War and the Iliad book by Simone Weil
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This marvelous essay by French Philosopher, activist, and Christian Mystic Simone Weil came along at just the right time for me. I’ve been studying the Yoga Sutra of Patañjali while completing my 200 –hour yoga certification and thinking a lot about the yogic discipline of Ahimsa, or non-harming. In doing some research on Weil after reading the essay, I find that she learned Sanskrit after becoming interested in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads of India. I wonder if she might not also have run across the Yoga Sutra or maybe she absorbed the concept of ahimsa from the other two texts. Either way, the ideas she develops regarding the use of force and war in The Iliad really resonated with the term. Her familiarity with the Iliad makes sense as she had already mastered ancient Greek by the time she was twelve, maybe in part due to her love for this first, and according to her, only epic of the Occidental world. On top of this resonance with my personal situation right now, it’s a timely reminder in this age of perpetual war of the futility of force and war as a way to make the world better.
Simone Weil on The Iliad | Hector | Achilles - Scribd
War and the Iliad is a perfect introduction to the range of Homer's art as well as a provocative and rewarding demonstration of the links between literature, philosophy, and questions of life and death. Simone Weil's The Iliad, or the Poem of Force is one of her most celebrated works--an inspired analysis of Homer's epic that presents a nightmare vision of combat as a machine in which all humanity is lost. First published on the eve of war in 1939, the essay has often been read as a pacifist manifesto. Rachel Bespaloff was a French contemporary of Weil's whose work similarly explored the complex relations between literature, religion, and philosophy. She composed her own distinctive discussion of the Iliad in the midst of World War II--calling it "her method of facing the war"--and, as Christopher Benfey argues in his introduction, the essay was very probably written in response to Weil. Bespaloff's account of the Iliad brings out Homer's novelistic approach to character and the existential drama of his characters' choices; it is marked, too, by a tragic awareness of how the Iliad speaks to times and places where there is no hope apart from war. This edition brings together these two influential essays for the first time, accompanied by Benfey's scholarly introduction and an afterword by the great Austrian novelist Hermann Broch.