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Title: The Case of Wagner - Complete Works, Volume 8
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 Six








Nietzsche wrote the rough draft of "The Case of Wagner" in Turin,
during the month of May 1888; he completed it in Sils Maria towards the
end of June of the same year, and it was published in the following
autumn. "Nietzsche _contra_ Wagner" was written about the middle of
December 1888; but, although it was printed and corrected before
the New Year, it was not published until long afterwards owing to
Nietzsche's complete breakdown in the first days of 1889.

In reading these two essays we are apt to be deceived, by their
virulent and forcible tone, into believing that the whole matter is
a mere cover for hidden fire,--a mere blind of æsthetic discussion
concealing a deep and implacable personal feud which demands and will
have vengeance. In spite of all that has been said to the contrary,
many people still hold this view of the two little works before us;
and, as the actual facts are not accessible to every one, and rumours
are more easily believed than verified, the error of supposing that
these pamphlets were dictated by personal animosity, and even by
Nietzsche's envy of Wagner in his glory, seems to be a pretty common
one. Another very general error is to suppose that the point at issue
here is not one concerning music at all, but concerning religion. It
is taken for granted that the aspirations, the particular quality,
the influence, and the method of an art like music, are matters quite
distinct from the values and the conditions prevailing in the culture
with which it is in harmony, and that however many Christian elements
may be discovered in Wagnerian texts, Nietzsche had no right to raise
æsthetic objections because he happened to entertain the extraordinary
view that these Christian elements had also found their way into
Wagnerian music.

To both of these views there is but one reply:--they are absolutely

In the "Ecce Homo," Nietzsche's autobiography,--a book which from
cover to cover and line for line is sincerity itself--we learn what
Wagner actually meant to Nietzsche. On pages 41, 44, 84, 122, 129, &c,
we cannot doubt that Nietzsche is speaking from his heart,--and what
does he say? --In impassioned tones he admits his profound indebtedness
to the great musician, his love for him, his gratitude to him,--how
Wagner was the only German who had ever been anything to him--how his
friendship with Wagner constituted the happiest and most valuable
experience of his life,--how his breach with Wagner almost killed him.
And, when we remember, too, that Wagner on his part also declared that
he was "alone" after he had lost "that man" (Nietzsche), we begin to
perceive that personal bitterness and animosity are out of the question
here. We feel we are on a higher plane, and that we must not judge
these two men as if they were a couple of little business people who
had had a suburban squabble.

Nietzsche declares ("Ecce Homo," p. 24) that he never attacked persons
as persons. If he used a name at all, it was merely as a means to
an end, just as one might use a magnifying glass in order to make a
general, but elusive and intricate fact more clear and more apparent;
and if he used the name of David Strauss, without bitterness or spite
(for he did not even know the man), when he wished to personify
Culture-Philistinism, so, in the same spirit, did he use the name of
Wagner, when he wished to personify the general decadence of modern
ideas, values, aspirations and Art.

Nietzsche's ambition, throughout his life, was to regenerate European
culture. In the first period of his relationship with Wagner, he
thought that he had found the man who was prepared to lead in this
direction. For a long while he regarded his master as the Saviour of
Germany, as the innovator and renovator who was going to arrest the
decadent current of his time and lead men to a greatness which had died
with antiquity. And so thoroughly did he understand his duties as a
disciple, so wholly was he devoted to this cause, that, in spite of all
his unquestioned gifts and the excellence of his original achievements,
he was for a long while regarded as a mere "literary lackey" in
Wagner's service, in all those circles where the rising musician was
most disliked.

Gradually, however, as the young Nietzsche developed and began to gain
an independent view of life and humanity, it seemed to him extremely
doubtful whether Wagner actually was pulling the same way with him.
Whereas, theretofore, he had identified Wagner's ideals with his own,
it now dawned upon him slowly that the regeneration of German culture,
of European culture, and the trans-valuation of values which would be
necessary for this regeneration, really lay off the track of Wagnerism.
He saw that he had endowed Wagner with a good deal that was more his
own than Wagner's. In his love he had transfigured the friend, and the
composer of "Parsifal" and the man of his imagination were not one. The
fact was realised step by step; disappointment upon disappointment,
revelation after revelation, ultimately brought it home to him, and
though his best instincts at first opposed it, the revulsion of feeling
at last became too strong to be scouted, and Nietzsche was plunged into
the blackest despair. Had he followed his own human inclinations, he
would probably have remained Wagner's friend until the end. As it was,
however, he remained loyal to his cause, and this meant denouncing his
former idol.

"Joyful Wisdom," "Thus Spake Zarathustra," "Beyond Good and Evil," "The
Genealogy of Morals," "The Twilight of the Idols," "The Antichrist"
--all these books were but so many exhortations to mankind to step
aside from the general track now trodden by Europeans. And what
happened? Wagner began to write some hard things about Nietzsche;
the world assumed that Nietzsche and Wagner had engaged in a paltry
personal quarrel in the press, and the whole importance of the real
issue was buried beneath the human, all-too-human interpretations which
were heaped upon it.

Nietzsche was a musician of no mean attainments. For a long while, in
his youth, his superiors had been doubtful whether he should not be
educated for a musical career, so great were his gifts in this art; and
if his mother had not been offered a six-years' scholarship for her son
at the famous school of Pforta, Nietzsche, the scholar and philologist,
would probably have been an able composer. When he speaks about music,
therefore, he knows what he is talking about, and when he refers to
Wagner's music in particular, the simple fact of his long intimacy
with Wagner during the years at Tribschen, is a sufficient guarantee
of his deep knowledge of the subject. Now Nietzsche was one of the
first to recognise that the principles of art are inextricably bound
up with the laws of life, that an æsthetic dogma may therefore promote
or depress all vital force, and that a picture, a symphony, a poem or
a statue, is just as capable of being pessimistic, anarchic, Christian
or revolutionary, as a philosophy or a science is. To speak of a
certain class of music as being compatible with the decline of culture,
therefore, was to Nietzsche a perfectly warrantable association of
ideas, and that is why, throughout his philosophy, so much stress is
laid upon æsthetic considerations.

But if in England and America Nietzsche's attack on Wagner's art may
still seem a little incomprehensible, let it be remembered that the
Continent has long known that Nietzsche was actually in the right Every
year thousands are now added to the large party abroad who have ceased
from believing in the great musical revolutionary of the seventies;
that he was one with the French Romanticists and rebels has long since
been acknowledged a fact in select circles, both in France and Germany,
and if we still have Wagner with us in England, if we still consider
Nietzsche as a heretic, when he declares that "Wagner was a musician
for unmusical people," it is only because we are more removed than we
imagine, from all the great movements, intellectual and otherwise,
which take place on the Continent.

In Wagner's music, in his doctrine, in his whole concept of art,
Nietzsche saw the confirmation, the promotion--aye, even the
encouragement, of that decadence and degeneration which is now rampant
in Europe; and it is for this reason, although to the end of his life
he still loved Wagner, the man and the friend, that we find him, on
the very eve of his spiritual death, exhorting us to abjure Wagner the
musician and the artist.



In spite of the adverse criticism with which the above preface has met
at the hands of many reviewers since the summer of last year, I cannot
say that I should feel justified, even after mature consideration, in
altering a single word or sentence it contains. If I felt inclined
to make any changes at all, these would take the form of extensive
additions, tending to confirm rather than to modify the general
argument it advances; but, any omissions of which I may have been
guilty in the first place, have been so fully rectified since, thanks
to the publication of the English translations of Daniel Halévy's and
Henri Lichtenberger's works, "The Life of Friedrich Nietzsche,"[2] and
"The Gospel of Superman,"[3] respectively, that, were it not for the
fact that the truth about this matter cannot be repeated too often, I
should have refrained altogether from including any fresh remarks of my
own in this Third Edition.

In the works just referred to (pp. 129 _et seq._ in Halévy's book, and
pp. 78 _et seq._ in Lichtenberger's book), the statement I made in my
preface to "Thoughts out of Season," vol. i., and which I did not think
it necessary to repeat in my first preface to these pamphlets, will be
found to receive the fullest confirmation.

The statement in question was to the effect that many long years before
these pamphlets were even projected, Nietzsche's apparent _volte-face_
in regard to his hero Wagner had been not only foreshadowed, but
actually stated in plain words, in two works written during his
friendship with Wagner,--the works referred to being "The Birth of
Tragedy" (1872), and "Wagner in Bayreuth" (1875) of which Houston
Stuart Chamberlain declares not only that it possesses "undying
classical worth" but that "a perusal of it is indispensable to all who
wish to follow the question [of Wagner] to its roots."[4]

The idea that runs through the present work like a leitmotif--the idea
that Wagner was at bottom more of a mime than a musician--was so far
an ever present thought with Nietzsche that it is even impossible to
ascertain the period when it was first formulated.

In Nietzsche's wonderful autobiography (_Ecce Homo,_ p. 88), in
the section dealing with the early works just mentioned, we find
the following passage: "In the second of the two essays [Wagner
in Bayreuth] with a profound certainty of instinct, I already
characterised the elementary factor in Wagner's nature as a
theatrical talent which, in all his means and aspirations, draws
its final conclusions." And as early as 1874, Nietzsche wrote in
his diary:--"Wagner is a born actor. Just as Goethe was an abortive
painter, and Schiller an abortive orator, so Wagner was an abortive
theatrical genius. His attitude to music is that of the actor; for he
knows how to sing and speak, as it were out of different souls and from
absolutely different worlds (_Tristan_ and the _Meistersinger_)".

There is, however, no need to multiply examples, seeing, as I have
said, that in the translations of Halévy's and Lichtenberger's
books the reader will find all the independent evidence he could
possibly desire, disproving the popular, and even the learned belief
that, in the two pamphlets before us we have a complete, apparently
unaccountable, and therefore "demented" _volte-face_ on Nietzsche's
part. Nevertheless, for fear lest some doubt should still linger in
certain minds concerning this point, and with the view of adding
interest to these essays, the Editor considered it advisable, in the
Second Edition, to add a number of extracts from Nietzsche's diary of
the year 1878 (ten years before "The Case of Wagner," and "Nietzsche
_contra_ Wagner" were written) in order to show to what extent those
learned critics who complain of Nietzsche's "morbid and uncontrollable
recantations and revulsions of feeling," have overlooked even the plain
facts of the case when forming their all-too-hasty conclusions. These
extracts will be found at the end of "Nietzsche _contra_ Wagner." While
reading them, however, it should not be forgotten that they were never
intended for publication by Nietzsche himself--a fact which accounts
for their unpolished and sketchy form--and that they were first
published in vol. xi. of the first German Library Edition (pp. 99-129)
only when he was a helpless invalid, in 1897. Since then, in 1901 and
1906 respectively, they have been reprinted, once in the large German
Library Edition (vol. xi. pp. 181-202), and once in the German Pocket
Edition, as an appendix to "Human-All-too-Human," Part II.

An altogether special interest now attaches to these pamphlets; for, in
the first place we are at last in possession of Wagner's own account
of his development, his art, his aspirations and his struggles, in the
amazing self-revelation entitled _My Life_[5]; and secondly, we now
have _Ecce Homo,_ Nietzsche's autobiography, in which we learn for the
first time from Nietzsche's own pen to what extent his history was that
of a double devotion--to Wagner on the one hand, and to his own life
task, the Transvaluation of all Values, on the other.

Readers interested in the Nietzsche-Wagner controversy will naturally
look to these books for a final solution of all the difficulties which
the problem presents. But let them not be too sanguine. From first
to last this problem is not to be settled by "facts." A good deal of
instinctive choice, instinctive aversion, and instinctive suspicion
are necessary here. A little more suspicion, for instance, ought
to be applied to Wagner's _My Life,_ especially in England, where
critics are not half suspicious enough about a continental artist's
self-revelations, and are too prone, if they have suspicions at all, to
apply them in the wrong place.

An example of this want of _finesse_ in judging foreign writers is to
be found in Lord Morley's work on Rousseau,--a book which ingenuously
takes for granted everything that a writer like Rousseau cares to say
about himself, without considering for an instant the possibility that
Rousseau might have practised some hypocrisy. In regard to Wagner's
life we might easily fall into the same error--that is to say, we might
take seriously all he says concerning himself and his family affairs.

We should beware of this, and should not even believe Wagner when he
speaks badly about himself. No one speaks badly about himself without
a reason, and the question in this case is to find out the reason. Did
Wagner--in the belief that genius was always immoral--wish to pose as
an immoral Egotist, in order to make us believe in his genius, of which
he himself was none too sure in his innermost heart? Did Wagner wish to
appear "sincere" in his biography, in order to awaken in us a belief in
the sincerity of his music, which he likewise doubted, but wished to
impress upon the world as "true"? Or did he wish to be thought badly
of in connection with things that were not true, and that consequently
did not affect him, in order to lead us off the scent of true things,
things he was ashamed of and which he wished the world to ignore--just
like Rousseau (the similarity between the two is more than a
superficial one) who barbarously pretended to have sent his children to
the foundling hospital, in order not to be thought incapable of having
had any children at all? In short, where is the bluff in Wagner's
biography? Let us therefore be careful about it, and all the more so
because Wagner himself guarantees the truth of it in the prefatory
note. If we were to be credulous here, we should moreover be acting in
direct opposition to Nietzsche's own counsel as given in the following
aphorisms (Nos. 19 and 20, p. 89):--

"It is very difficult to trace the course of Wagner's development,--no
trust must be placed in his own description of his soul's experiences.
He writes party-pamphlets for his followers.

"It is extremely doubtful whether Wagner is able to bear witness about

While on p. 37 (the note), we read:--"He [Wagner] was not proud enough
to be able to suffer the truth about himself. Nobody had less pride
than he. Like Victor Hugo he remained true to himself even in his
biography,--he remained an actor."

However, as a famous English judge has said:-- "Truth will come out,
even in the witness box," and, as we may add in this case, even in
an autobiography. There is one statement in Wagner's _My Life_ which
sounds true to my ears at least-a statement which, in my opinion,
has some importance, and to which Wagner himself seems to grant a
mysterious significance. I refer to the passage on p. 93 of vol.
i., in which Wagner says:--"Owing to the exceptional vivacity and
innate susceptibility of my nature ... I gradually became conscious
of a certain power of transporting or bewildering my more indolent

This seems innocent enough. When, however, it is read in conjunction
with Nietzsche's trenchant criticism, particularly on pp. 14, 15, 16,
17 and 18 of this work, and also with a knowledge of Wagner's music, it
becomes one of the most striking passages in Wagner's autobiography;
for it records how soon he became conscious of his dominant instinct
and faculty.

I know perfectly well that the Wagnerites will not be influenced by
these remarks. Their gratitude to Wagner is too great for this. He has
supplied the precious varnish wherewith to hide the dull ugliness of
our civilisation. He has given to souls despairing over the materialism
of this world, to souls despairing of themselves, and longing to be
rid of themselves, the indispensable hashish and morphia wherewith to
deaden their inner discords. These discords are everywhere apparent
nowadays. Wagner is therefore a common need, a common benefactor.
As such he is bound to be worshipped and adored in spite of all
egotistical and theatrical autobiographies.

Albeit, signs are not wanting--at least among his Anglo-Saxon
worshippers who stand even more in need of romanticism than their
continental brethren, --which show that, in order to uphold Wagner,
people are now beginning to draw distinctions between the man and
the artist. They dismiss the man as "human-all-too-human," but they
still maintain that there are divine qualities in his music. However
distasteful the task of disillusioning these psychological tyros may
be, they should be informed that no such division of a man into two
parts is permissible, save in Christianity (--the body and the soul--);
but that outside purely religious spheres it is utterly unwarrantable.
There can be no such strange divorce between a bloom and the plant on
which it blows, and has a black woman ever been known to give birth to
a white child?

Wagner, as Nietzsche tells us on p. 19, "was something complete, he was
a typical _decadent,_ in whom every sign of 'free will' was lacking,
in whom every feature was necessary." Wagner, allow me to add, was
a typical representative of the nineteenth century, which was the
century of contradictory values, of opposed instincts, and of every
kind of inner disharmony. The genuine, the classical artists of that
period, such men as Heine, Goethe, Stendhal, and Gobineau, overcame
their inner strife, and each succeeded in making a harmonious whole
out of himself--not indeed without a severe struggle; for everyone of
them suffered from being the child of his age, _i.e.,_ a decadent. The
only difference between them and the romanticists lies in the fact
that they (the former) were conscious of what was wrong with them, and
possessed the will and the strength to overcome their illness; whereas
the romanticists chose the easier alternative--namely, that of shutting
their eyes on themselves.

"I am just as much a child of my age as Wagner--_i.e.,_ I am a
_decadent"_ says Nietzsche. "The only difference is that I recognised
the fact, that I struggled against it."[6]

What Wagner did was characteristic of all romanticists and contemporary
artists: he drowned and overshouted his inner discord by means of
exuberant pathos and wild exaltation. Far be it from me to value
Wagner's music _in extenso_ here--this is scarcely a fitting
opportunity to do so;--but I think it might well be possible to show,
on purely psychological grounds, how impossible it was for a man like
Wagner to produce real art. For how can harmony, order, symmetry,
mastery, proceed from uncontrolled discord, disorder, disintegration,
and chaos? The fact that an art which springs from such a marshy soil
may, like certain paludal plants, be "wonderful," "gorgeous," and
"overwhelming," cannot be denied; but true art it is not. It is so just
as little as Gothic architecture is,--that style which, in its efforts
to escape beyond the tragic contradiction in its mediæval heart, yelled
its hysterical cry heavenwards and even melted the stones of its
structures into a quivering and fluid jet, in order to give adequate
expression to the painful and wretched conflict then raging between the
body and the soul.

That Wagner, too, was a great sufferer, there can be no doubt; not,
however, a sufferer from strength, like a true artist, but from
weakness--the weakness of his age, which he never overcame. It is for
this reason that he should be rather pitied than judged as he is now
being judged by his German and English critics, who, with thoroughly
neurotic suddenness, have acknowledged their revulsion of feeling a
little too harshly.

"I have carefully endeavoured not to deride, or deplore, or detest ..."
says Spinoza, "but to understand"; and these words ought to be our
guide, not only in the case of Wagner, but in all things.

Inner discord is a terrible affliction and nothing is so certain to
produce that nervous irritability which is so trying to the patient
as well as to the outer world, as this so-called spiritual disease.
Nietzsche was probably quite right when he said the only real and
true music that Wagner ever composed did not consist of his elaborate
arias and overtures, but of ten or fifteen bars which, dispersed here
and there, gave expression to the composer's profound and genuine
melancholy. But this melancholy had to be overcome, and Wagner with
the blood of a _cabotin_ in his veins, resorted to the remedy that
was nearest to hand--that is to say, the art of bewildering others
and himself. Thus he remained ignorant about himself all his life;
for there was, as Nietzsche rightly points out (p. 37, _note_),
not sufficient pride in the man for him to desire to know or to
suffer gladly the truth concerning his real nature. As an actor his
ruling passion was vanity; but in his case it was correlated with a
semi-conscious knowledge of the fact that all was not right with him
and his art. It was this that caused him to suffer. His egomaniacal
behaviour and his almost Rousseauesque fear and suspicion of others
were only the external manifestations of his inner discrepancies. But,
to repeat what I have already said, these abnormal symptoms are not in
the least incompatible with Wagner's music, they are rather its very
cause, the root from which it springs.

In reality, therefore, Wagner the man and Wagner the artist were
undoubtedly one, and constituted a splendid romanticist. His music as
well as his autobiography are proofs of his wonderful gifts in this
direction. His success in his time, as in ours, is due to the craving
of the modern world for actors, sorcerers, bewilderers and idealists
who are able to conceal the ill-health and the weakness that prevail,
and who please by intoxicating and exalting. But this being so, the
world must not be disappointed to find the hero of a preceding age
explode in the next. It must not be astonished to find a disparity
between the hero's private life and his "elevating" art or romantic and
idealistic gospel. As long as people will admire heroic attitudes more
than heroism, such disillusionment is bound to be the price of their
error. In a truly great man, life-theory and life-practice, if seen
from a sufficiently lofty point of view, must and do always agree; in
an actor, in a romanticist, in an idealist, and in a Christian, there
is always a yawning chasm between the two, which, whatever well-meaning
critics may do, cannot be bridged posthumously by acrobatic feats _in

Let anyone apply this point of view to Nietzsche's life and theory.
Let anyone turn his life inside out, not only as he gives it to us in
his _Ecce Homo,_ but as we find it related by all his biographers,
friends and foes alike; and what will be the result? Even if we ignore
his works--the blooms which blowed from time to time from his life--we
absolutely cannot deny the greatness of the man's _private practice,_
and if we fully understand and appreciate the latter, we must be
singularly deficient in instinct and in _flair_ if we do not suspect
that some of this greatness is reflected in his life-task.



[Footnote 1: It should be noted that the first and second editions of
these essays on Wagner appeared in pamphlet form, for which the above
first preface was written.]

[Footnote 2: Fisher Unwin, 1911.]

[Footnote 3: T. N. Foulis, 1910.]

[Footnote 4: See _Richard Wagner,_ by Houston Stuart Chamberlain
(translated by G. A. Hight), pp. 15, 16.]

[Footnote 5: Constable & Co., 1911.]

[Footnote 6: See Author's Preface to "The Case of Wagner" in this






I am writing this to relieve my mind. It is not malice alone which
makes me praise Bizet at the expense of Wagner in this essay. Amid a
good deal of jesting I wish to make one point clear which does not
admit of levity. To turn my back on Wagner was for me a piece of fate;
to get to like anything else whatever afterwards was for me a triumph.
Nobody, perhaps, had ever been more dangerously involved in Wagnerism,
nobody had defended himself more obstinately against it, nobody had
ever been so overjoyed at ridding himself of it. A long history!--Shall
I give it a name?--If I were a moralist, who knows what I might not
call it! Perhaps a piece of _self-mastery._--But the philosopher does
not like the moralist, neither does he like high-falutin' words....

What is the first and last thing that a philosopher demands of himself?
To overcome his age in himself, to become "timeless." With what then
does the philosopher have the greatest fight? With all that in him
which makes him the child of his time. Very well then! I am just as
much a child of my age as Wagner--_i.e.,_ I am a decadent. The only
difference is that I recognised the fact, that I struggled against it.
The philosopher in me struggled against it.

My greatest preoccupation hitherto has been the problem of _decadence,_
and I had reasons for this. "Good and evil" form only a playful
subdivision of this problem. If one has trained one's eye to detect
the symptoms of decline, one also understands morality,--one
understands what lies concealed beneath its holiest names and tables
of values: _e.g., impoverished_ life, the will to nonentity, great
exhaustion. Morality _denies_ life.... In order to undertake such a
mission I was obliged to exercise self-discipline:--I had to side
against all that was morbid in myself including Wagner, including
Schopenhauer, including the whole of modern _humanity._--A profound
estrangement, coldness and soberness towards all that belongs to my
age, all that was contemporary: and as the highest wish, Zarathustra's
eye, an eye which surveys the whole phenomenon--mankind--from an
enormous distance,--which look down upon it.--For such a goal--what
sacrifice would not have been worth while? What "self-mastery"! What

The greatest event of my life took the form of a _recovery._ Wagner
belongs only to my diseases.

Not that I wish to appear ungrateful to this disease. If in this essay
I support the proposition that Wagner is _harmful,_ I none the less
wish to point out unto whom, in spite of all, he is indispensable--to
the philosopher. Anyone else may perhaps be able to get on without
Wagner: but the philosopher is not free to pass him by. The philosopher
must be the evil conscience of his age,--but to this end he must
be possessed of its best knowledge. And what better guide, or more
thoroughly efficient revealer of the soul, could be found for the
labyrinth of the modern spirit than Wagner? Through Wagner modernity
speaks her most intimate language: it conceals neither its good nor
its evil; it has thrown off all shame. And, conversely, one has almost
calculated the whole of the value of modernity once one is clear
concerning what is good and evil in Wagner. I can perfectly well
understand a musician of to-day who says: "I hate Wagner but I can
endure no other music." But I should also understand a philosopher who
said: "Wagner is modernity in concentrated form." There is no help for
it, we must first be Wagnerites....



Yesterday--would you believe it?--I heard _Bizet's_ masterpiece for the
twentieth time. Once more I attended with the same gentle reverence;
once again I did not run away. This triumph over my impatience
surprises me. How such a work completes one! Through it one almost
becomes a "masterpiece" oneself.--And, as a matter of fact, each time
I heard _Carmen_ it seemed to me that I was more of a philosopher, a
better philosopher than at other times: I became so forbearing, so
happy, so Indian, so _settled...._ To sit for five hours: the first
step to holiness!--May I be allowed to say that Bizet's orchestration
is the only one that I can endure now? That other orchestration which
is all the rage at present--the Wagnerian--is brutal, artificial and
"unsophisticated" withal, hence its appeal to all the three senses of
the modern soul at once. How terribly Wagnerian orchestration affects
me! I call it the _Sirocco._ A disagreeable sweat breaks out all over
me. All my fine weather vanishes.

Bizet's music seems to me perfect. It comes forward lightly,
gracefully, stylishly. It is lovable, it does not sweat. "All that
is good is easy, everything divine runs with light feet": this is
the first principle of my æsthetics. This music is wicked, refined,
fatalistic: and withal remains popular,--it possesses the refinement of
a race, not of an individual. It is rich. It is definite. It builds,
organises, completes: and in this sense it stands as a contrast to the
polypus in music, to "endless melody." Have more painful, more tragic
accents ever been heard on the stage before? And how are they obtained?
Without grimaces! Without counterfeiting of any kind! Free from the
_lie_ of the grand style!--In short: this music assumes that the
listener is intelligent even as a musician,--thereby it is the opposite
of Wagner, who, apart from everything else, was in any case the most
_ill-mannered_ genius on earth (Wagner takes us as if ... he repeats a
thing so often that we become desperate,--that we ultimately believe

And once more: I become a better man when Bizet speaks to me. Also a
better musician, a better _listener._ Is it in any way possible to
listen better?--I even burrow behind this music with my ears. I hear
its very cause. I seem to assist at its birth. I tremble before the
dangers which this daring music runs, I am enraptured over those happy
accidents for which even Bizet himself may not be responsible.--And,
strange to say, at bottom I do not give it a thought, or am not aware
how much thought I really do give it. For quite other ideas are running
through my head the while.... Has any one ever observed that music
_emancipates_ the spirit? gives wings to thought? and that the more
one becomes a musician the more one is also a philosopher? The grey
sky of abstraction seems thrilled by flashes of lightning; the light
is strong enough to reveal all the details of things; to enable one to
grapple with problems; and the world is surveyed as if from a mountain
top.--With this I have defined philosophical pathos.--And unexpectedly
_answers_ drop into my lap, a small hailstorm of ice and wisdom, of
problems _solved._ Where am I? Bizet makes me productive. Everything
that is good makes me productive. I have gratitude for nothing else,
nor have I any other touchstone for testing what is good.


Bizet's work also saves; Wagner is not the only "Saviour." With it one
bids farewell to the _damp_ north and to all the fog of the Wagnerian
ideal. Even the action in itself delivers us from these things. From
Mérimée it has this logic even in passion, from him it has the direct
line, _inexorable_ necessity; but what it has above all else is that
which belongs to sub-tropical zones--that dryness of atmosphere, that
_limpidezza_ of the air. Here in every respect the climate is altered.
Here another kind of sensuality, another kind of sensitiveness and
another kind of cheerfulness make their appeal. This music is gay, but
not in a French or German way. Its gaiety is African; fate hangs over
it, its happiness is short, sudden, without reprieve. I envy Bizet
for having had the courage of this sensitiveness, which hitherto in
the cultured music of Europe has found no means of expression,--of
this southern, tawny, sunburnt sensitiveness.... What a joy the golden
afternoon of its happiness is to us! When we look out, with this music
in our minds, we wonder whether we have ever seen the sea so _calm._
And how soothing is this Moorish dancing! How, for once, even our
insatiability gets sated by its lascivious melancholy!--And finally
love, love translated back into _Nature!_ Not the love of a "cultured
girl!"--no Senta-sentimentality.[1] But love as fate, as a fatality,
cynical, innocent, cruel,--and precisely in this way _Nature!_ The love
whose means is war, whose very essence is the _mortal hatred_ between
the sexes!--I know no case in which the tragic irony, which constitutes
the kernel of love, is expressed with such severity, or in so terrible
a formula, as in the last cry of Don José with which the work ends:

    "Yes, it is I who have killed her,
    I--my adored Carmen!"

--Such a conception of love (the only one worthy of a philosopher)
is rare: it distinguishes one work of art from among a thousand
others. For, as a rule, artists are no better than the rest of the
world, they are even worse--they _misunderstand_ love. Even Wagner
misunderstood it. They imagine that they are selfless in it because
they appear to be seeking the advantage of another creature often
to their own disadvantage. But in return they want to _possess_ the
other creature.... Even God is no exception to this rule, he is
very far from thinking "What does it matter to thee whether I love
thee or not?"--He becomes terrible if he is not loved in return.
"_L'amour_--and with this principle one carries one's point against
Gods and men--_est de tous les sentiments le plus égoïste, et par
conséquent, lorsqu'il est blessé, le moins généreux"_ (B. Constant).


Perhaps you are beginning to perceive how very much this music
_improves_ me?--_Il faut méditerraniser la musique:_ and I have my
reasons for this principle ("Beyond Good and Evil," pp. 216 _et seq._).
The return to Nature, health, good spirits, youth, _virtue!_--And yet I
was one of the most corrupted Wagnerites.... I was able to take Wagner
seriously. Oh, this old magician! what tricks has he not played upon
us! The first thing his art places in our hands is a magnifying glass:
we look through it, and we no longer trust our own eyes.--Everything
grows bigger, _even Wagner grows bigger...._ What a clever rattlesnake.
Throughout his life he rattled "resignation," "loyalty," and "purity"
about our ears, and he retired from the _corrupt_ world with a song of
praise to chastity! !--And we believed it all....

--But you will not listen to me? You _prefer_ even the _problem_
of Wagner to that of Bizet? But neither do I underrate it; it has
its charm. The problem of salvation is even a venerable problem.
Wagner pondered over nothing so deeply as over salvation: his opera
is the opera of salvation. Someone always wants to be saved in
his operas,--now it is a youth; anon it is a maid,--this is _his
problem._--And how lavishly he varies his _leitmotif_! What rare and
melancholy modulations! If it were not for Wagner, who would teach us
that innocence has a preference for saving interesting sinners? (the
case in "Tannhäuser"). Or that even the eternal Jew gets saved and
_settled down_ when he marries? (the case in the "Flying Dutchman").
Or that corrupted old females prefer to be saved by chaste young men?
(the case of Kundry). Or that young hysterics like to be saved by
their doctor? (the case in "Lohengrin"). Or that beautiful girls most
love to be saved by a knight who also happens to be a Wagnerite? (the
case in the "Mastersingers"). Or that even married women also like
to be saved by a knight? (the case of Isolde). Or that the venerable
Almighty, after having compromised himself morally in all manner of
ways, is at last delivered by a free spirit and an immoralist? (the
case in the "Ring"). Admire, more especially this last piece of wisdom!
Do you understand it? I--take good care not to understand it....
That it is possible to draw yet other lessons from the works above
mentioned,--I am much more ready to prove than to dispute. That one
may be driven by a Wagnerian ballet to desperation--_and_ to virtue!
(once again the case in "Tannhäuser"). That not going to bed at the
right time may be followed by the worst consequences (once again the
case of "Lohengrin"),--That one can never be too sure of the spouse
one actually marries (for the third time, the case of "Lohengrin").
"Tristan and Isolde" glorifies the perfect husband who, in a certain
case, can ask only one question: "But why have ye not told me this
before? Nothing could be simpler than that!" Reply:

    "That I cannot tell thee.
    And what thou askest,
    That wilt thou never learn."

"Lohengrin" contains a solemn ban upon all investigation and
questioning. In this way Wagner stood for the Christian concept,
"Thou must and shalt _believe!_" It is a crime against the highest
and the holiest to be scientific.... The "Flying Dutchman" preaches
the sublime doctrine that woman can moor the most erratic soul, or
to put it into Wagnerian terms "save" him. Here we venture to ask a
question. Supposing that this were actually true, would it therefore
be desirable?--What becomes of the "eternal Jew" whom a woman adores
and _enchains?_ He simply ceases from being eternal; he marries,--that
is to say, he concerns us no longer.--Transferred into the realm of
reality, the danger for the artist and for the genius--and these
are of course the "eternal Jews"--resides in woman: _adoring_ women
are their ruin. Scarcely any one has sufficient character not to be
corrupted--"saved" when he finds himself treated as a God:--he then
immediately condescends to woman.--Man is a coward in the face of all
that is eternally feminine: and this the girls know.--In many cases of
woman's love, and perhaps precisely in the most famous ones, the love
is no more than a refined form of _parasitism,_ a making one's nest
in another's soul and sometimes even in another's flesh--Ah! and how
constantly at the cost of the host!

We know the fate of Goethe in old-maidish moralin-corroded Germany. He
was always offensive to Germans, he found honest admirers only among.
Jewesses. Schiller, "noble" Schiller, who cried flowery words into
their ears,--he was a man after their own heart. What did they reproach
Goethe with?--with the Mount of Venus, and with having composed certain
Venetian epigrams. Even Klopstock preached him a moral sermon; there
was a time when Herder was fond of using the word "Priapus" when he
spoke of Goethe. Even "Wilhelm Meister" seemed to be only a symptom
of decline, of a moral "going to the dogs." The "Menagerie of tame
cattle," the worthlessness of the hero in this book, revolted Niebuhr,
who finally bursts out in a plaint which _Biterolf_[2] might well
have sung: "nothing so easily makes a painful impression as _when a
great mind despoils itself of its wings and strives for virtuosity in
something greatly inferior, while it renounces more lofty aims."_ But
the most indignant of all was the cultured woman: all smaller courts
in Germany, every kind of "Puritanism" made the sign of the cross
at the sight of Goethe, at the thought of the "unclean spirit" in
Goethe.--This history was what Wagner set to music. He _saves_ Goethe,
that goes without saying; but he does so in such a clever way that he
also takes the side of the cultured woman.

Goethe gets saved: a prayer saves him, a cultured woman _draws him out
of the mire._

--As to what Goethe would have thought of Wagner?--Goethe once set
himself the question, "what danger hangs over all romanticists: the
fate of romanticists?" His answer was: "To choke over the rumination
of moral and religious absurdities." In short: _Parsifal...._ The
philosopher writes thereto an epilogue. _Holiness_--the only remaining
higher value still seen by the mob or by woman, the horizon of the
ideal for all those who are naturally short-sighted. To philosophers,
however, this horizon, like every other, is a mere misunderstanding, a
sort of slamming of the door in the face of the real beginning of their
world,--their danger, their ideal, their desideratum.... In more polite
language: _La Philosophie ne suffit pas au grand nombre. Il lui faut la


I shall once more relate the history of the "Ring." This is its proper
place. It is also the history of a salvation: except that in this case
it is Wagner himself who is saved,--Half his life-time Wagner believed
in the _Revolution_ as only a Frenchman could have believed in it. He
sought it in the runic inscriptions of myths, he thought he had found
a typical revolutionary in Siegfried.-"Whence arises all the evil in
this world?" Wagner asked himself. From "old contracts": he replied,
as all revolutionary ideologists have done. In plain English: from
customs, laws, morals, institutions, from all those things upon which
the ancient world and ancient society rests. "How can one get rid of
the evil in this world? How can one get rid of ancient society?" Only
by declaring war against "contracts" (traditions, morality). _This
Siegfried does._ He starts early at the game, very early: his origin
itself is already a declaration of war against morality--he is the
result of adultery, of incest.... Not the saga, but Wagner himself is
the inventor of this radical feature; in this matter he _corrected_
the saga.... Siegfried continues as he began: he follows only his
first impulse, he flings all tradition, all respect, all _fear_ to the
winds. Whatever displeases him he strikes down. He tilts irreverently
at old god-heads. His principal undertaking, however, is to emancipate
woman,--"to deliver Brunnhilda." ... Siegfried and Brunnhilda; the
sacrament of free love; the dawn of the golden age; the twilight of the
Gods of old morality--_evil is got rid of...._

For a long while Wagner's ship sailed happily along this course. There
can be no doubt that along it Wagner sought his highest goal.--What
happened? A misfortune. The ship dashed on to a reef; Wagner had run
aground. The reef was Schopenhauer's philosophy; Wagner had stuck fast
on a _contrary_ view of the world. What had he set to music? Optimism?
Wagner was ashamed. It was moreover an optimism for which Schopenhauer
had devised an evil expression,--_unscrupulous_ optimism. He was more
than ever ashamed. He reflected for some time; his position seemed
desperate.... At last a path of escape seemed gradually to open before
him: what if the reef on which he had been wrecked could be interpreted
as a goal, as the ulterior motive, as the actual purpose of his
journey? To be wrecked here, this was also a goal. _Bene navigavi cum
naufragium feci ..._ and he translated the "Ring" into Schopenhauerian
language. Everything goes wrong, everything goes to wrack and ruin, the
new world is just as bad as the old one:--Nonentity, the Indian Circe
beckons.... Brunnhilda, who according to the old plan had to retire
with a song in honour of free love, consoling the world with the hope
of a socialistic Utopia in which "all will be well"; now gets something
else to do. She must first study Schopenhauer. She must first versify
the fourth book of "The World as Will and Idea." _Wagner was saved...._
Joking apart, this _was_ a salvation. The service which Wagner owes to
Schopenhauer is incalculable. It was the _philosopher of decadence_ who
allowed the _artist of decadence_ to find himself.--


_The artist of decadence._ That is the word. And here I begin to
be serious. I could not think of looking on approvingly while this
_décadent_ spoils our health--and music into the bargain. Is Wagner
a man at all? Is he not rather a disease? Everything he touches he
contaminates. _He has made music sick._

A typical _décadent_ who thinks himself necessary with his corrupted
taste, who arrogates to himself a higher taste, who tries to establish
his depravity as a law, as progress, as a fulfilment.

And no one guards against it. His powers of seduction attain monstrous
proportions, holy incense hangs around him, the misunderstanding
concerning him is called the Gospel,--and he has certainly not
converted only the _poor in spirit_ to his cause!

I should like to open the window a little. Air! More air!--

The fact that people in Germany deceive themselves concerning Wagner
does not surprise me. The reverse would surprise me. The Germans have
modelled a Wagner for themselves, whom they can honour: never yet have
they been psychologists; they are thankful that they misunderstand.
But that people should also deceive themselves concerning Wagner in
Paris! Where people are scarcely anything else than psychologists. And
in Saint Petersburg! Where things are divined, which even Paris has no
idea of. How intimately related must Wagner be to the entire decadence
of Europe for her not to have felt that he was decadent! He belongs
to it: he is its protagonist, its greatest name.... We bring honour
on ourselves by elevating him to the clouds.--For the mere fact that
no one guards against him is in itself already a sign of decadence.
Instinct is weakened, what ought to be eschewed now attracts. People
actually kiss that which plunges them more quickly into the abyss.--Is
there any need for an example? One has only to think of the régime
which anæmic, or gouty, or diabetic people prescribe for themselves.
The definition of a vegetarian: a creature who has need of a
corroborating diet. To recognise what is harmful as harmful, to be able
to deny oneself what is harmful, is a sign of youth, of vitality. That
which is harmful lures the exhausted: cabbage lures the vegetarian.
Illness itself can be a stimulus to life: but one must be healthy
enough for such a stimulus!--Wagner increases exhaustion: _therefore_
he attracts the weak and exhausted to him. Oh, the rattlesnake joy of
the old Master precisely because he always saw "the little children"
coming unto him!

I place this point of view first and foremost: Wagner's art is
diseased. The problems he sets on the stage are all concerned with
hysteria; the convulsiveness of his emotions, his over-excited
sensitiveness, his taste which demands ever sharper condimentation,
his erraticness which he togged out to look like principles, and,
last but not least, his choice of heroes and heroines, considered
as physiological types (--a hospital ward!--): the whole represents
a morbid picture; of this there can be no doubt. _Wagner est une
nevrose._ Maybe, that nothing is better known to-day, or in any
case the subject of greater study, than the Protean character of
degeneration which has disguised itself here, both as an art and as
an artist. In Wagner our medical men and physiologists have a most
interesting case, or at least a very complete one. Owing to the very
fact that nothing is more modern than this thorough morbidness, this
dilatoriness and excessive irritability of the nervous machinery,
Wagner is the _modern artist par excellence,_ the Cagliostro of
modernity. All that the world most needs to-day, is combined in the
most seductive manner in his art,--the three great stimulants of
exhausted people: _brutality, artificiality_ and _innocence_ (idiocy).

Wagner is a great corrupter of music. With it, he found the means
of stimulating tired nerves,--and in this way he made music ill. In
the art of spurring exhausted creatures back into activity, and of
recalling half-corpses to life, the inventiveness he shows is of no
mean order. He is the master of hypnotic trickery, and he fells the
strongest like bullocks. Wagner's _success_--his success with nerves,
and therefore with women--converted the whole world of ambitious
musicians into disciples of his secret art. And not only the ambitious,
but also the _shrewd...._ Only with morbid music can money be made
to-day; our big theatres live on Wagner.


--Once more I will venture to indulge in a little levity. Let us
suppose that Wagner's _success_ could become flesh and blood and assume
a human form; that, dressed up as a good-natured musical savant, it
could move among budding artists. How do you think it would then be
likely to express itself?--

My friends, it would say, let us exchange a word or two in private.
It is easier to compose bad music than good music. But what, if
apart from this it were also more profitable, more effective, more
convincing, more exalting, more secure, more _Wagnerian?... Pulchrum
est paucorum hominum._ Bad enough in all conscience! We understand
Latin, and perhaps we also understand which side our bread is buttered.
Beauty has its drawbacks: we know that. Wherefore beauty then? Why not
rather aim at size, at the sublime, the gigantic, that which moves
the _masses?_--And to repeat: it is easier to be titanic than to be
beautiful; we know that....

We know the masses, we know the theatre. The best of those who assemble
there,--German youths, horned Siegfrieds and other Wagnerites, require
the sublime, the profound, and the overwhelming. This much still lies
within our power. And as for the others who assemble there,--the
cultured _crétins,_ the _blasé_ pigmies, the eternally feminine, the
gastrically happy, in short the people--they also require the sublime,
the profound, the overwhelming. All these people argue in the same way.
"He who overthrows us is strong; he who elevates us is godly; he who
makes us wonder vaguely is profound."--Let us make up our mind then, my
friends in music: we do want to overthrow them, we do want to elevate
them, we do want to make them wonder vaguely. This much still lies
within our powers.

In regard to the process of making them wonder: it is here that our
notion of "style" finds its starting-point. Above all, no thoughts!
Nothing is more compromising than a thought! But the state of mind
which _precedes_ thought, the labour of the thought still unborn, the
promise of future thought, the world as it was before God created it
--a recrudescence of chaos.... Chaos makes people wonder ...

In the words of the master: infinity but without melody.

In the second place, with regard to the over-throwing,--this belongs
at least in part, to physiology. Let us, in the first place, examine
the instruments. A few of them would convince even our intestines
(--they _throw open_ doors, as Händel would say), others becharm our
very marrow. The _colour of the melody is_ all-important here; _the
melody itself_ is of no importance. Let us be precise about _this_
point. To what other purpose should we spend our strength? Let us be
characteristic in tone even to the point of foolishness! If by means of
tones we allow plenty of scope for guessing, this will be put to the
credit of our intellects. Let us irritate nerves, let us strike them
dead: let us handle thunder and lightning,--that is what overthrows....

But what overthrows best, is _passion._--We must try and be clear
concerning this question of passion. Nothing is cheaper than passion!
All the virtues of counterpoint may be dispensed with, there is no
need to have learnt anything,--but passion is always within our reach!
Beauty is difficult: let us beware of beauty!... And also of _melody!_
However much in earnest we may otherwise be about the ideal, let us
slander, my friends, let us slander,--let us slander melody! Nothing
is more dangerous than a beautiful melody! Nothing is more certain
to ruin taste! My friends, if people again set about loving beautiful
melodies, we are lost!...

_First principle:_ melody is immoral. _Proof:_ "Palestrina."
_Application:_ "Parsifal." The absence of melody is in itself

And this is the definition of passion. Passion--or the acrobatic feats
of ugliness on the tight-rope of enharmonic.--My friends, let us dare
to be ugly! Wagner dared it! Let us heave the mud of the most repulsive
harmonies undauntedly before us. We must not even spare our hands! Only
thus, shall we become _natural...._

And now a last word of advice. Perhaps it covers everything.--_Let
us be idealists_/--If not the cleverest, it is at least the wisest
thing we can do. In order to elevate men we ourselves must be exalted.
Let us wander in the clouds, let us harangue eternity, let us be
careful to group great symbols all around us! _Sursum! Bumbum!--_
there is no better advice. The "heaving breast" shall be our argument,
"beautiful feelings" our advocates. Virtue still carries its point
against counterpoint. "How could he who improves us, help being
better than we?" man has ever thought thus. Let us therefore improve
mankind!--in this way we shall become good (in this way we shall even
become "classics"--Schiller became a "classic"). The straining after
the base excitement of the senses, after so-called beauty, shattered
the nerves of the Italians: let us remain German! Even Mozart's
relation to music--Wagner spoke this word of comfort to us--was at
bottom frivolous.... Never let us acknowledge that music "may be a
recreation," that it may "enliven," that it may "give pleasure." _Never
let us give pleasure!_--we shall be lost if people once again think of
music hedonistically.... That belongs to the bad eighteenth century....
On the other hand, nothing would be more advisable (between ourselves)
than a dose of--_cant, sit venia verbo._ This imparts dignity.--And
let us take care to select the precise moment when it would be fitting
to have black looks, to sigh openly, to sigh devoutly, to flaunt grand
Christian sympathy before their eyes. "Man is corrupt: who will save
him? _what will save him?"_ Do not let us reply. We must be on our
guard. We must control our ambition, which would bid us found new
religions. But no one must doubt that it is _we_ who save him, that in
_our_ music alone salvation is to be found.... (See Wagner's essay,
"Religion and Art")


Enough! Enough! I fear that, beneath all my merry jests, you are
beginning to recognise the sinister truth only too clearly--the picture
of the decline of art, of the decline of the artist. The latter, which
is a decline of character, might perhaps be defined provisionally in
the following manner: the musician is now becoming an actor, his art is
developing ever more and more into a talent for _telling lies._ In a
certain chapter of my principal work which bears the title "Concerning
the Physiology of Art,"[3] I shall have an opportunity of showing more
thoroughly how this transformation of art as a whole into histrionics
is just as much a sign of physiological degeneration (or more
precisely a form of hysteria), as any other individual corruption, and
infirmity peculiar to the art which Wagner inaugurated: for instance
the restlessness of its optics, which makes it necessary to change
one's attitude to it every second. They understand nothing of Wagner
who see in him but a sport of nature, an arbitrary mood, a chapter of
accidents. He was not the "defective," "ill-fated," "contradictory"
genius that people have declared him to be. Wagner was something
_complete,_ he was a typical _decadent,_ in whom every sign of "free
will" was lacking, in whom every feature was necessary. If there is
anything at all of interest in Warner, it is the consistency with which
a critical physiological condition may convert itself, step by step,
conclusion after conclusion, into a method, a form of procedure, a
reform of all principles, a crisis in taste.

At this point I shall only stop to consider the question of _style._
How is _decadence_ in _literature_ characterised? By the fact that in
it life no longer animates the whole. Words become predominant and
leap right out of the sentence to which they belong, the sentences
themselves trespass beyond their bounds, and obscure the sense of
the whole page, and the page in its turn gains in vigour at the
cost of the whole,--the whole is no longer a whole. But this is the
formula for every decadent style: there is always anarchy among the
atoms, disaggregation of the will,--in moral terms: "freedom of the
individual,"--extended into a political theory: "_equal_ rights for
all." Life, equal vitality, all the vibration and exuberance of life,
driven back into the smallest structure, and the remainder left almost
lifeless. Everywhere paralysis, dis-tress, and numbness, or hostility
and chaos: both striking one with ever increasing force the higher the
forms of organisation are into which one ascends. The whole no longer
lives at all: it is composed, reckoned up, artificial, a fictitious

In Wagners case the first thing we notice is an hallucination, not
of tones, but of attitudes. Only after he has the latter does he
begin to seek the semiotics of tone for them. If we wish to admire
him, we should observe him at work here: how he separates and
distinguishes, how he arrives at small unities, and how he galvanises
them, accentuates them, and brings them into pre-eminence. But in
this way he exhausts his strength: the rest is worthless. How paltry,
awkward, and amateurish is his manner of "developing," his attempt at
combining incompatible parts. His manner in this respect reminds one
of two people who even in other ways are not unlike him in style--the
brothers Goncourt; one almost feels compassion for so much impotence.
That Wagner disguised his inability to create organic forms, under the
cloak of a principle, that he should have constructed a "dramatic
style" out of what we should call the total inability to create any
style whatsoever, is quite in keeping with that daring habit, which
stuck to him throughout his life, of setting up a principle wherever
capacity failed him. (In this respect he was very different from
old Kant, who rejoiced in another form of daring, _i.e.:_ whenever
a principle failed him, he endowed man with a "capacity" which took
its place....) Once more let it be said that Wagner is really only
worthy of admiration and love by virtue of his inventiveness in small
things, in his elaboration of details,--here one is quite justified in
proclaiming him a master of the first rank, as our greatest musical
_miniaturist,_ who compresses an infinity of meaning and sweetness
into the smallest space. His wealth of colour, of chiaroscuro, of
the mystery of a dying light, so pampers our senses that afterwards
almost every other musician strikes us as being too robust. If people
would believe me, they would not form the highest idea of Wagner from
that which pleases them in him to-day. All that was only devised for
convincing the masses, and people like ourselves recoil from it just
as one would recoil from too garish a fresco. What concern have we
with the irritating brutality of the overture to the "Tannhäuser"?
Or with the Walkyrie Circus? Whatever has become popular in Wagner's
art, including that which has become so outside the theatre, is in bad
taste and spoils taste. The "Tannhäuser" March seems to me to savour
of the Philistine; the overture to the "Flying Dutchman" is much ado
about nothing; the prelude to "Lohengrin" was the first, only too
insidious, only too successful example of how one can hypnotise with
music (--I dislike all music which aspires to nothing higher than to
convince the nerves). But apart from the Wagner who paints frescoes
and practises magnetism, there is yet another Wagner who hoards small
treasures: our greatest melancholic in music, full of side glances,
loving speeches, and words of comfort, in which no one ever forestalled
him,--the tone-master of melancholy and drowsy happiness.... A lexicon
of Wagner's most intimate phrases--a host of short fragments of from
five to fifteen bars each, of music which _nobody knows...._ Wagner had
the virtue of _décadents,_--pity....


--"Very good! But how can this _décadent_ spoil one's taste if
perchance one is not a musician, if perchance one is not oneself
a _décadent?"_--Conversely! How can one _help_ it! _Just_ you try
it!--You know not what Wagner is: quite a great actor! Does a more
profound, a more _ponderous_ influence exist on the stage? Just look at
these youthlets,--all benumbed, pale, breathless! They are Wagnerites:
they know nothing about music,--and yet Wagner gets the mastery of
them. Wagner's art presses with the weight of a hundred atmospheres:
do but submit, there is nothing else to do.... Wagner the actor is a
tyrant, his pathos flings all taste, all resistance, to the winds.
--Who else has this persuasive power in his attitudes, who else sees
attitudes so clearly before anything else! This holding-of-its-breath
in Wagnerian pathos, this disinclination to have done with an intense
feeling, this terrifying habit of dwelling on a situation in which
every instant almost chokes one.----

Was Wagner a musician at all? In any case he was something else to _a
much greater degree_--that is to say, an incomparable _histrio,_ the
greatest mime, the most astounding theatrical genius that the Germans
have ever had, our _scenic artist par excellence._ He belongs to some
other sphere than the history of music, with whose really great and
genuine figure he must not be confounded. Wagner _and_ Beethoven--this
is blasphemy--and above all it does not do justice even to Wagner....
As a musician he was no more than what he was as a man: he _became_ a
musician, he _became_ a poet, because the tyrant in him, his actor's
genius, drove him to be both. Nothing is known concerning Wagner, so
long as his dominating instinct has not been divined.

Wagner was _not_ instinctively a musician. And this he proved by the
way in which he abandoned all laws and rules, or, in more precise
terms, all style in music, in order to make what he wanted with it,
_i.e.,_ a rhetorical medium for the stage, a medium of expression, a
means of accentuating an attitude, a vehicle of suggestion and of the
psychologically picturesque. In this department Wagner may well stand
as an inventor and an innovator of the first order--he _increased the
powers of speech of music to an incalculable degree_--: he is the
Victor Hugo of music as language, provided always we allow that under
certain circumstances music may be something which is not music, but
speech--instrument--_ancilla dramaturgica._ Wagner's music, _not_
in the tender care of theatrical taste, which is very tolerant, is
simply bad music, perhaps the worst that has ever been composed. When
a musician can no longer count up to three, he becomes "dramatic," he
becomes "Wagnerian." ...

Wagner almost discovered the magic which can be wrought even now
by means of music which is both incoherent and _elementary._ His
consciousness of this attains to huge proportions, as does also
his instinct to dispense entirely with higher law and _style._ The
elementary factors--sound, movement, colour, in short, the whole
sensuousness of music--suffice. Wagner never calculates as a musician
with a musician's conscience: all he strains after is effect, nothing
more than effect. And he knows what he has to make an effect upon!--In
this he is as unhesitating as Schiller was, as any theatrical man must
be; he has also the latter's contempt for the world which he brings to
its knees before him. A man is an actor when he is ahead of mankind in
his possession of this one view, that everything which has to strike
people as true, must not be true. This rule was formulated by Talma: it
contains the whole psychology of the actor, it also contains--and this
we need not doubt--all his morality. Wagner's music is never true.

--But it is supposed to be so: and thus everything is as it should be.
As long as we are young, and Wagnerites into the bargain, we regard
Wagner as rich, even as the model of a prodigal giver, even as a great
landlord in the realm of sound. We admire him in very much the same
way as young Frenchmen admire Victor Hugo--that is to say, for his
"royal liberality." Later on we admire the one as well as the other for
the opposite reason: as masters and paragons in economy, as _prudent_
amphitryons. Nobody can equal them in the art of providing a princely
board with such a modest outlay.--The Wagnerite, with his credulous
stomach, is even sated with the fare which his master conjures up
before him. But we others who, in books as in music, desire above all
to find _substance,_ and who are scarcely satisfied with the mere
representation of a banquet, are much worse off. In plain English,
Wagner does not give us enough to masticate. His recitative--very
little meat, more bones, and plenty of broth--I christened "_alia
genovese_": I had no intention of flattering the Genoese with this
remark, but rather the _older recitativo,_ the _recitativo secco._
And as to Wagnerian _leitmotif,_ I fear I lack the necessary culinary
understanding for it. If hard pressed, I might say that I regard it
perhaps as an ideal toothpick, as an opportunity of ridding one's self
of what remains of one's meal. Wagner's "arias" are still left over.
But now I shall hold my tongue.


Even in his general sketch of the action, Wagner is above all an actor.
The first thing that occurs to him is a scene which is certain to
produce a strong effect, a real _actio,_[4] with a basso-relievo of
attitudes; an _overwhelming_ scene, this he now proceeds to elaborate
more deeply, and out of it he draws his characters. The whole of what
remains to be done follows of itself, fully in keeping with a technical
economy which has no reason to be subtle. It is not Corneille's public
that Wagner has to consider, it is merely the nineteenth century.
Concerning the "actual requirements of the stage" Wagner would have
about the same opinion as any other actor of to-day: a series of
powerful scenes, each stronger than the one that preceded it,--and,
in between, all kinds of _clever_ nonsense. His first concern is to
guarantee the effect of his work; he begins with the third act, he
_approves_ his work according to the quality of its final effect.
Guided by this sort of understanding of the stage, there is not much
danger of one's creating a drama unawares. Drama demands _inexorable_
logic: but what did Wagner care about logic? Again I say, it was not
Corneille's public that he had to consider; but merely Germans!
Everybody knows the technical difficulties before which the dramatist
often has to summon all his strength and frequently to sweat his blood:
the difficulty of making the _plot_ seem necessary and the unravelment
as well, so that both are conceivable only in a certain way, and so
that each may give the impression of freedom (the principle of the
smallest expenditure of energy). Now the very last thing that Wagner
does is to sweat blood over the plot; and on this and the unravelment
he certainly spends the smallest possible amount of energy. Let anybody
put one of Wagner's "plots" under the microscope, and I wager that he
will be forced to laugh. Nothing is more enlivening than the dilemma
in "Tristan," unless it be that in the "Mastersingers." Wagner is _no_
dramatist; let nobody be deceived on this point. All he did was to
love the word "drama"--he always loved fine words. Nevertheless, in
his writings the word "drama" is merely a misunderstanding (--_and_ a
piece of shrewdness: Wagner always affected superiority in regard to
the word "opera"--); just as the word "spirit" is a misunderstanding
in the New Testament.--He was not enough of a psychologist for drama;
he instinctively avoided a psychological plot--but how?--by always
putting idiosyncrasy in its place ... Very modern--eh? Very Parisian!
very decadent! ... Incidentally, the _plots_ that Wagner knows how to
unravel with the help of dramatic inventions, are of quite another
kind. For example, let us suppose that Wagner requires a female voice.
A whole act without a woman's voice would be impossible! But in this
particular instance not one of the heroines happens to be free. What
does Wagner do? He emancipates the oldest woman on earth, Erda: "Step
up, aged grand-mamma! You have got to sing!" And Erda sings. Wagner's
end has been achieved. Thereupon he immediately dismisses the old lady:
"Why on earth did you come? Off with you! Kindly go to sleep again!"
In short, a scene full of mythological awe, before which the Wagnerite
_wonders_ all kinds of things....

--"But the substance of Wagner's texts! their mythical substance, their
eternal substance:"--Question: how is this substance, this eternal
substance tested? The chemical analyst replies: Translate Wagner into
the real, into the modern,--let us be even more cruel, and say: into
the bourgeois! And what will then become of him?--Between ourselves, I
have tried the experiment. Nothing is more entertaining, nothing more
worthy of being recommended to a picnic-party, than to discuss Wagner
dressed in a more modern garb: for instance Parsifal, as a candidate
in divinity, with a public-school education (--the latter, quite
indispensable _for pure_ foolishness). What _surprises_ await one!
Would you believe it, that Wagner's heroines one and all, once they
have been divested of the heroic husks, are almost Indistinguishable
from Mdme. Bovary!--just as one can conceive conversely, of Flaubert's
being _well able_ to transform all his heroines into Scandinavian
or Carthaginian women, and then to offer them to Wagner in this
mythologised form as a libretto. Indeed, generally speaking, Wagner
does not seem to have become interested in any other problems than
those which engross the little Parisian decadents of to-day. Always
five paces away from the hospital! All very modern problems, all
problems which are at home _in big cities!_ do not doubt it!... Have
you noticed (it is in keeping with this association of ideas) that
Wagner's heroines never have any children?--They _cannot_ have them,...
The despair with which Wagner tackled the problem of arranging in some
way for Siegfried's birth, betrays how modern his feelings on this
point actually were.--"emancipated woman"--but not with any hope of
offspring.--And now here is a fact which leaves us speechless: Parsifal
is Lohengrin's father! How ever did he do it?--Ought one at this
juncture to remember that "chastity works miracles"?...

_Wagnerus dixit princeps in castitate auctoritas._


And now just a word _en passant_ concerning Wagner's writings: they are
among other things a school of _shrewdness._ The system of procedures
of which Wagner disposes, might be applied to a hundred other
cases,--he that hath ears to hear let him hear. Perhaps I may lay claim
to some public acknowledgment, if I put three ox the most valuable of
these procedures into a precise form.

Everything that Wagner _cannot_ do is bad.

Wagner could do much more than he does; but his strong principles
prevent him.

Everything that Wagner _can_ do, no one will ever be able to do after
him, no one has ever done before him, and no one must ever do after
him: Wagner is godly....

These three propositions are the quintessence of Wagner's
writings;--the rest is merely--"literature."

--Not every kind of music hitherto has been in need of literature;
and it were well, to try and discover the actual reason of this. Is
it perhaps that Wagner's music is too difficult to understand? Or did
he fear precisely the reverse.--that it was too easy,--that people
might _not understand it with sufficient difficulty?_--As a matter of
fact, his whole life long, he did nothing but repeat one proposition:
that his music did not mean music alone! But something more! Something
immeasurably more!... "_Not music alone_"--_no_ musician would speak
in this way. I repeat, Wagner could not create things as a whole; he
had no choice, he was obliged to create things in bits; with "motives,"
attitudes, formulæ, duplications, and hundreds of repetitions, he
remained a rhetorician in music,--and that is why he was at bottom
_forced_ to press "this means" into the foreground. "Music can never be
anything else than a means": this was his theory; but above all it was
the only _practice_ that lay open to him. No musician however thinks
in this way.--Wagner was in need of literature, in order to persuade
the whole world to take his music seriously, profoundly, "because it
_meant_ an infinity of things"; all his life he was the commentator of
the "Idea."--What does Elsa stand for? But without a doubt, Elsa is
"the unconscious _mind of the people_" (--"when I realised this, I
naturally became a thorough revolutionist"--).

Do not let us forget that, when Hegel and Schelling were misleading
the minds of Germany, Wagner was still young: that he guessed, or
rather fully grasped, that the only thing which Germans take seriously
is--"the idea,"--that is to say, something obscure, uncertain,
wonderful; that among Germans lucidity is an objection, logic a
refutation. Schopenhauer rigorously pointed out the dishonesty of
Hegel's and Schelling's age,--rigorously, but also unjustly; for he
himself, the pessimistic old counterfeiter, was in no way more "honest"
than his more famous contemporaries. But let us leave morality out of
the question, Hegel is a _matter of taste...._ And not only of German
but of European taste! ... A taste which Wagner understood!--which he
felt equal to! which he has immortalised!--All he did was to apply
it to music--he invented a style for himself, which might mean an
"infinity of things,"--he was _Hegel's_ heir.... Music as "Idea."--

And how well Wagner was understood!--The same kind of man who used
to gush over Hegel, now gushes over Wagner; in his school they
even _write_ Hegelian.[5] But he who understood Wagner best, was
the German youthlet. The two words "infinity" and "meaning" were
sufficient for this: at their sound the youthlet immediately began
to feel exceptionally happy. Wagner did _not_ conquer these boys
with music, but with the "idea":--it is the enigmatical vagueness
of his art, its game of hide-and-seek amid a hundred symbols, its
polychromy in ideals, which leads and lures the lads. It is Wagner's
genius for forming clouds, his sweeps and swoops through the air,
his ubiquity and nullibiety--precisely the same qualities with which
Hegel led and lured in his time!--Moreover in the presence of Wagner's
multifariousness, plenitude and arbitrariness, they seem to themselves
justified--"saved." Tremulously they listen while the _great symbols_
in his art seem to make themselves heard from out the misty distance,
with a gentle roll of thunder, and they are not at all displeased if at
times it gets a little grey, gruesome and cold. Are they not one and
all, like Wagner himself, on _quite intimate terms_ with bad weather,
with German weather! Wotan is their God: but Wotan is the God of bad
weather.... They are right, how could these German youths--in their
present condition,--miss what we others, we _halcyonians,_ miss in
Wagner? _i.e.: la gaya scienza;_ light feet, wit, fire, grave, grand
logic, stellar dancing, wanton intellectuality, the vibrating light of
the South, the calm sea--perfection....


--I have mentioned the sphere to which Wagner belongs--certainly not to
the history of music. What, however, does he mean historically?--_The
rise of the actor in music,_ a momentous event which not only leads me
to think but also to fear.

In a word: "Wagner and Liszt." Never yet have the "uprightness"
and "genuineness" of musicians been put to such a dangerous test.
It is glaringly obvious: great success, mob success is no longer
the achievement of the genuine,--in order to get it a man must be
an actor!--Victor Hugo and Richard Wagner--they both prove one
and the same thing: that in declining civilisations, wherever
the mob is allowed to decide, genuineness becomes superfluous,
prejudicial, unfavourable. The actor, alone, can still kindle _great_
enthusiasm.--And thus it is _his golden age_ which is now dawning--his
and that of all those who are in any way related to him. With drums
and fifes, Wagner marches at the head of all artists in declamation,
in display and virtuosity. He began by convincing the conductors
of orchestras, the scene-shifters and stage-singers, not to forget
the orchestra:--he "delivered" them from monotony.... The movement
that Wagner created has spread even to the land of knowledge: whole
sciences pertaining to music are rising slowly, out of centuries
of scholasticism. As an example of what I mean, let me point more
particularly to _Riemann's_ services to rhythmics; he was the first
who called attention to the leading idea in punctuation--even
for music (unfortunately he did so with a bad word; he called it
"phrasing").--All these people, and I say it with gratitude, are
the best, the most respectable among Wagner's admirers--they have a
perfect right to honour Wagner. The same instinct unites them with one
another; in him they recognise their highest type, and since he has
inflamed them with his own ardour they feel themselves transformed
into power, even into great power. In this quarter, if anywhere,
Wagner's influence has really been _beneficent._ Never before has
there been so much thinking, willing, and industry in this sphere.
Wagner endowed all these artists with a new conscience: what they now
exact and _obtain_ from themselves, they had never exacted before
Wagner's time--before then they had been too modest. Another spirit
prevails on the stage since Wagner rules there: the most difficult
things are expected, blame is severe, praise very scarce,--the good
and the excellent have become the rule. Taste is no longer necessary,
nor even is a good voice. Wagner is sung only with ruined voices: this
has a more "dramatic" effect. Even talent is out of the question.
Expressiveness at all costs, which is what the Wagnerian ideal--the
ideal of decadence--demands, is hardly compatible with talent. All that
is required for this is virtue--that is to say, training, automatism,
"self-denial." Neither taste, voices, nor gifts; Wagner's stage
requires but one thing: _Germans!..._ The definition of a German:
an obedient man with long legs.... There is a deep significance in
the fact that the rise of Wagner should have coincided with the rise
of the "Empire": both phenomena are a proof of one and the same
thing--obedience and long legs.--Never have people been more obedient,
never have they been so well ordered about. The conductors of Wagnerian
orchestras, more particularly, are worthy of an age, which posterity
will one day call, with timid awe, the _classical age of war._ Wagner
understood how to command; in this respect, too, he was a great
teacher. He commanded as a man who had exercised an inexorable will
over himself--as one who had practised lifelong discipline: Wagner
was, perhaps, the greatest example of self-violence in the whole of
the history of art (--even Alfieri, who in other respects is his
next-of-kin, is outdone by him. The note of a Torinese).


This view, that our actors have become more worthy of respect than
heretofore, does not imply that I believe them to have become less
dangerous ... But who is in any doubt as to what I want,--as to what
the _three requisitions_ are concerning which my wrath and my care and
love of art, have made me open my mouth on this occasion?

_That the stage should not become master of the arts. That the actor
should not become the corrupter of the genuine._

_That music should not become an art of lying._



The gravity of these last words allows me at this point to introduce a
few sentences out of an unprinted essay which will at least leave no
doubt as to my earnestness in regard to this question. The title of
this essay is: "What Wagner has cost us."

One pays dearly for having been a follower of Wagner. Even to-day a
vague feeling that this is so, still prevails. Even Wagner's success,
his triumph, did not uproot this feeling thoroughly. But formerly it
was strong, it was terrible; it was a gloomy hate throughout almost
three-quarters of Wagner's life. The resistance which he met with
among us Germans cannot be too highly valued or too highly honoured.
People guarded themselves against him as against an illness,--not
with arguments--it is impossible to refute an illness--, but with
obstruction, with mistrust, with repugnance, with loathing, with sombre
earnestness, as though he were a great rampant danger. The æsthetes
gave themselves away when out of three schools of German philosophy
they waged an absurd war against Wagner's principles with "ifs" and
"fors"--what did he care about principles, even his own!--The Germans
themselves had enough instinctive good sense to dispense with every
"if" and "for" in this matter. An instinct is weakened when it becomes
conscious: for by becoming conscious it makes itself feeble. If there
were any signs that in spite of the universal character of European
decadence there was still a modicum of health, still an instinctive
premonition of what is harmful and dangerous, residing in the German
soul, then it would be precisely this blunt resistance to Wagner which
I should least like to see underrated. It does us honour, it gives us
some reason to hope: France no longer has such an amount of health at
her disposal. The Germans, these _loiterers par excellence,_ as history
shows, are to-day the most backward among the civilised nations of
Europe: this has its advantages,--for they are thus relatively the

One pays dearly for having been a follower of Wagner. It is only
quite recently that the Germans have overcome a sort of dread of
him,--the desire to be rid of him occurred to them again and again.[6]
Does anybody remember a very curious occurrence in which, quite
unexpectedly towards the end, this old feeling once more manifested
itself? It happened at Wagner's funeral. The first Wagner Society,
the one in Munich, laid a wreath on his grave with this inscription,
which immediately became famous: "Salvation to the Saviour!" Everybody
admired the lofty inspiration which had dictated this inscription, as
also the taste which seemed to be the privilege of the followers of
Wagner. Many also, however (it was singular enough), made this slight
alteration in it: "Salvation _from_ the Saviour" --People began to
breathe again.--

One pays dearly for having been a follower of Wagner. Let us try to
estimate the influence of this worship upon culture. Whom did this
movement press to the front? What did it make ever more and more
pre-eminent?--In the first place the layman's arrogance, the arrogance
of the art-maniac. Now these people are organising societies, they
wish to make their taste prevail, they even wish to pose as judges
_in rebus musicis et musicantibus._ Secondly: an ever increasing
indifference towards severe, noble and conscientious schooling in
the service of art; and in its place the belief in genius, or in
plain English, cheeky dilettantism (--the formula for this is to be
found in the _Mastersingers)._ Thirdly, and this is the worst of
all: _Theatrocracy_--, the craziness of a belief in the pre-eminence
of the theatre, in the right of the theatre to rule supreme over
the arts, over Art in general.... But this should be shouted into
the face of Wagnerites a hundred times over: that the theatre is
something lower than art, something secondary, something coarsened,
above all something suitably distorted and falsified for the mob. In
this respect Wagner altered nothing: Bayreuth is grand Opera--and not
even good opera.... The stage is a form of Demolatry in the realm of
taste, the stage is an insurrection of the mob, a _plebiscite_ against
good taste.... The case of Wagner proves this fact: he captivated the
masses--he depraved taste, he even perverted our taste for opera!--

One pays dearly for having been a follower of Wagner. What has
Wagner-worship made out of spirit? Does Wagner liberate the spirit?
To him belong that ambiguity and equivocation and all other qualities
which can convince the uncertain without making them conscious of why
they have been convinced. In this sense Wagner is a seducer on a grand
scale. There is nothing exhausted, nothing effete, nothing dangerous
to life, nothing that slanders the world in the realm of spirit, which
has not secretly found shelter in his art; he conceals the blackest
obscurantism in the luminous orbs of the ideal. He flatters every
nihilistic (Buddhistic) instinct and togs it out in music; he flatters
every form of Christianity, every religious expression of decadence.
He that hath ears to hear let him hear: everything that has ever grown
out of the soil of impoverished life, the whole counterfeit coinage of
the transcendental and of a Beyond found its most sublime advocate in
Wagner's art, not in formulæ (Wagner is too clever to use formulæ), but
in the persuasion of the senses which in their turn makes the spirit
weary and morbid. Music in the form of Circe ... in this respect
his last work is his greatest masterpiece. In the art of seduction
"Parsifal" will for ever maintain its rank as a stroke of genius....
I admire this work. I would fain have composed it myself. Wagner was
never better inspired than towards the end. The subtlety with which
beauty and disease are united here, reaches such a height, that it
casts so to speak a shadow upon all Wagner's earlier achievements:
it seems too bright, too healthy. Do ye understand this? Health and
brightness acting like a shadow? Almost like an objection?... To this
extent are we already pure fools.... Never was their a greater Master
in heavy hieratic perfumes--Never on earth has there been such a
connoisseur of paltry infinities, of all that thrills, of extravagant
excesses, of all the feminism from out the vocabulary of happiness!
My friends, do but drink the philtres of this art! Nowhere will ye
find a more pleasant method of enervating your spirit, of forgetting
your manliness in the shade of a rosebush.... Ah, this old magician,
mightiest of Klingsors; how he wages war against us with his art,
against us free spirits! How he appeals to every form of cowardice of
the modern soul with his charming girlish notes! There never was such
a _mortal hatred_ of knowledge! One must be a very cynic in order to
resist seduction here. One must be able to bite in order to resist
worshipping at this shrine. Very well, old seducer! The cynic cautions
you--_cave canem_....

One pays dearly for having been a follower of Wagner. I contemplate
the youthlets who have long been exposed to his infection. The first
relatively innocuous effect of it is the corruption of their taste.
Wagner acts like chronic recourse to the bottle. He stultifies, he
befouls the stomach. His specific effect: degeneration of the feeling
for rhythm. What the Wagnerite calls rhythmical is what I call, to
use a Greek metaphor, "stirring a swamp." Much more dangerous than
all this, however, is the corruption of ideas. The youthlet becomes a
moon-calf, an "idealist." He stands above science, and in this respect
he has reached the master's heights. On the other hand, he assumes
the airs of a philosopher; he writes for the _Bayreuth Journal;_ he
solves all problems in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Master. But the most ghastly thing of all is the deterioration of
the nerves. Let any one wander through a large city at night, in all
directions he will hear people doing violence to instruments with
solemn rage and fury, a wild uproar breaks out at intervals. What is
happening? It is the disciples of Wagner in the act of worshipping
him.... Bayreuth is another word for a Hydro. A typical telegram from
Bayreuth would read _bereits bereut_ (I already repent). Wagner is bad
for young men; he is fatal for women. What medically speaking is a
female Wagnerite? It seems to me that a doctor could not be too serious
in putting this alternative of conscience to young women: either one
thing or the other. But they have already made their choice. You cannot
serve two Masters when one of these is Wagner. Wagner redeemed woman;
and in return woman built Bayreuth for him. Every sacrifice, every
surrender: there was nothing that they were not prepared to give him.
Woman impoverishes herself in favour of the Master, she becomes quite
touching, she stands naked before him. The female Wagnerite, the most
attractive equivocality that exists to-day: she is the incarnation of
Wagner's cause: his cause triumphs with her as its symbol.... Ah, this
old robber! He robs our young men: he even robs our women as well,
and drags them to his cell.... Ah, this old Minotaur! What has he not
already cost us? Every year processions of the finest young men and
maidens are led into his labyrinth that he may swallow them up, every
year the whole of Europe cries out "Away to Crete! Away to Crete!" ...


It seems to me that my letter is open to some misunderstanding. On
certain faces I see the expression of gratitude; I even hear modest but
merry laughter. I prefer to be understood here as in other things. But
since a certain animal, _the worm of_ Empire, the famous _Rhinoxera,_
has become lodged in the vineyards of the German spirit, nobody any
longer understands a word I say. The _Kreuz-Zeitung_ has brought this
home to me, not to speak of the _Litterarisches Centralblatt_ I have
given the Germans the deepest books that they have ever possessed--a
sufficient reason for their not having understood a word of them.... If
in this essay I declare war against Wagner--and incidentally against a
certain form of German taste, if I seem to use strong language about
the cretinism of Bayreuth, it must not be supposed that I am in the
least anxious to glorify any other musician. Other musicians are not to
be considered by the side of Wagner. Things are generally bad. Decay
is universal. Disease lies at the very root of things. If Wagner's
name represents the ruin of music, just as Bernini's stands for the
ruin of sculpture, he is not on that account its cause. All he did
was to accelerate the fall,--though we are quite prepared to admit
that he did it in a way which makes one recoil with horror from this
almost instantaneous decline and fall to the depths. He possessed
the ingenuousness of decadence: this constituted his superiority. He
believed in it. He did not halt before any of its logical consequences.
The others hesitated--that is their distinction. They have no
other. What is common to both Wagner and "the others" consists in
this: the decline of all organising power; the abuse of traditional
means, without the capacity or the aim that would justify this. The
counterfeit imitation of grand forms, for which nobody nowadays is
strong, proud, self-reliant and healthy enough; excessive vitality in
small details; passion at all costs; refinement as an expression of
impoverished life, ever more nerves in the place of muscle. I know
only one musician who to-day would be able to compose an overture as
an organic whole: and nobody else knows him.[7] He who is famous now,
does not write better music than Wagner, but only less characteristic,
less definite music:--less definite, because half measures, even in
decadence, cannot stand by the side of completeness. But Wagner was
complete; Wagner represented thorough corruption; Wagner has had
the courage, the will, and the conviction for corruption. What does
Johannes Brahms matter? ... It was his good fortune to be misunderstood
by Germany he was taken to be an antagonist of Wagner--people required
an antagonist!--But he did not write necessary music, above all he
wrote too much music!--When one is not rich one should at least have
enough pride to be poor!... The sympathy which here and there was meted
out to Brahms, apart from party interests and party misunderstandings,
was for a long time a riddle to me: until one day through an accident,
almost, I discovered that he affected a particular type of man. He
has the melancholy of impotence. His creations are not the result of
plenitude, he thirsts after abundance. Apart from what he plagiarises,
from what he borrows from ancient or exotically modern styles--he is
a master in the art of copying,--there remains as his most individual
quality a _longing...._ And this is what the dissatisfied of all
kinds, and all those who yearn, divine in him. He is much too little
of a personality, too little of a central figure.... The "impersonal,"
those who are not self-centred, love him for this. He is especially the
musician of a species of dissatisfied women. Fifty steps further on,
and we find the female Wagnerite--just as we find Wagner himself fifty
paces ahead of Brahms.--The female Wagnerite is a more definite, a more
interesting, and above all, a more attractive type. Brahms is touching
so long as he dreams or mourns over himself in private--in this respect
he is modern;--he becomes cold, we no longer feel at one with him
when he poses as the child of the classics. ... People like to call
Brahms Beethoven's heir: I know of no more cautious euphemism.--All
that which to-day makes a claim to being the grand style in music is
on precisely that account either false to us or false to itself. This
alternative is suspicious enough: in itself it contains a casuistic
question concerning the value of the two cases. The instinct of the
majority protests against the alternative; "false to us"--they do not
wish to be cheated;--and I myself would certainly always prefer this
type to the other ("False to itself"). This is _my_ taste.--Expressed
more clearly for the sake of the "poor in spirit" it amounts to this:
Brahms _or_ Wagner.... Brahms is _not_ an actor.--A very great part
of other musicians may be summed up in the concept Brahms.--I do not
wish to say anything about the clever apes of Wagner, as for instance
Goldmark: when one has "The Queen of Sheba" to one's name, one belongs
to a menagerie,--one ought to put oneself on show.--Nowadays all things
that can be done well and even with a master hand are small. In this
department alone is honesty still possible. Nothing, however, can cure
music as a whole of its chief fault, of its fate, which is to be the
expression of general physiological contradiction,--which is, in fact,
to be modern.

The best instruction, the most conscientious schooling, the most
thorough familiarity, yea, and even isolation, with the Old
Masters,--all this only acts as a palliative, or, more strictly
speaking, has but an illusory effect, because the first condition
of the right thing is no longer in our bodies; whether this first
condition be the strong race of a Händel or the overflowing animal
spirits of a Rossini. Not everyone has the right to every teacher:
and this holds good of whole epochs.--In itself it is not impossible
that there are still remains of stronger natures, typical unadapted
men, somewhere in Europe: from this quarter the advent of a somewhat
belated form of beauty and perfection, even in music, might still be
hoped for. But the most that we can expect to see are exceptional
cases. From the rule, that corruption is paramount, that corruption is
a fatality,--not even a God can save music.


And now let us take breath and withdraw a moment from this narrow world
which necessarily must be narrow, because we have to make enquiries
relative to the value of _persons._ A philosopher feels that he wants
to wash his hands after he has concerned himself so long with the "Case
of Wagner." I shall now give my notion of what is _modern._ According
to the measure of energy of every age, there is also a standard that
determines which virtues shall be allowed and which forbidden. The
age either has the virtues of _ascending_ life, in which case it
resists the virtues of degeneration with all its deepest instincts.
Or it is in itself an age of degeneration, in which case it requires
the virtues of declining life,--in which case it hates everything
that justifies itself, solely as being the outcome of a plenitude,
or a superabundance of strength. Æsthetic is inextricably bound up
with these biological principles: there is decadent æsthetic, and
_classical_ æsthetic,--"Beauty in itself" is just as much a chimera
as any other kind of idealism.--Within the narrow sphere of the
so-called moral values, no greater antithesis could be found than that
of _master-morality_ and the morality of _Christian_ valuations: the
latter having grown out of a thoroughly morbid soil. (--The gospels
present us with the same physiological types, as do the novels of
Dostoiewsky), the master-morality ("Roman," "pagan," "classical,"
"Renaissance"), on the other hand, being the symbolic speech of
well-constitutedness, of _ascending_ life, and of the Will to Power
as a vital principle. Master-morality _affirms_ just as instinctively
as Christian morality _denies_ ("God," "Beyond," "self-denial,"--all
of them negations). The first reflects its plenitude upon things,--it
transfigures, it embellishes, it _rationalises_ the world,--the latter
impoverishes, bleaches, mars the value of things; it _suppresses_ the
world. "World" is a Christian term of abuse. These antithetical forms
in the optics of values, are _both_ necessary: they are different
points of view which cannot be circumvented either with arguments or
counter-arguments. One cannot refute Christianity: it is impossible to
refute a diseased eyesight. That people should have combated pessimism
as if it had been a philosophy, was the very acme of learned stupidity.
The concepts "true" and "untrue" do not seem to me to have any sense in
optics.--That, alone, which has to be guarded against is the falsity,
the instinctive duplicity which _would fain_ regard this antithesis as
no antithesis at all: just as Wagner did,--and his mastery in this
kind of falseness was of no mean order. To cast side-long glances at
master-morality, at _noble_ morality (--Icelandic saga is perhaps the
greatest documentary evidence of these values), and at the same time to
have the opposite teaching, the "gospel of the lowly," the doctrine of
the _need_ of salvation, on one's lips!... Incidentally, I admire the
modesty of Christians who go to Bayreuth. As for myself, I could _not_
endure to hear the sound of certain words on Wagner's lips. There are
some concepts which are too good for Bayreuth.... What? Christianity
adjusted for female Wagnerites, perhaps _by_ female Wagnerites--for,
in his latter days Wagner was thoroughly _feminini generis--?_ Again I
say, the Christians of to-day are too modest for me,... If Wagner were
a Christian, then Liszt was perhaps a Father of the Church!--The need
of _salvation,_ the quintessence of all Christian needs, has nothing in
common with such clowns: it is the most straightforward expression of
decadence, it is the most convincing and most painful affirmation of
decadence, in sublime symbols and practices. The Christian wishes _to
be rid_ of himself. _Le mot est toujours haïssable._ Noble morality,
master-morality, on the other hand, is rooted in a triumphant saying of
yea to _one's self,_--it is the self-affirmation and self-glorification
of life; it also requires sublime symbols and practices; but only
"because its heart is too full." The whole of beautiful art and of
great art belongs here: their common essence is gratitude. But we must
allow it a certain instinctive repugnance _to décadents,_ and a scorn
and horror of the latter's symbolism: such things almost prove it.
The noble Romans considered Christianity as a _fœda superstitio_:
let me call to your minds the feelings which the last German of noble
taste--Goethe--had in regard to the cross. It is idle to look for more
valuable, more _necessary_ contrasts....[8]

But the kind of falsity which is characteristic of the Bayreuthians is
not exceptional to-day. We all know the hybrid concept of the Christian
gentleman. This _innocence_ in contradiction, this "clean conscience"
in falsehood, is rather modern _par excellence,_ with it modernity is
almost defined. Biologically, modern man represents a _contradiction of
values,_ he sits between two stools, he says yea and nay in one breath.
No wonder that it is precisely in our age that falseness itself became
flesh and blood, and even genius! No wonder _Wagner_ dwelt amongst
us! It was not without reason that I called Wagner the Cagliostro of
modernity.... But all of us, though we do not know it, involuntarily
have values, words, formulæ, and morals in our bodies, which are
quite _antagonistic_ in their origin--regarded from a physiological
standpoint, we are _false...._ How would a _diagnosis of the modern
soul_ begin? With a determined incision into this agglomeration of
contradictory instincts, with the total suppression of its antagonistic
values, with vivisection applied to its most _instructive_ case. To
philosophers the "Case of Wagner" is a _windfall_--this essay, as you
observe, was inspired by gratitude.

[Footnote 1: Senta is the heroine in the "Flying Dutchman,"--Tr.]

[Footnote 2: A character in "Tannhäuser."--_Tr._]

[Footnote 3: See "The Will to Power," vol. ii, authorised English

[Footnote 4: _Note._--It was a real disaster for æsthetics when the
word drama got to be translated by "action." Wagner is not the only
culprit here; the whole world does the same;--even the philologists
who ought to know better. What ancient drama had in view was _grand
pathetic scenes,_--it even excluded action (or placed it _before_
the piece or _behind_ the scenes). The word drama is of Doric
origin, and according to the usage of the Dorian language it meant
"event," "history,"--both words in a hieratic sense. The oldest drama
represented local legends, "sacred history," upon which the foundation
of the cult rested (--thus it was not "action," but fatality: dran in
Doric has nothing to do with action).]

[Footnote 5: Hegel and his school wrote notoriously obscure German.

[Footnote 6: Was Wagner a German at all? There are reasons enough for
putting this question. It is difficult to find a single German trait
in his character. Great learner that he was, he naturally imitated a
great deal that was German--but that is all. His very soul contradicts
everything which hitherto has been regarded as German; not to mention
German musicians!--His father was an actor of the name of Geyer....
That which has been popularised hitherto as "Wagner's life" is _fable
convenue_ if not something worse. I confess my doubts on any point
which is vouched for by Wagner alone. He was not proud enough to be
able to suffer the truth about himself. Nobody had less pride than he.
Like Victor Hugo he remained true to himself even in his biography,--he
remained an actor.]

[Footnote 7: This undoubtedly refers to Nietzsche's only disciple and
friend, Peter Gast.--_Tr._]

[Footnote 8: My "Genealogy of Morals" contains the best exposition of
the antithesis _"noble morality"_ and _"Christian_ _morality_"; a more
decisive turning point in the history of religious and moral science
does not perhaps exist. This book, which is a touchstone by which I can
discover who are my peers, rejoices in being accessible only to the
most elevated and most severe minds: the others have not the ears to
hear me. One must have one's passion in things, _wherein_ no one has
passion nowadays.]






The following chapters have been selected from past works of mine,
and not without care. Some of them date back as far as 1877. Here and
there, of course, they will be found to have been made a little more
intelligible, but above all, more brief. Read consecutively, they can
leave no one in any doubt, either concerning myself, or concerning
Wagner: we are antipodes. The reader will come to other conclusions,
too, in his perusal of these pages: for instance, that this is an
essay for psychologists and _not_ for Germans.... I have my readers
everywhere, in Vienna, St Petersburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Paris, and
New York--but _1 have none_ in Europe's Flat-land--Germany.... And I
might even have something to say to Italians whom I love just as much
as I ... _Quousque tandem, Crispi_ ... Triple alliance: a people can
only conclude a _misalliance_ with the "Empire." ...


TURIN, _Christmas_ 1888.



I believe that artists very often do not know what they are best
able to do. They are much too vain. Their minds are directed to
something prouder than merely to appear like little plants, which,
with freshness, rareness, and beauty, know how to sprout from their
soil with real perfection. The ultimate goodness of their own garden
and vineyard is superciliously under-estimated by them, and their love
and their insight are not of the same quality. Here is a musician who
is a greater master than anyone else in the discovering of tones,
peculiar to suffering, oppressed, and tormented souls, who can endow
even dumb misery with speech. Nobody can approach him in the colours
of late autumn, in the indescribably touching joy of a last, a very
last, and all too short gladness; he knows of a chord which expresses
those secret and weird midnight hours of the soul, when cause and
effect seem to have fallen asunder, and at every moment something may
spring out of nonentity. He is happiest of all when creating from out
the nethermost depths of human happiness, and, so to speak, from out
man's empty bumper, in which the bitterest and most repulsive drops
have mingled with the sweetest for good or evil at last. He knows
that weary shuffling along of the soul which is no longer able either
to spring or to fly, nay, which is no longer able to walk; he has
the modest glance of concealed suffering, of understanding without
comfort, of leave-taking without word or sign; verily as the Orpheus
of all secret misery he is greater than anyone, and many a thing was
introduced into art for the first time by him, which hitherto had not
been given expression, had not even been thought worthy of art--the
cynical revolts, for instance, of which only the greatest sufferer is
capable, also many a small and quite microscopical feature of the soul,
as it were the scales of its amphibious nature--yes indeed, he is the
master of everything very small. But this he refuses to be! His tastes
are much more in love with vast walls and with daring frescoes! ... He
does not see that his spirit has another desire and bent--a totally
different outlook--that it prefers to squat peacefully in the corners
of broken-down houses: concealed in this way, and hidden even from
himself, he paints his really great masterpieces, all of which are very
short, often only one bar in length--there, only, does he become quite
good, great and perfect, perhaps there alone.--Wagner is one who has
suffered much--and this elevates him above other musicians.--I admire
Wagner wherever he sets _himself_ to music.--


With all this I do not wish to imply that I regard this music as
healthy, and least of all in those places where it speaks of Wagner
himself. My objections to Wagner's music are physiological objections.
Why should I therefore begin by clothing them in æsthetic formulæ?
Æsthetic is indeed nothing more than applied physiology.--The fact I
bring forward, my _"petit fait vrai"_ is that I can no longer breathe
with ease when this music begins to have its effect upon me; that my
foot immediately begins to feel indignant at it and rebels: for what
it needs is time, dance, march: even the young German Kaiser could
not march to Wagner's Imperial March,--what my foot demands in the
first place from music is that ecstasy which lies in good walking,
stepping and dancing. But do not my stomach, my heart, my circulation
also protest? Are not my intestines also troubled? And do I not become
hoarse unawares? ... in order to listen to Wagner I require Géraudel's
Pastilles.... And then I ask myself, what is it that my whole body
must have from music in general? for there is no such thing as a
soul.... I believe it must have relief: as if all animal functions
were accelerated by means of light, bold, unfettered, self-reliant
rhythms; as if brazen and leaden life could lose its weight by means of
delicate and smooth melodies. My melancholy would fain rest its head
in the haunts and abysses of perfection: for this reason I need music.
But Wagner makes one ill--What do I care about the theatre? What do I
care about the spasms of its moral ecstasies in which the mob--and
who is not the mob to-day?--rejoices? What do I care about the whole
pantomimic hocus-pocus of the actor? You are beginning to see that I
am essentially anti-theatrical at heart. For the stage, this mob art
_par excellence,_ my soul has that deepest scorn felt by every artist
to-day. With a stage success a man sinks to such an extent in my esteem
as to drop out of sight; failure in this quarter makes me prick my
ears, makes me begin to pay attention. But this was not so with Wagner;
next to the Wagner who created the most unique music that has ever
existed there was the Wagner who was essentially a man of the stage,
an actor, the most enthusiastic mimomaniac that has perhaps existed
on earth, even as a musician. And let it be said _en passant_ that if
Wagner's theory was "drama is the object, music is only a means"--his
practice was from beginning to end, the attitude is the end, drama and
even music can never be anything else than means." Music as the manner
of accentuating, of strengthening, and deepening dramatic poses and all
things which please the senses of the actor; and Wagnerian drama only
an opportunity for a host of interesting attitudes!--Alongside of all
other instincts he had the dictatorial instinct of a great actor in
everything: and, as I have already said, as a musician also.--On one
occasion, and not without trouble, I made this clear to a Wagnerite
_pur sang,_--clearness and a Wagnerite! I won't say another word.
There were reasons for adding; "For heaven's sake, be a little more
true unto yourself! We are not in Bayreuth now. In Bayreuth people
are only upright in the mass; the individual lies, he even lies to
himself. One leaves oneself at home when one goes to Bayreuth, one
gives up all right to one's own tongue and choice, to one's own taste
and even to one's own courage, one knows these things no longer as one
is wont to have them and practise them before God and the world and
between one's own four walls. In the theatre no one brings the finest
senses of his art with him, and least of all the artist who works for
the theatre,--for here loneliness is lacking; everything perfect does
not suffer a witness.... In the theatre one becomes mob, herd, woman,
Pharisee, electing cattle, patron, idiot--Wagnerite: there, the most
personal conscience is bound to submit to the levelling charm of the
great multitude, there the neighbour rules, there one _becomes_ a



The aim after which more modern music is striving, which is now
given the strong but obscure name of "unending melody," can be
clearly understood by comparing it to one's feelings on entering the
sea. Gradually one loses one's footing and one ultimately abandons
oneself to the mercy or fury of the elements: one has to swim. In the
solemn, or fiery, swinging movement, first slow and then quick, of
old music--one had to do something quite different; one had to dance.
The measure which was required for this and the control of certain
balanced degrees of time and energy, forced the soul of the listener
to continual sobriety of thought.--Upon the counterplay of the cooler
currents of air which came from this sobriety, and from the warmer
breath of enthusiasm, the charm of all good music rested--Richard
Wagner wanted another kind of movement,--he overthrew the physiological
first principle of all music before his time. It was no longer a matter
of walking or dancing,--we must swim, we must hover.... This perhaps
decides the whole matter. "Unending melody" really wants to break all
the symmetry of time and strength; it actually scorns these things--Its
wealth of invention resides precisely in what to an older ear sounds
like rhythmic paradox and abuse. From the imitation or the prevalence
of such a taste there would arise a danger for music--so great that we
can imagine none greater--the complete degeneration of the feeling
for rhythm, _chaos_ in the place of rhythm.... The danger reaches
its climax when such music cleaves ever more closely to naturalistic
play-acting and pantomime, which governed by no laws of form, aim at
effect and nothing more.... Expressiveness at all costs and music a
servant, a slave to attitudes--this is the end....


What? would it really be the first virtue of a performance (as
performing musical artists now seem to believe), under all
circumstances to attain to a _haut-relief_ which cannot be surpassed?
If this were applied to Mozart, for instance, would it not be a
real sin against Mozart's spirit,--Mozart's cheerful, enthusiastic,
delightful and loving spirit? He who fortunately was no German, and
whose seriousness is a charming and golden seriousness and not by any
means that of a German clodhopper.... Not to speak of the earnestness
of the "marble statue." ... But you seem to think that all music is the
music of the "marble statue"? --that all music should, so to speak,
spring out of the wall and shake the listener to his very bowels? ...
Only thus could music have any effect! But on whom would the effect
be made? Upon something on which a noble artist ought never to deign
to act,--upon the mob, upon the immature! upon the blasts! upon the
diseased! upon idiots! upon _Wagnerites_!...


Of all the arts which succeed in growing on the soil of a particular
culture, music is the last plant to appear; maybe because it is the
one most dependent upon our innermost feelings, and therefore the
last to come to the surface--at a time when the culture to which it
belongs is in its autumn season and beginning to fade. It was only in
the art of the Dutch masters that the spirit of mediæval Christianity
found its expression--, its architecture of sound is the youngest,
but genuine and legitimate, sister of the Gothic. It was only in
Handel's music that the best in Luther and in those like him found
its voice, the Judeo-heroic trait which gave the Reformation a touch
of greatness--the Old Testament, _not_ the New, become music. It was
left to Mozart, to pour out the epoch of Louis XIV., and of the art
of Racine and Claude Lorrain, in _ringing_ gold; only in Beethoven's
and Rossini's music did the Eighteenth Century sing itself out--the
century of enthusiasm, broken ideals, and _fleeting joy._ All real and
original music is a swan song.--Even our last form of music, despite
its prevalence and its will to prevail, has perhaps only a short time
to live: for it sprouted from a soil which was in the throes of a
rapid subsidence,--of a culture which will soon be _submerged._ A
certain Catholicism of feeling, and a predilection for some ancient
indigenous (so-called national) ideals and eccentricities, was its
first condition. Wagner's appropriation of old sagas and songs,
in which scholarly prejudice taught us _to_ see something German
_par excellence_--now we laugh at it all, the resurrection of these
Scandinavian monsters with a thirst for ecstatic sensuality and
spiritualisation--the whole of this taking and giving on Wagner's part,
in the matter of subjects, characters, passions, and nerves, would also
give unmistakable expression to the _spirit of his music_ provided that
this music, like any other, did not know how to speak about itself save
ambiguously: for _musica is a woman...._ We must not let ourselves
be misled concerning this state of things, by the fact that at this
very moment we are living in a reaction, _in the heart itself_ of a
reaction. The age of international wars, of ultramontane martyrdom,
in fact, the whole interlude-character which typifies the present
condition of Europe, may indeed help an art like Wagner's to sudden
glory, without, however, in the least ensuring its _future prosperity._
The Germans themselves have no future....


Perhaps a few people, or at least my friends, will remember that
I made my first plunge into life armed with some errors and some
exaggerations, but that, in any case, I began with _hope_ in my
heart. In the philosophical pessimism of the nineteenth century, I
recognised--who knows by what by-paths of personal experience--the
symptom of a higher power of thought, a more triumphant plenitude
of life, than had manifested itself hitherto in the philosophies of
Hume, Kant and Hegel!--I regarded _tragic_ knowledge as the most
beautiful luxury of our culture, as its most precious, most noble,
most dangerous kind of prodigality; but, nevertheless, in view of its
overflowing wealth, as a justifiable _luxury._ In the same way, I
began by interpreting Wagner's music as the expression of a Dionysian
powerfulness of soul. In it I thought I heard the earthquake by means
of which a primeval life-force, which had been constrained for ages,
was seeking at last to burst its bonds, quite indifferent to how
much of that which nowadays calls itself culture, would thereby be
shaken to ruins. You see how I misinterpreted, you see also, what I
_bestowed_ upon Wagner and Schopenhauer--myself.... Every art and
every philosophy may be regarded either as a cure or as a stimulant
to ascending or declining life: they always presuppose suffering and
sufferers. But there are two kinds of sufferers:--those that suffer
from _overflowing vitality,_ who need Dionysian art and require
a tragic insight into, and a tragic outlook upon, the phenomenon
life,--and there are those who suffer from _reduced_ vitality, and
who crave for repose, quietness, calm seas, or else the intoxication,
the spasm, the bewilderment which art and philosophy provide. Revenge
upon life itself--this is the most voluptuous form of intoxication
for such indigent souls!... Now Wagner responds quite as well as
Schopenhauer to the twofold cravings of these people,--they both deny
life, they both slander it but precisely on this account they are my
antipodes.--The richest creature, brimming over with vitality,--the
Dionysian God and man, may not only allow himself to gaze upon the
horrible and the questionable; but he can also lend his hand to the
terrible deed, and can indulge in all the luxury of destruction,
disaggregation, and negation,--in him evil, purposelessness and
ugliness, seem just as allowable as they are in nature--because of
his bursting plenitude of creative and rejuvenating powers, which
are able to convert every desert into a luxurious land of plenty.
Conversely, it is the greatest sufferer and pauper in vitality, who
is most in need of mildness, peace and goodness--that which to-day is
called humaneness--in thought as well as in action, and possibly of a
God whose speciality is to be a God of the sick, a Saviour, and also
of logic or the abstract intelligibility of existence even for idiots
(--the typical "free-spirits," like the idealists, and "beautiful
souls," are _décadents_--); in short, of a warm, danger-tight, and
narrow confinement, between optimistic horizons which would allow of
stultification.... And thus very gradually, I began to understand
Epicurus, the opposite of a Dionysian Greek; and also the Christian
who in fact is only a kind of Epicurean, and who, with his belief
that "faith saves," carries the principle of Hedonism _as far as
possible_--far beyond all intellectual honesty.... If I am ahead of
all other psychologists in anything, it is in this fact that my eyes
are more keen for tracing those most difficult and most captious of
all deductions, in which the largest number of mistakes have been
made,--the deduction which makes one infer something concerning the
author from his work, something concerning the doer from his deed,
something concerning the idealist from the need which produced this
ideal, and something concerning the imperious _craving_ which stands at
the back of all thinking and valuing.--In regard to all artists of what
kind soever, I shall now avail myself of this radical distinction: does
the creative power in this case arise from a loathing of life, or from
an excessive _plenitude_ of life? In Goethe, for instance, an overflow
of vitality was creative, in Flaubert--hate: Flaubert, a new edition
of Pascal, but as an artist with this instinctive belief at heart:
"_Flaubert est toujours haïssable, l'homme n'est rien, l'œuvre est
tout...._" He tortured himself when he wrote, just as Pascal tortured
himself when he thought--the feelings of both were inclined to be
"non-egoistic." ... "Disinterestedness"--the principle of decadence,
the will to nonentity in art as well as in morality.


Even at the present day, France is still the refuge of the most
intellectual and refined culture in Europe, it remains the high school
of taste: but one must know where to find this France of taste. The
_North-German Gazette,_ for instance, or who-ever expresses his
sentiments in that paper, thinks that the French are "barbarians,"--as
for me, if I had to find the _blackest_ spot on earth, where slaves
still required to be liberated, I should turn in the direction of
Northern Germany.... But those who form part of _that select_ France
take very good care to _conceal themselves_: they are a small body
of men, and there may be some among them who do not stand on very
firm legs--a few may be fatalists, hypochondriacs, invalids; others
may be enervated, and artificial,--such are those who would fain be
artistic,--but all the loftiness and delicacy which still remains to
this world, is in their possession. In this France of intellect, which
is also the France of pessimism, Schopenhauer is already much more at
home than he ever was in Germany; his principal work has already been
translated twice, and the second time so excellently that now I prefer
to read Schopenhauer in French (--he was an _accident_ among Germans,
just as I am--the Germans have no fingers wherewith to grasp us; they
haven't any fingers at all,--but only claws). And I do not mention
Heine--l'_adorable Heine,_ as they say in Paris--who long since has
passed into the flesh and blood of the more profound and more soulful
of French lyricists. How could the horned cattle of Germany know how
to deal with the _délicatesses_ of such a nature!--And as to Richard
Wagner, it is obvious, it is even glaringly obvious, that Paris is
the very _soil_ for him: the more French music adapts itself to the
needs of _l'âme moderne,_ the more Wagnerian it will become,--it is
far enough advanced in this direction already.--In this respect one
should not allow one's self to be misled by Wagner himself--it was
simply dis-graceful on Wagner's part to scoff at Paris, as he did, in
its agony in 1871.... In spite of it all, in Germany Wagner is only a
misapprehension: who could be more incapable of understanding anything
about Wagner than the Kaiser, for instance?--To everybody familiar with
the movement of European culture, this fact, however, is certain, that
French romanticism and Richard Wagner are most intimately related. All
dominated by literature, up to their very eyes and ears--the first
European artists with a _universal literary_ culture,--most of them
writers, poets, mediators and minglers of the senses and the arts, all
fanatics in _expression,_ great discoverers in the realm of the sublime
as also of the ugly and the gruesome, and still greater discoverers
in passion, in working for effect, in the art of dressing their
windows,--all possessing talent far above their genius,--virtuosos to
their backbone, knowing of secret passages to all that seduces, lures,
constrains or overthrows; born enemies of logic and of straight lines,
thirsting after the exotic, the strange and the monstrous, and all
opiates for the senses and the understanding. On the whole, a daring
dare-devil, magnificently violent, soaring and high-springing crew of
artists, who first had to teach their own century---it is the century
of the mob--what the concept "artist" meant. But they were _ill...._



    Is this the German way?

    Comes this low bleating forth from German hearts?
    Should Teutons, sin repenting, lash themselves,
    Or spread their palms with priestly unctuousness,
    Exalt their feelings with the censer's fumes,
    And cower and quake and bend the trembling knee,
    And with a sickly sweetness plead a prayer?
    Then ogle nuns, and ring the Ave-bell,
    And thus with morbid fervour out-do heaven?
    Is this the German way?
    Beware, yet are you free, yet your own Lords.
    What yonder lures is Rome, Rome's faith sung
        without words.


There is no necessary contrast between sensuality and chastity; every
good marriage, every genuine love affair is above this contrast; but
in those cases where the contrast exists, it is very far from being
necessarily a tragic one. This, at least, ought to hold good of all
well-constituted and good-spirited mortals, who are not in the least
inclined to reckon their unstable equilibrium between angel and _petite
bête,_ without further ado, among the objections to existence, the more
refined and more intelligent like Hafis and Goethe, even regarded it as
an additional attraction. It is precisely contradictions of this kind
which lure us to life.... On the other hand, it must be obvious, that
when Circe's unfortunate animals are induced to worship chastity, all
they see and _worship_ therein, is their opposite--oh! and with what
tragic groaning and fervour, may well be imagined--that same painful
and thoroughly superfluous opposition which, towards the end of his
life, Richard Wagner undoubtedly wished to set to music and to put on
the stage, _And to what purpose?_ we may reasonably ask.


And yet this other question can certainly not be circumvented: what
business had he actually with that manly (alas! so unmanly) "bucolic
simplicity," that poor devil and son of nature--Parsifal, whom he
ultimately makes a catholic by such insidious means--what?--was Wagner
in earnest with Parsifal? For, that he was laughed at, I cannot deny,
any more than Gottfried Keller can.... We should like to believe that
"Parsifal" was meant as a piece of idle gaiety, as the closing act and
satyric drama, with which Wagner the tragedian wished to take leave of
us, of himself, and above all _of tragedy,_ in a way which befitted
him and his dignity, that is to say, with an extravagant, lofty and
most malicious parody of tragedy itself, of all the past and terrible
earnestness and sorrow of this world, of the most _ridiculous_ form of
the unnaturalness of the ascetic ideal, at last overcome. For Parsifal
is the subject _par excellence_ for a comic opera.... Is Wagner's
"Parsifal" his secret laugh of superiority at himself, the triumph
of his last and most exalted state of artistic freedom, of artistic
transcendence--is it Wagner able to _laugh_ at himself? Once again we
only wish it were so; for what could Parsifal be if he were _meant
seriously?_ Is it necessary in his case to say (as I have heard people
say) that "Parsifal" is "the product of the mad hatred of knowledge,
intellect, and sensuality?" a curse upon the senses and the mind in one
breath and in one fit of hatred? an act of apostasy and a return to
Christianly sick and obscurantist ideals? And finally even a denial of
self, a deletion of self, on the part of an artist who theretofore had
worked with all the power of his will in favour of the opposite cause,
the spiritualisation and sensualisation of his art? And not only of his
art, but also of his life? Let us remember how enthusiastically Wagner
at one time walked in the footsteps of the philosopher Feuerbach.
Feuerbach's words "healthy sensuality" struck Wagner in the thirties
and forties very much as they struck many other Germans--they called
themselves the young Germans--that is to say, as words of salvation.
Did he ultimately _change his mind_ on this point? It would seem that
he had at least had the desire of _changing_ his doctrine towards the
end.... Had _the hatred of life_ become dominant in him as in Flaubert?
For "Parsifal" is a work of rancour, of revenge, of the most secret
concoction of poisons with which to make an end of the first conditions
of life; _it is a bad work._ The preaching of chastity remains an
incitement to unnaturalness: I despise anybody who does not regard
"Parsifal" as an outrage upon morality.--



Already in the summer of 1876, when the first festival at Bayreuth
was at its height, I took leave of Wagner in my soul. I cannot endure
anything double-faced. Since Wagner had returned to Germany, he had
condescended step by step to everything that I despise--even to
anti-Semitism. ... As a matter of fact, it was then high time to bid
him farewell: but the proof of this came only too soon. Richard Wagner,
ostensibly the most triumphant creature alive; as a matter of fact,
though, a cranky and desperate _décadent,_ suddenly fell helpless
and broken on his knees before the Christian cross.... Was there no
German at that time who had the eyes to see, and the sympathy in his
soul to feel, the ghastly nature of this spectacle? Was I the only
one who _suffered from_ it?--Enough, the unexpected event, like a
flash of lightning, made me see only too clearly what kind of a place
it was that I had just left,--and it also made me shudder as a man
shudders who unawares has just escaped a great danger. As I continued
my journey alone, I trembled. Not long after this I was ill, more
than ill--I was _tired;_--tired of the continual disappointments over
everything which remained for us modern men to be enthusiastic about,
of the energy, industry, hope, youth, and love that are _squandered
everywhere;_ tired out of loathing for the whole world of idealistic
lying and conscience-softening, which, once again, in the case of
Wagner, had scored a victory over a man who was of the bravest; and
last but not least, tired by the sadness of a ruthless suspicion--that
I was now condemned to be ever more and more suspicious, ever more and
more contemptuous, ever more and more _deeply_ alone than I had been
theretofore. For I had no one save Richard Wagner.... I was always
_condemned_ to the society of Germans....


Henceforward alone and cruelly distrustful of myself, I then took
up sides--not without anger--_against myself_ and _for_ all that
which hurt me and fell hard upon me: and thus I found the road to
that courageous pessimism which is the opposite of all idealistic
falsehood, and which, as it seems to me, is also the road to _me--to
my mission...._ That hidden and dominating thing, for which for long
ages we have had no name, until ultimately it comes forth as our
mission,--this tyrant in us wreaks a terrible revenge upon us for every
attempt we make either to evade him or to escape him, for every one
of our experiments in the way of befriending people to whom we do not
belong, for every active occupation, however estimable, which may make
us diverge from our principal object:--aye, and even for every virtue
which would fain protect us from the rigour of our most intimate sense
of responsibility. Illness is always the answer, whenever we venture
to doubt our right to _our_ mission, whenever we begin to make things
too easy for ourselves. Curious and terrible at the same time! It is
for our relaxation that we have to pay most dearly! And should we wish
after all to return to health, we then have no choice: we are compelled
to burden ourselves _more_ heavily than we had been burdened before....



The oftener a psychologist--a born, an unavoidable psychologist
and soul-diviner--turns his attention to the more select cases and
individuals, the greater becomes his danger of being suffocated by
sympathy: he needs greater hardness and cheerfulness than any other
man. For the corruption, the ruination of higher men, is in fact the
rule: it is terrible to have such a rule always before our eyes.
The manifold torments of the psychologist who has discovered this
ruination, who discovers once, and then discovers almost repeatedly
throughout all history, this universal inner "hopelessness" of
higher men, this eternal "too late!" in every sense--may perhaps
one day be the cause of his "going to the dogs "himself. In almost
every psychologist we may see a tell-tale predilection in favour of
intercourse with commonplace and well-ordered men: and this betrays
how constantly he requires healing, that he needs a sort of flight
and forgetfulness, away from what his insight and incisiveness--from
what his "business"--has laid upon his conscience. A horror of his
memory is typical of him. He is easily silenced by the judgment of
others; he hears with unmoved countenance how people honour, admire,
love, and glorify, where he has opened his eyes and _seen_--or he
even conceals his silence by expressly agreeing with some obvious
opinion. Perhaps the paradox of his situation becomes so dreadful that,
precisely where he has learnt _great sympathy,_ together with _great
contempt,_ the educated have on their part learnt great reverence. And
who knows but in all great instances, just this alone happened: that
the multitude worshipped a God, and that the "God" was only a poor
sacrificial animal! _Success_ has always been the greatest liar--and
the "work" itself, the _deed,_ is a success too; the great statesman,
the conqueror, the discoverer, are disguised in their creations until
they can no longer be recognised; the "work" of the artist, of the
philosopher, only invents him who has created it, who is reputed to
have created it; the "great men," as they are reverenced, are poor
little fictions composed afterwards; in the world of historical values
counterfeit coinage _prevails._


Those great poets, for example, such as Byron, Musset, Poe, Leopardi,
Kleist, Gogol (I do not dare to mention much greater names, but I
imply them), as they now appear, and were perhaps obliged to be:
men of the moment, sensuous, absurd, versatile, light-minded and
quick to trust and to distrust; with souls in which usually some flaw
has to be concealed; often taking revenge with their works for an
internal blemish, often seeking forgetfulness in their soaring from
a too accurate memory, idealists out of proximity to the mud:--what
a _torment_ these great artists are and the so-called higher men
in general, to him who has once found them out! We are all special
pleaders in the cause of mediocrity. It is conceivable that it is just
from woman--who is clair-voyant in the world of suffering, and, alas!
also unfortunately eager to help and save to an extent far beyond her
powers--that _they_ have learnt so readily those outbreaks of boundless
_sympathy_ which the multitude, above all the reverent multitude,
overwhelms with prying and self-gratifying interpretations. This
sympathising invariably deceives itself as to its power; woman would
like to believe that love can do _everything_--it is the _superstition_
peculiar to her. Alas, he who knows the heart finds out how poor,
helpless, pretentious, and blundering even the best and deepest love
is--how much more readily it _destroys_ than saves....


The intellectual loathing and haughtiness of every man who has suffered
deeply--the extent to which a man can suffer, almost determines the
order of rank--the chilling uncertainty with which he is thoroughly
imbued and coloured, that by virtue of his suffering he _knows more_
than the shrewdest and wisest can ever know, that he has been familiar
with, and "at home" in many distant terrible worlds of which _"you_
know nothing!"--this silent intellectual haughtiness, this pride of
the elect of knowledge, of the "initiated," of the almost sacrificed,
finds all forms of disguise necessary to protect itself from contact
with gushing and sympathising hands, and in general from all that
is not its equal in suffering. Profound suffering makes noble; it
separates.--One of the most refined forms of disguise is Epicurism,
along with a certain ostentatious boldness of taste which takes
suffering lightly, and puts itself on the defensive against all that
is sorrowful and profound. There are "cheerful men" who make use of
good spirits, because they are misunderstood on account of them--they
_wish_ to be misunderstood. There are "scientific minds" who make use
of science, because it gives a cheerful appearance, and because love of
science leads people to conclude that a person is shallow--they _wish_
to mislead to a false conclusion. There are free insolent spirits which
would fain conceal and deny that they are at bottom broken, incurable
hearts--this is Hamlet's case: and then folly itself can be the mask of
an unfortunate and alas! all too dead-certain knowledge.


I have often asked myself whether I am not much more deeply indebted
to the hardest years of my life than to any others. According to the
voice of my innermost nature, everything necessary, seen from above and
in the light of a _superior_ economy, is also useful in itself--not
only should one bear it, one should _love_ it.... _Amor fati:_ this is
the very core of my being.--And as to my prolonged illness, do I not
owe much more to it than I owe to my health? To it I owe a _higher_
kind of health, a sort of health which grows stronger under everything
that does not actually kill it!--_To it, I owe even my philosophy...._
Only great suffering is the ultimate emancipator of spirit; for it
teaches one that _vast suspiciousness_ which makes an X out of every
U, a genuine and proper X, _i.e.,_ the antepenultimate letter: Only
great suffering; that great suffering, under which we seem to be over
a fire of greenwood, the suffering that takes its time--forces us
philosophers to descend into our nethermost depths, and to let go of
all trustfulness, all good-nature, all whittling-down, all mildness,
all mediocrity,--on which things we had formerly staked our humanity.
I doubt whether such suffering improves a man; but I know that it
makes him _deeper...._ Supposing we learn to set our pride, our scorn,
our strength of will against it, and thus resemble the Indian who,
however cruelly he may be tortured, considers himself revenged on his
tormentor by the bitterness of his own tongue. Supposing we withdraw
from pain into nonentity, into the deaf, dumb, and rigid sphere of
self-surrender, self-forgetfulness, self-effacement: one is another
person when one leaves these protracted and dangerous exercises in the
art of self-mastery; one has one note of interrogation the more, and
above all one has the will henceforward to ask more, deeper, sterner,
harder, more wicked, and more silent questions, than anyone has ever
asked on earth before.... Trust in life has vanished; life itself has
become a _problem._ --But let no one think that one has therefore
become a spirit of gloom or a blind owl! Even love of life is still
possible,--but it is a _different kind_ of love.... It is the love for
a woman whom we doubt....


The rarest of all things is this: to have after all another taste--a
_second_ taste. Out of such abysses, out of the abyss of _great
suspicion_ as well, a man returns as though born again, he has a
new skin, he is more susceptible, more full of wickedness; he has a
finer taste for joyfulness; he has a more sensitive tongue for all
good things; his senses are more cheerful; he has acquired a second,
more dangerous, innocence in gladness; he is more childish too, and a
hundred times more cunning than ever he had been before.

Oh, how much more repulsive pleasure now is to him, that coarse, heavy,
buff-coloured pleasure, which is understood by our pleasure-seekers,
our "cultured people," our wealthy folk and our rulers! With how much
more irony we now listen to the hubbub as of a country fair, with which
the "cultured" man and the man about town allow themselves to be forced
through art, literature, music, and with the help of intoxicating
liquor, to "intellectual enjoyments." How the stage-cry of passion now
stings our ears; how strange to our taste the whole romantic riot and
sensuous bustle, which the cultured mob are so fond of, together with
its aspirations to the sublime, to the exalted and the distorted, have
become. No: if we convalescents require an art at all, it is _another_
art-a mocking, nimble, volatile, divinely undisturbed, divinely
artificial art, which blazes up like pure flame into a cloudless
sky! But above all, an art for artists, _only for artists!_ We are,
after all, more conversant with that which is in the highest degree
necessary--cheerfulness, _every kind of_ cheerfulness, my friends!...
We men of knowledge, now know something only too well: oh how well we
have learnt by this time, to forget, _not_ to know, as artists!...
As to our future: we shall scarcely be found on the track of those
Egyptian youths who break into temples at night, who embrace statues,
and would fain unveil, strip, and set in broad daylight, everything
which there are excellent reasons to keep concealed.[1] No, we are
disgusted with this bad taste, this will to truth, this search after
truth "at all costs": this madness of adolescence, "the love of truth";
we are now too experienced, too serious, too joyful, too scorched, _too
profound_ for that.... We no longer believe that truth remains truth
when it is _unveiled,_--we have lived enough to understand this....
To-day it seems to us good form not to strip everything naked, not
to be present at all things, not to desire to "know" all. "_Tout
comprendre c'est tout mépriser._" ... "Is it true," a little girl once
asked her mother, "that the beloved Father is everywhere?--I think
it quite improper,"--a hint to philosophers.... The shame with which
Nature has concealed herself behind riddles and enigmas should be held
in higher esteem. Perhaps truth is a woman who has reasons for _not
revealing her reasons?_ ... Perhaps her name, to use a Greek word is
_Baubo?_--Oh these Greeks, they understood, the art of _living!_ For
this it is needful to halt bravely at the surface, at the fold, at the
skin, to worship appearance, and to believe in forms, tones, words, and
the whole _Olympus of appearance_! These Greeks were superficial--from
_profundity._ ... And are we not returning to precisely the same thing,
we dare-devils of intellect who have scaled the highest and most
dangerous pinnacles of present thought, in order to look around us
from that height, in order to _look down_ from that height? Are we not
precisely in this respect--_Greeks?_ Worshippers of form, of tones, of
words? Precisely on that account--_artists?_

[Footnote 1: An allusion to Schiller's poem: "Das verschleierte Bild zu



(_Summer_ 1878.)


My blunder was this, I travelled to Bayreuth with an ideal in my
breast, and was thus doomed to experience the bitterest disappointment.
The preponderance of ugliness, grotesqueness and strong pepper
thoroughly repelled me.


I utterly disagree with those who were dissatisfied with the
decorations, the scenery and the mechanical contrivances at Bayreuth.
Far too much industry and ingenuity was applied to the task of chaining
the imagination to matters which did not belie their _epic_ origin. But
as to the naturalism of the attitudes, of the singing, compared with
the orchestra!! What affected, artificial and depraved tones, what a
distortion of nature, were we made to hear!


We are witnessing the death agony of the _last Art:_ Bayreuth has
convinced me of this.


My picture of Wagner, completely surpassed him; I had depicted an
_ideal monster_--one, however, which is perhaps quite capable of
kindling the enthusiasm of artists. The real Wagner, Bayreuth as it
actually is, was only like a bad, final proof, pulled on inferior
paper from the engraving which was my creation. My longing to see real
men and their motives, received an extraordinary impetus from this
humiliating experience.


This, to my sorrow, is what I realised; a good deal even struck me with
sudden fear. At last I felt, however, that if only I could be strong
enough to take sides against myself and what I most loved I would find
the road to truth and get solace and encouragement from it--and in this
way I became filled with a sensation of joy far greater than that upon
which I was now voluntarily turning my back.


I was in love with art, passionately in love, and in the whole
of existence saw nothing else than art--and this at an age when,
reasonably enough, quite different passions usually possess the soul.


_Goethe_ said: "The yearning spirit within me, which in earlier years
I may perhaps have fostered too earnestly, and which as I grew older
I tried my utmost to combat, did not seem becoming in the man,
and I therefore had to strive to attain to more complete freedom."
Conclusion?--I have had to do the same.


He who wakes us always wounds us.


I do not possess the talent of being loyal, and what is still worse, I
have not even the vanity to try to appear as if I did.


He who accomplishes anything that lies beyond the vision and the
experience of his acquaintances,--provokes envy and hatred masked as
pity,--prejudice regards the work as decadence, disease, seduction.
Long faces.


I frankly confess that I had hoped that by means of art the Germans
would become thoroughly disgusted with _decaying Christianity_--I
regarded German mythology as a solvent, as a means of accustoming
people to polytheism.

What a fright I had over the Catholic revival!!


It is possible neither to suffer sufficiently acutely from life, nor
to be so lifeless and emotionally weak, as to have _need_ of Wagner's
art, as to require it as a medium. This is the principal reason of
one's _opposition_ to it, and not baser motives: something to which we
are not driven by any personal need, and which we do not _require,_ we
cannot esteem so highly.


It is a question either of no longer _requiring_ Wagner's art, or of
still requiring it

Gigantic forces lie concealed in it: _it drives one beyond its own


_Goethe_ said: "Are not Byron's audacity, sprightliness and grandeur
all creative? We must beware of always looking for this quality in that
which is perfectly pure and moral. All _greatness_ is creative the
moment we realise it." This should be applied to Wagner's art.


We shall always have to credit Wagner with the fact that in the second
half of the nineteenth century he impressed art upon our memory as an
important and magnificent thing. True, he did this in his own fashion,
and this was not the fashion of upright and far-seeing men.


Wagner _versus_ the cautious, the cold and the contented of the
world--in this lies his greatness --he is a stranger to his age--he
combats the frivolous and the super-smart.--But he also fights the
just, the moderate, those who delight in the world (like Goethe); and
the mild, the people of charm, the scientific among men--this is the
reverse of the medal.


Our youth was up in arms against the _soberness_ of the age. It plunged
into the cult of excess, of passion, of ecstasy, and of the blackest
and most austere conception of the world.


Wagner pursues one form of madness, the age another form. Both carry on
their chase at the same speed, each is as blind and as unjust as the


It is very difficult to trace the course of Wagner's inner
development--no trust must be placed in his own description of his
soul's experiences. He writes party-pamphlets for his followers.


It is extremely doubtful whether Wagner is able to bear witness about


There are men who try in vain to make a principle out of _themselves._
This was the case with Wagner.


Wagner's obscurity concerning final aims; his non-antique fogginess.


All Wagner's ideas straightway become manias; he is _tyrannised_ over
by them. How can _such a man allow himself to be tyrannised over in
this way!_ For instance by his hatred of Jews. He _kills_ his themes
like his "ideas," by means of his violent love of repeating them. The
problem of excessive length and breadth; he bores us with his raptures.


_"C'est la rage de vouloir penser et sentir au delà de sa force"_
(Doudan). The Wagnerites.


Wagner whose ambition far exceeds his natural gifts, has tried an
incalculable number of times to achieve what lay beyond his powers--but
it almost makes one shudder to see some one assail with such
persistence that which defies conquest--the fate of his constitution.


He is always thinking of the most _extreme_ expression,--in every word.
But in the end superlatives begin to pall.


There is something which is in the highest degree suspicious in Wagner,
and that is Wagner's suspicion. It is such a strong trait in him, that
on two occasions I doubted whether he were a musician at all.


The proposition: "in the face of perfection there is no salvation save
love,"[1] is thoroughly Wagnerian. Profound jealousy of everything
great from which he can draw _fresh_ ideas. Hatred of all that which he
cannot approach: the Renaissance, French and Greek art in style.

[Footnote 1: What Schiller said of Goethe.--TR.]


Wagner is jealous of all periods that have shown _restraint:_ he
despises beauty and grace, and finds only his own _virtues_ in the
"Germans," and even attributes all his failings to them.


Wagner has not the power to unlock and liberate the soul of those he
frequents: Wagner is not sure of himself, but distrustful and arrogant.
His _art_ has this effect upon artists, it is envious of all rivals.


_Plato's Envy._ He would fain monopolise Socrates. He saturates the
latter with himself, pretends to adorn him καλὸς Σωκράτης, and
tries to separate all Socratists from him in order himself to appear as
the only true apostle. But his historical presentation of him is false,
even to a parlous degree: just as Wagner's presentation of Beethoven
and Shakespeare is false.


When a dramatist speaks about himself he plays a part: this is
inevitable. When Wagner speaks about Bach and Beethoven he speaks like
one for whom he would fain be taken. But he impresses only those who
are already convinced, for his dissimulation and his genuine nature are
far too violently at variance.


Wagner struggles against the "frivolity" in his nature, which to him
the ignoble (as opposed to Goethe) constituted the joy of life.


Wagner has the mind of the ordinary man who prefers to trace things to
_one_ cause. The Jews do the same: one _aim,_ therefore one Saviour. In
this way he simplifies German and culture; wrongly but strongly.


Wagner admitted all this to himself often enough when in private
communion with his soul: I only wish he had also admitted it publicly.
For what constitutes the greatness of a character if it is not this,
that he who possesses it is able to take sides even against himself in
favour of truth.

_Wagner's Teutonism._


That which is un-German in Wagner. He lacks the German charm and grace
of a Beethoven, a Mozart, a Weber; he also lacks the flowing, cheerful
fire (_Allegro con brio_) of Beethoven and Weber. He cannot be free and
easy without being grotesque. He lacks modesty, indulges in big drums,
and always tends to surcharge his effect. He is not the good official
that Bach was. Neither has he that Goethean calm in regard to his


Wagner always reaches the high-water mark of his vanity when he
speaks of the German nature (incidentally it is also the height of
his imprudence); for, if Frederick the Great's justice, Goethe's
nobility and freedom from envy, Beethoven's sublime resignation, Bach's
delicately transfigured spiritual life,--if steady work performed
without any thought of glory and success, and without envy, constitute
the true _German_ qualities, would it not seem as if Wagner almost
wished to prove he is no German?


Terrible wildness, abject sorrow, emptiness, the shudder of joy,
unexpectedness,--in short all the qualities peculiar to the Semitic
race! I believe that the Jews approach Wagner's art with more
understanding than the Aryans do.


A passage concerning the Jews, taken from Taine.--As it happens, I have
misled the reader, the passage does not concern Wagner at all.--But
can it be possible that Wagner is a Jew? In that case we could readily
understand his dislike of Jews.[2]

[Footnote 2: See note on page 37.]


Wagner's art is absolutely the _art of the age;_ an æsthetic age would
have rejected it. The more subtle people amongst us actually do reject
it even now. The _coarsifying_ of everything Æsthetic.--Compared with
Goethe's ideal it is very far behind. The moral contrast of these
self-indulgent burningly loyal creatures of Wagner, acts like a _spur,_
like an irritant: and even this sensation is turned to account in
obtaining an _effect_.


What is it in our age that Wagner's art expresses? That brutality and
most delicate weakness which exist side by side, that running wild of
natural instincts, and nervous hyper-sensitiveness, that thirst for
emotion which arises from fatigue and the love of fatigue.--All this is
understood by the Wagnerites.


_Stupefaction or intoxication_ constitute all Wagnerian art. On the
other hand I could mention instances in which Wagner stands _higher,_
in which real joy flows from him.


The reason why the figures in Wagner's art behave so madly, is because
he greatly feared lest people would doubt that they were alive.


Wagner's art is an appeal to inartistic people; all means are welcomed
which help towards obtaining an effect. It is calculated not to
produce an _artistic effect_ but an effect upon the _nerves in general_.


Apparently in Wagner we have an art _for everybody,_ because coarse and
subtle means seem to be united in it. Albeit its pre-requisite may be
musico-æsthetic education, and _particularly_ with _moral_ indifference.


In Wagner we find the most ambitious _combination_ of all means with
the view of obtaining the strongest effect: whereas genuine musicians
quietly develop individual _genres_.


Dramatists are _borrowers_--their principal source of wealth--artistic
thoughts drawn from the epos. Wagner borrowed from classical music
besides. Dramatists are constructive geniuses, they are not inventive
and original as the epic poets are. Drama takes a lower rank than the
epos: it presupposes a coarser and more democratic public.


Wagner does not altogether trust _music._ He weaves kindred sensations
into it in order to lend it the character of greatness. He measures
himself on others; he first of all gives his listeners intoxicating
drinks in order to lead them into believing that it _was the music that
intoxicated them._


The same amount of talent and industry which makes the classic, when it
appears some time _too late,_ also makes the baroque artist like Wagner.


Wagner's art is calculated to appeal to short-sighted people--one
has to get much too close up to it (Miniature): it also appeals to
long-sighted people, but not to those with normal sight.

_Contradictions in the Idea of Musical Drama._


Just listen to the second act of the "Götterdämmerung," without
the drama. It is chaotic music, as wild as a bad dream, and it is
as frightfully distinct as if it desired to make itself clear even
to deaf people. This volubility _with nothing to say_ is alarming.
Compared with it the drama is a genuine relief.--Is the fact that
this music when heard alone, is, as a whole intolerable (apart from
a few intentionally isolated parts) in its _favour?_ Suffice it to
say that this music without its accompanying drama, is a perpetual
contradiction of all the highest laws of style belonging to older
music: he who thoroughly accustoms himself to it, loses all feeling
for these laws. But has the drama _been improved_ thanks to this
addition? A _symbolic interpretation_ has been affixed to it, a sort
of philological commentary, which sets fetters upon the inner and
free understanding of the imagination--it is tyrannical. Music is
the language of the commentator, who talks the whole of the time and
gives us no breathing space. Moreover his is a difficult language which
also requires to be explained. He who step by step has mastered, first
the libretto (language!), then converted it into action in his mind's
eye, then sought out and understood, and became familiar with the
musical symbolism thereto: aye, and has fallen in love with all three
things: such a man then experiences a great joy. But how _exacting!_
It is quite impossible to do this save for a few short moments,--such
tenfold attention on the part of one's eyes, ears, understanding, and
feeling, such acute activity in apprehending without any productive
reaction, is far too exhausting!--Only the very fewest behave in this
way: how is it then that so many are affected? Because most people
are only intermittingly attentive, and are inattentive for sometimes
whole passages at a stretch; because they bestow their undivided
attention now upon the music, later upon the drama, and anon upon the
scenery--that is to say they _take the work to pieces._--But in this
way the kind of work we are discussing is condemned: not the drama but
a moment of it is the result, an arbitrary selection. The creator of a
new _genre_ should consider this! The arts should not always be dished
up together,--but we should imitate the moderation of the ancients
which is truer to human nature.


Wagner reminds one of lava which blocks its own course by congealing,
and suddenly finds itself checked by dams which it has itself built.
There is no _Allegro con fuoco_ for him.


I compare Wagner's music, which would fain have the same effect as
speech, with that kind of sculptural relief which would have the same
effect as painting. The highest laws of style are violated, and that
which is most sublime can no longer be achieved.


The general heaving, undulating and rolling of Wagner's art.


In regard to Wagner's rejection of form, we are reminded of Goethe's
remark in conversation with Eckermann: "there is no great art in being
brilliant if one respects nothing."


Once one theme is over, Wagner is always embarrassed as to how to
continue. Hence the long preparation, the suspense. His peculiar
craftiness consisted in transvaluing his weakness into virtues.--


The _lack_ of melody and the poverty of melody in Wagner. Melody is a
whole consisting of many beautiful proportions, it is the reflection of
a well-ordered soul. He strives after melody; but if he finds one, he
almost suffocates it in his embrace.


The natural nobility of a Bach and a Beethoven, the beautiful soul
(even of a Mendelssohn) are wanting in Wagner. He is one degree lower.


Wagner imitates himself again and again--mannerisms. That is why he was
the quickest among musicians to be imitated. It is so easy.


Mendelssohn who lacked the power of radically staggering one
(incidentally this was the talent of the Jews in the Old Testament),
makes up for this by the things which were his own, that is to say:
freedom within the law, and noble emotions kept within the limits of


_Liszt,_ the first _representative_ of all musicians, but _no
musician._ He was the prince, not the statesman. The conglomerate of a
hundred musicians' souls, but not enough of a personality to cast his
own shadow upon them.


The most wholesome phenomenon is _Brahms,_ in whose music there is more
German blood than in that of Wagner's. With these words I would say
something complimentary, but by no means wholly so. 63.

In Wagner's writings there is no greatness or peace, but presumption.


_Wagner's Style._-- The habit he acquired, from his earliest days,
of having his say in the most important matters without a sufficient
knowledge of them, has rendered him the obscure and incomprehensible
writer that he is. In addition to this he aspired to imitating the
witty newspaper article, and finally acquired that presumption which
readily joins hands with carelessness: "and, behold, it was very good."


I am alarmed at the thought of how much pleasure I could find in
Wagner's style, which is so careless as to be unworthy of such an


In Wagner, as in Brahms, there is a blind denial of the healthy, in his
followers this denial is deliberate and conscious.


Wagner's art is for those who are conscious of an essential blunder in
the conduct of their lives. They feel either that they have checked
a great nature by a base occupation, or squandered it through idle
pursuits, a conventional marriage, &c. &c.

In this quarter the condemnation of the world is the outcome of the
condemnation of the ego.


Wagnerites do not wish to alter themselves in any way; they live
discontentedly in insipid, conventional and brutal circumstances--only
at intervals does art have to raise them as by magic above these
things. Weakness of will.


Wagner's art is for scholars who do not dare to become philosophers:
they feel discontented with themselves and are generally in a state
of obtuse stupefaction--from time to time they take a bath in the
_opposite conditions._


I feel as if I had recovered from an illness: with a feeling of
unutterable joy I think of Mozart's _Requiem._ I can once more enjoy
simple fare.


I understand Sophocles' development through and through--it was the
repugnance to pomp and pageantry.


I gained an insight into the injustice of _idealism,_ by noticing that
I avenged myself on Wagner for the disappointed hopes I had cherished
of him.


I leave my loftiest duty to the end, and that is to thank Wagner and
Schopenhauer publicly, and to make them as it were take sides against


I counsel everybody not to fight shy of such paths (Wagner and
Schopenhauer). The wholly _unphilosophic_ feeling of remorse, has
become quite strange to me.

_Wagner's Effects._


We must strive to oppose the false after-effects of Wagner's art. If
he, in order to create Parsifal, is forced to pump fresh strength from
religious sources, this is not an example but a danger.


I entertain the fear that the effects of Wagner's art will ultimately
pour into that torrent which takes its rise on the other side of the
mountains, and which knows how to flow even over mountains.[3]

[Footnote 3: It should be noted that the German Catholic party is
called the Ultramontane Party. The river which can thus flow over
mountains is Catholicism, towards which Nietzsche thought Wagner's art
to be tending.--TR.]






    The mussel is crooked inside and rough outside: it is only
    when we hear its deep note after blowing into it that we can
    begin to esteem it at its true value.--(Ind. Sprüche, ed.
    Böthlingk, i. 335.)

    An ugly-looking wind instrument: but we must first blow into


The subject of education was one to which Nietzsche, especially
during his residence in Basel, paid considerable attention; and his
insight into it was very much deeper than that of, say, Herbert
Spencer or even Johann Friedrich Herbart, the latter of whom has in
late years exercised considerable influence in scholastic circles.
Nietzsche clearly saw that the "philologists" (using the word chiefly
in reference to the teachers of the classics in German colleges and
universities) were absolutely unfitted for their high task, since they
were one and all incapable of entering into the spirit of antiquity.
Although at the first reading, therefore, this book may seem to be
rather fragmentary, there are two main lines of thought running through
it: an incisive criticism of German professors, and a number of
constructive ideas as to what classical culture really should be.

These scattered aphorisms, indeed, are significant as showing how far
Nietzsche had travelled along the road over which humanity had been
travelling from remote ages, and how greatly he was imbued with the
pagan spirit which he recognised in Goethe and valued in Burckhardt.
Even at this early period of his life Nietzsche was convinced that
Christianity was the real danger to culture; and not merely modern
Christianity, but also the Alexandrian culture, the last gasp of Greek
antiquity, which had helped to bring Christianity about. When, in the
later aphorisms of "We Philologists," Nietzsche appears to be throwing
over the Greeks, it should be remembered that he does not refer to the
Greeks of the era of Homer or Æschylus, or even of Aristotle, but to
the much later Greeks of the era of Longinus.

Classical antiquity, however, was conveyed to the public through
university professors and their intellectual offspring; and these
professors, influenced (quite unconsciously, of course) by religious
and "liberal" principles, presented to their scholars a kind of
emasculated antiquity. It was only on these conditions that the State
allowed the pagan teaching to be propagated in the schools; and if,
where classical scholars were concerned, it was more tolerant than the
Church had been, it must be borne in mind that the Church had already
done all the rough work of emasculating its enemies, and had handed
down to the State a body of very innocuous and harmless investigators.
A totally erroneous conception of what constituted classical culture
was thus brought about Where any distinction was actually made, for
example, later Greek thought was enormously over-rated, and early Greek
thought equally undervalued. Aphorism 44, together with the first
half-dozen or so in the book, may be taken as typical specimens of
Nietzsche's protest against this state of things.

It must be added, unfortunately, that Nietzsche's observations in this
book apply as much to England as to Germany. Classical teachers here
may not be rated so high as they are in Germany; but their influence
would appear to be equally powerful, and their theories of education
and of classical antiquity equally chaotic. In England as in Germany
they are "theologians in disguise." The danger of modern "values" to
true culture may be readily gathered from a perusal of aphorisms that
follow: and, if these aphorisms enable even one scholar in a hundred to
enter more thoroughly into the spirit of a great past, they will not
have been penned in vain.


LONDON, _July,_1911.


To what a great extent men are ruled by pure hazard, and how little
reason itself enters into the question, is sufficiently shown by
observing how few people have any real capacity for their professions
and callings, and how many square pegs there are in round holes: happy
and well chosen instances are quite exceptional, like happy marriages,
and even these latter are not brought about by reason. A man chooses
his calling before he is fitted to exercise his faculty of choice.
He does not know the number of different callings and professions
that exist; he does not know himself; and then he wastes his years
of activity in this calling, applies all his mind to it, and becomes
experienced and practical. When, afterwards, his understanding has
become fully developed, it is generally too late to start something
new; for wisdom on earth has almost always had something of the
weakness of old age and lack of vigour about it.

For the most part the task is to make good, and to set to rights as
well as possible, that which was bungled in the beginning. Many will
come to recognise that the latter part of their life shows a purpose
or design which has sprung from a primary discord: it is hard to live
through it Towards the end of his life, however, the average man has
become accustomed to it--then he may make a mistake in regard to
the life he has lived, and praise his own stupidity: _bene navigavi
cum naufragium feci:_ he may even compose a song of thanksgiving to


On inquiring into the origin of the philologist I find:

1. A young man cannot have the slightest conception of what the Greeks
and Romans were.

2. He does not know whether he is fitted to investigate into them;

3. And, in particular, he does not know to what extent, in view of
the knowledge he may actually possess, he is fitted to be a teacher.
What then enables him to decide is not the knowledge of himself or his
science; but

_(a)_ Imitation.

_(b)_ The convenience of carrying on the kind of

work which he had begun at school.

_(c)_ His intention of earning a living.

In short, ninety-nine philologists out of a hundred _should_ not be
philologists at all.


The more strict religions require that men shall look upon their
activity simply as one means of carrying out a metaphysical scheme: an
unfortunate choice of calling may then be explained as a test of the
individual. Religions keep their eyes fixed only upon the salvation of
the individual: whether he is a slave or a free man, a merchant or a
scholar, his aim in life has nothing to do with his calling, so that
a wrong choice is not such a very great piece of unhappiness. Let
this serve as a crumb of comfort for philologists in general; but true
philologists stand in need of a better understanding: what will result
from a science which is "gone in for" by ninety-nine such people?
The thoroughly unfitted majority draw up the rules of the science in
accordance with their own capacities and inclinations; and in this way
they tyrannise over the hundredth, the only capable one among them. If
they have the training of others in their hands they will train them
consciously or unconsciously after their own image: what then becomes
of the classicism of the Greeks and Romans?

The points to be proved are:--

_(a)_ The disparity between philologists and the ancients.

_(b)_ The inability of the philologist to train his pupils, even with
the help of the ancients.

_(c)_ The falsifying of the science by the (incapacity of the)
majority; the wrong requirements held in view; the renunciation of the
real aim of this science.


All this affects the sources of our present philology: a sceptical and
melancholy attitude. But how otherwise are philologists to be produced?

The imitation of antiquity: is not this a principle which has been
refuted by this time?

The flight from actuality to the ancients: does not this tend to
falsify our conception of antiquity?


We are still behindhand in one type of contemplation: to understand
how the greatest productions of the intellect have a dreadful and evil
background: the sceptical type of contemplation. Greek antiquity is now
investigated as the most beautiful example of life.

As man assumes a sceptical and melancholy attitude towards his life's
calling, _so_ we must sceptically examine the highest life's calling of
a nation: in order that we may understand what life is.


My words of consolation apply particularly to the single tyrannised
individual out of a hundred: such exceptional ones should simply treat
all the unenlightened majorities as their subordinates; and they
should in the same way take advantage of the prejudice, which is still
widespread, in favour of classical instruction--they need many helpers.
But they must have a clear perception of what their actual goal is.


Philology as the science of antiquity does not, of course, endure for
ever; its elements are not inexhaustible. What cannot be exhausted,
however, is the ever-new adaptation of one's age to antiquity; the
comparison of the two. If we make it our task to understand our own
age better by means of antiquity, then our task will be an everlasting
one.--This is the antinomy of philology: people have always endeavoured
to understand antiquity by means of the present--and shall the present
now be understood by-means of antiquity? Better: people have explained
antiquity to themselves out of their own experiences; and from the
amount of antiquity thus acquired they have assessed the value of
their experiences. Experience, therefore, is certainly an essential
pre-requisite for a philologist--that is, the philologist must first of
all be a man; for then only can he be productive as a philologist. It
follows from this that old men are well suited to be philologists if
they were not such during that portion of their life which was richest
in experiences.

It must be insisted, however, that it is only through a knowledge
of the present that one can acquire an inclination for the study of
classical antiquity. Where indeed should the impulse come from if not
from this inclination? When we observe how few philologists there
actually are, except those that have taken up philology as a means of
livelihood, we can easily decide for ourselves what is the matter with
this impulse for antiquity: it hardly exists at all, for there are no
disinterested philologists.

Our task then is to secure for philology the universally educative
results which it should bring about. The means: the limitation of
the number of those engaged in the philological profession (doubtful
whether young men should be made acquainted with philology at all).
Criticism of the philologist. The value of antiquity: it sinks with
you: how deeply you must have sunk, since its value is now so little!


It is a great advantage for the true philologist that a great deal
of preliminary work has been done in his science, so that he may
take possession of this inheritance if he is strong enough for it--I
refer to the valuation of the entire Hellenic mode of thinking. So
long as philologists worked simply at details, a misunderstanding of
the Greeks was the consequence. The stages of this under-valuation
are: the sophists of the second century, the philologist-poets of the
Renaissance, and the philologist as the teacher of the higher classes
of society (Goethe, Schiller).

Valuing is the most difficult of all.

In what respect is one most fitted for this valuing?--Not, at all
events, when one is trained for philology as one is now. It should be
ascertained to what extent our present means make this last object
impossible.--Thus the philologist himself is not the aim of philology.


Most men show clearly enough that they do not regard themselves as
individuals: their lives indicate this. The Christian command that
everyone shall steadfastly keep his eyes fixed upon his salvation, and
his alone, has as its counterpart the general life of mankind, where
every man lives merely as a point among other points--living not only
as the result of earlier generations, but living also only with an
eye to the future. There are only three forms of existence in which
a man remains an individual: as a philosopher, as a Saviour, and as
an artist. But just let us consider how a scientific man bungles his
life: what has the teaching of Greek particles to do with the sense
of life?--Thus we can also observe how innumerable men merely live, as
it were, a preparation for a man: the philologist, for example, as a
preparation for the philosopher, who in his turn knows how to utilise
his ant-like work to pronounce some opinion upon the value of life.
When such ant-like work is not carried out under any special direction
the greater part of it is simply nonsense, and quite superfluous.


Besides the large number of unqualified philologists there is, on the
other hand, a number of what may be called born philologists, who from
some reason or other are prevented from becoming such. The greatest
obstacle, however, which stands in the way of these born philologists
is the bad representation of philology by the unqualified philologists.

Leopardi is the modern ideal of a philologist: The German philologists
can do nothing. (As a proof of this Voss should be studied!)


Let it be considered how differently a science is propagated from the
way in which any special talent in a family is transmitted. The bodily
transmission of an individual science is something very rare. Do the
sons of philologists easily become philologists? _Dubito._ Thus there
is no such accumulation of philological capacity as there was, let us
say, in Beethoven's family of musical capacity. Most philologists
begin from the beginning; and even then they learn from books, and not
through travels, &c. They get some training, of course.


Most men are obviously in the world accidentally: no necessity of a
higher kind is seen in them. They work at this and that; their talents
are average. How strange! The manner in which they live shows that they
think very little of themselves: they merely esteem themselves in so
far as they waste their energy on trifles (whether these be mean or
frivolous desires, or the trashy concerns of their everyday calling).
In the so-called life's calling, which everyone must choose, we may
perceive a touching modesty on the part of mankind. They practically
admit in choosing thus: "We are called upon to serve and to be of
advantage to our equals--the same remark applies to our neighbour and
to his neighbour; so everyone serves somebody else; no one is carrying
out the duties of his calling for his own sake, but always for the sake
of others: and thus we are like geese which support one another by
the one leaning against the other. _When the aim of each one of us is
centred in another, then we have all no object in existing;_ and this
'existing for others' is the most comical of comedies."


Vanity is the involuntary inclination to set one's self up for an
individual while not really being one; that is to say, trying to appear
independent when one is dependent. The case of wisdom is the exact
contrary: it appears to be dependent while in reality it is independent.


The Hades of Homer--From what type of existence is it really copied? I
think it is the description of the philologist: it is better to be a
day-labourer than to have such an anæmic recollection of the past.--[1]

[Footnote 1: No doubt a reminiscence of the "Odyssey," Bk. ix.--TR.]


The attitude of the philologist towards antiquity is apologetic, or
else dictated by the view that what our own age values can likewise
be found in antiquity. The right attitude to take up, however, is
the reverse one, viz., to start with an insight into our modern
topsyturviness, and to look back from antiquity to it--and many things
about antiquity which have hitherto displeased us will then be seen to
have been most profound necessities.

We must make it clear to ourselves that we are acting in an absurd
manner when we try to defend or to beautify antiquity: _who_ are we!


We are under a false impression when we say that there is always some
caste which governs a nation's culture, and that therefore savants are
necessary; for savants only possess knowledge concerning culture (and
even this only in exceptional cases). Among learned men themselves
there might be a few, certainly not a caste, but even these would
indeed be rare.


One very great value of antiquity consists in the fact that its
writings are the only ones which modern men still read carefully.

Overstraining of the memory--very common among philologists, together
with a poor development of the judgment.


Busying ourselves with the culture-epochs of the past: is this
gratitude? We should look backwards in order to explain to ourselves
the present conditions of culture: we do not become too laudatory in
regard to our own circumstances, but perhaps we should do so in order
that we may not be too severe on ourselves.


He who has no sense for the symbolical has none for antiquity: let
pedantic philologists bear this in mind.


My aim is to bring about a state of complete enmity between our present
"culture" and antiquity. Whoever wishes to serve the former must hate
the latter.


Careful meditation upon the past leads to the impression that we are
a multiplication of many pasts: so how can we be a final aim? But why
not? In most instances, however, we do not wish to be this. We take up
our positions again in the ranks, work in our own little corner, and
hope that what we do may be of some small profit to our successors. But
that is exactly the case of the cask of the Danæ: and this is useless,
we must again set about doing everything for ourselves, and only
for ourselves--measuring science by ourselves, for example with the
question: What is science to us? not: what are we to science? People
really make life too easy for themselves when they look upon themselves
from such a simple historical point of view, and make humble servants
of themselves. "Your own salvation above everything"--that is what you
should say; and there are no institutions which you should prize more
highly than your own soul.--Now, however, man learns to know himself:
he finds himself miserable, despises himself, and is pleased to find
something worthy of respect outside himself. Therefore he gets rid of
himself, so to speak, makes himself subservient to a cause, does his
duty strictly, and atones for his existence. He knows that he does not
work for himself alone; he wishes to help those who are daring enough
to exist on account of themselves, like Socrates. The majority of men
are as it were suspended in the air like toy balloons; every breath
of wind moves them.--As a consequence the savant must be such out of
self-knowledge, that is to say, out of contempt for himself--in other
words he must recognise himself to be merely the servant of some higher
being who comes after him. Otherwise he is simply a sheep.


It is the duty of the free man to live for his own sake, and not for
others. It was on this account that the Greeks looked upon handicrafts
as unseemly.

As a complete entity Greek antiquity has not yet been fully valued:
I am convinced that if it had not been surrounded by its traditional
glorification, the men of the present day would shrink from it horror
stricken. This glorification, then, is spurious; gold-paper.


The false enthusiasm for antiquity in which many philologists live.
When antiquity suddenly comes upon us in our youth, it appears to us
to be composed of innumerable trivialities; in particular we believe
ourselves to be above its ethics. And Homer and Walter Scott--who
carries off the palm? Let us be honest! If this enthusiasm were really
felt, people could scarcely seek their life's calling in it. I mean
that what we can obtain from the Greeks only begins to dawn upon us in
later years: only after we have undergone many experiences, and thought
a great deal.


People in general think that philology is at an end--while I believe
that it has not yet begun.

The greatest events in philology are the appearance of Goethe,
Schopenhauer, and Wagner; standing on their shoulders we look far into
the distance The fifth and sixth centuries have still to be discovered.


Where do we see the effect of antiquity? Not in language, not in the
imitation of something or other, and not in perversity and waywardness,
to which uses the French have turned it. Our museums are gradually
becoming filled up: I always experience a sensation of disgust when
I see naked statues in the Greek style in the presence of this
thought-less philistinism which would fain devour everything.




Of all sciences philology at present is the most favoured: its progress
having been furthered for centuries by the greatest number of scholars
in every nation who have had charge of the noblest pupils. Philology
has thus had one of the best of all opportunities to be propagated from
generation to generation, and to make itself respected. How has it
acquired this power?

Calculations of the different prejudices in its favour.

How then if these were to be frankly recognised as prejudices? Would
not philology be superfluous if we reckoned up the interests of a
position in life or the earning of a livelihood? What if the truth were
told about antiquity, and its qualifications for training people to
live in the present?

In order that the questions set forth above may be answered let us
consider the training of the philologist, his genesis: he no longer
comes into being where these interests are lacking.

If the world in general came to know what an unseasonable thing for us
antiquity really is, philologists would no longer be called in as the
educators of our youth.

Effect of antiquity on the non-philologist likewise nothing. If they
showed themselves to be imperative and contradictory, oh, with what
hatred would they be pursued! But they always humble themselves.

Philology now derives its power only from the union between the
philologists who will not, or cannot, understand antiquity and public
opinion, which is misled by prejudices in regard to it.

The real Greeks, and their "watering down" through the philologists.

The future commanding philologist sceptical in regard to our entire
culture, and therefore also the destroyer of philology as a profession.



If a man approves of the investigation of the past he will also approve
and even praise the fact--and will above all easily understand it--that
there are scholars who are exclusively occupied with the investigation
of Greek and Roman antiquity: but that these scholars are at the same
time the teachers of the children of the nobility and gentry is not
equally easy of comprehension--here lies a problem.

Why philologists precisely? This is not altogether such a matter
of course as the case of a professor of medicine, who is also a
practical physician and surgeon. For, if the cases were identical,
preoccupation with Greek and Roman antiquity would be identical with
the "science of education." In short the relationship between theory
and practice in the philologist cannot be so quickly conceived. Whence
comes his pretension to be a teacher in the higher sense, not only
of all scientific men, but more especially of all cultured men? This
educational power must be taken by the philologist from antiquity; and
in such a case people will ask with astonishment: how does it come that
we attach such value to a far-off past that we can only become cultured
men with the aid of its knowledge?

These questions, however, are not asked as a rule: The sway of
philology over our means of instruction remains practically
unquestioned; and antiquity _has_ the importance assigned to it. To
this extent the position of the philologist is more favourable than
that of any other follower of science. True, he has not at his disposal
that great mass of men who stand in need of him--the doctor, for
example, has far more than the philologist. But he can influence picked
men, or youths, to be more accurate, at a time when all their mental
faculties are beginning to blossom forth--people who can afford to
devote both time and money to their higher development. In all those
places where European culture has found its way, people have accepted
secondary schools based upon a foundation of Latin and Greek as the
first and highest means of instruction. In this way philology has found
its best opportunity of transmitting itself, and commanding respect:
no other science has been so well favoured. As a general rule all
those who have passed through such institutions have afterwards borne
testimony to the excellence of their organisation and curriculum,
and such people are, of course, unconscious witnesses in favour of
philology. If any who have not passed through these institutions should
happen to utter a word in disparagement of this education, an unanimous
and yet calm repudiation of the statement at once follows, as if
classical education were a kind of witchcraft, blessing its followers,
and demonstrating itself to them by this blessing. There is no attempt
at polemics: "We have been through it all." "We know it has done us

Now there are so many things to which men have become so accustomed
that they look upon them as quite appropriate and suitable, for habit
intermixes all things with sweetness; and men as a rule judge the
value of a thing in accordance with their own desires. The desire for
classical antiquity as it is now felt should be tested, and, as it
were, taken to pieces and analysed with a view to seeing how much of
this desire is due to habit, and how much to mere love of adventure--I
refer to that inward and active desire, new and strange, which gives
rise to a productive conviction from day to day, the desire for a
higher goal, and also the means thereto: as the result of which people
advance step by step from one unfamiliar thing to another, like an
Alpine climber.

What is the foundation on which the high value attached to antiquity
at the present time is based, to such an extent indeed that our whole
modern culture is founded on it? Where must we look for the origin of
this delight in antiquity, and the preference shown for it?

I think I have recognised in my examination of the question that all
our philology--that is, all its present existence and power--is based
on the same foundation as that on which our view of antiquity as the
most important of all means of training is based. Philology as a means
of instruction is the clear expression of a predominating conception
regarding the value of antiquity, and the best methods of education.
Two propositions are contained in this statement: In the first place
all higher education must be a historical one; and secondly, Greek and
Roman history differs from all others in that it is classical. Thus the
scholar who knows this history becomes a teacher. We are not here going
into the question as to whether higher education ought to be historical
or not; but we may examine the second and ask: in how far is it classic?

On this point there are many widespread prejudices. In the first place
there is the prejudice expressed in the synonymous concept, "The study
of the humanities": antiquity is classic because it is the school of
the humane.

Secondly: "Antiquity is classic because it is enlightened----"


It is the task of all education to change certain conscious actions
and habits into more or less unconscious ones; and the history of
mankind is in this sense its education. The philologist now practises
unconsciously a number of such occupations and habits. It is my object
to ascertain how his power, that is, his instinctive methods of work,
is the result of activities which were formerly conscious, but which he
has gradually come to feel as such no longer: _but that consciousness
consisted of prejudices._ The present power of philologists is based
upon these prejudices, for example the value attached to the _ratio_
as in the cases of Bentley and Hermann. Prejudices are, as Lichtenberg
says, the art impulses of men.


It is difficult to justify the preference for antiquity since it has
arisen from prejudices:

1. From ignorance of all non-classical antiquity.

2. From a false idealisation of humanitarianism, whilst Hindoos and
Chinese are at all events more humane.

3. From the pretensions of school-teachers.

4. From the traditional admiration which emanated from antiquity itself.

5. From opposition to the Christian church; or as a support for this

6. From the impression created by the century-long work of the
philologists, and the nature of this work: it must be a gold mine,
thinks the spectator.

7. The acquirement of knowledge attained as the result of the study.
The preparatory school of science.

In short, partly from ignorance, wrong impressions, and misleading
conclusions; and also from the interest which philologists have in
raising their science to a high level in the estimation of laymen.

Also the preference for antiquity on the part of the artists, who
involuntarily assume proportion and moderation to be the property of
all antiquity. Purity of form. Authors likewise.

The preference for antiquity as an abbreviation of the history of the
human race, as if there were an autochthonous creation here by which
all becoming might be studied.

The fact actually is that the foundations of this preference are
being removed one by one, and if this is not remarked by philologists
themselves, it is certainly being remarked as much as it can possibly
be by people outside their circle. First of all history had its effect,
and then linguistics brought about the greatest diversion among
philologists themselves, and even the desertion of many of them. They
have still the schools in their hands: but for how long! In the form
in which it has existed up to the present philology is dying out; the
ground has been swept from under its feet. Whether philologists may
still hope to maintain their status is doubtful; in any case they are a
dying race.


The peculiarly significant situation of philologists: a class of
people to whom we entrust our youth, and who have to investigate quite
a special antiquity. The highest value is obviously attached to this
antiquity. But if this antiquity has been wrongly valued, then the
whole foundation upon which the high position of the philologist is
based suddenly collapses. In any case this antiquity has been very
differently valued; and our appreciation of the philologists has
constantly been guided by it. These people have borrowed their power
from the strong prejudices in favour of antiquity,--this must be made

Philologists now feel that when these prejudices are at last refuted,
and antiquity depicted in its true colours, the favourable prejudices
towards them will diminish considerably. _It is thus to the interest
of their profession not to let a clear impression of antiquity come to
light: in particular the impression that antiquity in its highest sense
renders one "out of season"_ i.e., _an enemy to one's own time._

It is also to the interest of philologists as a class not to let their
calling as teachers be regarded from a higher standpoint than that to
which they themselves can correspond.


It is to be hoped that there are a few people who look upon it as
a problem why philologists should be the teachers of our noblest
youths. Perhaps the case will not be always so.--It would be much more
natural _per se_ if our children were instructed in the elements of
geography, natural science, political economy, and sociology, if they
were gradually led to a consideration of life itself, and if finally,
but much later, the most noteworthy events of the past were brought
to their knowledge. A knowledge of antiquity should be among the last
subjects which a student would take up; and would not this position of
antiquity in the curriculum of a school be more honourable for it than
the present one?--Antiquity is now used merely as a propædeutic for
thinking, speaking, and writing; but there was a time when it was the
essence of earthly knowledge, and people at that time wished to acquire
by means of practical learning what they now seek to acquire merely by
means of a detailed plan of study--a plan which, corresponding to the
more advanced knowledge of the age, has entirely changed.

Thus the inner purpose of philological teaching has been entirely
altered; it was at one time material teaching, a teaching that taught
how to live; but now it is merely formal.[3]

[Footnote 3: Formal education is that which tends to develop the
critical and logical faculties, as opposed to material education,
which is intended to deal with the acquisition of knowledge and its
valuation, _e.g.,_ history, mathematics, &c. "Material" education, of
course, has nothing to do with materialism.--TR.]


If it were the task of the philologist to impart formal education,
it would be necessary for him to teach walking, dancing, speaking,
singing, acting, or arguing: and the so-called formal teachers did
impart their instruction this way in the second and third centuries.
But only the training of a scientific man is taken into account, which
results in "formal" thinking and writing, and hardly any speaking at


If the gymnasium is to train young men for science, people now say
there can be no more preliminary preparation for any particular
science, so comprehensive have all the sciences become. As a
consequence teachers have to train their students generally, that is
to say for all the sciences--for scientificality in other words; and
for that classical studies are necessary! What a wonderful jump! a most
despairing justification! Whatever is, is right,[4] even when it is
clearly seen that the "right" on which it has been based has turned to

[Footnote 4: The reference is not to Pope, but to Hegel.--TR.]


It is accomplishments which are expected from us after a study of the
ancients: formerly, for example, the ability to write and speak. But
what is expected now! Thinking and deduction: but these things are not
learnt _from_ the ancients, but at best _through_ the ancients, by
means of science. Moreover, all historical deduction is very limited
and unsafe; natural science should be preferred.


It is the same with the simplicity of antiquity as it is with the
simplicity of style: it is the highest thing which we recognise and
must imitate; but it is also the last Let it be remembered that the
classic prose of the Greeks is also a late result


What a mockery of the study of the "humanities" lies in the fact that
they were also called "belles lettres" (bellas litteras)!


Wolfs[5] reasons why the Egyptians, Hebrews Persians, and other
Oriental nations were not to be set on the same plane with the
Greeks and Romans: "The former have either not raised themselves,
or have raised themselves only to a slight extent, above that type
of culture which should be called a mere civilisation and bourgeois
acquirement, as opposed to the higher and true culture of the mind."
He then explains that this culture is spiritual and literary: "In
a well-organised nation this may be begun earlier than order and
peacefulness in the outward life of the people (enlightenment)."

He then contrasts the inhabitants of easternmost Asia ("like such
individuals, who are not wanting in clean, decent, and comfortable
dwellings, clothing, and surroundings; but who never feel the necessity
for a higher enlightenment") with the Greeks ("in the case of the
Greeks, even among the most educated inhabitants of Attica, the
contrary often happens to an astonishing degree; and the people neglect
as insignificant factors that which we, thanks to our love of order,
are in the habit of looking upon as the foundations of mental culture

[Footnote 5: Friedrich August Wolf (1759-1824), the well-known
classical scholar, now chiefly remembered by his "Prolegomena ad

38 Our terminology already shows how prone we are to judge the ancients
wrongly: the exaggerated sense of literature, for example; or, as Wolf,
when speaking of the "inner history of ancient erudition," calls it,
"the history of learned enlightenment."


According to Goethe, the ancients are "the despair of the emulator."
Voltaire said: "If the admirers of Homer were honest, they would
acknowledge the boredom which their favourite often causes them."


The position we have taken up towards classical antiquity is at bottom
the profound cause of the sterility of modern culture; for we have
taken all this modern conception of culture from the Hellenised Romans.
We must distinguish within the domain of antiquity itself: when we come
to appreciate its purely productive period, we condemn at the same time
the entire Romano Alexandrian culture. But at the same time also we
condemn our own attitude towards antiquity, and likewise our philology.


There has been an age-long battle between the Germans and antiquity,
_i.e.,_ a battle against the old culture: it is certain that precisely
what is best and deepest in the German resists it. The main point,
however, is that such resistance is only justifiable in the case of
the Romanised culture; for this culture, even at that time, was a
falling-off from something more profound and noble. It is this latter
that the Germans are wrong in resisting.


Everything classic was thoroughly cultivated by Charles the Great,
whilst he combated everything heathen with the severest possible
measures of coercion. Ancient mythology was developed, but German
mythology was treated as a crime. The feeling underlying all this,
in my opinion, was that Christianity had already overcome the old
religion: people no longer feared it, but availed themselves of the
culture that rested upon it. But the old German gods were feared.

A great superficiality in the conception of antiquity--little else than
an appreciation of its formal accomplishments and its knowledge--must
thereby have been brought about. We must find out the forces that
stood in the way of increasing our insight into antiquity. First of
all, the culture of antiquity is utilised as an incitement towards the
acceptance of Christianity: it became, as it were, the premium for
conversion, the gilt with which the poisonous pill was coated before
being swallowed. Secondly, the help of ancient culture was found to be
necessary as a weapon for the intellectual protection of Christianity.
Even the Reformation could not dispense with classical studies for this

The Renaissance, on the other hand, now begins, with a clearer sense
of classical studies, which, however, are likewise looked upon from
an anti-Christian standpoint: the Renaissance shows an awakening of
honesty in the south, like the Reformation in the north. They could
not but clash; for a sincere leaning towards antiquity renders one
unchristian. On the whole, however, the Church succeeded in turning
classical studies into a harmless direction: the philologist was
invented, representing a type of learned man who was at the same time
a priest or something similar. Even in the period of the Reformation
people succeeded in emasculating scholarship. It is on this account
that Friedrich August Wolf is noteworthy: he freed his profession from
the bonds of theology. This action of his, however, was not fully
understood; for an aggressive, active element, such as was manifested
by the poet-philologists of the Renaissance, was not developed. The
freedom obtained benefited science, but not man.


It is true that both humanism and rationalism have brought antiquity
into the field as an ally; and it is therefore quite comprehensible
that the opponents of humanism should direct their attacks against
antiquity also. Antiquity, however, has been misunderstood and
falsified by humanism: it must rather be considered as a testimony
against humanism, against the benign nature of man, &c. The opponents
of humanism are wrong to combat antiquity as well; for in antiquity
they have a strong ally.


It is so difficult to understand the ancients. We must wait patiently
until the spirit moves us. The human element which antiquity shows
us must not be confused with humanitarianism. This contrast must be
strongly emphasised: philology suffers by endeavouring to substitute
the humanitarian; young men are brought forward as students of
philology in order that they may thereby become humanitarians. A good
deal of history, in my opinion, is quite sufficient for that purpose.
The brutal and self-conscious man will be humbled when he sees things
and values changing to such an extent.

The human element among the Greeks lies within a certain _naïveté_
through which man himself is to be seen--state, art, society, military
and civil law, sexual relations, education, party. It is precisely the
human element which may be seen everywhere and among all peoples; but
among the Greeks it is seen in a state of nakedness and inhumanity
which cannot be dispensed with for purposes of instruction. In addition
to this, the Greeks have created the greatest number of individuals;
and thus they give us so much insight into men,--a Greek cook is more
of a cook than any other.


I deplore a system of education which does not enable people to
understand Wagner, and as the result of which Schopenhauer sounds harsh
and discordant in our ears: such a system of education has missed its



Il faut dire la vérité et s'immoler.--VOLTAIRE.

Let us suppose that there were freer and more superior spirits who were
dissatisfied with the education now in vogue, and that they summoned
it to their tribunal, what would the defendant say to them? In all
probability something like this: "Whether you have a right to summon
anyone here or not, I am at all events not the proper person to be
called. It is my educators to whom you should apply. It is their duty
to defend me, and I have a right to keep silent. I am merely what they
have made me."

These educators would now be haled before the tribunal, and among
them an entire profession would be observed: the philologists. This
profession consists in the first place of those men who make use
of their knowledge of Greek and Roman antiquity to bring up youths
of thirteen to twenty years of age, and secondly of those men
whose task it is to train specially-gifted pupils to act as future
teachers-_i.e.,_ as the educators of educators. Philologists of the
first type are teachers at the public schools; those of the second are
professors at the universities.

The first-named philologists are entrusted with the care of certain
specially-chosen youths, those who, early in life, show signs of talent
and a sense of what is noble, and whose parents are prepared to allow
plenty of time and money for their education. If other boys, who do
not fulfil these three conditions, are presented to the teachers, the
teachers have the right to refuse them. Those forming the second class,
the university professors, receive the young men who feel themselves
fitted for the highest and most responsible of callings, that of
teachers and moulders of mankind; and these professors, too, may refuse
to have anything to do with young men who are not adequately equipped
or gifted for the task. If, then, the educational system of a period
is condemned, a heavy censure on philologists is thereby implied:
either, as the consequence of their wrong-headed view, they insist on
giving bad education in the belief that it is good; or they do not wish
to give this bad education, but are unable to carry the day in favour
of education which they recognise to be better. In other words, their
fault is either due to their lack of insight or to their lack of will.
In answer to the first charge they would say that they knew no better,
and in answer to the second that they could do no better. As, however,
these philologists bring up their pupils chiefly with the aid of Greek
and Roman antiquity, their want of insight in the first case may be
attributed to the fact that they do not understand antiquity; and
again to the fact that they bring forward antiquity into the present
age as if it were the most important of all aids to instruction, while
antiquity, generally speaking, does not assist in training, or at all
events no longer does so.

On the other hand, if we reproach our professors with their lack of
will, they would be quite right in attributing educational significance
and power to antiquity; but they themselves could not be said to be
the proper instruments by means of which antiquity could exhibit such
power. In other words, the professors would not be real teachers
and would be living under false colours: but how, then, could they
have reached such an irregular position? Through a misunderstanding
of themselves and their qualifications. In order, then, that we may
ascribe to philologists their share in this bad educational system
of the present time, we may sum up the different factors of their
innocence and guilt in the following sentence: the philologist, if
he wishes for a verdict of acquittal, must understand three things:
antiquity, the present time, and himself: his fault lies in the fact
that he either does not understand antiquity, or the present time, or


It is not true to say that we can attain culture through antiquity
alone. We may learn something from it, certainly; but not culture
as the word is now understood. Our present culture is based on an
emasculated and mendacious study of antiquity. In order to understand
how ineffectual this study is, just look at our philologists: they,
trained upon antiquity, should be the most cultured men. Are they?


Origin of the philologist. When a great work of art is exhibited there
is always some one who not only feels its influence but wishes to
perpetuate it. The same remark applies to a great state--to everything,
in short, that man produces. Philologists wish to perpetuate the
influence of antiquity: and they can set about it only as imitative
artists. Why not as men who form their lives after antiquity?


The decline of the poet-scholars is due in great part to their
own corruption: their type is continually arising again; Goethe
and Leopardi, for example, belong to it. Behind them plod the
philologist-savants. This type has its origin in the sophisticism of
the second century.


Ah, it is a sad story, the story of philology! The disgusting
erudition, the lazy, inactive passivity, the timid submission.--Who was
ever free?


When we examine the history of philology it is borne in upon us how few
really talented men have taken part in it. Among the most celebrated
philologists are a few who ruined their intellect by acquiring a
smattering of many subjects, and among the most enlightened of them
were several who could use their intellect only for childish tasks. It
is a sad story: no science, I think, has ever been so poor in talented
followers. Those whom we might call the intellectually crippled found a
suitable hobby in all this hair-splitting.


The teacher of reading and writing, and the reviser, were the first
types of the philologist.


Friedrich August Wolf reminds us how apprehensive and feeble were the
first steps taken by our ancestors in moulding scholarship--how even
the Latin classics, for example, had to be smuggled into the university
market under all sorts of pretexts, as if they had been contraband
goods. In the "Göttingen Lexicon" of 1737, J. M. Gesner tells us of the
Odes of Horace: "ut imprimis, quid prodesse _in severioribus studiis_
possint, ostendat."


I was pleased to read of Bentley: "non tam grande pretium
emendatiunculis meis statuere soleo, ut singularem aliquam gratiam inde
sperem aut exigam."

Newton was surprised that men like Bentley and Hare should quarrel
about a book of ancient comedies, since they were both theological


Horace was summoned by Bentley as before a judgment seat, the authority
of which he would have been the first to repudiate. The admiration
which a discriminating man acquires as a philologist is in proportion
to the rarity of the discrimination to be found in philologists.
Bentley's treatment of Horace has something of the schoolmaster about
it. It would appear at first sight as if Horace himself were not the
object of discussion, but rather the various scribes and commentators
who have handed down the text: in reality, however, it is actually
Horace who is being dealt with. It is my firm conviction that to have
written a single line which is deemed worthy of being commented upon
by scholars of a later time, far outweighs the merits of the greatest
critic. There is a profound modesty about philologists. The improving
of texts is an entertaining piece of work for scholars, it is a kind of
riddle-solving; but it should not be looked upon as a very important
task. It would be an argument against antiquity if it should speak less
clearly to us because a million words stood in the way!


A school-teacher said to Bentley: "Sir, I will make your grandchild as
great a scholar as you are yourself." "How can you do that," replied
Bentley, "when I have forgotten more than you ever knew?"


Bentley's clever daughter Joanna once lamented to her father that he
had devoted his time and talents to the criticism of the works of
others instead of writing something original. Bentley remained silent
for some time as if he were turning the matter over in his mind. At
last he said that her remark was quite right: he himself felt that
he might have directed his gifts in some other channel. Earlier in
life, nevertheless, he had done something for the glory of God and
the improvement of his fellow-men (referring to his "Confutation of
Atheism"), but afterwards the genius of the pagans had attracted him,
and, _despairing of attaining their level in any other way,_ he had
mounted upon their shoulders so that he might thus be able to look over
their heads.


Bentley, says Wolf, both as man of letters and individual, was
misunderstood and persecuted during the greater part of his life, or
else praised maliciously.

Markland, towards the end of his life--as was the case with so many
others like him--became imbued with a repugnance for all scholarly
reputation, to such an extent, indeed, that he partly tore up and
partly burnt several works which he had long had in hand.

Wolf says: "The amount of intellectual food that can be got from
well-digested scholarship is a very insignificant item."

In Winckelmann's youth there were no philological studies apart from
the ordinary bread-winning branches of the science--people read and
explained the ancients in order to prepare themselves for the better
interpretation of the Bible and the Corpus Juris.


In Wolf's estimation, a man has reached the highest point of historical
research when he is able to take a wide and general view of the whole
and of the profoundly conceived distinctions in the developments in
art and the different styles of art. Wolf acknowledges, however, that
Winckelmann was lacking in the more common talent of philological
criticism, or else he could not use it properly: "A rare mixture of
a cool head and a minute and restless solicitude for hundreds of
things which, insignificant in themselves, were combined in his case
with a fire that swallowed up those little things, and with a gift of
divination which is a vexation and an annoyance to the uninitiated."


Wolf draws our attention to the fact that antiquity was acquainted
only with theories of oratory and poetry which facilitated production,
τέχναι and _artes_ that formed real orators and poets, "while at the
present day we shall soon have theories upon which it would be as
impossible to build up a speech or a poem as it would be to form a
thunderstorm upon a brontological treatise."


Wolf's judgment on the amateurs of philological knowledge is
noteworthy: "If they found themselves provided by nature with a mind
corresponding to that of the ancients, or if they were capable of
adapting themselves to other points of view and other circumstances
of life, then, with even a nodding acquaintance with the best
writers, they certainly acquired more from those vigorous natures,
those splendid examples of thinking and acting, than most of those
did who during their whole life merely offered themselves to them as


Says Wolf again: "In the end, only those few ought to attain really
complete knowledge who are born with artistic talent and furnished with
scholarship, and who make use of the best opportunities of securing,
both theoretically and practically, the necessary technical knowledge."


Instead of forming our students on the Latin models I recommend the
Greek, especially Demosthenes: simplicity! This may be seen by a
reference to Leopardi, who is perhaps the greatest stylist of the


"Classical education": what do people see in it? Something that is
useless beyond rendering a period of military service unnecessary and
securing a degree![6]

[Footnote 6: Students who pass certain examinations need only serve one
year in the German Army instead of the usual two or three.--TR.]


When I observe how all countries are now promoting the advancement of
classical literature I say to myself, "How harmless it must be!" and
then, "How useful it must be!" It brings these countries the reputation
of promoting "free culture." In order that this "freedom" may be
rightly estimated, just look at the philologists!


Classical education! Yea, if there were only as much paganism as Goethe
found and glorified in Winckelmann, even that would not be much. Now,
however, that the lying Christendom of our time has taken hold of
it, the thing becomes over-powering, and I cannot help expressing my
disgust on the point.--People firmly believe in witchcraft where this
"classical education "is concerned. They, however, who possess the
greatest knowledge of antiquity should likewise possess the greatest
amount of culture, viz., our philologists; but what is classical about


Classical philology is the basis of the most shallow rationalism:
always having been dishonestly applied, it has gradually become quite
ineffective. Its effect is one more illusion of the modern man.
Philologists are nothing but a guild of sky-pilots who are not known
as such: this is why the State takes an interest in them. The utility
of classical education is completely used up, whilst, for example, the
history of Christianity still shows its power.


Philologists, when discussing their science, never get down to the root
of the subject: they never set forth philology itself as a problem. Bad
conscience? or merely thoughtlessness?


We learn nothing from what philologists say about philology: it is all
mere tittle-tattle--for example, Jahn's[7] "The Meaning and Place of
the Study of Antiquity in Germany." There is no feeling for what should
be protected and defended: thus speak people who have not even thought
of the possibility that any one could attack them.

[Footnote 7: Otto Jahn (1813-69), who is probably best remembered in
philological circles by his edition of Juvenal.--_TR_.]


Philologists are people who exploit the vaguely-felt dissatisfaction of
modern man, and his desire for "something better," in order that they
may earn their bread and butter.

I know them--I myself am one of them.


Our philologists stand in the same relation to true educators as
the medicine-men of the wild Indians do to true physicians. What
astonishment will be felt by a later age!


What they lack is a real taste for the strong and powerful
characteristics of the ancients. They turn into mere panegyrists, and
thus become ridiculous.


They have forgotten how to address other men; and, as they cannot speak
to the older people, they cannot do so to the young.


When we bring the Greeks to the knowledge of our young students, we
are treating the latter as if they were well-informed and matured
men. What, indeed, is there about the Greeks and their ways which is
suitable for the young? In the end we shall find that we can do nothing
for them beyond giving them isolated details. Are these observations
for young people? What we actually do, however, is to introduce our
young scholars to the collective wisdom of antiquity. Or do we not? The
reading of the ancients is emphasised in this way.

My belief is that we are forced to concern ourselves with antiquity at
a wrong period of our lives. At the end of the twenties its meaning
begins to dawn on one.


There is something disrespectful about the way in which we make
our young students known to the ancients: what is worse, it is
unpedagogical; for what can result from a mere acquaintance with
things which a youth cannot consciously esteem! Perhaps he must learn
to "_believe,_" and this is why I object to it.


There are matters regarding which antiquity instructs us, and about
which I should hardly care to express myself publicly.


All the difficulties of historical study to be elucidated by great

Why our young students are not suited to the Greeks.

The consequences of philology: Arrogant expectation.
Culture-philistinism. Superficiality.

Too high an esteem for reading and writing. Estrangement from the
nation and its needs. The philologists themselves, the historians,
philosophers, and jurists all end in smoke.

Our young students should be brought into contact with real sciences.
Likewise with real art.

In consequence, when they grew older, a desire for _real_ history would
be shown.


Inhumanity: even in the "Antigone," even in Goethe's "Iphigenia."

The want of "rationalism" in the Greeks.

Young people cannot understand the political affairs of antiquity.

The poetic element: a bad expectation.


Do the philologists know the present time? Their judgments on it as
Periclean; their mistaken judgments when they speak of Freytag's[8]
genius as resembling that of Homer, and so on; their following in the
lead of the litterateurs; their abandonment of the pagan sense, which
was exactly the classical element that Goethe discovered in Winckelmann.

[Footnote 8: Gustav Freytag: at one time a famous German novelist.


The condition of the philologists may be seen by their indifference at
the appearance of Wagner. They should have learnt even more through him
than through Goethe, and they did not even glance in his direction.
That shows that they are not actuated by any strong need, or else they
would have an instinct to tell them where their food was to be found.


Wagner prizes his art too highly to go and sit in a corner with it,
like Schumann. He either surrenders himself to the public ("Rienzi") or
he makes the public surrender itself to him. He educates it up to his
music. Minor artists, too, want their public, but they try to get it by
inartistic means, such as through the Press, Hanslick,[9] &c.

[Footnote 9: A well-known anti-Wagnerian musical critic of Vienna.


Wagner perfected the inner fancy of man: later generations will see a
renaissance in sculpture. Poetry must precede the plastic art.


I observe in philologists:

1. Want of respect for antiquity.

2. Tenderness and flowery oratory; even an apologetic tone.

3. Simplicity in their historical comments.

4. Self-conceit.

5. Under-estimation of the talented philologists.


Philologists appear to me to be a secret society who wish to train our
youth by means of the culture of antiquity: I could well understand
this society and their views being criticised from all sides, A great
deal would depend upon knowing what these philologists understood by
the term "culture of antiquity."--If I saw, for example, that they
were training their pupils against German philosophy and German music,
I should either set about combating them or combating the culture of
antiquity, perhaps the former, by showing that these philologists had
not understood the culture of antiquity. Now I observe:

1. A great indecision in the valuation of the culture of antiquity on
the part of philologists.

2. Something very non-ancient in themselves; something non-free.

3. Want of clearness in regard to the particular type of ancient
culture they mean.

4. Want of judgment in their methods of instruction, _e.g.,_

5. Classical education is served out mixed up with Christianity.


It is now no longer a matter of surprise to me that, with such
teachers, the education of our time should be worthless. I can never
avoid depicting this want of education in its true colours, especially
in regard to those things which ought to be learnt from antiquity if
possible, for example, writing, speaking, and so on.


The transmission of the emotions is hereditary: let that be recollected
when we observe the effect of the Greeks upon philologists.


Even in the best of cases, philologists seek for no more than mere
"rationalism" and Alexandrian culture--not Hellenism.


Very little can be gained by mere diligence, if the head is dull.
Philologist after philologist has swooped down on Homer in the mistaken
belief that something of him can be obtained by force. Antiquity speaks
to us when it feels a desire to do so; not when we do.


The inherited characteristic of our present-day philologists: a certain
sterility oi insight has resulted: for they promote the science, but
not the philologist.


The following is one way of carrying on classical studies, and a
frequent one: a man throws himself thoughtlessly, or is thrown, into
some special branch or other, whence he looks to the right and left and
sees a great deal that is good and new. Then, in some unguarded moment,
he asks himself: "But what the devil has all this to do with me?" In
the meantime he has grown old and has become accustomed to it all; and
therefore he continues in his rut--just as in the case of marriage.


In connection with the training of the modern philologist the influence
of the science of linguistics should be mentioned and judged; a
philologist should rather turn aside from it: the question of the early
beginnings of the Greeks and Romans should be nothing to him: how can
they spoil their own subject in such a way?


A morbid passion often makes its appearance from time to time in
connection with the oppressive uncertainty of divination, a passion for
believing and feeling sure at all costs: for example, when dealing with
Aristotle, or in the discovery of magic numbers, which, in Lachmann's
case, is almost an illness.


The consistency which is prized in a savant is pedantry if applied to
the Greeks.



    THE GREEKS:                         THE PHILOLOGISTS are:

    render homage to beauty,            babblers and triflers,
    develop the body,                   ugly-looking creatures,
    speak clearly,                      stammerers,
    are religious transfigurers         filthy pedants,
      of everyday occurrences,
    are listeners and observers,        quibblers and scarecrows,
    have an aptitude for the            unfitted for the symbolical,
    are in full possession of           ardent slaves of the State,
    their freedom as men,
    can look innocently out             Christians in disguise,
    into the world,
    are the pessimists of               philistines.


Bergk's "History of Literature": Not a spark of Greek fire or Greek


People really do compare our own age with that of Pericles, and
congratulate themselves on the reawakening of the feeling of
patriotism: I remember a parody on the funeral oration of Pericles by
G. Freytag,[10] in which this prim and strait-laced "poet" depicted the
happiness now experienced by sixty-year-old men.--All pure and simple
caricature! So this is the result! And sorrow and irony and seclusion
are all that remain for him who has seen more of antiquity than this.

[Footnote 10: See note on p. 149.--TR.]


If we change a single word of Lord Bacon's we may say: infimarum
Græcorum virtutum apud philologos laus est, mediarum admiratio,
supremarum sensus nullus.


How can anyone glorify and venerate a whole people! It is the
individuals that count, even in the case of the Greeks.


There is a great deal of caricature even about the Greeks: for example,
the careful attention devoted by the Cynics to their own happiness.


The only thing that interests me is the relationship of the people
considered as a whole to the training of the single individuals: and in
the case of the Greeks there are some factors which are very favourable
to the development of the individual. They do not, however, arise from
the goodwill of the people, but from the struggle between the evil

By means of happy inventions and discoveries, we can train the
individual differently and more highly than has yet been done by mere
chance and accident. There are still hopes: the breeding of superior


The Greeks are interesting and quite disproportionately important
because they had such a host of great individuals. How was that
possible? This point must be studied.


The history of Greece has hitherto always been written optimistically.


Selected points from antiquity: the power, fire, and swing of the
feeling the ancients had for music (through the first Pythian Ode),
purity in their historical sense, gratitude for the blessings of
culture, the fire and corn feasts.

The ennoblement of jealousy: the Greeks the most jealous nation.

Suicide, hatred of old age, of penury. Empedocles on sexual love.


Nimble and healthy bodies, a clear and deep sense for the observation
of everyday matters, manly freedom, belief in good racial descent and
good upbringing, warlike virtues, jealousy in the ἀριστεύειν, ιdelight
in the arts, respect for leisure, a sense for free individuality, for
the symbolical.


The spiritual culture of Greece an aberration of the amazing political
impulse towards ἀριστεύειν. The polis utterly opposed to new education;
culture nevertheless existed.


When I say that, all things considered, the Greeks were more moral
than modern men: what do I mean by that? From what we can perceive
of the activities of their soul, it is clear that they had no shame,
they had no bad conscience. They were more sincere, open-hearted,
and passionate, as artists are; they exhibited a kind of child-like
_naïveté._ It thus came about that even in all their evil actions
they had a dash of purity about them, something approaching the holy.
A remarkable number of individualities: might there not have been a
higher morality in that? When we recollect that character develops
slowly, what can it be that, in the long run, breeds individuality?
Perhaps vanity, emulation? Possibly. Little inclination for
conventional things.


The Greeks as the geniuses among the nations.

Their childlike nature, credulousness.

Passionate. Quite unconsciously they lived in such a way as to
procreate genius. Enemies of shyness and dulness. Pain. Injudicious
actions. The nature of their intuitive insight into misery, despite
their bright and genial temperament. Profoundness in their apprehension
and glorifying of everyday things (fire, agriculture). Mendacious,
unhistorical. The significance of the polis in culture instinctively
recognised; favourable as a centre and periphery for great men (the
facility of surveying a community, and also the possibility of
addressing it as a whole). Individuality raised to the highest power
through the polis. Envy, jealousy, as among gifted people.


The Greeks were lacking in sobriety and caution. Over-sensibility;
abnormally active condition of the brain and the nerves; impetuosity
and fervour of the will.


"Invariably to see the general in the particular is the distinguishing
characteristic of genius," says Schopenhauer. Think of Pindar,
&c.--"ΣωΦροσύνη," according to Schopenhauer, has its roots in the
clearness with which the Greeks saw into themselves and into the world
at large, and thence became conscious of themselves.

The "wide separation of will and intellect" indicates the genius, and
is seen in the Greeks.

"The melancholy associated with genius is due to the fact that the
will to live, the more clearly it is illuminated by the contemplating
intellect, appreciates all the more clearly the misery of its
condition," says Schopenhauer. _Cf._ the Greeks.


The moderation of the Greeks in their sensual luxury, eating, and
drinking, and their pleasure therein; the Olympic plays and their
worship: that shows what they were.

In the case of the genius, "the intellect will point out the faults
which are seldom absent in an instrument that is put to a use for which
it was not intended."

"The will is often left in the lurch at an awkward moment: hence
genius, where real life is concerned is more or less unpractical--its
behaviour often reminds us of madness."


We contrast the Romans, with their matter-of-fact earnestness, with the
genial Greeks! Schopenhauer: "The stern, practical, earnest mode of
life which the Romans called _gravitas_ presupposes that the intellect
does not forsake the service of the will in order to roam far off among
things that have no connection with the will."


It would have been much better if the Greeks had been conquered by the
Persians instead of by the Romans.


The characteristics of the gifted man who is lacking in genius are to
be found in the average Hellene--all the dangerous characteristics of
such a disposition and character.


Genius makes tributaries of all partly-talented people: hence the
Persians themselves sent their ambassadors to the Greek oracles.


The happiest lot that can fall to the genius is to exchange doing and
acting for leisure; and this was something the Greeks knew how to
value. The blessings of labour! _Nugari_ was the Roman name for all
the exertions and aspirations of the Greeks. No happy course of life
is open to the genius; he stands in contradiction to his age and must
perforce struggle with it. Thus the Greeks: they instinctively made
the utmost exertions to secure a safe refuge for themselves (in the
_polis_). Finally, everything went to pieces in politics. They were
compelled to take up a stand against their enemies: this became ever
more and more difficult, and at last impossible.


Greek culture is based on the lordship of a small class over four to
nine times their number of slaves. Judged by mere numbers, Greece was
a country inhabited by barbarians. How can the ancients be thought
to be humane? There was a great contrast between the genius and the
breadwinner, the half-beast of burden. The Greeks believed in a racial
distinction. Schopenhauer wonders why Nature did not take it into her
head to invent two entirely separate species of men.

The Greeks bear the same relation to the barbarians "as free-moving or
winged animals do to the barnacles which cling tightly to the rocks and
must await what fate chooses to send them"--Schopenhauer's simile.


The Greeks as the only people of genius in the history of the world.
Such they are even when considered as learners; for they understand
this best of all, and can do more than merely trim and adorn themselves
with what they have borrowed, as did the Romans. The constitution of
the _polls_ is a Phœnician invention: even this has been imitated by
the Hellenes. For a long time they dabbled in everything, like joyful
dilettanti. Aphrodite is likewise Phœnician. Neither do they disavow
what has come to them through immigration and does not originally
belong to their own country.


The happy and comfortable constitution of the politico-social position
must not be sought among the Greeks: that is a goal which dazzles the
eyes of our dreamers of the future! It was, on the contrary, dreadful;
for this is a matter that must be judged according to the following
standard: the more spirit, the more suffering (as the Greeks themselves
prove). Whence it follows: the more stupidity, the more comfort. The
philistine of culture is the most comfortable creature the sun has ever
shone upon: and he is doubtless also in possession of the corresponding


The Greek _polis_ and the αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν grew up out of mutual enmity.
Hellenic and philanthropic are contrary adjectives, although the
ancients flattered themselves sufficiently.

Homer is, in the world of the Hellenic discord, the pan-Hellenic Greek.
The "ἀγών" of the Greeks is also manifested in the Symposium in the
shape of witty conversation.


Wanton, mutual annihilation inevitable: so long as a single _polis_
wished to exist--its envy for everything superior to itself, its
cupidity, the disorder of its customs, the enslavement of the women,
lack of conscience in the keeping of oaths, in murder, and in cases of
violent death.

Tremendous power of self-control: for example in a man like Socrates,
who was capable of everything evil.


Its noble sense of order and systematic arrangement had rendered the
Athenian state immortal.--The ten strategists in Athens! Foolish! Too
big a sacrifice on the altar of jealousy.


The recreations of the Spartans consisted of feasting, hunting, and
making war: their every-day life was too hard. On the whole, however,
their state is merely a caricature of the polis; a corruption of
Hellas. The breeding of the complete Spartan--but what was there great
about him that his breeding should have required such a brutal state!


The political defeat of Greece is the greatest failure of culture;
for it has given rise to the atrocious theory that culture cannot be
pursued unless one is at the same time armed to the teeth. The rise of
Christianity was the second greatest failure: brute force on the one
hand, and a dull intellect on the other, won a complete victory over
the aristocratic genius among the nations. To be a Philhellenist now
means to be a foe of brute force and stupid intellects. Sparta was the
ruin of Athens in so far as she compelled Athens to turn her entire
attention to politics and to act as a federal combination.


There are domains of thought where the _ratio_ will only give rise to
disorder; and the philologist, who possesses nothing more, is lost
through it and is unable to see the truth: _e.g.,_ in the consideration
of Greek mythology. A merely fantastic person, of course, has no claim
either: one must possess Greek imagination and also a certain amount of
Greek piety. Even the poet does not require to be too consistent, and
consistency is the last thing Greeks would understand.


Almost all the Greek divinities are accumulations of divinities: we
find one layer over another, soon to be hidden and smoothed down by
yet a third, and so on. It scarcely seems to me to be possible to pick
these various divinities to pieces in a scientific manner; for no good
method of doing so can be recommended: even the poor conclusion by
analogy is in this instance a very good conclusion.


At what a distance must one be from the Greeks to ascribe to them
such a stupidly narrow autochthony as does Ottfried Müller![11] How
Christian it is to assume, with Welcker,[12] that the Greeks were
originally monotheistic! How philologists torment themselves by
investigating the question whether Homer actually wrote, without being
able to grasp the far higher tenet that Greek art long exhibited an
inward enmity against writing, and did not wish to be read at all.

[Footnote 11: Karl Ottfried Müller (1797-1840), classical archæologist,
who devoted special attention to Greece.--TR.]

[Footnote 12: Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker (1784-1868), noted for his
ultra-profound comments on Greek poetry.--TR.]


In the religious cultus an earlier degree of culture comes to light: a
remnant of former times. The ages that celebrate it are not those which
invent it; the contrary is often the case. There are many contrasts
to be found here. The Greek cultus takes us back to a pre-Homeric
disposition and culture. It is almost the oldest that we know of the
Greeks--older than their mythology, which their poets have considerably
remoulded, so far as we know it--Can this cult really be called Greek?
I doubt it: they are finishers, not inventors. _They preserve_ by means
of this beautiful completion and adornment.


It is exceedingly doubtful whether we should draw any conclusion
in regard to nationality and relationship with other nations from
languages. A victorious language is nothing but a frequent (and not
always regular) indication of a successful campaign. Where could there
have been autochthonous peoples! It shows a very hazy conception of
things to talk about Greeks who never lived in Greece. That which
is really Greek is much less the result of natural aptitude than of
adapted institutions, and also of an acquired language.


To live on mountains, to travel a great deal, and to move quickly
from one place to another: in these ways we can now begin to compare
ourselves with the Greek gods. We know the past, too, and we almost
know the future. What would a Greek say, if only he could see us!


The gods make men still more evil; this is the nature of man. If we
do not like a man, we wish that he may become worse than he is, and
then we are glad. This forms part of the obscure philosophy of hate--a
philosophy which has never yet been written, because it is everywhere
the _pudendum_ that every one feels.


The pan-Hellenic Homer finds his delight in the frivolity of the gods;
but it is astounding how he can also give them dignity again. This
amazing ability to raise one's self again, however, is Greek.


What, then, is the origin of the envy of the gods? people did not
believe in a calm, quiet happiness, but only in an exuberant one.
This must have caused some displeasure to the Greeks; for their soul
was only too easily wounded: it embittered them to see a happy man.
That is Greek. If a man of distinguished talent appeared, the flock
of envious people must have become astonishingly large. If any one
met with a misfortune, they would say of him: "Ah! no wonder! he was
too frivolous and too well off." And every one of them would have
behaved exuberantly if he had possessed the requisite talent, and would
willingly have played the rôle of the god who sent the unhappiness to


The Greek gods did not demand any complete changes of character, and
were, generally speaking, by no means burdensome or importunate: it was
thus possible to take them seriously and to believe in them. At the
time of Homer, indeed, the nature of the Greek was formed: flippancy
of images and imagination was necessary to lighten the weight of its
passionate disposition and to set it free.


Every religion has for its highest images an analogon in the
spiritual condition of those who profess it. The God of Mohammed: the
solitariness of the desert, the distant roar of the lion, the vision
of a formidable warrior. The God of the Christians: everything that
men and women think of when they hear the word "love." The God of the
Greeks: a beautiful apparition in a dream.


A great deal of intelligence must have gone to the making up of a Greek
polytheism: the expenditure of intelligence is much less lavish when
people have only _one_ God.


Greek morality is not based on religion, but on the _polis._ There
were only priests of the individual gods; not representatives of the
whole religion: _i.e.,_ no guild of priests. Likewise no Holy Writ.


The "lighthearted" gods: this is the highest adornment which has ever
been bestowed upon the world--with the feeling, How difficult it is to


If the Greeks let their "reason" speak, their life seems to them
bitter and terrible. They are not deceived. But they play round life
with lies: Simonides advises them to treat life as they would a play;
earnestness was only too well known to them in the form of pain. The
misery of men is a pleasure to the gods when they hear the poets
singing of it. Well did the Greeks know that only through art could
even misery itself become a source of pleasure; _vide tragœdiam._


It is quite untrue to say that the Greeks only took _this_ life into
their consideration--they suffered also from thoughts of death and
Hell. But no "repentance" or contrition.


The incarnate appearance of gods, as in Sappho's invocation to
Aphrodite, must not be taken as poetic licence: they are frequently
hallucinations. We conceive of a great many things, including the will
to die, too superficially as rhetorical.


The "martyr" is Hellenic: Prometheus, Hercules. The hero-myth became
pan-Hellenic: a poet must have had a hand in that!


How _realistic_ the Greeks were even in the domain of pure inventions!
They poetised reality, not yearning to lift themselves out of it. The
raising of the present into the colossal and eternal, _e.g.,_ by Pindar.


What condition do the Greeks premise as the model of their life in
Hades? Anæmic, dreamlike, weak: it is the continuous accentuation of
old age, when the memory gradually becomes weaker and weaker, and the
body still more so. The senility of senility: this would be our state
of life in the eyes of the Hellenes.


The naïve character of the Greeks observed by the Egyptians.


The truly scientific people, the literary people, were the Egyptians
and not the Greeks. That which has the appearance of science among
the Greeks, originated among the Egyptians and later on returned to
them to mingle again with the old current. Alexandrian culture is an
amalgamation of Hellenic and Egyptian: and when our world again founds
its culture upon the Alexandrian culture, then ...[13]

[Footnote 13: "We shall once again be shipwrecked." The omission is in
the original.--TR.]


The Egyptians are far more of a literary people than the Greeks. I
maintain this against Wolf. The first grain in Eleusis, the first vine
in Thebes, the first olive-tree and fig-tree. The Egyptians had lost a
great part of their mythology.


The unmathematical undulation of the column in Paestum is analogous to
the modification of the _tempo:_ animation in place of a mechanical


The desire to find something certain and fixed in æsthetic led to the
worship of Aristotle: I think, however, that we may gradually come to
see from his works that he understood nothing about art; and that it is
merely the intellectual conversations of the Athenians, echoing in his
pages, which we admire.


In Socrates we have as it were lying open before us a specimen of the
consciousness out of which, later on, the instincts of the theoretic
man originated: that one would rather die than grow old and weak in


At the twilight of antiquity there were still wholly unchristian
figures, which were more beautiful, harmonious, and pure than those
of any Christians: _e.g.,_ Proclus. His mysticism and syncretism were
things that precisely Christianity cannot reproach him with. In any
case, it would be my desire to live together with such people. In
comparison with them Christianity looks like some crude brutalisation,
organised for the benefit of the mob and the criminal classes.

Proclus, who solemnly invokes the rising moon.


With the advent of Christianity a religion attained the mastery which
corresponded to a pre-Greek condition of mankind: belief in witchcraft
in connection with all and everything, bloody sacrifices, superstitious
fear of demoniacal punishments, despair in one's self, ecstatic
brooding and hallucination; man's self become the arena of good and
evil spirits and their struggles.


All branches of history have experimented with antiquity: critical
consideration alone remains. By this term I do not mean conjectural and
literary-historical criticism.


Antiquity has been treated by all kinds of historians and their
methods. We have now had enough experience, however, to turn the
history of antiquity to account without being shipwrecked on antiquity


We can now look back over a fairly long period of human existence:
what will the humanity be like which is able to look back at us from
an equally long distance? which finds us lying intoxicated among the
debris of old culture! which finds its only consolation in "being good"
and in holding out the "helping hand," and turns away from all other
consolations!--Does beauty, too, grow out of the ancient culture? I
think that our ugliness arises from our metaphysical remnants: our
confused morals, the worthlessness of our marriages, and so on, are the
cause. The beautiful man, the healthy, moderate, and enterprising man,
moulds the objects around him into beautiful shapes after his own image.


Up to the present time all history has been written from the standpoint
of success, and, indeed, with the assumption of a certain reason in
this success. This remark applies also to Greek history: so far we
do not possess any. It is the same all round, however: where are the
historians who can survey things and events without being hum-bugged
by stupid theories? I know of only one, Burckhardt. Everywhere the
widest possible optimism prevails in science. The question: "What would
have been the consequence if so and so had not happened?" is almost
unanimously thrust aside, and yet it is the cardinal question. Thus
everything becomes ironical. Let us only consider our own lives. If we
examine history in accordance with a preconceived plan, let this plan
be sought in the purposes of a great man, or perhaps in those of a sex,
or of a party. Everything else is a chaos.--Even in natural science we
find this deification of the necessary.

Germany has become the breeding-place of this historical optimism;
Hegel is perhaps to blame for this. Nothing, however, is more
responsible for the fatal influence of German culture. Everything
that has been kept down by success gradually rears itself up: history
as the scorn of the conqueror; a servile sentiment and a kneeling down
before the actual fact--"a sense for the State," they now call it, as
if _that_ had still to be propagated! He who does not understand how
brutal and unintelligent history is will never understand the stimulus
to make it intelligent. Just think how rare it is to find a man with
as great an intelligent knowledge of his own life as Goethe had: what
amount of rationality can we expect to find arising out of these other
veiled and blind existences as they work chaotically with and in
opposition to each other?

And it is especially naïve when Hellwald, the author of a history of
culture, warns us away from all "ideals," simply because history has
killed them off one after the other


To bring to light without reserve the stupidity and the want of reason
in human things: that is the aim of _our_ brethren and colleagues.
People will then have to distinguish what is essential in them, what is
incorrigible, and what is still susceptible of further improvement. But
"Providence" must be kept out of the question, for it is a conception
that enables people to take things too easily. I wish to breathe the
breath of _this_ purpose into science. Let us advance our knowledge of
mankind! The good and rational in man is accidental or apparent, or
the contrary of something very irrational. There will come a time when
_training_ will be the only thought.


Surrender to necessity is exactly what I do not teach--for one must
first know this necessity to be necessary. There may perhaps be many
necessities; but in general this inclination is simply a bed of


To know history now means: to recognise how all those who believed in
a Providence took things too easily. There is no such thing. If human
affairs are seen to go forward in a loose and disordered way, do not
think that a god has any purpose in view by letting them do so or that
he is neglecting them. We can now see in a general way that the history
of Christianity on earth has been one of the most dreadful chapters in
history, and that a stop _must_ be put to it. True, the influence of
antiquity has been observed in Christianity even in our own time; and,
as it diminishes, so will our knowledge of antiquity diminish also to
an even greater extent. Now is the best time to recognise it: we are no
longer prejudiced in favour of Christianity, but we still understand
it, and also the antiquity that forms part of it, so far as this
antiquity stands in line with Christianity.


Philosophic heads must occupy themselves one day with the collective
account of antiquity and make up its balance-sheet. If we have this,
antiquity will be overcome. All the shortcomings which now vex us have
their roots in antiquity, so that we cannot continue to treat this
account with the mildness which has been customary up to the present.
The atrocious crime of mankind which rendered Christianity possible,
as it actually became possible, is the _guilt_ of antiquity. With
Christianity antiquity will also be cleared away.--At the present time
it is not so very far behind us, and it is certainly not possible to
do justice to it. It has been availed of in the most dreadful fashion
for purposes of repression, and has acted as a support for religious
oppression by disguising itself as "culture." It was common to hear the
saying, "Antiquity has been conquered by Christianity."

This was a historical fact, and it was thus thought that no harm
could come of any dealings with antiquity. Yes; it is so plausible
to say that we find Christian ethics "deeper" than Socrates! Plato
was easier to compete with! We are at the present time, so to speak,
merely chewing the cud of the very battle which was fought in the first
centuries of the Christian era--with the exception of the fact that
now, instead of the clearly perceptible antiquity which then existed,
we have merely its pale ghost; and, indeed, even Christianity itself
has become rather ghostlike. It is a battle fought _after_ the decisive
battle, a post-vibration. In the end, all the forces of which antiquity
consisted have reappeared in Christianity in the crudest possible form:
it is nothing new, only quantitatively extraordinary.


What severs us for ever from the culture of antiquity is the fact that
its foundations have become too shaky for us. A criticism of the Greeks
is at the same time a criticism of Christianity; for the bases of the
spirit of belief, the religious cult, and witchcraft, are the same in
both.--There are many rudimentary stages still remaining; but they are
by this time almost ready to collapse.

This would be a task: to characterise Greek antiquity as irretrievably
lost, and with it Christianity also and the foundations upon which, up
to the present time, our society and politics have been based.


Christianity has conquered antiquity--yes; that is easily said. In the
first place, it is itself a piece of antiquity; in the second place,
it has preserved antiquity; in the third place, it has never been
in combat with the pure ages of antiquity. Or rather: in order that
Christianity itself might remain, it had to let itself be overcome
by the spirit of antiquity--for example, the idea of empire, the
community, and so forth. We are suffering from the uncommon want
of clearness and uncleanliness of human things; from the ingenious
mendacity which Christianity has brought among men.


It is almost laughable to see how nearly all the sciences and arts
of modern times grow from the scattered seeds which have been wafted
towards us from antiquity, and how Christianity seems to us here to
be merely the evil chill of a long night, a night during which one is
almost inclined to believe that all is over with reason and honesty
among men. The battle waged against the natural man has given rise to
the unnatural man.


With the dissolution of Christianity a great part of antiquity has
become incomprehensible to us, for instance, the entire religious basis
of life. On this account an imitation of antiquity is a false tendency:
the betrayers or the betrayed are the philologists who still think
of such a thing. We live in a period when many different conceptions
of life are to be found: hence the present age is instructive to an
unusual degree; and hence also the reason why it is so ill, since it
suffers from the evils of all its tendencies at once. The man of the
future: the European man.


The German Reformation widened the gap between us and antiquity: was it
necessary for it to do so? It once again introduced the old contrast of
"Paganism" and "Christianity"; and it was at the same time a protest
against the decorative culture of the Renaissance--it was a victory
gained over the same culture as had formerly been conquered by early

In regard to "worldly things," Christianity preserved the grosser views
of the ancients. All the nobler elements in marriage, slavery, and the
State are unchristian. It _required_ the distorting characteristics of
worldliness to prove itself.


The connection between humanism and religious rationalism was
emphasised as a Saxonian trait by Köchly: the type of this philologist
is Gottfried Hermann.[14]

[Footnote 14: Johann Gottfried Jakob Hermann (1772-1848), noted for his
works on metre and Greek grammar.--TR.]


I understand religions as narcotics: but when they are given to such
nations as the Germans, I think they are simply rank poison.


All religions are, in the end, based upon certain physical assumptions,
which are already in existence and adapt the religions to their needs:
for example, in Christianity, the contrast between body and soul,
the unlimited importance of the earth as the "world," the marvellous
occurrences in nature. If once the opposite views gain the mastery--for
instance, a strict law of nature, the helplessness and superfluousness
of all gods, the strict conception of the soul as a bodily process--all
is over. But all Greek culture is based upon such views.


When we look from the character and culture of the Catholic Middle
Ages back to the Greeks, we see them resplendent indeed in the rays
of higher humanity; for, if we have anything to reproach these Greeks
with, we must reproach the Middle Ages with it also to a much greater
extent. The worship of the ancients at the time of the Renaissance was
therefore quite honest and proper. We have carried matters further in
one particular point, precisely in connection with that dawning ray of
light. We have outstripped the Greeks in the clarifying of the world by
our studies of nature and men. Our knowledge is much greater, and our
judgments are more moderate and just.

In addition to this, a more gentle spirit has become widespread, thanks
to the period of illumination which has weakened mankind--but this
weakness, when turned into morality, leads to good results and honours
us. Man has now a great deal of freedom: it is his own fault if he
does not make more use of it than he does; the fanaticism of opinions
has become much milder. Finally, that we would much rather live in the
present age than in any other is due to science; and certainly no other
race in the history of mankind has had such a wide choice of noble
enjoyments as ours--even if our race has not the palate and stomach to
experience a great deal of joy. But one can live comfortably amid all
this "freedom" only when one merely understands it and does not wish to
participate in it--that is the modern crux. The participants appear to
be less attractive than ever: how stupid they must be!

Thus the danger arises that knowledge may avenge itself on us, just as
ignorance avenged itself on us during the Middle Ages. It is all over
with those religions which place their trust in gods, Providences,
rational orders of the universe, miracles, and sacraments; as is also
the case with certain types of holy lives, such as ascetics; for we
only too easily conclude that such people are the effects of sickness
and an aberrant brain. There is no doubt that the contrast between
a pure, incorporeal soul and a body has been almost set aside. Who
now believes in the immortality of the soul! Everything connected
with blessedness or damnation, which was based upon certain erroneous
physiological assumptions, falls to the ground as soon as these
assumptions are recognised to be errors. Our scientific assumptions
admit just as much of an interpretation and utilisation in favour of a
besotting philistinism--yea, in favour of bestiality--as also in favour
of "blessedness" and soul-inspiration. As compared with all previous
ages, we are now standing on a new foundation, so that something may
still be expected from the human race.

As regards culture, we have hitherto been acquainted with only one
complete form of it, _i.e.,_ the city-culture of the Greeks, based as
it was on their mythical and social foundations; and one incomplete
form, the Roman, which acted as an adornment of life, derived from the
Greek. Now all these bases, the mythical and the politico-social, have
changed; our alleged culture has no stability, because it has been
erected upon insecure conditions and opinions which are even now almost
ready to collapse.--When we thoroughly grasp Greek culture, then,
we see that it is all over with it. The philologist is thus a great
sceptic in the present conditions of our culture and training: that is
his mission. Happy is he if, like Wagner and Schopenhauer, he has a dim
presentiment of those auspicious powers amid which a new culture is


Those who say: "But antiquity nevertheless remains as a subject of
consideration for pure science, even though all its educational
purposes may be disowned," must be answered by the words, What is pure
science here! Actions and characteristics must be judged; and those
who judge them must stand above them: so you must first devote your
attention to overcoming antiquity. If you do not do that, your science
is not pure, but impure and limited: as may now be perceived.


To overcome Greek antiquity through our own deeds: this would be the
right task. But before we can do this we must first _know_ it!--There
is a thoroughness which is merely an excuse for inaction. Let it be
recollected how much Goethe knew of antiquity: certainly not so much as
a philologist, and yet sufficient to contend with it in such a way as
to bring about fruitful results. One _should_ not even know more about
a thing than one could create. Moreover, the only time when we can
actually _recognise_ something is when we endeavour to _make_ it. Let
people but attempt to live after the manner of antiquity; and they will
at once come hundreds of miles nearer to antiquity than they can do
with all their erudition.--Our philologists never show that they strive
to emulate antiquity in any way, and thus _their_ antiquity remains
without any effect on the schools.

The study of the spirit of emulation (Renaissance, Goethe), and the
study of despair.

The non-popular element in the new culture of the Renaissance: a
frightful fact!


The worship of classical antiquity, as it was to be seen in Italy,
maybe interpreted as the only earnest, disinterested, and fecund
worship which has yet fallen to the lot of antiquity. It is a splendid
example of Don Quixotism; and philology at best is such Don Quixotism.
Already at the time of the Alexandrian savants, as with all the
sophists of the first and second centuries, the Atticists, &c., the
scholars are imitating something purely and simply chimerical and
pursuing a world that never existed. The same trait is seen throughout
antiquity: the manner in which the Homeric heroes were copied, and all
the intercourse held with the myths, show traces of it. Gradually all
Greek antiquity has become an object of Don Quixotism. It is impossible
to understand our modern world if we do not take into account the
enormous influence of the purely fantastic. This is now confronted by
the principle: there can be no imitation. Imitation, however, is merely
an artistic phenomenon, _i.e.,_ it is based on appearance: we can
accept manners, thoughts, and so on through imitation; but imitation
can create nothing. True, the creator can borrow from all sides and
nourish himself in that way. And it is only as creators that we shall
be able to take anything from the Greeks. But in what respect can
philologists be said to be creators! There must be a few dirty jobs,
such as knackers' men, and also text-revisers: are the philologists to
carry out tasks of this nature?


What, then, is antiquity _now,_ in the face of modern art, science,
and philosophy? It is no longer the treasure-chamber of all knowledge;
for in natural and historical science we have advanced greatly beyond
it. Oppression by the church has been stopped. A _pure_ knowledge of
antiquity is now possible, but perhaps also a more ineffective and
weaker knowledge.--This is right enough, if effect is known only as
effect on the masses; but for the breeding of higher minds antiquity is
more powerful than ever.

Goethe as a German poet-philologist; Wagner as a still higher stage:
his clear glance for the only worthy position of art. No ancient work
has ever had so powerful an effect as the "Orestes" had on Wagner. The
objective, emasculated philologist, who is but a philistine of culture
and a worker in "pure science," is, however, a sad spectacle.


Between our highest art and philosophy and that which is recognised to
be truly the oldest antiquity, there is no contradiction: they support
and harmonise with one another. It is in this that I place my hopes.


The main standpoints from which to consider the importance of antiquity:

1. There is nothing about it for young people; for it exhibits man with
an entire freedom from shame.

2. It is not for direct imitation, but it teaches by which means art
has hitherto been perfected in the highest degree.

3. It is accessible only to a few, and there should be a _police des
mœurs_ in charge of it--as there should be also in charge of bad
pianists who play Beethoven.

4. These few apply this antiquity to the judgment of our own time, as
critics of it; and they judge antiquity by their own ideals and are
thus critics of antiquity.

5. The contrast between the Hellenic and the Roman should be studied,
and also the contrast between the early Hellenic and the late Hellenic.
---Explanation of the different types of culture.


The advancement of science at the expense of man is one of the most
pernicious things in the world. The stunted man is a retrogression in
the human race: he throws a shadow over all succeeding generations.
The tendencies and natural purpose of the individual science become
degenerate, and science itself is finally shipwrecked: it has made
progress, but has either no effect at all on life or else an immoral


Men not to be used like things!

From the former very incomplete philology and knowledge of antiquity
there flowed out a stream of freedom, while our own highly developed
knowledge produces slaves and serves the idol of the State.


There will perhaps come a time when scientific work will be carried
on by women, while the men will have to _create,_ using the word in a
spiritual sense: states, laws, works of art, &c.

People should study typical antiquity just as they do typical men:
_i.e.,_ imitating what they understand of it, and, when the pattern
seems to lie far in the distance, considering ways and means and
preliminary preparations, and devising stepping-stones.


The whole feature of study lies in this: that we should study only what
we feel we should like to imitate; what we gladly take up and have the
desire to multiply. What is really wanted is a progressive canon of the
_ideal_ model, suited to boys, youths, and men.


Goethe grasped antiquity in the right way: invariably with an emulative
soul. But who else did so? One sees nothing of a well-thought-out
pedagogics of this nature: who knows that there is a certain knowledge
of antiquity which cannot be imparted to youths!

The puerile character of philology: devised by teachers for pupils.


The ever more and more common form of the ideal: first men, then
institutions, finally tendencies, purposes, or the want of them. The
highest form: the conquest of the ideal by a backward movement from
tendencies to institutions, and from institutions to men.


I will set down in writing what I no longer believe--and also what I
do believe. Man stands in the midst of the great whirlpool of forces,
and imagines that this whirlpool is rational and has a rational aim in
view: error! The only rationality that we know is the small reason of
man: he must exert it to the utmost, and it invariably leaves him in
the lurch if he tries to place himself in the hands of "Providence."

Our only happiness lies in reason; all the remainder of the world is
dreary. The highest reason, however, is seen by me in the work of the
artist, and he can feel it to be such: there may be something which,
when it can be consciously brought forward, may afford an even greater
feeling of reason and happiness: for example, the course of the solar
system, the breeding and education of a man.

Happiness lies in rapidity of feeling and thinking: everything else is
slow, gradual, and stupid. The man who could feel the progress of a ray
of light would be greatly enraptured, for it is very rapid.

Thinking of one's self affords little happiness. But when we do
experience happiness therein the reason is that we are not thinking of
ourselves, but of our ideal. This lies far off; and only the rapid man
attains it and rejoices.

An amalgamation of a great centre of men for the breeding of better
men is the task of the future. The individual must become familiarised
with claims that, when he says Yea to his own will, he also says Yea
to the will of that centre--for example, in reference to a choice,
as among women for marriage, and likewise as to the manner in which
his child shall be brought up. Until now no single individuality, or
only the very rarest, have been free: they were influenced by these
conceptions, but likewise by the bad and contradictory organisation of
the individual purposes.


Education is in the first place instruction in what is necessary, and
then in what is changing and in-constant. The youth is introduced to
nature, and the sway of laws is everywhere pointed out to him; followed
by an explanation of the laws of ordinary society. Even at this early
stage the question will arise: was it absolutely necessary that this
should have been so? He gradually comes to need history to ascertain
how these things have been brought about. He learns at the same time,
however, that they may be changed into something else. What is the
extent of man's power over things? This is the question in connection
with all education. To show how things may become other than what they
are we may, for example, point to the Greeks. We need the Romans to
show how things became what they were.


If, then, the Romans had spurned the Greek culture, they would perhaps
have gone to pieces completely. When could this culture have once again
arisen? Christianity and Romans and barbarians: this would have been an
onslaught: it would have entirely wiped out culture. We see the danger
amid which genius lives. Cicero was one of the greatest benefactors of
humanity, even in his own time.

There is no "Providence" for genius; it is only for the ordinary run
of people and their wants that such a thing exists: they find their
satisfaction, and later on their justification.


Thesis: the death of ancient culture inevitable. Greek culture must be
distinguished as the archetype; and it must be shown how all culture
rests upon shaky conceptions.

The dangerous meaning of art: as the protectress and galvanisation of
dead and dying conceptions; history, in so far as it wishes to restore
to us feelings which we have overcome. To feel "historically" or "just"
towards what is already past, is only possible when we have risen above
it. But the danger in the adoption of the feelings necessary for this
is very great: let the dead bury their dead, so that we ourselves may
not come under the influence of the smell of the corpses.


1. The signification of the studies of antiquity hitherto pursued:
obscure; mendacious.

2. As soon as they recognise the goal they condemn themselves to death:
for their goal is to describe ancient culture itself as one to be

3. The collection of all the conceptions out of which Hellenic culture
has grown up. Criticism of religion, art, society, state, morals.

4. Christianity is likewise denied.

5. Art and history--dangerous.

6. The replacing of the study of antiquity which has become superfluous
for the training of our youth.

Thus the task of the science of history is completed, and it itself
has become superfluous, if the entire inward continuous circle of past
efforts has been condemned. Its place must be taken by the science of
the _future._


"Signs" and "miracles" are not believed; only a "Providence" stands in
need of such things. There is no help to be found either in prayer or
asceticism or in "vision." If all these things constitute religion,
then there is no more religion for me.

My religion, if I can still apply this name to something, lies in the
work of breeding genius: from such training everything is to be hoped.
All consolation comes from art. Education is love for the offspring;
an excess of love over and beyond our self-love. Religion is "love
beyond ourselves." The work of art is the model of such a love beyond
ourselves, and a perfect model at that


The stupidity of the will is Schopenhauer's greatest thought, if
thoughts be judged from the standpoint of power. We can see in Hartmann
how he juggled away this thought. Nobody will ever call something


This, then, is the new feature of all the future progress of the
world: men must never again be ruled over by religious conceptions.
Will they be any _worse?_ It is not my experience that they behave
well and morally under the yoke of religion; I am not on the side of
Demopheles.[15] The fear of a beyond, and then again the fear of
divine punishments will hardly have made men better.

[Footnote 15: A type in Schopenhauer's Essay "On Religion." See
"Parerga and Paralipomena."--TR.]


Where something great makes its appearance and lasts for a relatively
long time, we may premise a careful breeding, as in the case of the
Greeks. How did so many men become free among them? Educate educators!
But the first educators must educate themselves! And it is for these
that I write.


The denial of life is no longer an easy matter: a man may become a
hermit or a monk--and what is thereby denied! This conception has now
become deeper: it is above all a discerning denial, a denial based upon
the will to be just; not an indiscriminate and wholesale denial.


The seer must be affectionate, otherwise men will have no confidence in
him: Cassandra.


The man who to-day wishes to be good and saintly has a more difficult
task than formerly: in order to be "good," he must not be so
unjust to knowledge as earlier saints were. He would have to be a
knowledge-saint: a man who would link love with knowledge, and who
would have nothing to do with gods or demigods or "Providence," as the
Indian saints likewise had nothing to do with them. He should also be
healthy, and should keep himself so, otherwise he would necessarily
become distrustful of himself. And perhaps he would not bear the
slightest resemblance to the ascetic saint, but would be much more like
a man of the world.


The better the state is organised, the duller will humanity be.

To make the individual uncomfortable is my task!

The great pleasure experienced by the man who liberates himself by

Spiritual heights have had their age in history; inherited energy
belongs to them. In the ideal state all would be over with them.


The highest judgment on life only arising from the highest energy of
life. The mind must be removed as far as possible from exhaustion.

In the centre of the world-history judgment will be the most accurate;
for it was there that the greatest geniuses existed.

The breeding of the genius as the only man who can truly value and deny

Save your genius! shall be shouted unto the people: set him free! Do
all you can to unshackle him.

The feeble and poor in spirit must not be allowed to judge life.


_I dream of a combination of men who shall make no concessions, who
shall show no consideration, and who shall be willing to be called
"destroyers": they apply the standard of their criticism to everything
and sacrifice themselves to truth. The bad and the false shall be
brought to light! We will not build prematurely we do not know, indeed,
whether we shall ever be able to build, or if it would not be better
not to build at all There are lazy pessimists and resigned ones in this
world--and it is to their number that we refuse to belong!_


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