Pompeii, Italy was once a rich and luxurious place, and a common vacation spot for many Romans. It was reaching its peak just as the great Mt. Vesuvius cloaked it in ash and death. The people of Pompeii were artistic, intelligent and highly erotic. The culture was flourishing and expanding, especially in the year prior to the eruption, but it’s demise was no mere stroke of nature. It was the doing of one man.

In the year 67 AD, Pompeii had just experienced an earthquake of extraordinarily large proportions, destroying several important buildings and much of the infrastructure of the city. For the next 17 years reconstruction was under way, but was never fully realized before it was taken by Mt. Vesuvius.

Immediately following the massive quake people took advantage of the city’s poor condition—many of whom never met justice. One of these men was Lucretius Baticus, a politician who had a tendency for sleazy, underhanded ways. Whenever theft and suffering was prominent, Lucretius was bound to be involved. However, no one ever found a way to tie him to his deeds and so he lived his life full of greed and pleasures.

In the year 79 AD, the Vulcanalia festival was approaching—the festival of the Vulcan, the Roman god of beneficial and hindering fire. This was extremely important, and relevant to the people of Pompeii due to their close proximity to Mt. Vesuvius, the friendly neighborhood volcano (or so they hoped it would remain). The townspeople were feeling festive and the event was soon under way.

It was the way of the festival to hold bonfires, sacrificing small animals and fish, as the city folks would crowd the streets. This practice was to please the god and placate his potential wrath. The upper class officials and intellects began to congregate, discussing the status of things. Reconstruction of the city was constantly hindered by smaller tremors—it was clear that they needed to appeal to the gods.

While it had long been custom for the small animals to take the place of human sacrifice, one man voiced a thought to take more drastic measures. Lucretius Baticus claimed they must show the gods the extent of their devotion. But he was a scumbag. He had a keen interest in a young girl new to Pompeii, who had traveled there with her husband to start a family. The husband was a young man by the name of Didius Artosus who was a well-learned potter and dabbled in metalwork. He had worked long and hard in providing a home for the two, preparing the way for a long life ahead of them. Lucretius had other plans. He had been eyeing the young girl’s impressive features and was not to be deterred by her husbands lack of flexibility.

In talking with the other men of his status, Lucretius conveyed the concern for additional wrath by the gods and proposed a most atrocious solution—human sacrifice. They didn’t think it necessary to give more then they were, and found their usual rituals for Vulcanalia to be sufficient in encouraging the god’s good use of fire. Lucretius was not going to give up, and insisted that the god’s were asking for more.

The other officials continued to protest, claiming Lucretius to be mad and that any act upon civilians in such a manner would instill greater fear in an already tried community. Lucretius, however, was not deterred. He took it upon himself to prove to the gods his faithfulness, and to appointed Didius to the task.

Assisted by a honcho or two, Lucretius swiftly removed Didius from the crowd, quickly covered his head with a vase, and began making their way to the great Mt. Vesuvius. Didius was fearful and squirmed but was detained by the husky men escorting him. As they reached the mouth of the volcano, Lucretius claimed Didius as a gift to the gods and thus he fell to an impending death.

Nightfall had already taken the city as Lucretius and his men made their way back to Pompeii. Exhausted from the recent events, he decided to sleep before comforting the young widow. Unfortunately, the gods including Vulcan, didn’t appreciate Lucretius’ alternative motives and thus cleansed Pompeii of the corruption. As Mt. Vesuvius erupted, molten lava poured into every crevice, reuniting the young girl with her beloved.