Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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[Transcriber's Note:

This lecture was taken from Volume III of _The Complete Works of
Friedrich Nietzsche_, Dr. Oscar Levy, Ed., J. M. Kennedy,
Translator, 1910]




HOMER AND CLASSICAL PHILOLOGY.

(_Inaugural Address delivered at Bale University, 28th of May 1869._)


At the present day no clear and consistent opinion seems to be held
regarding Classical Philology. We are conscious of this in the circles
of the learned just as much as among the followers of that science
itself. The cause of this lies in its many-sided character, in the lack
of an abstract unity, and in the inorganic aggregation of heterogeneous
scientific activities which are connected with one another only by the
name "Philology." It must be freely admitted that philology is to some
extent borrowed from several other sciences, and is mixed together like
a magic potion from the most outlandish liquors, ores, and bones. It may
even be added that it likewise conceals within itself an artistic
element, one which, on aesthetic and ethical grounds, may be called
imperatival--an element that acts in opposition to its purely scientific
behaviour. Philology is composed of history just as much as of natural
science or aesthetics: history, in so far as it endeavours to comprehend
the manifestations of the individualities of peoples in ever new
images, and the prevailing law in the disappearance of phenomena;
natural science, in so far as it strives to fathom the deepest instinct
of man, that of speech; aesthetics, finally, because from various
antiquities at our disposal it endeavours to pick out the so-called
"classical" antiquity, with the view and pretension of excavating the
ideal world buried under it, and to hold up to the present the mirror of
the classical and everlasting standards. That these wholly different
scientific and aesthetico-ethical impulses have been associated under a
common name, a kind of sham monarchy, is shown especially by the fact
that philology at every period from its origin onwards was at the same
time pedagogical. From the standpoint of the pedagogue, a choice was
offered of those elements which were of the greatest educational value;
and thus that science, or at least that scientific aim, which we call
philology, gradually developed out of the practical calling originated
by the exigencies of that science itself.

These philological aims were pursued sometimes with greater ardour and
sometimes with less, in accordance with the degree of culture and the
development of the taste of a particular period; but, on the other hand,
the followers of this science are in the habit of regarding the aims
which correspond to their several abilities as _the_ aims of philology;
whence it comes about that

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