Blogging A to Z: 2020 Reflection

funny-pictures-exhausted-cat-alphabetized-cdsHi, everyone.

Wow. I’m almost not sure where to start. First and foremost, I wish to thank all who visited my blog and commented. Likewise, a special welcome to those who became new followers. You are greatly appreciated!

This year, my theme was Facts About Pompeii. I wanted to share some of my travel photos and information gleaned in the research for my current work-in-progress, Pompeii Fire.  I posted here, on the A to Z website, my author page on Facebook, and the FB group page for my chapter of the Historical Novel Society.

This was my fourth year doing the challenge. This year, I had fewer visitors than any other year. I initially thought it was because of no longer being on Twitter, but when the challenge was over I was at 97% of my previous low year, when the theme was David Bowie’s music. So, it clearly wasn’t Twitter … but perhaps my theme.

MissionAccomplishedI did go and comment on several blogs, but I must confess that it was with no particular degree of regularity. I just didn’t have it in me, to be honest; working at home, writing a book, and taking classes wore me out more than I anticipated. I had initially believed that the coronavirus quarantine would render me able to get more things crammed in around the edges than proved to be the case. On the plus side, I found and started following a few new ones as well (as happens every year).

Doing this challenge is a lot of work, as those who participate will confirm. Each year when I’m done, I find myself uncertain whether I’ll do it again. I guess we’ll find out in 2021!

Blogging from A to Z: Z is for Zeus Meilichios, Temple of

Altar and cella, Temple of Zeus Meilichios. Istvánka / CC BY-SA (

Hi, everyone. Can you believe it? It’s the last day of the 2020 A to Z Challenge. I’ll do a summary post in a couple of days.

This is another building that was closed when I visited. The temple is the smallest at Pompeii, and may be found adjacent to the Temple of Isis and the theatre complex (which includes the Quadriportico). There is some argument over whether it was dedicated to Zeus/Jupiter or Aesculapius/Asclepius, based on some statuary found there and now housed in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

Zeus Meilichios is what’s referred to as an epithet: a second name based on a particular aspect of the deity. That aspect might be regional, such as Venus Pompeiia, or about some part of their personality. In this case, the epithet literally translates to “sweet as honey,” so it refers to a god who is easy to approach with needs and who is likely to listen to one’s prayers.

Blogging from A to Z: Y is for Young Bull, House of the

Atrium, House of the Young Bull. Carole Raddato from FRANKFURT, Germany / CC BY-SA (

Hi, everyone. Today, we’re going to look at the House of the Young Bull. This house was not open when I visited Pompeii, so I’m going to have to “wing it” a bit from other sources.

Unknown. Statuette of a Bull, 25 B.C. – A.D. 79, Silver with gilding.
14 × 4.5 × 14.2 cm (5 1/2 × 1 3/4 × 5 9/16 in.), 2001.7
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California

The house gets its name from a statue that was on the plinth you see next to the atrium. That statue now lives in the Getty Collection, which graciously permits bloggers to use its images under their Open Content Program.

Unlike many of the houses in Pompeii, we know that this one belonged to L. Pontius Saxesus; a seal with his name on it was found near the main entrance.

The house was originally excavated in 1836, but that project was abandoned. Unfortunately, the many frescoes were lost as a result; no efforts had been taken to preserve them.

This was what we now call a Hellenized home, with a peristyle garden and other Greek architectural influences. What wall art does remain seems to have been in the so-called First Style, in which stucco was painted to represented various types of marble.


Blogging from A to Z: X is for Decem

Clock with Roman numerals, Bad Salzdefurth, Germany. JuergenG / CC BY-SA (

I know, I know. You’re sitting there thinking “How does that even work? Decem starts with a d, not an x.” Well, I’ll tell you.

Today we’re going to have a little Latin lesson, with the numbers 1-10. Chart, below, via Transparent Language.

As you reach number seven, you may notice that the Latin looks kind of familiar. That’s because September, October, November, and December were months seven through 10 in the ancient Roman year. The Roman numeral for 10, X, is decem.

As an aside, I learned to tell time on a clock face with Roman numerals, which hung in our living room. That’s why I included a clock on this post.

1 I ūnus
2 II duo
3 III trēs
4 IV quattuor
5 V quīnque
6 VI sex
7 VII septem
8 VIII octō
9 IX novem
10 X decem

Blogging from A to Z: W is for Wine

Andante Travels archaeological guide Daniela Mantice discussing early Pompeiian vinoculture outside the on-site vineyard.

Hi, everyone. We’re in the proverbial home stretch on this year’s A-to-Z challenge. Can you believe it?

Pompeii was famous for its wines. The volcanic soil was good for the grapevines, and the resulting beverage was widely renowned. Wine wasn’t the same in the early 1st century CE as what we drink today. It was nearly as thick as honey, and was usually diluted with wine or vinegar (think sweet balsamic, not the tart kind). Some people put spices and peppercorns in the wine as well, much the way it is mulled at the holidays.

Archaeobotanists have used plaster casts of grapevine roots found during excavations to figure out, as nearly as possible, what grape varietals were used in Pompeii to make the wine. There is a vineyard on-site, under high security, to grow those grapes and make wine from them. Whether or not it’s drinkable, per the modern palate, is a matter for debate … but it’s been done. You can learn more about it here.

Modern Pompei also has its vineyards, and the local wines are quite lovely. If you ever get a chance to visit (and you like wine), you might give them a try.

(Photo by the author.)