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Trauma in transition: moving from domestic to military service, and back again, in classical Athens

Rees, Owen (2018) Trauma in transition: moving from domestic to military service, and back again, in classical Athens. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The historiography surrounding the returning hoplite has thus far focussed on the experience of the man after his return yet, to date, no scholar has examined the homecoming itself. As a result, modern comparisons have been relied upon to fill in the gaps about the hoplite’s transition from his military service back into his domestic environment. This has formed the basis of a particular strand of research exploring modern PTSD as a method with which to understand the ancient hoplite’s experiences of war and its aftermath. This debate lacks the necessary historical due diligence because it has not yet been established exactly how a hoplite returned home and how this return was experienced. To rectify this gap in our knowledge, this thesis identifies and examines three fundamental transitions undergone by the classical Athenian hoplite as a result of his military service: his departure to war, his homecoming from war having survived, and his homecoming from war having died. Each of these transitions is split in two, examining both the transition within the domestic environment as a member of an oikos, and within the military environment as a member of the army. Drawing upon a wide range of evidence, this thesis presents a template of each transition, exploring the logistics and rituals involved, the participants, and the locations. The primary aim of this research is to show that the Athenian hoplite underwent a series of transitions into and out of the Athenian army, which suggests a complex relationship between the hoplite, his oikos and his military service. Having established these transitions, this thesis argues that there is evidence of ideological friction between the oikos and the military ideology that is commonly described in the contemporary literature. As a result, it is argued that the PTSD debate should focus more on the evidence of friction within these transitions and pursue a more diachronically sensitive examination of the topic.

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