chapter  2
13 Pages

The Social War and Its Aftermath

The first group of sources traces the opposition of Pompeii and Herculaneum to Rome in the Social War (B1-8). A few years later (c.81/80 BC), in punishment for Pompeii’s resistance, Sulla imposed a colony of his veteran soldiers upon the town (perhaps between 2,000 and 4,000 of them), led by his nephew Publius Cornelius Sulla. At this point, the town was renamed as colonia Cornelia Veneria Pompeianorum (see E1), a name recording its links to the goddess Venus and to the family name (Cornelius) of its new founder, Sulla, who also claimed Venus as his protectress. At this point, Pompeii adopted the constitution of a Roman colony, and Latin supplanted Oscan in all public inscriptions. Latin inscriptions from this period illustrate the impact of the colonists upon the buildings of the town (B9-15). The names of Sullan veterans dominate the inscriptions of the first couple of generations following colonization, down to the Augustan period, and it is possible that the local Pompeians were formally excluded from fully participating in local politics for a couple of decades (B19-20). Although Rome’s grip upon the Italian peninsula in the mid-first century BC, following the Social War, perhaps seems secure to us, some Pompeians may have been prepared to exploit times of insecurity at Rome, notably in the wake of Spartacus’ slave-revolt and of the Catilinarian conspiracy (B17-20).