Having a strong interest in ancient history, I cheated the system in high school - choosing to take Latin as my foreign language. I basically got a second history class each day under the guise of a foreign language :). Though I cannot speak to any living people today - I never regretted the decision to take Latin for a dozen reasons.
For Latin 1 in freshman year of high school, we studied using the Cambridge Latin 1 course. You learn the language by following a story of the lives of a family living in Pompeii around 79 AD. The last pages of the book detail the eruption of Mt.Vesuvius, the destruction of Pompeii, and the death of most of the family members with whom we spent an entire school year (side note for those that are too sad to read on... As I recall one of the family members, the son, escaped with the help of a slave, the chef named Grumio).
I was absolutely amazed to find that though the story was fictitious, the family were once real, living people. The father (pater in Latin), Lucius Caecilius Iucundus was a wealthy banker. He was married to Matella (the mother - mater in Latin), and they had a son (filius in Latin) whose name was Quintus. Though it is believed that Lucius died several years before the eruption, the house still stands in Pompeii... And I got to see it!!!
While every second in Pompeii was amazing, this was the best part for me. Silly as it sounds, this family was an important part of my life and I am glad I was able to visit their home (even if they did die nearly 2,000 years ago). Here are some pictures of their house. Unfortunately, it was not open so I had to take pics from outside a gate, but I was there nonetheless. (read on below the pics for more about Pompeii)
Pompeii is amazing! I always knew that I would love to see the ruins, but this exceeded every expectation. Standing in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, looking up at that massive volcano, then looking down at the horror it caused - the ruined remnants of an ancient society, the casts of human bodies just trapped in time - it was surreal. But then, there are reminders of just how real it was - subtle indications that this was once a bustling city full of real people who lived just like me. The pictures that follow may not seem amazing on the surface, but these are the things that remind you that this is very real.
|A water pipe (yes they had public water back then)|
|A walk up fast food restaurant. Hot food, like stew, was served to patrons at the counter|
|The cross walk|
|This is the street. Take note of the groove in the center of the pic. It is a tire tread warn into the stone from years of chariots riding over this spot.|
Needless to say, I have a ton of pictures in addition to these. You can see them all my Pompeii pics here (there are a LOT of them).