seems like people either became extremely hopeless H u m a n i t i e s

seems like people either became extremely hopeless H u m a n i t i e s

100 word minimum per discussion response/feedback


A. From reading the history of “The Great Plague of Athens” written by Thucydides, the cause of the plague in Athens can be debatable, and to this day, it is still unknown. Researching throughout the internet, I looked for symptoms like inflamed, red eyes, bleeding from the mouth and tongue, irregular breathing, sneezing, coughing, indigestion, vomiting, pain, red skin, suffering from high fever, suggests the infectious virus was the cause of the plague. Although Thucydides does not mention how the plague originated, he describes the place they believed it came from. The plague first took place south of Ethiopia in upper Egypt. It started spreading from there to Egypt and the easter Mediterranean and was brought to Athens by people from Attica. They were trying to flee from the Spartans.

B. The plague had critical impacts on Athens society and its organization. Considering no one knew who could be the next victim of the growing disease, the overwhelmed community lost their interest in the rule of every religion or of law. For example, the burial ceremonies’ tradition became meaningless because of the high number of deaths that happened quickly.

C. Based on this source and what we see today, these pandemics’ effects on people and the government/society are visible. A crisis like the great plague had a tremendous impact on people’s behaviors, and the results during the pandemic reveal an exceptional understanding of psychotic disruption. “Unparalleled lawlessness,” and chaos was seen as a result of the great plague. No matter in what shape or health they were in, infected persons vanishing, and that put their family and friends in a feeling of helplessness. Furthermore, even though many died from negligence or not being cared for, some thought of not caring for others as dishonorable and visited the infected friends and family members to tend to them. Many died by contracting the disease while they were nursing others, and the most empathetic people were those who recovered from the illness. Recovered individuals were also more confident because people did not contract the disease twice, and if they did, it was no longer life-threatening. Psychologically, this shows that some were submerged in hopelessness and lost their will to fight against the plague because they saw the chances of survival to be far too low. At the same time, others were driven by their empathy, love and respect for others. Mostly having gone through the pain and suffering of the illness themselves, people could not bear the thought of others going through the same thing alone. The passage reminds me of today’s social climate, where people try their best to support each other through these difficult times.

D. The most recent research I found was done in 2006. The study, published in the NCBI medical journal, proposes typhoid fever as a likely explanation for Athens’ plague. Researchers used DNA from discovered remains in a mass burial pit in Athens’ ancient cemetery underneath Kerameikos. A slightly older study published in 2004 proposes various infectious diseases such influenza, epidemic typhus, typhoid fever, bubonic plague, smallpox, and measles as other likely causes.


1. What was the cause of the plague believed to be? Where did the plague come from?

The cause of the plague was believed to be that the Peloponnesians had poisoned the reservoirs leading to the city of Athens. The document also mentioned that the disease was said to have originated in “Ethiopia in upper Egypt… and spread from there into Egypt itself and Libya and much of the territory of the King of Persia.”

2. How did public laws, religion, and customs hold up during the crisis? Give examples.

Apparently, many of the group of people who had been affected by the plague felt as though they should live like their actions had no consequences because they were going to be dead from the plague’s symptoms like an internal fever and uncontrollable diarrhea. As for those who were not affected physically by the plague, they seemed to shy away from coming in contact with the people who they were close to that had the plague. Some who had lost many members of their household by the plague also would shamelessly dispose of their dead by using someone else’s premade pyre and set it on fire or using pyres that had already been set aflame to burn their dead.

3. What does this description of the plague tell us about human nature when in a life-threatening crisis? What were the psychological effects according to this source?

It seems like people either became extremely hopeless for having the disease cured causing them to care far less about unethical reasoning, or the unaffected became cold and/or shameless towards those they knew had been infected with the plague. What caught my eye the most was that many people had automatically lost their hope for surviving when they had found that they had the plague.

4. We still don’t know for certain what really made everyone so sick. Look online and find the most recent research about what disease caused all this pain and suffering. Report what you find in a few sentences.

According to “The cause of the plague of Athens: plague, typhoid, typhus, smallpox, or measles?” by Burke A. Cunha in March of 2005, the plague could possibly be smallpox or measles. The reason that the plague could have been smallpox is because some of the symptoms that match the symptoms of the plague are: Fever, rapid onset, red eyes, livid red rash, blister and/or sores, intense sensation of internal heat, body or extremity gangrene, and loss of sight. The reason why the plague could have been measles instead of smallpox is because the measles has more symptoms like the symptoms of the plague that Thucydides describes that smallpox has. The similar symptoms that measles has to the plague of the Athens are: Fever, acute onset, Livid red rash, red eyes, runny nose and sneezing, red throat and hoarseness, foul breath, dry cough, intense sensation of internal heat, sleeplessness and restlessness, and death by exhaustion. Burke has found that the closest of the illnesses that he compared to the plague that fell on the city of Athens is measles.

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