Greeks and Romans in Town and Country, under the Shadow of Vesuvius


June 30 – July 12, 2015

Ann Koloski-Ostrow
Brandeis University; Steven Ostrow, M.I.T.

Across the fertile terrain and enchanting land- and seascapes of the Bay of Naples and throughout the region of Campania, ancient Greeks and Romans experimented for centuries with building towns and cities, tilling their farms and tending their flocks, and pursuing their daily lives at every level of society. The world's earliest archaeological laboratory at Pompeii and Herculaneum (buried by the eruption of Vesuvius), and innumerable other sites across the region, offer a uniquely rich showcase of Graeco-Roman approaches to living both in town and across varied rural settings. Whether it's the nitty-gritty level of plebeians shopping and electioneering in the local streets (and refreshing themselves in pubs, fountains, and latrines); the splendor of suburban and countryside villas enjoyed by top-level Roman aristocrats, like the palatial digs of Emperor Tiberius at Capri and Sperlonga; monumental temple complexes like those of Cumae or Paestum, and Capua's underground cult-cavern of the Persian god Mithras; the magnificent shopping mall at Pozzuoli and colossal amphitheater arenas of Pompeii, Pozzuoli, and Capua; or, finally, the vineyards of Boscoreale and the quiet sheep and cattle paths near distant Saepinum in the mountains: All these put on vivid display the ingenuity with which Greeks and Romans (and their lesser known Etruscan, Samnite, and Lucanian neighbors) faced the pressures and pleasures of daily life. We will sample them all, as we explore how these ancient folk tried to make sense of life as individuals, and as members of communities large and small.


June 30 Monday:

Assemble in Rome, Depart for Cumae by way of:
Terracina (“Jupiter Anxur” Sanctuary: Roman cult-&-concrete, & the Queen of Roman Roads: the Via Appia)
Sperlonga (Villa & Grotto of Tiberius: the Emperor at rural leisure)

July 1 Tuesday:

Cumae (Acropolis: temples, "Sibyl's Grotto": Greek religion, Vergil's poetry, Augustan promise)
Lake Avernus (Aeneas enters the world of Hades)
Pozzuoli (Puteoli: Macellum, Harbor, Amphitheater: Roman boom times)
The Solfatara (the living geology of the "Phlegraean Fields")

July 2 Wednesday:

Pompeii: public life (Forum, theaters, baths, shops, brothels, temples), and private (housing for rich & poor, in town, & "suburbia")

July  3 Thursday:

Naples (Archaeological Museum: spoils of the great "Treasure Hunt"; walking tour of central Naples)

July 4 Friday:

Paestum (Poseidonia: mighty Greek temples, Lucanian tomb paintings, Roman town planning)

July 5 Saturday:

Capua (Museum, Amphitheater, Mithraeum: Etruscan metropolis, Samnite conquest, prosperous Romans take all)
Caserta (the Reggia: a Neapolitan Versailles)

July 6 Sunday:

Beneventum (Arch of Trajan: Roman power & colonization intrude upon Samnite Italy)
Saepinum (the rural domain: tending the cattle and sheep, in a quaint & tidy Roman town)

July 7 Monday:

Herculaneum (mansions for the rich, tenements for the poor; bathing in public; a frat house for wealthy ex-slaves)
Mt. Vesuvius (volcano of doom, & bounty; ascent by bus & foot)

July 8 Tuesday:

Boscoreale (Villa Regina: Roman farming, vine-tending)
Oplontis (Torre Annunziata: housing for an empress?)
Isle of Capri (by hydrofoil, from Naples Harbor: Emperors at play, and in self-imposed exile)

July 9 Wednesday:

Capri (Villa Jovis: Emperor Tiberius in ultimate retreat; and optional excursions: Blue Grotto, Villa San Michele, Monte Solaro chairlift...)

July 10 Thursday:

Capri (at leisure on the island; late-day return to The Harry Wilks Study Center at the Villa Vergiliana)

July 11 Friday:

Baiae, Bacoli, Misenum: Western Edge of Naples Bay (Baian Baths, Piscina Mirabile: watery delights of the Roman ruling class; watery needs of the Roman poor and of the Roman sailor)

July 12 Saturday:

Naples (National Art Gallery of Capodimonte: Roman inspiration, & modern masterpieces)
Afternoon departure for Rome

Includes 12 nights accommodation, all meals except two lunches on Capri, round-trip transport from Rome to Cumae and return, all local ground transport, all fees for group visits to sites and museum.

Price: $2,595