Hardly any group of diseases caused so many fantasies and so much fear, pain, and death throughout history as did epidemics of infectious diseases, leaving profound marks in human memory. A variety and diversity of testimonies about countless epidemics of the past were recorded: holy scriptures, chronicles, travelers’ reports, literary and art works, etc. Although narratives are a valuable source of historical data and (retrospective) epidemiology, art is a much more expressive vehicle for demonstrating disease, malformation, and death. Albeit rare, illustrations to medical texts paralleled the written word on a small scale, and they are almost as old as texts themselves. Furthermore, illustrations could also be understood over the centuries by the illiterate.
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