Pliny the Younger
request that I would send you an account of the death of my
uncle. He was at that time with the fleet under his command at Misenum.
the 24th of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother desired
him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very unusual size and
shape. A cloud, found afterwards to come from Mount Vesuvius,
was ascending, the appearance of which I cannot give you a more exact
description of than by likening it to that of a pine tree, for it
shot up to a great height in the form of a very tall trunk, which
spread itself out at the top into a sort of branches; it appeared
sometimes bright and sometimes dark and spotted, according as it was
either more or less impregnated with earth and cinders. He
ordered the galleys to be put to sea.
He was now so close to the mountain that the cinders, which grew
thicker and hotter the nearer he approached, fell into the ships,
together with pumice-stones, and black pieces of burning rock.
Broad flames shone out in several places from Mount Vesuvius, which
the darkness of the night contributed to render still brighter and clearer.
had been noticed for many days before a trembling of the earth, but
it was so particularly violent that night that it not only shook but
actually overturned, as it would seem, everything about us. The
chariots, which we had ordered to be drawn out, were so agitated
backwards and forwards, though upon the most level ground, that we
could not keep them steady, even by supporting them with large
stones. The sea seemed to roll back upon itself, and to be
driven from its banks by the convulsive motion of the earth; it is
certain at least the shore was considerably enlarged, and several sea
animals were left upon it.
the other side, a black and dreadful cloud, broken with rapid,
zigzag flashes, revealed behind it variously shaped masses of flame:
these last were like sheet-lightning, but much larger. The
earthquake still continued, while many frenzied persons ran up and
down heightening their own and their friends' calamities by terrible predictions.
therefore resolved to quit the town. A panic-stricken crowd
followed us. They went out then, having pillows tied upon their
heads with napkins; and this was their whole defense against the
storm of stones that fell round them. It was now day everywhere else,
but there a deeper darkness prevailed than in the thickest night.
absolutely refused to leave [my mother], and, taking her by the
hand, compelled her to go with me. I looked back; a dense dark
mist seemed to be following us, spreading itself over the country
like a cloud.
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great
authority; and the earth was made bright with his splendor.
And he called out with a mighty voice, Fallen, fallen is
Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a
haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul and hateful bird, 3
for all nations have drunk the wine of her impure passion, and the
kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the
merchants of the earth have grown rich with the wealth of her wantonness.
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her,
my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her
for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her
Render to her as she herself has rendered, and repay her double for
her deeds. 7
As she glorified herself and played the wanton, so give her a like
measure of torment and mourning. Since in her heart she says,
A queen I sit, I am no widow, mourning I shall never see, 8
so shall her plagues come in a single day, pestilence and mourning
and famine, and she shall be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord
God who judges her.
And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and were wanton
with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her
they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, Alas!
alas! thou great city, thou mighty city, Babylon! In one hour
has thy judgment come.
And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one
buys their cargo any more, 12
cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls ... 13 and
slaves, that is, human souls.
The fruit for which thy soul longed has gone from thee, and all
thy dainties and thy splendor are lost to thee, never to be found again!
The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand
far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16
Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet, bedecked with gold, with jewels, and with
In one hour all this wealth has been laid waste.
all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on
the sea, stood far off 18
and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, What city
was like the great city? 19
And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying
out, Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at
sea grew rich by her wealth! In one hour she has been laid
Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for
God has given judgment for you against her!
End of the World
might hear the shrieks of women, the screams of children, and the
shouts of men; one lamenting his own fate, another that of his
family; some wishing to die, from the very fear of dying; some
lifting their hands to the gods; but the greater part convinced that
there were now no gods at all, and that the final endless night of
which we have heard had come upon the world.
heavy shower of ashes rained upon us, which we were obliged every
now and then to stand up to shake off, otherwise we should have been
crushed and buried in the heap. I might boast that, during all
this scene of horror, not an expression of fear escaped me, had not
my support been grounded in that miserable consolation, that all
mankind were involved in the same calamity, and that I was perishing
with the world itself.
Pompeii, So Shall Be Rome
Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw
it into the sea, saying, So shall the great city be thrown down
with violence, and shall be found no more; 22
and the sound of harpers and minstrels, of flute players and
trumpeters, shall be heard in thee no more; and a craftsman of any
craft shall be found in thee no more; and the sound of the millstone
shall be heard in thee no more; 23
and the light of a lamp shall shine in thee no more; and the voice of
bridegroom and bride shall be heard in thee no more; for thy
merchants were the great men of the earth, and all nations were
deceived by thy sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all
who have been slain on earth.