Hi, alaskanlaughter. You hoped that I would post on Vesuvius and here it is.It comes in the odd dream or flashback. I remember that we lived near Herculaneum. When you came through the front door, there was a room that was painted with some frescoes. The room I remember the most clearly was a room with frescoes with a scene of people that are mythological figures, but instead of the red background quite popular in frescoes in the homes of people I’ve visited, the background is green. The floors are inlaid tiles that have been set inside marble borders. In the central atrium (open courtyard), there is a shallow pool with a mosaic of Neptune. There are benches near it and there is a feeling of serenity. Looking at it, I have a feeling of home. My wife, Marcella and Marcillenus, our son, make it truly a home and not just a house. Mt. Vesuvius is a constant background to our lives. Covered with vineyards, it is merely another mountain. Looking back, there is no fear of it, for we don’t know what it is capable of. There are earth tremors, and have been for much of my life up until then. There was a large quake when I was about fifteen, and the larger tremors amongst the hundreds that happened after the large quake have made replastering and repainting necessary. However, none of them have been as bad as that quake during my adolescence. That day, it was quite warm and the air very still, as if nature itself was waiting some momentous event. It is something like the heaviness and stillness in the air before severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Midwest. It was strange, but there had been warm, still summer days before this. I remember feeling no premonition. What I remember is that the day of eruption, I was at home, when a literally earsplitting roar rent the heavy air. I made my way to the atrium and though I could not see the whole mountain, I saw a huge column of smoke rising into the air. Everyone seemed all right and but for a bench and one of the statues near the pool which had fallen over, the house seemed none the worse for the experience. I remember being surprised since whilst we knew of fire-mountains such as Etna, we did not think that Vesuvius was that sort of mountain. To us, it had always been as we beheld it in our lifetime before that day: vineyards growing up part of the way, and barren toward the top. However, except for some learned people, no one knew that it could produce the column and cloud above it. I could read and write as became my class, but was not a scholar. So at this time I knew nothing of this. As the afternoon wore on, there were tremors, but no major damage to our home. I thought it best not to leave as the cloud seemed to be drifting over Pompeii rather than Herculaneum. My spouse says that she remembers what sounded to her like roofs collapsing, so there may have been some ash fall, pumice, etc. We stayed inside, hoping and praying that things would get better. I don’t know why we didn’t go down to the beach or the boathouses, though of course in the end, it made no difference. During the night, we were together: Marcella, Marcillenus, and I. We were in the bedroom which Marcella and I shared. I remember the lamps going out, heard rumbling and felt trembling coming from the ground. I was able to embrace Marcella, but our son was in the darkness, calling for us, and with one arm I groped for him. Then the rumbling became louder and the vibrations increased and all I remember was this intense heat, a heat which cannot be described, only experienced. I can say without hesitation that, though the end of that life was tragic, the life itself was pleasant and fulfilling. I remember regret at the end—regret that Marcella and I would not have more years together, regret that we would not see Marcillenus grow to manhood, regret that we would not know the joy of grandchildren, and regret that life could not have been longer. If my dreams are accurate, the last thing that flashed in front of my eyes before the pyroclastic surge took our lives was my Marcella in that moment when her flammeum (the e traditional Roman wedding veil of flame-coloured material (in her case flame coloured gauze) to reveal my bride. She was plump, though not fat, her skin lighter than mine since her family had come from the north, whereas I had what would be called Sicilian blood and was darker in complexion. I still dream of her face sometimes: large, strangely-soft, heavy-lidded brown eyes, a slightly aquiline nose and full lips. Her hair was reddish-brown and curly, worn in the style of many Roman ladies—upswept with curls in front, longer tendrils at the temple, and long curls in back. When I see Marcella in my dreams, I experience a feeling of great love. For this reason, along with what memories I do have, I believe that ours was a true love match even though, as was the case in many if all upper class marriages, ours was an arranged marriage. It may have been arranged, but ours was a very happy marriage. Marcella was a wonderful wife and made my life very worthwhile. I couldn’t have done better if I’d designed her myself. I was especially happy that she gave me a son. I know that isn’t that big a deal nowadays, but back in Roman Times, most men preferred a son, especially if it was a firstborn and I was no exception. Well, that was where we were back then. I was a product of my times. Our deaths were horrific but, compared to the deaths of the people of Pompeii. We died instantly—just one of heat and searing pain. The people of Pompeii had it much worse—they had to breathe in the ash from Vesuvius, slowly smothering to death. No one deserves a fate such as that.