PHSC 401 Lecture 4: Black death part 2

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Phsc401: Black Death II 2/8/17
Ancient Greece Recap:
Birth of naturalistic explanations of the world, including health, illness, the body
o Humors:
o Qualities, elements
o Key Concept: balance/imbalance
Q: Who was the figure most associated w/ humoral theory?
o A: Hippocrates (kind of), Galen
Black Death
Challenged humoral models
o Prompts early contagion theories
Renaissance authors
Often switched back and forth between contagionist and environmental
explanations of disease
o Contagion often defined loosely enough to include harmful
material that was indirectly, as well as directly, transmitted
o Not incompatible with definitions of miasma as disease
inducing, noxious, contaminated air
o Even though it provided a challenge to Hippocratic environmental theory, it still
remained a dominant model of health and illness
Challenged medieval society
o Extremely virulent
Struck rapidly
Excruitating and degrading symptoms
Killed 50-60% of people it affected
Within first 3 days of onset of symptoms
o Profile of Victims
Age: men/women prime of life
Seems unnatural/supernatural: endemic diseases usually got young and
Left many orphans, widows, destitute families
Affected all classes
o Mass hysteria
o Terror
o Violence
o Religious revivals: assuage divine wrath
o Scapegoats/witchhunt
Target guilty people responsible for disaster
The sinful (devine retribution?)
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