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The Lives of Two Ancient Pandemics and Their Modern Resonance - a Zoom presentation
9:30 a.m. (Arizona time) via Zoom
50 minutes plus Q&A
A Free Lecture by Dr. Irene Bald Romano
Professor of Art History and Anthropology
Curator of Mediterranean Archaeology
at the Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona
In this illustrated talk, Dr. Romano discusses two pandemics of the ancient world that are well-documented, both from literary sources and archaeological discoveries: the plague of Athens that struck during the second year of the Peloponnesian War (430 B.C) and was a contributor to the downfall of the Athenian Empire; and the Antonine plague (165-180 A.D.), during the rule of the Antonine Emperors, that heralded the fall of the Roman Empire. The lives of these plagues are traced with attention to: their impact on Athens and Rome; the reliability of the evidence; the historian (Thucydides) and the physician (Galen) who chronicled them; and the lives of the powerful leaders of Athens (Pericles) and Rome (Marcus Aurelius) who had to manage these existential threats. The many parallels to our current pandemic are hard to ignore, including conspiracy theories about the origins of these plagues, wildly varying mortality counts, changes in funerary practices, and the responses of leaders and average citizens.
Image: Plague in an Ancient City, Michiel Sweerts, c. 1652–1654, Los Angeles County Museum of Art