Travel, Transport, and Communications in Victorian England

During Queen Victoria’s reign Britain was the most powerful trading nation in the world. Introduction Victorian advances in transport and communications sparked a social, cultural and economic revolution whose effects are still evident today. The railway network flourished between 1830 and 1870. By 1852 there were over 7,000 miles of rail track in England and[…]

Thomas Jefferson, Yellow Fever, and Land Planning for Public Health

Jefferson, ever sanguine, was merely trying to make the best of a wretched scenario. A yellow-fever epidemic in 1793 hit Philadelphia, a city then of some 50,000 persons. Forty percent of the people fled Philadelphia. That noted, still some 10 percent of the citizens, some 5,000 persons, perished during the epidemic, which ceased when a[…]

The Diary of Samuel Pepys during the Bubonic Plague in the 17th Century

He wrote of everything from daily death counts to quack remedies. Introduction In early April, writer Jen Miller urged New York Times readers to start a coronavirus diary. “Who knows,” she wrote, “maybe one day your diary will provide a valuable window into this period.” During a different pandemic, one 17th-century British naval administrator named[…]

Lucius Aurelius Commodus: A Supersized Ego and the End of the Pax Romana

His reign is commonly considered to mark the end of the golden period in the history of the Roman Empire known as the Pax Romana. Introduction Commodus (/ˈkɒmədəs/;[1] 31 August 161 – 31 December 192), born Lucius Aurelius Commodus[2] and died Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus, was Roman emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177[…]

Ancient Narcissism: Nero’s Hair, Commodus’ Beard, and Constantine’s Colossus

The bronze colossus originally portrayed Nero, thereafter Commodus, before it was given its present appearance in the early 4th century. Abstract The colossal Constantinian bronze portrait in the Capitoline Museum stands out as a unique example of Roman, large-scale portraiture. It is a rare bronze portrait of colossal size, which included a lot of material[…]