Goethe once said, “Among the many disasters that have occurred in the world, none has ever brought such immense pleasure to future generations as Pompeii.”
This statement truly makes one ponder.
On that fateful day in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the ruins and freezing the city in the river of time. It wasn’t until the 18th century that this forgotten land was rediscovered, unveiling the veil of history and revealing Pompeii once again, attracting countless visitors.
People have different perspectives and emotions when it comes to historical disasters and tragedies. It could be the “pleasure” mentioned by Goethe, or the poignant and romantic “grief” depicted in John Keats’ poetry about the ancient city. It could also be the fiery depiction of Pompeii’s final 48 hours in various films, such as “City of Desire” or “Epic Love”.
For me, I prefer to describe the moment I stepped into Pompeii with words like “magnificent” and “respect”.
At that moment, it felt as if time had transcended, and the grayish-white stones weaved a silent and mysterious story. The ancient ruins emanated a rustic and solemn ambiance, as if echoing the voices of bygone years. In the tranquility of these ruins, I could sense the soul of a forgotten ancient civilization.
Despite the erosion of time on the remaining walls and columns, they still exuded grandeur and dignity. On the desolate streets, the vibrant and bustling daily life of the past seemed to be within reach. I could almost hear the whispers and laughter of the ancients, feeling their lives and dreams.
The sunlight spilled onto the ruins, accentuating the texture and colors of each stone, making them even more vivid. In this melancholic wasteland, I felt the weight and profoundness of history, as well as the fragility of humanity in the face of time and natural forces.
Strolling along the stone-paved streets, I could perceive the wisdom and hardships of the ancient inhabitants. Pompeii’s residents constructed magnificent residences, baths, theaters, and markets, showcasing the prosperity and civilization of the ancient Roman Empire.
When I saw the “Garden of the Fugitives (Orto dei Fuggiaschi),” a deep wave of emotions surged within me.
This area was once an ordinary residential area, but a few years before the volcanic eruption, it was transformed into a vineyard with an open-air banquet restaurant constructed with pergolas. Thirteen victims’ bodies were discovered here, as adults and children attempted to escape through a layer of floating stones over three meters high at the Nocera Gate. Unfortunately, the exit was blocked by lava, and they tragically perished due to suffocation and extreme heat.
Archaeologists filled the voids left by the solidified lava with plaster, creating the human-shaped molds we see today. These molds allow us to witness the struggles and horrors that people faced in their final moments.
Rather than being mournful, these molds can be described as “perfect.” They make us lament the abrupt end of life while flawlessly capturing every detail of existence. Within the ruins of Pompeii, seemingly contradictory states coexist.
Here, I feel the splendor and diversity of civilization.
Pompeii was once a thriving and prosperous city, where its residents led vibrant and colorful lives. The murals, sculptures, and architectural details on the streets showcase the exquisite craftsmanship and creativity of ancient Roman art. Every corner of the ruins is a unique work of art, leaving me in awe of the infinite possibilities of human wisdom and creativity.
In human history, no other city has experienced a fate as extraordinary as Pompeii. It was instantly destroyed over 1900 years ago, yet after slumbering for over 1600 years, it miraculously resurfaced in such a complete state, allowing us to relive everything left behind from that era.
This achievement would not have been possible without the meticulous work of archaeologists and the assistance of modern technology. Just as the physical form may perish, and plants may be carbonized, the beauty of art transcends time, space, and even death. In the moment of excavation, it still manages to make us feel its eternal heartbeat.
The unique beauty of Pompeii can only be fully appreciated through personal experience. It silently awakens the fading emotions deep within our hearts.
Source: By Shanghai Traveller