The foundation of Cuma dates back from about the mid-eighth century b.C. on a site inhabited by indigenous Opici, representing according to the Greek historians the oldest Greek colony of the West.
According to the legend, the site was indicated by a dove or by the sound of cymbals .
Cuma was founded not only to strengthen the trade but also as a population colony, where to find a living space for those who in motherland did not have any kind of perspective .
The city soon experienced a rapid development, due to the geographical position as a Greek outpost in the trade with Latio and Campania territories. It created its rapidly expanding territory towards the Campania plain and over the Gulf of Naples.
The intellectual influence of Cuma on the surrounding cities is evidenced by discoveries of statues of Apollo, Demeter and Dionysus, in the near Etruscan areas of Latio and Campania.
An important further confirmation of the intellectual Cuman influence on surrounding cities, is the adoption of the alphabet with Cuma variants by the Etruscans and other Italic peoples .
In the sixth century b.C. devastated by home struggles and eruptions, Pithecusa ( now Ischia) was abandoned. With a free Pithecusa, Cuma consolidated its presence in the Gulf of Naples, which was named of Gulf of Cuma, creating sub-colonies and outposts at key points on the coast ( Misenus – Pozzuoli – Pizzofalcone – Capri – Islet of Megaride: a space currently occupied by Castel dell ‘Ovo. )
Pizzofalcone according to tradition would correspond to the establishment of Partenope, taking its name from the Sirene, buried nearby.
( About who founded Partenope there are different theses, among the most reliable ones we have :
The Rhodians, seafarer people who in their travels would beat the routes to the West well before the Greek colonization .
A group of Cumans having left the country. )
Having become economically strong, Partenope began to pose a threat to Cuma, which destroyed it . The tradition is partly confirmed by the discovery of a necropolis on the hill of Pizzofalcone and materials dating VII -VI b.C., the period of the maximum Cuman power.
The expansion of Cuma and its dominion over the Gulf led to a clash with the Etruscans . (Which from the inner cores of Salerno tried to expand towards the coast ) .
In this same period ( 531-530 b.C.), the Cumans allowed a group of Samians, fleeing from the tyranny of Polycrates to settle in their territory on the site corresponding to the today’s Pozzuoli.
The New town built under the protection of the Cumans and without any political autonomy, took the name of Dicearchia (City of the right government ) as opposed to the regime of Polycrates at Samos .
The hostility between Cumans and Etruscans ended in 524 BC with the defeat of the latter.
Cuma became so reinforced by the conflict, being able to send to Ariccia ( Latin ally ) a part if its army to counter the Etruscans attack. This further victory marked the rise of the tyrant Aristodemus who remained in power until 492 b.C.
The return of the oligarchs of Capua along with other mercenaries marked the fall of the tyrant, who was killed with his entire family .
Another city replaced Cuma as a bulwark of the Greeks against the barbarians in the Mediterranean , Syracuse!
With the fall of Cuma, the Gulf was again dominated by Naples, which soon began a war against the Romans for the control of the Gulf itself.