POMPEII - Classics Revision

hope this helps with anyone doing classics gcse revision on Pompeii


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Pompeii was destroyed by a cataclysmic volcano eruption in 79AD
The destruction was a great gift for later historians as it was a town frozen in time by the way it
was buried
It gives us a big indication of what everyday life was like for the romans
Pompeii was very heavily influenced by many Greek cities in southern Italy and Sicily
By the 6th century the settlement developed a city wall which was to remain the extent of the
city until its destruction
It was an ally to rome for many years but it was not until 1st century BC that Rome took full
control of the town
Why Pompeii was appealing to settles
It was built on a lava spur created by an earlier eruption of Vesuvius hundreds of years before.
This gave the southwest of the city an excellent natural defence.
It was next to the River Sarno, which was navigable and led inland to parts of the region, so
that Pompeii had control of the traffic up and down the river. The river also provided natural
irrigation for the fields nearby, contributing to the fertile environment.
Pompeii was a harbour town on the Bay of Naples, which gave good access for trade. The city
was a stopping point on the main northsouth trade route between Rome and other parts of the
Like all volcanic regions, the slopes of Mt Vesuvius were richly fertile. They provided an ideal
soil for grape vines, olive trees, grain and fruit trees. Moreover the woods were also a source of
wild animals, fruit, honey, herbs and wood.
The Destruction
The earthquake of 62AD
Although Vesuvius is one of many volcanoes in a chain from north Rome to Mt Etna the
Pompeian's seem to have little knowledge that the mountain beside their town was a volcano
The Pompeii area was prone to seismic activity such as earthquakes most notably the
earthquake of 62AD
Pompeii was still rebuilding itself from this earthquake in 79AD when Vesuvius erupted
Houses and Temples had collapsed and people lay buried beneath the rubble
In the aftermath of this eruption the Pompeian's took this as an opportunity to rebuild their city
- Old houses were replaced with newer more splendid constructions
- In some areas whole blocks of housing were cleared to make room for a large house
- The forum was given a makeover
- However this was all a long process and resembled a long building site in the lead up to
the eruption
The Eruption
Vesuvius erupted on 24th August 79AD for the first time in over 700 years
In the days and weeks beforehand there were some warning signs of what was to come
- Several small earthquakes shook the area
- Wells dried up and springs stopped flowing
- Dogs howled and birds were strangely silent
- Yet Pompeian's ignored the rumblings under their feet and the strange
behaviour of their pets
The eruption started in the middle of the day on the 24th and lasted for about 18 hours,
progressing through various stages
Pompeii happened to be downwind of the volcano that day and so volcanic debris was blown
over the town
- This mainly consisted of pumice and fragments of rock
- This started to build up slowly in the town

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After a few hours buildings started to collapse under the weight
Archaeologists have discovered some bodies of people who were killed at this stage of the
eruption either by the collapse of buildings or by being hit directly by falling rocks
However a small minority of the population decided not evacuate the town and many of them did
this out of choice even though there would have been plenty of time to leave
The final destruction came early the next morning when one side of…read more

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The forum was situated in the southwest of the town near the gate which led to the harbour
It was like a modern day city centre and it was where much of the city's life took place
- Politicians came to speak and win influence
- Many people met socially
- The forum was lined with statues of important public figure in town and wider Roman
The whole area was a pedestrian precinct, with blocking stone preventing access for vehicles
from adjoining streets
Around…read more

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At the south end of the forum were five buildings which formed the political heart of the
government of Pompeii.…read more

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On its outside there are no shops adjoining to its high walls, nor did the house have a tablinum
Both of these facts suggest that the brothers were so wealthy that they didn't need to earn
money from clients
The house's entrance is famous for its painting of the god Priapus weighing his phallus this was
a common image in Pompeii to symbolize wealth and prosperity
One of the house's distinctive feature was that it had 2 atria
- In the first atrium were found…read more

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In addition to the statuette of the dancing faun and the Alexander mosaic, the house
contained many other impressive works of art, including mosaics depicting sea
creatures, scenes of the rive Nile and a cat carrying a dead bird in its mouth
It is not clear who owned the House of the Faun at the time of the eruption but the house shows
a lot about their personality
- They enjoyed entertaining
- Had a second atrium for the use of private guests
- Had…read more

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The bath houses were founded by the government (while this might seem generous it was in
everybody's interest that people had a basic level of hygiene to prevent the spread of disease)
Therefore the entrance to the baths was either free or cost very little
At the time of the eruption Pompeii had 3 bath houses and another one under construction
The oldest and largest of the bath houses was the Stabian Baths which was located in the
centre of the town
It remains can…read more

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Drama came to the Romans from the Greek world and they were particularly keen on comedy
Their most famous playwright was Plautus whose plays typically contained a strong element of
farce and slapstick with actors playing stock characters from everyday Roman life
Most plots centre on the tricks of a resourceful slave to help the love affair of his young master
who is being threatened by a rival or a strict father
- The girl he has fallen for might be a slave girl or…read more

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Famous actors could be hero worshipped in Pompeii
One actor called Paris is the subject of a number of graffiti including `Paris pearl of the stage'
while he even had a fan club which signed itself `the comrades of Paris'
In spite of this however most actors were looked down on in Roman society and often regarded
in the same light as prostitutes
The Amphitheatre
Pompeii's amphitheatre was situated in the southeast corner of the town with a large exercise
ground next to it
Although…read more


These notes are AMAZING :D
thank you so much they will seriously help with revision ;)

Nixy Pink

How on earth did you have the patience for this?! Thanks so much, it's a real help with my revision!


This notes are amazing, they have everything I need to revise. How can you be bothered to do this? (although I'm glad you was). Thank you for uploading these notes. You are truly amazing 5/5

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