August 24 can be a dangerous day. In old Rome this is a day of the Mundus Patet, a day when the gateway between this world and the underworld can open, permitting the passage of baleful influences and spirits. In the Circus Maximus in Rome an altar buried in the earth would be dug up and revealed and sacrifices performed.
On August 24 in the year 79 ce Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and many other places. Many thousands must have died. Herculaneum was totally buried beneath volcanic debris and mud flows, as was much of the surrounding countryside. The taller buildings of Pompeii would have been still standing above the ash deposits but the city was never rebuilt. Its territories were reassigned to neighboring communities. This would indicate that most of the people of Pompeii must have died. A great deal of salvage work was carried out at Pompeii after the eruption. Modern archaeologists have characterized this salvage work as “looting”, but it is really the modern archaeologists who are the looters, desecrating temples and tombs, and carefully using the surviving evidence to support their own pet theories about life in ancient times. The date for the eruption has become a matter of controversy. Maybe it was August, but maybe it was September, October, or even November. The surviving manuscripts are not consistent. Much of the doubt about the traditional August date centers around a silver coin discovered in Pompeii. The coin is known to have been minted after August 79 ce, so how could it have been found at the destruction level? Very easily, actually. After the site was safe to approach, it must have been swarming for months afterwards with workers conducting salvage operations. One such person could easily have dropped a coin which made its way into the debris level.
On August 24 in the year 410 ce, the city of Rome was sacked by a horde of Christian Goths led by King Alaric. The Goths only held the City for three days, but caused quite a lot of damage, along with mass rape and murder. The Goths seized mostly portable items: coin, jewels, precious objects, silks, spices, and food. The city was stripped of food supplies. Thousands of people were carried away as captives when the Goths left the City. Many of these people were killed when Alaric died soon after. Some of the buildings burned by the Goths seem a bit peculiar: the Tabularium, Basilica Aemilia, and Basilica Iulia. The basilicas and the Tabularium contained many government records regarding court cases, taxes (who is paid up and who isn’t), property ownership, leases, wills, inheritances, settlements, etc. Someone benefited from the destruction of so many official records, and it wasn’t the Goths, in my opinion.
On a lighter note
In the calendar of Neos Alexandria, today is the Festival of Inebriation, in honor of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. Sekhmet had decided to destroy humanity, but was given a bowl of beer dyed red, to imitate blood. Having become happily drunk after sipping from the bowl, Sekhmet decided to spare humanity. After all, a people who had invented beer couldn’t be all bad. So, drink a toast to your favorite cat, and reflect a bit on just how ferocious a cat can be.