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Suffering in the Ancient, Roman and Greek Periods Essay

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Updated: Nov 29th, 2021

Introduction

Suffering has been conspicuous in human race for centuries. In fact, every human being has suffered in one way or another. Suffering crisscrosses all cultures of humankind. Suffering has no limit. To some people, it is part of life while to others it is a punishment from the gods. Besides, to some people it acts as a corrective measure while to other it acts as evil.

Different people from diverse cultures define suffering in variant ways. However, the processes they undergo during suffering tend to converge. This paper will explore the theme of suffering in the ancient, Roman and Greek periods (Steiner, 1906, p. 1).

Suffering

Every human finds him/herself facing suffering. It comes with or without invitation. Suffering may come as a warning figure or as an enigmatic one. Suffering has troubled man since the beginning of the world. Based on different views, religious sectors have believed that suffering started with the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden. On the other hand, others have believed that it began with man once he came into being.

However, one convergence is that suffering has formed part of human race ever since. Ancient people experienced suffering as well as the modern ones. In this regard, suffering has traversed humankind. Whenever people try to value life, they find it necessary to consider the input of suffering in it.

Suffering has been considered as the eradicator of peace. Moreover, it has also been considered as a damper of hope and pleasure. However, it is necessary to note that world and cultural developments have worked to reduce human suffering (Reisinho, 2012, p. 1).

Ways in which suffering is mirrored

Ancient stories tell of individuals who suffered from many issues, which affected their physical conditions. Among these included Cicero and Philoctetes who experienced despair and depression in their public and private lives. Archeologists have also managed to prove conditions of suffering in the ancient worlds.

They have unleashed a number of personal as well as environmental factors that contributed to suffering in ancient times. These included torture, mental anguish and depression, social and political oppression, physical handicap and chronic illnesses, among others. Notably, suffering was highly prevalent in ancient world since they experienced tyrannies, poor infrastructure, and mythical cultural aspects.

Suffering in Greek society was interpreted in many ways. For instance, Aeschylos, a tragedian saw it as a way of acquiring knowledge in ancient Greek. In essence, he saw it as something that brings both the benefit and detriment. In fact, Greek philosophers believed that suffering was experienced deeply by people who valued life.

Moreover, Selenus found it wise for a man not to be born since it only brought him/her suffering. However, influence from religion also made some Greeks to accept suffering as part of life since sin, evil and suffering are bound together (Reisinho, 2012, p. 1).

It can also be noted that in the ancient western culture, suffering was seen to result from a defective universe. In this regard, some theorists in that era thought that the universe had a defective nature and thus an evil quality. For instance, Hippocrates believed that this defective nature of the universe came about due to the differences between qualities and elements of space. On the other hand, Christians believed that suffering came from original sin.

Still, other theorists like Manichees believed that suffering came about because the creator made derisory work by the creator he believed to be a demiurge. Again, others like Stoic refused to acknowledge the existence of suffering. Furthermore, Galen and Aritole believed that suffering was felt by an emotional soul. In essence, the ancient, Greek, and Roman periods understood suffering in divergent ways ranging from discipline to defect, among others (Pilch, 1990, p. 1).

Similarity and Differences Between Suffering in Ancient and Suffering in Modern World

It can be noted that in all cases suffering was seen as evil in some quarters of the ancient world as is seen today. For instance, just as Hippocrates believed that it came because of defects in the universe, the modern world (which has grown to be materialistic) believe that people undergo suffering because of inadequacy in their efforts.

Another similarity is evident in Rene Descartes’ argument that suffering could be good. This sentiment is shared by Aeschylos, who believed that suffering helped people to acquire knowledge. Religious world has not changed extensively as they share a common believe that through perseverance in suffering they will overcome evil.

However, the contrasts have also risen over suffering. For instance, modern world oversaw the separation of body from Saul, in the process, categorizing suffering with the physical body. This was not common in the ancient world. Furthermore, Leibniz managed to make a distinction between bodily and ethical evil. In this regard, suffering was classified with physical evil as opposed to the ancient times when there was no separation (Reisinho, 2012, p. 1).

Conclusion

Suffering has been understood with mixed reaction in humankind. While some sections have denied its existence, others have accepted it. On the other hand, those who have accepted it have also differed on its origin, ways of mitigation, and reason for being. However, religion has played a central role in it understanding among other faithful. In addition, philosophers have also made steps in their discovery of its workings (Fiero, 2011, p. 15).

References

Fiero, G. K. (2011). The humanistic tradition, Book 1: The first civilizations and the classical legacy (6th. Ed). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Pilch, J. (1990). How We Redress Our Suffering: An Exercise in Actualizing Biblical Texts. Web.

Reisinho, E. (2012). Life Is Cruel: Pain and Suffering. Web.

Steiner, R. (1906). . Web.

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