Early Greek Philosophy & Other Essays Collected Works, Volume Two

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 34

deed, suddenly withdrawn from the contest and
became _hors de concours_ according to his, and his fellow-citizens'
judgment. Almost without exception the effect is awful; and if one
usually draws from these consequences the conclusion that the Greek was
unable to bear glory and fortune, one should say more exactly that he
was unable to bear fame without further struggle, and fortune at the
end of the contest. There is no more distinct instance than the fate
of Miltiades. Placed upon a solitary height and lifted far above every
fellow-combatant through his incomparable success at Marathon, he feels
a low thirsting for revenge awakened within himself against a citizen
of Para, with whom he had been at enmity long ago. To satisfy his
desire he misuses reputation, the public exchequer and civic honour and
disgraces himself. Conscious of his ill-success he falls into unworthy
machinations. He forms a clandestine and godless connection with Timo
a priestess of Demeter, and enters at night the sacred temple, from
which every man was excluded. After he has leapt over the wall and
comes ever nearer the shrine of the goddess, the dreadful horror of a
panic-like terror suddenly seizes him; almost prostrate and unconscious
he feels himself driven back and leaping the wall once more, he falls
down paralysed and severely injured. The siege must be raised and a
disgraceful death impresses its seal upon a brilliant heroic career,
in order to darken it for all posterity. After the battle at Marathon
the envy of the celestials has caught him. And this divine envy breaks
into flames when it beholds man without rival, without opponent, on
the solitary height of glory. He now has beside him only the gods--and
therefore he has them against him. These however betray him into a deed
of the Hybris, and under it he collapses.

Let us well observe that just as Miltiades perishes so the noblest
Greek States perish when they, by merit and fortune, have arrived from
the racecourse at the temple of Nike. Athens, which had destroyed the
independence of her allies and avenged with severity the rebellions
of her subjected foes, Sparta, which after the battle of Ægospotamoi
used her preponderance over Hellas in a still harsher and more cruel
fashion, both these, as in the case of Miltiades, brought about their
ruin through deeds of the Hybris, as a proof that without envy,
jealousy, and contesting ambition the Hellenic State like the Hellenic
man degenerates. He becomes bad and cruel, thirsting for revenge, and
godless; in short, he becomes "pre-Homeric"--and then it needs only a
panic in order to bring about

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