Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Classical Studies

Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

M. Shane Bjornlie

Reader 3

Jennifer Groscup

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Rights Information

© 2020 Tamara R Wachsman


Exploratory in nature, this thesis investigated whether dishonor can be categorized as traumatic. With a foundation of existing research in trauma and honor, primary source analyses were conducted on classical texts, and a psychological study was conducted with participants living in the United States. The main primary source analyses were based on case studies, centering on Achilles, an ancient Greek hero, and Dido, an ancient Roman queen, who both experienced severe dishonor. Specifically, the narratives of Achilles and Queen Dido served as portrayals of dishonor in the form of a male hero who has his honor seized, and a woman whose reputation of chastity and piety is ruined. Both figures displayed increased aggression, melancholy, and humiliation in response to their shame, as well as varied symptoms of modern traumatic disorders. In comparison, the psychological study evaluated the perceived trauma of various dishonorable scenarios, with emphasis on how they were impacted by participant demographic factors. The study entailed participants reading six self-insert vignettes describing experiences of threat of death, injury, sexual assault, public shaming, dishonorable discharge from the military, and bringing dishonor upon one’s family. Though the results indicated that the vignettes were not rated to be equally traumatic, there was no clear differentiation between the dishonor and fundamental traumas, providing support for the dishonorable scenarios being traumatic in contemporary society, particularly for individuals who value honor. Together, the results indicated support for the trauma of dishonor in both the ancient Mediterranean as well as the contemporary United States.