Thucydides Syndrome

(redirected from The Plague of Athens)
The name given to an epidemic described by Thucydides (460–395 BC), Greek general and author of the History of the Peloponnesian War. The disease decimated Athens' then population of 300,000, and, to some, signalled the end of the classic Greek civilisation. Postulated causes have included smallpox, bubonic plague, scarlet fever, typhus, measles, typhoid fever, ergotism, and influenza complicated by toxin-producing noninvasive staphylococci—i.e., a form of toxic shock syndrome
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However, Thucydides' correlation of the plague of Athens with the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) (5) gives us the opportunity to state that Sophocles connects this epidemic of Thebes with the plague of Athens and attempts to point out the disastrous effects wars always have.
The plague that is described in Oedipus Rex could possibly be related to the plague that struck Athens in 430-429 BC (11), the primary source for which is the papers of historian Thucydides (where he refers to an epidemic that has been named the plague of Athens) (5).
The first writing of Oedipus Rex most probably took place during the time of the plague of Athens. Sophocles' epidemic seems to have enough strength to appear as a historical base on which the theatrical economy of the play is evolving (12).
The particularity of this reference (4), it seems that Sophocles correlates the epidemic that strikes Thebes with the plague of Athens, which, according to Thucydides, came about as a result of the Peloponnesian War (5).
The Plague of Athens is one of 10 historically notable outbreaks described in an article in "The Lancet Infectious Diseases" by authors from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Holmes uses his unique novelist skills to create a narrative and dialogue in "The Plague of Athens, 430 B.C." via a fictional Macedonian physician who discusses the real plague of Athens with fellow citizens, religious leaders, and a general and head of the Athenian state.
Examples include the plague of Athens and the devastating influenza pandemic of 1917-19 that killed more people than the First World War.
He concludes the poem with a vivid description of the plague of Athens, modeled on Thucydides' account.
It describes the nature and identification of the etiological agent, Salmonella; two famous outbreaks (the Plague of Athens and the final illness and death of Alexander the Great); the deaths from typhoid fever of major figures in history; the roles of Thomas Willis, William Wood Gerhard, Pierre-Charles-Alexandre Louis, Robert Koch, Walter Reed, William Budd, and others; the diagnostic test developed by Fernand Widal and Albert GrEnbaum; the story of oTyphoid Maryo; the work of Almroth Wright and others in vaccination; typhoid in the American army; and typhoid in the 21st century.
The description of the Plague of Athens, like that of the Cough of Perinthus by Hippocrates, is an essential text in the philologic and semantic study of epidemics (5).
But was the Plague of Athens a true epidemic, in the modern sense?
Epidemiology of the plague of Athens. Transactions of the American Philological Association 1992;122:271-304.