1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Puteoli
PUTEOLI (mod. Pozzuoli, q.v.), an ancient town of Campania, Italy, on the northern shore of the Bay of Puteoli, a portion of the Bay of Naples, from which it is 6 rn. W. The statement made by Stephanus of Byzantium and Jerome, that the city was founded under the name of Dicaearchia by a colony of Samians about 520 B.C., is probably correct, for, though in the territory of Cumae, it does not appear to have been occupied previous to 520, Misenum having been the original port of Cumae. On the other hand, Cumae probably extended her supremacy over it not long after. Its history in the Samnite period is unknown; but the coins of Fistelia (or Fistlus in Oscan) probably belong to Puteoli, as Mommsen thought. Nor do we know anything of its history between 334 (when it probably became a civitas sine suffragio under Roman domination, shortly afterwards receiving, in 318, a praefectus iure dicundo) and 215, when the Romans introduced a garrison of 6000 men to protect the town from Hannibal, who besieged it in vain for three days in 214. In 194 a Roman colony of 300 men was established. The lex parieti faciundo, an interesting inscription of 105 B.C. relating to some building works in front of the temple of Serapis, shows that Puteoli had considerable administrative independence, including the right to date such a public document by the names of its own magistrates. Sulla retired to Puteoli after his resignation of the dictatorship in 79, and ten days before his death reconciled the disputes of the citizens by giving them a constitution. Cicero had a house in Puteoli itself, and a villa on the edge of the Lucrine lake (which, though nearer to Puteoli, was in the territory of Cumae), and many prominent men of the republic possessed country houses in the neighbourhood of Puteoli (see Baiae; Avernus Lacus; Lucrinus Lacus; Misenum). In the Civil War it sided with Pompey, and later on with Brutus and Cassius. Nero admitted the old inhabitants to the privileges of the colony, thus uniting in one the two previously distinct communities. In 61 St Paul landed here, and spent seven days before leaving for Rome (Acts xxviii. 13). Vespasian, as a reward for its having taken his part, gave the town part of the territory of Capua, and installed more colonists there—whence it took the title Colonia Flavia, which it retained till the end of the empire.
The remains of Hadrian, who died at the neighbouring town of Baiae, were buried at Puteoli, and Antoninus Pius, besides erecting a temple to his memory on the site of Cicero's villa, instituted sacred games to be held in the city every five years. Commodus held the title of duumvir quinquennalis. It was mainly, however, as a great commercial port that Puteoli was famous in ancient times. It joined with Naples to erect one of the finest porticoes of Constantinople at the time of its construction. A letter of Symmachus gives us interesting details as to public corn distributions of the 4th century, throwing some light on the population. Like Ostia, Puteoli was considered a special port of Rome, and, on account of the safety and convenience of its harbour, it was preferred to Ostia for the landing of the more costly and delicate wares. As at Ostia, the various gilds were of considerable importance, but we find no centonarii or fabri, perhaps owing to its relations with the East, where these popular gilds were prohibited. Puteoli was preferred to Naples, (a) as being in Roman territory, (b) because the customs duty was only leviable once, not twice as it would have been at Naples—once by the local authorities, and once by the Roman authorities on entrance into Roman territory. It exported iron from Elba, mosaics, pottery, manufactured locally with earth from Ischia (which was in considerable demand until 1883), sulphur (which indeed was extracted in the neighbourhood until the 18th century), probably alum (which is still worked), perfumes, pozzolana earth (taking its name from the place), cretaceous earth for mixing with grain (alica) from the Leucogaean hills, glass cups engraved with views of Puteoli, mineral dyes (the blue invented by one Vestorius is mentioned by Vitruvius and the purple of Puteoli by Pliny, as being of special excellence), &c., but not agricultural products, except certain brands of Campanian wine; but its imports were considerably greater. During the Punic Wars it was still a naval port, but in the latter part of the 2nd century B.C. it became the greatest commercial harbour of Italy and we find Lucilius about 125 B.C. placing it next in importance to Delos, then the greatest harbour of the ancient world. We note a little later the existence of merchants of Puteoli in the East. Under the empire we find Eastern cults taking root here sooner than in Rome. The construction of the harbour of Claudius at the mouth of the Tiber adversely affected Puteoli. Nero's scheme for the construction of a canal from Lake Avernus to Ostia would have restored the balance in its favour (though it certainly could not have been continuous all the way to Rome with the means of engineering then available).
The corn supply of Rome came partly through Puteoli, partly through Ostia. Seneca (Epist. 77) describes the joy of the inhabitants in the spring when the fleet of corn vessels from Alexandria was seen approaching, and Statius tells us that the crew of the ship which arrived first made libations to Minerva when passing the promontory which bore her name (the Punta Campanella at Sorrento). It is uncertain what official had the charge of the corn supply at Puteoli under the Republic, but in the time of Antoninus Pius we find an Aug(usti) dis(pensator) a frumento Puteolis et Ostis dependent no doubt on a procurator annonae of the two ports.
Claudius established here, as at Ostia, a cohort of vigiles as a fire-brigade. Brundusium was similarly protected. There was also a station of the imperial post, sailors of the imperial fleet at Misenum being apparently employed as couriers. The artificial mole was probably of earlier date than the reign of Augustus (possibly 2nd century B.C.); and by that time at any rate there were docks large enough to contain the vessels employed in bringing the obelisks from Egypt. Remains of the piles of the mole still exist, and are popularly known as Caligula's Bridge, from the mistaken idea that they belong to the temporary structure which that emperor flung across the bay from the mole at Puteoli to the shore at Baiae. Inscriptions record repairs to the breakwater by Antoninus Pius in 139 in fulfilment of a promise made by Hadrian before his death. Alaric (410), Genseric (455) and Totila (545) successively laid Puteoli in ruins. The restoration effected by the Byzantines was partial and short-lived.
The original town of Puteoli was situated on the narrow hill of the Castello. Scanty traces of fortifications of the Roman period seem to have come to light in recent tunnelling operations. The streets of the old town probably, as at Naples, preserve the ancient alignment. There are also traces of the division of the lands in the immediate vicinity of the town into squares by parallel paths (decumani and cardines) at regular intervals of 1111 Roman feet, postulating as the basis of the division a square with a side of 10,000 Roman feet, divided into 81 smaller squares—an arrangement which could not have existed at Puteoli, and must have arisen elsewhere. It is remarkable as being contrary to Roman surveyors' practice, according to which the basis of division is the intersection at right angles of the cardo and decumanus, which would give an even (not an odd) number of smaller squares. The size of the ancient town at its largest can be roughly fixed by its tombs. Inscriptions show that it was divided into regiones. The market hall (macellum) (compare the similar buildings at Pompeii and elsewhere), generally known as the temple of Serapis, from a statue of that deity found there, was excavated in 1750. It consisted of a rectangular court surrounded by chambers on the outside and with a colonnade of thirty-six columns of cipollino (Carystian) marble and grey granite. The three columns still standing, some 39 ft. high, belong to a façade of four still higher columns erected in front of the absidal cella or sanctuary, with three niches for statues—no doubt of the protecting deities. The borings of marine shellfish visible in these columns between 11 and 19 ft. from the ground, and the various levels of pavement in the macellum help to indicate, according to Günther's researches (Archaeologia, lvii. 499; Earth Movements in the Bay of Naples, 1903), that the level of the shore fell very slightly during the Roman period, when it was some 20 ft. higher than at present; that it fell more rapidly during the middle ages, was then raised again early in the 16th century (before the upheaval of the Monte Nuovo in 1538) and has since been sinking gradually. In the centre was a round colonnade with sixteen columns of Numidian marble (giallo antlco) now in the theatre of the palace at Caserta. Dubois (op. cit., 286 sqq.) reproduces important drawings and a description made by the architect Caristie in 1820. The well-preserved amphitheatre, the subterranean parts of which below the arena are intact, with a main passage down the centre, a curved passage all round with holes for trap doors in its roof, and numerous small chambers, also with trap doors in their vaulted roofs for admitting the wild beasts, whose cages were on the other side of the curved passage, to the arena, are especially interesting. There were also arrangements for flooding the arena, but these can only have been in use before the construction of the greater part of the subterranean portion with its cages, &c. The whole amphitheatre measures 489 by 381 ft., and the arena 245 by 138 ft. Of the upper portion the interior is well preserved, but very little of the external arcades remains. It was not constructed before the reign of Vespasian, for inscriptions record that it was built by the Colonia Flavia. There was, however, an amphitheatre in the reign of Nero, who himself fought in games given there, and the glass cup of Odemira shows two. A ruin still exists which may be doubtfully attributed to the latter (Dubois, p. 192). Remains of thermae also exist in various places, the mineral springs having been much used in Roman times. The cathedral of S. Proculus (containing the tomb of the musician Pergolesi, d. 1736) is built into a temple of Augustus, erected by L. Calpurnius, 6 columns of which, with their Corinthian capitals, still exist. Other ruins—of a circus, of tombs, &c., exist, and there are also considerable remains of villas in the neighbourhood.
Puteoli was supplied with water by two aqueducts, both subterranean, one of which, bringing water from springs in the immediate neighbourhood, is still in use while the other is a branch from the Serino aqueduct, which wa s prbbably taken to Misenum by Agrippa. Several remains of reservoirs exist; one very large one is now called Piscina di Cardito.
Among the inscriptions one of the most interesting is the letter of the Tyrian merchants resident at Puteoli to the senate of Tyre, written in 174, asking the latter to undertake the payment of the rent of their factory, and the reply of the senate promising to do so. (This is the interpretation adopted by Dubois, pp. 86, 92, following Dittenberger.) We find other Eastern merchants resident here—merchants from Heliopolis, Berytus (Beirut), Nabataea, Palestine, and from Asia Minor, Greece, &c. We find far less trace of commercial relations with the West, though there was considerable importation of commodities from southern Spain—wine, oil, metals, salt fish, &c., while a good deal of pottery was exported to Spain and southern Gaul. We find, indeed, two cases of men who held municipal honours at Puteoli and in the Rhone valley. Puteoli was reached direct by a road from Capua traversing the hills to the north by a cutting (the Montagna Spaccata), which went on to Neapolis, and by the Via Domitiana from Rome and Cumae. There was also a short cut from Puteoli to Neapolis by the tunnel of Pausilipon, made under Augustus. It is not possible to trace the episcopal see of Puteoli with any certainty further back than the beginning of the 4th century. In 305, S. Januarius (S. Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples), bishop of Beneventum, S. Proculus, patron of Puteoli, and others, suffered martyrdom at Puteoli.
See the careful study by C. Dubois, Pouzzoles antique (Paris, 1907) (Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome, fasc. 98).
- A mass of pottery débris found in 1875 gave important information as to the local manufacture. Some fragments came from Arretium, others, not quite so good, were of local work, but of the same style.