Greek Drama and Disease: Ancient Parallels to Modern Perspectives

Faculty Sponsor

Allannah Karas


Arts and Sciences


Foreign Languages--Classics

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


If there is one consistent aspect across cultures and time, it would be the human race's struggle with disease, mental or physical. Diseases of course are perceived differently given a people group's scientific and religious backgrounds but parallels are able to be drawn. Utilizing Greek drama, contemporary of some of the first historically prominent doctors, we can examine our own perceptions through this medium. In exploring this topic, social perceptions of disease will be examined using certain Greek dramas as well as other historical documents in order to trace similar ideas present in today's society. I hypothesize that there will be very different perceptions of physical ailments but that stigmas about mental health have remained relatively constant. Regarding specific primary sources that will be utilized, the Greek dramas will be Sophocles' Philoctetes and Euripides' Medea while the historical document that will be focused upon is Thucydides' Histories.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Max Shiller is a sophomore undergraduate student majoring in History, Classics, and Humanities. His selection of the project stemmed from an interest in natural disaster history after attending an American Institute of Archaeology Lecture on Pompeii last spring. Shiller intends to pursue further research in ancient natural disasters and Mediterranean cultures as well as a doctorate in Classics.

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