b. Pliny the Elder
Vesuvius erupted on Aug. 24 in the year 79. The nearby city of Pompeii was completely buried under several feet of ash and molten rock, killing the thousands of people who lived there.
Pliny wasn't living in Pompeii when the volcano exploded. He was in charge of the Roman Navy and sailed toward the city on a rescue mission, only to be overcome by the toxic fumes.
Pliny's most influential work was the groundbreaking encyclopedia Naturalis Historia.