PHIL 367 Lecture Notes - Sophist, Tyrant, Polytheism
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The Birth of Tragedy
According to Nietzsche, life is justified in tragic myth as an aesthetic phenomenon.
Music and the chorus play important roles as symbols of tragic myth.
The birth of great art has nothing to do with politics, but the power of music and
drama to represent the Dionysian process without representing individuals except
Music is more primal than language; it invokes and echoes in an immediacy and
complexity that language cannot achieve.
Music is the dreamer; the stage is a dream. The dream is its own justification; the
dreamer is content with the dream as a dream, and the dreamer doesn't analyze
the dream (no rational interpretation of the dream.)
The dream, the Apolline, is the channeling/managing of the Dionysian in such a way
Most forms of art die slowly (a natural death), and are superceded by their beautiful
children and disciples. However, tragedy died a violent suicide at the hands of
After Euripides, true Greek optimism, of the transforming of the terror of existence
into something joyful, turns into something false.
In Euripides, the chorus, the spectators and the actors are separate. Why does this
happen? Why does he “dumb down” the language?
Because Euripides is not a very good writer, and because he doesn't understand
great art, doesn't understand the conflict and tension in great art, nor how it arises
from Dionysian culture and Apolline mood.
He condemns his predecessors for being “drunk”, for creating purely out of instinct.
He finds their tragedies unclear.
Nietzsche says that the simulation of Euripides comes not from Apolline culture and
Dionysian impulses, but from cool, rationalization. Thus, it's not real drama; the
conflict of existence is not being expressed.
Nietzsche also condemns Socrates, who is a bigger danger than Euripides. Socrates
murders and condemns great art, and the existing ethics of the Greeks.
Knowledge = virtue = happiness -> this is the bizarrest of equations for Nietzsche.