Death and Disease in the Ancient City by Valerie Hope, Eireann Marshall

By Valerie Hope, Eireann Marshall

This cutting edge quantity attracts on fresh study in archaeology, historic historical past and the background of medication to debate how humans within the old international understood and handled disease and dying within the city atmosphere.

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It is the constitution and behaviour of the individuai and the impact of the environment that count, not the population density. The author of Nature of Man does discuss situations in which disease is affecting large groups of people and cannot therefore be derived from rhe behaviour and physiology of the individual alone: the disease, he explains, must be due to some noseré apokrisis ('sickly excretion') in the air breathed by all those affected and the solution is ro breathe as little as possible and to perform a metastasis, a change of location (9).

Com fr. 201KA [= Plut. Mor. 804a}; sathros: Hdt. 5; hupoulos: Pl. Grg. 518e; eklelusthai: Dem. 224. I exclude paligkotl5S (Hdt. , since paligkot- does nor appear in any of the Hippocratic treatises commonly regarded as possibly datable to the fifth century. In later treatises (Art. 19,27,40, 67, 86(2),87; Epid. 20; Fract. 11(4),25, 31; Loc. Hom. 3; Mul. 171) the principal notion is of deterioration and malignancy (almost the modern 'complications'), though not gangrene, for which the term is sphakelizein.

Rep. 544c; Aesch. PV 224; Isoc. 34, Plut. Sol. 5 (= Solon fr. 35W», a city suffering from a tyrant does not seem to attract blame expressed in rnedical terms, and the same should apply a fortiori to references to other individual figures identified wirh disease such as Demosthenes' rival Aristogeiton, mentioned above. One obvious objection to this view of sickness imagery would arise from the often perceived affinity between Thucydides' account of the Plague at Athens and his account of the stasis in Corcyra.

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