Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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the estimation of philology in public opinion
depends upon the weight of the personalities of the philologists!

At the present time--that is to say, in a period which has seen men
distinguished in almost every department of philology--a general
uncertainty of judgment has increased more and more, and likewise a
general relaxation of interest and participation in philological
problems. Such an undecided and imperfect state of public opinion is
damaging to a science in that its hidden and open enemies can work with
much better prospects of success. And philology has a great many such
enemies. Where do we not meet with them, these mockers, always ready to
aim a blow at the philological "moles," the animals that practise
dust-eating _ex professo_, and that grub up and eat for the eleventh
time what they have already eaten ten times before. For opponents of
this sort, however, philology is merely a useless, harmless, and
inoffensive pastime, an object of laughter and not of hate. But, on the
other hand, there is a boundless and infuriated hatred of philology
wherever an ideal, as such, is feared, where the modern man falls down
to worship himself, and where Hellenism is looked upon as a superseded
and hence very insignificant point of view. Against these enemies, we
philologists must always count upon the assistance of artists and men of
artistic minds; for they alone can judge how the sword of barbarism
sweeps over the head of every one who loses sight of the unutterable
simplicity and noble dignity of the Hellene; and how no progress in
commerce or technical industries, however brilliant, no school
regulations, no political education of the masses, however widespread
and complete, can protect us from the curse of ridiculous and barbaric
offences against good taste, or from annihilation by the Gorgon head of
the classicist.

Whilst philology as a whole is looked on with jealous eyes by these two
classes of opponents, there are numerous and varied hostilities in other
directions of philology; philologists themselves are quarrelling with
one another; internal dissensions are caused by useless disputes about
precedence and mutual jealousies, but especially by the
differences--even enmities--comprised in the name of philology, which
are not, however, by any means naturally harmonised instincts.

Science has this in common with art, that the most ordinary, everyday
thing appears to it as something entirely new and attractive, as if
metamorphosed by witchcraft and now seen for the first time. Life is
worth living, says art, the beautiful temptress; life is worth knowing,
says science. With this contrast the so heartrending and dogmatic
tradition follows in a _theory_, and consequently in the practice

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Text Comparison with On the Future of our Educational Institutions; Homer and Classical Philology Complete Works, Volume Three

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And, in view of the difficulties.
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I am, moreover, convinced that the numerous alterations which have been introduced into these institutions within recent years, with the view of bringing them up-to-date, are for the most part but distortions and aberrations of the originally sublime tendencies given to them at their foundation.
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And now, in order to give you a rough outline of the range of ideas from which I shall attempt to form a judgment concerning our educational institutions, before proceeding to disclose my views and turning from the title to the main theme, I shall lay a scheme before you which, like a coat of arms, will serve to warn all strangers who come to my door, as to the nature of the house they are about to enter, in case they may feel inclined, after having examined the device, to turn their backs on the premises that bear it.
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(_Delivered on the 16th of January 1872.
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These lack real initiative; there are too few practical men among them--that is to say, too few who happen to have good and new ideas, and who know that real genius and the real practical mind must necessarily come together in the same individuals, whilst the sober practical men have no ideas and therefore fall.
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_ with the spirit of its classical poets and artists? This is a dark and thorny sphere, into which one cannot even bear a light without dread; but even here we shall conceal nothing from ourselves; for sooner or later the whole of it will have to be reformed.
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these smiles German genius becomes incensed and a worthier posterity will blush.
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"None but the very fewest are aware that, among many.
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of public schools.
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Let any one who wishes to see the full force of this contrast compare our most noted novelists with the less noted ones of France or Italy: he will recognise in both the same doubtful tendencies and aims, as also the same still more doubtful means, but in France he will find them coupled with artistic earnestness, at least with grammatical purity, and often with beauty, while in their every feature he will recognise the echo of a corresponding social culture.
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genius to make his appearance; for him to emerge from among the people; to portray the reflected picture, as it were, the dazzling brilliancy of the peculiar colours of this people; to depict the noble destiny of a people in the similitude of an individual in a work which will last for all time, thereby making his nation itself eternal, and redeeming it from the ever-shifting element of transient things: all this is possible for the genius only when he has been brought up and come to maturity in the tender care of the culture of a people; whilst, on the other hand, without this sheltering home, the genius will not, generally speaking, be able to rise to the height of his eternal flight, but will at an early moment, like a stranger weather-driven upon a bleak, snow-covered desert, slink away from the inhospitable land.
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" "I may be wrong," said the.
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So we walked on beside the philosopher, ashamed, compassionate, dissatisfied with ourselves, and more than ever convinced that the old man was right and that we had done him.
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And when the leader gives the word it will be re-echoed from rank to rank.
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The professor often reads when he is speaking.
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Do not, then, let yourselves be deceived in regard to the cultured student; for he, in so far as he thinks he has absorbed the blessings of education, is merely the public school boy as moulded by the hands of his teacher: one who, since his academical isolation, and after he has left the public school, has therefore been deprived of all further guidance to culture, that from now on he may begin to live by himself and be free.
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"The student knew at that time at what depth a true educational institution must take root, namely, in an inward renovation and inspiration of the purest moral faculties.
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We may consider antiquity from a scientific point of view; we may try to look at what has happened with the eye of a historian, or to arrange and compare the linguistic forms of ancient masterpieces, to bring them at all events under a morphological law; but we always lose the wonderful creative force, the real fragrance, of the atmosphere of antiquity; we forget that passionate emotion which instinctively drove our meditation and enjoyment back to the Greeks.
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And that wonderful genius to whom we owe the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ belongs to this thankful posterity: he, too, sacrificed his name on the altar of the primeval father of the Homeric epic, Homeros.
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