The Magazine of History & Fiction

Giants of Vesuvius Mountain by Gerd Maximovic

We are used to looking into the future and into space in order to learn what kind fo monsters, terrible creatures, aliens and so on are romping about there. But, believe me, this is not necessary! Let's have a look back into history of our own Earth, and we witness, once more, that THEM have been always among us - or, at least, beside us. Our sensational greed seems to be immeasurable, then and today. Beg your pardon, but the terror lurks everywhere.

I am quoting the German edition of "Cassius Dio: Römische Geschichte, Artemis + Winkler, 2007 Patmos Verlag." That's his "Roman History", translated by me from the German language into English.

Cassius Dio lived about 160 AD till about 235 AD. He was a high ranking Roman state's officer, also consul, being member of the senate for fifty years. He wrote us his important and highly interesting "Roman History". The following excerpt of volume V of his Roman History (German edition) gives an impression of the big devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Therein we learn something about the destroyed city of Pompeii as well as about giants at the crater.

"In Campania you lived to see terrible, astonishing events; because a big fire suddenly came at the end of summer directly out of the earth. >It happened like this<: Mount Vesuvius rises near the sea up over Naples, and it contains unexhaustable sources of fire. For the first time it's height was the same at all places, and the fire rose from the middle; for only here the flames broke out, whilst the outer parts of the mountain have not been touched by the fire till today. Now, because the outer skirts never burnt, the middle part crumbled and was turned into ashes, so the peaks around the centre are as high as before; the whole area, being subjected to and devoured by fire set down during time, moulding a cave; the whole mountain resembles, if you are allowed to compare big things with little things, a theatre for animal huntings (= amphitheatre).

The high reaches of Mount Vesuvius carry trees and grapevines in huge numbers, whilst the crater is belonging to the fire, wherefrom rises smoke while it's light, as well as a flame at night; you could think that in it's interior are burnt great numbers of all sorts of incense. The mentioned process takes place each time, once to a bigger, the other time to a smaller extent. Often times, when an extreme strong collapse is happening, the Mount throws up ashes as well as stones, so when being violently hit by a gust of wind. And it thunders and roars, because its breathing is not concise, but weak and secretive.

Well, that's about Mount Vesuvius, and the mentioned phenomena there are repeating year for year. All other events taking place during time at this point are of less importance, compared with what happened then (although they would seem remarkable to the spectator because of their uniqueness). The whole thing took this course: numerous gigantic men, surpassing all man's measure - visions as you picture the giants - soon could be seen on the Mount, soon in its surrounding area, and in the cities - strolling on earth as well as in the air, by day and night. Afterwards there were evil dry seasons, and suddenly violently earth quakes happened, so that the whole expanse around was boiling up and the high mountains jumped up. Muffled rumbles could be heard, partly below the ground, reminding of thunder strokes, partly on the ground, then it was all roaring. Howling the sea did as well, and from the sky echoed thunder strokes. And suddenly there was an eerie crashing noise, as if the mountains tumbled down; and at first gigantic stones were thrown up with such a force, so that they even reached the mountain peaks, thereupon came fire and smoke in multitude, with the result that the whole air was darkening, and the sun disappeared as if having become extinct.

Day became night, and light went somber. Some did believe the giants would rise for a new fight. Because also in these moments you could differentiate many outlines of their figures in the smoke. And, besides, some heard something like the sound of trumpets. Others, on the contrary, imagined the whole universe to turn into chaos and fire. And so some fled from their houses out on the streets, others from outside into the houses, then from the sea to the land again, and from there to the sea; because in their agitation they considered each distant place as safer than the place where they were staying momentarily. During this process an immense lot of ashes was hurled out, to cover land and sea finally, and it was filling up all of the air. As chance would be, it caused manyfold damage to men as well as estates, and harm to the cattle, and especially it killed fish and birds. Moreover it totally covered two cities, Herculaneum and Pompeii, their inhabitants sitting in the theatre at this moment. The whole mass of dust was so unimaginable big, therefore parts of it reached Africa, Syria, and Egypt; also to Rome moved the ashes, to fill the air above the capital, and to darken the sun there. Fear reigned there for many days because people did't know of the event, and they could not imagine what had happened. But they also believed everything is at sixes and sevens, the sun will disappear into the earth, and earth itself will rise up to the sky. Now, the mentioned quantity of ashes didn't harm the Romans so much at this time, whilst at a later time it caused a terrible epidemic." (Dio 5, German edition, p. 162 - 165)

Well now, such events as the big eruption of Mount Vesuvius for sure are earth-shaking. Historically regarded, this eruption of 79 AD, for the historians and the geologists, it is worthwhile. Because there has been maintained much "evidence" of life and behaviour of bygone times. And especially those people themselves, they have been "maintained" for all times. But you can also see how the imagination of witnesses (or here: of a reporter) handles such events - in surmising overworldly powers like giants and colossuses behind this spook, working its effects even till Africa. Anyways, please don't forget, this area, where it happened, the region around Naples, is densely populated. And so it is only a question of time till the giants or colossuses will "appear" in present days again...

By the way, giants: in the near-east areas of Armenia and Mesopotamia earth-quakes there are well used to happen. So at bygone times as well. But let's have a look at what happened insofar to the Roman emperor Trajan in 115 AD: "The emperor just stayed in Antiocheia when a terrible earth quake happened. At this occasion numerous cities suffered damages, worst hit was Antiocheia herself. Trajan was spending wintertime at this place. There were trials and envoys, and for commercial reasons and for curiosity a lot of soldiers as well as private people flocked together. So there was no people, and no province, to have escaped undamaged this disaster. Thus in Antiocheia the whole inhabited world, as far as being subordinate to Rome, was stricken by disaster. There had also occurred many storms and thunderstorms, but nobody would ever have considered evils in such number to be caused this way.

Firstly quite surprising thundered a terrible roar, being followed by a dreadful quake. All of the earth was heaved up, the buildings jumped into the air as well. Some of them were just torn above in order to collpase then, becoming rubble, whilst others - being shaken like waves on the sea - tumbled down, covering immensely the uncultivated area. The crashing of splintering and breaking wooden beams together with bricks and stones was deeply terrorizing, also dust was swirled up in giant clouds, with the result that no one could see, or say, or understand anything. Now, in respect of the people, many of them witnessed real difficulties even outside their houses; they namely were torn up in the air and thrown upwards and then, like falling down from a cliff, smashed to the ground, which partly resulted in mutilations, partly ending their lives. Even some trees together with their roots jumped up into the air. Of the people who stayed in their houses so many of them died, you couldn't check their number; because a lot of them were killed by the power of collapsing rubble, and a great many of them was stifled in the rubble. But he who was stuck only with part of his body under stones and wooden beams suffered terribly; because neither could he live longer, nor die instantly.

Anyways, as you should expect with so big a crowd, even some of them could be saved, but none among them escaped totally undamaged. A lot of people lost their legs and arms, others suffered fractured skulls, and others were throwing up blood; consul Pedo was one of them, he died instantly. In a word, there was no kind of injury at that time, those people would have been spared of. And because the sky made tremble earth through many days and nights those people were in a dreadful hopeless situation. Some were buried under the collapsed buildings, finding death this way, others starved to death, if by chance they were in a cavity having been created by sloping beams, or in an arching hall of columns where they stayed alive.

When finally the misfortune ended, one of them who dared stepping onto the ruins noticed one woman still alive. She was not alone, but she had a baby, so nourishing herself and the child with her milk, she coped with the catastrophe. People now dug out the wife und restored power to her and her child; on that they also searched the other piles of rubble, but they couldn't find no one more alive, except a child trying to drink at the breast of the dead mother. As they now took out the corpses, they were no longer fond of their own rescue. That big were the strokes of fate to have hit Antiocheia at that time.

Trajan on the other hand could save himself escaping through a window of the room in where he then was; a being, much bigger than man's measure, stepped towards him and led him out, whereupon he escaped, having suffered only a few minor injuries. But the earth quake lasted several days, so Trajan spent his time under the clear sky of a hippodrom. Even Mons Casius itself was shaken in a way that its peak seemed to tilt and to break off, and immediately to fall down at the city. In addition, other mountains lowered themselves, and a lot of water, invisible before, came to light, whilst a lot of rivers dried up." (Dio 5, German edition, p. 212 - 215) So you can see: volcanic eruptions due to the hot core of the earth as well as the shifting of the earth plates happen. In ancient times they didn't understand this; in the vernacular they like to add something special like giants to underline the horrible dimension of the process.

Biography: Born 29 August 1944 in Langenau (Sudetenland). Growing up in Schwäbisch Gmünd (Southern Germany). Working as a pin boy in the Bowling Alley of the US barracks (Hardt-Kaserne) in Schwäbisch Gmünd to raise money in order to buy German pulp SF.There, to entertain and inform the US-GIs, is radio station AFN (American Forces Network). We, the Germans, constantly listened to AFN. Member of German SF fandom. First of my own stories (of half a page length) published in German fanzines. Winner of German fan awards. Later professional writer. Publishing in the renowned German Suhrkamp Verlag. Stories in German Playboy, Omni and other magazines. Stories translated and published in a lot of languages. Made my high-school diploma in 1964. Studying business management, national economy, pedagogy, economic history at the university in Saarbrücken. Diploma as qualified teacher ("Diplom-Handelslehrer") in 1969. Went to wonderful city of Bremen (in Northern Germany), there working as a teacher. About 1989 beginning to read philosophical authors. My finding of Emile Coué and his "autosuggestion" as greatest discovery ever. My article "The Greatest Discovery in History of All Mankind", originally written in English, is available at the Web ( "Fornax 14"). Please, have a look at it! Nowadays I am writing philosophical articles and SF-novels, the novels being published as eBooks at German Edition Bärenklau (Jörg Munsonius). There all of my stories in German language are available as eBooks. Great US-fan Shelby Vick, publishing several of my stories, in English translation by Isabel Cole. I have written three new stories, originally in English, for Shelby, all three of them have been published in Shelby Vick's "Planetary Stories" No. 34 + 35. I am feeling 17 years old. Because I am using the time machine (= bicycle) each day. Bremen is rated as the "biker's capital of Germany". So, this is the right place for me, as you easily can see.