Following the collapse of the House of the Gladiators, Pompeii has become a subject of discussion around the world, with particular attention naturally being paid in Italy. This blog has given links to various newspaper articles that have covered the story, but can't hope to show the huge coverage given on various TV news programmes and talk shows. I've seen journalists asking the Minister of Culture, Bondi if he feels responsable for the collapse and if he's going to resign over it (he replied no to both), and the President of the Republic, Napolitano has taken a personal interest in the question - what happened and what needs to be done. Images of the collapse have formed the backdrop to discussions about politics.
Interestingly for some the disaster at Pompeii has become a metaphor for the state of the nation, where more attention is being paid to TV dancing girls than investing in caring for our cultural heritage. Comparisons are being drawn between the extraordinary amounts of money that politicians earn and spend (as detailed, for example, in the book La Casta), and the continual cuts that have been made to culture over the years.
The Pompeii metaphor was extended even further in last night's edition of "Vieni via con me" (a new programme offering political and cultural commentary) where various lists were read out that shed light on Italy and the Italians - one was "Categories of prostitutes who worked at Pompeii before the AD79 eruption" (if you click on this link you'll find the Pompeii list among the others which are equally interesting). The final category was implicitly linked to recent scandals whereby prime minister Berlusconi has been accused of hosting parties at his estate with prostitutes and escorts and reveals how Pompeii continues to provide food for thought in the modern world:
"Delicatae and Famosae: cultured, classy, the most refined women, they often prosituted themselves to influence politics through their powerful clients..."