Helmet Use and Head Injury in Homer’s Iliad

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Swinney C.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Homer’s detailed descriptions of head injuries inflicted during the Trojan War are of particular interest to individuals in the medical community. Although studies have examined the prevalence of such injuries, none have examined the preventive measures taken to avoid them. An in-depth review of helmet use in Homer’s Iliad was conducted to address this previously unexplored facet of the epic.

METHODS:

An English translation of Homer’s text was reviewed for all references to helmet use. The number of helmet references in each book was recorded, along with other pertinent details for each reference.

RESULTS:

There were 87 references to helmets (40 combat, 47 noncombat). The helmet belonged to a Greek warrior in 41 cases (47.1%), a Trojan warrior in 38 cases (43.6%), a divinity in 5 cases (5.7%), and a general group of warriors in 3 cases (3.4%). Helmet use provided protective benefit to Greek warriors at a rate of 30.0% (3 of 10) and Trojan warriors at a rate of 11.1% (2 of 18). This difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.23). The overall combined protective benefit of helmet use in the text was 17.9% (5 of 28). Helmets belonging to 15 specific Greek warriors and 18 specific Trojan warriors were referenced in the text. Helmets belonging to Hector (n = 12) and Achilles (n = 8) were most frequently mentioned.

CONCLUSIONS:

Helmet use and head injury both play a prominent role in Homer’s Iliad. Helmets are frequently used in combat settings but with relatively little success. Helmets are also used in various noncombat settings.

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26906897)

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