530 BC, Homeric battle around the inanimate body of the patrolling friend of Achilles, Patroclos,,who was fighting and killed by Hector in the war of Troy
AP reports from Burlington, Vermont that the trials of Odysseus are really not that different from the struggles of those learning to readjust after wars of today, modern veterans are finding.
A small group of US 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.
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 imprisoned at Maine’s Kennebec County jail, as well as for other veterans.
For many in the UVM class, Homer’s 2,800-year-old verses sound all too familiar: the siege of Troy, the difficult quest of Odysseus to return home after 10 years at war, his anguish at watching friends die, and his problems readjusting to civilian life.
In the Homer Odyssey, Odysseus listens to the melodic and attractive song of the Sirens, which drives sailors to death. All the ship's crew closed their ears well, while Odysseus himself was tied up on the mast so that he could not leave. In this red vase iof Ancient Greece, the intensity of Odysseus is depicted , and his sailors, who were trying not to succumb to this enchanting song.
Homer-for-veterans is the brainchild of Dartmouth College classics professor Roberta Stewart, who is now hoping for a grant that will allow her to expand the idea nationwide.
Stewart read some blog posts by U.S. service members fighting in Iraq in 2003. She recognized their graphic descriptions of war and the difficulties many faced readjusting to life after combat, and reached out to one veteran who appeared to be having a hard time.
“I said to him, ‘Homer can help you. Homer knows,'” Stewart said.
Stewart never heard back from the veteran she told about Homer, but the light bulb stayed on. A decade ago, she wrote to the Department for Veterans Affairs hospital in White River Junction, Vermont, suggesting the idea. Officials were skeptical at first, but she eventually won and started her first group.
Navy Cmdr. Amy Hunt, the operational support officer for the Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, hopes to set up programs for still-serving Navy Seals and overseas support personnel.
“Using Homer, because of the distance involved and also it’s great storytelling, is a way to break into those experiences,” Hunt said.
In its different guises at the locations where classes and discussions have been offered, veterans from World War II to those just home from Afghanistan have seen themselves in the struggles described by Homer.
by story written by By WILSON RING , Associated Press