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Justice and Love in the Iliad Essay

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Simone Weil argues that the way Homer presents war and the use of force in the Iliad, in all of its brutality, violence, and bitterness bathes the work in the light of love and justice (pg 25). The point Weil is making is that by depicting the suffering of all of these men regardless of their side, or strength Homer equalizes them in a “condition common to all men”(pg 25). Because Homer equalizes them the reader can feel empathy, or at least compassion for all of the men. However while Weil is correct about how Homer’s descriptions of war and force reveal justice and love, she is wrong in thinking that justice and love are mere “accents” to the Iliad, and progress through the story “without ever becoming noticeable”(pg 25). Homer not only reveals this underlying idea to the reader through his tone and even handedness, but also through Achilles’ journey. By the end of the Iliad Achilles understands justice and love in much the same way that the reader does.
Weil makes a few strong arguments to support her reading of the Iliad. Weil describes how Homer’s impartiality in writing the Iliad allows the suffering of both the Greeks and the Trojans to be viewed in the same way. The Iliad was not written as an ode to the victor, or as a celebration of the strength of the Greeks. Instead, as Weil describes it, the Iliad is marked by a tone of bitterness by which, “everyones unhappiness is laid bare without dissimulation or disdain”(pg 25). By breaking down the barriers between the Greeks and the Trojans Homer reveals their equality, showing that men on both sides die and suffer. In showing the sides to be the same Homer allows the reader to identify with both sides. To feel just as strongly for the death of a Trojan as for the death of...


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... to fight this war and cause suffering. But this is Homer’s final trick. Homer takes the reader, and Achilles and makes them equal. Achilles gets to realize the love and justice that the reader gets to understand, but also the helplessness of the reader. Achilles is as helpless to alleviate the suffering as the reader is. He realizes that he has no choice and accepts his fate. This is the other way justice and love are revealed in the Iliad, the reader is shown to be the same as the hero, not in his strength but in his helplessness. Both the reader and Achilles are forced to see the love and justice Weil writes about and are rendered helpless, Achilles’ fate sealed by the Gods and ours by Homer. Through the bitterness of the tone, the impartiality of his descriptions of war, and Achilles’ journey Homer “bathes [the Iliad] in the light of love and justice”(pg 25).



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