Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews February 26, 2024
February 19, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
In his discussion of the sufferings of the Greeks, Nietzsche shows that he understands them from his own pessimistic standpoint. The Greeks had a problem, he argues, and tragedy fixes it. That problem was that the Greeks were a particularly sensitive people, and so they had difficulty reconciling themselves with the suffering of the world. While all cultures experience this dilemma of suffering, the Greeks were more seriously affected and so more urgently strove to solve the problem of their suffering. Their first solution was the creation of the Olympian gods, but they were mere Apollonian appearances and did not satisfy the soul. Under the influence of Apollo, man was still aware that his destiny was controlled by dark forces, despite the beautiful things with which he surrounded himself.
Nietzsche tells the story of King Midas, who finally caught the satyr Silenus and asked him what was the best of all things for man. His answer was, as Nietzsche puts it, "Oh, wretched ephemeral race, children of chance and misery, why do ye compel me to tell you what it were most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is beyond your reach forever: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you—is quickly to die." The ancient world was a rough place; war was a constant reality, disease was rampant and often incurable, and outside of a city's walls no law was assured. In the face of this, and in addition to the awareness that there is some mysterious force driving one's fate in strange directions, the Greeks would have perished, had they not created first the Olympian gods; but this still was not enough.
Dionysus offered real salvation from suffering, not by covering it up with pretty images, but by absorbing the individual into the great community of the unconscious. In the "bosom" of Primal Unity, as Nietzsche calls it, man found deliverance from his individual fate, joined as he was to the souls of so many others. Existential suffering is a product of the individual who thinks he suffers alone, and can see no meaning in existence. Dionysus removes the veil from men's eyes, showing them the grand, dark chaos that sits in their hearts, and in the hearts of all men. Dionysus urges man to rejoice in this chaos, to lose himself, and thus to grow beyond his suffering.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Birth of Tragedy!