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Disease in Ancient Rome

By Joseph Manning

The other day I was having a conversation and Europe’s Black Death came up.  I don’t know much about the Black Death or Medieval history generally, but the opinion I heard went something like this:  “Ancient Rome was able to effect order, health, and quarantine to a degree that wasn’t possible after its fall.  It was the collapse of the Empire that in part allowed epidemics like the Black Plague to wreak havoc in the disorganized Europe that followed.”

This view of Roman disease-control is too idealized.

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