Awesome Sauce

I know where me and the boy are going this weekend:


But "Pompeii the Exhibit: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius," which opens on Friday at Discovery Times Square, is unusual because its dead bodies are not really dead, and they are not really bodies. They are, however, often more affecting, and they form the fulcrum of an absorbing show about a place more widely heard of than thoroughly understood. 

The bodies are made of white plaster, and their rough surfaces allow only vague outlines. But, like death masks, they capture a moment when their subjects ceased to be. A man sits crouched, his legs pulled up to his chest, covering his face, as if in despair. A girl desperately thrusts herself at her mother, grasping for comfort. A man, prostrate, begins to pull himself up a staircase but can go no farther. These bodies are writhing, groping, reaching, protecting. And their white forms are starkly displayed on black platforms in a dimly lighted gallery, looking like otherworldly figures enduring infernal agonies. 

They are plaster casts from Pompeii -- more, we are told, than have ever been gathered together for an exhibition. Pompeii, of course, was the Roman village near Naples that was entirely wiped out in the year 79, when Mount Vesuvius erupted, engorging the town with its ash and lava, preserving it as if it were a bug caught in sap that would turn to amber.

This is going to be great.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In