Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 32

to see that sentiment unashamed in its naïve expressions,
the sentiment as to the necessity of contest lest the State's welfare
be threatened, one should think of the original meaning of _Ostracism,_
as for example the Ephesians pronounced it at the banishment of
Hermodor. "Among us nobody shall be the best; if however someone is the
best, then let him be so elsewhere and among others." Why should not
someone be the best? Because with that the contest would fail, and the
eternal life-basis of the Hellenic State would be endangered. Later on
Ostracism receives quite another position with regard to the contest;
it is applied, when the danger becomes obvious that one of the great
contesting politicians and party-leaders feels himself urged on in
the heat of the conflict towards harmful and destructive measures and
dubious _coups d'état._ The original sense of this peculiar institution
however is not that of a safety-valve but that of a stimulant.
The all-excelling individual was to be removed in order that the
contest of forces might re-awaken, a thought which is hostile to the
"exclusiveness" of genius in the modern sense but which assumes that in
the natural order of things there are always _several_ geniuses which
incite one another to action, as much also as they hold one another
within the bounds of moderation. That is the kernel of the Hellenic
contest-conception: it abominates autocracy, and fears its dangers; it
desires as a _preventive_ against the genius--a second genius.

Every natural gift must develop itself by contest. Thus the Hellenic
national pedagogy demands, whereas modern educators fear nothing as
much as, the unchaining of the so-called ambition. Here one fears
selfishness as the "evil in itself"--with the exception of the
Jesuits, who agree with the Ancients and who, possibly, for that
reason, are the most efficient educators of our time. They seem to
believe that Selfishness, _i.e.,_ the individual element is only the
most powerful _agens_ but that it obtains its character as "good" and
"evil" essentially from the aims towards which it strives. To the
Ancients however the aim of the agonistic education was the welfare of
the whole, of the civic society. Every Athenian for instance was to
cultivate his Ego in contest, so far that it should be of the highest
service to Athens and should do the least harm. It was not unmeasured
and immeasurable as modern ambition generally is; the youth thought of
the welfare of his native town when he vied with others in running,
throwing or singing; it was her glory that he wanted to increase with
his own; it was to his

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