THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE
First Complete and Authorised English translation in Eighteen Volumes
DR OSCAR LEVY
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J. M. KENNEDY
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T. N. FOULIS
13 & 15 FREDERICK STREET
EDINBURGH . AND LONDON
TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE TO "WE PHILOLOGISTS" 105
WE PHILOLOGISTS 109
TRANSLATED BY J. M. KENNEDY
AUTHOR OF "THE QUINTESSENCE OF NIETZSCHE," "RELIGIONS AND PHILOSOPHIES OF THE EAST," &C.
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. Spruche, ed Bothlingk, 1 335)
An ugly-looking-wind instrument . but we must first blow into it.
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 AEschylus, 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.
J. M. KENNEDY.
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 "Providence."
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
(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 prerequisite 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 undervaluation 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 anaemic recollection of the past.—
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 Danae . 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 thoughtless philistinism which would fain devour everything.
PLANS AND THOUGHTS RELATING TO A WORK ON PHILOLOGY
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.
THE PREFERENCE FOR ANTIQUITY
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 good."
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 church.
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 clear.
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 propaedeutic 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.
If it were the task of the philologist to impart formal education, it would be necessary for him to teach walking, dancing, speaking, singing, acting, or arguing . and the so-called formal teachers did impart their instruction this way in the second and third centuries. But only the training of a scientific man is taken into account, which results in "formal" thinking and writing, and hardly any speaking at all.
If the gymnasium is to train young men for science, people now say there can be no more preliminary preparation for any particular science, so comprehensive have all the sciences become. As a consequence teachers have to train their students generally, that is to say for all the sciences—for scientificality in other words; and for that classical studies are necessary! What a wonderful jump! a most despairing justification! Whatever is, is right, even when it is clearly seen that the "right" on which it has been based has turned to wrong.
It is accomplishments which are expected from us after a study of the ancients: formerly, for example, the ability to write and speak. But what is expected now! Thinking and deduction . but these things are not learnt from the ancients, but at best through the ancients, by means of science. Moreover, all historical deduction is very limited and unsafe, natural science should be preferred.
It is the same with the simplicity of antiquity as it is with the simplicity of style: it is the highest thing which we recognise and must imitate; but it is also the last. Let it be remembered that the classic prose of the Greeks is also a late result.
What a mockery of the study of the "humanities" lies in the fact that they were also called "belles lettres" (bellas litteras)!
Wolf's reasons why the Egyptians, Hebrews, Persians, and other Oriental nations were not to be set on the same plane with the Greeks and Romans: "The former have either not raised themselves, or have raised themselves only to a slight extent, above that type of culture which should be called a mere civilisation and bourgeois acquirement, as opposed to the higher and true culture of the mind." He then explains that this culture is spiritual and literary: "In a well-organised nation this may be 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 itself").
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 purpose.
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 naivete, 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 aim.
(THE FINAL DRAFT OF THE FIRST CHAPTER.)
Il faut dire la verite 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 hauled 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 himself.
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 "Gottingen 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 dignitaries.
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, [Greek: technai] 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 interpreters."
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" True!
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 century.
"Classical education" . what do people see in it? Something that is useless beyond rendering a period of military service unnecessary and securing a degree!
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 overpowering, 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 them?
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 "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.
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; or 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 examples.
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 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.
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, &c.
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.
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., scholarship.
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 of 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 AND THE PHILOLOGISTS.)
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, 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. thought.
Bergk's "History of Literature": Not a spark of Greek fire or Greek sense.
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, 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.
If we change a single word of Lord Bacon's we may say . infimarum Graecorum 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 instincts.
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 men.
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 [Greek: aristeyein], delight 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 [Greek: aristeyein]. The [Greek: 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 naivete. 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 [Greek: 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 [Greek: 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.—"[Greek: Sophrosynae]," 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 polis is a Phoenician invention, even this has been imitated by the Hellenes. For a long time they dabbled in everything, like joyful dilettanti. Aphrodite is likewise Phoenician. 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 stupidity.
The Greek polis and the [Greek: aien aristeyein] 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 [Greek: "agon"] 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 polls, 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 Muller! How Christian it is to assume, with Welcker, that the Greeks were originally monotheistic! How philologists torment themselves by investigating the question whether Homer actually wrote, without being able to grasp the far higher tenet that Greek art long exhibited an inward enmity against writing, and did not wish to be read at all.
In the religious cultus an earlier degree of culture comes to light a remnant of former times. The ages that celebrate it are not those which invent it, the contrary is often the case. There are many contrasts to be found here. The Greek cultus takes us back to a pre-Homeric disposition and culture. It is almost the oldest that we know of the Greeks—older than their mythology, which their poets have considerably remoulded, so far as we know it—Can this cult really be called Greek? I doubt it: they are finishers, not inventors. They preserve by means of this beautiful completion and adornment.
It is exceedingly doubtful whether we should draw any conclusion in regard to nationality and relationship with other nations from languages. A victorious language is nothing but a frequent (and not always regular) indication of a successful campaign. Where could there have been autochthonous peoples! It shows a very hazy conception of things to talk about Greeks who never lived in Greece. That which is really Greek is much less the result of natural aptitude than of adapted institutions, and also of an acquired language.
To live on mountains, to travel a great deal, and to move quickly from one place to another . in these ways we can now begin to compare ourselves with the Greek gods. We know the past, too, and we almost know the future. What would a Greek say, if only he could see us!
The gods make men still more evil; this is the nature of man. If we do not like a man, we wish that he may become worse than he 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 role of the god who sent the unhappiness to men.
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 live!
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 tragoediam.
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? Anaemic, 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 naive 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....
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 movement.
The desire to find something certain and fixed in aesthetic 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 mind.
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 itself.
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 humbugged 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 naive 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 idleness.
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 Christianity.
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 Kochly: the type of this philologist is Gottfried Hermann.
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.