It’s not known how many letters Obsidius and his friend Marcus were able to exchange during the Explorations of Obsidius, but it does seem clear based on this most recent discovery, that the two were exchanging ideas and working together to uncover the mysteries of the Vesuvian Magnus.
Reading between the lines, this letter reveals one more important fact: Obsidius himself seemed to have been developing some doubts about the nature of his mission.
Here’s a transcript:
Gaius. My old friend.
I trust this will reach you on the road safe and in good health.
Whatever have you involved me in? No complaint. Much to the contrary, it has provided quite an intriguing project for me.
A few nights ago, I attended a cena at a certain mutual friend of ours’ (I will leave names out of this missive) in Pompeii not far from my own much more humble summer villa. I could go on about the extravagant fare and even on the tableware itself, not to mention the Gaullic entertainment worthy of Trimalchio himself, but I lack the words to describe it.
When the moment seemed right, I innocently inquired about the Vesuvian Magnus. The response I received was quite interesting. One member of our group lied badly, saying that he had never heard of it and two others left the triclinium, feigning a sudden interest in the cooking practices.
Knowing that something of great interest was being hidden, I have continued my inquiries in less lavish surroundings and I fear my social life has deteriorated. My invitations have dropped off to none, which is fine. I come here for much needed peace and quiet.
And perhaps it is just my imagination, but it seems that I am being spied upon. Twice, I have felt that I was being watched. I have a few closer friends to inquire of under different circumstances, but it seems there are mysterious doings in old Pompeii.