(Nocera Superiore) Italy.
An ancient city on the inland highway, subsequently the Via Popilia, from Etruria to Poseidonia.
It stood near the headwaters of the Sarnus (Sarno) and
commanded the important pass behind Mons Lactarius
leading to Salernum (Salerno) and its gulf. Owing to its
proximity to Vesuvius, its territory was fertile. The name
is apparently Oscan and appears on coins as Nuvkrinum
Alafaternum; the name Nuceria, known elsewhere in
Samnite Italy, has been thought to mean “new city”;
Alfaterna would then identify its population (cf. Plin.
3.63). There is some evidence that in an early period
Nuceria had established a hegemony over the other cities
in the Sarnus valley (Polyb. 3.91; Livy 9.38.2-3
); at all
events it was the only one of these to coin money. But
by the time of the second Samnite war the members of
this league appear to have been on equal terms. It played
an important part in the Samnite wars, standing against
Rome in 316 B.C., and it did not fall until 308. Thereafter Nuceria was faithful to Rome, though independent and with rights of asylum and coinage. It was destroyed by Hannibal in 216 (Livy 23.15.1-6
In the social war, when the Samnite general Papius
Mutilus was unable to win it to his side, he burnt the
suburbs (App. BCiv
. 1.42), in compensation for which
at the end of the war it seems to have received part of
the territories of Stabiae, which had been destroyed.
Spartacus' men destroyed it again in 73 (Florus 2.8.5).
In Sulla's time it must have received a veteran colony
and was inscribed in the tribus Menenia. At the time of
Philippi it appears as colonia Nuceria Constantia (Lib.
. 235); in A.D. 57 it received a new draft of colonists (Tac. Ann
. 13.31). In 59 it appears in history for
the disastrous riot in the amphitheater of Pompeii in
which many of its citizens perished. In 62 it was shaken
by the earthquake that knocked down much of Pompeii
. 6.1.2), and in 79 it had to endure the great
eruption of Vesuvius. According to Suetonius (Vit
it was the home of the emperor Vitellius. Because of its
strategic situation it never perished; as often as it was
destroyed it rose again, and its history continues through
the Middle Ages into modern times.
The ancient city seems to have lain between the two
divisions of the modern town, Nocera Superiore and
Nocera Inferiore. Unfortunately almost nothing is known
of its topography. The 5th c. church of S. Maria Maggiore at Nocera Superiore, still in use, is the only building of interest; it is of round plan, related to S. Costanza in Rome. One can discover the names of the gods held in
special esteem here: the river Sarnus, Juno Sarrana (Plin.
16.132; Sil. Pun
. 6.468), the Dioskouroi, possibly
Apollo, but their sanctuaries have never been located.
Except for occasional fragments of tile and pottery, the
site is bare. On the other hand the necropolis has been
systematically explored, and tombs from the 6th c. B.C. to
the 3d have yielded much fine material. This material
is housed in the local museum. There are also some remains of villas of the Imperial period in the vicinity.
J. Beloch, Campanien
V. Panebianco, BdA
49 (1964) 362.
L. RICHARDSON JR.