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  • Christopher Trinacty


The earthquake of 62/63 ce was a catastrophic event for Pompeii and Campania. The destruction and death toll were extensive and it is clear that the city of Pompeii was still recovering and rebuilding when the eruption of Vesuvius happened. This article takes into consideration the mental and emotional damage that the earthquake caused and the way in which Seneca and the archaeological record help us to perceive strategies of consolation and therapy. Seneca discusses this earthquake in Book 6 of his Naturales quaestiones and hopes to lead his reader from the shock of the earthquake to a more comprehensive understanding of the physical causes of the tremor. The cultural memory of events not witnessed directly (such as Seneca's write-up of the Pompeii earthquake) makes us all survivors and ‘turn[s] history into a memory in which we can all participate’. If trauma ‘spreads via language and representation’, Seneca wants to limit what exactly is traumatic about this event and employs his creative rhetoric to do so. His account demonstrates how Stoic physics and ethics are connected and moves the reader from his or her fear of earthquakes to the fear of death at the root of the anxiety. Seneca carefully alters the valence of certain terms as well as selected memories of the earthquake to encourage his reader to transcend his or her fear and view earthquakes as natural occurrences, not anomalies to be dreaded. He does this through strategies identified in modern trauma theory as useful for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and this article investigates how contemporary trauma theory can help us understand aspects of Seneca's remedy. Seneca's repetitions of certain events and terminology works to reassess and renovate them from a philosophical angle – in essence it turns potential ‘flashbacks’ and ‘triggers’ into beneficial sites of memory and the means of recovery. Survivors often relive the trauma again and again – Seneca's work alludes to this, but now makes the victim actively revise how to make such iterations part of the recovery.


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I owe a great debt to the editors and reader of Greece & Rome for their extensive assistance and encouragement. Andrew T. Wilburn and Elizabeth Wueste provided astute comments and questions. Thanks to Lizzie Edgar for helping with image permissions. Any remaining errors are my own.



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1 For the purposes of this article, it does not matter whether the earthquake was in 62 or 63 ce. For the debate, see Wallace-Hadrill, A., ‘Seneca and the Pompeian Earthquake’, in DeVivo, A. and LoCascio, E. (eds.), Seneca uomo politico e l'età di Claudio e di Nerone. Atti del Convegno internazionale (Bari, 2003), 177–91; Hine, H. M., ‘The Date of the Campanian Earthquake: a.d. 62 or a.d. 63, or Both?AC 53 (1984), 266–9. The magnitude has recently been estimated as 5.1±0.3 by Cubellis, E. and Marturano, A., ‘Felt Index, Source Parameters and Ground Motion Evaluation for Earthquakes at Mt. Vesuvius’, Annals of Geophysics 56.4 (2013).

2 See Zanker, P., Pompeii. Public and Private Life (Cambridge, 1998), 124–31; and Berry, J., The Complete Pompeii (London, 207), 236–42, on the state of the forum and the desire for households to rebuild private spaces instead of public building, as well as a table of buildings, sites, and the state of repair at the time of Vesuvius’ eruption. Adam, J.-P., ‘Observations techniques sur les suites du séisme de 62 à Pompéi’, in Livadie, C. A. (ed.), Tremblements de terre. Éruptions volcaniques et vie des hommes dans la Campanie antique (Naples, 1986), 6787, is the most detailed description of building responses to the earthquake.

3 The work as a whole is addressed to Lucilius Iunior, who is from Pompeii, but Seneca wishes to use this event as an exemplum for a traumatic event more broadly. Hence, the attentive reader of the Naturales quaestiones is implicated as well.

4 Crownshaw, R., ‘Trauma Studies’, in Malpas, S. and Wake, P. (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory, 2nd edition (London and New York, 2013), 170.

5 Ibid.

6 The connections between physics and ethics in the Naturales quaestiones has been discussed by J. Scott, ‘The Ethics of the Physics in Seneca's Natural Questions’, CB 75 (1999), 55–68; G. Williams, ‘Interactions: Physics, Morality, and Narrative in Seneca Natural Questions 1’, CPh 100 (2005), 142–65; F. Limburg, ‘The Representation and Role of Badness in Seneca's Moral Teaching: A Case from the Naturales Quaestiones (NQ 1.16)’, in I. Sluiter and R. Rosen (eds.), KAKOS. Badness and Anti-value in Classical Antiquity (Leiden, 2008), 433–50; and M. D. Boeri, ‘Does Cosmic Nature Matter? Some Reflections on the Cosmological Aspects of Stoic Ethics’, in R. Salles (ed.), God and Cosmos in Stoicism (Oxford, 2009), 173–99.

7 The recent definition of PTSD can be found in A. Shalev, et al., ‘Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder’, New England Journal of Medicine 376 (2017), 2459–69. The authors stress that such a response can derive from the first-hand exposure to ‘actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence’ ,as well as witnessing or learning of such exposure in a second-hand manner. Cognitive behavioural therapy often engages the memories of the event of the patient ‘until the memories no longer trigger intolerable responses and are not avoided’ (2464) – a similar claim will be made for Seneca's therapy and the lararium. See also P. Meineck and D. Konstan (eds.), Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks (New York, 2014); B. Doerries, The Theater of War (New York, 2015); and I. Torrence, ‘Heracles and Hercules: Ancient Models for PTSD in Euripides and Seneca’, Maia 69 (2017), 231–46, for more on the intersections between tragedy, combat trauma, and PTSD therapy.

8 See J. Toner, Roman Disasters (Cambridge and Malden, MA, 2013), 156, on flashbacks as trauma symptoms. B. A. van der Kolk and O. van der Hart, ‘The Intrusive Past: The Flexibility of Memory and the Engraving of Trauma’, in C. Caruth (ed.), Trauma. Explorations in Memory (Baltimore, MD, and London, 1995), 173–5, are particularly good on triggers. For ‘sites of memory’, see A. Voela, ‘Wit(h)nessing the Other's Trauma: An Exploration of Barbara Loftus's Painting through the Work of Bracha Ettinger’, in M. O'Laughlin (ed.), The Ethics of Remembering and the Consequences of Forgetting. Essays on Trauma, History, and Memory (London, 2015), 75–90. See also M. T. Starzmann and J. R. Roby (eds.), Excavating Memory (Gainesville, FL, 2016), for a collection of essays that stress how such sites are shaped by a complex mediation of remembering and forgetting. For a modern comparandum of earthquake trauma, see P. Seaton, ‘Japanese War Memories and Commemoration after the Great East Japan Earthquake’, in A. L. Tota and T. Hagen (eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Memory Studies (London, 2016), 345–56.

9 For the complete overview of the frescoes, mosaics, and a floorplan of this house, see I. Baldassarre (ed.), Pompei. Pitture e Mosaici. Vol. III (Rome, 1991), 574–620.

10 See J. Elsner and M. Squire, ‘Sight and Memory: The Visual art of Roman Mnemonics’, in M. Squire (ed.), Sight and the Ancient Senses (London, 2016), 181, who claim that ‘the very act of remembering was deemed inseparable from that of seeing’.

11 In this interpretation, the rather neglected eastern face of the altar and its relief becomes important for imposing order on the cultic experience. See G. Williams, The Cosmic Viewpoint. A Study of Seneca's Natural Questions (Oxford, 2012), on the perspective that Seneca encourages in his Naturales quaestiones as a whole, esp. 213–57 for the normalizing techniques that he offers in Book 6.

12 Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from H. M. Hine, Seneca. Natural Questions (Chicago, IL, 2010).

13 For more on these views and Seneca's adaptation of them, see A. Setaioli, ‘Citazioni di prosatori greci nelle Naturales Quaestiones di Seneca, 3. La dossografia sui terremoti nel VI libro’, Prometheus 11 (1985), 69–88; and H. M. Hine, ‘Seismology and Volcanology in Antiquity?’, in C. J. Tuplin and T. E. Rihll (eds.), Science and Mathematics in Ancient Greek Culture (Oxford, 2002), 56–75.

14 See Q Nat. 6.3.2–4: ‘How much more worthwhile it is to investigate causes, with your whole mind focused on this goal! For no more deserving subject can be found, and you must not simply lend your mind to it, but spend your mind on it’ (quanto satius est causas inquirere, et quidem toto in hoc intentum animo! Neque enim illo quicquam inveniri dignius potest cui se non tantum commodet sed impendat). See also Q Nat. 6.4.2, 6.5.2–3, 6.7.5.

15 F. Tutrone, ‘Seneca on the Nature of Things: Moral Concerns and Theories of Matter in Natural Questions 6’, Latomus 76 (2017), 785. Such ‘intertexts and reinterpretations’ are predicated on Seneca's deliberate and careful use of language and Seneca is well aware that he can model such reinterpretation within the book as well through intratextual repetition. P. Parroni, ‘Il linguaggio “drammatico” di Seneca scienziato’, in M. Beretta, F. Citti, and L. Pasetti, Seneca e le scienze naturali (Florence, 2012), 19–29, also points out how the heightened rhetoric of Seneca's language can activate allusions that will help to prove the scientific assertion and add further emotional resonance to the language (esp. Lucretius in this book).

16 This section (Q Nat. 6.27.1–6, 28.3) is ‘proven’ both by the cause of earthquakes (air) and by the various intertexts to Lucretius; see A. DeVivo, Le parole della scienza. Sul trattato de terrae motu di Seneca (Salerno, 1992), 91–9; and Tutrone (n. 15). Lucretius’ Epicurean science attempts to dispel fear and anxiety (about the gods and death) in a similar manner, and Seneca engages with Lucretius’ rhetoric (Williams [n. 11], 219–25) and conception of the sublime especially often in Book 6.

17 See Q Nat. 6.3.4: ‘We never marvel at these things without fear’ (nihil horum sine timore miramur). See also Williams (n. 11), 219–20, on Seneca's response to the ‘rhetoric of mirum’, and 256–7 on the normalization of earthquakes: ‘the protections that Seneca offers against fear of earthquakes, normalizing such phenomena by casting them as but ordinary aspects of cosmic functioning, are themselves versatile in their applicability to so many of life's stresses and tremors’.

18 If the fear is so great that it causes folks to forget themselves (sibi exciderent; Q Nat. 6.29.1), it is important that his therapy works through memory. This gets at the heart of trauma and Seneca's therapy for trauma, as his approach highlights the necessity of memory for the reader and those who have suffered. What to remember and what to forget are the limits that Seneca negotiates in this book.

19 At the end of the book, death is the remedy of all evils (mors malorum omnium remedium est) and, paradoxically, what those who fear actually desire (Q Nat. 6.32.12): see below, p. 000.

20 Verbs with –cut– roots are important for this book. Earthquakes are often referred to by concutere (‘to shake’) and Seneca takes the root of the word –cut– and shows how it can be used for ethical activities (see Q Nat. 6.1.4, 6.5.1, 6.6.3; Williams [n. 11], 214). Later in the work, it is used of the mind at Q Nat. (‘As a fascinated spectator, it examines and inquires into each detail’; curiosus spectator excutit singula et quaerit). This is positive and necessary behaviour for those attempting to learn more about the natural world. For an analysis of excutere in the letters, see V. Rimell, The Closure of Space in Roman Poetics. Empire's Inward Turn (Cambridge, 2015), 137–47. Even the use of percutere (‘to strike, to attack’) at Q Nat. 6.29.3 has been primed by earlier uses that refer to the physics of earthquakes: see Q Nat. 6.10.2, 6.19.2, 6.25.1.

21 Seneca has used forms of errare to indicate a similar ‘wandering’ at Q Nat. 6.1.3, but also ‘mental error’ at Q Nat. 6.1.12 and 6.5.2. This sort of polyvalence helps to unite how mistaken understanding can lead to mistakes in behaviour.

22 Seneca plays on how tremores (‘trembling, shivering’) of the earth can cause fear and how such fear, in human bodies, leads to tremores: Q Nat. 6.18.6 and Williams (n. 11), 247–8.

23 Seneca begins his work similarly focused on death as a law of nature: ‘What is most important? Having your soul on your lips. This makes you free not according to the law of the Quirites, but according to the law of nature’ (quid est praecipuum? in primis labris animam habere. haec res efficit non e iure Quiritium liberum sed e iure naturae; Q Nat.

24 If ‘everywhere lies under the same law; nature has created nothing to be immovable’ (omnes sub eadem iacent lege, nihil ita ut inmobile esset natura concepit; Q Nat. 6.1.12), so all people are under the same law with regard to death (Q Nat. 6.32.12). For more on death in Seneca's works, see A. Busch, ‘Dissolution of the Self in the Senecan Corpus’, in S. Bartsch and D. Wray (eds.), Seneca and the Self (Cambridge, 2009), 255–82; J. Ker, The Deaths of Seneca (Oxford, 2011).

25 Seneca repeats this language at the imagined point of death, ‘you do what must be done at some time’ (facis quod quandoque faciendum est; Q Nat. 6.32.6), which restates one of the goals of philosophy as outlined in Q Nat. ‘How much better it is to ask what ought to be done rather than what has been done’ (quanto satius est quid faciendum sit quam quid factum quaerere). Thus, learning how to die can be seen as the culmination of living the philosophical life, a point stressed throughout his epistles: see Ker (n. 24), 147–76.

26 L. Gloyn, ‘Show Me the Way to Go Home: A Reconsideration of Seneca's De Consolatione ad Polybium’, AJPh 135 (2014), 457, points out ‘the strong Stoic tradition of manipulating the multivalence of language, which is a frequent feature of [Seneca's] philosophical writing’.

27 J. Schafer, ‘Seneca's Epistulae Morales as Dramatized Education’, CPh 106 (2011), 36, makes a similar point about the Epistulae morales: ‘Seneca is keenly aware of the danger of passive, lazy reading. Within the drama [of the letters], Seneca urges Lucilius to read and reread, to question authority, to learn philosophy rather than merely memorize it.’

28 Seneca's use of meditare (‘to reflect on’; Q Nat. 6.32.12) is similar to his call to meditate on misfortunes (Ep. 91.8) or quotations of Epicurus (Ep. 26.8, 26.10). In doing so, one will make death familiarem (‘a friend’, Q Nat. 6.32.12), which is how he differentiates between unusual events that cause fear and common (familiaria) events that are not so terrifying (6.3.2). Note also his use of cogitatio (‘reflection, contemplation’; Q Nat. 6.32.12), which is commonly used to indicate the process by which images are brought to mind in the mnemonic theory of the day: see M. Carruthers, ‘Memory-Craft in Antiquity and in the Middle Ages’, in S. Radstone and B. Schwarz (eds.), Memory. Histories, Theories, Debates (New York, 2010), 18–20.

29 Cf. Ep. 11.8, also about a type of mental reflection, and probably written concurrently with the Naturales quaestiones.

30 S. Montiglio, ‘Meminisse iuvabit: Seneca on Controlling Memory’, RhM 151 (2008), 169.

31 See also Q Nat. 6.32.2: ‘For whom will this disaster not make more resolute, more defiant, against all others? Why should I tremble at a human being or a wild beast, or at an arrow or a spear? Greater dangers are waiting for me: we are the targets of lightning-bolts, of the earth, and of large segments of nature.’

32 A. Butterworth and R. Laurence, Pompeii. The Living City (New York, 2005), 158–65, suggestively describe the physical and psychological aftermath of the earthquake.

33 M. Farooqui, et al., ‘Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Serious Post-earthquake Complication’, Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy 39 (2017), 135–43. It is notable that individuals with a higher educational level tend not to suffer PTSD with the same incidence as those with a lower educational level: see W. Dai, et al., ‘The Incidence of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Among Survivors After Earthquakes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis’, BMC Psychiatry 16.188 (2016).

34 The bibliography is vast. I have benefited from C. Caruth, Unclaimed Experience. Trauma, Narrative, and History (Baltimore, MD, 1996); R. Leys, Trauma. A Genealogy (Chicago, IL, 2000); G. M. Schwab, Haunting Legacies. Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma (New York, 2010); A. Whitehead, Memory (London and New York, 2009).

35 In this, the reading experience replicates aspects of Lucretius’ work, which ‘is aimed at producing changes in the beliefs and attitudes of its addressee and readers, hence how different descriptions of death and dying are used depends on their position in the poem, and how far the reader is along the progress towards the mental state of ataraxia…that the DRN promises him with the acceptance of the Epicurean world view’ (A. D. Morrison, ‘Nil igitur mors est ad nos? Iphianassa, the Athenian Plague, and Epicurean Views of Death’, in D. Lehoux, A. D. Morrison, and A. Sharrock [eds.], Lucretius. Poetry, Philosophy, Science [Oxford, 2013], 211–12).

36 See Williams (n. 11), 69–75, 289–91, 332–3, for the way in which Seneca embeds interlocutors of various kinds in the Naturales quaestiones. The strong address to Lucilius and Lucilius’ own associations with Pompeii would make him an especially suitable interlocutor, and we can see his irruptions into the text at Q Nat. 6.4.2, 6.6.4, and 6.12.3. By the end of the book, Seneca can tell him, ‘Forget everything else (omnibus omissis), Lucilius, and concentrate on this one thing, on not being afraid of the word “death”’ (Q Nat. 6.32.12).

37 This would probably be surprising for those who know of Seneca's penchant for graphic violence and is an interesting difference between his view of this catastrophe and others such as the plague of Oedipus or the results of anger in De ira. For Seneca's proclivity for dismemberment and hyperbolic violence, see M. Wistrand, ‘Violence and Entertainment in Seneca the Younger’, Eranos 88 (1990), 31–46; G. Most, ‘The Rhetoric of Dismemberment in Neronian Poetry’, in R. Hexter and D. Seldon (eds.), Innovations of Antiquity (New York, 1992), 391–419. A study has shown that the persistence of PTSD symptoms can be a result of ‘pervasive trauma reminders’ and Seneca limits those reminders here: see A. K. Goenjian, et al., ‘Prospective Study of Posttraumatic Stress, Anxiety, and Depressive Reactions After Earthquake and Political Violence’, American Journal of Psychiatry 157 (2000), 911–16. There is a book to be written on Seneca's conception of trauma and how his conceptualization of it in various genres (e.g. the tragedies, Consolationes, and Epistulae morales) affects its representation and possible remedies.

38 American Pyschiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition (Washington, DC, 1987).

39 See C. Caruth (n. 8), 6: ‘since the traumatic event is not experienced as it occurs, it is fully evident only in connection with another place, and in another time…that what trauma has to tell us – the historical and person truth it transmits – is intricately bound up with its refusal of historical boundaries; that its truth is bound up with its crisis of truth.’

40 See Beard, M., The Fires of Vesuvius (Cambridge, 2008), 1214; Toner (n. 8), 29–34; Butterworth and Laurence (n. 32), 151–71. Seneca writes of those ‘who have given up on Campania and have emigrated following this catastrophe’ (Q Nat. 6.1.10).

41 For lararium as the general term for a household shrine, see Orr, D. F., ‘Roman Domestic Religion: The Evidence of the Household Shrines’, ANRW 16.2 (1978), 1559–90. This particular shrine was probably for the penates, even as it plays with iconography common to lararia, as Flower, H., The Dancing Lares and the Serpent in the Garden. Religion at the Roman Street Corner (Princeton, NJ, 2017), 48, explains: ‘the main focus of the shrines in the atrium was not on lares, although these familiar gods were usually invited to every religious occasion in the house’.

42 See Flower (n. 41), 48–52, and the way that ‘each figure, in its iconography, relative size, and position within the composition, has a deliberately religious meaning’ (57). J. Bodel, ‘An Outline of Roman Domestic Religion’, in Bodel, J. and Olyan, S. M. (eds.), Household and Family Religion in Antiquity (Malden, MA, 2008), 258, stresses that worship of the penates ‘embraced collectively a stylistically heterogeneous and conceptually diverse assortment of aniconic and iconic objects representing individual deities, demi-gods, and heroes’.

43 Scholars of the lararium know that another panel (showing the destruction of the Vesuvian gate and castellum) was placed above the lararium because of its thematic relationship to it: see Thédenat, H., Pompéi. Vie publique (Paris, 1906); Boyce, G. K., Corpus of the Lararia of Pompeii (Rome, 1937). That panel, stolen in 1977, probably would not have fitted there originally (note modern reconstructions of this lararium with a roof that would obstruct its view). Early photographs show that panel placed with other material in the Temple of Vespasian and not in the house of Caecilius Iucundus. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on the extant panel in its archaeological context on the lararium, although it is notable that the ‘companion’ panel also features a general left-to-right movement from disorder to order, with an altar in the far right corner. Andrew T. Wilburn suggests that the lararium of Caecilius Iucundus was probably carved first, with the other being a later imitation.

44 Butterworth and Laurence (n. 32), 151–3, reconstruct the day and treat this relief as a true representation of the earthquake, whereas others believe that the sacrifice depicted occurred after the disaster: see Guidoboni, E., Comastri, A., and Traina, G. (eds.), Catalogue of Ancient Earthquakes in the Mediterranean Area up to the 10th Century (Rome, 1994), 201.

45 See H. Sigurdsson, ‘The Environmental and Geomorphological Context of the Volcano’, in J. J. Dobbins and P. W. Foss (eds.), The World of Pompeii (London, 2007), 50, who even gives it an Ovidian touch: ‘the two equestrian statues suddenly coming to life as the riders struggle to regain their balance’.

46 Toner (n. 8), 158.

47 For more on such sightlines, see J. Rasmus Brandt ‘Sacra private in the Roman domus Private or Public?: A Study of Household Shrines in an Architectural Context at Pompeii and Ostia’, AAAH 23 (2010), 57–117.

48 See F. Dentamaro, ‘Pompei, Casa di Cecilio Giocondo: un'ipotesi di ricostruzione delle fasi edilizie mediante analisi stratigrafica delle strutture murarie’, RSP 12–13 (2001–2), 132, for reconstruction of the House of Caecilius Iucundus.

49 Flower (n. 41), 72–3.

50 Most believe that the altar was set up in gratitude to the gods: see e.g. L. H. Peterson, ‘Introduction: People, Places, and Rituals in the Religions of Rome’, MAAR 56–7 (2011–12), 12–13, who believes that the altar thanks the gods ‘for not entirely destroying the house or as an offering to the gods in an effort to protect the house from further harm. Perhaps the same could be said of many other houses at Pompeii, which would suggest, in turn, that the denizens of that city truly believed in the value of their new shrines, their gods, and the attendant rituals.’

51 The Compitalia was the annual festival to the Lares Compitales (‘lares of the crossroads’). See Flower (n. 41), 160–74. For the various theories for the sacrifice and the common sacrificial imagery on this relief, see V. Huet, ‘Le laraire de L. Caecilius Iucundus: un relief hors norme?’, in L. Barnabei (ed.), Contributi di Archeologia Vesuviana III (Rome, 2007), 142–50.

52 Peterson (n. 50), 5, my emphasis.

53 His surviving banking records end in 62 ce. See J. Andreau, Les affaires de Monsieur Jucundus (Rome, 1974), and Beard (n. 40), 177–85, for what these records can and cannot tell us about his life, his job, and the societal norms of Pompeii. Butterworth and Laurence (n. 32), 159, believe that the reliefs were memorials to Caecilius Iucundus: ‘Perhaps they were commissioned by his heirs to commemorate the loss of the man who had laid down the foundations of family wealth on which they would build their political careers in years to come.’

54 The herm in the atrium has a dedication ‘Felix, freedman, to the Genius of our Lucius’, tying it into the lararium as well as the general memorialization.

55 See M. O'Laughlin, ‘The Ethics of Remembering and the Consequences of Forgetting’, in O'Laughlin (n. 8), 6, on how such sites of memory in artworks ‘create evocative memorial spaces where the memories of past traumas can be evoked, once a point in time is reached when literal memories and actual witnesses to those traumas are no longer available to provide testimony to the actual events’. The term ‘site of memory’ (lieu de mémoire) was coined by Pierre Nora – see his Realms of Memory. Rethinking the French Past, trans. A. Goldhammer, 3 vols. (New York, 1996–8) – and can be usefully applied to evocative monuments from the Greek and Roman world. Because of the unique nature of this altar (as well as Seneca's description of the earthquake), it has become one of the most important visual signifiers of the Pompeii earthquake and helps to define and delimit the specifics of that earthquake.

56 For the associations of scenes of sacrifice with pietas, see T. Hölscher, The Language of Images in Roman Art (Cambridge, 2004), 88–92.

57 Flower (n. 41), 57 (my emphasis).

58 See L. Bodson and D. Orr, ‘Amphibians and Reptiles: Evidence from Wall Paintings, Mosaics, Sculpture, Skeletal Remains, and Ancient Authors’, in W. F. Jashemski and F. G. Meyer (eds.), The Natural History of Pompeii (Cambridge, 2002), 327–56.

59 For the modest offerings to the lares, see Flower (n. 41), 40–62, 162 ff.; and W. F. Jashemski, The Gardens of Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Villas Destroyed by Vesuvius (New Rochelle, NY, 1979), 120, who mentions cereals, mola salsa, wine, little cakes, and incense, as well as figs, dates, and almonds. A pig would be a larger offering (fitting for the Compitalia or worship of the Lares Augusti) and there is a pig depicted before the altar in the earthquake relief. Because of the short tail of the lizard, I believe that it is a lizard whose tail has been lost and is in the process of regenerating it. Possibly it is a symbol for Pompeii itself post-earthquake? For the lizard as an uncanny ‘creature of power’, see A. D. Nock, ‘The Lizard in Magic in Religion’, in Magical Texts from a Bilingual Papyrus in the British Museum. Proc. Brit. Acad. 17 (1931), reprinted in A. D. Nock, Essays on Religion and the Ancient World, vol. 1 (Cambridge, 1972), 271–76.

60 It may also evoke the idea of renovatio (very appropriate after the earthquake), as understood by the vegetation on the Ara Pacis. See K. T. von Stackelberg, The Roman Garden. Space, Sense, and Society (London, 2009), 33.

61 Harmon, D. P., ‘The Family Festivals of Rome’, ANRW 16.2 (1978), 1593, my emphasis. Fröhlich, T., Lararien- und Fassadenbilder in den Vesuvstädten. Untersuchungen zur ‘volkstümlichen’ pompejanischen Malerei (Mainz, 1991), 22–7, also describes the daily sacrifices to the lares.

62 Cf. Toner (n. 8), 158 ‘individual recovery often involves fitting trauma into an enduring model of the wider social world in which that individual sits’.

63 Van der Kolk and van der Hart (n. 8), 176.

64 Caruth (n. 34), 58.

65 See Q Nat. 6.32.3–12.

66 See Q Nat. 6.29 and 6.3.1: ‘It will also help to realize in advance that the gods are not responsible for any of this, and neither the sky nor the earth is shaken by the anger of divinities: these things have their own causes, and do not run wild to order, but, like our bodies, they are upset by certain defects, and when they seem to be causing harm, they are suffering it.’ It is only in Q Nat. 6 that Seneca has such a negative opinion of religio, indicating, to my mind, that he is specifically responding to the events of the day.

67 Tib. 1.10, Prop. 4.1, and Hor. Carm. 3.23 give us a sense of those prayers: see Flower (n. 41), 353–6.

68 Sielke, S., ‘“Joy in Repetition”; or, Tte Significance of Seriality in Processes of Memory and (Re-)Mediation’, in Kilbourn, R. J. A. and Ty, E. (eds.), The Memory Effect. The Remediation of Memory in Literature and Film (Waterloo, Ontario, 2013), 49.

69 For Seneca, the study of physics will lead to theology and the understanding of god, as he writes, ‘To look into all this [the natural world], to learn about it, to brood over it – is that not to transcend one's mortality and be re-registered with a higher status? “What use will that be to you?” you say. If nothing else, at least this: I shall know that everything is puny when I have measured god’ (Q Nat. For more on the connections between physics and theology, see Inwood, B., ‘Why Physics?’, in Salles, R. (ed.), God and Cosmos in Stoicism (Oxford, 2009), 201–23. The earthquake also increased adherents to a new religion in Pompeii, Christianity, and we start to see traces of Jesus devotion after the earthquake: see Longenecker, B. W., The Crosses of Pompeii. Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town (Minneapolis, MN, 2016), esp. 278–83.

I owe a great debt to the editors and reader of Greece & Rome for their extensive assistance and encouragement. Andrew T. Wilburn and Elizabeth Wueste provided astute comments and questions. Thanks to Lizzie Edgar for helping with image permissions. Any remaining errors are my own.

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