6.16.17-22: The Smell of Sulfur
This post belongs to a serialized translation and commentary of Pliny the Younger’s letters (6.16 and 6.20) to the historian Tacitus about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. This is the sixth (and last) installment for letter 6.16.
The Elder Pliny, his friends, and their servants have fled the villa of his friend Pomponianus at Stabiae. Rather than risk burial from collapsing roofs, they have decided to take their chances along the shoreline while pumice continues to rain down. It is probably between 5:30-6:30 a.m. (see also Sigurdsson’s eruption timeline here); sunrise at Stabiae (Lat. 40.696518 N; Long. 14.483070 E) on 25 August was at 5:28 (NOAA solar calculator; see Part 4 for instructions on how to use it).
17 Iam dies alibi, illic nox omnibus noctibus nigrior densiorque; quam tamen faces multae variaque lumina solvebant. Placuit egredi in litus, et ex proximo adspicere, ecquid iam mare admitteret; quod adhuc vastum et adversum permanebat.