(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Ron and Nancy Goor write of what remains after the abrupt destruction of Pompeii, a city that serves as an example of ancient Roman civilization, a culture that has contributed so much to later civilizations.

The wall surrounding Pompeii was twenty feet thick and twenty-six feet high. Eight gates and eight roads led out of and into Pompeii. Two-story colonnades enclosed three sides of the forum. On the fourth side stood the imposing Temple of Jupiter. The large theater held five thousand spectators; the amphitheater, twenty thousand. An eighteen-mile-long aqueduct, a vast Castellum Aquae for holding water, plus twenty-foot-high water towers were located throughout Pompeii. All these structures offer, two thousand years later, testimony to the architectural and engineering prowess of the Pompeians. Paintings, mosaics, vases, sculptures, and fluted columns speak of the abilities of artisans in the town. Business records kept on wax tablets tell of loans and rent payments. Graffiti announce that Pompeians idolized gladiators and actors. Love poems, political advertisements, lost-and-found announcements, and insults remain on the walls of tombs, houses, and shops. Bread, hermetically sealed for centuries, shows the name of its baker, Celer, the slave of Quintus Granius Verus. Rules for dining etiquette painted on the wall of one villa, instructions for creating a mosaic, and a recipe testify about life in Pompeii in a.d. 79.


(The entire section is 603 words.)