THE ROMAN WORLD in the early Christian era was frequently troubled by plagues; the most famous and destructive of these broke out in 250 and lasted 15 years. Epidemics of plague are reported in a number of cities in the second through fourth centuries. In at least some cases, they were diseases brought back by Roman troops returning from far-flung campaigns. Some may have been versions of smallpox or measles.
Frequently, shrines and oracles of the Roman gods were consulted in efforts to learn what would stop the plagues. Some shrines, like...Read More