seek to acquire merely by means of a
detailed plan of study--a plan which, corresponding to the more advanced
knowledge of the age, has entirely changed.
Thus the inner purpose of philological teaching has been entirely
altered; it was at one time material teaching, a teaching that taught
how to live, but now it is merely formal.
If it were the task of the philologist to impart formal education, it
would be necessary for him to teach walking, dancing, speaking, singing,
acting, or arguing . and the so-called formal teachers did impart their
instruction this way in the second and third centuries. But only the
training of a scientific man is taken into account, which results in
"formal" thinking and writing, and hardly any speaking at all.
If the gymnasium is to train young men for science, people now say there
can be no more preliminary preparation for any particular science, so
comprehensive have all the sciences become. As a consequence teachers
have to train their students generally, that is to say for all the
sciences--for scientificality in other words; and for that classical
studies are necessary! What a wonderful jump! a most despairing
justification! Whatever is, is right, even when it is clearly seen
that the "right" on which it has been based has turned to wrong.
It is accomplishments which are expected from us after a study of the
ancients: formerly, for example, the ability to write and speak. But
what is expected now! Thinking and deduction . but these things are not
learnt _from_ the ancients, but at best _through_ the ancients, by means
of science. Moreover, all historical deduction is very limited and
unsafe, natural science should be preferred.
It is the same with the simplicity of antiquity as it is with the
simplicity of style: it is the highest thing which we recognise and must
imitate; but it is also the last. Let it be remembered that the classic
prose of the Greeks is also a late result.
What a mockery of the study of the "humanities" lies in the fact that
they were also called "belles lettres" (bellas litteras)!
Wolf's reasons why the Egyptians, Hebrews, Persians, and other
Oriental nations were not to be set on the same plane with the Greeks
and Romans: "The former have either not raised themselves, or have
raised themselves only to a slight extent, above that type of culture
which should be called a mere civilisation and bourgeois acquirement, as
opposed to the higher and true culture of the mind." He then explains
that this culture is spiritual and literary: "In a well-organised nation
this may be
" It must be freely admitted that philology is to some extent borrowed from several other sciences, and is mixed together like a magic potion from the most outlandish liquors, ores, and bones.Page 1
the estimation of philology in public opinion depends upon the weight of the personalities of the philologists! At the present time--that is to say, in a period which has seen men distinguished in almost every department of philology--a general uncertainty of judgment has increased more and more, and likewise a general relaxation of interest and participation in philological problems.Page 2
Schiller upbraided the philologists with having scattered Homer's laurel crown to the winds.Page 3
But if the centre of a scientific question is rightly seen to be where the swelling tide of new views has risen up, i.Page 4
Friedrich August Wolf has exactly indicated the spot where Greek antiquity dropped the question.Page 5
Homer had now become of small consequence.Page 7
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.Page 8
This is the reaction, or, if you will, the superstition, which followed upon the most momentous discovery of historico-philological science, the discovery and appreciation of the _soul of the people_.Page 9
What was left of Homer's own individual work? Nothing but a series of beautiful and prominent passages chosen in accordance with subjective taste.Page 11
So Homer, the poet of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, is an aesthetic judgment.Page 12
As many pictures as possible are crowded on one canvas; but the man who placed them there was indifferent as to whether the grouping of the collected pictures was invariably suitable and rhythmically beautiful.Page 13
Up to this point, gentlemen, I think I have been able to put before you the fundamental philosophical and aesthetic characteristics of the problem of the personality of Homer, keeping all minor details rigorously at a distance, on the supposition that the primary form of this widespread and honeycombed mountain known as the Homeric question can be most clearly observed by looking down at it from a far-off height.Page 14
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 lecture.Page 15