Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Sunday, May 05, 2002
Timeless literature

Smart arses: There is a rush to save scrolls which are still in the library in Pompeii where they were buried by Vesuvius but are now in danger of being flooded. What are we leaving to future generations to preseve? Bijan Omrani surveys the Bodleian Library's toilet graffiti to answer this question.

In Pompeii, every phrase scratched into the ancient walls -- whether it be the drunken effusion of a guest returning from a dinner party, or the plaint of a lover shut out from his mistress -- is greedily catalogued. Professors rejoice when even the most opaque fragment of Greek lyric emerges from the darkness. How can we rest easy with ourselves, knowing that the most private thoughts of the nation's premier scholars are falling prey to the janitor's bucket and mop?

See also: The History of Plumbing - Pompeii & Herculaneum

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley