I read this perhaps 25 years ago, but just downloaded a copy, not remembering that I'm already familiar with it. The opening lines reminded me. Of course, being so long ago, I don't remember a lot about the reading (good reason to revisit the book,) but it did make quite an impression on me. Since I was a teenager, I've watched many documentaries that reference Pompeii, and have a fascination with volcanoes. In 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted, the top 1/3 of the mountain disappearing in a moment. I was 9 years old. We were near enough to the mountain to see it, but far enough away to make the catastrophe only a moderate inconvenience. I remember standing on my Aunt's back deck and watching the ash plume drifting east. Over the next several weeks, ash settled on everything, and our neighbors closer to the volcano had to cope with ashy air, ash in and on all of their possessions, unreliable transportation, and property damage. 57 people died - DIED, in spite of massive warnings from scientists watching the mountain's activity. Spirit Lake all but disappeared, poisoned by gas and debris, clogged with ash. It was an incredible thing to witness - especially for a 10 year old. Sometime thereafter, I found The Last Days of Pompeii at the library, and devoured it. In glancing over it again, I'm not sure how my middle school mind took in the archaic language, but having been raised on a steady diet of daily bible readings, I suspect I was more used to it than I would be now. I do remember the story being a fascinating look at the day to day lives of a somewhat decadent Greco-Roman city. There were elements of influence from other cultures and religions also, which made the story even more interesting to me as a child, steeped as I was in fundamentalism. It was a rare peek into other philosophies, couched in historical fiction. Perhaps on re-reading, it wouldn't stand up to my early experience. Still, I think I'll give it a shot.