10 People from Pompeii and Herculaneum Whose Lives Can Be Revived
10 People from Pompeii and Herculaneum Whose Lives Can Be Revived

10 People from Pompeii and Herculaneum Whose Lives Can Be Revived

Natasha sheldon - May 16, 2018

10 People from Pompeii and Herculaneum Whose Lives Can Be Revived
Entrance to the tomb of Naevoleia Tyche. Wikimedia Commons

Naevoleia Tyche

Naevoleia Tyche did not inherit a fortune. Nor did she start her life as a free person. However, by the time the end of her life arrived, she had won her freedom and built up a lucrative business which allowed her to build not one but two tombs for herself and her husband, her fellow freedman Caius Munatius Faustus. The first tomb, where Faustus actually lies buried, is located along the street of tombs running away from the Herculaneum gate.

The tombs’ dedication reads as follows: “Naevoleia Tyche, freedwoman of Lucius, for herself and Gaius Munatius Faustus, an augustalis and suburban magistrate, to whom because of his merit the decuriones with the consent of the people voted a bisellium. Naevoleia Tyche built this monument while she was still living, for her freedmen and freedwomen and those of gaius Faustus.”

However, the tomb is much more than just a last resting place- and nor does it solely celebrate Faustus’s achievements. The facade of the tomb is a testimony to Tyche’s success despite her unpromising beginnings- and her sex. It shows a ship in full sail with the prominent figure of a woman at the stern. It can only be assumed that the woman is Tyche herself. This implies that the freedwoman made a fortune in her own right from shipping and trade.

The second tomb, in the necropolis of the Porta Nucera, is much more simple and was commissioned by Faustus. However, Tyche had her husband buried in her own more elaborate construct along the street of tombs. The two tombs show the very different attitudes of Tyche and Faustus to their life’s achievements. For while Faustus seems happy to mark his life quietly, possibly attempting to ape the quiet understatement of aristocratic tombs, Tyche Is advertising her achievements from the grave. She has worked for her freedom and wealth and she does not care who knows it.


Where Do we get this stuff? Here are our sources:

World History – Pompeii: Graffiti, Signs & Electoral Notices

History Extra – Who Were The Gladiators Of Ancient Rome?

Pompeii: A Study of Roman Tombs and the Freedmen, Per Steffen Hagen, University of Bergen, Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Science and Religion, 2016

Pompeii: A sourcebook, Alsion E Cooley and M G L Cooley, Routledge, 2006

The World of Pompeii, ed. John J Dobbins and Pedar W Foss, Routledge, 2008

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, Paul Roberts, The British Museum Press, 2013

The Gladiators: History’s Most Deadly Sport, Fik Meijer, Souvenir Press, 2004

On Agriculture, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, A Millar, 1745

BBC – Gladiators: Heroes of the Roman Amphitheatre

Piranesi of Rome – The Founding and History of Pompeii until 79 AD

The Great Course Daily – The Other Side of History: The Ideal Roman Woman