Date of Completion

Spring 5-2022

Thesis Advisor(s)

Joseph McAlhany

Honors Major



Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity


In 430 BC, The Plague of Athens swept through the city and left tens of thousands dead. Ancient historian Thucydides gives his account of the plague, detailing the consequent breakdown of order in the capital. Bodies could not be buried or mourned in the ideal traditional ceremonies, leaving surviving citizens unmoored and terrified. This paper explores the impact of interrupted mourning on ancient Greek society. These interruptions range from war and changing laws to periods of plague and widespread devastation. The emotional wellbeing of individual citizens depends on their ability to process death and associated grief with freedom and support from the community at large. Disruption to either physical burial or mourning rituals causes significant emotional disturbance that manifests in a less cohesive society. As demonstrated by the Ancient Greeks, a healthy society prioritizes a complete mourning process among its citizens, even in times of crisis.