The Death of Pliny the Elder

Lauren Crawford
Flashcards by Lauren Crawford, updated more than 1 year ago
Lauren Crawford
Created by Lauren Crawford over 6 years ago
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OCR translation of The Death of Pliny the Elder

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petis ut tibi avunculi mei exitum scribam, quo verius tradere posteris possis You ask that I write to you about the death of my uncle, in order that you can hand down to posterity a more truthful account.
erat Miseni classemque imperio praesens regebat. He was at Misenum and he was personally in command of the fleet there.
nonum kal. Septembres hora fere septima mater mea indicat ei nubem mirabilem apparere; quae visa est ei, ut eruditissimo viro, magna propiusque noscenda On the 24th August, at about the 7th hour, my mother pointed out to him the appearance of an amazing cloud; it seemed to him, as one might expect from a most scholarly man, that this important matter had to be investigated at closer quarters
iubet libernicam parari; me si venire una velem rogat; respondi studere me malle, et forte ipse quod scriberem dederat. He ordered a fast boat to be prepared; he asked me if I wanted to come along as well; I replied that I preferred to study, and by chance he himself had given [me] something to write.
egrediebatur domo; accipit codicillos Rectinae Tasci imminenti periculo pertaerritae (nam villa eius subiacebat, nec ulla nisi navibus fuga): He was going out of the house; he received a note from Rectina, the wife of Tascius, who was terrified of the imminent danger (for her villa lay underneath [Vesuvius] and there was no means of escape except by boats):
orabat ut se tanto discrini eripet. vertit ille consilium et quod studioso animo inceperat obit maximo. she was begging [him] to rescue her from so great a danger. So he changed his plan and what had started in a spirit of enquiry turned into an act of heroism.
deducit quadriremes, ascendit ipse non Rectinae modo sed multis (erat enim frequens amoenitas orae) laturus auxilium. He launched the warships [and] he himself boarded not only intending to bring help to Rectina but [also] to many [others] (for that delightful stretch of coast was densely populated).
festinat illuc unde alii fugiunt, rectumque cursum recta gubernacula in periculum tenet adeo solutus metu, ut omnes illius mali motus, omnes figuras ut deprenderat oculis dictaret adnotaretque. He hurried towards that place from which others were fleeing, and held a straight course with a straight rudder right into the danger, so oblivious to [any] fear that he was dictating and writing notes on all the movements of that dreadful thing [and] on all its features as he had observed [them].
iam navibus cinis incidebat, calidior et densior, quo propius accederent; iam pumices etiam lapidesque nigri et ambusti et fracti igne; iam vadum subitum et litora ruina montis obstantia. Now the ash was falling on the boats, hotter and thicker, the nearer they approached; by now pumice even and stones, black and scorched and cracked from the fire [were falling]; now they were suddenly in shallow water and the shore was blocked by debris from the mountain.
haesitat paulisper an retro navigaret; mox gubernstori ut ita faceret monenti 'fortes' inquit 'fortuna adiuvat: Pomponianum pete!' [My uncle] hesitated for a little while as to whether he should sail back; soon he said to his helmsman, who was advising him to do just that 'fortune favours the brave: make for Pomponianus!'
pomponianus erat Stabiis diremptus sinu medio (nam mare sensim circumactis curvatisque litoribus infunditur); Pomponianus was at Stabiae and had been separated [from Herculaneum] by the intervening bay (for the sea was gradually running onto the shore which swept around in a curve);
ibi periculum, quamquam nondum appropinquabat, tamen valde conspicuum erat; Pomponianus igitur sarcinas posuerat in naves, certus fugae si contrarius ventus resedisset. there the danger, although it was no yet approaching, was nevertheless very obvoius; therefore Pomponianus had put his luggage onto boats, determined to flee if only the headwind would subside.
quo tum secundissimo avunculus meus invectus, amplectitur trepidantem consolature hortatur, utque timorem eius sua securitate leniret, iubet ferri n balineum. Then, with this wind directly behind him my uncle sailed into [Stabiae], embraced his trembling friend, cheered him up [and] encouraged him, with the result that he calmed his fear by mens of his own composure; [then] he ordered that he be carried into the bathroom.
lotus recumbit cenat, aut hilaris aut (quod est aeque magnum) similis hilari. Once he had bathed he reclined and dined [and], either cheerfully or (which is equally impressive) pretending to be.
interea e Vesuvio monte pluribus locis Iatissimae flammae altaque incendia relucebant, quorum fulgor et claritas tenebris noctis excitabatur. ille in remedium formidinis dictitabat ignes agrestium trepidatione relictos desertasque villas per solitudinem ardere. Meanwhile from Mt. Vesuvius very broad [sheets] of flame and tall fires were blazing in several places, whose glare and brightness was emphasised by the darkness of the night. to counter the terror, he kept saying that the fires had been left behind by the country fol in their panic and that the deserted villas were burning in the abandoned areas.
tum se quieti dedit et quievit verissimo quidem somno: nam meatus animae, qui illi propter amplitiidinem corporis gravior et sonantior erat, ab eis qui limini obversabantur audiebatur. Then he allowed himself a quiet time and he rested by actually [falling into] a very deep sleep; for his breathing, which was more heavy and noisy because of the stoutness of his body, was heard by those who were moving about near the doorway.
sed area ex qua cubiculum adibatur ita iam cinere mixtisque pumicibus completa surrexerat, ut si longior in cubiculo mora esset, exitus negaretur. But the courtyard, off which his bedroom led, had risen [in level], as it was full of a mixture of ash and pumice, with the result that if he were to delay any longer in his bedroom, his way out would be impossible.
excitatus procedit, seque Pomponiano ceterisque qui pervigilaverant reddit. inter se consulunt, utrum intra tecta maneant an in aperto vagentur. Having been woken up, he went out, and went back to Pomonianus and the others who had stayed awake all night. They consulted with each other as to whether they should stay within the buildings or roam about in the open.
nam crebris ingentibusque tremoribus tecta nutabant, et quasi emota sed ibus suis nunc huc nunc illiic abire aut referri videbantur. For the buildings were shaking with frequent and enormous tremors, and as if they were being torn away from their own foundations, seemed to be swaying backwards and forwards, now this way now that.
sub dio rursus casus pumicum metuebatur, quamquam levium exesorumque, quod tamen periculorum collatio elegit; et apud illum quidem ratio rationem, apud alios timorem timor vicit. In the open, on the other hand, there was the fear of falling pumice-stones, although they were light and porous; however, a comparison of the dangers suggested the latter choice; and certainly in my uncle's case reason won the day, whereas for the others it was fear that won them over.
cervicalia capitibus imposita linteis constringunt; id munimentum contra incidentia fuit. They put pillows on their heads and tied them down with strips of linen; this provided a protection against things that were falling on them.
iam dies alibi, illic nox omnibus noctibus nigrior densiorque: quam tamen faces multae variaque lumina solvebant. By now the day was elsewhere, and where they were the night was denser and blacker than all other nights; however, lots of torches and various kinds of lamps did help to relieve the blackness.
placuit egredi in litus, et ex proximo adspicere, num mare fugam praeberet: quod adhuc vastum et adversum manebat. They decided to go out onto the shore, and to investigate from close by, to see whether the sea could provide a means of escape; but it still remained swollen and hostile.
ibi in abiecto Iinteo recumbens semel atque iterum frigidam aquam poposcit hausitque. Reclining there on a cloth which had been thrown down, time and time again my uncle demanded cold water and drank it down
deinde flammae flammarumque praeniintius odor sulphuris alios in fugam vertunt, excitant illum. Then the flames and the smell of sulphur - a warning sign of more flames - turned the others' thoughts to flight and so they woke him up.
innitens servis duobus surrexit et statim concidit. spiritus enim, ut ego credo, densiore caligine obstriictus erat, claususque stomachus qui illi natura invalidus et angustus et saepe aestuans erat. Leaning on two slaves he got up, but then immediately collapsed. For his breathing, so I believe, had been obstructed by the thick fumes and this had caused the closing of the windpipe which, by its very nature, was weak, narrow and often inflamed.
ubi dies redditus est (is ab eo quem novissime viderat tertius), corpus inventum est integrum inlaesum opertumque ut fuerat indutus: habitus corporis dormienti quam mortuo similior. When the day light was restored (this was the third day since daylight had last been seen), his body was found, intact and uninjured and covered just as he had been dressed: his appearance was more like that of a sleeping body than a dead one.
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