Looking at the picture:
This young man is writing about a great disaster while he watches
People you will read about: Pliny; a famous writer of history. Tacitus. A famous writer of history.
Places you will read about: Mount Vesuvius: A volcano near Naples.
Naples: a port city in southern Italy.
Pompeii: an ancient city near Naples.
Something you will read about: Lava. Hot, melted rock that comes from a volcano.
Naples, Italy 24 August 79
My dear friend Tacitus,
I fear I have sad news to report. As I sit here writing, my eyes keep wandering across the Bay of Naples. There, at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius, I see what is left of the once beautiful city of Pompeii. The fertile farms that once covered the green slopes of Vesuvius with fruit trees, grape vines, and pasture grass are no more. The beautiful public buildings, theaters, and summer homes of rich citizens are no more. And I fear that the city of Pompeii itself will soon be no more. For Mt. Vesuvius has exploded. The volcano that had been silent for thousands of years awakened a few hours ago. Now, at this very minute, it is destroying Pompeii.
For at noon today, the earth began to shake harder than it ever had before. Soon a strange-looking white cloud, shaped like a pine tree, appeared over the top of Mt. Vesuvius. Next came a terrible rumble from inside the mountain, then a huge explosion. Before the astonished citizens of Pompeii knew what was happening, a shower of burning stones shot up into the air and came flying down on them. The white cloud turned black with the ashes from the explosion. Lava started flowing down the mountain towards Pompeii. People were frantic. Those who were outdoors rushed in. Those who were indoors rushed out with pillows tied on their heads. Panic filled every heart.
Soon the whole mountain was covered by black smoky clouds. They were poisonous sulphur gases. Everything in Pompeii grew dark as the sulphur settled on the city. The earth continued shaking, sending buildings to the ground and starting fires. Thick ashes continued to fall. Lava flowed in, crushing roofs, and burying people who had died from the poisonous gas.
What will become of these people? I do not know. What will become of Pompeii? I do not know. But, my dear friend Tacitus, I promise to write again with more news of Pompeii, for I know how interested you are in recording events of history.
Your friend, Pliny
After reading Pliny's letter, you're probably curious about what became of Pompeii. For eight days and eight nights, Mt. Vesuvius continued its dreadful explosions. Its ashes grew thicker and blacker. Its lava rolled down the slopes, pouring through doors and windows and finally burying every rooftop.
Trained teams of diggers took over. They uncovered vases, bowls, tools, food, and parts of buildings. Even the forms of bodies had been preserved by the hot coals and ashes that had settled on Pompeii.
Frantic expressions frozen on people's faces showed the panic they must have felt when the poisonous sulphur began to choke them. A cook was frozen putting his breads into the oven. A grocer was frozen setting out beans on his counter. A woman was frozen arranging needles and thimbles in her sewing kit. A dog was frozen tied to a post where his master had left him. Women were frozen grasping their jewels as they tried to flee. Children were frozen clutching their mothers for protection. A rich man was frozen holding the key to his locked garden gate while his slaves carried his money and valuables behind him.
Pliny was seventeen years old when he witnessed the end of Pompeii. We are glad that he wrote about it to his friend Tacitus. And we are glad that their letters were preserved. Because of a letter like the one you just read, scholars have learned much about a city that lived and died almost 2,000 years ago.
Comprehension Check. Choose the best answer.
1. Before Mt. Vesuvius exploded, Pompeii was _______
2. The citizens of Pompeii had been warned about the explosion by _____
3. No one expected Mt. Vesuvius to explode, because ______
4. The white cloud that appeared over Mt. Vesuvius was ______
5. People rushed outdoors with pillows tied on their heads ______
6. Boats couldn't leave the wharf at Pompeii because ________
7. After 1,700 years, Pompeii was discovered again by _______
8. Scholars discovered Pompeii's time in history by ___________
9. Another name for this story could be __________________
10. This story is mainly about _______________
This story is an article from a series of Reading Comprehension Workbooks by Edcon Publishing Group. Edcon Publishing has a very large selection of different types of readings and other
materials for learning. I highly recommend this company. - The Teacher
Pompeii in Wikipedia
Villa of The Mysteries
Pliny's Letter to Tacitus About the Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius
The Story of Mount Vesuvius:Youtube