The Plague of Athens

I chose a quote from the plague of Athens. The most interesting quote is on page 120, which states that “By far the most terrible feature in the malady was the dejection which ensued when anyone felt himself sickening, for the despair into which they instantly fell took away their power of resistance, and left them a much easier prey to the disorder; besides which, there was the awful spectacle of men dying like sheep, through having caught the infection in nursing each other” (Thucydide et al., 2008, p.120).

This quote appealed to me since it is relatable to the recent surge of Covid-19 infections, especially in 2020 and 2021. The author has used imaginary tools throughout the story, but in this case, he uses them to depict people’s despair and helplessness during the plague. For instance, it is arguably very hurting to be infected by a fatal illness when trying to resuscitate a patient of the same illness. Everyone is such and dying, and there is no decent end of life; people die like animals (sheep). I think this is both a funny and excellent description of the reality that Athens had to face.

I strongly agree with the author that perception of health is a factor for human wellbeing and health outcomes. The author states that despair took away the people’s resistance, which I acknowledge as immunity against the disease, making them more vulnerable to the plague. It seems that once a person became infected, they had already succumbed to the illness and waited desperately for their death. I can relate this with studies that linked infectious diseases with despair (Camsari & Libertin, 2017; Shanahan et al., 2019). This reminds me that in times of national or global health crisis, stigma and anxiety from the symptoms of the pandemic or endemic influence how people respond to the management or treatment of such illnesses. For instance, governments have emphasized vaccination against Covid-19 than treatment and management of cardiovascular diseases and cancers, which claim more people than Covid-19.

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Camsari, U., & Libertin, C. (2017). Small-Town America’s Despair: Infected Substance Users Needing Outpatient Parenteral Therapy and Risk Stratification. Cureus.

Shanahan, L., Hill, S., Gaydosh, L., Steinhoff, A., Costello, E., & Dodge, K. et al. (2019). Does Despair Really Kill? A Roadmap for an Evidence-Based Answer. American Journal Of Public Health109(6), 854-858.

Thucydide, Strassler, R., Crawley, R., & Hanson, V. (2008). The landmark Thucydides. Free Press.