Parco Archeologico di Cuma
Relatively little is known about ancient Cuma, the first Greek western colony founded in the second half of the 8th century B.C., apart from what can be learned from the many beautiful Greek vases that were removed from its necropolises in the nineteenth century and then dispersed among all the museums of Europe. In the twentieth century excavations centred mainly on the Acropolis, where it is possible to visit two large temples testifying to the Greek phase, which were converted into churches in the Middle Ages: on the lower terrace stands the temple of Apollo, which was modified by the Romans in the Augustan Age, and of which a seat monument and a cistern survive, the latter perhaps linked to a monumental fountain of the Hellenistic period; and, right at the top of the Acropolis stands the second temple, known (without any certainty) as the Temple of Jupiter. The Acropolis is also home to the so-called ‘Cave of the Sibyl’, the most famous monument in Cuma, a city that in the Roman Age was deemed to be a sacred place: Virgil described how it was here that the Sibyl
had given the prophecy to Aeneas. The Sibylline Books, containing the prophecies that the highest magistrates of the Roman state would consult in the most difficult days of the Republic, are said to have come from Cuma; moreover, the priestesses of the cult of Demeter/Ceres, who followed ancient rituals, were also said to have come from here.
The ruins of the ‘lower city’ can also be seen from the Acropolis, and include the Italic Temples in the Forum and the mighty ruins of a thermal baths building known as the ‘Masseria del Gigante’ (‘Giant’s Homestead’), the amphitheatre recently brought back to light, as well as the ‘Arco Felice’, the archway built over the pass dug into Monte Grillo, the eastern border of the ancient city, to allow for the passage of the old Via Domitiana.
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