The Fires of Pompeii

Mostly thinks to First Year Latin (Caecilius should have spent less time sitting in the garden and buying “pulchrissima” slave girls and more time reinforcing the walls in his house), I’ve found Pompeii fascinating. Recently, I re-read Pliny the Younger’s letter to Tacitus, in which he describes the eruption and his uncle (Pliny the Elder)’s attempts to understand it, for the Elder Pliny was the kind of guy that wanted to understand everything (see his letter to Baebius Macer).

Reading it, I discovered that Pliny the Elder was the man who coined the phrase “Fortune favours the brave” as he sailed across the bay of Naples to save his friend Pomponianus and his wife Rectina from the ongoing eruption of Vesuvius.

He was unsuccessful, dying of asphyxiation that very night.

The moral of the story? Test proverbs out before considering making them.

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