In the news:
A widely available blood pressure pill could one day help people erase bad memories, perhaps treating some anxiety disorders and phobias, according to a Dutch study published on Sunday. . . .Egyptian researchers beat them to it. In Odyssey 4, as Menelaus, Telemachus, and Peisistratus grieve the sorrows of the Trojan War, Helen uses an Egyptian drug to make the men forget their troubles:
The findings published in the journal Nature Neuroscience are important because the drug may offer another way to help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems related to bad memories.
She threw a drug into the wine bowlThis moment in the Odyssey is funny, sinister, and unforgettable. Helen must have suspected that it would be helpful to have such a drug handy for thought-control in a sorrow-filled post-war home. In her foresight, she resembles wily Odysseus, who carries strong wine when off to explore the cave of Cyclops Polyphemus. (Odysseus of course gets Polyphemus drunk before blinding him).
They were drinking from, a drug
That stilled all pain, quieted all anger
And brought forgetfulness of every ill.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Helen had gotten this potent, cunning drug
From Polydamna, the wife of Thon,
A woman in Egypt, where the land
Proliferates with all sorts of drugs,
Many beneficial, many poisonous.
Men there know more about medicines
Than any other people on earth,
For they are of the race of Paeeon, the Healer.
The Dutch study is here:
Merel Kindt, Marieke Soeter, and Bram Vervliet, Beyond extinction: erasing human fear responses and preventing the return of fear (Nature Neuroscience)
[Odyssey translation by Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2000).]