What Pegman Saw : A bitter offering

Today Pegman takes us the the lovely island of Mauritius


‘What about this one?’

Atia surveyed the stone in her brother’s hand. She shook her head. ‘It must have a flat edge and a sharp point opposite.’ She looked up to the mountain. ‘You see? Like that.’

Felix looked, but the peak was wreathed in smoke, a lazy coronet often there on still days. He thought of his friend Cato who’d caught a beetle the day before, big as his palm, black as a thunder cloud with branched horns on its head like a stag.

‘I want to see the beetle, Atia.’ The sun was making him hot and whiney.

‘We must leave a stone for Venus -‘

The ground shifted under him, throwing him down. His knees hurt like bee stings. ‘Atia?’

She grabbed his hand, dragged him to his feet. ‘Run! Run to tata!’

The air stung, tasted bitter, dust filled his eyes, his mouth.

‘Lares help us!’


Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt based on Google Streetview.

Of course, having a history degree that touched on the Classics, once I saw the smoky mountain top all I could think of was Vesuvius and what might have happened, had a brother and sister been out making offerings to the Gods on that day in AD 79.


Lares were household gods, small and personal ones, possibly guardian ancestors.

Venus was patroness of Pompeii, hence the children leaving a token for her.

It seems Roman children called their fathers tata as often as they did papa.

One last thing …

It’s thought Pompeii was engulfed by pyroclastic flow, a volcanic eruption where rock behaves more like water. To see what the Pompeiians might have seen before the end, see here.


And for the dormant Goth inside me still …

33 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : A bitter offering

    1. Thank you Tish. Eternally fascinating, this story, isn’t it? The tragedy of all of those people, caught in that moment of unbelievably powerful destruction. It will never lose its draw, I suspect. Thank you for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Excellent vignette. I remember seeing a show where a villain changed his ways after seeing Pompeii. Something about a corpse in the midst of counting money moved him to begin valuing his life a bit more.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a terrifying little story, knowing how it ends when the children don’t, yet. And yes, now Pompeii is all I can think about too! Drat, I should have written mine first.

    Thanks for posting the Siouxsie video — I love the song (of course!) but like so many songs from that era, I don’t think I’d ever seen the video. All those hours watching MTV, I don’t know how it’s possible, but it’s true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, sorry for swaying your mind that way – it’s a pain when that happens, isn’t it? I love that song and the video. I still have the Tinderbox album it comes from and it is one of the best songs on it. I confess that was where I first heard of the Lares – Siouxsie mentions them in one of the verses. So much for a bit of Classical learning 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, get your classical learning wherever it comes from! I didn’t realize at the time, but a lot of the 1980s bands included really interesting history and mythology and just generally more intellectual ideas in their lyrics than what came before or after. So you really could learn something from it. Or maybe I’m just not listening to the right contemporary music, I’m open to that interpretation too!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think you’re right – a lot of 80s musicians (especially the Indie ones) went to art school, were interested in history and art and so on. Hence Spandau Ballet’s name (a reference to hangings at Spandau Prison), Cabaret Voltaire (named after a Dadaist club in Switzerland), U2 (named after a spy plane) … There were plenty of bands who didn’t think that deeply (Bananarama anyone?) but many did

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the explanation. I was a little confused about what I was reading at first, especially since my brain was “aimed” at Mauritius. Good depiction and in this case, a vain attempt to placate the gods.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great description of the run-up to a terrifying event. I loved your ‘lazy coronet’. It’s possible the children escaped, if their tata was rich, and quick off the mark to the boats.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think so too Penny. Not every Pompeian died that day. Jus tas long as they didn;t hang around the harbour – apparently a lot of bodies were found down there. Thank you for the kind comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, truly frightening isn’t it? It all happens so fast once the top goes. No surprise many of the residents of Pompei and Herculaneum didn’t react in time to save themselves. Thank you for the kind comment Chris

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Lynn,

    You are the mistress of description. You had me there in the moment. Really well done. I did appreciate the explanations at the end.
    Once more I’m late for the Pegman Party. Hope you’ll swing by.



    Liked by 1 person

  6. I went to Pompeii when I was sixteen. A fascinating place I would like to revisit. I enjoyed the fact that you told this in the children’s point of view. A normal day collecting giant beetles, whining and being too hot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you Alicia. Yes, catasclysmic events tend to happen when most of the world is just having an ordinary day, don’t they? Glad you thought that worked 🙂


    1. I loved them. One of my favourite bands and I still own several albums. Although she’s a spiky one, I admired her for being a woman in control of her work and image in an industry where so many women are controlled.

      Liked by 1 person

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