As an aside, this week I had the chance to visit the British Museum’s Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum. A there-and-back trip from South Wales to London in one day is never to be taken lightly, but on this occasion the time and effort was well-spent.
As is well-known, these two cities were catastrophically engulfed in the year 79 by a volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Excavations from the middle of the 18th century have revealed much about the day-to-day conditions of the people who lived (and died) there. Hundreds of objects from both sites have been brought to London for this exhibition, and the whole is both beautifully presented and utterly fascinating. I say ‘is’ in the knowledge that this coming Sunday is the exhibition’s last day.
What psychological traumas the survivors of this disaster will have suffered. And what, I now find myself idly wondering, was the state of mental health of the Ancient Romans more generally? I have no idea, but a brief search online turns up a book by an academic who definitely does. Seeing this I am reminded that there are so many interesting things to know, and yet so little time to learn them.
Back in the world of work it’s been a week of grant proposals, marking, meetings with students and postgraduate research student progress reviewing. All good, and the term now feels well and truly under way.