Erich Lessing

Perhaps sensual indulgence helped compensate for a harsh reality: In the ancient world, with disease and war rampant, few people lived to a comfortable old age. Death and pleasure, it seems, were inextricably linked—especially at the Bay of Naples, where Mount Vesuvius casts its shadow over the beaches. A mosaic from Pompeii (shown here) of a skeleton carrying pitchers of wine captures the Roman attitude perfectly.