NOTE: Most words in italics are in the Latin language. Translations can be found in the Glossary of the Latin Language.
GLOSSARY OF THE LATIN LANGUAGE:
JULIA: The Story of Pompeii – PART TWO:
JULIA: The Story of Pompeii – PART THREE:
Pompeii, Naples, Italy
Part One – Julia of 79 A.D.
As I was preparing in my room to go help our main servant, Iliona, I looked out the window to see the boys walking down the street towards school. The slaves walked behind them, making sure they didn’t run away. I knew the drill. Titus II, my ten year old brother, went to school.
Every morning, one of our servants would wake him up, bring him a bowl of water to wash his face and hands in, help him dress and comb his hair, pack his inkstand, pens, books, and writing tablets in a scrinium, and make sure he hurried off to his day’s work. I didn’t go to school (unlucky me), and instead wasted away most of my days learning about boring housekeeping things.
Breakfast consisted of bread, eggs, and sometimes, maybe even an apple or pear. Our other meals usually were made up of bread, cheese, wine (although I didn’t drink that), and fish.
After breakfast, I walked out to the garden to see Iliona, the head slave, and some others, keeping the garden in pristine condition. The fountains flowed, and the statues stood. I walked over to my favorite statue of a girl around my age. She was much more beautiful than me, of course. Her hair, if not for her being made of stone, would have been black, and she would have had a pretty little face. Blue eyes, and red lips. Just like other ordinary Roman girls. She was shaded by the tree nearby.
I climbed up on to her stand, and leaned back against her . . . .
I am lying on my bed. Our servant doctor, Albus, stands peering over me.
“She is awake,” he says to my mama.
“What’s wrong with me?”
Mama replies, “You fell off of the statue girl’s stand.”
“Well, what is wrong?”
“You hit your head. Your head is bandaged now,” Doctor Albus says.
“Can I get up?”
“No, Julia. Si necesse est,” Mama says.
I fall asleep, dreaming of the stone girl laughing at me; pointing her cold stone finger at my swollen head.
“Julia, wake up!”
Titus II, my pestering brother, and his dog, burst through the door. The dog jumps on me and starts to lick my face. I push him to the floor.
“Quae petitio tua?” I say groggily, wiping slobber off my face. “I just fell asleep.”
“No, you didn’t. It’s tomorrow. Not today, or yesterday.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“The. Date,” he says slowly, “Is. August. Twenty-third. Seventy-nine. A.D.”
I suddenly remember. The party that my family is hosting is today. August 23rd, 79 A.D.
“Get, up! Get up,” he yells, running down the hall, the dog trailing behind him.
I sit up, cautiously, for the sake of my head. It didn’t seem to hurt anymore. I unwrapped the thick bandage. I felt the large lump, slightly above my forehead. I am exhausted. I might as well sleep through the whole party.
Iliona walks into my room. “How are you feeling, my dear?”
“Tired. I took the bandage off.” The bandage lay on the end of my bed.
“That is what Albus told me to do. I see you have already accomplished that,” she says, looking at the swollen part.
“Am . . . am I allowed to go to the party today?” I hesitantly ask her.
“You need to talk to your mama about that. The doctor says you will be able, if your mama allows.” She emphasized allows.
“Was Titus, allowed, to run into my room with his dog?”
But by this time, she was gone. Into my closet, I suspect. I was correct, for not a moment later, she comes out with a fresh, clean dress.
“Pone hoc in,” she says. “It is the new dress your father bought for you. Your mama asks you not to ruin it.” Iliona gives me a sharp look.
The party was just like any other. The grounds were crawling with people. Clusters of boys and girls, men and women, hung around here and there. I was not part of any of those groups. My head throbbed. I was tired. About the only good thing that happened, was Livia, my good friend, came.
“Hello,” I reply.
“This party is nice. I’ve been anticipating it forever, it seems. What happened to your head?” She eyed the red spot.
I explained to her how I fell off of stone girl’s stand.
“But we’ve sat up there hundreds of times before,” Livia insisted.
“I know, but this time I fell asleep.”
“Are you allowed to go up there ever again? I always thought it was a good place to get away from your brother.” She was right. It was too tall for Titus to reach.
“Probably not. I’ll sure miss her cool stone,” I say, in a sort of faraway voice.
“Yes, it was a great place. And a pretty statue.”
“It would be really nice to get back up there again someday.” I snap out of my trance. “I’m hungry. Ut eamus manducare.”
I fall asleep easily. In the middle of the night, I suddenly wake up. I was very tired, but I feel as if something is wrong. I creep out of my bedroom, and down to the main hall. A servant sweeping the floor nods to me. The date is August 24th, 79 A.D. In Herculaneum, the festival honoring Emperor Augustus would be starting soon. I learned that from my brother.
Thinking of Titus, I walk upstairs, and decide to write a letter on a small scraggly piece of paper to him in Latin, to practice. It went like this:
Carus, Titus in secundum,
Canis amat ut me nescio. Si bonus frater esset forte de thalamo feceris. Et sputo adspersit ubique. Delet vestimenta et lectus. Quod molestie turbare, et rudes. Hoc si tibi nota esse vellem beatus.
Soror tua Julia
Of course, Titus would never really consider the note at all. He only cared about running around and destroying the house like a volcano.
Soon enough I hear his voice yell out. “Age, Iulia! Tempus est ire ad forum!”
“I’m coming,” I reply. It’s morning now.
The market. In Pompeii, the market was a large building next to the shops and Forum. The Forum contained the remains of the Temple of Jupiter at one end, and the Building of Commerce on the other. (Afterward, the Temple of Jupiter was rebuilt across the road.) I heard the Temple was destroyed from an earthquake in 62 A.D. The Forum was also the center for economic, political, and religious purposes. It was larger than the market; at least 480 feet long, and 108 feet wide. In front of the Forum building, was the outdoor Forum. It was near the government buildings as well.
Vendors sold their products in front of the market. They stood near the Arch of Tiberius. Shops stood to the other side of the market. Behind the new Temple of Jupiter stood the Forum baths. Our family went there daily to clean ourselves, and to socialize with others. It was one of the best places to be.
Some of the roads in Pompeii had large stepping-stones, stopping the citizens from getting wet feet from the sewer drainage that trailed down the road. Pompeii also had warehouses, that I had never seen, and the Temple of Apollo.
My family walked down the road, on the stepping-stones, and soon neared the market. It was busy for such a morning. We stepped inside, and found a stand that sold fruit. We bought a few pears and apples for an outdoor lunch. At another stand, we bought some cheese and bread. We then went across the road to the Forum baths. We put our clothes into shelves, and went our separate ways.
I liked to go to the Tepidarium first. This was the warm room. After getting used to the water in there, I went to the Calidarium, or the hot room. I washed up, and then went to the Frigidarium. That was the frigid room. Thus the name, Frigidarium.
My family met back up by the shelves. We then strolled along the road to the outdoor Forum. Titus and I stopped along the way for a drink at a water fountain. A few dogs licked out of the fountain as well.
We stayed at the outdoor Forum for the rest of the early afternoon. We talked to a few neighbors, and I soon found Livia.
“Livia,” I called. She didn’t see me.
“Yes, it’s me. Over here, behind you.”
“Oh, there you are, Julia. I didn’t see you.”
I talked to her as the afternoon wore on. By now, it was probably twelve-o’-clock.
“Have you eaten yet?” Livia asks me.
“Yes. We stopped by the market earlier and bought some goods. We ate them already.”
“Oh, us too.”
“Where is your family?”
She pointed over to her parents. Livia had no siblings. “Over there.”
Livia’s mother waved her over.
We walked home. It was now one o’clock. We walked by the vendors and shops. Suddenly, Mount Vesuvius, behind us, shot out a cloud of ash and pumice. The wind blew the dark cloud over us. Soon enough, it started to rain the ash and pumice. Carts stopped in the road as the ash-and-pumice fallout hardened. We grabbed pillows from a vendor and held them over our heads for protection. We ran to the shelter of a nearby shop, as did many others. Before we did so, I touched a small piece that was falling to the ground. The fallout, surprisingly, was not hot.
It neared midnight. The ash had hardened completely, and now the ground seemed much higher. It had rained around six inches of ash and pumice per hour. It seemed calm for now, but as the very early morning of August 25th, wore on, it just worsened.
The tower of debris shooting out of the deadly volcano reached as high as twelve miles! The column of ash and pumice collapsed, and a hot surge of it rumbled down the vast hill.
I heard many people yell out at that time. People grabbed their little ones, and Mama grabbed me. I still stood gaping at the deadly-hot-surge as it flowed down Mount Vesuvius. I grabbed Titus, who then grabbed Father. We ran among the rest of the people.
“My dog! My dog,” Titus yelled.
“No! We must save ourselves,” I screamed in reply.
I didn’t care about anything but our lives anymore. This was the worst day ever. And to make it worse, none of us had expected it. The cloud grew and grew. Also, the amount of pumice and ash had increased. I‘m overwhelmed.
Titus rips out of my grasp as we pass our house. He runs to the door, but can’t open it. “My dog! He can’t get out! He’ll die in there!”
My father grabs him and pulls him away. “Get away from there, Titus. That dog doesn’t matter anymore. We matter.”
Mama and I kept running past them, not caring anymore. Mama let go of my hand. “Run as fast as you can, Julia. Save yourself.”
“What about y-” my voice is cut short. It is too hard to breathe now that toxic gases are pouring out of the cloud. As I turn, Mama stands still.
“It’s no use for me to run. I am too slow anyway.”
“I told you to run, Julia!”
Before I do run among the throng of people, I turn to her for the last time. “Te amo, Mater!”
She doesn’t reply. She probably can’t hear me anyway; the roar of the volcano is so loud. I start to run atop the hardened ash. I look over my shoulder again: ash and pumice running up to 180 miles per hour down the street. My mother, father, and brother are now encased in the hardened ash.
I crouch down, put my face in my hands, and start to cry. I grabbed the locket my parents had given me, with my initials engraved on it. Thoughts stream through my head. I loved them. It’s no use. Everyone will die. I will die. No one is fast enough. Not now.
A moment later, I feel the hot surge reach me.
It’s most definitely too late.