In the History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides provides a vivid description of the physical and social toll that a terrible plague took on Athens, a year or so into its war with Sparta. What explains the staying power of Thucydides' account? And what can we learn from it as we grapple with our own (albeit far less deadly) Covid 19 crisis?
Greg Fried is Professor of philosophy at Boston College. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Boston University, California State University Los Angeles, and Suffolk University. He teaches and publishes in political philosophy, with a particular interest in responses to challenges to liberal democracy and the rise of ethno-nationalism. He also works in philosophy of law, especially law and hermeneutics; philosophy and race; practical ethics, including just war theory; public philosophy; the history of ethics; Ancient philosophy; and 20th century Continental philosophy, especially Heidegger. Greg's upcoming book is Towards a Polemical Ethics: Between Heidegger and Plato (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, forthcoming 2020). Other works include Confronting Heidegger: A Critical Dialogue on Politics and Philosophy (London: Rowman & Littlefield International), Because It Is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror (With Charles Fried. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010) and Heidegger’s Polemos: From Being to Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).
- Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book II (see chapter VII for his account of the plague) http://classics.mit.edu/Thucydides/pelopwar.2.second.html
- Katherine Kelaidis, "What the Great Plague of Athens Can Teach Us Now." From The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/great-plague-athens-has-eerie-parallels-today/608545/