Andy Warhol- Vesuvius
Vesuvius is such a well documented volcano that it is quite hard to write about, The chapter in the exhibition catalogue is called 'The Romance of Vesuvius' which is very apt and shows how the volcano (the 79AD eruption anyway) is swathed in stories and such a common reference. I'd say about 80% of references to volcanoes are to Vesuvius and the destructive event of 79AD is probably the one that most people of think of when they hear the word volcano. And it's hard to say why as many eruptions, Krakatoa, Laki, have been more powerful and others have been just as dramatic, Santorini which produced the same utter destruction to a civilisation as Vesuvius. It was thought that absolutely no life survived on the island of Krakatoa after the 1883 eruption. I suppose it's partly due to Italy being an important centre for artists which firstly gave it a reputation and the volcanoes popularity has grown. Which is why you find it in paintings by Warhol and in songs by Flaming Lips and Sufjan Stevens (I should probably make a volcano compilation CD) and in novels by Susan Sontang and Robert Harris. I think that for me Vesuvius is almost an embodiment of everything I love about volcanoes, the amount of myth and legend relating to it, the references in popular culture and art, and the geological features of the eruption. I do however think that the fascination with Vesuvius is a very Western thing, as Mount Fuji is an equally well documented and referenced, although doesn't have the same destructive history.
Some people hanging out by Vesuvius
What I should probably say about Vesuvius is that in 79AD it produced a Plinian eruption (the term Plinian comes from Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger who died in and witnessed the eruption retrospectively) and buried the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii which were discovered in 1599. The eruption preserved the towns remarkably well has given the town a ghostly and eerie feeling.
This has been quite a strange Volcano of the Week for which I apologise. In other volcano news I have done lots for the new zine and there will be a volcano round at my pub quiz on Tuesday, I'll let you know how it goes.