Pompeii by Robert Harris - review by Thomas Hodgkinson

Thomas Hodgkinson

He Snored Very Loudly while the City



Hutchinson 352pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

DRAMATIC IRONY ORIGINATED as a concept in studies of Greek tragedy and was located in the space between the ignorance of the characters on stage, who grasped at the future only through prophecies and omens, and the knowledge of the audience members, who knew their myths - who knew that Medea, to take one example, was going to kill her children, or that Oedipus, to take another, had relationship issues. The interest lay in the details, in how these catastrophes would work themselves out. The same could be said about a novel entitled Pompeii, set in AD79. We have a fairly clear idea of how it's going to end.

Attilius, a young Roman engineer, has been assigned to the post of aquarius in charge of the Aqua Augusta, the aqueduct that feeds water to the major towns along the Neapolitan coast. He has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor, Exomnius; enlist the aid of Pliny the Elder,

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