Franz Xavier Winterhalter’s ‘The Decameron’ (1837).
Heritage Images via Getty Images
Then – as now – the wealthy fled to the countryside, while the urban poor were forced to work on the front lines.
Detail from Raphael rooms in Vatican museum.
Ancient Greek philosophers including Plato likened civic leaders to doctors, creating a healthy society through balance and moderation. Those ideas feed into what we expect from leaders today.
The Plague of Athens.
Michiel Sweerts/ Los Angeles County Museum of Art/Wikipedia
The Greeks treated their city-states like bodies. To protect them from disasters, it was the poor that were often sacrificed.
Pericles Funeral Oration on the Greek 50 Drachmai 1955 Banknote.
Thucydides’ description of the plague that struck Athens in 430 BC is one of the great passages of Greek literature. It focusses on the social response, both of those who died and those who survived.
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the press briefing room at the White House on March 15, 2020.
Usually when a leader handles a crisis poorly, it’s politically costly. But President Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus crisis is not likely to hurt him, says an expert on health crises.
The Banquet in the Pine Forest, one of a number of pictures derived from tales in Boccaccio’s Decameron.
Western literature began with a plague and ever since, writers have been using pandemics to comment on society.
A scene from a 1911 staging of the ancient Greek classic ‘Oedipus Rex.’
Greek epics remind audiences that leaders need to be able to plan for the future based on what has happened in the past. They need to understand cause and effect.
Umrah pilgrims pray near the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File
Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended pilgrimage to its holy sites. Many Muslims travel to these holy sites round the year for a pilgrimage known as Umrah. Here is what it means to their faith.
The official naming of COVID-19 has the tone of a committee decision. Historically, names for diseases have not been quite so well thought out and were more likely to offend.
What happened to make plague able to cause devastating epidemics, as in this depiction from 1349?
Pierart dou Tielt/Wikimedia
People caught and died from plague long before it caused major epidemics like the Black Death in the middle ages. Could what scientists call cultural resistance be what kept the disease under control?
A prisoner looks out a window on March 26, 2015, from Zhdanivskaya prison in Ukraine, were TB is rampant.
AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov
World TB Day will be observed March 24, with the good news that deaths from tuberculosis are declining. But a trend toward confining those with TB threatens to stall advances.
Children at a school in Antananarivo, Madagascar, during a plague outbreak, Oct. 3, 2017.
AP Photo/Alexander Joe, File
Where do plague bacteria go between outbreaks? Research demonstrates that they can survive and replicate inside amoebae that are widely present in soil and water worldwide.
Dogs and cats spread their fleas to many other species.
Everywhere humans go, we take our pets. Fleas are along for the ride, spreading everything from typhus to bubonic plague.
Courtesy of Wellcome Collection
A history of Ayurvedic medical concepts is being exhibited at London’s Wellcome Collection.
Walter Dendy Sadler via Wikimedia Commons
For those wondering whether it is sinful to drink, even moderately, a scholar goes into the history of alcohol and its distillation to show how early monks and priests contributed to it.
Plague still exists in wild rodents and eradication probably isn’t possible.
A plague outbreak in Madagascar has killed 170 people. Here’s what you need to know about treatment options and chances it will spread.
Apartheid sought to divide blacks and whites in all spheres of life.
The rhetoric of racial purity is full of suggestive terms like illness, weakening and dilution. These imply the medicalisation of the nation.
Uncollected rubbish provides food and shelter for rodents which can spread plague if they pick up the bacteria.
Plague, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, has been reported in several African countries in the past decade.
Yersinia pestis bacteria start to target the lungs and become so deadly?
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
It’s a deadly bacterium that can spread like wildfire. New research suggests Yersinia pestis first developed its ability to cause lung infection and then evolved to be highly infectious.
A model of the bubonic plague bacterium, which is known as Yersina pestis.
Cases of plague have been reported in the Chinese city of Yumen, where a man has died of the disease. Control measures taken by the authorities include travel restrictions in and out of the city, and 151…