19.04.2020

d) place the quote in its historical context (150-200 words) (3 points)

e) explain its broader significance to our understanding of the past (150-200 words) (3 points)

(1 point for grammar/spelling)



“Nor was this the only form of lawless extravagance which owed its origin to the plague.

Men now coolly ventured on what they had formerly done in a corner, and not just as they pleased, seeing the rapid transitions produced by persons in prosperity suddenly dying and those who before had nothing succeeding to their property.

So they resolved to spend quickly and enjoy themselves, regarding their lives and riches as alike things of a day. Perseverance in what men called honor was popular with none, it was so uncertain whether they would be spared to attain the object; but it was settled that present enjoyment, and all that contributed to it, was both honorable and useful. Fear of gods or law of man there was none to restrain them.

As for the first, they judged it to be just the same whether they worshipped them or not, as they saw all alike perishing; and for the last, no one expected to live to be brought to trial for his offenses, but each felt that a far severer sentence had been already passed upon them all and hung ever over their heads, and before this fell it was only reasonable to enjoy life a little.”

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Read the quotation below and identify the following in complete sentences:

a) its author (1 point)

b) the title of the work from which it is extracted (1 Point)

c) its timeframe (1 Point)

Then you must:

d) place the quote in its historical context (150-200 words) (3 points)

e) explain its broader significance to our understanding of the past (150-200 words) (3 points)

(1 point for grammar/spelling)



“Nor was this the only form of lawless extravagance which owed its origin to the plague.

Men now coolly ventured on what they had formerly done in a corner, and not just as they pleased, seeing the rapid transitions produced by persons in prosperity suddenly dying and those who before had nothing succeeding to their property.

So they resolved to spend quickly and enjoy themselves, regarding their lives and riches as alike things of a day. Perseverance in what men called honor was popular with none, it was so uncertain whether they would be spared to attain the object; but it was settled that present enjoyment, and all that contributed to it, was both honorable and useful. Fear of gods or law of man there was none to restrain them.

As for the first, they judged it to be just the same whether they worshipped them or not, as they saw all alike perishing; and for the last, no one expected to live to be brought to trial for his offenses, but each felt that a far severer sentence had been already passed upon them all and hung ever over their heads, and before this fell it was only reasonable to enjoy life a little.”

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09.02.2024, solved by verified expert
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d) Historical Context :

Thucydides, an astute chronicler of the Peloponnesian War, provides a gripping account of the Athenian plague, an unparalleled catastrophe that befell the city-state around 430 BCE. The epidemic, possibly typhus or typhoid fever, manifested as a relentless force, claiming countless lives and unleashing widespread panic. Thucydides himself, having contracted and survived the plague, lends a personal touch to his narrative, capturing the visceral realities of the crisis.

Amidst the relentless spread of disease, societal norms crumbled under the weight of desperation and fear. Thucydides paints a vivid picture of the breakdown in moral order, as individuals faced with the specter of imminent death abandoned restraint. The plague's indiscriminate nature, targeting both the affluent and the destitute, disrupted the established social hierarchy. The sudden transitions of prosperity to death and the subsequent transfer of wealth contributed to a climate where the pursuit of immediate pleasure took precedence over conventional values.

The city, once defined by its cultural and political vibrancy, became a landscape of lawlessness. Thucydides highlights how individuals, no longer bound by the constraints of traditional morality, engaged in previously concealed transgressions openly. The rapid turnover of fortunes created an atmosphere where life was perceived as ephemeral, and the pursuit of present enjoyment overshadowed considerations of honor or long-term consequences.

e) Thucydides' portrayal of the moral and social consequences of the Athenian plague in the "History of the Peloponnesian War" offers profound insights into the human condition during times of crisis, resonating with broader themes applicable throughout history. The breakdown of societal norms, as described by Thucydides, serves as a cautionary tale, prompting reflection on the fragility of established values in the face of existential threats.

The sudden and devastating impact of the plague shattered the Athenians' sense of security and stability. Faced with the unpredictable nature of life and death, individuals grappled with the impermanence of their existence. Thucydides observes a drastic shift in behavior as people abandoned traditional moral constraints. The pursuit of immediate pleasure became paramount, and the concept of honor lost its significance. This narrative highlights the vulnerability of social order when confronted with existential threats, a theme with relevance across diverse historical and contemporary contexts.

The suspension of moral and legal norms during the plague raises fundamental questions about the malleability of ethical standards in the face of crisis. Thucydides' account prompts consideration of how societies navigate the tension between individual survival instincts and collective moral values. The portrayal of lawlessness underscores the profound impact of external shocks on human behavior, urging scholars and readers to explore the delicate balance between societal structures and the innate human response to uncertainty.

Furthermore, the Athenian plague narrative speaks to the broader implications of pandemics and calamities on the human psyche. Thucydides' exploration of the psychological toll of the plague sheds light on the complex interplay between fear, mortality, and individual decision-making. The Athenians, grappling with the harsh realities of their time, abandoned long-term considerations for immediate gratification. This psychological aspect, manifested in their altered behavior, resonates with the broader understanding of how societies cope with existential threats, prompting reflections on the potential long-term societal shifts resulting from crises.

In contemporary times, the lessons drawn from Thucydides' narrative remain pertinent. The current global challenges, including pandemics and geopolitical conflicts, provide a lens through which to examine how societies respond to crises, the strain on moral fabric, and the potential for societal transformation. Thucydides' exploration invites us to contemplate the enduring impact of crises on human behavior and societal norms, encouraging a nuanced understanding of resilience, morality, and the intricate dynamics that shape the course of history.

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