Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pompeii the Volume

Friday is the 1928th anniversary of Vesuvius going scrius on Pompeii (and Herculaneum, which clearly didn't have as good a marketing team since it tends to get barely remembered in the Great Natural Disasters Roll Call). Today it's hard to imagine what it might be like to have ash fall from the sky, oh, well, before July 4 it might have been, but more than a hard ash was gonna fall on the Pompeii-dours, as they liked to be called. Indeed, it was a pyroclastic flow (not to be confused with PyroKlastik Flo, the Norwegian death metal band of the 1980s) that buried them and their renowned erotic art--the entry about it on Wikipedia is a veritable Kama Sutra of mosaics (I guess you can get in those positions if you lay one tile at a time). There's even a phallus carving with the phrase "Hic Habitat Felicitas" around it, proving Pompeii had its own Beavus and Butt-headus. What's more, I learned Pliny the Elder died trying to rescue people after the disaster and Pliny the Younger (his nephew, actually) was a witness from across the bay. Today they are both beers at Russian River Brewing. There are worse fates. Meanwhile the modern town of Pompei exploits all the tourists who go see the excavations at Pompeii, hoping Vesuvius is fooled by the clever way they dropped one of the "i"s to seem farther away.

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