In this episode, I speak with Colin Elliott, Associate Chair in the Department of History at Indiana University. He describes himself as an economic and social historian with an interest in money, disease and ecology in the ancient Roman world. His latest book, Pox Romana: The Plague that Shook the Roman World was released on 6th Feb, the same day as my Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor. It is currently Amazon’s #1 New Release in Communicable Diseases. Colin is also the host of the Pax Romana Podcast.
What was the Antonine Plague?
What are our main sources of information on the plague?
What does Galen have to tell us?
Can we tell anything at all about the plague or its impact from Marcus’ comments in the Meditations?
How do you think the plague may have been viewed from a religious perspective? To what extent would it have been interpreted as a punishment from the gods?
What do you think the social consequences were?
What do you think the effect of the plague may have been on Rome’s military capability at the time?
Are there any parallels that can be drawn between Marcus’ pandemic and our own?
How might Marcus’ reign have gone differently, or how might Rome have fared better, if the plague had never happened?