Start Date

20-4-2017 9:00 AM

End Date

20-4-2017 10:15 AM

Disciplines

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Ancient Philosophy

Subjects

Greek drama (Tragedy) -- History and criticism, Mental illness in literature, Greek literature -- History and criticism, Greece -- Civilization -- To 146 B.C., Mental illness -- Greece -- Athens -- Public opinion

Abstract

It is a basic understanding of modern medicine that mental illness is a disorder of the mind. But from where did this notion originate? In Homer’s popular epics, mental afflictions such as madness and depression are described as divine punishments rather than true mental illness. By the Hellenistic Age, Greek medical journals show a rejection of this divine explanation in favor of the mind. What changed in Greece? This paper tracks the Greek's understanding and conceptualization of madness throughout history and unites disciplines of literature, politics, tragedy, and philosophy to argue that modern understanding of mental illness has its earliest origins in the culture and strife of fifth-century B.C. Athens.

Notes

2nd place winner of the Karen E. Hoppes Young Historians Award for Outstanding Research and Writing.

Rights

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Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/19804

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Apr 20th, 9:00 AM Apr 20th, 10:15 AM

The Notion of Madness in Literature, Philosophy, and Tragedy: Evolving Conceptions of Mental Illness in Athens

It is a basic understanding of modern medicine that mental illness is a disorder of the mind. But from where did this notion originate? In Homer’s popular epics, mental afflictions such as madness and depression are described as divine punishments rather than true mental illness. By the Hellenistic Age, Greek medical journals show a rejection of this divine explanation in favor of the mind. What changed in Greece? This paper tracks the Greek's understanding and conceptualization of madness throughout history and unites disciplines of literature, politics, tragedy, and philosophy to argue that modern understanding of mental illness has its earliest origins in the culture and strife of fifth-century B.C. Athens.