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Is there any information on Post-traumatic Stress in societies in which warfare was looked at in a more favorable light (e.g Sparta)?(r/AskHistorians)
From r/AskHistorians: “Did ancient peoples suffer from PTSD or similar psychological issues?”
> In the passage above, Livy presents a picture of war-time Rome, a city filled with destitute refugees and wailing women, turning their backs on everyday duties out of despair and mourning. We see shattered individuals, missing the people they love and the property they own, turning away from their normal gods and rituals to mystery religions and magic spells. There is war trauma in the Roman world, without a doubt. If we had more personal accounts, I daresay we could easily meet the criteria for PTSD.
> In fact, some think that the Greek playwright Sophocles was writing, in military dramas like Ajax and Philoctetes, about what today we call post-traumatic stress disorder — and that his plays were performed by veterans, for veterans, in part to help them heal.
You might be interested in Achilles In Vietnam: Combat Trauma And The Undoing Of Character.
> In this strikingly original and groundbreaking book, Dr. Shay examines the psychological devastation of war by comparing the soldiers of Homer’s Iliad with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the Iliad was written twenty-seven centuries ago, it has much to teach about combat trauma, as do the more recent, compelling voices and experiences of Vietnam vets.
And here’s an account from Herodotus, translated by George Rawlinson:
> “There fell in this battle of Marathon, on the side of the barbarians, about six thousand and four hundred men; on that of the Athenians, one hundred and ninety-two. Such was the number of the slain on the one side and the other. A strange prodigy likewise happened at this fight. Epizelus, the son of Cuphagoras, an Athenian, was in the thick of the fray, and behaving himself as a brave man should, when suddenly he was stricken with blindness, without blow of sword or dart; and this blindness continued thenceforth during the whole of his after life. The following is the account which he himself, as I have heard, gave of the matter: he said that a gigantic warrior, with a huge beard, which shaded all his shield, stood over against him, but the ghostly semblance passed him by, and slew the man at his side. Such, as I understand, was the tale which Epizelus told.”
From Cambridge Journals Online: “Caesar In Vietnam: Did Roman Soldiers Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?” Unfortunately, that article isn’t publicly available, but Melchior’s article is a timely reminder of the need for caution when identifying the symptoms of PTSD in Classical sources. The use of comparative material is an essential feature of ancient military history – but we should always question how valid that material actually is.
Probably a good note to end on.