This is a novella, told in the third person. It is set during the Vesuvius eruption and answers the question, ‘What happened to Larius?’
Of course we already know the answer, so for those of us who have loved this lad in his wide-eyed youth, it cannot make for happy reading. This is the saddest story I have ever written, but I wanted to do it. The events of AD79 have given us our most intimate knowledge of the Romans, while like me, many of you will have spent wonderful times on the Bay of Naples. I must have visited every year for thirty years. I have come to care passionately about the conservation of the archaeology and the way these extraordinary sites are presented to the public. For our own humanity, I believe it is important not simply to learn how those ancient people lived but to remember how they suffered when they died.
The story has been told many times. My retelling is mainly set in the House of the Painters at Work, the Herculaneum boatsheds and a rustic villa at Oplontis. These have been excavated and studied during my lifetime, so I hope that gives my version freshness.
What happened was an extraordinary event – and let us not forget, an enormous super volcano still lies under this area. The longer the pause, the bigger the next eruption it will be. What happened to Larius will happen again.