An Ancient History of Naples by Steve Jones
Naples of modern day shows all of the signs of it's long history. Listening to the language and looking at the remnants of lost civilisations, the buildings and architecture, remind you of the long traditional history of this city.
Naples was originally a Greek colony founded by sailors coming from Rhodos. It was a merchant colony which they called Parthenope and was situated on the island of Megaride.
The name of Naples actually has it's roots in the 5th century BC when new Greek colonists displaced the original settlers and founded "Neapolis", Greek for "New City". From then on, Naples was born. The old city of Parthenope gradually became part of the new city and Neapolis itself became a thriving place with a range of powerful wall defences which manage to withstand Hannibal.
Rome conquered Neapolis in the 4th century BC but the city retained much of it's Greek culture which is still very evident today. Great buildings were built including the Odeon, a theatre and the temple of Castor and Pollux. It became a place for affluent Romans to visit to increase their understanding of the Greek culture and given the tremendous climate it also served as an ancient holiday resort. Rome improved the city immeasurably with road systems, baths, aqueducts and enlarging the port. The number of visitors to Naples grew and trade with overseas countries expanded too. It became a place well known for it's feasts and public spectacles.
There are miles of underground catacombs beneath Naples and these have a part in the Christian history of the city. In the latter years of the Roman Empire many people came to preach Christianity, including, it is said, St Paul and St Peter. The early Christian basilicas were built next to the catacomb entrances. The patron saint of Naples is San Gennaro, decapitated in 305 AD, and the Cathedral of Naples is dedicated to his life and works.
Later years saw Naples suffer in the Gothic Wars between Ostrogoths and Byzantines, and it fell in 542 AD to the troops of Totila. Shortly afterwards it became Greek again. Although now established as part of Italy, Naples will always be faithful to it's Greek traditions and history.
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Latest update: April 16, 2013