Ancient Greek Epics Help Veterans Cope with Stress

A war veterans mural in Santa Ana, CA.

With so many U.S. veterans returning from conflict with physical and psychological problems, it is hard to help them acclimate to life back home.

Ironically, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey — about the classical war veteran Odysseus — is proving to help vets cope with their own issues.

Stars and Stripes — the U.S. military’s newspaper — via the Associated Press reports that veterans are now using these ancient Greek texts to help the adjust to a new reality.

“A small group of military veterans has been meeting weekly in a classroom at the University of Vermont to discuss The Iliad and The Odyssey for college credit — and to give meaning to their own experiences, equating the close-order discipline of men who fought with spears, swords and shields to that of men and women who do battle these days with laser-guided munitions.”

It goes on to say: “Homer isn’t just for student veterans. Discussion groups are also being offered at veterans centers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“The Maine Humanities Council has sponsored sessions for veterans incarcerated at Maine’s Kennebec County jail, as well as for other veterans.”

It’s not surprising; just as Plato’s forms prepared a world for Jung to prove, classical literature has been referenced as far back as Freud for helping people deal with contemporary societal problems.

Just like Homer’s hero Odysseus 2,800 years ago, watching friends die and problems returning from war, and adjusting to civilian life is still fraught.