Magnificent Ruins

This article originally appeared in the Metro Plus edition of the Hindu.


Cave Canem” reads the Latin inscription on the floor. “It means beware of the dog,” exclaims my 10-year-old, reading from her pamphlet. We are at the entrance of the House of the Tragic Poet in the ruins of Pompeii outside Naples, Italy.

“Vedi Napoli e poi muori” (See Naples and die) is a popular saying. For my daughters, it was Naples’ dead neighbour Pompeii that mattered. History lessons that had described the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD and the subsequent destruction of Pompeii had brought the city vividly to life in their minds. The Roman senator, Pliny the Younger, has documented the events around Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption. Pliny’s writings are believed to be the only eye-witness account, and hence, amongst the most valuable recountings of Pompeii’s destruction.

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