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The Birth of Tragedy: Out of the Spirit of Music (Penguin Classics) (English Edition) Kindle-editie
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Nietzsche states, "The same impulse that is symbolized in Apollo gave birth to the entire Olympian world." The Olympians consisted of a pantheon of twelve gods and goddesses who had wrested control from the Titans, an older pantheon that represented the barbarism of Nature. Apollo was a mainstay of the Olympians, but Dionysius grew out of a cult religion and was only added later. Nietzsche states that the Greeks, being quite aware of the horrors of existence, felt compelled "to interpose the radiant dream-birth of the Olympians between themselves and these horrors". From that "radiant dream-birth" grew the myths. The book does not go into extensive detail about the myths featured in the tragedies, not like a scholarly work would; but a very important myth that it does touch on is the Prometheus myth of stealing fire from the gods. Stealing fire was like stealing power and control, and represented a defiance of divinity.
Not much can be gleaned of Greek music, but we do know that the dramatic dithyramb (the word is derived from the Greek), sung and danced by a chorus in honor of Dionysius, was a basis of what became Attic tragedy. It was the music that made the tragedy bearable and elevated it; and it was the music that rose out of tragedy in the spirit of Dionysius. The author links the decline of tragedy to what he sees as an over-reliance on reason and logic, which he pins squarely on Socrates. This over-reliance brings about an optimism that cannot be justified in life and therefore rings hollow in all art forms; and is not fertile ground for tragic dramatic art.
The arguments very much tend toward the polemical, most notably in the linking of Socrates and Euripides with the decline of Greek tragedy. Here, Nietzsche tends to think about the overreach of reason and logic during the nineteenth century rather than the tremendous achievement and significance of Greek thinkers such as Socrates during ancient times. Some sections of the book are particularly speculative such as his musings on lyric poetry and the rebirth of tragedy. He, himself, in his self-criticism of this book disparaged his youthful enthusiasm, especially in regard for Richard Wagner's music. But despite the criticism of this book, it's insights, especially concerning myth, art and tragedy, make it definitely worth reading more than once.