What Diseases Were There in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, the understanding of diseases was not as advanced as it is today. However, the Greeks were aware of many illnesses that plagued their society. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most prevalent diseases during that time.


Tuberculosis was a disease that affected many people in ancient Greece. It is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs and airways.

The symptoms included coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, there was no cure for tuberculosis during this time, so many people died from the disease.


Malaria was another common disease in ancient Greece. It is caused by a parasite transmitted through mosquito bites and can cause fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. The Greeks believed that malaria was caused by bad air or miasma rather than an insect bite.


Leprosy was also a significant problem in ancient Greece. It is a bacterial infection that affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes.

Leprosy causes disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and legs. People with leprosy were often ostracized from society because it was considered highly contagious.


The plague was a deadly disease that struck ancient Greece from time to time. It is caused by bacteria transmitted through fleas carried by rats.

The symptoms included fever, chills, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes. The plague killed millions of people during its outbreaks throughout history.


Smallpox was another widespread disease in ancient Greece that caused severe illness and death. Smallpox is highly contagious and spreads through contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and rash.


In conclusion, the ancient Greeks were plagued by many diseases that caused significant suffering and death. Despite their lack of medical knowledge and technology, they made efforts to treat and prevent these illnesses. Today, many of these diseases are rare or have been eradicated thanks to advancements in medicine and public health initiatives.