JUSTINIANIC PLAGUE. ROMAN EMPIRE TOWARDS THE EPIDEMIC
The first certain epidemic of pestilences was so called “the Justinianic Plague” that had broken out in VI century in the Byzantine Empire and lasted through two centuries. It is recognized that in the years of 541-750 there had been eighteen strikes of pestilences. Two waves of the plague took place during the reign of Justinian. The first one broke out in Pelusium in 541, the second – in 558. The Justinianic Plague was recognized as bubonic plague indeed since one of its main symptom was bubo. Such a diagnosis was confirmed by the World Health Organization. It is estimated that in the time of the outbreak had been dying 10.000 of people every day and had died 25 million in total resulting in decreasing the population of ¼. In XX century there had been theories (Ch. Duncan, S. Scott) that the outbreak in the Justinian Times was not caused by bubonic plague but by its virus variation. However, the thesis of Duncan and Scott has not been shared by the contemporary science. The most basic rules against spreading the diseases have not been known by the ancient Romans. However, the Emperor had taken steps in order to decrease the effects of the outbreak by implementing the medical rules in regards to proceedings of burring the bodies. He set up a referendarius to be responsible for this task and provided him with money and personnel. In 544 Justinian issued an edict (Nov. 122) in which he claimed that the pestilences had ended. But generally, Justinian’s legislation demonstrates rather little interest for the situation caused by the plague.
AfiliacjaKatolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawła II