- Volcano sent forth on the eruption.
- Shocks of the earthquake.
- Heavy shower of ashes, every object was seen to be covered with a crust.
- What Pliny told about the city of Pompeii? Conclusion.
Two thousand years ago, men thought that the volcano of Vesuvius, near the modern city of Napoles in Italy, was extinct. The fine city of Pompei had been on the sides of the mountain and was a favorite resort of wealthy romans. On the 24th of August in the year 79 A.D. the volcano sent forth an eruption which completely buried the city, so that for many years men had forgotten that it was there. This is description, translated from a letter written by Pliny, a great Roman writer. He wrote in Latin, of course, and was writing from Misenum, a town twenty miles distant from the volcano of Vesuvius.
That night my sleep was greatly broken by shocks of an earthquake; but now they were so violent as to threaten total ruin. At last my mother and I went out of the house. The buildings all around us were shaking, and we resolved to quit the town. The people followed us in a panic, and pressed in great crowds around us.
Our chariots swayed so violently that we could not keep them steady, even by supporting them with large stones; the sea seemed to be rolled back from the shore by the trembling of the earth. On the other side of the bay, a black and terrible cloud descended and covered the ocean.
“Ashes now began to fall upon us. Turning my head, I saw behind us a dense cloud which came rolling in our track like a river in flood. In a few moments we were in darkness-not the darkness of a cloudy day, but of a close shut chamber.
“Then a heavy shower of ashes rained upon us, which we were obliged every now and then to shake off, or else we should have been covered up and buried. After a while this dreadful darkness gradually disappeared; the day returned, and with it the sun, though very faintly. Every object was seen to be covered with a crust of white ashes like a deep layer of snow.”
What a terrible day it must have been in the city of Pompei! The buried city, of which Pliny told us in his old letter nearly nineteen hundred years ago, lay forgotten, under the ground for over sixteen hundred years. Then men started to dig it out, and now the ashes and the hardened lava have been cleared away, and the Roman city can be seen as it was then. Men and women were found still at the dinner table. A Roman soldier, who had been a sentinel over a place of importance, had died still at his post, refusing to seek safety and desert his duty! What a page from history!