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VESUVIUS: CHECK THE MAP


The people of the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum lived at the bottom of a mountain. They loved the mountain, because they believed it was a place where gods dwelt. The land was fertile, and the harbor was good, so the city prospered and grew. Then in 62 and 63 AD, earthquakes started to become more frequent. In 63 AD, a strong earthquake nearly leveled the nearby city of Pompeii. But the land was good, the harbor was good, so the people rebuilt. Then in 79 earthquakes set in again. The mountain itself seemed to be shaking. Finally, the mountain, Mount Vesuvius, erupted, and Herculaneum and Pompeii were destroyed.


Now, I suppose we can excuse these folks. They must not have known that they were living at the bottom of a volcano. What amazes me, though, is that they didn’t learn their lesson. The land is so good and the harbor is so good that they rebuilt again. Today, Naples sits there in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. Two million people live in Naples. Vesuvius is still an active volcano. It has erupted time after time over the past 2,000 years. It has never been as spectacular as it was in 79 AD, but people have died. Right now, 500,000 people live in the "red zone." That’s the area that would be destroyed before people could evacuate if there were an eruption like in 79 A.D.


If I were living at the bottom of a volcano, I’d want someone to let me know. Imagine coming to Naples for a job interview and looking for a house. So you pull into the driveway of a beautiful three bedroom villa. You love it. It’s got a courtyard with a nice fountain, and it’s in your price range. But then you look out the back window and see a beautiful mountain, so you pull out a map to see which mountain it is. It says, "Mount Vesuvius" on the map. You’ve got a volcano in your back yard! So what do you do? "Oh, look honey. This house comes with its very own volcano." No! You get in the car and you keep looking. Probably not in Naples! Sometimes it helps to check the map to see where you are.

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