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Thucydides and the plague

King, Helen and Brown, Jo (2014). Thucydides and the plague. In: Morley, Neville and Lee, Christine eds. A Handbook to the Reception of Thucydides. Chichester: Wiley, pp. 447–473.

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This chapter examines a range of responses to Thucydides’ narrative of the plague, focusing on its reception in the English-speaking world from the seventeenth century to the present day. While for medical writers Thucydides could be “one of us,” with the structure of his account providing a model for the personal experience of encountering, observing, and describing a new disease, the actual content of these sections produced a range of responses. Often it provoked retrodiagnoses, but these have varied widely. While in recent years Thucydides has sometimes been praised for his prescience, some earlier physician-readers found his picture simply impossible to believe. The final sections of this chapter present two case studies of the reception of the plague narrative: the first, Thomas Sprat's 1659 poetic version which uses it to reflect on the English Civil War; and the second, the connection between Benjamin Jowett's translation and debates about disease causation in the late nineteenth century.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISBN: 1-4051-9691-2, 978-1-4051-9691-8
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > Classical Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
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Item ID: 41449
Depositing User: Helen King
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2014 09:08
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2019 08:46
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