The Birth of Tragedy; or, Hellenism and Pessimism

By Friedrich Nietzsche

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...(Images generously made available by the Hathi Trust.)





FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

THE

BIRTH OF TRAGEDY

OR

_HELLENISM AND PESSIMISM_

TRANSLATED BY

WM. A....

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...quite
the old style of comfortable country parson, who thought it no sin to
go hunting. He...

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...a
strong sense of family unity, which manifested itself both in their
splendid readiness to help one...

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...was laid up
with concussion of the brain, and, after a lingering illness, which
lasted eleven months,...

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...the limitation imposed upon him by his years. His talents came very
suddenly to the fore,...

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...excellent teachers--scholars
that would have adorned the chairs of any University--had already
afforded the best of preparatory...

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...that
had befallen him during his one year of student life in Bonn had
deeply depressed him....

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...inscribed
the two great names upon their banner. Whether Schopenhauer and Wagner
ever really corresponded to the...

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...All these plans were, however, suddenly frustrated
owing to his premature call to the University of...

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...May 1869, my brother delivered his inaugural address
at Bale University, and it is said to...

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...real
Nietzschean feature--of this versatile creature, was the fact that
no eternal strife resulted from the juxtaposition...

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...deep meaning of this book with greater precision
and clearness. A very good elucidation of its...

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...that music is a means and drama an end.

"A desire for tragic myth (for religion...

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... ...

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...bravest era?
And the prodigious phenomenon of the Dionysian? And that which was
born thereof, tragedy?--And again:...

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...more mature, and a hundred times more fastidious, but which
has by no means grown colder...

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...eloquently of a
psychological question so difficult as the origin of tragedy among the
Greeks. A fundamental...

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...is the meaning of--morality?...



5.


Already in the foreword to Richard Wagner, art---and _not_ morality--is
set down as...

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..."better" life. The hatred of the "world," the
curse on the affections, the fear of beauty...

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..._Hellenic problem,_ as it had opened
up before me, by the admixture of the most modern...

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...before an old
belief, before _the_ old God.... What? is not your pessimist book
itself a piece...

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...who beckoneth with his pinions, one ready for flight,
beckoning unto all...

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...if they can recognise in art no more than a merry
diversion, a readily dispensable court-jester...

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...Werk,
dass er sein Träumen deut' und merk'.
Glaubt...

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...god of
all shaping energies, is also the soothsaying god. He, who (as the
etymology of the...

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...all primitive men and peoples
tell us, or by the powerful approach of spring penetrating all...

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...of
all nature here reveals itself in the tremors of drunkenness to the
highest gratification of the...

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...unerring plastic
power of their eyes, as also their manifest and sincere delight in
colours, we can...

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...power manifested itself, we shall
now recognise in the Dionysian orgies of the Greeks, as compared...

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...all
the greater the more it was mingled with the shuddering suspicion that
all this was in...

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...beyond your reach: not to be
born, not to _be_, to be _nothing._ The second best...

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...is not unworthy of the greatest hero to long for a
continuation of life, ay, even...

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...When we realise to ourselves the dreamer, as, in the midst
of the illusion of the...

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...this appearance then arises, like an ambrosial vapour, a
visionlike new world of appearances, of which...

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...in joy, sorrow, and knowledge, even to
the transpiercing shriek, became audible: let us ask ourselves...

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...knowledge of the Dionyso-Apollonian genius and his
art-work, or at least an anticipatory understanding of the...

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...Add to this the most important phenomenon of all ancient
lyric poetry, _the union,_ regarded everywhere...

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...Achilles is to him but a picture, the angry
expression of which he enjoys with the...

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...of the singer; often as an unbound and satisfied desire
(joy), but still more often as...

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...entire comedy of art is not at all performed, say, for our
betterment and culture, and...

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...in the naïve estimation of
the people, it is regarded as by far the more important...

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...a phenomenon which is certainly worth
explaining, is quite in keeping with this æsthetics. Indeed, even...

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...lyric poetry is dependent
on the spirit of music just as music itself in its absolute...

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...blasphemy to speak here of the anticipation of a "constitutional
representation of the people," from which...

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...which is so explicit here speaks against Schlegel:
the chorus as such, without the stage,--the primitive...

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...from the very first with a painful portrayal
of reality. Yet it is, not an arbitrary...

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...these states. In this sense the Dionysian man may be
said to resemble Hamlet: both have...

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...repeats
itself, as the herald of wisdom speaking from the very depths of
nature, as the emblem...

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...of public
and chorus: for all was but one great sublime chorus of dancing and
singing satyrs,...

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...continued life and action. Why is it that Homer
sketches much more vividly[7] than all the...

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...in an Apollonian
world of pictures. The choric parts, therefore, with which tragedy is
interlaced, are in...

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...poet, dancer, and
visionary in one person.

Agreeably to this view, and agreeably to tradition, _Dionysus,_ the
proper...

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...eternal sea, A weaving, flowing, Life, all glowing.
_Faust,_ trans. of Bayard Taylor.--TR.



9.


Whatever rises to the...

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...time
a religious thinker, wishes to tell us: as poet, he shows us first of
all a...

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...especially Dionysian wisdom, is
an unnatural abomination, and that whoever, through his knowledge,
plunges nature into an...

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...be sure, he had
to atone by eternal suffering. The splendid "can-ing" of the great
genius, bought...

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...a medley of different worlds, for instance, a Divine
and a human world, each of which...

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... Das ist deine Welt! Das heisst eine Welt![14]


[10]

"Here sit...

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...whom wonderful myths tell that as a boy he was
dismembered by the Titans and has...

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...powerful fist[16] of
the Dionysian artist forces them into the service of the new deity.
Dionysian truth...

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...though thou
couldst covetously plunder all the gardens of music--thou didst only
realise a counterfeit, masked music....

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...to say aught exhaustive on
the subject, to characterise what Euripides has in common with Menander
and...

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...had become
as it were the chorus-master; only that in this case the chorus of
spectators had...

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...constant quantity. Why should the artist be under obligations to
accommodate himself to a power whose...

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...of
the public.

Of these two, spectators the one is--Euripides himself, Euripides _as
thinker,_ not as poet. It...

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...own astonishment at the _chorus_ and
the _tragic hero_ of that type of tragedy, neither of...

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...by his recantation? It is of no avail: the most magnificent
temple lies in ruins. What...

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...And so the Euripidean drama is a thing
both cool and fiery, equally capable of freezing...

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...not for action: and whatever
was not arranged for pathos was regarded as objectionable. But what
interferes...

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...of the universe, the νοῡς, was still excluded
from artistic activity, things were all mixed together...

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...and mental powers. It is in
this tone, half indignantly and half contemptuously, that Aristophanic
comedy is...

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...he enters
single-handed into a world, of which, if we reverently touched the hem,
we should count...

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...of his instinct-disintegrating influence.
In view of this indissoluble conflict, when he had at last been...

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...itself to him who
"hath but little wit"; consequently not to the philosopher: a twofold
reason why...

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...the prototype of the _novel_ which must be designated as
the infinitely evolved Æsopian fable, in...

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...the chorus. This alteration of the position of
the chorus, which Sophocles at any rate recommended...

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...a realm of wisdom from which the logician is banished?
Perhaps art is even a necessary...

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...Achilles.

In order to assign also to Socrates the dignity of such a leading
position, it will...

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...it must change into _art; which is really the end, to be attained
by this mechanism_.

If...

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...to knowledge and
perception the power of a universal medicine, and sees in error and
evil. To...

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...as antagonistic to art, and must especially have
an inward detestation of Dionyso-tragic art, as was...

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...Dionysus, and recognise in them the living and conspicuous
representatives of _two_ worlds of art which...

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...to
this point, accredits with an unsurpassable clearness and perspicuity
of exposition, expresses himself most copiously on...

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...makes every picture, and indeed every scene of real
life and of the world, at once...

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...phenomenon: all
specially imitative music does this."

We have therefore, according to the doctrine of Schopenhauer, an
immediate...

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...in life;
pain is in a manner surreptitiously obliterated from the features of
nature. In Dionysian art...

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...that the
previously mentioned lesson of Hamlet is to be gathered not from his
words, but from...

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...re-birth of tragedy: for which form of culture we should have to
use the symbol _of...

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...than the phenomenon itself:
through which poverty it still further reduces even the phenomenon for
our consciousness,...

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...however, manifests itself most clearly in
the _dénouements_ of the new dramas. In the Old Tragedy...

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...on. One is chained by the Socratic love of
knowledge and the vain hope of being...

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...comprehensible,
nay even pardonable.

Now, we must not hide from ourselves what is concealed in the heart
of...

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...in the intelligibility and solvability of
all the riddles of the world, and treated space, time,...

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...He no longer wants to have anything
entire, with all the natural cruelty of things, so...

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...half of the
music. The specific danger which now threatens him is that in some
unguarded moment...

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...of this idyllically or heroically
good creature, who in every action follows at the same time...

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...he
changes his musical taste into appreciation of the understandable
word-and-tone-rhetoric of the passions in the _stilo...

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...to be led up to the gates of paradise: while
from this point he went on...

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...of the Dionysian and Apollonian in such
an amalgamation of styles as I have exhibited in...

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...them with incomprehensible life, and in so doing display
activities which are not to be judged...

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...learn implicitly of one people--the
Greeks, of whom to learn at all is itself a high...

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...method and with the supercilious air of our present
cultured historiography. When, therefore, the intrinsic efficiency
of...

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...Schopenhauer was such a Dürerian
knight: he was destitute of all hope, but he sought the...

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...which, in order
to be at all endured with its longing for nothingness, requires the
rare ecstatic...

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...sublime symbol,
namely the myth between the universal authority of its music and the
receptive Dionysian hearer,...

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...the veins of the world, would he not
collapse all at once? Could he endure, in...

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...had been merely formed and moulded
therein as out of some most delicate and impressible material.

Thus...

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...word,
from within outwards, obvious to us.

Of the process just set forth, however, it could still...

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...it is,--the assiduous veiling
during the performance of tragedy of the intrinsically Dionysian
effect: which, however, is...

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...collapse of the Apollonian apex,
if not from the _Dionysian_ spell, which, though apparently stimulating
the Apollonian...

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...The pathological discharge, the catharsis of Aristotle, which
philologists are at a loss whether to include...

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...himself to similar emotions, as, in
patriotic or warlike moments, before the tribune of parliament, or
at...

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...the _wonder_ represented on the
stage: whether he feels his historical sense, which insists on strict
psychological...

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...culture which cannot be appeased by all it devours,
and in contact with which the most...

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...of myth. Until then the Greeks had been involuntarily
compelled immediately to associate all experiences with...

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...foreign
element after a terrible struggle; but must ordinarily consume itself
in a languishing and stunted condition...

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...symbolic picture passed before
us, the profoundest significance of which we almost believed we had
divined, and...

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...is the hour-hand of your
clock of existence!"

And myth has displayed this life, in order thereby...

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...hearing.
That striving for the infinite, the pinion-flapping of longing,
accompanying the highest delight in the clearly-perceived...

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...service of malignant dwarfs. Ye
understand my allusion--as ye will also, in conclusion, understand my
hopes.



25.


Music and...

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...in this frame of
mind, however, an aged Athenian, looking up to him with the sublime
eye...

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...antithesis of 'Dionysian _versus_
Apollonian'--translated into metaphysics; history itself as the
evolution of this 'idea'; the antithesis...

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...of decadence sanctions, yea durst _sanction._
To comprehend this _courage_ is needed, and, as a condition...

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...handwriting._]



4.


"In this book speaks a prodigious hope. In fine, I see no reason
whatever for taking...