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Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

4. The story of Lupercus

By Rossella Lorenzi

Lupercus is one of the only victims whose identity has survived, thanks to his personal bronze seal declaring his status as an imperial slave. This fictional account of his last day is based on the recent findings.

It was a summer night in A.D. 79 and Lupercus watched a young couple sitting cross-legged on the beach at Herculaneum. They looked like they were under the spell of the Cupids on the fresco near the Decumanus Maximus, but it wasn't a romantic moment. The couple was frightened; torrents of hot mud were spewing out of Mount Vesuvius.

Lupercus cleaned his mouth with his left hand. Despite the sea breeze, his tongue felt furry with thin ash. In the other hand he held his bronze seal, inscribed with "Lupercus Augusti servus." It was the only thing he took with him as he rushed to the beach.

He looked again at Vesuvius, worried. "I am close to the water, I shall be safe," he reassured himself. But what would happen to the imperial villa he had to take care of? He had worked so hard to make a good impression on the emperor and be released one day.

After all, he wasn't a just a common slave. He had been appointed with a great responsibility: he had to take care of the garden of the villa that had belonged to the lunatic emperor Caligula.

He looked around at the crowded beach. The women wore their most beautiful jewels. Lupercus recognized the matron of the house with the mosaic atrium: she was wearing rings on every finger and two beautiful bracelets in the shape of snakes. A more modest woman was carrying a basket with nuts and pomegranates, while others carried bronze oil lamps.

"It is going be a long night," Lupercus thought. Some lay on the beach to sleep, while many others decided to find shelter in the boat chambers.

Lupercus entered the one reserved to men. He noticed the doctor with his bag of surgical instruments and a soldier clad in armor, who stood at the entrance.
There was nothing to do but wait. They huddled together in a circle, talking late into the night.

Suddenly, an unbearable heat struck like lightning. The soldier was thrown on his face, his arms outstretched to try to break his fall. Lupercus fell with the others in a tangle of bodies.

Outside, gray ash drifted down like snow. The young couple lay solidified on the beach, the man's arm wrapped around his love.

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