Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 10

the Homeric poems.

Since literary history first ceased to be a mere collection of names,
people have attempted to grasp and formulate the individualities of the
poets. A certain mechanism forms part of the method: it must be
explained--i.e., it must be deduced from principles--why this or that
individuality appears in this way and not in that. People now study
biographical details, environment, acquaintances, contemporary events,
and believe that by mixing all these ingredients together they will be
able to manufacture the wished-for individuality. But they forget that
the _punctum saliens_, the indefinable individual characteristics, can
never be obtained from a compound of this nature. The less there is
known about the life and times of the poet, the less applicable is this
mechanism. When, however, we have merely the works and the name of the
writer, it is almost impossible to detect the individuality, at all
events, for those who put their faith in the mechanism in question; and
particularly when the works are perfect, when they are pieces of popular
poetry. For the best way for these mechanicians to grasp individual
characteristics is by perceiving deviations from the genius of the
people; the aberrations and hidden allusions: and the fewer
discrepancies to be found in a poem the fainter will be the traces of
the individual poet who composed it.

All those deviations, everything dull and below the ordinary standard
which scholars think they perceive in the Homeric poems, were attributed
to tradition, which thus became the scapegoat. What was left of Homer's
own individual work? Nothing but a series of beautiful and prominent
passages chosen in accordance with subjective taste. The sum total of
aesthetic singularity which every individual scholar perceived with his
own artistic gifts, he now called Homer.

This is the central point of the Homeric errors. The name of Homer, from
the very beginning, has no connection either with the conception of
aesthetic perfection or yet with the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_. Homer as
the composer of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ is not a historical
tradition, but an _aesthetic judgment_.

The only path which leads back beyond the time of Pisistratus and helps
us to elucidate the meaning of the name Homer, takes its way on the one
hand through the reports which have reached us concerning Homer's
birthplace: from which we see that, although his name is always
associated with heroic epic poems, he is on the other hand no more
referred to as the composer of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ than as the
author of the _Thebais_ or any other cyclical epic. On the other hand,
again, an old tradition

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with On the Future of our Educational Institutions

Page 1
M.
Page 3
When ye shall go forth to battle in your full panoply, who among you will not rejoice in looking back upon the herald who rallied you? INTRODUCTION.
Page 6
Albeit, between those who take everything for granted and these anchorites, there stand the _fighters_--that is to say, those who still have hope, and as the noblest and sublimest example of this class, we recognise Schiller as he is described by Goethe in his "Epilogue to the Bell.
Page 15
You will find a number of benches on the spot: we shall not disturb you; we shall sit quite still and shall not utter a word: but it is now past seven o'clock and we _must_ go there at once.
Page 19
What? Are you too proud to be a teacher? Do you despise the thronging multitude of learners? Do you speak contemptuously of the teacher's calling? And, aping my mode of life, would you fain live in solitary seclusion, hostilely isolated from that multitude? Do you suppose that you can reach at one bound what I ultimately had to win for myself only after long and determined struggles, in order even to be able to live like a philosopher? And do you not fear that solitude will wreak its vengeance upon you? Just try living the life of a hermit of culture.
Page 21
Elsewhere the State, in its turn, strives here and there for its own preservation, after the greatest possible expansion of education, because it always feels strong enough to bring the most determined emancipation, resulting from culture, under its yoke, and readily approves.
Page 23
In all matters of a general and serious nature, and above all, in regard to the highest philosophical problems, we have now already reached a point at which the scientific man, as such, is no longer allowed to speak.
Page 25
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 short in practice.
Page 31
To educate men to earnest and inexorable habits and views, in this respect, should be the highest aim of all mental training, whereas the general _laisser aller_ of the 'fine personality' can be nothing else than the hall-mark of barbarism.
Page 33
'Formal education,' however, which is supposed to be achieved by this method of teaching German, has been shown to be wholly at the pleasure of the 'free personality,' which is as good as saying that it is barbarism and anarchy.
Page 36
For the public school boy of to-day, the Hellenes as Hellenes are dead: yes, he gets some enjoyment out of Homer, but a novel by Spielhagen interests him much more: yes, he swallows Greek tragedy and comedy with a certain relish, but a thoroughly modern drama, like Freitag's 'Journalists,' moves him in quite another fashion.
Page 42
such a teacher originates, how he _becomes_ a teacher of such high status.
Page 47
That, however, may be tolerated, for every being must perish by some means or other; but who is there to guarantee that during all these attempts the statue itself will not break in pieces! The philologists are being crushed by the Greeks--perhaps we can put up with this--but antiquity itself threatens to be crushed by these philologists! Think that over, you easy-going young man; and turn back, lest you too should not be an iconoclast!'" "Indeed," said the philosopher, laughing, "there are many philologists who have turned back as you so much desire, and I notice a great contrast with my own youthful experience.
Page 49
they go when antiquity peremptorily orders them to withdraw? Must they not be sacrificed to those powers of the present who, day after day, call out to them from the never-ending columns of the press 'We are culture! We are education! We are at the zenith! We are the apexes of the pyramids! We are the aims of universal history!'--when they hear the seductive promises, when the shameful signs of non-culture, the plebeian publicity of the so-called 'interests of culture' are extolled for their benefit in magazines and newspapers as an entirely new and the best possible, full-grown form of culture! Whither shall the poor fellows fly when they feel the presentiment that these promises are not true--where but to the most obtuse, sterile scientificality, that here the shriek of culture may no longer be audible to them? Pursued in this way, must they not end, like the ostrich, by burying their heads in the sand? Is it not a real happiness for them, buried as they are among dialects, etymologies, and conjectures, to lead a life like that of the ants, even though they are miles removed from true culture, if only they can close their ears tightly and be deaf to the voice of the 'elegant' culture of the time.
Page 58
* I must now, ladies and gentlemen, convey to you the impressions experienced by my friend and myself as we eagerly listened to this conversation, which we heard distinctly in our hiding-place.
Page 60
When talking to you I often felt drawn out of myself, as it were, and inspired with your ardour and hopes till I almost forgot myself.
Page 62
obtain the education you demand for them, to what degree do they show that they have been nourished and matured by basking in the sun of national education? And yet they are seen to be possible, they have nevertheless become men whom we must honour: yea, their works themselves justify the form of the development of these noble spirits; they justify even a certain want of education for which we must make allowance owing to their country and the age in which they lived.
Page 63
You have not rendered assistance to a single one of our great geniuses--and now upon that fact you wish to build up the theory that none of them shall ever be helped in future? For each of them, however, up to this very moment, you have always been the 'resistance of the stupid world' that Goethe speaks of in his "Epilogue to the Bell"; towards each of them you acted the part of apathetic dullards or jealous narrow-hearts or malignant egotists.
Page 65
If you take the one, your age will receive you with open arms, you will not find it wanting in honours and decorations: you will form units of an enormous rank and file; and there will be as many people like-minded standing behind you as in front of you.
Page 79
True, this culture is without the erudition of those establishments, but assumes nevertheless the mien of a sovereign; so that, for example, Gutzkow the novelist might be pointed to as the best example of a modern public school boy turned aesthete.