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.