Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 7

to have become active; the happiest people,
in the happiest period of its existence, in the highest activity of
fantasy and formative power, was said to have created those immeasurable
poems. In this universality there is something almost intoxicating in
the thought of a popular poem: we feel, with artistic pleasure, the
broad, overpowering liberation of a popular gift, and we delight in this
natural phenomenon as we do in an uncontrollable cataract. But as soon
as we examine this thought at close quarters, we involuntarily put a
poetic _mass of people_ in the place of the poetising _soul of the
people_: a long row of popular poets in whom individuality has no
meaning, and in whom the tumultuous movement of a people's soul, the
intuitive strength of a people's eye, and the unabated profusion of a
people's fantasy, were once powerful: a row of original geniuses,
attached to a time, to a poetic genus, to a subject-matter.

Such a conception justly made people suspicious. Could it be possible
that that same Nature who so sparingly distributed her rarest and most
precious production--genius--should suddenly take the notion of
lavishing her gifts in one sole direction? And here the thorny question
again made its appearance: Could we not get along with one genius only,
and explain the present existence of that unattainable excellence? And
now eyes were keenly on the lookout for whatever that excellence and
singularity might consist of. Impossible for it to be in the
construction of the complete works, said one party, for this is far from
faultless; but doubtless to be found in single songs: in the single
pieces above all; not in the whole. A second party, on the other hand,
sheltered themselves beneath the authority of Aristotle, who especially
admired Homer's "divine" nature in the choice of his entire subject, and
the manner in which he planned and carried it out. If, however, this
construction was not clearly seen, this fault was due to the way the
poems were handed down to posterity and not to the poet himself--it was
the result of retouchings and interpolations, owing to which the
original setting of the work gradually became obscured. The more the
first school looked for inequalities, contradictions, perplexities, the
more energetically did the other school brush aside what in their
opinion obscured the original plan, in order, if possible, that nothing
might be left remaining but the actual words of the original epic
itself. The second school of thought of course held fast by the
conception of an epoch-making genius as the composer of the great works.
The first school, on the other

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Text Comparison with Thoughts out of Season, Part I David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer - Richard Wagner in Bayreuth.

Page 6
While this was going on in Europe, the originator of the merry game was quietly sitting upon his island smiling broadly at the excitable foreigners across the Channel, fishing as much as he could out of the water he himself had so cleverly disturbed, and thus in every way reaping the benefit from the mighty fight for the apple of Eros which he himself had thrown amongst them.
Page 23
All round him, he sees only needs and views similar to his own; wherever he goes, he finds himself embraced by a ring of tacit conventions concerning almost everything, but more especially matters of religion and art.
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all through one is much jolted" (p.
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"But this is only effected for some fleeting moments; it happens and counts only in the realms of phantasy; as soon as we return to rude reality, and the cramping confines of actual life, we are again on all sides assailed by the old cares,"--thus our Master sighs.
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In order, however, to adduce the most striking instance of this dissolute vulgarity of sentiment, let it suffice, here, to observe that Strauss knows no other means of accounting for the terribly serious negative instinct and the movement of ascetic sanctification which characterised the first century of the Christian era, than by supposing the existence of a previous period of surfeit in the matter of all kinds of sexual indulgence, which of itself brought about a state of revulsion and disgust.
Page 52
To such a man, the ground seems strewn with ashes, and all stars are obscured; while every withered tree and field laid waste seems to cry to him: Barren! Forsaken! Springtime is no longer possible here! He must feel as young Goethe felt when he first peered into the melancholy atheistic twilight of the _Système de la Nature_; to him this book seemed so grey, so Cimmerian and deadly, that he could only endure its presence with difficulty, and shuddered at it as one shudders at a spectre.
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Page 63
" The spirit of such eulogies, as the above clearly shows, is not quite so subtle in regard to judging of what an author is able to do as in regard to what he wishes.
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It will be remembered that he was so shamefully insulted there, owing to his quaint figure and lack of dorsal convexity, that a priest at last had to harangue the people on his behalf as follows: "My brethren, rather pity this poor stranger, and present thank-offerings unto the gods, that ye are blessed with such attractive gibbosities.
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When love and justice have become powerful in one department of life,.
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As in a dream so in art, the valuation of things only holds good while we are under its spell.
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Or, worse still, art is taken more or less seriously, and then it is itself expected to provoke a kind of hunger and craving, and to fulfil its mission.
Page 103
"Ye must go through my mysteries," he cries to them; "ye need to be purified and shaken by them.
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He may even feel like a victim of chronic insomnia, and fancy himself obliged to bring his clear, sleepless, and conscious life into touch with somnambulists and ghostly well-intentioned creatures.
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is a luxury; he saw this, and understood that it must stand or fall with the luxurious society of which it forms but a part.
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question by writing about it; but this only led to fresh confusion and more uproar,--for a musician who writes and thinks was, at that time, a thing unknown.
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And, as he also turned upon the world the eyes of one reconciled, he was more filled with rage and disgust than with sorrow, and more prone to renounce the love of power than to shrink.
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He deeply feels the need of establishing a _traditional style_ for his art, by means of which his work may continue to live from one age to another in a pure form, until it reaches that _future_ which its creator ordained for it.
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But even admitting that while he wrote such passages he was addressing friends, and that the shadow of his enemies had been removed for a while, all the friends and enemies that Wagner, as a man of letters, has, possess one factor in common, which differentiates them fundamentally from the "people" for whom he worked as an artist.
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And at the sight of his magnificent development and bloom, the loathing leaves Wotan's soul, and he follows the hero's history with the eye of fatherly love and anxiety.