architecture

TRACES OF MIDDLE AGES ALONG VIA DEI TRIBUNALI IN THE OLD TOWN OF NAPLES

by

PAOLO GRAVINA

paologravina7@gmail.com

If you want to read a quite literal translation in italian, please click here: http://paologravina7.com/2014/12/01/tracce-di-medioevo-lungo-via-tribunali-nel-cuore-antico-di-napoli/.

Se vuoi leggere una traduzione quasi letterale in italiano, clicca qui: http://paologravina7.com/2014/12/01/tracce-di-medioevo-lungo-via-tribunali-nel-cuore-antico-di-napoli/.

Naples is like a book to skim through, where the history could be read page by page. Naples is a layering of facts and events, where the appearances could be deceiving. Churches and palaces were constantly restructured over centuries, due to changes in style related to taste and cultural instances of the ages that have passed through. Not by chance, many neapolitan churches, founded in the Middle Ages or Early Christian period, have completely lost their original appearance in order to be adapted to the canons of the Council of Trent during 16th century, assuming therefore a Baroque shape. These changes are evident along the path of Via dei Tribunali. At the beginning of the road, between Vico San Domenico and Piazza San Gaetano, four important monuments follow each other along both sides of the road. First of all we meet the Church of San Pietro a Majella, founded along with its monastery – which houses a famous conservatory – at the beginning of 14th century by Giovanni Pipino from Barletta, an important member of the court of King of Naples Charles 2nd d’Anjou. The church consists of a plan with three aisles, with a caisson ceiling on central nave, and cross vaultings on the side ones (photo 1), according to a scheme previously adopted in other prestigious buildings in Naples, such as the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore. The aisles are divided by pillars with a rectangular section, and semi-columns on three sides which support the ribs of the vaults on the side naves.

Photo 1: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, plan (from C. BRUZELIUS, The stones of Naples: church building in Angevine Italy, 1266 – 1343, New Haven and London, 2004).

Photo 1: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, plan (from C. BRUZELIUS, The stones of Naples: church building in Angevine Italy, 1266 – 1343, New Haven and London, 2004).

Photo 2: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, the interior.

Photo 2: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, the interior.

The existence of a straight apse, rather than “Cistercian suggestions”, seems to be related to the narrowness of the space behind, due to the presence of Vico Storto San Pietro a Majella, a winding road that separates the church from the convent of San Domenico Maggiore. This alley coincides with the ancient path that, passing through the oldest defensive walls in correspondence with Porta Donnorso (a no more existing gate, mentioned in Medieval documents as “Porta de domino Ursitate”), joined the city to the port and the Angevin Castle, seat of the Royal court. The oldest evidences state that the church had smaller dimensions than the current ones. Its façade was in alignment with the bell tower, whose base contains one of the two portals, the only one preserving its original Gothic shape (photo 3).

Photo 3: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, eastern side with the bell tower.

Photo 3: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, eastern side with the bell tower.

The church probably had a square plan. Between 14th and 15th centuries the church underwent several renovations. Two chapels were added at the opposite ends of the transept (the Leonessa Chapel along the northern transept, and the Pipino Chapel along the southern transept). The aisles were prolonged moving forward the façade. In order to advance these renovations, the Duke of Calabria, Alfonso of Aragon, released the huge amount of 2000 ducats to persuade the Celestine friars of Santa Caterina a Formiello (a church near Capuana Gate, along the eastern side of the 15th century defensive walls, near Piazza Garibaldi) to move to San Pietro a Majella monastery, in order to enlarge his dwelling in the surroundings.

The church was restored in Baroque style around the middle of 17th century, when some chapels were transformed. At the same time were executed the façade’s portal (photo 4), commissioned by Giovanna Zunica, Princess of Conca; the main altar, realized by Pietro and Bartolomeo Ghetti on a design by Cosimo Fanzago (photo 5); and the caisson ceiling, a precious carving of gilded wood, realized by Neapolitan craftsmen on a project by the Carthusian architect Bonaventura Presti (photo 6).

Photo 4: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, façade.

Photo 4: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, façade.

Photo 5: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, the main altar realized by Pietro and Bartolomeo Ghetti on a design by Cosimo Fanzago.

Photo 5: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, the main altar realized by Pietro and Bartolomeo Ghetti on a design by Cosimo Fanzago (from Napoli Sacra. Guida alle chiese della città, Vol. 7).

Photo 6: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, caisson ceiling (from Napoli Sacra. Guida alle chiese della città, Vol. 7).

Photo 6: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, caisson ceiling (from Napoli Sacra. Guida alle chiese della città, Vol. 7).

The caisson ceiling is one of the brighter works of Baroque art in Naples. In fact holds paintings by Mattia Preti, depicting Scenes from the life of Pietro from Morrone (the Pope Celestine 5th), into the ceiling above the aisles (photo 7); and Scenes from the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria into the ceiling above the transept. These paintings date back to the period from 1657 to 1659.

Photo 7: Mattia Preti, “Celestine 5th takes into possession of the papal seat, preceded by Charles 2nd D'Anjou with the cross”, Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, painting in the caisson ceiling above the central aisle (from Napoli Sacra. Guida alle chiese della città, Vol. 7).

Photo 7: Mattia Preti, “Celestine 5th takes into possession of the papal seat, preceded by Charles 2nd D’Anjou with the cross”, Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, painting in the caisson ceiling above the central aisle (from Napoli Sacra. Guida alle chiese della città, Vol. 7).

The frescoes of the chapels Pipino and Leonessa, located at the opposite ends of the transept, could be counted among the best expressions of Neapolitan painting of the 14th century. The Leonessa chapel, the one at the northern end, still preserves a large of part of its frescoes dating back to the middle of 14th century, at the time of the first restructure of the building. These frescoes could be divided in two superimposed bands: the lower band, with a sequence of circles containing busts of Saints (photo 8); and the higher band with Scenes from the life of St. Martin.

Photo 8:  Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, Leonessa chapel, circle with the bust of the Magdalene.

Photo 8: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, Leonessa chapel, circle with the bust of the Magdalene.

Indeed, the star – sprangled sky decorating the cross vault holds circles with images of Saints and Doctors of Church.

The Pipino chapel – founded around the middle of 14th century by Giovanni Pipino, earl of Altamura and Minervino Murge, which died in 1356 (he should not be confused with the eponymous founder of the church) – opens on southern branch of the transept. This chapel holds a series of frescoes representing Scenes from the life of Christ of great stylistic quality. 

In this branch of the transept, between the first and second chapel, appears the image of the “Our Lady of Humility”, dating back to the middle of 14th century (photo 9).

Photo 9: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, Our Lady of the Humility.

Photo 9: Naples, church of San Pietro a Majella, Our Lady of the Humility.

From an architectural point of view, very interesting is the bell tower with five levels surmounted by a pyramidal spire (photo 3). It seems to reproduce, in its essential elements, the bell tower of the Cathedral in Lucera, a small town into the northern Apulia, near Foggia (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_cattedrale_di_Santa_Maria_Assunta_%28Lucera%29). At this purpose, could be very interesting to notice that the same founder of the church, Giovanni Pipino from Barletta, was appointed by Charles 2nd d’Anjou to exterminate the Saracen colony that the emperor Frederick 2nd of Swabia installed just in Lucera, whose cathedral still represents one of the best preserved patterns of gothic architecture in Southern Italy. This cathedral was probably founded by the same King of Naples Charles 2nd d’Anjou.

Walking towards Piazza San Gaetano, on left side we’ll find one of the most important evidences of Renaissance architecture in Naples: the Pontano chapel (photo 10). The importance of this chapel is due to its artistic, architectural and literary elements. The building – founded in 1490 from the humanist Giovanni Pontano to hold the mortal remains of his wife Adriana Sassone, who died during that year – has a rectangular plan, aisleless and covered with a barrel vault. The chapel preserves, in its inner space, a rare maiolica tiled floor dating back to the end of 15th century, and a “Madonna and Child” frescoed by the local painter Franesco Cicino above the altar that was due to conserve the precious relic of Livy’s arm, according to the wishes of its founder Giovanni Pontano.

Photo 10: Naples, Pontano chapel, façade.

Photo 10: Naples, Pontano chapel, façade.

The boundary walls are decorated with frames and pilaster strips dividing the surface in a sequence of rectangular panels holding windows. Besides, every window is flanked by memorial tablets in greek and latin, dictated by the same Giovanni Pontano. The chapel, resting on an high base (or stylobate), has also a crypt. The 18th century writer Bernardo de Dominici, in his Vite de’ pittori, scultori e architetti napoletani (Lives of neapolitan painters, sculptors and architects) has attributed the plan to Andrea Ciccione (a fanciful character more than a real person). The scholar Roberto Pane indeed ascribed the chapel’s plan to Fra’ Giocondo da Verona. Afterwards the same scholar attributed the plan to the Tuscan architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

On the same widening in front of the chapel, raises the monumental façade of Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta, rebuilt during 17th century on the same site of an Early Christian basilica founded in 6th century BC by Pomponius, bishop of Naples, of which remains no visible traces. The name is due to the presence of a stone with a carved cross, on which was placed an image of the Virgin. But the most interesting monument looking upon the widening is the bell tower dating back to 10th or 11th century, rare evidence of Romanesque architecture in Naples (photo 11).

Photo 11: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower.

Photo 11: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower

We could consider this building as a kind of “patchwork”, built with various elements dating back to the period from the Roman to the High Middle Ages: two columns (photos 12 and 13); an altar (photo 14); an architectural frieze (photo 15), and the fragment of a channelled column with trabeation (photo 16). Into the inner walls of the barrel arch at the base of the bell tower were placed some lava stones used to pave streets in Roman Ages (photo 17).

Photo 12:   Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, Roman column on the eastern side.

Photo 12: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, Roman column on the eastern side.

Photo 13:  Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, Roman column on the western side.

Photo 13: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, Roman column on the western side.

Photo 14:  Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, Roman altar.

Photo 14: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, Roman altar.

Photo 15:  Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, architetural frieze from a Roman building.

Photo 15: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, architetural frieze from a Roman building.

Photo 16: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, fragment of a channelled column with trabeation.

Photo 16: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, fragment of a channelled column with trabeation.

Photo 17:  Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, lava stones into the inner walls of the barrel arch.

Photo 17: Naples, church of Santa Maria della Pietrasanta, bell tower, lava stones into the inner walls of the barrel arch.

After few steps, crossing the intersection with via Nilo and via Atri, we can notice a trachyte – tuff arcade with lancet and barrel arches, the only trace of the “Palace of Philip D’Anjou” (photo 18) built by Philip D’Anjou – a member of the royal family of Naples, prince of Taranto and Emperor of the Eastern Latin Empire – at the time of his marriage with Catherine of Valois, daughter of the Latin Emperor Baldwin 2nd. Another trace is the marble portal with the coat of arms of the royal family at the top (photo 19). For those who want to deepen this subject, at the end of this article there’s a short bibliography.

Photo 18: Naples, Palace of Philip D'Anjou, arcade.

Photo 18: Naples, Palace of Philip D’Anjou, arcade.

Photo 19:   Naples, Palace of Philip D'Anjou, marble portal.

Photo 19: Naples, Palace of Philip D’Anjou, marble portal.

SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY

V. REGINA, Napoli antica. Una splendida passeggiata tra i monumenti, le chiese, i palazzi, le strade, i luoghi perduti e le leggende popolari del centro antico di una città ricca di storia e di cultura, Roma 1994, pp. 124 – 134.

Napoli sacra. Guida alle chiese della città, Vol. 7, Napoli (2010).

P. L. DE CASTRIS, Arte di corte nella Napoli angioina, Firenze, Cantini 1986, pp. 408 – 447.

C. BRUZELIUS, The stones of Naples. Church Building in Angevin Italy, 1266 – 1343, New Haven and London, Yale University Press 2004.

THEATRES AND AMPHITEATRES INTO THE ROMAN CAMPANIA . THE “FLAVIUS AMPHITHEATRE” IN POZZUOLI: 1st PART.

This article about the “Flavius Amphiteatre” opens a series entitled “Theatres and Amphtheatres into the Roman Campania”. All pictures were made upon permission by the Superintendence to the Archaeological Heritage n. 10793 of 10th July 2014, with the exception of the first two.

Picture 1. Greek theatre of Epidaurus.

Picture 1. Greek theatre of Epidaurus.

In this series I’ll not follow a strictly chronological order. I’ll begin to treat this subject from the most famous monuments, such as the amphitheatres of Pozzuoli and Santa Maria Capua Vetere, to the less known – but not less fascinating – buildings, such as the theatre of Cales (Calvi Risorta near Caserta) and the one of Villa Pausylipon in Naples. What distinguishes an amphitheatre from a theatre? As a first step I have to clear up this point: the Roman amphitheatre is an evolution of the Greek theatre, whose quite semicircular plan didn’t change from the Greek era to the 1st century AD, as attested by the Great Theatre and the Small Theatre (or Odèion) in Pompeii, built in 2nd century b. C., and subsequently modified. At this purpose, we could compare the plan of the Greek theatre in Epidaurus (picture 1), with the one of the “Flavius Amphitheatre” in Pozzuoli (picture 2).

The invention of the amphitheatre led to an evolution of the Greek theatre in a monumental sense. The same word “amphitheatre” comes from the Greek term amphìtheatron, composed by amphì (around, on every side) and theatron (theatre). As a matter of fact, the amphitheatre originated from the contraposition of two theatres, giving to the strucuture an elliptical shape. Unlike the theatre, the amphitheatre took advantage of the natural slope of the grounds to support the cavea, which usually rested on solid bulkheads. The amphitheatres were quite always located in level places. The tiers of seats were divided vertically in four sections called “wedges” (in latin cunei), and orizontally in three sectors (praecinctiones). Each of those sectors was bound to a single class. These areas were called ima, media and summa cavea (lower, middle and higher tiers of seats). Senators could reach the lower tiers of seats (ima cavea), which sometimes could include an Authority box. The members of the equestrian class (from eques, pl. equites, a social rank whose power derived from his own wealth) could reach the media cavea (middle tiers of seats). People could reach the higher tiers of seats (summa cavea), farthest from bullring. These three sectors sometimes were overhung by a porch with columns, delimited outwards by a wall. The Flavius Amphiteatre could lodge 40.000 spectators about, and its cavea included 39 steps: 8 in the ima cavea; 16 in the media cavea; and 15 in the summa cavea. The Romans extended this division also to theatres. In fact, into the Odeon – or Small Theatre – in Pompeii, the distinction between ima and media cavea is marked by two marble balustrades decorated with winged gryphons. There’s another difference between a theatre and an amphitheatre: while in theatres the entrances were usually two, placed beside the scene, in amphitheatres the number of entrances increases. The Flavius Amphitheatre in Pozzuoli had sixteen entrances: the four main accesses, in connection with the four cardinal points, placed at the end of the middle axes of the ellipse, were preceded by a monumental porch with pillars (propylon), divided in three naves which, through many arches, allowed to enter the arena (pics 3, 4 and 5). The porch preceding the southern entrance seems to be very imposing (pic 3). At the end of this porch two stairs, placed beside the arches, led to the Authorities Gallery (pic 4).

Foto 3: Pozzuoli, Anfiteatro Flavio, portico monumentale (propylon) sul lato meridionale.

Picture 3: Pozzuoli, Flavius Amphitheatre, monumental porch (propylon) along the southern side.

 

Foto 4: Pozzuoli, Anfiteatro Flavio, cavea meridionale con palco per l'autorità

Picture 4: Pozzuoli, Flavius Amphitheatre, tiers of seats on the southern side, with the authority box.

 

Foto 5: Pozzuoli, Anfiteatro Flavio, portico monumentale (propylon) dell'ingresso orientale.

Picture 5: Flavius Amphitheatre, monumental porch on the eastern side

Two corridors – or ambulatories – run under tiers of seats, connecting each other the four entrances (pics 6 and 7). Other twenty stairs (vomitoria) led from the ambultories to the middle tiers of seats and the overhanging porch (pic 8).

 

Foto 6: Pozzuoli, Anfiteatro Flavio, ambulacro anulare sottostante la cavea meridionale.

Picture 6: Pozzuoli, Flavius Amphitheatre, ambulatory ring below the southern cavea .

 

Foto 7: Pozzuoli, Anfiteatro Flavio, ambulacro anulare sottostante la cavea settentrionale.

Picture 7: Pozzuoli, Flavius Amphitheatre, ambulatory ring below the northern cavea.

 

Foto 8: Pozzuoli, Anfiteatro Flavio, fiancata meridionale, scalinata di accesso (vomitorium) alla precinzione alta (summa cavea).

Picture 8: Pozzuoli, Flavius Amphitheatre, the southern side, stairway (vomitorium) to the high tiers of seats (summa cavea).

At this point we might ask the following questions: what kind of events could take place into an amphitheatre? And, most of all, what were their meaning and origin? From the passages of Gaius Valerius Martial that I’ll quote subsequently, we can get a first important datum: into the amphitheatres, ill-adapted to accommodate comedies or musical performances, could take place only scenic representations, sometimes inspired by classic mythology, that I’ll indicate with their latin names: the munera gladiatoria (gladiators fightings), the venationes (hunts), and the naumachiae (namely “naval battle”).

Referring to the last category, Martial wrote (De Spectaculis, 24):  “Whosoever you are, belated spectator coming from distant lands, which care for the first time in these sacred events, don’t be deceived by the naval battle with its fleets and the resemblance of these waves with the ones of the seas. You don’t believe it? Wait until the water is no longer haunted by the battle: time will go quickly and you’ll say: But here a little while ago there was the sea“. We have to imagine, therefore, great pipelines transporting large quantities of water, and sewerages to drain them. These events could not take place in Pozzuoli’s Amphiteatre, because probably it was deprived of the useful infrastructures. This conjecture, that Charles Dubois advanced for the first time in 1907, based on the presence of an acqueduct and a sewerage that cross the basement along the minor axis of the ellipse, was resolutely confuted by Amedeo Maiuri, with this statement of motives: “But giving naval battles in a region rich in gulfs, ports and lakes, could be a non – sense: and so the arena had its stable and monumental preparation for fightings and hunts” (MAIURI A., I Campi Flegrei. Dal sepolcro di Virgilio all’antro di Cuma, 1981, p. 51). The acqueduct and the underlying sewerage could not support the water flow necessary to set up a naval battle. Therefore, they were probably used to wash the arena and its basement; and to feed waterworks and fountains placed in various points of the building. The amphitheatre was equipped either with an highly branched waterworks, built with lead pipes; or with a system to drain rain water, with terracotta tubes and rain – pipes on the outer façades of pillars along the perimetric ambulatory. 

The word naumachia, however, indicated not only the mock battle itself, but also the place in which it could occur. Read what Suetonius says about the Emperors Augustus and Titus in two passages of his Lives of the Caesars: “…. and a naval battle, for which he ordered to dig the ground near the Tiber, where now is the Wood of Caesars” (Lives of the Caesars, II, 43 – the Roman numeral indicates the book, the Arabic number indicates the passage). And then: “He gave even a naval battle in the old Naumachia (as Naumachia we have to intend the structure that Augustus ordered to build near the Tiber’s bank, quoted in the previous passage), and gladiators fightings, and hunts with five thousands beasts of every species in one day” (Lives of the Caesars, VIII, 43). The Naumachia that i quoted in the passage II, 43 was probably covered with wooden planks, so that the “gladiators fightings” and the “hunts with five thousands beasts” could take place. Regarding gladiatorial fightings (munera gladiatoria) and hunts (venationes), some scholars have identified their origins among the Oscans, a pre – Roman population, where these events could be part of funerary rites. The same Dupont ascribes these events to the category of “rituals of separation”: «In spite of their evolution, the munera preserved some steady trait that allow us to reconstruct their religious and cultural meaning, that couldn’t always be a gift to some late relative. The same gesture that accompanied it, likened it to a human sacrifice offered to the powers of the Underworld, because the blood gushing out was given to dead, butbut the ones still alive didn’t take their part. Drinking blood, dead became anthropophagous, changing themselves into creatures unrelated to the world of gods and men, connected instead by an animal and vegetable sacrifice. The munus could be, therefore, a “ritual of separation”: according to the latin wording, calming down death could mean relegate them into a different space, into an absolutely savage dimension” (F. DUPONT, Gli spettacoli, in A. GIARDINA (edit. by), Roma antica, Roma – Bari 2008, pp. 282 – 306).

The first munus of which we have some information, was probably organized in Rome in 364 BC, by Junius Brutus in memory of his dead father. Just over following centuries gladiatorial fighitings assumed an “official dress”, preserving at the same time their memorial meaning. In 164 BC Lucius Aemilius Paulus set up in Amphipolis a munus to commemorate his victory in the battle of Pidna. These events, therefore, didn’t always take place into amphitheatres, most of all during the Republican age: from 216 BC on they were set up prevailingly into forums, the beating heart of political – administrative life of the city. In order to indicate the different structures in which these events could take place, i could quote a passage by Suetonius, previously mentioned, but quoting it completely this time: “Accordingly to number, variety and magnificence of shows he was over his predecessors. He (Augustus) says that, on behalf of his own name, he organized public shows four times and twenty-three times in honour of magistrates that were absent or poor. Sometimes he set up some show in various neighborhoods, using actors speaking all languages; he set up shows not only in forum or amphitheatre, but also in circus or polling stations, and sometimes they were only huntings; he organized also wrestling contests with athletes into the Field of Mars, where wooden benches were placed, and a naval battle, for which he ordered to dig the ground near the Tiber, where now is the Wood of Caesars” (Lives of the Caesars, II, 43). 

The venationes (hunts) had their ritual worth as well. Simulating a hunt, they could consist either in fightings between a beast and a gladiator or between two beasts: with the emperor Tiberius (14 – 37 AD), these hunts became part of munera gladiatoria (gladiator fightings). Only literature could make relive fears, excitement and feelings of gladiators and spectators, protagonists and witnesses of a cruel show. Quoting again Martial: “A tiger born between the mountains of Ircania, which was a rare specimen, accustomed to lick the hand of his tamer who entrusted it to her safely, with rabid fangs cruelly mangled a wild lion: a never seen victory, of which there’s no record over centuries. She would never dare such a bravery, as long as she lived in thick woods; after her coming between us, increased her fierceness” (De Spectaculis, 18). And then: “The hand of the strong and still young Carpophorus sticks his Noriker spears with safe blows. He brought a pair of steers on his neck without effort; he defeated a furious buffalo and a bison; escaping from him, a lion threw himself on the spears. Come on people, try now to grouse about the lenghty delays” (De Spectaculis, 23).

Several reasons led to build the Flavius Amphitheatre in Pozzuoli. We could find whether practical, or political and social reasons. Regarding the first hypothesis, the amphitheatre was built next to another one smaller and older, dating back to the 1st century BC, between the end of Republican Age and the beginning of Augustus Principate (27 BC), placed on north – east side, next to the bridge of the railway Naples – Rome, whose building led to its discovery. During the Principate of Augustus, Pozzuoli became a cosmopolite town, important enough to accomodate merchant colonies coming from all Mediterranean shores (an altar dedicated to Dusares, discovered into the sea, led to spot a colony of Nabatean merchants, coming from Jordan), the older amphitheatre became at once unsuited to contain such a big and variegated audience. Tells Suetonius: “The most comprehensive confusion and disorder reigned in performances; Augustus introduced order and discipline, urged by the insult that a senator suffered when in Pozzuoli, at the time of games to which everyone rushed, nobody received him, among many spectators. Induced therefore the Senate to decree that, during public performances, offered anywhere, the first tier of seats had to be reserved to Senators …….”. This amphitheatre was active until the 1st century AD, according to what Cassius Dio tells about it into the most argued passage of his Historia Romana, come down to us through the version that the Byzantine monk Xyphilinus drew up in 11th century. The author in fact describes the games organized in Pozzuoli in 66 AD by Patrobius, a freedman of the emperor Nero, in honour of Tiridates – brother of Vologeses, king of Parthians – who was about to receive, from the hands of the same Nero, the crown of kingdom of Armenia. On this occasion, was set up a venatio, during which Tiridates – in order to flaunt his deftness – from the same platform where he sat, killed two bulls piercing them with arrows” (Cassius Dio, Historia romana, LXIII, 3). Regarding the politic and social reasons, the Flavius Amphitheatre was built during an historical period characterized by serious tensions and civil wars. In the short span of a year, three different emperors succeded one other at the power: Galba, Oto and Vitellius. Two of them were murdered, and one – Oto – committed a suicide. Appointed as emperor by troops established in Judea, Titus Flavius Vespasian contended the power with his predecessor Vitellius, with the support of some cities, such as Pozzuoli that was rewarded with the assignment of some possessions of the nearby Capua, allied with the antagonist. The enhancement of its possessions probably increased the revenues of its Treasury, so that the city was able to complete the amphitheatre, according to what is testified by the marble tablets formerly placed upon the main entrances – and perhaps on some of secondary accesses – bearing engraved this inscription: COLONIA FLAVIA AUGUSTA / PUTEOLANA PECUNIA SUA. In this way the city wanted to pay homage changing simultaneously its toponym from COLONIA NERONIANA to COLONIA FLAVIA AUGUSTA PUTEOLANA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

F. DEMMA, Monumenti pubblici di Puteoli. Per un’Archeologia dell’Architettura, Roma 2007.

F. DUPONT, Gli spettacoli, in A. GIARDINA (a cura di), Roma antica, Roma – Bari 2000, pp. 281 – 306.

 S. DE CARO, I Campi Flegrei, Ischia, Vivara. Storia e archeologia, Napoli 2004.

A. MAIURI, I Campi Flegrei. Dal sepolcro di Virgilio all’antro di Cuma, Roma.

MARZIALE, Gli spettacoli, Roma 1969.

SVETONIO, Le vite dei Cesari. Volume secondo. Libri IV – VIII, Torino 2008.

Per i brani tratti dalla “Vita di Augusto” (SVETONIO, Vita dei Cesari, II), mi sono avvalso della traduzione curata dalla Prof. Maria Rosa Orrù:http://professoressaorru.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/svetonio_xiicesari.pdf. Blog:http://professoressaorru.wordpress.com/.

CH. DUBOIS, Puzzoules antique. Histoire et topographie, Paris 1907.