Professor Frank's lecture regarding pain within a literary context was something I considered extremely interesting. For one thing, I have always enjoyed Homer's "Iliad" but never have looked at parts of it in the mindset that the concept of pain is used within the work.
One of the ideas that she brought up was regarding Hector's commitment to "Heroic Code" within the Iliad, where he felt the urge to fight and to die in the glory of battle rather than stay within the city, protected and with his family. This idea that one must earn their place in society through physical accomplishments is something that people would look at now and laugh at. The funny thing is, though, that our society is still very much focused on this part of life; seizing the moment all for the idea that one might win (it is never a sure thing) is still something that people see happening all around us, often without even realizing it.
Erin Striff mentioned it in her lecture as well, dealing with the idea of pain within sports. Fighting through the pain to win becomes important, and so does the idea that one must prove they deserve the victory through blood, sweat and tears. One of the differences, though, is that while most people back in the day (and in famous literature) used this pain and the glory to better themselves physically - whether it is for earning more power, land, or "the girl" - nowadays there is much more of a focus on bettering oneself emotionally. If someone is dealing with loss in their family, or if they are having a rough time coping with failure or disappointing things, now most people might do something like fight, run, or compete, and in the end they don't see their pay increase or have a better job, but they feel more control in their lives.
This topic of pain within literature, then, is more than just an interesting conversation starter. It is a sort-of timeline that documents how the idea of pain has changed with society, how the reasons and desires for putting themselves through that amount of effort and suffering can shift and yet still be just as popular.