chapter  27
14 Pages


ByJens-Arne Dickmann

According to Dionysius of Halikarnassos (Antiq. Rom. 1.44), Herculaneum is namedafter its founder, Hercules, and Strabo writes (5.4.8) that it was occupied first by Oscans, then by Tyrrhenians, Pelasgians and finally by Samnites. That is all the information we have about the prehistory of the settlement from the ancient literary sources. It is not until the first century BC that Herculaneum appears again in the sources, when its citizens rebelled against Rome side by side with other cities. Herculaneum, like Pompeii, was besieged and taken; unlike Pompeii, however, Herculaneum was given only the rights of a municipium and was not elevated to the rank of a Roman colony. During the course of the later first century BC and the early empire, the city attracted wealthy businessmen of Campania and the highest officials in Rome, who used it as a summer retreat or settled there permanently.