, Ptol. Dio Cass.; Ποτίολοι
Strab., Act. Apost.: Eth. Puteolanus
), a maritime city of Campania situated on the northern shore of the Sinus Cumanus or Crater and on the east side of the smaller bay known as the Sinus Baianus.
It was originally a Greek city of the name of DICAEARCHIA
Strab.; Δικαιαρχεία, Steph. B. sub voce
: Eth. Δικαιαρχεύς
Steph.); and was a colony of the neighbouring Cumae, to which it served as a port. (Strab. v. p.245
There can be little doubt of the accuracy of this statement, but Stephanus of Byzantium and Eusebius ascribe its foundation to a colony from Samos; and it is not improbable that in this as in many similar instances, the colony from Cumae was reinforced by a fresh band of emigrants from Samos (Steph. B. sub voce Πτοτίολοι;
Euseb. ii. p 129, ed. [p. 2.679]
The date assigned to this Samian colony by Eusebius is as late as B.C. 521. No mention occurs of Dicaearchia in history previous to the conquest of Cumae by the Campanians: from its serving as the port of Cumae it could probably never have taken any active or independent part; but there seems no doubt that it must have become a populous and flourishing town.
The name of Dicaearchia continued to be applied to it by Greek writers long after it had assumed the new appellation of Puteoli. (Diod. 4.22
The period of this change is uncertain.
It is generally said that the Romans bestowed on it the new name when they established their colony there; but there seems good reason to believe that it was considerably more ancient.
The name of Puteoli is applied to the city by Livy during the Second Punic War (Liv. 24.7
), and there is much probability that the coins with the Oscan inscription “Phistlus,” sometimes Graecised into Phistelia, belong to Puteoli during the period previous to the Roman colony. (Millingen, Numism. de l'Anc. Italie,
p. 201; Friedländer, Oskische Münzen,
According to the Roman writers the name of Puteoli was derived either from the stench arising from the numerous sulphureous springs in the neighbourhood, or (with more probability) from the wells (putei) or sources of a volcanic nature with which it abounded. (Varro, L. L.
5.25; Fest. s. v. Puteoli; Plin. Nat. 31.2
; Strab. v. p.245
; Steph. B. sub voce Ποτίολοι
The first mention of Puteoli in history is during the Second Punic War, when it was fortified by Q. Fabius by order of the senate, and protected by a strong garrison to secure it from the attempts of Hannibal, B.C. 215.
That general, indeed, in the following season made an attempt, though without success, to make himself master of the city, the possession of its port being an object of the greatest importance to him. (Liv. 24.7
.) Livy speaks of Puteoli as having first become frequented as a port in consequence of the war; and though this is not strictly correct, as we know that it was frequented long before under the name of Dicaearchia, it is probable that it then first rose to the high degree of commercial importance which it subsequently retained under the Romans. Thus in B.C. 212 it became the principal port where the supplies of corn from Etruria and Sardinia were landed for the use of the Roman army that was besieging Capua (Liv. 25.22
); and the next year it was from thence that Claudius Nero embarked with two legions for Spain. (Id. 26.17.) Towards the close of the war also (B.C. 203) it was at Puteoli that the Carthaginian ambassadors landed, on their way to Rome. (Id. 30.22.)
It was doubtless the growing importance of Puteoli as a commercial emporium that led the Romans to establish a colony there in B.C. 194 (Liv. 34.45
; Vell. 1.15
): the date is confirmed by a remarkable inscription of B.C. 105 (Mommsen, Inscr. R. N.
2458), and it seems to have become before the close of the Republic, as it continued under the Empire, one of the most considerable places of trade in Italy. From its being the first really good port on the south of Rome (for Antium could never deserve that epithet) it became in a manner the port of the imperial city, although distant from it not less than 150 miles. Not only did travellers coming from the East to Rome frequently land at Puteoli and proceed from thence by land to the city, as in the well-known instances of St. Paul (Act. Apost.
28.13) and Cicero on his return to Rome from his quaestorship in Sicily (Cic. pro Planc. 26
), but the same course was pursued with the greater part of the merchandise brought from the East, especially with the costly wares sent from Alexandria, and even the supplies of corn from the same quarter. (Strab. xvii. p.793
; Suet. Aug. 98
; Senec. Ep.
77.) Strabo speaks of Puteoli as one of the most important trading cities of his time (v. p. 245), and it is evident from the expressions of Seneca (l.c.
) that this had not fallen off in the days of Nero.
The trade with Alexandria indeed, important as it was, was only one branch of its extensive commerce. Among other things the iron of Ilva, after being smelted at Populonium, was brought to Puteoli (Diod. 5.13
): and the city carried on also a great trade with the Turdetanians in the south of Spain, as well as with Africa. (Strab. iii. p.145
.) We learn also from an inscription still extant, that its trade with Tyre was of such importance that the Tyrians had a regular factory there (Boeckh, C. I.
no. 5853); and another inscription mentions a number of merchants from Berytus as resident there. (Mommsen, I. R. N.
2488.) Indeed there seems no doubt that it was under the Roman Empire one of the greatest--if not the
greatest--emporiums of foreign trade in all Italy For this advantage it was in a great measure indebted to the excellence of its port, which, besides being naturally well sheltered, was further protected by an extensive mole or pier thrown out into the bay and supported on stone piles with arches between them. Hence Seneca speaks of the population of Puteoli assembling on this mole (in pilis) to watch for the arrival of the ships from Alexandria. (Sen. Ep.
77.) Puteoli had peculiar facilities for the construction of this and similar works, from the excellent quality of its volcanic sand, which formed a mortar or cement of the greatest hardness and durability, and wholly proof against the influence of the sea-water. (Strab. v. p.245
; Plin. Nat. 35.13. s. 47
This kind of cement is still known by the name of Pozzolana.
It was from the extremity of the mole of Puteoli that Caligula carried his celebrated bridge across the bay to the opposite shores at Baiae. (Suet. Cal. 19
; D. C. 59.17
; J. AJ 19.1.1
It is scarcely necessary to observe that this bridge was merely a temporary structure [BAIAE
], and the remains still visible at Pozzuoli
which are popularly known as the Bridge of Caligula are in fact the piles or piers of the mole of Puteoli.
The construction of this mole is generally ascribed to Augustus, without sufficient authority; but it is probable that it dates from at least as early a period: and we learn that there were in his time extensive docks (navalia) at Puteoli, in which the huge ships that had been employed in bringing the obelisks from Egypt were preserved,--a sufficient proof of the magnitude of these establishments. (Plin. Nat. 36.9. s. 14
.) Another proof of the importance of Puteoli is the fact that Claudius established there, as well as at Ostia, a cohort of troops to guard the city against fire, in the same manner as was done at Rome (Suet. Cl. 25
). In A.D. 95 Domitian constructed a new line of road leading direct to Puteoli from Sinuessa, where it quitted the Appian Way. (D. C. 67.14
; Stat. Silv. 4.3
.) Previous to that time its communication with Rome must have been by way of Capua, to which a branch road (not given in the Itineraries) led direct from Puteoli. [p. 2.680]
Puteoli certainly continued to enjoy under the Empire the rank of a colony. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 9
; Orell, Inscr.
1694, 3697, &c.)
In addition to the original “colonia civium” settled there, as already mentioned, in B.C. 194, it appears to have received a fresh colony under Sulla (V. Max. 9.3.8
; Plut. Sull. 37
; Zumpt, De Colon.
p. 260), and certainly was again colonised by Augustus. (Lib. Col.
The inhabitants had, as we learn from Cicero (Cic. Phil. 2.41
), warmly espoused the cause of Brutus and Cassius after the death of Caesar, which may have been one reason why Augustus sought to secure so important a point with a colony of veterans.
But, as was often the case, the old inhabitants seem to have continued apart from the colonists, with separate municipal rights, and it was not till the reign of Nero that these also obtained admission into the colony. (Tac. Ann. 14.27.
) In A.D. 69 the Puteolani zealously espoused the cause of Vespasian (Tac. Hist. 3.67
), and it was probably in consequence of this that the city afterwards assumed the honorary title of “Colonia Flavia Augusta Puteoli,” by which we find it designated in inscriptions. (Orell. Inscr.
3698; Zumpt, l.c.
p. 395; Mommsen, 2492, 2493.)
It is not improbable, however, that it may at the same time have received a fresh accession of colonists.
In addition to its commercial importance, Puteoli, or rather its immediate neighbourhood, became, before the close of the Republic, a favourite resort of the Roman nobility, in common with Baiae and the whole of this beantiful district. Thus Cicero, as we learn from himself, had a villa there, to which he gave the name of Academia, but which he more often mentions merely as his Puteolanum. (Cic. de Fat.
1, ad Att.
1.4, 14.7, 15.1, &c.)
It passed after his death into the hands of Antistius Vetus, and the outbreak of a thermal spring there became the occasion of a well-known epigram, which has been preserved to us by Pliny. (Plin, 31.2. s. 3
This villa was situated between Puteoli and the lake Avernus; it was subsequently chosen as the place of burial of the emperor Hadrian. (Spart. Hadr.
We hear little of Puteoli in history during the later periods of the Roman Empire, but there is every reason to suppose that it continued to be a flourishing and populous town. Its mole and port were repaired by Antoninus Pius (Mommsen, Inscr.
2490), and numerous inscriptions have been found there, some of which belong to a late period, and attest the continued importance of the city down to the reign of Honorius. (Mommsen, 2494--2500.)
But it shared to the full extent in the calamities of the declining empire: it was taken and plundered by Alaric in A.D. 410, and again by Genseric in 455, and by Totila in 545. Nor did it ever recover these repeated disasters.
After having for some time been almost deserted, it partially revived in the middle ages; but again suffered severely, both from the ravages of war and from the volcanic eruptions of the Solfatara
in 1198, and of the Monte Nuovo
At the present day Pozzuoli,
though retaining its episcopal see, and about 8000 inhabitants, is a poor place, and suffers severely from malaria in summer.
It, however, retains many remains of its ancient greatness. Among these one of the most conspicuous is the amphitheatre, on the hill behind the town, which is of considerable size, being larger than that at Pompeii, and calculated to be capable of containing 25,000 spectators.
It is in good preservation, and, having been recently excavated and cleared out, affords in many respects a good specimen of such structures.
It derives additional interest from being more than once alluded to by ancient writers. Thus Suetonius mentions that Augustus presided at games there, and it was in consequence of an insult offered to a senator on that occasion that the emperor passed a law assigning distinct seats to the senatorial order. (Suet. Aug. 44
It was there also that Nero entertained Tiridates, king of Armenia, with magnificent shows both of gladiators and combats of wild beasts. (D. C. 63.3
.) Near the amphitheatre are some ruins, commonly known as the temple of Diana, but which more probably belonged to a range of thermae or baths; as well as several piscinas or reservoirs for water on a great scale, some of which are supposed to have been connected with the service of the amphitheatre. Near them are the remains of an aqueduct, intended for the supply of the city, which seems to have been a branch of that which led to Misenum.
In the city itself the modern cathedral is in great part constructed out of the remains of a Roman temple, which, as we learn from an inscription on the architrave, was dedicated to Augustus by L. Calpurnius. From another inscription we learn that the architect was L. Cocceius Auctus, evidently the same who is mentioned by Strabo as having been employed by Agrippa to construct the tunnel at Posilipo.
(Mommsen, I. R. N.
2484, 2485; Strab. v. p.245
The masonry is of white marble, and there still remain six beautiful Corinthian columns of the same material.
Much more celebrated than these are the remains of a building commonly known as the temple of Serapis or Serapeum.
The interest which attaches to these is, however, more of a scientific than antiquarian character, from the evidence they afford of repeated changes in the level of the soil on which they stand. (Lyell, Principles of Geology,
8th ed. p. 489, &c.; Daubeny On Volcanoes,
The edifice is one of a peculiar character, and the received attribution is very doubtful. Recent researches have rendered it more probable that it was a building connected with the mineral spring which rises within it, and was adapted both for purposes of worship and for the medical use of the source in question.
The general plan is that of a large quadrangular atrium or court, surrounded internally by a portio of 48 columns, with chambers at the sides, and a circular temple in the centre. Not far from the temple of Serapis are the ruins of two other buildings, both of them now under water: the one of which is commonly known as the temple of Neptune, the other as the temple of the Nymphs; but there is no real foundation for either name. We know, however, from Cicero that there was a temple of Neptune at Puteoli, as might naturally be expected at so frequented a seaport, and that its portico fronted the bay. (Cic. Ac. 2.2. 5
) The remains of the ancient mole have been already mentioned; there are now portions of 16 piers remaining, 13 of which are still visible above water.
On the coast proceeding from Pozzuoli
towards the Lucrine lake (or rather on the ancient cliff which rises above the low line of coast) are some ruins called (with at least more probability than in most similar cases) those of the villa of Cicero, which was certainly, as we learn from Pliny, situated between Puteoli and the Lucrine lake. (Plin. Nat. 31.2. s. 3
.) [p. 2.681]
About a mile from Pozzuoli
to the NE., on a hill between the town and the Lago d'Angano,
is the remarkable spot now called the Solfatara,
and in ancient times known as the FORUM VULCANI
It is evidently the crater of an extinct volcano, retaining only so much of its former activity as to emit constantly sulphureous gases in considerable quantity, the deposit of which forms large accumulations of sulphur.
It is well described by Strabo, in whose time it would seem to have been rather more active than at present, as well as in a more poetical style by Petronius (Carm. B. Civ.
67--75); and is noticed also by Lucilius, who justly points to the quantity of sulphur produced, as an evidence of igneous action, though long extinct. (Strab. v. p.246
; Lucil. Aetn.
It does not seem to have ever broken out into more violent action, in ancient, any more than in modern, times; but in the middle ages on one occasion (in 1198) it broke into a violent eruption; and a stream of trachytic lava, which has flowed from the crater in a SE. direction, is probably the result of this outburst.
The effect of the sulphureous exhalations on the soil of the surrounding hills is visible for some distance, and imparts to them a peculiar whiteness of aspect, whence they were called the LEUCOGAEI COLLES. (Plin. Nat. 18.11. s. 29
. s. 50.) Pliny also mentions in connection with them some mineral springs, to which he gives the name of LEUCOGAEI FONTES. (Id. 31.2. s. 8.) They are probably those now known as the Pisciarelli.
There were two ancient roads leading from Puteoli, the one to Capua, the other to Neapolis. Both of them may still be distinctly traced, and were bordered, for some distance after they quitted the city, with ranges of tombs similar to those found outside the gate of Pompeii, though of course in less perfect preservation. They are nevertheless in many respects of much interest. Pliny mentions the road (which he calls a Via Consularis) that led from Puteoli to Capua; it was the tract on the left of this towards Cumae that was the district properly called the CAMPI LABORINI
or LABORIAE, distinguished even above the rest of Campania for its surpassing fertility. (Plin. Nat. 18.11. s. 29
.) Concerning the topography of Puteoli and ruins still remaining at Pozzuoli,
see Mazzella, Situs et Antiquitas Puteolorum
in Graevius and Burmann's Thesaurus,
vol. ix. part iv.; Romanelli, Viaggio a Pozzuoli,
8vo. Naples, 1817; and Jorio, Guida di Pozzuoli,
8vo. Naples, 1830.