Historians argue whether it was Octavian (Augustus) or his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, who was more responsible for ending the Roman republic -- for recognizing that the empire had become too large and its peoples too diverse to be ruled by a narrow aristocracy in the city.
In any event, both Julius Caesar and Augustus were declared, after their deaths, "gods," as were the Divine Apollonius of Tyana, Jesus of Nazareth, and many other figures at that time of religious ferment.
This shrine in Herculanæm is one of the best preserved temples devoted to the worship of the Divine Augustus.
The site is located downhill from the Circumvesuviana train station, directly at the bottom of the hill. When you arrive, buy a ticket and then go across to the information office to get your free site guide (in several languages). The site is below ground level, and you will descend a gently sloping ramp around the perimeter, giving you excellent views of the area you're about to explore.
Full admission is EUR 10 and there are a variety of discounts. Open from 8.30 to 19.30 in the summer, and 8.30 to 17.30 in the winter.
The McDonalds of days of yore, thermopolia were places where people gathered to be served hot food and drinks. The jars (called dolia) you can see displayed the food, which was dished directly from them to hungry lunchers (as lunch was not usually eaten in the home).
This house is located near the entrance/exit to the site, and has been re-landscaped beautifully, with low hedges and fresh green grass. There is lots of shade under the columns (and the inexplicable, permanent smell of urine). During excavations, archaeologists found a pantry here, complete with loaves that were ready to go into the oven, and terracotta (terra = earth cotta = baked) jars filled with locally-grown goodies like almonds, fruit and olives.
Full of beautifully detailed frescoes, the Hall of the Augustals was a place where freed slaves met and discussed matters of business, religion and politics. The building was dedicated to the emperor Augustus, and was actually constructed while the emperor was alive (between 27 AD and 17 AD).
Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was covered by layers of volcanic rock (lava?) following the eruption of Vesuvius. Consequently, a large amount of organic material was preserved, including rope, wood, plants and fabrics. This preservation is unique to Herculaneum, and many of these artifacts are on display at the site.
Because the population of Herculaneum was wealthier than that of Pompeii, you will also see more two-story houses at this site.
Near the entrance/exit, this is one of the oldest houses on the site. The brick columns are well-preserved and the floor is decorated with shards of marble. This medium-sized home is fairly typical of the houses on the site. Pompeii was a working class town, but Ercolano was a summer beach resort town. The difference in the styles of the homes is visible.