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Naming the Plague in Homer, Sophocles and Thucydides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-414
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Journal of Philology
Issue number3
DateAccepted/In press - 26 Dec 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 Sep 2019


This article focuses on the language used to describe the plague, and more specifically on the oscillation of its vocabulary between literal and figurative meaning, in Homer’s Iliad (1.1-487), Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (1-215), and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (esp. 2.47.3-2.54). It is argued that the plague spreads in the language of the three narratives by association or contiguity, exploiting existing links with related words, most notably the broader vocabulary of disease and calamity, but it also spreads by analogy, comparison, or similarity, establishing links with other domains such as famine, blight, war and destruction.

    Structured keywords

  • Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition

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