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Covid-19 & Its Predecessors: Pandemics, Plagues, Pestilence, & Peste in Art

Plagues of Egypt (ca. 1440 B.C.E.)

Ancient Greek Myths: Theban Cycle & Trojan War (ca. 1200 B.C.E.)

Antonine Plague, 165-180 (Plague of Galen)

The Black Death: The Plague, 1331-1770

The Black Death or The Great Plague persisted for almost 450 years in Europe, abating and recurring in cycles and affecting every city in Europe.  Artistic depictions,for the most part, are either religious or historical.  Religious representations address the plague's cause to the punishment of an angry god while plague saints, notably St. Sebastian and St. Roch, as well as the Madonna, serve as intercessors between god and the infected sinners. Historical narratives, in general, tell stories of death, despair, and disorder in crowded cities.  This website, created by the John Martin Rare Book Room, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa, provides a useful overview with timeline, maps, images, and primary sources bibliography.

Plague of Tournai, France, 1353

Great Plague of Naples, 1656

1918-1919/1920 The Great Influenza (The Great Pandemic)

HIV/AIDS, 1981-

SARS, 2002-2003

Ebola, 2014-2016