"One was shackled to it from birth as to a moving wagon. The designation of the journey could not be altered, only the manner in which one approached it -- whether one chose to walk erect or to be dragged complaining through the dust" (183)
5.4 Third and fourth day (Aug. 24-25, 79 CE): the eruption
The destruction of Rectina's library (an entire culture and civilization vanishing under our very eyes)
"Pliny took it from the slave and inhaled it, catching in its musty aroma of the whiff of the old republic: of men of the stamp of Cato and Sergius; of a city fighting to become an empire; of the dust of the Campus Martius; of trial by iron and fire" (243)
"Who knows? Perhaps, two centuries from now, men will be drinking the vintage from this year of ours, and wondering what we were like. Our skill, our courage" (243)
"Popidius's eyes were blank holes in the musk of his face. He looked like one of the ancestral effigies on the wall of his house." (248)
5.4 Historical elements and themes associated with them
5.4 Celebrating the might of the aqueduct: Aqua Augusta
Oh, but she was a mighty piece of work, the Augusta -- one of the greatest feats of engineering ever accomplished.
… Somewhere far out there, on the opposite side of the bay, high in the pine forested mountains of the Apenninus, the aqueduct captured the springs of Serinus and bore the water westward -- channeled it along sinuous underground passages, carried it over ravines on top of tiered arcades, forced it across valleys through massive siphons -- all the way down to the plains of Campania, then around the far side of Mount Vesuvius, then south to the coast at Neapolis, and finally along the spine of the Misenum peninsula to the dusty naval town, a distance of some sixty miles, with a mean drop along her entire length of just two inches every one hundred yards.
5.4 The Aqua Augusta: leadership and technology
She was the longest aqueduct in the world, longer even than the great aqueducts of Rome and far more complex, for whereas her sisters in the north fed one city only, the Augusta's serpentine conduit -- the matrix, as they called it: the motherline -- suckled no fewer than nine towns around the bay of Neapolis: Pompeii first, at the end of a long spur, then Nola, Acerrae, Atella, Neapolis, Puteoli, Cumae, Baiae, and finally Misenum. (7)
5.4: The Aqua Augusta: technology and civilization
"... the engineer could stand here, listening and lost in thought, for hours. The percussion of the Augusta sounded in his ears not as a dull and continuous roar but as the notes of a gigantic water organ: the music of civilization. … in those moments, he felt himself to be not in a reservoir at all, but in a temple dedicated to the only God worth believing in." (18)