Violence And Rage In Simone Weil's The Iliad

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Rage, the first word in The Iliad, is defined as a violent or uncontrolled anger. Homer fills this epic poem with the theme of rage. Correspondingly, it is Achilles’ rage in the ninth year of the Trojan War that sets the action of this epic. As Simone Weil expresses in the essay The Iliad or the Poem of Force, the “center” of the epic is the force or violence that dehumanizes both parties involved in the war. That force, which is the sun of the poem, is orbited by rage: Achilles’ incentive that triggers the conflicts of the story.
The first instance that introduces the rage of Achilles is found in book one, when Agamemnon sends Talthybius and Eurybates to take Briseis, Achilles’ war prize, away from him. Achilles is so enraged by this that
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He lacks the sense to see a day behind, a day ahead, and safeguard the Acheans battling by the ships.” (2. 398-407)
With this in mind, Weil’s argument gains more premises. She describes how “the man who is the possessor of force” (Weil 154), in this case Achilles, becomes exempt from pondering his decisions. In other words, when ones mind is conquered by rage and devastation, one loses the ability to reason. In her essay, Weil expands even further and states that by acting this way, Achilles is literally digging his own grave. To explain, she notices that “where there is no room for reflection, there is none either for justice or prudence” (Weil 154-155). For this reason, the fact that Achilles asks Zeus, king of the gods, to favor the Trojans and doom to his comrades in arms all because of his self-centered rage, will eventually lead to his and his best friend’s
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Agamemnon offers Achilles multiple gifts to persuade him to come back to battle, but Achilles’ pride is so strong that he continues to let his anger consume him. The fact that his closest friends are telling him that “a stark disaster, / too much to bear…/ that is what [they] are staring in the face/ and [they] are afraid.” (9. 275-278) should be enough to make him want to rejoin the battle, but the “force” that possesses him is “making a corpse out of him” (Weil 153), that not even golden gifts will humanize again. Moreover, that blinding force is making him forget what his original motivation for coming to Troy was. Achilles no longer wants honor and glory; he disregards the time’s most valuable thing: to be considered a hero by his successors. He shares what his mother Thetis explained to

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