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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 22 2009

PATHOLOGY AND HISTORY

JAMA. 2009;301(16):1721. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.518

Some interesting side-lights are being thrown on history through the growing recognition of the rôle that disease has played in human events. It is easy to understand that, in the past, imperfect knowledge of the nature and causes of disease has obscured the true significance of many serious affections and has led to mistaken conclusions. It would now be well for the historian, reviewing the events of the past, to make use of the knowledge of pathology that has been acquired in the last half-century. If the modern historian, with the aid of the pathology of to-day, does not succeed in changing the face of history, at least he can set the candle of another theory flickering in the haze of uncertainties that enshroud many a venerable historical mystery, and in some instances, perhaps, light the way to a probable solution. It has been suggested, for instance, that the decadence of Greece, which has been attributed to luxury and the instability of an over-weening democracy, was largely influenced, if not directly caused, by the introduction of malaria into the Greek communities, as a consequence of some of the expeditions from Greece into countries where malaria existed.

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