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The Iliad or The Poem of Force by Simone…
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The Iliad or The Poem of Force

by Simone Weil

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Simone Weil's essay shows you a woman reading the Iliad in an extraordinarily sensitive way. Weil's essay attempts to explain the mentality of the characters in the poem when they are in victory or in despair, what its real subject is --the subject is force, power, might, which is defined as "that which makes a thing of anybody who comes under its sway." It does this in a literal way by death, but also by slavery--the slave becomes a thing. She also identifies the reason for the materialistic description of battle, where men are described as blood and bone, with "no comforting fiction, no consoling immortality, no faint halo of patriotic glory." She also considers what the poem's real hero is and what opposes that hero.
She considers why the dominance shifts as it does in the poem [162-64, 167-68], the reason for the kinds of similes it has [173] and for the way the gods are portrayed [174]. She shows that the poem is not without its counterforces to might, which constitute its graces and themes. She identifies a tone in the poem, an "accent" of "extremest regret" and "bitterness" that human matters should be so, and a valuing of precious things, even though--perhaps especially because--they will perish. The poem, she decides, is "a miraculous object" and hopeful in that it assigns to the gods' malice and caprice all the causes of war, and in that it venerates whatever in the human spirit opposes might. She concludes by saying that nothing in western literature since reproduces the Greek spirit here that teaches us that "nothing is sheltered from fate," that we must never "admire might, hate the enemy, or despise sufferers." ( )
  michaelm42071 | Sep 10, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0820463612, Paperback)

Simone Weil, a brilliant young teacher, philosopher, and social activist, wrote the essay. The 'Iliad' or the Poem of Force at France at the beginning of World War II. Her profound meditation on the nature of violence provides a remarkably vivid and accessible testament of the Greek epic's continuing relevance to our lives. This celebrated work appears here for the first time in a bilingual version, based on the text of the authoritative edition of the author's complete writings. An introduction discusses the significance of the essay both in the evolution of Weil's thought and as a distinctively iconoclastic contribution to Homeric studies. The commentary draws on recent interpretations of the Iliad and examines the parallels between Weil's vision of Homer's warriors and the experiences of modern soldiers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:02 -0400)

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