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The Plague in Rome by Jules Elie Delaunay (1869) Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Public Domain)

Diseases and Pandemics in Ancient Rome

During antiquity, Rome was an international metropolis, a melting pot bustling with people from all four corners of the empire. The city had impressive marble structures towering over overcrowded buildings called insulae, and different dialects rang out in the streets, packed with people from various backgrounds. The Romans grasped the connection between hygiene and health (the word ‘hygiene’ comes from Greek hygeia which means health) and built a large number of public baths throughout the city in order to keep the population clean. Nevertheless, diseases were quite prevalent in ancient Rome and many people suffered from various illnesses across the empire. Rome was struck with a number of pandemics which lasted for years and killed millions.

Plague in an Ancient City by Michiel Sweerts (1652) (Public Domain)

Plague in an Ancient City by Michiel Sweerts (1652) (Public Domain)

Hygiene In Ancient Rome

Hygiene and health go hand in hand, and the Romans understood the importance of keeping the population clean. They maintained public bathing facilities and built magnificent aqueducts and water systems which carried water from far away springs and mountains into cities and towns. It can be said that the ancient Romans were cleaner than many Europeans living centuries later.

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