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pompeii: a symbol of death

animation: kanishka lad

“You could hear the wails of women, the cries of children, the shouts of men… Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”

- Pliny the Younger


My fascination with Pompeii started about three years ago, when I first listened to the song by Bastille. Weeks, and then months, were spent reading about the city — from life there, to the influence of the Romans, from the weather to the earthquakes that preceded the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Life in Pompeii wasn't especially remarkable. It was just like life in other Roman cities, apart from the fact that it was also a vacation spot, known for its beauty and excellent weather, visited by people from all over Rome every year.

But life is not what Pompeii is known for.

Often known as “a city frozen in time”, Pompeii is known for how it died. For the eruption of a volcano, for ashes and an umbrella pine cloud of smoke. For hilarious inscriptions on walls that managed to survive, unlike the people, captured in the same positions they died in.

In the time that came after the eruption, Pompeii was forgotten, erased out of existence, until it was found again, hundreds of years later.

Unintendedly, it became a symbol of death. Of lives lost in the most painful way possible.

Yet, it is ironic that even in death, the ghostly city of Pompeii lives forever.


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