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Mount Vesuvius blows its top

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

This year the infamous eruption of Vesuvius, best known for it's destruction and preservation of Pompeii, occurs after years of threatening to do so. While it's best known for destroying the city of Pompeii, there were three other settlements that were destroyed as well. These settlements were Herculaneum, Oplontis, and Stabiae. The total population of these 4 settlements was between 16,000 and 20,000. The destruction killed thousands of people, with the current total of bodies and bones adding up to roughly 1,500 discovered so far, with predictions of thousands more being discovered as excavations continue. Pliny the Younger wrote about the events of the eruption, with two of his letters to the historian Tacitus being the only surviving eyewitness accounts of it. It talks about his uncle, Pliny the Elder, returning as a part of a rescue fleet, which ultimately cost him his life. This time in Italian history is rife with seismic activity, especially in the region of Campania where Vesuvius was located. Modern estimates of the energy of the eruption being about 100,000 times the thermal energy of the nuclear bombs dropped in Japan.

My Take by Southpaw Ben
One interesting aspect of the Vesuvius eruption is the fact that in destroying the 4 Campania settlements, it actually preserved them. Pompeii was rediscovered in 1599 during the digging of a underground channel to diver a river, and as a result a architect was called in, who looked a bit at what was found, before covering them, either to preserve the paintings on them for future posterity; or as censorship as many of the paintings contained explicitsexual content. A lot of knowledge and confirmation of our understanding of Roman life comes from Pompeii, as it is was essentially frozen in time, with many details that would have eroded or been lost in a less perfectly preserved area captured for us today, such as exactly what food was available, as well as some of the amazing engineering feats of that time, such as geothermal heat used for heating baths and houses, and stilt-houses on the port with a system of channels which have been compared to Venice by many.

I think I'm becoming a god

Contributed by David Verne

In early summer, Vespasian comes down with a fever and develops severe diarrhea. Feeling the throes of death, he called out, "Dear me, I think I'm becoming a god," referring to the Roman practice of deifying past emperors. Vespasian ordered his servants to help him out of bed saying, "An emperor ought to die standing upright." He died in their arms on June 23, at the age of 69, after ruling the Empire for 10 years.

His son, Titus, succeeded him after sharing power for many years. People initially feared that someone might rise to challenge Titus, or that he might turn out to be another Nero, but he continued on the same path as his father. His first acts were to outlaw treason trials and donating large sums of money to disaster relief efforts in the areas surrounding Mt. Vesuvius. He will visit the site twice. He was unmarried and without any children, but since he was only 40, people were looking forward to at least 20 more years of peace. [1]

My Take by David Verne
Vespasian's reign was focused on rebuilding the Empire and didn't focus on military conquest, with Britain being the only front that remained active during his reign. Notably, he was the first emperor since Augustus to die a natural death, and the first emperor to have his natural son succeed him.

Notable Deaths

  • Vespasian (age 69, natural causes): Roman Emperor for 10 years.
  • Casesius Bassus (age unknown, died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius): Roman poet.
  • Pliny the Elder (age 55, died leading the Roman navy in evacuation efforts in Pompeii): Roman writer and naturalist.
  • Empress Ma (age 29, cause of death unknown): Empress of the Han Dynasty.

See Also


  1. Duncan, Mike (November 08, 2009). 73- The Only Man who Improved.

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