The Iliad

Homer: The Very Idea

James L. Porter read

Homer, the great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is revered as a cultural icon of antiquity and a figure of lasting influence. But his identity is shrouded in questions about who he was, when he lived, and whether he was an actual person, a myth, or merely a shared idea. Rather than attempting to solve the mystery of this character, James I. Porter explores the sources of Homer’s mystique and their impact since the first recorded mentions of Homer in ancient Greece.

Homer: The Very Idea considers Homer not as a man, but as a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him, following the cultural history of an idea and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is imagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the book follows the very idea of Homer from his earliest mentions to his most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art, and classical archaeology.

University of Chicago Press, October 25, 2021

Simone Weil’s The Iliad or the Poem of Force: A Critical Edition

Simone Weil // James P. Holoka, ed. and trans. read

Simone Weil, a brilliant young teacher, philosopher, and social activist, wrote the essay, The ‘Iliad’ or the Poem of Force at France at the beginning of World War II. Her profound meditation on the nature of violence provides a remarkably vivid and accessible testament of the Greek epic’s continuing relevance to our lives. This celebrated work appears here for the first time in a bilingual version, based on the text of the authoritative edition of the author’s complete writings. An introduction discusses the significance of the essay both in the evolution of Weil’s thought and as a distinctively iconoclastic contribution to Homeric studies. The commentary draws on recent interpretations of the Iliad and examines the parallels between Weil’s vision of Homer’s warriors and the experiences of modern soldiers.

Peter Lang, Inc. (2006)

Homer and Simone Weil: The Iliad sub specie violentiae

James P. Holoka read

Simone Weil’s varied writings are chapters in an autobiography of the mind, best understood in light of the zeal with which she lived life and expressed her thoughts. Although only thirty years old in 1939/40 when she wrote “The Iliad, or The Poem of Force,” she had already confronted a wide range of fundamental issues on a philosophical plane and carried over that struggle into her personal life. The ardor she brought to her intellectual pursuits and to the particular causes to which she devoted her time and energies makes Weil an attractive subject for biographers, as the spate of works on her life and career in the last thirty years attests.


James P. Holoka, Simone Weil’s The Iliad or the Poem of Force: A Critical Edition, Peter Lang Inc. (2006).