Work on Herculaneum is proceeding almost comically slowly, but I have spent time since the new year studying Pliny's two letters on the eruption of Vesuvius - 6.16 and 6.20. They are curious and strangely difficult texts as they are almost too familiar. They belong either to a time of short trousers and unseen translations at school, or to television. I can't remember a documentary on the eruption (mea culpa) that doesn't have a shot of a presenter pulling out a battered copy of Betty Radice's translation for Penguin.
What this means is that the letters are taken for granted: you remember the description of the pre-eruption, the pillows on the heads and Pliny the Elder's heart attack. And then you skip to the archaeology.
The letters, however, are considerably more sophisticated and complex than that.
A pleasure therefore to discover the blog [quem dixere chaos], curated by Pedar Foss, professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He has been running a thought-provoking series on how to translate the letters with line-by-line commentary. Part 10 was posted a couple of days ago. Definitely worth a read.