The Last Days of Pompeii
The Last Days of Pompeii is a novel written by the baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1834. Once a very widely read book and now relatively neglected, it culminates in the cataclysmic destruction of the city of Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, about east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting...

 in AD 79.

The novel uses its characters to contrast the decadent culture of 1st-century Rome with both older cultures and coming trends. The protagonist, Glaucus, represents the Greeks who have been subordinated by Rome, and his nemesis Arbaces the still older culture of Egypt. Olinthus is the chief representative of the nascent Christian religion, which is presented favorably but not uncritically. The Witch of Vesuvius, though she has no supernatural powers, shows Bulwer-Lytton's interest in the occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

 - a theme which would emerge in his later writing, particularly The Coming Race.

A popular sculpture by American sculptor Randolph Rogers
Randolph Rogers
Randolph Rogers was an American sculptor. He was a prolific sculptor of subjects related to the American Civil War and other historical themes.-Biography:...

, Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii (1856) was based on a character from the book.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

  • 1877 - an ambitious theatrical adaptation was mounted at the Queen's Theatre, Long Acre
    Queen's Theatre, Long Acre
    The Queen's Theatre was established in 1867, as a theatre on the site of St Martin's Hall, a large concert room that opened in 1850. It stood on the corner of Long Acre and Endell Street, with entrances in Wilson Street and Long Acre...

     in London that featured a staged eruption of Vesuvius, an earthquake and a sybaritic Roman feast – the earth did not quake, the volcano did not work, acrobats fell onto the cast below, and the production was an expensive flop.
  • 1900 - The Last Days of Pompeii (UK), directed by Walter R. Booth.
  • 1908 - The Last Days of Pompeii (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei) (Italy), directed by Arturo Ambrosio and Luigi Maggi.
  • 1913 - The Last Days of Pompeii
    The Last Days of Pompeii (1913 film)
    Ultimi giorni di Pompeii, Gli is an Italian black and white silent film, released in 1913 ....

    (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei) (Italy), directed by Mario Caserini
    Mario Caserini
    Mario Caserini was an Italian film director, as well as an actor, screenwriter, and early pioneer of film making in the early portion of the 20th century. Caserini was born in Rome, Italy, and was married to early 20th century Italian actress Maria Caserini...

  • 1926 - The Last Days of Pompeii (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei) (Italy), directed by Carmine Gallone
    Carmine Gallone
    Carmine Gallone was an early acclaimed Italian film director, screenwriter, and film producer. Considered one of Italian cinema's top early directors, he directed over 120 films in his fifty year career between 1913 and 1963.-Filmography:*Il bacio di Cirano *La donna nuda *Senza colpa! *Fior di...

  • 1935 - The Last Days of Pompeii
    The Last Days of Pompeii (1935 film)
    The Last Days of Pompeii is an RKO Radio Pictures film starring Preston Foster and directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, creators of the original King Kong...

    , an RKO film, with Preston Foster
    Preston Foster
    Preston Foster was an American stage and film actor, and singer. Foster entered films in 1929 after appearing as a Broadway stage actor. He was appearing in Broadway plays as late as October 1931 when he acted in a play titled Two Seconds starring Edward J. Pawley...

     and Basil Rathbone
    Basil Rathbone
    Sir Basil Rathbone, KBE, MC, Kt was an English actor. He rose to prominence in England as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers, and, occasionally, horror films...

    , which carried a disclaimer
    A disclaimer is generally any statement intended to specify or delimit the scope of rights and obligations that may be exercised and enforced by parties in a legally recognized relationship...

     that, although the scenes of Vesuvius erupting had been inspired by the novel, the movie did not use its plot or characters.
  • 1950 - The Last Days of Pompeii
    The Last Days of Pompeii (1950 film)
    The Last Days of Pompeii is a French-Italian drama film, directed by Marcel L'Herbier "in collaboration with" Paolo Moffa, who was also the director of production. It was adapted from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel The Last Days of Pompeii...

    (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei / Les Derniers Jours de Pompéi) (Italy/France), directed by Marcel L'Herbier
    Marcel L'Herbier
    Marcel L'Herbier, Légion d'honneur, was a French film-maker, who achieved prominence as an avant-garde theorist and imaginative practitioner with a series of silent films in the 1920s. His career as a director continued until the 1950s and he made more than 40 feature films in total...

     and Paolo Moffa
    Paolo Moffa
    Paolo Moffa was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter. He directed seven films between 1943 and 1982.-Selected filmography:* The Last Days of Pompeii * The Island Princess...

  • 1959 - The Last Days of Pompeii
    The Last Days of Pompeii (1959 film)
    The Last Days of Pompeii is an Italian sword and sandal action film, starring Steve Reeves, Christine Kaufmann and Fernando Rey, and directed by Sergio Leone...

    (Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei) (Italy), directed by Sergio Leone
    Sergio Leone
    Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter most associated with the "Spaghetti Western" genre.Leone's film-making style includes juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots...

  • 1984 - The Last Days of Pompeii (Italy/UK/U.S.), a television miniseries.
  • 2008 - Pompeji (Germany), musical.

External links

  • The Last Days of Pompeii, at Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

    . Scanned books.
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