An open letter to Vesonius Primus, official of Pompeii, 79 AD

I would rather be buried alive under 6 feet of molten lava than submit to the tyranny of small tax increases!


As one of your constituents, I must take grave issue with your characterizations of the developing “Vesuvius situation.” My family has lived in Pompeii for many years. My father was an important member of this community. I am writing both as a citizen of Rome and in my official capacity as secretary of the Pompeiian Small Business League, to warn that any rash actions with respect to the increasing earthquaking and sputtering could have dire consequences for the business community. Worryingly, the spectre of increased taxation could lead businesses to move to other towns in Italy.

In making a political decision such as you are proposing, to evacuate the city until such time as the Gods settle down Mount Vesuvius, one would do well to avoid rashness. Yes, damage has been done. Yes, lives have been lost. But who’s to say that the worst isn’t behind us? Imagine if I ran International House Slaves and Salt Distribution in such a panicky fashion! A little ash is not worth shutting down operations. What would that great conqueror of Carthage, Scipio Africanus, think? What would Romulus do? The answers, of course, are “not much” and “bow to his social superiors.”

Even more terrifying than the very, very slight possibilty that the Gods allow the mountain to erupt and cover us all in lava is the proposal of a 2% corporate tax increase, which will most definitely cause chaos unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Jobs will lost, business will desert our town, and we’ll all be worse off. A falling tide sinks all triremes. And for what? For saving a few thousand lives in the event of an emergency? For rebuilding roads and aquaducts? Most of these so-called “infrastructures” are simply a way for layabouts and vagabonds to suckle at the public teat. Frankly, this redistribution of wealth smacks of Tuscan Despotism.

Myself and the other business leaders (undersigned) strongly urge you to think of the weakest, most vulnerable members of society in these uncertain times. Those being of course, the richest land and business owners. Don’t forget where those awesome tickets to the Gladiator semi-finals in Rome came from, sonny. How often does the worst-case scenario actually happen?

Yours threateningly,

Lucius Tiberius Iulianum

General Manager, IHSSD Ltd.


Sadly, this letter was killed by an erupting volcano just moments after its completion. It was never delivered to Vesonius Primus, who was at that point enjoying a well-timed vacation in Cyprus. Most of the other letters in our Letters That Were Never Delivered group were intentionally destroyed or withheld by their creators, so it is truly tragic to see a letter that someone wanted delivered get “lost in the mail” as it were (not to be confused with our actual subgrouping of Letters That Were Never Delivered: Lost In The Mail).

Of course, in a way the message of the letter came through: the proposed 2% corporate tax increase was canceled, primarily because there were no longer any corporations to pay taxes. No doubt that thought was a comfort to Mr. Iulianum, just before the waves of lava and ash buried his lifeless body.

Ironically, not long after this letter was written, Mr. Primus started a punk rock band called Tuscan Despotism that enjoyed moderate popularity among the few survivors of the eruption.


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One response to “An open letter to Vesonius Primus, official of Pompeii, 79 AD

  1. Pingback: A Farmer to his Rooster, 1609 | The History of the Letter

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