The Greek and Roman cities at Paestum


Paestum is not just a collection of temples – it is also a major town, first Greek, then Lucanian and finally Roman. There is much to be seen, and in some ways it even challenges Pompeii as a place where you can see the layout of a Roman town on the ground.

There are in fact two cities at Paestum, the original Greek town and then the later the Roman town. The civic centre of both towns was situated between the temple of Athena to the North and the two temples to Hera to the south. The Greek town was centred round its the agora or market place of which few traces remain, but there is a fine if enigmatic heroon or heroe’s shrine, as well as the bouleuterion, the meeting place for the town council.

In the fourth century the Greeks lost control of the town and it was taken over by the natives, the Lucanians, but they continued to use the Greek facilities. However in 273 BC the town was captured by the Roman and a colony of Roman citizens was imposed, and an entirely new layout was established, with a new huge Forum replacing the agora on a new site to the south. It is a very interesting forum, surrounded by market shops, though there is a Temple to one side and opposite it the macellum or meat market and the council house, while there is an amphitheatre not far away.

And on the other side of the main road that ran through the town was a domestic quarter, with a fine display of wealthy Roman town houses.


On to: The Greek town


14th November 2015