avail [aveil] n.
Avail is help. It is often used in the achievement of a goal.
-+ His studying was to no avail because he failed the test.
expand [ikspaend] v.
To expand is to become bigger in size.
-+ A balloon will expand as you blow air into it.
define [difain] v.
To define means to clearly state, show, or explain what something is.
-*•People define success in many different ways.
dread [dread] v.
To dread is to be afraid of something that could, or is going to, happen.
-* I dread the idea that I will not get into college.
fundamental [fAndamentl] adj.
If something is fundamental, it is a basic part of something.
-*■ The fundamental rules of basketball are easy.
horrifying [ho rafain] adj.
If something is horrifying, it is frightening and very unpleasant.
-* There was a horrifying car accident today.
in c r e d u l o u s [inkred3alas] adj.
If someone is incredulous about something, they do not believe that it is true.
-*■She was incredulous that monkeys could ever drive a car.
linger [linger] V.
To linger is to last for a long time.
-* The smell of fresh cookies lingered in the bakery.
O r g a n is m [5:rganlzam] n.
An organism is a living thing, especially a very small one.
-* We studied the organism on the microscope.
paraphrase [pserafreiz] v.
To paraphrase is to make someone else’s writing or speech shorter.
The students were asked to paraphrase the story they just heard.
p l a g u e [pleig] n.
A plague is a serious disease that quickly spreads to many people.
-» A plague in Europe killed millions of people.
presently [prezantli] adv.
If something happens presently, it is happening right now.
— Presently, our profits are good, but by next year we can do even better.
random [rsendam] adj.
If something is random, it happens without any pattern or reason.
-* Young children often ask random questions.
riot [raiat] n.
A riot is a crowd that reacts to bad news by violently breaking laws.
■—A riot broke out after the candidate lost the election.
scribble [skrfbsl] v.
To scribble is to write something quickly without caring about how it looks.
-» I scribbled a rough diagram of our plan and gave it to him.
shrine [Jrain] n.
A shrine is a religious building built to honor a person, event, or god.
-*■He prayed at the shrine for an hour.
SOlitude [salit/u:d] n.
Solitude is the state of being totally alone.
-* John lives a life of solitude because he doesn’t get along well with people.
stark [sta:rk] adj.
If a contrast is stark, then the things being compared are utterly different.
-» There is a stark contrast between their test scores.
summon [sAman] v.
To summon a person is to ask them to come to you.
-+ We summoned the doctor as soon as we noticed she was sick.
W o r s e n [warsan] v.
To worsen is to get worse.
-» The weather suddenly worsened, and we had to stay inside.


Thucydides and
the Plague of Athens
Thucydides was the world’s first historian. Presently, we get most of our knowledge
about ancient Greece from his writing. But Thucydides didn’t just write about history, he
lived through it. However, he almost didn’t survive one historical event: the Plague of
Athens.
In 430 BCE, an army attacked the city of Athens, where Thucydides lived. Thousands
of people hid from the army behind Athens’ large walls. The city became very crowded
as the population expanded. Then a horrifying disease broke out. People summoned
doctors. But it was to no avail because no one understood how the disease spread.
It seemed random. They didn’t know that it was an organism. Instead, they defined
disease as a punishment from their gods. Thucydides was incredulous that gods caused
the plague, but he explained why others believed it. There was an old, long verse which
predicted the disease. To paraphrase it, the verse said the gods would send a disease
during a war. As a result, large crowds gathered at shrines to ask the gods to stop the
plague. But the situation only worsened because these people were so close to each
other they became sick. That’s how they learned a fundamental lesson about the plague:
it spread from person to person.
People wanted to leave the crowded city, but they dreaded what the army outside would
do to them. At this time, Thucydides got sick, too. He quickly scribbled down notes because
he thought he would soon die. His writing shows a stark contrast between people’s behavior
before and during the plague. There were riots, and people ignored laws. They didn’t think
they’d live long enough to be punished. Many sick people were left to die in solitude because
no one wanted to be near them. The plague lingered for two years. But luckily, Thucydides
survived. Without his writing, we would know much less about ancient Greece and the Plague
of Athens.