Force in the Iliad

“The true hero, the true subject, the center of the Iliad, is force. Force as man’s instrument, force as man’s master, force before which human flesh shrinks back. The human soul, in this poem, is shown always in its relation to force: swept away, blinded by the force it thinks it can direct, bent under the pressure of the foce to which it is subjected. Those who had dreamed that force, thanks to progress, now belonged to the past, have seen the poem as a historic document; those who can see that force, today as in the past, is at the center of all human history, find in the Iliad its most beautiful, its purest mirror.”

“Force is what makes the person subjected to it into a thing.”

-Simon Weil, “The Iliad, or The Poem of Force”

*In his introduction to Robert Fagles’ translation of the Iliad, Bernard Knox notes that Weil’s essay was scheduled to be published in the Nouvelle Revue Francaise, but “before it could be printed Paris was in the hands of the Nazis.” Weil knew of what she spoke.

 

Source

Knox, Bernard. Introduction. The Iliad, by Homer, translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin, 1990, pp. 3-64.

Hemingway on War

This, from Hemingway’s introduction to the 1948 illustrated edition of A Farewell to Arms:

The title of the book is A Farewell to Arms and except for three years there has been war of some kind almost ever since it has been written. Some people used to say, why is the man so obsessed with war, and now, since 1933 perhaps it is clear why a writer should be interested in the constant, bullying, murderous, slovenly crime of war. Having been to too many of them, I am sure that I am prejudiced, and I hope that I am very prejudiced. But it is the considered belief of the writer of this book that wars are fought by the finest people that there are, or just say people, although, the closer you are to where they are fighting, the finer people you meet; but they are made, provoked and initiated by straight economic rivalries and by swine that stand to profit from them. I believe that all the people who stand to profit by a war and who help provoke it should be shot on the first day it starts by accredited representatives of the loyal citizens of their country who will fight it.