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n “Rome and Counter Revolution,” the third chapter in The Victorians and Ancient Rome, Norman Vance points out that “Rome mattered in a romantic and revolutionary age because Latin literature abounded in ideologically accented nostalgia and prophecy and in narratives of conspiracy and individual heroism, political chaos and restored order, not to mention the natural disasters which the new scientific geology was beginning to explain” (31). Pliny’s first-hand account of the destruction of Pompeii had great appeal, because its “dramatic juxtaposition” of a community’s ordinary existence and sudden destruction provided a powerful “metaphor for sudden, all-engulfing political cataclysm such as the late Revolution in France” (31). According to Vance, Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution was “the most effective and influential response to revolution in nineteenth-century England” precisely because it evoked this Pompeian “sustained and contagious atmosphere of catastrophe” (31).


Vance, Norman. "Roman Poets in the Nineteenth Century." The Victorians and Ancient Rome. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

Last modified 15 January 2007