Thelxinoe ~ Classics News for August 15, 2022

Hodie est a.d. XVIII Kal. Sept. 2775 AUC ~ 18 Metageitnion in the second year of the 700th Olympia

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It seems that classical scholars are wrong about the date of the volcanic eruption that destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii almost two thousand years ago. It’s taken a few ripe pomegranates and some squashed grapes, carbonised by pyroclastic flow, to change our minds about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The eruption was definitely in the year 79, but the month? Most written sources mistakenly suggest it was August but if you know your fruit, you will know that pomegranates and grapes ripen in the autumn in Italy. So the presence of these fruit in the remains of the city suggest the eruption must have taken place later in the year. Natalie draws on the blisteringly dramatic account of the disaster by Pliny the Younger, writing to his friend, the historian Tacitus. She talks to archaeologist Dr Sophie Hay, who has spent nineteen years living and working in Italy and is a leading expert on the site. There are poignant details: many bodies discovered there were carrying keys, because people expected to be able to return to their homes once the eruption had subsided. Others had pillows wrapped around their heads to protect them from the pumice and lava raining down on them as they tried to escape. ‘Rock star mythologist’ and reformed stand-up Natalie Haynes is obsessed with the ancient world. She explores key stories from ancient Rome and Greece that still have resonance today. They might be biographical, topographical, mythological or epic, but they are always hilarious, magical and tragic, mystifying and revelatory. And they tell us more about ourselves now than seems possible of stories from a couple of thousand years ago. With guests Dr Sophie Hay and Professor Llewelyn Morgan

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‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it thunders today, it portends business changing for the worse.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)

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