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1  Following this is the fortress of Heraclæum,1 built upon a promontory which projects out into the sea, and which, on account of the prevalence of the south-west wind, is a very healthy spot. The Osci2 originally possessed both this and Pompeia,3 which is next to it, by which the river Sarno4 flows; afterwards the Tyrrheni and Pelasgi,5 and then the Samnites6 obtained possession of them, and the last7 in their turn were driven from these regions. Pompeia is the port for Nola,8 Nuceria,9 and Acerræ, which bears the same name as the city near to Cremona. It is built on the river Sarno, by which merchandise is received and exported. Above these places is Mount Vesuvius, which is covered with very beautiful fields, excepting its summit, a great part of which is level, but wholly sterile. It appears ash-coloured to the eye, cavernous hollows appear formed of blackened stones, looking as if they had been subjected to the action of fire. From this we may infer that the place was formerly in a burning state with live craters, which however became extinguished on the failing of the fuel. Perhaps this [volcano] may have been the cause of the fertility of the surrounding country, the same as occurs in Catana, where they say that that portion which has been covered with ashes thrown up by the fires of Ætna is most excellent for the vine. The land about Vesuvius contains fat, and a soil which has been subjected to fire, and is very strong and productive of fruit: when this fat superabounds, it is apt, like all sulphurous substances, to take fire, but being dried up by evaporation, extinguished, and pulverized, it becomes a productive earth. Adjoining Pompeia is Surrentum,10 [a city] of the Campanians, from whence the Athenæum,11 called by some the promontory of the Sirenuæ, projects [into the sea]; upon its summit is the temple of Minerva, founded by Ulysses. From hence to the island of Capreas the passage is short; after doubling the promontory you encounter various desert and rocky little islands, which are called the Sirenusæ.12 On the side towards Surrentum there is shown a temple with the ancient offerings of those who held this place in veneration. Here is the end of the bay named Crater,13 which is bounded by the two promontories of Misenum14 and the Athenæum, both looking towards the south. The whole is adorned by the cities we have described, by villas, and plantations, so close together that to the eye they appear but one city.
2 Hercolano, or Herculaneum, by Cicero (to Atticus, vii. 3) called Herculanum. It is probable that the subversion of this town was not sudden, but progressive, since Seneca mentions a partial demolition which it sustained from an earthquake. (Nat. Quœst. vi. 1.) So many books have been written on the antiquities and works of art discovered in Herculaneum, that the subject need not be enlarged upon here.
3 Several inscriptions in Oscan, and Etruscan, characters have been discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum. Lanzi, (tom. iii.,)—Romanelli Viaggio a Pompei ed Ercolano.
5 The ancient Sarnus.
6 These Pelasgi were established among the Tyrrhenians.
7 It is believed that the Samnites possessed both places, 310, B. C.
8 The Romans must have been masters of these cities 272, B. C. (Livy, Epit. xiv.)
9 Nola resisted, under the able direction of Marcellus, all the efforts of Hannibal after the battle of Cannæ. A remarkable inscription in Oscan characters relative to this town is explained by Lanzi, (tom. iii. 612,) its name is there written NUFLA. See Cramer's Ancient Italy, vol. ii. p. 211.
10 Nocera de' Pagani.
12 Punta della Campanella.
13 The Sirenusæ were three small rocks detached from the land, and
celebrated as the islands of the Sirens; they are now called Galli. See
Holsten. Adnot. p. 248; Romanelli, torn. iii. p. 619. Virgil, Æn. v. 864,
describes them as,
Jamque adeo scopulos advecta subibat;
Difficiles quondam, multorumque ossibus albos.
14 The bay of Naples.
15 Punta di Miseno.
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