Epidemics and Ideas: Essays on the Historical Perception of by Terence Ranger, Paul Slack

By Terence Ranger, Paul Slack

Epidemic illnesses have consistently been a try of the power of human societies to resist unexpected shocks. How are such huge mortalities and the ailment of enormous proportions of the inhabitants to be defined and handled? How have the assets of illness been pointed out and controls imposed? The chapters during this ebook, by means of stated specialists within the historical past in their classes, examine the ways that the nice epidemic illnesses of the past--from classical Athens to the current day--have formed not just our perspectives of medication and disorder, however the ways that humans have outlined the "health" of society typically phrases.

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Then, language and laws were developed by mutual agreement. 25 The abiding interest of the Greeks in other cultures with their different customs and morality also contributed to this growing belief in moral relativism. 53). In so dire a situation what counted most was the pleasure of the moment. * It may be observed that even the laws of burial came to be regarded as another cultural product, a consequence of progress. See Moschion Frg. 6, 30-3 Nauck. Epidemic, ideas and classical Athenian society 41 However, not all men, evidently, lost their belief in conventional religion.

See Diodorus Frg. XXX, 43 (Dindorf) who observes that when the doctors' therapy fails, their patients resort to incantations and prayer. See, too, Pliny, Natural™ Historiac XXX, 98. Epidemic, ideas and classical Athenian society 39 phenomena previously held to be the result of the supernatural activity of anthropomorphic deities had clearly weakened the authority of the Olympian gods. This implicit rejection of the Epic pantheon, however, was followed by an explicit attack. 22 This attack upon traditional theology was followed by a no less vigorous onslaught upon traditional religious and cult practices by Heraclitus of Ephesus, who criticises them as foolish or illogical.

The disease became, therefore, no longer significant to his central theme and is summarily dismissed. It should be noticed, too, that Thucydides's account of the plague is subordinated to his general historiographical principles. His harrowing description of the plague is dramatically exploited for historiographical purposes. The stark and immediate contrast between the optimism and confidence of the Funeral Oration and the grim ravages of the plague is heightened by their being deliberately set in tight juxtaposition.

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