The Iliad, or: The Poem of Force was written in the summer and fall of 1940, after the fall of France. It may thus be read as an indirect commentary on that tragic event, which signalized the triumph of the most extreme modern expression of force. It was originally published, under the acrostical pseudonym “Emile Novis,” in the December 1940 and January 1941 issues of the Marseilles literary monthly, Cahiers du Sud. The present translation is by Mary McCarthy. The quotations from Homer were first translated from the French manuscript by Miss McCarthy and then checked and revised by Dwight Macdonald in accordance with the Greek text. “The Iliad” appeared in the November 1945 issue of Politics and was later issued in pamphlet form. It is the only one of Weil’s writings on ancient Greek literature which is commonly used in university courses on the Classics.
Pendle Hill is grateful to Dwight Macdonald for his permission to reprint the Politics pamphlet edition of Simone Weil’s essay.
About the Author(s)
Simone Weil died in England in August 1943 at the age of 34. She was distinguished among her classmates by a personality in which the moral and the intellectual were inextricably united. She assimilated as her everyday mental fare the highest products of art and science. When she was graduated and began to teach philosophy, mathematics, and Greek language and literature, she continued to broaden her culture, going always to the great primary sources, whether it was Homeric poetry, Euclidian geometry, Vitruvius’ rules of architecture… But even more than her encyclopedic knowledge, it was her personal honesty and her delicate sense of human relations that won the admiration of her pupils.
Pendle Hill Pamphlet #91