The ancient hero Odysseus was a man’s man. He was a fearless warrior, a cunning tactician and a womanizer who could drink anyone under the table.
But he also wept. In fact, he cried quite a lot and it seems to me there were two reasons for this. As a hero he engaged life intensely. This means when he hated, his blood boiled; when he lusted, his loins burned; when he loved, his only concern was with the beloved; when he mourned, the world itself could not contain his sorrow. There are times in life when a man should weep, when he cannot help but weep. The man who does not weep is only half a man.
But I think there is another reason for Odysseus’ tears. Perhaps the tears are also an acknowledgment of PTSD.
In the ancient world there was no technical terminology or clinical diagnosis or medical framework in which to understand PTSD, yet surely people understood that war, violence, extreme suffering, and profound trauma leave enduring, invisible wounds. We do well to remember this truth even today.
October 16, 2017