Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Antonine plague (165 – 180 AD)

The Antonine Plague of the Roman Empire was also called the Plague of Galen. Generally thought to have been smallpox or measles and it lasted for fifteen years.  The plague was named Antonine Plague because it claimed the lives of two Roman Emperors with the family name of Antonine: Lucius Verus in 169 and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus in 180.

The Antonine plaque reached the Empire in 165. This disease had enormous long-term consequences in manpower, the leashing of agricultural land, the erection of public buildings and the production of bricks, coins and inscriptions.

The Antonine plague began with the soldiers serving on the eastern frontiers of the Empire with Verus, the co-Emperor with Marcus Aurelius.

It spread rapidly on the return of the infected soldiers after the Parthian War and reached Rome itself in 166.  Thousands died daily in Rome.

Roman doctors, annalists, and historians such as Galen, Cassius Dio, and Ammianus Marcellinus reported that the epidemic spread throughout Europe from the frontiers of the Persian to the Rhine and Gaul, contributing widespread famine.

Galen is said to have fled from it but he was recalled by the joint Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Verus to advice on the control of the pandemic.

The plague travelling via the Roman trade routes, there were even reports of the plague spreading as far as China.
Antonine plague (165 – 180 AD)

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