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Durham e-Theses
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Odyssean Perspectives on Trauma

GARDNER, MELISSA,JOANNE (2019) Odyssean Perspectives on Trauma. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The question of whether trauma has a place in studies of the ancient world deserves fresh consideration. In the past, scholars such as Tritle (2000; 2014) have argued for a universal view of trauma based on human physiology. Others (Konstan, 2014; Monoson, 2014; James, 2014) believe a universalist position is useful for understanding ancient behaviour. On the other side of the debate, scholars such as Melchior (2011) and Crowley (2014) have highlighted some of the cultural and environmental factors that could have caused different rates of traumatisation and resilience in ancient and modern populations. However, these arguments have not adequately considered the issue of how people in ancient societies understood their own experiences of extreme suffering. My thesis addresses the issue of how early Greek hexameter poetry, and the Odyssey in particular, portrays experiences of suffering after overwhelming events, paying particular attention to the impact that suffering has on identity.

In Part I of my thesis, I look at the language that this poetry uses to describe overwhelming events and the language it uses to describe emotional responses to them. My discussion establishes how suffering typically affects characters in the aftermath of overwhelming events and how the language that characters use to describe their experiences shapes their responses to them. In Part II of my thesis, I narrow my focus to the Odyssey and consider how it portrays the ways in which suffering has an impact on individual, collective and multigenerational aspects of identity. I argue that the Odyssey exhibits a strong interest in charting how suffering affects characters’ worldviews and identities. By combining modern trauma research with perspectives on suffering found in early Greek hexameter poetry, my thesis re-examines the concept of trauma and reformulates the lines of the debate on its place in studies of the ancient world.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Odysseus; Odyssey; Homer; trauma; PTSD; individual; collective; multigenerational
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:29 Aug 2019 10:43

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