“In the meantime, the eruption from Mount Vesuvius flamed out in several places with much violence, which the darkness of the night contributed to render still more visible and dreadful. But my uncle, in order to soothe the apprehensions of his friend, assured him it was only the burning of the villages, which the country people had abandoned to the flames; after this he retired to rest, and it was most certain he was so little discomposed as to fall into a deep sleep; for, being pretty fat, and breathing hard, those who attended without actually heard him snore. The court which led to his apartment being now almost filled with stones and ashes, if he had continued there any longer it would have been impossible for him to have made his way out; it was thought proper, therefore, to awaken him. He got up and went to Pomponianus and the rest of his company, who were not unconcerned enough to think of going to bed. They consulted together whether it would be most prudent to trust to the houses, which now shook from side to side with frequent and violent concussions; or to fly to the open fields, where the calcined stone and cinders, though light indeed, yet fell in large showers and threatened destruction. In this distress they resolved for the fields as the less dangerous situation of the two—a resolution which, while the rest of the company were hurried into it by their fears, my uncle embraced upon cool and deliberate consideration.
DEATH OF PLINY THE ELDER
“They went out, then, having pillows tied upon their heads with napkins; and this was their whole defence against the storm of stones that fell around them. It was now day everywhere else, but there a deeper darkness prevailed than in the most obscure night; which, however, was in some degree dissipated by torches and other lights of various kinds. They thought proper to go down further upon the shore, to observe if they might safely put out to sea; but they found that the waves still ran extremely high and boisterous. There my uncle, having drunk a draught or two of cold water, threw himself down upon a cloth which was spread for him, when immediately the flames, and a strong smell of sulphur which was the forerunner of them, dispersed the rest of the company, and obliged him to rise. He raised himself up with the assistance of two of his servants, and instantly fell down dead, suffocated, as I conjecture, by some gross and noxious vapor, having always had weak lungs, and being frequently subject to a difficulty of breathing.
“As soon as it was light again, which was not till the third day after this melancholy accident, his body was found entire, and without any marks of violence upon it, exactly in the same posture as that in which he fell, and looking more like a man asleep than dead. During all this time my mother and I were at Misenum. But this has no connection with your history, as your inquiry went no farther