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Disease in Virgil and Edwidge Danticat's "The Farming of Bones"

By Julia Nelson Hawkins

This paper will demonstrate how the Haitian-feminist writer Edwidge Danticat’s novel, The Farming of Bones (1998), adapts Virgil’s treatment of epidemic disease in the Georgics and Aeneid as an organizing principle. Virgil presents the Roman Civil Wars as a type of infectious disease in these poems to signal the threat of Egyptian contagion and to highlight the potential of Augustus’ divine healing, though the pestilential danger of Egypt is never fully quarantined (Hawkins 2019).

Rivalry, Repetition, and the Language of Pestilence in Lucan’s Bellum Civile

By Hunter H. Gardner

Among the prophecies on the eve of war that conclude Bellum Civile 1, Figulus describes the calamity as a matura lues (645) and pestis (649), anticipating how plague and civil war will reciprocally inform each other throughout the poem. Plague narratives expose the contagious nature of violence within the social order, violence described by René Girard as “mimetic,” since individuals mirror each other in their desire for the same distinctions (1974).

Unnamed Victims and Named Survivors in Greek Plague Narratives

By Jennifer B. Clarke Kosak

Plague, as represented in archaic and classical Greek sources, is an extreme test of social strength and cohesion, but despite its unrelenting viciousness, it kills, apparently, only the nameless. So in Greek literary plague narratives, heroes respond to the plague that they see around them through intercessions of the gods, but they themselves are not subject to the disease.

Routes of the Plague in Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War

By Pantelis Michelakis

This paper focuses on how the plague moves through the spatial coordinates of three of the earliest and most canonical narratives of epidemic disease in Western literature: Homer’s Iliad (1-487), Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (1-215) and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (2.47.3-2.54). The paper undertakes an examination of some of the key strategies the three narratives employ for their representation of the movement of the plague through space with two aims.