After the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 CE, the entire city of Pompeii in the Bay of Naples was buried and forgotten. Today, Pompeii is one of the most iconic archaeological sites and it holds a special place in the imagination of the general public all across the globe.
The Pompeii archeological site is a chilling testimony of the city’s lifestyle at the time, since it seems peacefully asleep under the volcanic dust. The following LoveItaly list contains five interesting facts about this rich site, which hopefully will allow you to recreate in your mind some fascinating details of this incredible ancient city.
Its discovery started various trends:
Many believe that the excavation of Pompeii played a major role in the neo-classical revival of the 18th century. Wealthy and fashionable families of Europe displayed art and reproductions of objects from the ruins. Pompeii’s buildings also shaped the architectural trends of the era. For example, wealthy British families often built “Etruscan rooms” that were like those in the villas of Pompeii.
Graffiti, Elections Notices, And Signs:
Pompeii still preserves a large number of graffiti and wall paintings, which offers you a rare opportunity to read directly the words and thoughts of ancient Roman society. The nature of these inscriptions is wide, ranging from private messages to various communications such as election notices. Here are some examples:
“I don’t care about your pregnancy, Salvilla; I despise it.” [private message]
“The gladiatorial troupe of Aulus Suettius Certus will fight at Pompeii on 31 May. There will be a hunt and awnings.” [advertisement]
“Wall, I am amazed you haven’t fallen into ruins, since you bear the tedious scribbling of so many writers.” [found at four different walls]
There are also a number of elections notices, normally painted on walls at central locations and busy areas to maximize their exposure. Not all of these were favorable to the candidates. Bitter irony was practiced frequently:
“All the late drinkers ask you to elect Marcus Cerrinius Vatia as city magistrate.”
“The petty thieves ask you to elect Vatia as city magistrate.”
House of the Faun in Pompeii:
The owner of the “House of the Faun”, inside the archaeological site of Pompeii, would definitely have been one of the most envied men in the city. The structure has been called the “House of the Faun” for the bronze statue of the dancing faun, who was at the center of one of the main halls.
It is a well-known fact that the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that ruined the city of Pompeii had a cataclysmic force, but how strong was this force exactly? Questions like this are never easy to answer. The best estimation in this case claims that the eruptions had a strength of 500 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima.
Mount Vesuvius’ devastating power was considered proverbial by some people. Martial, an ancient Roman poet, wrote: “Everything ’round Vesuvius lies submerged in flames and mournful ashes; not even the gods above would wish to have so much power.” (Epigrams 4.44.7-8)
Pompeii is called the ‘City of the Dead’:
Pompeii is often called the “city of the dead”. This term to describe Pompeii was first used by novelist Sir Walter Scott who constantly muttered these words as he was carried round the excavation on a sedan chair.
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Written by Giuseppe Giulio