require to be too consistent, and
consistency is the last thing Greeks would understand.
Almost all the Greek divinities are accumulations of divinities . we
find one layer over another, soon to be hidden and smoothed down by yet
a third, and so on. It scarcely seems to me to be possible to pick these
various divinities to pieces in a scientific manner, for no good method
of doing so can be recommended: even the poor conclusion by analogy is
in this instance a very good conclusion.
At what a distance must one be from the Greeks to ascribe to them such a
stupidly narrow autochthony as does Ottfried Muller! How Christian
it is to assume, with Welcker, that the Greeks were originally
monotheistic! How philologists torment themselves by investigating the
question whether Homer actually wrote, without being able to grasp the
far higher tenet that Greek art long exhibited an inward enmity against
writing, and did not wish to be read at all.
In the religious cultus an earlier degree of culture comes to light a
remnant of former times. The ages that celebrate it are not those which
invent it, the contrary is often the case. There are many contrasts to
be found here. The Greek cultus takes us back to a pre-Homeric
disposition and culture. It is almost the oldest that we know of the
Greeks--older than their mythology, which their poets have considerably
remoulded, so far as we know it--Can this cult really be called Greek? I
doubt it: they are finishers, not inventors. They _preserve_ by means of
this beautiful completion and adornment.
It is exceedingly doubtful whether we should draw any conclusion in
regard to nationality and relationship with other nations from
languages. A victorious language is nothing but a frequent (and not
always regular) indication of a successful campaign. Where could there
have been autochthonous peoples! It shows a very hazy conception of
things to talk about Greeks who never lived in Greece. That which is
really Greek is much less the result of natural aptitude than of adapted
institutions, and also of an acquired language.
To live on mountains, to travel a great deal, and to move quickly from
one place to another . in these ways we can now begin to compare
ourselves with the Greek gods. We know the past, too, and we almost know
the future. What would a Greek say, if only he could see us!
The gods make men still more evil; this is the nature of man. If we do
not like a man, we wish that he may become worse than he
In this condition I, and a friend about my own age, spent a year at the University of Bonn on the Rhine,--it was a year which, in its complete lack of plans and projects for the future, seems almost like a dream to me now--a dream framed, as it were, by two periods of growth.Page 12
This was the place which had become sacred to us through the dreams and plans we had had in common, and to which we intended to withdraw, later in the evening,--nay, to which we should be obliged to withdraw, if we wished to close the day in accordance with the law we had imposed on ourselves.Page 15
Thus we stood facing one another in silence, while the sunset dyed the tree-tops a ruddy gold.Page 16
We hurried up to them, and each in our turn cried out: "Forgive us.Page 25
I am too painfully conscious of the disastrous errors and abuses to which you were wont to call my attention; and yet I know that I am far from possessing the requisite strength to meet with success, however valiantly I might struggle to shatter the bulwarks of this would-be culture.Page 29
The historical method may certainly be a considerably easier and more comfortable one for the teacher; it also seems to be compatible with a much lower grade of ability and, in general, with a smaller display of energy and will on his part.Page 37
The splendid practice afforded by translating from one language into another, which so improves and fertilises one's artistic feeling for one's own tongue, is, in the case of German, never conducted with that fitting categorical strictness and dignity which would be above all necessary in dealing with an undisciplined language.Page 43
It is precisely the best teachers--those who, generally speaking, judged by a high standard, are worthy of this honourable name--who are now perhaps the least fitted, in view of the present standing of our public schools, for the education of these unselected youths, huddled together in a confused heap; but who must rather, to a certain extent, keep hidden from them the best they could give: and, on the other hand, by far the larger number of these teachers feel themselves quite at home in these institutions, as their moderate abilities stand in a kind of harmonious relationship to the dullness of their pupils.Page 46
of the magnificent temples! A powerful voice from every nook and cranny should ring in the ears of those who, from the day they begin their connection with the university, roam at will with such self-complacency and shamelessness among the awe-inspiring relics of that noble civilisation: 'Hence, ye uninitiated, who will never be initiated; fly away in silence and shame from these sacred chambers!' But this voice speaks in vain; for one must to some extent be a Greek to understand a Greek curse of excommunication.Page 49
The public schools are certainly the seats of this obesity, if, indeed, they have not degenerated into the abodes of that elegant barbarism which is boasted of as being 'German culture of the present!'" "But," asked the other, "what is to become of that large body of teachers who have not been endowed with a true gift for culture, and who set up as teachers merely to gain a livelihood from the profession, because there is a demand for them, because a superfluity of schools brings with it a superfluity of teachers? Where shall they go when antiquity peremptorily orders them to withdraw? Must they not be sacrificed to those powers of the present who, day after day, call out to them from the never-ending columns of the press 'We are culture! We are education! We are at the zenith! We are the apexes of the pyramids! We are the aims of universal history!'--when they hear the seductive promises, when the shameful signs of non-culture, the plebeian publicity of the so-called 'interests of culture' are extolled for their benefit in magazines and newspapers as an entirely new and the best possible, full-grown form of culture! Whither shall the poor fellows fly when they feel the presentiment that these promises are not true--where but to the most obtuse, sterile scientificality, that here the shriek of culture may no longer be audible to them? Pursued in this way, must they not end, like the ostrich, by burying their heads in the sand? Is it not a real happiness for them, buried as they are among dialects, etymologies, and conjectures, to lead a.Page 50
Indeed, we can discuss this dire necessity only in so far as the modern State is willing to discuss these things with us, and is prepared to follow up its demands by force: which phenomenon certainly makes the same impression upon most people as if they were addressed by the eternal law of things.Page 51
" "Such a comparison," said the philosopher, "would be quite hyperbolical, and would not hobble along on one leg only.Page 60
Self-accusation and annoyance might perhaps cause a few to get angry; but our impression was quite different: the only thing I do not know is how exactly to describe it.Page 64
Who can tell to what these heroic men were destined to attain if only that true German spirit had gathered them together within the protecting walls of a powerful institution?--that spirit which, without the help of some such institution, drags out an isolated, debased, and degraded existence.Page 68
I now see more clearly than ever the necessity for an institution which will enable us to live and mix freely with the few men of true culture, so that we may have them as our leaders and guiding stars.Page 72
From the tone of resignation in which you have just referred to students many would be inclined to think that you had some peculiar experiences which were not at all to your liking; but personally I rather believe that you saw and experienced in such places just what every one else saw and experienced in them, but that you judged what you saw and felt more justly and severely than any one else.Page 77
So it has come about that _philosophy itself_ is banished from the universities: wherewith our first question as to the value of our universities from the standpoint of culture is answered.Page 96
The only path which leads back beyond the time of Pisistratus and helps us to elucidate the meaning of the name Homer, takes its way on the one hand through the reports which have reached us concerning Homer's birthplace: from which we see that, although his name is always associated with heroic epic poems, he is on the other hand no more referred to as the composer of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ than as the author of the _Thebais_ or any other cyclical epic.