Saturday, 23 May 2020

now off i go

The term epidemic is derived from the Ancient Greek ἐπί- (on top of) and -δῆμος (the people) but interestingly came by way of a French borrowing, which was itself introduced to the vocabulary not with a strictly medical sense in the nineteenth century but rather in the terminology associated with theophany—that is, the gods becoming incarnate and revealing themselves to their followers, traditionally during festivals or services but also in grilled cheese and manifested in suffering and pestilence. At the beginning of such celebrations epidemics were the sacrifices of thanksgiving offered to greet their arrival. Conversely apodemics were offerings on departure to either bid their return or as often as not to keep them at bay. The gods and their scourges not permanent residents and just visiting like the itinerant cult of Hippocratic healers, the case notes, medical histories (see previously) on patients kept by journeymen physicians charting the course of a disease and its response to various interventions was referred to as epidemics.