Everyone knows the story of Pompeii, buried by volcanic ash in 79 AD when nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted. What a lot of people don’t know is that there was an earthquake in 62 AD, which caused significant damage to the city. Much of the damage, including that to the basilica (an important civic building), was still being repaired when Vesuvius erupted.
When I first visited Pompeii, I was struck by this fact. I couldn’t understand how this mighty empire (savage and brutal though it was) let major buildings in a major city go unrepaired for 15 years.