“Pompei” by Reva Lachica Moore

“Pompei” by Reva Lachica Moore

Upon hearing about Pompeii through the in-cabin TV advertisement of the cruise ship, I wanted to see the place. Imagine seeing the ruins of a city founded 6 centuries before Christ!

“Umbrella” pine trees and souvenir shops dotted the entrance to the “ruins.” After we entered the gate, we could see “ruins” deep down below. I thought that was all we would see. Minutes later, I stood in awe, seeing the “ruins” of Pompeii that enclosed an area of 163 acres. And 5 miles away stood the mighty Mt. Vesuvius.

The inhabitants of Pompeii may not have known that the nearby Mt. Vesuvius is a volcano. They enjoyed the fertile land that yielded a variety of crops. They were used to minor tremors that occurred often, but the quakes were not alarming. Then in 62 AD, an earthquake hit, which did considerable damage. But the people rebuilt and life went on. On that doomed day in 79 AD before the volcano erupted, there were to be 2 sacrifices: To Augustus, “Father of the Nation,” and to the “Guardian Spirits” of the city. And the day after was a feast day for the “god of fire.” The Ancient Romans worshipped other gods. But our God in heaven is a jealous God. The Bible, in Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

This modern city had an amphitheater, palaestra (sports ground), aqueduct, swimming pool, gardens, street fountains, beautiful mosaic work, public baths, a few luxurious homes, hundreds of private homes, and many temples (Vespian, Venus, Apollo, etc.).

Imagine the scene nearly 2,000 years ago when the mountain first roared and sent a cloud of ash, burning pumice stones, gas, and other volcanic debris. Chaos ensued and fires caused by broken oil lamps scattered all over. Imagine the fear, the cries, the screams as people tried to flee, and as roofs and walls started to cave in. For 18 hours straight, the mighty Mt. Vesuvius spewed and Pompeii was buried under 20 feet of volcanic debris.

At the time of the eruption, there could have been around 20,000 inhabitants because the Romans spent their holidays and vacations there. Asphyxiation did not kill the inhabitants. Rather, it was the 482 degree F heat that killed them instantly. As the trapped bodies decomposed, they left hollow spaces in the ash and pumice, which archeologists found centuries later. They filled the spaces with plaster, creating molds that captured their last agonizing moments. Bodies made of plaster inside glass curios were on the site for viewing.

After thick layers of ash and pumice covered Pompeii and the nearby cities of Herculaneum and Nuceria, these cities were forgotten. It was in 1599 when part of Pompeii was first unearthed. The other cities were unearthed many years later.

Pompeii was considered middle-class – not rich, not poor. Rome at that time controlled the Mediterranean Sea and so, Pompeii was an important port town. It was a sailor’s quarter with lots of bars, brothels, restaurants and places of entertainments.

As we toured the ruins, the tour guide showed us a brothel that showed permanent paintings (pictures) on the walls of what we would call today as pornographic. Pictures that we would not normally see on any wall. We were aghast! In one of the streets, the tour guide pointed at a street sign – a sculpted male organ. In another street, a rock carved resembling the same. The tour guide said the signs were directions for the sailors to lead them to the brothels.

The excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum showed heaps of erotic art and frescoes, symbols, and inscriptions regarded today as sexually explicit. Even many recovered household items had a sexual theme. All these indicated that the sexual customs of the ancient Roman culture were more liberal than most present-day cultures.

In 1819, when King Francis 1 of Naples visited the Pompeii exhibition at the National Museum with his wife and daughter, he was so embarrassed by the erotic artwork that he decided to have them all locked away in a secret place. The secret place was re-opened for viewing in the year 2000, but minors are not allowed entry.

I have wondered why Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed by fire. Could the reason be because they are both like Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible, although not to that extent? Genesis 19 talks about two angels that went to Sodom to warn Lot and his family to flee for God was going to destroy Sodom because of the inhabitants’ evil ways. Verse 3: “He (Lot) prepared a meal for them (the angels) baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”…….24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus He overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land (NIV).

God will soon bring judgement upon the earth. Fire and brimstone will rain from heaven and consume those who do abominable things before God. May God help us to always stay true to His principles and to love Him with all of our heart that we may escape His wrath and inherit eternal life. (Written in 2018)

1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”