Pompeii was certainly a rich city and the visit of the excavations testifies both the wealth of the inhabitants -deductible from homes, from jewelry, furnishings, frescoes- and the amount of space for economic activities and the ancient jobs made.
Soil fertility around the city, due to previous eruptions that had created a very suitable land for cultivation, indicates that agriculture is the first activity to which the Pompeians were devoted. All kind of fruits and vegetables were planted in the fields below Vesuvius, but the most important part was due to vine and olive. The wines from Campania were fine and exported everywhere, and those of Pompeii soared to quality and reputation, as well as mills to produce oil can be recognized in the city and in the agricultural villas around the walls. The vines were planted so that entered right into the city: around the Amphitheatre some remains have been found, and some taverns had their own space to grow so as to allow the landlord to sell their wine.
Craft and industry
The workshops were scattered all over the city – the marble workers, the goldsmiths – and their works are exhibited in museums and in the archeological site.
In Pompeii it was also produced garum, which was the basis of Roman cuisine. It was a pickled fish sauce that could then be stored and transported and served to flavor a little of everything. We do not exactly know how it was produced, but we can imagine that the anchovy drain (“colatura di alici”, now produced on the Amalfi Coast, not far from Pompeii), is a modern version of garum.
The trade in Pompeii was very developed and in fact the edge of the foro we find both the macellum, for everything related to meat and fish, and the Court Olitorio, which was used for grain and cereals. From Pompeii, which served as hub for the countries and the cities, they departed the ships carrying the Mediterranean pompeian specialties.
Around the city are also visible several shops that served the local population, such as bakeries, of which we found traces at least thirty cases.
Shops in Pompeii are more than six hundred (!) and they are easily recognizable: a long opening along the way is immediately identified, and the correspondent of our counter is often characterized by large tables with holes in which were kept and exhibited merchandise for sale. Store was often also the home of the merchant, who lived upstairs, in a form of house and shop easily recognizable.
About fun activities we discussed elsewhere, but certainly they also represented a very important economic sector. Anyway, entrepreneurship and trade was destined to socially little publicity activities and often those who had an economic enterprise was a freedman, that means “a freed slave”. The rich and powerful Romans devoted themselves to politics and war, the rest was considered vulgar.
Political life and justice
The city also had a lively political life, and this is evidenced by written walls invite you to vote for a candidate, as it is currently put up posters. Citizens with the right to vote (free males) elected a number of magistrates who governed the city. There were two pairs of so-called duoviri, (we must remember that the Romans loved couples of politicians, think that the consuls, and that is the highest rulers, were just two), the first pair destined to justice, the second to the current administration, that’s to say: roads, markets, and so on.
Justice, that Romans practiced with great doctrine, (in fact it is them who invented the civil law still behind every right in the world), was administered in the Basilica in the Forum. Here were both consultants for hire – lawyers who were consulted for indications – both lawyers, who, instead, practiced for free the defense of a part, and thanks to the fame he acquired in the Forum (which still designates the seat of justice ), they started their political career.