Ancient/Classical History/Vesuvius, Pompeii

Advertisement


Question
I am writing a story about Pompeii during the time of Vesuvius' eruption. After vesuvius started smoking how long did it take for it to finally erupt and how long did it erupt for? Thank you for your help!!

Answer
Hello,

After Mount Vesuvius started smoking on August 24, 79 AD, about one in the afternoon (Latin,"Nonum Kal. Septembres hora fere septima"), as we read in the Letter 16, book 6, by the Roman writer Pliny the Younger who  then as a young student around the age of 18 was staying with his mother and his uncle Pliny the Elder at a villa in the city of Misenum, which was located on the bay of Naples, about 20 miles from Mount Vesuvius, it took about eleven-twelve  hours before it finally erupted and about 11pm, August 24 or 1am, August 25, a hot gas and ash cloud looking like an umbrella pine moved into the town of Pompeii and killed its residents in a fraction of a second. Their final resting place was on a thick carpet of pumice as Vesuvius eruption  caught them asleep and utterly unprepared.

So, Mount Vesuvius erupted for about 25 hours from 1pm August 24 to the whole of the morning August 25 and completely buried  the cities of Pompeii,  Herculaneum and Stabiae  under an avalanche of boiling mud and lava.
Pompeii was buried about 20-40 feet (4 meters)underground and Herculaneum about 60-75 feet.

Pliny the Younger witnessed Mount Vesuvius eruption and wrote an account to his friend and  Roman historian Tacitus of what he saw, in 2 long letters.

His uncle, Pliny the Elder, being commander of the naval fleet at Misenum, died on August 25, AD 79, while attempting to rescue whoever he could, but the prevailing wind would not allow his ship to leave the shore. His companions  attributed his collapse and death poisonous gases emitted from the volcano.

Best regards,

Maria
_____________________________________________________________________
For Letters of Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus who wanted to know more about Pliny the Elder's death see :
http://www.smatch-international.org/PlinyLetters.html

See also: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/pompeii_portents_01.shtml

Ancient/Classical History

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Maria

Expertise

My field of expertise is Ancient Greek and Roman History.

Experience

Over 25 years teaching experience.

Education/Credentials
I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.