The following example essay on “Who Were The Oscans?” tells about the ancient Italic tribes that lived in southern and part of central Italy from the end of the 2nd millennium BC. e.
The fame and prosperity of Pompeii may be largely credited to the influence which the Romans had over it, by first making it an ally of theirs in 290BC and then a colony of their empire in 90BC. However, before the Romans had arrived in Pompeii it had been occupied by several other inhabitants, namely the Oscans, Greeks, Etruscans and the Samnites.
By analysing what each of these civilisations contributed to the development of the city in comparison to Rome itself, I will be able to determine whether this is a fair assessment of Pompeii’s development.
The Oscans were the first people to inhabit Pompeii, but the people themselves we know very little about. They created the first town between 800 and 750BC in regions VII and VIII; this was going to be the basis for all the other inhabitants to come.
The site was chosen for settlement as it was in a good defensive position, due to being situated on a mountainside; the River Sarno allowed large ships to sail up it making it easy to trade as well as benefiting agriculturalists as the river was also used to water the fields and drain them.
The Oscans made a wise decision choosing Pompeii as a place for settlement as it had many advantages but where there is prey, there are predators! The next residents of Pompeii were the Greeks, but the Oscans did leave some things behind, such as their language which continued to be used right up until 80BC, a name for the city, which never changed and the basic town.
The Oscans definitely helped in the development of Pompeii and the Romans do owe much to their influence, as without them the town may have ceased to exist.
The Greeks were the first to capture Pompeii and decided to keep the original name; this indicated that already Pompeii was a large, established and a well-know town. Many people would say that the Greeks had the largest influence over Pompeii as a city because they left many wonderful buildings and enlarged the town quite substantially. The Greeks took great advantage of the wealthy land by using the harbour as a base for trade and building a Doric temple for Apollo. Greek influence and colonisation spread right over to Southern Italy and Sicily.
But the Greeks did not have it easy. Soon the Etruscans, from the North of Rome, became jealous of their success in Campania and occupied the town during 524 and 424BC, but left no trace of any major building works. To end this intervention in 474BC there was a Greek naval victory that won them back Pompeii for another 50 years. However the Etruscans caused Pompeii a lot of damage, leaving the Greeks with restoration work to do. The Greeks rebuilt temples; fortified the town, in case of another attack; and expanded the town.
The Greeks were also to thank for the famous town planner Hippodamus of Miletus who designed the layout for the rest of Pompeii, making it a regular geometric grid. But towards the end of the 5th century BC the Osco-Greek town was invaded and conquered by a stronger race of people, the Samnites. The Greeks left Pompeii with a much larger and more cultured town for the Samnites to take over. The Samnites were mountain dwellers from the Apennines (also known as the spine of Italy), they later became better known as the Campanis.
The only major change the Samnites made to the already well-developed town was the replacement of the walls with stronger fortification. In addition they expanded the town and built blocks of houses. The Samnite control did not last long; however, as a result of the Samnite Wars (343-290VC, between Roman and the Samnites) the Roman themselves came to Campania. The Samnites did not leave much behind that helped with the development of Pompeii, so not much is owed to the Samnites when it comes to its influence on the town. The Romans captured Pompeii during the second Samnite War in the 4th century BC.
After a failed attempt to gain control of Pompeii in 310BBC, when the Pompeians drove the Romans away, they eventually took over twenty years later when Pompeii’s people gave in. Later between 260-146BC the Punic Wars took place between Carthage and Rome, unlike the other Campanian towns, Pompeii stayed loyal to Rome as its leader. In 146BC Rome won and destroyed Carthage, these wars led to Pompeii expanding in an eastern direction. However in the following period, the need for housing reduced in Pompeii; this was because of the newly built city.
Nuceria, built to the south east of Pompeii, consequently, all new housing was reduced to rubble and turned over for agricultural use. But Pompeii, as an ally of Rome, experienced one of the most flourishing periods of history in the last decades of the 2nd century BC. This was because trade was growing, particularly in the east due to Rome’s new allies, and the ruling class of Pompeii ( already benefiting from the vast agricultural estates) continued to get richer from the increase in trading.
Nearing the end of the 2nd century a large renovation programme was undertaken in Pompeii, many more luxurious buildings were built. The renovation programme saw the constructions of two forums, the Temple of Jupiter, macellum, basillica, an open air theatre and a large portico connected to a smaller theatre. Pompeii was really raking in the benefits of being an ally of Rome. Although Pompeii was an ally of Rome, during the Punic Wars relations weren’t always friendly.
In March 90BC Pompeii joined the rebels in a civil war to try and gain Roman citizenship, but they failed as Rome gradually gained the upper hand by having the best generals. Shortly after Herculaneum, a near by town in Campania, sufferend the same fate. After this rebellion, Pompeii lost many of its rights, such as self-government, also a Roman general forced a military colony on the Pompeians called the Cornelia Veneria Colony. The colonies were used to stamp out trouble and spread Roman influence.
However there were benefits to having a Romanised Pompeii as it was mostly the wealthy Roman men with business experience who had settled in Pompeii, so they begun to take on the running of the town. As changes in Rome took place, the same happened to Pompeii, 27BC saw the rise of Emperor Augustus who was in power for around forty years. To make his mark on society a new building programme was enthralled in which a temple dedicated to Fortuna Augusta and an aqueduct was built. Pompeii owed a lot to the Romans as they developed the town an immense amount as well as expanding it.
Not all is owed to the influence of other civilisations; the Romans did play a large part. I think Pompeii was perceived as a Roman town because it was publicised as a Roman town especially during its five years of trading. This may account for this prejudice of viewing Pompeii like this and proves that Pompeii owes much to other civilisations and not just Rome. Another reason may be that most of the Pompeii remains were actually Roman so this may have given the impression of Pompeii as a Roman-dominant town but it really was multicultural.
Overall, I think Pompeii positively owes much to other civilisations even though the Romans overshadowed the developments of other civilisations due to their power and knowledge of utilising the town. Therefore, to say that Pompeii owes a lot to the influence of other civilisations is a very fair assessment, as although the town may be known as Roman, without the Oscans it may cease to exist and without the Greeks the town may not have become as cultured. I do not believe there is a particular civilisation that is owed the most because they all gave something towards the making of Pompeii.