Essay on The Plague of Athens

Essay on The Plague of Athens

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The plague of Athens

The Athenian plague was an epidemic that began in the summer of 430 B.C. in Athens—a year after the Peloponnesian war in 431 B.C. It was supposed that the plague was a result of excess number of Athenians within the city walls also known as the long walls—a military strategy by Pericles which consisted of building walls that connected the city to its port . The surplus of Athenians led to a shortage of food, water, an absence of sewage systems, and other important factors were said to have brought about the plague. It first appeared in the south of Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, and later on in the Persian Empire, and Rome before arriving in Athens . The disease attacked the population of Piraeus and then travelled to Athens where the death tolls were greater. The plague came back in 429 were it claimed the most lives, and later on in the winter of 427/426 B.C were it claimed more lives. From man to woman, the rich and the poor, and the elderly and the young, everyone in the Athenian population was affected by the disease. As it will become evident, the Plague of Athens devastated Athens and which made it harder to recover from , as it resulted in the failure of its social order, weakened the Athenian government, and the Athenian military.

To begin with, the plague killed an estimated 30000 Athenians – out of a population of 100000—it represented 25% of the population . As a result of the mass deaths, the conventional Athenian society changed. It led to the failure of social order in Athens. This idea of “living in the moment” became the motto of so many Athenians. Consequently, the traditional moral laws such as the obligation of families to care for the sick, funerary, and religious rites were not as i...

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...fically, the Athenians – already demographically disadvantaged—lost an approximate 4400 hoplites and 300 Calvary men due to the plague . It means that they lost some of their available forces for battle which was a great loss for Athens. They also lost a lot more men because of the Peloponnesian war that was happening. For example, the Athenian army – being a powerful naval polis—started with approximately 150 triremes, hoplites, and horsemen in order to attack Peloponnesus states . The Athenians were forced to retreat due to the fact that they had lost a lot of men. It illustrates how events such as the plague had a consequence – not really proven by historians—on how they fought the rest of the war. Even if they went on to later win the Sicilian expedition – 415 B.C. — they were only able to do so because they gained some “strength” few years after the plague .

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