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main index © Jeff Matthews entry Feb. 2009
Old City/New City
tells us* that Roman general Quintus Publilius
Philo, during the second Samnite
war in 326 b.c., put his army between the
cities of Paleopolis [old city],Parthenope,
and the “new city”, Neapolis [Naples], in order to
keep the Palaepolitans from linking up with the
Neapolitans and aiding the Samnites
in the war with Rome.
The above graphic is in
the delightful mini-museum
of the metro stop below the large National Archaeological Museum.
Parthenope is on the hill on the right. That area
today corresponds to Mt.
Echia, also known as Pizzofalcone; it
overlooks the small island (or, possibly, peninsula,
depending on the date) of Megaride,
which is where the Castel
dell'Ovo now sits. New City is about a mile
away to the east at sea-level, although the graphic
does not make particularly evident that there was
(and still is) is a prominent height at the
north-west corner (lower left in the graphic) where
the Greek Neapolitans located their own acropolis.
Assuming the graphic to be a reasonably accurate
reconstruction, the main harbor at Neapolis is now
filled in and is roughly where today's Piazza Municipio is
located. The space between the two towns looks big
enough to accommodate the encampment of Roman
soldiers that Livy speaks of; thus, give or take
some decades, this might be the area in the year 300
When you try to
reconstruct the history of Greeks in the gulf of
Naples, you rely heavily on historians such as Livy
(mentioned above) and Strabo and his 17-volume
encyclopedia entitled Geographica, a compendium of the
peoples and places known in his age (he wrote at the
time of Augustus Caesar; Book V, chapter 4 of the Geographica is
about the peoples and places of the Campanian coast.
Livy wrote at about the same time). Putting those
histories together with others, you get a foundation
of Parthenope at about 750 b.c. by settlers from
nearby Cuma and of nearby
Neapolis (also by Cumans) at around 450 b.c. The
difference between the two became moot when the
Romans took over the area in the third century b.c.
by which time the two towns had grown together.
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