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The Birth of Tragedy

Quotes

Important Quotes

Quotes Important Quotes

The intimation is that the poet is incapable of composing until he has become unconscious and bereft of reason.

While it is leveled as a criticism against Aeschylus by both Plato and Euripides, this charge of unconscious composition amounts to high praise for the Dionysian artist. For, it is only through an unconscious connection to the Primal Unity that an artist is able to create real art. His intuition, not his reason, is his guide. The true tragic artist knows that to create consciously, while under the influence of logic, is to doom oneself to the world of phenomena and illusion. Real truth can only be accessed by an act of faith (although Nietzsche does not put it in these terms): we must abandon ourselves to the infinite abyss of the Primal Unity, trusting that Apollo will save us before we fall to our destruction. The entire beauty of this complex relationship between the artist, his art, Apollo and Dionysus is lost on the Socratic thinkers. Where we find redemption, they see only chaos and confusion.

The Socratic insistence on doing all things in a premeditated, well thought out matter does not bode well for its creative potential. Nietzsche's claim that Euripides would have criticized Aeschylus for creating unconsciously is effective, as we are compelled to rise in defense of the great master of tragedy. We might be tempted to suspect this comment as yet another unsubstantiated supposition on Nietzsche's part. He does not make any effort to show us the Greek passages to support this claim. However, those who have read both Aeschylus and Euripides can attest that, while Aeschylus's writing pulls us down into the dark undercurrents of myth, Euripides's style is far more straightforward and clear and his Greek is certainly far more comprehensible to the modern student of classics. However, Euripides is unable to affect us on the same deep emotional level as Aeschylus. His rational mode of creation forces the reader to adopt a logical mindset, one that does not permit connections to the text outside of the realm of language.

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