“The Iliad by Simon Weil, French mystic and partisan philosopher”, lectio magistralis by Professor Stefania Tarantino at “La Congrega Letteraria” in Vietri Sul Mare.

“The real hero, the real subject, the real center of the Iliad is strength. The force that is used by men, before which the flesh of men shrinks.” It is a phrase of the French philosopher Simon Weil(1909-1943) which was told by the professor Stephanie TarantinoProfessor of “History of Contemporary Philosophy” and “Institutions of the History of Philosophy” at the University of Salerno” during the second of the “Cultural Meetings” organized by the artistic directors of “La Congrega Letteraria”, Antonio Gazia And Alfonso Vincenzo Mauro, with the collaboration of the Municipality of Vietri Sul Mare: in the person of the Mayor John DeSimone and the Counselor Daniel Benincasa; of the Proloco of Vietri sul Mare, chaired by Cosmo DiMauro and thanks to the Prior of the Archconfraternity of the Santissima Annunziata and the Santissimo Rosario of Vietri Sul Mare: the architect Dominic Pergola.


Professor Tarantino explained that Simon Weil considers Homer’s Iliad the poem of strength: “What governs societies is strength”, says the French philosopher according to whom the Greeks, and in particular Homer, were able to see with lucidity what strength produces. Force that manipulates not only those who suffer it, the vanquished, but also the winner. In any case, one is succumbed to the force. One should never admire strength without falling into weakness. Plato and Homer see that there is something that stops force: the highest good, which Simon Weil calls “supernatural action”. Simon Weil in the Iliad sees that the Greeks build bridges between human misery and divine perfection: through war – says Simon Weil – Homer shows and feels how all relationships between men are governed by force and that this force determines the misfortune. A destroyed city can never be rebuilt and even a destroyed soul is difficult to rebuild. Brute force also destroys spiritual values, leads to a degradation of the soul. The beauty of the Iliad lies in the fact that Homer shows how today’s winners will be tomorrow’s losers: he makes all the fragility of the human condition feel ”. The Neapolitan professor recalled that Simon Weil, who died at the age of just 34, was the sister of one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century: Andre Weil: She was a brilliant, extraordinary woman. You have written many essays. For her, philosophy and thought are not only a heritage for insiders, but something that is necessary for everyone’s life: a life that is formed through thought, which does not aim at mere survival, but which creates civilization, humanity, relationships”. Professor Tarantino recalled that Simon Weil was a non-practicing Jew and close to Marxism: ”he taught in many schools, involving young minds in the exercise of thought. He said that “culture feeds our soul”. Simon Weil was known in Italy also thanks to the sensitivity of an entrepreneur: Alberto Olivetti:” In his factory in Pozzuoli” – explained the professor – “he had the Iliad read while the workers worked”. For Simon Weil it is important to cultivate our feelings: “Knowing how to perceive that the other exists like me and has the same dignity of existence as me”. Simon Weil also talks about the importance of exemplary figures: “A book may not change my life, even if it often does, but what an exemplary figure can do, who embodies what he says with what he does, moves more than a thousand books ”. Simon Weil’s philosophy is all contextualized to his historical time: “The Iliad serves her to understand her time as she was heading towards the war during which she will die”. The students of the Della Corte Vanvitelli Institute of Cava Dè Tirreni, directed by the professor, were present Franca Masiaccompanied by the teacher Filomena Iannella, and the students of the University of Salerno.

Aniello Palumbo


“The Iliad by Simon Weil, French mystic and partisan philosopher”, lectio magistralis by Professor Stefania Tarantino at “La Congrega Letteraria” in Vietri Sul Mare.