The Decameron: Virus History Repeats?

The Decameron: Virus History Repeats?

Making the Best of Social Isolation

Crises collectively reveal our truest colors. Without the veneer of control, as we’re witnessing with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we see how quickly values of compassion, altruism, and lack thereof can present themselves. 

It’s an historical trope. Society becomes unleashed, and we’re free to go above and beyond for our fellow human. Or perhaps more impulsively, we can succumb to innate fears (of infection, social disorder, etc).

How to Prepare for COVID-19

The response so far to COVID-19 is one visage of the human condition. We watch as the range of our collective psyche unravels.

Altruism yes, but primal relics of selfishness, riotous hoarding (toilet paper?), and irrational fright also have risen to the surface. Is there a more pragmatic and enjoyable angle?

Social Distancing for Coronavirus

Speaking of humanity, it’s our nature to be affectionate, to be close to one another. Yet during these times, it’s essential to stand by the choice to socially distance oneself.

A dreadful thought to most, this behavior is essential to counteract infection rates, while keeping medical facilities from overcapacity. This practice is more effective than supplementing with immune boosters or enjoying the many antiviral compounds of matcha green tea. Just do it.

History Repeats Itself: COVID-19 (SARS-COV-2) 

The Decameron, a 14th-century collection of novellas describing the myriad responses to the Plague, affirms the importance of quarantine.

Taking place in Italy, The Decameron fictionally (true-events inspired) recounts the experiences and story-telling of a small group who took to isolation, to avoid infection during the Plague.

This historical masterpiece covers comforts to tragedy, but today’s best takeaway comes as the ways each character learned to enjoy isolation. We find counsel in our own impulses, and context amid current fears, greed, and general hoarding.

As the veil of civilization lifts, The Decameron covers the progressive stages of an epidemic. Denial, panic, fear… it’s all eerily similar to what we’re seeing with the novel coronavirus. 

When will Coronavirus End?

Fortunately, the simple fact that you’re reading this goes to show two things. First, that your ancestors survived every viral (or otherwise infectious) outbreak the world had ever seen.

And second, that following the reactive stages of fear and panic, eventually comes rational response. Governments more readily respond. Medical facilities learn how to better treat the illness. And levels of fear equalize to any legitimate threat.

It’s by staying close to medically accurate information, that we as a society may be more expedient in regaining balance.

Is COVID-19 the New Plague?

Granted, death rates during the Plague were as high as 60% of the population. It was a natural response to isolate oneself, even from loved ones. But today’s virus has a very low lethality rate, especially for the average, healthy person.

In contrast to the majority who were infected during the Plague, The Decameron reviews ways characters took well to isolation. They actually enjoyed the fruits of connecting with one another in surprising ways, that we may mimic today.

Bored During Quarantine?

Unlike others during this historical period whose social bonds mostly deteriorated, in The Decameron spirits were kept high through story-telling, games, songs, and other available comforts.

Rather than participate in actions (and thoughts) which bring joy and better health, most people today are reveling in anxiety and over-preparedness. It’s exhausting to the body, and further compromises a healthy immune response.

So, rather than worry in excess or contemplate worst case scenarios, we should welcome the opportunity to isolate, enjoy, and connect however possible.

The Decameron and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Also, the moral of The Decameron essentially prescribes a means to maintain physical and mental health. And now, with the advent of the internet, we can leverage our digital communications to maintain our social network.

To practice social isolation. And to significantly reduce infectious spread.

Avoiding Panic with SARS-COV-2

We advise against panic. Rest assured that you’ll return to harmony in due time. If you’re ready to be part of the problem-solving, then please review the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others, while seriously considering social isolation.

Also, as we frame current events against those historical, perhaps we may learn from this experience, to identify ways to limit problems stemming solely from the psychology of social panic.

The Bottom Line

Humanity has survived each and every pathogen it has come in contact with. People with healthy immune systems have extremely little to worry about. And those with risk factors have many steps at their disposal to further limit risks.

Self-quarantining is the number one tactic to prevent continued infection rates. The collection of novellas is very timely in that regard. But here’s a handful of Dr. Weil’s latest recommendations:


If you need extra ideas or some thoughts to help loved ones relax:


  • Enjoy time at home
  • Be attentive but don’t be ruled by fear
  • Take better care of houseplants and garden
  • Prepare food - Make it and freeze it (sauerkraut, tempeh)
  • Reading and watching movies
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Think about what you are grateful for 
  • Remember that you're not alone

Final Notes: One of the toughest decisions people are making is whether to ‘buy into’ the stockpiling. Unfortunately, many people are opting to stock-up not out of fear for the virus, but out of worry about how society is reacting.

So, try to find a couple weeks’ supply of regular staples like beans, rice, and clean water to err on the side of caution.

Also, in light of COVID-19, Dr. Weil is now drinking two bowls of matcha everyday. He chooses his favorite Ceremonial Grade matcha to boost his immune system.

We recommend doing the same: Chill out at home with matcha, everyday