Athens Sickens --

The Breakdown of Cultural Norms


III. Read The Peloponnesian War, pp. 151-156.

TO DO: in blank spaces below & in the margins of your book, NOTE DOWN main issues & themes.

FIND & UNDERLINE in the text the themes underlined in the following outline.

47.1-2: (1) What is the situation in the countryside? 430 B.C.E.

(2) The situation in the city?

Role of medical science?

Role of religion & other beliefs?

48 Purpose of Thucydides in writing?

{cf. Thucydides’ general principles, p. 48, par. 22.2 human nature being .. etc.}


51 Role of despair, honor, shame?

[52-53: BREAKDOWN of LAW & CUSTOM = ANOMIE ‘lawlessness’ ]

52 Factors creating disorder?

Effects on normal civic & social rules?

53 What happens to law & custom?

How do honor & value get redefined?




STUDY QUESTIONS: answer the following questions on the basis of your reading:

Compare the storys of plague here and in Homer:


  How is Thucydides’s approach typical of his genre as oppposed to Homer’s?


What are the main respects in which Athens during the plague fails to live up to the ideal described by Pericles?


Where do cases of anomie still occur in the modern world?