Thucydides Syndrome

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