chapter  2
7 Pages

The Athenian Pandemic

WithWelford Mark

One of the first known pandemics to ravage Europe arrived in Athens in 432 before the Common Era (BCE). It struck Athens at a time before Alexander the Great had invaded western India in 326 BCE or the overland Silk Road had commenced in the second century BCE. The fear and panic precipitated by the Athenian Pandemic undermined Greek civic society. Several pathogens have been implicated: Ebola, typhoid fever and epidemic typhus, anthrax, smallpox, plague and flu. Although the Greek army of Athens was well-trained and had a large navy, the Spartan army was also very capable, and, as a result, the undermanned, immune-compromised, poorly led Athenian army could not match or defeat Sparta. Although an eyewitness, much of Thucydides' History discusses the Peloponnesian War although he spends considerable effort describing the symptoms of the Athenian Pandemic.