Vodolazkin’s critical vision of the Medieval Russian past is no different in essence from Augustine’s similarly sharp and un-glamorous vision of Roman history.
Paul Krause examines the politics of Latin literature and discovers a desire for peace and joy, a peace and joy found in an intimate environment of beauty which the poets, even theologians, described as a garden. But the race to Arcadia runs through strife, war, and murder.
Italy’s tragic status as one of the worst-hit nations is a reminder of its predecessor, the Roman Republic, which endured dozens of epidemics in a history that lasted from 509 to 42 BC. Rome’s survival amidst so much death and disease shows how epidemics, both biological and political, threaten republics.