Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

 © Jeff Matthews   entry Feb. 2009
Old City/New City

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Livy 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 b.c.

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.

*Titus Livius, Ab Urbe condita [History of Rome from its Foundations, VIII.23]

See also: Greek Naples: Two Tales of One City

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