Herculaneum, After the Hero Hercules

Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius and Oplonti

— Herculaneum

Herculaneum, named after the hero Hercules, was a small town in Campania on the west coast of central Italy, located some 8km south-east of present-day Naples.
Boasting only a small harbour, its main advantages were its excellent climate and its seaside position. It grew into a holiday resort and luxurious retreat for the wealthy landowners who built and bought estates there. The largest villa, the so-called Villa of the Papyri, is widely believed to have been owned by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law, L. Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus. The origins of Herculaneum are unclear: the name and the regularity of the urban planning suggest that it may have been connected with the Greek settlement at Naples, but the recorded languages used in the town are Oscan and then Latin, both native Italic languages. As elsewhere in southern Italy, an originally Greek foundation may have become ‘Italicised’ through conquest or assimilation. In the fourth century BC Herculaneum was a member of the Samnite league but was later allied to Rome, although it sided with the Italian allies in the Social War of 91-87 BC.

— Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius Latin: Mons Vesuvius [mõːs wɛˈsʊwɪ.ʊs]; also Vesevus or Vesaevus in some Roman sources)[] is a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples in Campania, Italy, about 9 km (5.6 mi) east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is one of several volcanoes which form the Campanian volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure.
Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as several other settlements. The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 6×105 cubic metres (7.8×10 cu yd) per second ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings More than 1,000 people died in the eruption, but exact numbers are unknown. The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus
Vesuvius has erupted many times since and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards violent, explosive eruptions of the Plinian type, making it the most densely populated volcanic region in the world

— Oplontis

Oplontis was an ancient Roman site near Pompeii in Italy. It is best known today for the sumptuous Roman Villa Poppaea which is open to visitors. As with other Roman sites in the area, such as Herculaneum and other villas, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried it under a deep layer of ash on August 24, AD 79.
The name “Oplontis” most likely referred originally to the baths in the area of Campo Oncino, but today the name commonly covers the group of villas in the middle of the modern town of Torre Annunziata (Torre Nunziata in the local Neapolitan dialect).
The villa was excavated in the mid-20th century up to 1984 and is associated with Poppaea, the second wife of Emperor Nero
A second villa, the Villa of L. Crassius Tertius, was discovered in 1974, 300 metres east of the Villa Poppaea  during the construction of a school. A bronze seal bearing Crassius’ name was found at the site.
A large number of artifacts from Oplontis are preserved in the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

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