Songs about Pompeii

Most of you are probably familiar with the song “Pompeii”, released by Bastille in 2013. A few weeks ago, Rachele De Felice sent me this link, of a rather nice Latin translation of the song.

She expressed some disappointment that the song had not been translated into Oscan, as the more ancient language of Pompeii, but given that (a) an Oscan translation would be pretty impossible to put together and (b) Latin was the language of Pompeii during its destruction, I think we can probably allow it.

In fact, my favourite version of this song is actually one recorded by Bastille themselves. The song was released during the British Museum’s 2013 Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition, and so the band made this video in the exhibition room. The video partly just makes me jealous that they got a private tour – it was a very popular and very crowded exhibition. But I also love the coincidence that brought the song and the artefacts together.

If you’re interested in the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition itself, my colleague Anna Judson wrote a great and very detailed review of it, which really got into the problems with the presentation as well as the things which were done well.

Of course Bastille are not the only band who have written on this theme. You might prefer “Cocoon” by the Decembrists, for example. Or if that’s not your thing, there is always Pacini’s 1825 opera L’ultimo gionro di Pompeii.

Edited to add: Virginia Campbell has pointed out over on twitter that there is an important omission from this post…


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