Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics. Part 3, Section 3

Chapter III


1. The temple of classical architecture needed a god to live in it; sculpture places him before us in plastic beauty and gives to the material it uses for this purpose forms which by their very nature are not alien to the spirit but are the shape immanent in the selected content itself. But the body, sensuousness, and ideal universality of the sculptural figure has contrasted with it both the subjective inner life and the particular character of the individual; and the content alike of the religious and the mundane life must gain actuality in the subjective and particular by means of a new art. This subjective and particular characteristic mode of expression painting introduces within the principle of the visual arts themselves, because it reduces the real externality of the shape to a more ideal appearance in colour and makes the expression of the inner soul the centre of the representation. Yet the general sphere in which these arts move, the first symbolic in type, the second ideally plastic, the third romantic, is the sensuous external shape of the spirit and things in nature.

But the spiritual content, by essentially belonging to the inner life of consciousness, has at the same time an existence alien to that life in the pure element of external appearance and in the vision to which the external shape is offered. Art must withdraw from this foreign element in order to enshrine its conceptions in a sphere of an explicitly inner and ideal kind in respect alike of the material used and the manner of expression. This was the forward step which we saw music taking, in that it made the inner life as such, and subjective feeling, something for apprehension by the inner life, not in visible shapes, but in the figurations of inwardly reverberating sound. But in this way it went to the other extreme, to an undeveloped concentration of feeling, the content of which found once again only a purely symbolic expression in notes. For the note, taken by itself, is without content and has its determinate character only in virtue of numerical relations, so that although the qualitative character of the spiritual content does correspond in general to these quantitative relations which open out into essential differences, oppositions, and modulation, still it cannot be completely characterized qualitatively by a note. Therefore, if this qualitative side is not to be missing altogether, music must, on account of its one-sidedness, call on the help of the more exact meaning of words and, in order to become more firmly conjoined with the detail and characteristic expression of the subject-matter, it demands a text which alone gives a fuller content to the subjective life’s outpouring in the notes. By means of this expression of ideas and feelings the abstract inwardness of music emerges into a clearer and firmer unfolding of them. Yet on the one hand what it develops in this unfolding is not ideas and their artistically adequate form but only their accompanying inner sentiment; on the other hand, music simply snaps its link with words in order to move at will and unhampered within its own sphere of sound. Consequently, on its side too, the sphere of ideas, which transcend the rather abstract inner life of feeling as such and give to their world the shape of concrete actuality, cuts itself free from music and gives itself an artistically adequate existence in the art of poetry.

Poetry, the art of speech, is the third term, the totality, which unites in itself, within the province of the spiritual inner life and on a higher level, the two extremes, i.e. the visual arts and music. For, on the one hand, poetry, like music, contains that principle of the self-apprehension of the inner life as inner, which architecture, sculpture, and painting lack; while, on the other hand, in the very field of inner ideas, perceptions, and feelings it broadens out into an objective world which does not altogether lose the determinate character of sculpture and painting. Finally, poetry is more capable than any other art of completely unfolding the totality of an event, successive series and the changes of the heart’s movement passions, ideas, and the complete course of an action.

2. But furthermore poetry is the third of the romantic arts painting and music being the other two.

(a) Poetry (i) has as its general principle spirituality and therefore it no longer turns to heavy matter as such in order, like architecture, to form it symbolically into an analogous environment for the inner life, or, like sculpture, to shape into real matter the natural form, as a spatial external object, belonging to the spirit; on the contrary, it expresses directly for spirit’s apprehension the spirit’s se1f with all its imaginative and artistic conceptions but without setting these out visibly and bodily for contemplation from the outside. (ii) Poetry, to a still ampler extent than painting and music, can comprise in the form of the inner life not only the inner consciousness but also the special and particular details of what exists externally, and at the same time it can portray them separately in the whole expanse of their individual traits and arbitrary peculiarities.

(b) Nevertheless poetry as a totality is on the other hand to be essentially distinguished from the specific arts whose characters it combines in itself.

(α) Painting, in this connection, has an over-all advantage when it is a matter of bringing a subject before our eyes in its external appearance. For, with manifold means at its command, poetry can indeed likewise illustrate, just as the principle of setting something out for contemplation is implicit in imagination generally, but since the clement in which poetry principally moves, i.e. ideas, is of a spiritual kind and therefore enjoys the universality of thought, poetry is incapable of reaching the definiteness of sense-perception. On the other hand, the different traits which poetry introduces in order to make perceptible to us the concrete content of the subject in hand, do not fall together, as they do in painting, into one and the same whole which completely confronts us with all its details simultaneously; on the contrary, they occur separately because the manifold content of an idea can be expressed only as a succession. But this is a defect only from the sensuous point of view, one which the spirit can always rectify. Even where speech is concerned to evoke some concrete vision, it does not appeal to the sensuous perception of a present external object but always to the inner life, to spiritual vision, and consequently even if the individual traits only follow one another they are transferred into the element of the inwardly harmonious spirit which can extinguish a succession, pull together a varied series into one image and keep this image firmly in mind and enjoy it. Besides, this deficiency of sensuous reality and external definiteness in poetry as contrasted with painting is at once turned into an incalculable excess. For since poetry is exempt from painting’s restriction to a specific space and still more to one specific feature of a situation or an action, it is given the possibility of presenting a subject in its whole inward depth and in the breadth of its temporal development. Truth is absolutely concrete in virtue of comprising in itself a unity of essential distinctions. But these develop in their appearance not only as juxtaposed in space, but in a temporal succession as a history, the course of which painting can only present graphically in an inappropriate way. Even every blade of grass, every tree has in this sense its history, alteration, process, and a complete totality of different situations. This is still more the case in the sphere of the spirit; as actual spirit in its appearance, it can only be portrayed exhaustively if it is brought before our minds as such a course of history.

(β) As we saw, poetry has sounds as an external material in common with music. The wholly external material (ordinary, though not philosophically, called ‘objective’) slips away finally, in the progressive series of the particular arts, into the subjective element of sound which cannot be seen, with the result that the inner life is made aware of itself solely by its own activity.[1] But music’s essential aim is to shape these sounds into notes. For although in the course and progress of the melody and its fundamental harmonic relations the soul presents to feeling the inner meaning of the subject-matter or its own inner self, nevertheless what gives music its own proper character is not the inner life as such but the soul, most intimately interweaved with its sounding, and the formation of this musical expression. This is so much the case that music becomes music and an independent art the more that what preponderates in it is the complete absorption of inner the life into the realm of notes, not of the spirit as such. But, for this reason, it is capable only to a relative extent of harbouring the variety of spiritual ideas and insights and the broad expanse of a richly filled conscious life, and in its expression it does not get beyond the more abstract and general character of what it takes as its subject or beyond vaguer deep feelings of the heart. Now in proportion as the spirit transforms this abstract generality into a concrete ensemble of ideas, aims, actions, and events and adds to this process their inspection seriatim, it deserts the inner world of pure feeling and works it out into a world of objective actuality developed likewise in the inner sphere of imagination. Consequently, simply on account of this transformation, any attempt to express this new-won wealth of the spirit wholly and exclusively through sounds and their harmony must be abandoned. Just as the material of sculpture is too poor to make possible the portrayal of the richer phenomena which it is painting’s business to call to life, so now harmonious sounds and expression in melody cannot give full reality to the poet’s imaginative creations. For these possess the precise and known definiteness of ideas and an external phenomenal form minted for inner contemplation. Therefore the spirit withdraws its content from sounds as such and is manifested by words which do not entirely forsake the element of sound but sink to being a merely external sign of what is being communicated. The musical note being thus replete with spiritual ideas becomes the sound of a word, and the word, instead of then being an end in itself, becomes in itself a dependent means of spiritual expression. This gives us, in accordance with what we established earlier, the essential difference between music and poetry. The subject-matter of the art of speech is the entire world of ideas developed with a wealth of imagination, i.e. the spirit abiding by itself in its own spiritual element and, when it moves out to the creation of something external, using that only as a sign, itself different from the subject-matter. With music, art abandons the immersion of the spirit in a tangible, visible, and directly present shape; in poetry it gives up the opposite element of sound and hearing, at least in so far as this sound is no longer formed into an adequate external object and the sole expression of the subject-matter. Therefore the inner life is expressed [in music] but it will not find its actual existence in the perceptibility (even if more ideal) of the notes, because it seeks this existence solely in itself in order to express the experience of the spirit as that is contained in the heart of imagination as such.

(c) If, thirdly and lastly, we look for the special character of poetry in its distinction from music, and from painting and the other visual arts, we find it simply in the above-mentioned subordination of the sensuous mode of presenting and elaborating all poetic subject-matter. Since sound, as in music (or colour, as in painting), is no longer able to harbour and present that entire Subject-matter, the musical treatment of it by way of the beat, harmony, and melody necessarily disappears here, and what is left is, in general, only the tempo of words and syllables, rhythm, and euphony, etc. And even these remain not as the proper element for conveying the subject-matter but as a rather accidental externality which assumes an artistic form only because art cannot allow any external aspect to have free play purely by chance arbitrarily, or capriciously.

(α) Granted the withdrawal of the spiritual content from sensuous material, the question arises at once: What, in default of musical notes, will now be the proper external object in the case of poetry? We can answer quite simply: It is the inner imagination and intuition itself. It is spiritual forms which take the place of perceptibility and provide the material to be given shape, just as marble, bronze, colour, and musical notes were the material earlier on. For here we must not be led astray by the statement that ideas and intuitions are in truth the subject-matter of poetry. This of course is true enough, as will be shown in detail later; but it is equally essential to maintain that ideas, intuitions, feelings, etc., are the specific forms in which every subject-matter is apprehended and presented by poetry, so that, since the sensuous side of the communication always has only a subordinate part to play, these forms provide the proper material which the poet has to treat artistically. The thing in hand, the subject-matter, is to be objectified in poetry for the spirit’s apprehension, yet this objectivity exchanges its previously external reality for an internal one and it acquires an existence only within consciousness itself as something spiritually presented and intuited. Thus the spirit becomes objective to itself on its own ground and it has speech only as a means of communication or as an external reality out of which, as out of a mere sign, it has withdrawn into itself from the very start. Consequently in the case of poetry proper it is a matter of indifference whether we read it or hear it read; it can even be translated into other languages without essential detriment to its value, and turned from poetry into prose, and in these cases it is related to quite different sounds from those of the original.

(β) Further, the question arises: Granted that inner ideas constitute the material and form of poetry, for what is this material to be used? It is to be used for the absolute truth contained in spiritual interests in general, yet not merely for their substance in its universality of symbolical meaning [in architecture] or its classical differentiation [in sculpture] but also for everything detailed and particular within this substance, and so for almost everything which interests and occupies the spirit in any way. Consequently the art of speech, in respect of its subject-matter and its mode of expounding it, has an enormous field, a wider field than that open to the other arts. Any topic, all spiritual and natural things, events, histories, deeds, actions, subjective and objective situations, all these can be drawn into poetry and fashioned by it.

(γ) But this most variegated material is not made poetic simply by being harboured in our ideas, for after all a commonplace mind can shape exactly the same subject-matter into ideas and have separate intuitions of it without achieving anything poetic. In this connection we previously called ideas the material and element which is only given a poetically adequate form when art has shaped it afresh, just as colour and sound are not already, as mere colour and sound, painting and music. We can put this difference in general terms by saying that it is not ideas as such but the artistic imagination which makes some material poetic, when, that is to say, imagination so lays hold of it that, instead of confronting us as an architectural, sculptural, plastic, and painted shape or of sounding like musical notes, it can communicate with us in speech, in words and their beautiful spoken assembly.

The basic demand necessitated here is limited to this: (i) that the subject-matter shall not be conceived either in terms of scientific

or speculative thinking or in the form of wordless feeling or with the clarity and precision with which we perceive external objects, and (ii) that it shall not enter our ideas with the accidents, fragmentation, and relativities of finite reality. In this regard the poetic imagination has, for one thing, to keep to the mean between the abstract universality of thought and the sensuously concrete corporeal objects that we have come to recognize in the productions of the visual arts; for another thing, it has on the whole to satisfy the demands we made in the First Part of these lectures in respect of any artistic creation, i.e. in its content it must be an end in itself and, with a purely contemplative interest, fashion everything that it conceives into an inherently independent and closed world. For only in this event does the content, as art requires become by means of the manner of its presentation an organic whole which gives in its parts the appearance of close connection and coherence and, in contrast to the world of mutual dependence, stands there for its own sake and free on its own account.

3. The final point for discussion in connection with the difference between poetry and the other arts likewise concerns the changed relation which the poetic imagination introduces between its productions and the external material of their presentation.

The arts considered hitherto were completely in earnest with the sensuous element in which they moved, because they gave to a subject-matter only a form which throughout could be adopted by and stamped on towering heavy masses, bronze, marble, wood, colours, and notes. Now in a certain sense it is true that poetry has a similar duty to fulfil. For in composing it must keep steadily in mind that its results are to be made known to the spirit only by communication in language. But this changes the whole relation to the material.

(a) The sensuous aspect acquires importance in the visual arts and in music. It follows that, owing to the specific determinacy of the material they use, it is only a restricted range of presentations that completely corresponds to particular real things existent in stone, colour, or sound, and the result is that the subject-matter and the artistic mode of treatment in the arts considered hitherto is fenced in within certain limits. This was the reason why we brought each of the specific arts into close connection with only one of the particular art-forms which this and no other art seemed, best able to express adequately – architecture with the symbolic art-form, sculpture with the classical, painting and music with the romantic. It is true that the particular arts, below and above their, proper sphere, encroached on the other art-forms too, and for this reason we could speak of classical and romantic architecture, and symbolic and Christian sculpture, and we also had to mention classical painting and music. But these deviations did not reach the real summit of art but either were the preparatory attempts of inferior beginnings or else displayed the start of a transition to an art which, in this transition, seized on a subject-matter, and a way of treating the material, of a type that only a further art was permitted to develop completely.

In the expression of its content on the whole, architecture is poorest, sculpture is richer, while the scope of painting and music can be extended most widely of all. For with the increasing ideality and more varied particularization of the external material, the variety of the subject-matter and of the forms it assumes is increased. Now poetry cuts itself free from this importance of the material, in the general sense that the specific character of its mode of sensuous expression affords no reason any longer for restriction to a specific subject-matter and a confined sphere of treatment and presentation. It is therefore not linked exclusively to any specific form of art; on the contrary, it is the universal art which can shape in any way and express any subject-matter capable at all of entering the imagination, because its proper material is the imagination itself, that universal foundation of all the particular art-forms and the individual arts.

This is the point that we reached at the close of our treatment of the particular art-forms. Their culmination we looked for in art’s making itself independent of the mode of representation peculiar to one of the art-forms and in its standing above the whole of these particular forms. The possibility of such a development in every direction lies from the very beginning, amongst the specific arts, in the essence of poetry alone, and it is therefore actualized in the course of poetic production partly through the actual exploitation of every particular form, partly through liberation from imprisonment in any exclusive type and character of treatment and subject-matter, whether symbolic, classical, or romantic.

(b) From this point of view too the position we have assigned to poetry in our philosophical development of the arts can be justified. Since poetry is occupied with the universal element in art as such to a greater extent than is the case in any of the other ways of producing works of art, it might seem that a philosophical explanation had to begin with it and only thereafter proceed to particularize the ways in which the other arts are differentiated by their sensuous material. But, as we have seen already in connection with the particular art-forms, the process of development, regarded philosophically, consists on the one hand in a deepening of art’s spiritual content, and on the other in showing that at first art only seeks its adequate content, then finds it, and finally transcends it. This conception of beauty and art must now be made good in the arts themselves too. We began therefore with architecture which only strove after the complete representation of spiritual material in a sensuous element, so that art achieved a genuine fusion of form and content only in sculpture; with painting and music, on account of the inwardness and subjectivity of their content, art began to dissolve again the accomplished unification of conception and execution in the field of sense. This latter character [of unification] poetry displays most strikingly because in its artistic materialization it is essentially to be interpreted as a withdrawal from the real world of sense-perception and a subordination of that world, yet not as a production that does not dare to embark yet on materialization and movement in the external world. But in order to expound this liberation philosophically it is first necessary to explain what it is from which art undertakes to free itself, and, similarly, how it is that poetry can harbour the entire content of art and all the forms of art. This too we have to regard as a struggle for a totality a struggle that can be demonstrated philosophically only as the cancellation of a restriction to the particular, which in turn implies a previous treatment of the one-sided stages, the unique value possessed by each being negated in the totality.

Only as a result of considering the series of the arts in this way does poetry appear as that particular art in which art itself begins at the same time to dissolve and acquire in the eyes of philosophy its point of transition to religious pictorial thinking as such, as well as to the prose of scientific thought. The realm of the beautiful, as we saw earlier, is bordered on one side by the prose of finitude and commonplace thinking, out of which art struggles on its way to truth, and on the other side the higher spheres of religion and philosophy where there is a transition to that apprehension of the Absolute which is still further removed from the sensuous sphere.

(c) Therefore, however completely poetry produces the totality of beauty once and for all in a most spiritual way, nevertheless spirituality constitutes at the same time precisely the deficiency of this final sphere of art. In the system of the arts we can regard poetry as the polar opposite of architecture. Architecture cannot so subordinate the sensuous material to the spiritual content as to be able to form that material into an adequate shape of the spirit; poetry, on the other hand, goes so far in its negative treatment of its sensuous material that it reduces the opposite of heavy spatial matter, namely sound, to a meaningless sign instead of making it, as architecture makes its material, into a meaningful symbol. But in this way poetry destroys the fusion of spiritual inwardness with external existence to an extent that begins to be incompatible with the original conception of art, with the result that poetry runs the risk of losing itself in a transition from the region of sense into that of the spirit. The beautiful mean between these extremes of architecture and poetry is occupied by sculpture, painting, and music, because each of these arts works the spiritual content entirely into a natural medium and makes it intelligible alike to sense and spirit.

For although painting and music, as romantic arts, do adopt a material which is already more ideal, yet on the other hand for the immediacy of tangible objects, which begins to evaporate in this enhanced ideality of the medium, they substitute the wealth of detail and the more varied configuration which colour and sound are capable of providing in a richer way than is requirable from the material of sculpture.

Poetry for its part likewise looks for a substitute: it brings the objective world before our eyes in a breadth and variety which even painting cannot achieve, at least on a single canvas, and yet this always remains only a real existence in the inner consciousness; and even if poetry in its need for an artistic materialization makes straight for a strengthened sensuous impression, still it can produce this only by means foreign to itself and borrowed from painting and music or else, in order to maintain itself as genuine poetry, it must always put these sister arts in the background, purely as its servants, and emphasize instead, as the really chief thing concerned, the spiritual idea, the imagination which speaks to inner imagination.

So much in general about the relation of the nature of poetry to the nature of the other arts. The more detailed consideration of the art of poetry must be arranged as follows:

We have seen that in poetry both content and material are provided by our inner ideas. Yet ideas, outside art, are already the commonest form of consciousness and therefore we must in the first place undertake the task of distinguishing poetic from prosaic ideas. But poetry should not abide by this inner poetical conception alone but must give its creations an expression in language. Here once again a double duty is to be undertaken. (i) Poetry must so organize its inner conceptions that they can be completely adapted to communication in language; (ii) it must not leave this linguistic medium in the state in which it is used every day, but must treat it poetically in order to distinguish it from expressions in prose by the choice, placing, and sound of words.

But despite its expression in language, poetry is free in the main from the restrictions and conditions laid on the other arts by the particular character of their medium, and consequently it has the widest possibility of completely developing all the different genres that a work of art can permit of, independently of the one-sidedness of any particular art. For this reason the most perfect articulation of the different genres of poetry comes into view.

Accordingly our further course is

First, to discuss poetry in general and the poetic work and;

Secondly, poetic expression;

Thirdly, the division of this art into epic, lyric, and dramatic poetry.

A. The Poetic Work of Art as Distinguished from a Prose Work of Art

To define the poetic as such or to give a description of what is poetic horrifies nearly all who have written about poetry. And in fact if a man begins to talk about poetry as an imaginative art without having previously examined what art’s content and general mode of representation is, he will find it extremely difficult to know where to look for the proper essence of poetry. But the awkwardness of his problem especially increases if he starts from the individual character of single works and then proposes to assert some universal derived from this character and supposed to be valid for the most varied genres and sorts of poetry. Along these lines the most heterogeneous works count as poetry. If this assumption is presupposed and the question is then raised: By what right should such productions by recognized as poems? the difficulty just mentioned enters at once. Fortunately, at this point in our discussion we can evade this difficulty. In the first place, we have not reached the general conception of the matter in hand by deriving it from single examples; on the contrary, we have endeavoured to develop the real exemplifications of this conception from the conception itself and consequently we cannot be required, e.g. in the sphere we are dealing with now, to subsume under this conception whatever is commonly called a poem, because the decision on whether something actually is a poetical production or not is to be derived solely from the conception of poetry itself. Secondly, we need not now satisfy the demand that we should specify the conception of poetry, because to fulfill this task we would have to repeat everything already expounded in our First Part about beauty and the Ideal as such. For the nature of poetry coincides in general with the conception of the beauty of art and works of art as such, since the poetic imagination differs from the imagination in the visual arts and music where, owing to the kind of material in which it intends to work, it is restricted in its creation in many ways and driven in separate and one-sided directions. The poetic imagination, per contra, is subject only to the essential demands of an Ideal and artistically adequate mode of representation. Therefore, of the numerous points which could be adduced here , I will emphasize only the most important, namely

1. The difference between poetic and prosaic treatment.

2. Poetic and prose works of art.

3· A few remarks in conclusion about the author of poems namely the poet.

1. Poetic and Prosaic Treatment

(α) In the first place, externality as such, i.e. objects in nature, can at once be excluded, relatively at least, from the subject-matter suitable for poetical conception. The proper subject-matter of poetry is spiritual interests, not the sun, mountains, woods, landscapes, or constituents of the human body like nerves, blood muscles, etc. For however far poetry also involves an element of vision and illustration, it still remains even in this respect a spiritual activity and it works for inner intuition to which the spirit is nearer and more appropriate than external objects in their concrete visible and external appearance. Therefore this entire external sphere enters poetry only in so far as the spirit finds in it a stimulus or some material for its activity; in other words it enters as a human environment, as man’s external world which has essential worth only in relation to man’s inner consciousness and which may not claim the dignity of being, purely on its own account, the exclusive subject-matter of poetry. The subject-matter really corresponding to poetry is the infinite wealth of the spirit. For language, this most malleable material, the direct property of the spirit, of all media of expression the one most capable of seizing the interests and movements of the spirit in their inner vivacity, must be used, like stone, colour, and sound in the other arts principally to express what it proves most fitted to express. Accordingly, the chief task of poetry is to bring before our minds the powers governing spiritual life, and, in short, all that surges to and fro in human passion and feeling or passes quietly through our meditations – the all-encompassing realm of human ideas, deeds, actions, and fates, the bustle of life in this world, and the divine rule of the universe. Thus poetry has been and is still the most universal and widespread teacher of the human race. For to teach and to learn is to know and experience what is. Stars, plants, and animals neither know nor experience what their law is; but man exists conformably to the law of his existence only when he knows what he is and what his surroundings are: he must know what the powers are which drive and direct him, and it is such a knowledge that poetry provides in its original and substantive form.

(b) But this same subject-matter is treated also by the prosaic mind which teaches the universal laws [of nature] and can classify, arrange, and explain the individual phenomena of our chequered world. The question therefore arises, as we have said, of the general difference between the prosaic and poetic modes of conception, granted a possible similarity of the subject-matter in both cases.

(a) Poetry is older than skilfully elaborated prosaic speech. It is the original presentation of the truth, a knowing which does not yet separate the universal from its living existence in the individual, which does not yet oppose law to appearance, end to means, and then relate them together again by abstract reasoning, but which grasps the one only in and through the other. Therefore it does not at all take something already known independently in its universality and merely express it in imagery. According to its immediate essential nature it abides by the substantive unity of outlook which has not yet separated opposites and then related them purely externally.

(αα) With this way of looking at things, poetry presents all its subject-matter as a totality complete in itself and therefore independent; this whole may be rich and may have a vast range of relations, individuals, actions, events, feelings, sorts of ideas, but poetry must display this vast complex as perfect in itself, as produced and animated by the single principle which is manifested externally in this or that individual detail. Consequently the universal and the rational are not expressed in poetry in abstract universality and philosophically proved interconnection, or with their aspects merely related together as in scientific thinking, but instead as animated, manifest, ensouled, determining the whole, and yet at the same time expressed in such a way that the all-comprising unity, the real animating soul, is made to work only in secret from within outwards.

(ββ) This apprehension, formation, and expression [of the subject-matter] remains purely contemplative in poetry. The aim of poetry is imagery and speech, not the thing talked about or its existence in practice. Poetry began when man undertook to express himself; for poetry, what is spoken is there only to be an expression. When once, in the midst of his practical activity and need, man proceeds to collect his thoughts and communicate himself to others, then he immediately produces a coined expression, a touch of poetry. To mention only one example, Herodotus[2] gives us one in that distich which he has preserved for us and which reports the death of the Greeks who fell at Thermopylae. The report is left entirely simple: the dry information that four thousand Peloponnesians fought a battle here against three myriads. But the interest lies in the preparation of an inscription to relate this event for contemporaries and posterity, purely for the sake of relating it, and so the expression becomes poetic, i.e. it is meant to be a poiein [a making] which leaves the story in its simplicity but intentionally gives special form to its description. The Word enshrining the ideas is in itself of such a high dignity that it tries to distinguish itself from any other mode of speech, and makes itself into a distich.

(γγ) In this way, even on its linguistic side, poetry has the vocation of being a sphere of its own, and, in order to separate itself from ordinary speech, the formation of the expression becomes of more importance than mere enunciation. But in connection with this and with poetry’s general outlook, we must make an essential distinction between a primitive poetry composed before ordinary prose had been skilfully developed and a poetic diction and mode of treatment developed within a period when prosaic expression had already been completely elaborated. The former is poetic in conception and speech unintentionally, whereas the latter knows the sphere from which it must liberate itself in order to stand on the free ground of art and therefore it develops in conscious distinction from prose.

(β) Secondly, the prosaic mind, which poetry must shun, requires a totally different kind of conception and speech.

(αα) On the one hand, the prosaic mind treats the vast field of actuality in accordance with the restricted thinking of the understanding and its categories, such as cause and effect, means and i.e., in general with relations in the field of externality and finitude. In this way of thinking, every particular either appears falsely as independent or is brought into a mere relation with another and therefore is apprehended only as relative and dependent; the result is that there is not established that free unity which still remains a total and free whole in itself within all its ramifications and separate particulars; for in such a whole its particular aspects are only the unfolding and appearance proper to the one content which is the centre and cohesive soul and which is actually manifested as this through and through animation. The sort of conception characteristic of the Understanding therefore gets no further than particular laws for phenomena; it persists in separating the particular existent from the universal law and in merely relating them together, and at the same time, in its eyes, the laws themselves fall apart into fixed particulars, while the relations between these are presented likewise under the categories of externality and finitude.

(ββ) On the other hand, ordinary[3] thinking has nothing to do with an inner connection, with the essence of things, with reasons, causes, aims, etc., but is content to take what is and happens as just this bare individual thing or event, i.e. as something accidental and meaningless. In this case there is none of the Understanding’s dissection of that living unity in which the poetic vision keeps together the indwelling reason of things and their expression and existence; but what is missing is insight into this rationality and significance of things which therefore are without substance for this ordinary thinking and can make no further claim on a rational interest. In that event the Understanding’s view of the world and its relations as connected by certain categories is exchanged for a mere view of a world of successive or juxtaposed accidents which may have a great range of external life but which is totally unable to satisfy the deeper need of reason. For genuine insight and a sound mind find satisfaction only when they glimpse and sense in phenomena the corresponding reality of what is genuinely substantial and true. For a deeper mind, what is alive in the outside world is dead unless through it there shines something Inner and rich in significance as its own proper soul.

(γγ) Thirdly, these deficiencies of the Understanding’s categories and the ordinary man’s vision are extinguished by speculative thinking which therefore is from one point of view akin to the poetic imagination. Reason’s knowing neither has to do with accidental details nor does it overlook the essence of the phenomena neither is it content with those dissections and mere relations characteristic of the Understanding’s outlook and reflections; on the contrary, it conjoins in a free totality what under a finite type of consideration falls to pieces into aspects that are either independent or put into relations with one another without any unification.

Thinking, however, results in thoughts alone; it evaporates the form of reality into the form of the pure Concept, and even if it grasps and apprehends real things in their particular character and real existence, it nevertheless lifts even this particular sphere into the element of the universal and ideal wherein alone thinking is at home with itself. Consequently, contrasted with the world of appearance, a new realm arises which is indeed the truth of reality, but this is a truth which is not made manifest again in the real world itself as its formative power and as its own soul. Thinking is only a reconciliation between reality and truth within thinking itself. But poetic creation and formation is a reconciliation in the form of a real phenomenon itself, even if this form be presented only spiritually.

(γ) In this way we acquire two different spheres of thought poetry and prose. In primitive times poetry had an easier game to play: in those days a specific conception of the world, whether according with a religious faith or some other way of knowing, had not developed an intellectually organized set of ideas or knowledge, nor had it regulated the real world of human affairs in accordance with such knowledge. In those circumstances poetry was not confronted with prose as an independent field of internal and external existence, a field that it had first to overcome. Its task was restricted rather to merely deepening the meanings and clarifying the forms of other modes of consciousness. If, on the other hand, prose has already drawn into its mode of treatment the entire contents of the spirit and impressed the seal of that treatment on anything and everything, poetry has to undertake the work of completely recasting and remodelling and sees itself involved on every side in numerous difficulties because of the inflexibility of prose. For not only has it to tear itself free from adherence to the ordinary contemplation of indifferent and accidental things and either raise to rationality the Understanding’s view of the connection of things or else take speculative thinking into the imagination and give it a body as it were within the spirit itself; but it must also in all these tasks transform the prosaic consciousness’s ordinary mode of expression into a poetic one, and yet, despite all the deliberateness necessarily entailed by such an opposition, it must absolutely preserve the appearance of that lack of deliberation and that original freedom which art requires.

(c) We have now indicated very generally what the subject-matter of poetry is and we have distinguished its form from that of prose. The third point that must still be mentioned concerns the particularization to which poetry proceeds more than the other arts do, since their development has been less rich. It is true that we see architecture arising likewise amongst the most different nations and in the whole course of centuries, but sculpture reached its zenith in the ancient world, amongst the Greeks and Romans, just as painting and music have done in the modern world amongst Christian peoples. Poetry, however, enjoys its periods of brilliance and success in all nations and at practically every period which is productive of art at all. For it embraces the entire spirit of mankind, and mankind is particularized in many ways.

(α) The subject-matter of poetry is not the universal as it is abstracted in philosophy. What it has to represent is reason individualized. Throughout therefore it cannot dispense with the specific national character from which it proceeds; its subject-matter and mode of portrayal are made what they are by the ideas and ways of looking at things which are those of that character. This is why poetry has such a wealth of particularization and originality. Eastern, Italian, Spanish, English, Roman, Greek, German poetry, all are different throughout in spirit, feeling, outlook, expression, etc.

The same variety of differences is prominent also in the case of the historical periods in which poetry is composed. For example, what German poetry is now it could not be in the Middle Ages or at the time of the Thirty Years War. The things that arouse our deepest interest today belong to our own present period, and every age has its own mode of feeling, whether wider or more restricted, loftier and freer or more toned down, in short its own particular view of the world which is most clearly and completely brought before the artistic consciousness by poetry because the word can express the entirety of the human spirit.

(β) Further, amongst these national characters, tempers of the age, and views of the world, some are more poetic than others. For example, the Eastern mind is on the whole more poetic than the Western, Greece excluded. In the East the chief thing is always the One, undivided, fixed, substantive, and such an outlook is from start to finish the most sterling one, even if it does not press on to the freedom of the Ideal. The West, on the other hand, especially in recent times, starts from the endless dispersal and particularization of the infinite, and in this way, with the reduction of every thing to atoms, the finite becomes something independent for our apprehension, and yet it becomes bent round again into something relative; whereas for the East nothing remains really independent; everything appears as only something accidental which is brought back to the One and the Absolute, where it is steadily concentrated, and where it finds its final deliverance.

(γ) This variety of national differences, however, and this course of development through centuries is permeated by something common to them all, and for this reason other nations and the tempers of different periods have in common something intelligible and enjoyable, namely universal human nature and art. For this double reason especially, Greek poetry is always admired and imitated anew by the most different peoples because human nature has reached its most beautiful development in it alike in its subject-matter and its artistic form. Yet even Indian poetry, despite all its distance from our view of the world and from our mode of portrayal, is not wholly strange to us, and we can laud it as a high privilege of our age to have begun more and more to unveil its sense for the whole richness of art and, in short, of the human spirit.

If now, granted this tendency to individualization which poetry has followed throughout its course in the ways described, we are to treat it in general terms, then this general character, which could be accepted as such, remains abstract and trite, and therefore, if we intend to speak of poetry proper, we must always take up the forms of the imagining spirit in their national and temporary particular character and not leave out of our notice even the subjective individuality of the poet.

These are the points that I wished to premise in dealing generally with poetry’s treatment of its subject-matter.

2. The Poetic and the Prose Work of Art

But poetry must go beyond formulating inner ideas and must articulate and polish them into a poetic work of art. The manifold considerations which this new topic invites may be brought together and arranged in such a way that

(a) first, we emphasize the most important point about the poetic work of art as such, and this poetic work of art we then

(b) secondly, distinguish from the chief kinds of prosaic portrayal in so far as this portrayal is also capable of being handled artistically. From this alone

(c) thirdly, can the conception of the free work of art be completely revealed.

(a) In connection with the poetic work of art in general, we need only repeat the demand that, like any other product of free imagination, it must be formed and rounded into an organic whole. This requirement can only be satisfied in the following way.

(α) First, the dominant subject-matter, whether it be a specific aim of an action or event, or a specific feeling and passion, must above all have unity in itself.

(αα) Everything must be related to this united whole and connected together with this whole concretely and freely. This is possible only if the chosen subject is not seized as an abstract universal but as human action and feeling, as aim and passion, which belong to the spirit, mind, and will of specific individuals and grow from the soil of this individual character itself.

(ββ) The universal, which is to be represented, and the individuals, in whose character, histories, and actions, it appears poetically, may therefore not fall apart from one another or be so related that the individuals become servants of purely abstract universals; on the contrary, both must always be vitally interwoven with one another. So, for example, in the Iliad the battle between the Greeks and the Trojans and the victory of the former are linked with the wrath of Achilles which therefore is the sustaining centre of the whole epic. Of course there are also poetic works in which the basic content is itself of a more general character or is treated in a more significantly general way, as for instance Dante’s great epic poem which bestrides the entire divine world and portrays the most different sorts of individuals in relation to the punishments of Hell, to Purgatory, and to the blessings of Paradise. But even here there is no abstract separation of these two sides and no mere servitude of the individuals. For in the world of Christian thought the individual is not to be regarded as a mere accident of the Godhead but as an infinite end in himself, so that here the universal end, God’s justice in pronouncing damnation or salvation, may appear at the same time as an immanent affair, the eternal interest and being of the individual himself. In this divine world, concern is purely for the individual: in the state he may indeed be sacrificed for the’ safety of the universal, i.e. the state, but in relation to God and in the Kingdom of God he is without qualification an end in himself.

(γγ) Yet, in the third place, the universal which provides the content of human feeling and action must appear as independent, complete and perfect in itself and constitute a closed world on its own account. For instance, if we hear nowadays of an officer, a general, an official, a professor, etc., and imagine what such figures and characters can will and accomplish in their circumstances and environment, we are confronted merely by a matter of interest and activity which either is not rounded off or independent in itself but is involved in infinitely varied external connections, relations, and subjections, or else, taken again as an abstract whole, may assume, the form of a universal, like duty for example, violently abstracted from the rest of the individual’s whole character.

Conversely, it is true that there is a subject-matter of a motet solid kind which does form an enclosed whole but which is perfect and complete in a single sentence without any further development or advance. Of such a matter we cannot say with precision whether: it is to be reckoned poetry or prose. For example, the great saying of the Old Testament [Genesis I: 3]: ‘God said, Let there be light: and there was light’, is in its compactness and striking composure just as much supreme poetry as it is prose. The same is true of the Commandments [Exodus 20; 2-3,12]: ‘I am the Lord thy God ... Thou shalt have no other gods before me ... Honour thy father and thy mother'; in the same class are the ‘Golden Verses’ of Pythagoras,[4] the Book of Proverbs, and the Wisdom of Solomon, etc. These are pregnant sentences which precede, as it were, the difference between prose and poetry. But such collections, even If large, can scarcely be called a poetic work of art, for the perfect and rounded whole that we found in poetry is at the same time to be regarded as a development, an articulation, and therefore as a unity which essentially proceeds to an actual particularization of its different aspects and parts. This demand for particularization, self-explanatory in visual art, at least in its figures, is of the highest importance for a poetic work of art.

(β) In this way we reach a second point in connection with the organic articulation of the work of art, namely the particularization of its individual parts which, to be able to enter an organic unity, must appear developed on their own account.

(αα) The first point that arises here is grounded in the fact that art in general loves to tarry in the particular. The Understanding hurries, because either it forthwith summarizes variety in a theory drawn from generalizations and so evaporates it into reflections and categories, or else it subordinates it to specific practical ends, so that the particular and the individual are not given their full rights.[5] To cling to what, given this position, can only have a relative value, seems therefore to the Understanding to be useless and wearisome. But, in a poetic treatment and formulation, every part, every feature must be interesting and living on its own account, and therefore poetry takes pleasure in lingering over what is individual, describes it with love, and treats it as a whole in itself. Consequently, however great the interest and the subject may be which poetry makes the centre of a work of art, poetry nevertheless articulates it in detail, just as in the human organism each limb, each finger is most delicately rounded off into a whole, and in real life, in short, every particular existent is enclosed into a world of its own. The advance of poetry is therefore slower than the judgements and syllogisms of the Understanding to which what is important, whether in its theorizing or in its practical aims and intentions, is above all the end result, while it is less concerned with the long route by which it reaches it.

But as for the extent to which poetry may indulge its inclination to linger on the details it depicts, we have seen already that it is not its function to describe at length the external world as such in the form in which it appears before our eyes. For this reason if it makes such detailed descriptions its chief task, without mirroring spiritual relations and interests in them, it becomes ponderous and wearisome. Especially must it beware of competing in any exact details with the whole particularity of real existence. In this respect; even painting must be cautious and be able to remain within limits. In the case of poetry two points must be kept in view, namely that, on the one hand, it can make its effect only on our r subjective contemplation, and, on the other hand, it can bring before our minds only in isolated traits one after another what we can see at one glance in the real world, and therefore in its treatment of an individual occurrence it cannot so far spread itself that the total view of it is necessarily disturbed, confused, or altogether lost. It has special difficulties above all to overcome when it is to set before our eyes an action or event of a varied kind which is carried out in the real world at its own moment and is in the closest connection with that contemporaneousness, while poetry can always present it only as a succession.

In connection with this point, as with the manner of lingering and advancing, etc., very different sorts of requirement arise besides from the different kinds of poetry. For example, epic poetry must linger on individual and external events to a greater extent than in the case with dramatic poetry which pushes forward in a more rapid course, or with lyric which is concerned with the inner life alone.

(ββ) Secondly, owing to such a development of the work of art, its particular parts become independent. This seems to be a direct contradiction of the unity which we laid down as the primary condition of a work of art, but in fact this contradiction is only apparent and deceptive. For this independence may not be so firmly established that each particular part is absolutely divorced from the others; on the contrary it must be asserted only to the extent of showing that the different aspects and members have come into the presentation on their own account in their own living reality and stand there freely on their own feet. But if the single parts lack life of their own, the work of art becomes cold and dead since, like art generally, it can give an existence to universal material only in the form of actual particulars.

(γγ) Yet despite this independence, these same single parts must still remain connected together, because the one fundamental subject, developed and presented in them, has to be manifested as the unity permeating all the particulars, holding them together as a totality, and drawing them all back into itself. If poetry is not at its height, it may easily founder on the reef of this demand, and the work of art will be transposed from the element of free imagination into the sphere of prose. The connection into which the parts are brought should not be a mere teleological one. For in a teleological relationship, the end is the independently envisaged and willed universal which can bring into conformity with itself the particulars through and in which it gains existence, but these particulars it uses merely as means and it robs them of all independently free existence and therefore of every sort of life. In that event the parts come only into an intended relation to the one end which alone is to be conspicuous as valid; everything else this end subjects to itself and takes abstractly into its service. This unfree relationship, characteristic of the Understanding, is the very contrary of the free beauty of art.

(γ) Thus the unity to be re-established in the particular parts of the work of art must be of another kind. The two points implicit in this we may put as follows:

(αα) We required each part to have a life of its own, and the first point is that this life shall be preserved. If we ask by what right the particular as such can be introduced into the work of art at all, our reply starts from the fact that a work of art is undertaken in order to present one fundamental idea. Therefore it must be from this idea that everything specific and individual derives its proper origin. In other words, the subject-matter of a poetic work must be concrete in nature, not inherently abstract, and lead automatically to a rich development of its different aspects. These differences may appear to fall apart from one another in the course of their actualization and become direct opposites, but if they are in fact grounded in that fully unified subject-matter, then this can be the case only if the subject-matter in its nature and essence contains in itself a closed and harmonious totality of particulars which are its own; and it is only by unfolding these seriatim that it really makes explicit what its own proper meaning is. For this reason it is only these particular parts, which belong to the subject-matter originally, that may be displayed in the work of art in the form of an actual, independently valid, and living existence. In this respect, however much in the realization of their own particular characters they may seem to become opposed to one another, they nevertheless have from the very beginning a secret harmony grounded in their Own nature.

(ββ) Secondly, the work of art confronts us in the form of something that appears in the real world, and therefore if the living reflection of the actual in the real is not to be jeopardized, the unity itself must be only the inner bond which holds the parts together, apparently unintentionally, and includes them in an organic whole. It is this soul-laden unity of an organic whole which alone, as contrasted with the prosaic category of means and end, can produce genuine poetry. Where the particular appears only as a means to a specific end, it neither has nor should have any validity and life of its own, but on the contrary is to manifest in its entire existence that it is there only for the sake of something else, i.e. the specific end. The category of means and end makes obvious its dominion over the objective world in which the end is realized. But the work of art differentiates the fundamental topic that has been selected as its centre by developing its particular features, and to these it imparts the appearance of independent freedom; and this it must do because these particulars are nothing but that topic itself in the form of its actually corresponding realization. This may· therefore remind us of the procedure of speculative thinking which likewise must develop the particular, out of the primarily undifferentiated universal, up to independence, but on the other hand has to show how, within this totality of particulars in which what is made explicit is only what was implicit in the universal, the unity is on this very account restored once more and is only now the actually concrete unity, proved to be such on the strength of its own differences and their harmonization. By means of this mode of treatment, speculative philosophy likewise produces works which, like poetical ones in this respect, have through their content itself perfect self-identity and articulated development; but when we compare these two activities, we must emphasize an essential difference over and above the difference between art’s portrayal and the development of pure thought. Logical deduction does display the necessity and reality of the particular but, by dialectically superseding it, it expressly demonstrates in the particular itself that the particular has its truth and stability only in the concrete unity. Poetry, on the other hand, does not get so far as such a deliberate exposition: the harmonizing unity must indeed be completely present in every poetical work and be active in every part of it as the animating soul of the whole, but this presence is never expressly emphasized by art; on the contrary it remains something inner and implicit, just as the soul is directly living in all the members of the organism but without depriving them of their appearance of existing independently. The same is the case with colours and musical notes: yellow, blue, green, and red are different colours which may be brought into complete opposition to one another, and yet by being the totality implied in the very nature of colour, they can remain in harmony without their unity being expressly made explicit in them as such. Similarly the keynote, the third, and the fifth remain particular notes and yet provide the harmony of the chord: indeed they form this harmony only if each note is independently allowed its own free sound.

(γγ) But in respect of the organic unity and articulation of the work of art, essential differences are introduced both by the particular art-form in which the work of art originated, and also by the specific kind of poetry whose special character conditions the formation of the poem. For example, in the poetry of symbolic art the fundamental subject-matter involves meanings that are rather abstract and vague, and therefore this poetry cannot achieve a genuine organic accomplishment in the degree of purity possible in the case of works within the classical form of art. In symbolic art generally, as we saw above in Part I, the connection between the universal meaning and the actual appearance in which art embodies its subject-matter is of a looser kind, so that here at one time the particulars acquire a greater independence, and at another time again, as in sublimity, they are just superseded in order in this negation to make intelligible the one and only power and substance, or again there is only an enigmatic linkage of particular traits and aspects of natural and spiritual existence alike, and these in themselves are as often heterogeneous as akin. In the romantic art-form, conversely, the inner life, withdrawn into itself, reveals itself to the mind alone, and therefore this art-form gives to the particulars of external reality likewise a wider scope for independent development, so that here too, although the connection and unity of all the parts must indeed be present, it cannot be so clearly and firmly developed as it is in the products of the classical art-form.

In a similar way epic permits of a wider depiction of externals and a lingering over episodic events and deeds, with the result that, owing to the increased independence of the parts, the unity of the whole is less in evidence. Drama, on the other hand, demands a stricter concatenation, although even in drama romantic poetry allows a rich variety of episodes and a detailing of particulars in its characterization of both subjective and objective existence. Lyric poetry, proportionately to its different kinds, likewise adopts the most manifold modes of presentation: at one time it relates, at another it merely expresses feelings and reflections, at another again, moving along more quietly, it keeps to a more closely linking unity, or, in unrestrained passion, it can run riot in feelings and ideas apparently destitute of any unity.

This may suffice for the general character of the poetic work of art.

(b) Now, secondly, in order to bring out more definitely the difference between a poem organized in this way and a prose composition, we will tum to those kinds of prose which within their limits are best able to have their share of art. This is principally the case in the arts of historiography and oratory.

(α) Historiography of course leaves room enough for one aspect of artistic activity.

(αα) The development of human life in religion and the state, the affairs and fates of the most prominent individuals and nations who in these spheres have their vital activity, pursue great ends, or see their undertakings come to disaster – all this as the topic and subject-matter of historiography may be important on its own account, interesting, and of sterling worth, and, however much trouble the historian must take in recounting ‘things as they actually happened’,[6] he must absorb in his mind this varied material of events and characters and recreate it and present it out of his own genius for our minds to grasp. Further, in so reproducing it he may not be content with mere exactitude in individual details; on the contrary, he must at the same time arrange and organize his material: he must so connect and group individual traits, occurrences, and facts, that on the one hand there leaps to our view a clear picture of the nation, the period, the external circumstances and the subjective greatness or weakness of the individual actors in their fully characteristic life, while, on the other hand, out of all the parts there proceeds their connection with the inner historical significance of a people, an event, etc. In this sense we speak even now of the ‘art’ of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Tacitus, and a few others, and come to admire their narratives as classical works of the literary art.

(ββ) Nevertheless even these finest products of historiography do not belong to the sphere of free art; indeed even if we wanted to add to them an external poetic treatment of diction, versification, etc., no poetry would result. For it is not only the manner in which history is written, but the nature of its subject-matter which makes it prosaic. We will cast a further glance at this.

What is properly historical, whether in the nature of the case or in its subject-matter, takes its earliest beginning at the point when the heroic period, which poetry and art had originally to claim as its own, is ending, and when, in short, the definiteness and prose of life is present in the actual state of affairs as well as in its artistic treatment and presentation. So, for example, Herodotus describes not the expedition of the Greeks against Troy, but the Persian Wars and has struggled in many ways with laborious research and careful reflection to arrive at a precise knowledge of the events he intends to relate. Whereas the Indians, Orientals in general indeed, except perhaps the Chinese only, have not prosaic sense enough to give us an actual historical narrative because they run off’ into either purely religious or else fantastic interpretations and transformations of the facts. The prosaic aspect of the historical period of a nation lies briefly in what follows:

History requires in the first place a community, whether religious or political, with laws, institutions, etc., laid down on their own account already valid, or to be made valid, as universal laws. Then, secondly, out of such a community there arise specific actions and changes necessary for maintaining and altering it; they may have a universal character and constitute the chief thing of importance, and they necessarily require corresponding individuals to decide on them and carry them out. These are great and outstanding individuals when in their individuality they prove equal to the common purpose implicit in the inner nature on the contemporary situation; they are small if they are not big enough to carry out that purpose; they are bad if, instead of fighting for the needs of the hour, they make their own individual interest prevail, an interest divorced from the common one and therefore arbitrary. If one or other of these things occurs, or if others do, then what we indicated above in our Part I as a requirement for a genuinely poetic subject-matter and world-situation is absent. Even in the case of great men, the substantive end to which they devote themselves is more or less given, prescribed, and compulsory, and in that case there is no establishing the individual unity in which a complete identity of the universal and the entire individual is to be an end in itself and a perfect whole. Then even if individuals have set a self-chosen aim before themselves, the subject-matter of history is not the freedom or unfreedom of their mind and heart, their individual living attitude, but the end that is pursued, and its effect on the actual world confronting them there, independent of themselves.

On the other hand in historical situations the play of chance is revealed, the breach between what is inherently substantive and the relativity of single events and occurrences as well as of the particular peculiarities of the characters in their own passions, intentions, and fates. These in this prose have far more things that are extraordinary and eccentric than those miracles of poetry which must always keep within the limits of what is universally valid.

Thirdly and lastly, there is introduced here again into the execution of historical actions, in distinction from what is strictly poetic the prosaic cleavage between the individual’s own personality and that consciousness of laws, principles, maxims, etc., which is necessary for the general weal; moreover, the realization of the prescribed ends itself requires many arrangements and preparations, and the external means for these are vast and dependent on and related to one another in many ways, and they have to be trimmed and used on purpose for the intended undertaking with intelligence, skill, and prosaic supervision. It is not a matter of directly putting the shoulder to the wheel; in the main enormous preliminary arrangements have to be made so that the single actions needed for accomplishing one end are either purely accidental in themselves, and always without any inner unity, or else, in the form of practical utility, they proceed from an intellectual concentration on ends but not from a life that is independent and directly free.

(γγ) The historian has no right to expunge these prosaic characteristics in his material or to transform them into poetical ones; he must relate what confronts him and as it confronts him without reinterpreting it or giving it a poetic form. Therefore no matter how much he may struggle to make the centre and single concatenating bond of his narrative the inner sense and spirit of the epoch, the people, or the specific event which he describes, he still has no freedom to subordinate to this purpose the circumstances, characters, and events confronting him, even if he shoves to one side what in itself is purely accidental and meaningless; to these circumstances etc. he must give free play in their external contingency, dependence on other things, and uncounselled arbitrariness. In a biography an individual vitality and independent unity does seem possible, because here what remains the centre of the work is the individual, together with what he effects and what reacts on this single figure, but an historical character is only a unity of two different extremes. For although on the one hand his character serves as a subjective unity, on the other hand numerous events, circumstances, etc., come to light and these are without any inner connection in themselves; they affect the individual without his contributing anything to them and so they draw him into this external sphere. Alexander, for example, is of course a single individual who stands on the summit of his age, and by his own individual decision, which harmonizes with external circumstances, embarks on his expedition against the Persian monarchy; but Asia, which he conquers, is only an accidental whole owing to the varied caprices of its individual populations and what happens there occurs simply in accordance with the direct superficial appearance of things.

Finally, if the historian carries his subjective inquiries so far as to probe the absolute reasons for what happens and even Divine providence, before which all accidents vanish and where a higher necessity is unveiled, nevertheless, in respect of events as they appear in reality, he may not allow himself the privilege of poetry for which this substantive basis of things must be the chief thing, because poetry alone is given freedom to dominate the available material without hindrance in order to make it adequate, even externally, to its inner truth.

(β) Secondly, oratory seems to approach the freedom of art more nearly.

(αα) For although the orator likewise draws the occasion and the subject-matter for his work of art from things as they actually exist, from specific real circumstances and purposes, still, in the first place what he expresses is always his own free judgement, his own mood, and his subjective immanent end in which he can be vitally absorbed with his whole self. In the second place, he is given a completely free hand in the development of his subject and in his general way of treating it, so that we get the impression of being confronted in his speech with a thoroughly independent product of his mind. In the third place, he is not supposed to address our scientific or other logical thinking but to move us to adopt some conviction or other; and to achieve this result he should work on our whole man, on feeling, intuition, etc.

His topic is not the abstract side, i.e. the conception, of the in thing which he intends to interest us, or of the end that he intends to encourage us to achieve, but for the most part some specific fact or actuality. The result is that the speech must indeed comprise the substance of the thing at issue, but nevertheless it must seize on this universal element in the form of appearance and in this way bring it before our concrete thinking. Therefore, as we listen to him, he has not merely to satisfy our intelligence by the rigour of his deductions and conclusions, but he can also address our hearts, arouse our passions, carry us away along with him, absorb our attention, and in this way convince us and make an impression on every one of our faculties.

(ββ) Yet, seen in the right light, this apparent freedom in oratory is precisely subject, in the main, to the law of practical utility.

In the first place, what gives the speech its proper moving force does not depend on the particular end that the speaker had in view but on something universal, i.e. laws, rules, principles, to which the individual case can be referred and which are already available in a universal form whether as the actual law of the land, or as moral, just, and religious maxims, feelings, dogmas, etc. The specific circumstances and purpose which afford the starting-point here are therefore separate from this universal from the beginning, and this cleavage is retained as their permanent relationship. It is true that the orator has the intention of setting the two sides together in one. This is something obviously achieved from the start in poetry that is poetic at all, but in oratory it is there only as a subjective aim of the orator, and its achievement lies outside the speech itself. The orator is left with no recourse but to proceed by subsuming the particular under the universal, with the result that the specific real manifestation of the universal (i.e. in this context the concrete case or end) is not fully developed from within in immediate unity with the universal but is given validity only by being brought under principles and related to laws, customs, usages, etc., and these on their side likewise exist independently. The fundamental type here is not the free life of the matter in hand in its concrete appearance, but the prosaic separation of concept from reality, a mere relation between the two, and a demand for their unification.

This is the way in which a preacher, for example, must often go to work because in his case it is the universal religious doctrines, and the moral, political, and other principles and rules of conduct derived from them, to which all sorts and kinds of cases have to be referred, because these doctrines are supposed to be experienced, believed, and known by the religious consciousness independently and essentially, as the substance of every act in life. In his sermon the preacher can of course appeal to our hearts, develop the divine laws from our minds as their source, and lead his hearers too to find them in that source, but they are not to be displayed and emphasized in any purely individual form; on the contrary, their dominating universality is to come before our minds precisely as commands, prescriptions, articles of faith, etc.

This is still more true in forensic oratory where a double feature enters: first, the principal thing at issue, i.e. a specific case, and, secondly, the subsumption of that case under general considerations and laws. As for the first point, the prosaic element lies in the necessary ascertainment of the actual facts and in the gleaning and adroit combining of every single circumstance affecting them and every accidental feature in them. This process, in contrast to the free creations of poetry, at once reveals to us the inadequacy of this knowledge of the actual case and the laboriousness of acquiring and communicating this knowledge. Then, further, the concrete fact has to be analysed, and not only must its individual aspects be set out separately, but every one of these aspects, like the entire case, has to be referred to laws fixed independently in advance. Yet even in this occupation scope is still always left for touching the heart and arousing feelings. For the rights or wrongs of the case expounded have to be made so vivid that the matter does not end with a mere understanding of the case and a general conviction of its merits: on the contrary, owing to the way the case is put every one of the listeners can come to regard the whole thing as subjective and so much his own that he cannot, as it were, stand back any longer, and everyone finds in the case his own interest and his own affair.

In the second place, in the art of oratory the final and supreme interest of the orator does not lie in the artistic presentation and perfection of his case; on the contrary, over and above art he has still another aim, namely to use the whole form and development of his speech as simply the most effective means of achieving an interest lying beyond the confines of art. From this point of view, even his hearers are not to be moved for their own sake; on the contrary, their being moved and their conviction are applied by him as likewise only a means towards carrying out the intention which, in his oratory, he has set himself to accomplish. Consequently the hearers do not regard the speech as an end in itself; they see that it proves to be only a means for convincing them of this or that or inciting them to specific decisions, activities, etc.

In the third place, for this reason oratory loses in this respect too its apparent freedom and it becomes something with an intended aim, something meant, but something that, so far as its success goes, does not find a final satisfactory outcome in the speech itself and its artistic treatment. The poetic work of art has no aim other than the production and enjoyment of beauty; in its case aim and achievement lie directly in the work itself, which is therefore independently self-complete and finished; and the artistic activity is not a means to a result falling outside itself but an end which in its accomplishment directly closes together with itself. But, in oratory, art acquires the position of being a mere accessory summoned by the orator as an aid to his purpose; his real purpose has nothing to do with art; it is practical, i.e. instruction, edification, decisions on legal questions or political affairs, etc. Consequently his intention is to serve the interest of something that has still to happen, or of some decision that is still to be reached, but that is not finalized and accomplished by the effect of oratory; on the contrary, accomplishment must be remitted to all sorts of other activities. For a speech may frequently end by producing a discord which the hearer, as judge, has to resolve, and then act in accordance with this resolution. For example, pulpit oratory often speaks to an unreconciled heart and finally makes the hearer a judge of himself and the character of his inner life. Here the aim of the preacher is the improvement of the religious life; but whether with all the edification and excellence of his eloquent admonitions the improvement follows and the preacher’s aim succeeds is something which does not fall within the speech itself and must be left to other circumstances.

(γγ) In all these directions the essential nature of eloquence is to be sought not in the free poetic organization of a work of art, but rather in the mere purpose in view. The orator must make it his chief target to subject the whole of his speech and its single parts to the personal intention from which his work arises; in this way the independent freedom of his portrayal has been superseded and in its place there has been put service to a specific and no longer artistic end. But above all since he has his eye on a living practical effect, he has always to have regard to the place where he speaks, to his hearers’ degree of education, their capability for understanding, and their character, if he is not to sacrifice the desired practical effect by striking precisely the wrong note for this hour, this locality, and these persons. Owing to this subjection to external circumstances and conditions the whole should not, and the single parts cannot, issue any longer from an artistically free mind, but there has to be evident in each and all of them a purely purposeful connection which remains dominated by cause and effect, ground and consequent, and other categories of the Understanding.

(c) Out of this difference between what is properly poetic and the productions of historiography and oratory, we can now establish the following points for the poetic work of art as such.

(α) In historiography the prosaic element lay especially in the fact that, even if its inner essence could be substantive and solidly effective, its actual form had to appear accompanied in many ways by relative circumstances, clustered with accidents, and sullied by arbitrariness, although the historian had no right to transform this form of reality which was precisely in conformity with what immediately and actually happened. [7]

(αα) The task of this transformation is one to which poetry is chiefly called if in its material it treads on the ground of historical description. In this case it has to search out the inmost kernel and meaning of an event, an action, a national character, a prominent historical individual, but it has to strip away the accidents that play their part around them, and the indifferent accessories of what happened, the purely relative circumstances and traits of character, and put in their place things through which the inner substance of the thing at issue can clearly shine, so that this substance finds its adequate existence in this transformed external form to such an extent that only now is the absolutely rational developed and made manifest in an actuality absolutely in correspondence with itself. In this way alone can poetry, in respect of a specific work, concentrate its subject-matter into a more fixed centre; in that case the subject-matter can unfold into a rounded totality because it holds the particular parts together more rigorously, while, without jeopardizing the unity of the whole, it can grant to each individual part its appropriate right of being marked out independendy.

(ββ) Poetry can go even further in this direction when it makes its chief subject-matter not the content and meaning of an historical fact that has actually occurred, but some fundamental thought more or less closely akin to it, in short a collision in human experience, and uses the historical facts or characters or locality, etc., rather as an individualizing covering. But in this case a double difficulty appears: either the known historical data, when taken into the poem, may not be wholly compatible with that fundamental thought, or, conversely, if the poet retains this familiar material but alters it in important points to suit his own ends, a contradiction arises between what is already firmly fixed in our minds and what the poet has newly introduced. It is difficult but necessary to resolve this contradiction and division and produce the right undisturbed harmony; after all, reality has an indisputable right to respect in its essential phenomena.

(γγ) A similar right is to be asserted for poetry in a wider sphere. For whatever poetry presents by way of external locality, characters, passions, situations, conflicts, events, actions, and fates, all this is already to be found, more than people may commonly believe, in actual life. So here too poetry treads as it were on an historical ground, and its departures and alterations in this field must likewise proceed from the indwelling reason of the thing at issue and the need to find for this inner rationality the most adequate living manifestation, and not from a lack of thorough knowledge and vital penetration of reality or from whims, caprices, and the search for the bizarre peculiarities of a wrong-headed originality.

(β) Secondly, oratory belongs to prose on account of the practical aim implicit in its intention, and for carrying out this aim in practice it has a duty to be guided by purpose throughout.

(αα) In this matter, if poetry is not likewise to relapse into prose, it must avoid every aim which lies outside art and the pure enjoyment of art. For if it gives essential importance to aims of that kind which in that case glint through the entire conception and mode of presentation, poetry is at once drawn down into the sphere of the relative out of those free heights on which it clearly lives for its own sake alone, and the result is either a breach between the requirements of art and the demands of other intentions, or else that art is used, contrary to its very conception, as a mere means and therefore is degraded to servitude to some aim. This is the sort of thing that occurs, for example, with the edification of many hymns in which specific ideas have a place solely for producing a religious effect and which are illustrative in a way opposed to the beauty of art. In general, poetry must not provide religious, or rather purely religious, edification, and endeavour by this means to transport us into a sphere which, although akin to poetry and art, is nevertheless different from them. The same is true of instruction, moral improvement, political agitation, or purely superficial pastimes and pleasures. For these are all objects which poetry, of all the arts, can of course best help us to attain, but if poetry, in giving this help incidentally, is still to move freely within its own sphere alone, it may not undertake explicitly to give help, because in poetry it is only the poetical, not something outside poetry, which must rule as the determining and executed end; and in fact these other ends are pursued and achieved still more effectively by other means.

(ββ) But, conversely, the art of poetry should not seek to maintain an absolutely isolated position in the real world, but must, as itself living, enter into the midst of life. We saw already in Part I how numerous are the connections which art has with the rest of existence, the substance and appearance of which it fashions into its own content and form. Poetry’s living connection with the real world and its occurrences in public and private affairs is revealed most amply in the so-called pièces d'occasion. If this description were given a wider sense, we could use it as a name for nearly all poetic works: but if we take it in the proper and narrower sense we have to restrict it to productions owing their origin to some single present event and expressly devoted to its exaltation, embellishment, commemoration, etc. But by such entanglement with life poetry seems again to fall into a position of dependence, and for this reason it has often been proposed to assign to the whole sphere of pièces d'occasion an inferior value although to some extent, especially in lyric poetry, the most famous works belong to this class.

(γγ) Therefore the question arises: In what way can poetry still preserve its independence even when there is this conflict with its given subject-matter? Simply by not treating and presenting the external given occasion as an essential end, and itself only as a means to that, but instead by assimilating the essence of that actual fact and forming and shaping it by the freedom and the right of the imagination. In that event poetry is not the occasion and its accompaniment; but that essence is the external occasion; it is the stimulus which makes the poet abandon himself to his deeper penetration of the event and his clearer way of formulating it. In this way he creates from his own resources what without his aid we would not have become conscious of previously in this free way in the actual event directly presented to us.

(γ) It is now clear that every genuinely poetical work of art is an inherently infinite [i.e. self-bounded] organism: rich in matter and disclosing this matter in a correspondent appearance; a unity, yet not purposeful or in a form for which the particular is made abstract and subordinate, but where the same living independence is still preserved within what is individual; a whole, therefore, which closes with itself into a perfect circle without any apparent intention; filled with the material essence of actuality yet not dependent either on this content and its existence or on any sphere of life, but creating freely from its own resources in order to give shape to the essence of things in an appearance which is genuinely that of the essence, and so to bring what exists externally into reconciled harmony with its inmost being.

3. The Poet’s Creative Activity

Of artistic talent and genius, of inspiration and originality, etc., I have spoken already at length in Part I and for this reason I will mention here only a few points of importance in relation to poetic activity as distinct from that in the sphere of the visual arts and music.

(a) An architect, or sculptor, or painter, or musician is tied to a quite concrete and perceptible material and he has to work his subject-matter into it completely. The restriction imposed by this material conditions the specific form of the entire mode of conception and artistic treatment. Consequently the more specific the task on which the artist must concentrate, the more specialized is (i) the talent required for precisely this and no other mode of portrayal, and (ii) the skill in technical execution that runs parallel with this. Poetry is exempt from the complete embodiment of its productions in a particular material, and therefore a talent for it is less subject to such specific conditions and so is more general and independent. All that it requires is a gift for richly imaginative formulations, and it is limited only by the fact that poetry, by being expressed in words, should not try to reach that complete perceptibility which the visual artist has to give to his subject-matter as its external form, nor can it remain satisfied with the wordless depth of feeling, the expression of which in soul-laden notes is the sphere of music. From this point of view, the task of the poet, in comparison with that of the other artists, may be regarded as both easier and more difficult. As easier, because, although the poetic treatment of language requires a developed skill, the poet is exempt from the relatively more complicated conquest of technical difficulties; as more difficult, because the less poetry has to create an external embodiment [that can be seen or heard], the more it has to seek a substitute for this lack of perceptibility in the inner proper kernel of art, i.e. in the depth of imagination and genuinely artistic treatment.

(b) In this way, secondly, the poet is able to penetrate all the depths of the contents of the spirit and can bring out into the daylight of consciousness whatever lies concealed there. For however far in other arts the inner life must, and does actually, shine through its corporeal form, still the word is the most intelligible means of communication, the most adequate to the spirit, the one able to grasp and declare whatever lies within consciousness or pervades its heights and depths. But in this connection the poet finds himself involved in difficulties; he has problems which the other arts are not required to face or solve to the same extent. Since poetry lives purely in the sphere of inner imagination and should not bethink itself of creating for its productions an external existence independent of this inner life, it remains in an element in which the religious, scientific, and other prosaic types of consciousness are also active, and it must take care not to trench on these spheres or modes of expression, or to make excursions into them. A similar proximity does exist in the case of every art, because all artistic production proceeds from the one spirit which comprises as spheres of self-conscious life in itself. But in the case of the other arts, the manner of conception remains, with its inner creative activity, in continual connection with the execution of its designs in a specific perceptible material and therefore is throughout distinct from the forms of religious imagery, scientific thinking, and the prosaic intellect. Poetry on the other hand, while availing itself of a means of external communication just as these spheres do, avails itself of language; and by the use of language it stands on a ground of conception and expression different from that of the visual arts and music.

(c) Thirdly, poetry is the art which can exhaust all the depths of the spirit’s whole wealth, and therefore the poet is required to give the deepest and richest inner animation to the material that he brings into his work. The visual artists have likewise to apply themselves especially to the animation of spiritual expression in the external shape of the architectural, plastic, and pictorial figures, while the musician must apply himself to the inner soul of concentrated feeling and passion and its outpouring in melodies, although he like the others must be full of the inmost meaning and substance of his subject-matter. The range of what the poet has to experience in himself stretches further, because he has not only to polish an inner world of the heart and self-conscious ideas but to find for it a correspondent external appearance through which that ideal totality peeps in a fuller and more exhaustive way than is the case with the productions of the other arts. He must know both the inner and the external side of human existence and have absorbed the whole breadth of the world and its phenomena into his own mind, and there have felt it through and through, have penetrated, it, deepened and transfigured it.

In order to be able to create from his own resources, even when he is restricted to some quite narrow and particular sphere, a free whole which does not appear to be determined from without, he must have cut himself free from any practical or other preoccupation in his material and rise superior to it with an eye calmly and freely surveying all existence whether subjective or objective. From the point of view of natural capacity we may in this matter give special praise to the Mohammedan poets of the East. From the very start they enter upon this freedom which even in passion remains independent of passion, and amid all variety of interests always retains, as the real kernel of the work, the one substance alone, in face of which everything else then appears small and transitory, and passion and desire never have the last word. This is a contemplative view of the world, a relation of the spirit to the things of this world which lies nearer to the mind of age than of youth. For in age the interests of life are still present but not, as in youth, with the force of passion; they have the form of shadows rather, so that they lend themselves more easily to the contemplative considerations which art desires. Contrary to the usual opinion that the glow and warmth of youth is the finest age for poetic production, the precise opposite may therefore be maintained from this point of view, and we may assert that old age is the ripest period if it can preserve energy of insight and feeling. The wonderful poems transmitted to us under Homer’s name were ascribed to the time when he was grey-haired and blind, and we may say even of Goethe that only in age did he reach his highest achievement when he had succeeded in freeing himself from all restricting trifles.

B. Poetic Expression

Owing to the infinite range of the previous section, we had to content ourselves with a few general points about it. It concerned poetry in general, its subject-matter and the treatment and organization of this into a poetic work of art. Following on this, the second aspect to deal with is (a) poetic expression, (b) ideas given inner objectivity in words as signs of ideas, and (c) the music of the words.

The relation of poetic expression in general to the mode of presentation in the other arts can be deduced from what has been explained above in relation to poetry as such. Words and their sounds are neither symbols of spiritual conceptions nor an adequate spatial and external embodiment of the inner life like the physical forms of sculpture and painting, nor the musical resounding of the entire soul: they are purely and simply signs. But as communications of poetic conceptions, these signs too must, in distinction from the prosaic mode of expression [where they are mere means], be made an end for contemplation and appear shaped accordingly.

In this matter three chief points can be more definitely distinguished.

First, poetic expression does seem to lie throughout in words alone and therefore to be related purely to language, but the words are only signs of ideas and therefore the real origin of poetic speech lies neither in the choice of single words and the manner of their collocation into sentences and elaborate paragraphs, nor in euphony, rhythm, rhyme, etc., but in the sort and kind of ideas [or of the way of imagining things]. Therefore we must look for the origin of the developed expression in the developed way of imagining things and concentrate our first question on the form which the way of imagining things must take in order to be expressed poetically. But, secondly, the inherently poetic way of imagining things is objective only in words and therefore we have nevertheless to consider the linguistic expression on its purely linguistic side whereby poetic words are distinguished from prose ones, and poetic turns of phrase from those of ordinary life and prosaic thinking, even if at first we abstract from the way they sound in our ears.

Thirdly, poetry is actual speaking, i.e. audible words which in respect of their temporal duration as well as their real sound must be moulded by the poet, and this necessitates tempo, rhythm, euphony, rhyme, and so forth.

1. The Poetic Way of Imagining Things[8]

What in the visual arts is the perceptible shape expressed in stone or colour, in music the soul-laden harmony and melody, i.e. the external mode in which a subject appears artistically, this in poetry can only be the imaginative idea itself. This is a point to which we have to recur continually. The power of poetry’s way of putting things consists therefore in the fact that poetry gives shape to a subject-matter within, without proceeding to express it in actual shapes or in of melodies; and thereby it makes the external object produced by the other arts into an internal one which the spirit itself externalizes for the imagination in the form that this internal object has and is to keep within the spirit.

Here the same difference meets us once again which we have had to point out already in connection with poetry in general, namely the difference between what poetry was originally and what it became later by a reconstruction out of an established prose.

(a) In the ordinary consciousness there are two extremes: either it brings everything to mind in the form of immediate and therefore accidental particulars, without grasping their inner essence and the appearance of that essence, or else it differentiates concrete existence and endows the resulting differences with the form of abstract universality and then goes on to relate and synthesize these abstractions by means of the Understanding. The imagining of the original type of poetry is not divided into these extremes. On the contrary, a way of putting things is poetic only when these extremes are kept undivided and mediated with one another; and it is because poetry does this that it can remain in the firm middle between the commonplace outlook and [scientific] thinking.

In general we may describe poetry’s way of putting things as figurative because it brings before our eyes not the abstract essence but its concrete reality, not an accidental existent but an appearance such that in it we immediately recognize the essence through, and inseparably from, the external space and its individuality; and in this way we are confronted in the inner world of our ideas by the conception of the thing and its existence as one and the same whole. In this respect there is a great difference between what the figurative image gives us and what is made clear to us otherwise through some other mode of expression. We can compare this with what happens with reading. When we see the letters, which are signs representing the sounds of words, then we understand forth-with what we have read, merely by inspecting them without necessarily hearing the sounds of the words; and it is only someone without the knack of reading who has to enunciate the several sounds before he can understand the words.[9] But what in this case is lack of practice is in poetry beautiful and excellent, because poetry is not content with mere understanding or merely calling objects to our minds just as they exist in our memory in the form of thought and, in general, of their universally conceived and unimaged character; on the contrary it brings to us the concept in its existence, the species in its definite individualization. Using our ordinary intellectual mode of apprehension I understand the meaning of a word as soon as I hear or read it, without, that is to say, having an image of the meaning before my mind. If, for instance, we say ‘the sun’ or ‘in the morning’, the meaning is clear to us, although there is no illustration of the sun or dawn. But when the poet says: ‘When in the dawn Aurora rises with rosy fingers’,[10] the same thing is expressed, but the poetic expression gives us more, because it adds to the understanding of the object, a vision of it, or rather it repudiates bare abstract understanding and substitutes the real specific character of the thing. Similarly when it is said that ‘Alexander conquered the Kingdom of Persia’, this of course is a picture with a concrete content, but its specification in detail – by being expressed as ‘conquest’ – is drawn together into a simple abstraction without any image and so our eyes are not led to -see anything of the look and reality of Alexander the Great’s achievement. The same is true of everything expressed in this way; we understand it, but it remains pale and grey, and, so far as any individual existent is concerned, vague and abstract. Consequently, in its imaginative way poetry assimilates the whole wealth of real appearance and can unite it into an original whole along with the inner meaning and essence of what is portrayed.

The first point that follows from this is that, because poetry expresses the full actuality of the thing at issue, it has an interest in lingering over what is external, in esteeming its consideration as worthwhile on its own account, and in laying emphasis on it. Poetry therefore is in general periphrastic in its expression: yet ‘periphrasis’ is not the right word; for when we compare poetic diction with the abstract characteristics familiar to us in our intellectual grasp of some subject, we are accustomed in poetry to take as periphrasis a great deal that the poet had not meant as such, with the result that from a prosaic standpoint the poetry may be regarded as circumlocution or a useless superfluity. But the poet must be concerned in his imagining to dwell with fondness on widening the real phenomenon which he wishes to describe. It is in this sense that Homer, for instance, gives each hero a descriptive adjective: ‘the swift-footed Achilles; the well-greaved Achaeans; Hector of the gleaming helm; Agamemnon King of men’, etc. The name of the hero does indicate an individual, but as a mere name it does not bring anything more concrete before our minds, so that for the specific illustration of this individual some further indication is required. Even in the case of objects that already are perceptible in themselves, like the sea, ships, swords, etc., Homer provides a similar epithet that seizes on and discloses some one essential quality of the specific object; he gives us a more definite picture and compels us in this way to set the thing before our minds in a more concrete guise.

Secondly, there is thus a distinction between an illustration which keeps close to reality and one which does not, and this latter kind introduces a further difference. The imitative or literal picture presents only the thing in the reality that belongs to it, whereas the non-imitative or metaphorical expression does not linger directly with the object itself but proceeds to the description of a second different one through which the meaning of the first is to become clear and perceptible to us. Metaphors, images, similes, etc., belong to this sort of poetical expression. In these cases the subject-matter in question has added to it a veil different from it which sometimes serves only as a decoration but sometimes cannot be used altogether as a clearer explanation of it because it is appropriate to only one of its aspects, as, for example, when Homer compares Ajax, when he was reluctant to take flight, to an obstinate ass.[11]

But it is Eastern poetry especially which has this magnificence and richness in images and similes, because its symbolic procedure necessitates a wide search for kinship, and to accompany its universal meanings it provides a great multitude comparable phenomena, while the sublimity of its outlook leads it to use the whole vast variety of brilliant and magnificent superlatives to adorn the One being who alone is there for the mind to praise. In these circumstances these imaginative productions do not count at the same time as something which we know to be only the poet’s work and the product of his comparisons and so not something independently real and present; on the contrary, the transformation of everything existent into the existence of an Idea grasped and moulded by the imagination is so regarded that nothing at all else is existent or can have any right to independent reality. Belief in the world, as we regard the world intellectually with a prosaic eye, becomes a belief in the imagination for which the sole world is that created for itself by the poetic consciousness:

The romantic imagination is the converse. It gladly expresses itself metaphorically, because in it what is external for the subjective life withdrawn into itself counts only as an accessory and not as adequate reality itself. This external field, in this way as it were a metaphorical one, configurated with deep feeling and detailed richness of insight or with humorous conjunctions, is the impetus which enables and stimulates romantic poetry to invent things always new. Consequently this poetry has nothing to do with merely presenting something definitely and visibly, for on the contrary the metaphorical use of these far-removed phenomena becomes in it an end on its own account: feeling is made the centre, it illuminates its rich environment, draws it to itself, uses It ingeniously and wittily for its own adornment, animates it, and is delighted by this roving hither and thither, this involvement and expatiation in its self-portrayal.

(b) The poetic way of putting things stands in contrast to the prosaic one. In the latter there is no question of anything figurative but only of the meaning as such; this is the real heart of what is being expressed, while the manner of expression is only a means of bringing the subject-matter before our minds. Prose has no need of putting before our vision the details of its objects as they really appear nor has it to call up in us, as is the case with a metaphorical expression, another idea going beyond what was to be expressed. Certainly it may be necessary for prose too to indicate the exterior of objects firmly and sharply, but when this happens it is not for figurative purposes but for the sake of some particular practical end. Therefore we may prescribe, as a general rule for prose, literal accuracy, unmistakable definiteness, and clear intelligibility, while what is metaphorical and figurative is always relatively unclear and inaccurate. For in a literal expression, put figuratively by poetry, the simple thing at issue is carried over out of its immediate intelligibility into a phenomenal reality whence a knowledge of it is to arise; but in a metaphorical expression some related phenomenon – though far remote from the meaning – is used for illustrative purposes. The result is that prosaic commentators on poetry have a lot of trouble before they succeed by their intellectual analyses in separating meaning and image, extracting the abstract content from the living shape, and thereby disclosing to the prosaic consciousness an understanding of the poetic way of putting things. In poetry, on the other hand, the essential law is not merely accuracy and an immediate and adequate correspondence with the topic simply as it is. On the contrary, while prose has to keep with its ideas within the same sphere as its subject-matter and preserve abstract accuracy, poetry must conduct us into a different element, i.e. into the appearance of the subject-matter itself or into other analogous appearances. For it is precisely this real appearance which must come on the scene on its own account and, while portraying the subject-matter, is yet to be free from it as mere subject-matter, since attention is drawn precisely to the existent appearance; and the living shape is made the essential object of the contemplative interest.

(c) If these poetic requirements become prominent at a time when the mere accuracy of the prosaic way of putting things has already become the ordinary rule, then poetry has a more difficult position even in respect of its figurativeness. At such a period the prevailing attitude of mind is the separation of feeling and vision from the intellectual thinking which makes feeling and seeing and what is felt and seen into either an incentive to knowing and willing or else a serviceable material for study and action. In these circumstances poetry needs a more deliberate energy in order to work its way out of the abstractions in the ordinary of putting things into the concrete life [of a new mode of expression]. But if it attains its aim, not only is it liberated from that separation between thinking which is concentrated on the universal, and feeling and vision which seize on the individual, but it also at the same time frees these latter forms of consciousness and their content and objects from their servitude to thinking and conducts them victoriously to reconciliation with the universality of thought. But now that the poetic and prosaic ways of putting things and looking at the world are bound together in the consciousness of one and the same individual, both these ways may possibly restrict and disturb and even fight one another – a dispute that it takes supreme genius to assuage, as witness our contemporary poetry. Apart from this, still other difficulties arise; of these, purely in relation to imagery, will emphasize a few with greater precision.

When the prosaic intellect has taken the place of the original; poetic way of conceiving and putting things, the revival of poetry, whether in its literal or metaphorical mode of expression, readily acquires a certain artificiality, and the result, even if it does not appear to be an actually intended one, is that poetry can scarcely be transposed into that original and direct way of hitting the truth. For many expressions that were still fresh in earlier times have themselves become familiar and domiciled in prose, through their repeated use and our consequential familiarity with them. If poetry is then to make its mark with new inventions, it is often driven willy-nilly, with its descriptive epithets, periphrases, etc., if not into exaggeration and floridity, still into artificiality, over-elegance, manufactured piquancy and preciosity, which does not proceed from simple and healthy feeling and insight, but sees objects in an artificial light contrived for an effect, and therefore does not leave them their natural colour and illumination. This is still more the case when the literal way of putting things is exchanged for the metaphorical which then finds itself compelled to outbid prose, and, in order to be unfamiliar, slips all too quickly into subtleties and snatching at effects that have not yet been outworn.

2. Poetic Diction

But since the poetic imagination is distinguished from the sort of invention in the other arts by the fact that it has to clothe its productions in words and communicate by means of language, it has a duty so to organize all its imaginative conceptions from the beginning that they can be completely exhibited by the means at language’s command. In general, a poetic conception only becomes poetry in the narrower sense when it is actually embodied and cast in words.

The linguistic side of poetry could provide us with material for infinitely extensive and complex discussions; but these I must forgo in order to find room for the more important topics which still lie ahead of us. Therefore I intend only to touch quite briefly on the most important considerations.

(a) In every way art ought to place us on ground different from that adopted in our everyday life, as well as in our religious ideas and actions, and in the speculations of philosophy. Poetry can do this, so far as’ its diction is concerned, only if it uses a language different from the one we are already accustomed to in these other spheres. Therefore, on the one hand, it has to avoid in its diction what would drag us down into the commonplaces and trivialities of prose, while on the other hand it should not fall into the tone and manner of speech characteristic of religious edification or philosophical speculation. Above all it must hold far aloof from the clear-cut distinctions and relations of the Understanding, the categories of thought (when these have discarded all perceptible imagery), the philosophical forms of judgement and syllogism, etc., because all these forms transport us at once out of the province of imagination on to a different field. But in all these respects the boundary line where poetry ends and prose begins can only be drawn with difficulty and indeed cannot be generally indicated at all with assured accuracy.

(b) Therefore if we proceed at once to the particular means which poetic diction can use for the execution of its task, the following points may be emphasized.

(α) There are certain single words and expressions especially appropriate to poetry either for elevating the thought or for comically debasing and exaggerating it. The same is true of the combination of different words, specific sorts of inflection, and the like. In this matter poetry may sometimes cling to archaic words, little used therefore in everyday life, or at other times prove above all to be a progressive innovator in language, and in that case it displays great boldness of invention, provided that it does not merely run counter to the genius of the language.

(β) A further point concerns sentence-construction. To this field there belong the so-called ‘figures of speech’, so far, that is, as they are related to clothing thoughts in words. But their use easily leads to rhetoric and declamation (in the bad sense of these words). The individual vitality of a poem is destroyed if these word-forms substitute a universal mode of expression, constructed on rules, for the peculiar outpouring of feeling and passion. If they do, they form the very opposite of the deeply felt, fragmentary and laconic expression which the depths of the heart can utter despite its little command of eloquence, and which has such great efficacy, especially in romantic poetry, for the description of undisburdened states of soul. But, in general, sentence-construction remains one of the richest external means available to poetry.

(γ) Finally, mention should be made of paragraph-construction which incorporates the two features just mentioned. It can make a great contribution to the expression of every situation, passion, and mode of feeling by the manner of its simple or more complex course, its restless disjointedness and dismemberment or its tranquil flow, or its surge and storm. For in all these ways the inner life must glint through the external linguistic expression and determine its character.

(β) In the application of the means just mentioned we may distinguish the same stages that we have brought to notice already in discussing the poetic imaginative idea.

(α) Poetic diction may become alive amongst a people at a time when language is still undeveloped, and only through poetry does it acquire its proper development. In that event the speech of the poet, as the expression of the inner life in general, is already something new which by itself arouses astonishment because it reveals by language what hitherto had been concealed. This new creation appears as a miracle wrought by a gift and a force not yet made familiar but, to men’s amazement, freely unfolding for the first time what lay deeply enclosed within their own hearts. In this case the chief thing is the power of expression, the creation of language, though not yet its manifold formation and development, while on its side the diction remains entirely simple. For in these very early days there was neither any fluency of ideas nor manifold and varied turns of expression, but on the contrary what was to be said was made plain in an immediate and non-artistic expression which had not yet advanced to the fine shades of meaning, the transitions, mediations and other merits of a later artistic literary skill; for as a matter of fact at that time the poet was the first as it were to open the lips of a nation, to bring ideas into words, and by this means to help the nation to have ideas. It follows that language is not yet, so to say, common life, and poetry may avail itself, with a view to a fresh effect, of everything that later, by becoming the language of common life, is more and more separated from art. In this respect, Homer’s mode of expression, for instance, may strike us nowadays as wholly ordinary: for every idea there is a literal expression; metaphorical expressions are few, and even if the narrative is very prolix, the language remains extremely simple. In a similar way Dante could likewise fashion for his people a living language of poetry and he manifested in this respect too the bold energy of his inventive genius.

(β) But when, with the growth of reflection, the range of ideas was widened, when the ways of connecting them multiplied, when there was increased readiness to follow such trains of thought, and when linguistic expression developed to complete fluency, then poetry acquired a totally different position vis-à-vis the kinds of diction. For in those circumstances a nation already possesses the marked prosaic speech of everyday life, and if poetic expression is to arouse any interest it must diverge from that ordinary speech and be made something fresh, elevated, and spirituel. In everyday life the reason for speaking arises from the accidents of the moment, but, if a work of art is to be produced, circumspection must enter instead of momentary feeling. Even the enthusiasm of inspiration should not be given free rein; on the contrary, a spiritual product must be developed out of an artist’s tranquility and take form in the mood of a seer with a clear vision of the world. In the days of poetry’s youth this composure and tranquility was already announced in the very speech and diction of poetry; whereas, later on, the form and composition of poetry had to be in evidence in the difference acquired by poetic, as contrasted with prosaic, expression. In this respect there is an essential difference between the poems of times in which prose had already been developed and those of periods and peoples when, and amongst whom, poetry was only just originating.

But poetic production may go so far in this direction that it makes this composing of the expression the chief thing, and its eye is constantly directed less to inner truth than to the formation, smoothness, elegance, and effect of the language in which it is externally expressed. In that case this is the place where rhetoric and declamation, which I have mentioned already, are developed in a way destructive of poetry’s inner life, because the circumspection which shapes the poem is revealed as intentional, and a self-conscious and regulated art impairs the true effect which must appear to be and be unintentional and artless. Whole nations have hardly been able to produce any poetical works except such rhetorical ones. The Latin language, for example, even in Cicero, sounds naive and innocent enough. But in the case of the Roman poets, Virgil and Horace, for example, we feel at once that the art is something artificial, deliberately manufactured; we are aware of a prosaic subject-matter, with external decoration added, and we find a poet who, deficient in original genius, tries to find in the sphere of linguistic skill and rhetorical effects a substitute for what he lacks in real forcefulness and effectiveness of invention and achievement.[12] The French too in the so-called ‘classical’ period of their literature have a similar poetry, and in its case what are above all particularly suited to it are didactic poems and ,satires. In this rhetorical poetry the numerous rhetorical figures have their most pre-eminent place, but in spite of this the speech nevertheless remains prosaic on the whole, and the language becomes decorative and extremely rich in images just as, for example, the diction of Herder and Schiller does. But these two authors used such a mode of expression principally as an aid to expounding something prosaic, and they could make it permissible and tolerable owing to the importance of the thoughts and the happiness of their expression. The Spaniards too with their artificially elaborated sort of diction cannot speak freely without pomposity. In general, the southern peoples, like the Spaniards and the Italians, and, earlier still, the Mohammedan Arabs and Persians have an enormous volume and wealth of images and comparisons. In antiquity, especially in Homer’s case, expression always proceeds smoothly and peacefully, whereas in the case of these other peoples their vision of life bubbles over [like a spring], and, in a mind calm in other respects, struggles to increase the richness of its flood; this work of contemplation is still subject to an intellect that makes sharp distinctions, now making subtle classifications, now making connections wittily, ingeniously, and playfully.

(γ) Truly poetic expression refrains both from purely declamatory rhetoric and also from pompous and witty playing with words (although the free pleasure of composition may be manifested in a fine way even in these styles), because these jeopardize the inner truth of the topic, and the claims of the subject-matter are forgotten in the development of language and expression. For the diction should not become something independent on its own account or be made into the part of poetry which is really and exclusively important. In general, even in the matter of language, circumspect composition must never fail to give the impression of naïevéte and should always have the appearance of having grown as if of itself out of the very heart of the subject in hand.

3. Versification

The third aspect of poetical expression is necessitated by the fact that a poetic idea is not only clothed in words but is actually uttered, and it therefore passes over into the perceptible element of sound, i.e. the sound of words and syllables. This takes us into the domain of versification. Versified prose does not give us any poetry, but only verse, just as a purely poetic expression in the middle of a composition otherwise prosaic produces only poetic prose; nevertheless, metre or rhyme is absolutely necessary for poetry, as its one and only sensuous fragrance, and indeed it is even more necessary than the rich imagery of a so-called ‘beautiful’ diction.

The fully artistic development of this perceptible element reveals to us at once, what poetry itself demands, a new domain, a new ground on which we can only tread after forsaking the prose of the theory and practice of our ordinary life and way of thinking. At the same time the poet is compelled to move beyond the limits of ordinary speech and to frame his compositions solely in accordance with the laws and demands of art. For this reason it is only a superficial theory which proposes to ban versification on the ground that it is unnatural. It is true that, in his opposition to the false bombast of the French alexandrine metre, Lessing tried to introduce prosaic speech into tragedy especially, as something more suitable, and Schiller and Goethe followed him in their early stormy works by a ‘natural’ pressure for imaginative writing with a richer subject-matter. But Lessing himself finally used iambics again in his Nathan; Schiller similarly forsook, with his Don Carlos, the path he had trodden before; and Goethe too was so little satisfied with his earlier prosaic treatment of his Iphigenia and his Tasso that he transferred them to the field of art itself, alike in expression and prosody, and recast them entirely into the purer form, which is the reason why our admiration of these works is ever excited anew.[13]

Of course the trick of metre and the interlacings of rhyme seem an irksome bond between the sensuous element and the inner ideas, more irksome than that forged in painting by colours. This is because things in nature, and the human form, are coloured naturally, and to portray them without colour is a forced abstraction; whereas an idea has only a very remote connection, or no inner connection at all, with the syllables used as purely arbitrary signs of a communication, with the result that the obstinate demands of the laws of prosody may easily seem to fetter the imagination and make it no longer possible for the poet to communicate his ideas precisely as they float before his inner consciousness. Consequently, while the flow of rhythm and the melodic sound of rhyme exercises on us an indisputable magic, it would be regrettable to find the best poetic feelings and ideas often sacrificed for the sake of this sensuous charm. But this objection is without force. In the first place it is obviously untrue that versification is a mere hindrance to the free outpouring of inspiration. A genuine artistic talent moves always in its sensuous element as in its very own, where it is at home; it neither hinders nor oppresses, but on the contrary it uplifts and carries. So as a matter of fact we see all the great poets moving freely and assuredly in the field of their own self-created metre, rhythm, and rhyme, and only in translations is following the same metres, assonances, etc., a frequent constraint for the translator and a torture for his skill. But in free poetry, apart from the necessity of giving new turns to the expression of ideas, drawing them together, and elaborating them, the poet is also given what without this impetus would never have occurred to him, namely new ideas, fancies, and inventions. Yet, apart from this relative advantage, sensuous existence is essential to art from the very beginning, and in poetry the sound of words must not remain so formless and vague as it immediately is in our casual speech, but must be given a living form, and, even if in poetry it merely chimes in as an external medium, it still must be treated as an end in itself and shaped therefore within harmonious limits. This attention devoted to the sensuous aspect adds, as happens in all art, to the seriousness of the subject-matter another aspect which removes this seriousness, frees the poet and his audience from it and lifts them into a sphere of brighter charm and grace. In painting and sculpture a perceptible and spatial limitation of form is imposed on the artist for the design and colouring of human limbs, rocks, trees, flowers, or clouds; and in architecture too for the needs and purposes of a building there is prescribed a more or less specific rule for walls, partitions, roofs, etc.; similarly, music is fixedly bound by the absolutely necessary fundamental rules of harmony. But in poetry the perceptible sound of words in their juxtaposition is at first free from restriction, and the poet gets the task of putting order into this lack of rule and making something perceptually delimited, and therefore of sketching, as it were, for his conceptions, for their structure and sensuous beauty, a sort of firmer contour and resounding framework.

Just as in musical declamation the rhythm and melody must take on the character of the subject-matter and be made appropriate to it, so versification too is a music which, though in a remoter way, makes re-echo in itself that dim, yet specific, direction of the course and character of the ideas in question. To this end the metre must announce the general tone and spiritual touch of a Whole poem; and it is not a matter of indifference whether iambics, trochees, stanzas, alcaic or other strophes are adopted as external forms for the poem.

For the more detailed division of the subject, there are principally two systems and we have to cast light on their distinction from one another.

The first is rhythmic versification, which depends on the specific length and shortness of syllables, their manifold ways of figured conjunction and temporal progress.

The second consists in emphasizing sound as such, in respect both of single letters, consonants or vowels, and of whole syllables and words, ordered and figured either according to the law of the uniform repetition of the same or a similar sound, or to the rule of symmetrical interchange. This is the sphere of alliteration, assonance, and rhyme.

Both systems are closely connected with linguistic prosody whether this is chiefly grounded in the original length and shortness of syllables or whether it rests on the logical accent produced by the significance of the syllables.

Thirdly, the rhythmical progress and the independently arranged sound can be linked together; but since the concentration and emphasized echoing sound of the rhyme falls strongly on the ear, and therefore is asserted predominantly over the purely temporal feature of duration and forward movement, the rhythmical side in such a linkage must recede and occupy the attention less.

(a) Rhythmic Versification

The following are the most important points connected with the rhythmical system where there is no rhyme:

First, the fixed tempo of the syllables in their simple difference between long and short and the numerous ways of fitting them together in specific relations and metres.

Secondly, the enlivenment of rhythm by accent, caesura, and the opposition between verbal and verse-accentuation.

Thirdly, the euphony of word-sounds that can be produced within this movement of verse, without their being drawn together into rhymes.

(α) The chief thing in rhythm is not sound picked out and isolated as such but temporal duration and movement. Its simple starting-point is:

(αα) the natural length and shortness of syllables. The basis of their simple difference is provided by the speech-sounds themselves, by the letters to be pronounced, i.e. by consonants and vowels.

Diphthongs, pre-eminently, are long by nature, e.g. ai, oi, ae, because, whatever modern schoolmasters may say, they are in themselves a concrete and double sound brought together into a unity, like green amongst the colours. Long-sounding vowels are similar. To these we can add a third principle, peculiar to [languages] as ancient as Sanskrit, as well as to Greek, and Latin, namely position;[14] i.e., if two vowels are separated by two or more consonants, the latter obviously make transition more difficult for pronunciation: in order to get over the consonants the tongue requires a longer time for articulation, and a delay is produced which, despite the shortness of the vowel preceding the consonants, makes the syllable rhythmically long even if it is not naturally so. For example, if I say ‘mentem, nee secus’,[15] the progress from one vowel to another in mentem and nee is not so simple or easy as in secus. Modern languages do not retain this latter difference but apply other criteria for determining longs and shorts. However, syllables used as short despite their position are in consequence felt to be harsh, often enough at least, because they obstruct the more rapid movement required.

In distinction from the lengthening produced by diphthongs, long vowels, and position, syllables are clearly short by nature if they are formed by short vowels, without two or more consonants being placed between one vowel and the following one.

(ββ) Since polysyllabic words have in themselves a variety of longs and shorts, while monosyllables are put into connection with other words, the result is the emergence of an interchange of different sorts of syllables and words which at first is accidental and subject to no fixed measure. To regulate this accidental character is just as much the duty of poetry as it was the task of music to determine with precision, by means of the unity of tempo, the unordered duration of single notes. Poetry therefore lays down for itself particular combinations of longs and shorts as the law according to which the temporal duration of the succession of the syllables has to be governed. The first thing we derive from this is various temporal relations. The simplest of these is the relation of equals to one another, e.g. the dactyl and the anapaest, in which the short syllables may be brought together again, on specific rules, into a long one, so as to produce a spondee.[16] Secondly, a long syllable may be placed beside a short one, so that a more profound difference in duration is produced, even if in the simplest form, as in an iambus or a trochee. The combination is more complex still if a short syllable is inserted between two long ones, or a short one precedes two longs, as in a cretic and a bacchius.[17]

(γγ) But such single temporal relations would open the door wide again to unregulated chance if they were allowed to follow one another arbitrarily in their manifold differences. For if this happened in actual fact the whole aim of introducing law, i.e. a regulated succession of long and short syllables, into these relations would be destroyed, and on the other hand there would be no determining at all a beginning, a middle, and an end. The arbitrariness arising here again as a result would wholly run counter to what we laid down earlier, in our consideration of musical tempo and beat, about the relation of the perceiving mind to the temporal duration of notes. The mind requires self-concentration, a return to self out of the steady flux of time, and this it apprehends only through specific time-units, struck just as markedly [at the start] as they succeed one another and end according to a rule. This is the reason why, in the third place, poetry ranges the single time-relations into lines governed by a rule in relation to the sort and number of feet and to their beginning, middle, and end. For example an iambic tri-meter consists of six iambic feet, each two of which form again an iambic dipody, and a hexameter consists of six dactyls which in certain positions can coalesce again into spondees. But since such lines may be continually repeated again and again in the same or a similar way, there enters once more in respect of their succession a monotony and a vagueness about their firm or ultimate conclusion, and therefore a perceptible deficiency in inwardly varied structure. To remedy this defect, poetry has finally proceeded to invent stanzas and their various modes of organization, especially for expression in lyrics. What is relevant in this connection are the elegiac couplets of the Greeks, the alcaic and sapphic stanzas, and what has been developed with a wealth of art by the genius of Pindar and by the famous dramatists in the lyrical outpourings and other observations of the choruses.

But however far music and poetry satisfy similar needs by their time-measures, we must not fail to mention the difference between the two. Their most important divergence is produced by the beat. For this reason there have been all sorts of disputes as to whether for the metres of antiquity we should or should not assume that there was a strictly regular beat repeated at equal time-intervals. In general it may be affirmed that poetry, which uses words purely as a means of communication, need not be subject, so abstractly as is the case with a musical beat, to an absolutely fixed measure of time for its communication and progress. In music the note is a fading sound without support which imperatively requires a stability like that introduced by the beat; but speech does not need this support, for it has this already in the idea that it expresses, and, furthermore, it does not enter completely and without qualification into the external sphere of sounding and fading but retains precisely the inner idea as its essential artistic medium. For this reason poetry actually finds directly in the ideas and feelings which it puts clearly into words the more substantive determinant for measuring retard, acceleration, lingering, dawdling, and so forth, just as, after all, music begins in recitative to liberate itself from the motionless sameness of the beat. Consequently, if metre were to bow altogether to the rule of the beat, the difference between poetry and music, in this respect at least, would be expunged altogether, and the element of time would be asserted more preponderantly than the whole nature of poetry allows. This may be given as a reason for the demand that while in poetry a time-measure, but not a beat, must remain the rule, this aspect shall be dominated to a relatively stronger extent by the sense and meaning of the words. If in this connection we look more closely at the metres of antiquity, then it is true that the hexameter above all follows a strict progress according to a beat, as old Voss[18] especially required, though in the way of this assumption there is the catalexis of the last foot.[19] When Voss wants to read even alcaic and sapphic stanzas in these abstractly uniform time-intervals, this is only a capricious fancy and means doing violence to the verse. This whole demand may on the whole be ascribed to our habit of seeing our German iambics treated with the same continual fall and tempo of the syllables. Yet the classical iambic tri-meter acquires its beauty especially from its not consisting of six similarly timed iambic feet but on the contrary precisely in allowing spondees at the start of the dipody and dactyls and anapaests at the close, and in this way the continual repetition of the same time-measure and anything like the beat is avoided. Besides, the lyric stanzas are far more variable, so that it would have to be shown a priori that a beat is absolutely necessary in them, because a posteriori it is not to be found.

(β) But the really animating thing in rhythmical time-measure is introduced only by accent and caesura which run parallel with what we came to recognize in music as the rhythmical beat.

(αα) In poetry too each specific time relation has in the first place its particular accent, i.e. specific positions are emphasized in accordance with a law, and these then attract the others and thus alone form with them a rounded whole. In this way a large field is opened up at once for variety in the value of syllables. For on the one hand, the long syllables will generally be strongly marked in comparison with the short ones, so that, if the accent falls on them, they appear, twice as important as the shorter ones and they are given prominence over the unaccented long ones. But on the other hand it can also happen that the accent falls on the shorter syllables so that now a similar but converse relation arises between the syllables.

Above all, however, as I have mentioned before, the start and finish of the single feet must not rigidly correspond with the beginning and end of single words; for, first, if a complete word runs over past the end of a foot, the effect is to link together rhythms that would otherwise fall apart; and, secondly, if the verse accent falls on the final syllable of a word running over from one foot to another, the further result is a noticeable time-interval, because a word-ending as such necessitates something of a pause; and consequently it is this pause, coming in unison with the accent, which becomes felt as a deliberate time interval occurring in the otherwise unbroken flow of time. Caesuras like this are required in every line. For although the specific accent[20] does give to the single feet an inner differentiation and so a certain variety, this sort of enlivenment, especially in lines where the same feet are uniformly repeated, as in our iambics, would still remain quite abstract and monotonous and the individual feet would be made to fall apart from one another without any connection. The caesura breaks this cold monotony and introduces a connection and more of a life into the flow of the verse, a flow that a line’s undifferentiated regularity would make spiritless. Owing to the difference of the places where the caesura may occur, variety is given to this new liveliness, while it is prevented from lapsing into an unregulated arbitrariness by the specific rules for the caesura.

Thirdly, in addition to the verse-accent and the caesura, there is still a third accent which the words already possess in themselves quite apart from their metrical use, and this makes possible a once more increased variation in the kind and degree of emphasis, or the reverse, on single syllables. For, on the one hand, this word-accent may occur bound up with the verse-accent and the caesura, both of which it may strengthen in consequence; but, on the other hand, it may rest, quite independently of these, on syllables which are favoured by no other emphasis and now, as it were, because they still demand accentuation on account of their own value as syllables, produce a counter-thrust to the rhythm of the line, and this gives a new and appropriate life to the whole.

In all the respects mentioned, to make the beauty of the rhythm audible is a matter of great difficulty for our modern ear: for in our languages the elementary requisites which must be combined for producing metrical advantages of this kind are to some extent no longer available in the precision and firmness that they had in antiquity, but on the contrary different artistic means are now substituted for satisfying different artistic needs.

(ββ) Besides, however, in the second place, there hovers over all the validity that syllables and words have in their metrical position, he value that they have of signifying a poetical idea. Owing to this immanent sense of theirs they likewise become relatively emphasized or must be put in the background as insignificant, and in this way alone is the ultimate extreme of spiritual life breathed into the verse. But poetry must not yield to this to the extent of directly opposing the rhythmic rules of metre.

(γγ) The whole character of versification must have corresponding to it, especially in connection with rhythmical movement, a specific sort of subject-matter, above all a specific sort of movement in our feelings. Thus, for example, the hexameter in its tranquilly rolling stream is fitted to the uniform flow of epic narrative, whereas in combination with the pentameter and its symmetrically fixed intervals it becomes something of a strophe, but in the simple regularity of this combination is suitable for elegies. The iambic, again, rushes forward and is especially appropriate to dialogue in drama; the anapaest indicates something rushing along with a regular beat spiritedly and joyfully, and similar characteristic traits are easily recognizable in the other sorts of prosody.

(γ) But thirdly this first sphere of rhythmical versification is not exhausted by the mere figuration and enlivenment of temporal duration but is extended to the actual sound of syllables and words. But in this matter of sound there is clearly an essential difference between the classical languages, where rhythm is firmly retained as the chief thing, in the way described, and the modem languages which are chiefly apt for rhyme.

(αα) For example, in Greek and Latin, owing to the declensions and conjugations, the root syllable is developed into a wealth of variously sounding syllables which do have a meaning in themselves, but only as modifications of the root, so that the latter is asserted as the substantive meaning of those variously outspread sounds, and yet this meaning’s sound does not come out as the principal or sole mistress of the whole. For example, if we hear ‘amaverunt’, three syllables are added to the root, and, owing to the number and extent of these syllables, even if none of them is naturally long, the accent is at once materially separated from the root syllable, with the result that the chief meaning and the sounding accent are separated. Therefore, because the accentuation does not fall on the chief syllable, but on another which expresses only an accessory feature, the ear can listen to the sound of the different syllables and follow their movement because it has full freedom to hear the natural prosody and now is encouraged to shape these natural longs and shorts rhythmically.

(ββ) It is quite otherwise with our modem German language, for example. What in Greek and Latin is expressed, in the way described, by prefixes and suffixes and other modifications, is cut adrift in modem languages from the root syllables, especially in verbs, so that there are split and separated into independent words what in classical languages were inflected syllables of one and the me word in the manifold related meanings. Thus, for example, we continually use auxiliary verbs, have special verbs for independently indicating the optative, etc., and separate the pronouns, etc. In the case cited previously the word was expanded into the manifold sounds of a polysyllable and amid these the accent on the root, on the main sense, was lost.[21] In the present case the word remains a simple whole, concentrated into itself, without appearing as a succession of notes which, by being as it were pure modifications, do not work so strongly through their meaning alone that the ear could not listen to their free sound and its temporal movement. On the other hand, owing to this self-concentration, the chief meaning acquires so much weight that it draws the impress of the accent entirely on to itself alone; and since the emphasis and the chief meaning are linked together, this coincidence of the two does not make conspicuous but drowns the natural length or shortness of the other syllables. The roots of most words are doubtless almost always short, terse, monosyllabic or disyllabic. If now, as is the case in full measure with our modern mother-tongue for example, these roots lay claim to the accent almost exclusively for themselves, this is throughout a preponderating accent on the meaning or sense; but it is not a feature which involves freedom of the material, i.e. sound, or could afford a relationship between long, short, and accented syllables independently of the idea contained in the words. For this reason in this language a rhythmic figuration of time-movement and accentuation, divorced from the root-syllable and its meaning, can no longer exist; and there is left, in distinction from the above-mentioned listening to the richness of sound and the duration of longs and shorts in their varied combinations, only a general hearing entirely captivated by the emphasized chief syllable which carries the weight of the meaning. For besides, as we saw, the modification or syllabic ramification of the stem grows on its own account into separate words which in this process are made important in their own right; and by acquiring their own meaning they now likewise make us hear the same coincidence of sense and accent which we have considered already in connection with the basic word round which they are grouped. This compels us, as if fettered, not to go beyond the sense of each word, and instead of our being preoccupied with the natural longs and shorts and their temporal movement and perceptible accentuation, to hear only the accent produced by the fundamental meaning.[22]

(γγ) In such [modern] languages there is little room for rhythm, or the soul has little freedom any longer to spread itself in it, because time, and the sound of syllables outpoured uniformly with the movement of time, is surpassed by something more ideal, i.e. by the sense and meaning of words, and in this way the power of a more independent rhythmical configuration is damped down.

In this respect we may compare the principle of rhythmical versification with plasticity. For here the spiritual meaning is not yet independently emphasized and does not determine the length of syllables or the accent; on the contrary, the sense of the words is entirely fused with the sensuous element of sound and temporal duration, so that this external element can be given its full rights in serenity and joy, and ideal form and movement can be made the sole concern.

But if this principle is sacrificed and if nevertheless, as art necessitates, the sensuous element is always to be a counterpoise to pure intellectuality, then in order to compel the ear’s attention, with the destruction of that first plastic feature of natural longs and shorts and of sound not separated from rhythm and not emphasized independently, no other material can be adopted except the express, firmly isolated, figured sound of the linguistic syllables as such.

This leads us to the second chief kind of versification, namely rhyme.

(b) Rhyme

It is possible to try to give an external explanation of the need for a new treatment of language in its inner aspect by referring to the corruption suffered by the classical languages on the lips of barbarians j but this development lies in the very nature of the case. The first thing which poetry, on its external side, adapts to its inner message is the length or shortness of syllables independently of their meaning. For combining longs and shorts, for caesuras, etc., art frames laws which are supposed every time to harmonize in general with the character of the material to be presented, but in detail they preclude both longs and shorts and the accent from being solely determined by the spiritual meaning and from being rigorously subject to it. But the more inward and spiritual the artistic imagination becomes, the more does it withdraw from this natural aspect which it cannot any longer idealize in a plastic way; and it is so concentrated in itself that it strips away the, as it were, corporeal side of the language and in what remains emphasizes only that wherein the spiritual meaning lies for the purpose of communication, and leaves the rest alone as insignificant by-play. But romantic art in respect of its whole manner of treating and presenting its topics makes a similar transition into the self-concentrated composure of the spirit and tries [in music] to find in sound the material most correspondent to this subjective life. In this way, because romantic poetry as such strikes more strongly the soul-laden note of feeling, it is engrossed more deeply in playing with the now independent sounds and notes of letters, syllables, and words, and it proceeds to please itself in their sounds which, now with deep feeling, now with the architectonic and intellectual ingenuity of music, it can distinguish, relate to one another, and interlace with one another. Thus viewed, rhyme is not something accidentally elaborated in romantic poetry alone, but has become necessary in it. The need of the soul to apprehend itself is emphasized more fully, and it is satisfied by the assonance of rhyme which is indifferent to the firmly regulated time-measure and has the sole function of bringing us back to ourselves through the return of the same sounds. In this way the versification approaches what is as such musical, i.e. the notes of the soul, and it is freed from the stuffiness, so to say, of language, i.e. that natural measurement of longs and shorts.

As for the more detailed points of importance in this sphere, I will add only a few brief and general remarks on the following ones:

(α) on the origin of rhyme;

(β) on the more specific differences between this domain and rhythmic versification;

(γ) on the kinds into which this domain is divided.

(α) We have seen already that rhyme belongs to the form of romantic poetry which demands a stronger pronunciation of the independently formed sound because here our inner personality wishes to apprehend itself in the material medium of sound. When this need arises, romantic poetry either finds therefore available to it from the start a language of the kind indicated above in connection with the necessity of rhyme, or it uses an ancient but existing language, like Latin for example (which is differently constituted and requires a rhythmical versification), hut adapted to conform to the character of the new principle, or it makes the ancient language into a new one of such a character that it loses rhythm altogether, and rhyme can be the chief thing as is the case in Italian and French, for example.

(αα) In this connection we find that in very early times Christianity forcibly introduced rhyme into Latin versification despite the fact that this versification rested on different principles. But these principles were themselves framed rather on the model of Greek; but instead of showing that that was their original source, they betray on the contrary, in the sort of modification they underwent, a tendency approaching the romantic character. On the one hand, in its earliest period Latin versification did not have its basis in natural longs and shorts but measured the value of syllables by the accent, so that it was only through the more exact knowledge and imitation of Greek poetry that the principle of Greek prosody was adopted and followed; on the other hand, the Romans hardened the lively and serene sensuousness of the Greek metres, especially by more fixed rules for inserting the caesura not only in the hexameter but also in the metres of sapphics and alcaics etc., and so they produced a more sharply pronounced structure and stricter regularity. Apart from this, rhymes enough occur in the most polished poets even at the zenith of Latin literature. So, for example, Horace writes in the Ars Poetica (11. 99-100)

Non satis est pulchra esse poernata: dulcia sunto,
Et quocumque volent animum auditoris agunto.

Even if this came about quite unintentionally on the poet’s part, it must still be regarded as an extraordinary chance that precisely where Horace is demanding ‘dulcia poemata’, rhyme is encountered. Moreover Ovid avoids similar rhymes still less. Even if this, as I said, be accidental, rhymes do not seem to have been disagreeable to a cultivated Roman ear, or otherwise they could not have been inserted even in isolation and exceptionally. But in this playing with sounds there is missing the deeper significance of the romantic rhyme which emphasizes not the sound as such but what is within it, i.e. the meaning. It is precisely this characteristic which distinguishes the very old Indian rhymes from modern ones.

After the barbarian invasions the corruption of accentuation,[23] and the Christian emphasis on the personal inner life of feeling, there was produced in the classical languages a transition from the earlier rhythmical system of versification to one based on rhyme. In the Hymnal of St. Ambrose the prosody is already wholly governed by the accent of the pronunciation, and rhyme is allowed to break in; the first work of St. Augustine against the Donatists is likewise a rhymed song, and the so-called Leonine verses,[24] as expressly rhymed hexameters and pentameters, must of course also be clearly distinguished from the isolated rhymes mentioned above. These and similar phenomena are evidence of the emergence of rhyme out of the rhythmical system itself.

(ββ) On the other hand, of course the origin of this new principle of versification has been sought amongst the Arabs, but, for one thing, the culture of their great poets falls in a period later than the occurrence of rhyme in the Christian West, while the range of pre-Mohammedan art had no effective influence on the West; for another thing, there is inherent in Arabic poetry from its first beginnings an echo of the romantic principle, so that the knights of the West at the time of the Crusades were quick enough to find in Arabic poetry a mood that echoed their own. Consequently, just as the spiritual ground from which poetry arose in the Mohammedan East was akin to that from which it arose in the Christian West (although it was external to it and independent of it), so we may conjecture that a new sort of versification originally arose independently in both.

(γγ) The origin of rhyme and what is associated with it in poetry may be found, again without any influence from classical languages or Arabic, in the Germanic languages in their earliest development amongst the Scandinavians. An example of this is provided by the songs of the old Edda,[25] to which an early origin cannot be denied, even if they were only collected and assembled later. In this instance, as we shall see, the truly harmonious sound of rhyme in its complete development is absent, but still there is an essential emphasis on single spoken sounds and a conformity to rule and law in their specific repetition.

(β) Secondly, more important than the origin of the new system is its characteristic difference from the old. The chief point of importance here I have already touched on above, and all that remains is to expound it in more detail.

Rhythmical versification reached its most beautiful and richest stage of development in Greek poetry, from which therefore we may draw the chief characteristics of this whole field. In brief, they are as follows:

First, this type of versification does not take for its material the sound as such of letters, syllables, or words, but the sound of syllables in their temporal duration, and so the result is that our attention is not to be exclusively directed to single syllables or letters or to the qualitative similarity or identity of their sound. On the contrary, the sound still remains in undivided unity with the fixed tempo of its specific duration, and as the two move forward the ear must follow equally the value of each single syllable and the law regulating the rhythmic progress of the ensemble. Secondly, the measurement of longs and shorts, of rhythmic emphasis and the reverse, and of the various sorts of enlivenment through sharper caesuras and pauses, rests on the natural element in language without being governed by that intonation whereby alone the spiritual meaning is impressed on a syllable or a word. In its assembly of feet, verse-accent, caesuras, etc., versification proves in this respect to be just as independent [of the sense] as language itself, which, outside poetry, likewise derives its accentuation from natural longs and shorts and their succession and not from the meaning of the root-syllables. Thirdly, therefore, for the purpose of an enlivening emphasis on specific syllables, we have on the one side the metrical accent and rhythm, and on the other side ordinary accentuation. Both of these means are intertwined with one another, without mutual disturbance or suppression, to provide a double variety in the whole; and in the same way they also allow the poetic imagination’s right so to arrange and move words as not to deprive of their due impression the words which for it are of greater importance than others in their spiritual meaning.

(αα) The first thing changed in this system by rhymed versification is the hitherto undisputed validity of natural quantities. Therefore, if some time-measure or other is still to remain, a basis for quantitative pausing or hurrying, no longer to be found in the natural length or shortness of syllables, must be sought in some different sphere. But, as we saw, this sphere can only be the element of the spirit, i.e. the sense of syllables and words. It is meaning which is the court of last instance in determining the quantitative measure of syllables if that is still to be respected at all as essential, and consequently the criterion passes over into the inner life out of the externally existent language and its character.

(ββ) Connected with this is a further consequence of still greater importance. For, as I have already indicated, this concentration of emphasis on the meaningful root-syllable destroys that independent expansion into a variety of inflected forms which the rhythmical system is not yet required to subordinate to the root, because it derives neither the measure of shorts and longs, nor the accent that is to be emphasized, from the spiritual meaning. But if such an expansion, and its naturally appropriate organization in metrical feet according to the fixed quantity of the syllables disappears, then the entire system falls to the ground of necessity because it rests on tempo and its rules. French and Italian lines, for example, are of this sort; they lack metre and rhythm in the classical sense altogether, so that everything depends solely on a specific number of syllables.

(γγ) The one possible compensation offered for this loss is rhyme. If, on the one hand, it is no longer temporal duration which enters the formation of lines and enables the sound of the syllables to pour forth with a uniform and natural force, while on the other hand the spiritual meaning dominates the root-syllables and forms with them a compact unity without further organic expansion, then the sound of the syllables alone is left as the final sensuous material, the only one that can be kept free from the measure of time and this accentuation on root-syllables.

But if this sound is to arouse attention on its own account, it must, in the first place, be of a much stronger kind than the alternation of different sounds that we find in the classical metres. It also has to appear with a far more preponderating force than the sound of the syllables dare claim in ordinary speech. The reason is that now not only is it to be a substitute for an articulated time-measure, but it also acquires the task of emphasizing the sensuous element in distinction from domination by the accentuating and overpowering meaning. For once an idea has gained access to that inwardness and depth of the spirit, for which the sensuous expression in speech is a matter of indifference, the sound of this inwardness must strike out more materially and be coarser, if only to get attention at all. Therefore, in contrast to the delicate movements of rhythmical harmony, rhyme is a thumping sound that does not need so finely cultivated an ear as Greek versification necessitates.

Secondly, while rhyme here is not divorced from the spiritual meaning alike of root-syllables as such and of ideas in general, it does nevertheless assist the perceptible sound to have a relatively independent force. This aim is only possible of realization if the sound of specific words is in itself discriminated from the ring of the other words and now gains in this isolation an independent existence in order by forceful material strokes to reinstate the perceptible element in its rights. Thus in contrast to the all-pervasive euphony of rhythm, rhyme is an isolated, emphasized, and exc1usive sound.

Thirdly, we saw that it is the subjective inner life which in its ideal self-concentration is to expatiate and enjoy itself in these sounds. But if the previously discussed means of versification and its rich variety are discarded, there remains over for this self-apprehension, on the perceptible side, only the more formal principle of the repetition of wholly identical or similar sounds, with which, on the spiritual side, there can be linked an emphasis on and relation of associated meanings in the rhyming sound of the words indicative of them. In rhythmical versification metre appears as a variously articulated relation of different longs and shorts, whereas rhyme is on the one hand more material but, on the other hand, within this material existence is more abstract in itself, i.e. a mere drawing of the mind’s and ear’s memory to a recurrence of the same or associated sounds and meanings, a recurrence in which percipient is made conscious of himself and in which he recognizes himself as the activity of creation and apprehension and is satisfied.

(γ) To conclude, this new system of versification, principally that of romantic poetry, is divided into certain particular kinds, and I will only touch quite briefly on the most important points about them in respect of alliteration, assonance, and rhyme proper.

(αα) Alliteration we find developed in the greatest thoroughness in the older Scandinavian poetry; there it is the principal basis, whereas assonance and end-rhyme, though playing a not insignificant part, occur only in certain types of verse. The principle of alliteration, or one-letter rhymes, is the most imperfect kind of rhyme because it does not demand the recurrence of whole syllables but only insists on the repetition of one and the same letter, and the initial letter at that. Owing to the weakness of this identity of sound, it is on the one hand necessary for such words only to be used for this purpose as already have on their own account an emphasizing accent on their first syllable, while on the other hand these words must not be set far apart from one another if the identity of their initial letters is still to be made really noticeable by the ear. For the rest, the alliterative letters may be a double or single consonant or even a vowel, but consonants are the chief thing owing to the nature of the language in which alliteration prevails. Observance of these conditions has made it an established fundamental rule in Icelandic poetry (R. K. Rask, Die Verslehre der Islander, trans. by G. F. C. Mohnike. Berlin 1830, pp. 14-17)[26] that all rhyme letters require accented syllables, the first letter of which may not occur on the same lines in other principal words carrying an accent on the first syllable, while of three words whose first letter forms the rhyme two must stand in the first line, and the third, which provides the ruling letter, at the beginning of the second. While this identity of sound between initial letters merely is an abstract feature, it is principally words with a more important meaning that are used for alliterative purposes, so that even here a relation between the sound and the meaning of a word is not altogether lacking. But I cannot go further into detail.

(ββ) Assonance does not affect the initial letters but already approaches rhyme, because it is an identically sounding repetition of the same letters in the middle or at the end of different words. These assonant words do not need to form the end of a line at all but can also occur in other positions, but the final syllables of the lines do especially, through the identity of single letters, enter into an assonant relation to one another, in contrast to alliteration which puts the chief letter at the beginning of the line. In its richest development this assonance appears amongst the Latin nations, especially the Spaniards whose sonorous language is especially fitted for the recurrence of the same vowels. In general, assonance is restricted to vowels; nevertheless it may allow the echoing of identical vowels, identical consonants, and even consonants in association with a vowel.

(γγ) What in this way alliteration and assonance are qualified to achieve only imperfectly, rhyme finally brings to life in full maturity. For in its case, there is produced a complete accord, of course with the exclusion of initial letters, between whole stems which, because of this accord, are brought into an express relation with their sound. In this connection the number of syllables does not matter; monosyllables, disyllables, and polysyllables can and may be rhymed, and this is why we have the masculine rhyme, restricted to monosyllables, the feminine rhyme, allowed two syllables, and the so-called ‘gliding’ rhyme [i.e. triple rhyme], stretching out over three syllables or more. The nor.:thern languages especially incline to the first, southern languages, like Italian and Spanish, to the second; German and French keep more or less to the middle between these extremes. Rhymes of more than three syllables occur in considerable numbers in only a few languages.

Rhyme has its place at the end of lines, the point at which the rhyming word draws attention to itself by its sound, although it is not at all necessary for it to concentrate in itself on every occasion the importance given to the spiritual meaning. Either the single lines follow one another according to the law of a purely abstract identical return of the same rhyme, or, by the more artistic form of regular interchange and various symmetrical inter-lacings of different rhymes, they are united, or separated, or brought into the most complex relations whether close or more distant. Consequently, it is as if the rhymes now find one another immediately, now fly from one another and yet look for one another, with the result that in this way the ear’s attentive expectation is now satisfied without more ado, now teased, deceived, or kept in suspense owing to the longer delay between the rhymes, but always contented again by the regular ordering and return of the same sounds.

Amongst the particular sorts of poetry it is especially lyric which is fondest of using rhymes owing to its subjective character, i.e. its inner feeling and its mode of expressing it. Therefore its speech is made into a music of feeling and a melodic symmetry, not of time-measure and rhythmic movement, but of sound, which is clearly echoed in the inner life’s own feeling. On this account, this way of using rhyme is developed into a simpler or more complex system of strophes, each of which is rounded into a complete and finished whole; as, for instance, sonnets and canzonets, madrigals and trio-lets are a playing with tones and sounds, which is both ingenious and richly felt. Epic poetry, on the other hand, when its character is less intermixed with a lyrical element, adheres rather in its complexities to a uniform progress without marking it out in strophes. An example is ready at hand in the distinction between Dante’s lyric canzonets and sonnets and his terza rima in the Divine Comedy.[27 But I must not lose myself in further detail.

(c) Unification of Rhythmical Versification and Rhyme

But while in the way indicated we have distinguished and contrasted rhythmic versification and rhyme, the question arises whether a unification of the two is not conceivable and has not actually occurred. In this matter it is especially some modern languages that are important. We cannot absolutely deny that they have reintroduced the rhythmic system or combined it to some extent with rhyme. If we keep to German, for example, I need only refer, in connection with the first of these, to Klopstock who wanted little to do with rhyme and instead imitated the classics in both epic and lyric with deep seriousness and untiring industry. Voss[28] and others followed him and tried to find ever more rigid laws for this rhythmic treatment of our German language. Goethe, on the contrary, was not on firm ground in his classical syllabic measures, and he asked, not without reason: ‘Do the wide folds [of classical metres] suit us as they did antiquity?'[29]

(α) On this matter I will only reiterate what I have said already about the difference between classical and modern languages. Rhythmical versification rests on the natural length and shortness of syllables, and in this it has from the start a fixed measure which cannot be determined or altered or weakened by any spiritual emphasis. Modern languages, on the other hand, lack a natural measure like this because in them the verbal accent, given by the meaning, may itself make a syllable long in contrast to others which are without this significance. But this principle of accentuation provides no proper substitute for natural length and brevity because it makes the longs and shorts themselves uncertain. For greater emphasis on the significance of one word may degrade another by making it short even though taken by itself it has a verbal accent too, and so the proffered measure becomes simply relative. ‘Thou lov’st’, for example, may be a spondee, an iambus, or a trochee, depending on the difference in the emphasis which must be given to both words, or else to either one or the other. Of course attempts have been made to revert in German to the natural quantity of the syllables and to establish rules accordingly, but such prescriptions cannot be carried out because of the preponderance gained by the spiritual meaning and its more emphasized accent. And in fact this lies in the very nature of the case. For if the natural measure is to be the foundation; then the language must not have been already intellectualized in the world as it necessarily has been in the world of today. But if a language has won its way, in the course of its development, to such a domination of the sensuous material by the spiritual meaning, then the basis for determining the value of syllables must be derived not from the perceptible quantity itself but from what the words are the means of indicating. It is contrary to the spirit’s freedom of feeling to allow the temporal element in speech to be established and fashioned independently in its objective reality.

(β) Yet this is not to say that we would have had to ban completely from our language the rhymeless and rhythmical treatment of syllabic measurement, but it is essential to indicate that, owing to the nature of modern linguistic development, it is not possible to achieve the plasticity of metre in the sterling way that classical antiquity did. Therefore, another element had to appear and be developed in compensation, one in itself of a more spiritual sort than the fixed natural quantity of the syllables. This element is the metrical accent and the caesura, which now instead of proceeding independently of the word-accent coincide with it. In this way they acquire a more significant, even if more abstract, emphasis, because the variety of that triple accentuation which we found in classical rhythm necessarily disappears owing to this coincidence. But, for the same reason, conspicuous success in the imitation of classical antiquity can be achieved only if it be confined to the rhythms that fall more sharply on the ear, because we lack the fixed quantitative basis for the finer differences and complex connections; and the as it were more ponderous accentuation, which now enters as the determinant, has no means in itself of being a substitute for what we lack.

(γ) As for the actual combination of rhythm and rhyme, it too is to be permitted, though to a still more restricted extent than the introduction of classical metres into modern versification.

(αα) For the dominant distinction between longs and shorts by the word-accent is not throughout a sufficient material principle; and on the sensuous side it does not occupy the ear to an extent that would make it unnecessary for poetry, where the spiritual side predominates, to have recourse to a supplement in the sounding and resounding of syllables and words.

(ββ) Further, however, having regard to metre, there must be set over against the sound of rhyme and its strength an equally strong counterpoise. But since it is not the quantitative natural difference of syllables and its variety that is to be systematized and made dominant, in the matter of this time-relation recourse can be had only to the identical repetition of the same time-measure, with the result that here the beat begins to be asserted far more strongly than is permissible in the rhythmic system. Examples of this sort of thing are our German rhymed iambics and trochaics which, when recited, we are accustomed to scan more in accordance with a beat than is the case with the rhymeless iambics of classical antiquity. Nevertheless, halting at caesuras, the emphasis on single words to be markedly pronounced according to their sense, and stopping on them, may produce once more a counter-thrust to abstract sameness and therefore an enlivening variety. After all, in general, adherence to the beat in poetry cannot be preserved in practice so strictly as is usually necessary in music.

(γγ) But rhyme in general has to be combined only with such metres as, taken in themselves in rhythmically treated modern languages, cannot shape the sensuous element strongly enough, because of their simple alternation of longs and shorts and the firm repetition of similar feet. For this reason it would seem not only a superfluity but an unresolved contradiction to employ rhyme in the richer syllabic measures imitated from classical antiquity – in sapphics and alcaics, for instance, to quote but one example. For the two systems rest on opposite principles, and the attempt to unite them in the way indicated could only conjoin them in this very opposition itself; and this would produce nothing but an. unresolved and therefore inadmissible contradiction. Thus viewed, the use of rhyme [combined with rhythm] is to be allowed only where the principle of classical versification is to prevail solely in more remote echoes and with the essential transformations necessitated by the system of rhyme.

These are the essential points to be established in connection, with the general difference between poetical expression and prose.

C. The Different Genres of Poetry

Introduction and Division of the Subject

1. The two chief lines on which we have treated the art of poetry up to this point have been (a) poetry as such, in particular poetry’s way of looking at things, the organization of the poetic work of art, and the poet’s subjective activity of composition: (b) the poetic expression, in regard both to the ideas that were to be put into words and also to their linguistic expression and versification.

What we had to contend above all in this conspectus was that poetry must take the spiritual life as its subject-matter, but that in working out this topic artistically it must not, like the visual arts, abide by what can be fashioned for sense-perception; nor can it take as its form either the purely inner life which resounds for the heart alone or the products and relations of reflective thinking. On the contrary it has to keep to the middle way between the extremes of what is directly visible or perceptible by the senses and the subjectivity of feeling and thinking. This central element of imagination [Vorstellung] therefore draws something from both spheres. From thinking it takes the aspect of spiritual universality which grips together into a simpler determinate unity things directly perceived as separate; from visual art it keeps things juxtaposed in space and indifferent to one another. For imagination is essentially distinguished from thinking by reason of the fact that, like sense-perception from which it takes its start, it allows particular ideas to subsist alongside one another without being related, whereas thinking demands and produces dependence of things on one another, reciprocal relations, logical judgements, syllogisms, etc. Therefore when the poetic way of looking at things makes necessary in its artistic productions an inner unity of everything particular, this unification may nevertheless remain hidden because of that lack of liaison which the medium of imagination cannot renounce at all; and it is precisely this which enables poetry to present a subject-matter in the organically living development of its single aspects and parts, while giving to all these the appearance of independence. In this way poetry is enabled to pursue its chosen topic by giving it a character now rather of thought, now rather of an external appearance. Therefore it can exclude neither the most sublime speculative thoughts of philosophy nor nature’s external existence, provided only that it does not expound the former in the manner of ratiocination or scientific deduction or present the latter to us in its meaningless state. For poetry too has to give us a complete world, the substantive essence of which is spread out before us artistically with the greatest richness precisely in its external reality, i.e. in human actions, events, and outbursts of feeling.

2. But this unfolding acquires its perceptible existence, as we saw, not in wood, stone, or colour, but solely in language, where versification, accent, etc. are as it were the gestures of speech through which the spiritual subject-matter gains an external exisitence. Now if we ask where we are to look, so to say, for the material basis of this mode of expression, the answer is that, since speaking does not exist, like a work of visual art, on its own account apart from the artist, it is the living man himself, the individual speaker, who alone is the support for the perceptible presence and actuality of a poetic production. Poetic works must be spoken, sung, declaimed, presented by living persons themselves, just as musical works have to be performed. We are of course accustomed to read epic and lyric poetry, and it is only dramatic poetry that we are accustomed to hear spoken and to see accompanied by gestures; but poetry is by nature essentially musical, and if it is to emerge as fully art it must not lack this resonance, all the more because this is the one aspect in virtue of which it really comes into connection with external existence. For printed or written letters, it is true, are also existent externally but they are only arbitrary signs for sounds and words. Earlier we did regard words as likewise means for indicating ideas, but poetry imposes a form, at least on the timing and sound of these signs; in this way it gives them the higher status of a material penetrated by the spiritual life of what they signify. Print, on the other hand, transforms this animation into a mere visibility which, taken by itself, is a matter of indifference and has no longer any connection with the spiritual meaning; moreover, instead of actually giving us the sound and timing of the word, it leaves to our usual practice the transformation of what is seen into sound and temporal duration. Consequently, if we are satisfied with reading merely, this happens partly on account of the readiness with which we imagine as spoken what is seen, partly because poetry alone of all the arts is in its essential aspects already completely at home in the spiritual element and does not bring the chief thing to our minds through either ear or eye. But, precisely on account of this spirituality, poetry as art must not entirely strip itself of this aspect of actual external expression, at any rate if it wants to avoid the imperfection of e.g. a black and white sketch substituted for a painting produced by a master of colour.

3. As a totality of art, not exclusively confined by any one-sidedness in its material to one particular sort of execution, poetry takes for its specific form the different modes of artistic production in general; and therefore the basis for dividing and articulating the different sorts of poetry must be derived from the general nature of artistic presentation.

A. In this connection, in the first place, what brings before our contemplation the objective thing at issue is the form of external reality in which poetry presents the developed totality of the spiritual world to our imagination. In doing so, poetry reproduces in itself the principle of visual art. On the other hand, poetry develops these sculptural pictures for our imagination by presenting them as determined by the action of gods and men, so that everything that happens either proceeds from morally self-subsistent divine or human powers or else is a reaction to external hindrances, and in its external mode of appearance becomes an event in which the thing at issue goes ahead on its own account while the poet retires. To describe such events in their wholeness is the task of epic poetry which reports poetically in the form of the broad flow of events an action complete in itself and the characters who produced it, either as one of substantive worth or as adventurously intermixed with external accidents. In this way it presents what is itself objective in its objectivity.

This world which is to be made objective for apprehension by spiritual vision and feeling is not presented by the bard in such a way that it could betoken his own thoughts and living passion; but the reciter, the rhapsode, speaks it mechanically and from memory, with a measurement of the syllables which is equally uniform, nearly approaching the mechanical, rolling and flowing on in tranquil independence. For what he tells should appear, in manner and matter, as an actual course of events complete in itself, and remote from him as an individual; and with it his mind should not be completely at one in respect of either the subject-matter or the delivery.

B. Secondly, lyric, as the converse of epic poetry, forms the second type of poetry. Its content is not the object but the subject, the inner world, the mind that considers and feels, that instead of proceeding to action, remains alone with itself as inwardness, and that therefore can take as its sole form and final aim the self-expression of the subjective life. Here therefore there is no substantive whole unfolded as external happenings; on the contrary, it is the intuition, feeling, and meditation of the introverted individual, apprehending everything singly and in isolation, which communicate even what is most substantive and material as their own, their passion, mood, or reflection, and as the present product of these. The vocal delivery of this fullness and movement of soul should not be a mechanical speech like that which is sufficient and requisite for the recitation of epic. On the contrary, the singer must reveal the ideas and meditations of a lyrical work of art something that fills his own soul and is felt by himself. And since it is the inner life which is to animate the delivery, the expression of that life will lean especially towards music and sometimes allow, sometimes necessitate, a varied modulation of voice, song, and musical accompaniment, etc.

C. The third and last mode of presentation conjoins the two previous ones into a new whole in which we see in front of us both an objective development and also its origin in the hearts of individuals. The result is that the object is displayed as belonging to the subject, while conversely the individual subject is brought before our eyes, now in his transition to an appearance in the real world, now in the fate which passion occasions as a necessary result of its own deed. Thus here, as in epic, an action is spread out before us with its conflict and the issue of it; spiritual powers express themselves and fight each other; complicated accidents occur; and human action depends on the action of an ineluctable fate or the guidance and universal rule of Providence. But the action is not presented to our vision in the purely external form of something that has really happened, i.e. as a past event brought to life by mere narrative; on the contrary, we see it actually present, issuing from the private will, from the morality or immorality, of the individual characters, who thus become the centre as they are in the principle of lyric. But at the same time it is not only the inner life of these characters that is exhibited as such; on the contrary they appear, in the execution of purposes dictated by passion, and therefore, in the way that epic poetry emphasizes the material substance of things and its solid worth, they measure the value of those passions and purposes by the objective affairs and rational laws of concrete reality, in order to accept their fate in accordance with the measure of this value and the circumstances in which the individual remains determined to accomplish his aims. This objectivity which proceeds from the subject together with this subjectivity which gains portrayal in its objective realization and validity, is the spirit in its wholeness, and by being action provides the form and content of dramatic poetry.

This concrete whole is subjective but at the same time it is brought into appearance also in its external realization; consequently, in the matter of the actual presentation, apart from the painted scenery that makes the locality visible, poetry proper lays claim to the entire person of the actor, so that the living man himself is the material medium of expression. For in drama, as in lyric, the character, on the one hand, should express as his own the whole burden of his inner life, but on the other hand he reveals himself effectively in his actual existence as one entire person related to others; therein he directs action outwards and therefore immediately adds the gestures which, just as much as speech, are a language of the inner life, demanding artistic treatment. Even lyric poetry comes very near to assigning different feelings to different singers and distributing them to different scenes. In drama the subjective feeling issues at once in expression in action and therefore necessitates the visible play of gestures which concentrate the universality of speech into a nearer expression of personality and by means of posture, facial expression, gesticulation, etc., individualizes more specifically, and completes, what is said. If gestures are carried artistically to such a degree of expression that words can be dispensed with, then we have pantomime which, in that case, turns the rhythmic movement of poetry into a rhythmic and pictorial movement of limbs. In this plastic music of bodily posture and movement the peaceful and cold work of sculpture is ensouled and animated into a dance, and music and plastic art are in this way unified.

A. Epic Poetry

The Greek epos and the Scandinavian ‘saga’ both mean ‘word’ , and what they state in general is what that thing is which has been transformed into the ‘word’. This ‘word’ [epos or epic] demands an inherently independent content in order to say what that content is and how it is. What is to be brought before our minds is the topic as such in all its relations and events, in the sweep of all the circumstances and their development, the topic in the entirety of its existence.

This premissed, we will first describe the general character of epic;

secondly, cite the particular points of principal importance in epic proper;

thirdly, mention certain particular modes of treatment which have actually occurred in individual epics within the historical development of this kind of poetry.

1. General Character of Epic

(a) That mode of exposition in epic which is the simplest, but which is still one-sided and imperfect because it is so abstractly condensed, consists in extracting from the concrete world and its wealth of changing phenomena something which is necessary and self-grounded and expressing that independently, concentrated into epic phraseology.

(α) We may begin our consideration of this type with what is most elementary, namely epigraph, so far, that is to say, as it remains literally an epigraph, i.e. an inscription on pillars, furnishings, memorials, oblations, etc. Such an inscription is as it were a spiritual hand pointing to something, because its words explain something existent apart from them, something otherwise merely having plastic or local character. In this case the epigraph simply says what this thing is. The author is not yet expressing his own concrete self; on the contrary, he looks around and attaches to the object or place which he sees confronting him, and which is claiming his interest, a compressed explanation concerned with the kernel of the thing itself.

(β) We find the next step taken when the duality of the externally real object and the inscription is expunged, i.e. when the poet expresses his idea of the object, without having the object present before his eyes. Examples of this are the classical gomai (maxims) or sententiae (moral and other apophthegms) which put together in a compressed form what is stronger than things we can see, more enduring and universal than the memorial of a specific deed, more lasting than votive offerings, temples, and pillars, – namely the duties of our human existence, worldly wisdom, the vision of what in the spiritual sphere forms the fixed foundations and stable bonds of human action and knowledge. The epic character in this mode of treatment consists in this, that maxims like these are not expressions of personal feeling or purely individual reflection, and neither is even the impression they make directed to our feelings with a view to touching us or promoting some interest of the heart, but instead they evoke an awareness that what is of intrinsic worth must be regarded as a human duty, as what is decent and honourable. The ancient Greek elegies have this epic tone in part, as, for instance, some things by Solon have been preserved of this sort which readily assume an hortatory tone and style, for they include exhortations and warnings about the life of the community in the state, about laws, morals, etc. The ‘Golden Verses’ attributed to Pythagoras may be included here too. Yet all these are hybrid kinds, arising because, while there is a general adherence to the tone of one specific kind (though it cannot be perfectly developed, since the subject-matter is incomplete), there is a risk of running into the tone of a different kind, the lyric in this case, for example.

(γ) Thirdly, as I have already indicated, such apophthegms may be lifted from their fragmentary character and independent separation, ranged together into a greater whole, and rounded off into a totality which is entirely of an epic sort. This is because in this totality the unity holding the parts together, and the real centre, is not provided by a purely lyrical mood or a dramatic action but by a specific and real sphere of life, the essential nature of which is to be brought home to our minds both in its general character and also in its particular trends, aspects, occurrences, duties, etc. Conformably with this whole stage of epic, which exhibits the permanent and the universal as such with the chiefly ethical aim of warning, teaching, and summoning to an inherently sterling moral life, productions of this kind acquire a didactic tone; but, owing to the novelty of their aphorisms, their fresh outlook on life, and the naïveté of their views, they are still far removed from the flatness of later didactic poetry; and, by allowing the descriptive element its necessary scope too, they prove completely that the whole of their doctrine and description is directly drawn from a reality that has been grasped in its substance and lived through. As a specific example I will cite only Hesiod’s Works and Days. Its original manner of teaching and describing pleases us, from the point of view of poetry, in a way quite different from the colder elegance, erudition, and systematic consecutiveness of Virgil’s Georgics.

(b) The first sorts of elementary epic, those previously considered, namely epigraph, apophthegm, and didactic poetry, take as their material particular spheres of nature or human existence, in order, whether piecemeal or comprehensively, to bring before our minds in concise language what is of eternal worth or really true in this or that object, situation, or field, and also to have a practical effect by using poetry as a tool and intertwining poetry and reality more closely. A second group digs deeper and aims less at teaching and improving. To this position we may assign cosmogonies and theogonies as well as those oldest productions of philosophy which had been unable to free themselves altogether from the poetic form.

(α) So, for example, the exposition of Eleatic philosophy remains poetical in Xenophanes and also in Parmenides, especially in the Proem to his philosophical work.[30] The topic here is the One which is imperishable and eternal in contrast to what is corning to be and what has been, i.e. to particular and individual phenomena. Nothing particular can any longer satisfy the spirit which strives for truth, and truth is brought to mind in the first place in its most abstract unity and solidity. Intensified by contemplating the greatness of this object and by struggling with its majesty, the soul’s enthusiasm begins to become lyrical at the same time; but the entire exposition of the truths entering the poet’s thinking has a purely matter-of-fact and therefore epic character.

(β) In the cosmogonies, secondly, the subject-matter is the coming-to-be of things, especially of nature, and the tumult and conflict of activities dominant in nature. Here the poetic imagination proceeds to present an occurrence more concretely and richly in the form of deeds and events, because it personifies more or less definitely the natural powers that work themselves out in different spheres and productions, and it clothes them symbolically with human events and actions. This sort of epic subject-matter and exposition belongs especially to the nature-religions of the East, and it is Indian poetry above all which has been extremely fruitful in inventing and blazoning such often wild and extravagant ways of conceiving the origin of the world and the powers continually working in it.

(γ) Thirdly, the like is found in theogonies, which are particularly in their right place when neither on the one hand are the numerous individual gods supposed to have the life of nature exclusively as the principal object of their power and productive activity, nor, conversely, on the other hand, is there one god who creates the world by his thought and spirit and who, in perfervid monotheism, suffers no other gods beside him. The Greek religious outlook alone keeps to this beautiful middle position, and it finds an imperishable material for theogonies in the extrication of Zeus’ race of gods from the unruliness of the primitive powers of nature, as well as in the battle against these natural divinities – a coming-to-be and a strife which does indeed accord with the factual history of the origin of the eternal gods of poetry itself. The familiar example of such an epic way of putting things is the Theogony transmitted to us as by Hesiod. In this work, everything that happened takes the form of human events, and it remains all the less purely symbolic the more are the gods, with spiritual dominion as their vocation, free to take the shape of spiritual individuality which corresponds with their essential being, and for this reason they are justified in acting, and being portrayed, as human beings.

But what this sort of epic still lacks, for one thing, is a genuinely poetic finish. For although the deeds and events which such poems can sketch are an inherently necessary succession of incidents and occurrences, they are not an individual course of action proceeding from a single centre and looking to that for its unity and completeness. For another thing, the subject-matter here by its very nature does not afford the vision of a totality complete in itself, for in essence it lacks the strictly human reality which must alone provide the truly concrete material for the sway of the divine powers. Therefore if epic poetry is to attain its perfect form, it has still to free itself from this deficiency.

(c) This happens in that sphere which may be styled ‘epic proper’. For in the previously treated preliminary sorts of epic, which are generally ignored, an epic tone is of course present, but their subject-matter is not yet concretely poetic. For particular moral maxims and apophthegms remain purely universal so far as their specific content goes, while what is genuinely poetic is concrete spirit in an individual form; and the epic, having what is as its topic, acquires as its object the occurrence of an action which in the whole breadth of its circumstances and relations must gain access to our contemplation as a rich event connected with the total world of a nation and epoch. Consequently the content and form of epic proper is the entire world-outlook and objective manifestation of a national spirit presented in its self-objectifying shape as an actual event. This whole comprises both the religious consciousness, springing from all the depths of the human spirit, and also concrete existence political and domestic life right down to the details of external existence, human needs and means for their satisfaction; and epic animates this whole by developing it in close contact with individuals, because what is universal and substantive enters poetry only as the living presence of the spirit.

Further, such a total world, which nevertheless is concentrated into individual lives, must proceed tranquilly in the course of its realization, without hurrying on practically and dramatically towards some mark and the result of aiming at it, so that we can linger by what goes on, immerse ourselves in the individual pictures in the story and enjoy them in all their details. Therefore the entire course of the presentation in its objective reality acquires the form of a string of events external to one another which do have their ground, and their limitation, in the inner essence of the epic’s specific subject-matter, although it is not expressly emphasized. If for this reason the epic poem becomes rather diffuse and, owing to the relatively greater independence of its parts, is rather loosely connected together, we still must not suppose that it may be composed bit by bit on and on, for on the contrary, like any other work of art, it must as poetry be finished off into an inherently organic whole; yet it moves forward in objective tranquillity so that we can take an interest in the detail itself and the pictures of living reality.

(α) As such an original whole the epic work is the Saga, the Book, the Bible of a people, and every great and important people has such absolutely earliest books which express for it its own original spirit. To this extent these memorials are nothing less than the proper foundations of a national consciousness, and it would be interesting to form a collection of such epic bibles. For the series of epics, excluding those which are later tours de force, would present us with a gallery of the spirits of peoples. Nevertheless, not all bibles have the poetic form of epics, nor are fundamental religious books possessed by all the peoples who have clothed in comprehensive epic works of art what has been most sacrosanct to them in religion and worldly life. For example, the Old Testament contains many sagas and actual histories as well as scattered poetic pieces, but the whole thing is not a work of art. Our New Testament too, like the Koran, is mainly confined to the religious sphere, on which the rest of the life of the peoples is consequential later. Conversely, while the Greeks have a poetic bible in the Homeric poems, they have no fundamental religious books like those which the Indians and the Parsis have. But where we meet with primitive epics, we must distinguish these poetical bibles from a people’s later classical works of art which do not provide a total conspectus of the whole of the national spirit but only abstract from it certain specific tendencies and mirror it in these. For example, Indian dramatic poetry, or the tragedies of Sophocles, do not provide such a comprehensive picture as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or the Iliad and the Odyssey, do.

(β) In epic proper the childlike consciousness of a people is expressed for the first time in poetic form. A genuine epic poem therefore falls into that middle period in which a people has awakened out of torpidity, and its spirit has been so far strengthened as to be able to produce its own world and feel itself at home in it, while conversely everything that later becomes firm religious dogma or civil and moral law still remain a living attitude of mind from which no individual separated himself, and as yet there is no separation between feeling and will.

(αα) For (i) when the individual’s spirit becomes disentangled from the nation’s concrete whole and its situations, deeds, fates , and attitudes of mind, and (ii) when feeling and will become separated in the individual, then what reaches its ripest development is not epic, but in the first case dramatic poetry and, in the second, lyric. This comes about completely in the later days of a people’s life when the universal principles which have to guide human action are no longer part and parcel of a whole people’s heart and attitude of mind but already appear objectively and independently as a just and legal order, firmly established on its own account, as a prosaic arrangement of things, as a political constitution, and as moral and other prescriptions; the result is that man’s substantive obligations enter as a necessity external to him, not immanent in himself, and compelling him to recognize their validity. It is then in contrast with such an already cut-and-dried and independent state of affairs that the mind develops into a likewise independent world of subjective vision, reflection, and feeling which does not proceed to action, and expresses lyrically its dwelling on self and its preoccupation with the inner life of the individual; alternatively, passion with a practical aim becomes the chief thing, and it tries in its action to make itself independent by robbing external circumstances, happenings, and events of the right to independence which they have in epic. When this firmness of individual character and aims in relation to action becomes intensified within, it then leads, conversely, to dramatic poetry. But epic still demands that immediate unity of feeling with action, of inner aims logically pursued along with external accidents and events, a unity which in its original and undisrupted character occurs only in the earliest periods of poetry and a nation’s life.

(ββ) But we must not put the matter at all as if a people in its heroic age as such, the cradle of its epic, already had the skill to be able to describe itself poetically; for a nationality to be implicitly poetic in its actual life is one thing, but poetry as the imaginative consciousness of poetic material and as the artistic presentation of such a world is another thing altogether. The need to make play with ideas in such a presentation, i.e. the development of art, necessarily arises later than the life and the spirit which is naïvely at home in its immediate poetic existence.[31] Homer and the poems bearing his name are centuries later than the Trojan war which counts as an actual fact just as much as Homer is for me an historical individual. In a similar way, if the poems ascribed to Ossian are really his, he sings of an heroic past, the sunset splendour of which arouses in him the need for recalling it and giving it poetic form.

(γγ) In spite of this separation in time, a close connection must nevertheless still be left between the poet and his material. The poet must still be wholly absorbed in these old circumstances, ways of looking at things, and faith, and all he needs to do is to bring a poetic consciousness and artistic portrayal to his subject which is in fact the real basis of his actual life. If on the other hand there is no affinity between the events described in his epic and the actual faith, life, and customary way of looking at things impressed on the poet by his own present world, then his poem is necessarily split into disparate parts. For both sides – the subject-matter, i.e. the epic world which is to be described, and, what is independent of that, the other world of the poet’s consciousness and way of looking at things – are of a spiritual kind and each has a specific principle giving it particular features of character. If, then, the spirit of the artist is different from that through which the actual life and deeds of the nation described acquired their existence, then this produces a cleavage which at once confronts us as inappropriate and disturbing. For in that case we see on the one side scenes of a past world, and, on the other, forms, attitudes of mind, modes of reflection belonging to a different present. The result is that the forms of the earlier faith now become, in the midst of this further developed reflective mentality, a cold affair, a superstition, and an empty decoration provided by poetic machinery, and they wholly lack their original soul and proper life.

(γ) This brings us to the general position which the poet has to take up in the case of epic proper.

(αα) However much the epic must be of a factual kind, i.e. the objective presentation of a self-grounded world, made real in virtue of its own necessity, a world to which the poet’s own way of looking at things is akin and with which he can identify himself, still the work of art that portrays such a world is and remains the free production of an individual. In this connection, we may refer once more to the great remark of Herodotus: Homer and Hesiod gave the Greeks their gods. This free boldness of creation, which Herodotus ascribes to the epics named, already gives us an example of the fact that epics must belong to an early period in a people’s history and yet have not to describe its earliest period. Almost every people in its earliest beginnings has under its eyes a more or less foreign culture, a religious worship from abroad, and it lets these impose themselves on it; for it is precisely in this that the bondage, superstition, and barbarity of the spirit consists, namely not to have the Supreme Being as something indigenous, but to know it only as something alien not produced from its own national and individual consciousness. For example, before the time of their great epics, the Indians must certainly have gone through many a great revolution in their religious ideas and other circumstances. The Greeks too had to transform, as we saw earlier, material from Egypt, Phrygia, and Asia Minor. The Romans were confronted by Grecian elements, the barbarian invaders with Roman and Christian material, and so on. Only when the poet, with freedom of spirit, flings off such a yoke, scrutinizes his own powers, has a worthy estimate of his own spirit, and therefore has got rid of a beclouded consciousness, can the period of epic proper dawn. For, on the other hand, what is concretely indigenous is long superseded by periods of a culture that has become abstract, of dogmas that have been elaborated, of political and moral principles that have been securely established. The truly epic poet, despite the independence of his creation, remains entirely at home in his world, whether in respect of the passions, aims, and universal powers effective in the inner life of individuals, or in respect of all external circumstances. Homer, for example, has spoken as one at home in his world, and where others are at home, we are too, for there we contemplate truth, the spirit living and possessing itself in its world, and we are well and cheerfully disposed because the poet is there too with his whole mind and spirit. Such a world may stand at a lower stage of evolution and development but it remains at the stage of poetry and immediate beauty, so that we recognize and understand the substance of everything that our higher needs and real humanity demand – the honour, disposition, feeling, wisdom, and deeds of each and every hero; and we can enjoy these figures, throughout their detailed description, as being lofty and full of life.

(ββ) On account of the objectivity of the whole epic, the poet as subject must retire in face of his object and lose himself in it. Only the product, not the poet, appears, and yet what is expressed in the poem is his; he has framed it in his mind’s eye and put his soul, his entire spirit, into it. But the fact that he has done this does not appear directly. In the Iliad, for example, we see now Calchas, now Nestor interpreting the events, and yet these are explanations which the poet provides. Indeed even what passes within the minds of the heroes he interprets objectively as an intervention of the gods as when Athene appears to the wrathful Achilles, trying to bring him to his senses.[32] This is the poet’s invention, but because the epic presents not the poet’s own inner world but the objective events, the subjective side of the production must be put into the background precisely as the poet completely immerses himself in the world which he unfolds before our eyes. This is why the great epic style consists in the work’s seeming to be its own minstrel and appearing independently without having any author to conduct it or be at its head.

(γγ) Nevertheless, an epic poem as an actual work of art can spring from one individual only. Although an epic does express the affairs of an entire nation, it is only individuals who can write poetry, a nation collectively cannot. The spirit of an age or a nation is indeed the underlying efficient cause, but the effect, an actual work of art, is only produced when this cause is concentrated into the individual genius of a single poet; he then brings to our minds and particularizes this universal spirit, and all that it contains, as his own vision and his own work. For poetry is a spiritual production, and the spirit exists only as an actual individual consciousness and self-consciousness. If a work is already there with a distinctive note, then this, it is true, is something given, and others are then enabled to strike the same or a similar note, just as we now hear hundreds and hundreds of poems composed in Goethe’s manner. But many pieces composed on and on in the same tone do not make up that unitary work which can be the product only of a single mind. This is a point of importance in connection with the Homeric poems and the Nibelungenlied, because we cannot prove the authorship of the latter with any historical certainty, while, in regard to the Iliad and the Odyssey we all know that some have advanced the opinion that Homer, supposedly the single author of both, never existed and1haCsingle pieces were produced by single hands and then assembled together to form these two great works. The fundamental question in relation to this contention is whether each of these poems forms an organic epic whole, or, according to widespread opinion today, has no necessary beginning or end and therefore could have been prolonged indefinitely. Of course the Homeric poems lack the close connection of a dramatic work· of art and their unity is naturally less compact, so that, since each part may be and appear independent, they have been open to many interpolations and other changes. Nevertheless, they form throughout a genuine, inwardly organic, epic whole and such a whole can be composed only by one individual. The idea that these poems lack unity and are a mere juxtaposition of different sections composed in the same key is a barbaric idea at variance with the nature of art. But if this view is supposed only to mean that the poet, as subject, vanishes in face of his work, then this is the highest praise; for in that case nothing is said except that no subjective manner of thinking and feeling is recognizable in the work, and this is certainly true of the Homeric poems. What they reveal is solely the thing itself, the people’s objective way of looking at things. But even folksong requires a singer who sings the song from a heart filled with the feelings of his folk, and still more does a work of art that is a unity in itself necessitate a single individual’s spirit which also is a unity in itself.[33]

2. Particular Characteristics of Epic Proper

In dealing hitherto with the general character of epic poetry we began by citing the imperfect sorts of epic which have an epic tone but are not complete epics because they do not present either the whole situation of a people or a concrete event within such a whole. But it is only these latter topics which provide the adequate content of a perfect epic, the fundamental traits and conditions of which I have just indicated.

After these preliminary observations we must now survey the particular requirements which can be deduced from the nature of the epic work of art. In this connection we are at once met by the difficulty that little can be said in general terms on this more detailed topic, and consequently we would have to enter upon historical ground at once and consider the national epics singly; but in view of the difference of periods and nations this procedure would give us little hope of producing corresponding results. Yet this difficulty can be removed if we pick out from the many epic bibles one in which we acquire a proof of what can be established as the true fundamental character of epic proper. This one consists of the Homeric poems. From them above all I will therefore draw the traits which seem to me to be the chief characteristics naturally belonging to epic. These can be grouped together under the following heads:

(a) First, the question arises about what character the general world-situation must have if it is to provide a ground on which an epic event can be adequately portrayed.

(b) Secondly, we have to examine the quality of this individual event and consider of what sort it is.

(c) Thirdly, we must cast a glance at the form in which these two sides are intertwined and moulded into the unity of a work of art.

(a) The General World-Situation of Epic

We saw right at the beginning that what is accomplished in the genuinely epical event is not a single casual deed, and that consequently it is not a purely accidental happening which is related, but an action ramified into the whole of its age and national circumstances so that it can be brought before us only within an outspread world and demands the portrayal of this world in its entirety. The genuinely poetic form of this universal ground I can summarize briefly because I touched on the chief points when I was dealing in Part I of these lectures with the general world-situation of any ideal action. At this point, therefore, I will mention only what is important for epic.

(α) The state of human life most suitable as the background of an epic is that in which it exists for individuals already as a present reality hut which remains most closely connected with them by the tie of a common primitive life. For if the heroes who are placed at the head of affairs have first to found an entire social order, the determination of what exists or is to come into existence devolves, to a greater extent than is suitable for epic, on their subjective character and cannot appear as an objective reality.

(αα) The relations of ethical life, the bond of the family, as well as the bond of the people – as an entire nation – in war and peace must all have been discovered, framed, and developed; but, on the other hand, not yet developed into the form of universal institutions, obligations, and laws valid in themselves without any ratification by the living subjective personality of individuals, and indeed possessed of the power of subsisting even against the will of individuals. On the contrary, the sole origin and support of these relations [in an epic world] must clearly be a sense of justice and equity, together with custom and the general mind and character, so that no intellectualism in the form of a prosaic reality can stand and be consolidated against the heart, individual attitudes of mind, and passion. We must dismiss out of hand the idea that a truly epic action can take place on the ground of a political situation developed into an organized constitution with elaborate laws, effective courts of law, well-organized administration in the hands of ministers, civil servants, police, etc. The relations of an objective ethical order must indeed have already been willed and developing, but they can acquire their existence only in and through the actions and character of individuals, and not yet otherwise in a universally valid and independently justified form. Thus in epic we find an underlying community of objective life and action, but nevertheless a freedom in this action and life which appear to proceed entirely from the subjective will of individuals.

(ββ) The same is true for man’s relation to his natural environment whence he draws the means for satisfying his needs and for the manner of their satisfaction. In this matter too I must refer back to what I expounded earlier at length in dealing, in Part I, with the external determinacy of the Ideal. For his extern,al life man needs house and garden, tents, seats, beds, swords and lances. ships for crossing the sea, chariots to take him to battle, kettles and roasting-tins, slaughter of animals, food and drink, but none of these and whatever else he may need, should have been only dead means of livelihood; on the contrary he must still feel himself alive in them with his whole mind and self, and therefore give a really human, animated, and individual stamp to what is inherently external by bringing it into close connection with the human individual. Our modern machines and factories with their products, as well as our general way of satisfying the needs of our external life, would from this point of view be just as unsuitable as our modern political organization is for the social background required by the primitive epic. For, just as the intellect with its universals and that dominion of theirs which prevails independently of any individual disposition must not yet have asserted itself in the circumstances envisaged in the whole outlook of the epic proper, so here man must not yet appear cut adrift from a living connection with nature and that link with it which is powerful and fresh, be it friendly or hostile.

(γγ) This is the world-situation which elsewhere [in Part I] I distinguished from the idyllic one and called ‘heroic’. We find it sketched by Homer in the most beautiful poetry and with a wealth of human characteristics. Here we have before us in domestic and public life neither barbarism nor the purely intellectual prose of an ordered family and political life, but that originally poetic middle stage that I described above. But a chief point in it concerns the free individuality of all the figures. For example, in the Iliad Agamemnon is the King of Kings, the other Princes are under his sceptre, but his position as overlord does not become the dry connection of command and obedience, of a master and his servants. On the contrary, Agamemnon must be very circumspect and shrewd enough to give way, because the individual Princes are not his lieutenants and generals, summoned at his call, but are as independent as he is himself; they have assembled around him of their own free will or have been induced by some other means to join the expedition. He must take counsel with them, and if they are dissatisfied they stay away from the fight as Achilles did. This freely willed participation in the struggle, or the reverse, preserves the independence of the individual unimpaired, and this is what gives the whole relationship its poetic form. We find the same thing in the Ossianic poems as well as in the Cid’s relation to the Princes served by this national hero of romantic chivalry. Even in Ariosto and Tasso this free relationship is still not jeopardized, and, in Ariosto especially, the individual heroes set off on adventures of their own in almost complete independence. The relation between Agamemnon and the Princes is repeated in the relation between the Princes and their people. The latter follow of their own will; there is no compelling law to which they are subject. The basis of their obedience is honour, respect, bashfulness in face of the more powerful Prince who could always use force, and the imposing nature of the heroic character, etc. Order prevails in the home as well, though it is not an organization of servants but a matter of disposition and mores. Everything looks as if it had grown up naturally. For example, Homer tells of the Greeks on the occasion of a battle with the Trojans that they had lost many vigorous warriors, but fewer than the: Trojans because, Homer says, they always took thought for one another so as to avert cruel death in the mêlée.[34] They helped one another. If nowadays we wish to mark the difference between a well-disciplined and an uncivilized army, we would have to look for the essential difference of the civilized army in this bond and the mutual consciousness of counting only as a unity of one man with another. Barbarians are only a horde where no individual can rely on another. But what in our case appears as the result of a strict and laborious military discipline, training, and the command and domination of a fixed organization, is in Homer’s case a spontaneous custom, inherent and living in individuals as individuals.

The same sort of thing is at the bottom of Homer’s numerous descriptions of external things and situations. He does not dwell much on scenes in nature as our modern novels are fond of doing, whereas he is most circumstantial in his description of a staff, sceptre, bed, weapons, robes, door-posts, and he even does not forget to mention the hinges on which a door swings.[35] In our case such things would seem very external and indifferent; indeed in our civilization our attitude to a mass of objects, things, and words is one of an extremely inflexible gentility and we have an extensive hierarchy of grades of distinction in clothing, furnishings, etc. Moreover, nowadays the production and preparation of any and every means of satisfying our needs is split up between such a multitude of activities in factories and workshops that all the particular steps in this wide ramification are reduced to something subordinate which we need not notice or enumerate. But the world of the heroes was not like this; there was a more primitive simplicity of objects and contrivances, and it was possible to linger over their description because all these things rank alike and are counted as something in which a man may take pride on the score of his skill, his wealth, and his material interests, because he has not been diverted from them by his whole course of life and led into a purely intellectual sphere. Slaughtering oxen and preparing them for food, pouring wine, etc. is an occupation of the heroes themselves, an occupation that they pursue with enjoyment for its own sake, whereas with us if a luncheon is not to be an ordinary everyday one, it must not only involve bringing rare delicacies to the table but require excellent talk besides. Therefore, Homer’s circumstantial descriptions of things of this sort must not seem to us to be a poetic addition to rather dry material; on the contrary, this detailed attention is the very spirit of the men and situations described, just as in our case peasants, for example, talk at great length and in detail about external things, or as our horsemen can dilate with no less prolixity on their stables, steeds, boots, spurs, breeches, etc., all of which, it is true, is small beer in comparison with a more dignified and an intellectual life.

This heroic world should not comprise merely the restricted universal element in the particular event proceeding on such a presupposed ground, but must be extended to the whole of a national outlook. Of this we have the finest example in the Odyssey which not only introduces us to the domestic life of the Greek Princes and their servants and subjects, but also displays to us the manifold ideas of foreign peoples, sea voyages, the abode of the dead, etc. in the richest way. In the Iliad, owing to the nature of the subject-matter the theatre of the action had to be more restricted, and in the midst of battle and war little room could be found for scenes of peace; nevertheless, even here, with great art and marvellous insight, Homer has, for instance, brought together the whole sphere of the earth and human life, weddings, legal actions, agriculture, herds, etc., private wars between cities, and described all this[36] on the shield of Achilles, a description not to be regarded as an external parergon. On the other hand, in the poems called Ossian’s the world is on the whole too restricted and vague and for this reason has a lyrical character already, while Dante’s Paradise and Hell are not in themselves a world affecting us more nearly but serve only as a place for the reward or punishment of men. But the Nibelungenlied above all lacks the specific reality of a ground and soil, so that the narrative already approaches the tone of fairground entertainers. It is indeed prolix enough but it is as if apprentices had heard of the thing remotely and now proposed to tell the story in their own way. We do not manage to see the thing but only notice the incapacity and drudgery of the poet. It is true that this wearisome expanse of weakness is still worse in the Heldenbuch until finally it was outdistanced only by real apprentices, i.e. as the Mastersingers were.

(β) Yet since epic’s artistic purpose is to give shape to a specific world, determinate in all its particular aspects, and since it must therefore be something individual in itself, the world mirrored in it must be that of one specific people.

(αα) All the truly primitive epics give us the vision of a national spirit in its ethical family life, in states of national war or peace, in its needs, arts, usages, interests, in short a picture of a whole way of thinking and a whole stage of civilization. To estimate epic poems, to examine them more closely, and to expound them therefore means, as we have seen already, nothing but to make the spirits of individual nations pass before our mind’s eye. Together they present the history of the world in its most beautiful, free, specific life, achievements, and events. From no source but Homer, for example, do we learn in such a lively way or recognize in such a simple way the nature of the Greek spirit and Greek history, or at least the essence of what the Greeks were in their beginnings and what they achieved in order to overcome the conflict of their own history.

(ββ) But there are two sorts of a nation’s reality. First, an entirely positive or factual world of the most specialized usages of precisely this individual people, at this specific period, in this geographical and climatic situation, with these rivers, mountains, and woods, in short with this natural environment. Secondly, the substance of the nation’s spiritual consciousness in respect of religion, family, community, and so forth. Now if, as we required, a primitive epic is to be and remain the permanently valid Bible or Book of the people, the factual aspect of the reality that is past can only claim a continuing living interest if the factual characteristics have an inner connection with those really substantive aspects and tendencies of the nation’s existence; for otherwise the factual becomes wholly fortuitous and indifferent. For example, nationality implies possession of a geographical home; but if its geography does not give a people its specific character, then provided that a remote and different natural environment does not contradict the nation’s own special character, it may not be disturbing at all and may even have something attractive about it for the imagination. The immediate presence of our native hills and streams is linked with the visual memories of youth, but if the deeper bond with our whole way of thinking and looking at things is lacking, this link drops to being more or less an external one. Besides, in the case of military expeditions, as in the Iliad for example, it is not possible to keep to the native land; indeed in this instance there is something attractive and charming about the foreign natural environment.

But the enduring life of an epic suffers still more if in the course of centuries spiritual consciousness and life have been so transformed that the links between this more recent past and the original starting-point have been altogether snapped. This is what happened, in a different sphere of poetry, with Klopstock,[37] for example, when he set up a cult of national gods and brought Hermann and Thusnelda in their train. The same is to be said of the Nibelungenlied. The Burgundians, Chriemhild’srevenge, Siegfried’s deeds, the whole circumstances of life, the fate and downfall of an entire race, the Nordic character [of the poem], King Etzel, etc., all this has no longer any living connection whatever with our domestic, civil, legal life, with our institutions and constitutions. The story of Christ, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Roman law, even the Trojan war have far more present reality for us than the affairs of the Nibelungs which for our national consciousness are simply a past history, swept clean away with a broom. To propose to make things of that sort into something national for us or even into the Book of the German people has been the most trivial and shallow notion. At a time when youthful enthusiasm seemed to be kindled anew, it was a sign of the grey hairs of a second childhood at the approach of death when an age reinvigorated itself on something dead and gone and could expect others to share its feeling of having its present reality in that.

(γγ) But if a national epic is to win the abiding interest of other peoples and times too, then the world it describes must not be only that of a particular nation; it must be such that what is universally human is firmly impressed at the same time on the particular nation described and on its heroes and their deeds. So, for example, we have in Homer’s poems the undying and eternal presence of the immediate material of religion and ethics, splendour of character and the whole of existence, and the visible actuality in which the poet can bring before us things both supreme and trivial. In this matter a great difference prevails between different nations. For example, it cannot be denied that the Ramayana portrays in the most living way the spirit of the Indian people, especially in its religious aspect, but the whole character of Indian life is so preponderantly specialized, that the barrier presented by its peculiarity cannot be burst by what is really and truly human. It is quite otherwise, however, with the epic descriptions contained in the Old Testament, especially in the pictures of patriarchal conditions, because from early times the entire Christian world has found itself at home in them, and enjoyed ever anew this remarkably energetic illustration of the events set forth. Goethe, for example, even in childhood ‘in the midst of his distracted life and miscellaneous learning brought his mind and feelings to tranquil effectiveness by concentrating them on this one point’,[38] and in manhood he still says of the Old Testament, ‘in all our wanderings through the East we still came back to these Scriptures as the springs of water which are the most refreshing, though here and there troubled, often disappearing under the ground, but then always bubbling up again, pure and fresh’.[39]

(γ) Thirdly, the general situation of a particular people must not be the proper subject-matter of an epic in this tranquil universality of its individual character as a people or be described simply on its own account; on the contrary it can appear only as a foundation on the basis of which a continually developing event occurs, touches all sides of the people’s actual life, and incorporates them. Such a happening should not be a purely external accident but must be something carried out by the will in accordance with a substantial spiritual purpose. But if the two sides, the people’s universal situation and the individual action, are not to fall apart, the specific event must find its occasion in the very ground and soil on which it moves. This simply means that the epic world presented to us must be seized in such a concrete and individual situation that from it there necessarily proceed the specific aims whose realization the epic is to relate. Now we have already seen in Part I, in dealing with the ideal action in general, that this kind of action presupposes such situations and circumstances as lead to conflicts, i.e. injurious actions necessarily followed by reactions. The specific situation in which the epic state of the world is revealed to us must therefore be of a kind productive of collision. Therefore epic and dramatic poetry tread on the same ground and at this point we must therefore begin by establishing the difference between epic and dramatic collisions.

(αα) In the most general terms we can cite conflict in a state of war as the situation most suited to epic. For in war it is precisely the whole nation which is set in motion and which experiences a fresh stimulus and activity in its entire circumstances, because here the whole has an inducement to answer for itself. While this principle is confirmed in most of the great epics, it does seem to be contradicted not only by Homer’s Odyssey but by much of the material in religious epics. The Odyssey recounts the history of a collision, but this collision had its origin likewise in the expedition against Troy, and although there is no actual description of the Trojan war, still in relation both to the domestic situation in Ithaca and to Odysseus’ efforts to get home, the collision is an immediate consequence of the war; indeed, it is itself a kind of war, because many of the chief heroes had as it were to reconquer their home, since after ten years’ absence they found a changed situation there. As for religious epics, it is chiefly Dante’s Divine Comedy which confronts us. But here too the fundamental collision is derived from the Devil’s original fall from God which leads in human affairs to the continual internal and external war between actions in conflict with God’s will and those pleasing to him and which is perpetuated in damnation, purification, and beatification, i.e. in Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. In [KIopstock’sJ Messiah too the central point can only be the direct war against the Son of God. Still, what is most lively and most appropriate will always be the description of an actual war as we find it already in the Ramayana, in the richest way in the Iliad, but later too in Ossian and the famous poems of Tasso, Ariosto, and Camoens. The reason is that in war bravery remains the chief interest, and bravery is a state of the soul,[40] and an activity, which is fitted not for expression in lyric, nor for dramatic action, but above all for description in epic. For in drama the chief thing is inner spiritual strength or weakness, the ethically justified or unjustifiable ‘pathos’, whereas in epic it is the natural side of spirit, i.e. character. Consequently bravery is in its right place in national wars, because it is not a moral conviction adopted by the will itself as a will and a spiritual consciousness; on the contrary, its basis is natural, amalgamated with the spiritual side into a direct equipoise for the execution of practical purposes which are better described than comprised in lyrical feelings and reflections. What is true of bravery in war is true also of the actions themselves and their consequences. There is an equipoise likewise between the accidents of external happenings and what the will achieves. From drama, on the other hand, the mere happening with the purely external hindrances it involves is excluded, because in this case externality has no independent right of its own but must stem from the aims and inner purposes of individuals, so that if accidents do enter and seem to determine the issue they nevertheless have to have their true ground and their justification in the inner nature of the characters and their aims as well as of the conflicts and their necessary resolution.

(ββ) With such belligerent situations as the basis of the epic action it seems that a wide variety of material is open to epic; for it is possible to portray a mass of interesting deeds and events in which bravery plays a chief role, and likewise an undiminished right remains granted to the external power of circumstances and accidents. In spite of this we must not overlook that in this matter an essential restriction is placed on epic. For it is only the wars of nations foreign to one another that are of a genuinely epic kind, whereas dynastic battles, civil wars, and commotions are more suited to dramatic representation. Thus, for instance, Aristotle long ago recommended tragedians to select material with the war of brother against brother as its subject-matter (Poetics, 1453b 19 ff.).The Seven Against Thebes [of Aeschylus] is an example of this. Polynices, a Theban, attacks the city, and its defender, Eteocles, his enemy, is his own brother. Here the enmity is not at all in the nature of things but depends, on the contrary, on the particular individuality of the two warring brothers. The fundamental tie between them would have been peace and harmony, and their necessary unity is severed only by their individual disposition and its supposed justification. A great number of similar examples could be cited, especially from Shakespeare’s tragedies in which every time what would really be justified is the harmony of the individuals concerned, but inner motives of passion, and characters who want only their own way and have regard to nothing else, lead to wars and collisions. In respect of a similar action and one therefore defective for epic, I will refer only to Lucan’s Pharsalia. However great in this poem are the purposes that are at variance, the combatants are too near one another, too closely related by their own country’s soil, for their conflict not to seem a mere party-struggle instead of a war between whole nations. This struggle splits the people’s underlying unity and leads, on the subjective side, to tragic guilt and corruption. Moreover, the objective events are not left clear and simple in the poem but are confusedly intermingled. The same thing is true of Voltaire’s Henriade. On the other hand the enmity of nations foreign to one another is something substantial and fundamental. Every nation is on its own account a whole different from and opposed to another. If they become enemies, no ethical bond is snapped, nothing absolutely valid is impaired, no necessary whole is split up; on the contrary, it is a battle to maintain this whole intact, along with its right to exist. The occurrence of enmity like this is therefore absolutely fitted to the fundamental character of epic poetry.

(γγ) At the same time, however, once more it is not any ordinary war between nations hostilely disposed to one another that as such is to be peculiarly regarded as epical: a third aspect must be added, namely the justification claimed by a people at the bar of history, a claim which one people pursues against another. Only in such a case is the picture of a new higher undertaking unrolled before us. This cannot appear as something subjective, as a mere capricious attempt at subjection; on the contrary, by being grounded in a higher necessity it is something absolute in itself, even if the direct external occasion for it may assume the character of some single violation or of revenge. An analogue of this situation is to be found in the Ramayana, but it arises above all in the Iliad where the Greeks take the field against the Asiatics and thereby fight the first epic battles in the tremendous opposition that led to the wars which constitute in Greek history a turning-point in world-history.

In a similar way the Cid fights against the Moors; in Tasso and Ariosto the Christians fight against the Saracens, in Camoens the Portuguese against the Indians. And so in almost all the great epics we see peoples different in morals, religion, speech, in short in mind and surroundings, arrayed against one another; and we are made completely at peace by the world-historically justified victory of the higher principle over the lower which succumbs to a bravery that leaves nothing over for the defeated. In this sense, the epics of the past describe the triumph of the West over the East, of European moderation, and the individual beauty of a reason that sets limits to itself, over Asiatic brilliance and over the magnificence of a patriarchal unity still devoid of perfect articulation or bound together so abstractly that it collapses into parts separate from one another. If now in contrast to these epics we contemplate others that may perhaps be composed in the future, then these might have nothing to describe except the victory, some day or other, of living American rationality over imprisonment in particulars and measurements prolonged to infinity.[41] For in Europe nowadays each nation is bounded by another and may not of itself begin a war against another European nation; if we now want to look beyond Europe, we can only turn our eyes to America.

(b) The Individual Epic Action

Now it is on this ground, open to conflicts between whole nations, that, secondly, the epic event proceeds. Our task now is to look for the general characteristics of this event and our discussion will be divided into the following points:

(α) However firmly the aim of an epic action rests on a universal foundation, it must still be individually alive and definite.

(β) But since actions can only proceed from individuals, the question of the general nature of the epic characters arises.

(γ) Objectivity is portrayed in the epic event not merely in the sense of external appearance but at the same time in the sense of something necessary and fundamental. Therefore we must establish the form in which this fundamental nature of the event appears effective either as an inner hidden necessity or as openly directed by eternal powers and Providence.

(α) Above we have postulated as the basis of the epic world a national undertaking in which the entirety of a national spirit could be strongly marked in the earliest freshness of its heroic situations. But on this foundation a particular aim must arise, the realization of which, being most intimately interwoven with the life of the whole nation, brings into view every aspect of the national character, faith, and action.

(αα) The whole nation proceeds to particularize this aim which is animated in individuals, and in this way, as we know already, the aim, thus animated and particularized, assumes in epic the form of an event. Consequently at this point we must above all refer in more detail to the manner in which willing and acting in general pass over into an event. Action and event both proceed from the inner life of the spirit, and the contents of that life are not only manifested by them subjectively and theoretically in the expression of feelings, reflections, thoughts, etc., but they are also carried out objectively and practically. To this realization there are two sides. First, the inner side, namely the intended and envisaged end, the general nature and consequences of which the individual must know, will, take responsibility for, and accept. Secondly, the external side, namely the reality of the environing spiritual and natural world within which alone a man can act. Its accidents he encounters as obstructions or encouragements, so that either he is fortunately led to his aim through their favour, or, if he refuses to submit to them forthwith, has to fight against them with all his individual energy. If the world of the will is conceived as the undivided unification of these two sides so that both are allowed the same justification, then the inmost life of the spirit itself at once acquires the form of a fact and this gives the shape of an event to all action because the inner will with its intentions, and subjective motives such as passion, principles, and aims, can no longer appear as the chief thing in action. In the case of action everything is referred back to the agent’s inner character, his duty, disposition, purpose, etc.; whereas, in the case of events the external side too acquires its unimpaired right, because it is objective reality which provides both the form of the whole and also said earlier that the task of epic poetry is to present the fact of an action, and therefore not merely to cling to the external side as being the accomplishment of aims, but also to allow to the external circumstances, natural occurrences, and other accidental things the same right as that which the inner life claims exclusively for itself in an action as such.

(ββ) If we consider more closely the nature of the particular aim, the accomplishment of which is related in epic in the form of an event, all that I have already premissed implies that this aim must not be an abstract thing but must be concrete and definite, but without being a mere caprice since it is actualized within the substantive existence of the entire nation. For example, the state as such, our country, or the history of a state and country, is as such something universal which, taken in this universality, does not appear as something subjectively and individually existent, i.e. it is not inseparably coincident with a specific and living individual. Thus the history of a country, the development of its political life, its constitution, and its fate, may also be related as an event: but if what happens is not presented as the concrete act, the inner aim, the passion, life, and accomplishment of specific heroes whose individuality provides the form and the content of the whole actual occurrence, then the event exists only in the rigid independent advance of its content as the history of a nation or an empire. From this point of view the supreme action of the spirit may be world-history itself, and we might propose to work up this universal deed on the battlefield of the universal spirit into the absolute epic; the hero of such an epic would be the spirit of man, or humanity, which educates and lifts itself out of a dullness of consciousness into world-history; but precisely because of its universality this material could not be sufficiently individualized for art. For, in the first place, such an epic would lack from the start a fixed and specific background and world-situation in relation alike to locality and to morals, customs, etc. The one foundation that could be presupposed would be the universal world-spirit itself which cannot be visualized as a specific situation and which has the entire earth as its locality. Similarly the one aim accomplished in such an epic would be the aim of that world-spirit which can be grasped and clearly explained in its true meaning solely by thinking; but if it were to appear in poetic guise it would have to be emphasized every time as the agent acting independently from its own resources in order to give the whole story its proper sense and connection. This could only be done poetically if the inner architect of history, the eternal and absolute Idea, which realizes itself in humanity, either came into appearance as a directing, active, and executive individual, or else asserted itself as merely a hidden ever-operative necessity. But, in the first case, owing to the infinity of this subject-matter, the vessel of art, always limited in size to contain specific individuality alone, would be burst; or alternatively, to counter this drawback, would have to sink to a cold allegory consisting of general reflections on ‘the vocation [of man]’ and ‘the education of the human race,'[42] on the aim of humanity or moral perfection, or however else the purpose of the world-spirit may be described. In the second case, the part of particular heroes would have to be played by the different national spirits, and their conflict would be the theatre in which the pageant of history would unfold and move forward in continuous development. But if the spirit of the nations in its actuality is to appear in poetry, this can only happen by bringing before us in their actions a succession of the really world-historical figures. But in that case we would only have a series of particular figures appearing and disappearing in a purely external succession; they would lack connection and would not form an individual unity because the ruling world-spirit, i.e. the inner nature and fate of the world, would not be placed at their head as itself an individual agent. And if an attempt were made to grasp the national spirits in their universality and make them act in that fundamental character, this too would only give us a similar series, and, besides, the individuals in it would only have, like Indian incarnations, a show of existence, a fiction that would have to grow pale in face of the truth of the world-spirit realized in the actual course of history.

(γγ) From this we can derive the general rule that the particular epic event can only be given vitality in poetry if it can be fused in the closest way with a single individual. Just as a single poet devises and carries out the whole epic, so at the head of the event there must be a single individual with whom the event is linked and by whose single figure it is conducted and ended. But in this matter there are additional and essentially more detailed postulates. For, as was the case previously with the poetic treatment of world-history, so now in the converse case of the individual it might seem that a biographical treatment of a specific life-history was the most perfect and proper epic material. But this is not the case. In a biography the individual does remain one and the same, but the events in which he is involved may fall apart from one another altogether independently, and their point of connection with him may be purely external and accidental. But if the epic is to be a unity in itself, the event in the form of which its subject-matter is presented must also have unity in itself. Both the unity of the individual and the unity of the occurrence must meet and be conjoined. In the life and deeds of the Cid on his native soil, the interest lies solely in the one great individual who remains true to himself throughout his development, heroism, and death; his exploits pass in front of him, as if he were a sculptured god, and in the end the whole thing has passed in front of us and him too. But as a chronicle in rhyme the poems of the Cid are not an epic proper, but something like later romances. These are a genus which requires something similar to what the Cid poems have, namely a splintering of the national heroic age into single situations which are under no necessity of closing together to form the unity of a particular event. On the other hand, what has been postulated is satisfied most beautifully in the Iliad and the Odyssey where Achilles and Odysseus stick out as the chief figures. The same is the case in the Ramayana too. In this matter Dante’s Divine Comedy has an especially remarkable position. In it the epic poet himself is the one individual to whose wanderings through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise each and every incident is linked, so that he can recount the productions of his imagination as his own experiences and therefore acquires the right, to a greater extent than is allowed to other epic poets, of interweaving his own feelings and reflections with the objective side of his work.

(β) It follows that however far epic poetry in general recounts what is and what happens and therefore has objectivity for its content and form, still, on the other hand, since itis the happening of an action which passes in front of us, it is precisely the individuals and their deeds and sufferings who really emerge. For only individuals, be they men or gods, can really act, and the more vitally they have to be interwoven with what is going on, all the more fully will they be justified in attracting the main interest. From this point of view, epic stands on the same ground with both lyric and dramatic poetry, and therefore it must be an important matter for us to emphasize more definitely the specifically epic way of presenting individuals.

(αα) The objectivity of an epic character, especially of the chief ones, implies that they are an entirety of characteristics, whole men, and therefore there must appear developed in them all aspects of the mind and heart, and in particular of the national disposition and manner of acting. In this connection I have already drawn attention, in Part I of these Lectures, to Homer’s heroic figures, especially to the variety of purely human and national qualities vividly united in Achilles, to whom the hero of the Odyssey provides a most remarkable counterpart. The Cid is presented to us with a similar many-sidedness of character-traits and situations: as son, hero, lover, spouse, householder, father, and in his relation to his king, his friends, and his enemies. On the other hand, other medieval epics remain far more abstract in this sort of characterization, especially when their heroes only defend the interests of chivalry as such and are remote from the sphere of the strictly fundamental interests of their nation.

One chief aspect in the portrayal of epic characters is their self-disclosure as whole men in the greatest variety of scenes and situations. The tragic and comic figures of drama may also have a like wealth of inner life, but in their case the chief thing is the sharp conflict between an always one-sided ‘pathos’ and an opposing passion within quite limited spheres and aims; and consequently such many-sidedness of character is an incidental wealth if not a superfluous one or it is outweighed by the one passion and its grounds, ethical considerations, etc., and in the play is pressed into the background. But epic is a totality and all its aspects are entitled to development in extenso and independently. For in part this is implied in the principle of the epic form as such, and in part, the epic individual, in accordance with his entire world-situation, has a right to be and to assert what he is and what his nature is, because he lives in times to which precisely this being, this immediate individuality, belongs. Of course in relation to the wrath of Achilles moral pedants may very well ask us to consider what trouble this wrath produced and what damage it did, and then to draw an inference fatal to the excellence and greatness of Achilles on the ground that he could not be perfect either as hero or man when on the occasion of his wrath he had not self-mastery enough to modify the strength of his feeling. But Achilles is not to be blamed, and we need not excuse his wrath at all on the score of his other great qualities: the point is that Achilles is the man that he is, and with that, so far as epic goes, the matter is at an end. The same is to be said of his ambition and desire for fame. For the chief right of these great characters consists in the energy of their self-accomplishment, because in their particular character they still carry the universal, while, conversely, commonplace moralizing persists in not respecting the particular personality and in putting all its energy into this disrespect. Was it not a tremendous sense of self that raised Alexander above his friends and the life of so many thousands? Revenge, and even a trace of cruelty, are part of the same energy in heroic times, and even in this respect Achilles, as an epic character, should not be given moral lectures as if he were a schoolboy.

(ββ) Now precisely because these chief epic figures are whole and entire individuals who brilliantly concentrate in themselves those traits of national character which otherwise are separately dispersed, and who on this account remain great, free, and humanly beautiful characters, they acquire the right to be put at the head of affairs and to see the chief event conjoined with their individual selves. The nation is concentrated in them into a living individual person and so they fight for the national enterprise to its end, and suffer the fate that the events entail. For example, in Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered, although Godfrey of Bouillon is chosen to be commander of the whole army on the strength of his being the wisest, bravest, and most just of the Crusaders, he is no such outstanding figure as Odysseus or Achilles, this entire Greek spirit in its bloom of youth. The Achaeans cannot win when Achilles retires from the fight; by his defeat of Hector he alone conquers Troy. And in Odysseus’ journey home there is mirrored the return of all the Greeks from Troy, with only this difference that in what he has to endure there is exhaustively portrayed the whole of the sufferings, circumstances, and views on life involved in this experience. On the other hand, characters in drama do not thus appear as in themselves the absolute head of the whole [national character] which is objectified in them; on the contrary, they are rather self-concentrated on the purpose they adopt either from their own character or from specific principles which have grown into their more solitary individual personality.

(γγ) A third aspect of epic individuals may be deduced from the fact that what epic has to describe is not an action as such, but an event. In drama what is all-important is that the individual shall actually be working for his end and shall be presented precisely in this activity and its consequences. Undisturbed concern for realizing one end disappears in epic. Here indeed the heroes may have wishes and ends of their own, but the chief thing is not the devotion of activity to their own end but what meets them in their pursuit of it. The circumstances are just as effective as their activity, and often more effective. For example, his return to Ithaca is the actual design of Odysseus. The Odyssey not only shows him to us in the actual achievement of his specific aim but relates, and develops in full detail, what he encounters in his wanderings, what he suffers, what hindrances are put in his way, what dangers he has to overcome, and how he is agitated. All these experiences are not, as would be necessary in drama, the result of one action, but occur as incidents in the journey mostly without the hero’s contributing anything to them. After his adventures with the lotuseaters, Polyphemus, and the Laestrygones, the divine Circe delays him with her for a year; next, after visiting the underworld and suffering shipwreck, he stays with Calypso until his homesickness makes him tired of the girl and with tearful eyes he looks out over the unharvested sea. At last Calypso herself gives him the materials for the boat he builds and equips him with food, wine, and clothes; she cares for him right well and bids him a friendly good-bye. In the end, after his stay with the Phaeacians, he is brought sleeping and unawares to the shores of his island. This way of achieving an aim would not be appropriate in drama. – In the Iliad again, the wrath of Achilles is the occasion for all that follows and is the particular subject-matter of the epic narrative, yet from the very start it is not a purpose or aim at all but a situation: Achilles is insulted and he flies into a passion; there is nothing of drama about this at all, for on the contrary he withdraws into inactivity and stays with Patroc1us beside the ships on the shore, resenting the insult given him by the leader of the folk; then follow the consequences of this withdrawal, and not until his friend is slain by Hector is Achilles seen vigorously involved in the action. In a different way again, the end that Aeneas is to accomplish is prescribed to him, and Virgil then relates all the events which in so many ways delayed its achievement.

(γ) We have now still to mention a third important aspect of the form that an event takes in epic. Earlier I said that in drama the inner will, with its demands and intentions, is the essential determinant and permanent foundation of everything that goes on. The things that happen appear to be entirely the result of a character and his aims, and accordingly the chief interest turns principally on the justification, or the reverse, of the action performed within the presupposed situations and the resulting conflicts. Therefore even if in drama external circumstances are operative, they still can only count through what the will and the mind make of them and the manner in which a character reacts to them. But in epic, circumstances and external accidents count just as much as the character’s will, and what he achieves passes before us just as what happens from without does, so that his deed must prove to be conditioned and brought about just as much by his entanglement in external circumstances. For in epic the individual does not act freely for himself and out of his own resources; on the contrary, he stands in the midst of a whole nation whose aim and existence in a widely correlated inner and outer world provides the immovable and actual foundation for every particular individual. This type of character with all its passions, decisions, and achievements must always be preserved in epic. Now when equal worth is given to external circumstances with their attendant accidents independent of the individual, it seems that indisputable playroom is given to that vein of accident. yet what epic should present to us is what is genuinely objective, i.e. the fundamental substance of existence. We can meet this contradiction at once by pointing out that necessity lies at the heart of events and happenings.

(αα) In this sense we can maintain that what rules in epic, though not, as is commonly supposed, in drama, is fate. In drama, owing to the sort of aim which a character is determined to carry out in given and known circumstances, with all the resulting collisions, he creates his fate himself, whereas an epic character has his fate made for him, and this power of circumstances, which gives his deed the imprint of an individual form, allocates his lot to him, and determines the outcome of his actions, is the proper dominion of fate. What happens, happens; it is so; it happens of necessity. In lyrics, feeling, reflection, personal interest, longing can be heard; drama turns the inner right of the action inside out and presents it objectively; but epic poetry moves in the element of an inherently necessary total state of affairs, and nothing is left to the individual but to submit to this fundamental situation, i.e. to what is, be it adapted to him or not, and then suffer as he mayor must. Fate determines what is to happen and what happens, and just as the individuals are clay in its hands, so too are the results, his success and failure, his life and his death. For what is really presented to us is a great universal situation in which the actions and fates of men appear as something transient, merely belonging to them as individuals. This destiny is the great justice and it becomes tragic not in the dramatic sense of the word in which the individual is judged as a person, but in the epic sense in which the individual is judged in his whole situation; and the tragic nemesis is that the greatness of the situation is too great for the individuals. Consequently an air of mourning is wafted over the whole epic; we see excellence pass early away; even in his life Achilles laments over his death, and in the Odyssey we see him and Agamemnon as no longer living, as shades with the awareness of being shades. Troy perishes too; old Priam is murdered at the altar in his house, his wives and daughters are enslaved; Aeneas withdraws, commanded by the gods to found a new realm in Latium; and the conquering heroes return, only after manifold sufferings, to a happy or bitter end in their own homeland.

(ββ) But the ways in which this necessity underlying events is presented in epic may be very different.

The first and most undeveloped way is the mere statement of events. Here the poet does not introduce a world of gods directing affairs in order to explain more clearly the necessity implicit in individual occurrences and their general outcome by referring it to the decree, intervention, and co-operation of eternal powers. But in this case, the whole tone of the exposition must impress on us the feeling that in the narrative of events and the great destinies of the lives of single individuals and whole families we have not to do with what is only mutable and transient in human existence but with fates having their raison d'être in themselves; yet their necessity remains the dark working of a power which is not itself specifically individualized as this power in its divine dominion or presented poetically in its activity. This is throughout the tone of the Nibelungenlied, for example, since it ascribes the ultimate bloody issue of all deeds neither to Christian Providence nor to a heathen world of gods. For in relation to Christianity nothing at all is said except about church-going and the Mass, and what the Bishop of Spires says to the beautiful Ute when the heroes intend to move into King Etzel’s country: ‘May God preserve them there.’ In addition, warning dreams occur, the prediction of the Danube women to Hagen, and the like, but no real direction or interference by “the gods.[43] This gives the work a stiff and undeveloped appearance, a tone of mourning, objective as it were and therefore extremely epical. The Ossianic poems are a complete contrast; in them likewise no gods appear, but the lament over the death and downfall of the whole race of heroes is manifestly the subjective grief of the veteran poet and the ecstasy of melancholy recollection.

This kind of treatment is essentially different from the complete interweaving of all human fates and natural occurrences with the decree, will, and action of a world of manifold gods as we find it in, for example, the great Indian epics, in Homer, Virgil, etc. The poet’s varied interpretation of apparenily accidental events as the co-operation and manifestation of the gods I have already noticed and tried to illustrate by examples from the Iliad and the Odyssey.[44] Here what is especially required is that in the actions of gods and men the poetic relation of their mutual independence shall be preserved, so that neither can the gods be degraded to lifeless abstractions nor human individuals to being obedient servants. How this danger is to be averted I have also already explained at length elsewhere.[45] In this respect the Indian epic has not been able to force its way to the properly ideal relation between gods and men, because at this stage when the imagination is symbolic the human element in its free and beautiful actuality still remains repressed, and the action of human individuals either appears as an incarnation of the gods or disappears as merely something accessory or is described as an ascetic elevation into the life and power of the gods. Conversely again, in Christianity the particular personified powers, passions, and genii of men, i.e. angels etc., have for the most part too little individual independence and therefore they readily become something cold and abstract. The same is the case in Mohammedanism. When the gods have flown from the world of nature and men, and men’s minds are full of a consciousness of the prosaic order of things, then within this outlook, especially when it becomes addicted to the fabulous, it is more difficult to avoid the danger of giving a miraculous interpretation to what is absolutely accidental and indifferent in external circumstances which are only there, without an inner support and basis, as an occasion for human action and the preservation and development of the individual character. In this way the endless chain of causes and effects is broken, and the numerous links in this prosaic chain of circumstances, which cannot all be interpreted, collapse immediately into one; if this happens without necessity or inner rationality, this method of explanation, frequent for example in the Arabian Nights, is manifestly a mere play of imagination which by such inventions explains what is otherwise incredible and presents it as something possible or as having really happened.

On the other hand, in this respect too Greek poetry adheres to the most beautiful middle course, because on the lines of its whole fundamental outlook it can give to its gods, its heroes, and its men a mutually undisturbed force and freedom of independent individuality.

(γγ) But, especially in relation to the entire world of gods, an aspect of epic comes into view which I have indicated already, namely the contrast between primitive epics and those composed artificially in later times. This difference is most pronounced in the cases of Homer and Virgil. The stage of civilization which gave rise to the Homeric poems remains in beautiful harmony with their subject-matter, whereas in Virgil every hexameter reminds us that the poet’s way of looking at things is entirely different from the world he intends to present to us, and the gods above all lack the freshness of individual life. Instead of being alive themselves and generating a belief in their existence, they are evidently mere inventions and external means, not capable of being taken very seriously by the poet or his hearers, although they are given a show of being taken very seriously indeed. Throughout the whole Virgilian epic we see the life of every day; and the ancient tradition, the Saga, the fairyland of poetry enters with prosaic clarity into the frame of the scientific intellect. What goes on in the Aeneid is similar to Livy’s Roman History where ancient kings and consuls speak just as an orator in Livy’s day would do in the Roman Forum or a school of rhetoric, whereas what is retained from tradition, as oratory of ancient times, presents a violent contrast, e.g. Menenius Agrippa’s fable of the belly and the members (Livy, ii. 32). But in Homer the gods hover in a magic light between poetry and actuality; they are not brought so closely to our minds that their appearance could strike us as an entirely everyday affair, and yet neither are they left so vague that they could have no living reality in our eyes. What they do can equally well be explained from the inner life of the human agents, and what compels us to believe in them is the substantive reality which is the basis of their character. This is the aspect which makes the poet take them seriously, and yet he does himself treat their form and external reality ironically. Accordingly, it seems, antiquity too believed in this external form of manifestation as only a work of art acquiring from the poet its sense and authenticity. This cheerful and human freshness of illustration whereby the gods themselves appear human and natural is a chief merit of the Homeric poems, while Virgil’s divinities wander up and down within the actual course of events as coldly invented marvels and artificial machinery. In spite of his solemnity, or indeed precisely because of this solemn mien, Virgil has not escaped travesty, and Blumauer’s[46] Mercury as a courier, booted and spurred, with a whip in his hand, is well enough justified. The Homeric gods do not need someone else to make them laughable: Homer’s own description makes them laughable enough. For in Homer himself the gods have to laugh at the limping Hephaestus and at the ingenious net in which Mars and Venus are caught,[47] and where Venus gets a box on the ear and Mars cries out and trembles. By this naturally cheerful gaiety the poet liberates us from the external figure that he exhibits; and yet on another occasion he cancels and abandons this purely human existence while maintaining the fundamental self-necessitating power of the gods and a belief in it. I will cite one or two closer examples. The tragic episode of Dido[48] has so much modern colouring that it could fire Tasso to imitate it, even to translate some of it word for word, and nowadays it still makes the French almost ecstatic.[49] And yet how different, human, naïve, natural, and true everything is in the stories of Circe and Calypso.[50] The same is the case with Homer’s account of Odysseus’ descent into the underworld[51].This dark twilight abode of the shades appears as in a murky cloud, as a mixture of fancy and reality which grips us with marvellous magic. Homer does not make his hero descend into an actual underworld, for Odysseus himself digs a trench and pours into it the blood of the goat he has slaughtered; then he calls on the shades who have to crowd on him and tells some to drink the living blood so that they can speak to him and give him information, while others, pressing on him in their thirst for the life in the blood, he fends off with his sword. All this happens in a living way, the work of the hero himself who has none of the humility that Aeneas and Dante have. In Virgil, for example, Aeneas goes down in an ordinary way, and the steps, Cerberus, Tantalus, and the rest, acquire the look of a specifically arranged household, like items in a pedantic compendium of mythology.

This poetically manufactured material confronts us all the more as something not drawn from the subject naturally but as an artificially

contrived compilation if the events narrated are already known and familiar to us from elsewhere in their own fresh form or historical reality. Examples of this are Milton’s Paradise Lost, Bodmer’s Noachide, Klopstock’s Messiah, Voltaire’s Henriade, and many others. In all these poems we cannot miss the cleft between the subject-matter and the personal reflections on which the poet draws when he describes events, persons, and situations. In Milton, for example, we always find feelings and considerations drawn from a modern imagination and the moral ideas of his day. Similarly in Klopstock we have on one side God the Father, the story of Christ, patriarchs, and angels, and, on the other side, German eighteenth-century culture and the concepts of Wolff’s metaphysics. And this duality is visible in every line. Of course here the subject-matter puts many difficulties in the way. For God the Father, heaven, the heavenly host, are not so fitted for individualization by free imagination, as the Homeric gods were. Like the partly fantastic inventions in Ariosto, these Homeric gods in their external appearance are, if not essential elements in human actions, real individuals independent of one another, and yet at the same time they can make a joke of this appearance.

So far as religion is concerned, Klopstock gets into a world with no foundation which he invests with the brilliant products of a wide-roaming imagination and then he requires us to take seriously what he seriously means. This is at its worst with his angels and devils. Such fictions may have something solid, individual, and indigenous about them if, like the Homeric gods, the material of their actions has its basis in the human mind and sentiment or some other reality, if, for instance, they get worth as the personal genii and guardian angels of specific individuals, as patron saints of cities, etc.; but without such a concrete meaning they are signalized as mere empty imaginings, all the more so if existence is seriously ascribed to them. Abbadona, for example, the repentant devil in The Messiah (canto II, 627-850), is not an inherently concrete figure nor has he a strictly allegorical meaning, for in that fixed abstraction called the devil there is none of the illogicality of vice converted to virtue. If Abbadona were a man, then turning to God would clearly be justified, but in the case of the evil one, who is not an individual evil man, it remains only a sentimental moral triviality. Klopstock above all delights in such unreal inventions of persons, circumstances, and events which are not drawn from the existing world and its poetic contents. For he fares no better with his moral judgement on the licence of courts, etc.; he is a great contrast to Dante who condemns to Hell, with a quite different degree of reality, individuals well known in his day. But in Klopstock there is the same poetical unreality in the resurrection joy felt by souls assembled in God’s presence, Adam, Noah, Shem, Japhet, etc., who at Gabriel’s command visit their own grave again (ibid., canto XI). There is nothing rational about this and it is inherently untenable. The souls have lived in the sight of God; they now see the earth but enter into no new relation with it. The best thing would be that they should appear to men, but even this does not happen at all. In this passage there is no lack of fine feelings and delightful situations, and the description of the moment when the soul is re-embodied is attractive, but at bottom the whole thing is for us only an invention in which we do not believe. Contrasted with such abstract ideas, the blood-drinking phantoms in Homer, their return to the life of memory and speech, have infinitely more poetic truth and reality. As imaginations, these pictures of Klopstock’s are richly decorated, but the most essential thing always remains the lyrical rhetoric of the angels who only appear as mere tools and servants, or the patriarchs and other biblical figures whose speeches and explosive utterances harmonize ill enough with the historical form in which we know them already from another source. Mars and Apollo, War and Wisdom, etc., these powers in their substance are neither something purely invented, like the angels, nor purely historical persons with an historical background, like the patriarchs, but abiding powers whose form and appearance is constructed by the poet alone. But The Messiah – whatever excellence it may contain, a pure heart and a brilliant imagination – has in it, precisely because of its sort of fancy, an endless amount that is hollow, governed by abstract categories, and dragged in for some ulterior purpose; this along with the manner of conceiving the subject and the absence of continuity, has resulted only too soon in making the whole poem obsolete. For an epic lives and is always new only if it continuously presents primitive life and work in a primitive way. Therefore we must keep to the primitive epics and disentangle ourselves not only from views antagonistic to them and current in our actual present but also, and above all, from false aesthetic theories and claims, if we wish to study and enjoy the original outlook of peoples, this great natural history of the spirit. We may congratulate recent times, and our German nation in particular, on attaining this end by breaking down the old limitations of the scientific intellect, and, by freeing the spirit from restricted views, making it receptive of such outlooks. These we must receive as those of individuals, entitled to be what they were, as the justified spirits of peoples whose mind and deeds confront us as revealed in their epics.

(c) The Epic as a fully Unified Whole

In connection with the particular requirements for epic proper, we have discussed (i) the general world-background, (ii) the individual event proceeding on this ground, and the individuals acting under the direction of the gods or fate. These two chief features must now (iii) be closed together into one and the same epic whole, and in this connection I will touch in more detail on the following points only:

(α) the whole of the objects which should come into the narrative on account of the connection between the particular action and its and fundamental ground;

(β) the difference between epic’s way of developing the subject and the ways of lyric and dramatic poetry;

(γ) the concrete unity into which an epic work has to be rounded, despite the wide dispersal of its parts.

(α) The contents of the epic, as we saw, are the entirety of a world in which an individual action happens. Consequently this involves the greatest variety of topics belonging to the views, deeds, and situations of such a world.

(αα) Lyric poetry does envisage specific situations within which the lyric poet is permitted to draw a great variety of matters into his feeling and reflection; but in this kind of poetry it is always the form of the inner life which is the fundamental model and this at once excludes the detailed illustration of external reality. Conversely, the dramatic work of art presents characters to us, and the occurrence of the action itself, in actual life, so that in this case a description of the locality and the externals of the agents and the event as such is excluded from the start, and what has to come into the speeches is rather inner motives and aims than the broad connection between the agents and their world or their real situation in it. But in epic, over and above the encompassing national life on which the action is based, both inner life and outer reality have their place, and thus here there is spread out before us all the detail of what can be regarded as the poetry of human existence. In this we may include the natural environment, and, at that, not at all only as the specific place where the action proceeds from time to time but as it is viewed in its entirety, as for example, what I have already quoted, namely that from the Odyssey we can get to know how the Greeks in Homer’s day visualized the earth, the encircling sea, etc. Yet these natural features are not the chief topic but the mere foundation on which the events take place. On the contrary, what is unfolded for us as more essential is the Greek idea of the entire world of gods in their existence, effectiveness, and activity and, then, in between nature and the gods, humanity enters in the entirety of its domestic and public, pacific and bellicose situations, its morals. customs, characters, and events. And the poet always directs his attention both to the individual event and also to a universal situation within national or foreign life.

Finally, within this spiritual content what is presented is not at all only the external happening; on the contrary, there should be brought before our minds the inner feelings, aims and intentions of the agents, and the exposition of the justified or unjustified individual action. Thus the proper material of lyric and dramatic poetry is likewise not absent, although in epic such matters should not provide the fundamental form of the whole narrative; they should be asserted only as occasional features, and should not strip epic of its peculiar character. Therefore it cannot be regarded as truly epical when lyrical expressions, as in Ossian for example, determine the tone and colour of the whole, or when, as happens to some extent in Tasso, but above all in Milton and Klopstock, they are pre-eminently that part in which the poet has reached the height of his actual and possible achievement. On the contrary, feelings and reflections, like external reality, must be recounted as something that has happened, been said, been thought, and must not interrupt the smoothly flowing epic tone. There is therefore no scope in epic for the heart-rending cry of passion, or the outburst of the inner soul pouring forth in song for the sake of self-revelation alone. Epic poetry spurns no less the life of dramatic dialogue where individuals converse on the basis of their present situation, and the chief aspect is always the characteristic interchange between the dramatis personae who try to convince, command, impress, or, as it were, run one another down with the violence of their reasoning.

(ββ) But, in the second place, the task of epic is not limited to putting before our eyes in its purely independently existing objectivity the many-sided subject-matter to which I have just referred. On the contrary, it is made an epic proper in virtue of its form, and, this, as I have said more than once already, is an individual event. If this necessarily limited action is to remain bound up with the material that comes in additionally from elsewhere, then this latter wider sphere must be brought into relation with the occurrence of the individual event and should not fall outside it independently. Of interweaving like this the Odyssey gives us the finest example. The domestic arrangements of the Greeks in peacetime, for instance, the pictures of foreign and barbarian peoples and countries, of the realm of the shades, etc., are so closely interwoven with the individual wanderings of Odysseus on his homeward journey and with the expedition of Telemachus in search of his father, that none of these aspects is abstracted and detached from the real event and made separately independent; nor can any of them withdraw into ineffectiveness, like the chorus in Greek tragedy which does nothing and has only universal considerations in view, but on the contrary every one of them influences the advance of events. In the same way nature and the world of gods acquire an individual and fully lively presentation, not on their own account, but only on the strength of their relation to the particular action which the gods have an obligation to direct. In this case alone can the narrative avoid appearing as a mere description of independent objects, because it recounts throughout the continuous happenings of the event which the poet has chosen as the material to unify the whole. But, on the other hand, the substantive national foundation and entirety on which the particular event moves must not be deprived of all independent existence and shown to be a servant of the event by being completely assimilated and consumed by it. Thus viewed, Alexander’s expedition against the East would not be good material for a genuine epic. For this heroic deed, alike in the decision to undertake it and in its execution, rests so completely on him, this single individual, and is so completely borne solely by his spirit and character, that the independent position and existence, which we indicated above as necessary, is altogether denied to the national basis and to the army and its commanders. Alexander’s army is his people, absolutely bound to him and at his command, purely subservient to him, not following him of its own free will. But the vitality of epic proper lies in the fact that the two chief sides, (i) the particular action and its agents, and (ii) the general world-situation, are always conciliated, and yet in this mutual relation they each preserve at the same time the independence necessary for the assertion of an existence of their own which on its own account wins and has reality.

(γγ) We have already postulated that the fundamental ground on which the subject of an epic takes place must be fruitful of collisions if an individual action is to be made to arise out of it, and we saw that this universal foundation should not come into view on its own account but only in the form of a specific event and in relation to that. It follows from this that the starting-point of the whole epic poem must be sought in this individual event. This is especially important for the situations at the beginning of the poem. Here too we may take the Iliad and the Odyssey as examples. In the former the Trojan war is the general and living accompanying background, but it comes before us only within the specific event linked with the wrath of Achilles, and so the poem begins in most beautiful clarity with the situations which stimulate the passion of the chief hero against Agamemnon. In the Odyssey there are two different situations which can provide the material for the beginning: the wanderings of Odysseus and the domestic happenings at Ithaca. Homer draws both close together because at first he relates, briefly only, that the returning hero is detained by Calypso, and then at once he passes on to Penelope’s sufferings and the voyage of Telemachus. We see at one glance both what makes possible a hindrance to the return and also what this necessitates for those left at home.

(β) Secondly, from such a beginning the epic work has to proceed in a way quite different from lyric and dramatic poetry.

(αα) The first thing to notice here is the breadth of separated incidents in which the epic is told. This breadth is grounded in both the content and form of the epic. We have already seen what a variety of topics there is in the completely developed epic world, whether these are connected with the inner powers, impulses, and desires of the spirit or with the external situation and environment. Since all these aspects assume the form of objectivity and a real appearance, each of them develops an independent shape, whether inner or outer, within which the poet may linger in description or portrayal, and the external development of which he may allow; whereas everything comprised in lyric is concentrated into the depths of feeling or assembled and evaporated in the universals of reflection. Along with objectivity separation is immediately given, as well as a varied wealth of diverse traits. Even in this respect in no other kind of poetry but epic is an episode given so much right to freedom almost up to the point of a seemingly unfettered independence. Yet pleasure in what is there objectively and in the form of actual reality may not go so far, as I have said already, as to assemble in the poem situations and phenomena which have no connection whatever with the particular action or its basis; on the contrary, even the episodes must be shown to be effective in relation to the progress of the event, even if as a hindrance to it or as an intercalary event delaying the progress of the action. Nevertheless, owing to the form of objectivity, the connection of the individual parts in the epic may be of rather a loose kind, for in the objective world the conciliation of parts (or objects) is inner and implicit, while what appears on the face of things is the independent existence of particulars. The fact that the individual parts of an epic poem lack strict unification and an emphatic bearing of one on another, and, in addition, the fact that the epic arose in its original form at an early period, provide the reason why epic lends itself, more easily than lyric and dramatic poetry do, to later additions or omissions, while on the other hand it itself takes single sagas previously polished up to a certain artistic height and ranges them as particular aspects into a new comprehensive whole.

(ββ) We turn now, secondly, to the manner in which epic poetry can be entitled to motivate the progress and course of the events. It cannot draw the reason for what happens either from a subjective mood alone or from mere individuality of character, for if it did so it would be treading on the ground proper to lyric and dramatic poetry. On the contrary, even in this respect it must keep to the form of objectivity which is what is fundamentally typical of epic. We have seen more than once already that, for the presentation of the narrative, external situations were of no less importance than the inner determinants of the individual’s character. For, in epic, character and external necessity stand alongside one another with equal strength, and for this reason the epic individual can seem to yield to external circumstances without detriment to his poetic individuality. His action may seem to be the result of circumstances and these therefore appear as dominant, whereas in drama it is exclusively the individual character who produces results. In the Odyssey above all, the progress of events is almost throughout motivated in this way. The same is true of the adventures ill Ariosto and in other epics which chant medieval material. The command of the gods too which destines Aeneas to be the founder of Rome, as well as the manifold accidents which defer the fulfillment of this destiny for a long time, are motivated in a way that would be wholly undramatic. The same is the case in Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered where, apart from the courageous resistance of the Saracens, numerous natural phenomena obstruct the aim of the Christian army. Similar examples could be drawn from almost every famous epic, because such materials for which this epic mode of presentation is possible and necessary are precisely those that the poet has to choose.

The same thing is true where the result is supposed to issue from the actual decision of individuals. Here too there must not be picked out and expressed what a character in a drama, pursuing his aim and animated exclusively by a single passion, makes of his situation and circumstances in order to assert himself against these and in the face of other individuals. On the contrary a character in epic bars this pure acting according to his subjective character as well as the outpouring of subjective moods and casual feelings, and clings conversely to circumstances and their reality, while at the same time what he is moved by must be what has absolute validity and is universally moral, etc. Homer, in particular, occasions inexhaustible reflections on this matter. For example, Hecuba’s lament for Hector’s death, and Achilles’ for Patroclus’, which, so far as the subject-matter goes, could be treated entirely lyrically, never sound other than an epic note; neither does Homer ever lapse into a dramatic style in situations that would be fit for dramatic representation, for example, the quarrel between Agamemnon and Achilles in the council of the Princes, or Hector’s parting from Andromache.[52] This latter scene, to take it for an example, is one of the most beautiful things that epic poetry can ever provide. Even in Schiller’s Robbers [act iv, sc. iv] the dialogue between Amalia and Karl, meant to be a purely lyrical treatment of the same subject, has echoes of the epic note of the Iliad. But with what marvellous epic effect in the sixth book of the Iliad does Homer describe how Hector looks for Andromache in vain in the house and only finds her on the road at the Scaean Gate, how she rushes to him, meets him, and says to him as he looks with a quiet smile at his baby boy in the nurse’s arms:

You are possessed. This courage of yours will be your death. You have no pity for your little boy or for me, your unhappy wife, soon to be your widow. For soon the Achaeans will kill you as they attack en masse. But for me, should I lose you, death would be better. When you have met your fate, no comfort remains to me but grief. Now I have neither father nor my mother, the queen.

And now she tells in detail how the deaths of her father and her seven brothers came about – they were all slain by Achilles, and speaks of her mother’s capture, release, and death. Only after this does she turn again to Hector with pressing entreaty; he is now her father and her mother, her brother, and her vigorous spouse; and she implores him to remain on the tower and not make his boy an orphan or her, his wife, a widow. In the same strain Hector answers her:

All this is my concern too, my wife; but I fear the ill opinion of the Trojans too much to stay here like a coward and avoid the battle. It is not the excitement of the moment that drives me, because I have learnt always to be brave, and to fight along with the Trojans in the front line, defending the great honour of my father, and my own too. Well I know in my mind and heart that the day will come when Ilium will perish and Priam too and the people of Priam of the skilful spear. But not for the Trojans do I care so much, or for Hecuba herself and King Priam, or for my noble brothers who will bite the dust at the hands of the enemy, as for you if you are dragged away in tears by one of the brazen-tuniced Achaeans, reft of your day of freedom; if in Argos you spin at another’s wheel and draw water laboriously and against your will. But the might of necessity impends, and then someone may well say, seeing you in tears: ‘She is the wife of Hector. He was the best of all the horse-taming Trojans when Ilium was besieged.’ Thus perhaps someone will speak, and then you will lament the loss of a man who might have averted your slavery. But may the earth cover me or ever I hear you scream as you are carried away.

What Hector says here is deeply felt and touching, but the manner is that of epic, not of lyric or drama, because the picture he sketches of his sufferings, and which gives pain to himself, in the first place portrays the purely objective circumstances, while in the second place what drives and moves him appears not as, his own will or personal decision but as a necessity which is as it were not his own intention and will. Equally epically touching are the pleas with which the vanquished beg their lives from the conquering heroes, citing various circumstances and reasons. For a movement of the heart, proceeding from circumstances alone, and trying to move others by merely alleging circumstances and situations, is not dramatic, although modern tragedians have also now and again used this way of producing an effect. For example, the scene on the battlefield in Schiller’s Maid of Orleans between the English knight, Montgomery, and Joan of Arc (act II, sc. vi [-vii]) is, as others have justly remarked already, rather epic than dramatic. In the hour of danger the knight loses all his courage, and yet, pressed by the exasperated Talbot who punishes cowardice with death and by the Maid who conquers even the bravest, he cannot embark on flight and cries out:

Would that I had never taken ship over the sea, miserable man that I am! An empty fancy deluded me into seeking cheap fame in the French war. And now a baleful fate leads me to this bloody battlefield. Would I were far from here, at home beside the flowery banks of Severn, safe in my father’s house where my mother stayed behind in sorrow, with my tender sweet betrothed.

These are unmanly expressions which make the whole figure of the knight unsuitable for either epic proper or tragedy; they are more indicative of comedy. When Joan cries out to him: ‘Thou art to die! A British mother bore thee!’, he flings away his sword and shield, falls at her feet and begs for his life. To move her, he cites reasons at some length: he is defenceless; his father is rich and will give gold for his ransom; the gentleness of the sex to which Joan belongs; the love of his sweet betrothed who in tears at home awaits the return of her beloved; the grief-stricken parents whom he left at home; the hard fate of dying unwept in a foreign land. On the one hand, all these reasons concern inherently objective matters which have their worth and validity; on the other hand, their calm exposition is epical in character. In the same way the poet accounts for the fact that Joan has to listen to him by an external consideration, namely that the suppliant is defenceless, whereas if the incident had been taken in a dramatic way she would have had to kill him on the spot without hesitation because she appears as the relentless enemy of all Englishmen; this hatred, fraught with disaster, she expresses with a great deal of rhetoric, and she justifies it by claiming that she is morally bound to the spiritual realm by a frightfully stringent compact ‘to slay with the sword everyone whom the God of battles dooms and sends to her for execution’. If the only thing of importance to her were that Montgomery should not die unarmed, then since she had listened to him for so long he had in his hands the best means of remaining alive: all he needed to do was not to take up his arms again. Yet when she summons him to fight with her, mortal herself, for the sweet prize of life, he grasps his sword again and falls by her arm. The progress of this scene would have been better fitted for drama if the lengthy epic explanations had been omitted.

(γγ) Thirdly, the sort of course which events take in epic poetry, in relation both to the breadth of external material necessary for more detailed illustration and also to the steps preceding the final result of the action, may be characterized in general, especially in contrast to dramatic poetry, as follows. Epic poetry not only lingers over the portrayal of external reality and inner situations but in addition puts hindrances in the way of the final denouement. Therefore it especially turns aside in many ways from the execution of the main purpose, of which with its logically developing conflict the dramatic poet may never lose sight, and this gives it an opportunity to bring to our view the entirety of a world of situations which could not otherwise be brought on the tapis. For example, with such a general hindrance the Iliad begins: Homer at once tells of the deadly plague which has broken out in the Greek camp by Apollo’s influence, and then joins with it the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. This wrath is the second hindrance. More strikingly still, in the Odyssey every adventure that Odysseus has to endure is a postponement of his return home. But it is especially episodes which serve to interrupt the direct progress of affairs, and these arc for the most part of the character of hindrances: take, for example, in Virgil, the shipwreck of Aeneas and love for Dido, and in Tasso the appearance of Armida; and, in the romantic epic in general, the many independent love-affairs of the individual heroes, which in Ariosto are piled up and interwoven in such variety and profusion that the battle between the Christians and the Saracens is wholly hidden under them. In Dante’s Divine Comedy there are no express hindrances to the proceedings, but the slow advance of the story, as in epic, is present partly in the halt of the description at every step throughout, and partly in many small episodic stories and conversations with individuals damned or otherwise, of which the poet makes a more detailed report.

In this matter it is above all important that such hindrances obstructing a hurried approach to the final goal must not be made to seem merely means used to attain some end external to them. For, just as the general situation, the ground on which the epic world lives, is only truly poetic if it seems to be self-made, so the whole course of events, in virtue of the circumstances and the original fate, must arise as it were out of itself, without our being able to detect in it any subjective intentions of the poet. This is all the more the case because the very form of objectivity in respect alike of what really appears and of the substantive character of the content, assigns to the whole and to the individual parts a title to exist spontaneously in and by themselves. But if a world of gods is at the apex of everything, directing affairs and with the control of events in their hands, then in this case the poet himself must have a fresh and lively belief in the gods, because it is usually the gods who introduce such hindrances. Consequently, if these powers are treated only as lifeless machinery, what they effect must also be degraded to an intentional and merely artificial creation of the poet.

(γ) After briefly touching on the entirety of the subject-matter which epic can unfold by interweaving a particular event with a universal national situation, we next proceeded to the manner in which the course of events was developed. We have now still to ask, in the third place, about the unity and rounded whole of an epic work.

(αα) This is a point which, as I have indicated already, is all the more important today because currency has recently been given to the idea that an epic can be made to end anywhere or may be continued at will. Although this view has been defended by able and learned men like F. A. Wolf,[53] for example, it nevertheless remains excessively crude because in fact it means nothing but denying to the most beautiful epic poems the proper status of works of art. For an epic is only a work of free art at all by describing a whole world perfect in itself and only for this reason independent, a world distinct from dispersed actuality trailing along in an endless course of dependent causes, effects, and consequences. It is true that this much may be granted, i.e. that, in the case of epic proper (an original one), a purely aesthetic criticism of the plan, the organization of the parts, the placing and wealth of episodes, the sort of similes, etc., is not the chief thing, because here, to a greater, extent than in later lyrics and the later skilful development of drama, the preponderating aspect must be claimed by the general outlook, the religious faith, and, in short, the wealth of content in these national bibles. Nevertheless, however, national bibles like the Ramayana, the Iliad and Odyssey, and even the Nibelungenlied, are not to be denied the possession of what, from the point of view of beauty and art, can alone confer on them the dignity and freedom of works of art, namely the fact that they bring before our contemplation a rounded entirety of action. It is therefore alone necessary to discover what form this finished character takes in conformity with the nature of art.

(ββ) ‘Unity’ taken in an entirely general sense of the word has become trivial, even in its application to tragedy, and it can lead people astray into its frequent misuse. For every event is prolonged ad inf. backwards in its causes and forwards in its consequences, and it extends into both past and future in a chain of particular circumstances and actions so innumerable that there is no determining which of all the situations and other details are part and parcel of the event or are to be regarded as connected with it. If all that we have in mind is this sequence, then it is true that an epic can always be continued backwards or forwards and in addition it affords an ever open opportunity for interpolation. But such a succession is simply prosaic. To quote an example, the Greek cyclic poets sang the entire compass of the Trojan war and therefore continued from where Homer left off and began from Leda’s egg; but precisely for this reason they were a contrast to the Homeric poems and became rather prosy. Neither, as I said above, can one individual as such provide the sole centre because he may be the agent of all sorts of occurrences, or he may encounter them, without their being brought into connection with one another as a single event. Therefore we must look for another kind of unity.

In this regard we must settle briefly the difference between a mere happening and a specific action which is narrated in epic in the form of an event. What is to be called a mere happening is the external and objectively real aspect of any human deed (without its needing to be in itself the execution of some particular purpose), or, in short, any external alteration in the form and appearance of what exists objectively. If lightning kills a man, this is a mere happening, an external accident; but in the conquest of an enemy’s city there is something else, namely the fulfilment of an intended aim. An inherently determinate aim, such as the liberation of the Holy Land from the yoke of the heathen and the Saracens, or, better still, the satisfaction of a particular passion like the wrath of Achilles, must, in the shape of an epic event, form the cohering unity of the epic, because the poet relates only what is the proper effect of this self-conscious aim or this specific passion and what therefore together with the aim or purpose is rounded into a perfectly enclosed unity. But man alone can act and carry out his purpose, and therefore at the summit there is an individual united with his aim and passion. Moreover, the action and the satisfaction of the heroic character, from whom the aim and the passion spring, occur only in quite specific situations and causes which run backwards as links in a wide chain of connection, while, again, the execution of the aim has all sorts of subsequent consequences. If all this be so, then of course it follows that for the specific action there are numerous presuppositions and numerous after-effects, but these have no closer poetic connection with the specific character of just this aim that is portrayed.

In this sense the wrath of Achilles, for example, is as little related to the rape of Helen or the judgement of Paris, although each of these presupposes its predecessor, as it is to the actual taking of Troy. Therefore, when it is maintained that the Iliad has no necessary beginning or appropriate end, this is only evidence of an absence of any clear insight into the fact that it is the wrath of Achilles which is to be sung in the Iliad and to provide the unifying point. If the figure of Achilles is kept firmly in view and adduced, in respect of the wrath aroused by Agamemnon, as the support that holds the whole narrative together, then we see that no finer beginning and end could be invented. For, as I said before, it is the immediate occasion for the wrath that is the beginning, while its consequences are contained in the further course of the narrative. But, if so, it is then urged by those who have tried to make a contrary view prevail that the final books are useless and might as well have been omitted. But in face of the whole poem this view is wholly untenable: for when Achilles stays by the ships and abstains from the battle, this is a consequence of his indignant wrath; with this inactivity there is linked the quickly won success of the Trojans over the Greek army, as well as the fight and death of Patroclus: closely bound up with this fall of his courageous friend there follow the noble Achilles’ lament and revenge and his victory over Hector. If someone supposes that all is at an end with Hector’s death and that now everyone can go home, this is only evidence of how crude his ideas are. With death nature is at an end, but not man, not moral principle and the ethical order which demands the honour of burial for the fallen heroes. Accordingly there are added to all the foregoing the games at the grave of Patroclus, the harrowing pleas of Priam, Achilles’ reconciliation with him, his returning to him the corpse of his son [HectorJ so that Hector too may not lack the honour given to the dead – all this provides a most beautiful and satisfying ending.

(γγ) But while, in the way mentioned, we propose to make a specific and individual action proceeding from known aims or heroic passions the thing in which the entire epic is to find support for its connection and finished character, it may seem that we are shifting the unity of an epic too nearly to that of a drama. For in drama too one particular action springing from a man’s character and his self-conscious aim and involving conflict is central. In order that the two kinds of poetry, epic and dramatic, may not be confused, even only seemingly, I may refer expressly once again to what I have said already about the difference between an action and an event. Apart from this, the interest in epic is not merely restricted to these characters, aims, and situations founded in the particular action narrated as such in the epic; on the contrary this action finds the further occasion for conflict and its resolution, as well as its entire progress, only within a national whole and its fundamental entirety which on its side fully justifies the introduction of a variety of characters, situations, and occurrences into the narrative. Thus viewed, the rounding off and the finished shape of the epic lies not only in the particular content of the specific action but just as much in the entirety of the world-view, the objective realization of which the epic undertakes to describe; and the unity of the epic is in fact only perfect when there is brought before us in all their entirety not only the particular action as a closed whole in itself but also, in the course of the action, the total world within the entire circumference of which it moves; and when nevertheless both these principal spheres remain in a living conciliation and undisturbed unity.

These are the most essential points which can be briefly established in connection with epic proper.

But the same form of objectivity is applied to other things, the substance of which lacks genuine objectivity in the true meaning of the word. Such collateral kinds [of composition] may plunge the philosopher into perplexity if he is required to produce classifications into which all poems are to be fitted without any overlap – and everything included in these mixed kinds is supposed to be poetry. However, in a true classification a place can only be given to what accords with an essential category of the nature of the thing being classified; but anything imperfect in form or content or both is not what it ought to be and precisely for this reason cannot readily be brought under the essential nature of its field, i.e. under the specific category defining what a thing ought to be and, in truth, actually is. As an appendix, in conclusion, I will add a little about such subordinate collateral branches of epic proper.

The chief of these is the idyll, in the modern sense of the word. In this sense it disregards all the deeper general interests of the spiritual and moral life and portrays mankind in its state of innocence. But in this context to live ‘innocently’ only means to know of nothing except eating and drinking, and indeed of none but very simple foods and drinks, e.g. the milk of goats and sheep, and, at a pinch, cows; vegetables, roots, acorns, fruit, cheese made from milk; bread, I suppose, is really post-idyllic, but meat must be allowed earlier because shepherds and shepherdesses will not have wished to sacrifice their sheep whole to the gods. Their occupation consists in tending their beloved flock the whole livelong day with their faithful dog, providing their food and drink, and all the time nursing and cherishing, with as much sentimentality as possible, such feelings as do not disturb this peaceful and contented life; i.e. in being pious and gentle in their own way, blowing on their shawms, scrannel-pipes, etc., singing in chorus, and especially in making love to one another with the greatest tenderness and innocence. On the other hand, the Greeks in their plastic productions had a merrier world, Bacchus and his train, satyrs, fauns who, harmlessly courting a god’s favour, raised animal nature to human joviality with a life and truth quite different from that pretentious idyllic innocence, piety, and vacuity. The same essence of an animated outlook on the world, illustrated in lively examples of national life, may be recognized in the Greek bucolic poets too, for example in Theocritus, whether he lingers over contemporary situations in the life of herdsmen and fishermen or carries over to other subjects his mode of expressing that life or another like it and now either describes such pictures of life epically or treats them in a lyric or dramatic way. Virgil in his Eclogues is colder, but the most wearisome of all is Gessner. Hardly anyone reads him nowadays and it is only remarkable that he was at any time so much to the taste of the French that they could regard him as the supreme German poet. But their French sensibility, which fled from the tumult and complications of life while nevertheless desiring movement of some kind, and also the fact that they were perfectly void of all true interests, so that the other disturbing concerns of our culture have had no impact on them, may both have made their contribution to this preference.

Amongst these hybrid kinds we can include, from a different sphere, those half-descriptive, half-lyrical poems beloved of the English, and taking nature, the seasons, etc. especially as their subject. To this group of hybrids there also belong various didactic poems, compendiums of physics, astronomy, medicine, chess, fishing, and the art of love. The prosaic subject-matter is given a decorative border of poetry, as was already done in later Greek poetry and later still in Roman; and this sort of thing has been most ingeniously elaborated in modern times especially by the French. Despite their generally epic tone they may equally easily succumb to a lyrical treatment.

More poetic, it is true, though without constituting a fixed and different species, are the Romaunts and ballads produced in medieval and modern times: their subject-matter is partly epic, but the treatment is mainly lyrical, so that some could be classed as epic and others as lyric.

But it is quite different with romance, the modern popular epic. Here we have completely before us again the wealth and (many-sidedness of interests, situations, characters, relations involved in life, the wide background of a whole world, as well as the epic portrayal of events. But what is missing is the primitive poetic general situation out of which the epic proper proceeds. A romance in the modern sense of the word presupposes a world already prosaically ordered; then, on this ground and within its own sphere whether in connection with the liveliness of events or with individuals and their fate, it regains for poetry the right it had lost, so far as this is possible in view of that presupposition. Consequently one of the commonest, and, for romance, most appropriate, collisions is the conflict between the poetry of the heart and the opposing prose of circumstances and the accidents of external situations; this is a conflict resolved whether comically or tragically, or alternatively it is settled either (i) when the characters originally opposed to the usual order of things learn to recognize in it what is substantive and really genuine, when they are reconciled with their circumstances and effective in them, or (ii) when the prosaic shape of what they do and achieve is stripped away, and therefore what they had before them as prose has its place taken by a reality akin and friendly to beauty and art. So far as presentation goes, the romance proper, like the epic, requires the entirety of an outlook on the world and life, the manifold materials and contents of which come into appearance within the individual event that is the centre of the whole. But in the more detailed treatment and execution here all the more scope may be given to the poet the less he can avoid bringing into his descriptions the prose of real life, though without for that reason remaining himself on the ground.of the prosaic and the commonplace.

3. The Historical Development of Epic Poetry

If now we look back over the manner in which we have considered the other arts, we viewed the different stages of the artistic spirit in architecture all the time in their historical development in symbolic, classical, and romantic architecture. But we maintained for sculpture that Greek sculpture, which coincides absolutely with the whole conception of this classical art, is the real centre from which we developed its particular characteristics, so that a detailed historical treatment did not need to be very extensive. The same sort of thing, so far as its character as a romantic art goes, is true of painting which yet, owing to the nature of its subject and the mode of its presentation, expands into an equally important development in different countries and schools, so that here a greater wealth of historical notes was necessary. This requirement could after all be made in the case of music, but since I have no detailed acquaintance of my own with the history of this art and have not had the ground prepared for me in a useful way by others, I had no alternative but to insert a few historical indications as opportunity offered. So far as epic poetry, our present topic, is concerned, it is in more or less the same case as sculpture. Epic’s mode of presentation ramifies into numerous species and collateral species and occurs extensively in many epochs and amongst many peoples, but we have come to know it in its perfect form as epic proper and found epic proper actualized in the most artistically adequate way by the Greeks. For epic in general is inwardly most akin to the plasticity of sculpture, and its objectivity, in virtue of both its substantial content and the fact that what it portrays has the form of objective appearance. Consequently we should not regard it as a matter of accident that epic poetry and sculpture both appeared in Greece in this original and unsurpassed perfection. But both before and after this culminating point there are stages of development not at all subordinate in kind or negligible, but necessary for epic, because the sphere of poetry includes every nation, and epic brings to our view precisely the substantial kernel of a nation’s life. It follows that the development of world-history is of more importance here than it is in the case of sculpture.

Therefore for the entirety of epic poetry and more particularly of individual epics we can distinguish the three chief stages constitutive of the development of art as a whole:

(a) the oriental epic with the symbolic type as its centre;

(b) the classical epic of the Greeks, and its imitation by the Romans;

(c) the rich and many-sided development of romantically-epic poetry amongst the Christian peoples who yet first came on the scene in their Germanic heathenism. Nevertheless, apart from the properly medieval poems of chivalry, antiquity) returned in a different sphere partly as generally promoting culture by purifying taste and the manner of portrayal, partly more directly by being used as a model. Finally, the romance takes the place of epic proper.

Now that I am passing on to mention individual epic works of art, I can only emphasize what is of most importance and, in general, I will not give to this whole section more space than is enough for a fleeting and sketchy survey, whatever that may be worth.

(a) The Oriental Epic

In the East, as we have seen, poetry generally is rather primitive because it always keeps closer to viewing things in terms of the substantive whole and to the absorption of the individual consciousness in this one whole; the result is that, so far as the particular species of poetry are concerned, the individual cannot work his way through to that independence of personal character and its aims (with the collisions that these involve) which the genuine development of dramatic poetry imperatively demands. Therefore, in essence, what we encounter here is limited to poems that have to be included in the epic class, apart from lyrics that are either charming, delicate, and perfumed, or aspirations to the one ineffable god. Nevertheless epics proper are to be found only in India and Persia, but then in colossal proportions.

(α) The Chinese, on the contrary, have no national epic. For insuperable obstacles are put in the way of the highest class of epic from the very start by the fundamentally prosaic outlook of the Chinese, which gives to the earliest beginnings of history the matter-of-fact form of a prosaically ordered historical life, as well as religious ideas incompatible with any really artistic formulation. What in substitution we find elaborated in plenty are later tiny stories and long spun-out novels which must astonish us by their vivid illustration of all sorts of situations, by their precise revelation of private and public affairs, by the variety, delicacy, often indeed the attractive tenderness, of characters, especially female ones, as well as by the whole art of these finished works.

(β) An utterly opposite world is opened up for us in the Indian epics. To judge from the little so far made known to us from the Vedas, the earliest religious views of the Indians already contained the fruitful germ of a mythology describable in epic; this then ramifies after all into heroic human deeds (many centuries B.C. – the chronological details are still very much in the balance) and it is worked into actual epics which yet still stand half on religious ground and only half at the level of poetry and art. Above all, the two most famous of these poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, explain to us the entire outlook of the Indians in its whole splendour and magnificence, its confusion, fantastic flabbiness and lack of real truth, and yet, on the other hand, its overwhelming delightfulness and also the individual fine traits of the feeling and heart of these spiritual but plant-like beings. These saga-like human deeds are expanded into the actions of incarnate gods, whose action hovers vaguely between divine and human nature, and individual figures and deeds are no longer limited but enlarged and expanded immeasurably. The substantive foundations of the whole thing are of such a kind that our Western outlook can neither be really at home there nor sympathize with it because we cannot resolve to abandon the higher demands of freedom and ethical life. The unity of the particular parts [of these Indian epics] is very loose, and extremely extensive episodes come on the scene with histories of the gods, stories of ascetic penances and the power thence won, spun out expositions of philosophic doctrines and systems, and all sorts of other things so unconnected with the whole that we are bound to suppose that there have been later additions here and there; but the spirit which has produced these enormous poems gives evidence throughout of an imagination which not only preceded a prosaic social organization but is absolutely incapable of the prosaic circumspection of the intellect. It could give shape only in primitive poetry to the fundamental tendencies of the Indian mind collected together as an inherently total conception of the world. On the other hand, the later epics, called Puranas[54] in the stricter sense of the word Purana, i.e. poems of bygone times, seem to be the same sort of thing that we find in the post-Homeric or cyclic poets. Everything concerned with the cycle of myths about a specific god is arranged seriatim prosaically and dryly in these epics and they start from the origin of the world and the gods, and, as they proceed, come down to genealogies of human heroes and princes. In the end, on the one hand, the epic kernel of the old myths is dissolved into thin air and into the artificial adornment of an external poetic form and diction, while on the other hand the imagination that dreamily indulges in miracles becomes a sapient fabulism with the principal task of teaching morality and worldly wisdom.

(γ) We may put together in a third group of oriental epic poets, the Hebrews, Arabs, and Persians.

(αα) The sublimity of the Jewish imagination contains many elements of primitive epic poetry in its idea of the creation, in the stories of the patriarchs, the wanderings in the wilderness, the conquest of Canaan, and in the further course of national events, along with vigorous illustration and a treatment that is true to nature. Yet in all this the religious interest prevails so strongly that what we have, instead of epic proper, are sagas and histories told in religious poetry, or only narratives meant to teach religion.

(ββ) But from the very beginning the Arabs have been naturally poetic and from early times onwards have had real poets. The lyrically told songs of the heroes, the Mu'allaqat[55], which partly stem from ‘the last century before Mohammed, describe now with brusque and striking boldness and conspicuous impetuosity, now with calm reflection and gentle tenderness, the primitive situation of the still heathen Arabs: the honour of the clan, the fervour of revenge, hospitality, love, thirst for adventures, benevolence, sorrow, melancholy-all this is described with undiminished force and with traits that may recall the romantic character of Spanish chivalry. Here, for the first time in the East, we have real poetry, without either prose or fantasticalness, without mythology, without gods, devils, genii, fairies and other Eastern beings, but instead with solid and independent individuals; and the whole is humanly real and firmly self-contained, even if play is made with images and comparisons that are queer and eccentric. A view of a similar heathen world is given to us also by the later collection of poems called the Hamasa as well as by the so far unpublished Divan of the Hudsilites.[56] But after the wide and successful conquests of the Mohammedan Arabs, this original heroic character is gradually effaced and in the course of centuries was replaced in the sphere of epic poetry partly by instructive fables and cheerful proverbs, partly by those fairy-tale narratives that we find in the Arabian Nights, or by those adventures of which Ruckert has given us a picture, deserving of the highest applause, in his translation of the Mu'allaqat of Hariri [1054-1121], where the poet plays equally wittily and ingeniously with assonance, rhyme, sense, and meaning.

(γγ) The flower of Persian poetry, on the other hand, falls into the period of the new civilization introduced when Mohammedanism transformed the Persian language and the nation. But just at the beginning of this most beautiful blossoming we encounter an epic poem which at least in its subject-matter takes us back to the remotest past of the ancient Persian sagas and myths, and presents us with a narrative proceeding all through the heroic ages right down to the last days of the Sassanids. This comprehensive work, derived from the Bastanama, is the Shahnama of Firdausi, the gardener’s[57] son from Tus. Yet we cannot call even this poem an epic proper because it does not have as its centre an individually self-enclosed action. With the lapse of centuries there is no fixed costume in either period or locality and, in particular, the oldest mythical figures and murkily confused traditions hover in a fantastic world, and they are so vaguely expressed that we often do not know whether we have to do with individuals or whole clans, while on the other hand actual historical figures appear again. As a Mohammedan, the poet had more freedom in the treatment of his material, yet precisely on account of this freedom he lacked that firmness in individual pictures which distinguished the original Arabian songs of the heroes, and owing to his distance from the long disappeared world of the sagas he lacks that fresh air of immediate life which is absolutely indispensable in a national epic. In its further sequel the epic art of Persia went on into love-epics of great tenderness and a lot of sweetness, in which Nisami [1184-1202] especially became famous. Alternatively, with a rich experience of life, it turned to being didactic, where the far-travelled Saadi [II84-129I] was a master, and eventually was buried in the pantheistic mysticism which Jalal-ed-Din Rumi taught and recommended in stories and legendary narrations.

These brief indications must suffice here.

(b) The Classical Epic of Greece and Rome

Greek and Roman poetry now takes us for the first time into the truly epic world of art.

(α) Amongst these epics there belong those that I have already put at the top – the Homeric ones.

(αα) Whatever may be said to the contrary, each of these poems is such a perfect, definite, and finely conceived whole that the view that they were both composed and continued by a series of rhapsodists, seems to me to be merely giving these works their due praise for being absolutely national and factual in their whole tone of presentation and so finished in all their individual parts that each part might appear to be a whole in itself.

While in the East the substantive and universal character of the outlook absorbs, symbolically or didactically, individual characters and their aims and histories and therefore leaves the articulation and unity of the whole both vague and loose, we find in the Homeric poems for the first time a world hovering beautifully between the universal foundations of life in the ethical order of family, state, and religious belief, and the individual personal character; between spirit and nature in their beautiful equipoise; between intended action and external outcome; between the national ground of undertakings and the intentions and deeds of individuals; and even if individual heroes appear predominant on the score of their free and living movement, this is so modified again by the specific character of their aims and the seriousness of their fate that the whole presentation must count for us as the supreme achievement of what we can enjoy and love in the sphere of epic. For even the gods who oppose or aid these primitive human, brave, upright, and noble heroes we must recognize in their proper significance, and in the shape of their appearance we are bound to be satisfied by the utter naïveté of an art which smiles cheerfully at their humanly shaped divine figures.

(ββ) The cyclic poets who followed Homer deserted this genuinely epic portrayal more and more; on the one hand, they split up the entirety of the national outlook into its particular spheres and tendencies; and on the other hand, instead of keeping to the poetic unity and completeness of one individual action, they clung rather to the completeness of the occurrences from the beginning to the end of the event, or to the unity of a person. The result was that epic poetry was given an historical tendency and became assimilated to the work of the prc-Herodotean chroniclers.

(γγ) Later epic poetry, after Alexander the Great’s time, turns in part to the narrower sphere of bucolic poetry, and in part produced both epics that were not so much really poetic as pedantic and artificial and also didactic poems. These, like everything else in this sphere, lack in an increasing degree the naive freshness and animation of the original epics.

(β) This characteristic with which the Greek epic ends is dominant in Rome from the beginning. Therefore we look in vain here for an epic bible like the Homeric poems, despite recent attempts to resolve the beginnings of Roman history into national epics.[58] On the contrary, alongside the artistic epic proper, of which the Aeneid remains the finest example, the historical epic and the didactic poem were there from early times as a proof that the Romans were especially suited to the development of that sphere of poetry which was already half prosaic, as after all it was satire that they brought to perfection as the kind of poetry native to them.

(c) The Romantic Epic

Consequently a new breath and spirit could enter epic poetry only through the outlook, religious faith, deeds, and fates of new peoples. This is the case with the Germanic peoples, both in their origin when they were still heathen and also later after their conversion to Christianity, as well as with the Latin ones. This new epic poetry became all the richer the further these national groups ramified and the more manifold were the stages through which the principle of Christendom and its outlook developed. But this spreading in so many directions, and its intricacy, place great difficulties in the way of a brief review and therefore I will confine myself here to mentioning only the following points about the main tendencies.

(α) In a first group we may include all the poetic remains which have survived from the pre-Christian days of these new peoples, for the most part in oral tradition and therefore not unimpaired.

In this group it is principally the poems commonly ascribed to Ossian that are to be numbered. Although famous English critics like Dr. Johnson and Shaw[59] have been blind enough to pretend that these poems are a bungled work of Macpherson himself, it is nevertheless absolutely impossible for any modern poet to have created such ancient national situations and events out of his own head. In this case, therefore, primitive poems must necessarily lie at the basis of ‘Ossian’, even if their whole tone and the manner of conception and feeling expressed in them has often been altered in the course of many centuries and given a modern look. It is true that the age of the Ossianic poems has not been settled, but they may well have remained alive on the lips of the people for a thousand or fifteen-hundred years. In their ensemble they appear to be predominantly lyric: it is Ossian, the old blind singer and hero, who in his melancholy recollections makes the days of glory rise before him. Yet although his songs are born of grief and mourning, in their contents they still remain epic, for even these laments are concerned with what has been. The world that has only just perished, its heroes, love-affairs, deeds, expeditions over land and sea, love, fortunes of war, fate, and death, are described in a factual and epic way, even with lyrical interruptions, very much as in Homer heroes like Achilles, Odysseus, or Diomedes speak of their deeds, exploits, and fates. Yet although heart and mind play a deeper part, the spiritual development of feeling and the whole national life has not progressed so far as it has done in Homer; what is particularly lacking is the firm plasticity of the figures and an illustration clear as daylight. For, so far as locality goes, we are referred to a northern land of storm and mist, with a murky sky and heavy clouds on which the spirits ride, or else, clad in the form of clouds, they appear to the heroes on desolate moors. – Moreover, still other old Gaelic [Celtic] bard-songs have been discovered only recently; these point not merely to Scotland and Ireland but also to Wales where bards continued to sing in unbroken succession and a great deal was registered in writing at an early date. In these poems we hear, amongst other things, of voyages to America; and Caesar’s invasion is mentioned too, but the reason for it is ascribed to love for a king’s daughter who returned home to England after he had seen her in Gaul. As a remarkable form of this poetry I will mention only the triads, a native construction which puts together in three parts three similar events, though they are separated in time.[60]

More famous than these poems are (i) the songs of the heroes in the older Edda, (ii) the myths with which, for the first time in this sphere, we encounter, along with the narrative of the fates of human beings, all sorts of stories about the origin, deeds, and downfall of the gods. But I have been unable to acquire a taste for these hollow longueurs, these fundamental natural symbols which yet come into the narrative with a particular human form and face, Thor with his hammer, the Werewolf, the terrible mead-drinker,[61] in short the wildness and murky confusion of this mythology. It is true that this whole Nordic sort of nationality is nearer to us than, for example, the poetry of the Persians or of Mohammedans generally, but to try to impress on our civilization today that this is something which should claim our own deep native sympathy and must be something national for us, is an attempt, however often ventured, which means overvaluing these partly misshapen and barbaric ideas and completely misconceiving the sense and spirit of our own present.

(β) When we cast a glance at the epic poetry of the Christian Middle Ages, we have above all to consider first those works which, without being directly and decisively influenced by the literature and civilization of antiquity, issued from the fresh spirit of the Middle Ages and their established Catholicism. In this we find the most varied dements providing the subject-matter of epic poems and the impetus to their production.

(αα) What I will mention briefly at first are those genuinely epic materials comprising in their subject-matter still purely national medieval interests, deeds, and characters. Here first mention must be made of the Cid. What this blossoming of national medieval heroism meant for the Spaniards, they have in epic form in the poem of the Cid and then they exhibited it later in more charming excellence in a succession of narrative romances with which Herder has made us acquainted in Germany.[62] It is a string of pearls, each single picture is a rounded whole in itself, and yet each is so fitted in to the other that they are ranged together into a single whole – throughout in the sense and spirit of chivalry but at the same time of Spanish nationality; rich in content and full of all sorts of interests: love, marriage, family pride, honour, and regal rule in the fight of the Christians against the Moors. This is all so epic, so plastic, that the thing itself alone is brought before us in its pure and lofty content, and yet with a wealth of the noblest human scenes in an exposition of the most magnificent deeds and at the same time in such a beautiful and attractive bouquet, that we moderns may set this alongside the roost beautiful productions of antiquity.

The Nibelungenlied is not to be compared with the Iliad and the Odyssey, but neither does it come into comparison with this [Spanish] world which, though fragmentary, still is in its fundamental character an epic world of romance. For although in this valuable genuinely Germanic and German work there is not lacking an inner vigour and a national substantive content in relation to family, matrimonial love, vassalage, loyalty in service to a superior, and heroism, still, despite all epic breadth, the whole collision is rather tragic and dramatic than completely epic, and, despite its prolixity, the narrative never provides a wealth of individuals nor does it attain truly living vividness, and it is often lost in what is harsh, wild, and gruesome. Even if the characters appear strong and taut in their action, still in their abstract roughness they are too like crude woodcuts to be comparable with the humanly elaborated and spiritual individuality of the Homeric women and heroes.

(ββ) A second chief group consists of the medieval religious poems which take for their subject-matter the story of Christ, Mary, the Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs, the Last Judgement, etc. But the most solid and richest work in this sphere, the artistic epic proper of the Christian Catholic Middle Ages, the greatest poem and the one with the greatest material is Dante’s Divine Comedy. We could indeed refuse to call this strictly regulated, even almost systematic, poem an epic in the ordinary sense of the word, because it has no individual rounded action proceeding on the broad basis of the whole, and yet it is precisely this epic which is least lacking in the firmest articulation and rounded completeness. Instead of a particular event it has for its subject-matter the eternal action, the absolute end and aim, the love of God in its imperishable activity and unalterable sphere, and for its locality Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise; into this changeless existent it plunges the living world of human action and suffering and, more particularly, the deeds and fates of individuals. Here, in the face of the absolute grandeur of the ultimate end and aim of all things, everything individual and particular in human interests and aims vanishes, and yet there stands there, completely epically, everything otherwise most fleeting and transient in the living world, fathomed objectively in its inmost being, judged in its worth or worthlessness by the supreme Concept, i.e. by God. For as individuals were in their passions and sufferings, in their intentions and their accomplishments, so now here they are presented for ever, solidified into images of bronze. In this way the poem comprises the entirety of objective life: the eternal condition of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise; and on this indestructible foundation the figures of the real world move in their particular character, or rather they have moved and now in their being and action are frozen and are eternal themselves in the arms of eternal justice. While the Homeric heroes have been made permanent in our memories by the muse, these characters have produced their situation for themselves, as individuals, and are eternal in themselves, not in our ideas. The immortality created by the poet’s muse[63] counts here objectively as the very judgement of God in whose name the boldest spirit of his time has pronounced damnation or salvation for the entire present and the past.-This character of the subject-matter, already independently finished, must be followed by the manner of its portrayal. This can only be a journey through realms fixed once and for all, and although they are invented, equipped, and peopled by the same freedom of imagination with which Homer and Hesiod formed their gods, still they are meant to provide a picture and a report of what has really happened: in Hell the movement is energetic but the figures are plastic and stiff in their agony, lit terrifyingly, though the picture is modified by Dante’s own mournful sympathy; in Purgatory things are milder but all fully worked out and rounded off; finally, in Paradise all is clear as crystal, a region of eternal thought where external shapes are no more. There are glimpses of antiquity in the world of this Catholic poet, but antiquity is only a guiding star and a companion of human wisdom and culture, for, when it is a matter of doctrine and dogma, it is only the scholasticism of Christian theology and love which speaks.

(γγ) As a third main sphere in which medieval epic poetry moves we may cite chivalry, both in its mundane content of love affairs and struggles for honour and also in its ramification, with religious aims, into the mysticism of Christian knighthood. The actions achieved here, and the events, do not affect any national interests; on the contrary, they are the actions of individuals with the individual himself as such as their substance; this I have described already in dealing with romantic chivalry. It is true, consequently, that the individuals stand there on their own feet, free and fully independent, and thus, within a surrounding world not yet consolidated into a prosaic organization, they form a new group of heroes who nevertheless in their interests, whether fantastically religious or, in mundane matters, purely subjective and imaginary, lack that fundamental realism which is the basis on which the Greek heroes fight either alone or in company, and conquer or perish. No matter how various are the epic productions occasioned by this subject-matter, still the adventurous character of the situations, conflicts, and complications which can arise out of such material leads, on the one hand, to a sort of ballad treatment so that the numerous single adventures are not bound together into any strict unity; and on the other hand to something like a novel, though here the incidents do not move on the foundation of a fixedly regulated civil organization and prosaic march of events. Nevertheless the imagination is not centent to invent chivalric hero-figures and adventures altogether apart from the rest of the real world, but links their deeds to great saga-centres, outstanding historical persons, and decisive battles of the period, and in this way acquires, in the most general way at least, some basis, as is indispensable for epic. But even these foundations are transferred again for the most part into the sphere of the fantastic and therefore they are not given that clearly executed objective illustration which marks out the Homeric epic above all others. Besides, the similar way in which the French, English, Germans, and, to some extent, the Spanish work out the same material lacks, relatively at least, that properly national character which is the abiding kernel of epic, both in its subject-matter and portrayal, in the case of the Indians, Persians, Greeks, Celts, etc. – But, when it comes to detail, I cannot let myself go on this subject so far as to characterize and criticize single works, and therefore I will only indicate the larger spheres in which, so far as their material goes, the most important of these epics of chivalry move.

The first chief sort is provided by Charlemagne and his Paladins [or twelve Peers] in the fight against the Saracens and the heathen. In this Frankish saga-cycle, feudal chivalry is a chief foundation, and this cycle ramifies in all sorts of ways into poems where the principal material is made up of the deeds of one or other of the twelve heroes, e.g. of Roland or Doolin of Mainz,[64] and others. Many of these epics were composed in France especially in Philip Augustus’s reign.[65] – Another cycle of sagas has its origin in England, and its subject-matter consists of the deeds of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Saga-stories, Anglo-Norman knighthood, uxoriousness, fidelity of vassals, are mingled here obscurely and fantastically with Christian allegorical mysticism. One chief aim of all the knightly exploits is the search for the Holy Grail, a vessel containing the blood of Christ, around which a most varied web of adventures is woven until at last the whole brotherhood skedaddles to Prester John in Abyssinia. – These two sets of material have their richest development in, especially, Northern France, England, and Germany. – More capricious, more trivial in contents, and with more exaggerations of chivalrous heroism, with fairyland and fabulous ideas from the East, is a further cycle of poems of chivalry which point to Portugal and Spain as their ultimate origin and have as their heroes Amadis and his numerous relatives.[66]

Secondly, a kind that is more prosaic and abstract consists of the long allegorical poems that were favourites especially in northern France in the thirteenth century. As an example I may mention the well-known Roman de la Rose. We may set beside these, though as a contrast, the numerous anecdotes and longer narratives called contes and fabliaux. These drew their material instead from the life of the day and tell of knights, priests, burghers, and especially provide tales of love and adultery, sometimes comically, sometimes tragically, now in prose, now in verse. This genre was perfected by Boccaccio[67] with his more cultivated mind and in the purest style.

A final group, with a rough knowledge of the Homeric and Virgilian epic and the sagas and stories of antiquity, turned to Greece and Rome and in the style of the epics of chivalry, without altering it in any way, sang the deeds of the Trojan heroes, the founding of Rome by Aeneas, Alexander the Great’s adventures[68] and lots more of the same.

This may suffice about medieval epic poetry.

(γ) In the third chief group which I still have to discuss, the thorough and pregnant study of classical literature opened the way for the start of the purer artistic taste of a new civilization. But in its learning, its ability to assimilate the old and fuse it with the new, we can frequently miss that original creativity which we may well admire in the Indians and Arabs as well as in Homer and the Middle Ages. From this period of the renaissance of learning and its influence on national literature there began a many-sided and progressive development of actual life in respect of religion, politics, morals, social relations, etc. Consequently epic poetry too adopts the most varied sorts of subject-matter and the greatest variety of form, but I can trace only, and in brief, the most essential characteristics of its historical development. The following chief differences are to be emphasized.

(αα) First it is still the Middle Ages, which, as before, provide the materials for epic although these are grasped and portrayed in a new spirit permeated by the culture of antiquity. Here epic poetry proves to be active in two directions above all.

In the first place, the advancing spirit of the age necessarily leads to making fun of the capriciousness of the medieval adventures, the fantastic exaggerations of chivalry, the purely formal independence of the heroes and their individual separation within a real world which was already disclosing a greater wealth of national situations and interests. The result is that this whole world is brought before our eyes in the light of comedy, however far what is genuine in it is still brought out with seriousness and predilection. At the top of those who treated the whole essence of chivalry in this brilliant way I have already placed Ariosto and Cervantes. Here therefore I will only draw attention to the brilliant adroitness, the attraction and wit, the charm and racy naïveté with which Ariosto (whose poem[69] still moves within the poetic aims of the Middle Ages) in a purely hidden way makes the fantastic merrily destroy itself within by incredible buffooneries. The deeper novel of Cervantes has chivalry already behind it as something past which therefore can enter the real prose of present-day life only as an isolated illusion and a fantastic madness, and yet in its great and noble aspects it nevertheless overtowers again what is clumsy and silly, senseless and trivial, in this prosaic reality and brings its deficiences vividly before our eyes. As an equally famous representative of the second direction I will cite only Tasso. In his Jerusalem Delivered[70] we see, in contrast to Ariosto, the great common aim of Christian chivalry, the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre, this conquering pilgrimage of the Crusades; and it has been chosen as central without any addition at all of a comic mood. Following the examples of Homer and Virgil, and with enthusiasm, industry, and study, Tasso has brought into being an epic which as a work of art is possibly to be placed alongside these examples themselves. And of course we find here, over and above a real and sacred interest, national too in part, a kind of unity, development, and rounded completion of the whole which we laid down above as requisite for epic. Moreover, there is a coaxing euphony in the stanzas; their melodious words still live on the lips of the people. And yet this poem is lacking most of all precisely in the primitiveness which alone could make it the bible of a whole nation. For an epic proper, as is the case with Homer, is a work which finds language for all that a nation is in its deeds, and expresses it with direct simplicity once and for all, whereas Tasso’s epic appears as a poem, i.e. a poetically manufactured event, and it finds pleasure and satisfaction chiefly in the artistic development of form in general, and, in particular, of a fine language now lyrically now epically descriptive. Tasso may therefore have taken Homer for his model in the arrangement of the epic material, but in the entire conception and presentation of his work what we recognize is principally the influence of Virgil, and this is not exactly to the advantage of the poem.

In addition to the cited epics with a classical education as their basis, we may add the Lusiads[71] of Camoens. With this work, wholly national in its contents because it sings the bold sea-voyages of the Portuguese, we have already left what is properly medieval, and it takes us over into interests proclaiming a new era. Here, however, despite the fire of patriotism, the liveliness of the descriptions drawn for the most part from the poet’s own vision and experience of life, and the epically rounded unity-of the whole, we cannot but feel the cleavage between the national subject-matter and the artistic formation derived partly from antiquity and partly from the Italians, and this destroys the impression of the primitive originality of epic.

(ββ) But the essentially new phenomena in the sphere of religious belief and in the reality of modern life have their origin in the principle of the Reformation; but the whole tendency arising from this transformed outlook on life is more favourable to lyric and dramatic poetry than to epic proper. Yet even in this field the religious epic, as a work of art, enjoyed a late efflorescence especially in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Klopstock’s Messiah. In virtue of a culture acquired by the study of the classics, and a correct elegance of expression, Milton does stand out as a praiseworthy example in his times, but in depth of matter, in energy, in original invention and execution, and especially in epic objectivity, he is clearly inferior to Dante. For on the one hand the conflict and catastrophe of Paradise Lost tends towards drama, while on the other hand, as I have already had occasion to remark, lyrical vigour and a morally didactic tendency form a characteristic fundamental trait lying far enough away from the original form of the subject-matter. – Of a similar cleavage between the subject and the way that the culture of the age mirrors it in epic I have already spoken with reference to Klopstock. Apart from this there is visible in his case a continual effort by means of a forced rhetorical sublimity of expression to create for the reader the same recognition of his topic’s inspiring dignity and sanctity to which he has risen himself. – In a totally different way this is also essentially true to a certain extent of Voltaire’s Henriade. At any rate the poetry here remains all the more something manufactured, as the subject, to repeat what I have said already, is clearly unsuitable for the primitive type of epic.

(γγ) If we try to find truly epic productions in the most recent times, we have to look around for some sphere different from that of epic proper. For the whole state of the world today has assumed a form diametrically opposed in its prosaic organization to the requirements which we found irremissible for genuine epic, and the revolutions to which the recent circumstances of states and peoples have been subject are still too fixed in our memory as actual experiences to be compatible with the epic form of art. Consequently epic poetry has fled from great national events into the restrictedness of private domestic situations in the countryside or a small town in order to find there situations which might be fit for presentation in epic. Therefore, especially in Germany, epic has become idyllic, after the idyll proper with its sweet and wishy-washy sentimentality had had its day. As the handiest example of an idyllic epic, I will refer only to Voss’s Luise and, above all, to Goethe’s masterpiece Hermann and Dorothea. In the latter our eyes are opened to a background consisting of the greatest world-event of our time, and then there are directly linked with this the affairs of the innkeeper and his family, the pastor, and the apothecary. Consequently, since the village is not shown to us in its political circumstances, we may find ourselves taking a leap that is unjustified and we may regret the absence of a middle term connecting the background and foreground together. But it is precisely by leaving out the middle term that the whole poem preserves its own special character. For although Goethe has been able to use the French Revolution in the happiest way in the development of the poem, he has been able, master as he is, to keep it far away in the background and to weave into the action only those features of it which in virtue of their simple humanity are throughout linked unconstrainedly with those domestic and village concerns and situations. But what is of the most importance is that for this work Goethe has been able to find and present out of our modern world today characteristics, descriptions, situations, and complications which in their own sphere bring alive again what is undyingly attractive in the primitive human circumstances of the Odyssey and the pictures of patriarchal life in the Old Testament. In the other spheres of our present national and social life there is opened up in the domain of epic an unlimited field for romances, tales, and novels; yet I am unable here to pursue any further, even in the most general outline, the vast history of their development from their origin up to the present day.

B. Lyric Poetry

The poetic imagination, as the activity of a poet, does not, as plastic art does, set before our eyes the thing itself in its external reality (even if that reality be produced by art) but give us on the contrary an inner vision and felling of it. Even from the point of view of this general mode of production, it is the subjective side of the poet’s spiritual work of creating and forming his material which is clearly the predominant element in his illustrative production, and this is a contrast to the visual arts. Since epic poetry brings its subject-matter before our contemplation as something obviously alive, whether in its underlying universality or in the manner of a sculpture or a painting, then, at least when it reaches its height, the poet who imagines and feels disappears in his poetic activity before the objectivity of his creation. This alienation of himself can only be completely avoided by the artist on his subjective side if on the one hand he absorbs into himself the entire world of objects and circumstances, and stamps them with his own inner consciousness, and if, on the other hand, he discloses his self-concentrated heart, opens his eyes and ears, raises purely dull feeling into vision and ideas, and gives words and language to this enriched inner life so that as inner life it may find expression. The more this mode of communication remains excluded from the matter-of-factness of the art of epic, the more – and precisely on account of this exclusion – has the subjective form of poetry to be developed in a sphere of its own, independent of epic. Out of the objectivity of the subject-matter the spirit descends into itself, looks into its own consciousness, and satisfies the need to display, not the external reality of the matter, but its presence and actuality in the spirit’s own subjective disposition, in the experience of the heart and the reflections of imagination, and at the same time to display the contents and activity of the inner life itself. But in order that this expression may not remain a merely casual expression of an individual’s own immediate feelings and ideas, it become the language of poetic inner life, and therefore however intimately the insights and feelings which the poet describes as his own belong to him as a single individual, they must nevertheless possess a universal validity, i.e. they must be genuine feelings and meditations for which the poet invents or finds the adequate and lively expression. If therefore the heart can find relief when its grief or pleasure is put, described, and expressed in words of any sort, a poetic outburst can certainly perform the like service; but it is not confined to its use as an old wife’s medicine. Indeed it has on the contrary a higher vocation: its task, namely, is to liberate the spirit not from but in feeling. The blind dominion of passion lies in an unconscious and dull unity between itself and the entirety of a heart that cannot rise out of itself into ideas and self-expression. Poetry does deliver the heart from this slavery to passion by making it see itself, but it does not stop at merely extricating this felt passion from its immediate unity with the heart but makes of it an object purified from all accidental moods, an object in which the inner life, liberated and with its self-consciousness satisfied, reverts freely at the same time into itself and is at home with itself. Conversely, however, this first objectification must not be so far continued as to display the subject’s heart and passion in practical activity and action, i.e. in the subject’s return into himself in his actual deed [as in drama]. For the primary realization of the inner life is itself still inwardness, so that this emergence from self means only liberation from that immediate, dumb, void of ideas, concentration of the heart which now opens out to self-expression and therefore grasps and expresses in the form of self-conscious insights and ideas what formerly was only felt. – This in essence establishes the sphere and task of lyric poetry in distinction from epic and dramatic.

To come forthwith to the more detailed consideration of this new sphere, I can follow for its division the same route that I traced earlier for epic poetry. So

1. the question is about the general character of lyric;

2. we must survey the particular characteristics to be considered in relation to the lyric poet, the lyrical work of art and the sorts of it; and

3. we end with a few remarks on the historical development of this kind of poetry.

But here on the whole I will deal with the subject briefly for two reasons: (i) we must [in a course of lectures] leave the room necessary for the discussion of the dramatic field; (ii) I must restrict myself entirely to general points, because here, more than is the case in epic, the detail comprises minutiae and their incalculable variety and so could be treated completely and at greater length only historically, and that is not our business here.

1. General Character of Lyric

What leads to epic poetry is the need to listen to something which is unfolded as an independent and self-complete totality, objective over against the subject; whereas in lyric what is satisfied is the opposite need, namely that for self-expression and for the apprehension of the mind in its own self-expression. The following are the most important points at issue in connection with this outpouring:

(a) what that is in which the inner self has a sense of itself and which it brings into its ideas, i.e. the content [of lyric poetry];

(b) the form which makes the expression of this content into lyric poetry;

(c) the stage of consciousness and culture at which the lyric poet is when he discloses his feelings and ideas.

(a) The content of a lyric work of art cannot be the development of an objective action extending through all its connections into the whole wealth of a world; on the contrary, it must be the individual person and therefore with all the details of his situation and concerns, as well as the way in which his mind with its subjective judgement, its joy, admiration, grief, and, in short, its feeling comes to consciousness of itself in and through such experiences. Owing to this principle of detailing, particularization, and individuality, which is inherent in lyric, its contents may be of extreme variety and touch national life in every direction, but with this essential difference, that while in one and the same work an epic unfolds the entirety of the national spirit in its actual deeds and situation, the more specific content of a lyric is restricted to one or other particular aspect, or at least it cannot attain that explicit completion and development which an epic must have if it is to fulfill its function. The entirety of a nation’s lyric poetry may therefore run through the entirety of the nation’s interests, ideas, and aims, but a single lyric cannot. Of poetic bibles like those we found in the sphere of epic poetry, lyric has none to show. On the other hand it has the advantage of being producible at almost any date in a nation’s history, while epic proper is always bound up with specific primitive epochs, and in later periods, when nations have developed a prosaic organization, it falls short of success.

(α) Within this field of individualization there falls in the first place the universal as such, i.e. the height and depth of human faith, ideas, and knowledge: the essential content of religion and art and, indeed, even philosophical thoughts so far as these are accommodated to the form of imagination and intuition and enabled to enter the sphere of feeling. General views, the fundamental basis of an outlook on the world, deeper conceptions of the decisive relations of life are therefore not excluded from lyric, and a great part of the subject-matter, which I mentioned in dealing with the more imperfect sorts of epic, is equally within the province of this new species of poetry.

(β) Within the sphere of what is inherently universal, there consequently enters, in the second place, the aspect of particularity which on the one hand can be so interwoven with what is fundamental that any single situation, feeling, idea, etc. is seized in its deeper essential character and therefore is itself expressed in a fundamental guise. This is almost always the case in Schiller, for example, both in his strictly lyrical poems and also in his ballads, in connection with which I will refer only to the magnificent words of the chorus of the Furies in Die Kramche des Ibycus;[72] it is neither epic nor dramatic but lyric. On the other hand, the connection [of universal and particular] may be brought about if a variety of particular traits, situations, moods, accidents, etc. is ranged as an actual proof of comprehensive views and maxims and is intertwined in a living way with the universal. This kind of connection is frequently used in elegies and epistles, for example, and, in general, in the case of a reflective consideration of life.

(γ) Since in lyric it is the poet who expresses himself, the most inherently trivial matter may satisfy him in the first place for this purpose. In that event, his heart itself, his individual subjective life as such is the proper content of the poem, so that what matters is only the soul of feeling and not what the object of the feeling is. The momentary and most fleeting mood, the heart’s jubilant cry, the quickly passing flashes of carefree happiness and merriment the outbursts of melancholy, dejection, and lament – in short the whole gamut of feeling is seized here in its momentary movements, or in its single fancies about all sorts of things, and made permanent by its expression. Here there comes into poetry something like what I mentioned earlier in connection with genre painting. The content of what is said, the topics, are wholly accidental, and the important thing is only the poet’s treatment and presentation of them. The attractiveness of treatment and presentation in lyric poetry may lie either in the sweetness that the heart exhales or in the novelty of striking ways of looking at things and in the wit of surprising points or turns of phrase.

(b) Secondly, as for the form in which such a content becomes a lyric work of art, we may say in general terms that the central thing is the individual in his inner ideas and feelings. The whole thing therefore starts from his heart and mind, in particular from the poet’s special mood and situation. Consequently the content and connection of the particular aspects developed within the subject-matter itself are supported not objectively and automatically by being a matter of substance nor by their external appearance as a closed and individual event, but by the poet himself. But on this account he must be clearly in himself poetic, rich in imagination and feeling, or splendid, with profound meditations and thoughts, and above all independent by being in himself an enclosed inner world from which all the dependence and mere caprice of prose has been stripped away.

A lyric poem therefore has a unity of a totally different kind from epic, namely the inwardness of mood or reflection which expatiates on itself, mirrors itself in the external world, sketches and describes itself, or is preoccupied otherwise with one or other object and, in virtue of this subjective interest, acquires the right of starting or breaking off more or less when it likes. For example, Horace often comes to an end just where, given our usual way of thinking and the manner of its expression, we might suppose that the thing would only just have to have its beginning, i.e. he describes, for instance, only his feelings, commands, and arrangements for a feast and we have no idea at all of how the thing went cheerfully on or of its outcome.[73] Moreover norms of the most varied kinds for the inner progress and connection of the whole poem are supplied by the sort of mood, the individual mental disposition, the degree of passion, its impetuosity, its gushing and springing from one thing to another, or, alternatively, the peace of the soul and the tranquillity of meditation and its slow progress. The mutability of the inner life can be determined in so many different ways that in relation to all these points hardly anything can be firmly and thoroughly laid down in general terms. Consequently I will only emphasize the following clearer differences.

(α) Just as we found several kinds of epic which tended to have a lyric tone of expression, so now lyric may adopt in subject-matter and form an event which is epic in matter and external appearance, and therefore touches on epic. Songs about heroes, romaunts, ballads, etc. belong to this class. In these sorts of lyric the form of the whole is, on the one hand, narrative, because what is reported is the origin and progress of a situation and event, a turning-point in the fate of a nation etc. But, on the other hand, the fundamental tone is wholly lyric, because the chief thing is not the non-subjective description and painting of a real occurrence, but on the contrary the poet’s mode of apprehending and feeling it, the mood resounding through the whole, whether it be a mood of joy or lament, courage or submission, and consequently the effect which such a poem was meant to produce belongs entirely to the sphere of lyric. This is the case because what the poet aims at producing his hearer is the same mood which has been created in him by the event related and which he has therefore introduced entirely into his poem. He expresses his depression, his melancholy, his cheerfulness, his glow of patriotism, etc., in an analogous event in such a way that the centre of the thing is not the occurrence itself but the state of mind which is mirrored in it. For this reason, after all, he principally emphasizes, and describes with depth of feeling, only those traits which re-echo and harmonize with his inner emotion and which, by expressing that emotion in the most living way, are best able to arouse in the listener the same feeling. So the subject-matter is epic, but the treatment lyric. – In more detail, the following types are to be included:

(αα) First, the epigram, when, that is to say, as an inscription it does not merely say quite briefly and objectively what the thing is, but adds a feeling to this expression, and in this way what is said is withdrawn from its factual reality and transferred into the inner life. In this event the writer does not sacrifice himself in favour of the object; on the contrary, the position is the very reverse because in the object he asserts himself, his wishes in relation to it, his subjective pleasantries, keen-witted associations, and unmeditated whims. The Greek Anthology even in its day contains many witty epigrams of this kind without any vestige of the tone of epic, and in modern times we find something of the kind belonging to this class in the piquant couplets so common in French vaudevilles, and, in Germany, in the Sinndedichte of Logau,[74] and the Xenien of Goethe and Schiller. Overpowering feeling may give this lyrical character to epitaphs too.

(ββ) Secondly, lyric expands similarly into descriptive narrative. As the first and simplest form in this sphere I will mention romances[75] only. Here the different scenes of an event are separated, and then each by itself is progressively treated quickly and compressedly in its chief traits with a description sympathetic throughout. This fixed and specific treatment of the characteristics proper to a situation and their sharp emphasis along with the author’s complete participation in them occurs in a noble way especially in the Spaniards and makes their narrative romances very effective. Over these lyric pictures there is diffused a certain luminosity which is more akin to the precision of sight and its clear perception of distinctions than to the deep feeling of the heart.

(γγ) Most ballads, on the other hand, comprise, even if on a smaller scale than is the case in epic poetry proper, the entirety of a complete event. It is true that they can sketch a picture of this event in its most prominent features, but at the same time they can bring out everywhere more fully, yet more concentratedly and fervently, both the depth of the heart which is interwoven with the event throughout and also the emotional tone of lament, melancholy, mourning, joy, etc. The English possess many such poems, principally from earlier primitive epochs of their poetry;[76] and folk-poetry in general loves to relate such, usually sad, stories and conflicts in a tone of dreadful feeling that shuts in the heart with agony and smothers the voice. But in modern times too, in Germany, first Bürger,[77] and then above all Goethe and Schiller, have acquired a mastery in this field – Bürger by his homelike simplicity; Goethe, along with all his clarity of vision, by the deep feeling of the soul which is wafted lyrically through the whole; and Schiller again by his superb elevation of mind and his feeling for the fundamental thought which he yet intends to express, lyrically throughout, in the form of an event, in order thereby to stir in the hearer’s heart and mind a similarly lyrical emotion and meditation.

(β) Secondly, the subjective element in lyric poetry emerges still more explicitly when some occurrence or actual situation provides the poet with a mere occasion for expressing himself in or about it. This is the case with so-called poémes d'occasion. For example, so far back[78] as Callinus and Tyrtaeus their war-elegies originated in the actual circumstances of which they sang and for which they wished to make their hearers enthusiastic, although their own personality, their own heart and mind, is hardly in evidence. Pindar’s prize odes too had their immediate occasion in specific competitions and victories and their special circumstances. Still more in many of Horace’s odes we descry a special provocation and indeed a clear intention and the thought that ‘as a cultured and famous man I will write a poem about this’. But Goethe above all has in recent times had an affection for this kind of poetry because in fact every occurrence in life became a poem for him.

(αα) But if a lyric work of art is not to fall into dependence on the external stimulus and the purposes implicit in it, but is to stand out by itself as an independent whole, then the essential thing is that the poet shall use the stimulus purely as an opportunity for giving expression to himself, to his mood of joy or sorrow, or to his way of thinking and his general view of life. The principal condition for the lyric poet is therefore that he shall entirely assimilate and make his own the objective subject-matter. For the truly lyrical poet lives in himsef, treats circumstances in accordance with his own poetic individual outlook, and now, however variously his inner life may be fused with the world confronting him and with its situations, complexities, and fates, what he nevertheless manifests in his portrayal of this material is only the inherent and independent life of his feelings and meditations. For example, when Pindar was invited to sing the praises of a victor in the Games, or did so of his own volition, he still so mastered his topic that his work was not a poem about a victor at all, but was sung out of the depths of his own heart.

(ββ) The more particular mode of presentation used in such a poem d'occasion can of course, on the other hand, derive its specific material and character, as well as the inner organization of the work of art, from the real existence of the individual or the occurrence selected as a subject. For it is precisely by this subject that the poet’s mind will evidently be moved. As the clearest example, even if an extreme one, I need only refer to Schiller’s Lied von der Glocke [Song of the Bell][79] where the external stages in the business of bell-founding provide the essential supports for the steps in the development of the whole poem, and only after them are appended the corresponding castings of feeling as well as the most varied reflections on life and other sketches of human situations. In a different way Pindar too borrows from the birthplace of the victor, the deeds of his clan, or from other circumstances of life the immediate occasion for praising these gods and no others, mentioning only these deeds and fates, introducing only these specific meditations, in weaving these proverbs, etc. On the other hand, however, the lyric poet is entirely free here once again, because it is not the external stimulus as such that is the topic but he himself with his inner life, and therefore it depends on his particular personal insight and poetic attitude of mind alone what aspects of the topic are to be portrayed in the lyric and in what succession and association. There is no fixed a priori criterion for determining the extent to which the objective stimulus with its factual content or the poet’s own subjective experience is to preponderate or whether both of these should interpenetrate one another.

(γγ) But the proper unity of the lyric is not provided by the occasion and its objective reality but by the poet’s inner movement of soul and his way of treating his subject. For the single mood or general reflection aroused poetically by the external stimulus forms the centre determining not only the colour of the whole but also the whole range of particular aspects which may be developed, the manner of their exposition and linkage, and therefore the plan and connection of the poem as a work of art. For example, Pindar has in the named objective circumstances of the lives of the victors whose praise he is singing a real kernel for the articulation and development of his work, but in the case of individual odes there are always other considerations, a different mood – admonition, consolation, exaltation, e.g. – which he makes prevalent throughout. Although these belong solely to the poet as the composer of his poems, they nevertheless provide him with the range of what within those objective circumstances he will touch upon, treat at length, or pass over, as well as with the sort of illumination and connection which he must use if he is to produce the intended lyric effect.

(γ) Yet, thirdly, the genuinely lyric poet does not need to start from the external events which he relates with such wealth of feeling, or from other objective circumstances and occasions which become a stimulus for his effusions; on the contrary, he is in himself a subjectively complete world so that he can look for inspiration and a topic within himself and therefore can remain within the sphere of subjective situations, states, and incidents and the passions of his own heart and spirit. Here in his subjective inner life the man becomes a work of art himself, while what serves as subject-matter for an epic poet is a stranger, i.e. a hero with his deeds and adventures.

(αα) Yet even in this field an element of narrative may still enter as is the case, for example, with many of the songs called Anacreon’s which provide us with cheerful and charmingly finished miniatures of love-affairs, etc. But in that event such an incident must be only as it were a revelation of an inner attitude of mind. So Horace too, to mention him again in another way, uses in his Integer vitae[80] a chance meeting with a wolf, not so that we can call the whole ode a poem d'occasirm, but as a proof of the proposition with which he begins and the imperturbability of the feeling of love with which he ends.

(ββ) The situation in which the poet depicts himself need not as a rule be restricted simply to the inner life as such. On the contrary, it should be evinced as a concrete and therefore also external entirety because the poet reveals himself as existent objectively as well as subjectively. For example, in the Anacreon songs mentioned above the poet depicts himself amongst roses, lovely girls and youths, as drinking and dancing, in cheerful enjoyment, without desire or longing, without duty, and without neglecting higher ends, for of these there is no question here at all; in short, he depicts himself as a hero who, innocent and free and therefore without restriction or deficiency, is merely this one man who he is, a man of his own sort as a subjective work of art.

In the love-songs of Hafiz too we see the whole living individuality of the poet, so changing in content, situation, and expression that the whole thing almost approaches humour. Yet in his poems he has no special theme, no objective picture, no god, no mythology – indeed when we read these outpourings we feel that Orientals generally could have had neither painting nor plastic art. The poet goes from one topic to another and marches over the whole field, but it is all a single scene in which the whole man is brought before us face to face, soul to soul, in his wine, his tavern, his girl, his court, etc. in beautiful frankness, in pure enjoyment without desire or self-seeking. – All sorts of examples could be given of experiments in this sort of way of portraying an inner situation which is an external one as well.

Yet if the poet goes far into detail about his subjective states of mind, we have no inclination at all to get to know his particular fancies, his amours, his domestic affairs, or the history of his uncles and aunts, like what we get even in the case of Klopstock’s Cidli and Fanny;[81] on the contrary, we want to have in front of us something universally human so that we can feel in poetic sympathy with it. Consequently lyric may easily come to pretend, falsely, that what is subjective and particular must be of interest in and by itself. On the other hand, many of Goethe’s songs may be called convivial although he has not issued them under that title. What I mean is that in society a man does not communicate his self; on the contrary, he puts his particular individuality in the background and amuses the company with a story or an anecdote or with traits of third parties which he then relates with a humour of his own and in a way suiting his own tone. In such a case the poet both is and is not himself; he does his best to communicate not himself but something else; he is, as it were, an actor who plays an endless number of parts, lingering now here now there, retaining now one scenic arrangement for a moment, now another, and yet, whatever he may portray, there is always vividly interwoven with it his own artistic inner life, his feelings and experiences.

(γγ) But since the inner subjective life is the proper source of lyric, the poet must retain the right to limit himself to expressing purely inner moods, reflections, etc., without spreading himself into portraying a concrete situation in its external features as well. In this in respect, wholly senseless gibberish, tra-la-la, singing purely for the sake of singing, prove to be a genuinely lyric satisfaction of the heart for which words are more or less a purely arbitrary vehicle for the expression of joys and sorrows, although the aid of music is summoned at once to remedy their insufficiency. Folksongs especially seldom get beyond this mode of expression. Goethe’s songs achieve a richer and less vague expression, but in their case too it is often only a matter of some single passing pleasantry, the tone of a fleeting mood, which the poet does not go beyond and out of which he makes a little song to be whistled for a moment. In other songs, however, he deals with similar moods at greater length, and even methodically, as for example in the song lch hab’ met'n Sach auf nt'chts gestellt,[82] where money and property, then women, travel, fame and honour, and finally battle and war all appear transitory [and vanity] and what alone remains is the open and carefree cheerfulness of the ever-recurring refrain.

Conversely, however, in this connection, the subjective inner life may broaden and deepen as it were into states of mind where vision is grandest and ideas survey the whole world. A large proportion of Schiller’s poems, for example, are of this kind. His heart is stimulated by what is rational and great; yet he does not give voice to a religious or fundamental topic in any sort of hymn, nor is he, like a bard, inspired from without by external occurrences; on the contrary, he starts with and from a mind which has as its highest interests the ideals of life and beauty and the imperishable rights and thoughts of mankind.

(c) A third and last point on which we have to touch in dealing with the general character of lyric poetry concerns the general level of mind and culture from which the individual poem proceeds.

In this connection too lyric occupies a position opposed to that of epic poetry. We saw that the efflorescence of epic proper required a national state of affairs which was on the whole undeveloped, not yet matured into a prosaic type of reality, whereas the times most favourable to lyric are those which have achieved a more or less completed organization of human relationships, because only in those times has the individual person become self-reflective in contrast to the external world, and, reflected out of it, achieved in his inner life an independent entirety of feeling and thinking. For in lyric both form and content are provided precisely not by the whole external world or by individual action but by the poet himself in his own personal character. But this is not to be understood at all as if, in order to be able to express himself in lyrics, the individual must free himself from any and every connection with national interests and outlooks, and stand on his own feet in abstraction from these. On the contrary if he were thus abstractly independent, nothing would be left for the contents of his poem except a wholly accidental and particular passion, or a capricious appetite or passing pleasure, and unlimited scope would be given to bad and perverse notions and a bizarre originality of feeling. The genuine lyric, like all true poetry, has to express the true contents of the human heart. Yet, as contained in lyric, the most factual and fundamental matter must appear as subjectively felt, contemplated, portrayed, or thought.

Further, here it is not a matter of the bare expression of an individual’s inner life, of the first word that comes directly to mind as an epic statement of what the thing is, but of a poetic mind’s artistic expression, an expression different from an ordinary or casual one. Therefore, precisely because the mere self-concentration of the heart increasingly discloses itself in manifold feelings and more comprehensive meditations, and the individual becomes increasingly aware of his poetic inner life within a world already more prosaically stamped, lyric now demands [in the poet] a culture which has risen to art and which likewise must emerge in the excellence and the independent work of a subjective natural gift which has been developed to perfection. These are the reasons why lyric is not restricted to specific epochs in the spiritual development of a people but can flourish abundantly in .the most different epochs and is especially opportune in modem times when every individual claims the right of having his own personal point of view and mode of feeling.

However, the following general points may be made as indicative of the most striking differences [in lyric expression]:

(α) The lyric mode of expression in folk-poetry.

(αα) This poetry above all brings to our view the manifold special characteristics of nationalities, and for this reason, now that today we take an interest in the whole world, people are not tired of collecting folk-songs of every kind with a view to getting to know the special character of every people and to share their feelings and their life. Herder did a great deal in this direction, and Goethe too has been able, in his freer imitations, to give us something of a feeling for extremely different sorts of products of this kind. But complete sympathy is possible only with the songs of one’s own nation, and while we Germans can make ourselves at home with material from abroad also, still the final notes in the music of some other people’s national inner life are always something strange, and before the domestic tone of our own feeling can echo in them they need the aid of a certain recasting. Yet Goethe could only give this aid, in the cleverest and most beautiful way, to the foreign folk-songs that he brought to us, by preserving throughout unimpaired the special and peculiar character of these poems, e.g. in the lament, from the Morlaccian, of Asan Aga’s noble kinswomen.[83]

(ββ) The general character of lyrical folk-poetry is to be compared with the primitive epic in this respect, that the poet does not push himself forward but is lost in his subject-matter. Although, therefore, the most concentrated deep feeling of the heart can be expressed in folk-song, still what is made recognizable in such poetry is not a single individual poet with his own peculiar manner of portraying himself artistically, but a national feeling which the individual wholly and entirely bears in himself because his own inner ideas and feelings are not divorced from his people or its existence and interests. A necessary presupposition of such an undivided unity is a state of affairs in which independent individual reflection and culture has not yet come to birth, with the result that the poet becomes a mere tool, with his own person retreating into the background, by means of which the national life is expressed in its lyrical feeling and way of looking at things. This immediate and original character of course gives to folk-song a freshness, which is devoid of reflection, but has a solid compactness, and striking truth, which often has the greatest effect, but it therefore easily acquires at the same time a fragmentary and disordered character, a lack of development which leads to vagueness and unclarity. Feeling is deeply hidden and neither can nor will come to complete expression. Besides, although the form of this entire species is as a rule completely lyrical, i.e. subjective, in kind, what is missing is, as I have said, the individual who in the form and content of lyric expresses what is the property of precisely his own heart and spirit and is the product of his own artistic work.

(γγ) Peoples who have only got so far as poems of this kind and have not reached a higher stage of lyric or produced epic or dramatic works are therefore for the most part semi-barbaric, with an undeveloped organization and with transitory feuds and catastrophes. For amongst them, with their primitive poetry, really epic poets would have arisen if in these heroic times these peoples had made themselves into an inherently rich whole, the particular aspects of which had been already developed into independent yet harmonious realities and could have provided the ground for inherently concrete and individually perfected deeds. Therefore the situation out of which such folk-songs can issue as the one and final mode of expressing the national spirit is restricted to family life and clan-solidarity without the further organization characteristic of the states that have already matured into the age of heroes. If recollections of national events do occur, then these are mostly struggles against foreign oppressors or brigandage, reactions of savagery against savagery, or acts of one individual against another of the same folk, and then in the telling of these free scope is given to wailing and lament, or else to loud jubilation over a passing victory. The real but embryo life of the people, where independence has not yet been developed, is thrown back on the inner world of feeling, which then is, on the whole, equally undeveloped, and, even if it does thereby win an inner self-concentration, still is normally crude and barbaric in its contents. Therefore, whether folk-song is to interest us poetically or on the contrary, to some extent, to repel us, depends on the sort of situations and feelings which it portrays, for what seems excellent to the imagination of one people may be to another tasteless, sinister, and offensive. So, for example, there is a folk-song that tells of a woman who, at her husband’s command, was immured, and only by her pleas were openings made for her breasts so that she could suckle her child, and she only lived long enough to reach a time when the child no longer needed its mother’s milk. This is a barbaric and horrible situation. Similarly there are brigandages, individual deeds of bluster and mere savagery, nothing in themselves, with which different peoples of some other culture are supposed to have to sympathize. Therefore, folk-songs are usually trivial in the extreme, and there is no firm criterion of their excellence because they are too far removed from what is universally human-. Therefore, our recently made acquaintance with the songs of the Iroquois, Eskimos, and other savage peoples has not always enlarged the sphere of our poetic enjoyment.

(b) But since lyric is the complete utterance of the inner spirit, it cannot rest with the mode of expression or the topics of actual folk-songs or with the similar and imitated tone in later poems.

(αα) For, on the one hand, as we have just seen, in what has just been described, there is present only imperfectly in lyric the essentially necessary thing, namely that the self-concentrated mind shall rise above this pure concentration and its immediate vision and press on to a free portrayal of itself. On the other hand, it must so expand as to absorb a rich world of ideas, passions, situations, and conflicts, in order that everything which the human heart can comprise may be transformed within the poet’s mind and communicated by him as the progeny of his own spirit. For the whole of lyric poetry must give poetic expression to the entirety of the inner life, so far as that life can enter poetry at all, and therefore lyric belongs in common to every stage of spiritual development.

(ββ) Secondly, there is bound up with free self-consciousness the freedom of self-conscious art. Folk-song is sung from the heart as if spontaneously, like nature’s song; but free art is conscious of itself, it desires to know and intend what it is producing; culture is needed for this knowledge, and perfection demands a practised virtuosity in production. Therefore while epic poetry, strictly so-called, must conceal the poet’s own imaginative and creative activity, or while this cannot yet be made visible, given the whole character of the period when the epic is produced, this only happens because epic is concerned with the nation’s existence, not as produced by the poet himself, but as it objectively is, and consequently this existence must appear in the poem not as something subjective but as a product developing independently on its own account; whereas in lyric the contents, no less than its creation, are subjective, and thus it is this subjectivity which has to be revealed precisely as what it is.

(γγ) In this respect the later, and artistic, lyric poetry is expressly differentiated from folk-song. There are indeed also folk-songs produced contemporaneously with really artistic lyrics, but in that case they belong to groups and individuals who have not participated in this development of art and who in their whole outlook have not dissociated themselves from the instinctive sense of their people. However, this difference between the lyrics of folk-poetry and those of artistic poetry is not to be understood as implying that lyric reaches its zenith only when reflection and an artistic intelligence, brilliantly and elegantly combined with deliberate skill, make their appearance as the most essential things. This would only mean that Horace, for example, and Latin lyric poets generally, would have to be counted amongst the most excellent of lyric poets or, in a different sphere, that the Mastersingers would have to be preferred to the preceding epoch of genuine Minne-song'[84] But our proposition is not to be taken in this extreme sense; it is correct only in the sense that subjective imagination and art, precisely because of the independent subjectivity which is its principle, must have as its presupposition and basis, for its real perfection, a free and developed self-consciousness of ideas and artistic activity.

(c) From these two earlier stages we may now distinguish a third, in the following way. Folk-song precedes the proper development and presence of a prosaic type of consciousness; whereas genuinely lyric poetry, as art, tears itself free from this already existent world of prose, and out of an imagination now become subjectively independent creates a new poetic world of subjective meditation and feeling whereby alone it generates in a living way the true contents of the inner life of man and the true way of expressing them. But, thirdly, there is a form of the spirit which, in one aspect, outs oars the imagination of heart and vision because it can bring its content into free self-consciousness in a more decisively universal way and in more necessary connectedness than is possible for any art at all. I mean philosophical thinking. Yet this form, conversely, is burdened with the abstraction of developing solely in the province of thinking, i.e. of purely ideal universality, so that man in the concrete may find himself forced to express the contents and results of his philosophical mind in a concrete way as penetrated by his heart and vision, his imagination and feeling, in order in this way to have and provide a total expression of his whole inner life.

Here two different modes of treatment prevail. (i) Imagination may exceed its own bounds in trying to rival the movement of thought but without being able to absorb the clarity and fixed precision of philosophical expositions. In that event lyric generally becomes the outpouring of a soul, fighting and struggling with itself, which in its ferment does violence to both art and thought because it oversteps one sphere without being, or being able to be, at home in the other. (ii) But a philosopher at peace with himself in his thinking may animate with his feeling his clearly grasped and systematically pursued thoughts, may give them visual illustration, and, as Schiller does in many of his poems, exchange the obviously necessary philosophical march and connection for the free play of particular aspects. To all appearance this free play of aspects is disconnected and behind it art must try all the more to conceal their inner unification, the less it means to fall into the prosaic tone of expounding them didactically seriatim.

2. Particular Aspects of Lyric Poetry

After considering the general character of the subject-matter of lyric poetry, the form in which it can express it, as well as the different stages of civilization which prove to be more or less in conformity with its principle, our next task is to examine in detail the particular chief aspects and bearings of these general points.

Here again, to start with, I will mention once more the difference between epic and lyric poetry. In considering the former we turned our attention chiefly to the primitive national epic and left aside both the inferior collateral types and also the poet himself. This we cannot do in our present sphere. On the contrary the most important topics for discussion here are the personality of the poet and the ramification of the different kinds into which lyric can expand, since it has as its principle the individualizing and particularizing of its subject-matter and its forms. What is to be said in more detail on this matter may therefore take the following course:

(a) We have to direct our attention to the lyric poet;

(b) then we must consider the lyric work of art as a product of his subjective imagination;

(c) and finally mention the kinds of lyrical portrayal which emanate from its essential nature.

(a) The Lyric Poet

(α) The contents of lyric, as we saw, consist of (i) meditations comprising the universal element in existence and its situations, and (ii) the variety of its particular aspects But, by being pure generalities and particular views and feelings, both these constituents are mere abstractions which need a link if they are to acquire a living lyrical individuality, and this link must be of an inner and therefore subjective kind. Thus as the centre and proper content of lyric poetry there must be placed the poetic concrete person, the poet, but he must not proceed to actual deeds and actions or become involved in the movement of dramatic conflicts. His sole expression and act is limited, on the contrary, to lending to his inner life words which, whatever their objective meaning may be, reveal the spiritual sense of the person using them and are meant to arouse and keep alive in the hearer the same sense and spirit, the same attitude of mind, and the like direction of thought.

(β) This granted, however, although the expression is devised for apprehension by others, it may only be a free overflow of cheerfulness or of the grief that finds relief and reconciliation in song; alternatively, self-expression may be a deeper urge to communicate the heart’s deepest feelings and most far-reaching meditations – for a man who is able to compose songs and poetry has a calling accordingly and ought to be a poet. Yet external stimuli, express invitations, and more of the like are not in any way excluded. But in such a case the great lyric poet soon digresses from the proper topic and portrays himself. So, to abide by an example cited often already, Pindar was frequently asked to celebrate this or that victor in the Games and indeed he made his living by taking money for his compositions; and yet, as bard, he puts himself in his hero’s place and independently combines with his own imagination the praise of the deeds of his hero’s ancestors, it may be; he recalls old myths, or he expresses his own profound view of life, wealth, dominion, whatever is great and honourable, the sublimity and charm of the Muses, but above all the dignity of the bard. Consequently in his poems he is not so much concerned to honour the hero whose fame he spreads in this way as to make himself, the poet, heard. He himself has not the honour of having sung the praises of victors, for it is they who have acquired honour by being made the subject of Pindar’s verse. This pre-eminent greatness of soul is what constitutes the nobility of the lyric poet. As an individual, Homer is so far sacrificed in his epic that nowadays people will not allow that he ever existed at all, yet his heroes live on, immortal; whereas Pindar’s heroes are only names to us while he himself, self-celebrated and self-honoured, confronts us unforgettably as poet. The fame which his heroes may claim is only an appendage to the fame of the lyric poet.

Amongst the Romans too the lyric poet acquires to somc extent this same independent position. For example Suetonius reports [in his life of Horace] that Augustus wrote as follows to Horace: ‘An vereris, ne apud posteros tibi infame sit, quod videaris familiaris nobis esse?'[85] But except where Horace speaks of Augustus ex officio, and we can easily sense when this is so, he generally comes quickly enough back to himself. His Ode iii. 14, for example, begins with the return of Augustus from Spain after his victory over the Cantabrians; but Horace simply goes on to laud the fact that, owing to the peace that Augustus has restored to the world, he himself as a poet can peacefully enjoy his carefree leisure; and then he gives orders for garlands, perfumes, and old wine to be brought for a celebration, and for Neaera to be invited quickly – in short his concern is only with the preparations for his feast. Yet love-quarrels mean less to him now than they did in his youth when Plancus was consul, for he says expressly to the slave that he sends: ‘Si per invisum mora ianitorem Fiet, abito.'[86]

To a still greater extent we may praise it as an honourable trait in Klopstock that in his day he felt once again the independent dignity of the bard, because he expressed it and bore and conducted himself in accordance with it: he extricated the poet from the position of being the poet of a court or anyone’s servant, as well as from the tiresome and useless persiflage which ruins a man. Yet it happened to him at first that his publisher regarded him as his poet. His publisher in Halle paid him only one or two thalers a sheet for the Messiah, I think, but then over and above he got a waistcoat and breeches for him, brought him thus equipped into society, let him be seen in this guise, and made people notice that he had got these things for him. Whereas, according to later, even if not completely authenticated reports, the Athenians set up a statue of Pindar (Pausanias, I. viii. 5) because he had praised them in one of his songs, and in addition (according to Aeschines, Ep. iv) paid to him twice the fine which the Thebans imposed on him, and would not modify, for lavishing excessive praise on another city.[87] Indeed it is even reported that Apollo himself, through the mouth of the priestess at Delphi, declared that Pindar should receive half of the gifts that the whole of Greece used to bring to the Pythian games.

(γ) In the whole range of lyric poetry, thirdly, what is presented is the entirety of an individual in the movement of his poetic inner life. For the lyric poet is driven to express in song everything shaped poetically in his heart and mind. In this respect special mention must be made of Goethe who in all the variety of his full life was always a poet and who in this matter too is amongst the most remarkable of men. Seldom can an individual be found who was so actively interested in anything and everything and yet, despite this infinite spread of interest, lived throughout in himself and transformed into poetic vision whatever touched him. His outward life, the special character of his heart, rather closed than open in everyday affairs, his scientific tendencies and the issue of his continued research, the empirical principles of his accomplished practical sense, the impressions made on him by the variously complicated events of his time, the results he drew from these, the effervescent gusto and courage of his youth, the cultured force and inner beauty of his manhood, the comprehensive and joyful wisdom of his later years – all this in his case was poured out in lyrics in which he expressed both the lightest play of feeling and the hardest and most grievous conflicts of spirit and by this expression liberated himself from them.

(b) The Lyrical Work of Art

Little can be said, by way of generalization, about the lyric poem as a work of art, because here there is a fortuitous wealth of variety in the mode of treatment and the forms of the subject-matter which is just as incalculably varied itself. For although this whole sphere here too cannot propose to exempt itself from the general laws of beauty and art, its subjective character implies in the nature of the case that the scope of turns and tones of expression must remain absolutely unlimited. Therefore, for our purpose, we are concerned only with the question how the type of lyrical works of art differs from that of epic.

In this matter I will draw attention briefly to only the following points:

(α) the unity of the lyric work of art;

(β) the manner of its development;

(γ) the external matter of metre and presentation.

(α) The importance of epic for art, as I have said, already lies, especially in the case of primitive epics, less in the complete development of perfect artistic form than in the totality of a national spirit which one and the same work presents before us in its fullest development.

(αα) To present such a totality to us in this graphic way is something which a properly lyric work of art must not undertake. The poet, as subjective spirit, may indeed proceed to comprehend the universe, but if he wishes truly to assert himself as a self-enclosed subject he must accept the principle of particularization and individualization. Yet this does not mean that from the start there are excluded a variety of insights drawn from the natural environment, memories of experiences, his own and those of others, of mythical and historical events, and the like. But in lyric this breadth of content should not arise by being implied by the entirety of a specific actual situation, as is the case in epic, but must look for its justification in the fact that it becomes alive in the poet’s subjective memory and gift for agile combination.

(ββ) The central point of unity in a lyric must therefore be regarded as the inner life of the poet. But this inner life itself is partly the individual’s pure unity with himself and partly it is fragmented and dispersed into the most diversified particularization and most variegated multiplicity of ideas, feelings, impressions, insights, etc.; and their linkage consists solely in the fact that one and the same self carries them, so to say, as their mere vessel. Therefore in order to be the centre which holds the whole lyric work of art together the poet must have achieved a specific mood or entered a specific situation, while at the same time he must identify himself with this particularization of himself as with himself, so that in it he feels and envisages himself. In this way alone does he then become a self-bounded subjective entirety and express only what issues from this determinate situation and stands in connection with it.

(γγ) What is most completely lyrical from this point of view is a mood of the heart concentrated on a concrete situation, because the sensitive heart is what is inmost in the subjective life, and most that life’s own, while reflection and meditation on universal principles may easily slip into being didactic or may emphasize in an epic way what is substantive and factual in the subject-matter.

(β) Neither on the development of the lyric poem can anything specific be laid down in general terms and therefore here too I must confine myself to a few more important remarks.

(αα) The development of an epic is of a lingering kind and it expands in general into the portrayal of a widely ramified actual life. For in epic the poet, as subject, immerses himself in the objective sphere which proceeds and is formed on its own account in its independent reality. In lyric, on the other hand, it is feeling and reflection which, conversely, draw the objectively existent world into themselves and live it through in their own inner element, and only then, after that world has become something inward, is it grasped and expressed in words. In contrast to the spread of epic, lyric has concentration for its principle and must intend to make its effect principally by inner profundity of expression, and not by extended descriptions or explanations. Yet between an almost dumb conciseness and the eloquent clarity of an idea that has been fully worked out, there remains open to the lyric poet the greatest wealth of steps and nuances. Neither is the illustration of external objects banned. On the contrary, the really concrete lyric works display the poet in his external situation too and therefore incorporate the natural environment, locality, etc., likewise; indeed there are poems limited entirely to descriptions of these and the like. But in that case what is properly lyric is not objective fact and its plastic portrayal, but the echo of the external in the mind, the mood aroused by it, and the feelings of the heart in such surroundings. Consequently, by the traits brought before our eyes we are not to contemplate this or that object from the outside but to be inwardly conscious of the heart which has put itself into it and so to be moved by that consciousness to have the same mode of feeling or meditation. The clearest example of this is afforded by Romaunts and Ballads which, as I indicated above, are the more lyrical the more they emphasize in the event recounted only what corresponds to the inner state of soul in which the poet tells his story and give us the whole circumstances in such a way that the poet’s mood itself has a living echo out of them in us. Therefore all exact painting of external objects, no matter how full of sentiment it may be, and even all detailed characterization of inner situations, always have less effect in lyric than tighter construction and richly significant concentrated expression.

(ββ) Episodes likewise are not forbidden to the lyric poet, but he should avail himself of them for a reason quite different from the one that an epic poet has. In the case of epic they are implied by the conception of a whole which gives objective independence to its parts, and in relation to the progress of the epic action they acquire the significance of delays and hindrances. But their justification in lyric is of a subjective kind; for the living individual runs through his inner world more rapidly; on the most varied occasions he recalls the most different things; he links together the most diverse things of all; and he lets himself be led hither and thither by his ideas and intuitions, though without thereby departing from his really basic feeling or the object on which he is reflecting. A similar vivacity belongs to the poet’s inner life, although it is in most cases difficult to say whether this or that in a lyric poem is to be regarded as episodic or not. But, in general, precisely appropriate to lyric are digressions, so long as they do not disrupt the unity of the poem, and, above all, surprising turns of phrase, witty combinations, and sudden and almost violent transitions.

(γγ) Therefore in this sphere of poetry the sort of progress and connection may likewise be now different from and now wholly opposed to that of epic. As little as epic does lyric tolerate, in general, either the caprice of the ordinary man’s thinking, or purely logical inferences, or the progress of philosophical thinking, expounded speculatively[88] in its necessity. On the contrary, it demands that the single parts shall be free and independent. But while for epic this relative isolation is derived from the form of the real phenomenon typical of all epic poetry’s illustrations, the lyric poet gives to the particular feelings and ideas in which he expresses himself the character of free dispersal, because, although all of them are based on the same mood and the same manner of meditation, each of them in its particular character absorbs his mind, and his mind is concentrated on this one point all the time until it turns to other intuitions and modes of feeling. In this process the chain of connection may be smooth and little interrupted, but nevertheless there may be lyrical leaps producing transitions, with no intermediary, from one idea to another far removed from it, so that the poet is apparently unfettered and in a whirl, and in this flight of intoxicated enthusiasm-the very opposite of intellectual logic and circumspection – appears to be possessed by a power and a ‘pathos’ which rules him and carries him away against his will. The impetus and struggle of such a passion is so very proper to some kinds of lyric that Horace, for example, in many of his Odes, was at pains to use his calculated ingenuity to make leaps of this kind which apparently dissolve all connection of ideas. – For the rest, I must pass over the manifold stages of treatment that are intermediate between the extremes of (i) the clearest connection and tranquil course of ideas, and (ii) the untrammelled impetuosity of passion and enthusiasm.

(γ) The last point that still remains to be considered in this sphere concerns the external form and objective character of the lyrical work of art. The chief things here are metre and musical accompaniment.

(αα) It is easy to see that the finest measure for the syllables in epic is the hexameter as it streams ahead uniformly, firmly, and yet also vividly. But for lyric we have to require at once the greatest variety of different metres and their more many-sided inner structure. The material of a lyric poem is not an object in its own appropriate objective development but the subjective movement of the poet’s own heart; and the uniformity or alteration of this movement, its restlessness or rest, its tranquil flow or foaming flood and fountains, must also be expressed as a temporal movement of word-sounds in which the poet’s inner life is made manifest. The sort of mood and whole mode of treatment has to be announced in the metre. For the outpouring of lyric stands to time, as an external element of communication, in a much closer relation than epic narrative does. The latter places real phenomena in the past and juxtaposes them or interweaves them in rather a spatial extension, whereas lyric portrays the momentary emergence of feelings and ideas in the temporal succession of their origin and development and therefore has to give proper artistic shape to the varied kinds of temporal movement. This implies (i) a rather variegated ranging of longs and shorts in a broken inequality of rythmical feet, (ii) the varied kinds of caesura, and (iii) the rounding-off into strophes which in themselves and in their succession may have a wealth of variation both in the length and shortness of single lines and in their rhythmical figuration.

(ββ) More lyrical than this artistically adequate treatment of temporal duration and its rhythmical movement is the pure sound of words and syllables, and this is the place above all for alliteration, rhyme, and assonance. In this system of versification there preponderate what I have already distinguished above, (i) the spiritual significance of syllables, i.e. the accent on the sense, an accent exempt from the purely natural circumstance of independently fixed longs and shorts and now determining spiritually the duration and the loud or soft-pedalling of syllables, and (ii) the isolated sound expressly concentrated on specific letters, syllables, and words. This spiritualization of the language through the inner meaning of the words, as well as this emphasis on sound, is peculiarly appropriate to lyric, because, for one thing, what is there and in evidence it adopts and expresses only in the sense which this existent possesses for the inner life, and, for another thing, for the material of its communication it seizes mainly on sound and tone. Of course even in this sphere rhythm may be closely associated with rhyme, but in that case this happens in a way approximating once more to the musical beat. Therefore, strictly speaking, the poetic use of assonance, alliteration, and rhyme may be confined to the sphere of lyric; for although as a result of the nature of modern languages the medieval epic cannot abjure these forms, this is nevertheless for the most part only permissible because here from the start the lyrical element within epic poetry itself is operative to a greater extent and it makes its way still more vigorously in songs of the heroes, ballad-like and romance-like narratives, etc. The same thing occurs in dramatic poetry. But what belongs more peculiarly to lyric is a more ramified figuration of rhyme which, with the return of the same sounds of letters, syllables, and words, or the alternation of different ones, is developed and completed in variously articulated and interlaced rhyme-strophes. It is true that epic and dramatic poetry do likewise avail themselves of these divisions, but only for the same reason that they do not ban rhyme. The Spaniards, for example, at the time when the development of their drama was at its zenith, gave free room throughout to the subtle play of a passion little suited in expression to drama, and they incorporated ottava rima,[89] sonnets, etc. into their otherwise dramatic versification. At any rate they show in their continued assonances and rhymes their predilection for the musical element in language.

(γγ) Lastly, lyric poetry approaches music, to a greater extent than is possible by the use of rhyme alone, owing to the fact that its language becomes actual melody and song. This leaning to music is completely justified too. The material and subject-matter of lyric lacks an independence and objectivity of its own and is especially of a subjective kind, rooted solely in the poet himself; nevertheless its communication necessitates an external support. The more that all this is true, all the more does this subject-matter require for its presentation something external and decisive. Because it remains inner, it must provide an external stimulus. But this sensuous stimulation of our hearts can be produced by music alone.

After all, in the matter of external execution, we find lyric poetry almost always accompanied by music. Yet we must not overlook an essential series of stages in this union of poetry and music. For fusion with melodies in the strict sense is really only achieved in the case of romantic,[90] and, above all, modern lyrics; this is what we find especially in those songs where the mood and the heart preponderate, and music has then to struggle and develop this inner note of the soul into melody. Folk-song, for example, loves and calls for a musical accompaniment. On the other hand, canzonets, elegies, epistles, etc., and even sonnets will nowadays not easily find a composer [to set them to music]. Where ideas and reflections and even feelings are completely expounded in the poetry and thereby more and more liberated from being wholly concentrated within the mind and from the sensuous element in art, then lyric, as a communication in language, wins greater independence and does not lend itself so readily to close association with music. On the other hand, the less explicit is the inner life which seeks expression, the more it needs the help of melody. But we shall have an opportunity later to touch on the question why the Greeks, despite the transparent clarity of their diction, yet demanded the support of music when their verse was being recited, and to what extent they did so.

(c) The Kinds of Lyric Proper

Of the particular kinds into which lyric poetry develops I have already mentioned in detail some which form the transition from the narrative style of epic to a subjective manner of portrayal. I might equally look at the opposite aspect and exhibit the origin of drama in lyric; but this leaning of lyric towards the vivacity of drama is essentially restricted to the fact that, though without proceeding to describe an action that moves forward into conflicts, the lyric poem is a conversation and can therefore adopt the external form of a dialogue. However, these transitional stages and hybrid kinds we will leave on one side and only consider briefly those forms in which the proper principle of lyric is asserted unadulterated. The difference between them has its basis in the attitude which the poet consciously adopts to his subject-matter.

(α) In one aspect of lyric, the poet transcends the particular and private character of his ideas and feelings and immerses himself in the universal contemplation of God or the gods whose greatness and power pervades the entire inner life and makes the individuality of the poet disappear. Hymns, dithyrambs, paeans, psalms belong to this class which again is developed in different ways by different peoples. I will confine myself to drawing attention, in the most general terms, to the following difference.

(αα) The poet who rises above the restrictedness of his own inner and outer circumstances and situations and the ideas connected with these, and takes as his subject-matter what appears to him and his nation to be absolute and divine, may (i) concentrate the sphere of the divine into one objective picture, and then this picture, sketched and completed for his inner contemplation, he may place before others to the praise of the power and glory of the god so celebrated. The Hymns ascribed to Homer are, for example, of this kind. They contain situations and stories of the god for whose fame they have been composed. These stories are principally mythological, not treated merely symbolically at all, but given solid illustration, as in epic.

(ββ) A converse (ii) and more lyrical type is a dithyrambic soaring, a subjective elevation in worship. The poet, enraptured by the power of his object, shaken as it were and stunned in his inmost heart, and in a mood wholly without definition, is incapable of producing any single objective picture or shape and cannot get beyond an exultation of soul. In his ecstasy he is directly absorbed into the Absolute. Full of its essence and might, he jubilantly sings the praise of the infinity in which he immerses himself and of the magnificent phenomena in which the depths of the Godhead are revealed.

In their religious ceremonies the Greeks did not long acquiesce in such mere exclamations and invocations but proceeded to interrupt such outpourings by the relation of specific mythical situations and actions. These descriptions, intercalated between the lyrical outbursts, then gradually became the chief thing, and, by presenting a living and complete action explicitly in the form of an action, developed into drama which for its part incorporated the lyrics of the chorus again as an integral part of itself.

More impressive, on the other hand, we find in many of the sublime Psalms in the Old Testament this soaring flight of praise, this jubilation of the soul as it lifts its eye to heaven and cries out to the one God in whom the Psalmist finds the end and aim of his consciousness, the proper source of all might and truth, the proper object of all glory and praise. For example we read in Psalm 33 ‘,( , [1-6]:

Rejoice in the Lord, 0 ye righteous; for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the Lord with harp; sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth ...

Similarly in Psalm 29 [1-8]:

Give unto the Lord, 0 ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the “Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness ...

Such an elevation and lyrical sublimity contains ecstasy and therefore there is no such absorption in a concrete subject-matter as enables the imagination, satisfied and at peace, to let things be; on the contrary this ecstasy intensifies rather into a purely vague enthusiasm which struggles to bring to feeling and contemplation what cannot be consciously expressed in words. Caught in this vagueness, the subjective inner life cannot portray its unattainable object to itself in peaceful beauty or enjoy its self-expression in a work of art. Instead of a peaceful picture, imagination seizes on external phenomena and juxtaposes them fragmentarily and in disorder, and since in its inner life it does not achieve any firm articulation of its particular ideas, it avails itself in its external expression of only an arbitrary and irregular rhythm.

The Prophets, in their opposition to the multitude, usually have a fundamental tone of grief and lamentation for the situation of their people; they have a sense of their people’s alienation and falling away from God, and at the same time they are animated by a sublime glow of zeal and political wrath. All this then leads them further in the direction of hortatory lyric.

But in later and imitative times this excessive heat is exchanged for a more artificial warmth which readily cools and becomes abstract. For example, many of Klopstock’s poems in the manner of hymns and psalms neither have any depth of thought nor do they peacefully develop some religious topic. On the contrary, what is expressed in them is above all the quest for this elevation to the infinite, and, according to our modern ‘enlightened’ ideas, this infinite dissolves into the empty boundlessness and inconceivable power, greatness, and majesty of God in contrast to the therefore quite conceivable impotence and overwhelming finitude of the poet.

(β) There is a second aspect of lyric, namely those kinds of lyric poetry that may be called by the general name of ‘Odes’ in the newer sense of that word.[91] Here, in contrast to the preceding stage, it is at once the independently emphasized subjective personality of the poet which is the most important thing of all, and it may likewise be asserted in two different ways:

(αα) In the first place, within this new form and its manner of expression, the poet selects, as before, a topic important in itself, the fame and praise of gods, heroes, and chiefs, or love, beauty, art, friendship, etc.; and then he reveals his inner life as so captivated, engrossed, and pervaded by this topic and its concrete actuality that it looks as if, in his transports of enthusiasm, his subject has mastered his whole soul and rules in it as its sole determinant and master. If this were to be completely the case, then the topic could be shaped, developed, and concluded on its own account, objectively, and plastically, so as to become a sculptural image, like those in epic. On the other hand, however, it is precisely his own subjective personality and its grandeur that the poet has to express on its own account and make objective, so that on his side he masters his subject, transforms it within himself, brings himself to expression in it, and therefore, free and independent himself, interrupts the objective course of his topic’s development with his own feelings and reflections, and illumines and alters it by his subjective activity. The result is that mastery belongs not to the topic but to his subjective enthusiasm, engrossed by the topic. Yet this brings into being two different, and even opposed, aspects: (i) the captivating might of the topic, and (ii) the poet’s own subjective freedom which flashes out in the struggle against the topic which is trying to master it. It is mainly the pressure of this opposition which necessitates the swing and boldness of language and images, the apparent absence of rule in the structure and course of the poem, the digressions, gaps, sudden transitions, etc.; and the loftiness of the poet’s genius is preserved by the mastery displayed in his continual ability to resolve this discord by perfect art and to produce a whole completely united in itself, which, by being his work, raises him above the greatness of his subject-matter. This sort of lyrical enthusiasm is the origin of many of Pindar’s Odes, but all the same their victorious inner magnificence is disclosed by their rhythm which moves variously and yet is given a measure fixed by rule. On the contrary, especially where he wants to make the most of himself, Horace is very jejune and lacking in warmth, and he has an imitative artistry which seeks in vain to conceal the more or less calculated finesse of his composition. Even Klopstock’s enthusiasm is not always genuine but often becomes something manufactured; many of his Odes, however, are full of true and real feeling and possess a captivating and masculine dignity and power of expression.

(ββ) But, secondly, the subject-matter need not be really important or of intrinsic value; on the contrary, the poet becomes of such importance to himself in his individuality that now, because he takes even rather insignificant things as his subject, he confers on them dignity and nobility, or, at the very least, a higher interest. Many things in Horace’s Odes are like this and even Klopstock and others have adopted this attitude.’ In this case the poet has no struggle with the importance of his topic; on the contrary he elevates what is inherently unimportant in external occasions, trifling accidents, etc., to the height on which he senses and visualizes himself.

(γ) Lastly, the whole endless variety of lyric moods and reflections is spread out at the stage of the song.[92] Consequently it is in song that particular national differences and the special characteristics of individual poets are most completely in evidence. Every variety of sort and kind can be brought into this sphere and a precise classification is extremely difficult. In the most general terms the following differences may perhaps be distinguished.

(αα) First, the song proper, meant for warbling in private or for singing in company. This does not require much substance or inner grandeur and loftiness; on the contrary, dignity, nobility, gravity of thought would only hinder the pleasure of direct self-expression. Imposing reflections, profound thoughts, and sublime feelings simply force a man to escape from his immediate individuality and its interests and moods of soul. But this directness of joy or grief, whatever is deeply felt without hindrance, is just precisely what should find its expression in song. Therefore every people is most at home and comfortable in its songs.

No matter how far this domain may extend without limit in the range of its subject-matter and its differences of tone, each song is nevertheless distinguished at once from the previous sorts of lyric by its simplicity of material, movement, metre, language, images, etc. It begins automatically in the heart and does not proceed at all in a flight of enthusiasm from one topic to another, but clings fast to one and the same subject exclusively, whether that be an individual situation or some specific expression of joy or sorrow, the expression of a mood and ways of looking at things that tear at our hearts. In this feeling or situation the song persists tranquilly and simply without unevenness of flight or effect, without boldness of transitions or turns of phrase; and it makes this one theme into a rounded whole with an easy flow of thought, now broken off and concentrated, now more extended and consecutive, as well as with singable rhythms and recurring rhymes easily grasped and without great complexity. But the fact that a song generally has something rather fleeting in character for its subject-matter must not make us suppose that a nation had to sing the same songs for centuries and millennia. A nation that is developing at all is not so poor or so indigent as to have a writer of songs in its midst only once; the poetry of song, precisely unlike epic, does not die but awakens ever anew. This blossoming is renewed at every season, and old and most ancient songs are preserved only in the case of oppressed peoples, who have been cut off from every advance and have not attained the ever newly animated joy of making poetry. The single song, like the single mood, arises and passes away, stimulates, delights, and is forgotten. For example, who still knows and sings the songs that everyone knew and loved fifty years ago? Every age strikes its new note of song and the earlier one dies away until it is mute altogether. But all the same every song must not so much be a presentation of the personality of the poet himself as have a universal validity which makes it impress and please everyone and arouse the same feeling so that now it goes from mouth to mouth. Songs not universally sung in their own day are seldom of a genuine kind.

As for what essentially distinguishes song’s mode of expression, I will emphasize only two chief points on which I have touched before: (i) The poet may express his inner life and its emotions quite openly and without reserve, especially his cheerful feelings and attitudes, so that he communicates in full everything that occurs within his consciousness. (ii) Alternatively he may go to the opposite extreme and, as it were by his approach to silence, make us only surmise what is concentrated in his undisclosed heart. The first kind of expression belongs mainly to the East and especially to the carefree cheerfulness and contented expansiveness of Mohammedan poetry which with its brilliant outlook loves to spread itself in all directions pensively and in ingenious combinations of images. The second kind, on the other hand, is more to the taste of the self-concentrated inner life of the Nordic heart which in repressed stillness can often seize only on purely external objects and indicate in them that the heart pressed in on itself cannot express or liberate itself but flickers and dies away like the child in the Erl-King,[93] who ‘rides with his father through night and storm’. This difference, prominent in lyric generally as that between folk-poetry and artistic poetry, between the heart and comprehensive reflection, recurs here too in song with numerous shades and intermediate stages.

Of the individual kinds of song I will mention only the following. First, folk-songs which on account of their immediacy generally remain at the level of song and are usually singable, indeed they demand a tuneful accompaniment [Gesang]. Their subject-matter consists of national deeds and events in which the nation has a sense of its very own life and which are alive in its memory. Alternatively they directly express the feelings and situations of the different classes, sympathy with nature, and the most intimate human relationships, and they strike most various notes of joy or of grief and melancholy.

In contrast to these there are, secondly, songs of a culture which has already been enriched in many ways and which delights in cheerful conviviality, so that the songs are full of the greatest variety of wit, graceful turns of phrase, little incidents, and other expressions of gallantry. Alternatively such a society turns more sentimentally to nature and to situations in a narrower sort of human life and describes these things and the feelings they involve or excite, while the poet retreats into himself and gloats over his own personality and emotions. If such poems do not go beyond mere description, especially the description of things in nature, they readily become trivial and show no evidence of any creative imagination. It is often no better either with descriptions of feelings about something. In the case of such descriptions of things and feelings, the poet must above all not be imprisoned in immediate wishes and desires but must have raised himself above them by his freedom of contemplation, so that what alone matters to him is the satisfaction afforded by imagination as such. This carefree freedom, this expansion of the heart and satisfaction of mind gives the loveliest charm of spiritual freedom and poetry to many of Anacreon’s songs, for example, as well as to the poems of Hafiz and Goethe’s West-östliche Divan.

But, thirdly, even at this stage a higher and universal subjectmatter is not excluded at all. For example, most of the Protestant hymns [Gesänge] composed for the edification of the faithful belong to the class of songs [Lieder]. They express the longing for God, a prayer for his mercy, the repentance, hope, confidence, doubt, faith, etc., of the Protestant heart; in the first instance, no doubt, as the concern and situation of an individual heart, but they are expressed in a universal way so that these feelings and situations mayor should be at the same time the concern of more or less everyone.

(ββ) Within this comprehensive stage, a second group consisting of sonnets, sestinas,[94] elegies, epistles, etc., may be included. These kinds are already rising beyond the previously considered sphere of song. The immediacy of feeling and expression is raised here to a communication of reflection and of a meditation that looks around in every direction and brings together under more general categories individual insights and emotional experiences: knowledge, scholarship, culture in general should prevail. And even if what remains conspicuous and dominant in all these respects is the individual who links together and conciliates the universal and the particular, still he takes a more general and wider view than he does in the song proper. For example, the Italians especially have given us in their sonnets and sestinas a brilliant example of an exquisitely reflective sensibility which in any given situation does not directly express with deeply felt concentration the mere moods of longing, grief, desire, etc., or perceptions of external objects, but allows itself many detours, looks far afield and circumspectly into mythology, history, the past and the present, and yet always returns into itself and remains coherent and self-restricted. Since neither the simplicity of the song nor the elevation of the ode is permissible in this kind of cultured poetry, singability disappears but, in compensation, as the opposite of a musical accompaniment, the language itself in its sounds and ingenious rhymes becomes the notes of a spoken melody. Elegy, on the other hand, may keep a more epic character in the measure of syllables, in reflections, apophthegms, and a descriptive portrayal of feelings.

(γγ) The third stage in this sphere is occupied by a mode of treatment, the character of which has recently emerged most clearly in Germany in Schiller. Most of his lyric poems like Resignation, Ideals, The Kingdom of the Shades, Artists, The Ideal and Life, are not, strictly speaking, songs, odes, hymns, epistles, sonnets, or elegies in the classical sense; on the contrary, their point of view is different from that of all these kinds of lyric. What is remarkable about them is especially the grand fundamental thought in them. But the poet is not driven by it into a dithyramb; nor, pressed by enthusiasm, has he to struggle with the greatness of his subject, since, on the contrary, his mastery of it is perfect. He fully develops its every aspect by his own poetic reflection, both with a feeling full of fire and also with a broad and comprehensive view expressed with captivating power in the most magnificent and harmonious words and images, and in rhythms and rhymes that are usually entirely simple, though striking. These great thoughts and serious interests, to which his whole life was devoted, appear therefore as the inmost property of his own spirit; but he does not sing quietly to himself or in a convivial coterie, as Goethe does with his lips so full of song; on the contrary, he is a bard who recites a subject-matter dignified in itself to an assembly of all the best and most prominent people. So his songs sound, as he says of his Bell:

High above the life of earth below it shall swing, the neighbour of the thunder, in the azure band of heaven, and border on the world of stars. It shall be a voice from above like the clear host of the stars which in their wanderings praise their Creator and conduct the wreathed year. Only to eternal and serious things may its metallic tongue be devoted and may time in its flight touch it hourly with its swift wings.

3. Historical Development of Lyric

From what I have said about the general character of lyric and then about the more detailed points which come under consideration in relation to the poet, the lyrical work of art, and the kinds of lyric, it is clear enough that especially in this domain of poetry a concrete treatment is possible only if it is historical at the same time. For any universal principle that can be established on its own account remains not only restricted in range but also abstract in its value, because in scarcely any other art is the determining factor for its form and content to the same extent a particular period and nationality and the individuality of the poet’s genius. The more that this gives rise to the demand that we should not evade such an historical disquisition, the more must I precisely confine myself, because of this variety in which lyric poetry issues, exclusively to a short review of what I have come to know in this sphere and in which I have been able to take a livelier interest.

The basis for a general grouping of the manifold national and individual lyric poems must be found, as in the case of epic poetry, in the principal forms into which artistic production has developed and which we have come to know as the symbolic, the classical, and the romantic. In this sphere too, therefore, we must follow, for the main divisions of our subject, the series of stages by which we are led from oriental lyrics, to those of Greece and Rome, and from these to those of the Slavonic, Latin, and Germanic peoples.

(α) The oriental lyric is specially and essentially distinguished from the western one by the fact that, owing to its general nature, the east attains neither the independence and freedom of the individual nor the depth of the romantic heart which characteristically inwardizes its object without any limit. On the contrary, in respect of the content, the poet’s mind, on the one hand, is sunk directly in what is external and single and he expresses himself in the situation and circumstances of this undivided unity, while, on the other hand, unable to find any firm support in himself he cancels himself in face of what counts for him in nature and human affairs as substance and power; related now negatively, now freely, to this substance, he strives, ever unsuccessfully, to attain an association with it in his feelings and ideas. – As for form, what we find here is not so much the poetic expression of independent ideas about objects or relations as rather the direct description of an unreflective assimilation of such objects, what the result that what is revealed to us is not the poet in his inner life and its reversion from externality but only his self-cancelation in face of external objects and situations. In this respect the oriental lyric, in distinction from the romantic especially, acquires as it were a more objective tone. For often the poet express things and situations not as they are in him, in his heart, but as they are in themselves, and he often confers on them on their own account an independent and animated life. Hafiz, for example, exclaims once: ‘O come! the nightingale of the heart of Hafiz returns on the perfume of the roses of delight.’

In a different way, in the poet’s liberation from himself and from anything and everything single and particular, this kind of lyric becomes a naïve expansion of the inner life which easily loses itself in the limitless and which cannot work its way through to a positive expression of what it makes its object, because this object is reality and substance itself to which no shape can be given. For this reason, in this latter respect, eastern lyric on the whole, especially with the Hebrews, the Arabs, and the Persians, has the character of a hymn-like exaltation. All the greatness, power, and magnificence of the creature the poet’s imagination piles up extravagantly in order to make this splendour disappear nevertheless before the unspeakably higher majesty of God; alternatively the imagination never tires of at least arranging on a costly string everything lovable and beautiful as an offering to whom or to what the poet solely values, be it Sultan or mistress or tavern. Lastly, the form of expression, to come down to detail, which is especially at home in this sort of poetry is metaphor, image, and simile. For, on the one hand, the poet, not free in himself in his own inner life, can express himself only by assimilating himself to something external and different from himself by way of comparison; while, on the other hand, what is universal and substantive remains abstract here, without any possibility of being fused with a specific content in order that something free and individual may emerge. Consequently the universal comes before contemplation only by its being compared with particular external phenomena, while these in the end get only the value of being able to serve as approximate comparisons with the One which alone has significance and is alone deserving of fame and praise. But these metaphors, images, and similes in which the inner life discloses itself, almost to the point of emerging into visibility, are not the actual feeling and reality itself but an expression purely subjectively manufactured by the poet. Therefore, what the lyrical heart lacks here in

inner concrete freedom we find replaced by freedom of expression which starts from naïve simplicity in images and the language of simile, and then develops through the most varied intermediate stages until it reaches the most incredible boldness and most subtle wit of new and surprising combinations of ideas.

In conclusion, of the individual peoples who have made their mark in the oriental lyric I mention here the Chinese first, then the Indians, but above all the Hebrews; Arabs, and Persians, but I cannot go into their special characteristics here.

(b) The decisive characteristic at the second stage, namely Greek and Roman lyric, is classical individuality. In accordance with the principle of this, the poet, communicating his mind lyrically, does not give himself up to what is external and objective, neither does he rise beyond himself to the sublime call to all creatures: ‘Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord’,[95] nor, in joyful liberation from all the chains of finitude, does he immerse himself in the One who permeates and animates all things; on the contrary, he associates himself freely with the universal as the substance of his own spirit, and brings this unification within himself as an individual into consciousness of himself as a poet.

Just as the lyric of Greece and Rome is distinct from the oriental one, so it is in an opposite way from the romantic one. For instead of being engrossed in the deep feeling of particular moods and situations, it elaborates the inner life to the extent of the clearest exposition of its individual passions, insights, and meditations. In this way, even when it expresses the inner spirit, it retains, so far as is permissible in lyric, the plastic type of the classical form of art. Whatever it enunciates in the way of views on life, wise saws, etc., does not lack, despite its transparent universality, the free individuality of an independent mood and mode of treatment, and it is expressed not so much in images and metaphors as directly and literally, while even subjective feeling becomes objective to itself, either in a universal way or else in some visualizable shape. Within this same individuality the particular kinds of lyric are distinguished by their conception, expression, idiom, and metre so that they may attain, in complete independence from one another, the culmination of their development. And, like the inner life and its ideas, their external presentation is also of a rather plastic kind, because, so far as music goes, what is emphasized is not so much the inner and soulful melody of feeling as the perceptible sound of words in the rhythmic measure of their movement, and at last permits the entry of the complications of the dance.

(α) In its original richest development, the Greek lyric affords the perfect example of this character of art, in the first instance as what still retains an epic flavour, i.e. hymns which in the metre of epic do not so much express an inner enthusiasm as a plastic picture of the gods set before our souls in fixed objective traits, as I have explained earlier. Then the next step in metre is the elegiac measure of syllables, i.e. the addition of a pentameter; here we have the first beginning of a rounding off into strophes, because the pentameter regularly recurs in succession to the hexameter and the caesura breaks are similar.[96] After all the whole tone of an elegy is already lyric, whether concerned with affairs of state or with love, although especially as a gnomic elegy it comes close to the epic emphasis on and expression of what is substantive as such, and therefore it belongs almost exclusively to the Ionians[97] with whom the sight of the objective is uppermost. On the musical side, it is especially rhythm which is developed.-Then lastly, with a new metre, the iambic poem is elaborated and it has already at this date a more subjective tendency owing to the sharpness of its invectives.[98]

But the really lyric reflection and passion was first developed in the lyric metres, sometimes called ‘Melic’ [or ‘Lesbian']: here the metres become more varied in kind, with more changes, and the strophes richer; the elements of musical accompaniment are more complete owing to the added modulation: each poet makes his own syllabic measure to suit his own lyrical character; e.g. Sappho[99] hers for her feminine outpourings which nevertheless are effectively intensified in expression and inflamed by a glow of passion; Alcaeus his for his masculine and bolder odes. The scolia[100] especially, with their variety of subject and tone, permit of numerous shades of diction and metre.

In richness of ideas and reflections, in boldness of transitions, links, etc., as well as in their public recitations, it is lyrics in choruses which were most amply developed [in Greece]. The song of the chorus may be interchanged with single voices, and its inner movement is not satisfied by the mere rhythm of speech and musical modulations, but, as a plastic element [in the Greek drama], summons in aid the movements of a dance, so that here the subjective side of lyric acquires a complete counterpoise through being illustrated by means of an external mode of execution. The subject-matters of this kind of lyrical enthusiasm are those of the greatest importance and substantive worth, the glorification of the gods as well as of victors in those Games wherein the Greeks, so frequently at variance with one another politically, had an objective vision of their national unity; and then after all in the inner mode of treatment in these poems traces of an objective and epic treatment are not lacking. For example, Pindar who in this sphere attains the summit of perfection, easily turns, as I have said already, from the external stimuli given to him to profound utterances on the general nature of morality and religion, and then, along with this theme, on heroes, heroic deeds, the foundations of states, etc., and he has in his power not only their plastic illustration but also the subjective soaring of his own imagination. Consequently it is not the thing which goes ahead, as it does in epic, but subjective inspiration, captivated by its object, so that this object seems on the other hand to be borne and produced by the poet’s mind.

The later lyric poetry[101] of the Hellenistic age is hardly an independent

further development but rather a pedantic imitation and a struggle for elegance and correctness of expression, until at last it is dissipated into tiny graces and pleasantries, or tries in epigrams to tie together anew, by the string of feeling and fancy, the already existent blossoms of art and life, and to freshen them by the wit of praise or satire.

(β) In Rome lyric poetry finds soil already frequently cultivated but less fruitful originally. Its brilliant epoch is therefore confined principally to the age of Augustus when it was pursued as an expression of contemplation and as a refined intellectual pleasure; or else it remains more a matter of skill in translating and copying, and the fruit of industry and taste, than of fresh feelings and original artistic conceptions. Nevertheless, despite the pedantry and alien mythology as well as the imitation of principally colder Hellenistic models, there emerges prominently and independently both what is peculiarly Roman and also the personal character and spirit of individual poets. This gives us, if we disregard the inmost soul of poetry and art, something complete and perfect throughout in the field of odes, epistles, satires, and elegies. But the later satire, which may be drawn into this class, with its bitterness against the corruption of the age, with its piercing indignation and declamatory virtue, fails to enter the proper sphere of untroubled poetic contemplation, all the more so because against its picture of a corrupt present it has nothing to set except this indignation and the abstract rhetoric of a virtuous zeal.

(c) Just as we saw in the case of epic poetry, so too it is the case with lyric that an original content and spirit enters it only with the appearance of new nations. This is true of the Germanic, Latin, and Slavonic peoples, who, even when they were still heathen, but especially after their conversion to Christianity both in the Middle Ages and since, have developed amply and variously a third main tendency of lyric in the general character of the romantic form of art.

In this third sphere lyric poetry is of such overwhelming importance that its principle is asserted, far more profoundly than was possible in the case of the Greeks and Romans, primarily in relation to epic but then, in its later development, in relation to drama too. Indeed some nations treated strictly epic matters entirely on the lines of lyrical narrative and thereby produced works of such a character that it seems doubtful whether they should be included in either the one class or the other. This inclination towards a lyrical treatment is essentially grounded in the fact that the entire life of these nations has been developed on the basis of the principle of the personality which is forced to produce out of its own resources as its own what is substantive and objective, and to give a shape to that, and this process of plumbing its own depths it pursues more and more consciously. This principle is effective in the most perfect and unclouded way in the case of the Germanic races, while the Slavonic ones, on the other hand, have first to struggle out of an oriental immersion in the universal substance of things. In the middle between these are the Latin peoples who found available to them in the conquered provinces of the Roman Empire not only the remains of Roman learning and civilization generally but a completely developed social and political situation, and in order to be assimilated to it they had to abandon part of their original nature.

As for the subject-matter of this lyric poetry, it is, at almost all stages in the development of national and individual existence that peoples and centuries, now disclosing an ever greater wealth in the matter of their religious and secular life, come to express this life in the mirror of their inner consciousness as subjective states and situations. As for the form of this poetry, its fundamental type consists, in part, in the expression of a heart inwardly concentrated in depth of feeling, whether the heart immerses itself in national or other events, in nature and the external environment, or remains occupied purely with itself; and, in part, in a subjective reflection that becomes deeper in itself as it explores the depths of its own wider culture. On the external side, the plasticity of rhythmic versification changes into the music of alliteration, assonance, and the most varied inter-lacings of rhymes; and these new features are used, on the one hand, extremely simply and unpretentiously, and on the other hand with great skill and the invention of firmly marked forms, while the external delivery develops ever more completely the strictly musical accompaniment of melodic tune [Gesang] and instruments.

Finally, in dividing this comprehensive group we may follow in essence the route that I have indicated before in the case of epic poetry.

Accordingly we have first the lyric poetry of the new peoples in their original character when they were still heathen.

Secondly, lyric expands more richly in the Christian Middle Ages.

Thirdly, the essential influences are the reawakened study of classical art and the modern principle of Protestantism.

Yet I cannot go on here to expatiate on the more detailed characteristics of these chief stages in the development of lyric, and I will merely limit myself in conclusion to giving prominence to one German poet by whom our national lyric poetry has in recent times been given a great impetus and whose merit has not received sufficient recognition from our contemporaries: I mean the author of The Messiah. Klopstock is one of the great Germans who have helped to start a new artistic epoch amongst us; he is a great figure who by his spirited inspiration and inner pride has wrested poetry from the colossal insignificance of Gottsched’s[102] period which with its own completely immovable insipidity took, in short, all the warmth out of whatever was still noble and dignified in the German spirit. Full of the sanctity of a poet’s calling, Klopstock has given us poems, a great part of which remains classical, in a form of sterling even if severe worth.

His youthful odes are dedicated in part to a friendship which to him was something sublime, firm, and honourable, the pride of his soul, a temple of the spirit; and in part to a love profound and deeply felt. Nevertheless there belong precisely to this field many productions which must be regarded as wholly prosaic – for example Selmar and Selma, a miserable and tedious contest between lovers which, not without many tears, sadness, empty longing, and futile melancholy feelings, turns on the idle and lifeless speculation as to whether Selmar or Selma is to be the first to die. But what really does come to the fore above all in Klopstock in all sorts of connections is patriotism. The Christian mythology, legends of the saints etc. (angels perhaps excepted; for them he had a great poetic respect, although in a poetry of living actuality they remain abstract and dead) did not satisfy him, as a Protestant, either for the moral seriousness of art or the force of life and the spirit which is not purely melancholy and meek but which has a sense of itself and is positively pious. But as a poet he was pressed by the need for a mythology and in particular for one that was at home here, the names and figures of which were already present as a firm footing for the imagination. For us in Germany a native imagery is not supplied by the Greek gods, and so Klopstock, from national pride we may say, tried to enliven again the old mythology of Wotan, Hertha, etc. Yet so far as objective effect and validity went he could achieve as little with these names of gods that had been Germanic but are so no longer as if he had tried to make the Diet at Ratisbon the ideal of our present-day political life. Therefore, however great was Klopstock’s need to bring before himself in poetry and in fact and in our national dress a universal popular mythology, the truth of our nature and spirit, nevertheless those dead gods remained wholly and completely false and null, and there was a sort of silly hypocrisy in pretending to act as if reason and the national faith were supposed to take them seriously. But· for pure imagination the figures of Greek mythology are infinitely more attractive and cheerful, moulded in a greater variety of ways and more like free human beings. In lyric, however, it is the bard who portrays himself: and in Klopstock we must honour the bard on account of his patriotic need and endeavour, an endeavour effective enough to produce late fruits and even in the field of poetry to direct scholarly attention to similar [pre-historic] subjects. Finally, Klopstock’s patriotic sense emerges perfectly clear, beautiful, and very influentially in his enthusiasm for the honour and dignity of the German language and for historical figures in our earlier history, e.g. Hermann and above all some German Emperors who have done honour to themselves by the art of poetry.[103] Thus, with ever greater justification he enlivened the German muse’s pride and its growing courage to measure itself, in cheerful consciousness of its power, against the Greeks, the Romans, and the English. No less modern and patriotic is the way that he directs his gaze on the German Princes and on the hopes that their character might arouse in respect of the national honour, art and science, public affairs, and great spiritual ends. Sometimes he expresses contempt for those of our Princes who ‘in a cosy chair, surrounded by courtiers with their incense, are inglorious now and soon will be more inglorious still'; again he expresses his grief that even Frederick the Great ‘never saw that German poetry rose quickly from a firm root and enduring stem, and cast the shade of its branches far and wide’.[104] Equally grievous to him are the vain hopes that had made him see in the Emperor Joseph II the dawn of a new world of intellect and poetry. Finally what does honour to the heart of Klopstock in old age is his sympathy with the phenomenon[105] of a people’s breaking chains of every kind, trampling underfoot the injustice of a thousand years, and intending

to base its political life on reason and justice for the first time. He greets this new ‘refreshing, yes undreamt-of, sun. Blessed be the gray hairs that cover my head and the power that remains with me after sixty years, for this power it was that brought me thus far to feel this dawn in my heart’. Indeed, he even addresses the French: ‘Forgive me, ye Franks (the name of “Brothers” is the noble name) that once I called on Germany to flee from that in which now I beg it to imitate you.’ But a still more bitter fury befell the poet when this beautiful dawn of freedom was transformed into a day of terror, blood, and the murder of freedom. Yet to this grief Klopstock could not give a poetic form, and he expressed it all the more prosaically, infirmly, and confusedly because he had nothing higher to set against his disappointed hope, for his heart could not visualize in what actually happened any higher demand of reason.[106] Thus Klopstock remains great in virtue of his feeling for the nation, for freedom, friendship, love, and Protestant firmness; he is to be venerated for his nobility of soul and poetry, for his struggles and accomplishments; and even if in many respects he remained caught in the limitations of his age and composed many frigid Odes that were merely critical, grammatical, and metrical, nevertheless, with the exception of Schiller,[107] no figure has appeared since so independent, so noble, or with such a serious and manly disposition.

But Schiller and Goethe, on the other hand, have not lived merely as bards of their time, but as more universal poets. And, in particular, Goethe’s songs are the most excellent, profound, and effective things given to Germany in recent times, because they belong entirely to him and his nation, and since they have emerged on our own soil they also completely strike the fundamental note of our spirit.

C. Dramatic Poetry

Because drama has been developed into the most perfect totality of content and form, it must be regarded as the highest stage of poetry and of art generally. For in contrast to the other perceptible materials, stone, wood, colour, and notes, speech is alone the element worthy of the expression of spirit; and of the particular kinds of the art of speech dramatic poetry is the one which unites the objectivity of epic with the subjective character of lyric. It displays a complete action as actually taking place before our eyes; the action originates in the minds of the characters who bring it about, but at the same time its outcome is decided by the really substantive nature of the aims, individuals, and collisions involved. But this conciliation of epic with the inner life of the person who is acting in front of us does not permit drama to describe, as epic does, the external aspect of the locality and the environment, as well as of what happens and is done, and it therefore demands a complete scenic production in order to give real life to the whole work of art. Lastly, the action itself in the entirety of its mental and physical actuality is susceptible of two opposed modes of treatment, tragic and comic, and the predominant principle of these provides us with a distinction in kind as a third chief aspect of dramatic poetry.

From these general points we may derive the following course for our inquiries:

first, we have to consider the dramatic work of art in its general and special character as distinguished from epic and lyric;

secondly, we must direct attention to the scenic presentation and its necessity; and

thirdly, review the different sorts of dramatic poetry in their concrete historical development.

1. The Drama as a Poetical Work of Art

The first thing to be more specifically emphasized is the purely poetical side of a dramatic work, quite independently of the fact that it has to be presented scenically if we are to contemplate it directly. In this connection, the following are the more detailed points to consider;

first, the general principle of dramatic poetry;

secondly, the particular characteristics of the dramatic work of art;

thirdly, the relation of that work to the public.

(a) The Principle of Dramatic Poetry

What drama in general needs to be is the presentation, to our minds and imagination, of actual human actions and affairs and therefore of persons expressing their action in words. But a dramatic action is not confined to the simple and undisturbed accomplishment of a specific aim; on the contrary, it rests entirely on collisions of circumstances, passions, and characters, and leads therefore to actions and then to the reactions which in turn necessitate a resolution of the conflict and discord. Therefore what we see in front of us are certain ends individualized in living characters and very conflicting situations, and we see them in their self-assertion and display, in their reciprocal influence and design; and all this in the very moment of their mutual expression; and we see too the self-grounded final result of this whole human machinery in will and accomplishment, we see it in its criss-cross movement and yet in its final peaceful resolution.

The poetic treatment of this new subject-matter must be, as I have indicated, a conciliating union of the principles of epic and lyric.

(α) The first point to be made in this connection relates to the period in which dramatic poetry can assert itself as the pre-eminent kind of poetry. Drama is the product of a completely developed and organized national life. For in essence it presupposes as past both the primitive poetic days of the epic proper and the independent subjectivism of lyrical outpourings, because, comprising both of these, it is satisfied in neither of these spheres taken separately. For this poetic combination, the free self-consciousness of human aims, complications, and fates must have been already completely aroused and developed in a way possible only in epochs of the halfway or later development of a national life. Thus the earliest great deeds and events in a nation’s life usually have an epic, rather than a dramatic, character; expeditions in common, usually abroad, like the Trojan war, the adventures of national migrations, the Crusades; or associations for defence at home against invaders, like the Persian wars; and only later do those single independent heroes appear who fasten on ends of their own and carry out exploits by their own resources.

(β) The following points are to be made about the conciliation of the epic and the lyric principles.

An epic does bring an action before our eyes, but it brings it as the substantive entirety of a national spirit in the form of objective and definite events and deeds in which there is an equipoise between (a) the agent’s will and his individual aim, and (b) the external circumstances and the real hindrances that these impose on him. Whereas in lyric it is the individual who comes forward and expresses himself on his own account and in his own independent inner life.

Now if drama is to incorporate these two sides and keep them tugether

(αα) it must, in the first place, like epic, bring before us a happening, a deed, an action; but its first step must be, above all, to strip externals away and put in their place as the ground and cause of everything the self-conscious and active individual. For a drama does not fall apart into a lyrical inner life and an external sphere as its opposite, but displays an inner life and its external realization. It follows that in that case the happening does not proceed from external circumstances but out of an agent’s inner will and character, and it acquires dramatic significance only by its relation to an individual’s aims and passions. Nevertheless, it is equally true that the individual does not remain shut in to an independence of his own but finds himself brought into opposition and conflict with others owing to the nature of the circumstances (in which his character and his aim determine what he wills), as well as to the nature of this individual aim itself. In this way, action is at the mercy of complications and collisions which, against the will and intention of the agents, lead to an outcome in which the real inner essence of human aims, characters, and conflicts is revealed. This fundamental essence is asserted in individual agents acting independently and from their own resources, and this is the other aspect of epic which is evidently effective and vital in the principle of dramatic poetry.

(ββ) But however far the individual and his inner life is the centre of the drama, a dramatic presentation cannot be content with purely lyrical emotional situations or with letting the agent describe deeds that have been done without his participating in them or, in general, with sketching passive pleasures, views, and feelings; on the contrary, a drama must display situations, and the mood they arouse, as determined by the character of an individual who resolves on particular ends and makes these what he wills in practice. Therefore in drama a specific attitude of mind passes over into an impulse, next into its willed actualization, and then into an action; it externalizes and objectifies itself and so inclines towards the sort of reality that we find in epic. But the external phenomenon, instead of existing as a mere happening, contains, in the individual’s view, his own intentions and aims. The action is the achievement of his will and is known as such as regards both its origin and beginning in himself and also its final result. The issue of his act proceeds from the individual himself and has its repercussion on his character and circumstances. The properly lyric principle in drama is this steady relation of the whole reality of the situation to the inner life of the self-determining individual who is the ground of it, while at the same time he absorbs it into himself.

(γγ) In this way alone does the action appear as an action, as the actual execution of inner intentions and aims. The individual identifies himself with their realization and in it finds his own will and his own satisfaction, and now with his whole being must take responsibility for what the issue is in the external world. The individual dramatic character himself picks the fruit of his own deeds.

But since interest is restricted to the inner aim, of which the individual agent is the hero, and since the only thing that the work of art need take from the external world is what has an essential relation to this consciously produced aim, drama is, in the first place, more abstract than epic. For, on the one hand, the action rests on the self-determination of the individual’s character and must follow from this original inner source; it does not presuppose the epic ground of an entire world-view elaborated objectively in all its aspects and ramifications. On the contrary, it is concentrated into the simplicity of specific circumstances in which the individual decides on an aim and pursues it. On the other hand, it is not individuality which is to be unrolled before us in the entire complex of its national qualities (as in epic) but a character in respect of his action which has a specific end as its universal soul. This end, the thing on which everything depends, is beyond the particular scope of the individual who appears only as its living instrument and animating sustainer. A further development of the individual’s character in its most varied aspects connected not at all, or only rather remotely, with his action, which is concentrated on one thing alone, would be superfluous, so that, so far as the individual agent is concerned, dramatic poetry must be more simply drawn together than epic. The same is true for the number and variety of the characters on the stage. For, as I have indicated, this tedious objective expatiation would be futile and disturbing [in a drama], because drama does not move forward on the soil of some total national life, which should bring before us the whole amazing variety of its different classes, with their varying age, sex, activities, etc.; on the contrary, drama has to fix our eye steadily on one aim and its accomplishment.

But, in the second place, the aim and object of an action is nevertheless only dramatic when it calls up in other individuals different and opposed aims and passions; this is because the aim is specific, and the individual agent can adopt it in its separate character only in circumstances that are specific likewise. This driving ‘pathos’ may indeed, in each of the actors, derive from spiritual, moral, and divine powers, such as law, patriotism, love of parents, relations, spouses, etc., but if this essential object of human feeling and activity is to appear dramatically, it must come on the scene separated into different and opposed ends, so that the action has to encounter hindrances from other agents and fall into complications and oppositions where both sides struggle for success and control. The real thing at bottom, the actually all pervasive cause is therefore indeed the eternal powers, i.e. what is essentially moral, the gods of our actual life, in short what is divine and true; yet the Divine does not appear here in that tranquil might in which, instead of acting, the unmoved gods remain blessedly sunk in themselves like peaceful statuesque figures, but on the contrary it is the Divine here in its community, as the substance and aim of human individuality, brought into existence as something concrete, summoned into action and put in movement.

But if in this way the Divine is the inmost objective truth lying in the external objectivity of the action, then, in the third place, a decision on the course and outcome of the complications arising from the action cannot lie in the hands of the single individuals who oppose one another, but only in those of the Divine itself, as a totality in itself. Therefore the drama, no matter in what way, must display to us the vital working of a necessity which, itself self-reposing, resolves every conflict and contradiction.

(γ) Therefore the primary requirement for a dramatic poet as an author is that he shall have a full insight into the inner and universal element lying at the root of the aims, struggles, and fates of human beings. He must be fully aware of the oppositions and complications to which action may lead in the nature of the case, whether these arise from subjective passion and individuality of character, or from human schemes and decisions, or from concrete external affairs and circumstances. And at the same time he must be capable of recognizing what those powers are which apportion to man the destiny due to him as a result of what he has done. The right as well as the aberration of the passions that rage in the human heart and impel to action must be equally clear to the dramatist, so that where to the ordinary man’s eye it is obscurity, chance, and confusion that prevail, there is clearly revealed to him the actual accomplishment of what is absolutely rational and true. Therefore he should go beyond both a mere vague exploration of the depths of the heart and also a one-sided adherence to some exclusive mood or to a restricted bias in outlook and way of thinking; what he must have is the greatest openness and most comprehensive breadth of mind. For in a mythological epic the spiritual powers are simply different, and their significance becomes vaguer owing to the many ways in which they are individualized in fact; but in a drama they enter in their simple and fundamental character and they oppose one another as ‘pathos’ in individuals. And the drama is the dissolution of the one-sidedness of these powers which are making themselves independent in the dramatic characters,[108] whether, as in tragedy, their attitude to one another is hostile, or whether, as in comedy, they are revealed directly as inwardly self-dissolving.

(b) The Dramatic Work of Art

The chief points to be emphasized in relation to drama as a concrete work of art are, in brief, the following:

first, its unity as distinct from that of epic and lyric poetry;

secondly, the way the drama is divided up and unfolded;

thirdly, its external aspect, i.e. its diction, dialogue, and metre.

(α) The first and most general point to be made about the unity of a drama is connected with a remark I made earlier, namely that, in contrast to epic, dramatic poetry must be more strictly self-concentrated For although epic too has a point of union in an individual event, the event proceeds on the variously extended field of a wide national life and it can be subdivided into numerous episodes and their objective independence. A similar appearance of a purely loose connection was allowed to some kinds of lyric, for an opposite reason. The necessity for a firmer unity of the whole drama arises because in drama the foundation that epic has disappears, as we have seen, and, on the other hand, the individuals do not simply express their own personality lyrically but, because they are opposed to one another in character and aim, enter so closely into relation with one another that it is precisely this individual interconnection which is the basis of their existence in the drama. This tighter consistency in a drama is both objective and subjective: objective in connection with the material ends which the individuals pursue in their struggle with one another; subjective, because this inherently substantive content in a drama appears as the passion of particular characters, so that individuals are essentially affected themselves, in the pursuit of their aim, by failure or success, fortune or misfortune, victory or defeat.

As more detailed rules for the unity of a drama we may refer to the familiar prescriptions for unity in respect of place, time, and action.

(α) The unalterability of an exclusive locality for a specific action is one of those rigid rules which the French especially have drawn from Greek tragedy and the remarks of Aristotle. But Aristotle only says of tragedy (Poetics [I449b 12 f.]) that the duration of the action should not normally exceed one day, and he does not touch at all on the unity of place which even the Greek poets did not abide by in the strict French sense; for example, the scene changes in the Eumenides of Aeschylus and the Ajax of Sophocles. Modern dramatic poetry is still less able to submit to the yoke of an abstract sameness of place if it is to present a wealth of collisions, characters, and persons and events in a secondary plot, in short an action whose inner complexity needs external diffusion also. So far as modern poetry is of the romantic type which may be more varied and capricious in external descriptions, it has therefore liberated itself from this demand for unity of place. But if the action is actually concentrated on a few important motifs so that it can be simple externally too, then there is no need for any varied change of scene. And this is an advantage; for, however false that conventional prescription may be, it does at least imply the right idea that a continual change of a purposeless hither and thither from one place to another must appear impermissible. For on the one hand the dramatic concentration of action has to be asserted in this external respect too, in contradistinction to an epic which may traverse space comfortably in the most varied way and with ample changes of scene. On the other hand, unlike epic which is addressed to imagination simply, a drama is composed to be actually and directly seen. In imagination we can readily transpose ourselves from one place to another; but, in the case of actual seeing, the imagination must not be overtaxed to the extent of contradicting what we see. For example, Shakespeare changes the scene very often in his tragedies and comedies, and he erected posts with labels stating where the action was taking place. But this is only a miserable expedient and it is always a distraction. Consequently unity of place recommends itself to us as being convenient and intelligible in itself, since by this means all obscurity is always avoided. Nevertheless, of course the imagination may be entrusted with much which runs counter to probability and to what we simply see with our eyes; and the most suitable procedure in this matter will always consist in the happy medium, i.e. neither in violating the claims of fact nor in demanding an all too precise adherence to them.

(ββ) It is exactly the same with the unity of time. For in imagination great spaces of time can be embraced without difficulty, but, when we are seeing something, a few years are not to be passed over so quickly. Therefore if the action is entirely simple in its entire range and in the conflict involved, the best thing will be simply to compress the time it takes for the conflict to reach a decision. Whereas if the action requires more richly endowed characters whose stages of development necessitate many situations separated in time, then the formal unity of a duration which is always only relative and wholly conventional becomes absolutely impossible; and therefore to propose to exclude such a portrayal from the sphere of dramatic poetry on the ground that it offends against that established unity of time would mean nothing but setting up the prose of realities we can see as the final judge of poetry’s truth. But least of all is the law to be laid down on the strength of the purely empirical probability that, as spectators in a theatre for an hour or two, we could actually only envisage the passing of a short period of time. For it is precisely where the poet struggles to attain the maximum conformity with this rule that in other respects the worst and almost unavoidable improbabilities arise.

(γγ) On the other hand, the truly inviolable law is the unity of the action. But numerous disputes may arise about wherein this unity really consists, and I will therefore explain the meaning of it in more detail. In principle every action must have a specific end which the action is realizing; for with action a man steps actively into concrete reality where forthwith the most general matters are condensed and confined in a particular phenomenon. From this point of view unity would have to be sought in the realization of a purpose specific in itself and made a concrete aim in particular circumstances and conditions. But, as we saw, the circumstances for a dramatic action are of such a kind that one individual’s aim encounters hindrances from other individuals, because an opposite aim, seeking commensurate realization, stands in the way, so that in this confrontation mutual conflicts and their complication result. The dramatic action therefore rests essentially on an action producing collisions, and the true unity can only be grounded in the total movement, i.e., given the determinate nature of the particular circumstances, the characters, and their ends, the collision is displayed as conforming with the characters and their ends, and finally their contradiction is annulled and unity is restored. In that case, the solution of the conflict, like the action itself, must be both objective and subjective. On the one hand the conflict of the opposing ends is assuaged; on the other hand, the individuals have more or less put their whole will and being into the undertaking they are pursuing, so that its success or failure, its complete or partial accomplishment, the inevitable disaster or the peaceful union with apparently opposed intentions, determine the fate of the individual also, since he was so completely involved with what he was driven to initiate. A genuine end is therefore only attained when the aim and interest of the action, on which the whole drama turns, is identical with the individuals and absolutely bound up with them.

Now the unity may be firmer or looser according to whether the difference and opposition of the characters in the play is kept simple or whether it ramifies into a variety of incidental actions and characters in a sub-plot. Comedy, for example, with its variously complicated intrigues does not need to be so firmly concentrated as a tragedy where the motives are generally of greater simplicity. Still, a romantic tragedy is even in this respect more varied and its unity is looser than is the case in Greek tragedy. Yet even here the relation of sub-plots and incidental characters to the whole must be recognizable, and at the denouement, every part of the whole thing must be closed and finished off. For example, in Romeo and Juliet the feud between the families lies outside the lovers, their aim, and their fate, but it is in fact the ground of the action though not the point of real importance, and at the close of the tragedy Shakespeare devotes rather slight but necessary attention to the ending of the feud. Similarly in Hamlet the fate of the Kingdom of Denmark is always a subordinate interest but it is noticed with the entry of Fortinbras, and its outcome at the end is satisfying.

It is true that the specific conclusion which resolves conflicts may involve the possibility of new interests and conflicts, but the one collision which is at issue [in a given play] must find its settlement in that one independently finished work. For example, the three tragedies of Sophocles about the Theban myth-cycle illustrate the point. The first discloses Oedipus as the murderer of Laius; the second his death in peace in the grove of the Eumenides; the third the fate of Antigone. Yet each of these three tragedies taken apart from the others is an independent whole in itself.

(β) In connection with the concrete way in which a dramatic work of art is developed, there are three points to be especially emphasized in which drama differs from epic and song: (i) its scope, (ii) the way it advances, (iii) its division into acts and scenes.

(αα) We have already seen that a drama may not extend so widely as epic proper necessarily does. I have already mentioned that in drama the epic description of a world-situation in its entirety disappears and I have emphasized the simpler sort of collision which provides the essential subject of drama. Therefore, apart from these, I will cite only this further basis of difference, namely that, in drama, on the one hand most of what the epic poet must describe in a lingering and leisurely way for our contemplation is surrendered when it comes to actual performance on the stage, while on the other hand the chief thing is not an objective deed but the exposition of subjective passion. But in contrast to the breadth of the objective phenomenon, the subjective and personal life is concentrated in simple feelings, decisions, aphorisms, etc., and in this respect, in distinction from epic’s use of the past and of things separated in space and time, it gives prominence to the lyric principle of concentration, to the present occurrence and expression of passions and ideas. But the presentation of a single situation does not suffice in dramatic poetry; on the contrary it portrays the invisible aspect of mind and spirit in action at the same time, i.e. as an entirety of the circumstances and aims of various characters who express all together what passes in their minds in relation to their actions, and the result is that, in comparison with a lyric poem, the drama has a far wider scope and is rounded off more completely. In general we may define the relation of drama to epic and lyric by saying that is stands more or less in the middle between the extensive spread of epic and the concentratedness of lyric.

(ββ) More important than this matter of external proportions is the way that a drama progresses in contrast with the way that an epic develops. The objective subject-matter of epic demands, as we saw, a form consisting of leisurely description which may then still set actual hindrances in a stronger light. At a first glance this might look as if, because in its presentation it opposes one aim and one character to other aims and other characters, dramatic poetry would really only have to take for its principle this checking and hindering. But in fact the truth is precisely the opposite. The progress of drama is strictly a steady movement forward to the final catastrophe. This is clear from the simple fact that collision is the prominent point on which the whole turns. At first the whole thing gravitates to the outbreak of this conflict, while it is precisely the discord and contradiction of opposing dispositions, aims, and activities which absolutely demands resolution and presses on towards this result. But this is not to mean that mere haste in the progress of the piece is in and by itself alone dramatically beautiful; on the contrary, the dramatic poet too must be allowed leisure to display every situation on its own account with all the motives it implies. But any incidental scenes that only hinder instead of advancing the progress of the action offend against the character of drama.

(γγ) The division of the course of a dramatic work is made most naturally when it follows the chief features that are grounded in the very nature of dramatic movement itself. In this connection, Aristotle said long ago (Poetics [I450b 26 ff.])

a whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A beginning is that which is not of necessity after something else but has or will have something else after it; an end on the contrary is naturally after something else, either necessarily or usually, but has nothing else after it; but a middle naturally has something else both before and after it.

Now in the world of our experience every action has numerous presuppositions, so that it is difficult to determine where the real beginning is to be found; but action in drama rests essentially on a definite collision, and therefore the appropriate starting-point will lie in that situation out of which that conflict must be developed as the action proceeds, even if it has not broken out already. The end will then be reached when the resolution of the dispute and its complication has been brought about in every respect. In between this beginning and this end there fall the feud between the colliding characters and the struggle of their conflicting aims. Now in a drama these different members or essential features of the action are themselves actions for which the name of ‘acts’ is appropriate. Nowadays they are sometimes called ‘pauses’, and once a Prince, who may have been in a hurry and did not want to be bothered with lack of continuity, scolded his man-in-waiting because there was still another ‘pause’.

In every drama it suits the subject-matter best if the acts are three in number: in the first the emergence of the collision is explained; in the second, the collision comes to life as an encounter between interests, as struggle, difference, and complication; and then finally, in the third, when contradiction is at its peak it finds its necessary resolution. These sections of a drama are generally indistinct in Greek drama, but a corresponding analogy may be cited in the trilogies of Aeschylus in which, all the same, each part is rounded off into an independently complete whole. In modern dramatic poetry it is especially the Spanish who abide by a division into three acts; while the English, the French, and the Germans in the main generally divide the drama into five acts, where exposition falls into the first, the three intervening ones detail the quarrels and reactions, complications, and struggles of the opposing parties, and finally the fifth alone brings the collision to a complete conclusion.

(γ) The last thing we have to discuss is the means open for the use of dramatic poetry in its own domain, quite apart from its actual presentation on the stage. They are restricted to the specific kind of dramatically effective diction in general, and, in more detail, to a difference of monologue, dialogue, etc., and metre. As I have said often before, the chief thing in drama is not the objective action, but the exposition of the inner spirit of the action in respect of not only the general nature of the action and the conflict and fate involved, but also the dramatis personae and their passion, ‘pathos’, decision, mutual involvement and working on one another. This inner spirit, in so far as it is portrayed by poetry as poetry, therefore finds its adequate expression especially in poetic language as the most spiritual expression of feelings and ideas.

(αα) But just as drama comprises in itself the principles of epic and lyric, so dramatic diction has to contain and express both lyrical and epic elements. The lyric aspect has its place particularly in modern drama, and in general where the individual concentrates himself on himself and, in his decisions and actions, always means to retain his personal and inner life’s sense of itself; yet, if the utterance of his own heart is to remain dramatic, it must not be a mere preoccupation with roving feelings, memories, and meditations, but must be kept steadily related to the action, and result in and accompany its different phases. In contrast to this subjective ‘pathos’ there is an epic element, i.e. an objective ‘pathos’ consisting principally in addressing rather to the audience a development of the substance of affairs, aims, and characters.[109] Here again a partly lyrical tone may be adopted and the description remains dramatic only so long as it does not interrupt the progress of the action or cease to be related to it by appearing on its own account and independently.

In addition, narrated information, descriptions of battles, and more of the like, as further relics of epic, can be woven into the drama, but there they must be more compressed and move more rapidly, and likewise must be clearly necessary for the progress of the action itself.

Lastly, what is properly dramatic is the speech of individuals in the conflict of their interests and the discord of their characters and passions. Here the first two elements [epic and lyric] can be present in their truly dramatic harmony. In addition there is the external aspect of what is happening which is likewise within the compass of linguistic description. For example, the exits and entrances of the chief dramatis personae are generally announced in advance and their external demeanour is often indicated by other individuals.

In all these respects there is an important difference between the mode of expression called ‘natural’ and a conventional language and rhetoric of the theatre. In modern times Diderot, Lessing, and even Goethe and Schiller in their youth, leaned principally to direct and natural expression – Lessing with well cultivated and subtle observation, Schiller and Goethe with a preference for the immediate life of unadorned strength and force. It was regarded as contrary to nature to suppose that men could speak to one another as they do in Greek comedies and tragedies, but especially in French ones (and as regards French ones this is true enough). But with its superfluity of purely objective descriptions this sort of natural language may, on the other hand, readily lapse into dryness and prose, because the characters do not unfold the substance of their heart and their action but express only what they feel directly in their own living individuality without having any deeper consciousness of themselves or their circumstances. The more natural the individuals remain in their expressions, the more prosaic these expressions are. For ‘natural’ men behave in their conversations and quarrels preponderantly as purely single persons who, if they are to be described just as they directly are in their own special character, cannot come on the scene as men possessed of substantial significance. And in relation to the essence of the matter at issue [i.e. diction], crudity and polish[110] amount in the end to the same thing. For if crudity springs from a particular personality which gives itself up to the immediate inspirations of an uneducated disposition and mode of feeling, polish looks, conversely, only on what is abstractly universal and formal in reverence, recognition of personality, love, honour, etc., without in the process expressing anything at all objective and concrete. Between this purely formal universality and the natural expression of uncouth personalities there stands the truly universal which is neither formal nor devoid of individuality but is given its twofold content by the determinacy of character and the objectivity of dispositions and aims. Consequently genuine poetry will consist in raising the character and individuality of immediate reality into the purifying element of universality and in making these two sides harmonize with one another. In that event we feel, in the matter of diction, that without leaving the ground of actuality and its real traits we are nevertheless in another sphere, i.e. in the ideal realm of art. This is the kind of language that we find in Greek dramatic poetry, in Goethe’s later work and to some extent in Schiller’s also. This is true also of Shakespeare’s own manner although in conformity with the state of the stage in his day he must here and there have had to leave part of the speeches to the actor’s gift of invention.

(ββ) Secondly, the dramatic mode of expression is divided into (a) outbursts of choral song, (b) monologues and dialogues. As everyone knows, the difference between chorus and dialogue was especially elaborated in Greek drama, whereas in modern drama this difference disappears because the material given to the chorus in Greek drama is now put into the mouths of the characters themselves. In contrast to the individual characters and their inner and outer strife, the song of the chorus expresses universal moods and feelings in language approaching now the solidity of the epic style, and now the impetuosity of lyric. In monologues, conversely, it is the inner life of an individual which becomes objective to itself in a specific situation. They therefore have their genuine dramatic place at those moments especially when the heart simply sums itself up after earlier experiences, gives itself an account of its difference with others or of its own inner discord, or brings to final decision resolves either slowly ripened or suddenly made. But the completely dramatic form is the dialogue. For in it alone can the individual agents express face to face their character and aim, both their personal character and the substance of their animating ‘pathos'; in it alone can they come into conflict and so actually move the action forwards. In dialogue too we can distinguish once more between a subjective and an objective ‘pathos’. The former belongs rather to a casual particular passion, whether it be self-concentrated and expressed only aphoristically or whether it can storm out and explain itself completely. Poets who intend to move our personal feelings by touching scenes make special use of this kind of ‘pathos’. But however far in that case they may depict personal suffering and fierce passion or an unreconciled inner discord of the soul, still the truly human heart is less moved by this than by a ‘pathos’ in which something of objective worth is developed at the same time. For this reason, Goethe’s earlier pieces make less of an impression on the whole, despite the depth of the subject-matter and the naturalism of the dialogue in his scenes. Similarly a healthy mind is touched only in a lesser degree by outbursts of unreconciled despair and unprincipled wrath, and horror in particular leaves us cold instead of warming us. It does not matter how movingly the poet may describe passion; this is no help; our hearts are only rent, and we turn away. For in such a description there is nothing positive, none of the reconciliation which art should never lack. The Greeks, on the other hand, made their effect in tragedy principally by the objective sort of ‘pathos’ in which human individuality was not lacking, so far as antiquity demanded it. Schiller’s plays too have this ‘pathos’ of a great mind, a ‘pathos’ which is poignant and is exhibited and expressed everywhere as the basis of the action. It is to this fact especially that we must ascribe the enduring effect which Schiller’s tragedies have retained even at the present day, especially on the stage. For what creates a universal, lasting, and profound dramatic effect is what is really substantive in action-i.e. morality as specific subject-matter, and greatness of spirit and character as form. And here too Shakespeare is supreme.

(γγ) I will add only a few remarks on metre. Dramatic metre does best to keep to the mean between the quiet and uniform flow of the hexameter and the rather jerky and metrically broken syllabic measures of lyric. What most of all commends itself as this mean is iambic metre. For iambics, which may be made more passionate and quicker by anapaests or more weighty by spondees,[111] accompany the forward movement of the action in the most fitting way with their advancing rhythm, and their six feet especially have the dignified tone of noble and moderated passion. In modem times, on the other hand, the Spanish make use of trochaic tetrameters, moving tranquilly and slowly. Whether these lines are without rhyme or have complicated rhymes and assonances, they seem extremely suitable for an imagination that revels in images and for the intellectually acute explanations which retard rather than forward the action. Besides this, for what are properly the sports of a lyrical ingenuity the Spanish intermix sonnets, ottava rima, etc., with the dialogue. In a similar way the French Alexandrine harmonizes formal dignity and rhetorical declamation with passions whether moderated or fiery, and the French drama has been at pains to develop their conventional expression artistically. The more realistic English, however, followed recently by Germans too, have clung again to the iambic metre which Aristotle (Poetics [I449a 25]) has called malita lektikou lektikiu-too metrou [the most speakable of metres], but they have treated it not as a tri-meter but with full freedom in a character less emotional.

(c) Relation of the Dramatic Work of Art to the Public

Although the merits or defects of diction and metre are of importance in epic and lyric poetry too, they must have a still more decisive effect ascribed to them in dramatic poetry because in this case we have to do with dispositions, characters, and actions which are to confront us on the stage in their living actuality. For example, a comedy by Calderon has a diction which is sometimes subtle, sometimes bombastic and packed with witty images; moreover there are alternations of varied lyrical metres. The result of this mode of expression is that only with difficulty would such a comedy win general sympathy from us nowadays. On the stage the play is so near to us and so present to our vision that it is the other aspects of its form and its content that have a far more direct relation to the public to which it is presented. We will cast a brief glance at this relation too.

Scientific works and epic or lyric poems have a public consisting as it were of specialists, or alternatively it is a matter of indifference and purely accidental into whose hands such poems and other writings fall. If a book does not please me, I can lay it aside, just as I can pass by pictures or statues that are not to my taste, and in that case the author always has available more or less the excuse that his book was not written for every Tom, Dick, or Harry. It is quite otherwise with dramatic productions. They are confronted by a specific public for which they are supposedly written, and the author is beholden to it. It has a right to bestow praise or blame because, as an assembled audience, it is in the presence of a work which is intended to arouse a lively sympathy and give pleasure in this place at this time. Now such a public, brought together haphazardly for the purpose of pronouncing judgement, is extremely mixed in character: its members differ in education, interests, habitual tastes, predilections, etc., so that now and again, in order to please everybody, the author may even need a talent for the bad as well as a certain shamelessness in disregarding the pure demands of genuine art. Of course the dramatist is always left with the expedient of despising the public, but, if he does, he misses his aim precisely in relation to his most proper mode of operation. Since Tieck’s time this contempt for the public has become the fashion, especially in Germany. The German author insists on expressing himself according to his own private personality and not making his works agreeable to hearers or spectators. On the contrary, German self-will requires that everyone shall be something different from everyone else in order to display his originality. For example, Tieck and the brothers Schlegel with their premeditated irony could not master the mind and spirit of their nation and time; they declaimed against Schiller especially and maligned him for finding the right note for the German people and gaining the height of popularity. Our neighbours, the French, act altogether to the contrary: they write for immediate effect and keep their public constantly in view, and it for its part can be, and is, a keener and severer critic of the author because in France there is an established artistic taste, while in Germany anarchy reigns. Here everyone pronounces judgement out of his own head, and approves or condemns just as the accident of his own personal views, feelings, or caprices dictates.

But since the very nature of a dramatic work implies the possession of a vitality which creates for it a favourable reception in its own country, the dramatist must above all submit to the requirements which may secure this necessary success compatibly with art and independently of any accidental contemporary tendencies and circumstances. On this matter I will draw attention to the most general points.

(α) In the first place the aims, which are at variance in a dramatic action and have their conflict resolved there, must either have a universally human interest or at least have as their basis a ‘pathos’ which is a valid and substantive one for the nation for which the author is composing. But here what is universally human may lie wide apart, in respect of the substance of the conflicts, from what is specifically national. Consequently works which in one nation are at the very apex of dramatic art and its development cannot be enjoyed at all by another nation and at another period. For example, even today many Indian lyrics seem to us to be extremely graceful, tender, and of a charming sweetness without our feeling in them any repellent difference from us; but the collision on which the action turns in the Shakuntala, namely the angry curse of the sage on Shakuntala[112] because she does not see him and neglects to show her veneration of him, can only seem absurd to us. The result is that, despite all the other merits of this wonderfully attractive composition, we can take no interest in the central point of the action. The same is true of the manner in which the Spaniards treat the motive of personal honour again and again with an abstract and logical subtlety, and its horror does the deepest violence to our ways of thinking and feeling. For example, I recall an attempt to put on the stage one of Caldóron’s to us less familiar plays, ‘Secret Vengeance for a Secret Injury’,[113] an attempt that completely failed for this reason. Again, another tragedy of the same kind but portraying a deeper human conflict, ‘The Physician of his own Honour’,[114] has itself, with a few alterations, been more successful than ‘The Steadfast Prince'[115] where a rigid and abstract Catholic principle stands in the way of our interest. On the other hand, in an opposite direction, Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies have attracted a larger and larger public because in them what preponderates by far, despite all purely national interests, is the universal interests of mankind. Consequently he has failed to find an entry only where national artistic conventions are of such a narrow and special kind that they altogether exclude, or at least diminish, the enjoyment of his works. The same merit that Shakespeare’s dramas have would be shared by the Greek tragedians if, apart from the change in what we are now accustomed to in scenic representations and in some aspects of our national outlook, we did not demand a greater depth of subjective inner life and a breadth of individual characterization. Nevertheless the actual stuff of Greek drama will never lose its effect at any time. In general, therefore, it may be maintained that whatever other excellence a dramatic work may have it will become all the more obsolescent the more, instead of dealing with fundamental human interests, it selects as subject-matter non-typical characters and passions, determined by the specific national tendencies of their own period.

(β) But, in the second place, these universally human aims and actions must be given living and actual individualization in poetry. For a drama has not only to speak to a living intelligence, which, to be sure, the public should not lack, but must exist on its own account as a living actuality of situations, circumstances, characters, and actions.

(αα) Elsewhere [in Vol. I, pp. z63-80] I have dealt at length with local environment, morals, customs, and other features external but relevant to the action produced before our eyes. The dramatic individualizing of these things either must be so through and through poetic, living, and rich in interests that we pass over what is foreign to us and, owing to this liveliness, feel ourselves even drawn into an interest in it, or instead it should be meant to be in evidence as merely an external form outbid by the spiritual and universal element implicit in it.

(ββ) More important than these external things is the vitality of the characters who should not be merely interests personified as, for example, is all too often the case with our present-day dramatists. These abstract presentations of specific passions and aims are always entirely ineffectual; even a purely superficial individualization is wholly unsatisfactory because content and form fall apart as they do in allegorical figures. For this defect no profound feelings and thoughts, no great dispositions or fine language can provide a remedy. On the contrary, an individual in a drama must be alive through and through in himself, whole and entire, his disposition and character being in harmony with his aim and action. In this connection the chief thing is not a mere wealth of particular traits of character but the all-pervasive individuality which collects everything together into the unity which is itself and which displays itself in speech as the one and the same source from which every particular word, every single trait of disposition, deed, and behaviour springs. A mere assembly of different qualities and activities, even if arrayed one by one into a whole, does not provide a living character, for that presupposes a living and richly imaginative creation by the author. Of this kind, for example, are the individuals in the tragedies of Sophocles, although they do not have the same wealth of particular traits that we meet with in Homer’s epic heroes. Amongst modern dramatists it is Shakespeare and Goethe above all who have put before us characters most full of life, whereas the French, especially in their earlier dramatic poetry, have evidently been content with formal and abstract representatives of general types and passions rather than with truly living individuals.

(γγ) But, in the third place, the matter is not at an end with this liveliness of character. In this respect Goethe’s lphigenia and Tasso, for example, are excellent, and yet if we take the matter in the strictest sense, their characters neither live nor move dramatically. So Schiller already says[116] of the Iphigenia that in it the disposition, the ethical principle moving the heart, becomes action and thus as it were is brought before our eyes. And in fact the depiction and expression of the inner world of different characters in specific situations is still insufficient; what on the contrary has to be conspicuous and to be urged and pressed forward is the collision of their aims. For this reason Schiller finds in the lphigenia too tranquil a march, too great a halting by the way, so that he goes so far as to say that, once judged by the strict concept of tragedy, it passes over into the field of epic. What after all is effective in drama is the action as action and not the exposure of the character as such independently of his specific aim and its achievement. In epic, space should be given to the breadth and variety of character, circumstances, accidents, and events, whereas in drama the greatest effect is produced by concentration on the specific collision and the conflict involved. In this sense Aristotle was right when he maintained (Poetics [I450a 1-22]) that for action in tragedy there are two sources (aitia duo), mind and character (diavois kai ithos), but the chief thing is the aim (telos) and that individuals did not act to display their own characters but that these were included for the sake of the action.

(γ) A final aspect for consideration here concerns the dramatist in his relation to his public. Epic poetry in its genuine original character requires that the poet shall set aside his personality in the face of his objectively existent work and give us only the thing itself; whereas the singer of lyrics expresses his own heart and his personal outlook on life.

(αα) Now since drama produces an action in front of us so that we can see it going on, and individuals speak in their own name and act in their own person, it might seem that the author must withdraw to an altogether greater extent than he does in epic where he does at least appear as the narrator of the events. But this view of the matter is only partially correct. For, as I said at the start, drama owes its origin only to those epochs in which individual self-consciousness has reached a high stage of development both in its outlook on the world and in its artistic culture. Consequently a dramatic work need not give the impression of issuing, like an epic, from a national consciousness as such where the poet has been as it were an impersonal tool for its affairs; on the contrary what we want to find in a perfect drama is the product of self-conscious and original creative activity and therefore also the art and virtuosity of an individual author. It is only in this way that dramatic creations acquire their proper peak of artistic life and determinacy in distinction from the actions and events of every day. For this reason there has never been so much dispute about the authorship of dramas as there has been about the authorship of the original epics.

(ββ) On the other hand, however, if the public has itself retained the genuine sense and spirit of art, it will not be content at all to be confronted in a drama with the rather accidental whims and moods and the individual tendencies and one-sided outlooks of this or that character, for it is the lyric poet who remains more or less authorized to express these. On the contrary, it has the right to require that in the course and issue of the dramatic action, whether in tragedy or comedy, something absolutely rational and true shall be clearly realized and achieved. In this sense I have already earlier imposed on the dramatist the demand that he must acquire the most profound insight into the essence of human action and Divine Providence, as well as clearly and vividly revealing this eternal substance of all human characters, passions, and fates. Once actually possessed of this insight and armed with the might of art alive in him as an individual, the poet may, it is true, I come into conflict, in certain circumstances, with the restricted and artistically tasteless ideas of his age and nation, but in that event the blame for this discord is to be imputed not to him but to the public. He himself has no other duty but to follow the truth and his impelling genius which, if only it be of the right sort, cannot fail to be victorious in the last instance, as is always the case when truth is at issue.

(γγ) Little can be laid down definitely about the extent to which the dramatist should present his personality and his own views to the public. On this matter I will therefore make only the general remark that at many periods dramatic poetry has been specially used to create a living entry for new contemporary ideas about politics, morals, poetry, religion, etc. Long ago Aristophanes conducted a polemic in his earlier comedies against the domestic affairs of Athens and the Peloponnesian war. Voltaire, again, tried to spread his ‘enlightened’ principles by means of his dramatic works too. But, above all, Lessing struggled in his Nathan to vindicate his moral faith against narrow religious orthodoxy; and, more recently, Goethe too in his earliest works tried to do battle against the prose of the German view of life and art, and in this matter he was followed in many ways by Tieck. If the poet’s own outlook proves that he is standing on higher ground, and if it is not made intentionally so independent of the action portrayed that the latter appears to be degraded to being a mere means, then art is neither wronged nor prejudiced. But if the poetic freedom of the play is thereby impaired, the poet may well make a great impression on the public by this exhibition of his own inclinations which, however true, are relatively independent of his artistic production, yet the interest he arouses is in that event matter-of-fact, as it were, and has little to do with art itself. But the worst case of this kind occurs when the poet, purely for the sake of pleasing, no less deliberately intends to flatter a false tendency dominant in the public and thereby sins twice, once against truth and secondly against art.

Finally, to add a remark on a point of detail, of the different genres of dramatic poetry tragedy allows less scope for the free emergence of the poet’s personal views than comedy does, because there from the very beginning the ruling principle is the contingency and caprice of subjective life. For example, Aristophanes in his parabases [choric digressions] puts himself in many ways into relation with the Athenian public because he does not fail to disclose his political views about the events and circumstances of the day and gives his fellow-citizens wise advice; moreover, he endeavours to snub his antagonists and rivals in art and sometimes goes so far as to disclose publicly his own personality and its peculiarities.

2. The External Execution of a Dramatic Work of Art

Of all the arts poetry alone does not appear outwardly in something completely real and also preceptible. Now drama does not relate bygone deeds at all for our spiritual contemplation, nor does it express an inner and subjective world with an appeal to our heart and imagination; its task, on the contrary, is to portray an action present before us in its present and actual character. Consequently it would fall into a contradiction with its own aim if it had to be restricted to the means which poetry as such has at its command. For the action confronting us is entirely the fruit of the inner life and, so viewed, can be completely expressed in words; on the other hand, however, action also moves outwards, into external reality, and therefore its portrayal requires the whole man in his body, in what he does and how he behaves in his bodily movement, and the facial expression of his feelings and passions, and all this not only as he is in himself but also in the way he works on others and in the reactions thence possibly arising. Then if an individual is to be portrayed as he actually is in the real world, a specific locality is necessary in which he moves and is active, and consequently dramatic poetry needs the aid of almost all the other arts if all these aspects are not to continue in their immediate accidental character but are to be given artistic shape as an essential feature of art itself. The surrounding scene is either an architectural one, like a temple, or else something in nature, but both of these are treated and carried out pictorially. Then the sculptural figures come on this scene animated and, having developed their willing and feeling artistically, they make them objective both by expressive recitation and also by a pictorial play of features and inwardly motivated positions and movements of the rest of the body.

In this matter I may emphasize a difference which recalls what I have indicated earlier in the field of music about a clash between declamation and melody. For just as in declamatory music words in their spiritual meaning are the chief thing and the musical side is throughout subordinate to their characteristic expression, while although melody may assimilate what the words mean, it proceeds and develops independently and freely in its own element, so dramatic poetry too, on the one hand, uses its sister arts only as a perceptible foundation and environment out of which poetic language rises in free dominion as the pre-eminent central feature which is strictly the thing concerned; but, on the other hand, what at first had worth only as an aid and an accompaniment becomes an end in itself and, in its own sphere, is shaped into having an inherently independent beauty – declamation becomes song, action becomes mimicry in dancing, and the scenery too makes a claim in itself to artistic perfection on the score of its splendour and pictorial attraction. If now, as has so often happened especially in more recent times, poetry as such has been placed in opposition to the externals of dramatic production that I have just mentioned, then further points have to be explained in connection with this matter:

first, dramatic poetry that means to restrict itself to itself and disregard the theatrical production of its works;

secondly, the properly theatrical art of the actor in so far as it is so limited in action, recitation, and play of features that poetic language may always remain the determining and dominant feature;

thirdly, that kind of execution which uses every means of scenery, music, and dance and makes them independent of the poet’s words.

(a) Reading Dramas and Reciting them

The properly perceptible material of dramatic poetry, as we saw, is not merely the human voice and the spoken word but the whole man who does not merely express feelings, ideas, and thoughts, but is involved with his whole being in a concrete action and works on the ideas, purposes, acts, and behaviour of others, and experiences corresponding reactions or asserts himself against them.

(α) In defiance of this fundamental and basic characteristic of dramatic poetry, it has nowadays, especially in Germany, become one of our common ideas to regard organizing a drama for stage-production as an inessential superfluity, even though in fact, however indifferent or contemptuous all authors may be in this respect, they nourish the wish and the hope to put their piece on the stage. Indeed, after all, most of our recent dramas never see the stage for the simple reason that they are undramatic. True, it should not be maintained that a drama cannot be satisfying poetically on the score of its inner value alone, but this inner dramatic value is only to be provided by a treatment which makes a drama excellent on the stage. The best proof of this is the Greek tragedies which we see no longer in the theatre but which, when we consider them more closely, give us perfect satisfaction, to some extent precisely because they were in their own time written purely for the stage. What bans them from the theatre today depends less on their dramatic organization, so different from what we are accustomed to, especially because of its use of choruses, than on the national presuppositions and circumstances on which their subject-matter is frequently based and in which we cannot now feel at home because it is so foreign to our modem way of looking at things. For example, the sickness of Philoctetes, the festering ulcer on his foot, his groans and shrieks, we could as little hear and see as we could have our interest excited by the arrows of Hercules, which were what the whole thing was mainly about. Similarly the barbarity of human sacrifice in the Iphigenia in Aulis or Iphigenia among the Tauri may be comfortable to us in opera,[117] but in tragedy this must be turned altogether otherwise as Goethe has done [in his Iphigenia].

(β) But, unlike the Greeks, we are accustomed at times merely to read a drama as well as, at other times, to see it actually performed, and this fact has led dramatists themselves further astray by intending their work, to some extent, merely to be read, in the belief that this has no influence at all on the nature of the composition. Of course there are certain isolated matters comprised in the mere externals of what is called ‘stagecraft’, and infringement of these does not impair the value of a drama considered as poetry. For example, there is the calculation of how to set one scene in such a way that another, demanding considerable scenic preparations, may follow it conveniently, or how to give the actor time for rest or a necessary change of costume, etc. The knowledge and skill required in these matters provide no poetic advantage or disadvantage and depend more or less on theatrical arrangements which themselves are conventional and varying. But nevertheless there are other points in relation to which the poet, if he is to be really a dramatist, must keep essentially in view the live production of his piece, and he must make his characters speak and act with this in mind, i.e. with an actual and present performance in mind. In these matters, actual theatrical production is the touchstone. For in the eyes of the supreme tribunal – a healthy and artistically educated public – speeches and tirades in what is called ‘flowery’ language are in themselves futile if they lack dramatic truth. At certain epochs, indeed, the public may be corrupted by a highly praised ‘culture’, i.e. by having put into its head the perverse opinions and follies of critics and connoisseurs; but if it still has some genuine taste of its own, it is satisfied only when the characters so express themselves and act as the living actuality of nature, and of art too, demands and involves. If on the other hand the poet intends to write only for a reader alone in his study, he may easily come to the point of making his figures so speak and behave as if we were being told about them in a letter. If in a letter someone writes to us about the reasons for his purposes and actions, gives us assurances, or discloses his heart to us in some other way, then between receiving the letter and actually replying all sorts of reflections and ideas occur to us about what we do or do not want to say in reply. For thinking embraces a vast field of possibilities. But when a dialogue is actually going on in our presence, there is a valid presupposition that a man’s will and heart, his decision and his emotion, are direct, and that, in general, without any detour of prolonged reflections, man speaks to man directly, heart to heart, eye to eye, and face to face and is taken so to speak and reply. In that event, actions and speech spring alive in every situation out of the character as such, and this no longer leaves time for choosing between all sorts of different possibilities. In this respect it is by no means unimportant for the dramatist to keep in view, in his composition, the stage which demands such dramatic liveliness. Indeed, in my opinion, no play should really be printed but should remain, more or less as the case was in antiquity, in manuscript for the theatre’s repertory and get only an extremely insignificant circulation. If that happened, then at least we would not see so many dramas appearing which have indeed a cultivated style, fine feelings, excellent reflections, and profound thoughts, but which fail precisely in what makes a drama dramatic, namely action and its vital movement.

(γ) When it comes to reading dramas and reciting them, it is difficult to decide whether they are not of such a kind as to lose their effect even on the stage. Even Goethe, who in his later years had a long experience of the theatre at his command, had grave doubts about this, especially in view of the awful confusion of our taste which takes pleasure in anything and everything. If the character and aim of the dramatis personae are in themselves great and solid, then of course the understanding of them is easier; but by mere reading, without a theatrical production, it is difficult to make a firm judgement on the sway of interests, the steps in the action, the tension and complication of situations, the right extent to which characters work on one another, and the worth and truth of their behaviour and speech. Here even recitation provides only relative help. For in drama speech needs different individuals and not a single voice, no matter how artistically modulated and altered. Moreover, in recitation there is always the disturbing perplexity whether the speakers in the play are to be named every time or not, and in either case the thing is unsatisfactory. If the recitation is by one speaker, then the mention of the names is indispensable for intelligibility, but then the expression of the ‘pathos’ is always vitiated; if on the other hand the recitation is dramatically more lively so that we are drawn into the situation actually, then a new contradiction may be aroused, for it the ear is satisfied, the demands of the eye are not. For, if we listen to an action, we also want to see the agents, their demeanour and surroundings, etc. The eye wants completeness and is confronted by nothing but a reciter who sits or stands at his ease in a drawing room. Thus recitation is always only an unsatisfying mean between an entire production in the theatre and the private reading which makes no claims and where the reality is left entirely to the imagination.

(b) The Actor’s Art

Actual dramatic production involves not only music but the art of another executant, i.e. the actor, and this has been completely developed only in modern times. In principle it consists in calling on the aid of gestures, action, declamation, music, dancing, and scenery, but in giving overwhelming preponderance to speech and its poetic expression. This is the sole proper situation for poetry as such, because so soon as mimicry or singing and dancing begin to be developed on their own account and independently, poetry as an art is degraded to being a means and loses its dominion over these other arts which should be merely its accompaniment. In this connection the following points may be distinguished.

(α) At its first level we find the art of the actor in Greece. Here the art of speech is bound up with sculpture: the actor comes on the stage as a totally solid objective statue. But this statue is vitalized; it assimilates and expresses the subject-matter of the poetry; it is associated with every inner movement of passion and at the same time puts it into words and voices it. Consequently this presentation is more animated and is spiritually clearer than any statue or any picture. In this animation there are two aspects to distinguish.

(αα) First, declamation as artistic speech. This was little developed by the Greeks for whom intelligibility was the chief thing; whereas we want to recognize in the tone of voice, in the enunciation, and in the manner of recitation, the character’s heart and personality totally objectified in its most delicate nuances and transitions, as well as in its sharper oppositions and conflicts. The Greeks, on the other hand, added a musical accompaniment to the declamation, partly to emphasize the rhythm, partly to gain a more richly modulated enunciation of the words, even if the words remained the principal thing. Yet the dialogue was probably spoken or only lightly accompanied, whereas the chorus recited in a lyrically musical way. It is possible that by its more pronounced accentuation the song made more intelligible the meaning of the words in the choral sprophes; without this assumption I at least can have no idea how it was possible for the Greeks to understand the choruses of Aeschylus and Sophocles. For even if the Greeks did not have to drudge away at them as we have to, I must still say that, although I understand German and can grasp a thing or two, a German lyric written in a like style would always remain obscure to me if it were spoken on the stage and even sung into the bargain.

(ββ) A second element [in the animation of a production] is provided by bodily gestures and movements. In this matter it is worth noting at once that in Greece the actors wore masks and therefore the play of features was altogether absent. The facial expressions of the masks presented an unalterable statuesque picture and its plasticity inhibited both the ever-shifting expression of particular emotional moods and also the revelation of the dramatis personae. These characters fought their way through the dramatic conflict, animated by a fixed and universal ‘pathos’, but the substance of this ‘pathos’ had not been developed into the deep feeling of the modern heart nor was it broadened by being particularized in the dramatis personae as it is today. The acting was equally simple, and this is why we know nothing of any famous Greek mimes.[118] Occasionally the poets acted themselves, as e.g. Sophocles and Aristophanes did, and occasionally ordinary citizens, whose métier was certainly not the art of acting, had parts in a tragedy. On the other hand, the choruses were accompanied with dancing, which we in Germany would consider frivolous in view of our contemporary style of dancing, while for the Greeks it was an essential feature in the whole spectacle of theatrical productions.

(γγ) In short, in Greece words and the spiritual expression of serious passions had full poetic rights, just as the external production was most completely elaborated by having an accompaniment of music and dancing. This concrete unity gives to the whole production a plastic character, because the spiritual element is not independently inwardized or expressed in the subjective experiences of these particular individuals; on the contrary, it is perfectly married and reconciled with the equally justified external aspect, i.e. with what is seen on the stage.

(β) Yet speech suffers under music and dancing because it should be the spiritual expression of spirit, and so, after all, in modern times the actor’s art has been able to liberate itself from these things. For this reason the poet has only now a relation to the actor as such because the actor is to bring a poetic work to life perceptibly by his declamation, gestures, and play of features. But this relation of the author to external material is of an entirely special kind, not shared by the other arts. In painting and sculpture it is the artist himself who carries out his conceptions in colour, bronze, or marble; and, even if musical performance requires other hands and throats, what prevails there is, more or less, virtuosity and a finished mechanical skill, although it is true that the performance must not lack soul. On the other hand, the actor enters the work of art as an entire individual with his figure, countenance, voice, etc., and he has the task of absolutely identifying himself with the character he is representing.

(αα) In this matter the author has the right to demand from the actor that he shall think himself entirely into his given part, without adding anything of his own, and act it exactly as the author has conceived it and given it poetic form. The actor should be, as it were, the instrument on which the author plays, or the sponge that can absorb any colour and give it back unchanged. In the case of the Greeks this was easier because, as I said, declamation was restricted in the main to clarity, and the matter of rhythm, etc., was looked after by music, while masks hid facial expressions, and even acting had little scope. Therefore the actor could easily adapt himself to a universal tragic ‘pathos'; and even if, in comedy, figures of living people like Socrates, Nicias, Cleon, etc. were to be presented, the masks imitated their individual expression well enough, and, apart from that, further individualization was less necessary because Aristophanes used such characters only as representatives of general contemporary tendencies.

(ββ) It is all quite different in modern acting. Here there are neither masks nor musical accompaniment, and instead of them we have the play of feature, variety of gestures, and a wealth of shades in declamation. For, on the one hand, even when passions are characterized generally or typically by the poet, they are still expressed as alive in the character’s heart, and, on the other hand, the characters have for the most part a far greater breadth of personality, and the appropriate expression of this should be made visible to us in similarly living actuality. Shakespeare’s figures above all are whole people, entire and unique, so that we require of the actor that he shall for his part bring them before our eyes in this entire completeness. Tone of voice, manner of recitation, gestures, facial expression, in short all outward appearance, and inner attitude of mind too, must be adapted by the individual actor to his specific part. Therefore, quite apart from the words, the manifold nuances and plays of gesture have a quite different importance: indeed the poet leaves to the actor’s gestures a great deal which the Greeks would have put into words. For example, consider the end of [Schiller’s] Wallenstein: old Octavio had been an essential accomplice in Wallenstein’s murder. He finds him traitorously murdered by Buttler’s contrivance; and at the same moment when the Countess Terzky announces that she has taken poison, a letter from the Emperor is brought in. Gordon has read the address and, with a glance of reproach, he hands the letter to Octavio with the words of the address: ‘To the Prince Piccolomini.’ Octavio shrieks and, full of grief, gazes up to heaven. What he feels on receiving this reward for a service, knowing that he has to carry the greater share of the responsibility for its bloody outcome, is not expressed here in words but is left entirely for the actor to present in his mien and gestures.[119] – Owing to these demands on modern dramatic acting the poet may often, in connection with the material he uses in presenting his work, be thrown into an embarrassment unknown to the Greeks. The reason is that the actor, as a living man, has like every individual his own inborn peculiarities in his voice, figure, and facial expression; these he is compelled to suppress in favour of the expression of a universal ‘pathos’ and some typical character, or he has to harmonize them with the fuller figures of a poetry that individualizes them more fully.

(γγ) Nowadays actors are called artists and they are paid the whole honour of belonging to an artistic profession. According to our modern ideas, an actor is neither a moral nor a social blot. And rightly so, because this art demands a great deal of talent, intelligence, perseverance, industry, practice, and knowledge; indeed at its height it needs a richly endowed genius. For the actor has not only to penetrate profoundly into the spirit of the poet and of the part assigned to him and entirely adapt to it his mind and demeanour and his own personality, but he should also be productive on his own account by enlarging many points, filling gaps, and finding transitions; in short in playing his part by explaining the author through bringing out into something present and alive, and making intelligible, all his secret intentions and the profundity of his master-strokes.

(c) The Art of the Theatre more Independently of Poetry

Finally, the art of performance acquires a third shape when it is freed from its previous domination by poetry, and makes what was hitherto more or less a means and an accompaniment into an independent end in itself and gives it a development on its own account. In this emancipation during the course of the development of drama, it is music and dancing, as well as the special art of the actor, that have benefited.

(α) As for the last named there are on the whole two systems. The first of these, where the actor is meant more or less to be the spiritually and bodily living organ of the poet, we have already mentioned. The French, who keep so much to schools of acting, make the playing of a single type of part into a profession, and generally make theatrical productions the portrayal of types, have shown themselves especially true to this system in their tragedy and haute comédie. The opposite system of the actor’s art is to be found where everything provided by the author is little more than an accessory and a frame for the natural character, skill, and art of the actor. We can often enough hear actors demanding that authors should write for them. In that event the composition is supposed to provide these artists solely with the opportunity to display and develop with the greatest brilliance their own soul and art, this final secret of their personality. An example of this kind of thing is the Italian commedia dell’ arte in which the characters of Harlequin, doctors, etc., were fixed and the situations and succession of scenes were given, but the rest of the performance was left almost entirely to the actors. In our case some of Iffland’s and Kotzebue’s pieces, indeed a great number of them, are, considered as poetry, insignificant and in fact downright bad productions, but they provide an opportunity for free productivity by the actor who must now be the first to form and shape, out of these usually sketchily treated patchworks, something which on account of his living and independent achievement acquires an interest dependent on him and no other artist. Here after all it is especially the naturalness, so much favoured in Germany, that has its place, where now things have gone so far that droning and mumbling words, intelligible to nobody, is allowed to count as an excellent play. Goethe, altogether to the contrary, translated Voltaire’s Tancred and Mahomet for the Weimar stage in order to chase its actors out of vulgar naturalness and accustom them to a higher tone. So too the French in general, even in the midst of the liveliness of their farces, always keep the public in view and look towards it. In fact nothing is achieved either by pure naturalness and its living routine or by pure intellectualism and skill in characterization; on the contrary, if the actor intends to create a really artistic effect in this sphere he must rise to that same virtuosity of genius which I have mentioned already in dealing with musical execution [i.e. in the section on music, ad fin.].

(β) The second department that may be included in this sphere is modern opera, granted the direction which it is beginning to take more and more. In opera generally, music is the chief thing, though its content is given to it by poetry and speech; but when it is used and treated for its own purposes alone as is happening especially with us today, then opera becomes a thing of luxury and it has given overwhelming independence to accessories, i.e. to magnificent decor, ostentatious costumes, and elaborate choruses and their arrangement. We often enough hear this display criticized now, but similar display was long ago the subject of Cicero’s complaint about Roman tragedy.[120] In tragedy, where the poetry must always be fundamental, of course elaboration of these externals has no proper place, although Schiller has gone wrong in this with his Maid of Orleans. But in opera this prominent attractiveness of the external equipment and arrangements may well be allowed, in the case of the audible magnificence of arias and the resounding and rippling chorus of voices and instruments. For once the decor is splendid, then to vie with it, the costumes should not be less so, and everything else must be in harmony. To such visible magnificence (always a sign, it is true, of the already growing decadence of genuine art) there corresponds, as the most appropriate subject-matter, what is utterly devoid of any intelligible connection, namely what is miraculous, fantastic, and fabulous. Mozart has given us in The Magic Flute an example which is moderate and the best worked-out artistically. But when all the arts of scenery, costume, instrumentation, etc. are exhausted, the best thing left is to have no real seriousness about the proper dramatic subject-matter, and to put us in the mood we have in reading one of the Arabian Nights.

(γ) The like is the case with our contemporary ballet to which likewise the miraculous and fabulous are agreeable. Here, apart from the pictorial beauty of arrangements and tableaux, what has become above all the chief thing is the changing magnificence and attraction of scenery, costume, and lighting, so that we at least find ourselves transported into a realm where we have left far behind us the logic of prose and the distress and pressure of everyday life. On the other hand, those who know about these things are captivated by the extraordinarily developed bravura and suppleness of the legs, and this always plays the chief part in dancing nowadays. But if some spiritual expression is to glint through this mere dexterity, which nowadays has wandered into an extreme of senselessness and intellectual poverty, what is required is not only a complete conquest of all the technical difficulties but measured movement in harmony with our emotions, and a freedom and grace that are extremely rare.

Here dancing enters instead of the choruses and solos of opera, but there is now added to it, as a real expression of action, the pantomime.[121] But the further that modern dancing has advanced in technical skill, the more has pantomime sunk in value and disappeared. The result is that we threaten to see more and more disappearing from modern ballet what alone could lift it into the free realm of art.

3. The Genres of Dramatic Poetry and the Chief Features it has had in History

If we glance back briefly on the course we have followed in our consideration of dramatic art up to now, we first established what its principle is in its general and particular characteristics as well as what it is in relation to the public. Then, secondly, we saw that a drama presents to us live the whole development of a complete and specific action, and therefore it imperatively needs a fully visible presentation, and this can only be given artistically by actual performance in the theatre. But if the action is thus to be made real objectively, it must itself be altogether determined and finished in itself in poetic conception and treatment. But this can only be done if, thirdly, dramatic poetry is split into different genres which borrow their type, whether it involves oppositions or their reconciliation, from the difference between the ways in which the characters and their aims, their conflict and the outcome of the whole action are brought on the scene. The chief modes arising from this difference and having a varied historical development are tragedy and comedy, as well as the conciliation of these two modes of treatment, which only in dramatic poetry become of such essential importance that they may serve as the basis for the division of its different genres.

In explaining these points in more detail we have

(a) first to bring out the general principle of tragedy, comedy, and the so-called ‘drama';

(b) secondly, to indicate the character of classical and modern dramatic poetry, their difference having been produced in the course of the historical development of tragedy and comedy;

(c) thirdly, to consider the concrete forms which comedy and tragedy especially have been able to take within this difference.

(a) The Principle of Tragedy, Comedy, and Drama

The essential principle for discriminating the kinds of epic poetry depended on whether the substantive material to be portrayed in an epic was expressed in its universality or related in the form of objective characters, deeds, and events.

Lyric, conversely, is divided into a series of different modes of expression by the degree and manner in which the subject-matter is more loosely or more tightly interwoven with the person whose inner life that subject-matter reveals.

Dramatic poetry, finally, makes central the collisions between characters and between their aims, as well as the necessary resolution of this battle. Consequently the principle for distinguishing its genres can only be derived from the relation of individuals to their aim and what it involves. The specific character of this relation is also what decides the particular manner of the dramatic conflict and outcome and so provides the essential type of the whole course of events in its living and artistic presentation.

As the principal points for consideration in this matter we must, in general, emphasize those features which in their harmony constitute the essence of every true action: (i) what is in substance good and great, the Divine actualized in the world, as the foundation of everything genuine and absolutely eternal in the make-up of an individual’s character and aim; (ii) the subject, the individual himself in his unfettered self-determination and freedom. In whatever form dramatic poetry brings the action on the stage, what is really effective in it is absolute truth, but the specific way in which this effectiveness comes on the scene takes a different, and indeed an opposed, form according to whether what is kept dominant in the individuals and their actions and conflicts is their substantive basis or alternatively their subjective caprice, folly, and perversity.

In this connection we have to examine the principle for the following genres:

(α) for tragedy, taken in its substantive and original typical form;

(β) for comedy, in which the mastery of all relations and ends is given as much to the individual in his willing and action, as to external contingency;

(γ) for drama, i.e. for a play in the narrower sense of the word, as occupying a middle position between these first two kinds.

(α) At this point I will make brief mention of only the most general basic characteristics of tragedy; their concrete particularization can come into view only in the light of the stages in tragedy’s historical development.

(αα) The true content of the tragic action is provided, so far as concerns the aims adopted by the tragic characters, by the range of the substantive and independently justified powers that influence the human will: family love between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters; political life also, the patriotism of the citizens, the will of the ruler; and religion existent, not as a piety that renounces action and not as a divine judgement in man’s heart about the good or evil of his actions, but on the contrary, as an active grasp and furtherance of actual interests and circumstances. A similar excellence belongs to the genuinely tragic characters. Throughout they are what they can and must be in accordance with their essential nature, not an ensemble of qualities separately developed epically in various ways; on the contrary, even if they are living and individual themselves, they are simply the one power dominating their own specific character; for, in accordance with their own individuality, they have inseparably identified themselves with some single particular aspect of those solid interests we have enumerated above, and are prepared to answer for that identification. Standing on this height, where the mere accidents of the individual’s purely personal life disappear, the tragic heroes of dramatic art have risen to become, as it were, works of sculpture, whether they be living representatives of the substantive spheres of life or individuals great and firm in other ways on the strength of their free self-reliance; and so in this respect the statues and images of the gods, rather abstract in themselves, explain the lofty tragic characters of the Greeks better than all other commentaries and notes. [122]

In general terms, therefore, we may say that the proper theme of the original type of tragedy is the Divine; not, however, the Divine as the object of the religious consciousness as such, but as it enters the world and individual action. Yet in this actual appearance it does not lose its substantive character, nor does it see itself there as inverted into the opposite of itself. In this form the spiritual substance of will and accomplishment is the concrete ethical order. For if we take the ethical order in its direct genuineness and do not interpret it from the point of view of subjective reflection as abstract morality,[123] then it is the Divine made real in the world and so the substantive basis which in all its aspects, whether particular or essential, provides the motive for truly human action, and it is in action itself that these aspects develop and actualize this their essence.

(ββ) Everything that forces its way into the objective and real world is subject to the principle of particularization; consequently the ethical powers, just like the agents, are differentiated in their domain and their individual appearance.[124] Now if, as dramatic poetry requires, these thus differentiated powers are summoned into appearance as active and are actualized as the specific aim of a human ‘pathos’ which passes over into action, then their harmony is cancelled and they come on the scene in opposition to one another in reciprocal independence. In that event a single action will under certain circumstances realize an aim or a character which is one-sidedly isolated in its complete determinacy, and therefore, in the circumstances presupposed, will necessarily rouse against it the opposed ‘pathos’ and so lead to inevitable conflicts. The original essence of tragedy consists then in the fact that within such a conflict each of the opposed sides, if taken by itself, has justification; while each can establish the true and positive content of its own aim and character only by denying and infringing the equally justified power of the other. The consequence is that in its moral life, and because of it, each is nevertheless involved in guilt.

The general reason for the necessity of these conflicts I have touched upon already. The substance of ethical life, as a concrete unity, is an ensemble of different relations and powers which only in a situation of inactivity, like that of the blessed gods, accomplish the work of the spirit in the enjoyment of an undisturbed life. But the very nature of this ensemble implies its transfer from its at first purely abstract ideality into its actualization in reality and its appearance in the mundane sphere. Owing to the nature of the real world, the mere difference of the constituents of this ensemble becomes perverted into opposition and collision, once individual characters seize upon them on the territory of specific circumstances.

Only from this point of view can we be really serious about those gods who dwell in their peaceful tranquillity and unity solely on Olympus and in the heaven of imagination and religious ideas, but who, when they now come actually to life as a specific ‘pathos’ in a human individual, lead, despite all their justification, to guilt and wrong owing to their particular specification and the opposition to which this leads.

(γγ) In this way however, an unresolved contradiction is set up; it does appear in the real world but cannot maintain itself there as the substance of reality and what is genuinely true; its proper claim is satisfied only when it is annulled as a contradiction. However justified the tragic character and his aim, however necessary the tragic collision, the third thing required is the tragic resolution of this conflict. By this means eternal justice is exercised on individuals and their aims in the sense that it restores the substance and unity of ethical life with the downfall of the individual who has disturbed its peace. For although the characters have a purpose which is valid in itself, they can carry it out in tragedy only by pursuing it one-sidedly and so contradicting and infringing someone else’s purpose. The truly substantial thing which has to be actualized, however, is not the battle between particular aims or characters, although this too has its essential ground in the nature of the real world and human action, but the reconciliation in which the specific individuals and their aims work together harmoniously without opposition and without infringing on one another. Therefore what is superseded in the tragic denouement is only the onesided particular which had not been able to adapt itself to this harmony, and now (and this is the tragic thing in its action), unable to renounce itself and its intention, finds itself condemned to total destruction, or, at the very least, forced to abandon, if it can, the accomplishment of its aim.

In this connection Aristotle, as every one knows, laid it down [Poetics, 1449b 26] that the true effect of tragedy should be to arouse pity and fear and accomplish the catharsis of these emotions. By ‘emotions’ Aristotle did not mean mere feeling, my subjective sense of something corresponding with me or not, the agreeable or disagreeable, the attractive or the repulsive-this most superficial of all criteria which only recently has been proposed as the principle of dramatic success or failure. For the only important thing for a work of art is to present what corresponds with reason and spiritual truth, and if we are to discover the principle of this, we must direct our attention to totally different considerations. Even in the case of Aristotle’s dictum we must therefore fix our eyes not on the mere feelings of pity and fear but on the nature of the subject-matter which by its artistic appearance is to purify these feelings. A man can be frightened in face of, on the one hand, something finite and external to him, or, on the other hand, the power of the Absolute. What a man has really to fear is not an external power and oppression by it, but the might of the ethical order which is one determinant of his own free reason and is at the same time that eternal and inviolable something which he summons up against himself if once he turns against it. Like fear, pity too has two kinds of object. The first is the object of ordinary emotion, i.e. sympathy with someone else’s misfortune and suffering which is felt as something finite and negative. Provincial females are always ready with compassion of this sort. For ifit is only the negative aspect, the negative aspect of misfortune, that is emphasized, then the victim of misfortune is degraded. True pity, on the contrary, is sympathy at the same time with the sufferer’s moral justification, with the affirmative aspect, the substantive thing that must be present in him. Beggars and rascals cannot inspire us with pity of this kind. Therefore if the tragic character has inspired in us a fear of the power of the ethical order that he has violated, then if in his misfortune he is to arouse a tragic sympathy he must be a man of worth and goodness himself. For it is only something of intrinsic worth which strikes the heart of a man of noble feelings and shakes it to its depths. After all, therefore, we should not confuse our interest in a tragic denouement with a naive sense of satisfaction that our sympathy should be claimed by a sad story, by a misfortune as such. Such miseries may befall a man, without his contributing to them and without his fault, merely as a result of the conjuncture of external accidents and natural circumstances, as a result of illness, loss of property, death, etc., and the only interest in them by which we should properly be gripped is our eagerness to rush to the man’s help. If we cannot help, then spectacles of wretchedness and distress are only harrowing. A truly tragic suffering, on the contrary, is only inflicted on the individual agents as a consequence of their own deed which is both legitimate and, owing to the resulting collision, blameworthy, and for which their whole self is answerable.

Above mere fear and tragic sympathy there therefore stands that sense of reconciliation which the tragedy affords by the glimpse of eternal justice. In its absolute sway this justice overrides the relative justification of one-sided aims and passions because it cannot suffer the conflict and contradiction of naturally harmonious ethical powers to be victorious and permanent in truth and actuality.

In virtue of this principle, tragedy rests primarily on the contemplation of such a conflict and its resolution. Consequently, owing to its whole manner of presentation, it is dramatic poetry alone which is capable of making the entire range and course of tragedy into the principle of a work of art and developing it completely. It is for this reason that I have only now taken the opportunity to speak of the tragic outlook, although it is at work extensively and variously, even if to a lesser extent, in the other arts also.

(β) In tragedy the eternal substance of things emerges victorious in a reconciling way, because it strips away from the conflicting individuals only their false one-sidedness, while the positive elements in what they willed it displays as what is to be retained, without discord but affirmatively harmonized. In comedy, conversely, it is subjectivity, or personality, which in its infinite assurance retains the upper hand. For, granted the cleavage of dramatic poetry into different genres, it is only these two fundamental features of action which can confront one another as the basis of such genres. In tragedy the individuals destroy themselves through the one-sidedness of their otherwise solid will and character, or they must resignedly accept what they had opposed even in a serious way. In comedy there comes before our contemplation, in the laughter in which the characters dissolve everything, including themselves, the victory of their own subjective personality which nevertheless persists self-assured.

(αα) The general ground for comedy is therefore a world in which man as subject or person has made himself completely master of everything that counts to him otherwise as the essence of what he wills and accomplishes, a world whose aims are therefore self-destructive because they are unsubstantial. Nothing can be done, for example, to help a democratic nation where the citizens are self-seeking, quarrelsome, frivolous, bumptious, without faith or knowledge, garrulous, boastful, and ineffectual: such a nation destroys itself by its own folly. But it does not follow at all that every unsubstantial action is comical on account of this nullity. In this matter the laughable is often confused with the comical. Every contrast between something substantive and its appearance, between an end and the means may be laughable; this is a contradiction in which the appearance cancels itself and the realization of an end is at the same time the end’s own destruction. But for the comical we must make a deeper demand. For example, there is nothing comical about the vices of mankind. A proof of this is given us by satire, all the more tediously, the cruder are the colours in which it paints the contradiction between what actually exists in the world and what virtuous men ought to be. Neither need follies, senselessness, silliness, be comical, taken in and by themselves, although we laugh at them. In general, nowhere can more contradiction be found than in the things that people laugh at. The flattest and most tasteless things can move people to laughter, and they often laugh all the same at the most important and profound matters if they see in them only some wholly insignificant aspect which contradicts their habits and day-to-day outlook. In such a case their laughter is only an expression of a self-complacent wit, a sign that they are clever enough to recognize such a contrast and are aware of the fact. There is also the laughter of derision, scorn, despair, etc. On the other hand, the comical as such implies an infinite light-heartedness and confidence felt by someone raised altogether above his own inner contradiction and not bitter or miserable in it at all: this is the bliss and ease of a man who, being sure of himself, can bear the frustration of his aims and achievements. A narrow and pedantic mind is least of all capable of this when for others his behaviour is laughable in the extreme.

(ββ) I will touch generally on only the following more detailed points in connection with the sort of thing that can serve as the situation of a comical action. In the first place, the characters and their aims are entirely without substance and contradictory and therefore they cannot accomplish anything. Avarice, for example, both in its aim and in the petty means it uses appears from beginning to end as inherently null. For the avaricious man takes the dead abstraction of wealth, money as such, as the ultimate reality beyond which he will not go; and he tries to attain this cold pleasure by depriving himself of every other concrete satisfaction, while nevertheless he cannot gain his chosen end because his aim and his means are helpless in face of cunning, betrayal, etc. But if an individual is serious in identifying himself with such an inherently false aim and making it the one real thing in his life, then, the more he still clings to it after he has been deprived of its realization, the more miserable he becomes. In such a picture there is none of the real essence of the comical, just as there is none anywhere when on one side there is the painfulness of the man’s situation, and on the other side mere ridicule and malicious joy. Therefore there is more of the comic in a situation where petty and futile aims are to be brought about with a show of great seriousness and elaborate preparations, but where, precisely because what the individual willed was something inherently trivial, he is not ruined in fact when his purpose fails but can surmount this disaster with cheerfulness undisturbed.

In the second place, the converse situation occurs where individuals plume themselves on the substantial quality of their characters and aims, but as instruments for accomplishing something substantial their characters are the precise opposite of what is required. In this case the substantial quality is purely imaginary and has become in itself and in the eyes of onlookers an appearance giving itself the look and the value of something important; but this involves between aim and character, action and personality a contradiction whereby an achievement of the imagined character and aim is frustrated. An example of this kind of thing is the Ecclesiazusae of Aristophanes. There the women wish to decide on and to found a new political constitution, but they still retain all the whims and passions of women.

A third type, in addition to the first two, is based on the use of external contingencies. Through their various and peculiar complications situations arise in which aims and their accomplishment, inner character and external circumstances, are put in contrast with one another comically and then they lead to an equally comic solution.

(γγ) But the comical rests as such throughout on contradictory contrasts both between aims in themselves and also between their objects and the accidents of character and external circumstances, and therefore the comic action requires a solution almost more stringently than a tragic one does. In a comic action the contradiction between what is absolutely true and its realization in individuals is posed more profoundly.

Yet what is destroyed in this solution cannot be either fundamental principle or individual character.[125]

For, as genuine art, comedy too has to submit to the obligation of using its presentation to bring the absolutely rational into appearance, not at all as what is broken up and perverted in itself but on the contrary as what assigns neither the victory nor, in the last resort, permanence, in the real world to folly and unreason, to false oppositions and contradictions. Aristophanes, for example, did not make fun of what was truly moral in the life of the Athenians, or of their genuine philosophy, true religious faith, and serious art. On the contrary what he does put before our eyes in its self-destructive folly is what was real, i.e. the downright opposite of the genuine actuality of the state, religion, and art,[126] i.e. what he exhibits is sophistry, the deplorable and lamentable character of tragedy, flighty gossip, litigiousness, etc., and the aberrations of the democracy out of which the old faith and morals had vanished. Only in our day could a Kotzebue succeed in giving the palm to a moral excellence which is a form of baseness and in palliating and countenancing what can only exist in order to be destroyed.[127]

But neither should subjective personality as such come to grief in comedy. For even if what comes on the scene is only the show and imagination of what is substantive, or else mere downright perversity and pettiness, there still remains as a loftier principle the inherently firm personality which is raised in its freedom above the downfall of the whole finite sphere and is happy and assured in itself. The comic subjective personality has become the overlord of whatever appears in the real world. From that world the adequate objective presence of fundamental principle has disappeared. When what has no substance in itself has destroyed its show of existence by its own agency, the individual makes himself master of this dissolution too and remains undisturbed in himself and at ease.

(γ) In the centre between tragedy and comedy there is a third chief genre of dramatic poetry which yet is of less striking importance, despite the fact that it attempts to reconcile the difference between tragedy and comedy; or at least, instead of being isolated in sheer opposition to one another, these two sides meet in it and form a concrete whole.

(αα) To this category there belong for example the Greek and Roman satyric dramas. In them the main action, even if not tragic, remains serious, while the chorus of satyrs is treated comically. Tragicomedy too may be included here. An example of it is provided by Plautus in the Prologue to the Amphitruo [II. 52-5, 59] where this is announced through the mouth of Mercury addressing the audience as follows:

Quid contraxistis frontem? quia Tragoediam
Dixi futuram hane? Deus sum: commutavero
Eamden hanc, si voltis: fadam ex Tragoedia
Comoedia ut sit omnibus iisdem versibus ...
Faciam ut conmista sit Tragicocomoedia.[128]

And as a reason for this mixture he adduces the fact that while on the one hand gods and kings appear as dramatis personae, there is also the comic figure of Sosia, the slave. In modern dramatic poetry, tragedy and comedy are still more intermingled, because even in modern tragedy the principle of subjectivity, free on its own account in comedy, becomes dominant from beginning to end and pushes into the background the substantive spheres of the ethical powers.

(ββ) But the deeper harmonization of tragic and comic treatment into a new whole does not consist in juxtaposing or upsetting these opposites [i.e. substance and subject] but in blunting both sides and reconciling their opposition. Instead of acting with comical perversity, the individual is filled with the seriousness characteristic of solid concerns and stable characters, while the tragic fixity of will is so far weakened, and the depth of the collisions involved so far reduced, that there can emerge a reconciliation of interests and a harmonious unification of individuals and their aims. It is in a conception like this that particularly our modern plays and dramas have the basis of their origin. The heart of this principle is the view that, despite all differences and conflicts of characters and their interests and passions, human action can nevertheless produce a really fully harmonious situation. As long ago as their day the Greeks had tragedies which did have an outcome like this, in that individuals were not sacrificed but saved: for example, in the Eumenides of Aeschylus the Areopagus grants to both parties, Apollo and the avenging Furies, the right to be worshipped; and in the Philoctetes [of Sophocles] the divine appearance and advice of Heracles settles the fight between Neoptolemus and Philoctetes, and they go off to Troy together. But in these cases the reconciliation comes from outside by command of the gods, etc., and does not have its source within the parties themselves, while in modern plays it is the individuals themselves who are led in the course of their own action to this cessation of strife and to the mutual reconciliation of their aims or characters. In this respect Goethe’s Iphigenia is a real poetic masterpiece of a play, more so than his Tasso. In the latter the reconciliation with Antonio is more or less only a matter of the heart and a subjective recognition that he possesses a sense for the realities of life which is missing from Tasso’s character, while the right of the ideal life to which Tasso had clung in his conflict with reality, i.e. the life of propriety and decorum, is a right principally retained as such only subjectively in the minds of the spectators and appearing objectively[in Antonio] as, at best, consideration for Tasso and sympathy with his fate.

(γγ) But on the whole the boundary lines of this intermediate kind of dramatic poetry are less firm than those of tragedy and comedy. Moreover this kind almost runs the risk of departing from the genuine type of drama altogether or of lapsing into prose. Here the conflicts are meant to proceed via their own discord to a peaceful end and therefore from the start they are not such sharp oppositions as those in tragedy. The result is that the poet is easily induced to devote the whole force of his production to the inner life of the dramatis personae and to make the Course of the situations a mere means to this sketching of character; or alternatively he allows preponderating scope to externals, i.e. to situations and customs of the period. If he finds both of these procedures too difficult, he restricts himself altogether to keeping attention alive merely through the interest of complicated and thrilling events. Consequently this sphere includes a mass of modern plays which make no claim to be poetry but only to have a theatrical effect. What they aim at producing is not a genuinely poetic emotion but only one that people ordinarily feel, or else they seek to reform the public or merely to entertain it. But, in any case, for the most part they manufacture all sorts of opportunities for the actor to give a brilliant display of his accomplished virtuosity.

(b) Difference between Ancient and Modern Dramatic Poetry

The same principle which gave us the basis for the division of dramatic art into tragedy and comedy provides us with the essential turning-points in the history of their development. For the lines of this development can only consist in setting out and elaborating the chief features implicit in the nature of dramatic action, where in tragedy the whole treatment and execution presents what is substantial and fundamental in the characters and their aims and conflicts, while in comedy the central thing is the character’s inner life and his private personality.

(α) We are not concerned here to provide a complete history of art and therefore we may start by setting aside those beginnings of dramatic art which we encounter in the East. However far Eastern poetry advanced in epic and some sorts of lyric, the whole Eastern outlook inhibits ab initio an adequate development of dramatic art. The reason is that truly tragic action necessarily presupposes either a live conception of individual freedom and independence or at least an individual’s determination and willingness to accept freely and on his own account the responsibility for his own act and its consequences; and for the emergence of comedy there must have asserted itself in a still higher degree the free right of the subjective personality and its self-assured dominion. In the East these conditions are not fulfilled. Mohammedan poetry, in particular, with its grandiose sublimity is throughout far away from any attempt at dramatic expression, because in such poetry, although the independence of the individual may be vigorously asserted, the One fundamental power still more persistently dominates its every creature and decides its lot irreversibly. Dramatic art demands the vindication of (a) a particular element in an individual’s action, and (b) a personality probing its own depths, and it follows from what I have said that neither of these demands can be met in Mohammedan poetry. Indeed the individual’s subjection to the will of God remains, precisely in Mohammedanism, all the more abstract the more abstractly universal is the One power which dominates the whole and which in the last resort inhibits anything particular. Consequently we find the beginnings of drama only in China and India; yet even here, to judge from the few samples so far known to us, there is no question of the accomplishment of a free individual action but merely of giving life to events and feelings in specific situations presented successively on the stage.

(β) Therefore the real beginning of dramatic poetry must be sought in Greece where the principle of free individuality makes the perfection of the classical form of art possible for the first time. Yet within this form of art the individual can enter in connection with action only so far as is directly required by the free vitalization of the substantive content of human aims. Therefore what principally counts in Greek drama, whether tragedy or comedy, is the universal and essential element in the aim which the characters are realizing: in tragedy, the moral justification of the agent’s consciousness in respect of a specific action, the vindication of the act in and by itself; and, in comedy, at least in the old comedy, it is also the general public interests that are emphasized, statesmen and their way of steering the state, war and peace, the people and its moral situation, philosophy and its corruption, and so forth. Therefore neither the various descriptions of the human heart and personal character nor particular complications and intrigues can find their place completely in Greek drama; nor does the interest turn on the fates of individuals. Sympathy is claimed above all not for these particular and personal matters but simply for the battle between the essential powers that rule human life and between the gods that dominate the human heart, and for this battle’s outcome. The tragic heroes come on the scene as the individual representatives of these powers in much the same way as the figures of comedy expose the general corruption into which the fundamental tendencies of public life have been actually perverted contemporaneously with the comedy.

(γ) In modem, or romantic, poetry, on the other hand, the principal topic is provided by an individual’s passion, which is satisfied in the pursuit of a purely subjective end, and, in general, by the fate of a single individual and his character in special circumstances.

Accordingly the poetic interest here lies in the greatness of the characters who by their imagination or disposition and aptitude display the full wealth of their heart, and their elevation over their situations and actions, as a real possibility[129] (even if this be often impaired and destroyed solely by circumstances and complications), but at the same time they find a reconciliation in the very greatness of their nature. Therefore in this mode of treatment our interest is directed, so far as the particular matter at issue in an action is concerned, not on its moral justification and necessity but on the individual person and his affairs. This being so, a leitmotiv is thus provided by love, ambition, etc.; indeed, even crime is not excluded, though this easily becomes a rock difficult to circumnavigate. For after all if a criminal, especially one like the hero in Müllner’s[130] Guilt, is weak and through and through base, he is only a disgusting sight. Here above all, therefore, we must demand formal greatness of character and a personality powerful enough to sustain everything negative and, without denying its acts or being inwardly wrecked, to accept its fate. – Nevertheless the substantive and fundamental ends, country, family, crown, and empire, are not to be held aloof at all, even if what matters to the individual character is not the substantial nature of these ends but his own individuality; but in that case they form on the whole the specific ground on which the individual stands with his own subjective character and where he gets into a conflict, instead of providing him with the proper ultimate object of his willing and acting.

Then, further, alongside this subjective element there may come on the scene a spread of particular details concerning both the inner life and also the external circumstances and relations within which the action proceeds. Therefore we find legitimately in place here, in distinction from the simple conflicts in Greek tragedy, a variety and wealth of dramatis personae, extraordinary and always newly involved complications, labyrinths of intrigue, accidental occurrences, in short all those features which, no longer fettered by the impressive and substantive character of an essential subject-matter, are indicative of what is typical in the romantic, as distinct from the classical, form of art.

Nevertheless despite this apparently unbounded mass of particulars, even here, if the whole play is to remain dramatic and poetic, the specific character of the collision which has to be fought out must be visibly emphasized, and, on the other hand, especially in tragedy, the authority of a higher world-governor, whether Providence or fate, must be made obvious in the course and outcome of the particular action.

(c) The Concrete Development of Dramatic Poetry and its Genres

The essential differences of conception and poetic execution [in drama] have now been considered. Along with them are the different genres of dramatic art and they acquire their truly real perfection only when they are developed at this or that stage [in history]. Therefore, in conclusion, our consideration must be directed to this concrete manner of their evolution.

(α) If for the reason given above we exclude oriental beginnings, the first main sphere confronting us at once is the dramatic poetry of the Greeks because that is the stage at which tragedy proper, and comedy too, had their highest intrinsic worth. It was in that poetry that for the first time there was a clear consciousness of what the real essence of tragedy and comedy is. After these opposed ways of looking at human action had been firmly separated and strictly distinguished from one another, tragedy and comedy developed organically, and first one, and then the other, attained the summit of perfection. Still later, Roman dramatic art gives us only a pale reflection of the Greek achievement, and here the Romans did not achieve even that measure of success which later came to them in their similar efforts in epic and lyric. – In order to touch briefly on only the points of greatest importance, I will limit a more detailed consideration of these stages to tragedy as viewed by Aeschylus and Sophocles and comedy by Aristophanes.

(αα) I have said of tragedy already that the basic form determining its organization and structure is to be found in emphasis on the substantial aspect of aims and their objects, as well as of individuals, their conflicts, and their fates.

The general background of a tragic action is provided in a tragedy, as it was in epic, by that world-situation which I have previously called the ‘heroic’ age. In that age the universal ethical powers have not been explicitly fixed as either the law of the land or as moral precepts and duties. Consequently, only in heroic times can these powers enter in original freshness as the gods who either oppose one another in their own activities or appear themselves as the living heart of free human individuals. But if the ethical order is to be exhibited from the outset as the substantive foundation and general background out of which the actions of individuals grow and develop into a conflict and then are tugged back out of it into unity again, we are confronted by two different forms of the ethical order in action.

First, the naïve consciousness which wills the substantial order as a whole, i.e. as an undivided identity of its different aspects. This consciousness therefore remains blameless and neutral, in undisturbed peace with itself and others. But this is a purely universal consciousness, undifferentiated in its worship, faith, and fortune. It therefore cannot attain to any specific action.[131] On the contrary, it has a sort of horror of the schism implicit there. Although, inactive itself, it reverences as higher that spiritual courage which, having selected its aim, proceeds to decide and act, it is still incapable of embarking on any such course. It knows that it is but the terrain or spectator of action. Therefore, there is nothing left for it to do with the agents, whom it venerates as higher than itself, and with the energy of their decisions and struggles, but to oppose to them the object of its own wisdom, i.e. the substantive ideality[132] of the ethical powers.

The second aspect is the individual ‘pathos’ which drives the dramatis personae, acting with an ethical justification, into opposition with others and thereby brings them into a conflict. The individuals animated by this ‘pathos’ are not what we call ‘characters’ in the modern sense of the word, but neither are they mere abstractions. They occupy a vital central position between both, because they are firm figures who simply are what they are, without any inner conflict, without any hesitating recognition of someone else’s ‘pathos’, and therefore (the opposite of our contemporary ‘irony’) lofty, absolutely determinate individuals, although this determinacy of theirs is based on and is representative of a particular ethical power. Since it is only the opposition of such individuals, justified in their action, which constitutes the essence of tragedy, it can come into view only on the territory of actual human life. For it is only in that life that a particular quality can be the substance of an individual in the sense that he puts himself with his entire being and interests into such a quality and makes it an overmastering passion. On the other hand, in the case of the blessed gods the undifferenced divine nature is the essential thing, and, if opposition arises, there is in the last resort no seriousness about it and, as I have already pointed out in dealing with the Homeric epic, it is ultimately dissolved again ironically.

Each of these two aspects is as important as the other for the whole drama. Both of them – the one and undivided consciousness of the Divine [or of the ethical powers], and the action which, resolving on ethical ends and achieving them, involves battle but comes on the scene with divine force and as a divine deed – provide the principal elements which in its works of art Greek tragedy displays as harmonized, i.e. in the chorus and the heroic agents.

In recent times the significance of the Greek chorus has been much discussed, and in the course of this discussion a question has been raised about whether it can or should be introduced into modern tragedy too. People have felt the need for such a substantial groundwork and yet at the same time have been unable to introduce or insert it because they have not understood or grasped deeply enough the nature of what is genuinely tragic or the necessity of the chorus in the Greek conception of tragedy. The chorus has indeed been understood to some extent by those who say that its business is tranquil reflection on the whole thing at issue while the dramatis personae remain caught in their own particular aims and situations and have now gained in the chorus and its meditations a criterion of the worth of their characters and actions, just as the public has found in the chorus an objective representative of its own judgement on what is going on in front of it in the work ‘of art.

Upholders of this view have hit on part of the truth, because in fact the chorus confronts us as a higher moral consciousness, aware of the substantial issues, warning against false conflicts, and weighing the outcome. Nevertheless the chorus is not at all a moralist, disengaged like a spectator, a person reflecting on the thing purely from outside, in himself uninteresting and tedious, and introduced simply for the sake of his reflections. On the contrary, the chorus is the actual substance of the moral life and action of the heroes themselves j in contrast to these individuals it is the people as the fruitful soil out of which they grow (just as flowers and towering trees do from their own native soil) and by the existent character of which they are conditioned. Consequently the chorus is essentially appropriate in an age where moral complications cannot yet be met by specific valid and just laws and firm religious dogmas, but where the ethical order appears only in its direct and living actuality and remains only the equilibrium of a stable life secure against the fearful collisions to which the energies of individuals in their opposing actions must lead. But what the chorus gives us is the consciousness that such a secure refuge is actually present. Therefore the chorus does not in fact encroach on the action; it does not actively exercise any right against the warring heroes but pronounces judgement purely contemplatively; it warns and sympathizes, or it appeals to divine law and those inner powers which imagination portrays to itself objectively as the group of the gods who hold sway. In so expressing itself it is lyrical, as we saw; for it does nothing and has no events to relate epically. But what it says preserves at the same time the epic character of substantial universality and it does therefore move in one mode of lyric which may, in distinction from the proper form of odes, sometimes approach the paean and the dithyramb.

This position of the chorus in Greek tragedy needs essential emphasis. Just as the Greek theatre itself has its external terrain, its scene, and its surroundings, so the chorus, the people, is as it were the scene of the spirit; it may be compared, in architecture, with a temple surrounding the image of the gods, for here it is an environment for the heroes in the action. In our case, however, statues stand under the open sky without such a background, and modern tragedy does not need one either, because its actions do not rest on this substantial basis but on the individual’s will and character as well as on the apparently external accidents of occurrences and circumstances.

This all implies that it is an utterly false view to regard the chorus as something casually dragged in and a mere relic of the time when Greek drama originated. No doubt its external origin is to be traced to the fact that at festivals of Dionysus the chief thing, in art at any rate, was choral song, until subsequently, as a break, a narrator came on the scene, and his message was finally transformed and elevated into the actual figures of a dramatic action. But in the age of tragedy’s full bloom the chorus was not retained at all merely in honour of this feature of religious festivals and Dionysus worship; on the contrary it was developed ever more beautifully and in a more measured way simply because it belongs essentially to the dramatic action itself and is so necessary to it that the decay of tragedy is especially manifested in the deterioration of the choruses which no longer remain an integral part of the whole but sink down into being an unnecessary ornament. On the other hand, the chorus is plainly unsuitable for romantic tragedy which in any case did not originate in choral songs. On the contrary, the subject-matter here is of such a kind that any introduction of choruses in the Greek sense must inevitably have misfired. For even the oldest so-called mystery-plays, moralities, and other farces from which romantic drama arose, do not present any action in the original Greek sense or any emergence from that consciousness which is unaware of division in life or the Divine. Neither does the chorus fit in with chivalry or absolute monarchy, for there the people have to obey or become partisans involved inaction only in the interests of their fortune or misfortune. In general it cannot find its proper place where it is individual passions, aims, and characters that are at issue or where the play of intrigue is being pursued.

The second chief feature, contrasted with the chorus, consists of the individuals who act and come continually into conflict. In Greek tragedy, as I have said more than once, the occasion for collisions is produced by the moral justification of a specific act, and not at all by an evil will, a crime, or infamy, or by mere misfortune, blindness, and the like. For evil in the abstract has no truth in itself and is of no interest. But, on the other hand, it must not look as if moral traits of character have been assigned to individuals merely by [the dramatist’s] intention, for on the contrary their justification must be shown to lie in them essentially. Criminal types, like those of today, good-for-nothings, or even so-called ‘morally noble’ criminals with their empty chatter about fate, we therefore do not find in Greek tragedy any more than a decision or a deed resting on purely private interest and personal character, on thirst for power, lust, honour, or other passions, the right of which can be rooted only in an individual’s private inclination and personality. But an individual’s decision, justified by the object he aims at, is carried out in a one-sided and particular way, and therefore in specific circumstances, which already carry in themselves the real possibility of conflicts, he injures another and equally moral sphere of the human will. To this sphere another person clings as his own actual ‘pathos’ and in carrying out his aim opposes and reacts against the former individual. In this way the collision of equally justified powers and individuals is completely set afoot.

The range of the subject-matter here may be variously particularized but its essence is not very extensive. The chief conflict treated most beautifully by Sophocles, with Aeschylus as his predecessor, is that between the state, ethical life in its spiritual universality, and the family, i.e. natural ethical life. These are the clearest powers that are presented in tragedy, because the full reality of ethical existence consists in harmony between these two spheres and in absence of discord between what an agent has actually to do in one and what he has to do in the other. In this connection I need refer only to Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes and, still more appositely, Sophocles’ Antigone. Antigone honours the bond of kinship, the gods of the underworld, while Creon honours Zeus alone, the dominating power over public life and social welfare. In [Euripides'] Iphigenia in Aulis, in Aeschlyus’ Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides, and in Sophocles’ Electra we find a similar conflict. Agamemnon, as King and commander of the army, sacrifices his daughter in the interest of the Greeks and the Trojan expedition; thereby he snaps the bond of love for his daughter and his wife. This bond Clytemnestra, his wife and Iphigenia’s mother, retains in the depths of her heart, and in revenge she prepares a shameful death for her home-coming husband. Orestes, her son and the King’s son, honours his mother but he has to defend the right of his father, the King, and he slays the womb that bore him.

This is a subject valid for every epoch and therefore this presentation of it, despite all national differences, continues to excite our lively human and artistic sympathy.

A second main type of collision is less concrete. The Greek tragedians are fond of portraying it especially in the fate of Oedipus. The most perfect example of this has been left to us by Sophocles in his Oedipus Tyrannus and Oedipus Coloneus. What is at issue here is the right of the wide awake consciousness, the justification of what the man has self-consciously willed and knowingly done, as contrasted with what he was fated by the gods to do and actually did unconsciously and without having willed it. Oedipus has killed his father; he has married his mother and begotten children in this incestuous alliance; and yet he has been involved in these most evil crimes without either knowing or willing them. The right of our deeper consciousness today would consist in recognizing that since he had neither intended nor known these crimes himself, they were not to be regarded as his own deeds. But the Greek, with his plasticity of consciousness, takes responsibility for what he has done as an individual and does not cut his purely subjective self-consciousness apart from what is objectively the case.

Lastly, there are other collisions depending partly on special circumstances and partly on the general relation between an individual’s action and the Greek moira [fate]. For our purpose, these are of less importance.

But in considering all these tragic conflicts we must above reject the false idea that they have anything to do with guilt or innocence. The tragic heroes are just as much innocent as guilty. On the presupposition that a man is only guilty if alternatives are open to him and he decides arbitrarily on what he does, the Greek plastic figures are innocent: they act out of this character of theirs, on this ‘pathos’, because this character, this ‘pathos’ is precisely what they are: their act is not preceded by either hesitation or choice. It is just the strength of the great characters that they do not choose but throughout, from start to finish, are what they will and accomplish. They are what they are, and never anything else, and this is their greatness. For weakness in action consists only in a cleavage between the individual and his object, in which case character, will, and aim do not appear as having grown into an absolute unity; and since no fixed aim is alive in the individual’s soul as the substance of his own individuality, as the ‘pathos’ and power animating his whole will, he may swither irresolutely from this to that and let caprice decide. From this swithering the Greek plastic figures are exempt; for them the bond between the subject and what he wills as his object remains indissoluble. What drives them to act is precisely an ethically justified ‘pathos’ which they assert against one another with the eloquence of their ‘pathos’ not in sentimental and personal rhetoric or in the sophistries of passion, but in solid and cultivated objective language. (Sophocles above everyone else was a master in the depth, measure, and plastic and living beauty of language of this kind.) At the same time, however, their ‘pathos’ is pregnant with collisions and it leads them to injurious and guilty acts. Hut they do not claim to be innocent of these at all. On the contrary, what they did, and actually had to do, is their glory. No worse insult could be given to such a hero than to say that he had acted innocently. It is the honour of these great characters to be culpable. They do not want to arouse sympathy or pity, for what arouses pity is not anything substantive, but subjective grief, the subjective depth of personality. But their firm and strong character is one with its essential ‘pathos’, and what excites our admiration is this indestructible harmony and not the pity and emotion that Euripides alone has slipped into expressing.

The tragic complication leads finally to no other result or denouement but this: the two sides that are in conflict with one another preserve the justification which both have, but what each upholds is one-sided, and this one-sidedness is stripped away and the inner, undisturbed harmony returns in the attitude of the chorus which clearly assigns equal honour to all the gods. The true development of the action consists solely in the cancellation of conflicts as conflicts, in the reconciliation of the powers animating action which struggled to destroy one another in their mutual conflict. Only in that case does finality lie not in misfortune and suffering but in the satisfaction of the spirit, because only with such a conclusion can the necessity of what happens to the individuals appear as absolute rationality, and only then can our hearts be morally at peace: shattered by the fate of the heroes but reconciled fundamentally. Only by adherence to this view can Greek tragedy be understood.

Therefore we should not interpret such a conclusion as a purely moral outcome where evil is punished and virtue rewarded, i.e. ‘when vice vomits, virtue sits at table’.[133] Here there is no question good and evil, but, when the collision was complete, of the vision Nemesis is simply the ancient justice which degrades what has of an affirmative reconciliation and the equal validity of both the risen too high only in order to restore by misfortune the mere at all of an introverted personality’s subjective reflection and its powers that were in conflict. Neither is the necessity of the outcome a blind fate, a purely irrational and unintelligible destiny which many people call ‘classical’, but a rational one, although the rationality here does not appear as a self-conscious Providence whose divine end and aim becomes manifest to itself and others in the world and individuals. On the contrary, the rationality consists in the fact that the power supreme over individual gods and men cannot allow persistence either to one-sided powers that make themselves independent and thereby overstep the limits of their authority or to the conflicts that follow in consequence. Fate drives individuality back within its limits and destroys it if these are crossed. But an irrational compulsion and innocent suffering would inevitably produce in the soul of the spectator mere indignation instead of moral peace and satisfaction.

In another way, therefore, a tragic reconciliation is nevertheless different from an epic one. If we look at Achilles and Odysseus, for example, they reach their goal, and this is proper; but they are not steadily favoured by fortune; on the contrary, they have to taste the bitter wine of a sense of finitude and to fight their way through difficulty, loss, and sacrifice. For Truth demands that in the course of life and the objective sweep of events the nullity of the finite shall come into appearance too. The wrath of Achilles is appeased, he obtains from Agamemnon what he had been injured by losing, he wreaks his revenge on Hector, the funeral celebrations for Patroclus are completed, and Achilles is recognized as the most glorious of men. But his wrath and its appeasement has cost him his dearest friend, the noble Patroclus; in order to avenge his loss on Hector, he finds himself compelled to desist from his wrath and plunge once more into the battle against the Trojans, and when he is recognized as the most glorious of men he has at the same time a sense of his early death. Similarly, Odysseus does in the end arrive at Ithaca, the goal of his wishes, but asleep and alone after long years of delay and toil, after losing all his companions and all the booty from Troy. Thus both have paid their debt to finitude, and Nemesis has entered into its rights by the downfall of Troy and the fate of the Greek heroes. But Nemesis is simply the ancient justice which degrades what has of an affirmative reconciliation and the equal validity of both the risen too high only in order to restore by misfortune the mere equilibrium of good and ill fortune, and it touches and affects the realm of finitude without any further moral judgement. This is epic justice in the field of events, the comprehensive reconciliation which consists in mere equalization. The more profound tragic reconciliation, on the other hand, depends on the advance of specific ethical substantive powers out of their opposition to their true harmony. But the ways in which this harmony can be brought about are very different, and I will therefore bring to your notice only the chief features at issue in this connection.

First, it needs special emphasis that if the one-sidedness of a ‘pathos’ is the real ground of the collisions, this can only mean that it is carried out into actually living action, and the one-sided ‘pathos’ has become the one and only ‘pathos’ of a specific individual. Now if the one-sidedness is to be cancelled, it is the individual, since he has acted solely as this one ‘pathos’, who must be got rid of and sacrificed. For the individual is only this one life and, if this is not to prevail on its own account as this one, then the individual is shattered.

This sort of development is most complete when the individuals who are at variance appear each of them in their concrete existence as a totality,[134] so that in themselves they are in the power of what they are fighting, and therefore they violate what, if they were true to their own nature, they should be honouring. For example, Antigone lives under the political authority of Creon [the present King]; she is herself the daughter of a King [Oedipus] and the fiancee of Haemon [Creon’s son], so that she ought to pay obedience to the royal command. But Creon too, as father and husband, should have respected the sacred tie of blood and not ordered anything against its pious observance. So there is immanent in both Antigone and Creon something that in their own way they attack, so that they are gripped and shattered by something intrinsic to their own actual being. Antigone suffers death before enjoying the bridal dance, but Creon too is punished by the voluntary deaths of his son and his wife, incurred, the one on account of Antigone’s fate, the other because of Haemon’s death. Of all the masterpieces of the classical and the modern world – and I know nearly all of them and you should and can[135] – the Antigone seems to me to be the most magnificent and satisfying work of art of this kind.

But the tragic denouement need not every time require the downfall of the participating individuals in order to obliterate the one-sidedness of both sides and their equal meed of honour. We all know that the Eumenides of Aeschylus does not end with the death of Orestes or the discomfiture of the Eumenides. (These were the Furies, the avengers of a mother’s blood, and the violation of family piety, against Apollo who means to maintain the dignity and veneration of the King and the head of the family, and who provoked Orestes to kill his mother.) On the contrary, Orestes is excused punishment and both the gods are honoured. But at the same time we see clearly in this decisive conclusion what their gods meant to the Greeks when they brought them before their eyes in a combat between one another as particular individuals. To the contemporary Athenians they were only elements which were bound together into the entire harmony of ethical life. The votes of the Areopagus were equal; it is Athene, the goddess representing the whole substance of living Athenian life, who inserts the white stone which liberates Orestes, but she promises altars and worship to the Eumenides and Apollo equally.

Secondly, in contrast to this objective reconciliation, the assuaging of conflict may be of a subjective kind when the individual agent gives up the one-sidedness of his aim. But in this desertion of a substantive ‘pathos’ of his own he would appear as lacking in character, and this contradicts the solidity of the Greek plastic figures. In this case, therefore, the individual can only put himself at the mercy of a higher power and its advice and command, so that while he persists on his own account in his ‘pathos’, his obstinate will is broken by a god. In such a case the knots cannot be untied but, as in the Philoctetes, for example, are cut by a deus ex machina.

Finally, more beautiful than this rather external sort of denouement is an inner reconciliation which, because of its subjective character, already borders on our modern treatment. The most perfect classical example of this that we have before us is the eternally marvellous Oedipus Coloneus. Oedipus has murdered his father, taken the Theban throne, and mounted the marriage-bed with his mother. These unconsciously committed crimes do not make him unhappy; but of old he had solved a riddle and now he forcibly extracts [from the oracle] a knowledge of his own dark fate and acquires the dreadful realization that it has been accomplished in himself. With this solution of the riddle in his own person he has lost his happiness as Adam did when he came to the knowledge of good and evil [Genesis, 3]. The seer now, he blinds himself, resigns the throne, exiles himself from Thebes, just as Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise, and wanders away a helpless old man. In Colonus, sore afflicted, instead of listening to his son’s request that he might return, he invokes on him his own Furies [or curse]; he expunges all his own inner discord and is purified within. Then a god himself calls him [i.e. to death]; his blind eyes are transfigured and clear; his bones become a salvation and safeguard of the state that received him as friend and guest. This transfiguration in death is for us, as for him, a visible reconciliation within his own self and personality. Attempts have been made to find a Christian tone here: the vision of a sinner whom God pardons and a fate endured in life but compensated with bliss in death. But the Christian religious reconciliation is a transfiguration of the soul which, bathed in the spring of eternal salvation, is lifted above its deeds and existence in the real world, because it makes the heart itself into the grave of the heart (yes, the spirit can do this), pays the imputations of earthly guilt with its own earthly individuality and now holds itself secure against those imputations in the certainty of its own eternal and purely spiritual bliss. On the other hand, the transfiguration of Oedipus always still remains the Greek transfer of consciousness from the strife of ethical powers, and the violations involved, into the unity and harmony of the entire ethical order itself.

What is further implied in this reconciliation is subjective satisfaction, and this enables us to make the transition to the sphere of comedy, the opposite of tragedy.

(ββ) What is comical, as we saw, is a personality or subject who makes his own actions contradictory and so brings them to nothing, while remaining tranquil and self-assured in the process. Therefore comedy has for its basis and starting-point what tragedy may end with, namely an absolutely reconciled and cheerful heart. Even if its possessor destroys by the means he uses whatever he wills and so comes to grief in himself because by his own efforts he has accomplished the very opposite of what he aimed at, he still has not lost his peace of mind on that account. But, on the other hand, this subjective self-assurance is only possible if the aims, and so with them the characters in question, either have no real substance in themselves or, if they have, then their essentiality has been made an aim and been pursued in a shape really opposed to it fundamentally and therefore in a shape without substance; and the result is that it is always only what is inherently null and indifferent that comes to grief, and the individual remains firm on his feet and undisturbed.

On the whole this is also the character of the old Greek comedy as it has been preserved for us in the plays of Aristophanes. In this matter we must be very careful to distinguish whether the dramatis personae are comical themselves or only in the eyes of the audience. The former case alone can be counted as really comical, and here Aristophanes was a master. On these lines, an individual is only portrayed as laughable when it is obvious that he is not serious at all about the seriousness of his aim and will, so that this seriousness always carries with it, in the eyes of the individual himself, its own destruction, because from beginning to end he cannot devote himself to any higher and universally valid interest which would bring him into a conflict of substance [i.e. with another such interest]. Even if he really does so devote himself, he can only exhibit a character which, owing to what it directly and presently is, has already annihilated what it apparently wanted to accomplish, and we can see at once that the substantial interest has never had a real hold on him. The comical therefore plays its part more often in people with lower views, tied to the real world and the present, i.e. among men who are what they are once and for all, who cannot be or will anything different, and, though incapable of any genuine ‘pathos’, have not the least doubt about what they are and what they are doing. But at the same time they reveal themselves as having something higher in them because they are not seriously tied to the finite world with which they are engaged but are raised above it and remain firm in themselves and secure in face of failure and loss. It is to this absolute freedom of spirit which is utterly consoled in advance in every human undertaking, to this world of private serenity, that Aristophanes conducts us. If you have not read him, you can scarcely realize how men can take things so easily.

The interests within which this kind of comedy moves need not be drawn at all from spheres opposed to morality, religion, and art; on the contrary, the old Greek comedy keeps precisely within this objective and substantive sphere, but it is by subjective caprice, vulgar folly, and absurdity that individuals bring to nought actions which had a higher aim. And here Aristophanes had available to him rich and happy material partly in the Greek gods and partly in the Athenians. For making the gods into human individuals has itself produced a contrast with the loftiness of their significance owing to their being so represented and particularized, particularized and humanized right down to detail, and their form can be portrayed as an empty pride in a subjective personality thus inappropriately given to them. But what Aristophanes especially loves is to expose to the ridicule of his fellow-citizens in the most comical and yet profound way the follies of the masses, the insanity of their orators and statesmen, the absurdity of the [Peloponnesian] war, and above all, most mercilessly, the new direction that Euripides had taken in tragedy. The persons in whom he embodies the objects of his magnificent ridicule are made into fools from the start by his inexhaustible humour, so that we can see at once that we are to get nothing but ineptitude from them. Take, for example, Strepsiades, who wants to go to the philosophers to learn how to be rid of his debts, or Socrates, who offers to teach Strepsiades and his son;[136] or Dionysus, who is made to descend into the underworld in order to bring a true tragedian up from there;[137] or Cleon,[138] the women,[139] and the Greeks who want to draw the goddess of peace from the well;[140] and so forth. The key note resounding in all these portrayals is the self-confidence of all these figures, and it is all the more imperturbable the more incap able they obviously are of accomplishing their undertaking. The fools are such naive fools, and even the more sensible of them also have such an air of contradiction with what they are devoted to, that they never lose this naive personal self-assurance, no matter how things go. It is the smiling blessedness of the Olympian gods, their unimpaired equanimity which comes home in men and can put up with anything. In all this Aristophanes is obviously not a cold or malignant scoffer. On the contrary he is a man of most gifted mind, the best of citizens to whom the welfare of Athens was always a serious matter and who proved to be a true patriot throughout. Therefore, as I have said earlier, what is portrayed in his comedies is not the complete dissolution of religion and morality but both the all-pervasive corruption which plumes itself on keeping step with the fundamental powers, and also the shape of things and the appearance of individuals, which are a mask concealing the fact that real truth and substance are no longer there and can be simply and openly handed over to the unfeigned play of subjective caprice. Aristophanes presents to us the absolute contradiction between (a) the true essence of religion and political and ethical life, and (b) the subjective attitude of citizens and individuals who should give actuality to that essence. But in this very triumph of the subjective attitude, whatever its insight, there is implicit one of the greatest symptoms of Greek corruption, and thus these pictures of a naïve fundamental ‘all is well with me’ are the final great outcome of the poetry of this gifted, civilized, and ingenious Greek people.

(β) We turn now at once to the dramatic art of the modern world, and here too I will only bring out in general some of the main differences of importance in relation to tragedy, drama, and comedy.

(αα) At its plastic height in Greece, tragedy remains one-sided by making the validity of the substance and necessity of ethical life its essential basis and by leaving undeveloped the individuality of the dramatis personae and the depths of their personal life. Comedy on its side brings to view in a converse mode of plasticity, and to perfection, the subjective personality in the free expatiation of its absurdity and its absurdity’s dissolution.

Modern tragedy adopts into its own sphere from the start the principle of subjectivity. Therefore it takes for its proper subject-matter and contents the subjective inner life of the character who is not, as in classical tragedy, a purely individual embodiment of ethical powers, and, keeping to this same type, it makes actions come into collision with one another as the chance of external circumstances dictates, and makes similar accidents decide, or seem to decide, the outcome. Here there are the following chief points to discuss.

(i) The nature of the various aims which the characters have and which are to be attained;

(ii) the tragic characters themselves and the collisions to which they are subjected;

(iii) the difference from Greek tragedy in respect of the sort of denouement and the tragic reconciliation.

However far the centre of romantic tragedy is the individual’s sufferings and passions (in the strict sense of that word),[141] nevertheless in human action a basis of specific ends drawn from the concrete spheres of family, state, church, etc. is never missing. For, by acting, man, as man, enters the sphere of the real world and its particular concerns. But since now it is not the substantial element in these spheres which engrosses the interest of individuals, their aims are broadly and variously particularized and in such detail that what is truly substantial can often glimmer through them in only a very dim way; and, apart from this, these aims acquire an altogether different form. For example, in the religious sphere, the dominating subject-matter is no longer the particular ethical powers made by imagination into individual gods and displayed either in their own person or as the ‘pathos’ of human heroes, but instead the story of Christ, the saints, etc. In the political sphere what is brought before us in all sorts of different ways is especially the monarchy, the power of vassals, the strife between dynasties or between members of one and the same royal family. Indeed, furthermore, civil and private rights and other relationships are dealt with and, similarly, even aspects of family life arise which were not yet compatible with Greek drama. For since the principle of subjectivity itself has gained its right in the [religious, political, and social] spheres mentioned above, it follows that new features appear even in them which modern man is entitled to make the aim and guide of his action.

On the other hand, it is the right of personality as such which is firmly established as the sole subject-matter, and love, personal honour, etc., are taken as ends so exclusive that the other relationships either can only appear as the external ground on which these modern interests are played out or else stand on their own account in conflict against the demands of the individual’s subjective heart. The situation is more profound when the individual character, in order to achieve his goal, does not shrink from wrong and crime, even if he has not envisaged himself as unjust and criminal in choosing his end.

But instead of having this particular and personal character the ends chosen may be extensive, universal, and comprehensive in scope, or, again, they may be adopted and pursued as having substance in themselves. (a) As an example of the former case I will only refer to Goethe’s Faust, the one absolutely philosophical tragedy. Here on the one side, dissatisfaction with learning and, on the other, the freshness of life and enjoyment in the world, in general the tragic quest for harmony between the Absolute in its essence and appearance and the individual’s knowledge and will, all this provides a breadth of subject-matter which no other dramatist has ventured to compass in one and the same work. A similar example is Schiller’s [Robbers where] Karl Moor is enraged by the entire civil order and the whole situation of the world and mankind in his day, and his rebellion against it has this universal significance. Wallenstein likewise adopts a great universal aim, the unity and peace of Germany. He failed in his aim partly because his forces, collected artificially and held together by purely external links, broke up and scattered just when things became serious for him, and partly because he revolted against the authority of the Emperor, a power on which he and his undertaking were bound to be shipwrecked. Universal ends, like those pursued by Karl Moor and Wallenstein, cannot be accomplished by a single individual by making others his obedient instruments; on the contrary, such ends prevail by their own force, sometimes with the will of the many, sometimes against it and without their knowledge. (b) As examples of the adoption of ends in virtue of their substantial character, I will mention only some tragedies of Calderón in which the rights and duties involved in love, honour, etc. are used by the dramatis personae as a sort of code of laws rigid and inflexible in themselves. Something similar occurs frequently in Schiller’s characters, although their point of view is quite different; anyway this is true in the sense that these individuals adopt and fight for their aims by regarding them at the same time as universal and absolute human rights. So, for example, in Intrigue and Love Major Ferdinand means to defend natural rights against fashionable conventions and, above all, the Marquis Posa [in Don Carlos] demands freedom of thought as an inalienable possession of mankind. But in modern tragedy it is generally the case that individuals do not act for the sake of the substantial nature of their end, nor is it that nature which proves to be their motive in their passion; on the contrary, what presses for satisfaction is the subjectivity of their heart and mind and the privacy of their own character. For consider the examples just cited: in the case of the Spanish dramas, what the heroes of love and honour aim at is in itself of such a subjective kind that the rights and duties involved in it can coincide immediately with what their own heart wishes. And, in Schiller’s youthful works, bragging about nature, human rights. and the reform of mankind is little more than the extravagance of a subjective enthusiasm; when in his later years Schiller tried to vindicate a more mature ‘pathos’, this happened simply because he had it in mind to restore in modern dramatic art the principle of Greek tragedy.

In order to exhibit in more detail the difference in this respect between Greek and modern tragedy, I will direct attention only to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His character is rooted in a collision similar to that treated by Aeschylus in the Choephori and Sophocles in the Electra. For in Hamlet’s case too his father, the King, is murdered and his mother has married the murderer. But whereas in the Greek poets the King’s death does have an ethical justification, in Shakespeare it is simply and solely an atrocious crime and Hamlet’s mother is guiltless of it. Consequently the son has to wreak his revenge only on the fratricide King in whom he sees nothing really worthy of respect. Therefore the collision turns strictly here not on a son’s pursuing an ethically justified revenge and being forced in the process to violate the ethical order, but on Hamlet’s personal character. His noble soul is not made for this kind of energetic activity; and, full of disgust with the world and life, what with decision, proof, arrangements for carrying out his resolve, and being bandied from pillar to post, he eventually perishes owing to his own hesitation and a complication of external circumstances.

If we turn now, in the second place, to that aspect which is of more outstanding importance in modern tragedy, to the characters, namely, and their conflict, the first thing that we can take as a starting-point is, in brief summary, the following:

The heroes of Greek classical tragedy are confronted by circumstances in which, after firmly identifying themselves with the one ethical ‘pathos’ which alone corresponds to their own already established nature, they necessarily come into conflict with the opposite but equally justified ethical power. The romantic dramatis personae, on the other hand, are from the beginning in the midst of a wide field of more or less accidental circumstances and conditions within which it is possible to act either in this way or in that. Consequently the conflict, for which the external circumstances do of course provide the occasion, lies essentially in the character to which the individuals adhere in their passion, not because of any substantial justification but because they are what they are once and for all. The Greek heroes too do act in their individual capacity, but, as I have said, when Greek tragedy is at its height their individuality is itself of necessity an inherently ethical ‘pathos’, whereas in modern tragedy it remains a matter of chance whether the individual’s character is gripped by something intrinsically justified or whether he is led into crime and wrong, and in either case he makes his decision according to his own wishes and needs, or owing to external influences, etc. It is true, therefore, that character and an ethical end may coincide, but since aims, passions, and the subjective inner life are all particular [and not universal], this coincidence is not the essential foundation and objective condition of the depth and beauty of a [modern] tragedy.

Few generalizations can be made about further differences in [modern] characterization because this sphere is wide open to variations of every kind. I will therefore touch on only the following chief aspects.

A first contrast which strikes the eye quickly enough is that between (a) the individuals who come on the scene as living and concrete people, and (b) an abstract and therefore formal characterization. As an example of the latter we can cite especially the tragic figures in French and Italian drama. They originate from an imitation of classical models and may count more or less as mere personifications of specific passions-love, honour, fame, ambition, tyranny, etc. They relate the motives of their actions as well as the degree and kind of their feelings with great declamatory splendour and much rhetorical skill, but this way of explaining themselves reminds us more of Seneca’s failures than of the Greek dramatic masterpieces. Spanish tragedy too borders on this abstract characterization; but in this case the passion of love, in conflict with honour, friendship, royal authority, etc., is itself of such an abstractly subjective kind, and the rights and duties involved are so sharply emphasized, that a fuller individualization of the characters is impossible, since in this as it were subjective substantiality[142] this passion is supposed to be prominent as the real interest of the piece. Nevertheless the Spanish figures often have a solidity, even if there is little in it, and a sort of brittle personality which the French ones lack; at the same time, in contrast to the cold simplicity of the action’s development in French tragedy, the Spanish, even in tragedy, can make up for a deficiency in variations of character by an acutely invented wealth of interesting situations and complications.

But in the portrayal of concretely human individuals and characters it is especially the English who are distinguished masters and above them all Shakespeare stands at an almost unapproachable height. For even if some purely single passion, like ambition in Macbeth or jealousy in Othello, becomes the entire ‘pathos’ of his tragic heroes, still such an abstraction does not devour their more far-reaching individuality at all, because despite this determinant they still always remain complete men. Indeed the more Shakespeare proceeds to portray on the infinite breadth of his ‘world-stage'[143] the extremes of evil and folly, all the more, as I have remarked earlier, does he precisely plunge his figures who dwell on these extremes into their restrictedness; of course he equips them with a wealth of poetry but he actually gives them spirit and imagination, and, by the picture in which they can contemplate and see themselves objectively like a work of art, he makes them free artists of their own selves, and thereby, with his strongly marked and faithful characterization, can interest us not only in criminals but even in the most downright and vulgar clouts and fools. The way that his tragic characters reveal themselves is of a similar kind: individual, real, directly living, extremely varied, and yet, where this emerges necessarily, of a sublimity and striking power of expression, of a depth of feeling and gift for invention in images and similes produced on the spur of the moment, of a rhetoric, not pedantic but issuing from the actual feeling and outpouring of the character – take all this into account, this combination of directly present life and inner greatness of soul, and you will scarcely find any other modern dramatist who can be compared with Shakespeare. Goethe in his youth did try to achieve a similar truth to nature and an individuality of personality but without achieving the inner force and height of passion [of Shakespeare’s characters], and Schiller again has fallen into a violence which has no really solid kernel in its expansive storming.

A second difference in modern characters consists in their being either firm or inwardly hesitant and discordant. The weakness of irresolution, the swithering of reflection, perplexity about the reasons that are to guide decision – all this does occur here and there in the tragedies of Euripides, but he already abandons polished plasticity of character and action and goes over to subjective emotion. In modern tragedy such dithering figures generally appear by being themselves in the grip of a twofold passion which drives them from one decision or one deed to another simultaneously. This vacillation I have mentioned already in another context,[144] and here I will only add that, even if the tragic action must depend on a collision, to put this discord into one and the same individual must always involve much awkwardness. For mental distraction into opposed interests has its source partly in a vagueness and stupidity of mind, partly in weakness and immaturity. We have some figures of this sort even in Goethe’s youthful[145] productions: Weislingen [in Götz], for example, Fernando in Stella, and Clavigo [in Clavigo] above all. These are men in two minds who cannot acquire a finished and therefore firm individuality. It is quite different if two opposed spheres of life or two opposite duties, etc., seem equally sacrosanct to a character already assured in himself and yet sees himself compelled to align himself with one to the exclusion of the other. In that case the vacillation is only a transitional phase and is not the nerve of the man’s character itself.

Again, a different kind consists of the tragic case where someone is led astray by passion against his better judgement into opposite aims (like Joan in Schiller’s Maid of Orleans), and now must perish unless he can rescue himself from this discord both within and in his external actions. Yet, if the lever of the tragedy is this personal tragedy of inner discord, there is about it something now sad and painful, now aggravating, and the poet does better to avoid it instead of looking for it and pre-eminently developing it.

But what is worst of all is to exhibit such indecision and vacillation of character, and of the whole man, as a sort of perverse and sophistical dialectic and then to make it the main theme of the entire drama, so that truth is supposed to consist precisely in showing that no character is inwardly firm and self-assured. The one-sided aims of particular passions and characters should certainly not come to be realized without a struggle, and in everyday life when the force of circumstances reacts against them, and other individuals oppose them, they are not spared the experience of their finitude and instability. But this outcome, which alone forms an appropriate conclusion, must not be inserted by a sort of dialectical machinery into the individual’s own character, for otherwise the person as this personality is only an empty indeterminate form instead of growing in a living way along with determinate aims and a defined character.

It is something different again if a change in the whole man’s inner condition appears itself to be a logical consequence of precisely his own peculiarities, so that what develops and emerges is something that was implicit in his character from the start. For example, in King Lear, Lear’s original folly is intensified into madness in his old age, just as Gloucester’s mental blindness is changed into actual physical blindness and only then are his eyes opened to the true difference in the love of his sons.

It is precisely Shakespeare who gives us, in contrast to this portrayal of vacillating characters inwardly divided against themselves, the finest examples of firm and consistent characters who come to ruin simply because of this decisive adherence to themselves and their aims. Without ethical justification, but upheld solely by the formal inevitability of their personality, they allow themselves to be lured to their deed by external circumstances, or they plunge blindly on and persevere by the strength of their will, even if now what they do they accomplish only from the necessity of maintaining themselves against others or because they have reached once and for all the point that they have reached. The passion, implicitly in keeping with the man’s character, had not broken out hitherto, but now it arises and is fully developed – this progress and history of a great soul, its inner development, the picture of its self-destructive struggle against circumstances, events, and their consequences – all this is the main theme in many of Shakespeare’s most interesting tragedies.

The last important point – the one we now have still to discuss – concerns the tragic denouement to which the modern characters are driven as well as the sort of tragic reconciliation with which this is compatible. In Greek tragedy it is eternal justice which, as the absolute power of fate, saves and maintains the harmony of the substance of the ethical order against the particular powers which were becoming independent and therefore colliding, and because of the inner rationality of its sway we are satisfied when we see individuals coming to ruin. If a similar justice appears in modern tragedy, then, owing to the non-universal nature of aims and characters, it is colder, more like criminal justice, owing to the greater reflectiveness of the wrong and crime into which individuals are forced when they are intent on accomplishing their ends. For example, Macbeth, Lear’s elder daughters and their husbands, Richard Ill, the President in [Schiller’s] Intrigue and Love, deserve for their atrocities nothing better than what happens to them. This sort of denouement is usually so presented that the individuals are shipwrecked on a power confronting them which they had deliberately defied in the pursuit of their own private ends. So, for example, Wallenstein is wrecked by the stability of the Emperor’s power, but even old Piccolomini, who in [secretly] upholding the established order has become a traitor to his friend and misused the form of friendship, is punished by the death of his son who was sacrificed to the end that his father really wanted to achieve.[146] Götz von Berlichingen too attacks an existent and firmly established political order and therefore perishes, just as Weislingen and Adelheid[147] meet an unfortunate end owing to wrong and disloyalty, although they are on the side of this legal order and its power. This subjectivity of character immediately implies the demand that the individuals must have shown themselves inwardly reconciled to their own particular fate. This satisfaction may be religious when the heart knows that it is assured of a higher and indestructible bliss in exchange for the destruction of its mundane individuality, or alternatively it may be of a more abstract and mundane kind when the strength and equanimity of the character persists, even to destruction, without breaking, and so preserves its subjective freedom, in the face of all circumstances and misfortunes, with energy unjeopardized; or, finally, it may be more concrete owing to a recognition that its fate, however bitter, is merely the one appropriate to its action.

But on the other hand the tragic denouement is also displayed as purely the effect of unfortunate circumstances and external accidents which might have turned out otherwise and produced a happy ending. In this case the sole spectacle offered to us is that the modern individual with the non-universal nature of his character, his circumstances, and the complications in which he is involved, is necessarily surrendered to the fragility of all that is mundane and must endure the fate of finitude. But this mere affliction is empty, and, in particular, we are confronted by a purely horrible external necessity when we see fine minds, noble in themselves, perishing in such a battle against the misfortune of entirely external circumstances. Such a history may touch us acutely, and yet it seems only dreadful and we feel a pressing demand for a necessary correspondence between the external circumstances and what the inner nature of those fine characters really is. It is only from this point of view that we can feel ourselves reconciled in e.g. the fate of Hamlet or Juliet. Looked at from the outside, Hamlet’s death seems to be brought about accidentally owing to the fight with Laertes and the exchange of rapiers. But death lay from the beginning in the background of Hamlet’s mind. The sands of time do not content him. In his melancholy and weakness, his worry, his disgust at all the affairs of life, we sense from the start that in all his terrible surroundings he is a lost man, almost consumed already by inner disgust before death comes to him from outside. The same is the case in Romeo and Juliet. The soil on which these tender blooms were planted is foreign to them, and we are left with nothing but to bewail the tragic transience of so beautiful a love which is shattered by the crazy calculations of a noble and well-meaning cleverness, just as a tender rose in the vale of this transitory world is withered by rude storms and tempests. But the woe that we feel is only a grievous reconciliation, an unhappy bliss in misfortune.

(ββ) Since the poets present to us the mere downfall of individuals, they can equally well give such a turn to equally accidental complications that, however little other circumstances may also seem to produce this result, a happy outcome for the situation and the characters can be produced, and this is something which may be of interest to us. A happy denouement has at least as much justification as an unhappy one, and when it is a matter of considering this difference alone, I must admit that for my part a happy denouement is to be preferred. And why not? To prefer misfortune, just because it is misfortune, instead of a happy resolution, has no other basis but a certain superior sentimentality which indulges in grief and suffering and finds more interest in them than in the painless situations that it regards as commonplace. Thus if the interests at issue are in themselves of such a kind that it is really not worthwhile for an individual to sacrifice himself for them, since without self-sacrifice he can renounce them or come to an agreement with others about them, then the conclusion need not be tragic. For the tragedy of conflicts and their resolution must in general prevail only where this is necessary for justifying them in virtue of some higher outlook. But if there is no such inevitability, mere suffering and misfortune are not justified by anything. This is the natural reason for plays and dramas that are midway between tragedy and comedy. I have already indicated the strictly poetical element in this kind of dramatic poetry. But in Germany touching features of civil life and family circles have been all the rage or there has been preoccupation with chivalry to which an impetus has been given since the time of Goethe’s Götz, but what has been celebrated above all in this field and most frequently is the triumph of the subjectively moral outlook. The usual topics here are money and property, class-differences, unfortunate love-affairs, mental wickedness in trifling matters and narrow social circles, and the like, and, in general, with what we see elsewhere every day, only with this difference that in these moralizing plays virtue and duty win the day and vice is put to shame and punished or is moved to repentance, so that the reconciliation is supposed to lie in this moral conclusion where both vice and virtue get their due. Thus the chief interest is made to lie in the individual’s own personal disposition and the goodness or evil of his heart. But the more the abstract moral disposition is made the kingpin, the less can it be a passionate concentration on something, on a really substantial end, that the individual is tied to, while in the last resort even a definite character cannot hold out and accomplish its aim. For once everything is shuffled into the moral disposition and the heart, there is no support any longer, given this subjectivity and strength of moral reflection, for a character otherwise firm or at least for his personal ends. The heart can break, and its dispositions may alter. Such touching plays as Kotzebue’s Menschenhass und Reue [Misanthropy and Repentance] and many of the moral trespasses in Iffland’s dramas, taken strictly, have a result which is really neither good nor bad. The chief theme usually ends in forgiveness and the promise of reform and then there appears every possibility of inner conversion and the repudiation of the old self. Here there is of course the lofty nature and the greatness of the spirit. But if the young wastrel, like most of Kotzebue’s characters and like Iffland’s too here and there, is a blackguard, a rascal, and now promises to reform, then in the case of such a fellow who is worthless from the start, conversion is only hypocrisy, or so superficial that it has not gripped his heart, and an end has been made of the thing in only an external way for a moment, but at bottom it can only lead to false starts when the thing is only played over and over again from the beginning.

(γγ) Finally, in modern comedy especially there is an essentially important difference on which I have touched already in connection with Greek comedy, namely whether the folly and one-sidedness of the dramatis personae appears laughable to the audience only or to themselves as well, whether therefore the characters in the comedy can be mocked solely by the audience or by themselves also. Aristophanes, the comic author par excellence, made the latter alternative the fundamental principle of his plays. But in the new comedy in Greece and later in Plautus and Terence the opposite tendency was developed, and this has acquired such universal prominence in modern comedy that a multitude of our comic productions verges more or less on what is purely prosaically laughable and even on what is bitter and repugnant. This is the attitude especially of Moliére, for example, in his more subtle comedies which are not meant to be farces. There is a reason for prose here, namely that the characters are deadly serious in their aims. They pursue them therefore with all the fervour of this seriousness and when at the end they are deceived or have their aim frustrated by themselves, they cannot join in the laughter freely and with satisfaction but, duped, are the butt of the laughter of others, often mixed as it is with malice. So, for example, Moliére’s Tartuffe, le faux dévot, is unmasked as a downright villain, and this is not funny at all but a very serious matter; and the duping of the deceived Orgon leads to such painful misfortune that it can be assuaged only by a deus ex machina, i.e. when the police officer at the end says to him [11. 1905-9]:

Remettez-vous, monsieur, d'une alarme si chaude,
Nous vivons sous un prince, ennemi de la fraude,
Un prince dont les yeux se font jour dans les cours,
Et que ne peut tromper tout Part des imposteurs.

There is nothing really comical either about the odious idée fixe of such rigid characters as Moliére’s miser[148] whose absolutely serious involvement in his narrow passion inhibits any liberation of his mind from this restriction.

Next, as a substitute for this kind of thing, mastery in this field has the best opportunity for its cleverness by displaying its subtly developed skill in the precise portrayal of characters or the carrying out of a well-considered intrigue. The intrigue generally arises from the fact that an individual tries to achieve his aims by deceiving other people. He seems to share their interests and to further them, but this false furtherance actually produces the contradiction of falling into his own trap and so coming to grief himself. Next, on the other hand, the opposite means are commonly employed, i.e. the individual puts a false face on himself in order to put others into a similar perplexity: this coming and going makes possible in the most ingenious way endless tergiversation and complicated involvement in all sorts of situation. In inventing such intrigues and their complications the Spanish are the finest masters and have given us in this sphere much that is attractive and excellent. The subject-matter here is provided by interests such as love, honour, etc. In tragedy these lead to the most profound collisions, but in comedy (for example, the pride which will not confess a love that has been long felt and at the end is just for this reason betrayed) they are clearly without substance from the start and are annulled comically. Finally, the characters who contrive and conduct such intrigues in modern comedy are usually, like the slaves in Roman comedy, servants or chambermaids who have no respect for the aims of their masters, but further them or frustrate them as their own advantage dictates and only give us the laughable spectacle of masters being really the servants, or the servants masters, or at least they provide an occasion for other comic situations which they contrive by external means or by their own arrangements. We ourselves, as spectators, are in the secret and we can always feel assured in the face of all the cunning and every betrayal, often very seriously pursued against the most estimable fathers, uncles, etc., and now we can laugh over every contradiction implicit or obvious in such trickeries.

In this way modern comedy displays to the spectators (partly in character-sketches, partly in comical complications of situations and circumstances) private interests and characters involved in them with their casual obliquities, absurdities, unusual behaviour, and follies. But such a frank joviality as pervades the comedies of Aristophanes as a constant reconciliation does not animate this kind of modern comedy at all. Indeed these comedies of intrigue may be actually repulsive when downright evil, the cunning of servants, the deceitfulness of sons and wards, gains the victory over honest masters, fathers, and trustees when these older people have themselves not been actuated by bad prejudice or eccentricities which would have made them laughable in their helpless folly and put them at the mercy of the projects of other people.

Nevertheless, in contrast to this on the whole prosaic way of treating comedy, the modern world has developed a type of comedy which is truly comical and truly poetic. Here once again the keynote is good humour, assured and careless gaiety despite all failure and misfortune, exuberance and the audacity of a fundamentally happy craziness, folly, and idiosyncrasy in general. Consequently there is presented here once more (in a deeper wealth and inwardness of humour), whether in wider or narrower circles of society, in a subject-matter whether important or trivial, what Aristophanes achieved to perfection in his field in Greece. As a brilliant example of this sort of thing I will name Shakespeare once again, in conclusion, but without going into detail.

Now, with the development of the kinds of comedy we have reached the real end of our philosophical inquiry. We began with symbolic art where personality struggles to find itself as form and content and to become objective to itself. We proceeded to the plastic art of Greece where the Divine, now conscious of itself, is presented to us in living individuals. We ended with the romantic art of emotion and deep feeling where absolute subjective personality moves free in itself and in the spiritual world. Satisfied in itself, it no longer unites itself with anything objective and particularized and it brings the negative side of this dissolution into consciousness in the humour of comedy. Yet on this peak comedy leads at the same time to the dissolution of art altogether. All art aims at the identity, produced by the spirit, in which eternal things, God, and absolute truth are revealed in real appearance and shape to our contemplation, to our hearts and minds. But if comedy presents this unity only as its self-destruction because the Absolute, which wants to realize itself, sees its self-actualization destroyed by interests that have now become explicitly free in the real world and are directed only on what is accidental and subjective, then the presence and agency of the Absolute no longer appears positively unified with the characters and aims of the real world but asserts itself only in the negative form of cancelling everything not correspondent with it, and subjective personality alone shows itself self-confident and self-assured at the same time in this dissolution.

Now at the end we have arranged every essential category of the beautiful and every essential form of art into a philosophical garland, and weaving it is one of the worthiest tasks that philosophy is capable of completing. For in art we have to do, not with any agreeable or useful child’s play, but with the liberation of the spirit from the content and forms of finitude, with the presence and reconciliation of the Absolute in what is apparent and visible, with an unfolding of the truth which is not exhausted in natural history but revealed in world-history. Art itself is the most beautiful side of that history and it is the best compensation for hard work in the world and the bitter labour for knowledge. For this reason my treatment of the subject could not consist in a mere criticism of works of art or an instruction for producing them. My one aim has been to seize in thought and to prove the fundamental nature of the beautiful and art, and to follow it through all the stages it has gone through in the course of its realization.

I hope that in this chief point my exposition has satisfied you. And now when the link forged between us generally and in relation to our common aim has been broken, it is my final wish that the higher and indestructible bond of the Idea of beauty and truth may link us and keep us firmly united now and forever.


1. Sound is heard, not seen, but an activity of mind is required to interpret the sound as music and the meaning of the music as an expression of the inner life.

2. vii. 228. ‘Here four thousand from the Peloponnese fought against three myriads’, an elegiac distich. Hegel follows Herodotus in taking the four thousand to be the number of the dead, whereas it is simply the number of those who fought. (,Poetry’ in Greek originally means ‘making’. Cf. Scots ‘makar’.)

3. i.e. the thinking of the man in the street as distinct from the scientific thinking of the Under-standing and the philosophical (or ‘speculative’) thinking of Reason.

4. A collection of hexameters, a series of old and well-known maxims, written or collected not by Pythagoras but by later Pythagoreans.

5. For Hegel, the physical and natural sciences are the province of the ‘Understanding’ but, in the sphere of practice, so is economics (see, for instance, Philosophy of Right, § 189). It has not exactly a practical aim, but seeks universal rules, disregarding individual activities, just as the individual apple is of no importance to the theory of gravitation.

6. This is not put as a quotation in the text, but it is clearly a reminiscence of Ranke’s famous words in the preface to his History of the Roman and Germanic Peoples (1824). At that time Ranke was Hegel’s colleague in Berlin.

7. In Hegel’s view, historians must report the facts, but the philosopher penetrates below them to their underlying substance and moving force–i.e. the accomplishment of the will of God. In the sphere of art, the poet can do this too.

8. Or conceiving things. Vorstellen. There is no single English word which will convey the range of meanings that Hegel packs into Vorstellen in this section. His point is quite simple and could have been put more briefly: In primitive times prose has not been developed and there is no clear distinction between poetry and prose; poetry describes the facts in language that can be called either poetic or prosaic. After prose has been developed, poetry is distinguished from It by not being literal but figurative or metaphorical. Its way of putting or looking at things is thus imaginative (voTstelienti) rather than prosaic. The poetic idea (Vorstellung) is imaginative.

9. In kindergarten schools children used to be taught reading by being first made to enunciate the sounds of the letters.

10. Homer’s usual description of the dawn.–Throughout this section Hegel is working with a usual eighteenth-century distinction between ‘natural’ and arbitrary’ signs. Pictures and sculptures are, in a sense, what they represent, while words only convey meanings by arbitrary convention.

11. Iliad. xi. 558 ff.

12. On Horace at least this is an extraordinary judgement, but a failure to understand and appreciate his Odes has been shared even by more recent German scholars.

13. Schiller’s Robbers, Fiesco, Intrigue and Love, like Goethe’s Götz, Egmont, Tasso, and Iphigenia, were written in prose. ‘This was part of the mania for returning to Nature. Verse was pronounced unnatural’ (G. H. Lewes, Life of Goethe, ed. cit., p. 263). Goethe later versified the two plays mentioned by Hegel.

14. In scansion, a vowel, even if normally short, becomes long if it is succeeded by two or more consonants.

15. Horace, Odes, II. iii. 2.



18. J. H. Voss, the author of Luise, ‘old’ compared with his son, H. Voss (1779-1822) was regarded by himself and others as an authority on prosody. His translation of Homer into German hexameters (still respected, if not by Hegel) is much more important than Luise.

19. i.e. the curtailment of the last foot which may be a trochee instead of a spondee.

20. e.g. on the last syllable of every foot in an iambic line.

21. In amaverunt, the accent cannot fall on the stem, i.e. on am.

22. What Hegel has in mind throughout this passage is the difference between Latin amaverunt (where modifying syllables ramify from the stem, am, to provide tense, aver, and number and person. unt), and German Sie haben geliebt. He argues that an accentual prosody, e.g. in modern German, involves a loss of rhythmical subtlety in comparison with Latin where the stress accent of natural speech forms a sort of counterpoint to a quantitative metrical scheme made possible by long inflected words.

23. i.e. the classical quantities were not observed: e.g. ‘salvator’ came to be wrongly accented on the first syllable with the result that the long a of the second was shortened.

24. Medieval Latin verse in hexameters or alternate hexameters and pentameters where the final word rhymed with the one immediately before the caesura.

25. Lays in Icelandic, collected possibly in the eleventh century, as distinct from the younger Edda of Sturluson, a thirteenth-century prose commentary on the former.

26. Hotho provides this reference, but it cannot have been Hegel’s (since his final lectures on aesthetics were in 1828-9) unless he inserted it in 1830 in his notes for his lectures, and Hotho drew it from there.

27. The point appears to be that, while a sonnet can be complete in itself, the stanzas of the Divine Comedy, though often ending with a full-stop, are part of a continuous narrative and so not complete in themselves.

28. i.e. J. H. Voss, I751-I826. See above, p. 1017 n. I.

29. The motto prefixed to the section of Goethe’s poems called Antiker Form sich nähernd('Approaching the classical form’).

30. So far as we know, Parmenides expounded his philosophy entirely in hexameters; Hegel means that more of the spirit of poetry is to be found in the Proem which describes the author’s journey from night to daylight and the teaching of the goddess which Hegel summarized here. In dealing with Parmenides in his History of Philosophy, Hegel says: ‘This allegorical preface is majestic. ...Everywhere in it there is an energetic, impetuous soul which strives with Being in order to grasp and express it.’

31. i.e. as distinct from the prosaic order mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

32. Iliad, i. 194 ff.

33. Hegel was in advance of his time when he repudiated the Homeric scholarship of his contemporaries. More recent scholars have abandoned the idea that Homer was a committee. For a summary of the arguments for unity, see, for example, C. M. Bowra in the Oxford Classical Dictionary, s.v. Homer. ‘Perhaps the Homeric poems were not written by Homer, but by another poet of the same name’ is an old saying, but even modern scholars would not regard Homer as the sole begetter of the two epics.

34. Iliad, xvii. 360-5.

35. e.g. Odyssey, vii. 88, xvii. 221, xxi. 42.

36. Iliad, xviii

37. i.e. his ‘bardic’ plays, plays interspersed with bardic songs and choruses. Three of these plays are about Hermann, i.e. Anninius, chief of the Cherusci, who destroyed Varus, A.D. 9, at the Teutoburg battle, and became the ‘liberator of Germany’ (Tacitus, Ann. ii. 88). Thusnelda was his wife.

38. Dichtung und Wahrheit, part i, book iv.

39. From the section entitled Alttestamentliehes in the long notes and dissertations which Goethe appended to the West-östliehe Divan.

40. For Hegel’s conception of the soul, see his Encyclopaedia, §§ 388 ff. Soul, as feeling, disposition, and temperament, is natural, rather than spiritual; although it is the first, and therefore inadequate, form in which spirit rises above nature, it still has a natural basis.

41. By America, as is clear from his Philosophy of History (Ww.2 ix, pp. 100-8), Hegel means both North and South, and he envisages a possible war between the two. Hence here he may be contrasting the relatively rational order of the United States with the disorder, disconnection, and chaos of South America in his day.

42. These are titles of books by Fichte and Lessing, but Hegel may not be referring to them specifically.

43. The Mass, §§ 2, 13, 17. Bishop of Spires, § 25 (Eng. tr. Has ‘preserve their honour there’). Danube women (i.e. ‘water fairies’), § 25.

44. In Vol. I, pp. 480-1.

45. In Vol. I, pp. 225 ff.

46. A. Blumauer, Austrian poet, 1755-98; Virgils Aeneis travestirt, 1783


48. Odyssey, viii. 266-366 (but this denouement is not there).

49.Aeneid, iv. Cf. canto xvi of Jerusalem Delivered.

50. Hegel apparently knew nothing of Marlowe or Purcell.

51. Odyssey, x and v.

52. Ibid., xi. Hegel’s memory of Odysseus’ first encounter with the shades is a little at fault. For Virgil, see Aeneid, vi.

52. Iliad, xxii. 431 ff.; xviii. 79 ff.; i. 59 ff.; vi. 369 ff.

53. 1759-1824. His Prolegomena ad Homerum was published in 1795, his commentary on the Iliad later.

54. These belong to the Christian era and might be as late as C. A.D.800. In any case, they are apparently some centuries later than the two great epics.

55. Collections, i.e. the earliest collection of pre-Islamic poems, compiled by Hammad al Rawiya in the eighth-century A.D.

56. Hegel is relying here on F. Rückert’s translation of the Hamasa and on information from him about the poems now transliterated ‘Hudhaylites’.

57. Landowner, not gardener (A, J. Arberry, Classical Persia” Literature, London I958, p. 43. Arberry adds that Firdausi’s chief source was the prose Shahnama of Abu Mansur. ‘Bastanama’ may therefore be a doubtful transliteration.)

58. The first volume of Niebuhr’s Roman History was published in rSn and Hegel is probably referring to this. In Niebuhr’s hands ‘the tale which our fathers had believed on the authority of Livy sank to the level of a myth, the invention of a poet’ (E. A. Freeman’s review of Mommsen’s History).

59. William Shaw, 1749-1831. Author of a Gaelic–English Dictionary, 1780. See Boswell’s Johnson, December I 783. N ethertheless Hegel seems to have been right. See D. S. Thomson, The Gaelic Sources of Macpherson’s ‘Ossian’ (1952).

60. In 1801 there appeared The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, a vast compendium of early Welsh poetry and prose, mostly printed for the first time from manuscript sources. However, in additon to the medieval Welsh Triads in the volume, which are genuine and ancient, there is the so-called ‘Third Series’ of triads, which are spurious. At Hegel’s date this series was the only one which had been translated into English, and presumably the only one of which he had information. His references to its contents are both drawn from that translation, but his version of the second is very garbled. This note I owe to Dr. Rachel Bromwich, the authority on the Welsh Triads. Hegel’s knowledge of them may have been derived from an article in an English newspaper or periodical.

61. Presumably Hymir, the frost-giant, the mead-, or beer-, drinker, of the Hymiskvitha (see, for instance, The Poetic Edda, tr. H. A. Benows, New York,192 3).

62. Late in his life Herder produced in German verse a number of the Romances of the Cid, based on a French version of the Spanish original.

63. Mnemosyne, Hegel writes, i.e. Memory, the mother of the Muses.

64. Both of these were Paladins of Charlemagne.

65. 1165-1223. But the Chanson de Roland, for example, is earlier.

66. Amadis of Gaul, a Spanish or Portuguese romance, partly compiled from French materials, was produced early in the sixteenth century by G. de Montalvo. There are continuations, relating the adventures of the son, nephews, and grandson of Amadis.

67. The Decameron was published in 1349-58.

68. e.g. the French Roman d'Alexandre of the twelfth century.

69. Orlando Furioso was published in 1532; Don Quixote in I605-15·

70. Published in 1581.

71. Published in 1572.

72. The Cranes of Ibycus: Ibycus sees in a flight of them his avengers as he lies dying at the hands of robbers, who are in fact discovered, as a result of that flight, by the Furies, i.e. by the ‘Eumenides’ as Schiller and Hegel write.

73. Since the numerous Odes (e.g. i. 20, iii. 28, iv. 12, etc.) to which Hegel refers are invitations to a future feast, we ought not to be surprised at not being told the outcome. But Hegel seems to be.

74. F. Baron von Logau, 1604-55; Deutsche Sinngedichte drei tausend (Three Thousand German Epigrams), I654·

75. e.g. the ‘Romances’ of the Cid, some of which Herder translated into Gennan verse, mentioned already on p. 1102 above.

76. This is doubtless a reference to Percy’s Reliques, first published in 1765.

77. G. A., 1747-94. His best-known ballad is Lenore (1773).

78. i.e. seventh-century B.C.

79. In the poem, the stanzas alternate. The description of a stage in the casting of a bell is by an expression of the feelings or reflections to which that stage gives rise.

80. Odes, i. 22. An upright man needs no weapons. So whatever dangers may come, wolves or other, I will go on loving Lalage undisturbed.

81. Cidli is the name that Klopstock gave to Jairus’s daughter in the Messiah, iv, 674. She is supposed to be a presentation of Fanny Schmidt, Klopstock’s beloved in Langensalza.

82. ‘My all I've set at nought’, the first line of the poem headed Vanitas! vanitatum vanitas! The ‘refrain’ is juchhe, hurrah!

83. The reference is to a Serbo-Croat folk-song which Goethe adapted (see the first of his Vermischte Gedichte) from Herder’s collection of folk-songs. Asan Aga was a Serbian hero. Morlaccian is (or was) a dialect of Serbo-Croat spoken at Morlaccia on the Dalmatian ,coast.

84. The chief of the Minnesingers (courtly minstrels) was W. von der Vogelweide, c. I200.

85. It is after expressing wrath that he was not mentioned in some of Horace’s Epistles that Augustus added: ‘Are you afraid that it will go ill with your posthumous fame if you seem to be a friend of ours?’ This prompted Horace to provide what Augustus wanted, i.e. an Epistle addressed to himself (see Ep. ii. I).

86. ‘If a surly janitor makes difficulties, come away.’

87. Pindar was born within the jurisdiction of Thebes but he does not seem to have shared the Theban non-intervention in the Persian War. The letter attributed to Aeschines is not now regarded as genuine. Isocrates (On the Antidosis, § 166) says that Athens gave Pindar 10,000 drachmae. Apollo’s declaration is reported in the life of Pindar prefixed to editions of his works.

88. This is a term of approbation. In Hegel’s vocabulary ‘speculative’ thinking is concrete in terms of ‘reason’ as opposed to the abstract categories of the ‘understanding’ (to use Kant’s distinction). The neatest way of putting Hegel’s point is Niels Bohr’s remark to his son: ‘You are just being logical, you are not thinking’ (Professor N. Kemmer heard this said in Copenhagen in 1951-2).

89. An eight-line stanza, rhyming ab, ab, ab, ee, as, for example, in Byron’s Don Juan.

90. ‘Romantic’, not in the sense of a nineteenth-century movement, but in Hegel’s sense of the type of art which is post-classica1. ‘Modern’ in the sense in which we speak of ‘modern’ languages. The argument of this paragraph apparently requires us to interpret ‘romantic’ as ‘medieval’, and ‘modern’ as sixteenth or seventeenth century, and this was normal usage in, for instance, F. Schlegel.

91. It is a Greek word, originally meaning ‘song’.

92. Nomenclature here is not easy in English. German can distinguish between Gesang (something actually sung, or essentially a tune) and Lied (a song with both words and music). But, as here, Lied may be a lyric, or lay, which indeed may, but need not, be set to music; and Mendelssohn’s Lieder have no words. In English, many lyrics are called ‘songs’ but by no means all of those included in Hegel’s category here. The French distinction between chanson and chant is similar to the German.

93. Goethe’s poem, set to music by Schubert.

94. Poem with six stanzas of six lines and final triplet, each stanza having the same words as the others ending its lines but in different order (O.E.D.).

95. Psalm 150: 6.

96. Elegiac couplets are a dactylic hexameter followed by a dactylic pentameter. The caesura is normally penthemimeral in both, i.e. comes at the end of two-and-a-half feet.

97. e.g. Callinus of Ephesus, whom Hegel has already mentioned and may have in mind.

98. e.g. in the ‘scorpion-tongued’ Archilochus, still, like CaIlinus, of the seventh century B.C.

99. She, like Alcaeus, may be slightly later than Archilochus.

100. Drinking songs composed by Terpander, contemporary with these others, and by e.g. Alcaeus and Pindar.

101. Hegel presumably has e.g. Callimachus and Theocritus in mind.

102. 1700-66.

103. The Manesse Codex, a collection of German medieval lyrics, include poems by Emperor Henry IV and Conradin, both of the Staufen line.

104. This quotation, and the one which follows, are from Klopstock’s poem Die États Généraux.

105. i.e. the French Revolution.

106. This remark rests on Hegel’s philosophy of history. For him, history is not a tale told by an idiot but the work of Reason which, even in apparent disasters, is still pursuing its ends, cunningly if not overtly. If this view be correct, Klopstock’s was too pessimistic.

107. Klopstock died in 1803. Schiller in 1805. Goethe was still living when Hegel lectured, and this may be why he is not mentioned in this paragraph, but only in the next.

108. e.g. in the Antigone, the ‘spiritual power’ of family piety is independently personified in her, while Creon is the independent personification of law and the state. The drama exposes the one-sidedness of both; and the tragedy is the result of the hostility arising from this one-sidedness, which is ‘dissolved’ in the sense that both powers are ultimately and truly seen to be complementary and not independent of one another (see below, p. 1195, n. 3)·

109. This difference between subjective and objective ‘pathos’ is explained below, when Hegel discusses dramatic dialogue.

110. The contrast (and equivalence) which Hegel has in mind is that between the violent language of the German Sturm und Drang drama and the formal and stilted language of French classical drama.

111. In Greek dramatic dialogue, spondees and anapaests are allowed at certain points in an iambic trimeter.

112. In the Prelude to Act IV of this play.

113. A secreta agravia, secreta venganlla.

114. El médica de su honra.

115. This play (El principe constante), among others, was translated by A. W. Schlegel.

116. In his essay Über die Iphigenie auf Tauris.

117. Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide was first produced in 1774 and his Iphigénie en Tquride in 1779.

118. The Mimes of Herodas were known only in a few fragments until some were discovered in a papyrus in 1891. The Greek mime was a kind of dramatic sketch, illustrating scenes from everyday life.

119. Octavio Piccolomini is a Lieut.-General, raised to be a Prince for his share in Wallenstein’s murder. Countess Terzky is Wallenstein’s sister-in-law; she knows that Octavio is guilty and prefers a death to a dishonoured life. Gordon is the Commandant at Eger where murder takes place. Buttler commands a regiment of dragoons. ‘It is to the Prince Piccolomini” i.e. the first notification of Octavio’s elevation, are the final words of the play before the curtain falls.

120. The reference is to Cicero’s letters. See Epist. ad. Fam., VII. i. 2.

121. i.e. dumb-show acting.

122. The construction of Hegel’s sentence has been interpreted differently. He has been taken to mean either that the tragic figures explain the rather abstract statues or that the latter cast light on the former better than commentators can. Like Bénard, and unlike others, I prefer the second interpretation. The mention of ‘notes’ seems to me to refer to the notes of commentators on Greek tragedies. This interpretation is confirmed by the final paragraph of the first chapter of the section on Sculpture.

123. This distinction between ‘ethical order’ (Siulichkeit) and ‘abstract morality’ (Moralität) is expounded at length in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (or Law), p:.rts :1; and 3. See also in Vol. I, the Translator’s Preface.

124. For Hegel, the substantive basis of life is the Divine, and this is at least a moral order which ultimately rules. But this substantive basis is universal, and everything in the real world is particular. Consequently this order, or the Divine, must be particularized when it is effective in the real world. Thus the moral substance of Greek life is particularized in a group of gods, each (or some of them) with a part of the moral sphere as his (or her) own. Thus in tragedy the sphere of one god (or goddess) may conflict with that of another (e.g. in, Antigone, see pp. 1217-8 below). When Hegel talks about the ‘Divine’ he does not always make clear whether it is Greek or Christian (or his own) ideas that are predominant, but, in dealing with tragedy, it is Greek ideas that are uppermost in his mind.

125. In Hegel’s terminology these alternatives are ‘substance’ and ‘subject’. It is necessary to keep in mind the principle to which he always adhered and which he formulated in the Preface to his Phenomenology by saying that ‘in my view everything depends on grasping and expressing the truth not only as substance but as subject as well’.

126. Hegel’s distinction between reality and actuality has given rise to numerous misunderstandings. A man with an amputated limb is ‘real’, he exists, but he is not ‘actual’ because he is not what a man is meant to be; he does not conform to the concept or essential nature of man. Actuality is a complete correspondence of reality with its concept. Cf. the Translator’s Preface to Vol. I.

127. The moral value of Kotzebue’s plays was questioned by Schiller as well as by Hegel. See references in the Index, s.v, Schiller’s Shakespeare’s Ghost,

128. ‘Why have you screwed up your faces? Because I have said that this will be a tragedy? I am a god: I will change it if you like and make it a comedy, and with all the same lines too ... I will make it a mixture, a tragicomedy.’

129. This is a term drawn from Hegel’s Logic (e.g. Enc. § 147). What is ‘really’ possible is something possible in certain real circumstances, and, indeed, is really potent there. ‘Pigs might fly’ may be a possibility, but not a ‘real’ one.

130. A., 1774-1829.

131. Two aspects of the substantial or ethical order are the law of the land and family love. If these are not differentiated and the order is regarded as an harmonious whole, then action may be difficult, for in practice these aspects may conflict. And to sense this possible conflict may be to shrink from action.

132. Ideally, or sub specie aeternitatis, these ‘powers’ are a unity. But, in the real and therefore finite world, the universal, or ideal, is necessarily differentiated J and some of these powers, in their realization, become opposed to others. The naive consciousness is the undifferentiated basis and substratum of Greek ethical life from which the protagonist detaches himself, causes conflict, and has to suffer. In the ensuing struggle the naive consciousness, half horrified and half admiring, can only oppose to the protagonist’s energy its own knowledge of the moral substance of life.

133. The last line of Schiller’s Shakespeares Schatten. ‘Is nothing great but only your own contemptible nature to be brought on the stage?’, Shakespeare’s ghost asks. Schiller sarcastically makes the reply that Kotzebue and others might make: ‘After giving vice more than its fill in the earlier scenes, the poet makes a bow to virtue at the end.’ See Hegel’s remarks on plays by Kotzebue and Iffland on p. 1233 below, where Schiller’s poem is again in his mind.

134. Hegel simply means that, as human beings ('concretely existent’), individuals have an entirety of obligations (are under the dominion of all the ‘ethical powers’) but their overmastering ‘pathos’ is identified with one obligation alone, with the result that when one individual fights against another individual who is similarly overmastered by a different obligation, they are both caught in a fight against themselves.

135. The boast is not unreasonable, as these lectures surely prove. ‘Of this kind’, nach dieser Seite. The meaning of this qualification has been much disputed. Did Hegel merely mean that the Antigone was the finest of Greek tragedies, or did he put it above Shakespeare? His meaning, however, is clear from what he says later when he contrasts Greek tragedy with modern. His point is that the Antigone is the finest portrayal of what he regards as the greatest tragic conflict, i.e. one where the issue is not merely personal arising from e.g. jealousy like Othello’s, but one where both parties are under the necessity of transgressing; they are divided against themselves; neither of them can obey both the valid laws to which they are subject.

136. The Clouds.

137. The Frogs

138. The Knights.

139. Ecclesiazusae and Thesmophariazusae.

140. Peace

141. i.e., presumably, as meaning something suffered, or something to which a man succumbs, the opposite of action. Hegel seems here to be emphasizing the connection between Leiden (suffering) and Leidenschaft (passion). But he is soon using ‘passion’ in the ordinary sense as meaning something driving a man to act.

142. i.e. in Greek tragedy the ‘pathos’ or ruling passion is ‘substantial’, i.e. has a moral or objective basis. In the Spanish tragedies, love may be ‘substantial’ in a sense, but it is only subjective after all, and therefore, so to say, or ‘as it were’, subjectively substantial, and the substantiality inhibits romantic individualization.

143. As You Like It, II. vii. 139.

144. In Vol. I, pp. 237-41.

145. I773-8.

146. The son declined to follow his father’s devious ways. He therefore openly deserted Wallenstein instead of pretending to follow him. He is then killed in action against one of Wallenstein’s regiments.

147. Also in Goethe’s Götz.

148. Harpagon in L'Avare.