An ancient city,
already known to Hekataios as an Auruncan foundation.
It was an important station on the inland highway from
Etruria to Poseidonia that subsequently became the Via
Popilia, lying in the valley between Vesuvius and the
first ridges of the Apennines roughly halfway between
Capua and Nuceria. Cato (Vell. Pat. 1.7.3) called it
Etruscan, and it was likely enough colonized from Capua.
After the collapse of the Etruscan dodecapolis in Campania in the early 5th c., Nola seems to have reached the apogee of its wealth and power. It fell to the Samnites at the end of the 5th c., but in its Samnite period, when
it was called Novla, it was friendly to Naples and not
only coining money of Neapolitan type and weight, but
willing in 327 B.C. to send a force of 2000 men to help
Naples in its struggle against Rome (Livy 8.23.1
312 B.C. it fell itself to the Romans (9.28.3-6). In the
second Punic war it remained loyal to Rome and was a
staging center for Roman operations against Hannibal in
S Italy. In the social war, on the other hand, it was taken
by the Samnites in 90 B.C. despite the presence of a
Roman garrison, had to suffer siege by Sulla in 88 and
again in 80, and was eventually taken by storm. Sulla
evidently settled a colony of veterans there, for it was
inscribed in the tribus Falerna and carried the name
colonia Felix Augusta. In 73 Spartacus' men overran the
place once more (Florus 2.8.5). This was the end of its
troubles for a while. It received a colony of Augustus,
who died here in A.D. 14 on a family property that Tiberius made a temple (Cass. Dio 56.46). Later, both Vespasian and Nerva settled veterans here (Lib. Colon
. 236). In the days of bishop Paulinus of Nola (409-431) it became a center of monastic life but was plundered by the
Goths under Alaric in 410 and more savagely by the
Vandals under Genseric in 455.
Little is known of the topography of Nola; traces of an
amphitheater with brick facing are to be seen, and there
are records of, and an inscription belonging to, a theater
with marble revetment. The fortified urban area appears
to have been small, somewhat displaced toward the SW
from the present center of the town. In fact Livy (9.28.
) tells us that in the 4th c. B.C. the walls of Nola were
already surrounded by a belt of suburban building, and
we have notice in inscriptions of four outlying pagi:
Agrifanus, Capriculanus, Lanita, and Myttianus. There
are comparatively few monumental Roman tombs in its
Nola's great fame comes from its necropoleis, which
were systematically ransacked from the late 18th c.
through the first half of the 19th. A wealth of vases has
been removed and enriches the museums of the world.
It goes back as far as geometric and italo-geometric, but
its concentration is within the span of Attic black- and
red-figure wares. From the beginning of the second quarter of the 5th c. there is scarcely an Attic painter of quality not represented in the Nolan finds.
I. Beloch, Campanien
472; M. B. Jovino & R. Donceel, La necropoli di Nola
(1969); E. La Rocca, Introduzione allo studio
di Nola antica
L. RICHARDSON, JR.