Pliny the Elder and the Big Smoke

In 79 AD — most probably on August 24 or 25 — the Mount Vesuvius volcano erupted, destroying (among other things) the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Among its victims was Gaius Plinius Cecilius Secundus, known as Pliny the Elder, Roman scholar, encyclopedist, and nationalist.

Despite his active public life, Pliny the Elder still found time to write enormous amounts of material. He was the author of at least 75 books, not to mention another 160 volumes of unpublished notebooks. His books included volumes on cavalry tactics, biography, a history of Rome, a study of the Roman campaigns in Germany, grammar, rhetoric, contemporary history, and his most famous work, his one surviving book, Historia Naturalis (Natural History), published in A.D. 77.

Much information covering Pliny the Elder came from his nephew and adopted son, the writer Pliny the Younger (62-113), including the story of his death: Pliny’s last assignment was that of commander of the fleet in the Bay of Naples. Learning of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Pliny went ashore to ascertain the cause and to reassure the terrified citizens. He was overcome by the fumes resulting from the volcanic activity and died [… though some speculate that he died from a stroke or heart attack.]
 
And so…
 
Pliny the Elder clerihew 
 
Author’s note: Ingluvious = gluttonous.


“All civilization has from time to time become a thin crust over a volcano of revolution.” — Henry Ellis (1859-1939)


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