On August 27th 79AD, the Roman town of Pompeii was buried under a torrent of lava and ash when Vesuvius roared into life with a mighty eruption What survives of the town is an extraordinary archaeological record, but Pompeii's remains can only tell us part of the story. Much has been lost, looted and damaged in the 250 years since the town was re-discovered, and the excavations offer only an illusion of immediacy. To really understand Pompeii, we need to get under the skin. Using a mixture of lavish dramatisations, computer graphic environments and the guidance of leading experts, The Private Lives Of Pompeii offers a unique look at the people who lived and died there. What were their hopes and fears, their rivalries and their loves? Seventeen years before the eruption the town had already experienced a terrible disaster having been at the epicentre of a huge and devastating earthquake. Ray Laurence, historian at Reading University, says: "The earthquake could be seen as a catalyst... We might see more of the tensions of the town. In a way an earthquake presents opportunities for social mobility. It's an opportunity for a town as much as a tragedy. Some people get richer, some people are devastated by it." In the years following, all the tensions and dynamics of the Roman world were somehow focused and intensified. As the society strove to rebuild and recover itself, a competitive, ambitious and sometimes treacherous world was revealed. New money challenged old values. The traditional hierarchies of power and status could no longer be taken for granted. The Private Lives Of Pompeii explores this world through the stories of fictionalised characters and events rigorously grounded in historical fact. Scaurus Vettius, an ambitious entrepreneurial freed slave, appears to be on the way up. Gaius Terentius Sabinus may be on the way down. Each seemingly needs the other to achieve status and power in the municipal elections. Gaius' father, Terentius Senex is an ageing aristocrat desperate to maintain the family's power through his son's political advancement. The elegant widow, Julia Felix, looks for a new man, but may have to give up her son. And Petronia Justa is fighting in the courts for recognition as a free woman. Content licensed from DRG. Produced by Illuminations (Television) LTD.