POMPEII, city in Campania, Southern Italy. There is enough epigraphic evidence, mostly graffiti, to show that Jews lived in Pompeii as well as in the neighboring cities of Herculanum and Stabia, before its destruction in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 C.E. It seems that most Jews arrived in Pompeii after 70 C.E. This assumption is corroborated by their humble status as freedmen, slaves, servants, or prostitutes. They bear traditional Jewish names such as Iesus, Ionas, Maria, and Martha. However there were also more affluent Jews like a certain Fabius Eupor, who bears the title princes libertinorum, or a certain Youdaikos, a wine merchant. It seems, according to epigraphic evidence, that the Jews took an active part in the municipal life of the city.
One of the houses excavated, called by the excavators "Casa degli ebrei" (N. 6, Reg. VIII, Ins. 6), exhibits wall paintings, which depicts the Judgment of Solomon. However it is possible that this painting in fact depicts a tale from Ancient Egypt, mediated by Hellenistic Alexandrine Art, and not a biblical episode. As the painting clearly caricatures the subjects, depicting them as pygmies, the owner was not Jew.
An interesting graffito (Reg. IX, Ins. I, n. 26) read "Sodom Gomor." It is possible that it was written during the eruption of Vesuvius. Another graffito bears the word Cherem in Latin, which may correspond either to ḥerem (ban) or kerem (vineyard).
C. Giordano and I. Kahn, Gli Ebrei in Pompeii, in Ercolano e nelle citta della campania Felix (1965); Review by A.M. Rabello, in- Labeo, 13 (1967), 127); J. Daoust, in: BTS 126 (1970); Review by A.M. Rabello, in: RMI 37 (1971), 329. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Baldi, L'anatema e la croce, Ebrei e Cristiani in Pompei antica (1983); M. Della Corte, "Fabius Eupor, princes libertinorum e gli elementi giudaici in Pompei," in: Atti dell'Accademia Pontiana, n.s., 3 (1950), 347–53; J. Goodnick Westenholz, Images of Inspiration, The Old Testament in Early Christian Art (2000), 92–93; D. Noy, Jewish Inscriptions of Western Europe, 1 (1993).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.