In 79 AD, a volcano erupted near the Roman city of Pompeii, Italy, and caused the death of around 11,000 people who were buried in volcanic ash. The eruption was so violent that it killed everyone within a six-mile radius, exposing civilians to temperatures of up to 250°C (482°F) and causing instant death and destruction.

Pompeii is now a world famous tourist site, with the former city getting thousands of visitors every year who come to see the remains of the bodies which have been preserved in their natural position. Many of the remains show people covering their mouths, others are hugging loved ones and some are simply cowering in fear. However, one particular body has been getting a lot of attention this week on social media, and deservedly so.
Now, imagine you are watching your world burn down and be destroyed around you. It’s really hard to imagine it, I know, but what would you do? You’d probably run for cover, wouldn’t you? You’d try and grab those you hold close and tell them how much you love them, right? Or maybe, just maybe, you’d rub one out, right there and then.
That’s what one of the remains of the Pompeii disaster seems to be doing. The image below was posted on the official Ruins of Pompeii Instagram account and shows the touching moment of a man appearing to make sure that his last breaths were well spent.
It’s a position we know all too well; legs slightly cocked, back raised and right hand getting to work. To the average eye, it looks as if the man is cracking one out. However, volcanologist Pier Paolo Petrone has been quick to ruin all the fun and put an end to these rumours. Petrone believes that the man was too busy being in immense pain, due to the fact he was burning alive.
There is no way to demonstrate any ‘masturbating man,’ and it is out of place to discuss such an affirmation. The individual in the photo is an adult man, killed by the hot pyroclastic surge (hot gas and ash cloud which killed most of the population living around Mount Vesuvius), with both arms and legs flexed due to the heat. Most of the human victims found in Pompeii often show ‘strange’ position of arms and legs, due to the contraction of limbs as a consequence of the heat effect on their bodies after death occurred.

Still, that hasn’t stopped most of us finding the picture hilarious, and the man has now been hailed as the “Pompeii Masturbator” on Twitter.
Fair enough, Pier is probably right, but we’d all like to think that this guy died doing what he loved, and held on to the very end. We hope that he spent his last living moments holding on to his loved ones in the face of the huge eruption that was coming, as that’s the way we’d all like to go one day.

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