The Birth of Tragedy

Quotes

Important Quotes

Quotes Important Quotes

But, at this juncture, when the will is most imperiled, art approaches, as a redeeming and healing enchantress; she alone may transform these horrible reflections on the terror and absurdity of existence into representations with which man may live. These are the representation of the sublime as the artistic conquest of the awful, and of the comic as the artistic release from the nausea of the absurd. The satyric chorus of the dithyramb is the saving device of Greek art."

This quote from Chapter Seven demonstrates Nietzsche's conviction that art can redeem and heal the observer. In the context of the passage, "art" stands for "Apollonian art," rather than for tragedy as a whole. Neitzsche has just discussed how the ecstasy of the Dionysian state exposes man to "the terror and absurdity of existence." But, he shall not despair, as the Apollonian image has the power to transform this shapeless terror into tangible forms that bring man joy and release. The satyric chorus saves Greek art from the horrors of its own revelations.

Throughout his essay, Nietzsche constantly creates problems for Greek culture and art that he then solves with either the Apollonian or Dionysian element, depending on the context. In this quote, he shows how the Dionysian revelation cannot stand alone, for its truth is too much for man to bear. Thus the Apollonian element becomes a necessity. In other sections, the reverse is true, where the Dionysian element must come to the salvation of the Apollonian. There is a constant push and pull that exists between the Apollonian and Dionysian art forms. This dynamic relationship is the soul of tragedy.

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