at no great distance from the former one. A different version of its history, but of much more dubious authority, is cited by Philargyrius from the historian Lutatius, according to which the Cumaeans abandoned their first colony from an apprehension lest it should eclipse the parent city, but were commanded by an oracle to restore it, and gave to the colony thus founded anew the name of Neapolis. (Philargyr. ad Georg. 4.564.) The original name of Palaepolis (which obviously could not be so designated until after the foundation of the new city) appears to have been Parthenope (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9; Philargyr. l.c.), a name which is used by the Roman poets as a poetical appellation of Neapolis. (Verg. G. 4.564; Ovid, Ov. Met. 15.711, &c.) Stephanus of Byzantium notices Parthenope as a city of Opicia (the ancient designation of Campania); but it is singular enough that both he and Strabo call it a colony of the Rhodians, without mentioning either the Chalcidians or Cumaeans. (Steph. B. sub voce Strab. xiv. p.654.) On the other hand, Lycophron alludes to the place where the Siren Parthenope was cast on shore, by the name of Falerum (Fa????? t??s??, Lycophr. Alex. 717); and Stephanus also says that Phalerum was a city of Opicia, the same which was afterwards called Neapolis. (Steph. B. sub voce Fa?????.) The name of Falerum has a Tyrrhenian or Pelasgic aspect; and it is not improbable, as suggested by Abeken (Mittel Italien, p. 110), that there was originally a Tyrrhenian settlement on the spot. The legendary connection of the Siren Parthenope with the site or neighbourhood of Neapolis was well established, and universally received; hence Dionysius designates the city as the abode of Parthenope; and Strabo tells us that even in his time her tomb was still shown there, and games celebrated in her honour. (Strab. v. p.246; Dionys. Per. 358; Eustath. ad loc.; Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9.)
The site of the original settlement, or Old City (Palaepolis), is nowhere indicated, but it seems most probable that it stood on the hill of Pausilypus or Posilipo, a long ridge of moderate elevation, which separates the bay of Pozzuoli or Baiae from that of Naples itself. The new town, on the contrary, adjoined the river Sebethus, a small stream still called the Sebeto, and must, therefore, have occupied the same site with the more easterly portion of the modern city of Naples. (Abeken, Mittel Italien, p. 111; Niebuhr, vol. iii. p. 179.) The latter city seems rapidly to have risen to great prosperity, and, in great measure, eclipsed the older settlement; but it is clear from Livy that Palaepolis continued to subsist by the side of the new colony, until they both fell under the dominion of the Samnites. It does not appear that either the old or the new city was reduced by force of arms by the Campanian conquerors; they seem rather to have entered into a compromise with them, and admitted a body of the Campanians to the rights of citizenship, as well as to a share of the government. (Strab. v. p.246.) But notwithstanding this, the Greek element still greatly predominated; and both Palaepolis and Neapolis were, according to Livy, completely Greek cities at the time when they first came into contact with Rome, nearly a century after the conquest of Campania by the Samnites. (Liv. 8.22.)
On that occasion the Palaepolitans, who had had the temerity to provoke the hostility of Rome by incursions upon the neighbouring Campanians, alarmed at the declaration of war which followed (B.C. 328), admitted within their walls a garrison of 2000 troops from Nola, and 4000 Samnites; and were thus enabled to withstand .the arms of the consul Publilius Philo, who occupied a post between the two cities so as to prevent all communication between them, while he laid regular siege to Palaepolis. This was protracted into the following year; but at length the Palaepolitans became weary of their Samnite allies, and the city was betrayed into the hands of the Romans by Charilaus and Nymphius, two of the chief citizens. (Liv. 8.22, 23, 25, 26.) The Neapolitans would appear to have followed their example without offering any resistance; and this circumstance may explain the fact that while Publilius celebrated a triumph over the Palaepolitans (Liv. 8.26; Fast. Capit.), the Neapolitans were admitted to peace on favourable terms, and their liberties secured by a treaty (foedus Neapolitanum, Liv. l.c.) From this time all mention of Palaepolis disappears from history. Livy tells us that the chief authority, which appears to have been previously enjoyed by the older city, was now transferred to Neapolis; and it is probable that the former town sank gradually into insignificance, while the community or “populus” was merged in that of Neapolis. So completely was this the case, that Dionysius, in relating the commencement of this very war, speaks only of the Neapolitans (Dionys. Exc. Leg. pp. 2314--2319); while Livy, evidently following the language of the older annalists, distinguishes them from the Palaepolitans, though he expressly tells us that they formed only one community ( “duabus urbibus populus idem habitabat,” Liv. 8.22).
From this time Neapolis became, in fact, a mere dependency of Rome, though retaining the honourable title of an allied state (foederata civitas), and enjoying the protection of the powerful republic, with but a small share of the burdens usually thrown upon its dependent allies. So favourable, indeed, was the condition of the Neapolitans under their treaty that, at a later period, when all the cities of Italy obtained the Roman franchise, they, as well as the Heracleans, were long unwilling to accept the proffered boon. (Cic. pro Balb. 8,24.) Hence it is no wonder that they continued throughout faithful to the Roman alliance, though more than once threatened by hostile armies. In B.C. 280, Pyrrhus approached the walls of Neapolis, with the view of making himself master of the city, but withdrew without accomplishing his purpose (Zonar. 8.4); and in the Second Punic War, Hannibal, though he repeatedly ravaged its territory, Was deterred by the strength of its fortifications from assailing the city itself. (Liv. 23.1, 14, 15. 24.13.) Like the other maritime allies of Rome, the Neapolitans continued to furnish ships and sailors for the Roman [2.409] flees throughout the long wars of the Republic. (Pol. 1.20; Liv. 35.16.)
Though Neapolis thus passed gradually into the condition of a mere provincial town of the Roman state, and, after the passing of the Lex Julia, became an ordinary municipal town (Cic. pro Balb. 8, ad Fam. 13.30), it continued to be a flourishing and populous place, and retained, to a far greater extent than any other city in this part of Italy, its Greek culture and institutions; while its population was still almost exclusively Greek. Thus Strabo tells us that, in his time, though they had become Roman citizens, they still had their gymnasia and quinquennial games, with contests of music and gymnastic exercises after the Greek fashion; and retained the division into Phratries, a circumstance attested also by inscriptions still extant. (Strab. v. p.246; Varr. L. L. 5.85; Boeckh, C. I. vol. iii. p. 715.) Before the close of the Republic, the increasing love of Greek manners and literature led many of the upper classes among the Romans to resort to Neapolis for education, or cultivation of these pursuits; while many more were attracted by the delightful and luxurious climate or the surpassing beauty of the scenery. It possessed also hot springs, similar to those of Baiae, though inferior in number (Strab. l.c.); and all these causes combined to render it one of the favourite resorts of the Roman nobility. Its prosperity received a rude shock, in B.C. 82, during the Civil War of Marius and Sulla, when a body of the partisans of the latter, having been admitted by treachery into the city, made a general massacre of the inhabitants (Appian, App. BC 1.89); but it seems to have quickly recovered this blow, as it was certainly a flourishing city in the time of Cicero, and continued such throughout the period of the Roman Empire. It is not improbable that it received a body of fresh colonists under Sulla, but certainly did not then assume the title of a Colonia, as it is repeatedly alluded to by Cicero as a Municipium. (Cic. Fam. 13.3. 0, ad Att. 10.13.) Under the Empire we find it in inscriptions bearing the title of a Colonia (Gruter, Inscr. p. 110. 8, p. 373. 2); but there is much doubt as to the period when it obtained that rank. It is, however, noticed as such by Petronius, and would seem to have first received a colony under Claudius, to which subsequent additions were made under Titus and the Antonines. (Lib. Colon. p. 235; Zumpt, de Colon. pp. 259, 384; Petron. Satyr. 44, 76; Boeckh, C. I. vol. iii. pp. 717, 718.)
Besides its immediate territory, Neapolis had formerly possessed the two important islands of Capreae and Aenaria (Ischia); but the latter had been wrested from it by force of arms, probably at the period of its first war with Rome. Capreae, on the other hand, continued subject to Neapolis without interruption till the time of Augustus, who, having taken a fancy to the island, annexed it to the imperial domain, giving up to the Neapolitans in exchange the richer and more important island of Aenaria. (Suet. Aug. 92; D. C. 52.43.)
The same attractions which had rendered Neapolis a favourite residence of wealthy Romans under the Republic operated with still increased force under the Empire. Its gymnasia and public games continued to be still celebrated, and the emperors themselves condescended to preside at them. (Suet. Aug. 98. Ner. 40; Vell. 2.123; D. C. 63.26.) Its strong tincture of Greek manners, which caused it to be frequently distinguished as “the Greek city,” attracted thither many grammarians and others; so that it came to acquire a reputation for learning, and is called by Martial and Columella “docta Parthenope” (Martial, 5.78. 14; Col. 10.134); while its soft and luxurious climate rendered it the favourite resort of the indolent and effeminate. Hence Horace terms it “otiosa Neapolis;” and Ovid, still more strongly, “in otia natam Parthenopen.” (Hor. Epod. 5. 43; Ovid, Ov. Met. 15.711; Stat. Silv. 3.78-88; Sil. Ital. 12.31.) The coasts on both sides of it were lined with villas, among which the most celebrated was that of Vedius Pollio, on the ridge of hill between Neapolis and Puteoli, to which he had given the name of Pausily pus (?a?s???p??); an appellation afterwards extended to the whole hill on which it stood, and which retains to the present day the name of Monte Posilipo. (D. C. 54.23; Plin. Nat. 9.53. s. 78.) Neapolis was a favourite residence of the emperor Nero, as well as of his predecessor Claudius; and it was in the theatre there that the former made his first appearance on the stage, before he ventured to do so publicly at Rome. (Tac. Ann. 14.10, 15.33; D. C. 60.6.) It is well known also that it was for a considerable period the residence of Virgil, who composed, or at least finished, his Georgics there. (Verg. G. 4.564.) thither, also, his remains were transferred after his death; and his tomb was still extant there in the time of the poets Statius and Silius Italicus, who paid to it an almost superstitious reverence. The last-named poet himself died at Neapolis, where he had a villa, which was his favourite place of residence, as it was also that of Statius, who, in several passages, appears to allude to it as the place of his birth. (Donat. Vit. Virg.; Plin. Ep. 3.7; Martial, 11.49; Stat. Silv. 3.5. 13, 4.4. 51--55.)
It is clear that Neapolis was at this period a provincial city of the first class; and though we meet with little historical mention of it during the later ages of the Empire, inscriptions sufficiently prove that it retained its consideration and importance. It appears to have escaped the ravages of the Goths and Vandals, which inflicted such severe blows upon the prosperity both of Capua and Nola (Hist. Miscell. xv. p. 553); and under the Gothic king Theodoric, Cassiodorus speaks of it as still possessing a numerous population, and abounding in every kind of delight, both by sea and land. (Cassiod. Var. 6.23.) In the Gothic wars which followed, it was taken by Belisarius, after a long siege, and a great part of the inhabitants put to the sword, A.D. 536. (Procop. B. G. 1.8--10.) It was retaken by Totila in A.D. 542 (Ib. 3.6--8), but again recovered by Narses soon after, and continued from this time subject to the supremacy of the Byzantine Empire, as a dependency of the exarchate of Ravenna, but under the government of its own dukes. In the eighth century Paulus Diaconus still speaks of it as one of the “opulentissimae urbes” of Campania. (Hist. Lang. 2.17.) It was about this period that it threw off the yoke of the Byzantine emperors, and continued to enjoy a state of virtual independence, until it was conquered in A.D. 1140 by the Normans, and became thenceforth the capital of the kingdom of Naples.
It is certain that the ancient city of Neapolis did not occupy nearly so great a space as the modern Naples, which is the largest and most populous city in Italy, and contains above 400,000 inhabitants. It appears to have extended on the E. as far as the river Sebethus, a small stream still called the Sebeto, [2.410] though moore commonly known as the Fiume della Maddalena, which still forms the extreme limit of the suburbs of Naples on the E. side; from thence it probably extended as far as the mole and old castle, which bound the port on the W. Pliny speaks of the small island which he calls Megaris, and which can be no other than the rock now occupied by the Castel dell' Uovo, as situated between Pausilypus and Neapolis (Plin. Nat. 3.6. s. 12); it is therefore clear that the city did not extend so far as this point. Immediately above the ancient portion of the city rises a steep hill, now crowned by the Castle of St. Elmo; and from thence there runs a narrow volcanic ridge, of no great elevation, but steep and abrupt, which continues without interruption in a SW. direction, till it ends in a headland immediately opposite to the island of Nesis or Nisida. It is the western portion of this ridge which was known in ancient times as the MONS PAUSILYPUS, and is still called the Hill of Posilipo. It formed a marked barrier between the immediate environs of Neapolis and those of Puteoli and Baiae, and must have been a great obstacle to the free communication between the two cities; hence a tunnel was opened through the hill for the passage of the high-road, which has served that purpose ever since. This passage, called in ancient times the Crypta Neapolitana, and now known as the Grotta di Posilipo, is a remarkable work of its kind, and has been described by many modern travellers. It is 2244 feet long, and 21 feet broad: its height is unequal, but, towards the entrance, is not less than 70 feet. It is probable, however, that the work has been much enlarged in later times. Seneca, in one of his letters, gives a greatly exaggerated view of its fancied horrors, arising from the darkness and dust. (Sen. Ep. 57.) Strabo assigns its construction to Cocceius, probably the M. Cocceius Nerva, who was superintendent of aqueducts under Tiberius, and who constructed a similar tunnel from the lake Avernus to Cumae (Strab. v. p.245); and there is no reason to doubt this statement, though many Italian antiquarians have maintained that the work must be much more ancient. On the hill immediately above the E. entrance of the grotto is an ancient sepulchre designated by tradition as the tomb of Virgil; and though popular tradition is a very unsafe guide in such cases, there seems in this instance no sufficient reason to reject its testimony. We know, from the precise statement of Donatus, that the poet was buried on the road to Puteoli, within less than two miles from Naples ( “via Puteolana intra lapidem secundem,” Donat. Vit. Virg.; Hieron. Chron. ad 01. 190), which agrees well with the site in question, especially if (as is probable) the high-road at that time passed over the hill, and not through the grotto beneath. The argument of Cluverius, who inferred, from the description of Statius (Stat. Silv. 4.4. 50-55), that the tomb of Virgil was situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, is certainly untenable. (Cluver. Ital. p. 1153; Eustace's Classical Tour, vol. ii. pp. 370--380; Jorio, Guida di Pozzuoli, pp. 118, &c.)
Near the Capo di Posilipo, as the headland opposite to Nisida is now called, are the extensive ruins of a Roman villa, which are supposed to be those of the celebrated villa of Vedius Pollio, which gave name to the whole hill, and which he bequeathed by his will to Augustus. (D. C. 54.23; Plin. Nat. 9.53. s. 78.) Immediately opposite to the headland, between it and the island of Nisida (Nesis), lie two small islets, or rather rocks, one of which now serves for the Lazzaretto,--the other, which is uninhabited, is called La Gajola; these are supposed to be the islands called by Statius Limon and Euploea. (Stat. Silv. 2.2. 79, 3.1. 149.) From their trifling size it is no wonder that they are not noticed by any other author. Recent excavations on the supposed site of the villa of Pollio have brought to light far more extensive remains than were previously known to exist, and which afford a strong illustration of the magnificent scale on which these edifices were constructed. Among the ruins thus brought to light are those of a theatre, the seats of which are cut out of the tufo rock ; an Odeon, or theatre for music; a Basilica; besides numerous porticoes and other edifices, and extensive reservoirs for water. But the most remarkable work connected with these remains is a tunnel or gallery pierced through the promontory, which is actually longer than the Grotta di Posilipo. This work appears from an inscription to have been restored by the emperor Honorius; the period of its construction is wholly uncertain. (Bullett. d. Inst. Arch. 1841, pp. 147--160; Avellino, Bullett. Archeol. Napol. 1843, Nos. 4--6.) Many writers have assigned the extensive ruins visible on the hill of Posilipo to a villa of Lucullus; and it is certain that that statesman had a Neapolitan villa distinct from that at Misenum (Cic. Ac. 2.3), but its site is nowhere indicated; and the supposition that it was the same which afterwards passed into the hands of Vedius Pollio is not warranted by any ancient authority.
Though the neighbourhood of Naples abounds on all sides in ancient remains, those which are still extant in the city itself are inconsiderable. Two arches of a Roman theatre in the street called Anticaglia, a fragment of an aqueduct known by the name of the Ponti Rossi, and the remains of a temple dedicated to Castor and Pollux, incorporated into the church of S. Paolo, are all the ancient ruins now visible. But the inscriptions which have been discovered on the site, and are for the most part preserved in the museum, are numerous and interesting. They fully confirm the account given by ancient writers of the Greek character so long retained by the city, and notice its division into Phratries, which must have continued at least as late as the reign of Hadrian, since we find one of them named after his favourite Antinous. Others bore the names of Eumelidae, Eunostidae, &c., the origin of which may probably be traced back to the first foundation of the Cumaean colony. From some of these inscriptions we learn that the Greek language continued to be used there, even in public documents, as late as the second century after the Christian era. (Boeckh, C. I. vol. iii. pp. 714--750; Mommsen, Inscr. Regn. Neap. pp. 127--131.) - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.
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