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OPLONTIS (Torre Annunziata) Campania, Italy.

The Peutinger Table places it ca. 5 km from Pompeii toward Herculaneum (cf. Rav. Cosm. Eplontis, Oplontis; Guid. Eplontis). Since there is no other mention in the ancient texts, the very existence of Oplontis has been doubted. However, the archaeological discoveries at Torre Annunziata make it certain that Oplontis is to be found there and that life in the area dates to a remote period. From the archaeological evidence the center, at least in the Roman period, appears to have been composed of villas and bath establishments in the same manner as nearby Stabiae, without a well-defined urban structure. It appears not to have been a suburb of nearby Pompeii. Oplontis also was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, partly by the lava flow, as was Herculaneum, and partly by ashes and rock, as was Pompeii. The hypothesis, actually supported by sparse and dubious proof, has also been advanced that after the eruption the site was still inhabited for a long time.

Ruins of a bath building, dating to the last ten years of the existence of Oplontis, were discovered in the last century on the promontory of Uncino (today Terme Nunziante). Here, it appears that both the subterranean water reserves and sea water were utilized. An inscription found at Pompeii (CIL X, 1063) and related to this building has recorded the Baths of one M. Crassus Frugi.

As far as private building is concerned, only the existence of aristocratic villas scattered here and there have been documented. One such villa is being excavated on the present Via Sepolcri, at the center of the modern town. It can already be affirmed that the villa was very large, complex in plan and with wall paintings of the best workmanship. It was built at least as early as the middle of the 1st c. B.C. but underwent successive remodeling, the last of which was interrupted by the eruption in 79 A.D. On the central axis of the building an austere atrium of grand dimensions was decorated with paintings in the Second Style, with colonnades in perspective. Beyond it was a small garden and a large room that opens onto a propylon above a garden of which two ends of the portico are now distinguishable. On the left side of the house, there are still three walks with small paintings in the Second Style, the bath area surrounding a small courtyard, and the kitchen. On the right side a series of rooms is presently being excavated. Here too are wall paintings in the Second Style. The decorative painting of the other areas is mainly in the Third Style, with very delicate ornamental motifs on a bright background. Elegant sculptures have also been found, completely in harmony with Hellenistic taste, comprising centaurs and an amorino on a column capital. These must have adorned the garden.


K. Miller, Itineraria Romana (1916) 353, 363; Itineraria Romana, ed. O. Cuntz & J. Schnetz (1929-40); H. Philipp, RE 18.1 (1939) 691ff; A. Maiuri, “Note di topografia pompeiana,” RendNap (1959) 73ff; G. Alessio, “Oplontis,” StEtr (1965) 699ff; A. de Franciscis, Atti Convegno Magna Grecia, Taranto 1966, 234; id., “La villa romana di Oplontis,” Parola del Passato (1973) 653ff.


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