Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 14

this statement was,
unfortunately, not justified.--TR.

And there is a second fact which I should like to recall to the memory
of those friends of antiquity who turn their dissatisfied backs on
classical philology. You honour the immortal masterpieces of the
Hellenic mind in poetry and sculpture, and think yourselves so much more
fortunate than preceding generations, which had to do without them; but
you must not forget that this whole fairyland once lay buried under
mountains of prejudice, and that the blood and sweat and arduous labour
of innumerable followers of our science were all necessary to lift up
that world from the chasm into which it had sunk. We grant that
philology is not the creator of this world, not the composer of that
immortal music; but is it not a merit, and a great merit, to be a mere
virtuoso, and let the world for the first time hear that music which lay
so long in obscurity, despised and undecipherable? Who was Homer
previously to Wolf's brilliant investigations? A good old man, known at
best as a "natural genius," at all events the child of a barbaric age,
replete with faults against good taste and good morals. Let us hear how
a learned man of the first rank writes about Homer even so late as 1783:
"Where does the good man live? Why did he remain so long incognito?
Apropos, can't you get me a silhouette of him?"

We demand _thanks_--not in our own name, for we are but atoms--but in
the name of philology itself, which is indeed neither a Muse nor a
Grace, but a messenger of the gods: and just as the Muses descended upon
the dull and tormented Boeotian peasants, so Philology comes into a
world full of gloomy colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most
incurable woes; and speaks to men comfortingly of the beautiful and
godlike figure of a distant, rosy, and happy fairyland.

It is time to close; yet before I do so a few words of a personal
character must be added, justified, I hope, by the occasion of this

It is but right that a philologist should describe his end and the means
to it in the short formula of a confession of faith; and let this be
done in the saying of Seneca which I thus reverse--

"Philosophia facta est quae philologia fuit."

By this I wish to signify that all philological activities should be
enclosed and surrounded by a philosophical view of things, in which
everything individual and isolated is evaporated as something
detestable, and in which

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Text Comparison with The Birth of Tragedy; or, Hellenism and Pessimism

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Page 96
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