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Christianity Before Christ: Simone Weil’s Interpretations of Greek Literature

In 1938, agnostic philosopher and political activist, Simone Weil experienced a mystical encounter with Christ. While the experience revealed the realm of the supernatural to her, it also offered her a new understanding on reality and on Greek literature in particular. Weil, a deep and intense thinker, now started seeing Greek classics as the embodiment of an authentic Christian spirit.

On Nov. 13, Marie Cabaud Meaney, D.Phil., offered an insight into these various Christian perspectives on Greek literature. Drawing from various publications that look at the work of Weil, Dr. Meaney presented Weil’s Christological readings of the Iliad and Sophocles’ “Antigone.”   

The Iliad, according to Weil’s interpretations, depicts an unredeemed world in which force reigns. Homer showed how everyone is subject to fear, death and humiliation but no one is capable of bringing this force to an end. While the Iliad found much recognition among the Classicists, Weil’s interpretations of other Greek texts are not as popular. Nevertheless, they all offer a new way to interpret well-known Greek texts.

Weil’s approach to Greek classics was formed by her Greek education, and through these classics she was able to embody Christ more carefully.

Dr. Meaney is an Arthur J. Ennis Fellow at the Villanova Center for Liberal Education (VCLE). Her research interests focus on Simone Weil, René Girard, literature and Christianity, aesthetics, hermeneutics, mysticism and phenomenology.  

Dr. Meaney has taught Augustine and Culture Seminars on “Traditions in Conversation” and “Modernity and its Discontents.” She has also taught a course on Simone Weil and mysticism in the theology department.

“It was well attended and I thought that the questions asked were excellent,” said Dr. Meaney about the event. The presentation was part of the Scholarship @ Villanova lecture series sponsored each semester by Falvey.

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Last Modified: December 3, 2008

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