Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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poem and its tradition was prepared,
according to which these discrepancies were not due to Homer, but
to those who committed his words to writing and those who sang them. It
was believed that Homer's poem was passed from one generation to another
_viva voce_, and faults were attributed to the improvising and at times
forgetful bards. At a certain given date, about the time of Pisistratus,
the poems which had been repeated orally were said to have been
collected in manuscript form; but the scribes, it is added, allowed
themselves to take some liberties with the text by transposing some
lines and adding extraneous matter here and there. This entire
hypothesis is the most important in the domain of literary studies that
antiquity has exhibited; and the acknowledgment of the dissemination of
the Homeric poems by word of mouth, as opposed to the habits of a
book-learned age, shows in particular a depth of ancient sagacity worthy
of our admiration. From those times until the generation that produced
Friedrich August Wolf we must take a jump over a long historical vacuum;
but in our own age we find the argument left just as it was at the time
when the power of controversy departed from antiquity, and it is a
matter of indifference to us that Wolf accepted as certain tradition
what antiquity itself had set up only as a hypothesis. It may be
remarked as most characteristic of this hypothesis that, in the
strictest sense, the personality of Homer is treated seriously; that a
certain standard of inner harmony is everywhere presupposed in the
manifestations of the personality; and that, with these two excellent
auxiliary hypotheses, whatever is seen to be below this standard and
opposed to this inner harmony is at once swept aside as un-Homeric. But
even this distinguishing characteristic, in place of wishing to
recognise the supernatural existence of a tangible personality, ascends
likewise through all the stages that lead to that zenith, with
ever-increasing energy and clearness. Individuality is ever more
strongly felt and accentuated; the psychological possibility of a
_single_ Homer is ever more forcibly demanded. If we descend backwards
from this zenith, step by step, we find a guide to the understanding of
the Homeric problem in the person of Aristotle. Homer was for him the
flawless and untiring artist who knew his end and the means to attain
it; but there is still a trace of infantile criticism to be found in
Aristotle--i.e., in the naive concession he made to the public opinion
that considered Homer as the author of the original of all comic epics,
the _Margites_. If

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Text Comparison with We Philologists Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Volume 8

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Even at this early.
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period of his life Nietzsche was convinced that Christianity was the real danger to culture; and not merely modern Christianity, but also the Alexandrian culture, the last gasp of Greek antiquity, which had helped to bring Christianity about.
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But how otherwise are philologists to be produced? The imitation of antiquity: is not this a principle which has been refuted by this time? The flight from actuality to the ancients: does not this tend to falsify our conception of antiquity? 5 We are still behindhand in one type of contemplation: to understand how the greatest productions of the intellect have a dreadful and evil background .
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--Thus the philologist himself is not the aim of philology.
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--[1] 15 The attitude of the philologist towards antiquity is apologetic, or else dictated by the view that what our own age values can likewise be found in antiquity.
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Otherwise he is simply a sheep.
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In all those places where European culture has found its way, people have accepted secondary schools based upon a foundation of Latin and Greek as the first and highest means of instruction.
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6.
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Let it be remembered that the classic prose of the Greeks is also a late result.
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A great superficiality in the conception of antiquity--little else than an appreciation of its formal accomplishments and its knowledge--must thereby have been brought about.
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however, that Winckelmann was lacking in the more common talent of philological criticism, or else he could not use it properly: "A rare mixture of a cool head and a minute and restless solicitude for hundreds of things which, insignificant in themselves, were combined in his case with a fire that swallowed up those little things, and with a gift of divination which is a vexation and an annoyance to the uninitiated.
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this is why the State takes an interest in them.
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Individuality raised to the highest power through the [Greek: polis].
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Thus the Greeks .
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If any one met with a misfortune, they would say of him: "Ah! no wonder! he was too frivolous and too well off.
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they are frequently hallucinations.
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It is the same all round, however: where are the historians who can survey things and events without being humbugged by stupid theories? I know of only one, Burckhardt.
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168 When we look from the character and culture of the Catholic Middle Ages back to the Greeks, we see them resplendent indeed in the rays of higher humanity; for, if we have anything to reproach these Greeks with, we must reproach the Middle Ages with it also to a much greater extent.
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As regards culture, we have hitherto been acquainted with only one complete form of it, _i.
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[6] Otto Jahn (1813-69), who is probably best remembered in philological circles by his edition of Juvenal.