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Misenum and around the Bay of Naples in 79 AD at the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The black cloud represents the general distribution of ash and cinder (the pyroclasts). Modern coast lines are shown.

Misenum is the site of an ancient port in Campania, in southern Italy. It is located on a cape on the northwest end of the Bay of Naples, at modern Miseno.

History

According to mythology, Misenum was named after Misenus, a companion of Hector and trumpeter to Aeneas. Misenus is supposed to have drowned near here after a trumpet competition with the sea-god Triton, as recounted in Virgil's Aeneid.

In 38 BC, Misenum was the site where a short-lived pact was made between Octavian (heir of Julius Caesar, who later became the emperor Augustus), and his rival Sextus Pompeius.

In ancient times, Misenum was the largest base of the Roman navy, since its port (Portus Julius) was the base of the Classis Misenensis, the most important Roman fleet. It was first established as a naval base in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, the right-hand man of the emperor Augustus.

With its gorgeous natural setting close to the naval base and the nearby important Roman cities of Puteoli and Neapolis, Misenum became the site of Roman luxury villas.

View of modern Capo Miseno, on the site of ancient Misenum.

Pliny the Elder was the praefect in charge of the naval fleet at Misenum in AD 79, at the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, visible to the south across the Bay of Naples. Seeing the beginnings of the eruption, Pliny left for a closer view and to effect a possible rescue, and was killed by the eruption. The account of his death is given by his nephew Pliny the Younger, who was also resident in Misenum at the time.

In fiction

Misenum is one of the main settings in Robert Harris' novel Pompeii, whose protagonist, Attilius, works as the aquarius at the Piscina Mirabilis (the terminal reservoir into which the Aqua Augusta aqueduct emptied).

In the novel Ben-Hur Misenum is the location of a villa owned by Quintus Arrius later bequeathed to his adopted son Judah Ben-Hur. The Ben-Hur family would later live in Misenum.

See also

Coordinates: 40°47′11″N 14°05′11″E / 40.78639°N 14.08639°E / 40.78639; 14.08639

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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