Homer and Classical Philology

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 9

genius set upon their empty heads. It was imagined
that new shells were forming round a small kernel, so to speak, and that
those pieces of popular poetry originated like avalanches, in the drift
and flow of tradition. They were, however, ready to consider that kernel
as being of the smallest possible dimensions, so that they might
occasionally get rid of it altogether without losing anything of the
mass of the avalanche. According to this view, the text itself and the
stories built round it are one and the same thing.

[1] Of course Nietzsche saw afterwards that this was not so.--TR.

Now, however, such a contrast between popular poetry and individual
poetry does not exist at all; on the contrary, all poetry, and of course
popular poetry also, requires an intermediary individuality. This
much-abused contrast, therefore, is necessary only when the term
_individual poem_ is understood to mean a poem which has not grown out
of the soil of popular feeling, but which has been composed by a
non-popular poet in a non-popular atmosphere--something which has come
to maturity in the study of a learned man, for example.

With the superstition which presupposes poetising masses is connected
another: that popular poetry is limited to one particular period of a
people's history and afterwards dies out--which indeed follows as a
consequence of the first superstition I have mentioned. According to
this school, in the place of the gradually decaying popular poetry we
have artistic poetry, the work of individual minds, not of masses of
people. But the same powers which were once active are still so; and the
form in which they act has remained exactly the same. The great poet of
a literary period is still a popular poet in no narrower sense than the
popular poet of an illiterate age. The difference between them is not in
the way they originate, but it is their diffusion and propagation, in
short, _tradition_. This tradition is exposed to eternal danger without
the help of handwriting, and runs the risk of including in the poems the
remains of those individualities through whose oral tradition they were
handed down.

If we apply all these principles to the Homeric poems, it follows that
we gain nothing with our theory of the poetising soul of the people, and
that we are always referred back to the poetical individual. We are thus
confronted with the task of distinguishing that which can have
originated only in a single poetical mind from that which is, so to
speak, swept up by the tide of oral tradition, and which is a highly
important constituent part of

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

Page 2
He was sentenced to death; but, taking flight, according to the evidence of the documents, he was ultimately befriended by a certain Earl of Brühl, who gave him a small post in an obscure little provincial town.
Page 3
was laid up with concussion of the brain, and, after a lingering illness, which lasted eleven months, he died on the 30th of July 1849.
Page 12
But even the portion it represents was originally designed upon a much larger scale than the present one; the reason probably being, that Nietzsche desired only to be of service to Wagner.
Page 13
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bravest era? And the prodigious phenomenon of the Dionysian? And that which was born thereof, tragedy?--And again: that of which tragedy died, the Socratism of morality, the dialectics, contentedness and cheerfulness of the theoretical man--indeed? might not this very Socratism be a sign of decline, of weariness, of disease, of anarchically disintegrating instincts? And the "Hellenic cheerfulness" of the later Hellenism merely a glowing sunset? The Epicurean will _counter_ to pessimism merely a precaution of the sufferer? And science itself, our science--ay, viewed as a symptom of life, what really signifies all science? Whither, worse still, _whence_--all science? Well? Is scientism perhaps only fear and evasion of pessimism? A subtle defence against--_truth!_ Morally speaking, something like falsehood and cowardice? And, unmorally speaking, an artifice? O Socrates, Socrates, was this perhaps _thy_ secret? Oh mysterious ironist, was this perhaps thine--irony?.
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And what then, physiologically speaking, is the meaning of that madness, out of which comic as well as tragic art has grown, the Dionysian madness? What? perhaps madness is not necessarily the symptom of degeneration, of decline, of belated culture? Perhaps there are--a question for alienists--neuroses of _health_? of folk-youth and youthfulness? What does that synthesis of god and goat in the Satyr point to? What self-experience what "stress," made the Greek think of the Dionysian reveller and primitive man as a satyr? And as regards the origin of the tragic chorus: perhaps there were endemic ecstasies in the eras when the Greek body bloomed and the Greek soul brimmed over with life? Visions and hallucinations, which took hold of entire communities, entire cult-assemblies? What if the Greeks in the very wealth of their youth had the will _to be_ tragic and were pessimists? What if it was madness itself, to use a word of Plato's, which brought the _greatest_ blessings upon Hellas? And what if, on the other hand and conversely, at the very time of their dissolution and weakness, the Greeks became always more optimistic, more superficial, more histrionic, also more ardent for logic and the logicising of the world,--consequently at the same time more "cheerful" and more "scientific"? Ay, despite all "modern ideas" and prejudices of the democratic taste, may not the triumph of _optimism,_ the _common sense_ that has gained the upper hand, the practical and theoretical _utilitarianism,_ like democracy itself, with which it is synchronous--be symptomatic of declining vigour, of approaching age, of physiological weariness? And _not_ at all--pessimism? Was Epicurus an optimist--because a _sufferer_?.
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before an old belief, before _the_ old God.
Page 25
Vitus's dancers we again perceive the Bacchic choruses of the Greeks, with their previous history in Asia Minor, as far back as Babylon and the orgiastic Sacæa.
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[2] Cf.
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which is so explicit here speaks against Schlegel: the chorus as such, without the stage,--the primitive form of tragedy,--and the chorus of ideal spectators do not harmonise.
Page 50
The _chorus_ of Greek tragedy, the symbol of the mass of the people moved by Dionysian excitement, is thus fully explained by our conception of it as here set forth.
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constant quantity.
Page 82
All possible efforts, excitements and manifestations of will, all that goes on in the heart of man and that reason includes in the wide, negative concept of feeling, may be expressed by the infinite number of possible melodies, but always in the universality of mere form, without the material, always according to the thing-in-itself, not the phenomenon,--of which they reproduce the very soul and essence as it were, without the body.
Page 83
_--But that in general a relation is possible between a composition and a perceptible representation rests, as we have said, upon the fact that both are simply different expressions of the same inner being of the world.
Page 93
I call to mind first of all the origin of the _stilo rappresentativo_ and the recitative.
Page 96
The postulate of the opera is a false belief concerning the artistic process, in fact, the idyllic belief that every sentient man is an artist.
Page 100
It may be weighed some day before an impartial judge, in what time and in what men the German spirit has thus far striven most resolutely to learn of the Greeks: and if we confidently assume that this unique praise must be accorded to the noblest intellectual efforts of Goethe, Schiller, and Winkelmann, it will certainly have to be added that since their time, and subsequently to the more immediate influences of these efforts, the endeavour to attain to culture and to the Greeks by this path has in an incomprehensible manner grown feebler and feebler.
Page 117
The Dionysian, with its primitive joy experienced in pain itself, is the common source of music and tragic myth.
Page 119
Both originate in an ultra Apollonian sphere of art; both transfigure a region in the delightful accords of which all dissonance, just like the terrible picture of the world, dies charmingly away; both play with the sting of displeasure, trusting to their most potent magic; both justify thereby the existence even of the "worst world.
Page 121
Naught that is, is to be deducted, naught is dispensable; the phases of existence rejected by the Christians and other nihilists are even of an infinitely higher order in the hierarchy of values than that which the instinct.