16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 13



Malaria: a Neglected Factor in the History of Greece and Rome. By W. H. S. Jones, M.A. (Macmillan and Bowes, Cambridge. 2s. 6d. net.)—Greece was conquered, to put the case a little strongly, not by Macedonia or Rome, but by malaria. Modern Greece is intensely malarious, and the influence had begun to work when Greece was in its most flourishing period. In Thucydides' account of the Plague of Athens we are told that it began in the Piraeus with the well-water,—spijecu yap oihrw key atereet. Of course the people thought that the Peloponnesians had poisoned the wells; the idea still reappears when there is an outbreak of fever. Italy was less susceptible to the same evil, but it was more than sufficiently common. Rome was unhealthy in the summer and autumn. Southern Latium, which had been prosperous in early days, was depopulated by it. There was a temple to the Goddess of Fever outside the walls (now represented by the Chapel of the Madonna del Febbre). We hear of the same thing in Northern Italy. When Tacitus describes the sack and destruction of Cremona in 69 A.D. ho says that the only building that was left was the temple of Mefitis, which stood outside the walls,—loco seu numine defensum. Mr. Jones has collected a Quantity of interesting facts from ancient authors, Greek and Latin, and his account of the matter has been reinforced by the medical knowledge of Professor Major Ross, who contributes an introduction, and of Dr. Elliott, who sums up the evidence in a "Conclusion." Was it guessed that malaria came from mosquito-bites ? That seems very doubt- ful, for, of course, the Egyptian marsh-dwellers who wrapped themselves in their fishing-nets for protection from gnats only did what was done for ages before the great mosquito discovery was made. There is a serious suggestion, however, that itriaAos, ague- fever, may have something to do with irmditos, a moth which attacks bees. In Lithuanian and Lettish the same word stands for "fever" and "moth."