Apparently, the second written mention of the Lovelab appears
in a recently discovered letter written by Pliny the Younger (Caius Plinius
Caecilius Secundus)and addressed to the First Century historian Tacitus.
Until recently, it was believed that only two of these letters, dating from
the First Century, had survived through the centuries. However, in July 1997,
this third missive was delivered to a Mr. Lucca Tacitus (no relative to the
scholar) in Rome. This letter had postage due and appears to have been held
up in the Italian postal system.
We would like to thank Dr. Jacobo Mandelli, Museo Regionali
Civitavecchia, for this translation and for the explanatory notes that we
have placed in brackets.
"You have asked, not withstanding the death of my Uncle
[Pliny the Elder, Caius Plinius Secundus],if there were any benefit
from the loss of both towns [Pompeii and Herculaneum] to the Empire.
On that accord, I can only repeat a comment made by my Uncle
shortly before the disaster [the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius]. As you remember,
he worked closely with the Emperor [Titus at the time of the eruption] and
once in conversation the Emperor complained of a group called the Lovelab.
Apparently, the citizens of Pompeii had petitioned him on several occasions
regarding what they referred to as a "House of rotting fish, inhabited
by knaves constantly attempting to pick the Public purse."
I can but believe that, as the Lovelab was surely destroyed,
the gods had taken care of the matter."
[Pliny then alludes to a story of the god Jupiter turning a youth named Panulirus into a lobster, making him into a seafood mousse and eating him on toasted olive bread. This appears to be a myth that is unknown in our time - J. M.]
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