(Naples) Campania, Italy.
W coast of Italy some 241 km SE of Rome, the city
stands overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea in the N part of
the Gulf of Naples. To the E lies the silhouette of Mt.
Vesuvius, and to the W stretches a fertile area known
to the ancients as the Phlegraean Fields because of the
mineral springs, sulphur mines, and small craters it contains. To the SW is the Posillipo (the ancient Mons Pausilypos), a large hill which ends in a promontory and separates the Gulf of Naples from the Gulf of Pozzuoli.
Neapolis was founded ca. 650 B.C. from Cumae. Ancient tradition records that it had originally been named
after the siren Parthenope, who had been washed ashore
on the site after failing to capture Odysseus (Sil. Pun
12.33-36). The early city, which was called Palae(o)polis,
developed in the SW along the modern harbor area and
included Pizzofalcone and Megaris (the Castel dell'Ovo),
a small island in the harbor. Megaris itself may have been
the site of a still older Rhodian trading colony (Strab.
). Owing to the influx of Campanian immigrants,
the town began to develop to the NE along a Hippodamian grid plan. This new extension was called Neapolis, while Palae(o)polis became a suburb. Incited to a war with Rome by the Greek elements, the city was
captured in 326 B.C. by the proconsul Quintus Publilius
Philo (Liv. 8.22.9
), and the suburb ceased to exist.
Neapolis then became a favored ally of the Romans; it
repulsed Pyrrhos, contributed naval support during the
First Punic War, and withstood the attacks of Hannibal.
Even though it suffered the loss of its fleet and a massacre of its inhabitants in 82 B.C. during the Civil War (App. BCiv
. 1.89), it became a flourishing municipium and enjoyed the favors of the Julio-Claudian emperors.
Subsequently it was damaged by the eruption of Vesuvius
in A.D. 79.
Remains of both the Greek and the Roman cities are
scarce since the modern town has been built on top.
Stretches of the Greek city walls have been found in various locations, and it has been possible to reconstruct the
entire ring of fortifications. In the N the walls stretch
from S. Maria di Constantinopoli to SS. Apostoli. Some
blocks were found when the Ospedale degli Incurabili
at the Piazza Cavour was demolished. On the E they run
along the course of the Via Carbonara, by the Castel
Capuano, and down the Via Maddalena to the church of
S. Agostino alla Zecca. In the area of the former convent
of the Maddalena have come to light the remains of a
tower measuring 10.8 m on each face with traces of rebuilding associated with the siege by Belisarius in A.D.
536. In the S they go from S. Agostino, by the University, and finally reach S. Maria la Nuova. Under the Corso Umberto I, in the stretch between the Via Seggio del Popolo and the Via Pietro Colletta, large portions
have appeared, dating from the 5th c. B.C. to the Hellenistic period. On the W side, sections were uncovered at
the Piazza Bellini. Outside the ring of fortifications, in
the vicinity of the Via S. Giacomo, a wall, constructed
in blocks of tufa, has been discovered. It dates to the
6th c. B.C. and probably belongs to the older city of
It is also possible to reconstruct some of the street
system of Neapolis, since it is likely that many modern
streets run over their ancient counterparts. Three main
E x W decumani can be distinguished: the Via S. Biagio
dei Librai, the Via Tribunali, and the Via Anticaglia.
These were crossed at right angles by about 20 narrower
N x S cardines having an average width of 4 m and
forming some 100 house blocks. A stretch of one of these
cardines has been located under the church of San
Lorenzo Maggiore. In the Via del Duomo have been
found the foundations of a small sacred edifice dating
to the 5th c. B.C. and rebuilt completely in the 1st c. of
our era. Parts of Greek houses have been uncovered on
the Via del Duomo and on the Via Nib in the W part
of the town. Graves of the Greek period are scattered
throughout the city. In the region of Pizzofalcone on the
Via Nicotera, part of a necropolis, belonging to the original city of Palae(o)polis, has come to light with pottery dating from the 7th and 6th c. B.C. A second early cemetery lay in the spot now occupied by the Piazza Capuana.
Evidence for the Roman buildings of Neapolis is more
abundant. The church of S. Paolo Maggiore contains
building materials from an earlier temple, identified by
means of an inscription as sacred to the Dioscuri and of
the time of Tiberius, but standing on the site of an older
sanctuary. The temple itself was Corinthian hexastyle.
Its front faced S and looked over the decumanus maximus (Via Tribunali). On the Via Anticaglia, between
the Via S. Paolo and the Vico Giganti, are the remains
of a theater, dating to the early empire. The cavea faces
S towards the harbor and has a diameter of some 102 m.
Beneath the level of the Early Christian basilica under
San Lorenzo Maggiore have been uncovered the foundations of a large public building of the 1st c. A.D., perhaps
the aerarium of the city. In various locations there are
remnants of baths. Roman houses appear at the NE end
of the Corso Umberto I, near the section of wall found
there, and in the Via del Duomo. The cryptoporticus of
a villa belonging to the 1st c. A.D. has emerged in the
vicinity of the Via S. Giacomo. The Castel dell'Ovo can
be identified with the site of Lucullus' villa and famous
fish ponds (Plin. HN
The most direct route from Neapolis to Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli) was along a coast road named the Via
Puteolana. This road passed through the Posillipo hills
by means of a tunnel, the Crypta Neapolitana, located in
the region of Mergellina. The crypta, built by Augustus'
architect Cocceius but many times restored and remodeled, now measures 700 m in length. A second ancient
tunnel, now called the Grotta di Seiano, was built at the
extreme tip of the Posillipo promontory. It led from the
villa of Vedius Pollio (later given to Augustus) to
the Puteoli road and is a little larger than the crypta.
On the Posillipo itself are the remains of a small Augustan odeum once connected with a private villa, perhaps
Pollio's. Near the entrance to the crypta is a sepulcher
identified by some as the tomb of Virgil, which according
to Donatus (Vita Virg
. 36) was located before the second milestone on the Via Puteolana. Others argue that
the present tomb is too far away and that the second
milestone, calculated from the Porta Puteolana, would
lie on the modern Riviera di Chiaia; furthermore, they
assert that the present tomb resembles a family columbarium rather than a poet's sepulcher. The grave, belonging to the Augustan period, is in the form of a columbarium, built in the opus caementicium technique. It is
circular and stands on a square podium; inside are ten
niches (loculi) for cinerary urns.
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples off the
Piazza Cavour is one of the finest in Italy and contains
extensive collections of mosaics, paintings, and sculpture.
J. Beloch, Campanien
; F. von
Duhn, “Der Dioskurentempel in Neapel,” SBHeidelberg
Phil-Hist. Kl. (1910) 3-20; H. Philipp, “Neapolis,” RE
16 (1933) 2112-22; H. Achelis, Die Katakomben von
; J. Bérard, Bibliographie topographique des principales cités grecques de l'Italie méridionale et de la Sicile dans l'antiquité
(1941) 71; M. Napoli, Napoli greco-romana
; W. Johannowsky, Problemi archeologici napoletani
; A. G. McKay, Naples and Campania
(1962) 109-20; M. Napoli & A. Maiuri,
5 (1963) 332-40PI
; M. Guido, Southern Italy: an Archaeological Guide