From Homer to Hemingway: The Place of the Soldier in Political Life

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation examines the place of the soldier in political life. Through close readings of Homer, Thucydides, Tocqueville, and Hemingway, I analyze the political existence of the soldier in different types of political community. The main movement I trace is one in which the original Homeric image of the soldierly ideal is inverted in the modern world. Drawing upon Tocqueville and Hemingway, I argue that the American soldier is a figure not honored by American society. The American disposition toward the soldier tends to be characterized by patriotic feeling and sympathetic sentiment. The unity of soldierly practices and meanings encountered in Homer—around honor and glory, and wounding and healing—collapses, I suggest, for the soldier in modern society. The reciprocity established between soldier and city in the classical polis—a reciprocity I find in Thucydides—does not obtain for the soldier in the modern world. I argue that the American soldier suffers as a consequence of not being honored. Drawing upon Homer and Hemingway, I suggest that the withholding of honor from the soldier obstructs the soldier’s ability to heal from the wounds of war.


Attribute NameValues
Author Caleb Hamman
Contributor Dana R. Villa, Research Director
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Peace Studies
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
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Defense Date
  • 2019-06-19

Submission Date 2019-07-04
Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

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