One of the things that makes Classics exciting is its openness to new ideas and innovative approaches to the study of antiquity. For instance, classicists have been in the vanguard of the digital humanities, using new methods to curate and analyze texts (e.g. TLG, DLL, Open Greek and Latin, and so on), inscriptions (EAGLE, PHI), and papyri (papyri.info), adopting innovative GIS technologies and platforms (Pleiades, Orbis), and deploying powerful tools to unlock precious fragments of lost works.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought historical epidemics into contemporary public awareness on a massive scale. Although ancient pandemics have been studied in detail since at least the 19th century, over the past year, outbreaks of the past have become apparently more relevant for what they might offer us today. Of course, the interest in historical pandemics seems to increase every time contemporary diseases draw public attention. Over the last three decades, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and Zika, among others, have made headlines, increasing interest in past diseases, even if not on the same scale as Covid. Presentist concerns, unsurprisingly, drive historical research.
In his history of the long and costly war between Athens and Sparta, the historian Thucydides explained that he had written his narrative to be “a possession for all time” and to be of assistance to those of future generations “who want to see things clearly as they were and, given human nature, as they will one day be again, more or less."1 Thucydides was a shrewd observer and analyst of human behavior