Masters Thesis

An Emperor's Journey with Trauma: Basil II of Byzantium (b. 958, R. 976-1025)

Historical case studies evaluating combat trauma’s impact on individuals offer differing interpretations of the experience of trauma. These new insights contribute to further development of contemporary understanding of trauma’s intricacies. Utilizing psychological research in the deconstruction of primary sources, this work evaluates the Byzantine emperor Basil II’s (B. 958, R. 976-1025) experience following his traumatic ambush at Trajan’s Gate in 986. With the benefit of historical hindsight, Basil’s life changes are evaluated and put into perspective. Parallels are drawn between 11th century evaluations of Basil’s character and modern conceptions of psychological processes. Through the use of animal models and Byzantine manuals of strategy, the trauma Basil endured is evaluated, and the potential long-term effects of that trauma are deciphered. Despite the influence trauma appears to have had on Basil, his life serves as an example of the positive effects adversity can have on the overall functioning of an individual following the processing of trauma and the new perspective it grants.

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