Mount Etna (Aetna in Latin, also known as Muncibeddu in Sicilian and Mongibello in Italian, a combination of Latin mons and Arabic gibel, both meaning mountain) is a volcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. Its Arabic name was Jebel Utlamat (the Mountain of Fire).
It is the largest volcano in Europe, and the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps, about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. It is very active.
The Roman poet Virgil gave what was probably a first-hand description of an eruption in the Aeneid:
Portus ab accessu ventorum immotus et ingens ipse; sed horrificis iuxta tonat Aetna ruinis; interdumque atram prorumpit ad aethera nubem, turbine fumantem piceo et candente favilla, attollitque globos flammarum et sidera lambit; interdum scopulos avolsaque viscera montis erigit eructans, liquefactaque saxa sub auras cum gemitu glomerat, fundoque exaestuat imo.
A spreading bay is there, impregnable to all invading storms; and Aetna's throat With roar of frightful ruin thunders nigh. Now to the realm of light it lifts a cloud Of pitch-black, whirling smoke, and fiery dust, Shooting out globes of flame, with monster tongues That lick the stars; now huge crags of itself, Out of the bowels of the mountain torn, Its maw disgorges, while the molten rock Rolls screaming skyward; from the nether deep The fathomless abyss makes ebb and flow.
In 396 BC, an eruption of Etna is said to have thwarted the Carthaginians in their attempt to advance on Syracuse during the First Sicilian War.