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Title: The Birth of Tragedy - or Hellenism and Pessimism
Author: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm
Language: English
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The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche

The First Complete and Authorised English Translation

Edited by Dr Oscar Levy

Volume One








Frederick Nietzsche was born at Röcken near Lützen, in the Prussian
province of Saxony, on the 15th of October 1844, at 10 a.m. The day
happened to be the anniversary of the birth of Frederick-William IV.,
then King of Prussia, and the peal of the local church-bells which was
intended to celebrate this event, was, by a happy coincidence, just
timed to greet my brother on his entrance into the world. In 1841,
at the time when our father was tutor to the Altenburg Princesses,
Theresa of Saxe-Altenburg, Elizabeth, Grand Duchess of Olden-burg, and
Alexandra, Grand Duchess Constantine of Russia, he had had the honour
of being presented to his witty and pious sovereign. The meeting seems
to have impressed both parties very favourably; for, very shortly
after it had taken place, our father received his living at Röcken "by
supreme command." His joy may well be imagined, therefore, when a first
son was born to him on his beloved and august patron's birthday, and
at the christening ceremony he spoke as follows:--"Thou blessed month
of October!--for many years the most decisive events in my life have
occurred within thy thirty-one days, and now I celebrate the greatest
and most glorious of them all by baptising my little boy! O blissful
moment! O exquisite festival! O unspeakably holy duty! In the Lord's
name I bless thee!--With all my heart I utter these words: Bring me
this, my beloved child, that I may consecrate it unto the Lord. My son,
Frederick William, thus shalt thou be named on earth, as a memento of
my royal benefactor on whose birthday thou wast born!"

Our father was thirty-one years of age, and our mother not quite
nineteen, when my brother was born. Our mother, who was the daughter
of a clergyman, was good-looking and healthy, and was one of a very
large family of sons and daughters. Our paternal grandparents, the
Rev. Oehler and his wife, in Pobles, were typically healthy people.
Strength, robustness, lively dispositions, and a cheerful outlook on
life, were among the qualities which every one was pleased to observe
in them. Our grandfather Oehler was a bright, clever man, and quite
the old style of comfortable country parson, who thought it no sin to
go hunting. He scarcely had a day's illness in his life, and would
certainly not have met with his end as early as he did--that is to say,
before his seventieth year--if his careless disregard of all caution,
where his health was concerned, had not led to his catching a severe
and fatal cold. In regard to our grand-mother Oehler, who died in her
eighty-second year, all that can be said is, that if all German women
were possessed of the health she enjoyed, the German nation would excel
all others from the standpoint of vitality. She bore our grandfather
eleven children; gave each of them the breast for nearly the whole of
its first year, and reared them all It is said that the sight of these
eleven children, at ages varying from nineteen years to one month, with
their powerful build, rosy cheeks, beaming eyes, and wealth of curly
locks, provoked the admiration of all visitors. Of course, despite
their extraordinarily good health, the life of this family was not
by any means all sunshine. Each of the children was very spirited,
wilful, and obstinate, and it was therefore no simple matter to keep
them in order. Moreover, though they always showed the utmost respect
and most implicit obedience to their parents--even as middle-aged
men and women--misunderstandings between themselves were of constant
occurrence. Our Oehler grandparents were fairly well-to-do; for our
grandmother hailed from a very old family, who had been extensive
land-owners in the neighbourhood of Zeitz for centuries, and her father
owned the baronial estate of Wehlitz and a magnificent seat near Zeitz
in Pacht. When she married, her father gave her carriages and horses,
a coachman, a cook, and a kitchenmaid, which for the wife of a German
minister was then, and is still, something quite exceptional. As a
result of the wars in the beginning of the nineteenth century, however,
our great-grandfather lost the greater part of his property.

Our father's family was also in fairly comfortable circumstances,
and likewise very large. Our grandfather Dr. Nietzsche (D.D. and
Superintendent) married twice, and had in all twelve children, of whom
three died young. Our grandfather on this side, whom I never knew,
must certainly have been a distinguished, dignified, very learned
and reserved man; his second wife--our beloved grandmother--was an
active-minded, intelligent, and exceptionally good-natured woman.
The whole of our father's family, which I only got to know when they
were very advanced in years, were remarkable for their great power of
self-control, their lively interest in intellectual matters, and a
strong sense of family unity, which manifested itself both in their
splendid readiness to help one another and in their very excellent
relations with each other. Our father was the youngest son, and, thanks
to his uncommonly lovable disposition, together with other gifts, which
only tended to become more marked as he grew older, he was quite the
favourite of the family. Blessed with a thoroughly sound constitution,
as all averred who knew him at the convent-school in Rossleben, at
the University, or later at the ducal court of Altenburg, he was tall
and slender, possessed an undoubted gift for poetry and real musical
talent, and was moreover a man of delicate sensibilities, full of
consideration for his whole family, and distinguished in his manners.

My brother often refers to his Polish descent, and in later years
he even instituted research-work with the view of establishing it,
which met with partial success. I know nothing definite concerning
these investigations, because a large number of valuable documents
were unfortunately destroyed after his breakdown in Turin. The family
tradition was that a certain Polish nobleman Nicki (pronounced Nietzky)
had obtained the special favour of Augustus the Strong, King of
Poland, and had received the rank of Earl from him. When, however,
Stanislas Leszcysski the Pole became king, our supposed ancestor became
involved in a conspiracy in favour of the Saxons and Protestants. 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.
Occasionally our aged aunts would speak of our great-grandfather
Nietzsche, who was said to have died in his ninety-first year, and
words always seemed to fail them when they attempted to describe his
handsome appearance, good breeding, and vigour. Our ancestors, both on
the Nietzsche and the Oehler side, were very long-lived. Of the four
pairs of great-grandparents, one great-grandfather reached the age of
ninety, five great-grandmothers and-fathers died between eighty-two and
eighty-six years of age, and two only failed to reach their seventieth

The sorrow which hung as a cloud over our branch of the family
was our father's death, as the result of a heavy fall, at the age
of thirty-eight. One night, upon leaving some friends whom he had
accompanied home, he was met at the door of the vicarage by our little
dog. The little animal must have got between his feet, for he stumbled
and fell backwards down seven stone steps on to the paving-stones
of the vicarage courtyard. As a result of this fall, he 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. The early
death of our beloved and highly-gifted father spread gloom over
the whole of our childhood. In 1850 our mother withdrew with us to
Naumburg on the Saale, where she took up her abode with our widowed
grandmother Nietzsche; and there she brought us up with Spartan
severity and simplicity, which, besides being typical of the period,
was quite _de rigeur_ in her family. Of course, Grand-mamma Nietzsche
helped somewhat to temper her daughter-in-law's severity, and in this
respect our Oehler grandparents, who were less rigorous with us,
their eldest grandchildren, than with their own children, were also
very influential. Grandfather Oehler was the first who seems to have
recognised the extraordinary talents of his eldest grandchild.

From his earliest childhood upwards, my brother was always strong
and healthy; he often declared that he must have been taken for a
peasant-boy throughout his childhood and youth, as he was so plump,
brown, and rosy. The thick fair hair which fell picturesquely over his
shoulders tended somewhat to modify his robust appearance. Had he not
possessed those wonderfully beautiful, large, and expressive eyes,
however, and had he not been so very ceremonious in his manner, neither
his teachers nor his relatives would ever have noticed anything at all
remarkable about the boy; for he was both modest and reserved.

He received his early schooling at a preparatory school, and later
at a grammar school in Naumburg. In the autumn of 1858, when he was
fourteen years of age, he entered the Pforta school, so famous for the
scholars it has produced. There, too, very severe discipline prevailed,
and much was exacted from the pupils, with the view of inuring them
to great mental and physical exertions. Thus, if my brother seems
to lay particular stress upon the value of rigorous training, free
from all sentimentality, it should be remembered that he speaks from
experience in this respect. At Pforta he followed the regular school
course, and he did not enter a university until the comparatively late
age of twenty. His extraordinary gifts manifested themselves chiefly
in his independent and private studies and artistic efforts. As a boy
his musical talent had already been so noticeable, that he himself
and other competent judges were doubtful as to whether he ought not
perhaps to devote himself altogether to music. It is, however, worth
noting that everything he did in his later years, whether in Latin,
Greek, or German work, bore the stamp of perfection--subject of course
to the limitation imposed upon him by his years. His talents came very
suddenly to the fore, because he had allowed them to grow for such a
long time in concealment. His very first performance in philology,
executed while he was a student under Ritschl, the famous philologist,
was also typical of him in this respect, seeing that it was ordered
to be printed for the _Rheinische Museum._ Of course this was done
amid general and grave expressions of doubt; for, as Dr. Ritschl often
declared, it was an unheard-of occurrence for a student in his third
term to prepare such an excellent treatise.

Being a great lover of out-door exercise, such as swimming, skating,
and walking, he developed into a very sturdy lad. Rohde gives the
following description of him as a student: with his healthy complexion,
his outward and inner cleanliness, his austere chastity and his solemn
aspect, he was the image of that delightful youth described by Adalbert

Though as a child he was always rather serious, as a lad and a man he
was ever inclined to see the humorous side of things, while his whole
being, and everything he said or did, was permeated by an extraordinary
harmony. He belonged to the very few who could control even a bad mood
and conceal it from others. All his friends are unanimous in their
praise of his exceptional evenness of temper and behaviour, and his
warm, hearty, and pleasant laugh that seemed to come from the very
depths of his benevolent and affectionate nature. In him it might
therefore be said, nature had produced a being who in body and spirit
was a harmonious whole: his unusual intellect was fully in keeping with
his uncommon bodily strength.

The only abnormal thing about him, and something which we both
inherited from our father, was short-sightedness, and this was
very much aggravated in my brother's case, even in his earliest
schooldays, owing to that indescribable anxiety to learn which always
characterised him. When one listens to accounts given by his friends
and schoolfellows, one is startled by the multiplicity of his studies
even in his schooldays.

In the autumn of 1864, he began his university life in Bonn, and
studied philology and theology; at the end of six months he gave up
theology, and in the autumn of 1865 followed his famous teacher Ritschl
to the University of Leipzig. There he became an ardent philologist,
and diligently sought to acquire a masterly grasp of this branch of
knowledge. But in this respect it would be unfair to forget that the
school of Pforta, with its staff of excellent teachers--scholars
that would have adorned the chairs of any University--had already
afforded the best of preparatory trainings to any one intending to
take up philology as a study, more particularly as it gave all pupils
ample scope to indulge any individual tastes they might have for any
particular branch of ancient history. The last important Latin thesis
which my brother wrote for the Landes-Schule, Pforta, dealt with
the Megarian poet Theognis, and it was in the rôle of a lecturer on
this very subject that, on the 18th January 1866, he made his _first
appearance in public_ before the philological society he had helped to
found in Leipzig. The paper he read disclosed his investigations on
the subject of Theognis the moralist and aristocrat, who, as is well
known, described and dismissed the plebeians of his time in terms of
the heartiest contempt The aristocratic ideal, which was always so
dear to my brother, thus revealed itself for the first time. Moreover,
curiously enough, it was precisely _this_ scientific thesis which was
the cause of Ritschl's recognition of my brother and fondness for him.

The whole of his Leipzig days proved of the utmost importance to my
brother's career. There he was plunged into the very midst of a torrent
of intellectual influences which found an impressionable medium in
the fiery youth, and to which he eagerly made himself accessible.
He did not, however, forget to discriminate among them, but tested
and criticised the currents of thought he encountered, and selected
accordingly. It is certainly of great importance to ascertain what
those influences precisely were to which he yielded, and how long
they maintained their sway over him, and it is likewise necessary to
discover exactly when the matured mind threw off these fetters in order
to work out its own salvation.

The influences that exercised power over him in those days may be
described in the three following terms: Hellenism, Schopenhauer,
Wagner. His love of Hellenism certainly led him to philology; but, as
a matter of fact, what concerned him most was to obtain a wide view
of things in general, and this he hoped to derive from that science;
philology in itself, with his splendid method and thorough way of going
to work, served him only as a means to an end.

If Hellenism was the first strong influence which already in Pforta
obtained a sway over my brother, in the winter of 1865-66, a completely
new, and therefore somewhat subversive, influence was introduced into
his life with Schopenhauer's philosophy. When he reached Leipzig in
the autumn of 1865, he was very downcast; for the experiences that
had befallen him during his one year of student life in Bonn had
deeply depressed him. He had sought at first to adapt himself to his
surroundings there, with the hope of ultimately elevating them to his
lofty views on things; but both these efforts proved vain, and now he
had come to Leipzig with the purpose of framing his own manner of life.
It can easily be imagined how the first reading of Schopenhauer's _The
World as Will and Idea_ worked upon this man, still stinging from the
bitterest experiences and disappointments. He writes: "Here I saw a
mirror in which I espied the world, life, and my own nature depicted
with frightful grandeur." As my brother, from his very earliest
childhood, had always missed both the parent and the educator through
our father's untimely death, he began to regard Schopenhauer with
almost filial love and respect. He did not venerate him quite as other
men did; Schopenhauer's _personality_ was what attracted and enchanted
him. From the first he was never blind to the faults in his master's
system, and in proof of this we have only to refer to an essay he
wrote in the autumn of 1867, which actually contains a criticism of
Schopenhauer's philosophy.

Now, in the autumn of 1865, to these two influences, Hellenism and
Schopenhauer, a third influence was added--one which was to prove
the strongest ever exercised over my brother--and it began with his
personal introduction to Richard Wagner. He was introduced to Wagner by
the latter's sister, Frau Professor Brockhaus, and his description of
their first meeting, contained in a letter to Erwin Rohde, is really
most affecting. For years, that is to say, from the time Billow's
arrangement of _Tristan and Isolde_ for the pianoforte, had appeared,
he had already been a passionate admirer of Wagner's music; but now
that the artist himself entered upon the scene of his life, with the
whole fascinating strength of his strong will, my brother felt that he
was in the presence of a being whom he, of all modern men, resembled
most in regard to force of character.

Again, in the case of Richard Wagner, my brother, from the first, laid
the utmost stress upon the man's personality, and could only regard
his works and views as an expression of the artist's whole being,
despite the fact that he by no means understood every one of those
works at that time. My brother was the first who ever manifested such
enthusiastic affection for Schopenhauer and Wagner, and he was also the
first of that numerous band of young followers who ultimately inscribed
the two great names upon their banner. Whether Schopenhauer and Wagner
ever really corresponded to the glorified pictures my brother painted
of them, both in his letters and other writings, is a question which we
can no longer answer in the affirmative. Perhaps what he saw in them
was only what he himself wished to be some day.

The amount of work my brother succeeded in accomplishing, during his
student days, really seems almost incredible. When we examine his
record for the years 1865-67, we can scarcely believe it refers to only
two years' industry, for at a guess no one would hesitate to suggest
four years at least. But in those days, as he himself declares, he
still possessed the constitution of a bear. He knew neither what
headaches nor indigestion meant, and, despite his short sight, his eyes
were able to endure the greatest strain without giving him the smallest
trouble. That is why, regardless of seriously interrupting his studies,
he was so glad at the thought of becoming a soldier in the forthcoming
autumn of 1867; for he was particularly anxious to discover some means
of employing his bodily strength.

He discharged his duties as a soldier with the utmost mental and
physical freshness, was the crack rider among the recruits of his year,
and was sincerely sorry when, owing to an accident, he was compelled to
leave the colours before the completion of his service. As a result of
this accident he had his first dangerous illness.

While mounting his horse one day, the beast, which was an uncommonly
restive one, suddenly reared, and, causing him to strike his chest
sharply against the pommel of the saddle, threw him to the ground. My
brother then made a second attempt to mount, and succeeded this time,
notwithstanding the fact that he had severely sprained and torn two
muscles in his chest, and had seriously bruised the adjacent ribs. For
a whole day he did his utmost to pay no heed to the injury, and to
overcome the pain it caused him; but in the end he only swooned, and a
dangerously acute inflammation of the injured tissues was the result.
Ultimately he was obliged to consult the famous specialist, Professor
Volkmann, in Halle, who quickly put him right.

In October 1868, my brother returned to his studies in Leipzig with
double joy. These were his plans: to get his doctor's degree as soon as
possible; to proceed to Paris, Italy, and Greece, make a lengthy stay
in each place, and then to return to Leipzig in order to settle there
as a privat docent. All these plans were, however, suddenly frustrated
owing to his premature call to the University of Bale, where he was
invited to assume the duties of professor. Some of the philological
essays he had written in his student days, and which were published
by the _Rheinische Museum,_ had attracted the attention of the
Educational Board at Bale. Ratsherr Wilhelm Vischer, as representing
this body, appealed to Ritschl for fuller information. Now Ritschl,
who had early recognised my brother's extraordinary talents, must have
written a letter of such enthusiastic praise ("Nietzsche is a genius:
he can do whatever he chooses to put his mind to"), that one of the
more cautious members of the council is said to have observed: "If
the proposed candidate be really such a genius, then it were better
did we not appoint him; for, in any case, he would only stay a short
time at the little University of Bale." My brother ultimately accepted
the appointment, and, in view of his published philological works,
he was immediately granted the doctor's degree by the University of
Leipzig. He was twenty-four years and six months old when he took up
his position as professor in Bale,--and it was with a heavy heart that
he proceeded there, for he knew "the golden period of untrammelled
activity" must cease. He was, however, inspired by the deep wish of
being able "to transfer to his pupils some of that Schopenhauerian
earnestness which is stamped on the brow of the sublime man." "I
should like to be something more than a mere trainer of capable
philologists: the present generation of teachers, the care of the
growing broods,--all this is in my mind. If we must live, let us at
least do so in such wise that others may bless our life once we have
been peacefully delivered from its toils."

When I look back upon that month of May 1869, and ask both of friends
and of myself, what the figure of this youthful University professor
of four-and-twenty meant to the world at that time, the reply is
naturally, in the first place: that he was one of Ritschl's best
pupils; secondly, that he was an exceptionally capable exponent of
classical antiquity with a brilliant career before him; and thirdly,
that he was a passionate adorer of Wagner and Schopenhauer. But no one
has any idea of my brother's independent attitude to the science he
had selected, to his teachers and to his ideals, and he deceived both
himself and us when he passed as a "disciple" who really shared all the
views of his respected master.

On the 28th May 1869, my brother delivered his inaugural address
at Bale University, and it is said to have deeply impressed the
authorities. The subject of the address was "Homer and Classical

Musing deeply, the worthy councillors and professors walked homeward.
What had they just heard? A young scholar discussing the very
justification of his own science in a cool and philosophically critical
spirit! A man able to impart so much artistic glamour to his subject,
that the once stale and arid study of philology suddenly struck
them--and they were certainly not impressionable men--as the messenger
of the gods: "and just as the Muses descended upon the dull and
tormented Boeotian peasants, so philology comes into a world full of
gloomy colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most incurable woes,
and speaks to men comfortingly of the beautiful and brilliant godlike
figure of a distant, blue, and happy fairyland."

"We have indeed got hold of a rare bird, Herr Ratsherr," said one of
these gentlemen to his companion, and the latter heartily agreed, for
my brother's appointment had been chiefly his doing.

Even in Leipzig, it was reported that Jacob Burckhardt had said:
"Nietzsche is as much an artist as a scholar." Privy-Councillor
Ritschl told me of this himself, and then he added, with a smile: "I
always said so; he can make his scientific discourses as palpitatingly
interesting as a French novelist his novels."

"Homer and Classical Philology"--my brother's inaugural address at
the University--was by no means the first literary attempt he had
made; for we have already seen that he had had papers published by the
_Rheinische Museum_; still, this particular discourse is important,
seeing that it practically contains the programme of many other
subsequent essays. I must, however, emphasise this fact here, that
neither "Homer and Classical Philology," nor _The Birth of Tragedy,_
represents a beginning in my brother's career. It is really surprising
to see how very soon he actually began grappling with the questions
which were to prove the problems of his life. If a beginning to his
intellectual development be sought at all, then it must be traced
to the years 1865-67 in Leipzig. _The Birth of Tragedy,_ his maiden
attempt at book-writing, with which he began his twenty-eighth year,
is the last link of a long chain of developments, and the first fruit
that was a long time coming to maturity. Nietzsche's was a polyphonic
nature, in which the most different and apparently most antagonistic
talents had come together. Philosophy, art, and science--in the form
of philology, then--each certainly possessed a part of him. The
most wonderful feature--perhaps it might even be called the real
Nietzschean feature--of this versatile creature, was the fact that
no eternal strife resulted from the juxtaposition of these inimical
traits, that not one of them strove to dislodge, or to get the upper
hand of, the others. When Nietzsche renounced the musical career, in
order to devote himself to philology, and gave himself up to the most
strenuous study, he did not find it essential completely to suppress
his other tendencies: as before, he continued both to compose and
derive pleasure from music, and even studied counterpoint somewhat
seriously. Moreover, during his years at Leipzig, when he consciously
gave himself up to philological research, he began to engross himself
in Schopenhauer, and was thereby won by philosophy for ever. Everything
that could find room took up its abode in him, and these juxtaposed
factors, far from interfering with one another's existence, were rather
mutually fertilising and stimulating. All those who have read the first
volume of the biography with attention must have been struck with the
perfect way in which the various impulses in his nature combined in
the end to form one general torrent, and how this flowed with ever
greater force in the direction of _a single goal._ Thus science, art,
and philosophy developed and became ever more closely related in him,
until, in _The Birth of Tragedy,_ they brought forth a "centaur," that
is to say, a work which would have been an impossible achievement to
a man with only a single, special talent. This polyphony of different
talents, all coming to utterance together and producing the richest
and boldest of harmonies, is the fundamental feature not only of
Nietzsche's early days, but of his whole development. It is once again
the artist, philosopher, and man of science, who as one man in later
years, after many wanderings, recantations, and revulsions of feeling,
produces that other and rarer Centaur of highest rank--_Zarathustra_.

_The Birth of Tragedy_ requires perhaps a little explaining--more
particularly as we have now ceased to use either Schopenhauerian or
Wagnerian terms of expression. And it was for this reason that five
years after its appearance, my brother wrote an introduction to it,
in which he very plainly expresses his doubts concerning the views it
contains, and the manner in which they are presented. The kernel of its
thought he always recognised as perfectly correct; and all he deplored
in later days was that he had spoiled the grand problem of Hellenism,
as he understood it, by adulterating it with ingredients taken from the
world of most modern ideas. As time went on, he grew ever more and more
anxious to define the deep meaning of this book with greater precision
and clearness. A very good elucidation of its aims, which unfortunately
was never published, appears among his notes of the year 1886, and is
as follows:--

"Concerning _The Birth of Tragedy._--A book consisting of mere
experiences relating to pleasurable and unpleasurable æsthetic states,
with a metaphysico-artistic background. At the same time the confession
of a romanticist _the sufferer feels the deepest longing for beauty--he
begets it_; finally, a product of youth, full of youthful courage and

"Fundamental psychological experiences: the word 'Apollonian' stands
for that state of rapt repose in the presence of a visionary world,
in the presence of the world of _beautiful appearance_ designed as a
deliverance from _becoming_; the word _Dionysos,_ on the other hand,
stands for strenuous becoming, grown self-conscious, in the form
of the rampant voluptuousness of the creator, who is also perfectly
conscious of the violent anger of the destroyer.

"The antagonism of these two attitudes and the _desires_ that underlie
them. The first-named would have the vision it conjures up _eternal_:
in its light man must be quiescent, apathetic, peaceful, healed, and
on friendly terms with himself and all existence; the second strives
after creation, after the voluptuousness of wilful creation, _i.e._
constructing and destroying. Creation felt and explained as an instinct
would be merely the unremitting inventive action of a dissatisfied
being, overflowing with wealth and living at high tension and high
pressure,--of a God who would overcome the sorrows of existence by
means only of continual changes and transformations,--appearance as a
transient and momentary deliverance; the world as an apparent sequence
of godlike visions and deliverances.

"This metaphysico-artistic attitude is opposed to Schopenhauer's
one-sided view which values art, not from the artist's standpoint but
from the spectator's, because it brings salvation and deliverance
by means of the joy produced by unreal as opposed to the existing
or the real (the experience only of him who is suffering and is in
despair owing to himself and everything existing).--Deliverance in
the _form_ and its eternity (just as Plato may have pictured it, save
that he rejoiced in a complete subordination of all too excitable
sensibilities, even in the idea itself). To this is opposed the second
point of view--art regarded as a phenomenon of the artist, above all
of the musician; the torture of being obliged to create, as a Dionysian

"Tragic art, rich in both attitudes, represents the reconciliation of
Apollo and Dionysos. Appearance is given the greatest importance by
Dionysos; and yet it will be denied and cheerfully denied. This is
directed against Schopenhauer's teaching of _Resignation_ as the tragic
attitude towards the world.

"Against Wagner's theory that music is a means and drama an end.

"A desire for tragic myth (for religion and even pessimistic religion)
as for a forcing frame in which certain plants flourish.

"Mistrust of science, although its ephemerally soothing optimism be
strongly felt; the 'serenity' of the theoretical man.

"Deep antagonism to Christianity. Why? The degeneration of the Germanic
spirit is ascribed to its influence.

"Any justification of the world can only be an _æsthetic_ one. Profound
suspicions about morality (--it is part and parcel of the world of

"The happiness of existence is only possible as the happiness derived
from appearance. (_'Being' is a fiction invented by those who suffer
from becoming_.)

"Happiness in becoming is possible only in the _annihilation_ of
the real, of the 'existing,' of the beautifully visionary,--in the
pessimistic dissipation of illusions:--with the annihilation of
the most beautiful phenomena in the world of appearance, Dionysian
happiness reaches its zenith."

_The Birth of Tragedy_ is really only a portion of a much greater work
on Hellenism, which my brother had always had in view from the time of
his student days. 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.
When a certain portion of the projected work on Hellenism was ready
and had received the title _Greek Cheerfulness,_ my brother happened
to call upon Wagner at Tribschen in April 1871, and found him very
low-spirited in regard to the mission of his life. My brother was very
anxious to take some decisive step to help him, and, laying the plans
of his great work on Greece aside, he selected a small portion from
the already completed manuscript--a portion dealing with one distinct
side of Hellenism,--to wit, its tragic art. He then associated Wagner's
music with it and the name Dionysos, and thus took the first step
towards that world-historical view through which we have since grown
accustomed to regard Wagner.

From the dates of the various notes relating to it, _The Birth of
Tragedy_ must have been written between the autumn of 1869 and November
1871--a period during which "a mass of æsthetic questions and answers"
was fermenting in Nietzsche's mind. It was first published in January
1872 by E. W. Fritsch, in Leipzig, under the title _The Birth of
Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music._ Later on the title was changed to
_The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism._

                                       ELIZABETH FORSTER-NIETZSCHE.

WEIMAR, _September_ 1905.

[1] This Introduction by E. Förster-Nietzsche, which appears
in the front of the first volume of Naumann's Pocket Edition of
Nietzsche, has been translated and arranged by Mr. A. M. Ludovici.



Whatever may lie at the bottom of this doubtful book must be a
question of the first rank and attractiveness, moreover a deeply
personal question,--in proof thereof observe the time in which it
originated, _in spite_ of which it originated, the exciting period
of the Franco-German war of 1870-71. While the thunder of the battle
of Wörth rolled over Europe, the ruminator and riddle-lover, who had
to be the parent of this book, sat somewhere in a nook of the Alps,
lost in riddles and ruminations, consequently very much concerned and
unconcerned at the same time, and wrote down his meditations on the
_Greeks,_--the kernel of the curious and almost inaccessible book, to
which this belated prologue (or epilogue) is to be devoted. A few weeks
later: and he found himself under the walls of Metz, still wrestling
with the notes of interrogation he had set down concerning the alleged
"cheerfulness" of the Greeks and of Greek art; till at last, in that
month of deep suspense, when peace was debated at Versailles, he too
attained to peace with himself, and, slowly recovering from a disease
brought home from the field, made up his mind definitely regarding the
"Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of _Music."_--From music? Music and
Tragedy? Greeks and tragic music? Greeks and the Art-work of pessimism?
A race of men, well-fashioned, beautiful, envied, life-inspiring, like
no other race hitherto, the Greeks--indeed? The Greeks were _in need_
of tragedy? Yea--of art? Wherefore--Greek art?...

We can thus guess where the great note of interrogation concerning the
value of existence had been set. Is pessimism _necessarily_ the sign of
decline, of decay, of failure, of exhausted and weakened instincts?--as
was the case with the Indians, as is, to all appearance, the case with
us "modern" men and Europeans? Is there a pessimism of _strength_? An
intellectual predilection for what is hard, awful, evil, problematical
in existence, owing to well-being, to exuberant health, to _fullness_
of existence? Is there perhaps suffering in overfullness itself? A
seductive fortitude with the keenest of glances, which _yearns_ for
the terrible, as for the enemy, the worthy enemy, with whom it may try
its strength? from whom it is willing to learn what "fear" is? What
means _tragic_ myth to the Greeks of the best, strongest, 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


What I then laid hands on, something terrible and dangerous, a
problem with horns, not necessarily a bull itself, but at all events
a _new_ problem: I should say to-day it was the _problem of science_
itself--science conceived for the first time as problematic, as
questionable. But the book, in which my youthful ardour and suspicion
then discharged themselves--what an _impossible_ book must needs
grow out of a task so disagreeable to youth. Constructed of nought
but precocious, unripened self-experiences, all of which lay close
to the threshold of the communicable, based on the groundwork of
_art_--for the problem of science cannot be discerned on the groundwork
of science,--a book perhaps for artists, with collateral analytical
and retrospective aptitudes (that is, an exceptional kind of artists,
for whom one must seek and does not even care to seek ...), full of
psychological innovations and artists' secrets, with an artists'
metaphysics in the background, a work of youth, full of youth's mettle
and youth's melancholy, independent, defiantly self-sufficient even
when it seems to bow to some authority and self-veneration; in short,
a firstling-work, even in every bad sense of the term; in spite of its
senile problem, affected with every fault of youth, above all with
youth's prolixity and youth's "storm and stress": on the other hand,
in view of the success it had (especially with the great artist to
whom it addressed itself, as it were, in a duologue, Richard Wagner) a
_demonstrated_ book, I mean a book which, at any rate, sufficed "for
the best of its time." On this account, if for no other reason, it
should be treated with some consideration and reserve; yet I shall not
altogether conceal how disagreeable it now appears to me, how after
sixteen years it stands a total stranger before me,--before an eye
which is more mature, and a hundred times more fastidious, but which
has by no means grown colder nor lost any of its interest in that
self-same task essayed for the first time by this daring book,--_to
view science through the optics of the artist, and art moreover through
the optics of life...._


I say again, to-day it is an impossible book to me,--I call it badly
written, heavy, painful, image-angling and image-entangling, maudlin,
sugared at times even to femininism, uneven in tempo, void of the will
to logical cleanliness, very convinced and therefore rising above the
necessity of demonstration, distrustful even of the _propriety_ of
demonstration, as being a book for initiates, as "music" for those who
are baptised with the name of Music, who are united from the beginning
of things by common ties of rare experiences in art, as a countersign
for blood-relations _in artibus._--a haughty and fantastic book,
which from the very first withdraws even more from the _profanum
vulgus_ of the "cultured" than from the "people," but which also, as
its effect has shown and still shows, knows very well how to seek
fellow-enthusiasts and lure them to new by-ways and dancing-grounds.
Here, at any rate--thus much was acknowledged with curiosity as well
as with aversion--a _strange_ voice spoke, the disciple of a still
"unknown God," who for the time being had hidden himself under the
hood of the scholar, under the German's gravity and disinclination for
dialectics, even under the bad manners of the Wagnerian; here was a
spirit with strange and still nameless needs, a memory bristling with
questions, experiences and obscurities, beside which stood the name
Dionysos like one more note of interrogation; here spoke--people said
to themselves with misgivings--something like a mystic and almost
mænadic soul, which, undecided whether it should disclose or conceal
itself, stammers with an effort and capriciously as in a strange
tongue. It should have _sung,_ this "new soul"--and not spoken! What
a pity, that I did not dare to say what I then had to say, as a poet:
I could have done so perhaps! Or at least as a philologist:--for even
at the present day well-nigh everything in this domain remains to be
discovered and disinterred by the philologist! Above all the problem,
_that_ here there _is_ a problem before us,--and that, so long as we
have no answer to the question "what is Dionysian?" the Greeks are now
as ever wholly unknown and inconceivable....


Ay, what is Dionysian?--In this book may be found an answer,--a
"knowing one" speaks here, the votary and disciple of his god.
Perhaps I should now speak more guardedly and less eloquently of a
psychological question so difficult as the origin of tragedy among the
Greeks. A fundamental question is the relation of the Greek to pain,
his degree of sensibility,--did this relation remain constant? or did
it veer about?--the question, whether his ever-increasing _longing
for beauty,_ for festivals, gaieties, new cults, did really grow out
of want, privation, melancholy, pain? For suppose even this to be
true--and Pericles (or Thucydides) intimates as much in the great
Funeral Speech:--whence then the opposite longing, which appeared
first in the order of time, the _longing for the ugly_, the good,
resolute desire of the Old Hellene for pessimism, for tragic myth, for
the picture of all that is terrible, evil, enigmatical, destructive,
fatal at the basis of existence,--whence then must tragedy have
sprung? Perhaps from _joy,_ from strength, from exuberant health, from
over-fullness. 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_?... We see it is a whole bundle of
weighty questions which this book has taken upon itself,--let us not
fail to add its weightiest question! Viewed through the optics of
_life,_ what is the meaning of--morality?...


Already in the foreword to Richard Wagner, art---and _not_ morality--is
set down as the properly _metaphysical_ activity of man; in the
book itself the piquant proposition recurs time and again, that the
existence of the world is _justified_ only as an æsthetic phenomenon.
Indeed, the entire book recognises only an artist-thought and
artist-after-thought behind all occurrences,--a "God," if you will,
but certainly only an altogether thoughtless and unmoral artist-God,
who, in construction as in destruction, in good as in evil, desires
to become conscious of his own equable joy and sovereign glory; who,
in creating worlds, frees himself from the _anguish_ of fullness
and _overfullness,_ from the _suffering_ of the contradictions
concentrated within him. The world, that is, the redemption of God
_attained_ at every moment, as the perpetually changing, perpetually
new vision of the most suffering, most antithetical, most contradictory
being, who contrives to redeem himself only in _appearance:_ this
entire artist-metaphysics, call it arbitrary, idle, fantastic, if
you will,--the point is, that it already betrays a spirit, which is
determined some day, at all hazards, to make a stand against the
_moral_ interpretation and significance of life. Here, perhaps for the
first time, a pessimism "Beyond Good and Evil" announces itself, here
that "perverseness of disposition" obtains expression and formulation,
against which Schopenhauer never grew tired of hurling beforehand his
angriest imprecations and thunderbolts,--a philosophy which dares to
put, derogatorily put, morality itself in the world of phenomena, and
not only among "phenomena" (in the sense of the idealistic _terminus
technicus_), but among the "illusions," as appearance, semblance,
error, interpretation, accommodation, art. Perhaps the depth of this
_antimoral_ tendency may be best estimated from the guarded and
hostile silence with which Christianity is treated throughout this
book,--Christianity, as being the most extravagant burlesque of the
moral theme to which mankind has hitherto been obliged to listen. In
fact, to the purely æsthetic world-interpretation and justification
taught in this book, there is no greater antithesis than the Christian
dogma, which is _only_ and will be only moral, and which, with
its absolute standards, for instance, its truthfulness of God,
relegates--that is, disowns, convicts, condemns--art, _all_ art, to
the realm of _falsehood._ Behind such a mode of thought and valuation,
which, if at all genuine, must be hostile to art, I always experienced
what was _hostile to life,_ the wrathful, vindictive counterwill to
life itself: for all life rests on appearance, art, illusion, optics,
necessity of perspective and error. From the very first Christianity
was, essentially and thoroughly, the nausea and surfeit of Life for
Life, which only disguised, concealed and decked itself out under the
belief in "another" or "better" life. The hatred of the "world," the
curse on the affections, the fear of beauty and sensuality, another
world, invented for the purpose of slandering this world the more,
at bottom a longing for. Nothingness, for the end, for rest, for the
"Sabbath of Sabbaths"--all this, as also the unconditional will of
Christianity to recognise _only_ moral values, has always appeared to
me as the most dangerous and ominous of all possible forms of a "will
to perish"; at the least, as the symptom of a most fatal disease, of
profoundest weariness, despondency, exhaustion, impoverishment of
life,--for before the tribunal of morality (especially Christian, that
is, unconditional morality) life _must_ constantly and inevitably be
the loser, because life _is_ something essentially unmoral,--indeed,
oppressed with the weight of contempt and the everlasting No, life
_must_ finally be regarded as unworthy of desire, as in itself
unworthy. Morality itself what?--may not morality be a "will to
disown life," a secret instinct for annihilation, a principle of
decay, of depreciation, of slander, a beginning of the end? And,
consequently, the danger of dangers?... It was _against_ morality,
therefore, that my instinct, as an intercessory-instinct for life,
turned in this questionable book, inventing for itself a fundamental
counter--dogma and counter-valuation of life, purely artistic, purely
_anti-Christian._ What should I call it? As a philologist and man of
words I baptised it, not without some liberty--for who could be sure
of the proper name of the Antichrist?--with the name of a Greek god: I
called it _Dionysian._


You see which problem I ventured to touch upon in this early work?...
How I now regret, that I had not then the courage (or immodesty?) to
allow myself, in all respects, the use of an _individual language_
for such _individual_ contemplations and ventures in the field of
thought--that I laboured to express, in Kantian and Schopenhauerian
formulæ, strange and new valuations, which ran fundamentally counter
to the spirit of Kant and Schopenhauer, as well as to their taste!
What, forsooth, were Schopenhauer's views on tragedy? "What gives"--he
says in _Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,_ II. 495--"to all tragedy
that singular swing towards elevation, is the awakening of the
knowledge that the world, that life, cannot satisfy us thoroughly,
and consequently is _not worthy_ of our attachment In this consists
the tragic spirit: it therefore leads to _resignation_." Oh, how
differently Dionysos spoke to me! Oh how far from me then was just
this entire resignationism!--But there is something far worse in this
book, which I now regret even more than having obscured and spoiled
Dionysian anticipations with Schopenhauerian formulæ: to wit, that, in
general, I _spoiled_ the grand _Hellenic problem,_ as it had opened
up before me, by the admixture of the most modern things! That I
entertained hopes, where nothing was to be hoped for, where everything
pointed all-too-clearly to an approaching end! That, on the basis of
our latter-day German music, I began to fable about the "spirit of
Teutonism," as if it were on the point of discovering and returning
to itself,--ay, at the very time that the German spirit which not so
very long before had had the will to the lordship over Europe, the
strength to lead and govern Europe, testamentarily and conclusively
_resigned_ and, under the pompous pretence of empire-founding,
effected its transition to mediocritisation, democracy, and "modern
ideas." In very fact, I have since learned to regard this "spirit of
Teutonism" as something to be despaired of and unsparingly treated,
as also our present _German music,_ which is Romanticism through and
through and the most un-Grecian of all possible forms of art: and
moreover a first-rate nerve-destroyer, doubly dangerous for a people
given to drinking and revering the unclear as a virtue, namely, in
its twofold capacity of an intoxicating and stupefying narcotic. Of
course, apart from all precipitate hopes and faulty applications to
matters specially modern, with which I then spoiled my first book, the
great Dionysian note of interrogation, as set down therein, continues
standing on and on, even with reference to music: how must we conceive
of a music, which is no longer of Romantic origin, like the German; but
of _Dionysian_?...


--But, my dear Sir, if _your_ book is not Romanticism, what in
the world is? Can the deep hatred of the present, of "reality"
and "modern ideas" be pushed farther than has been done in your
artist-metaphysics?--which would rather believe in Nothing, or in
the devil, than in the "Now"? Does not a radical bass of wrath and
annihilative pleasure growl on beneath all your contrapuntal vocal
art and aural seduction, a mad determination to oppose all that "now"
is, a will which is not so very far removed from practical nihilism
and which seems to say: "rather let nothing be true, than that _you_
should be in the right, than that _your_ truth should prevail!"
Hear, yourself, my dear Sir Pessimist and art-deifier, with ever
so unlocked ears, a single select passage of your own book, that
not ineloquent dragon-slayer passage, which may sound insidiously
rat-charming to young ears and hearts. What? is not that the true
blue romanticist-confession of 1830 under the mask of the pessimism
of 1850? After which, of course, the usual romanticist finale at once
strikes up,--rupture, collapse, return and prostration before an old
belief, before _the_ old God.... What? is not your pessimist book
itself a piece of anti-Hellenism and Romanticism, something "equally
intoxicating and befogging," a narcotic at all events, ay, a piece of
music, of _German_ music? But listen:

    Let us imagine a rising generation with this undauntedness
    of vision, with this heroic impulse towards the prodigious,
    let us imagine the bold step of these dragon-slayers,
    the proud daring with which they turn their backs on all
    the effeminate doctrines of optimism, in order "to live
    resolutely" in the Whole and in the Full: _would it not be
    necessary_ for the tragic man of this culture, with his
    self-discipline to earnestness and terror, to desire a new
    art, _the art of metaphysical comfort,_ tragedy as the
    Helena belonging to him, and that he should exclaim with

        "Und sollt ich nicht, sehnsüchtigster Gewalt,
        In's Leben ziehn die einzigste Gestalt?"[1]

"Would it not be _necessary_?" ... No, thrice no! ye young
romanticists: it would _not_ be necessary! But it is very probable,
that things may _end_ thus, that _ye_ may end thus, namely "comforted,"
as it is written, in spite of all self-discipline to earnestness and
terror; metaphysically comforted, in short, as Romanticists are wont to
end, as _Christians...._ No! ye should first of all learn the art of
earthly comfort, ye should learn to _laugh,_ my young friends, if ye
are at all determined to remain pessimists: if so, you will perhaps,
as laughing ones, eventually send all metaphysical comfortism to the
devil--and metaphysics first of all! Or, to say it in the language of
that Dionysian ogre, called _Zarathustra_:

    "Lift up your hearts, my brethren, high, higher! And do
    not forget your legs! Lift up also your legs, ye good
    dancers--and better still if ye stand also on your heads!

    "This crown of the laughter, this rose-garland crown--I
    myself have put on this crown; I myself have consecrated my
    laughter. No one else have I found to-day strong enough for

    "Zarathustra the dancer, Zarathustra the light one,
    who beckoneth with his pinions, one ready for flight,
    beckoning unto all birds, ready and prepared, a blissfully
    light-spirited one:--

    "Zarathustra the soothsayer, Zarathustra the sooth-laugher,
    no impatient one, no absolute one, one who loveth leaps and
    side-leaps: I myself have put on this crown!

    "This crown of the laughter, this rose-garland crown--to
    you my brethren do I cast this crown! Laughing have I
    consecrated: ye higher men, _learn,_ I pray you--to laugh!"

    _Thus spake Zarathustra_, lxxiii. 17, 18, and 20.



    And shall not I, by mightiest desire,
    In living shape that sole fair form acquire?
    SWANWICK, trans. of _Faust._




In order to keep at a distance all the possible scruples, excitements,
and misunderstandings to which the thoughts gathered in this essay
will give occasion, considering the peculiar character of our æsthetic
publicity, and to be able also Co write the introductory remarks
with the same contemplative delight, the impress of which, as the
petrifaction of good and elevating hours, it bears on every page, I
form a conception of the moment when you, my highly honoured friend,
will receive this essay; how you, say after an evening walk in the
winter snow, will behold the unbound Prometheus on the title-page,
read my name, and be forthwith convinced that, whatever this essay may
contain, the author has something earnest and impressive to say, and,
moreover, that in all his meditations he communed with you as with one
present and could thus write only what befitted your presence. You
will thus remember that it was at the same time as your magnificent
dissertation on Beethoven originated, viz., amidst the horrors and
sublimities of the war which had just then broken out, that I collected
myself for these thoughts. But those persons would err, to whom this
collection suggests no more perhaps than the antithesis of patriotic
excitement and æsthetic revelry, of gallant earnestness and sportive
delight. Upon a real perusal of this essay, such readers will, rather
to their surprise, discover how earnest is the German problem we have
to deal with, which we properly place, as a vortex and turning-point,
in the very midst of German hopes. Perhaps, however, this same class
of readers will be shocked at seeing an æsthetic problem taken so
seriously, especially if they can recognise in art no more than a merry
diversion, a readily dispensable court-jester to the "earnestness
of existence": as if no one were aware of the real meaning of this
confrontation with the "earnestness of existence." These earnest ones
may be informed that I am convinced that art is the highest task and
the properly metaphysical activity of this life, as it is understood by
the man, to whom, as my sublime protagonist on this path, I would now
dedicate this essay.

BASEL, _end of the year_ 1871.



We shall have gained much for the science of æsthetics, when once we
have perceived not only by logical inference, but by the immediate
certainty of intuition, that the continuous development of art is bound
up with the duplexity of the _Apollonian_ and the _Dionysian:_ in
like manner as procreation is dependent on the duality of the sexes,
involving perpetual conflicts with only periodically intervening
reconciliations. These names we borrow from the Greeks, who disclose
to the intelligent observer the profound mysteries of their view of
art, not indeed in concepts, but in the impressively clear figures of
their world of deities. It is in connection with Apollo and Dionysus,
the two art-deities of the Greeks, that we learn that there existed in
the Grecian world a wide antithesis, in origin and aims, between the
art of the shaper, the Apollonian, and the non-plastic art of music,
that of Dionysus: both these so heterogeneous tendencies run parallel
to each other, for the most part openly at variance, and continually
inciting each other to new and more powerful births, to perpetuate in
them the strife of this antithesis, which is but seemingly bridged over
by their mutual term "Art"; till at last, by a metaphysical miracle
of the Hellenic will, they appear paired with each other, and through
this pairing eventually generate the equally Dionysian and Apollonian
art-work of Attic tragedy.

In order to bring these two tendencies within closer range, let us
conceive them first of all as the separate art-worlds of _dreamland_
and _drunkenness;_ between which physiological phenomena a contrast
may be observed analogous to that existing between the Apollonian and
the Dionysian. In dreams, according to the conception of Lucretius,
the glorious divine figures first appeared to the souls of men, in
dreams the great shaper beheld the charming corporeal structure of
superhuman beings, and the Hellenic poet, if consulted on the mysteries
of poetic inspiration, would likewise have suggested dreams and would
have offered an explanation resembling that of Hans Sachs in the

    Mein Freund, das grad' ist Dichters Werk,
    dass er sein Träumen deut' und merk'.
    Glaubt mir, des Menschen wahrster Wahn
    wird ihm im Traume aufgethan:
    all' Dichtkunst und Poeterei
    ist nichts als Wahrtraum-Deuterei.[1]

The beauteous appearance of the dream-worlds, in the production of
which every man is a perfect artist, is the presupposition of all
plastic art, and in fact, as we shall see, of an important half of
poetry also. We take delight in the immediate apprehension of form; all
forms speak to us; there is nothing indifferent, nothing superfluous.
But, together with the highest life of this dream-reality we also have,
glimmering through it, the sensation of its appearance: such at least
is my experience, as to the frequency, ay, normality of which I could
adduce many proofs, as also the sayings of the poets. Indeed, the man
of philosophic turn has a foreboding that underneath this reality in
which we live and have our being, another and altogether different
reality lies concealed, and that therefore it is also an appearance;
and Schopenhauer actually designates the gift of occasionally regarding
men and things as mere phantoms and dream-pictures as the criterion of
philosophical ability. Accordingly, the man susceptible to art stands
in the same relation to the reality of dreams as the philosopher to
the reality of existence; he is a close and willing observer, for from
these pictures he reads the meaning of life, and by these processes
he trains himself for life. And it is perhaps not only the agreeable
and friendly pictures that he realises in himself with such perfect
understanding: the earnest, the troubled, the dreary, the gloomy, the
sudden checks, the tricks of fortune, the uneasy presentiments, in
short, the whole "Divine Comedy" of life, and the Inferno, also pass
before him, not merely like pictures on the wall--for he too lives and
suffers in these scenes,--and yet not without that fleeting sensation
of appearance. And perhaps many a one will, like myself, recollect
having sometimes called out cheeringly and not without success amid the
dangers and terrors of dream-life: "It is a dream! I will dream on!" I
have likewise been told of persons capable of continuing the causality
of one and the same dream for three and even more successive nights:
all of which facts clearly testify that our innermost being, the common
substratum of all of us, experiences our dreams with deep joy and
cheerful acquiescence.

This cheerful acquiescence in the dream-experience has likewise been
embodied by the Greeks in their Apollo: for Apollo, as the god of
all shaping energies, is also the soothsaying god. He, who (as the
etymology of the name indicates) is the "shining one," the deity of
light, also rules over the fair appearance of the inner world of
fantasies. The higher truth, the perfection of these states in contrast
to the only partially intelligible everyday world, ay, the deep
consciousness of nature, healing and helping in sleep and dream, is at
the same time the symbolical analogue of the faculty of soothsaying
and, in general, of the arts, through which life is made possible and
worth living. But also that delicate line, which the dream-picture must
not overstep--lest it act pathologically (in which case appearance,
being reality pure and simple, would impose upon us)--must not be
wanting in the picture of Apollo: that measured limitation, that
freedom from the wilder emotions, that philosophical calmness of the
sculptor-god. His eye must be "sunlike," according to his origin; even
when it is angry and looks displeased, the sacredness of his beauteous
appearance is still there. And so we might apply to Apollo, in an
eccentric sense, what Schopenhauer says of the man wrapt in the veil
of Mâyâ[2]: _Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,_ I. p. 416: "Just as in
a stormy sea, unbounded in every direction, rising and falling with
howling mountainous waves, a sailor sits in a boat and trusts in his
frail barque: so in the midst of a world of sorrows the individual sits
quietly supported by and trusting in his _principium individuationis_."
Indeed, we might say of Apollo, that in him the unshaken faith in
this _principium_ and the quiet sitting of the man wrapt therein have
received their sublimest expression; and we might even designate Apollo
as the glorious divine image of the _principium individuationis,_
from out of the gestures and looks of which all the joy and wisdom of
"appearance," together with its beauty, speak to us.

In the same work Schopenhauer has described to us the stupendous _awe_
which seizes upon man, when of a sudden he is at a loss to account for
the cognitive forms of a phenomenon, in that the principle of reason,
in some one of its manifestations, seems to admit of an exception.
Add to this awe the blissful ecstasy which rises from the innermost
depths of man, ay, of nature, at this same collapse of the _principium
individuationis,_ and we shall gain an insight into the being of
the _Dionysian,_ which is brought within closest ken perhaps by the
analogy of _drunkenness._ It is either under the influence of the
narcotic draught, of which the hymns of all primitive men and peoples
tell us, or by the powerful approach of spring penetrating all nature
with joy, that those Dionysian emotions awake, in the augmentation of
which the subjective vanishes to complete self-forgetfulness. So also
in the German Middle Ages singing and dancing crowds, ever increasing
in number, were borne from place to place under this same Dionysian
power. In these St. John's and St. 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. There are some,
who, from lack of experience or obtuseness, will turn away from such
phenomena as "folk-diseases" with a smile of contempt or pity prompted
by the consciousness of their own health: of course, the poor wretches
do not divine what a cadaverous-looking and ghastly aspect this very
"health" of theirs presents when the glowing life of the Dionysian
revellers rushes past them.

Under the charm of the Dionysian not only is the covenant between man
and man again established, but also estranged, hostile or subjugated
nature again celebrates her reconciliation with her lost son, man. Of
her own accord earth proffers her gifts, and peacefully the beasts of
prey approach from the desert and the rocks. The chariot of Dionysus is
bedecked with flowers and garlands: panthers and tigers pass beneath
his yoke. Change Beethoven's "jubilee-song" into a painting, and, if
your imagination be equal to the occasion when the awestruck millions
sink into the dust, you will then be able to approach the Dionysian.
Now is the slave a free man, now all the stubborn, hostile barriers,
which necessity, caprice, or "shameless fashion" has set up between
man and man, are broken down. Now, at the evangel of cosmic harmony,
each one feels himself not only united, reconciled, blended with
his neighbour, but as one with him, as if the veil of Mâyâ has been
torn and were now merely fluttering in tatters before the mysterious
Primordial Unity. In song and in dance man exhibits himself as a member
of a higher community, has forgotten how to walk and speak, and is on
the point of taking a dancing flight into the air. His gestures bespeak
enchantment. Even as the animals now talk, and as the earth yields milk
and honey, so also something super-natural sounds forth from him: he
feels himself a god, he himself now walks about enchanted and elated
even as the gods whom he saw walking about in his dreams. Man is no
longer an artist, he has become a work of art: the artistic power of
all nature here reveals itself in the tremors of drunkenness to the
highest gratification of the Primordial Unity. The noblest clay, the
costliest marble, namely man, is here kneaded and cut, and the chisel
strokes of the Dionysian world-artist are accompanied with the cry of
the Eleusinian mysteries: "Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen? Ahnest du den
Schöpfer, Welt?"[3]


    My friend, just this is poet's task:
    His dreams to read and to unmask.
    Trust me, illusion's truths thrice sealed
    In dream to man will be revealed.
    All verse-craft and poetisation
    Is but soothdream interpretation.

[2] Cf. _World and Will as Idea,_ 1. 455 ff., trans, by
Haldane and Kemp.


    Ye bow in the dust, oh millions?
    Thy maker, mortal, dost divine?
Cf. Schiller's "Hymn to Joy"; and Beethoven, Ninth Symphony.--TR.


Thus far we have considered the Apollonian and his antithesis,
the Dionysian, as artistic powers, which burst forth from nature
herself, _without the mediation of the human artist,_ and in which
her art-impulses are satisfied in the most immediate and direct way:
first, as the pictorial world of dreams, the perfection of which
has no connection whatever with the intellectual height or artistic
culture of the unit man, and again, as drunken reality, which likewise
does not heed the unit man, but even seeks to destroy the individual
and redeem him by a mystic feeling of Oneness. Anent these immediate
art-states of nature every artist is either an "imitator," to wit,
either an Apollonian, an artist in dreams, or a Dionysian, an artist
in ecstasies, or finally--as for instance in Greek tragedy--an artist
in both dreams and ecstasies: so we may perhaps picture him, as in
his Dionysian drunkenness and mystical self-abnegation, lonesome and
apart from the revelling choruses, he sinks down, and how now, through
Apollonian dream-inspiration, his own state, _i.e._, his oneness
with the primal source of the universe, reveals itself to him _in a
symbolical dream-picture_.

After these general premisings and contrastings, let us now approach
the _Greeks_ in order to learn in what degree and to what height
these _art-impulses of nature_ were developed in them: whereby
we shall be enabled to understand and appreciate more deeply the
relation of the Greek artist to his archetypes, or, according to the
Aristotelian expression, "the imitation of nature." In spite of all the
dream-literature and the numerous dream-anecdotes of the Greeks, we can
speak only conjecturally, though with a fair degree of certainty, of
their _dreams._ Considering the incredibly precise and unerring plastic
power of their eyes, as also their manifest and sincere delight in
colours, we can hardly refrain (to the shame of every one born later)
from assuming for their very dreams a logical causality of lines and
contours, colours and groups, a sequence of scenes resembling their
best reliefs, the perfection of which would certainly justify us, if a
comparison were possible, in designating the dreaming Greeks as Homers
and Homer as a dreaming Greek: in a deeper sense than when modern man,
in respect to his dreams, ventures to compare himself with Shakespeare.

On the other hand, we should not have to speak conjecturally, if asked
to disclose the immense gap which separated the _Dionysian Greek_ from
the Dionysian barbarian. From all quarters of the Ancient World--to
say nothing of the modern--from Rome as far as Babylon, we can prove
the existence of Dionysian festivals, the type of which bears, at
best, the same relation to the Greek festivals as the bearded satyr,
who borrowed his name and attributes from the goat, does to Dionysus
himself. In nearly every instance the centre of these festivals lay
in extravagant sexual licentiousness, the waves of which overwhelmed
all family life and its venerable traditions; the very wildest beasts
of nature were let loose here, including that detestable mixture of
lust and cruelty which has always seemed to me the genuine "witches'
draught." For some time, however, it would seem that the Greeks
were perfectly secure and guarded against the feverish agitations
of these festivals (--the knowledge of which entered Greece by all
the channels of land and sea) by the figure of Apollo himself rising
here in full pride, who could not have held out the Gorgon's head to
a more dangerous power than this grotesquely uncouth Dionysian. It
is in Doric art that this majestically-rejecting attitude of Apollo
perpetuated itself. This opposition became more precarious and even
impossible, when, from out of the deepest root of the Hellenic nature,
similar impulses finally broke forth and made way for themselves:
the Delphic god, by a seasonably effected reconciliation, was now
contented with taking the destructive arms from the hands of his
powerful antagonist. This reconciliation marks the most important
moment in the history of the Greek cult: wherever we turn our eyes
we may observe the revolutions resulting from this event. It was
the reconciliation of two antagonists, with the sharp demarcation
of the boundary-lines to be thenceforth observed by each, and with
periodical transmission of testimonials;--in reality, the chasm was
not bridged over. But if we observe how, under the pressure of this
conclusion of peace, the Dionysian power manifested itself, we shall
now recognise in the Dionysian orgies of the Greeks, as compared with
the Babylonian Sacæa and their retrogression of man to the tiger and
the ape, the significance of festivals of world-redemption and days of
transfiguration. Not till then does nature attain her artistic jubilee;
not till then does the rupture of the _principium individuationis_
become an artistic phenomenon. That horrible "witches' draught" of
sensuality and cruelty was here powerless: only the curious blending
and duality in the emotions of the Dionysian revellers reminds one of
it--just as medicines remind one of deadly poisons,--that phenomenon,
to wit, that pains beget joy, that jubilation wrings painful sounds out
of the breast. From the highest joy sounds the cry of horror or the
yearning wail over an irretrievable loss. In these Greek festivals a
sentimental trait, as it were, breaks forth from nature, as if she must
sigh over her dismemberment into individuals. The song and pantomime
of such dually-minded revellers was something new and unheard-of in
the Homeric-Grecian world; and the Dionysian _music_ in particular
excited awe and horror. If music, as it would seem, was previously
known as an Apollonian art, it was, strictly speaking, only as the
wave-beat of rhythm, the formative power of which was developed to
the representation of Apollonian conditions. The music of Apollo was
Doric architectonics in tones, but in merely suggested tones, such
as those of the cithara. The very element which forms the essence of
Dionysian music (and hence of music in general) is carefully excluded
as un-Apollonian; namely, the thrilling power of the tone, the uniform
stream of the melos, and the thoroughly incomparable world of harmony.
In the Dionysian dithyramb man is incited to the highest exaltation
of all his symbolic faculties; something never before experienced
struggles for utterance--the annihilation of the veil of Mâyâ, Oneness
as genius of the race, ay, of nature. The essence of nature is now
to be expressed symbolically; a new world of symbols is required;
for once the entire symbolism of the body, not only the symbolism of
the lips, face, and speech, but the whole pantomime of dancing which
sets all the members into rhythmical motion. Thereupon the other
symbolic powers, those of music, in rhythmics, dynamics, and harmony,
suddenly become impetuous. To comprehend this collective discharge
of all the symbolic powers, a man must have already attained that
height of self-abnegation, which wills to express itself symbolically
through these powers: the Dithyrambic votary of Dionysus is therefore
understood only by those like himself! With what astonishment must the
Apollonian Greek have beheld him! With an astonishment, which was all
the greater the more it was mingled with the shuddering suspicion that
all this was in reality not so very foreign to him, yea, that, like
unto a veil, his Apollonian consciousness only hid this Dionysian world
from his view.


In order to comprehend this, we must take down the artistic structure,
of the _Apollonian culture,_ as it were, stone by stone, till we behold
the foundations on which it rests. Here we observe first of all the
glorious _Olympian_ figures of the gods, standing on the gables of this
structure, whose deeds, represented in far-shining reliefs, adorn its
friezes. Though Apollo stands among them as an individual deity, side
by side with others, and without claim to priority of rank, we must not
suffer this fact to mislead us. The same impulse which embodied itself
in Apollo has, in general, given birth to this whole Olympian world,
and in this sense we may regard Apollo as the father thereof. What was
the enormous need from which proceeded such an illustrious group of
Olympian beings?

Whosoever, with another religion in his heart, approaches these
Olympians and seeks among them for moral elevation, even for sanctity,
for incorporeal spiritualisation, for sympathetic looks of love, will
soon be obliged to turn his back on them, discouraged and disappointed.
Here nothing suggests asceticism, spirituality, or duty: here only
an exuberant, even triumphant life speaks to us, in which everything
existing is deified, whether good or bad. And so the spectator will
perhaps stand quite bewildered before this fantastic exuberance of
life, and ask himself what magic potion these madly merry men could
have used for enjoying life, so that, wherever they turned their eyes,
Helena, the ideal image of their own existence "floating in sweet
sensuality," smiled upon them. But to this spectator, already turning
backwards, we must call out: "depart not hence, but hear rather what
Greek folk-wisdom says of this same life, which with such inexplicable
cheerfulness spreads out before thee." There is an ancient story that
king Midas hunted in the forest a long time for the wise _Silenus,_
the companion of Dionysus, without capturing him. When at last he fell
into his hands, the king asked what was best of all and most desirable
for man. Fixed and immovable, the demon remained silent; till at last,
forced by the king, he broke out with shrill laughter into these words:
"Oh, wretched race of a day, children of chance and misery, why do ye
compel me to say to you what it were most expedient for you not to
hear? What is best of all is for ever beyond your reach: not to be
born, not to _be_, to be _nothing._ The second best for you, however,
is soon to die."

How is the Olympian world of deities related to this folk-wisdom? Even
as the rapturous vision of the tortured martyr to his sufferings.

Now the Olympian magic mountain opens, as it were, to our view and
shows to us its roots. The Greek knew and felt the terrors and horrors
of existence: to be able to live at all, he had to interpose the
shining dream-birth of the Olympian world between himself and them.
The excessive distrust of the titanic powers of nature, the Moira
throning inexorably over all knowledge, the vulture of the great
philanthropist Prometheus, the terrible fate of the wise Œdipus, the
family curse of the Atridæ which drove Orestes to matricide; in short,
that entire philosophy of the sylvan god, with its mythical exemplars,
which wrought the ruin of the melancholy Etruscans--was again and again
surmounted anew by the Greeks through the artistic _middle world_ of
the Olympians, or at least veiled and withdrawn from sight. To be able
to live, the Greeks had, from direst necessity, to create these gods:
which process we may perhaps picture to ourselves in this manner: that
out of the original Titan thearchy of terror the Olympian thearchy of
joy was evolved, by slow transitions, through the Apollonian impulse to
beauty, even as roses break forth from thorny bushes. How else could
this so sensitive people, so vehement in its desires, so singularly
qualified for _sufferings_ have endured existence, if it had not been
exhibited to them in their gods, surrounded with a higher glory?
The same impulse which calls art into being, as the complement and
consummation of existence, seducing to a continuation of life, caused
also the Olympian world to arise, in which the Hellenic "will" held
up before itself a transfiguring mirror. Thus do the gods justify the
life of man, in that they themselves live it--the only satisfactory
Theodicy! Existence under the bright sunshine of such gods is regarded
as that which is desirable in itself, and the real _grief_ of the
Homeric men has reference to parting from it, especially to early
parting: so that we might now say of them, with a reversion of the
Silenian wisdom, that "to die early is worst of all for them, the
second worst is--some day to die at all." If once the lamentation is
heard, it will ring out again, of the short-lived Achilles, of the
leaf-like change and vicissitude of the human race, of the decay of
the heroic age. It is not unworthy of the greatest hero to long for a
continuation of life, ay, even as a day-labourer. So vehemently does
the "will," at the Apollonian stage of development, long for this
existence, so completely at one does the Homeric man feel himself with
it, that the very lamentation becomes its song of praise.

Here we must observe that this harmony which is so eagerly contemplated
by modern man, in fact, this oneness of man with nature, to express
which Schiller introduced the technical term "naïve," is by no means
such a simple, naturally resulting and, as it were, inevitable
condition, which _must_ be found at the gate of every culture leading
to a paradise of man: this could be believed only by an age which
sought to picture to itself Rousseau's Émile also as an artist,
and imagined it had found in Homer such an artist Émile, reared at
Nature's bosom. Wherever we meet with the "naïve" in art, it behoves
us to recognise the highest effect of the Apollonian culture, which
in the first place has always to overthrow some Titanic empire and
slay monsters, and which, through powerful dazzling representations
and pleasurable illusions, must have triumphed over a terrible depth
of world-contemplation and a most keen susceptibility to suffering.
But how seldom is the naïve--that complete absorption, in the beauty
of appearance--attained! And hence how inexpressibly sublime is
_Homer,_ who, as unit being, bears the same relation to this Apollonian
folk-culture as the unit dream-artist does to the dream-faculty of
the people and of Nature in general. The Homeric "naïveté" can be
comprehended only as the complete triumph of the Apollonian illusion:
it is the same kind of illusion as Nature so frequently employs to
compass her ends. The true goal is veiled by a phantasm: we stretch out
our hands for the latter, while Nature attains the former through our
illusion. In the Greeks the "will" desired to contemplate itself in the
transfiguration of the genius and the world of art; in order to glorify
themselves, its creatures had to feel themselves worthy of glory;
they had to behold themselves again in a higher sphere, without this
consummate world of contemplation acting as an imperative or reproach.
Such is the sphere of beauty, in which, as in a mirror, they saw their
images, the Olympians. With this mirroring of beauty the Hellenic will
combated its talent--correlative to the artistic--for suffering and for
the wisdom of suffering: and, as a monument of its victory, Homer, the
naïve artist, stands before us.


Concerning this naïve artist the analogy of dreams will enlighten us to
some extent. When we realise to ourselves the dreamer, as, in the midst
of the illusion of the dream-world and without disturbing it, he calls
out to himself: "it is a dream, I will dream on"; when we must thence
infer a deep inner joy in dream-contemplation; when, on the other hand,
to be at all able to dream with this inner joy in contemplation, we
must have completely forgotten the day and its terrible obtrusiveness,
we may, under the direction of the dream-reading Apollo, interpret
all these phenomena to ourselves somewhat as follows. Though it is
certain that of the two halves of life, the waking and the dreaming,
the former appeals to us as by far the more preferred, important,
excellent and worthy of being lived, indeed, as that which alone is
lived: yet, with reference to that mysterious ground of our being of
which we are the phenomenon, I should, paradoxical as it may seem, be
inclined to maintain the very opposite estimate of the value of dream
life. For the more clearly I perceive in nature those all-powerful art
impulses, and in them a fervent longing for appearance, for redemption
through appearance, the more I feel myself driven to the metaphysical
assumption that the Verily-Existent and Primordial Unity, as the
Eternally Suffering and Self-Contradictory, requires the rapturous
vision, the joyful appearance, for its continuous salvation: which
appearance we, who are completely wrapt in it and composed of it, must
regard as the Verily Non-existent,--_i.e.,_ as a perpetual unfolding
in time, space and causality,--in other words, as empiric reality.
If we therefore waive the consideration of our own "reality" for the
present, if we conceive our empiric existence, and that of the world
generally, as a representation of the Primordial Unity generated every
moment, we shall then have to regard the dream as an _appearance of
appearance,_ hence as a still higher gratification of the primordial
desire for appearance. It is for this same reason that the innermost
heart of Nature experiences that indescribable joy in the naïve artist
and in the naïve work of art, which is likewise only "an appearance of
appearance." In a symbolic painting, _Raphael_, himself one of these
immortal "naïve" ones, has represented to us this depotentiating of
appearance to appearance, the primordial process of the naïve artist
and at the same time of Apollonian culture. In his _Transfiguration,_
the lower half, with the possessed boy, the despairing bearers, the
helpless, terrified disciples, shows to us the reflection of eternal
primordial pain, the sole basis of the world: the "appearance" here
is the counter-appearance of eternal Contradiction, the father of
things. Out of this appearance then arises, like an ambrosial vapour, a
visionlike new world of appearances, of which those wrapt in the first
appearance see nothing--a radiant floating in purest bliss and painless
Contemplation beaming from wide-open eyes. Here there is presented to
our view, in the highest symbolism of art, that Apollonian world of
beauty and its substratum, the terrible wisdom of Silenus, and we
comprehend, by intuition, their necessary interdependence. Apollo,
however, again appears to us as the apotheosis of the _principium
individuationis,_ in which alone the perpetually attained end of the
Primordial Unity, its redemption through appearance, is consummated: he
shows us, with sublime attitudes, how the entire world of torment is
necessary, that thereby the individual may be impelled to realise the
redeeming vision, and then, sunk in contemplation thereof, quietly sit
in his fluctuating barque, in the midst of the sea.

This apotheosis of individuation, if it be at all conceived as
imperative and laying down precepts, knows but one law--the individual,
_i.e.,_ the observance of the boundaries of the individual,
_measure_ in the Hellenic sense. Apollo, as ethical deity, demands
due proportion of his disciples, and, that this may be observed, he
demands self-knowledge. And thus, parallel to the æsthetic necessity
for beauty, there run the demands "know thyself" and "not too much,"
while presumption and undueness are regarded as the truly hostile
demons of the non-Apollonian sphere, hence as characteristics of the
pre-Apollonian age, that of the Titans, and of the extra-Apollonian
world, that of the barbarians. Because of his Titan-like love for
man, Prometheus had to be torn to pieces by vultures; because of his
excessive wisdom, which solved the riddle of the Sphinx, Œdipus had
to plunge into a bewildering vortex of monstrous crimes: thus did the
Delphic god interpret the Grecian past.

So also the effects wrought by the _Dionysian_ appeared "titanic" and
"barbaric" to the Apollonian Greek: while at the same time he could
not conceal from himself that he too was inwardly related to these
overthrown Titans and heroes. Indeed, he had to recognise still more
than this: his entire existence, with all its beauty and moderation,
rested on a hidden substratum of suffering and of knowledge, which
was again disclosed to him by the Dionysian. And lo! Apollo could not
live without Dionysus! The "titanic" and the "barbaric" were in the
end not less necessary than the Apollonian. And now let us imagine to
ourselves how the ecstatic tone of the Dionysian festival sounded in
ever more luring and bewitching strains into this artificially confined
world built on appearance and moderation, how in these strains all
the _undueness_ of nature, in joy, sorrow, and knowledge, even to
the transpiercing shriek, became audible: let us ask ourselves what
meaning could be attached to the psalmodising artist of Apollo, with
the phantom harp-sound, as compared with this demonic folk-song! The
muses of the arts of "appearance" paled before an art which, in its
intoxication, spoke the truth, the wisdom of Silenus cried "woe! woe!"
against the cheerful Olympians. The individual, with all his boundaries
and due proportions, went under in the self-oblivion of the Dionysian
states and forgot the Apollonian precepts. The _Undueness_ revealed
itself as truth, contradiction, the bliss born of pain, declared itself
but of the heart of nature. And thus, wherever the Dionysian prevailed,
the Apollonian was routed and annihilated. But it is quite as certain
that, where the first assault was successfully withstood, the authority
and majesty of the Delphic god exhibited itself as more rigid and
menacing than ever. For I can only explain to myself the _Doric_ state
and Doric art as a permanent war-camp of the Apollonian: only by
incessant opposition to the titanic-barbaric nature of the Dionysian
was it possible for an art so defiantly-prim, so encompassed with
bulwarks, a training so warlike and rigorous, a constitution so cruel
and relentless, to last for any length of time.

Up to this point we have enlarged upon the observation made at the
beginning of this essay: how the Dionysian and the Apollonian, in ever
new births succeeding and mutually augmenting one another, controlled
the Hellenic genius: how from out the age of "bronze," with its Titan
struggles and rigorous folk-philosophy, the Homeric world develops
under the fostering sway of the Apollonian impulse to beauty, how this
"naïve" splendour is again overwhelmed by the inbursting flood of the
Dionysian, and how against this new power the Apollonian rises to the
austere majesty of Doric art and the Doric view of things. If, then,
in this way, in the strife of these two hostile principles, the older
Hellenic history falls into four great periods of art, we are now
driven to inquire after the ulterior purpose of these unfoldings and
processes, unless perchance we should regard the last-attained period,
the period of Doric art, as the end and aim of these artistic impulses:
and here the sublime and highly celebrated art-work of _Attic tragedy_
and dramatic dithyramb presents itself to our view as the common
goal of both these impulses, whose mysterious union, after many and
long precursory struggles, found its glorious consummation in such a
child,--which is at once Antigone and Cassandra.


We now approach the real purpose of our investigation, which aims
at acquiring a knowledge of the Dionyso-Apollonian genius and his
art-work, or at least an anticipatory understanding of the mystery of
the aforesaid union. Here we shall ask first of all where that new
germ which subsequently developed into tragedy and dramatic dithyramb
first makes itself perceptible in the Hellenic world. The ancients
themselves supply the answer in symbolic form, when they place _Homer_
and _Archilochus_ as the forefathers and torch-bearers of Greek poetry
side by side on gems, sculptures, etc., in the sure conviction that
only these two thoroughly original compeers, from whom a stream of
fire flows over the whole of Greek posterity, should be taken into
consideration. Homer, the aged dreamer sunk in himself, the type
of the Apollonian naïve artist, beholds now with astonishment the
impassioned genius of the warlike votary of the muses, Archilochus,
violently tossed to and fro on the billows of existence: and modern
æsthetics could only add by way of interpretation, that here the
"objective" artist is confronted by the first "subjective" artist.
But this interpretation is of little service to us, because we know
the subjective artist only as the poor artist, and in every type and
elevation of art we demand specially and first of all the conquest
of the Subjective, the redemption from the "ego" and the cessation
of every individual will and desire; indeed, we find it impossible
to believe in any truly artistic production, however insignificant,
without objectivity, without pure, interestless contemplation. Hence
our æsthetics must first solve the problem as to how the "lyrist" is
possible as an artist: he who according to the experience of all ages
continually says "I" and sings off to us the entire chromatic scale of
his passions and desires. This very Archilochus appals us, alongside
of Homer, by his cries of hatred and scorn, by the drunken outbursts
of his desire. Is not just he then, who has been called the first
subjective artist, the non-artist proper? But whence then the reverence
which was shown to him--the poet--in very remarkable utterances by the
Delphic oracle itself, the focus of "objective" art?

_Schiller_ has enlightened us concerning his poetic procedure by a
psychological observation, inexplicable to himself, yet not apparently
open to any objection. He acknowledges that as the preparatory state
to the act of poetising he had not perhaps before him or within him a
series of pictures with co-ordinate causality of thoughts, but rather
a _musical mood_ ("The perception with me is at first without a clear
and definite object; this forms itself later. A certain musical mood
of mind precedes, and only after this does the poetical idea follow
with me.") Add to this the most important phenomenon of all ancient
lyric poetry, _the union,_ regarded everywhere as natural, _of the
lyrist with the musician,_ their very identity, indeed,--compared
with which our modern lyric poetry is like the statue of a god without
a head,--and we may now, on the basis of our metaphysics of æsthetics
set forth above, interpret the lyrist to ourselves as follows. As
Dionysian artist he is in the first place become altogether one with
the Primordial Unity, its pain and contradiction, and he produces the
copy of this Primordial Unity as music, granting that music has been
correctly termed a repetition and a recast of the world; but now, under
the Apollonian dream-inspiration, this music again becomes visible
to him as in a _symbolic dream-picture._ The formless and intangible
reflection of the primordial pain in music, with its redemption in
appearance, then generates a second mirroring as a concrete symbol or
example. The artist has already surrendered his subjectivity in the
Dionysian process: the picture which now shows to him his oneness with
the heart of the world, is a dream-scene, which embodies the primordial
contradiction and primordial pain, together with the primordial joy, of
appearance. The "I" of the lyrist sounds therefore from the abyss of
being: its "subjectivity," in the sense of the modern æsthetes, is a
fiction. When Archilochus, the first lyrist of the Greeks, makes known
both his mad love and his contempt to the daughters of Lycambes, it is
not his passion which dances before us in orgiastic frenzy: we see
Dionysus and the Mænads, we see the drunken reveller Archilochus sunk
down to sleep--as Euripides depicts it in the Bacchæ, the sleep on the
high Alpine pasture, in the noonday sun:--and now Apollo approaches and
touches him with the laurel. The Dionyso-musical enchantment of the
sleeper now emits, as it were, picture sparks, lyrical poems, which in
their highest development are called tragedies and dramatic dithyrambs.

The plastic artist, as also the epic poet, who is related to him, is
sunk in the pure contemplation of pictures. The Dionysian musician
is, without any picture, himself just primordial pain and the
primordial re-echoing thereof. The lyric genius is conscious of a
world of pictures and symbols--growing out of the state of mystical
self-abnegation and oneness,--which has a colouring causality and
velocity quite different from that of the world of the plastic artist
and epic poet. While the latter lives in these pictures, and only in
them, with joyful satisfaction, and never grows tired of contemplating
them with love, even in their minutest characters, while even the
picture of the angry Achilles is to him but a picture, the angry
expression of which he enjoys with the dream-joy in appearance--so
that, by this mirror of appearance, he is guarded against being unified
and blending with his figures;--the pictures of the lyrist on the other
hand are nothing but _his very_ self and, as it were, only different
projections of himself, on account of which he as the moving centre
of this world is entitled to say "I": only of course this self is
not the same as that of the waking, empirically real man, but the
only verily existent and eternal self resting at the basis of things,
by means of the images whereof the lyric genius sees through even to
this basis of things. Now let us suppose that he beholds _himself_
also among these images as non-genius, _i.e.,_ his subject, the whole
throng of subjective passions and impulses of the will directed to a
definite object which appears real to him; if now it seems as if the
lyric genius and the allied non-genius were one, and as if the former
spoke that little word "I" of his own accord, this appearance will no
longer be able to lead us astray, as it certainly led those astray who
designated the lyrist as the subjective poet. In truth, Archilochus,
the passionately inflamed, loving and hating man, is but a vision of
the genius, who by this time is no longer Archilochus, but a genius
of the world, who expresses his primordial pain symbolically in the
figure of the man Archilochus: while the subjectively willing and
desiring man, Archilochus, can never at any time be a poet. It is by no
means necessary, however, that the lyrist should see nothing but the
phenomenon of the man Archilochus before him as a reflection of eternal
being; and tragedy shows how far the visionary world of the lyrist may
depart from this phenomenon, to which, of course, it is most intimately

_Schopenhauer,_ who did not shut his eyes to the difficulty presented
by the lyrist in the philosophical contemplation of art, thought he
had found a way out of it, on which, however, I cannot accompany him;
while he alone, in his profound metaphysics of music, held in his
hands the means whereby this difficulty could be definitely removed:
as I believe I have removed it here in his spirit and to his honour.
In contrast to our view, he describes the peculiar nature of song
as follows[4] (_Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,_ I. 295):--"It is
the subject of the will, _i.e.,_ his own volition, which fills the
consciousness of the singer; often as an unbound and satisfied desire
(joy), but still more often as a restricted desire (grief), always as
an emotion, a passion, or an agitated frame of mind. Besides this,
however, and along with it, by the sight of surrounding nature, the
singer becomes conscious of himself as the subject of pure will-less
knowing, the unbroken, blissful peace of which now appears, in contrast
to the stress of desire, which is always restricted and always needy.
The feeling of this contrast, this alternation, is really what the
song as a whole expresses and what principally constitutes the lyrical
state of mind. In it pure knowing comes to us as it were to deliver us
from desire and the stress thereof: we follow, but only for an instant;
for desire, the remembrance of our personal ends, tears us anew from
peaceful contemplation; yet ever again the next beautiful surrounding
in which the pure will-less knowledge presents itself to us, allures
us away from desire. Therefore, in song and in the lyrical mood,
desire (the personal interest of the ends) and the pure perception of
the surrounding which presents itself, are wonderfully mingled with
each other; connections between them are sought for and imagined; the
subjective disposition, the affection of the will, imparts its own
hue to the contemplated surrounding, and conversely, the surroundings
communicate the reflex of their colour to the will. The true song is
the expression of the whole of this mingled and divided state of mind."

Who could fail to see in this description that lyric poetry is here
characterised as an imperfectly attained art, which seldom and only
as it were in leaps arrives at its goal, indeed, as a semi-art, the
essence of which is said to consist in this, that desire and pure
contemplation, _i.e.,_ the unæsthetic and the æsthetic condition, are
wonderfully mingled with each other? We maintain rather, that this
entire antithesis, according to which, as according to some standard
of value, Schopenhauer, too, still classifies the arts, the antithesis
between the subjective and the objective, is quite out of place in
æsthetics, inasmuch as the subject _i.e.,_ the desiring individual who
furthers his own egoistic ends, can be conceived only as the adversary,
not as the origin of art. In so far as the subject is the artist,
however, he has already been released from his individual will, and has
become as it were the medium, through which the one verily existent
Subject celebrates his redemption in appearance. For this one thing
must above all be clear to us, to our humiliation _and_ exaltation,
that the entire comedy of art is not at all performed, say, for our
betterment and culture, and that we are just as little the true authors
of this art-world: rather we may assume with regard to ourselves, that
its true author uses us as pictures and artistic projections, and that
we have our highest dignity in our significance as works of art--for
only as an _æsthetic phenomenon_ is existence and the world eternally
_justified:_--while of course our consciousness of this our specific
significance hardly differs from the kind of consciousness which the
soldiers painted on canvas have of the battle represented thereon.
Hence all our knowledge of art is at bottom quite illusory, because, as
knowing persons we are not one and identical with the Being who, as the
sole author and spectator of this comedy of art, prepares a perpetual
entertainment for himself. Only in so far as the genius in the act of
artistic production coalesces with this primordial artist of the world,
does he get a glimpse of the eternal essence of art, for in this state
he is, in a marvellous manner, like the weird picture of the fairy-tale
which can at will turn its eyes and behold itself; he is now at once
subject and object, at once poet, actor, and spectator.

[4] _World as Will and Idea,_ I. 323, 4th ed. of Haldane and
Kemp's translation. Quoted with a few changes.


With reference to Archilochus, it has been established by critical
research that he introduced the _folk-song_ into literature, and,
on account thereof, deserved, according to the general estimate of
the Greeks, his unique position alongside of Homer. But what is this
popular folk-song in contrast to the wholly Apollonian epos? What
else but the _perpetuum vestigium_ of a union of the Apollonian and
the Dionysian? Its enormous diffusion among all peoples, still further
enhanced by ever new births, testifies to the power of this artistic
double impulse of nature: which leaves its vestiges in the popular
song in like manner as the orgiastic movements of a people perpetuate
themselves in its music. Indeed, one might also furnish historical
proofs, that every period which is highly productive in popular songs
has been most violently stirred by Dionysian currents, which we must
always regard as the substratum and prerequisite of the popular song.

First of all, however, we regard the popular song as the musical mirror
of the world, as the Original melody, which now seeks for itself a
parallel dream-phenomenon and expresses it in poetry. _Melody is
therefore primary and universal,_ and as such may admit of several
objectivations, in several texts. Likewise, in the naïve estimation of
the people, it is regarded as by far the more important and necessary.
Melody generates the poem out of itself by an ever-recurring process.
_The strophic form of the popular song_ points to the same phenomenon,
which I always beheld with astonishment, till at last I found this
explanation. Any one who in accordance with this theory examines a
collection of popular songs, such as "Des Knaben Wunderhorn," will find
innumerable instances of the perpetually productive melody scattering
picture sparks all around: which in their variegation, their abrupt
change, their mad precipitance, manifest a power quite unknown to the
epic appearance and its steady flow. From the point of view of the
epos, this unequal and irregular pictorial world of lyric poetry must
be simply condemned: and the solemn epic rhapsodists of the Apollonian
festivals in the age of Terpander have certainly done so.

Accordingly, we observe that in the poetising of the popular song,
language is strained to its utmost _to imitate music;_ and hence a
new world of poetry begins with Archilochus, which is fundamentally
opposed to the Homeric. And in saying this we have pointed out the
only possible relation between poetry and music, between word and
tone: the word, the picture, the concept here seeks an expression
analogous to music and now experiences in itself the power of music.
In this sense we may discriminate between two main currents in the
history of the language of the Greek people, according as their
language imitated either the world of phenomena and of pictures, or the
world of music. One has only to reflect seriously on the linguistic
difference with regard to colour, syntactical structure, and vocabulary
in Homer and Pindar, in order to comprehend the significance of this
contrast; indeed, it becomes palpably clear to us that in the period
between Homer and Pindar the _orgiastic flute tones of Olympus_ must
have sounded forth, which, in an age as late as Aristotle's, when
music was infinitely more developed, transported people to drunken
enthusiasm, and which, when their influence was first felt, undoubtedly
incited all the poetic means of expression of contemporaneous man
to imitation. I here call attention to a familiar phenomenon of our
own times, against which our æsthetics raises many objections. We
again and again have occasion to observe how a symphony of Beethoven
compels the individual hearers to use figurative speech, though the
appearance presented by a collocation of the different pictorial
world generated by a piece of music may be never so fantastically
diversified and even contradictory. To practise its small wit on such
compositions, and to overlook a phenomenon which is certainly worth
explaining, is quite in keeping with this æsthetics. Indeed, even if
the tone-poet has spoken in pictures concerning a composition, when for
instance he designates a certain symphony as the "pastoral" symphony,
or a passage therein as "the scene by the brook," or another as the
"merry gathering of rustics," these are likewise only symbolical
representations born out of music--and not perhaps the imitated objects
of music--representations which can give us no information whatever
concerning the _Dionysian_ content of music, and which in fact have
no distinctive value of their own alongside of other pictorical
expressions. This process of a discharge of music in pictures we have
now to transfer to some youthful, linguistically productive people, to
get a notion as to how the strophic popular song originates, and how
the entire faculty of speech is stimulated by this new principle of
imitation of music.

If, therefore, we may regard lyric poetry as the effulguration of
music in pictures and concepts, we can now ask: "how does music
_appear_ in the mirror of symbolism and conception?" _It appears as
will,_ taking the word in the Schopenhauerian sense, _i.e.,_ as the
antithesis of the æsthetic, purely contemplative, and passive frame
of mind. Here, however, we must discriminate as sharply as possible
between the concept of essentiality and the concept of phenominality;
for music, according to its essence, cannot be will, because as such it
would have to be wholly banished from the domain of art--for the will
is the unæsthetic-in-itself;--yet it appears as will. For in order to
express the phenomenon of music in pictures, the lyrist requires all
the stirrings of passion, from the whispering of infant desire to the
roaring of madness. Under the impulse to speak of music in Apollonian
symbols, he conceives of all nature, and himself therein, only as the
eternally willing, desiring, longing existence. But in so far as he
interprets music by means of pictures, he himself rests in the quiet
calm of Apollonian contemplation, however much all around him which
he beholds through the medium of music is in a state of confused and
violent motion. Indeed, when he beholds himself through this same
medium, his own image appears to him in a state of unsatisfied feeling:
his own willing, longing, moaning and rejoicing are to him symbols by
which he interprets music. Such is the phenomenon of the lyrist: as
Apollonian genius he interprets music through the image of the will,
while he himself, completely released from the avidity of the will, is
the pure, undimmed eye of day.

Our whole disquisition insists on this, that lyric poetry is dependent
on the spirit of music just as music itself in its absolute sovereignty
does not _require_ the picture and the concept, but only _endures_
them as accompaniments. The poems of the lyrist can express nothing
which has not already been contained in the vast universality and
absoluteness of the music which compelled him to use figurative
speech. By no means is it possible for language adequately to render
the cosmic symbolism of music, for the very reason that music stands
in symbolic relation to the primordial contradiction and primordial
pain in the heart of the Primordial Unity, and therefore symbolises a
sphere which is above all appearance and before all phenomena. Rather
should we say that all phenomena, compared with it, are but symbols:
hence _language,_ as the organ and symbol of phenomena, cannot at all
disclose the innermost essence, of music; language can only be in
superficial contact with music when it attempts to imitate music; while
the profoundest significance of the latter cannot be brought one step
nearer to us by all the eloquence of lyric poetry.


We shall now have to avail ourselves of all the principles of art
hitherto considered, in order to find our way through the labyrinth,
as we must designate _the origin of Greek tragedy._ I shall not be
charged with absurdity in saying that the problem of this origin has
as yet not even been seriously stated, not to say solved, however
often the fluttering tatters of ancient tradition have been sewed
together in sundry combinations and torn asunder again. This tradition
tells us in the most unequivocal terms, _that tragedy sprang from the
tragic chorus,_ and was originally only chorus and nothing but chorus:
and hence we feel it our duty to look into the heart of this tragic
chorus as being the real proto-drama, without in the least contenting
ourselves with current art-phraseology--according to which the chorus
is the ideal spectator, or represents the people in contrast to the
regal side of the scene. The latter explanatory notion, which sounds
sublime to many a politician--that the immutable moral law was embodied
by the democratic Athenians in the popular chorus, which always carries
its point over the passionate excesses and extravagances of kings--may
be ever so forcibly suggested by an observation of Aristotle: still
it has no bearing on the original formation of tragedy, inasmuch
as the entire antithesis of king and people, and, in general, the
whole politico-social sphere, is excluded from the purely religious
beginnings of tragedy; but, considering the well-known classical
form of the chorus in Æschylus and Sophocles, we should even deem
it blasphemy to speak here of the anticipation of a "constitutional
representation of the people," from which blasphemy others have not
shrunk, however. The ancient governments knew of no constitutional
representation of the people _in praxi,_ and it is to be hoped that
they did not even so much as "anticipate" it in tragedy.

Much more celebrated than this political explanation of the chorus is
the notion of A. W. Schlegel, who advises us to regard the chorus, in
a manner, as the essence and extract of the crowd of spectators,--as
the "ideal spectator." This view when compared with the historical
tradition that tragedy was originally only chorus, reveals itself
in its true character, as a crude, unscientific, yet brilliant
assertion, which, however, has acquired its brilliancy only through
its concentrated form of expression, through the truly Germanic bias
in favour of whatever is called "ideal," and through our momentary
astonishment. For we are indeed astonished the moment we compare our
well-known theatrical public with this chorus, and ask ourselves if it
could ever be possible to idealise something analogous to the Greek
chorus out of such a public. We tacitly deny this, and now wonder
as much at the boldness of Schlegel's assertion as at the totally
different nature of the Greek public. For hitherto we always believed
that the true spectator, be he who he may, had always to remain
conscious of having before him a work of art, and not an empiric
reality: whereas the tragic chorus of the Greeks is compelled to
recognise real beings in the figures of the stage. The chorus of the
Oceanides really believes that it sees before it the Titan Prometheus,
and considers itself as real as the god of the scene. And are we to
own that he is the highest and purest type of spectator, who, like the
Oceanides, regards Prometheus as real and present in body? And is it
characteristic of the ideal spectator that he should run on the stage
and free the god from his torments? We had believed in an æsthetic
public, and considered the individual spectator the better qualified
the more he was capable of viewing a work of art as art, that is,
æsthetically; but now the Schlegelian expression has intimated to us,
that the perfect ideal spectator does not at all suffer the world of
the scenes to act æsthetically on him, but corporeo-empirically. Oh,
these Greeks! we have sighed; they will upset our æsthetics! But once
accustomed to it, we have reiterated the saying of Schlegel, as often
as the subject of the chorus has been broached.

But the tradition 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. What
kind of art would that be which was extracted from the concept of the
spectator, and whereof we are to regard the "spectator as such" as the
true form? The spectator without the play is something absurd. We fear
that the birth of tragedy can be explained neither by the high esteem
for the moral intelligence of the multitude nor by the concept of the
spectator without the play; and we regard the problem as too deep to be
even so much as touched by such superficial modes of contemplation.

An infinitely more valuable insight into the signification of the
chorus had already been displayed by Schiller in the celebrated Preface
to his Bride of Messina, where he regarded the chorus as a living wall
which tragedy draws round herself to guard her from contact with the
world of reality, and to preserve her ideal domain and poetical freedom.

It is with this, his chief weapon, that Schiller combats the ordinary
conception of the natural, the illusion ordinarily required in
dramatic poetry. He contends that while indeed the day on the stage is
merely artificial, the architecture only symbolical, and the metrical
dialogue purely ideal in character, nevertheless an erroneous view
still prevails in the main: that it is not enough to tolerate merely
as a poetical license _that_ which is in reality the essence of all
poetry. The introduction of the chorus is, he says, the decisive step
by which war is declared openly and honestly against all naturalism
in art.--It is, methinks, for disparaging this mode of contemplation
that our would-be superior age has coined the disdainful catchword
"pseudo-idealism." I fear, however, that we on the other hand with our
present worship of the natural and the real have landed at the nadir
of all idealism, namely in the region of cabinets of wax-figures. An
art indeed exists also here, as in certain novels much in vogue at
present: but let no one pester us with the claim that by this art the
Schiller-Goethian "Pseudo-idealism" has been vanquished.

It is indeed an "ideal" domain, as Schiller rightly perceived,
upon--which the Greek satyric chorus, the chorus of primitive tragedy,
was wont to walk, a domain raised far above the actual path of
mortals. The Greek framed for this chorus the suspended scaffolding of
a fictitious _natural state_ and placed thereon fictitious _natural
beings._ It is on this foundation that tragedy grew up, and so it
could of course dispense from the very first with a painful portrayal
of reality. Yet it is, not an arbitrary world placed by fancy betwixt
heaven and earth; rather is it a world possessing the same reality
and trustworthiness that Olympus with its dwellers possessed for the
believing Hellene. The satyr, as being the Dionysian chorist, lives
in a religiously acknowledged reality under the sanction of the myth
and cult. That tragedy begins with him, that the Dionysian wisdom of
tragedy speaks through him, is just as surprising a phenomenon to us
as, in general, the derivation of tragedy from the chorus. Perhaps
we shall get a starting-point for our inquiry, if I put forward the
proposition that the satyr, the fictitious natural being, is to the
man of culture what Dionysian music is to civilisation. Concerning
this latter, Richard Wagner says that it is neutralised by music even
as lamplight by daylight. In like manner, I believe, the Greek man of
culture felt himself neutralised in the presence of the satyric chorus:
and this is the most immediate effect of the Dionysian tragedy, that
the state and society, and, in general, the gaps between man and man
give way to an overwhelming feeling of oneness, which leads back to
the heart of nature. The metaphysical comfort,--with which, as I have
here intimated, every true tragedy dismisses us--that, in spite of
the perpetual change of phenomena, life at bottom is indestructibly
powerful and pleasurable, this comfort appears with corporeal lucidity
as the satyric chorus, as the chorus of natural beings, who live
ineradicable as it were behind all civilisation, and who, in spite of
the ceaseless change of generations and the history of nations, remain
for ever the same.

With this chorus the deep-minded Hellene, who is so singularly
qualified for the most delicate and severe suffering, consoles
himself:--he who has glanced with piercing eye into the very heart of
the terrible destructive processes of so-called universal history, as
also into the cruelty of nature, and is in danger of longing for a
Buddhistic negation of the will. Art saves him, and through art life
saves him--for herself.

For we must know that in the rapture of the Dionysian state, with its
annihilation of the ordinary bounds and limits of existence, there is
a _lethargic_ element, wherein all personal experiences of the past
are submerged. It is by this gulf of oblivion that the everyday world
and the world of Dionysian reality are separated from each other. But
as soon as this everyday reality rises again in consciousness, it is
felt as such, and nauseates us; an ascetic will-paralysing mood is
the fruit of these states. In this sense the Dionysian man may be
said to resemble Hamlet: both have for once seen into the true nature
of things,--they have _perceived,_ but they are loath to act; for
their action cannot change the eternal nature of things; they regard
it as shameful or ridiculous that one should require of them to set
aright the time which is out of joint. Knowledge kills action, action
requires the veil of illusion--it is this lesson which Hamlet teaches,
and not the cheap wisdom of John-a-Dreams who from too much reflection,
as it were from a surplus of possibilities, does not arrive at action
at all. Not reflection, no!--true knowledge, insight into appalling
truth, preponderates over all motives inciting to action, in Hamlet as
well as in the Dionysian man. No comfort avails any longer; his longing
goes beyond a world after death, beyond the gods themselves; existence
with its glittering reflection in the gods, or in an immortal other
world is abjured. In the consciousness of the truth he has perceived,
man now sees everywhere only the awfulness or the absurdity of
existence, he now understands the symbolism in the fate of Ophelia, he
now discerns the wisdom of the sylvan god Silenus: and loathing seizes

Here, in this extremest danger of the will, _art_ approaches, as a
saving and healing enchantress; she alone is able to transform these
nauseating reflections on the awfulness or absurdity of existence
into representations wherewith it is possible to live: these are the
representations of the _sublime_ as the artistic subjugation of the
awful, and the _comic_ as the artistic delivery from the nausea of
the absurd. The satyric chorus of dithyramb is the saving deed of
Greek art; the paroxysms described above spent their force in the
intermediary world of these Dionysian followers.


The satyr, like the idyllic shepherd of our more recent time, is the
offspring of a longing after the Primitive and the Natural; but mark
with what firmness and fearlessness the Greek embraced the man of
the woods, and again, how coyly and mawkishly the modern man dallied
with the flattering picture of a tender, flute-playing, soft-natured
shepherd! Nature, on which as yet no knowledge has been at work,
which maintains unbroken barriers to culture--this is what the Greek
saw in his satyr, which still was not on this account supposed to
coincide with the ape. On the contrary: it was the archetype of
man, the embodiment of his highest and strongest emotions, as the
enthusiastic reveller enraptured By the proximity of his god, as the
fellow-suffering companion in whom the suffering of the god repeats
itself, as the herald of wisdom speaking from the very depths of
nature, as the emblem of the sexual omnipotence of nature, which the
Greek was wont to contemplate with reverential awe. The satyr was
something sublime and godlike: he could not but appear so, especially
to the sad and wearied eye of the Dionysian man. He would have been
offended by our spurious tricked-up shepherd, while his eye dwelt
with sublime satisfaction on the naked and unstuntedly magnificent
characters of nature: here the illusion of culture was brushed away
from the archetype of man; here the true man, the bearded satyr,
revealed himself, who shouts joyfully to his god. Before him the
cultured man shrank to a lying caricature. Schiller is right also
with reference to these beginnings of tragic art: the chorus is a
living bulwark against the onsets of reality, because it--the satyric
chorus--portrays existence more truthfully, more realistically, more
perfectly than the cultured man who ordinarily considers himself as the
only reality. The sphere of poetry does not lie outside the world, like
some fantastic impossibility of a poet's imagination: it seeks to be
the very opposite, the unvarnished expression of truth, and must for
this very reason cast aside the false finery of that supposed reality
of the cultured man. The contrast between this intrinsic truth of
nature and the falsehood of culture, which poses as the only reality,
is similar to that existing between the eternal kernel of things, the
thing in itself, and the collective world of phenomena. And even as
tragedy, with its metaphysical comfort, points to the eternal life of
this kernel of existence, notwithstanding the perpetual dissolution of
phenomena, so the symbolism of the satyric chorus already expresses
figuratively this primordial relation between the thing in itself and
phenomenon. The idyllic shepherd of the modern man is but a copy of the
sum of the illusions of culture which he calls nature; the Dionysian
Greek desires truth and nature in their most potent form;--he sees
himself metamorphosed into the satyr.

The revelling crowd of the votaries of Dionysus rejoices, swayed by
such moods and perceptions, the power of which transforms them before
their own eyes, so that they imagine they behold themselves as
reconstituted genii of nature, as satyrs. The later constitution of the
tragic chorus is the artistic imitation of this natural phenomenon,
which of course required a separation of the Dionysian spectators from
the enchanted Dionysians. However, we must never lose sight of the fact
that the public of the Attic tragedy rediscovered itself in the chorus
of the orchestra, that there was in reality no antithesis of public
and chorus: for all was but one great sublime chorus of dancing and
singing satyrs, or of such as allowed themselves to be represented by
the satyrs. The Schlegelian observation must here reveal itself to us
in a deeper sense. The chorus is the "ideal spectator"[5] in so far as
it is the only _beholder,_[6] the beholder of the visionary world of
the scene. A public of spectators, as known to us, was unknown to the
Greeks. In their theatres the terraced structure of the spectators'
space rising in concentric arcs enabled every one, in the strictest
sense, to _overlook_ the entire world of culture around him, and in
surfeited contemplation to imagine himself a chorist. According to
this view, then, we may call the chorus in its primitive stage in
proto-tragedy, a self-mirroring of the Dionysian man: a phenomenon
which may be best exemplified by the process of the actor, who, if he
be truly gifted, sees hovering before his eyes with almost tangible
perceptibility the character he is to represent. The satyric chorus
is first of all a vision of the Dionysian throng, just as the world
of the stage is, in turn, a vision of the satyric chorus: the power
of this vision is great enough to render the eye dull and insensible
to the impression of "reality," to the presence of the cultured men
occupying the tiers of seats on every side. The form of the Greek
theatre reminds one of a lonesome mountain-valley: the architecture of
the scene appears like a luminous cloud-picture which the Bacchants
swarming on the mountains behold from the heights, as the splendid
encirclement in the midst of which the image of Dionysus is revealed to

Owing to our learned conception of the elementary artistic processes,
this artistic proto-phenomenon, which is here introduced to explain
the tragic chorus, is almost shocking: while nothing can be more
certain than that the poet is a poet only in that he beholds himself
surrounded by forms which live and act before him, into the innermost
being of which his glance penetrates. By reason of a strange defeat in
our capacities, we modern men are apt to represent to ourselves the
æsthetic proto-phenomenon as too complex and abstract. For the true
poet the metaphor is not a rhetorical figure, but a vicarious image
which actually hovers before him in place of a concept. The character
is not for him an aggregate composed of a studied collection of
particular traits, but an irrepressibly live person appearing before
his eyes, and differing only from the corresponding vision of the
painter by its ever continued life and action. Why is it that Homer
sketches much more vividly[7] than all the other poets? Because he
contemplates[8] much more. We talk so abstractly about poetry, because
we are all wont to be bad poets. At bottom the æsthetic phenomenon is
simple: let a man but have the faculty of perpetually seeing a lively
play and of constantly living surrounded by hosts of spirits, then he
is a poet: let him but feel the impulse to transform himself and to
talk from out the bodies and souls of others, then he is a dramatist.

The Dionysian excitement is able to impart to a whole mass of men
this artistic faculty of seeing themselves surrounded by such a host
of spirits, with whom they know themselves to be inwardly one. This
function of the tragic chorus is the _dramatic_ proto-phenomenon: to
see one's self transformed before one's self, and then to act as if
one had really entered into another body, into another character. This
function stands at the beginning of the development of the drama.
Here we have something different from the rhapsodist, who does not
blend with his pictures, but only sees them, like the painter, with
contemplative eye outside of him; here we actually have a surrender
of the individual by his entering into another nature. Moreover this
phenomenon appears in the form of an epidemic: a whole throng feels
itself metamorphosed in this wise. Hence it is that the dithyramb is
essentially different from every other variety of the choric song. The
virgins, who with laurel twigs in their hands solemnly proceed to
the temple of Apollo and sing a processional hymn, remain what they
are and retain their civic names: the dithyrambic chorus is a chorus
of transformed beings, whose civic past and social rank are totally
forgotten: they have become the timeless servants of their god that
live aloof from all the spheres of society. Every other variety of
the choric lyric of the Hellenes is but an enormous enhancement of
the Apollonian unit-singer: while in the dithyramb we have before us
a community of unconscious actors, who mutually regard themselves as
transformed among one another.

This enchantment is the prerequisite of all dramatic art. In this
enchantment the Dionysian reveller sees himself as a satyr, _and as
satyr he in turn beholds the god,_ that is, in his transformation he
sees a new vision outside him as the Apollonian consummation of his
state. With this new vision the drama is complete.

According to this view, we must understand Greek tragedy as the
Dionysian chorus, which always disburdens itself anew in an Apollonian
world of pictures. The choric parts, therefore, with which tragedy is
interlaced, are in a manner the mother-womb of the entire so-called
dialogue, that is, of the whole stage-world, of the drama proper. In
several successive outbursts does this primordial basis of tragedy beam
forth the vision of the drama, which is a dream-phenomenon throughout,
and, as such, epic in character: on the other hand, however, as
objectivation of a Dionysian state, it does not represent the
Apollonian redemption in appearance, but, conversely, the dissolution
of the individual and his unification with primordial existence.
Accordingly, the drama is the Apollonian embodiment of Dionysian
perceptions and influences, and is thereby separated from the epic as
by an immense gap.

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. Whereas, being accustomed to the
position of a chorus on the modern stage, especially an operatic
chorus, we could never comprehend why the tragic chorus of the Greeks
should be older, more primitive, indeed, more important than the
"action" proper,--as has been so plainly declared by the voice of
tradition; whereas, furthermore, we could not reconcile with this
traditional paramount importance and primitiveness the fact of the
chorus' being composed only of humble, ministering beings; indeed, at
first only of goatlike satyrs; whereas, finally, the orchestra before
the scene was always a riddle to us; we have learned to comprehend at
length that the scene, together with the action, was fundamentally
and originally conceived only as a _vision,_ that the only reality
is just the chorus, which of itself generates the vision and speaks
thereof with the entire symbolism of dancing, tone, and word. This
chorus beholds in the vision its lord and master Dionysus, and is thus
for ever the _serving_ chorus: it sees how he, the god, suffers and
glorifies himself, and therefore does not itself _act_. But though its
attitude towards the god is throughout the attitude of ministration,
this is nevertheless the highest expression, the Dionysian expression
of _Nature,_ and therefore, like Nature herself, the chorus utters
oracles and wise sayings when transported with enthusiasm: as
_fellow-sufferer_ it is also the _sage_ proclaiming truth from out the
heart of Nature. Thus, then, originates the fantastic figure, which
seems so shocking, of the wise and enthusiastic satyr, who is at the
same time "the dumb man" in contrast to the god: the image of Nature
and her strongest impulses, yea, the symbol of Nature, and at the same
time the herald of her art and wisdom: musician, poet, dancer, and
visionary in one person.

Agreeably to this view, and agreeably to tradition, _Dionysus,_ the
proper stage-hero and focus of vision, is not at first actually present
in the oldest period of tragedy, but is only imagined as present:
_i.e.,_ tragedy is originally only "chorus" and not "drama." Later
on the attempt is made to exhibit the god as real and to display the
visionary figure together with its glorifying encirclement before the
eyes of all; it is here that the "drama" in the narrow sense of the
term begins. To the dithyrambic chorus is now assigned the task of
exciting the minds of the hearers to such a pitch of Dionysian frenzy,
that, when the tragic hero appears on the stage, they do not behold
in him, say, the unshapely masked man, but a visionary figure, born
as it were of their own ecstasy. Let us picture Admetes thinking in
profound meditation of his lately departed wife Alcestis, and quite
consuming himself in spiritual contemplation thereof--when suddenly
the veiled figure of a woman resembling her in form and gait is led
towards him: let us picture his sudden trembling anxiety, his agitated
comparisons, his instinctive conviction--and we shall have an analogon
to the sensation with which the spectator, excited to Dionysian frenzy,
saw the god approaching on the stage, a god with whose sufferings he
had already become identified. He involuntarily transferred the entire
picture of the god, fluttering magically before his soul, to this
masked figure and resolved its reality as it were into a phantasmal
unreality. This is the Apollonian dream-state, in which the world
of day is veiled, and a new world, clearer, more intelligible, more
striking than the former, and nevertheless more shadowy, is ever born
anew in perpetual change before our eyes. We accordingly recognise in
tragedy a thorough-going stylistic contrast: the language, colour,
flexibility and dynamics of the dialogue fall apart in the Dionysian
lyrics of the chorus on the one hand, and in the Apollonian dream-world
of the scene on the other, into entirely separate spheres of
expression. The Apollonian appearances, in which Dionysus objectifies
himself, are no longer "ein ewiges Meer, ein wechselnd Weben, ein
glühend Leben,"[9] as is the music of the chorus, they are no longer
the forces merely felt, but not condensed into a picture, by which
the inspired votary of Dionysus divines the proximity of his god: the
clearness and firmness of epic form now speak to him from the scene,
Dionysus now no longer speaks through forces, but as an epic hero,
almost in the language of Homer.

[5] Zuschauer.

[6] Schauer.

[7] Anschaulicher.

[8] Anschaut.

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


Whatever rises to the surface in the dialogue of the Apollonian part
of Greek tragedy, appears simple, transparent, beautiful. In this
sense the dialogue is a copy of the Hellene, whose nature reveals
itself in the dance, because in the dance the greatest energy is merely
potential, but betrays itself nevertheless in flexible and vivacious
movements. The language of the Sophoclean heroes, for instance,
surprises us by its Apollonian precision and clearness, so that we at
once imagine we see into the innermost recesses of their being, and
marvel not a little that the way to these recesses is so short. But
if for the moment we disregard the character of the hero which rises
to the surface and grows visible--and which at bottom is nothing but
the light-picture cast on a dark wall, that is, appearance through and
through,--if rather we enter into the myth which projects itself in
these bright mirrorings, we shall of a sudden experience a phenomenon
which bears a reverse relation to one familiar in optics. When, after
a vigorous effort to gaze into the sun, we turn away blinded, we have
dark-coloured spots before our eyes as restoratives, so to speak;
while, on the contrary, those light-picture phenomena of the Sophoclean
hero,--in short, the Apollonian of the mask,--are the necessary
productions of a glance into the secret and terrible things of nature,
as it were shining spots to heal the eye which dire night has seared.
Only in this sense can we hope to be able to grasp the true meaning of
the serious and significant notion of "Greek cheerfulness"; while of
course we encounter the misunderstood notion of this cheerfulness, as
resulting from a state of unendangered comfort, on all the ways and
paths of the present time.

The most sorrowful figure of the Greek stage, the hapless _Œdipus,_
was understood by Sophocles as the noble man, who in spite of his
wisdom was destined to error and misery, but nevertheless through
his extraordinary sufferings ultimately exerted a magical, wholesome
influence on all around him, which continues effective even after
his death. The noble man does not sin; this is what the thoughtful
poet wishes to tell us: all laws, all natural order, yea, the moral
world itself, may be destroyed through his action, but through this
very action a higher magic circle of influences is brought into play,
which establish a new world on the ruins of the old that has been
overthrown. This is what the poet, in so far as he is at the same time
a religious thinker, wishes to tell us: as poet, he shows us first of
all a wonderfully complicated legal mystery, which the judge slowly
unravels, link by link, to his own destruction. The truly Hellenic
delight at this dialectical loosening is so great, that a touch of
surpassing cheerfulness is thereby communicated to the entire play,
which everywhere blunts the edge of the horrible presuppositions of the
procedure. In the "Œdipus at Colonus" we find the same cheerfulness,
elevated, however, to an infinite transfiguration: in contrast to
the aged king, subjected to an excess of misery, and exposed solely
as a _sufferer_ to all that befalls him, we have here a supermundane
cheerfulness, which descends from a divine sphere and intimates to
us that in his purely passive attitude the hero attains his highest
activity, the influence of which extends far beyond his life, while
his earlier conscious musing and striving led him only to passivity.
Thus, then, the legal knot of the fable of Œdipus, which to mortal
eyes appears indissolubly entangled, is slowly unravelled--and the
profoundest human joy comes upon us in the presence of this divine
counterpart of dialectics. If this explanation does justice to the
poet, it may still be asked whether the substance of the myth is
thereby exhausted; and here it turns out that the entire conception
of the poet is nothing but the light-picture which healing nature
holds up to us after a glance into the abyss. Œdipus, the murderer of
his father, the husband of his mother, Œdipus, the interpreter of the
riddle of the Sphinx! What does the mysterious triad of these deeds
of destiny tell us? There is a primitive popular belief, especially
in Persia, that a wise Magian can be born only of incest: which
we have forthwith to interpret to ourselves with reference to the
riddle-solving and mother-marrying Œdipus, to the effect that when
the boundary of the present and future, the rigid law of individuation
and, in general, the intrinsic spell of nature, are broken by prophetic
and magical powers, an extraordinary counter-naturalness--as, in this
case, incest--must have preceded as a cause; for how else could one
force nature to surrender her secrets but by victoriously opposing her,
_i.e.,_ by means of the Unnatural? It is this intuition which I see
imprinted in the awful triad of the destiny of Œdipus: the very man
who solves the riddle of nature--that double-constituted Sphinx--must
also, as the murderer of his father and husband of his mother, break
the holiest laws of nature. Indeed, it seems as if the myth sought to
whisper into our ears that wisdom, especially Dionysian wisdom, is
an unnatural abomination, and that whoever, through his knowledge,
plunges nature into an abyss of annihilation, must also experience
the dissolution of nature in himself. "The sharpness of wisdom turns
round upon the sage: wisdom is a crime against nature": such terrible
expressions does the myth call out to us: but the Hellenic poet touches
like a sunbeam the sublime and formidable Memnonian statue of the myth,
so that it suddenly begins to sound--in Sophoclean melodies.

With the glory of passivity I now contrast the glory of activity which
illuminates the _Prometheus_ of Æschylus. That which Æschylus the
thinker had to tell us here, but which as a poet he only allows us to
surmise by his symbolic picture, the youthful Goethe succeeded in
disclosing to us in the daring words of his Prometheus:--

    "Hier sitz' ich, forme Menschen
    Nach meinem Bilde,
    Ein Geschlecht, das mir gleich sei,
    Zu leiden, zu weinen,
    Zu geniessen und zu freuen sich,
    Und dein nicht zu achten,
    Wie ich!"[10]

Man, elevating himself to the rank of the Titans, acquires his culture
by his own efforts, and compels the gods to unite with him, because
in his self-sufficient wisdom he has their existence and their limits
in his hand. What is most wonderful, however, in this Promethean
form, which according to its fundamental conception is the specific
hymn of impiety, is the profound Æschylean yearning for _justice_:
the untold sorrow of the bold "single-handed being" on the one hand,
and the divine need, ay, the foreboding of a twilight of the gods, on
the other, the power of these two worlds of suffering constraining
to reconciliation, to metaphysical oneness--all this suggests most
forcibly the central and main position of the Æschylean view of
things, which sees Moira as eternal justice enthroned above gods and
men. In view of the astonishing boldness with which Æschylus places the
Olympian world on his scales of justice, it must be remembered that
the deep-minded Greek had an immovably firm substratum of metaphysical
thought in his mysteries, and that all his sceptical paroxysms could
be discharged upon the Olympians. With reference to these deities,
the Greek artist, in particular, had an obscure feeling as to mutual
dependency: and it is just in the Prometheus of Æschylus that this
feeling is symbolised. The Titanic artist found in himself the
daring belief that he could create men and at least destroy Olympian
deities: namely, by his superior wisdom, for which, to be sure, he had
to atone by eternal suffering. The splendid "can-ing" of the great
genius, bought too cheaply even at the price of eternal suffering,
the stern pride of the _artist_: this is the essence and soul of
Æschylean poetry, while Sophocles in his Œdipus preludingly strikes up
the victory-song of the _saint_. But even this interpretation which
Æschylus has given to the myth does not fathom its astounding depth of
terror; the fact is rather that the artist's delight in unfolding, the
cheerfulness of artistic creating bidding defiance to all calamity,
is but a shining stellar and nebular image reflected in a black sea
of sadness. The tale of Prometheus is an original possession of the
entire Aryan family of races, and documentary evidence of their
capacity for the profoundly tragic; indeed, it is not improbable that
this myth has the same characteristic significance for the Aryan
race that the myth of the fall of man has for the Semitic, and that
there is a relationship between the two myths like that of brother and
sister. The presupposition of the Promethean myth is the transcendent
value which a naïve humanity attach to _fire_ as the true palladium
of every ascending culture: that man, however, should dispose at will
of this fire, and should not receive it only as a gift from heaven,
as the igniting lightning or the warming solar flame, appeared to the
contemplative primordial men as crime and robbery of the divine nature.
And thus the first philosophical problem at once causes a painful,
irreconcilable antagonism between man and God, and puts as it were
a mass of rock at the gate of every culture. The best and highest
that men can acquire they obtain by a crime, and must now in their
turn take upon themselves its consequences, namely the whole flood of
sufferings and sorrows with which the offended celestials _must_ visit
the nobly aspiring race of man: a bitter reflection, which, by the
_dignity_ it confers on crime, contrasts strangely with the Semitic
myth of the fall of man, in which curiosity, beguilement, seducibility,
wantonness,--in short, a whole series of pre-eminently feminine
passions,--were regarded as the origin of evil. What distinguishes
the Aryan representation is the sublime view of _active sin_ as the
properly Promethean virtue, which suggests at the same time the ethical
basis of pessimistic tragedy as the _justification_ of human evil--of
human guilt as well as of the suffering incurred thereby. The misery in
the essence of things--which the contemplative Aryan is not disposed
to explain away--the antagonism in the heart of the world, manifests
itself to him as a medley of different worlds, for instance, a Divine
and a human world, each of which is in the right individually, but
as a separate existence alongside of another has to suffer for its
individuation. With the heroic effort made by the individual for
universality, in his attempt to pass beyond the bounds of individuation
and become the _one_ universal being, he experiences in himself the
primordial contradiction concealed in the essence of things, _i.e.,_
he trespasses and suffers. Accordingly crime[11] is understood by
the Aryans to be a man, sin[12] by the Semites a woman; as also, the
original crime is committed by man, the original sin by woman. Besides,
the witches' chorus says:

    "Wir nehmen das nicht so genau:
    Mit tausend Schritten macht's die Frau;
    Doch wie sie auch sich eilen kann
    Mit einem Sprunge macht's der Mann."[13]

He who understands this innermost core of the tale of
Prometheus--namely the necessity of crime imposed on the titanically
striving individual--will at once be conscious of the un-Apollonian
nature of this pessimistic representation: for Apollo seeks to pacify
individual beings precisely by drawing boundary lines between them,
and by again and again calling attention thereto, with his requirements
of self-knowledge and due proportion, as the holiest laws of the
universe. In order, however, to prevent the form from congealing to
Egyptian rigidity and coldness in consequence of this Apollonian
tendency, in order to prevent the extinction of the motion of the
entire lake in the effort to prescribe to the individual wave its path
and compass, the high tide of the Dionysian tendency destroyed from
time to time all the little circles in which the one-sided Apollonian
"will" sought to confine the Hellenic world. The suddenly swelling
tide of the Dionysian then takes the separate little wave-mountains of
individuals on its back, just as the brother of Prometheus, the Titan
Atlas, does with the earth. This Titanic impulse, to become as it were
the Atlas of all individuals, and to carry them on broad shoulders
higher and higher, farther and farther, is what the Promethean and the
Dionysian have in common. In this respect the Æschylean Prometheus is
a Dionysian mask, while, in the afore-mentioned profound yearning for
justice, Æschylus betrays to the intelligent observer his paternal
descent from Apollo, the god of individuation and of the boundaries
of justice. And so the double-being of the Æschylean Prometheus, his
conjoint Dionysian and Apollonian nature, might be thus expressed in
an abstract formula: "Whatever exists is alike just and unjust, and
equally justified in both."

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


    "Here sit I, forming mankind
    In my image,
    A race resembling me,--
    To sorrow and to weep,
    To taste, to hold, to enjoy,
    And not have need of thee,
    As I!"

(Translation in Hæckel's _History of the Evolution of Man._)

[11] _Der_ Frevel.]

[12] _Die_ Sünde.


    We do not measure with such care:
    Woman in thousand steps is there,
    But howsoe'er she hasten may.
    Man in one leap has cleared the way.
    _Faust,_ trans. of Bayard Taylor.--TR.

[14] This is thy world, and what a world!--_Faust._


It is an indisputable tradition that Greek tragedy in its earliest
form had for its theme only the sufferings of Dionysus, and that for
some time the only stage-hero therein was simply Dionysus himself.
With the same confidence, however, we can maintain that not until
Euripides did Dionysus cease to be the tragic hero, and that in fact
all the celebrated figures of the Greek stage--Prometheus, Œdipus,
etc.--are but masks of this original hero, Dionysus. The presence of a
god behind all these masks is the one essential cause of the typical
"ideality," so oft exciting wonder, of these celebrated figures. Some
one, I know not whom, has maintained that all individuals are comic as
individuals and are consequently un-tragic: from whence it might be
inferred that the Greeks in general _could_ not endure individuals on
the tragic stage. And they really seem to have had these sentiments:
as, in general, it is to be observed that the Platonic discrimination
and valuation of the "idea" in contrast to the "eidolon," the image,
is deeply rooted in the Hellenic being. Availing ourselves of Plato's
terminology, however, we should have to speak of the tragic figures of
the Hellenic stage somewhat as follows. The one truly real Dionysus
appears in a multiplicity of forms, in the mask of a fighting hero
and entangled, as it were, in the net of an individual will. As the
visibly appearing god now talks and acts, he resembles an erring,
striving, suffering individual: and that, in general, he _appears_
with such epic precision and clearness, is due to the dream-reading
Apollo, who reads to the chorus its Dionysian state through this
symbolic appearance. In reality, however, this hero is the suffering
Dionysus of the mysteries, a god experiencing in himself the sufferings
of individuation, of whom wonderful myths tell that as a boy he was
dismembered by the Titans and has been worshipped in this state
as Zagreus:[15] whereby is intimated that this dismemberment, the
properly Dionysian _suffering,_ is like a transformation into air,
water, earth, and fire, that we must therefore regard the state of
individuation as the source and primal cause of all suffering, as
something objectionable in itself. From the smile of this Dionysus
sprang the Olympian gods, from his tears sprang man. In his existence
as a dismembered god, Dionysus has the dual nature of a cruel
barbarised demon, and a mild pacific ruler. But the hope of the epopts
looked for a new birth of Dionysus, which we have now to conceive of in
anticipation as the end of individuation: it was for this coming third
Dionysus that the stormy jubilation-hymns of the epopts resounded. And
it is only this hope that sheds a ray of joy upon the features of a
world torn asunder and shattered into individuals: as is symbolised in
the myth by Demeter sunk in eternal sadness, who _rejoices_ again only
when told that she may _once more_ give birth to Dionysus In the views
of things here given we already have all the elements of a profound and
pessimistic contemplation of the world, and along with these we have
the _mystery doctrine of tragedy_: the fundamental knowledge of the
oneness of all existing things, the consideration of individuation as
the primal cause of evil, and art as the joyous hope that the spell of
individuation may be broken, as the augury of a restored oneness.

It has already been intimated that the Homeric epos is the poem
of Olympian culture, wherewith this culture has sung its own song
of triumph over the terrors of the war of the Titans. Under the
predominating influence of tragic poetry, these Homeric myths are now
reproduced anew, and show by this metempsychosis that meantime the
Olympian culture also has been vanquished by a still deeper view of
things. The haughty Titan Prometheus has announced to his Olympian
tormentor that the extremest danger will one day menace his rule,
unless he ally with him betimes. In Æschylus we perceive the terrified
Zeus, apprehensive of his end, in alliance with the Titan. Thus, the
former age of the Titans is subsequently brought from Tartarus once
more to the light of day. The philosophy of wild and naked nature
beholds with the undissembled mien of truth the myths of the Homeric
world as they dance past: they turn pale, they tremble before the
lightning glance of this goddess--till the powerful fist[16] of
the Dionysian artist forces them into the service of the new deity.
Dionysian truth takes over the entire domain of myth as symbolism of
_its_ knowledge, which it makes known partly in the public cult of
tragedy and partly in the secret celebration of the dramatic mysteries,
always, however, in the old mythical garb. What was the power, which
freed Prometheus from his vultures and transformed the myth into a
vehicle of Dionysian wisdom? It is the Heracleian power of music:
which, having reached its highest manifestness in tragedy, can invest
myths with a new and most profound significance, which we have already
had occasion to characterise as the most powerful faculty of music. For
it is the fate of every myth to insinuate itself into the narrow limits
of some alleged historical reality, and to be treated by some later
generation as a solitary fact with historical claims: and the Greeks
were already fairly on the way to restamp the whole of their mythical
juvenile dream sagaciously and arbitrarily into a historico-pragmatical
_juvenile history._ For this is the manner in which religions are
wont to die out: when of course under the stern, intelligent eyes of
an orthodox dogmatism, the mythical presuppositions of a religion are
systematised as a completed sum of historical events, and when one
begins apprehensively to defend the credibility of the myth, while at
the same time opposing all continuation of their natural vitality and
luxuriance; when, accordingly, the feeling for myth dies out, and its
place is taken by the claim of religion to historical foundations.
This dying myth was now seized by the new-born genius of Dionysian
music, in whose hands it bloomed once more, with such colours as it
had never yet displayed, with a fragrance that awakened a longing
anticipation of a metaphysical world. After this final effulgence
it collapses, its leaves wither, and soon the scoffing Lucians of
antiquity catch at the discoloured and faded flowers which the winds
carry off in every direction. Through tragedy the myth attains its
profoundest significance, its most expressive form; it rises once more
like a wounded hero, and the whole surplus of vitality, together with
the philosophical calmness of the Dying, burns in its eyes with a last
powerful gleam.

What meantest thou, oh impious Euripides, in seeking once more to
enthral this dying one? It died under thy ruthless hands: and then
thou madest use of counterfeit, masked myth, which like the ape of
Heracles could only trick itself out in the old finery. And as myth
died in thy hands, so also died the genius of music; though thou
couldst covetously plunder all the gardens of music--thou didst only
realise a counterfeit, masked music. And because thou hast forsaken
Dionysus. Apollo hath also forsaken thee; rout up all the passions from
their haunts and conjure them into thy sphere, sharpen and polish a
sophistical dialectics for the speeches of thy heroes--thy very heroes
have only counterfeit, masked passions, and speak only counterfeit,
masked music.

[15] See article by Mr. Arthur Symons in _The Academy,_ 30th
August 1902.

[16] Die mächtige Faust.--Cf. _Faust,_ Chorus of


Greek tragedy had a fate different from that of all her older sister
arts: she died by suicide, in consequence of an irreconcilable
conflict; accordingly she died tragically, while they all passed away
very calmly and beautifully in ripe old age. For if it be in accordance
with a happy state of things to depart this life without a struggle,
leaving behind a fair posterity, the closing period of these older
arts exhibits such a happy state of things: slowly they sink out of
sight, and before their dying eyes already stand their fairer progeny,
who impatiently lift up their heads with courageous mien. The death of
Greek tragedy, on the other hand, left an immense void, deeply felt
everywhere. Even as certain Greek sailors in the time of Tiberius once
heard upon a lonesome island the thrilling cry, "great Pan is dead": so
now as it were sorrowful wailing sounded through the Hellenic world:
"Tragedy is dead! Poetry itself has perished with her! Begone, begone,
ye stunted, emaciated epigones! Begone to Hades, that ye may for once
eat your fill of the crumbs of your former masters!"

But when after all a new Art blossomed forth which revered tragedy as
her ancestress and mistress, it was observed with horror that she did
indeed bear the features of her mother, but those very features the
latter had exhibited in her long death-struggle. It was _Euripides_ who
fought this death-struggle of tragedy; the later art is known as the
_New Attic Comedy._ In it the degenerate form of tragedy lived on as a
monument of the most painful and violent death of tragedy proper.

This connection between the two serves to explain the passionate
attachment to Euripides evinced by the poets of the New Comedy, and
hence we are no longer surprised at the wish of Philemon, who would
have got himself hanged at once, with the sole design of being able
to visit Euripides in the lower regions: if only he could be assured
generally that the deceased still had his wits. But if we desire, as
briefly as possible, and without professing to say aught exhaustive on
the subject, to characterise what Euripides has in common with Menander
and Philemon, and what appealed to them so strongly as worthy of
imitation: it will suffice to say that the _spectator_ was brought upon
the stage by Euripides. He who has perceived the material of which the
Promethean tragic writers prior to Euripides formed their heroes, and
how remote from their purpose it was to bring the true mask of reality
on the stage, will also know what to make of the wholly divergent
tendency of Euripides. Through him the commonplace individual forced
his way from the spectators' benches to the stage itself; the mirror in
which formerly only great and bold traits found expression now showed
the painful exactness that conscientiously reproduces even the abortive
lines of nature. Odysseus, the typical Hellene of the Old Art, sank,
in the hands of the new poets, to the figure of the Græculus, who, as
the good-naturedly cunning domestic slave, stands henceforth in the
centre of dramatic interest. What Euripides takes credit for in the
Aristophanean "Frogs," namely, that by his household remedies he freed
tragic art from its pompous corpulency, is apparent above all in his
tragic heroes. The spectator now virtually saw and heard his double on
the Euripidean stage, and rejoiced that he could talk so well. But this
joy was not all: one even learned of Euripides how to speak: he prides
himself upon this in his contest with Æschylus: how the people have
learned from him how to observe, debate, and draw conclusions according
to the rules of art and with the cleverest sophistications. In general
it may be said that through this revolution of the popular language he
made the New Comedy possible. For it was henceforth no longer a secret,
how--and with what saws--the commonplace could represent and express
itself on the stage. Civic mediocrity, on which Euripides built all
his political hopes, was now suffered to speak, while heretofore the
demigod in tragedy and the drunken satyr, or demiman, in comedy, had
determined the character of the language. And so the Aristophanean
Euripides prides himself on having portrayed the common, familiar,
everyday life and dealings of the people, concerning which all are
qualified to pass judgment. If now the entire populace philosophises,
manages land and goods with unheard-of circumspection, and conducts
law-suits, he takes all the credit to himself, and glories in the
splendid results of the wisdom with which he inoculated the rabble.

It was to a populace prepared and enlightened in this manner that the
New Comedy could now address itself, of which Euripides had become
as it were the chorus-master; only that in this case the chorus of
spectators had to be trained. As soon as this chorus was trained to
sing in the Euripidean key, there arose that chesslike variety of the
drama, the New Comedy, with its perpetual triumphs of cunning and
artfulness. But Euripides--the chorus-master--was praised incessantly:
indeed, people would have killed themselves in order to learn yet more
from him, had they not known that tragic poets were quite as dead as
tragedy. But with it the Hellene had surrendered the belief in his
immortality; not only the belief in an ideal past, but also the belief
in an ideal future. The saying taken from the well-known epitaph, "as
an old man, frivolous and capricious," applies also to aged Hellenism.
The passing moment, wit, levity, and caprice, are its highest deities;
the fifth class, that of the slaves, now attains to power, at least in
sentiment: and if we can still speak at all of "Greek cheerfulness,"
it is the cheerfulness of the slave who has nothing of consequence to
answer for, nothing great to strive for, and cannot value anything of
the past or future higher than the present. It was this semblance of
"Greek cheerfulness" which so revolted the deep-minded and formidable
natures of the first four centuries of Christianity: this womanish
flight from earnestness and terror, this cowardly contentedness with
easy pleasure, was not only contemptible to them, but seemed to be a
specifically anti-Christian sentiment. And we must ascribe it to its
influence that the conception of Greek antiquity, which lived on for
centuries, preserved with almost enduring persistency that peculiar
hectic colour of cheerfulness--as if there had never been a Sixth
Century with its birth of tragedy, its Mysteries, its Pythagoras and
Heraclitus, indeed as if the art-works of that great period did not at
all exist, which in fact--each by itself--can in no wise be explained
as having sprung from the soil of such a decrepit and slavish love
of existence and cheerfulness, and point to an altogether different
conception of things as their source.

The assertion made a moment ago, that Euripides introduced the
spectator on the stage to qualify him the better to pass judgment on
the drama, will make it appear as if the old tragic art was always
in a false relation to the spectator: and one would be tempted to
extol the radical tendency of Euripides to bring about an adequate
relation between art-work and public as an advance on Sophocles. But,
as things are, "public" is merely a word, and not at all a homogeneous
and constant quantity. Why should the artist be under obligations to
accommodate himself to a power whose strength is merely in numbers?
And if by virtue of his endowments and aspirations he feels himself
superior to every one of these spectators, how could he feel greater
respect for the collective expression of all these subordinate
capacities than for the relatively highest-endowed individual
spectator? In truth, if ever a Greek artist treated his public
throughout a long life with presumptuousness and self-sufficiency,
it was Euripides, who, even when the masses threw themselves at his
feet, with sublime defiance made an open assault on his own tendency,
the very tendency with which he had triumphed over the masses. If this
genius had had the slightest reverence for the pandemonium of the
public, he would have broken down long before the middle of his career
beneath the weighty blows of his own failures. These considerations
here make it obvious that our formula--namely, that Euripides brought
the spectator upon the stage, in order to make him truly competent to
pass judgment--was but a provisional one, and that we must seek for a
deeper understanding of his tendency. Conversely, it is undoubtedly
well known that Æschylus and Sophocles, during all their lives, indeed,
far beyond their lives, enjoyed the full favour of the people, and that
therefore in the case of these predecessors of Euripides the idea of
a false relation between art-work and public was altogether excluded.
What was it that thus forcibly diverted this highly gifted artist, so
incessantly impelled to production, from the path over which shone the
sun of the greatest names in poetry and the cloudless heaven of popular
favour? What strange consideration for the spectator led him to defy,
the spectator? How could he, owing to too much respect for the public
--dis-respect the public?

Euripides--and this is the solution of the riddle just propounded--felt
himself, as a poet, undoubtedly superior to the masses, but not to
two of his spectators: he brought the masses upon the stage; these
two spectators he revered as the only competent judges and masters
of his art: in compliance with their directions and admonitions, he
transferred the entire world of sentiments, passions, and experiences,
hitherto present at every festival representation as the invisible
chorus on the spectators' benches, into the souls of his stage-heroes;
he yielded to their demands when he also sought for these new
characters the new word and the new tone; in their voices alone he
heard the conclusive verdict on his work, as also the cheering promise
of triumph when he found himself condemned as usual by the justice of
the public.

Of these two, spectators the one is--Euripides himself, Euripides _as
thinker,_ not as poet. It might be said of him, that his unusually
large fund of critical ability, as in the case of Lessing, if it did
not create, at least constantly fructified a productively artistic
collateral impulse. With this faculty, with all the clearness and
dexterity of his critical thought, Euripides had sat in the theatre and
striven to recognise in the masterpieces of his great predecessors, as
in faded paintings, feature and feature, line and line. And here had
happened to him what one initiated in the deeper arcana of Æschylean
tragedy must needs have expected: he observed something incommensurable
in every feature and in every line, a certain deceptive distinctness
and at the same time an enigmatic profundity, yea an infinitude, of
background. Even the clearest figure had always a comet's tail attached
to it, which seemed to suggest the uncertain and the inexplicable.
The same twilight shrouded the structure of the drama, especially the
significance of the chorus. And how doubtful seemed the solution of
the ethical problems to his mind! How questionable the treatment of
the myths! How unequal the distribution of happiness and misfortune!
Even in the language of the Old Tragedy there was much that was
objectionable to him, or at least enigmatical; he found especially
too much pomp for simple affairs, too many tropes and immense things
for the plainness of the characters. Thus he sat restlessly pondering
in the theatre, and as a spectator he acknowledged to himself that he
did not understand his great predecessors. If, however, he thought the
understanding the root proper of all enjoyment and productivity, he had
to inquire and look about to see whether any one else thought as he
did, and also acknowledged this incommensurability. But most people,
and among them the best individuals, had only a distrustful smile for
him, while none could explain why the great masters were still in the
right in face of his scruples and objections. And in this painful
condition he found _that other spectator,_ who did not comprehend,
and therefore did not esteem, tragedy. In alliance with him he could
venture, from amid his lonesomeness, to begin the prodigious struggle
against the art of Æschylus and Sophocles--not with polemic writings,
but as a dramatic poet, who opposed _his own_ conception of tragedy to
the traditional one.


Before we name this other spectator, let us pause here a moment in
order to recall our own impression, as previously described, of the
discordant and incommensurable elements in the nature of Æschylean
tragedy. Let us think of our own astonishment at the _chorus_ and
the _tragic hero_ of that type of tragedy, neither of which we could
reconcile with our practices any more than with tradition--till we
rediscovered this duplexity itself as the origin and essence of Greek
tragedy, as the expression of two interwoven artistic impulses, _the
Apollonian and the Dionysian_.

To separate this primitive and all-powerful Dionysian element from
tragedy, and to build up a new and purified form of tragedy on the
basis of a non-Dionysian art, morality, and conception of things--such
is the tendency of Euripides which now reveals itself to us in a clear

In a myth composed in the eve of his life, Euripides himself most
urgently propounded to his contemporaries the question as to the
value and signification of this tendency. Is the Dionysian entitled
to exist at all? Should it not be forcibly rooted out of the Hellenic
soil? Certainly, the poet tells us, if only it were possible: but the
god Dionysus is too powerful; his most intelligent adversary--like
Pentheus in the "Bacchæ"--is unwittingly enchanted by him, and
in this enchantment meets his fate. The judgment of the two old
sages, Cadmus and Tiresias, seems to be also the judgment of the
aged poet: that the reflection of the wisest individuals does not
overthrow old popular traditions, nor the perpetually propagating
worship of Dionysus, that in fact it behoves us to display at least a
diplomatically cautious concern in the presence of such strange forces:
where however it is always possible that the god may take offence
at such lukewarm participation, and finally change the diplomat--in
this case Cadmus--into a dragon. This is what a poet tells us, who
opposed Dionysus with heroic valour throughout a long life--in order
finally to wind up his career with a glorification of his adversary,
and with suicide, like one staggering from giddiness, who, in order
to escape the horrible vertigo he can no longer endure, casts himself
from a tower. This tragedy--the Bacchæ--is a protest against the
practicability of his own tendency; alas, and it has already been
put into practice! The surprising thing had happened: when the poet
recanted, his tendency had already conquered. Dionysus had already
been scared from the tragic stage, and in fact by a demonic power
which spoke through Euripides. Even Euripides was, in a certain sense,
only a mask: the deity that spoke through him was neither Dionysus nor
Apollo, but an altogether new-born demon, called _Socrates._ This is
the new antithesis: the Dionysian and the Socratic, and the art-work of
Greek tragedy was wrecked on it. What if even Euripides now seeks to
comfort us by his recantation? It is of no avail: the most magnificent
temple lies in ruins. What avails the lamentation of the destroyer,
and his confession that it was the most beautiful of all temples? And
even that Euripides has been changed into a dragon as a punishment by
the art-critics of all ages--who could be content with this wretched

Let us now approach this _Socratic_ tendency with which Euripides
combated and vanquished Æschylean tragedy.

We must now ask ourselves, what could be the ulterior aim of the
Euripidean design, which, in the highest ideality of its execution,
would found drama exclusively on the non-Dionysian? What other form of
drama could there be, if it was not to be born of the womb of music, in
the mysterious twilight of the Dionysian? Only _the dramatised epos:_
in which Apollonian domain of art the _tragic_ effect is of course
unattainable. It does not depend on the subject-matter of the events
here represented; indeed, I venture to assert that it would have been
impossible for Goethe in his projected "Nausikaa" to have rendered
tragically effective the suicide of the idyllic being with which he
intended to complete the fifth act; so extraordinary is the power of
the epic-Apollonian representation, that it charms, before our eyes,
the most terrible things by the joy in appearance and in redemption
through appearance. The poet of the dramatised epos cannot completely
blend with his pictures any more than the epic rhapsodist. He is still
just the calm, unmoved embodiment of Contemplation whose wide eyes see
the picture _before_ them. The actor in this dramatised epos still
remains intrinsically rhapsodist: the consecration of inner dreaming
is on all his actions, so that he is never wholly an actor.

How, then, is the Euripidean play related to this ideal of the
Apollonian drama? Just as the younger rhapsodist is related to the
solemn rhapsodist of the old time. The former describes his own
character in the Platonic "Ion" as follows: "When I am saying anything
sad, my eyes fill with tears; when, however, what I am saying is awful
and terrible, then my hair stands on end through fear, and my heart
leaps." Here we no longer observe anything of the epic absorption
in appearance, or of the unemotional coolness of the true actor,
who precisely in his highest activity is wholly appearance and joy
in appearance. Euripides is the actor with leaping heart, with hair
standing on end; as Socratic thinker he designs the plan, as passionate
actor he executes it. Neither in the designing nor in the execution is
he an artist pure and simple. And so the Euripidean drama is a thing
both cool and fiery, equally capable of freezing and burning; it is
impossible for it to attain the Apollonian, effect of the epos, while,
on the other hand, it has severed itself as much as possible from
Dionysian elements, and now, in order to act at all, it requires new
stimulants, which can no longer lie within the sphere of the two unique
art-impulses, the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The stimulants are
cool, paradoxical _thoughts_, in place of Apollonian intuitions--and
fiery _passions_--in place Dionysean ecstasies; and in fact, thoughts
and passions very realistically copied, and not at all steeped in the
ether of art.

Accordingly, if we have perceived this much, that Euripides did not
succeed in establishing the drama exclusively on the Apollonian, but
that rather his non-Dionysian inclinations deviated into a naturalistic
and inartistic tendency, we shall now be able to approach nearer to
the character _æsthetic Socratism._ supreme law of which reads about
as follows: "to be beautiful everything must be intelligible," as
the parallel to the Socratic proposition, "only the knowing is one
virtuous." With this canon in his hands Euripides measured all the
separate elements of the drama, and rectified them according to his
principle: the language, the characters, the dramaturgic structure, and
the choric music. The poetic deficiency and retrogression, which we
are so often wont to impute to Euripides in comparison with Sophoclean
tragedy, is for the most part the product of this penetrating critical
process, this daring intelligibility. The Euripidian _prologue_ may
serve us as an example of the productivity of this, rationalistic
method. Nothing could be more opposed to the technique of our stage
than the prologue in the drama of Euripides. For a single person to
appear at the outset of the play telling us who he is, what precedes
the action, what has happened thus far, yea, what will happen in
the course of the play, would be designated by a modern playwright
as a wanton and unpardonable abandonment of the effect of suspense.
Everything that is about to happen is known beforehand; who then
cares to wait for it actually to happen?--considering, moreover, that
here there is not by any means the exciting relation of a predicting
dream to a reality taking place later on. Euripides speculated quite
differently. The effect of tragedy never depended on epic suspense, on
the fascinating uncertainty as to what is to happen now and afterwards:
but rather on the great rhetoro-lyric scenes in which the passion and
dialectics of the chief hero swelled to a broad and mighty stream.
Everything was arranged for pathos, not for action: and whatever
was not arranged for pathos was regarded as objectionable. But what
interferes most with the hearer's pleasurable satisfaction in such
scenes is a missing link, a gap in the texture of the previous history.
So long as the spectator has to divine the meaning of this or that
person, or the presuppositions of this or that conflict of inclinations
and intentions, his complete absorption in the doings and sufferings
of the chief persons is impossible, as is likewise breathless
fellow-feeling and fellow-fearing. The Æschyleo-Sophoclean tragedy
employed the most ingenious devices in the first scenes to place in
the hands of the spectator as if by chance all the threads requisite
for understanding the whole: a trait in which that noble artistry is
approved, which as it were masks the _inevitably_ formal, and causes
it to appear as something accidental. But nevertheless Euripides
thought he observed that during these first scenes the spectator was
in a strange state of anxiety to make out the problem of the previous
history, so that the poetic beauties and pathos of the exposition
were lost to him. Accordingly he placed the prologue even before the
exposition, and put it in the mouth of a person who could be trusted:
some deity had often as it were to guarantee the particulars of the
tragedy to the public and remove every doubt as to the reality of the
myth: as in the case of Descartes, who could only prove the reality
of the empiric world by an appeal to the truthfulness of God and His
inability to utter falsehood. Euripides makes use of the same divine
truthfulness once more at the close of his drama, in order to ensure to
the public the future of his heroes; this is the task of the notorious
_deus ex machina._ Between the preliminary and the additional epic
spectacle there is the dramatico-lyric present, the "drama" proper.

Thus Euripides as a poet echoes above all his own conscious
knowledge; and it is precisely on this account that he occupies such
a notable position in the history of Greek art. With reference to his
critico-productive activity, he must often have felt that he ought
to actualise in the drama the words at the beginning of the essay of
Anaxagoras: "In the beginning all things were mixed together; then
came the understanding and created order." And if Anaxagoras with his
"νοῡς" seemed like the first sober person among nothing but drunken
philosophers, Euripides may also have conceived his relation to
the other tragic poets under a similar figure. As long as the sole
ruler and disposer of the universe, the νοῡς, was still excluded
from artistic activity, things were all mixed together in a chaotic,
primitive mess;--it is thus Euripides was obliged to think, it is thus
he was obliged to condemn the "drunken" poets as the first "sober" one
among them. What Sophocles said of Æschylus, that he did what was
right, though unconsciously, was surely not in the mind of Euripides:
who would have admitted only thus much, that Æschylus, _because_ he
wrought unconsciously, did what was wrong. So also the divine Plato
speaks for the most part only ironically of the creative faculty of the
poet, in so far as it is not conscious insight, and places it on a par
with the gift of the soothsayer and dream-interpreter; insinuating that
the poet is incapable of composing until he has become unconscious and
reason has deserted him. Like Plato, Euripides undertook to show to the
world the reverse of the "unintelligent" poet; his æsthetic principle
that "to be beautiful everything must be known" is, as I have said,
the parallel to the Socratic "to be good everything must be known."
Accordingly we may regard Euripides as the poet of æsthetic Socratism.
Socrates, however, was that _second spectator_ who did not comprehend
and therefore did not esteem the Old Tragedy; in alliance with him
Euripides ventured to be the herald of a new artistic activity. If,
then, the Old Tragedy was here destroyed, it follows that æsthetic
Socratism was the murderous principle; but in so far as the struggle is
directed against the Dionysian element in the old art, we recognise in
Socrates the opponent of Dionysus, the new Orpheus who rebels against
Dionysus; and although destined to be torn to pieces by the Mænads of
the Athenian court, yet puts to flight the overpowerful god himself,
who, when he fled from Lycurgus, the king of Edoni, sought refuge in
the depths of the ocean--namely, in the mystical flood of a secret
cult which gradually overspread the earth.


That Socrates stood in close relationship to Euripides in the tendency
of his teaching, did not escape the notice of contemporaneous
antiquity; the most eloquent expression of this felicitous insight
being the tale current in Athens, that Socrates was accustomed to help
Euripides in poetising. Both names were mentioned in one breath by the
adherents of the "good old time," whenever they came to enumerating the
popular agitators of the day: to whose influence they attributed the
fact that the old Marathonian stalwart capacity of body and soul was
more and more being sacrificed to a dubious enlightenment, involving
progressive degeneration of the physical and mental powers. It is in
this tone, half indignantly and half contemptuously, that Aristophanic
comedy is wont to speak of both of them--to the consternation of
modern men, who would indeed be willing enough to give up Euripides,
but cannot suppress their amazement that Socrates should appear in
Aristophanes as the first and head _sophist,_ as the mirror and epitome
of all sophistical tendencies; in connection with which it offers the
single consolation of putting Aristophanes himself in the pillory, as a
rakish, lying Alcibiades of poetry. Without here defending the profound
instincts of Aristophanes against such attacks, I shall now indicate,
by means of the sentiments of the time, the close connection between
Socrates and Euripides. With this purpose in view, it is especially to
be remembered that Socrates, as an opponent of tragic art, did not
ordinarily patronise tragedy, but only appeared among the spectators
when a new play of Euripides was performed. The most noted thing,
however, is the close juxtaposition of the two names in the Delphic
oracle, which designated Socrates as the wisest of men, but at the same
time decided that the second prize in the contest of wisdom was due to

Sophocles was designated as the third in this scale of rank; he who
could pride himself that, in comparison with Æschylus, he did what
was right, and did it, moreover, because he _knew_ what was right. It
is evidently just the degree of clearness of this _knowledge,_ which
distinguishes these three men in common as the three "knowing ones" of
their age.

The most decisive word, however, for this new and unprecedented
esteem of knowledge and insight was spoken by Socrates when he
found that he was the only one who acknowledged to himself that he
_knew nothing_ while in his critical pilgrimage through Athens, and
calling on the greatest statesmen, orators, poets, and artists, he
discovered everywhere the conceit of knowledge. He perceived, to his
astonishment, that all these celebrities were without a proper and
accurate insight, even with regard to their own callings, and practised
them only by instinct. "Only by instinct": with this phrase we touch
upon the heart and core of the Socratic tendency. Socratism condemns
therewith existing art as well as existing ethics; wherever Socratism
turns its searching eyes it beholds the lack of insight and the
power of illusion; and from this lack infers the inner perversity and
objectionableness of existing conditions. From this point onwards,
Socrates believed that he was called upon to, correct existence;
and, with an air of disregard and superiority, as the precursor
of an altogether different culture, art, and morality, he enters
single-handed into a world, of which, if we reverently touched the hem,
we should count it our greatest happiness.

Here is the extraordinary hesitancy which always seizes upon us with
regard to Socrates, and again and again invites us to ascertain the
sense and purpose of this most questionable phenomenon of antiquity.
Who is it that ventures single-handed to disown the Greek character,
which, as Homer, Pindar, and Æschylus, as Phidias, as Pericles, as
Pythia and Dionysus, as the deepest abyss and the highest height, is
sure of our wondering admiration? What demoniac power is it which would
presume to spill this magic draught in the dust? What demigod is it to
whom the chorus of spirits of the noblest of mankind must call out:
"Weh! Weh! Du hast sie zerstört, die schöne Welt, mit mächtiger Faust;
sie stürzt, sie zerfällt!"[17]

A key to the character of Socrates is presented to us by the surprising
phenomenon designated as the "daimonion" of Socrates. In special
circumstances, when his gigantic intellect began to stagger, he got
a secure support in the utterances of a divine voice which then
spake to him. This voice, whenever it comes, always _dissuades._
In this totally abnormal nature instinctive wisdom only appears in
order to hinder the progress of conscious perception here and there.
While in all productive men it is instinct which is the creatively
affirmative force, consciousness only comporting itself critically
and dissuasively; with Socrates it is instinct which becomes critic;
it is consciousness which becomes creator--a perfect monstrosity
_per defectum!_ And we do indeed observe here a monstrous _defectus_
of all mystical aptitude, so that Socrates might be designated as
the specific _non-mystic,_ in whom the logical nature is developed,
through a superfoetation, to the same excess as instinctive wisdom
is developed in the mystic. On the other hand, however, the logical
instinct which appeared in Socrates was absolutely prohibited from
turning against itself; in its unchecked flow it manifests a native
power such as we meet with, to our shocking surprise, only among the
very greatest instinctive forces. He who has experienced even a breath
of the divine naïveté and security of the Socratic course of life in
the Platonic writings, will also feel that the enormous driving-wheel
of logical Socratism is in motion, as it were, _behind_ Socrates, and
that it must be viewed through Socrates as through a shadow. And
that he himself had a boding of this relation is apparent from the
dignified earnestness with which he everywhere, and even before his
judges, insisted on his divine calling. To refute him here was really
as impossible as to approve of his instinct-disintegrating influence.
In view of this indissoluble conflict, when he had at last been brought
before the forum of the Greek state, there was only one punishment
demanded, namely exile; he might have been sped across the borders as
something thoroughly enigmatical, irrubricable and inexplicable, and so
posterity would have been quite unjustified in charging the Athenians
with a deed of ignominy. But that the sentence of death, and not mere
exile, was pronounced upon him, seems to have been brought about by
Socrates himself, with perfect knowledge of the circumstances, and
without the natural fear of death: he met his death with the calmness
with which, according to the description of Plato, he leaves the
symposium at break of day, as the last of the revellers, to begin a new
day; while the sleepy companions remain behind on the benches and the
floor, to dream of Socrates, the true eroticist. _The dying Socrates_
became the new ideal of the noble Greek youths,--an ideal they had
never yet beheld,--and above all, the typical Hellenic youth, Plato,
prostrated himself before this scene with all the fervent devotion of
his visionary soul.


    Woe! Woe!
    Thou hast it destroyed,
    The beautiful world;
    With powerful fist;
    In ruin 'tis hurled!
    _Faust,_ trans. of Bayard Taylor.--TR.


Let us now imagine the one great Cyclopean eye of Socrates fixed on
tragedy, that eye in which the fine frenzy of artistic enthusiasm had
never glowed--let us think how it was denied to this eye to gaze with
pleasure into the Dionysian abysses--what could it not but see in the
"sublime and greatly lauded" tragic art, as Plato called it? Something
very absurd, with causes that seemed to be without effects, and
effects apparently without causes; the whole, moreover, so motley and
diversified that it could not but be repugnant to a thoughtful mind, a
dangerous incentive, however, to sensitive and irritable souls. We know
what was the sole kind of poetry which he comprehended: the _Æsopian
fable_: and he did this no doubt with that smiling complaisance with
which the good honest Gellert sings the praise of poetry in the fable
of the bee and the hen:--

    "Du siehst an mir, wozu sie nützt,
    Dem, der nicht viel Verstand besitzt,
    Die Wahrheit durch ein Bild zu sagen."[18]

But then it seemed to Socrates that tragic art did not even "tell the
truth": not to mention the fact that it addresses itself to him who
"hath but little wit"; consequently not to the philosopher: a twofold
reason why it should be avoided. Like Plato, he reckoned it among the
seductive arts which only represent the agreeable, not the useful, and
hence he required of his disciples abstinence and strict separation
from such unphilosophical allurements; with such success that the
youthful tragic poet Plato first of all burned his poems to be able to
become a scholar of Socrates. But where unconquerable native capacities
bore up against the Socratic maxims, their power, together with the
momentum of his mighty character, still sufficed to force poetry itself
into new and hitherto unknown channels.

An instance of this is the aforesaid Plato: he, who in the condemnation
of tragedy and of art in general certainly did not fall short of
the naïve cynicism of his master, was nevertheless constrained by
sheer artistic necessity to create a form of art which is inwardly
related even to the then existing forms of art which he repudiated.
Plato's main objection to the old art--that it is the imitation of
a phantom,[19] and hence belongs to a sphere still lower than the
empiric world--could not at all apply to the new art: and so we find
Plato endeavouring to go beyond reality and attempting to represent
the idea which underlies this pseudo-reality. But Plato, the thinker,
thereby arrived by a roundabout road just at the point where he had
always been at home as poet, and from which Sophocles and all the old
artists had solemnly protested against that objection. If tragedy
absorbed into itself all the earlier varieties of art, the same
could again be said in an unusual sense of Platonic dialogue, which,
engendered by a mixture of all the then existing forms and styles,
hovers midway between narrative, lyric and drama, between prose and
poetry, and has also thereby broken loose from the older strict law
of unity of linguistic form; a movement which was carried still
farther by the _cynic_ writers, who in the most promiscuous style,
oscillating to and fro betwixt prose and metrical forms, realised also
the literary picture of the "raving Socrates" whom they were wont to
represent in life. Platonic dialogue was as it were the boat in which
the shipwrecked ancient poetry saved herself together with all her
children: crowded into a narrow space and timidly obsequious to the
one steersman, Socrates, they now launched into a new world, which
never tired of looking at the fantastic spectacle of this procession.
In very truth, Plato has given to all posterity the prototype of a new
form of art, the prototype of the _novel_ which must be designated as
the infinitely evolved Æsopian fable, in which poetry holds the same
rank with reference to dialectic philosophy as this same philosophy
held for many centuries with reference to theology: namely, the rank of
_ancilla._ This was the new position of poetry into which Plato forced
it under the pressure of the demon-inspired Socrates.

Here _philosophic thought_ overgrows art and compels it to cling close
to the trunk of dialectics. The _Apollonian_ tendency has chrysalised
in the logical schematism; just as something analogous in the case
of Euripides (and moreover a translation of the _Dionysian_ into the
naturalistic emotion) was forced upon our attention. Socrates, the
dialectical hero in Platonic drama, reminds us of the kindred nature
of the Euripidean hero, who has to defend his actions by arguments and
counter-arguments, and thereby so often runs the risk of forfeiting
our tragic pity; for who could mistake the _optimistic_ element
in the essence of dialectics, which celebrates a jubilee in every
conclusion, and can breathe only in cool clearness and consciousness:
the optimistic element, which, having once forced its way into tragedy,
must gradually overgrow its Dionysian regions, and necessarily impel it
to self-destruction--even to the death-leap into the bourgeois drama.
Let us but realise the consequences of the Socratic maxims: "Virtue is
knowledge; man only sins from ignorance; he who is virtuous is happy":
these three fundamental forms of optimism involve the death of tragedy.
For the virtuous hero must now be a dialectician; there must now be a
necessary, visible connection between virtue and knowledge, between
belief and morality; the transcendental justice of the plot in Æschylus
is now degraded to the superficial and audacious principle of poetic
justice with its usual _deus ex machina_.

How does the _chorus,_ and, in general, the entire Dionyso-musical
substratum of tragedy, now appear in the light of this new
Socrato-optimistic stage-world? As something accidental, as a readily
dispensable reminiscence of the origin of tragedy; while we have
in fact seen that the chorus can be understood only as the cause of
tragedy, and of the tragic generally. This perplexity with respect to
the chorus first manifests itself in Sophocles--an important sign that
the Dionysian basis of tragedy already begins to disintegrate with
him. He no longer ventures to entrust to the chorus the main share
of the effect, but limits its sphere to such an extent that it now
appears almost co-ordinate with the actors, just as if it were elevated
from the orchestra into the scene: whereby of course its character
is completely destroyed, notwithstanding that Aristotle countenances
this very theory of the chorus. This alteration of the position of
the chorus, which Sophocles at any rate recommended by his practice,
and, according to tradition, even by a treatise, is the first step
towards the _annihilation_ of the chorus, the phases of which follow
one another with alarming rapidity in Euripides, Agathon, and the New
Comedy. Optimistic dialectics drives, _music_ out of tragedy with the
scourge of its syllogisms: that is, it destroys the essence of tragedy,
which can be explained only as a manifestation and illustration of
Dionysian states, as the visible symbolisation of music, as the
dream-world of Dionysian ecstasy.

If, therefore, we are to assume an anti-Dionysian tendency operating
even before Socrates, which received in him only an unprecedentedly
grand expression, we must not shrink from the question as to what
a phenomenon like that of Socrates indicates: whom in view of the
Platonic dialogues we are certainly not entitled to regard as a purely
disintegrating, negative power. And though there can be no doubt
whatever that the most immediate effect of the Socratic impulse tended
to the dissolution of Dionysian tragedy, yet a profound experience of
Socrates' own life compels us to ask whether there is _necessarily_
only an antipodal relation between Socratism and art, and whether the
birth of an "artistic Socrates" is in general something contradictory
in itself.

For that despotic logician had now and then the feeling of a gap, or
void, a sentiment of semi-reproach, as of a possibly neglected duty
with respect to art. There often came to him, as he tells his friends
in prison, one and the same dream-apparition, which kept constantly
repeating to him: "Socrates, practise music." Up to his very last days
he solaces himself with the opinion that his philosophising is the
highest form of poetry, and finds it hard to believe that a deity will
remind him of the "common, popular music." Finally, when in prison,
he consents to practise also this despised music, in order thoroughly
to unburden his conscience. And in this frame of mind he composes
a poem on Apollo and turns a few Æsopian fables into verse. It was
something similar to the demonian warning voice which urged him to
these practices; it was because of his Apollonian insight that, like a
barbaric king, he did not understand the noble image of a god and was
in danger of sinning against a deity--through ignorance. The prompting
voice of the Socratic dream-vision is the only sign of doubtfulness
as to the limits of logical nature. "Perhaps "--thus he had to ask
himself--"what is not intelligible to me is not therefore unreasonable?
Perhaps there is a realm of wisdom from which the logician is banished?
Perhaps art is even a necessary correlative of and supplement to


    In me thou seest its benefit,--
    To him who hath but little wit,
    Through parables to tell the truth.

[19] Scheinbild = ειδολον.--TR.


In the sense of these last portentous questions it must now be
indicated how the influence of Socrates (extending to the present
moment, indeed, to all futurity) has spread over posterity like an
ever-increasing shadow in the evening sun, and how this influence
again and again necessitates a regeneration of _art,_--yea, of art
already with metaphysical, broadest and profoundest sense,--and its own
eternity guarantees also the eternity of art.

Before this could be perceived, before the intrinsic dependence of
every art on the Greeks, the Greeks from Homer to Socrates, was
conclusively demonstrated, it had to happen to us with regard to these
Greeks as it happened to the Athenians with regard to Socrates. Nearly
every age and stage of culture has at some time or other sought with
deep displeasure to free itself from the Greeks, because in their
presence everything self-achieved, sincerely admired and apparently
quite original, seemed all of a sudden to lose life and colour
and shrink to an abortive copy, even to caricature. And so hearty
indignation breaks forth time after time against this presumptuous
little nation, which dared to designate as "barbaric" for all time
everything not native: who are they, one asks one's self, who, though
they possessed only an ephemeral historical splendour, ridiculously
restricted institutions, a dubious excellence in their customs, and
were even branded with ugly vices, yet lay claim to the dignity and
singular position among the peoples to which genius is entitled among
the masses. What a pity one has not been so fortunate as to find the
cup of hemlock with which such an affair could be disposed of without
ado: for all the poison which envy, calumny, and rankling resentment
engendered within themselves have not sufficed to destroy that
self-sufficient grandeur! And so one feels ashamed and afraid in the
presence of the Greeks: unless one prize truth above all things, and
dare also to acknowledge to one's self this truth, that the Greeks,
as charioteers, hold in their hands the reins of our own and of
every culture, but that almost always chariot and horses are of too
poor material and incommensurate with the glory of their guides, who
then will deem it sport to run such a team into an abyss: which they
themselves clear with the leap of Achilles.

In order to assign also to Socrates the dignity of such a leading
position, it will suffice to recognise in him the type of an unheard-of
form of existence, the type of the _theoretical man,_ with regard
to whose meaning and purpose it will be our next task to attain
an insight. Like the artist, the theorist also finds an infinite
satisfaction in what _is_ and, like the former, he is shielded by this
satisfaction from the practical ethics of pessimism with its lynx eyes
which shine only in the dark. For if the artist in every unveiling
of truth always cleaves with raptured eyes only to that which still
remains veiled after the unveiling, the theoretical man, on the other
hand, enjoys and contents himself with the cast-off veil, and finds
the consummation of his pleasure in the process of a continuously
successful unveiling through his own unaided efforts. There would
have been no science if it had only been concerned about that _one_
naked goddess and nothing else. For then its disciples would have been
obliged to feel like those who purposed to dig a hole straight through
the earth: each one of whom perceives that with the utmost lifelong
exertion he is able to excavate only a very little of the enormous
depth, which is again filled up before his eyes by the labours of his
successor, so that a third man seems to do well when on his own account
he selects a new spot for his attempts at tunnelling. If now some one
proves conclusively that the antipodal goal cannot be attained in this
direct way, who will still care to toil on in the old depths, unless he
has learned to content himself in the meantime with finding precious
stones or discovering natural laws? For that reason Lessing, the most
honest theoretical man, ventured to say that he cared more for the
search after truth than for truth itself: in saying which he revealed
the fundamental secret of science, to the astonishment, and indeed,
to the vexation of scientific men. Well, to be sure, there stands
alongside of this detached perception, as an excess of honesty, if not
of presumption, a profound _illusion_ which first came to the world
in the person of Socrates, the imperturbable belief that, by means
of the clue of causality, thinking reaches to the deepest abysses of
being, and that thinking is able not only to perceive being but even
to _correct_ it. This sublime metaphysical illusion is added as an
instinct to science and again and again leads the latter to its limits,
where it must change into _art; which is really the end, to be attained
by this mechanism_.

If we now look at Socrates in the light of this thought, he appears to
us as the first who could not only live, but--what is far more--also
die under the guidance of this instinct of science: and hence the
picture of the _dying, Socrates_, as the man delivered from the fear of
death by knowledge and argument, is the escutcheon, above the entrance
to science which reminds every one of its mission, namely, to make
existence appear to be comprehensible, and therefore to be justified:
for which purpose, if arguments do not suffice, _myth_ also must be
used, which I just now designated even as the necessary consequence,
yea, as the end of science.

He who once makes intelligible to himself how, after the death of
Socrates, the mystagogue of science, one philosophical school succeeds
another, like wave upon wave,--how an entirely unfore-shadowed
universal development of the thirst for knowledge in the widest
compass of the cultured world (and as the specific task for every
one highly gifted) led science on to the high sea from which since
then it has never again been able to be completely ousted; how
through the universality of this movement a common net of thought
was first stretched over the entire globe, with prospects, moreover,
of conformity to law in an entire solar system;--he who realises all
this, together with the amazingly high pyramid of our present-day
knowledge, cannot fail to see in Socrates the turning-point and vortex
of so-called universal history. For if one were to imagine the whole
incalculable sum of energy which has been used up by that universal
tendency,--employed, _not_ in the service of knowledge, but for the
practical, _i.e.,_ egoistical ends of individuals and peoples,--then
probably the instinctive love of life would be so much weakened in
universal wars of destruction and incessant migrations of peoples,
that, owing to the practice of suicide, the individual would perhaps
feel the last remnant of a sense of duty, when, like the native of
the Fiji Islands, as son he strangles his parents and, as friend, his
friend: a practical pessimism which might even give rise to a horrible
ethics of general slaughter out of pity--which, for the rest, exists
and has existed wherever art in one form or another, especially as
science and religion, has not appeared as a remedy and preventive of
that pestilential breath.

In view of this practical pessimism, Socrates is the archetype of
the theoretical optimist, who in the above-indicated belief in the
fathomableness of the nature of things, attributes to knowledge and
perception the power of a universal medicine, and sees in error and
evil. To penetrate into the depths of the nature of things, and to
separate true perception from error and illusion, appeared to the
Socratic man the noblest and even the only truly human calling: just as
from the time of Socrates onwards the mechanism of concepts, judgments,
and inferences was prized above all other capacities as the highest
activity and the most admirable gift of nature. Even the sublimest
moral acts, the stirrings of pity, of self-sacrifice, of heroism,
and that tranquillity of soul, so difficult of attainment, which the
Apollonian Greek called Sophrosyne, were derived by Socrates, and his
like-minded successors up to the present day, from the dialectics of
knowledge, and were accordingly designated as teachable. He who has
experienced in himself the joy of a Socratic perception, and felt how
it seeks to embrace, in constantly widening circles, the entire world
of phenomena, will thenceforth find no stimulus which could urge him
to existence more forcible than the desire to complete that conquest
and to knit the net impenetrably close. To a person thus minded the
Platonic Socrates then appears as the teacher of an entirely new form
of "Greek cheerfulness" and felicity of existence, which seeks to
discharge itself in actions, and will find its discharge for the most
part in maieutic and pedagogic influences on noble youths, with a view
to the ultimate production of genius.

But now science, spurred on by its powerful illusion, hastens
irresistibly to its limits, on which its optimism, hidden in the
essence of logic, is wrecked. For the periphery of the circle of
science has an infinite number of points, and while there is still no
telling how this circle can ever be completely measured, yet the noble
and gifted man, even before the middle of his career, inevitably comes
into contact with those extreme points of the periphery where he stares
at the inexplicable. When he here sees to his dismay how logic coils
round itself at these limits and finally bites its own tail--then the
new form of perception discloses itself, namely _tragic perception,_
which, in order even to be endured, requires art as a safeguard and

If, with eyes strengthened and refreshed at the sight of the Greeks, we
look upon the highest spheres of the world that surrounds us, we behold
the avidity of the insatiate optimistic knowledge, of which Socrates is
the typical representative, transformed into tragic resignation and the
need of art: while, to be sure, this same avidity, in its lower stages,
has to exhibit itself as antagonistic to art, and must especially have
an inward detestation of Dionyso-tragic art, as was exemplified in the
opposition of Socratism to Æschylean tragedy.

Here then with agitated spirit we knock at the gates of the present and
the future: will that "transforming" lead to ever new configurations
of genius, and especially of the _music-practising Socrates_? Will the
net of art which is spread over existence, whether under the name of
religion or of science, be knit always more closely and delicately,
or is it destined to be torn to shreds under the restlessly barbaric
activity and whirl which is called "the present day"?--Anxious, yet
not disconsolate, we stand aloof for a little while, as the spectators
who are permitted to be witnesses of these tremendous struggles and
transitions. Alas! It is the charm of these struggles that he who
beholds them must also fight them!


By this elaborate historical example we have endeavoured to make it
clear that tragedy perishes as surely by evanescence of the spirit of
music as it can be born only out of this spirit. In order to qualify
the singularity of this assertion, and, on the other hand, to disclose
the source of this insight of ours, we must now confront with clear
vision the analogous phenomena of the present time; we must enter
into the midst of these struggles, which, as I said just now, are
being carried on in the highest spheres of our present world between
the insatiate optimistic perception and the tragic need of art. In
so doing I shall leave out of consideration all other antagonistic
tendencies which at all times oppose art, especially tragedy, and which
at present again extend their sway triumphantly, to such an extent that
of the theatrical arts only the farce and the ballet, for example, put
forth their blossoms, which perhaps not every one cares to smell, in
tolerably rich luxuriance. I will speak only of the _Most Illustrious
Opposition_ to the tragic conception of things--and by this I mean
essentially optimistic science, with its ancestor Socrates at the head
of it. Presently also the forces will be designated which seem to me
to guarantee _a re-birth of tragedy_--and who knows what other blessed
hopes for the German genius!

Before we plunge into the midst of these struggles, let us array
ourselves in the armour of our hitherto acquired knowledge. In
contrast to all those who are intent on deriving the arts from one
exclusive principle, as the necessary vital source of every work of
art, I keep my eyes fixed on the two artistic deities of the Greeks,
Apollo and Dionysus, and recognise in them the living and conspicuous
representatives of _two_ worlds of art which differ in their intrinsic
essence and in their highest aims. Apollo stands before me as the
transfiguring genius of the _principium individuationis_ through
which alone the redemption in appearance is to be truly attained,
while by the mystical cheer of Dionysus the spell of individuation
is broken, and the way lies open to the Mothers of Being,[20] to the
innermost heart of things. This extraordinary antithesis, which opens
up yawningly between plastic art as the Apollonian and music as the
Dionysian art, has become manifest to only one of the great thinkers,
to such an extent that, even without this key to the symbolism of the
Hellenic divinities, he allowed to music a different character and
origin in advance of all the other arts, because, unlike them, it is
not a copy of the phenomenon, but a direct copy of the will itself, and
therefore represents _the metaphysical of everything physical in the
world_, the thing-in-itself of every phenomenon. (Schopenhauer, _Welt
als Wille und Vorstellung,_ I. 310.) To this most important perception
of æsthetics (with which, taken in a serious sense, æsthetics properly
commences), Richard Wagner, by way of confirmation of its eternal
truth, affixed his seal, when he asserted in his _Beethoven_ that
music must be judged according to æsthetic principles quite different
from those which apply to the plastic arts, and not, in general,
according to the category of beauty: although an erroneous æsthetics,
inspired by a misled and degenerate art, has by virtue of the concept
of beauty prevailing in the plastic domain accustomed itself to demand
of music an effect analogous to that of the works of plastic art,
namely the suscitating _delight in beautiful forms._ Upon perceiving
this extraordinary antithesis, I felt a strong inducement to approach
the essence of Greek tragedy, and, by means of it, the profoundest
revelation of Hellenic genius: for I at last thought myself to be in
possession of a charm to enable me--far beyond the phraseology of our
usual æsthetics--to represent vividly to my mind the primitive problem
of tragedy: whereby such an astounding insight into the Hellenic
character was afforded me that it necessarily seemed as if our proudly
comporting classico-Hellenic science had thus far contrived to subsist
almost exclusively on phantasmagoria and externalities.

Perhaps we may lead up to this primitive problem with the question:
what æsthetic effect results when the intrinsically separate
art-powers, the Apollonian and the Dionysian, enter into concurrent
actions? Or, in briefer form: how is music related to image and
concept?--Schopenhauer, whom Richard Wagner, with especial reference to
this point, accredits with an unsurpassable clearness and perspicuity
of exposition, expresses himself most copiously on the subject in
the following passage which I shall cite here at full length[21]
(_Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,_ I. p. 309): "According to all
this, we may regard the phenomenal world, or nature, and music as
two different expressions of the same thing,[20] which is therefore
itself the only medium of the analogy between these two expressions,
so that a knowledge of this medium is required in order to understand
that analogy. Music, therefore, if regarded as an expression of the
world, is in the highest degree a universal language, which is related
indeed to the universality of concepts, much as these are related to
the particular things. Its universality, however, is by no means the
empty universality of abstraction, but of quite a different kind, and
is united with thorough and distinct definiteness. In this respect it
resembles geometrical figures and numbers, which are the universal
forms of all possible objects of experience and applicable to them all
_a priori_, and yet are not abstract but perceptiple and thoroughly
determinate. 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. This deep relation which music bears to
the true nature of all things also explains the fact that suitable
music played to any scene, action, event, or surrounding seems to
disclose to us its most secret meaning, and appears as the most
accurate and distinct commentary upon it; as also the fact that whoever
gives himself up entirely to the impression of a symphony seems to see
all the possible events of life and the world take place in himself:
nevertheless upon reflection he can find no likeness between the music
and the things that passed before his mind. For, as we have said, music
is distinguished from all the other arts by the fact that it is not a
copy of the phenomenon, or, more accurately, the adequate objectivity
of the will, but the direct copy of the will itself, and therefore
represents the metaphysical of everything physical in the world, and
the thing-in-itself of every phenomenon. We might, therefore, just as
well call the world embodied music as embodied will: and this is the
reason why music makes every picture, and indeed every scene of real
life and of the world, at once appear with higher significance; all the
more so, to be sure, in proportion as its melody is analogous to the
inner spirit of the given phenomenon. It rests upon this that we are
able to set a poem to music as a song, or a perceptible representation
as a pantomime, or both as an opera. Such particular pictures of human
life, set to the universal language of music, are never bound to it
or correspond to it with stringent necessity, but stand to it only
in the relation of an example chosen at will to a general concept.
In the determinateness of the real they represent that which music
expresses in the universality of mere form. For melodies are to a
certain extent, like general concepts, an abstraction from the actual.
This actual world, then, the world of particular things, affords the
object of perception, the special and the individual, the particular
case, both to the universality of concepts and to the universality of
the melodies. But these two universalities are in a certain respect
opposed to each other; for the concepts contain only the forms, which
are first of all abstracted from perception,--the separated outward
shell of things, as it were,--and hence they are, in the strictest
sense of the term, _abstracta_; music, on the other hand, gives the
inmost kernel which precedes all forms, or the heart of things. This
relation may be very well expressed in the language of the schoolmen,
by saying: the concepts are the _universalia post rem,_ but music gives
the _universalia ante rem,_ and the real world the _universalia in
re._--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. When now, in the particular case, such a relation
is actually given, that is to say, when the composer has been able to
express in the universal language of music the emotions of will which
constitute the heart of an event, then the melody of the song, the
music of the opera, is expressive. But the analogy discovered by the
composer between the two must have proceeded from the direct knowledge
of the nature of the world unknown to his reason, and must not be an
imitation produced with conscious intention by means of conceptions;
otherwise the music does not express the inner nature of the will
itself, but merely gives an inadequate imitation of its phenomenon: all
specially imitative music does this."

We have therefore, according to the doctrine of Schopenhauer, an
immediate understanding of music as the language of the will, and
feel our imagination stimulated to give form to this invisible and
yet so actively stirred spirit-world which speaks to us, and prompted
to embody it in an analogous example. On the other hand, image and
concept, under the influence of a truly conformable music, acquire a
higher significance. Dionysian art therefore is wont to exercise--two
kinds of influences, on the Apollonian art-faculty: music firstly
incites to the _symbolic intuition_ of Dionysian universality, and,
secondly, it causes the symbolic image to stand forth _in its fullest
significance._ From these facts, intelligible in themselves and not
inaccessible to profounder observation, I infer the capacity of music
to give birth to _myth,_ that is to say, the most significant exemplar,
and precisely _tragic_ myth: the myth which speaks of Dionysian
knowledge in symbols. In the phenomenon of the lyrist, I have set forth
that in him music strives to express itself with regard to its nature
in Apollonian images. If now we reflect that music in its highest
potency must seek to attain also to its highest symbolisation, we must
deem it possible that it also knows how to find the symbolic expression
of its inherent Dionysian wisdom; and where shall we have to seek for
this expression if not in tragedy and, in general, in the conception of
the _tragic_?

From the nature of art, as it is ordinarily conceived according to
the single category of appearance and beauty, the tragic cannot be
honestly deduced at all; it is only through the spirit of music that
we understand the joy in the annihilation of the individual. For in
the particular examples of such annihilation only is the eternal
phenomenon of Dionysian art made clear to us, which gives expression
to the will in its omnipotence, as it were, behind the _principium
individuationis,_ the eternal life beyond all phenomena, and in
spite of all annihilation. The metaphysical delight in the tragic
is a translation of the instinctively unconscious Dionysian wisdom
into the language of the scene: the hero, the highest manifestation
of the will, is disavowed for our pleasure, because he is only
phenomenon, and because the eternal life of the will is not affected
by his annihilation. "We believe in eternal life," tragedy exclaims;
while music is the proximate idea of this life. Plastic art has an
altogether different object: here Apollo vanquishes the suffering of
the individual by the radiant glorification of the _eternity of the
phenomenon_; here beauty triumphs over the suffering inherent in life;
pain is in a manner surreptitiously obliterated from the features of
nature. In Dionysian art and its tragic symbolism the same nature
speaks to us with its true undissembled voice: "Be as I am! Amidst the
ceaseless change of phenomena the eternally creative primordial mother,
eternally impelling to existence, self-satisfying eternally with this
change of phenomena!"

[20] Cf. _World and Will as Idea,_ I. p. 339, trans. by
Haldane and Kemp.

[21] That is "the will" as understood by Schopenhauer.--TR.


Dionysian art, too, seeks to convince us of the eternal joy of
existence: only we are to seek this joy not in phenomena, but behind
phenomena. We are to perceive how all that comes into being must be
ready for a sorrowful end; we are compelled to look into the terrors of
individual existence--yet we are not to become torpid: a metaphysical
comfort tears us momentarily from the bustle of the transforming
figures. We are really for brief moments Primordial Being itself,
and feel its indomitable desire for being and joy in existence; the
struggle, the pain, the destruction of phenomena, now appear to us as
something necessary, considering the surplus of innumerable forms of
existence which throng and push one another into life, considering
the exuberant fertility of the universal will. We are pierced by the
maddening sting of these pains at the very moment when we have become,
as it were, one with the immeasurable primordial joy in existence,
and when we anticipate, in Dionysian ecstasy, the indestructibility
and eternity of this joy. In spite of fear and pity, we are the happy
living beings, not as individuals, but as the _one_ living being, with
whose procreative joy we are blended.

The history of the rise of Greek tragedy now tells us with luminous
precision that the tragic art of the Greeks was really born of the
spirit of music: with which conception we believe we have done justice
for the first time to the original and most astonishing significance of
the chorus. At the same time, however, we must admit that the import of
tragic myth as set forth above never became transparent with sufficient
lucidity to the Greek poets, let alone the Greek philosophers; their
heroes speak, as it were, more superficially than they act; the myth
does not at all find its adequate objectification in the spoken word.
The structure of the scenes and the conspicuous images reveal a deeper
wisdom than the poet himself can put into words and concepts: the same
being also observed in Shakespeare, whose Hamlet, for instance, in an
analogous manner talks more superficially than he acts, so that the
previously mentioned lesson of Hamlet is to be gathered not from his
words, but from a more profound contemplation and survey of the whole.
With respect to Greek tragedy, which of course presents itself to us
only as word-drama, I have even intimated that the incongruence between
myth and expression might easily tempt us to regard it as shallower
and less significant than it really is, and accordingly to postulate
for it a more superficial effect than it must have had according to
the testimony of the ancients: for how easily one forgets that what
the word-poet did not succeed in doing, namely realising the highest
spiritualisation and ideality of myth, he might succeed in doing
every moment as creative musician! We require, to be sure, almost by
philological method to reconstruct for ourselves the ascendency of
musical influence in order to receive something of the incomparable
comfort which must be characteristic of true tragedy. Even this musical
ascendency, however, would only have been felt by us as such had
we been Greeks: while in the entire development of Greek music--as
compared with the infinitely richer music known and familiar to us--we
imagine we hear only the youthful song of the musical genius intoned
with a feeling of diffidence. The Greeks are, as the Egyptian priests
say, eternal children, and in tragic art also they are only children
who do not know what a sublime play-thing has originated under their
hands and--is being demolished.

That striving of the spirit of music for symbolic and mythical
manifestation, which increases from the beginnings of lyric poetry to
Attic tragedy, breaks off all of a sudden immediately after attaining
luxuriant development, and disappears, as it were, from the surface
of Hellenic art: while the Dionysian view of things born of this
striving lives on in Mysteries and, in its strangest metamorphoses and
debasements, does not cease to attract earnest natures. Will it not one
day rise again as art out of its mystic depth?

Here the question occupies us, whether the power by the counteracting
influence of which tragedy perished, has for all time strength enough
to prevent the artistic reawaking of tragedy and of the tragic view
of things. If ancient tragedy was driven from its course by the
dialectical desire for knowledge and the optimism of science, it might
be inferred that there is an eternal conflict between _the theoretic_
and _the tragic view of things,_ and only after the spirit of science
has been led to its boundaries, and its claim to universal validity
has been destroyed by the evidence of these boundaries, can we hope
for a re-birth of tragedy: for which form of culture we should have to
use the symbol _of the music-practising Socrates_ in the sense spoken
of above. In this contrast, I understand by the spirit of science the
belief which first came to light in the person of Socrates,--the belief
in the fathomableness of nature and in knowledge as a panacea.

He who recalls the immediate consequences of this restlessly
onward-pressing spirit of science will realise at once that _myth_
was annihilated by it, and that, in consequence of this annihilation,
poetry was driven as a homeless being from her natural ideal soil.
If we have rightly assigned to music the capacity to reproduce myth
from itself, we may in turn expect to find the spirit of science on
the path where it inimically opposes this mythopoeic power of music.
This takes place in the development of the _New Attic Dithyramb,_ the
music of which no longer expressed the inner essence, the will itself,
but only rendered the phenomenon insufficiently, in an imitation by
means of concepts; from which intrinsically degenerate music the truly
musical natures turned away with the same repugnance that they felt
for the art-destroying tendency of Socrates. The unerring instinct of
Aristophanes surely did the proper thing when it comprised Socrates
himself, the tragedy of Euripides, and the music of the new Dithyrambic
poets in the same feeling of hatred, and perceived in all three
phenomena the symptoms of a degenerate culture. By this New Dithyramb,
music has in an outrageous manner been made the imitative portrait of
phenomena, for instance, of a battle or a storm at sea, and has thus,
of course, been entirely deprived of its mythopoeic power. For if it
endeavours to excite our delight only by compelling us to seek external
analogies between a vital or natural process and certain rhythmical
figures and characteristic sounds of music; if our understanding is
expected to satisfy itself with the perception of these analogies, we
are reduced to a frame of mind in which the reception of the mythical
is impossible; for the myth as a unique exemplar of generality
and truth towering into the infinite, desires to be conspicuously
perceived. The truly Dionysean music presents itself to us as such
a general mirror of the universal will: the conspicuous event which
is refracted in this mirror expands at once for our consciousness to
the copy of an eternal truth. Conversely, such a conspicious event is
at once divested of every mythical character by the tone-painting
of the New Dithyramb; music has here become a wretched copy of the
phenomenon, and therefore infinitely poorer than the phenomenon itself:
through which poverty it still further reduces even the phenomenon for
our consciousness, so that now, for instance, a musically imitated
battle of this sort exhausts itself in marches, signal-sounds, etc.,
and our imagination is arrested precisely by these superficialities.
Tone-painting is therefore in every respect the counterpart of true
music with its mythopoeic power: through it the phenomenon, poor in
itself, is made still poorer, while through an isolated Dionysian music
the phenomenon is evolved and expanded into a picture of the world.
It was an immense triumph of the non-Dionysian spirit, when, in the
development of the New Dithyramb, it had estranged music from itself
and reduced it to be the slave of phenomena. Euripides, who, albeit in
a higher sense, must be designated as a thoroughly unmusical nature,
is for this very reason a passionate adherent of the New Dithyrambic
Music, and with the liberality of a freebooter employs all its
effective turns and mannerisms.

In another direction also we see at work the power of this
un-Dionysian, myth-opposing spirit, when we turn our eyes to the
prevalence of _character representation_ and psychological refinement
from Sophocles onwards. The character must no longer be expanded into
an eternal type, but, on the contrary, must operate individually
through artistic by-traits and shadings, through the nicest precision
of all lines, in such a manner that the spectator is in general no
longer conscious of the myth, but of the mighty nature-myth and the
imitative power of the artist. Here also we observe the victory of
the phenomenon over the Universal, and the delight in the particular
quasi-anatomical preparation; we actually breathe the air of a
theoretical world, in which scientific knowledge is valued more highly
than the artistic reflection of a universal law. The movement along
the line of the representation of character proceeds rapidly: while
Sophocles still delineates complete characters and employs myth for
their refined development, Euripides already delineates only prominent
individual traits of character, which can express themselves in violent
bursts of passion; in the New Attic Comedy, however, there are only
masks with _one_ expression: frivolous old men, duped panders, and
cunning slaves in untiring repetition. Where now is the mythopoeic
spirit of music? What is still left now of music is either excitatory
music or souvenir music, that is, either a stimulant for dull and
used-up nerves, or tone-painting. As regards the former, it hardly
matters about the text set to it: the heroes and choruses of Euripides
are already dissolute enough when once they begin to sing; to what pass
must things have come with his brazen successors?

The new un-Dionysian spirit, however, manifests itself most clearly in
the _dénouements_ of the new dramas. In the Old Tragedy one could feel
at the close the metaphysical comfort, without which the delight in
tragedy cannot be explained at all; the conciliating tones from another
world sound purest, perhaps, in the Œdipus at Colonus. Now that the
genius of music has fled from tragedy, tragedy is, strictly speaking,
dead: for from whence could one now draw the metaphysical comfort? One
sought, therefore, for an earthly unravelment of the tragic dissonance;
the hero, after he had been sufficiently tortured by fate, reaped a
well-deserved reward through a superb marriage or divine tokens of
favour. The hero had turned gladiator, on whom, after being liberally
battered about and covered with wounds, freedom was occasionally
bestowed. The _deus ex machina_ took the place of metaphysical comfort.
I will not say that the tragic view of things was everywhere completely
destroyed by the intruding spirit of the un-Dionysian: we only know
that it was compelled to flee from art into the under-world as it were,
in the degenerate form of a secret cult. Over the widest extent of the
Hellenic character, however, there raged the consuming blast of this
spirit, which manifests itself in the form of "Greek cheerfulness,"
which we have already spoken of as a senile, unproductive love of
existence; this cheerfulness is the counterpart of the splendid
"naïveté" of the earlier Greeks, which, according to the characteristic
indicated above, must be conceived as the blossom of the Apollonian
culture growing out of a dark abyss, as the victory which the Hellenic
will, through its mirroring of beauty, obtains over suffering and the
wisdom of suffering. The noblest manifestation of that other form of
"Greek cheerfulness," the Alexandrine, is the cheerfulness of the
_theoretical man_: it exhibits the same symptomatic characteristics as
I have just inferred concerning the spirit of the un-Dionysian:--it
combats Dionysian wisdom and art, it seeks to dissolve myth, it
substitutes for metaphysical comfort an earthly consonance, in fact, a
_deus ex machina_ of its own, namely the god of machines and crucibles,
that is, the powers of the genii of nature recognised and employed in
the service of higher egoism; it believes in amending the world by
knowledge, in guiding life by science, and that it can really confine
the individual within a narrow sphere of solvable problems, where he
cheerfully says to life: "I desire thee: it is worth while to know


It is an eternal phenomenon: the avidious will can always, by means
of an illusion spread over things, detain its creatures in life
and compel them to live on. One is chained by the Socratic love of
knowledge and the vain hope of being able thereby to heal the eternal
wound of existence; another is ensnared by art's seductive veil of
beauty fluttering before his eyes; still another by the metaphysical
comfort that eternal life flows on indestructibly beneath the whirl of
phenomena: to say nothing of the more ordinary and almost more powerful
illusions which the will has always at hand. These three specimens of
illusion are on the whole designed only for the more nobly endowed
natures, who in general feel profoundly the weight and burden of
existence, and must be deluded into forgetfulness of their displeasure
by exquisite stimulants. All that we call culture is made up of these
stimulants; and, according to the proportion of the ingredients, we
have either a specially _Socratic_ or _artistic_ or _tragic culture_:
or, if historical exemplifications are wanted, there is either an
Alexandrine or a Hellenic or a Buddhistic culture.

Our whole modern world is entangled in the meshes of Alexandrine
culture, and recognises as its ideal the _theorist_ equipped with
the most potent means of knowledge, and labouring in the service of
science, of whom the archetype and progenitor is Socrates. All our
educational methods have originally this ideal in view: every other
form of existence must struggle onwards wearisomely beside it, as
something tolerated, but not intended. In an almost alarming manner the
cultured man was here found for a long time only in the form of the
scholar: even our poetical arts have been forced to evolve from learned
imitations, and in the main effect of the rhyme we still recognise the
origin of our poetic form from artistic experiments with a non-native
and thoroughly learned language. How unintelligible must _Faust,_ the
modern cultured man, who is in himself intelligible, have appeared to a
true Greek,--Faust, storming discontentedly through all the faculties,
devoted to magic and the devil from a desire for knowledge, whom we
have only to place alongside of Socrates for the purpose of comparison,
in order to see that modern man begins to divine the boundaries of
this Socratic love of perception and longs for a coast in the wide
waste of the ocean of knowledge. When Goethe on one occasion said to
Eckermann with reference to Napoleon: "Yes, my good friend, there is
also a productiveness of deeds," he reminded us in a charmingly naïve
manner that the non-theorist is something incredible and astounding to
modern man; so that the wisdom of Goethe is needed once more in order
to discover that such a surprising form of existence is comprehensible,
nay even pardonable.

Now, we must not hide from ourselves what is concealed in the heart
of this Socratic culture: Optimism, deeming itself absolute! Well, we
must not be alarmed if the fruits of this optimism ripen,--if society,
leavened to the very lowest strata by this kind of culture, gradually
begins to tremble through wanton agitations and desires, if the belief
in the earthly happiness of all, if the belief in the possibility of
such a general intellectual culture is gradually transformed into the
threatening demand for such an Alexandrine earthly happiness, into
the conjuring of a Euripidean _deus ex machina._ Let us mark this
well: the Alexandrine culture requires a slave class, to be able to
exist permanently: but, in its optimistic view of life, it denies the
necessity of such a class, and consequently, when the effect of its
beautifully seductive and tranquillising utterances about the "dignity
of man" and the "dignity of labour" is spent, it gradually drifts
towards a dreadful destination. There is nothing more terrible than
a barbaric slave class, who have learned to regard their existence
as an injustice, and now prepare to take vengeance, not only for
themselves, but for all generations. In the face of such threatening
storms, who dares to appeal with confident spirit to our pale and
exhausted religions, which even in their foundations have degenerated
into scholastic religions?--so that myth, the necessary prerequisite
of every religion, is already paralysed everywhere, and even in this
domain the optimistic spirit--which we have just designated as the
annihilating germ of society--has attained the mastery.

While the evil slumbering in the heart of theoretical culture gradually
begins to disquiet modern man, and makes him anxiously ransack the
stores of his experience for means to avert the danger, though not
believing very much in these means; while he, therefore, begins to
divine the consequences his position involves: great, universally
gifted natures have contrived, with an incredible amount of thought, to
make use of the apparatus of science itself, in order to point out the
limits and the relativity of knowledge generally, and thus definitely
to deny the claim of science to universal validity and universal ends:
with which demonstration the illusory notion was for the first time
recognised as such, which pretends, with the aid of causality, to be
able to fathom the innermost essence of things. The extraordinary
courage and wisdom of _Kant_ and _Schopenhauer_ have succeeded in
gaining the most, difficult, victory, the victory over the optimism
hidden in the essence of logic, which optimism in turn is the basis of
our culture. While this optimism, resting on apparently unobjectionable
_æterna veritates,_ believed in the intelligibility and solvability of
all the riddles of the world, and treated space, time, and causality
as totally unconditioned laws of the most universal validity, Kant, on
the other hand, showed that these served in reality only to elevate the
mere phenomenon, the work of Mâyâ, to the sole and highest reality,
putting it in place of the innermost and true essence of things, thus
making the actual knowledge of this essence impossible, that is,
according to the expression of Schopenhauer, to lull the dreamer still
more soundly asleep (_Welt als Wille und Vorstellung,_ I. 498). With
this knowledge a culture is inaugurated which I venture to designate as
a tragic culture; the most important characteristic of which is that
wisdom takes the place of science as the highest end,--wisdom, which,
uninfluenced by the seductive distractions of the sciences, turns
with unmoved eye to the comprehensive view of the world, and seeks to
apprehend therein the eternal suffering as its own with sympathetic
feelings of love. Let us imagine a rising generation with this
undauntedness of vision, with this heroic desire for the prodigious,
let us imagine the bold step of these dragon-slayers, the proud and
daring spirit with which they turn their backs on all the effeminate
doctrines of optimism in order "to live resolutely" in the Whole and in
the Full: would it not be necessary for the tragic man of this culture,
with his self-discipline to earnestness and terror, to desire a new
art, the art of metaphysical comfort,--namely, tragedy, as the Hellena
belonging to him, and that he should exclaim with Faust:

    Und sollt' ich nicht, sehnsüchtigster Gewalt,
    In's Leben ziehn die einzigste Gestalt?[21]

But now that the Socratic culture has been shaken from two directions,
and is only able to hold the sceptre of its infallibility with
trembling hands,--once by the fear of its own conclusions which it at
length begins to surmise, and again, because it is no longer convinced
with its former naïve trust of the eternal validity of its foundation,
--it is a sad spectacle to behold how the dance of its thought always
rushes longingly on new forms, to embrace them, and then, shuddering,
lets them go of a sudden, as Mephistopheles does the seductive Lamiæ.
It is certainly the symptom of the "breach" which all are wont to speak
of as the primordial suffering of modern culture that the theoretical
man, alarmed and dissatisfied at his own conclusions, no longer dares
to entrust himself to the terrible ice-stream of existence: he runs
timidly up and down the bank. He no longer wants to have anything
entire, with all the natural cruelty of things, so thoroughly has he
been spoiled by his optimistic contemplation. Besides, he feels that
a culture built up on the principles of science must perish when it
begins to grow _illogical,_ that is, to avoid its own conclusions.
Our art reveals this universal trouble: in vain does one seek help by
imitating all the great productive periods and natures, in vain does
one accumulate the entire "world-literature" around modern man for
his comfort, in vain does one place one's self in the midst of the
art-styles and artists of all ages, so that one may give names to them
as Adam did to the beasts: one still continues the eternal hungerer,
the "critic" without joy and energy, the Alexandrine man, who is in
the main a librarian and corrector of proofs, and who, pitiable wretch
goes blind from the dust of books and printers' errors.

[21] Cf. Introduction, p. 14.


We cannot designate the intrinsic substance of Socratic culture more
distinctly than by calling it _the culture of the opera_: for it is in
this department that culture has expressed itself with special naïveté
concerning its aims and perceptions, which is sufficiently surprising
when we compare the genesis of the opera and the facts of operatic
development with the eternal truths of the Apollonian and Dionysian.
I call to mind first of all the origin of the _stilo rappresentativo_
and the recitative. Is it credible that this thoroughly externalised
operatic music, incapable of devotion, could be received and cherished
with enthusiastic favour, as a re-birth, as it were, of all true music,
by the very age in which the ineffably sublime and sacred music of
Palestrina had originated? And who, on the other hand, would think of
making only the diversion-craving luxuriousness of those Florentine
circles and the vanity of their dramatic singers responsible for the
love of the opera which spread with such rapidity? That in the same
age, even among the same people, this passion for a half-musical
mode of speech should awaken alongside of the vaulted structure
of Palestrine harmonies which the entire Christian Middle Age had
been building up, I can explain to myself only by a co-operating
_extra-artistic tendency_ in the essence of the recitative.

The listener, who insists on distinctly hearing the words under the
music, has his wishes met by the singer in that he speaks rather than
sings, and intensifies the pathetic expression of the words in this
half-song: by this intensification of the pathos he facilitates the
understanding of the words and surmounts the remaining half of the
music. The specific danger which now threatens him is that in some
unguarded moment he may give undue importance to music, which would
forthwith result in the destruction of the pathos of the speech and
the distinctness of the words: while, on the other hand, he always
feels himself impelled to musical delivery and to virtuose exhibition
of vocal talent. Here the "poet" comes to his aid, who knows how to
provide him with abundant opportunities for lyrical interjections,
repetitions of words and sentences, etc.,--at which places the singer,
now in the purely musical element, can rest himself without minding the
words. This alternation of emotionally impressive, yet only half-sung
speech and wholly sung interjections, which is characteristic of the
_stilo rappresentativo,_ this rapidly changing endeavour to operate
now on the conceptional and representative faculty of the hearer, now
on his musical sense, is something so thoroughly unnatural and withal
so intrinsically contradictory both to the Apollonian and Dionysian
artistic impulses, that one has to infer an origin of the recitative
foreign to all artistic instincts. The recitative must be defined,
according to this description, as the combination of epic and lyric
delivery, not indeed as an intrinsically stable combination which
could not be attained in the case of such totally disparate elements,
but an entirely superficial mosaic conglutination, such as is totally
unprecedented in the domain of nature and experience. _But this was
not the opinion of the inventors of the recitative:_ they themselves,
and their age with them, believed rather that the mystery of antique
music had been solved by this _stilo rappresentativo,_ in which, as
they thought, the only explanation of the enormous influence of an
Orpheus, an Amphion, and even of Greek tragedy was to be found. The new
style was regarded by them as the re-awakening of the most effective
music, the Old Greek music: indeed, with the universal and popular
conception of the Homeric world _as the primitive world,_ they could
abandon themselves to the dream of having descended once more into the
paradisiac beginnings of mankind, wherein music also must needs have
had the unsurpassed purity, power, and innocence of which the poets
could give such touching accounts in their pastoral plays. Here we see
into the internal process of development of this thoroughly modern
variety of art, the opera: a powerful need here acquires an art, but
it is a need of an unæsthetic kind: the yearning for the idyll, the
belief in the prehistoric existence of the artistic, good man. The
recitative was regarded as the rediscovered language of this primitive
man; the opera as the recovered land of this idyllically or heroically
good creature, who in every action follows at the same time a natural
artistic impulse, who sings a little along with all he has to say, in
order to sing immediately with full voice on the slightest emotional
excitement. It is now a matter of indifference to us that the humanists
of those days combated the old ecclesiastical representation of man
as naturally corrupt and lost, with this new-created picture of the
paradisiac artist: so that opera may be understood as the oppositional
dogma of the good man, whereby however a solace was at the same time
found for the pessimism to which precisely the seriously-disposed
men of that time were most strongly incited, owing to the frightful
uncertainty of all conditions of life. It is enough to have perceived
that the intrinsic charm, and therefore the genesis, of this new form
of art lies in the gratification of an altogether unæsthetic need, in
the optimistic glorification of man as such, in the conception of the
primitive man as the man naturally good and artistic: a principle of
the opera which has gradually changed into a threatening and terrible
_demand,_ which, in face of the socialistic movements of the present
time, we can no longer ignore. The "good primitive man" wants his
rights: what paradisiac prospects!

I here place by way of parallel still another equally obvious
confirmation of my view that opera is built up on the same principles
as our Alexandrine culture. Opera is the birth of the theoretical man,
of the critical layman, not of the artist: one of the most surprising
facts in the whole history of art. It was the demand of thoroughly
unmusical hearers that the words must above all be understood, so
that according to them a re-birth of music is only to be expected
when some mode of singing has been discovered in which the text-word
lords over the counterpoint as the master over the servant. For the
words, it is argued, are as much nobler than the accompanying harmonic
system as the soul is nobler than the body. It was in accordance with
the laically unmusical crudeness of these views that the combination
of music, picture and expression was effected in the beginnings of
the opera: in the spirit of this æsthetics the first experiments
were also made in the leading laic circles of Florence by the poets
and singers patronised there. The man incapable of art creates for
himself a species of art precisely because he is the inartistic man
as such. Because he does not divine the Dionysian depth of music, he
changes his musical taste into appreciation of the understandable
word-and-tone-rhetoric of the passions in the _stilo rappresentativo,_
and into the voluptuousness of the arts of song; because he is unable
to behold a vision, he forces the machinist and the decorative artist
into his service; because he cannot apprehend the true nature of the
artist, he conjures up the "artistic primitive man" to suit his taste,
that is, the man who sings and recites verses under the influence
of passion. He dreams himself into a time when passion suffices to
generate songs and poems: as if emotion had ever been able to create
anything artistic. 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. In the sense of this belief, opera is the
expression of the taste of the laity in art, who dictate their laws
with the cheerful optimism of the theorist.

Should we desire to unite in one the two conceptions just set forth
as influential in the origin of opera, it would only remain for us to
speak of an _idyllic tendency of the opera_: in which connection we
may avail ourselves exclusively of the phraseology and illustration of
Schiller.[22] "Nature and the ideal," he says, "are either objects of
grief, when the former is represented as lost, the latter unattained;
or both are objects of joy, in that they are represented as real.
The first case furnishes the elegy in its narrower signification,
the second the idyll in its widest sense." Here we must at once call
attention to the common characteristic of these two conceptions in
operatic genesis, namely, that in them the ideal is not regarded as
unattained or nature as lost Agreeably to this sentiment, there was
a primitive age of man when he lay close to the heart of nature,
and, owing to this naturalness, had attained the ideal of mankind in
a paradisiac goodness and artist-organisation: from which perfect
primitive man all of us were supposed to be descended; whose faithful
copy we were in fact still said to be: only we had to cast off some
few things in order to recognise ourselves once more as this primitive
man, on the strength of a voluntary renunciation of superfluous
learnedness, of super-abundant culture. It was to such a concord of
nature and the ideal, to an idyllic reality, that the cultured man
of the Renaissance suffered himself to be led back by his operatic
imitation of Greek tragedy; he made use of this tragedy, as Dante made
use of Vergil, in order to be led up to the gates of paradise: while
from this point he went on without assistance and passed over from an
imitation of the highest form of Greek art to a "restoration of all
things," to an imitation of man's original art-world. What delightfully
naïve hopefulness of these daring endeavours, in the very heart of
theoretical culture!--solely to be explained by the comforting belief,
that "man-in-himself" is the eternally virtuous hero of the opera,
the eternally fluting or singing shepherd, who must always in the end
rediscover himself as such, if he has at any time really lost himself;
solely the fruit of the optimism, which here rises like a sweetishly
seductive column of vapour out of the depth of the Socratic conception
of the world.

The features of the opera therefore do not by any means exhibit the
elegiac sorrow of an eternal loss, but rather the cheerfulness of
eternal rediscovery, the indolent delight in an idyllic reality which
one can at least represent to one's self each moment as real: and in
so doing one will perhaps surmise some day that this supposed reality
is nothing but a fantastically silly dawdling, concerning which every
one, who could judge it by the terrible earnestness of true nature
and compare it with the actual primitive scenes of the beginnings of
mankind, would have to call out with loathing: Away with the phantom!
Nevertheless one would err if one thought it possible to frighten
away merely by a vigorous shout such a dawdling thing as the opera,
as if it were a spectre. He who would destroy the opera must join
issue with Alexandrine cheerfulness, which expresses itself so naïvely
therein concerning its favourite representation; of which in fact
it is the specific form of art. But what is to be expected for art
itself from the operation of a form of art, the beginnings of which
do not at all lie in the æsthetic province; which has rather stolen
over from a half-moral sphere into the artistic domain, and has been
able only now and then to delude us concerning this hybrid origin? By
what sap is this parasitic opera-concern nourished, if not by that
of true art? Must we not suppose that the highest and indeed the
truly serious task of art--to free the eye from its glance into the
horrors of night and to deliver the "subject" by the healing balm of
appearance from the spasms of volitional agitations--will degenerate
under the influence of its idyllic seductions and Alexandrine
adulation to an empty dissipating tendency, to pastime? What will
become of the eternal truths of the Dionysian and Apollonian in such
an amalgamation of styles as I have exhibited in the character of the
_stilo rappresentativo_? where music is regarded as the servant, the
text as the master, where music is compared with the body, the text
with the soul? where at best the highest aim will be the realisation
of a paraphrastic tone-painting, just as formerly in the New Attic
Dithyramb? where music is completely alienated from its true dignity
of being, the Dionysian mirror of the world, so that the only thing
left to it is, as a slave of phenomena, to imitate the formal character
thereof, and to excite an external pleasure in the play of lines and
proportions. On close observation, this fatal influence of the opera
on music is seen to coincide absolutely with the universal development
of modern music; the optimism lurking in the genesis of the opera and
in the essence of culture represented thereby, has, with alarming
rapidity, succeeded in divesting music of its Dionyso-cosmic mission
and in impressing on it a playfully formal and pleasurable character: a
change with which perhaps only the metamorphosis of the Æschylean man
into the cheerful Alexandrine man could be compared.

If, however, in the exemplification herewith indicated we have rightly
associated the evanescence of the Dionysian spirit with a most
striking, but hitherto unexplained transformation and degeneration of
the Hellene--what hopes must revive in us when the most trustworthy
auspices guarantee _the reverse process, the gradual awakening of
the Dionysian spirit_ in our modern world! It is impossible for the
divine strength of Herakles to languish for ever in voluptuous bondage
to Omphale. Out of the Dionysian root of the German spirit a power
has arisen which has nothing in common with the primitive conditions
of Socratic culture, and can neither be explained nor excused
thereby, but is rather regarded by this culture as something terribly
inexplicable and overwhelmingly hostile,--namely, _German music_ as
we have to understand it, especially in its vast solar orbit from
Bach to Beethoven, from Beethoven to Wagner. What even under the most
favourable circumstances can the knowledge-craving Socratism of our
days do with this demon rising from unfathomable depths? Neither by
means of the zig-zag and arabesque work of operatic melody, nor with
the aid of the arithmetical counting board of fugue and contrapuntal
dialectics is the formula to be found, in the trebly powerful light[23]
of which one could subdue this demon and compel it to speak. What
a spectacle, when our æsthetes, with a net of "beauty" peculiar to
themselves, now pursue and clutch at the genius of music romping
about before them with incomprehensible life, and in so doing display
activities which are not to be judged by the standard of eternal beauty
any more than by the standard of the sublime. Let us but observe these
patrons of music as they are, at close range, when they call out so
indefatigably "beauty! beauty!" to discover whether they have the marks
of nature's darling children who are fostered and fondled in the lap
of the beautiful, or whether they do not rather seek a disguise for
their own rudeness, an æsthetical pretext for their own unemotional
insipidity: I am thinking here, for instance, of Otto Jahn. But let the
liar and the hypocrite beware of our German music: for in the midst
of all our culture it is really the only genuine, pure and purifying
fire-spirit from which and towards which, as in the teaching of the
great Heraclitus of Ephesus, all things move in a double orbit-all
that we now call culture, education, civilisation, must appear some day
before the unerring judge, Dionysus.

Let us recollect furthermore how Kant and Schopenhauer made it
possible for the spirit of _German philosophy_ streaming from the
same sources to annihilate the satisfied delight in existence of
scientific Socratism by the delimitation of the boundaries thereof; how
through this delimitation an infinitely profounder and more serious
view of ethical problems and of art was inaugurated, which we may
unhesitatingly designate as _Dionysian_ wisdom comprised in concepts.
To what then does the mystery of this oneness of German music and
philosophy point, if not to a new form of existence, concerning the
substance of which we can only inform ourselves presentiently from
Hellenic analogies? For to us who stand on the boundary line between
two different forms of existence, the Hellenic prototype retains the
immeasurable value, that therein all these transitions and struggles
are imprinted in a classically instructive form: except that we, as
it were, experience analogically in _reverse_ order the chief epochs
of the Hellenic genius, and seem now, for instance, to pass backwards
from the Alexandrine age to the period of tragedy. At the same time
we have the feeling that the birth of a tragic age betokens only a
return to itself of the German spirit, a blessed self-rediscovering
after excessive and urgent external influences have for a long time
compelled it, living as it did in helpless barbaric formlessness, to
servitude under their form. It may at last, after returning to the
primitive source of its being, venture to stalk along boldly and freely
before all nations without hugging the leading-strings of a Romanic
civilisation: if only it can learn implicitly of one people--the
Greeks, of whom to learn at all is itself a high honour and a rare
distinction. And when did we require these highest of all teachers more
than at present, when we experience _a re-birth of tragedy_ and are in
danger alike of not knowing whence it comes, and of being unable to
make clear to ourselves whither it tends.

[22] Essay on Elegiac Poetry.--TR.

[23] See _Faust,_ Part 1.1. 965--TR.


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.
In order not to despair altogether of the German spirit, must we not
infer therefrom that possibly, in some essential matter, even these
champions could not penetrate into the core of the Hellenic nature,
and were unable to establish a permanent friendly alliance between
German and Greek culture? So that perhaps an unconscious perception
of this shortcoming might raise also in more serious minds the
disheartening doubt as to whether after such predecessors they could
advance still farther on this path of culture, or could reach the goal
at all. Accordingly, we see the opinions concerning the value of Greek
contribution to culture degenerate since that time in the most alarming
manner; the expression of compassionate superiority may be heard
in the most heterogeneous intellectual and non-intellectual camps,
and elsewhere a totally ineffective declamation dallies with "Greek
harmony," "Greek beauty," "Greek cheerfulness." And in the very circles
whose dignity it might be to draw indefatigably from the Greek channel
for the good of German culture, in the circles of the teachers in the
higher educational institutions, they have learned best to compromise
with the Greeks in good time and on easy terms, to the extent often of
a sceptical abandonment of the Hellenic ideal and a total perversion of
the true purpose of antiquarian studies. If there be any one at all in
these circles who has not completely exhausted himself in the endeavour
to be a trustworthy corrector of old texts or a natural-history
microscopist of language, he perhaps seeks also to appropriate Grecian
antiquity "historically" along with other antiquities, and in any case
according to the method and with the supercilious air of our present
cultured historiography. When, therefore, the intrinsic efficiency
of the higher educational institutions has never perhaps been lower
or feebler than at present, when the "journalist," the paper slave
of the day, has triumphed over the academic teacher in all matters
pertaining to culture, and there only remains to the latter the often
previously experienced metamorphosis of now fluttering also, as a
cheerful cultured butterfly, in the idiom of the journalist, with the
"light elegance" peculiar thereto--with what painful confusion must the
cultured persons of a period like the present gaze at the phenomenon
(which can perhaps be comprehended analogically only by means of the
profoundest principle of the hitherto unintelligible Hellenic genius)
of the reawakening of the Dionysian spirit and the re-birth of tragedy?
Never has there been another art-period in which so-called culture
and true art have been so estranged and opposed, as is so obviously
the case at present. We understand why so feeble a culture hates true
art; it fears destruction thereby. But must not an entire domain of
culture, namely the Socratic-Alexandrine, have exhausted its powers
after contriving to culminate in such a daintily-tapering point as our
present culture? When it was not permitted to heroes like Goethe and
Schiller to break open the enchanted gate which leads into the Hellenic
magic mountain, when with their most dauntless striving they did not
get beyond the longing gaze which the Goethean Iphigenia cast from
barbaric Tauris to her home across the ocean, what could the epigones
of such heroes hope for, if the gate should not open to them suddenly
of its own accord, in an entirely different position, quite overlooked
in all endeavours of culture hitherto--amidst the mystic tones of
reawakened tragic music.

Let no one attempt to weaken our faith in an impending re-birth of
Hellenic antiquity; for in it alone we find our hope of a renovation
and purification of the German spirit through the fire-magic of music.
What else do we know of amidst the present desolation and languor
of culture, which could awaken any comforting expectation for the
future? We look in vain for one single vigorously-branching root, for
a speck of fertile and healthy soil: there is dust, sand, torpidness
and languishing everywhere! Under such circumstances a cheerless
solitary wanderer could choose for himself no better symbol than the
Knight with Death and the Devil, as Dürer has sketched him for us, the
mail-clad knight, grim and stern of visage, who is able, unperturbed
by his gruesome companions, and yet hopelessly, to pursue his terrible
path with horse and hound alone. Our Schopenhauer was such a Dürerian
knight: he was destitute of all hope, but he sought the truth. There is
not his equal.

But how suddenly this gloomily depicted wilderness of our exhausted
culture changes when the Dionysian magic touches it! A hurricane
seizes everything decrepit, decaying, collapsed, and stunted; wraps
it whirlingly into a red cloud of dust; and carries it like a vulture
into the air. Confused thereby, our glances seek for what has vanished:
for what they see is something risen to the golden light as from
a depression, so full and green, so luxuriantly alive, so ardently
infinite. Tragedy sits in the midst of this exuberance of life,
sorrow and joy, in sublime ecstasy; she listens to a distant doleful
song--it tells of the Mothers of Being, whose names are: _Wahn, Wille,
Wehe_[21]--Yes, my friends, believe with me in Dionysian life and
in the re-birth of tragedy. The time of the Socratic man is past:
crown yourselves with ivy, take in your hands the thyrsus, and do not
marvel if tigers and panthers lie down fawning at your feet. Dare now
to be tragic men, for ye are to be redeemed! Ye are to accompany the
Dionysian festive procession from India to Greece! Equip yourselves for
severe conflict, but believe in the wonders of your god!


Gliding back from these hortative tones into the mood which befits
the contemplative man, I repeat that it can only be learnt from the
Greeks what such a sudden and miraculous awakening of tragedy must
signify for the essential basis of a people's life. It is the people
of the tragic mysteries who fight the battles with the Persians: and
again, the people who waged such wars required tragedy as a necessary
healing potion. Who would have imagined that there was still such a
uniformly powerful effusion of the simplest political sentiments, the
most natural domestic instincts and the primitive manly delight in
strife in this very people after it had been shaken to its foundations
for several generations by the most violent convulsions of the
Dionysian demon? If at every considerable spreading of the Dionysian
commotion one always perceives that the Dionysian loosing from the
shackles of the individual makes itself felt first of all in an
increased encroachment on the political instincts, to the extent of
indifference, yea even hostility, it is certain, on the other hand,
that the state-forming Apollo is also the genius of the _principium
individuationis,_ and that the state and domestic sentiment cannot live
without an assertion of individual personality. There is only one way
from orgasm for a people,--the way to Indian Buddhism, which, in order
to be at all endured with its longing for nothingness, requires the
rare ecstatic states with their elevation above space, time, and the
individual; just as these in turn demand a philosophy which teaches how
to overcome the indescribable depression of the intermediate states by
means of a fancy. With the same necessity, owing to the unconditional
dominance of political impulses, a people drifts into a path of
extremest secularisation, the most magnificent, but also the most
terrible expression of which is the Roman _imperium_.

Placed between India and Rome, and constrained to a seductive choice,
the Greeks succeeded in devising in classical purity still a third form
of life, not indeed for long private use, but just on that account for
immortality. For it holds true in all things that those whom the gods
love die young, but, on the other hand, it holds equally true that they
then live eternally with the gods. One must not demand of what is most
noble that it should possess the durable toughness of leather; the
staunch durability, which, for instance, was inherent in the national
character of the Romans, does not probably belong to the indispensable
predicates of perfection. But if we ask by what physic it was possible
for the Greeks, in their best period, notwithstanding the extraordinary
strength of their Dionysian and political impulses, neither to exhaust
themselves by ecstatic brooding, nor by a consuming scramble for empire
and worldly honour, but to attain the splendid mixture which we find
in a noble, inflaming, and contemplatively disposing wine, we must
remember the enormous power of _tragedy,_ exciting, purifying, and
disburdening the entire life of a people; the highest value of which
we shall divine only when, as in the case of the Greeks, it appears
to us as the essence of all the prophylactic healing forces, as the
mediator arbitrating between the strongest and most inherently fateful
characteristics of a people.

Tragedy absorbs the highest musical orgasm into itself, so that it
absolutely brings music to perfection among the Greeks, as among
ourselves; but it then places alongside thereof tragic myth and the
tragic hero, who, like a mighty Titan, takes the entire Dionysian world
on his shoulders and disburdens us thereof; while, on the other hand,
it is able by means of this same tragic myth, in the person of the
tragic hero, to deliver us from the intense longing for this existence,
and reminds us with warning hand of another existence and a higher
joy, for which the struggling hero prepares himself presentiently by
his destruction, not by his victories. Tragedy sets a sublime symbol,
namely the myth between the universal authority of its music and the
receptive Dionysian hearer, and produces in him the illusion that music
is only the most effective means for the animation of the plastic world
of myth. Relying upon this noble illusion, she can now move her limbs
for the dithyrambic dance, and abandon herself unhesitatingly to an
orgiastic feeling of freedom, in which she could not venture to indulge
as music itself, without this illusion. The myth protects us from the
music, while, on the other hand, it alone gives the highest freedom
thereto. By way of return for this service, music imparts to tragic
myth such an impressive and convincing metaphysical significance as
could never be attained by word and image, without this unique aid;
and the tragic spectator in particular experiences thereby the sure
presentiment of supreme joy to which the path through destruction and
negation leads; so that he thinks he hears, as it were, the innermost
abyss of things speaking audibly to him.

If in these last propositions I have succeeded in giving perhaps only a
preliminary expression, intelligible to few at first, to this difficult
representation, I must not here desist from stimulating my friends to a
further attempt, or cease from beseeching them to prepare themselves,
by a detached example of our common experience, for the perception of
the universal proposition. In this example I must not appeal to those
who make use of the pictures of the scenic processes, the words and the
emotions of the performers, in order to approximate thereby to musical
perception; for none of these speak music as their mother-tongue,
and, in spite of the aids in question, do not get farther than the
precincts of musical perception, without ever being allowed to touch
its innermost shrines; some of them, like Gervinus, do not even reach
the precincts by this path. I have only to address myself to those
who, being immediately allied to music, have it as it were for their
mother's lap, and are connected with things almost exclusively by
unconscious musical relations. I ask the question of these genuine
musicians: whether they can imagine a man capable of hearing the third
act of _Tristan und Isolde_ without any aid of word or scenery, purely
as a vast symphonic period, without expiring by a spasmodic distention
of all the wings of the soul? A man who has thus, so to speak, put his
ear to the heart-chamber of the cosmic will, who feels the furious
desire for existence issuing therefrom as a thundering stream or most
gently dispersed brook, into all the veins of the world, would he not
collapse all at once? Could he endure, in the wretched fragile tenement
of the human individual, to hear the re-echo of countless cries of
joy and sorrow from the "vast void of cosmic night," without flying
irresistibly towards his primitive home at the sound of this pastoral
dance-song of metaphysics? But if, nevertheless, such a work can be
heard as a whole, without a renunciation of individual existence, if
such a creation could be created without demolishing its creator--where
are we to get the solution of this contradiction?

Here there interpose between our highest musical excitement and the
music in question the tragic myth and the tragic hero--in reality only
as symbols of the most universal facts, of which music alone can speak
directly. If, however, we felt as purely Dionysian beings, myth as a
symbol would stand by us absolutely ineffective and unnoticed, and
would never for a moment prevent us from giving ear to the re-echo of
the _universalia ante rem._ Here, however, the _Apollonian_ power, with
a view to the restoration of the well-nigh shattered individual, bursts
forth with the healing balm of a blissful illusion: all of a sudden
we imagine we see only Tristan, motionless, with hushed voice saying
to himself: "the old tune, why does it wake me?" And what formerly
interested us like a hollow sigh from the heart of being, seems now
only to tell us how "waste and void is the sea." And when, breathless,
we thought to expire by a convulsive distention of all our feelings,
and only a slender tie bound us to our present existence, we now hear
and see only the hero wounded to death and still not dying, with his
despairing cry: "Longing! Longing! In dying still longing! for longing
not dying!" And if formerly, after such a surplus and superabundance of
consuming agonies, the jubilation of the born rent our hearts almost
like the very acme of agony, the rejoicing Kurwenal now stands between
us and the "jubilation as such," with face turned toward the ship which
carries Isolde. However powerfully fellow-suffering encroaches upon us,
it nevertheless delivers us in a manner from the primordial suffering
of the world, just as the symbol-image of the myth delivers us from the
immediate perception of the highest cosmic idea, just as the thought
and word deliver us from the unchecked effusion of the unconscious
will. The glorious Apollonian illusion makes it appear as if the very
realm of tones presented itself to us as a plastic cosmos, as if even
the fate of Tristan and Isolde had been merely formed and moulded
therein as out of some most delicate and impressible material.

Thus does the Apollonian wrest us from Dionysian universality and fill
us with rapture for individuals; to these it rivets our sympathetic
emotion, through these it satisfies the sense of beauty which longs for
great and sublime forms; it brings before us biographical portraits,
and incites us to a thoughtful apprehension of the essence of life
contained therein. With the immense potency of the image, the concept,
the ethical teaching and the sympathetic emotion--the Apollonian
influence uplifts man from his orgiastic self-annihilation, and
beguiles him concerning the universality of the Dionysian process
into the belief that he is seeing a detached picture of the world,
for instance, Tristan and Isolde, and that, _through music,_ he will
be enabled to _see_ it still more clearly and intrinsically. What can
the healing magic of Apollo not accomplish when it can even excite in
us the illusion that the Dionysian is actually in the service of the
Apollonian, the effects of which it is capable of enhancing; yea, that
music is essentially the representative art for an Apollonian substance?

With the pre-established harmony which obtains between perfect drama
and its music, the drama attains the highest degree of conspicuousness,
such as is usually unattainable in mere spoken drama. As all the
animated figures of the scene in the independently evolved lines
of melody simplify themselves before us to the distinctness of the
catenary curve, the coexistence of these lines is also audible in the
harmonic change which sympathises in a most delicate manner with the
evolved process: through which change the relations of things become
immediately perceptible to us in a sensible and not at all abstract
manner, as we likewise perceive thereby that it is only in these
relations that the essence of a character and of a line of melody
manifests itself clearly. And while music thus compels us to see more
extensively and more intrinsically than usual, and makes us spread out
the curtain of the scene before ourselves like some delicate texture,
the world of the stage is as infinitely expanded for our spiritualised,
introspective eye as it is illumined outwardly from within. How can
the word-poet furnish anything analogous, who strives to attain this
internal expansion and illumination of the visible stage-world by a
much more imperfect mechanism and an indirect path, proceeding as he
does from word and concept? Albeit musical tragedy likewise avails
itself of the word, it is at the same time able to place alongside
thereof its basis and source, and can make the unfolding of the word,
from within outwards, obvious to us.

Of the process just set forth, however, it could still be said
as decidedly that it is only a glorious appearance, namely the
afore-mentioned Apollonian _illusion,_ through the influence of which
we are to be delivered from the Dionysian obtrusion and excess.
In point of fact, the relation of music to drama is precisely the
reverse; music is the adequate idea of the world, drama is but the
reflex of this idea, a detached umbrage thereof. The identity between
the line of melody and the lining form, between the harmony and the
character-relations of this form, is true in a sense antithetical to
what one would suppose on the contemplation of musical tragedy. We
may agitate and enliven the form in the most conspicuous manner, and
enlighten it from within, but it still continues merely phenomenon,
from which there is no bridge to lead us into the true reality, into
the heart of the world. Music, however, speaks out of this heart; and
though countless phenomena of the kind might be passing manifestations
of this music, they could never exhaust its essence, but would always
be merely its externalised copies. Of course, as regards the intricate
relation of music and drama, nothing can be explained, while all may
be confused by the popular and thoroughly false antithesis of soul and
body; but the unphilosophical crudeness of this antithesis seems to
have become--who knows for what reasons--a readily accepted Article of
Faith with our æstheticians, while they have learned nothing concerning
an antithesis of phenomenon and thing-in-itself, or perhaps, for
reasons equally unknown, have not cared to learn anything thereof.

Should it have been established by our analysis that the Apollonian
element in tragedy has by means of its illusion gained a complete
victory over the Dionysian primordial element of music, and has made
music itself subservient to its end, namely, the highest and clearest
elucidation of the drama, it would certainly be necessary to add the
very important restriction: that at the most essential point this
Apollonian illusion is dissolved and annihilated. The drama, which, by
the aid of music, spreads out before us with such inwardly illumined
distinctness in all its movements and figures, that we imagine we
see the texture unfolding on the loom as the shuttle flies to and
fro,--attains as a whole an effect which _transcends all Apollonian
artistic effects._ In the collective effect of tragedy, the Dionysian
gets the upper hand once more; tragedy ends with a sound which could
never emanate from the realm of Apollonian art. And the Apollonian
illusion is thereby found to be what it is,--the assiduous veiling
during the performance of tragedy of the intrinsically Dionysian
effect: which, however, is so powerful, that it finally forces
the Apollonian drama itself into a sphere where it begins to talk
with Dionysian wisdom, and even denies itself and its Apollonian
conspicuousness. Thus then the intricate relation of the Apollonian and
the Dionysian in tragedy must really be symbolised by a fraternal union
of the two deities: Dionysus speaks the language of Apollo; Apollo,
however, finally speaks the language of Dionysus; and so the highest
goal of tragedy and of art in general is attained.


Let the attentive friend picture to himself purely and simply,
according to his experiences, the effect of a true musical tragedy. I
think I have so portrayed the phenomenon of this effect in both its
phases that he will now be able to interpret his own experiences. For
he will recollect that with regard to the myth which passed before
him he felt himself exalted to a kind of omniscience, as if his
visual faculty were no longer merely a surface faculty, but capable
of penetrating into the interior, and as if he now saw before him,
with the aid of music, the ebullitions of the will, the conflict of
motives, and the swelling stream of the passions, almost sensibly
visible, like a plenitude of actively moving lines and figures, and
could thereby dip into the most tender secrets of unconscious emotions.
While he thus becomes conscious of the highest exaltation of his
instincts for conspicuousness and transfiguration, he nevertheless
feels with equal definitiveness that this long series of Apollonian
artistic effects still does _not_ generate the blissful continuance in
will-less contemplation which the plasticist and the epic poet, that
is to say, the strictly Apollonian artists, produce in him by their
artistic productions: to wit, the justification of the world of the
_individuatio_ attained in this contemplation,--which is the object
and essence of Apollonian art. He beholds the transfigured world of
the stage and nevertheless denies it. He sees before him the tragic
hero in epic clearness and beauty, and nevertheless delights in his
annihilation. He comprehends the incidents of the scene in all their
details, and yet loves to flee into the incomprehensible. He feels the
actions of the hero to be justified, and is nevertheless still more
elated when these actions annihilate their originator. He shudders at
the sufferings which will befall the hero, and yet anticipates therein
a higher and much more overpowering joy. He sees more extensively and
profoundly than ever, and yet wishes to be blind. Whence must we derive
this curious internal dissension, this collapse of the Apollonian apex,
if not from the _Dionysian_ spell, which, though apparently stimulating
the Apollonian emotions to their highest pitch, can nevertheless force
this superabundance of Apollonian power into its service? _Tragic
myth_ is to be understood only as a symbolisation of Dionysian wisdom
by means of the expedients of Apollonian art: the mythus conducts the
world of phenomena to its boundaries, where it denies itself, and seeks
to flee back again into the bosom of the true and only reality; where
it then, like Isolde, seems to strike up its metaphysical swan-song:--

    In des Wonnemeeres
    wogendem Schwall,
    in der Duft-Wellen
    tönendem Schall,
    in des Weltathems
    wehendem All--
    unbewusst--höchste Lust![24]

We thus realise to ourselves in the experiences of the truly æsthetic
hearer the tragic artist himself when he proceeds like a luxuriously
fertile divinity of individuation to create his figures (in which sense
his work can hardly be understood as an "imitation of nature")--and
when, on the other hand, his vast Dionysian impulse then absorbs the
entire world of phenomena, in order to anticipate beyond it, and
through its annihilation, the highest artistic primal joy, in the bosom
of the Primordial Unity. Of course, our æsthetes have nothing to say
about this return in fraternal union of the two art-deities to the
original home, nor of either the Apollonian or Dionysian excitement
of the hearer, while they are indefatigable in characterising the
struggle of the hero with fate, the triumph of the moral order of the
world, or the disburdenment of the emotions through tragedy, as the
properly Tragic: an indefatigableness which makes me think that they
are perhaps not æsthetically excitable men at all, but only to be
regarded as moral beings when hearing tragedy. Never since Aristotle
has an explanation of the tragic effect been proposed, by which an
æsthetic activity of the hearer could be inferred from artistic
circumstances. At one time fear and pity are supposed to be forced to
an alleviating discharge through the serious procedure, at another time
we are expected to feel elevated and inspired at the triumph of good
and noble principles, at the sacrifice of the hero in the interest of
a moral conception of things; and however certainly I believe that for
countless men precisely this, and only this, is the effect of tragedy,
it as obviously follows therefrom that all these, together with their
interpreting æsthetes, have had no experience of tragedy as the highest
_art._ The pathological discharge, the catharsis of Aristotle, which
philologists are at a loss whether to include under medicinal or moral
phenomena, recalls a remarkable anticipation of Goethe. "Without a
lively pathological interest," he says, "I too have never yet succeeded
in elaborating a tragic situation of any kind, and hence I have rather
avoided than sought it. Can it perhaps have been still another of the
merits of the ancients that the deepest pathos was with them merely
æsthetic play, whereas with us the truth of nature must co-operate in
order to produce such a work?" We can now answer in the affirmative
this latter profound question after our glorious experiences, in which
we have found to our astonishment in the case of musical tragedy
itself, that the deepest pathos can in reality be merely æsthetic play:
and therefore we are justified in believing that now for the first time
the proto-phenomenon of the tragic can be portrayed with some degree
of success. He who now will still persist in talking only of those
vicarious effects proceeding from ultra-æsthetic spheres, and does not
feel himself raised above the pathologically-moral process, may be left
to despair of his æsthetic nature: for which we recommend to him, by
way of innocent equivalent, the interpretation of Shakespeare after the
fashion of Gervinus, and the diligent search for poetic justice.

Thus with the re-birth of tragedy the _æsthetic hearer_ is also
born anew, in whose place in the theatre a curious _quid pro quo_
was wont to sit with half-moral and half-learned pretensions,--the
"critic." In his sphere hitherto everything has been artificial and
merely glossed over with a semblance of life. The performing artist
was in fact at a loss what to do with such a critically comporting
hearer, and hence he, as well as the dramatist or operatic composer
who inspired him, searched anxiously for the last remains of life
in a being so pretentiously barren and incapable of enjoyment. Such
"critics," however, have hitherto constituted the public; the student,
the school-boy, yea, even the most harmless womanly creature, were
already unwittingly prepared by education and by journals for a similar
perception of works of art. The nobler natures among the artists
counted upon exciting the moral-religious forces in such a public,
and the appeal to a moral order of the world operated vicariously,
when in reality some powerful artistic spell should have enraptured
the true hearer. Or again, some imposing or at all events exciting
tendency of the contemporary political and social world was presented
by the dramatist with such vividness that the hearer could forget his
critical exhaustion and abandon himself to similar emotions, as, in
patriotic or warlike moments, before the tribune of parliament, or
at the condemnation of crime and vice:--an estrangement of the true
aims of art which could not but lead directly now and then to a cult
of tendency. But here there took place what has always taken place
in the case of factitious arts, an extraordinary rapid depravation
of these tendencies, so that for instance the tendency to employ the
theatre as a means for the moral education of the people, which in
Schiller's time was taken seriously, is already reckoned among the
incredible antiquities of a surmounted culture. While the critic got
the upper hand in the theatre and concert-hall, the journalist in the
school, and the press in society, art degenerated into a topic of
conversation of the most trivial kind, and æsthetic criticism was used
as the cement of a vain, distracted, selfish and moreover piteously
unoriginal sociality, the significance of which is suggested by the
Schopenhauerian parable of the porcupines, so that there has never
been so much gossip about art and so little esteem for it. But is it
still possible to have intercourse with a man capable of conversing on
Beethoven or Shakespeare? Let each answer this question according to
his sentiments: he will at any rate show by his answer his conception
of "culture," provided he tries at least to answer the question, and
has not already grown mute with astonishment.

On the other hand, many a one more nobly and delicately endowed by
nature, though he may have gradually become a critical barbarian
in the manner described, could tell of the unexpected as well as
totally unintelligible effect which a successful performance of
_Lohengrin,_ for example, exerted on him: except that perhaps every
warning and interpreting hand was lacking to guide him; so that the
incomprehensibly heterogeneous and altogether incomparable sensation
which then affected him also remained isolated and became extinct, like
a mysterious star after a brief brilliancy. He then divined what the
æsthetic hearer is.


    In the sea of pleasure's
    Billowing roll,
    In the ether-waves
    Knelling and toll,
    In the world-breath's
    Wavering whole--
    To drown in, go down in--
    Lost in swoon--greatest boon!


He who wishes to test himself rigorously as to how he is related to the
true æsthetic hearer, or whether he belongs rather to the community
of the Socrato-critical man, has only to enquire sincerely concerning
the sentiment with which he accepts the _wonder_ represented on the
stage: whether he feels his historical sense, which insists on strict
psychological causality, insulted by it, whether with benevolent
concession he as it were admits the wonder as a phenomenon intelligible
to childhood, but relinquished by him, or whether he experiences
anything else thereby. For he will thus be enabled to determine how
far he is on the whole capable of understanding _myth,_ that is to
say, the concentrated picture of the world, which, as abbreviature of
phenomena, cannot dispense with wonder. It is probable, however, that
nearly every one, upon close examination, feels so disintegrated by
the critico-historical spirit of our culture, that he can only perhaps
make the former existence of myth credible to himself by learned
means through intermediary abstractions. Without myth, however, every
culture loses its healthy, creative natural power: it is only a horizon
encompassed with myths which rounds off to unity a social movement.
It is only by myth that all the powers of the imagination and of the
Apollonian dream are freed from their random rovings. The mythical
figures have to be the invisibly omnipresent genii, under the care of
which the young soul grows to maturity, by the signs of which the man
gives a meaning to his life and struggles: and the state itself knows
no more powerful unwritten law than the mythical foundation which
vouches for its connection with religion and its growth from mythical

Let us now place alongside thereof the abstract man proceeding
independently of myth, the abstract education, the abstract usage,
the abstract right, the abstract state: let us picture to ourselves
the lawless roving of the artistic imagination, not bridled by any
native myth: let us imagine a culture which has no fixed and sacred
primitive seat, but is doomed to exhaust all its possibilities, and
has to nourish itself wretchedly from the other cultures--such is the
Present, as the result of Socratism, which is bent on the destruction
of myth. And now the myth-less man remains eternally hungering among
all the bygones, and digs and grubs for roots, though he have to dig
for them even among the remotest antiquities. The stupendous historical
exigency of the unsatisfied modern culture, the gathering around one of
countless other cultures, the consuming desire for knowledge--what does
all this point to, if not to the loss of myth, the loss of the mythical
home, the mythical source? Let us ask ourselves whether the feverish
and so uncanny stirring of this culture is aught but the eager seizing
and snatching at food of the hungerer--and who would care to contribute
anything more to a culture which cannot be appeased by all it devours,
and in contact with which the most vigorous and wholesome nourishment
is wont to change into "history and criticism"?

We should also have to regard our German character with despair and
sorrow, if it had already become inextricably entangled in, or even
identical with this culture, in a similar manner as we can observe it
to our horror to be the case in civilised France; and that which for
a long time was the great advantage of France and the cause of her
vast preponderance, to wit, this very identity of people and culture,
might compel us at the sight thereof to congratulate ourselves that
this culture of ours, which is so questionable, has hitherto had
nothing in common with the noble kernel of the character of our people.
All our hopes, on the contrary, stretch out longingly towards the
perception that beneath this restlessly palpitating civilised life and
educational convulsion there is concealed a glorious, intrinsically
healthy, primeval power, which, to be sure, stirs vigorously only at
intervals in stupendous moments, and then dreams on again in view of
a future awakening. It is from this abyss that the German Reformation
came forth: in the choral-hymn of which the future melody of German
music first resounded. So deep, courageous, and soul-breathing, so
exuberantly good and tender did this chorale of Luther sound,--as the
first Dionysian-luring call which breaks forth from dense thickets
at the approach of spring. To it responded with emulative echo the
solemnly wanton procession of Dionysian revellers, to whom we are
indebted for German music--and to whom we shall be indebted for _the
re-birth of German myth._

I know that I must now lead the sympathising and attentive friend to
an elevated position of lonesome contemplation, where he will have
but few companions, and I call out encouragingly to him that we must
hold fast to our shining guides, the Greeks. For the rectification
of our æsthetic knowledge we previously borrowed from them the two
divine figures, each of which sways a separate realm of art, and
concerning whose mutual contact and exaltation we have acquired a
notion through Greek tragedy. Through a remarkable disruption of both
these primitive artistic impulses, the ruin of Greek tragedy seemed
to be necessarily brought about: with which process a degeneration
and a transmutation of the Greek national character was strictly in
keeping, summoning us to earnest reflection as to how closely and
necessarily art and the people, myth and custom, tragedy and the state,
have coalesced in their bases. The ruin of tragedy was at the same
time the ruin of myth. Until then the Greeks had been involuntarily
compelled immediately to associate all experiences with their myths,
indeed they had to comprehend them only through this association:
whereby even the most immediate present necessarily appeared to them
_sub specie æterni_ and in a certain sense as timeless. Into this
current of the timeless, however, the state as well as art plunged
in order to find repose from the burden and eagerness of the moment.
And a people--for the rest, also a man--is worth just as much only as
its ability to impress on its experiences the seal of eternity: for
it is thus, as it were, desecularised, and reveals its unconscious
inner conviction of the relativity of time and of the true, that is,
the metaphysical significance of life. The contrary happens when a
people begins to comprehend itself historically and to demolish the
mythical bulwarks around it: with which there is usually connected
a marked secularisation, a breach with the unconscious metaphysics
of its earlier existence, in all ethical consequences. Greek art and
especially Greek tragedy delayed above all the annihilation of myth:
it was necessary to annihilate these also to be able to live detached
from the native soil, unbridled in the wilderness of thought, custom,
and action. Even in such circumstances this metaphysical impulse still
endeavours to create for itself a form of apotheosis (weakened, no
doubt) in the Socratism of science urging to life: but on its lower
stage this same impulse led only to a feverish search, which gradually
merged into a pandemonium of myths and superstitions accumulated from
all quarters: in the midst of which, nevertheless, the Hellene sat with
a yearning heart till he contrived, as Græculus, to mask his fever with
Greek cheerfulness and Greek levity, or to narcotise himself completely
with some gloomy Oriental superstition.

We have approached this condition in the most striking manner since the
reawakening of the Alexandro--Roman antiquity in the fifteenth century,
after a long, not easily describable, interlude. On the heights there
is the same exuberant love of knowledge, the same insatiate happiness
of the discoverer, the same stupendous secularisation, and, together
with these, a homeless roving about, an eager intrusion at foreign
tables, a frivolous deification of the present or a dull senseless
estrangement, all _sub speci sæculi,_ of the present time: which
same symptoms lead one to infer the same defect at the heart of
this culture, the annihilation of myth. It seems hardly possible to
transplant a foreign myth with permanent success, without dreadfully
injuring the tree through this transplantation: which is perhaps
occasionally strong enough and sound enough to eliminate the foreign
element after a terrible struggle; but must ordinarily consume itself
in a languishing and stunted condition or in sickly luxuriance. Our
opinion of the pure and vigorous kernel of the German being is such
that we venture to expect of it, and only of it, this elimination of
forcibly ingrafted foreign elements, and we deem it possible that
the German spirit will reflect anew on itself. Perhaps many a one
will be of opinion that this spirit must begin its struggle with the
elimination of the Romanic element: for which it might recognise an
external preparation and encouragement in the victorious bravery and
bloody glory of the late war, but must seek the inner constraint in the
emulative zeal to be for ever worthy of the sublime protagonists on
this path, of Luther as well as our great artists and poets. But let
him never think he can fight such battles without his household gods,
without his mythical home, without a "restoration" of all German things
I And if the German should look timidly around for a guide to lead
him back to his long-lost home, the ways and paths of which he knows
no longer--let him but listen to the delightfully luring call of the
Dionysian bird, which hovers above him, and would fain point out to him
the way thither.


Among the peculiar artistic effects of musical tragedy we had to
emphasise an Apollonian _illusion,_ through which we are to be saved
from immediate oneness with the Dionysian music, while our musical
excitement is able to discharge itself on an Apollonian domain and
in an interposed visible middle world. It thereby seemed to us that
precisely through this discharge the middle world of theatrical
procedure, the drama generally, became visible and intelligible from
within in a degree unattainable in the other forms of Apollonian art:
so that here, where this art was as it were winged and borne aloft by
the spirit of music, we had to recognise the highest exaltation of its
powers, and consequently in the fraternal union of Apollo and Dionysus
the climax of the Apollonian as well as of the Dionysian artistic aims.

Of course, the Apollonian light-picture did not, precisely with this
inner illumination through music, attain the peculiar effect of the
weaker grades of Apollonian art. What the epos and the animated stone
can do--constrain the contemplating eye to calm delight in the world
of the _individuatio_--could not be realised here, notwithstanding
the greater animation and distinctness. We contemplated the drama
and penetrated with piercing glance into its inner agitated world of
motives--and yet it seemed as if only a symbolic picture passed before
us, the profoundest significance of which we almost believed we had
divined, and which we desired to put aside like a curtain in order to
behold the original behind it. The greatest distinctness of the picture
did not suffice us: for it seemed to reveal as well as veil something;
and while it seemed, with its symbolic revelation, to invite the
rending of the veil for the disclosure of the mysterious background,
this illumined all-conspicuousness itself enthralled the eye and
prevented it from penetrating more deeply He who has not experienced
this,--to have to view, and at the same time to have a longing
beyond the viewing,--will hardly be able to conceive how clearly and
definitely these two processes coexist in the contemplation of tragic
myth and are felt to be conjoined; while the truly æsthetic spectators
will confirm my assertion that among the peculiar effects of tragedy
this conjunction is the most noteworthy. Now let this phenomenon of the
æsthetic spectator be transferred to an analogous process in the tragic
artist, and the genesis of _tragic myth_ will have been understood. It
shares with the Apollonian sphere of art the full delight in appearance
and contemplation, and at the same time it denies this delight and
finds a still higher satisfaction in the annihilation of the visible
world of appearance. The substance of tragic myth is first of all an
epic event involving the glorification of the fighting hero: but whence
originates the essentially enigmatical trait, that the suffering in
the fate of the hero, the most painful victories, the most agonising
contrasts of motives, in short, the exemplification of the wisdom of
Silenus, or, æsthetically expressed, the Ugly and Discordant, is always
represented anew in such countless forms with such predilection, and
precisely in the most youthful and exuberant age of a people, unless
there is really a higher delight experienced in all this?

For the fact that things actually take such a tragic course would
least of all explain the origin of a form of art; provided that art
is not merely an imitation of the reality of nature, but in truth a
metaphysical supplement to the reality of nature, placed alongside
thereof for its conquest. Tragic myth, in so far as it really belongs
to art, also fully participates in this transfiguring metaphysical
purpose of art in general: What does it transfigure, however, when it
presents the phenomenal world in the guise of the suffering hero? Least
of all the "reality" of this phenomenal world, for it says to us: "Look
at this! Look carefully! It is your life! It is the hour-hand of your
clock of existence!"

And myth has displayed this life, in order thereby to transfigure it
to us? If not, how shall we account for the æsthetic pleasure with
which we make even these representations pass before us? I am inquiring
concerning the æsthetic pleasure, and am well aware that many of
these representations may moreover occasionally create even a moral
delectation, say under the form of pity or of a moral triumph. But he
who would derive the effect of the tragic exclusively from these moral
sources, as was usually the case far too long in æsthetics, let him not
think that he has done anything for Art thereby; for Art must above all
insist on purity in her domain. For the explanation of tragic myth the
very first requirement is that the pleasure which characterises it must
be sought in the purely æsthetic sphere, without encroaching on the
domain of pity, fear, or the morally-sublime. How can the ugly and the
discordant, the substance of tragic myth, excite an æsthetic pleasure?

Here it is necessary to raise ourselves with a daring bound into a
metaphysics of Art. I repeat, therefore, my former proposition, that
it is only as an æsthetic phenomenon that existence and the world,
appear justified: and in this sense it is precisely the function of
tragic myth to convince us that even the Ugly and Discordant is an
artistic game which the will, in the eternal fulness of its joy, plays
with itself. But this not easily comprehensible proto-phenomenon of
Dionysian Art becomes, in a direct way, singularly intelligible, and
is immediately apprehended in the wonderful significance of _musical
dissonance:_ just as in general it is music alone, placed in contrast
to the world, which can give us an idea as to what is meant by the
justification of the world as an æsthetic phenomenon. The joy that the
tragic myth excites has the same origin as the joyful sensation of
dissonance in music. The Dionysian, with its primitive joy experienced
in pain itself, is the common source of music and tragic myth.

Is it not possible that by calling to our aid the musical relation of
dissonance, the difficult problem of tragic effect may have meanwhile
been materially facilitated? For we now understand what it means to
wish to view tragedy and at the same time to have a longing beyond the
viewing: a frame of mind, which, as regards the artistically employed
dissonance, we should simply have to characterise by saying that we
desire to hear and at the same time have a longing beyond the hearing.
That striving for the infinite, the pinion-flapping of longing,
accompanying the highest delight in the clearly-perceived reality,
remind one that in both states we have to recognise a Dionysian
phenomenon, which again and again reveals to us anew the playful
up-building and demolishing of the world of individuals as the efflux
of a primitive delight, in like manner as when Heraclitus the Obscure
compares the world-building power to a playing child which places
stones here and there and builds sandhills only to overthrow them again.

Hence, in order to form a true estimate of the Dionysian capacity of
a people, it would seem that we must think not only of their music,
but just as much of their tragic myth, the second witness of this
capacity. Considering this most intimate relationship between music
and myth, we may now in like manner suppose that a degeneration and
depravation of the one involves a deterioration of the other: if it be
true at all that the weakening of the myth is generally expressive of
a debilitation of the Dionysian capacity. Concerning both, however,
a glance at the development of the German genius should not leave
us in any doubt; in the opera just as in the abstract character of
our myth-less existence, in an art sunk to pastime just as in a life
guided by concepts, the inartistic as well as life-consuming nature
of Socratic optimism had revealed itself to us. Yet there have been
indications to console us that nevertheless in some inaccessible abyss
the German spirit still rests and dreams, undestroyed, in glorious
health, profundity, and Dionysian strength, like a knight sunk in
slumber: from which abyss the Dionysian song rises to us to let us
know that this German knight even still dreams his primitive Dionysian
myth in blissfully earnest visions. Let no one believe that the German
spirit has for ever lost its mythical home when it still understands so
obviously the voices of the birds which tell of that home. Some day it
will find itself awake in all the morning freshness of a deep sleep:
then it will slay the dragons, destroy the malignant dwarfs, and waken
Brünnhilde--and Wotan's spear itself will be unable to obstruct its

My friends, ye who believe in Dionysian music, ye know also what
tragedy means to us. There we have tragic myth, born anew from
music,--and in this latest birth ye can hope for everything and forget
what is most afflicting. What is most afflicting to all of us, however,
is--the prolonged degradation in which the German genius has lived
estranged from house and home in the service of malignant dwarfs. Ye
understand my allusion--as ye will also, in conclusion, understand my


Music and tragic myth are equally the expression of the Dionysian
capacity of a people, and are inseparable from each other. 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." Here
the Dionysian, as compared with the Apollonian, exhibits itself as
the eternal and original artistic force, which in general calls into
existence the entire world of phenomena: in the midst of which a new
transfiguring appearance becomes necessary, in order to keep alive the
animated world of individuation. If we could conceive an incarnation
of dissonance--and what is man but that?--then, to be able to live
this dissonance would require a glorious illusion which would spread
a veil of beauty over its peculiar nature. This is the true function
of Apollo as deity of art: in whose name we comprise all the countless
manifestations of the fair realm of illusion, which each moment render
life in general worth living and make one impatient for the experience
of the next moment.

At the same time, just as much of this basis of all existence--the
Dionysian substratum of the world--is allowed to enter into the
consciousness of human beings, as can be surmounted again by the
Apollonian transfiguring power, so that these two art-impulses are
constrained to develop their powers in strictly mutual proportion,
according to the law of eternal justice. When the Dionysian powers rise
with such vehemence as we experience at present, there can be no doubt
that, veiled in a cloud, Apollo has already descended to us; whose
grandest beautifying influences a coming generation will perhaps behold.

That this effect is necessary, however, each one would most surely
perceive by intuition, if once he found himself carried back--even in
a dream--into an Old-Hellenic existence. In walking under high Ionic
colonnades, looking upwards to a horizon defined by clear and noble
lines, with reflections of his transfigured form by his side in shining
marble, and around him solemnly marching or quietly moving men, with
harmoniously sounding voices and rhythmical pantomime, would he not in
the presence of this perpetual influx of beauty have to raise his hand
to Apollo and exclaim: "Blessed race of Hellenes! How great Dionysus
must be among you, when the Delian god deems such charms necessary
to cure you of your dithyrambic madness!"--To one in this frame of
mind, however, an aged Athenian, looking up to him with the sublime
eye of Æschylus, might answer: "Say also this, thou curious stranger:
what sufferings this people must have undergone, in order to be able
to become thus beautiful! But now follow me to a tragic play, and
sacrifice with me in the temple of both the deities!"


[Late in the year 1888, not long before he was overcome by his sudden
attack of insanity, Nietzsche wrote down a few notes concerning
his early work, the _Birth of Tragedy._ These were printed in his
sister's biography (_Das Leben Friedrich Nietzsches,_ vol. ii. pt.
i. pp. 102 ff.), and are here translated as likely to be of interest
to readers of this remarkable work. They also appear in the _Ecce

"To be just to the _Birth of Tragedy_(1872), one will have to forget
some few things. It has _wrought effects,_ it even fascinated through
that wherein it was amiss--through its application to _Wagnerism,_
just as if this Wagnerism were symptomatic of _a rise and going up._
And just on that account was the book an event in Wagner's life: from
thence and only from thence were great hopes linked to the name of
Wagner. Even to-day people remind me, sometimes right in the midst of
a talk on _Parsifal,_ that _I_ and none other have it on my conscience
that such a high opinion of the _cultural value_ of this movement came
to the top. More than once have I found the book referred to as 'the
_Re_-birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music': one only had an ear
for a new formula of _Wagner's_ art, aim, task,--and failed to hear
withal what was at bottom valuable therein. 'Hellenism and Pessimism'
had been a more unequivocal title: namely, as a first lesson on the
way in which the Greeks got the better of pessimism,--on the means
whereby they _overcame_ it. Tragedy simply proves that the Greeks were
_no_ pessimists: Schopenhauer was mistaken here as he was mistaken
in all other things. Considered with some neutrality, the _Birth of
Tragedy_ appears very unseasonable: one would not even dream that
it was _begun_ amid the thunders of the battle of Wörth. I thought
these problems through and through before the walls of Metz in cold
September nights, in the midst of the work of nursing the sick; one
might even believe the book to be fifty years older. It is politically
indifferent--un-German one will say to-day,--it smells shockingly
Hegelian, in but a few formulæ does it scent of Schopenhauer's
funereal perfume. An 'idea'--the antithesis of 'Dionysian _versus_
Apollonian'--translated into metaphysics; history itself as the
evolution of this 'idea'; the antithesis dissolved into oneness
in Tragedy; through this optics things that had never yet looked
into one another's face, confronted of a sudden, and illumined and
_comprehended_ through one another: for instance, Opera and Revolution.
The two decisive _innovations_ of the book are, on the one hand, the
comprehension of the _Dionysian_ phenomenon among the Greeks (it gives
the first psychology thereof, it sees therein the One root of all
Grecian art); on the other, the comprehension of Socratism: Socrates
diagnosed for the first time as the tool of Grecian dissolution, as
a typical decadent. 'Rationality' _against_ instinct! 'Rationality'
at any price as a dangerous, as a life-undermining force! Throughout
the whole book a deep hostile silence on Christianity: it is neither
Apollonian nor Dionysian; it _negatives_ all _æsthetic_ values (the
only values recognised by the _Birth of Tragedy),_ it is in the widest
sense nihilistic, whereas in the Dionysian symbol the utmost limit
of _affirmation_ is reached. Once or twice the Christian priests are
alluded to as a 'malignant kind of dwarfs,' as 'subterraneans.'"


"This beginning is singular beyond measure. I had for my own inmost
experience _discovered_ the only symbol and counterpart of history,--I
had just thereby been the first to grasp the wonderful phenomenon
of the Dionysian. And again, through my diagnosing Socrates as a
decadent, I had given a wholly unequivocal proof of how little risk
the trustworthiness of my psychological grasp would run of being
weakened by some moralistic idiosyncrasy--to view morality itself as a
symptom of decadence is an innovation, a novelty of the first rank in
the history of knowledge. How far I had leaped in either case beyond
the smug shallow-pate-gossip of optimism _contra_ pessimism! I was
the first to see the intrinsic antithesis: here, the _degenerating_
instinct which, with subterranean vindictiveness, turns against life
(Christianity, the philosophy of Schopenhauer, in a certain sense
already the philosophy of Plato, all idealistic systems as typical
forms), and there, a formula of _highest affirmation,_ born of fullness
and overfullness, a yea-saying without reserve to suffering's self,
to guilt's self, to all that is questionable and strange in existence
itself. This final, cheerfullest, exuberantly mad-and-merriest Yea to
life is not only the highest insight, it is also the _deepest,_ it
is that which is most rigorously confirmed and upheld by truth and
science. 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 of decadence sanctions, yea durst _sanction._
To comprehend this _courage_ is needed, and, as a condition thereof, a
surplus of _strength_: for precisely in degree as courage _dares_ to
thrust forward, precisely according to the measure of strength, does
one approach truth. Perception, the yea-saying to reality, is as much
a necessity to the strong as to the weak, under the inspiration of
weakness, cowardly shrinking, and _flight_ from reality--the 'ideal.'
... They are not free to perceive: the decadents have _need_ of the
lie,--it is one of their conditions of self-preservation. Whoso not
only comprehends the word Dionysian, but also grasps his _self_ in
this word, requires no refutation of Plato or of Christianity or of
Schopenhauer--_he smells the putrefaction._"


"To what extent I had just thereby found the concept 'tragic,' the
definitive perception of the psychology of tragedy, I have but lately
stated in the _Twilight of the Idols,_ page 139 (1st edit.): 'The
affirmation of life, even in its most unfamiliar and severe problems,
the will to life, enjoying its own inexhaustibility in the sacrifice
of its highest types,--_that_ is what I called Dionysian, that is
what I divined as the bridge to a psychology of the _tragic_ poet.
Not in order to get rid of terror and pity, not to purify from a
dangerous passion by its vehement discharge (it was thus that Aristotle
misunderstood it); but, beyond terror and pity, _to realise in fact_
the eternal delight of becoming, that delight which even involves in
itself the _joy of annihilating!_[1] In this sense I have the right
to understand myself to be the first _tragic philosopher_--that is,
the utmost antithesis and antipode to a pessimistic philosopher. Prior
to myself there is no such translation of the Dionysian into the
philosophic pathos: there lacks the _tragic wisdom,_--I have sought
in vain for an indication thereof even among the _great_ Greeks of
philosophy, the thinkers of the two centuries _before_ Socrates. A
doubt still possessed me as touching _Heraclitus,_ in whose proximity
I in general begin to feel warmer and better than anywhere else. The
affirmation of transiency _and annihilation,_ to wit the decisive
factor in a Dionysian _philosophy,_ the yea-saying to antithesis
and war, to _becoming,_ with radical rejection even of the concept
'_being,_'--that I must directly acknowledge as, of all thinking
hitherto, the nearest to my own. The doctrine of 'eternal recurrence,'
that is, of the unconditioned and infinitely repeated cycle of all
things--this doctrine of Zarathustra's _might_ after all have been
already taught by Heraclitus. At any rate the portico[2] which
inherited well-nigh all its fundamental conceptions from Heraclitus,
shows traces thereof."

[Illustration: _Facsimile of Nietzsches handwriting._]


"In this book speaks a prodigious hope. In fine, I see no reason
whatever for taking back my hope of a Dionysian future for music. Let
us cast a glance a century ahead, let us suppose my assault upon two
millenniums of anti-nature and man-vilification succeeds! That new
party of life which will take in hand the greatest of all tasks, the
upbreeding of mankind to something higher,--add thereto the relentless
annihilation of all things degenerating and parasitic, will again make
possible on earth that _too-much of life,_ from which there also must
needs grow again the Dionysian state. I promise a _tragic_ age: the
highest art in the yea-saying to life, tragedy, will be born anew, when
mankind have behind them the consciousness of the hardest but most
necessary wars, _without suffering therefrom._ A psychologist might
still add that what I heard in my younger years in Wagnerian music had
in general naught to do with Wagner; that when I described Wagnerian
music I described what _I_ had heard, that I had instinctively to
translate and transfigure all into the new spirit which I bore within

[1] Mr. Common's translation, pp. 227-28.

[2] Greek: στοά.


While the translator flatters himself that this version of Nietzsche's
early work--having been submitted to unsparingly scrutinising eyes--is
not altogether unworthy of the original, he begs to state that he
holds twentieth-century English to be a rather unsatisfactory vehicle
for philosophical thought. Accordingly, in conjunction with his
friend Dr. Ernest Lacy, he has prepared a second, more unconventional
translation,--in brief, a translation which will enable one whose
knowledge of English extends to, say, the period of Elizabeth, to
appreciate Nietzsche in more forcible language, because the language of
a stronger age. It is proposed to provide this second translation with
an appendix, containing many references to the translated writings of
Wagner and Schopenhauer; to the works of Pater, Browning, Burckhardt,
Rohde, and others, and a summmary and index.

For help in preparing the present translation, the translator wishes
to express his thanks to his friends Dr. Ernest Lacy, Litt.D.; Dr.
James Waddell Tupper, Ph.D.; Prof. Harry Max Ferren; Mr. James M'Kirdy,
Pittsburg; and Mr. Thomas Common, Edinburgh.

                                 WILLIAM AUGUST HAUSSMANN, A.B., Ph.D.

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