Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics. Part 2
The centre of art is a unification, self-enclosed so as to be a free totality, a unification of the content with its entirely adequate shape. This reality, coinciding with the Concept of the beautiful, towards which the symbolic form of art strove in vain, is first brought into appearance by classical art. We have therefore in our earlier treatment of the Idea of the beautiful already settled in advance the general nature of the classical; the Ideal provides the content and form of classical art which in this adequate mode of configuration achieves what true art is in its essential nature.
But there contributed to this perfection all the particular factors, the development of which we took as the content of the foregoing Section. For classical beauty has for its inner being the free independent meaning, i.e. not a meaning of this or that but what means [Bedeutende] itself and therefore intimates [Deutende] itself. This is spirit, which in general makes itself into an object to itself. In this objectivity of itself it then has the form of externality which, as identical with its own inner being, is therefore on its side the meaning of its own self and, in knowing itself, it points to itself. We started, even in the case of the symbolic sphere, from the unity of meaning and its sensuous mode of appearance produced by art, but this unity was only immediate and therefore inadequate. For the proper content either remained the natural itself in its substance and abstract universality, for which reason, although the isolated natural existent was regarded as the actual determinate being of that universality, it could not represent that universality in a corresponding way; or else when what was purely inner and graspable by spirit alone was made the content, it thereby acquired an equally inadequate appearance in something foreign to itself, namely in something immediately individual and sensuous. In general, meaning and shape stood only in a relation of mere affinity and allusiveness, and however nearly they could be brought into connection in certain respects, they all the same in other respects fell apart from one another. This primitive unity was therefore broken: for Indian conceptions the abstractly simple inner and ideal stands on one side, the varied reality of nature and finite human existence on the other; and imagination in the restlessness of its ardour rushed hither and thither from one to the other without being able to bring the Ideal on its own account to pure absolute independence or really to fill it with the available and transformed material of appearance and therein represent it in peaceful unification. The confusion and grotesqueness in the mixture of elements striving against one another did likewise disappear again but only to give place to an equally unsatisfying enigma which instead of solving the problem was only able to pose the task of solving it. For here too there was still absent that freedom and independence of the content which appears only through the inner’s coming into consciousness as total in itself and therefore as overlapping the externality which at first is other than and strange to it. This independence in and by itself as the free absolute meaning is the self-consciousness which has the Absolute for its content, spiritual subjectivity for its form. Contrasted with this self-determining, thinking, and willing power, everything else is only relatively and momentarily independent. The sensuous phenomena of nature, the sun, the sky, stars, plants, animals, stones, streams, the sea, have only an abstract relation to themselves, and in the steady process of nature are drawn into connection with other existents, so that only for finite perception can they count as independent. In them the true meaning of the Absolute does not yet emerge. Nature, it is true, emerges, but only in its self-externality; its inner being is not apprehended by itself as inner, but is poured out into the diverse multiplicity of appearance and therefore is not independent. Only in spirit as the concrete free infinite relation to itself is the true absolute meaning really emergent and independent in its external existence.
On the way to this liberation of the meaning from the immediately sensuous and to its achievement of independence in itself, we met with the sublimity and sanctification produced by imagination. The absolutely meaningful, that is to say, is primarily the thinking, absolute, non-sensuous One, which, as the Absolute, relates itself to itself, and in this relation posits the other, its creation, i.e. nature and externality in general, as the negative, with no stability in itself. It is the universal absolutely, envisaged as the objective power over the whole of existence, whether this One be brought to consciousness and representation in its expressly negative bias towards its creation or in its positive pantheistic immanence therein. But the double deficiency of this outlook consists for art, first, in the fact that this one and universal [Being] which constitutes the fundamental meaning has so far neither reached closer determination and differentiation in itself nor, therefore, the individuality and personality proper in which it could be grasped as spirit and brought before contemplation in an external shape belonging and adequate to the spiritual content in its essential nature. The concrete Idea of spirit, on the other hand, demands that spirit be determined and differentiated in itself, and, making itself objective to itself, shall gain in this duplication an external appearance which, although corporeal and present, yet remains wholly penetrated by spirit and therefore, though taken by itself it expresses nothing, it reveals, as its inner being, spirit alone whereof it is the expression and reality. On the part of the objective world there is, secondly, bound up with this abstraction of the undifferentiated Absolute the deficiency that now too the real appearance, as what is without inherent substantiality, is incapable of exhibiting the Absolute in a concrete shape in a genuine way.
As a contrast to those hymns and words of praise, triumphs of the abstract universal glorification of God, we have in this transition to a higher art-form to recall what we likewise found in the East, the factor of negativity, i.e. change, grief, and the process through life and death. There it was inner differentiation which appeared, without the collection of differences into the unity and independence of subjectivity. But both sides, the inherently independent unity and its differentiation and definite inner repletion afford only now in their concrete harmonized totality a genuinely free independence.
In this connection we may mention incidentally alongside sublimity another view which likewise began to be developed in the East. Contrasted with the substantiality of the one God, there is an apprehension of the inner freedom, self-subsistence, and independence of the individual person in himself, so far as the East permitted a development in this direction. For a chief form of this outlook we must look to the Arabs who in their deserts, on the infinite sea of their plains, in the clear sky above them, in such natural surroundings have counted only on their own courage and the bravery of their fists, as well as on the means of their self-preservation, namely the camel, the horse, the lance and the sword. Here in distinction from Indian feebleness and loss of self, and from the later Mohammedan pantheistic poetry, there arises the more inflexible independence of personal character, and objects too are allowed to possess their circumscribed and definitely fixed immediate reality. With these beginnings of the independence of individuality there are then bound up at the same time true friendship, hospitality, sublime generosity, but all the same an infinite thirst for revenge, an inextinguishable memory of a hatred which makes room and satisfaction for itself by pitiless passion and absolutely unfeeling cruelty. But what happens on this soil appears as human, within the sphere of human affairs; there are deeds of revenge, relations of love, traits of self-sacrificing generosity from which the fantastic and wonderful have vanished, so that everything is presented fixedly and definitely in accordance with the necessary connection of things.
A similar treatment of real objects as reduced to their fixed proportions and as coming into view in their free and not merely useful forcefulness we found earlier in the case of the Hebrews. Firmer independence of character, and the fierceness of revenge and hatred, are characteristic of the Jewish people in its origin. Yet the difference appears at once that here even the most forceful natural formations are not depicted on their own account but rather on account of the power of God, in relation to which they immediately lose their independence, and even hate and persecution are not directed personally against individuals, but, in the service of God, against whole peoples in a national quest for revenge. For example, the later Psalms and, above all, the Prophets can often wish and pray for the misfortune and downfall of other peoples and they find their chief strength not infrequently in cursing and execrating.
At these points of view just mentioned, the elements of true beauty and art are of course present, but at first torn asunder from one another, scattered, and set, not in genuine identity, but only in a false relationship. Therefore it is impossible for the purely ideal and abstract unity of the Divine to achieve a plainly adequate artistic appearance in the form of real individuality, while nature and human individuality in both inner and external aspects are either not filled with the Absolute at all or at least not positively pervaded by it. This mutual externality of the meaning which is made the essential content and the specific appearance in which this meaning is to be represented appeared, thirdly and lastly, in the comparative activity of art. In it both sides have become perfectly independent, and the unity holding them together is only the invisible subjective activity that is making the comparison. But thereby precisely the deficiency of such an external relation was presented in a steadily intensified measure, and for genuine artistic representation was proved to be something negative, and therefore something to be superseded. If this cancellation is actually effected, then the meaning can no longer be the inherently abstract ideal but the inner self, determined in and through itself, which in this its concrete totality has equally in itself the other side, i.e. the form of a self-contained and specific appearance. In the external existent, as something of its own, it expresses and means itself alone.
This inherently free totality remaining equal to itself in its opposite which becomes its own self-determination, this inner life which relates itself to itself in its object, is what is absolutely true, free, and independent, displaying in its existence nothing but itself. Now in the realm of art this content is not present in its infinite form (i.e. is not the thinking of itself, not the essential, the Absolute, which becomes objective to itself in the form of ideal universality and makes itself explicit to itself) but is present only in immediate natural and sensuous existence. But in so far as the meaning is independent, it must in art produce its shape out of itself and have the principle of its externality in itself. It must therefore revert to the natural, but as dominant over the external which, as one side of the totality of the inner itself, exists no longer as purely natural objectivity but, without independence of its own, is only the expression of spirit. Thus in this interpenetration the natural shape and externality as a whole, transformed by spirit, directly acquires its meaning in itself and points no longer to the meaning as if that were something separated and different from the corporeal appearance. This is that identification of the spiritual and the natural which is adequate to the spirit and which does not rest in the neutralization of the two opposed sides but lifts the spiritual to the higher totality where it maintains itself in its opposite, posits the natural as ideal, and expresses itself in and on the natural. In this sort of unity the essential nature of the classical art-form is grounded.
(a) Now here this identity of meaning and corporeality is to be conceived in more detail as follows: within their completely accomplished unity no separation of the sides occurs and therefore the inner does not, as purely inner spirituality, withdraw into itself out of corporeal and concrete reality because in that way a difference between the two, contrasted with one another, could appear. Now since the objective and external, in which spirit becomes visible, is, in accordance with its nature, determinate and particularized throughout at the same time, it follows that the free spirit, which art causes to appear in a reality adequate to it, can in its shape in nature be only spiritual individuality equally determinate and inherently independent. Therefore humanity constitutes the centre and content of true beauty and art; but as the content of art (as has been already explained [in Part I, ch. III, A in extenso in connection with the Concept of the Ideal) humanity must appear essentially determined as concrete individuality and its adequate external appearance which in its objectivity is purified from the defect of finitude.
(b) From this point of view it is obvious at once that the classical mode of representation cannot, by its very nature, be any longer of a symbolical kind, in the stricter sense of the word, even if here and there some symbolic ingredients have their part to play too. Greek mythology, e.g., which, so far as art possesses itself of it, belongs to the classical ideal, is when viewed at its heart not of symbolical beauty but is shaped according to the genuine character of the ideal of art, although some traces of the symbolic still cling to it, as we shall see.
But if we now ask about the specific shape which can enter into this unity with spirit without being a mere indication of its content, it is clear from the determinate character of classical art, where content and form are meant to be adequate to one another, that even on the side of the shape there is a demand for totality and independence in itself. This is because the free independence of the whole, in which the fundamental characteristic of classical art consists, implies that each of the two sides, the spiritual content and its external appearance, shall be in itself a totality which is the essential nature of the whole. Only in this way, in other words, is each side implicitly identical with the other, and therefore their difference is reduced to a difference purely of form between two things that are one and the same, with the result that now the whole appears as free since the two sides are proved adequate to one another, the whole displaying itself in both of them and being one in both. The lack of this free duplication of itself within the same unity precisely carried with it in symbolic art absence of freedom in the content and therefore in the form too. Spirit was not clear to itself and therefore did not show its external reality to itself as its own, posited absolutely through and in spirit. Conversely the shape was indeed intended to be meaningful, but the meaning lay there only partially, only on one side or another of it. Therefore by being external to its inner [meaning] as well, the external existent primarily presented not the meaning it was meant to represent but only itself, and if it was to show that it was meant to hint at something further, it would have to be interpreted in a forced way. Now in this distortion it neither remained itself nor became the other, i.e. the meaning, but showed only an enigmatic connection and confusion of foreign material, or fell, as a purely ancillary decoration and external adornment, into the mere glorification of an absolute meaning of all things, until at last it had to succumb to a purely subjective caprice of comparison with a far-fetched and indifferent meaning. If this unfree relation is to be dissolved, the shape must have its meaning already in itself and indeed, more precisely, the meaning of spirit.
This shape is essentially the human form because the external human form is alone capable of revealing the spiritual in a sensuous way. The human expression in face, eyes, posture and air is material and in these is not what spirit is; but within this corporeality itself the human exterior is not only living and natural, as the animal is, but is the bodily presence which in itself mirrors the spirit. Through the eye we look into a man’s soul, just as his spiritual character is expressed by his whole demeanour in general. If therefore the bodily presence belongs to spirit as its existence, spirit belongs to the body as the body’s inner being and is not an inwardness foreign to the external shape, so that the material aspect neither has in itself, nor hints at, some other meaning. The human form does carry in itself much of the general animal type, but the whole difference between the human and the animal body consists solely in this, that the human body in its whole demeanour evinces itself as the dwelling-place of spirit and indeed as the sole possible existence of spirit in nature. Therefore too spirit is immediately present for others in the body alone. But this is not the place to expound the necessity of this connection and the special correspondence of soul and body; here we must presuppose this necessity. Of course in the human form there are dead and ugly things, i.e. determined by other influences and by dependence on them; while this is the case, it is precisely the business of art to expunge the difference between the spiritual and the purely natural, and to make the external bodily presence into a shape, beautiful, through and through developed, ensouled and spiritually living.
It follows that in this mode of representation nothing symbolical remains in regard to the external shape, and every mere search, pressure, confusion, and distortion is cast away. For when the spirit has grasped itself as spirit, it is explicitly complete and clear, and so too its connection with the shape adequate to it on the external side is something absolutely complete and given, which does not first need to be brought into existence by way of a linkage produced by imagination in contrast to what is present. Neither is the classical art-form a purely corporeally and superficially presented personification, since the whole spirit, so far as it is to constitute the content of the work of art, comes out into the bodily form and can identify itself with it perfectly. This is the point of view from which to consider the idea that art has imitated the human form. According to the usual view, however, this adoption and imitation seems accidental, whereas we must maintain that art, once developed to its maturity, must of necessity produce its representations in the form of man’s external appearance because only therein does the spirit acquire its adequate existence in sensuous and natural material.
What we have said about the human body and its expression applies also to human feelings, impulses, deeds, events, and actions; this externality too is characterized in classical art not only as alive in the natural way but as spiritual, and the inner side is brought into an adequate identity with the outer.
(c) Now since classical art comprehends free spirituality as determinate individuality and envisages it directly in its bodily appearance, the charge of anthropomorphism has often been raised against it. In the case of the Greeks, e.g., Xenophanes spoke against the mode of picturing the gods by saying that if lions had been sculptors they would have given their gods the shape of lions. Of a similar kind is the witty French saying: ‘God made men in his own image, but man has returned the compliment by making God in the image of man.’ In relation to the following form of art, the romantic, it is to be remarked in this connection that the content of the classical beauty of art is of course still defective, like the religion of art itself; but so little does the deficiency lie in the anthropomorphic as such that on the contrary it is steadily to be maintained that classical art is anthropomorphic enough for art, but not enough for higher religion. Christianity has pushed anthropomorphism much further; for, according to Christian doctrine, God is not an individual merely humanly shaped, but an actual single individual, wholly God and wholly an actual man, drawn into all the conditions of existence, and no merely humanly shaped ideal of beauty and art. If our idea of the Absolute were only an idea of an abstract innerly undifferentiated being, then it is true that every sort of configuration vanishes; but for God to be spirit he must appear as man, as an individual subject – not as ideal humanity, but as actual progress into the temporal and complete externality of immediate and natural existence. The Christian view, that is to say, implies an endless movement and drive into an extreme opposition and into an inner reversion to absolute unity only by cancelling this separation. This moment of separation is that in which God becomes man, because, as an actual individual subject, he enters difference as opposed to both unity and substance as such; in this ordinary spatial and temporal existence he experiences the feeling, consciousness, and grief of disunion in order to come, through this opposition and likewise its dissolution, to infinite reconciliation. According to Christian ideas, this transition lies in the nature of God himself. In fact, through this process, God is to be apprehended as absolute free spirituality, in which the factor of nature and immediate individuality is present indeed but must equally be transcended. Whereas in classical art while the sensuous is not killed and dead, it is also not resurrected from death to absolute spirit. Therefore classical art and its religion of beauty does not satisfy the depths of the spirit; however concrete it is in itself, it still remains abstract for spirit because it has as its element not that movement and that reconciliation of infinite subjectivity which has been achieved out of opposition, but instead only the untroubled harmony of determinate free individuality in its adequate existence, this peace in that real existence, this happiness, this satisfaction and greatness in itself, this eternal serenity and bliss which even in misfortune and grief do not lose their assured self-repose. The opposition, grounded in the Absolute, classical art has not probed to its depths and reconciled. But, for this reason, classical art knows nothing of the aspect related to this opposition, namely (a) the obduracy of the subject in himself as abstract personality contrasted with the ethical and the Absolute, as sin and evil, and (b) the withdrawal of subjective inwardness into itself, the distraction, the helplessness, the whole series, in short, of disunions which produce in their midst the ugly, the hateful, the repulsive, in both the sensuous and the spiritual spheres. Classical art does not pass beyond the pure ground of the genuine ideal.
As regards the actualization of classical art in history, it is scarcely necessary to remark that we have to look for it in the Greeks. Classical beauty with its infinite range of content, material, and form is the gift vouchsafed to the Greek people, and we must honour this people for having produced art in its supreme vitality. The Greeks in their immediate real existence lived in the happy milieu of both self-conscious subjective freedom and the ethical substance. They did not persist on the one hand in the unfree Oriental unity which has a religious and political despotism as its consequence; this is because the subject, losing his self, is submerged in the one universal substance, or in some particular aspect of it, since he has no right and therefore no support in himself as a person. Nor, on the other hand, did the Greeks make the advance to that deepening of subjective life in which the individual subject separates himself from the whole and the universal in order to be independent in his own inner being; and only through a higher return into the inner totality of a purely spiritual world does he attain a reunification with the substantial and essential. On the contrary, in Greek ethical life the individual was independent and free in himself, though without cutting himself adrift from the universal interests present in the actual state and from the affirmative immanence of spiritual freedom in the temporal present. The universal element in ethical life, and the abstract freedom of the person in his inner and outer life, remain, in conformity with the principle of Greek life, in undisturbed harmony with one another, and at the time when this principle asserted itself in the actual present in still undamaged purity there was no question of an independence of the political sphere contrasted with a subjective morality distinct from it; the substance of political life was merged in individuals just as much as they sought this their own freedom only in pursuing the universal aims of the whole.
The beautiful feeling, the sentiment and spirit, of this happy harmony pervades all productions in which Greek freedom has become conscious of itself and portrayed its essence to itself. Therefore the world-view of the Greeks is precisely the milieu in which beauty begins its true life and builds its serene kingdom; the milieu of free vitality which is not only there naturally and immediately but is generated by spiritual vision and transfigured by art; the milieu of a development of reflection and at the same time of that absence of reflection which neither isolates the individual nor can bring back to positive unity and reconciliation his negativity, grief, and misfortune; a milieu which yet, like life in general, is at the same time only a transitional point, even if at this point it attains the summit of beauty and in the form of its plastic individuality is so rich and spiritually concrete that all notes harmonize with it, and, moreover, what for its outlook is the past still occurs as an accessory and a background, even if no longer as something absolute and unconditioned.
In this sense even in its gods the Greek people has brought its spirit into its conscious perception, vision, and representation, and has given them by art an existent embodiment which is perfectly adequate to the true content. On account of this correspondence which lies in the essence of Greek art and of Greek mythology too, art in Greece has become the supreme expression of the Absolute, and Greek religion is the religion of art itself, while the later romantic art, although it is art, yet points already to a higher form of consciousness than art can provide.
Now up to this point, on the one hand we have established as the content of classical art inherently free individuality, and on the other hand we have required the like freedom for the form. This thus implies that the entire blending of both sides, however far it may be represented as an immediacy, still cannot be an original and so a natural unity; clearly it must be an artificial link, forged by the subjective spirit. In so far as the form and content of classical art is freedom, it springs only from the freedom of the spirit which is clear to itself. It follows that the artist now acquires a position different from previous ones. His production, that is to say, is the free deed of the clear-headed man who equally knows what he wills and can accomplish what he wills, and who, in other words, neither is unclear about the meaning and the substantial content which he intends to shape outwardly for contemplation, nor in the execution of his work does he find himself hindered by any technical incapacity.
If we take a closer look at this altered position of the artist,
(a) his freedom is clear in respect of the content because he has not had to seek it with the restless fermentation of the symbolic. Symbolic art remains involved in the labour of first producing its content and making it clear to itself, and this content is itself only the first that comes to hand, i.e. on one side, being or nature in its immediate form, on the other, the inner abstraction of the universal, the One, transformation, change, becoming, rising and setting again. But at the first step success is not to be achieved. Therefore the representations of symbolic art which were intended to be expositions of the content remain themselves only enigmas and problems, and they testify only to a wrestling for clarity and to the struggle of the spirit which continually invents without finding repose and peace. In contrast to this troubled quest, for the classical artist the content must already be there cut and dried, given, so that in its essential nature it is already determined for imagination as settled, as belief personal or national, or as a past event perpetuated by tales and tradition. Now the artist’s relation to this objectively established material is freer because he does not enter himself into the process of its generation and parturition, nor does he remain caught in a pressure to obtain genuine meanings for art; on the contrary, an absolute content for art confronts him; he adopts it and freely reproduces it out of his own resources. The Greek artists obtained their material from the national religion in which what was taken over from the East by the Greeks had already begun to be reshaped. Phidias took his Zeus from Homer, and even the tragedians did not invent the fundamental material which they represented. Similarly, the Christian artists too, Dante and Raphael, only gave a shape to what was already present in the creeds and in religious ideas. In one way this is in a similar respect the case with the art of sublimity too, but with the difference that there the relation to the content as the one substance prevents subjectivity from coming into its rights and does not allow it any independent self-sufficiency. Conversely, the comparative art form does proceed from the choice of both the meanings and the images utilized, but this choice remains left to purely subjective caprice and lacks on its part over again the substantial individuality which constitutes the essential nature of classical art and therefore must also belong to the subject who is producing the work of art.
(b) But the more the artist has available confronting him an absolute and free content in national faith, myth, and other realities, all the more does he concentrate himself on the task of shaping the external artistic appearance in a way congruent to such content. Now in this matter symbolic art tosses about in a thousand forms without being able to hit upon the plainly adequate one; with an imagination that runs riot without proportion and definition, it gropes around in order to adapt to the meaning sought the shapes that ever remain alien. Here too the classical artist, on the other hand, is self-sufficient and restrained. In classical art, in other words, the content is determinate and the free shape is determined by the content itself and it belongs to it absolutely, so that the artist seems only to execute what is already cut and dried on its own account in essence. While the symbolic artist therefore strives to imagine a shape for the meaning, or a meaning for the shape, the classical artist transmutes the meaning into the shape since he only frees the already available external appearances, as it were, from an accessory which does not belong to them. But in this activity, although the artist’s mere caprice is excluded, he does not simply copy or adhere to one fixed type, but is at the same time creative for the whole. Art which must first seek and invent its true content pays little attention besides to the formal aspect; but where the development of form is made the essential interest and proper task, there with the progress of the representation the content too is unnoticeably and unostentatiously developed, just as in general we have hitherto seen form and content going steadily hand in hand in their advance to perfection. In this respect the classical artist works for a present world of religion; its given materials and mythological ideas he develops cheerfully in the free play of art.
(c) The same applies to the technical side of art. It too must be already cut and dried for the classical artist; the sensuous material in which the artist works must have already been rid of all brittleness and stubbornness and must immediately obey the artist’s intentions, so that the content, conformably to the nature of the classical sphere, may shine free and unhindered even through this external corporeality. Classical art therefore requires a high degree of technical skill which has subdued the sensuous material to willing obedience. Such technical perfection, if it is to carry out everything required by the spirit and its conceptions, presupposes the complete development of every craftsmanship in art, and this is achieved especially within a static religion. In other words, a religious outlook, like the Egyptian, e.g., first invents for itself specific external shapes, idols, colossal constructions whose type remains fixed, and now, by the established likeness of forms and figures, provides a considerable field for developing the steadily growing dexterity. This craftsmanship in the production of inferior and grotesque objects must have been there already before the genius of classical beauty transformed mechanical skill into technical perfection. For only when mechanical skill no longer puts any difficulty in the way on its own account can art go freely forward to the elaboration of form, and then the actual exercise of skill develops at the same time continually pari passu with the progress of content and form.
So far as concerns the division of this subject, it is usual in a more general sense to call every perfect work of art ‘classical’, whatever character it may otherwise have, whether symbolic or romantic. In the sense of the perfection of art we too have of course used the word ‘classical’, but with this difference, that this perfection was to be grounded in the complete interpenetration of inner free individuality and the external existent in which and as which this individuality appears. It follows that we expressly distinguish the classical art-form and its perfection from the symbolic and the romantic because their beauty in content and form is throughout of another kind. Neither have we anything to do here yet, in connection with ‘classical’ art in the usual rather indefinite meaning of the word, with the particular kinds of art in which the classical ideal is displayed, e.g. sculpture, epic, definite kinds of lyric poetry, and specific forms of tragedy and comedy. Although these particular kinds of art bear the stamp of classical art, they come into consideration only in the Third Part of these Lectures where the development of the individual arts and their species is discussed. What therefore we have before us here for more detailed treatment is ‘classical’ art in the sense of the word that we have laid down, and as grounds for the division of the subject we can thus look only for the stages of development which proceed themselves from this conception of the classical ideal. The essential features of this development are the following.
The first point to which we must direct our attention is this, that the classical art-form is not to be regarded, like the symbolic, as the direct commencement or the beginning of art, but on the contrary as a result. For this reason we have in the first place , developed it out of the course of symbolic modes of representation which are its presupposition. The chief point on which this advance turned was the concentration of the content into the clarity of inherently self-conscious individuality which cannot use for its expression either the mere natural shape, whether inorganic or animal, or personification and the human shape, compounded with the natural one, though badly; on the contrary, it achieves expression in the vitality of the human body that is completely pervaded by the breath of the spirit. Now just as the essence of freedom consists in being what it is through its own resources, so what at first appeared as mere presuppositions and conditions of art’s origin outside the classical sphere must fall into that sphere’s own territory, so that the actual appearance of the true content and genuine shape may be produced by overcoming what is negative and inappropriate for the ideal. This process of formation through which classical beauty proper, alike in form and content, engenders itself out of itself is therefore our point of departure and what we have to treat in a first chapter.
In the second chapter, on the other hand, we have reached through this process the true ideal of the classical art-form. The centre here is formed by the beautiful new artistic world of Greek gods which we must develop and settle alike in its spiritual individuality and the bodily form immediately bound up therewith.
But, thirdly, the nature of classical art implies not only the growth of that art’s beauty out of its own resources but, on the other hand, its dissolution too, which will conduct us on to a further sphere, i.e. to the romantic form of art. The gods and the human individuals of classical beauty arise but pass away again for the artistic consciousness which (a) turns against the relics of the natural aspect within which Greek art has precisely developed to the perfection of beauty, or (b) turns away out into a reality, bad, vulgar, godless, in order to bring to light its falsity and negativity. In this dissolution, the artistic activity of which we must take as the topic of the third chapter, there are separated the factors which were fused harmoniously into the immediacy of beauty and constituted the truly classical art. The inner then stands by itself on one side, the external existent separated therefrom on the other, and subjectivity, withdrawn into itself because in the previous shapes it can no longer find its adequate reality, has to be filled with the content of a new spiritual world of absolute freedom and infinity and look around for new forms of expression for this deeper content.
One essential factor directly present in the essence of the free spirit is that of self-concentration, coming to self, being self-aware and being determinately present to self, even if, as was indicated earlier, this absorption in the realm of inwardness need not go so far as either to a subjective independence gained by a negative attitude to everything substantial in spirit and stable in nature, or to that absolute reconciliation which constitutes the freedom of truly infinite subjectivity. But with the freedom of spirit, whatever form it may take, there is bound up in general the cancellation of the purely natural qua spirit’s opposite. The spirit must first withdraw into itself from nature, lift itself above it, and overcome it, before it can prevail in it without hindrance as in an element which cannot withstand it, and transform it into a positive existence of its own freedom. But if we ask about the more specific object which in classical art spirit transcends, thereby acquiring its independence, this object is not nature as such but a nature already itself permeated by spiritual meanings, that is to say, the symbolic form of art; this form made use of immediate natural configurations for the expression of the Absolute, since its artistic consciousness either saw gods present in animals, etc., or struggled in vain and in a false way towards the true unity of the spiritual and the natural. It is by invalidating and transforming this false linkage that the Ideal first produces itself as the Ideal, and therefore has to develop within itself, as a factor belonging to itself, what is to be overcome.
This enables us, in passing, to settle the question whether the Greeks adopted their religion from foreign peoples or not. We have seen already that subordinate stages are necessary as a presupposition of classical art in the nature of the case. So far as these actually appear and are separated in time, they are, in contrast to the higher form which is striving to extricate itself, something present from which the newly developing art proceeds – even if in the matter of Greek mythology this cannot be entirely proved by historical evidence. But the relation of the Greek spirit to these presuppositions is essentially a relation of formation and, first of all, of negative transformation. Were this not the case the ideas and shapes presupposed must have remained the same. Herodotus does say, in the passage [ii. 53] quoted earlier, that Homer and Hesiod gave the Greeks their gods, but he also says expressly of individual gods, that this or that one is Egyptian, etc. Therefore poetical composition does not exclude the reception of material from elsewhere but only points to its essential transformation. For the Greeks already had mythological ideas before the period which Herodotus ascribes to these two earliest poets.
Now if we ask further about the more detailed aspects of this necessary transformation of what does of course belong to the Ideal, though in an unsuitable form at first, we find this transformation represented in a naive way as the content of mythology itself. The chief deed of the Greek gods is to engender and frame themselves out of the past belonging to the history of the origin and progress of their own race. Since the gods are supposed to exist as spiritual individuals in bodily shape, this involves that, on the one side, instead of contemplating its own essence in what is merely living and animal, the spirit regards the living being as unworthy of it, as its misfortune and its death, and, on the other side, overcomes the elemental in nature and its own confused representation therein. But conversely it is equally necessary for the ideal of the classical gods that they should not merely stand contrasted with nature and its elemental powers, like the individual spirit in its abstract finite self-sufficiency, but have the elements of universal natural life in themselves as, conformably with their own essence, a factor constituting the life of the spirit. Just as the gods are in themselves essentially universal and in this universality are purely specific individuals, so too their corporeal side must contain in itself the natural at the same time as an essential far-reaching natural force and an activity intertwined with the spiritual.
From this point of view we may divide the process of shaping the classical art-form in the following way:
The first chief point concerns the degrading of the animal element and its removal from the sphere of free pure beauty. The second, more important, aspect concerns the elemental powers of nature, presented themselves at first as gods; only through their conquest can the genuine race of gods achieve unquestioned dominion; this concerns the battle and war between the old and the new gods.
But then, thirdly, this negative orientation all the same becomes affirmative again after the spirit has won its free right, and elemental nature constitutes a positive aspect of the gods, one permeated by individual spirituality, and the gods are now girt with the animal element, even if only as an attribute and external sign. From these points of view we will now try to emphasize, still briefly, the more specific traits which come under consideration here.
In the case of the Indians and Egyptians, and Asiatics in general, we see the animal kingdom, or at least specific kinds of animals, revered and regarded as sacred because in them the Divine itself was supposed to be visibly present. Therefore the animal form is a chief ingredient of their artistic representations, even if it is used besides only as a symbol and in connection with human forms at a time before the human and only the human came into consciousness as what is alone true. The self-consciousness of spirit is what alone makes respect for the dark and dull inwardness of animal life disappear. This is already the case with the ancient Hebrews since they, as was already remarked above, regarded the whole of nature neither as a symbol nor as a presence of God, and they ascribed to external objects only that force and life which dwells in them in fact. Yet even in their case there is still, as it were accidentally, at least the remains of reverence for life as such, since Moses, e.g., forbids the consumption of animal blood because life is in the blood [Genesis, 9: 4; Leviticus, 17: i i ; Deuteronomy, i2: 15 ff.]. But man must strictly be allowed to eat what is available to him. Now the next step that we have to mention in connection with the transition to classical art consists in debasing the high dignity and position of the animal world and making this degradation itself into the content of religious ideas and artistic productions. In this matter there is a variety of topics out of which I will select only the following as an illustration.
Among the Greeks certain animals appear as preferred above others, e.g. the snake occurs in Homer (Iliad, ii. 308; xii. 208) as an especially popular genius in the case of sacrifices, and one kind of animal especially is sacrificed to one god, another kind to another ; further, the hare crossing the road is noticed, birds in flight either to right or left are watched, entrails are examined for prophetic indications; all this still implies a certain veneration of the animal, for the gods declare themselves in this way and speak to man by omens, but in essence all this is only single revelations – something superstitious of course, yet only purely momentary indications of the Divine. Whereas what is important is the sacrifice of animals and the eating of the sacrifice. Among the Indians on the contrary, the sacred animals were entirely preserved and cherished, while the Egyptians kept them from putrefaction even after their death. To the Greeks sacrifice counted as sacred. In sacrifice a man shows that he wishes to renounce the object consecrated to his gods and cancel the use of it by himself. Now here there is obvious a characteristic trait of the Greeks, namely that with them to slaughter for a ‘sacrifice’ means at the same time ‘to slaughter for a feast’ (Odyssey, xiv. 414; xxiv. 215), because they destined for the gods only one part of the animals and the inedible part at that, but the flesh they kept for themselves and had a grand feast. In Greece itself a myth has arisen from this. The ancient Greeks sacrificed to the gods with great solemnity, and the animals in their entirety were consumed by the sacrificial flames. Yet this great expense the poorer could not bear. Therefore Prometheus [Hesiod, Theog., 521 ff.] by asking Zeus tried to obtain from him a ruling that their necessary obligation was limited to sacrificing only one part of the animal, while they might keep the rest for their own use. He slaughtered two oxen, burnt the liver of both, but put all the bones into the skin of one of the animals and the flesh into the skin of the other, and then gave Zeus the choice. Zeus, deceived, chose the bones because they made up the bigger package and so left the flesh to men. Therefore when the flesh of the sacrificial animals was eaten, the remains – the portion of the gods – were burnt in the same fire. But Zeus deprived men of fire, because without it their flesh portion was useless to them. But this was little help to him. Prometheus purloined fire and in his joy flew back quicker than he went, and therefore, as the tale goes, men bringing good news run quickly even now. In this way the Greeks have directed their attention to every advance in human culture and reshaped it in myths and so preserved it in their minds.
A similar example of a still further debasement of the animal world comes in here, namely the reminiscences of famous hunts ascribed to the heroes and continually commemorated with gratitude. In Greece the killing of animals which appear to be dangerous foes, e.g. the strangling of the Nemean lion by Hercules, his slaying of the Lernaean hydra, and his hunting of the Erymanthian boar, counts as something lofty whereby the heroes fought their way to the rank of gods; whereas the Indians punished with death, as a crime, the killing of certain animals. Of course in exploits of this kind further symbols play their part or lie at their basis, as in the case of Hercules the sun and its course, so that such heroic actions afford also an essential aspect for symbolical exegesis; nevertheless these myths are taken at the same time in their plain meaning as beneficial hunts, and it was thus that they were understood by the Greeks. In a similar connection we must recall here some of Aesop’s fables, especially the one mentioned earlier about the beetle. The beetle [scarab], this old Egyptian symbol, in whose balls of dung the Egyptians, or the interpreters of their religious ideas, saw the ball of the world, occurs again in Aesop in relation to Zeus, and with the important point that the eagle does not respect Zeus’s protection of the hare. Aristophanes, on the other hand, has degraded the beetle altogether into a joke.
Thirdly, the degradation of the animal world is directly expressed in the stories of the numerous metamorphoses which Ovid has painted for us in detail, charmingly, ingeniously, with fine traits of feeling and sentiment, but he has also put them together with much loquacity as purely mythological and childish plays and external events without their great inner dominating spirit, and without recognizing any deeper sense in them. But they do not lack such a deeper meaning and we will therefore at this point make mention of it again. In great part the individual stories are baroque in their material and barbaric, not owing to the corruptness of a civilized environment but, as in the Nibelungenlied, owing to the corruptness of a [state of] nature still in the raw; up to Ovid’s thirteenth book, subjects older than the Homeric stories, intermingled besides with cosmogony and foreign elements drawn from Phoenician, Phrygian, and Egyptian symbolism are, to be sure, treated in a human way, yet the uncouth background has even so remained, while the metamorphoses related in tales which belong to a time later than the Trojan War (although they also contain material drawn from fabulous times) clash in a blundering way with the names of Ajax and Aeneas.
(α) In general we may consider metamorphoses as the opposite of the Egyptian contemplation and veneration of animals. Looked at from the ethical and spiritual side, metamorphoses entail essentially a negative tendency against nature, a tendency to make animals and inorganic forms into a presentation of the degradation of man, so that, i.e., while in the case of the Egyptians the gods of elemental nature were raised to animals and given life, here, on the other hand, as was noticed earlier [in Section I, ch. III, A 3], natural forms appear as a punishment for some slighter or more serious fault and monstrous crime, as the existence of something godless and miserable, and as a configuration of grief in which man can no longer hold his own. Therefore they are not to be interpreted as the transmigration of souls in the Egyptian sense, for that is a migration without guilt and it is regarded on the contrary as an elevation when a man becomes a cow.
On the whole, however, no matter how different the natural objects may be into which the spiritual is banished, this cycle of myths does not form a systematic whole. A few examples may clarify my points.
Among the Egyptians the wolf plays a great part; Osiris, e.g., appears [in the form of a wolf] as a helpful protector of his son Horus in the latter’s struggle against Typhon, and in a series of Egyptian coins he stands beside Horus. In general the association of the wolf with the sun-god is extremely ancient. In the Metamorphoses of Ovid, on the other hand, the transformation of Lycaon into a wolf is represented as punishment for impiety against the gods. After the Giants had been overcome and their bodies crushed, the story goes (Met., i. 150-243), the earth, warmed by the blood of its sons, shed everywhere, animated the warm blood and, so that no trace of the savage stock might remain, brought forth a race of men. Yet this offspring too was contemptuous of the gods and eager for savage deeds and murder. Then Jupiter called the gods together to destroy this mortal race. He related how Lycaon had cunningly laid a trap for him, the lord of lightning and the gods, when the worthlessness of the time had reached his ear and he had desended from Olympus and reached Arcadia. ‘I gave a sign’, he says, ‘that a god had drawn nigh and the people began to pray’. But Lycaon first scoffed at these pious prayers and then cried out: ‘I will make trial whether this be a god or a mortal, and the truth will admit of no doubt.’ Jupiter proceeds ‘He prepares to slay me in a heavy sleep at night; this way of investigating the truth fascinates him. And not yet content with this, he cut the throat of a Molossian hostage with his sword, and he cooked some of the only half-dead limbs and baked others on the fire and set them both before me as a meal. With avenging flame I laid his house in ashes. Terrified, he flies outside and when he reaches the silent fields he howls all around and tries in vain to speak. With rage in his jaws, with avidity for the usual murder, he turns against the cattle and even now rejoices in their blood; his clothes have become hairs, his arms legs; he is a wolf and preserves traces of his former shape.’
The atrocity committed is of similar gravity in the story of Procne who was changed into a swallow (Met., vi. 440-676). When she stood well with her husband Tereus, she asked him to send her to see her sister or to let her sister come to her. He made haste to launch his ship into the sea and with sail and oar quickly reached the shore of the Piraeus. But scarcely does he set eyes on Philomela than he burns with passionate love for her. At their departure Pandion, her father, conjures him to protect her with a father’s love and, as soon as may be, send her back to him, her the sweet comfort of his old age; but the journey is hardly over before the barbarian locks her up, pale, trembling, fearing the worst, asking with tears where her sister is; by force he makes her his concubine, a twin-consort with her sister. Full of wrath and casting all shame aside, Philomela threatens to betray the deed herself. Then Tereus draws his sword, grabs her, ties her up, and cuts out her tongue, but he hypocritically tells his wife that her sister is dead. The wailing Procne tears her state-robes from her shoulders and dons mourning clothes, prepares an empty tomb and bewails the fate of her sister, who is not thus to be bewailed. What does Philomela do? Imprisoned, deprived of speech and voice, she bethinks her of cunning. With purple threads she works into a white web the story of the crime, and sends the dress secretly to Procne. The wife reads her sister’s pitiful communication, she says nothing and does not weep but she lives entirely in the imagination of revenge. It was the time of the festival of Bacchus; driven by the furies of grief, she forces her way to her sister, tears her out of her apartment and carries her off with her. Then in her own house, as she still doubts what horrible revenge she is to take on Tereus, Itys comes to his mother. With wild eyes she looks at him: ‘How like his father he is.’ She says no more and accomplishes the melancholy deed. The sisters kill the boy and serve him at table to Tereus who gulps down his own blood. Now he asks for his son, and Procne says to him: ‘Thou carriest in thyself what thou askest for'; and as he looks around and searches for where the boy is, and asks and calls again, Philomela brings the bloody head for him to see. Thereupon with an awful yell of anguish he shoves away the table, weeps, and calls himself his son’s grave; and then pursues the daughters of Pandion with naked steel. But given feathers they float away thence, one to the wood [Philomela, the nightingale] the other to the roof [Procne, the swallow], and Tereus too, made agile by his grief and eagerness for revenge, becomes a bird with a comb of feathers on the crown of his head and a disproportionately protuberant beak; the name of the bird is the hoopoe.
Other metamorphoses, on the other hand, arise from less serious guilt. So Cycnus is changed into a swan; Daphne, the first love of Apollo, becomes a laurel (Met.1. 451-567), Clytie a heliotrope; Narcissus, who in his self-conceit despised girls, is in love with his reflection in a stream, and Byblis (ibid., ix. 454 -664) loved her brother Caunus and, when he spurned her, was changed into a spring which even now still bears her name and flows beneath a dark ilex.
However, we must not lose ourselves in further details, and therefore for the sake of the transition to the next point I will mention no more than the metamorphosis of the Pierides, who according to Ovid (Met., v. 302) were the daughters of Pierus and challenged the Muses to a contest. For us the only important thing is the difference between what the Pierides and what the Muses sang. The former celebrated the battles of the gods (ibid., 319-31) and give false honour to the Giants and disparage the deeds of the great gods: sent up from the bowels of the earth, Typhoeus struck terror into heaven; all the gods:fled thence until, worn out, they rest on Egyptian soil. But even here, the Pierides tell, Typhoeus arrives and the high gods hide themselves in delusive shapes. Jupiter, the song says, was the leader of the herd [a ram], whence even now the Libyan Ammon is figured with crumpled horns; Apollo becomes a raven; the scion of Semele [Bacchus] a goat; the sister of Phoebus [Artemis] a cat; Juno a snow-white cow; Venus is concealed in a fish and Mercury in the feathers of the ibis. Thus here the gods suffer ignominy because of their animal shape, and, even if they have not been transformed as punishment for a fault or a crime, still cowardice is cited as the reason for their own self-imposed transformation.
On the other hand, Calliope [Muse of Epic Poetry] hymns the good deeds and stories of Ceres: ‘Ceres was the first’, she says [ibid., 341], ‘to dig up the ground with the curved ploughshare; the first to give fruits and fruitful nourishment to the earth; the first to give us laws, and, in short, we ourselves are the gift of Ceres. Her have I to praise; would I could only sing songs worthy of the goddess! The goddess indeed is worthy of songs.’ As she ended, the Pierides ascribed victory in the contest to themselves; but as they tried to speak, Ovid says (ibid., 670), and with loud cries tried to brandish their insolent hands, they saw their nails become feathers, their arms bedecked with down, and each saw the other’s mouth grown into a stiff beak; and while they want to bewail their lot they are carried away on outspread wings, and, screamers in the woods, they hover in the air as magpies. And to this day, Ovid adds, they still have their earlier readiness of tongue, their raucous chatter, and their huge delight in babbling.
Thus it turns out that here again the metamorphosis is represented as punishment, and punishment indeed, as is the case with many of these stories, for impiety against the gods.
(β) As for the further metamorphoses of men and gods into animals that are familiar to us from other sources, there is at their basis no direct transgression on the part of those transformed; Circe, e.g., had the power to bewitch men into animals, but in that case the animal condition appears as no more than a misfortune and a degradation which does not bring honour even to the person who works the transformation for selfish ends. Circe was only a subordinate and obscure goddess; her power appears as mere magic and when Ulysses takes measures to free his bewitched comrades, Mercury helps him [Odyssey, x].
Of a similar kind are the numerous shapes which Zeus assumes, as when he changes himself into a bull on account of Europa, approaches Leda as a swan, and impregnates Danae as a shower of gold; his aim is always deception and his intentions are not spiritual but natural and indecorous, and he is incited to them by the constantly well-founded jealousy of Juno. The idea of a universal procreative life of nature which was the chief characteristic in many older mythologies is here recast by fancy into single stories of the profligacy of the father of gods and men, but he achieves his exploits not in his own shape, for the most part not in human shape, but expressly in animal or some other natural shape.
(γ) Finally, associated with these are the hybrid shapes of man and beast which likewise are not excluded from Greek art, but the beast is assumed to be only something degrading and unspiritual. Amongst the Egyptians the goat, Mendes, was revered as god (Herodotus ii. 46 – according to Jablonski’s view, see F. Creuzer, Symbolik, i, p. 477, in the sense of a procreative natural force, especially the sun), and with such abomination that even women, as Pindar indicates, gave themselves to goats. With the Greeks, on the other hand, Pan is the one who arouses awe of the divine presence, and, later, in fauns, satyrs, Pans, the goat shape appears only in a subordinate way in the feet and, in the most beautiful of them, only, if at all, in pointed ears and tiny horns. The rest of the shape is that of the human form, the animal being thrust into the background as a trivial remnant. And yet the fauns did not count with the Greeks as high gods and spiritual powers; their character remained one of sensuous unbounded joviality. They were indeed represented also with a deeper expression as, e.g. the beautiful faun in Munich who holds the young Bacchus in his arms and looks on him with a laugh full of supreme love and affection. He is not meant to be the father of Bacchus, but only his foster-father, and now there is ascribed to him that beautiful feeling of joy in the innocence of the child which, as Mary’s maternal feeling for Christ, has been raised to such a lofty spiritual topic in romantic art. But with the Greeks this most charming love belongs to the subordinate sphere of fauns in order to indicate that its origin is derived from the animal and natural realm and that therefore it can be allotted to this sphere too.
The Centaurs also are similar hybrid formations in which likewise the natural aspect of sensuousness and concupiscence is predominantly presented, while the spiritual side is pressed into the background. Chiron, of course, [though a Centaur] is of a nobler sort, a clever physician and the tutor of Achilles, but this instruction in his capacity as tutor to a child does not belong to the sphere of the Divine as such but is related to human skill and cleverness.
Thus in classical art the character of the animal form is altered in every respect; here the animal form is used to indicate the evil, the bad, the trivial, the natural, and the unspiritual, whereas formerly it was the expression of the positive and the Absolute.
The second stage, a higher one, of this debasement of the animal sphere consists in this, that since the genuine gods of classical art have for their inner character free self-consciousness as the self-reposing power of the individual spirit, they can also come into our view only as possessed of knowledge and will, i.e. as spiritual powers. In this way the human shape in which they are represented is not, as might be supposed, a mere form which is tacked on to their content purely externally by imagination, but is implied in the meaning, the content, the inner itself. But the Divine in general is to be apprehended essentially as the unity of the spiritual and the natural; both of these belong to the Absolute and, this being so, it is only the different ways in which this harmony is presented that make up the series of stages in the different art-forms and religions. According to our Christian ideas, God is the creator and lord of nature and the spiritual world and so is of course exempt from immediate existence in nature, because only as withdrawal into himself, as spiritual and absolute self-independence, is he truly God; but the purely finite human spirit is bounded and restricted by its opposite, namely nature. This restriction, therefore, the human spirit in its existence only overcomes, and thereby raises itself to infinity, by grasping nature in thought through theoretical activity, and through practical activity bringing about a harmony between nature and the spiritual Idea, reason, and the good. Now God is this infinite activity, in so far as dominion over nature is his prerogative, and, as this infinite activity, with its knowing and willing, he is explicit to himself.
Conversely, as we saw, in the religions of strictly symbolic art the unity of the inner and the ideal with nature is an immediate linkage which therefore had nature as its chief characteristic both in content and form. Thus there were venerated as god’s existence and life the sun, the Nile, the sea, the earth, the natural process of coming to be and passing away and of procreation and reproduction, the changing course of the universal life of nature. Yet these natural powers were already personified in symbolic art and thereby put in opposition to the spiritual. Now if, as the classical art-form demands, the gods are to be spiritual individuals in harmony with nature, mere personification is insufficient for attaining this result. For if what is personified is a mere universal power and natural agency, personification remains entirely formal without penetrating into the content and cannot in that content bring into existence either the spiritual element or the individuality of that. Therefore the converse necessarily belongs to classical art: for we have just treated the animal world in its debasement, and so now the universal power of nature is degraded for its part, and the spiritual is contrasted with it as something higher. But in that case, instead of personification, it is subjectivity which constitutes the chief characteristic. Yet, on the other hand, in classical art the gods may not cease to be natural powers, because here God cannot yet come into representation as inherently and absolutely free spirituality. But nature can stand in the relation of a merely created and subservient creature to a lord and creator separated from it, only if God is envisaged either, as in the art of sublimity, as inherently abstract and purely ideal domination by the single substance, or, as in Christianity, as concrete spirit raised into the pure element of spiritual existence and personal independence, and so to complete freedom. Neither of these alternatives corresponds with the outlook of classical art. Its god is not yet lord of nature because he has not yet got absolute spirituality as his content and form; he is no longer lord of nature because the sublime relation between human individuality and god-forsaken natural things has ceased and been modified into beauty in which both sides, the universal and the individual, the spiritual and the natural, are to be given their full rights unrestrictedly for artistic representation. That is to say, in the god of classical art the natural power remains contained, but as a natural power, not in the sense of universal all-embracing nature, but as the specific and therefore restricted agency of the sun, the sea, etc., or in short as a particular natural power which appears as a spiritual individual and has this spiritual individuality as its own essence.
Now since, as we saw already at the start of this chapter, the classical ideal is not present immediately but can only appear through the process in which the negative side of spirit’s shape is transcended, this transformation and upward development of the raw, ugly, wild, baroque, purely natural or fantastic, which has its origin in earlier religious ideas and artistic insights, must be a chief interest in Greek mythology and therefore be portrayed in a specific group of particular meanings.
If we now proceed to a closer consideration of this chief point, I must at once premiss that we have no business here with an historical investigation of the variegated and manifold ideas of Greek mythology. What concerns us in this matter is only the essential factors in this upward development in so far as these prove to be universal factors in artistic configuration and its content; whereas the endless mass of particular myths, narrations, stories, and events related to a locality and a symbolism, which taken together maintain their right in the new gods also and occur incidentally in artistic images, but which are not strictly intrinsic to the central point which we are striving to reach along our route – all this is a breadth of material which we must leave aside here and we can only refer to one or two features by way of example.
On the whole we may compare this route, along which we are proceeding, with the course of the history of sculpture. For since sculpture places the gods in their genuine shape before sense perception, it forms the proper centre of classical art, even if poetry complements it by describing gods and men in a way distinct from the self-reposing objectivity of sculpture or by presenting the divine and human world in their very activity and movement. Now just as in sculpture the chief feature at its start is the transformation of the formless stone or block of wood fallen from heaven diopetis (as the great goddess from Pessinus in Asia Minor still was when the Romans took it to Rome by a solemn embassy) into a human shape and figure, so we have to begin here too with the formless uncouth natural powers and only indicate the stages by which they rise to individual spirituality and contract into fixed shapes.
In this connection we may distinguish three different aspects as the most important.
The first that claims our attention is oracles in which the knowledge and will of the gods is declared, still formlessly, through natural existents.
The second chief point concerns the universal powers of nature as well as the abstractions of law etc., which lie at the base of the genuine spiritual individual gods as their birthplace and serve as the necessary presupposition of their origin and activity – these powers are the old gods in distinction from the new.
Thirdly and lastly, the absolutely necessary advance to the Ideal is exhibited in the fact that the originally superficial personifications of natural activities and the most abstract spiritual relationships are fought and suppressed as what is in itself subordinate and negative, and by this degradation independent spiritual individuality and its human form and action are enabled to acquire undisputed mastery. This transformation, which forms the proper centre in the history of the origin of the Greek gods, is represented in Greek mythology both naively and explicitly in the battle between the old and the new gods, in the downfall of the Titans, and in the victory won by the divine race of Zeus.
Now first, there is no need to make any extended mention of oracles here; the essential point of importance rests only on the fact that in classical art natural phenomena are no longer venerated as such, in the way that the Parsis, e.g., worshipped naphtha springs or fire, nor do the gods remain inscrutable secret dumb enigmas, as was the case with the Eygptians; in classical art the gods, as themselves knowing and willing, declare their wisdom to men by way of natural phenomena. So the ancient Hellenes [Pelasgi] asked the oracle at Dodona (Herodotus, ii. 52) whether they should adopt the names of the gods imported from the barbarians, and the oracle replied: use them.
(α) The signs through which the gods revealed themselves were for the most part quite simple: at Dodona the rustling and soughing of the sacred oak, the murmur of the spring, and the tone of the brazen vessel which resounded in the wind. So too at Delos the laurel rustled, and at Delphi too the wind on the brazen tripod was a decisive factor. But apart from such immediate natural sounds, man himself is also the voice of the oracle when he is stupefied and stimulated out of his alert and intelligent presence of mind into a natural state of enthusiasm, as, e.g., Pythia at Delphi, stupefied by vapours, spoke the oracular words, or in the cave of Trophonius the man who consulted the oracle had visions, and from their interpretation the answer was given him.
(β) But there is still another aspect in the external signs. For in the oracles the god is indeed apprehended as the one who knows, and to Apollo, therefore, the god of knowledge, the most famous oracle [i.e. the one at Delphi] is dedicated; yet the form in which he declares his will remains something natural and completely vague, a natural voice or word-sounds without any connection. In this obscurity of form the spiritual content is itself dark and therefore needs clarification and explanation.
(γ) The pronouncement of the god is submitted at first purely in the form of something natural. But although the explanation makes the inquirer aware of it in a spiritualized form, it nevertheless remains obscure and ambiguous. For in his knowing and willing the god is concrete universality, and his advice or command, revealed by the oracle, must be of the same kind. But the universal is not one-sided and abstract but, as concrete, contains both one side of the ambiguity and the other. Now since the man stands there as ignorant opposite the god who knows, he accepts the oracle ignorantly too; i.e. its concrete universality is not obvious to him and when he decides to act in accordance with the ambiguous divine saying he can choose only one side of it; every action in particular circumstances is always determinate, and decision must be in accordance with one side of the oracle and exclude the other. But scarcely has he acted and the deed been actually accomplished, a deed therefore which has become his own and for which he must answer, than collision occurs; he suddenly sees turned against him the other side which was also implicit in the oracle, and, against his knowledge and will, he is caught in the toils of that fate of his deed which the gods know though he did not. Conversely again, the gods are determinate powers, and their utterance, when it carries in itself this character of determinacy, as, e.g., the command of Apollo which drove Orestes to revenge, produces collision too on account of this determinacy.
Since the form assumed in the oracle by the inner knowledge of the god is the entirely indefinite externality or the abstract inwardness of the saying, and the content itself comprises, owing to its ambiguity, the possibility of discord, it follows that in classical art it is not sculpture but poetry, especially dramatic poetry, in which oracles constitute one aspect of the subject-matter and become of importance. But in classical art they do acquire an essential place because in such art human individuality has not pressed on to the extreme of inwardness at which the subject draws the decision for his action purely from within himself. What we call ‘conscience’ in our sense of the word has not yet found its place here. The Greek does often act from his own passion, good or bad, but the real ‘pathos’ which should and does animate him comes from the gods whose content and might is the universal element in such a ‘pathos’, and the heroes are either immediately full of it or they consult the oracle when the gods are not present in person to command the act.
In the oracle the content [of what is declared] lies in the knowing and willing of the gods, while the form of its external appearance is what is abstractly external and natural. Now, on the other hand, the natural with its universal powers and their agencies becomes the content out of which independent individuality has first to force its way and it acquires for its first form only the formal and superficial personification [of these powers]. The repulse of these purely natural powers, the clash and opposition through which they are vanquished, is just the important point for which we have to thank strictly classical art alone and which on this account we will subject to a closer examination.
(α) The first point to notice in this connection is the fact that now we have not to do, as was the case in the world view of sublimity, or partly even in India, with an explicitly ready-made god, devoid of sensuous appearance, as the beginning of all things; on the contrary, the beginning is provided here by nature-gods and primarily by the more universal powers of nature, Chaos the ancient, Tartarus, Erebus, all these wild subterranean beings, and further by Uranus, Gaia, the Titanic Eros, Cronus, etc. Then from these there first arose the more definite powers, such as Helios, Oceanus, etc., which become the natural basis for the later spiritually individualized gods. Thus there here enters again a theogony and cosmogony invented by imagination and shaped out by art; but its first gods are viewed on the one hand as either still remaining of an indefinite kind or as being enlarged beyond all measure, and, on the other hand, as still carrying in themselves much that is symbolical.
(β) As for the more definite difference within these Titanic powers themselves, they are,
(αα) first, powers of earth and the stars, without spiritual and ethical content, and therefore ungovernable, a raw and savage race, misshapen, like products of Indian or Egyptian fancy, gigantic and formless. With other sorts of natural individuals, e.g. like Brontes and Steropes, the hundred-handed Giants Briareus, Cottus, and Gyges, they stand under the dominion of Uranus first, then of Cronus, this chief Titan, who obviously signifies time: he swallows all his children just as time annihilates everything it has brought to birth. This myth is not lacking in symbolical meaning. For natural life is in fact subjected to time and brings into existence only the ephemeral, just as e.g. the prehistoric age of a people, which is only a nation, a tribe, but does not form a state or pursue aims that are inherently stable, falls a victim to the unhistorical power of time. Only in law, ethical life, and the state is there present something solid which remains as the generations pass, just as the muse gives duration and consolidation to everything which as natural life and actual action is only ephemeral, and in the course of time has passed away.
(ββ) But further there belong to this group of the ancient gods not only natural powers as such but also the first forces that master the elements. Especially important is the earliest working on metal through the power of the still raw elemental nature itself, of air, water, or fire. We may cite here the Corybantes, Telchins (demons of beneficent as well as of evil influence), Pataeci (pygmies, dwarfs skilled in mining work, small men with fat bellies).
As an especially prominent transitional point, however, mention must be made of Prometheus. He is a Titan of a special kind and his story deserves particular notice. With his brother Epimetheus he appears at first as a friend of the new gods; then he appears as a benefactor of men who otherwise have no concern with the relation between the new gods and the Titans; he brings fire to men and therefore the possibility of satisfying their needs, developing technical skills, etc., which yet are no longer something natural and therefore apparently stand in no closer connection with the Titans. For this act Zeus punishes Prometheus, until at last Hercules releases him from his agony. At a first glance there is nothing properly Titanic in all these chief details, indeed we could find an illogicality there, in that Prometheus, like Ceres, is a benefactor of mankind and yet is reckoned amongst the old Titanic powers. Yet on closer inspection the illogicality disappears at once, for a few passages from Plato, e.g., give us a satisfactory explanation.
For example, there is the myth in which the guest of young Socrates tells that in the time of Cronus there was an earthborn race of men and the god himself took care of the whole, but then an opposed revolution took place and the earth was left to itself so that now the beasts became wild, and the men whose nourishment and other requirements previously came to them immediately were left without counsel or aid. In this situation, it is said (Politicus, 274), fire was given to men by Prometheus, but the technical skills technai by Hephaestus and Athene, his partner in craftsmanship. – Here there is an express difference between fire and what is produced by skill in working on raw materials, and what is ascribed to Prometheus is only the gift of fire.
At greater length Plato relates the myth of Prometheus in the Protagoras. There (320-3) it is said: Once upon a time there were gods but no mortal creatures. When the appointed time came for their birth, the gods formed them within the earth out of a mixture of earth and fire and the substances compounded of earth and fire. Then when the gods were ready to bring them to light, they charged Prometheus and Epimetheus with the task of equipping them and allotting suitable powers to each. But Epimetheus begs Prometheus to let him make the division himself. ‘When I have made it’, he said, ‘you can review it’. But Epimetheus stupidly used up all the powers on the animals, so that there was nothing left for human beings. So when Prometheus comes to review the scene, he sees the other living things wisely equipped with everything, but men he finds naked, unshod, without clothing or weapons. But already the appointed day had come on which it was necessary for man to come up out of the earth into daylight. Now being at a loss to find help for men, he stole from Hephaestus and Athene both their skill and fire also (for without fire it was impossible for anyone to possess or use this skill) and so he bestows them on men. Now in this way man acquired the necessary skill to keep himself alive but he had no political wisdom, for this was still in the hands of Zeus, and Prometheus had no longer the right of entry to the citadel of Zeus around whom stood his frightening sentinels. But he goes stealthily into the dwelling shared by Hephaestus and Athene in which they practised their art, and after stealing the art of working with fire from Hephaestus and the other (the art of weaving) from Athene, he gives these arts to men. And through this gift men had the means of life (euporia aoi biou) but Prometheus, thanks to Epimetheus, later, as is told, suffered punishment for theft.
Plato then goes on in the immediately following passage to relate that men also lacked for their nurture the art of war against beasts, an art which is only one part of politics; therefore they collected together in cities, but there, for want of political skill, they injured one another and scattered again so that Zeus was compelled to give them, with Hermes as his messenger, respect for others and a sense of justice.
In these passages there is specifically emphasized the difference between (a) the immediate aims of life, which are related to physical comfort and provision for the satisfaction of primary needs, and (b) political organization which makes its aim the spiritual realm, i.e. ethics, law, property rights, freedom, and community. This ethical and legal life Prometheus had not given to men; he only taught them the cunning to master things in nature and use them as a means to human satisfaction. Fire and the skills that make use of it are nothing ethical in themselves, and the art of weaving has nothing of the sort either; in the first instance they appear solely in the service of selfishness and private utility without having any bearing on the community of human existence and the public side of life. Because Prometheus was not in a position to impart anything more spiritual and ethical to men, he belongs to the Titans and not to the race of new gods. Hephaestus indeed has likewise got fire and the techniques associated with it as the element of his agency, and yet is a newer god; but Zeus hurled him down from Olympus and he has remained the god who limps. Neither, therefore, is it an illogicality when we find Ceres, who, like Prometheus, proved herself a benefactor of the human race, included amongst the new gods. For what Ceres taught was agriculture with which property is connected at once, and, later, marriage, ethics, and law.
(γγ) Now a third group of the ancient gods contains neither personified powers of nature as such in their savagery or cunning nor the primary power over the separate elements of nature in the service of man’s lower needs, but is one that already borders on what is inherently ideal, universal, and spiritual. But nevertheless what is lacking to the powers to be included in this group is spiritual individuality and its adequate shape and appearance, so that now, more or less in relation to their agency, they retain a closer bearing on what is necessary and essential in nature. As examples we may refer to the idea of Nemesis, Dike, the Furies, the Eumenides, and the Fates. Here of course the categories of right and justice already obtrude; but instead of being grasped and given shape as the inherently spiritual and substantial element in ethical life, this necessary right either does not go beyond the most general abstraction or else affects the obscure right of the natural element within spiritual relationships, e.g. love of kindred and its right. This does not belong to the spirit which is conscious of itself in its clear freedom, and therefore it does not appear as a legal right but on the contrary in opposition thereto as the irreconcilable right of revenge.
For further detail I will mention only a few ideas. Nemesis, for example, is the power to bring down the lofty, to hurl the all too fortunate man from his height and so to restore equality. But the right of equality is the purely abstract and external right which does prove active in the sphere of spiritual situations and relationships, yet their ethical organization is not made into the content of justice on the basis of equality.
Another important aspect lies in the fact that the old gods are assigned the right of family situations in so far as these rest on nature and therefore are opposed to the public law and right of the community. As the clearest example for this point we may cite the Eumenides of Aeschylus. The direful maidens [the Furies or Eumenides] pursue Orestes on account of his mother’s murder which Apollo, the new god, ordered him to commit so that Agamemnon, her slain husband and King, might not remain unavenged. The whole drama is therefore moulded into a battle between these divine powers which make their appearance against one another in person. On the one side we have the goddesses of revenge, but they are called here the beneficent, i.e. the Eumenides, and our usual idea of the Furies, into which we convert them, is crude and barbaric. For they have an essential right of persecution and therefore they are not just hateful, wild, and gruesome in the tortures they impose. Yet the right which they assert against Orestes is only the right of the family, rooted in blood-relationship. The most intimate tie between son and mother which Orestes has snapped is the substance which the Furies defend. Apollo [on the other side] opposes to this natural ethical order, felt and grounded physically in blood-relationship, the right of the spouse and prince whose deeper right has been transgressed. Prima facie this difference seems external because both parties are defending the ethical order within one and the same sphere, namely the family. Yet here the sterling imagination of Aeschylus, which on this account we must rate more and more highly, has laid bare a clash that is not superficial at all, but is throughout of an essential kind. The relation of children to parents, that is to say, rests on a natural unity, whereas the bond between husband and wife must be taken as a marriage which does not issue merely from purely natural love or from a natural- and blood-relationship; it springs on the contrary from an inclination which is known and therefore from the free ethical life of the self-conscious will. Thus however far marriage is also linked with love and feeling, it is still distinct from the natural feeling of love because, independently of that, it still recognizes definite known obligations even if love be dead. The conception and knowledge of the substantial character of married life is something later and deeper than the natural concord of son and mother, and it constitutes the beginning of the state as the realization of the free and rational will. In a similar way the relation between prince and citizens implies the political connection of the same rights and laws, of self-conscious freedom and spiritual ends. This is the reason why the Eumenides, the old goddesses, are set on punishing Orestes, while Apollo defends clear conscious and self-conscious ethical life, the right of the spouse and prince, in that he rightly retorts to the Eumenides: Were Clytaemnestra’s crime not avenged, ‘truly would I be without honour and deem as nought the pledges of Hera, goddess of marriage, and Zeus’ (Eumenides, 206-9).
More interesting still, although entirely transferred into human feeling and action, the same clash appears in the Antigone, one of the most sublime and in every respect most excellent works of art of all time. Everything in this tragedy is logical; the public law of the state is set in conflict over against inner family love and duty to a brother; the woman, Antigone, has the family interest as her ‘pathos’, Creon, the man, has the welfare of the community as his. Polynices, at war with his native city, had fallen before the gates of Thebes, and Creon, the ruler, in a publicly proclaimed law threatened with death anyone who gave this enemy of the city the honour of burial. But this command, which concerned only the public weal, Antigone could not accept; as sister, in the piety of her love for her brother, she fulfils the holy duty of burial. In doing so she appeals to the law of the gods; but the gods whom she worships are the underworld gods of Hades (Sophocles; Antigone, 451 I Xuoikos toto theou Diki), the inner gods of feeling, love, and kinship, not the daylight gods of free self-conscious national and political life.
(γ) The third point which we may emphasize in respect of the theogony envisaged by classical art concerns the difference between the old gods in relation to their power and the duration of their dominion. Here we have three aspects to notice.
(αα) The first of these is that the gods originate successively. According to Hesiod, after Chaos came Gaia, Uranus, etc., then Cronus and his race, and finally Zeus with his. Now this series seems on the one hand to be a rise from the more abstract and shapeless natural powers to a more concrete and already more determinate shaping of them; but, on the other hand, it appears as the beginning of the superiority of the spiritual over the natural. So, for example, Aeschylus in the Eumenides makes Pythia in the temple at Delphi begin with the words: ‘First with this prayer I put first in rank of the gods Gaia who first gave us oracles, and then Themis who as second after her mother had her seat of prophesying in this place’ [Eum. 1-4]. Pausanias [x. 5. 5], on the other hand, who likewise names Earth as the first giver of oracles [at Delphi], says that Daphnis was then ordained by her to the prophetic office. In another series again, Pindar  puts Night first, then he gives the succession to Themis, then to Phoebe until he comes finally to Phoebus. It would be interesting to pursue these specific differences, but this is not the place for that.
(ββ) Further, since the succession has all the same to be counted as an advance to more self-concentrated and richer gods, it appears also in the form of degrading the earlier and more abstract gods within the race of the old gods itself. Cronus, e.g., dethrones Uranus, and the later gods are substituted for them.
(γγ) Therefore the negative relation of re-formation which from the beginning we laid down as the essence of this first stage of the classical art-form now becomes its proper centre; and since personification is here the universal form in which the gods enter our ideas and since the progressive movement [of fancy] presses the gods on towards human and spiritual individuality, even if this enters at first in an indefinite and formless shape, fancy brings to our vision the negative relation of the younger gods to the older as battle and war. But the essential advance is from nature to the spirit which is the true content and proper form for classical art. This advance, and the battles through which we see it being realized, belongs no longer exclusively to the group of the old gods but takes place in the war whereby the new gods establish their enduring dominion over the old.
The opposition between nature and spirit is necessary absolutely. For the Concept of the spirit, as a genuine totality, is, as we saw earlier [in dealing with The Idea in Part I], implicitly only this, namely to divide itself as object in itself and subject in itself in order through this opposition to arise out of nature and then, as its conqueror and as the power over it, to be free and serene in contrast with it. This chief factor in the essence of spirit itself is therefore also a chief factor in the idea of itself which it gives to itself. Looked at historically or in reality this transition is the progressive transformation of man in a state of nature into a system of established rights, i.e. to property, laws, constitution, political life; looked at sub specie deorum et aeternitatis this is the idea of the conquest of the natural powers by the spiritually individual gods.
(α) This battle presents an absolute catastrophe and is the essential deed of the gods whereby alone the chief difference between the old gods and the new becomes visible. For this reason we must not refer to the war, which discloses this difference, as if it were some myth with the same value as any other; on the contrary, we must regard it as the myth which marks the turning-point and expresses the creation of the new gods.
(β) The result of this violent strife among the gods is the overthrow of the Titans, the victory exclusively of the new gods who in their assured dominion have thereupon been endowed by imagination with qualities of all kinds. The Titans on the contrary were banished and had to dwell in the heart of the earth or, like Oceanus, linger on the dark edge of the bright and serene world, or endure otherwise all sorts of punishments. Prometheus, for example, is chained to a mountain in Scythia where the eagle insatiably devours his liver which ever grows afresh; similarly Tantalus in the underworld is tormented by an endless unquenched thirst, and Sisyphus has always uselessly to trundle up anew the rock that continually rolls down again. Like the Titanic powers of nature themselves, these punishments are the inherently measureless, the bad infinite, the longing of the ‘ought’, the unsatiated craving of subjective natural desire which in its continual recurrence never attains the final peace of satisfaction. For the Greek correct sense of the Divine, unlike the modern longing, did not regard egress into the boundless and the vague as what was supreme for men; the Greeks regarded it as a damnation and relegated it to Tartarus.
(γ) If we ask in general what from now on must fall into the background for classical art and can no longer be justified in counting as its final form and adequate content, then the first thing is the natural elements. Along with them everything murky, fantastic, unclear, every wild confusion of the natural with the spiritual, of meanings inherently substantial with casual externalities, is banished from the world of the new gods; in that world the creations of an unbounded imagination which have not yet absorbed the proportion observed by the spiritual find room no longer and must rightly flee the pure light of day. For you may dress up as much as you like the great Cabiri, the Corybantes, the representations of procreative force, etc., nevertheless conceptions like these in all their details – to say nothing of old Baubo whom Goethe sets careering over the Blocksberg on a sow – belong more or less to the twilight of consciousness. It is only the spiritual which presses on into the light; what does not manifest itself and make itself clearly self-explanatory is the non-spiritual which sinks back again into night and darkness. But the spiritual manifests itself and, by itself determining its outer form, purifies itself from the caprice of fancy, from overflowing configurations and other sorts of murky symbolical accessories.
Similarly we now find human activity put into the background so far as it is restricted to merely natural needs and their satisfaction. The old right (Themis, Dike, etc.), by not being specified in laws deriving their origin from the self-conscious spirit, loses its unrestricted validity; and equally, but conversely, mere locality, although it still plays a part, is changed into the universal figures of the gods where it still remains as only a trace of the past. For just as in the Trojan war the Greeks fought and conquered as one people, so too the Homeric gods, with the battle against the Titans behind them, are an inherently fixed and determinate world of gods which thereafter at last became always more completely determinate and fixed through later poetic and plastic art. This invincible fixed relationship in the content of the Greek gods is alone the spirit; yet it is not the spirit in its abstract inwardness, but only as identical with its external adequate existence, just as in Plato soul and body, as brought into one nature and all of one piece in this solidity, is the Divine and the eternal.
Despite the victory of the new gods, however, the old ones now still remain in the classical art-form partly in their original form as considered up to this point, partly retained and venerated in a transformed shape. Only the restricted national God of the Jews can tolerate no other gods beside himself, because he is supposed to be the All qua the One, although on account of his determinate character he cannot surmount the restriction of being the God of his own people alone. For he displays his universality as Lord of heaven and earth, but strictly only on the strength of his creation of nature; for the rest, he is the God of Abraham, the God who led the children of Israel out of Egypt, issued laws from Sinai, gave the land of Canaan to the Jews, and through his narrow identification with the Jewish people is quite particularly only the God of this people and therefore, to sum up, does not stand in positive harmony with nature nor does he really appear as absolute spirit withdrawn from his determinacy and objective manifestation into his universality. This is why this harsh national God is so zealous, and why in his jealousy he commands his people to see in other gods only downright false idols. The Greeks, on the other hand, found their gods amongst all peoples and made foreign material their own. For the god of classical art has spiritual and bodily individuality and is therefore not the one and only god but a particular divinity which, like everything particular, has a group of particulars around it, or confronting it as its opposite, out of which it emerges and which can retain its own validity and value. This is the same as what happens with the particular spheres of nature. Although the plant kingdom is the truth of geological natural formations, and the animal again the higher truth of vegetation, still the mountains and thalassic land persist as the ground for trees, shrubs, and flowers which in turn do not lose their existence alongside the animal kingdom.
Now the first form in which we find the Greeks preserving the old gods is the Mysteries. The Greek Mysteries were not secret in the sense that the Greek people were not generally familiar with their subject-matter. On the contrary, most Athenians and many strangers were amongst those initiated into the Eleusinian secrets, only they might not speak of what they had learnt through the initiation. In our time especially, great trouble has been taken to research into the details of the sort of ideas contained in the Mysteries and the sort of acts of divine worship entered upon at their celebration. Yet on the whole no great wisdom or profound knowledge seems to have been hidden in the Mysteries; on the contrary, they only preserved old traditions, the basis of what was later transformed by genuine art, and therefore they had for their contents not the true, the higher, and the better, but the lower and the more trivial. This subject-matter, regarded as holy, was not clearly expressed in the Mysteries but was transmitted only in symbolical outlines. And in fact the character of the undisclosed and the unspoken belongs also to the old gods, to what was telluric, sidereal, and Titanic, for only the spirit is the revealed and the self-revealing. In this respect the symbolical mode of expression constitutes the other side of the secrecy in the Mysteries, because in the symbolical the meaning remains dark and contains something other than what the external, on which it is supposed to be represented, provides directly. So, e.g., the Mysteries of Demeter and Bacchus were spiritually interpreted and acquired therefore a deeper meaning, but this content could not clearly emerge from its form because the form remained external to it. For art, therefore, the Mysteries are of trivial influence, for even if it be said of Aeschylus that he wilfully betrayed something from the Mysteries of Demeter, this only amounted to his having said that Artemis is the daughter of Ceres [i.e. Demeter] and this is a trivial piece of wisdom.
Secondly, the worship and preservation of the old gods appears more clearly in artistic portrayal itself. At the previous stage, e.g., we spoke of Prometheus as the Titan who was punished. But all the same we find him freed again. For fire, which Prometheus brought down to men, and the eating of meat which he had taught them, are, like the earth and the sun, an essential feature in human existence, a necessary condition for the satisfaction of human needs, and so Prometheus too has his glory preserved. In the Oedipus Coloneus of Sophocles it is said (11. 54 If.):
‘The whole place is sacred;
the holy Poseidon possesses it, and the fire-bringing Prometheus,
the Titan, is there too.’
And the Scholiast [on 1. 56] adds that ‘in the Academy too Prometheus was worshipped, like Hephaestus, along with Athene; and a temple is shown in the grove of the goddess and an old pedestal at the entrance on which there is an image of Prometheus and of Hephaestus too; but Prometheus, as Lysimachides adds, was represented as the first and the elder, holding a sceptre in his hand, Hephaestus as younger and second, and the altar on the pedestal is common to both’. As it turns out, according to the myth, Prometheus did not have to suffer his punishment for ever but was released from his chains by Hercules. In the story of this liberation too some remarkable traits occur, viz.: Prometheus is released from his agony because he tells Zeus of the danger threatening his rule from his thirteenth descendant. This descendant is Hercules to whom Poseidon in the Birds of Aristophanes (II. 1645-8) says that he will do himself an injury if he joins a conspiracy for upsetting the rule of the gods, [for if it succeeds, he will get nothing, whereas if Zeus remains in power then] everything that Zeus leaves behind him at his death will surely be his. And in fact Hercules is the one man who was taken up to Olympus and became a god instead of a mortal man, and he is superior to Prometheus who remained a Titan. The overthrow of the old ruling families is also connected with Hercules and the name of the Heraclidae. The Heraclidae break the power of the old dynasties and royal houses in which a dominating self-will recognizes no law either for its own ends and its unruliness, or in relation to the inhabitants, and therefore perpetrates monstrous cruelties. Hercules himself, not as a free man but in the service of a ruler, conquers the barbarity of this savage will.
In a similar way, to abide by examples already used, we may here refer to the Eumenides of Aeschylus once more. The conflict between Apollo and the Eumenides is to be settled by the verdict of the Areopagus. A court, human on the whole, at the head of which stands Athene herself as the concrete spirit of the people, is to resolve the conflict. The judges give equal votes for condemnation and acquittal, because they honour the Eumenides and Apollo equally, but the white stone of Athene decides the case for Apollo. The Eumenides lift their voices in indignation against this judgement of Athene, but she silences them because she promises them worship and altars in the famous grove at Colonus. What the Eumenides are to do for her people in return is (Eum., II. 901 ff.) defence against the evil arising from natural elements, earth, sky, sea, and winds, protection from unfruitfulness in the crops, from failure of the human seed. But Athene undertakes for herself in Athens the charge of warlike strife and sacred battles. – Similarly Sophocles in his Antigone does not make Antigone alone suffer and die; on the contrary, we also see Creon punished by the grievous loss of his wife and [his son] Haemon, who both likewise perish owing to the death of Antigone.
Thirdly and lastly, not only do the old gods preserve their place alongside the new ones but, what is more important, the natural basis remains in the new gods themselves and it enjoys an enduring veneration since, in conformity with the spiritual individuality of the classical ideal, it reverberates in them.
(α) For this reason people have often been deceived into interpreting the Greek gods in their human shape and form as mere allegories of the elements of nature. This they are not. For example, we hear people speaking often enough of Helios as the god of the sun, of Diana as the goddess of the moon, or of Poseidon as the god of the sea. Such separation, however, of the natural element, as content, from the humanly shaped personification, as form, as well as the external connection of the two (i.e. the mere dominion of God over things in nature, a notion to which the Old Testament has accustomed us) is quite inapplicable to Greek ideas, because nowhere in the Greeks do we find the expression o Theos tou iliou tis thassis etc. [the god of the sun, of the sea, etc.], while they would certainly have used this expression for this relation if it had been compatible with their outlook. Helios is the sun as god.
(β) But in this connection we must at the same time take good note of the fact that the Greeks did not in any way regard the natural as such as divine. On the contrary, they had the distinct idea that the natural is not the divine; and while sometimes this remains unexpressed in [their description of] what their gods are, sometimes it was expressly emphasized about them. Plutarch, e.g., in his essay on Isis and Osiris comes to speak of the different ways of interpreting the myths and the gods. Isis and Osiris belong to the Egyptian outlook and had the elements of nature as their content to a greater extent than the corresponding Greek gods had; this is because they express only the longing and the struggle to advance out of the natural into the spiritual; later they enjoyed great reverence in Rome and constituted one of the chief Mysteries. Nevertheless Plutarch [Isis and Osiris § 64] thinks it would be disgraceful to interpret them as sun, earth, or water. Everything that in the sun, earth, etc. is measureless and without order, is defective or superfluous, and this alone must be ascribed to the natural elements; and only the good and orderly is the work of Isis, while intellect, logos, is the work of Osiris. As the substance of these gods, therefore, it is not the natural as such which is to be adduced, but the spiritual, the universal, logos, intellect, conformity to law.
In virtue of this insight into the spiritual nature of the gods, it turns out that the Greeks nevertheless distinguished the more determinate natural elements from the new gods. Of course we are accustomed to identify e.g. Helios and Selene [sun and moon] with Apollo and Diana, but in Homer they appear distinguished from one another. The same is true about Oceanus [sea] and Poseidon, and others.
(γ) But, thirdly, there remains in the new gods an echo of the powers of nature, the agency of which belongs to the spiritual individuality of the gods themselves. The ground of this positive linkage of the spiritual and the natural in the ideal of classical art we have already expounded earlier [in the passage on the Classical in General], and therefore we may confine ourselves here to citing a few examples.
(αα) In Poseidon, as in Pontus and Oceanus, lies the might of the sea that streams round the earth, but his power and activity stretches further: he built Troy and was a safeguard of Athens; in general he was worshipped as the founder of cities, because the sea is the element for shipping, trade, and the bond between men. Similarly Apollo, the new god, is the light of knowledge, and the giver of oracles, and yet preserves a reminiscence of Helios as the natural light of the sun. Of course there is a dispute, e.g. between Voss and Creuzer, whether Apollo is to betoken the sun or not, but in fact we may say that he is and is not the sun, because he does not remain restricted to this natural content but is elevated to meaning the spiritual. Indeed it must absolutely amaze us what an essential connection there is between knowledge and illumination, the light of spirit and of nature, in keeping with their fundamental character. Light, that is to say, as a natural element is that which manifests; without our seeing it itself, it makes illuminated and irradiated objects visible. By means of light everything becomes apprehensible by something else. The same character of manifestation is possessed by spirit, by knowing and cognizing, by the free light of consciousness. Apart from the variation of the spheres in which these two manifestations display their activity, the difference between them consists only in the fact that spirit reveals itself and remains by itself in what it gives to us or what is made for it, while the light of nature makes apprehensible not itself but, on the contrary, what is other than itself and external to itself; and in this relation it does go out of itself, but unlike spirit does not return into itself and therefore does not win the higher unity of being by itself in the other. Just as light and knowing have a close connection, so we find in Apollo too as a spiritual god the reminiscence once again of the light of the sun. So, e.g., Homer [in Iliad, i. 9-10] ascribes the plague in the Grecian camp to Apollo who here is treated as the agency of the sun in the heat of summer. Similarly his deathdealing arrows undoubtedly have a symbolical connection with the sun’s rays. It follows that in the external representation there must be more detailed external indications to determine in what meaning the god is principally to be taken.
It is especially when we trace the historical origin of the new gods that, as Creuzer above all has emphasized, we can recognize the natural element which the gods of the classical ideal preserve in themselves. So, e.g., in Jupiter there are indications of the sun; and the twelve labours of Hercules, for example his expedition in which he carried off the apples of the Hesperides, have likewise a relation to the sun and the twelve months. Fundamentally Diana has the office of being the universal mother of nature, e.g. as Diana of the Ephesians, who hovers between the old and the new, she has, as her chief content, nature in general, procreation and nutrition, and this meaning is indicated even in her external form, in her breasts, etc. Whereas in the case of the Greek Artemis, the huntress, who kills beasts, this natural aspect recedes altogether into the background in her humanly beautiful maidenly form and independence, although the half-moon and the arrows still always recall Selene [Selene, moon = Diana = Artemis]. In a similar way the more Aphrodite’s origin is traced back to Asia, the more she becomes a natural [or sensual] power; when she comes over into Greece proper, she presents the spiritually more individual aspect of charm, grace, and love, an aspect yet in no way lacking a natural foundation. Ceres in the same way has natural productivity as her startingpoint which then leads on to a spiritual content, the relations in which develop out of agriculture, property, etc. The Muses have the murmur of a spring as their natural basis, and Zeus himself is to be taken as a universal power of nature and is worshipped as the Thunderer, although in Homer thunder is a sign of misfortune or approval, an omen, and therefore it acquires a relation to the spiritual and the human. Even Juno has a natural echo of the vault of heaven and the airy region where the gods wander, for it is said, e.g., that Zeus put Hercules to Juno’s breast, and from the milk that was spilt the milky way was hurled into being.
(ββ) Now just as in the new gods the universal elements of nature are disparaged but yet retained, the same is true with the animal kingdom as such, which earlier we had to treat only in its degradation. At this point we can give a more positive position to the animal kingdom as well. Yet because the classical gods have been stripped of their symbolic mode of configuration, and now win for their content the spirit which is clear to itself, the symbolical meaning of animals must be lost in proportion as the animal shape is deprived of the right of mingling with the human in an inappropriate way. This shape therefore occurs as a merely indicative attribute and is placed alongside the human shape of the gods. So we see the eagle beside Jupiter, the peacock beside Juno, the doves accompanying Venus, the dog [-headed] Anubis as the guard of the underworld, etc. Even if, therefore, something symbolical is still retained in the ideal figures of the spiritual gods, nevertheless it is not apparent in its original meaning, and the indication as such of nature, earlier constitutive of the essential content, remains in the background as only a relic and something particular and external which now here and there, on account of its accidental character, looks bizarre because the earlier meaning no longer dwells in it. Further, since the inner essence of these gods is the spiritual and the human, what is external about them now becomes a human accident and weakness. In this connection we may refer once again to the manifold love affairs of Jupiter. In their original symbolical meaning they are related, as we saw, to the universal activity of generation, to the life of nature. But since his marriage with Juno is to be regarded as his fixed substantial relationship, Jupiter’s love-affairs appear as faithlessness to his spouse; and so they have the shape of casual adventures and exchange their symbolical sense for the character of capriciously invented and morally lax stories.
With this degradation of purely natural powers and the animal kingdom, as well as the abstract universality of spiritual relationships, and with the re-acceptance of these within the higher independence of spiritual individuality permeated by and permeating nature, we have left behind us the proper presupposition of the essence of classical art, namely its necessary origin in history; this is so because along this route the Ideal has by its own effort reached what it is in accordance with its Concept. This conceptually adequate reality of the spiritual gods leads us to the proper ideals of the classical form of art which, contrasted with the old gods, now conquered, display what is immortal, for mortality in general lies in inadequacy between the Concept and its existence
What the proper essence of the Ideal is we have seen already in our general treatment of the beauty of art. Here we must take it up in the special sense of the classical Ideal, the Concept of which is given to us already along with the Concept of the classical form of art. For the classical Ideal, our subject now, consists only in the fact that classical art actually attains and sets forth what constitutes its innermost Concept and essence. At this point it lays hold of the spiritual as its content, in so far as the spiritual draws nature and its powers into its own sphere and so is represented otherwise than as pure inwardness or as dominion over nature; but for its form it adopts the human shape, deed, and action, through which the spiritual shines clearly in complete freedom, making the sensuous shape its own, not at all as an external thing merely symbolically significant but as a reality which is the adequate existence of spirit.
The more specific division of this chapter may be laid down as follows:
First, we have to consider the universal nature of the classical Ideal which has the human for both its content and form and so works both sides in with one another that they come into the most complete correspondence with one another.
Secondly, however, since here the human is entirely immersed in bodily shape and external appearance, it becomes shaped externally in a specific way to which only a specific content is adequate. Since as a result we have the Ideal before us at the same time as particularity, there is presented to us a range of particular gods and powers over human existence.
Thirdly, particularity does not rest in the abstraction of being only a single determinate type, the essential character of which would constitute the entire content and one-sided principle for [artistic] representation; on the contrary, it is all the same a totality [of qualities] in itself and that totality’s unity and harmony as an individual. Without this filling, particularity would be cold and empty and it would lose the vitality which the Ideal can never lack in any circumstances.
Keeping to these three aspects of universality, particularity, and single individuality, we will now study the Ideal of classical art in more detail.
Questions about the origin of the Greek gods, in so far as the gods afford the proper centre for ideal representation, we have already touched upon, and we have seen that the gods belong to a tradition transformed by art. Only as a result of a double depreciation, on the one hand of the universal powers of nature and their personification, on the other of the animal kingdom and its symbolical meaning and shape, could this transformation occur in order that thereby the spiritual might be won as the true content, and the human mode of appearance as the true form.
Now since the classical Ideal comes essentially into being only through such a transformation of what went before, the first aspect which we must bring out in this connection is this, that this Ideal is generated by the spirit and therefore has originated in the most inward and personal being of poets and artists who have created it with clear and free deliberateness, consciously aiming at artistic production. But this creation seems to run counter to the fact that Greek mythology rests on older traditions and hints at something foreign and oriental. Although Herodotus, e.g., in the passage already cited above, says that Homer and Hesiod made their gods for the Greeks, he elsewhere brings the same Greek gods into close connection with the Egyptian, etc. For in Book ii. 49 he expressly tells that Melampus brought the name of Dionysus to the Hellenes [from Egypt] and introduced the phallus and the whole sacrificial festival; with one difference, however, because Herodotus thinks that Melampus learnt the worship of Dionysus [not directly from Egypt but] from Cadmus the Tyrian and the Phoenicians who came with Cadmus to Boeotia. In recent times these contradictory assertions have become of interest especially in connection with Creuzer’s researches; he tries to discover in Homer, e.g., old Mysteries, and all the sources which converged in Greece, Asiatic, Pelasgic, Dodonian, Thracian, Samothracian, Phrygian, Indian, Buddhistic, Phoenician, Egyptian, Orphic, along with an endless number of domestic traditions associated with specific localities and other details. It is true that at a first glance there is a contradiction between these varied traditional origins and the view that those poets gave names and a shape to the gods. But both tradition and original creation can be wholly united. Tradition comes first, the starting-point which provides ingredients but does not yet bring with them the proper content and the genuine form for the gods. This content those poets took from their own spirit and found the true form for it in the course of their free transformation of this material and they have therefore become in fact the creators of the mythology at which we marvel in Greek art. Nevertheless, on the other hand, the Homeric gods are not for this reason, as might be supposed, a purely subjective invention or a purely artificial production; on the contrary, they have their root in the spirit and faith of the Greek people and its national religious foundations. They are the absolute forces and powers, the supreme height of Greek imagination, the centre of the beautiful in general, granted to the poet by the Muses themselves.
Now in this free creation the artist acquires a position quite different from the one he has in the East. The Indian poets and sages also have material there for them as their starting-point; natural elements, sky, animals, rivers, etc., or the pure abstraction of the formless and empty Brahma; but their inspiration is a destruction of the inward life of subjectivity; the subject [i.e. the artist] is given the hard task of working on what is external to himself and, owing to the intemperance of his imagination which lacks any firm and absolute direction, he cannot create really freely and beautifully, but must continue to produce in an unruly way and range around in his material. He is like a builder who has no clear ground; ancient debris of half-ruined walls, mounds, projecting rocks obstruct him, quite apart from the particular ends which are to dictate the construction of his building, and he can achieve nothing but a wild, unharmonious, fantastic structure. What he produces is not the work of his own imagination freely creating out of his own spiritual resources. Conversely, Hebrew poets give us revelations which the Lord bade them speak, so that here again the creative force is an unconscious inspiration, separate and distinct from the individuality and productive spirit of the artist, just as in sublimity generally what comes before contemplation and consciousness is the abstract and the eternal related essentially to something other than and external to itself.
In classical art, on the contrary, the artists and poets are of course also prophets and teachers who proclaim and reveal to man what is absolute and Divine, but,
(α) first, the content of their gods is not nature as purely external to the human spirit, or the abstraction of the one Divinity, in which case nothing would be left to them but a superficial formation or a shapeless inwardness; instead, their content is drawn from the human spirit and human existence, and therefore is the human breast’s very own, a content with which man can freely associate himself as with himself, since what he produces is the most beautiful manifestation of himself.
(β) Secondly, the artists are also makers, fashioners of this material and content into a shape freely self-dependent. Accordingly the Greek artists evince themselves as genuinely creative poets. All the varied foreign ingredients they have brought into the melting-pot, yet they have not made a brew out of them like what comes from a witches’ cauldron; on the contrary, in the pure fire of the deeper spirit they have consumed everything murky, natural, impure, foreign, and extravagant; they have burnt all this together and made the shape appear purified, with only faint traces of the material out of which it has been formed. Their business in this connection consisted partly in stripping away the formless, symbolic, ugly, and misshapen things which confronted them in the material of the tradition, partly in emphasizing the properly spiritual which they had to individualize and for which they had to seek or invent the corresponding external appearance. Here for the first time it is the human shape and the form of human actions and events (no longer used as mere personification) which, as we saw, enters necessarily as the one adequate reality. These forms too the artist finds in the real world, but nevertheless he has to extinguish the accidental and inappropriate element in them before they can be proved adequate to the spiritual content of man which, seized in its essence, comes to serve as the representation of the eternal powers and gods. This is the free, spiritual, and not merely arbitrary production of the artist.
(γ) Now, thirdly, since the gods do not merely stand aloof by themselves but are also active within the concrete reality of nature and human affairs, the business of the poets is directed to recognizing the presence and agency of the gods in this relation to human matters, to interpreting the particular aspect of natural occurrences and human deeds and destinies wherein the divine powers appear as involved, and therefore to sharing the business of the priest and the prophet. At the standpoint of our modern prosaic reflection we explain natural phenomena in accordance with universal laws and forces, the actions of men by their inner intentions and self-conscious aims, but the Greek poets looked for the Divine everywhere, and since they shaped human activities into actions of the gods, they create by this interpretation only the different aspects under which the gods exercise their power. For a mass of such interpretations is afforded by a mass of actions in which one god or another reveals what he is. If we open the Homeric poems, e.g., we find there scarcely any important event which is not more clearly elucidated as proceeding from the will or actual aid of the gods. These interpretations are the product of the insight, the self-wrought faith, the intuition of the poets, since Homer after all often expresses them in his own name, and only occasionally puts them into the mouth of his characters, the priests or the heroes. For example, right at the beginning of the Iliad (i. 9-12) he has accounted for the plague in the Greek camp by the indignation of Apollo at Agamemnon’s refusal to release Chryseis to her father Chryses, and then later (94-100) makes Calchas announce the same interpretation to the Greeks.
In a similar way, in the last book of the Odyssey (xxiv. 41-63) when Hermes has conducted the souls of the suitors to the asphodel meadows and there they find Achilles and the other heroes who fought before Troy, and when finally Agamemnon too approaches them, Homer tells how Agamemnon sketches the death of Achilles: ‘All day the Greeks had fought and only when Zeus separated the combatants did they bear the noble corpse to the ships with many tears, wash it and anoint it. Then there burst forth on the sea a divine uproar, and the terrified Achaeans were ready to flock to their hollow ships, had they not been kept back by a man learned in ancient and many things, Nestor, whose counsel earlier had seemed the best.’ He explains the phenomenon to them by saying: ‘The mother [Thetis] yonder comes forth from the sea with the immortal sea-nymphs in order to meet with her dead son. At this saying the great-hearted Achaeans lost their fear.’ Now, that is, they knew where they were: this was something human, the mother, mourning, meets her son, and it was only what they themselves were that struck their eye and ear. Achilles is her son, she herself is full of grief. And so after all Agamemnon, turning to Achilles, continues his sketch with a description of the universal grief: ‘But around thee’, he says, ‘stand the daughters of the Father of the Sea, lamenting and clad in ambrosial garments ; the Muses too, all nine, wailed by turns in beautiful song and then indeed no Argives were seen without tears, so moved were they by the clear-toned song.’
But above all in this connection another divine appearance in the Odyssey has every time fascinated and preoccupied me. In his wanderings amongst the Phaeacians, Odysseus was taunted by Euryalus on the occasion of the games because he had declined to take part in the competition for discus-throwing; aroused, he answered with black looks and harsh words. Then he stands up, grasps the quoit that is bigger and heavier than all the others, and flings it far over the mark. One of the Phaeacians marks the place and calls to him: ‘Even a blind man can see the stone; it does not lie mingled with the others but far beyond them; in this competition thou hast nothing to fear, no Phaeacian will reach or surpass thy throw.’ So he spake, but the much-enduring divine Odysseus was delighted (viii. 159-200) to see in the contest a well-disposed friend. This word, the friendly nod of a Phaeacian, Homer attributes to the friendly appearance of Athene [in the shape of the Phaeacian].
Now the further question arises, what are the products of this classical mode of artistic activity, of what sort are the new gods of Greek art ?
(α) The most general and at the same time the most perfect idea of their nature is afforded by their concentrated individuality; their individuality has pulled itself together out of the variety of appendages, single actions and events into the one focus of its simple unity with itself.
(αα) What impresses us about these gods is in the first place the spiritual substantial individuality which, withdrawn into itself out of the motley show of the particularity of need and the unrest of the finite with its variety of purposes, rests secure on its own universality as on an eternal and clear foundation. Only thereby do the gods appear as the eternal powers whose untroubled dominion comes into view, not in the sphere of the particular, entangled with something other than and external to them, but in their own unalterability and intrinsic worth.
(ββ) Conversely, however, they are not by any means the pure abstraction of spiritual universalities and therefore so called universal ideals; on the contrary, because they are individuals they appear as an ideal which has existence and therefore determinacy in itself, and which, i.e. as spirit, has character. Without character no individuality comes on the scene. In this respect, as has already been expounded [on pp. 471-5], even the spiritual gods have as their basis a specific natural power with which a specific ethical substance is fused and which assigns to each god a limited sphere for his more exclusive activity. The manifold aspects and traits which enter on account of this particularity constitute, when reduced to simple unity, the character of the gods.
(γγ) Yet neither, in the true Ideal, may this determinacy terminate in a sharp restriction to one-sidedness of character but must equally appear as drawn back again into the universality of the Divine. In this way, since each god bears in himself the determinate attribute of being a divine and therewith universal individual, he is partly a determinate character and partly all in all, and he hovers in the very middle between pure universality and equally abstract particularity. This gives to the genuine ideal figure of classical art infinite security and peace, untroubled bliss and untrammelled freedom.
(β) Now further, by being beauty in classical art, the inherently determinate divine character appears not only spiritually but also externally in its bodily form, i.e. in a shape visible to the eye as well as to the spirit.
(αα) Since this beauty has for its content not only a spiritual personification of the natural and the animal but the spiritual itself in its adequate existence, it may only incidentally assume the symbolical form and what is related to the purely natural; its proper expression is the external shape peculiar to spirit, and to spirit alone, in so far as what lies within spirit brings itself into existence in that shape and permeates it completely.
(ββ) On the other hand, classical beauty must not be called ‘sublime’. For what alone has the look of the sublime is the abstract universal which never coincides with itself in anything determinate; on the contrary, its attitude to the particular in general, and therefore to every embodiment also, is purely negative. But classical beauty carries spiritual individuality right into the midst of what is at the same time its natural existence and unfolds the inner only in the medium of external appearance.
(γγ) On this account, however, the external shape, like the spirit which fashions an existence for itself there, must be freed from every accident of external determinacy, from every dependence on nature, and from morbidity; it must be withdrawn from all finitude, everything transient, all preoccupation with what is purely sensuous; its determinacy, closely allied with the determinate spiritual character of the god, must be purified and elevated into a free harmony with the universal forms of the human shape. Only flawless externality, from which every trait of weakness and relativity has been obliterated and every tiny spot of capricious particularity extinguished, corresponds to the spiritual inwardness which is to immerse itself in it and therein attain an embodiment.
(γ) But while the gods are at the same time reflected back from their determinacy of character into universality, there must be displayed at the same time in their appearance the self-subsistence of spirit as well as its self-repose and self-security in its opposite.
(αα) Therefore in the concrete individuality of the gods as it is conceived in the properly classical Ideal we see all the same this nobility and this loftiness of spirit in which, despite spirit’s entire absorption in the bodily and sensuous shape, there is revealed to us its distance from all the deficiency of the finite. Pure inwardness and abstract liberation from every kind of determinacy would lead to sublimity; but since the classical Ideal issues in an existence which is only its own, i.e. the existence of spirit itself, the sublimity of the Ideal too is fused into beauty and has passed over into it, as it were immediately. For the shapes of the gods this necessitates the expression of loftiness, of classical beautiful sublimity. An immortal seriousness, an unchangeable peace is enthroned on the brow of the gods and is suffused over their whole shape.
(ββ) In their beauty these gods appear therefore raised above their own corporeality, and thus there arises a divergence between their blessed loftiness, which is a spiritual inwardness, and their beauty, which is external and corporeal. The spirit appears entirely immersed in its external form and yet at the same time immersed thence into itself. It is like the wandering of an immortal god amongst mortal men.
In this connection the Greek gods produce an impression, despite all difference, similar to that made on me by Rauch’s bust of Goethe when I first saw it. You too have seen it, this lofty brow, this powerful commanding nose, the free eye, the round chin, the affable and well-formed lips, the intelligent placing of the head with a glance sideways and a little upwards; and at the same time the whole fullness of sensitive friendly humanity, and in addition these finished muscles of the forehead and face, [expressive of the] feelings and passions, and, in all the vitality of the bust, the peace, stillness, and majesty of an elderly man; and now along with this the leanness of the lips which retreat into a toothless mouth, the looseness of the neck and cheeks whereby the bridge of the nose appears still greater and the sides of the forehead still higher. – The power of this fixed shape which at bottom suggests immutability especially, looks, in its loosely hanging mantle, like the raised head and the shape of the Oriental in his wide turban but loose outer garments and shuffling slippers; it is the firm, powerful, and timeless spirit which, in the mask of encircling mortality, is on the point of letting this veil fall away and still lets it just hang freely around itself.
In a similar way the gods too, in virtue of this lofty freedom and spiritual peace, appear as raised above their body so that they feel their shape, their limbs, as if they were a superfluous appendage, amidst all the beauty and perfection of their figures. And yet the whole shape is vitally ensouled, identical with spiritual being, without any division, without that separation between what is inherently fixed and the weaker parts, the spirit neither escaping the body nor emergent from it, but both one solid whole out of which the inwardness of the spirit quietly peeps solely in the wonderful certainty of itself.
(γγ) But since the above-mentioned divergence is present, yet without appearing as a difference and separation between inner spirituality and its external shape, the negative inherent in it is on this account immanent in this undivided whole and expressed therein itself. Within the loftiness of the spirit this is the breath and air of affliction which gifted men have felt in the ancient pictures of the gods even in their consummate beauty and loveliness. The repose of divine serenity may not be particularized into joy, pleasure, and contentment, and the peace of the eternal must not sink into the laughter of self-satisfaction and comfortable enjoyment. Contentment is the feeling of correspondence between our individual self and the condition of our specific situation whether that be given to us or brought about by us. Napoleon, for example, has never more thoroughly expressed his contentment than when he had achieved some success by which the whole world showed itself discontented. For contentment is only the approval of my own being, acting, and doing, and the extreme of this approval can be recognized in that Philistine feeling to which every successful man must rise! But this feeling and its expression is not the expression of the plastic eternal gods. Free perfect beauty cannot be satisfied in compliance with a specific finite existence; on the contrary, although its individuality, whether of spirit or shape, is characteristic and specific in itself, it still coincides with itself only as being at once free universality and self-reposing spirituality.
This universality is what in the case of the Greek gods some have proposed to accuse of frigidity. However, they are cold only for our modern fervour in the sphere of the finite; regarded by themselves, they have warmth and life; the blissful peace mirrored in their body is essentially an abstraction from the particular, an indifference to the transient, a sacrifice of the external, a renunciation neither sorrowful nor painful, yet all the same a renunciation of the earthly and evanescent, just as their spiritual serenity in its depth looks far away beyond death, the grave, loss, and time, and, precisely because it is deep, contains the negative in itself. But the more that seriousness and spiritual freedom appear in the shapes of the gods, so much the more can we feel a contrast between (a) this loftiness and (b) determinacy and bodily form. The blessed gods mourn as it were over their blessedness or their bodily form. We read in their faces the fate that awaits them, and its development, as the actual emergence of that contradiction between loftiness and particularity, between spirituality and sensuous existence, drags classical art itself to its ruin.
If, thirdly, we now ask about the sort of external portrayal adequate to that concept of the classical Ideal which we have just expounded, the essential points in this matter have already been expounded in more detail in connection with our consideration of the Ideal in general. Here therefore we need say no more than that in the strictly classical Ideal the spiritual individuality of the gods is not apprehended in its bearing on something else nor is it brought, through its particularization, into conflict and battle; on the contrary, it appears before us in its eternal self-repose and in this sorrow of the divine peace. The specific character [of the gods] is therefore not manifested by way of its provoking the gods to particular feelings and passions or compelling them to carry out specific aims. On the contrary, they are brought back out of every collision and complication, indeed out of every relation to what is finite and inherently discordant, into pure absorption in themselves. This most austere repose, not rigid, cold, and dead, but sensitive and immutable, is the highest and most adequate form of portrayal for the classical gods. On this account, if they enter into specific situations, then these may not be circumstances or actions which give an opening to conflicts, but such as, being harmless in themselves, leave the harmlessness of the gods also untouched. Amongst the particular arts, therefore, sculpture is above all adapted to represent the classical Ideal in its simple unity with itself, in which what is to come into appearance is universal divinity rather than particular character. It is especially the older, more austere, sculpture which adheres to this aspect of the Ideal, and only later does sculpture proceed to an increased dramatic liveliness of situations and characters. Poetry, on the other hand, makes the gods act, which means relating themselves negatively to an existent, and thereby introduces them to battle and strife also. When the repose of plastic art remains within the sphere that is uniquely that art’s own, it can express that feature of the spirit which is its negative relation to particulars, only in that seriousness of mourning which we have already indicated above [in (b)] in more detail.
As individuality made visible, portrayed in immediate existence, and therefore specific and particular, the Godhead necessarily becomes a plurality of shapes. Polytheism is absolutely essential to the principle of classical art, and it would be a foolish undertaking to propose to shape in plastic beauty the one god of sublimity and pantheism or of that absolute religion' which apprehends God as spiritual and purely inner personality, or to suppose that, in the case of the Jews, Mohammedans, or Christians, their original outlook could have produced the classical forms for the content of their religious faith, as happened in the case of the Greeks.
In this plurality the universe of the Divine at this stage bursts asunder into a group of particular gods, each of which is an independent individual and contrasted with the others. But these individuals are not of such a kind as to be taken merely as allegories of universal qualities, e.g. Apollo as god of knowledge, Zeus of dominion; on the contrary, Zeus is knowledge just as much, and Apollo in the Eumenides, as we saw, also protects Orestes, the son, the king’s son, whom he himself had stimulated to vengeance. The group of Greek gods is a plurality of individuals in which each single god, even if endowed with the specific character of a particular person, is still a comprehensive totality, containing also in itself the attribute of another god. For every shape, as Divine, is always also the whole. For this reason alone do the Greek individual gods have a wealth of characteristics, and although their blessedness consists in their universal and spiritual self-repose and in their abstraction from the direct bent towards finitude and towards the dispersive manifold of things and relations, still they have all the same the power to evince themselves as active and effective in various ways. They are neither the abstract particular nor the abstract universal, but the universal which is the source of the particular.
But on account of this kind of individuality Greek polytheism cannot form a systematically organized totality in itself. At a first glance it seems imperative to demand of divine Olympus that the many gods assembled there must in their ensemble, if the particularization of that ensemble is to have truth and its content to be classical, also express in themselves the totality of the Idea, exhaust the whole range of the necessary powers of nature and spirit, and be construed from that angle, i.e. be demonstrable as necessary. But in that case this demand would at once have to be accompanied by a limitation because those powers of the heart and the absolute spiritual inner life in general, which only become effective in later and higher religion, remained excluded from the sphere of the classical gods, so that, for this reason, the scope of the content whose particular aspects could be brought before contemplation in Greek mythology was already diminished. But, this apart, on the one hand the inherently manifold character of individuality necessarily entails contingency in determining [viz., here, the forms of particular gods], and therefore determining them is not susceptible of the strict arrangement characteristic of the differences within the Concept because this contingency precludes the gods from being immobilized in the abstraction of a single determinacy; on the other hand, universality, the element in which the individual gods have their blessed existence, cancels fixed particularity, and the loftiness of the eternal powers rises serenely over the cold seriousness of the finite. In default of this inconsistency, the divine shapes would be implicated in the finite by their restrictedness.
However far, therefore, the chief powers of the world, i.e. of the totality of nature and spirit, are portrayed in Greek mythology, this ensemble still cannot come on the scene as a systematic whole, because the gods possess both universal divinity and also individuality. Otherwise, instead of being individual characters, the gods would be more like allegorical beings, and instead of being divine individuals would in the end become restricted abstract characters.
Therefore, if we consider more closely the group of the Greek divinities, i.e. the group of the so-called chief gods in their simple fundamental character as it appears consolidated by sculpture in a portrayal which is most universal and yet sensuously concrete, we do find the essential differences and their totality settled, but in particulars they are also always confused again and the rigour of the execution is tempered to an inconsistency between beauty and individuality. Thus Zeus has in his hands dominion over gods and men, yet without thereby essentially jeopardizing the free independence of the other gods. He is the supreme god, but his power does not absorb the power of the others. He has a connection with the sky, with thunder and lightning, and with the generative life of nature, but still more, and more properly, he is the power over the state and the legal order of things; he is too the obligatoriness of contracts, oaths, and hospitality, and in short he is the bond of the substance of human, practical, and ethical life, and the might of knowing and the spirit. His brothers turn [for dominion] outward to the sea and beneath to the underworld. Apollo appears as the god of knowledge, as the expression and beautiful presentation of the interests of the spirit, as the teacher of the Muses; ‘Know thyself’ is the inscription on his temple at Delphi, a command which does not relate at all to the weaknesses and deficiencies of the spirit but to its essence and to art and every genuine consciousness. Cunning and eloquence, mediation in general as it appears in those subordinate spheres which, although mixed with immoral elements, are yet within the scope of the perfect spirit – all these are a chief territory of Hermes who also conducts the souls of the dead to the underworld. Power over war is a chief trait of Ares. Hephaestus proves himself skilled in work in technical arts. And the enthusiasm which still carries in itself an element of the natural, the enthusing natural power of wine, as well as the games, dramatic productions, etc. are assigned to Dionysus. The female divinities run through a similar series of characteristics. In Juno the ethical bond of wedlock is a principal characteristic; Ceres has taught and propagated agriculture and therefore endowed man with both the aspects inherent in agriculture: first, provision for the growth of the natural products which satisfy man’s most immediate needs, but, secondly, the spiritual element in property, wedlock, law, the beginnings of civilization and an ethical order. So too Athene is moderation, prudence, legality, the might of wisdom, technical skill, and bravery, and in her intelligent and warlike maidenhood embraces the concrete spirit of the people, the free proper substantial spirit of the city of Athens, and displays it objectively as a ruling might to be reverenced as divine. Diana [i.e. Artemis], on the other hand, entirely different from Diana of the Ephesians, has the inflexible independence of maidenly modesty as her essential trait of character; she loves the chase and is in general not the quietly pensive but the austere maiden with aspirations only beyond. Aphrodite with the seductive Amor, who out of the old Titanic Eros has become a boy, points to the human emotion of affection, sexual love, etc.
This is the sort of content possessed by the spiritually shaped individual gods. As for their external portrayal, we may here again mention sculpture as the art which proceeds even to this particularization of the gods. Yet if it expresses individuality in its more specific determinacy, it already passes beyond its original austere loftiness, although it does even then unify the variety and wealth of individuality into one determinacy, into what we call character; and it fixes this character, in its simpler clarity, for sense-perception, i.e. fixes it in divine shapes as what is externally most completely and finally determinate. For the imagination of the gods in respect of their external and real existence always remains vague, even if, as poetry, it develops the subject-matter into a mass of stories, utterances, and events connected with the gods. Therefore sculpture is on the one hand more ideal, while on the other hand it individualizes the character of the gods into an entirely specific human form and perfects the anthropomorphism of the classical Ideal. As this presentation of the Ideal in that externality which yet is entirely adequate to the inner essential content, the sculptures of the Greeks are the Ideals in and for themselves, the independent eternal shapes, the centre of plastic classical beauty, the type of which remains the basis even when these shapes enter into specific actions and appear involved in particular events.
But individuality and its portrayal cannot be content with the ever still more or less abstract particularity of character. The star is exhausted by its simple law and brings this law into appearance; a few specific traits characterize the configuration of the world of rocks; but already in the nature of plants there arises an infinite copiousness of the most diversified forms, transitions, hybrids, and anomalies; animal organisms display a still greater range of difference and of interaction with the surroundings to which they are related; and if, finally, we rise to the spiritual and its appearance, we find a still infinitely wider many-sidedness of inner and outer existence. Now since the classical Ideal does not abide by the individuality that reposes in itself but has to set it in motion, bring it into relation with an opposite and show itself effective thereon, the character of the gods too does not stop at inherently substantial determinacy but enters into further particularizations. This self-revealing movement into external existence and the mutability bound up with it provide only the more obvious traits for the individuality of each god as they properly and necessarily do for a living individual. But with this sort of individuality there is bound up at the same time the contingency of the particular traits which are no longer brought back to the universal element in the substantial meaning; therefore this particular aspect of the individual gods becomes something laid down arbitrarily which on this account may only surround them as an external accessory and re-echo within them.
Therefore at once the question arises: Whence comes the material for this mode of appearance of the gods as individuals, how do they progress in their particularization? For an actual human individual, for his character out of the resources of which he accomplishes his actions, for the events in which he is involved, for the fate in which he is caught, the positive material closer at hand is afforded by external circumstances, the date of his birth, his inborn aptitudes, his parents, education, surroundings, contemporary events, the whole range of relevant inner and outer circumstances. This material is contained in the present world, and, this considered, the biographies of individual men will vary from one another in the most manifold ways every time. But it is otherwise with the free figures of the gods which have no existence in concrete reality but are the product of imagination. But therefore we might believe that the poets and artists, who fashioned the Ideal in general out of their freedom of spirit, derived the material for accidental details purely from the subjective caprice of imagination. Yet this idea is false. For the position we gave to classical art in general was that only through reaction against the presuppositions belonging of necessity to its sphere was it elevated to what it is as genuinely Ideal. From these presuppositions there are spelt out the special particular characteristics which fashion for the gods their more detailed individual life. The chief factors in these presuppositions have already been cited, and here we have only to refer briefly to what was said earlier [on pp. 440-4].
(α) The primary abundant source is supplied by the symbolical nature religions. These serve Greek mythology with the basis which is transformed within it. But since such borrowed traits are here apportioned to the gods now represented as spiritual individuals, they must essentially lose the character of counting as symbols; for now they may no longer preserve a meaning different from what the individual is himself and what he brings to light. The earlier symbolic content, therefore, now becomes the content of a divine subject himself, and since it does not concern the substantial nature of the god but only his incidental particular character, such material falls to the level of an external story, an act or an event which is ascribed to the will of the gods in this or that particular situation. So there enter here again all the symbolical traditions of earlier sacred literature and they assume, transformed into the actions of a subjective individual, the form of human events and stories which are supposed to have happened to the gods and cannot at all have been merely invented by the poets at will. When Homer, e.g., tells us that the gods went off on a journey to feast for twelve days together amongst the blameless Ethiopians, this as a pure fancy of the poet would be a poor invention. The same is true of the narrative [Hesiod, 453 ff.] of the birth of Zeus. Cronus, it is said, devoured all the children he had begotten, so that now when Rhea, his spouse, was pregnant with Zeus the youngest, she went off to Crete; there she bore her son, but what she gave to Cronus to devour was not the child but a stone swaddled in a skin. Then later Cronus vomited up all his children again, his daughters and Poseidon too. This story, as an artist’s invention, would be silly; but the remains of symbolic meanings peep through, which yet, having lost their symbolic character, appear as a purely external event. It is the same with the story of Ceres and Proserpine. Here there is the old symbolic meaning of the dying and the burgeoning of the seed-corn. The myth represents this as follows: Proserpine played with flowers in a valley and plucked the fragrant narcissus which from one root sprouted a hundred blooms. Then the earth heaves. Pluto comes up out of the ground, puts the lamenting maiden into his golden chariot and carries her off to the underworld. Now Ceres in her maternal grief wanders over the earth for a long while in vain. At last Proserpine returns to the upper world, but Zeus has allowed this, subject only to the condition that Proserpine has not yet eaten the food of the gods. But unfortunately she had once eaten a pomegranate in Elysium and therefore could pass only spring and summer in the upper world. Here too the general meaning has not preserved its symbolic shape but is worked up into a human event which only lets the universal sense shine from afar through the numerous external details. In the same way the cognomina of the gods often hint at such symbolic bases but these have been stripped of their symbolic form and only serve to give a fuller characterization to the individual god.
(β) Another source of the positive particular characterization of the individual gods is provided by relations to localities. These concern both the origin of ideas about the gods and also the advent and introduction of their service and the different places where their worship was chiefly to be found.
(αα) Therefore although the portrayal of the Ideal and its universal beauty is raised above a particular locality and its special character, and although it has drawn together the external details contained in the universality of the artistic imagination into a total picture wholly in correspondence with the substantial meaning, still, when sculpture brings the individual gods into separated connections and relations, these particular traits and local colours always play their part again in order to manifest something of that individuality, though something more specific only externally. Pausanias, e.g., cites a number of such local ideas, images, pictures, tales, which he had seen, or had had brought to his notice otherwise, in temples, public places, temple treasures, in regions where something important had occurred. On the same lines, similarly, localities and old traditions drawn from abroad run into native ones in the Greek myths, and all of them are more or less given a relation to the history, birth, and foundation of states, especially through colonization. But since this diverse special material in the universality of the gods has lost the meaning it originally had, the consequence is that stories arise which are varied and outrageous and for us remain without sense. So, e.g., Aeschylus in his Prometheus presents the wanderings of Io [II. 788 ff.] in their whole harshness and externality like a stone bas-relief, without alluding to an ethical, historical, or natural meaning. The same is the case with Perseus, Dionysus, etc., but especially with Zeus, his nurses, his infidelities to Hera whom after all he incidentally hung with an anvil on her legs and made her swing between heaven and earth. In Hercules too the most diverse and varied material is brought together, and then in such stories it assumes a thoroughly human look in the form of accidental events, deeds, passions, misfortunes, and other occurrences.
(ββ) Apart from this, the eternal powers in classical art are the universal substances in the actual shape of the human world and action of the Greeks; therefore many particular remains of this world’s original national beginnings, from the Heroic Age and other traditions, cling to the gods even in later days. After all, many traits in the various stories of the gods certainly hint at historical individuals, heroes, older races, natural events, and occurrences concerning battles, wars, and other sorts of affairs. And just as the family and the difference of clans is the starting-point of the state, so the Greeks also had their family gods, Penates, tribal gods, and moreover the protective deities of single cities and states. But in connection with this pointing to history the thesis is advanced that the origin of the Greek gods in general is to be derived from such historical facts, heroes, or ancient kings. This is a plausible view, but a superficial one, even in the form in which Heyne has once again given it currency in recent times. In an analogous way, a Frenchman, Nicolas Freret, has adopted as a general principle underlying the war of the gods, e.g. the quarrels of different priesthoods. That such an historical factor plays its part here, that certain clans have made their views of the Divine prevail, that likewise different localities have provided traits for the individualization of the gods, all this is of course to be granted; but the real origin of the gods lies not in this external historical material, but in the spiritual powers that govern life, and it is as such that the gods have been conceived. From this point of view a wider scope may be allowed to the positive, local, and historical factors only for the sake of making the presentation of single individuality more specific.
(γγ) Now further, since the god enters human ideas and, still more clearly, is portrayed by sculpture in a bodily and real shape to which man then relates himself afresh in religion and the acts of divine worship, this relationship provides a new material for portrayal within the sphere of the arbitrary and contingent. For example, what animals or fruits are sacrificed to each god, in what attire priests and people appear, in what sequence the particular actions proceed, all this piles up into single traits of the most various kinds. For each such action has an infinite mass of aspects and external features which, accidental in themselves, might be this or something else ; but by belonging to a sacred action they are meant to be something fixed, not arbitrary, and to pass over into the sphere of the symbolic. In this context there falls, e.g., the colour of the clothing, in the case of Bacchus wine-colour, and also the deerskin in which those to be initiated into the Mysteries were veiled. The clothing and attributes of the gods, the bow of the Pythian Apollo, the whip, the staff, and innumerable other externals also have their place here. Yet such things gradually become just customary; in the practice of his religion no one thinks any longer of the ultimate origin of these things; and while by way of a little erudition we might exhibit their meaning, they still remain a mere external affair in which a man participates out of an immediate interest, a frolic, a pleasantry, a momentary pleasure, devotion, or because it is purely customary, immediately established thus, and participated in by others too. When in Germany, e.g., young people light St. John’s fire in the summer-time or gambol elsewhere or throw things at windows, this is a purely external usage in which the proper meaning has been relegated to the background, just as it has been too in the case of the festal dances of Greek youths and maidens where the interlacings of the dance and their figures imitate the criss-cross movements of the planets, as the twists and turns of a labyrinth do also. We do not dance in order to think about what we are doing; interest is restricted to the dance and the tasteful and charming solemnity of its beautiful movement. The whole meaning which was the original basis of the thing, and the portrayal of which for imagination and sense-perception was of a symbolic character, therefore becomes an imaginative idea in general, the details of which we can accept with pleasure as we accept a fairy-tale or as we accept in historiography a specific action in the external world of time and space; and in these cases we can only say ‘It is said, so the tale goes’ or ‘It is so’, etc. The interest of art can therefore only consist in picking out one aspect of this material which has become something positive and external, and making out of it something which sets the gods before our eyes as concrete living individuals and still carries no more than echoes of a deeper meaning.
This positive element, worked on anew by imagination, gives to the Greek gods precisely the attraction of living men, since thereby what is otherwise purely substantial and mighty is drawn into the individual present, a present compacted as such of what is absolutely true and what is external and accidental; and the indeterminate element, otherwise always implicit in the idea of the gods, is more closely defined and more richly filled. But no further value can be attributed to detailed stories and particular characteristics; for this material, which earlier on had a symbolic significance in its ultimate origin, is now only there for the purpose of perfecting the spiritual individuality of the gods in contrast to men by making it determinate for perception and adding to it through this element, undivine in content and appearance, the aspect of arbitrariness and contingency which belongs to the concrete individual. Since sculpture brings the ideal gods before our vision in their purity and has to portray character and expression in a living body alone, it is least able to make the final external individualization appear visibly, yet it does assert this even in its own sphere: as, e.g., the head-dress, the sort of coiffure and locks, are different for every god and are not there at all for symbolic purposes, but for more detailed individualization. So, e.g., Hercules has short locks, Zeus an abundant growth rising upwards, Diana a different curl of the hair from Venus; Pallas has the Gorgon on her helmet, and this sort of thing runs through weapons, girdles, scarves, bracelets, and the most varied externals in the same way.
(γ) Now finally, a third source of the closer determinacy [of their individuality] the gods acquire through their relation to the present concrete world and its varied natural phenomena and human deeds and events. For just as we have seen spiritual individuality, partly in its universal essence, partly in its particular singleness, emerging from earlier symbolically significant natural bases and human activities, so now, as a spiritually independent personality, it also remains in a steadily living relation to nature and human existence. Here, as has already been brought out above, the poet’s imagination gushes forth as the steadily prolific source of particular stories, character traits, and deeds reported of the gods. The artistic aspect of this stage consists in vitally interweaving the individual gods with human actions and gathering up the individual aspects of events into the universality of the Divine; just as we too say, e.g., of course in a different sense : this or that fate comes from God. Already in everyday life the Greek in the complications of his existence, in his needs, his fears, and his hopes took refuge in his gods. Therefore it was in the first place external accidents which the priests regarded as omens and interpreted in their bearing on human purposes and situations. If distress and misfortune actually occur, the priest has to explain the reason for the affliction, recognize the wrath and will of the gods, and proclaim the means of meeting the misfortune. Now the poets go still further in their explanations, because what concerns the universal and essential ‘pathos’, the moving power in human decisions and actions, they ascribe for the most part to the gods and their deed, so that human activity appears at the same time as the deed of the gods who bring their decisions to execution through men. The material in the case of these poetic interpretations is drawn from everyday circumstances in respect of which the poet explains whether it is this or that god who is speaking in the event portrayed and showing himself active within it. In this way poetry especially enlarges the range of the many detailed stories told of the gods.
In this connection we may recall a few examples which in a different context have already served as illustrations in our treatment of the relation between the universal powers and human individual agents. Homer represents Achilles as the bravest of the Greeks before Troy. This pre-eminence of the hero he expresses by saying that Achilles is invulnerable in every part of his body except the ankle by which his mother had to hold him when she dipped him in the Styx. This story belongs to the imagination of the poet who is interpreting external fact. But if we take it as if it was supposed to be the expression of an actual fact which the ancients would have believed in as we believe in a fact on the evidence of our senses, this is an entirely crude idea which makes Homer, as well as all the Greeks and Alexander (who admired Achilles [according to Plutarch] and praised his good fortune in having had Homer as his bard) into simpletons; as Adelung does e.g. through his reflection that bravery was not difficult for Achilles because he knew of his invulnerability. But in this way the true bravery of Achilles is by no means lessened since he knew also of his early death and yet never evaded danger wherever it lay.
A like situation is sketched quite differently in the Nibelungenlied. There [§ 6] the horned Siegfried is likewise invulnerable but besides he has his cap which makes him invisible. When in this invisibility he helps King Gunther in his contest with Brunhilde [§ 7], this is only the work of a crude barbaric wizardry which does not enhance our idea of the bravery of either Siegfried or King Gunther.
Of course in Homer the gods often act for the safety of individual heroes, but the gods appear only as the universal element in what the man is and achieves as an individual when he has to act with the whole energy of his heroic character. Otherwise the gods need only have slaughtered the whole of the Trojans in the battle in order to give the maximum aid to the Greeks. Whereas, when Homer describes the chief battle, he sketches in full the fights of individuals; and it is only when the scuffle and confusion become general, when the whole masses, the collective courage of the hosts, rage against one another that Ares himself storms across the field and gods are fighting against gods [Iliad, xx. 51ff]. And this is fine and splendid, not, as might be supposed, a mere heightening of the effect in general; on the contrary there is implicit the deeper point that in what is individual and distinctive Homer recognizes the individual heroes, but in the ensemble and the universal the universal mights and powers.
In another connection (ibid., xvi. 783-849) Homer makes Apollo appear too when it comes to the killing of Patroclus who wears the invincible armour of Achilles. Comparable to Ares, Patroclus thrice rushed into the Trojan host and thrice nine men had he slain. Then as he stormed in a fourth time, the god [Apollo], veiled in thick mist, wanders through the melee to confront him and smites him on the back and shoulders, tears his helmet from him, so that it rolled on the ground and clearly re-echoed from the hooves of the horses, and the plumes were soiled with blood and dust, a thing unthinkable before at any time. The god also breaks the brazen lance in the hands of Patroclus, slips his shield from his shoulders, and even deprives him of his breastplate. – This intervention of Apollo we may take as a poetic explanation of the fact that it is exhaustion, as if it were a natural death, which seizes on Patroclus and overpowers him in the tumult and heat of the battle at his fourth onrush. – Only now can Euphorbus pierce Patroclus’ back between the shoulders with a lance; Patroclus did once try to withdraw from the battle, but Hector overtook him and thrust his spear deep into the softness of his belly. Then Hector exults and mocks him as he is sinking; but Patroclus, with a weak voice, retorts to him ‘Zeus and Apollo have overcome me without trouble because they have taken the arms from my shoulders; twenty men such as thou art would I have laid low with my lance, but pernicious fate and Apollo killed me, Euphorbus a second time, and thou, Hector, a third.’
Here too the appearance of the gods is only the interpretation of the fact that, although Patroclus was protected by the arms of Achilles, he wearies, is stunned, and is killed. And this is not, as may be supposed, a superstition or idle play of fancy; indeed it is just chatter if it is held that Hector’s fame is diminished by Apollo’s entry on the ground that, since all that we can think of in the narrative is the god’s power throughout the affair, Apollo does not exactly play the most honourable part – such reflections are only a tasteless and idle superstition of the prosaic intellect. For in every case where Homer explains special events by such theophanies, the gods are what is immanent in man himself, the power of his own passion and reflection, or the powers of his situation generally, the power and the ground of what meets him and happens to him as a result of this situation. If occasionally too there are quite external, purely positive, traits in the appearance of the gods, then they become assimilated to jokes as, e.g., when the limping Hephaestus goes round as cup-bearer at a feast of the gods. But in general Homer is not in the last resort serious with these theophanies; at one time the gods act, at another they remain quite inactive again. The Greeks knew perfectly well that it was the poets who created these appearances; and if they believed in them, their belief touched on the spiritual which even so dwells in man’s own spirit and is the universal actually effective and moving in present events. For all these reasons we need not bring any superstition with us to the enjoyment of this poetic portrayal of the gods.
This is the general character of the classical Ideal; its further development we will have to consider in connection with the individual arts [in Part III]. At this point all that need be added is the remark that however much gods and men get involved in the external world and its detail, still in classical art the affirmative moral basis must appear maintained. The subject always remains in unity with the substantial content of his power. While in Greek art the natural preserves a harmony with the spiritual and likewise is subordinate to the inner life even when it is an existent adequate thereto, still the subjective inner life of man is always presented in solid identity with the genuine objectivity of spirit, i.e. with the essential content of the moral and the true. Viewed thus, the classical Ideal knows neither of a separation between inner life and external shape, nor of one between the subject distracted in his aims and passions and therefore at the mercy of abstract caprice, on the one hand, and the therefore abstract universal on the other. The basis of the characters must therefore always be what is substantial; and the bad, the sinful, and the evil of subjective self-centredness are excluded from the representations of classical art; but, above all, the harshness, wickedness, infamy, and hideousness which gain a place in romantic art remain altogether foreign to classical. We do see many instances of transgression, e.g. matricide, parricide, and other crimes against family love and piety, treated repeatedly as subjects in Greek art, yet not as mere horrors, or, as was the fashion with us recently, as caused by the irrationality of a so-called fate with the false appearance of necessity; on the contrary, when transgressions are committed by men and partly commanded and defended by the gods, such actions are every time represented one way or another as possessed of an actually immanent justification.
Despite this substantial basis, however, we have seen the general artistic development of the classical gods emerge more and more out of the tranquillity of the Ideal into the variety of individual and external appearance, into the detailing of events, happenings, and actions which become ever more and more human. Therefore classical art proceeds at last, in its content to completing the process of individualization and its contingency, in its form to the agreeable and the attractive. The agreeable, in other words, is the development of the individuality of the external appearance at its every point, whereby the work of art now no longer grips the spectator merely in respect of his own substantial inner life; but on the contrary it acquires a many-sided relation to him by addressing itself to the finitude of his own subjective character. For it is precisely in the existent work of art’s involvement with the finite that there is implicit a closer connection with the spectator as such who is finite himself and who now without more ado finds himself again, and is satisfied, in the work of art. The seriousness of the gods becomes a gracefulness which does not agitate a man or lift him above his particular character but lets him remain at peace in it and claims only to please him. If, in general, imagination seizes upon religious ideas, and shapes them freely with beauty as its aim, it begins to make the seriousness of devotion disappear and to this extent damages religion as such. This is what happens at the stage we have reached here, mostly owing to the agreeable and the pleasant. For what is developed further through the agreeable is not the substantial at all, the meaning of the gods and their universal element; on the contrary, it is the finite aspect, sensuous existence and the subjective inner life, which are to arouse interest and give satisfaction. Therefore the more the charm of the thing portrayed preponderates in beauty, so much the more does the thing’s gracefulness entice us away from the universal and alienate us from the content through which alone could satisfaction be given to the deeper immersion [of the soul in itself].
Now with this externality and the determinacy of individuality into which the shape of the gods is introduced, there is linked the transition to another sphere of the forms of art. For externality implies the variety produced by finitude which, if given free play, finally opposes the inner Idea and its universality and truth and begins to awaken thought’s discontent with the reality which is given to it and which no longer corresponds with it.
The germ of their decline the classical gods have in themselves, and when the deficiency implicit in them is revealed to our minds through the development of art itself they therefore bring in their train the dissolution of the classical Ideal. The principle of this Ideal, as it appears here, we have laid down as the spiritual individuality which finds its wholly adequate expression in an immediate corporeal and external existent. But this individuality broke up into a group of divine individuals whose determinate character is not absolutely necessary and therefore from the start is surrendered to the contingency in which the eternally powerful gods acquire alike for the Greek mind and for artistic representation the source of their dissolution.
Sculpture in its full excellence does adopt the gods as substantial powers and gives them a shape in the beauty of which they repose on themselves in security at first, because the last thing which comes into appearance there is the contingent character of their external embodiment. But their plurality and difference is their contingency, and thought dissolves this into the determinate conception of the one divinity under whose might and necessity they fight and degrade one another reciprocally. For however universally the power of each particular god may be conceived, this power, as particular individuality, is still always of only limited range. Apart from this, the gods do not persist in their eternal repose; they set themselves in motion with particular ends in view, because by the situations and collisions confronting them in concrete reality they are drawn hither and thither in order now to help here, now to hinder or destroy there. These separate relationships into which the gods enter as individual agents retain an aspect of contingency which obscures the substantiality of the Divine, however much that may remain also as the dominant basis, and lures the gods into the clashes and battles of the finite world and its restrictions. Through this finitude immanent in the gods themselves they become involved in a contradiction between their grandeur and dignity and the beauty of their existent embodiment, and this too brings them down into the field of caprice and contingency.
The complete emergence of this contradiction the Ideal proper only escapes because, as is the case with genuine sculpture and its separate statues in temples, the divine individuals are portrayed as solitary, alone with themselves in blessed repose, and yet they retain an air of lifelessness, an aloofness from feeling, and that tranquil trait of mourning which we have already touched on [on pp. 485-6]. It is this mourning which already constitutes their fate because it shows that something higher stands above them, and that a transition is necessary from their existence as particulars to their universal unity. But, looking around for the manner and shape of this higher unity, we find it, contrasted with the individuality and relative determinacy of the gods, in what is inherently abstract and shapeless, namely necessity, the fate which, in this abstraction, is just the higher in general that overpowers gods and men but remains in itself incomprehensible and inconceivable. Fate is not yet an absolute independent end and therefore at the same time a subjective, personal, divine decree, but only the one universal power which surpasses the particular character of the individual gods and therefore cannot itself be represented over again as an individual because otherwise it would only appear as one amongst many individuals and would descend to their level. Therefore it remains without configuration and individuality, and in this abstraction it is just necessity as such, the unalterable fate to which gods (and men too) must submit and which they must obey when, as particulars, they separate themselves from one another, contend with one another, assert their individual power one-sidedly, and seek to rise above their restricted sphere and authority.
Now since absolute necessity is not an attribute of the individual gods, does not afford the content of their own self-determination, and only hovers over them as an indeterminate abstraction, the result is that the particular and individual side of them is at once given free play and it cannot evade the fate of running into the external characteristics involved in human life and the finitudes incidental to anthropomorphism; these pervert the gods into the reverse of what constitutes the essence of the substantial and Divine. The downfall of these beautiful gods of art is therefore necessitated purely by their own nature, since in the end the mind cannot any longer find rest in them and therefore turns back from them into itself. But, looked at more closely, the dissolution of the gods alike for religious and poetic faith is already implicit in the character of Greek anthropomorphism in general.
For [in Greece the] spiritual individuality [of the gods] does enter, as Ideal, into the human shape, but into the immediate, i.e. corporeal, shape, not into humanity pure and simple [in our conception of it as that] which in its inner world of subjective consciousness does know itself as distinct from God, yet which all the same cancels this difference, and thereby, as one with God, is inherently infinite absolute subjectivity.
(α) Therefore the plastic Ideal lacks the aspect of being represented as inwardness knowing itself as infinite The plastically beautiful shapes are not merely stone and bronze, but they lack in their content and expression the infinitely subjective element. While you may be as spiritually animated as you like by [Greek] beauty and art, this spiritual animation is and remains something subjective, not found in the object of your vision, i.e. in the [Greek] gods. But for true totality this aspect of subjective self-knowing unity and infinity is also required, because it alone constitutes the living and knowing God and man. If it is not also essentially given prominence as belonging to the content and nature of the Absolute, then the Absolute does not truly appear as a spiritual subject, but confronts our contemplation only in its objectivity without any conscious spirit of its own. Now it is true that the individuality of the gods does contain the element of subjectivity too, but as contingency and in a development explicitly actuated outside that substantial repose and blessedness of the gods.
(β) On the other side, the subjectivity which has the plastic gods as its opposite is also not the inherently infinite and true subjectivity. For this, as we shall see in more detail in the third form of art, the romantic, has confronting it as its corresponding object the inherently infinite self-knowing God. But since the subject at this present stage is not present to itself in the perfectly beautiful figures of the gods and, precisely on this account, does not in what it contemplates bring itself into consciousness as being objective too and as something confronting it, it is itself still only different and separate from its absolute object and therefore is just a contingent and finite subject.
(γ) The transition to a higher sphere, we might suppose, could possibly have been apprehended by imagination and art as a new war of the gods, like the original transition from the symbolism of nature gods to the spiritual Ideals of classical art. Yet the transition was by no means of this nature; on the contrary, it has been carried through on a totally different field as a conscious battle in the field of reality and the present. Consequently, in connection with the higher content which art has to embody in new forms, art acquires a totally different position. This new content is not validated as having been revealed by art, but is independently revealed without it; it enters subjective knowing, first on the prosaic ground of rational controversy, and then in the heart and its religious feelings, especially as a result of miracles, martyrdoms, etc. – together with a consciousness of the opposition of everything finite to the Absolute which is now revealed in actual history as a course of events leading to a present not merely imagined but factual. The Divine, God himself, has become flesh, was born, lived, suffered, died, and is risen. This is material which art did not invent; it was present outside art; consequently art did not derive it from its own resources but found it ready for configuration. That original transition and battle of the gods had its origin, on the contrary, in artistic intuition and imagination which drew its doctrines and shapes out of its own inner being and gave their new gods to astonished men. But, for this reason, the classical gods have acquired their existent embodiment only through human imagination and are there only in stone and bronze or in contemplation, but not in flesh and blood or actual spirit. Therefore the anthropomorphism of the Greek gods lacked actual human existence, whether corporeal or spiritual. Christianity alone introduces this actuality in flesh and spirit as the determinate existence, life, and effectiveness of God himself. Now therefore this body, this flesh, is brought into honour, however much the natural and sensuous is known as the negative, and anthropomorphism is sanctified. Just as man was originally the image of God [Gen. i : 26], God is the image of man, and who sees the Son sees the Father, who loves the Son loves the Father also [John 14: 9, 21] God is to be known in an actual human being. Thus this new material is not brought to our minds by the conceptions of art but is given to art from outside as an actual happening, as the history of God made flesh. This transition could not have taken its starting-point from art; the clash of old and new would have been too disparate. The God of revealed religion, both in content and form, is the truly actual God; precisely for this reason his opponents would be mere creatures of men’s imagination and they could not be matched with him on any terrain. On the other hand, the old and new gods of classical art both belong explicitly to the ground of imagination; their only reality is to be apprehended and represented by the finite spirit as powers of nature and spirit, and their opposition and battle is a serious matter. But if the transition from the Greek gods to the God of Christianity had been brought about by art, there would immediately have been no true seriousness in the portrayal of a battle of the gods.
Consequently, as it turns out, this strife and transition has only in more recent times become a casual and distinct topic for art, a topic which has been unable to mark an era or in this form to be a decisive feature in the entirety of the development of art. In this connection I will refer here by the way to a few publications that have become famous. In recent times a complaint about the downfall of classical art has often been heard, and the longing for the Greek gods and heroes has frequently provided a subject-matter for the poets too. This mourning is then expressed principally in opposition to Christianity; there was indeed a willingness to grant that Christianity contained a higher truth, but with the qualification that, so far as the standpoint of art went, the downfall of classical antiquity was only to be regretted. Schiller’s Gotter Griechenlands [Gods of Greece] contains this theme, and it is worth while here not only to consider this poem as a poem in its beautiful presentation, its resounding rhythm, its living pictures, or the beautiful mourning of the heart from which it proceeded, but to take up its contents also, because Schiller’s ‘pathos’ is always both truly and deeply thought.
The Christian religion of course itself contains art as one of its features but in the course of its development up to the time of the Enlightenment it also reached a point at which thinking, the intellect, suppressed the element that art certainly needs, namely God’s actual human shape and appearance. For the human shape and what it expresses and says, whether human event, action, or feeling, is the form in which art must grasp and represent the content of the spirit. Now since the intellect made God into a mere ens rations, believed no longer in the appearance of his spirit in concrete reality, and so exiled the God of thought from all actual existence, the result was that this sort of religious enlightenment necessarily arrived at ideas and demands incompatible with art. But when the Understanding rose out of these abstractions to Reason again, there at once entered the need for something concrete and also for that concrete thing which art is. The period of the enlightened intellect, it is true, did also practise art, but in a very prosaic way, as we can see in Schiller himself who took his departure from this period; but then, in the need for Reason, imagination, and passion which the Understanding no longer satisfied, he felt a vital longing for art in general and in particular for the classical art of the Greeks and their gods and world outlook. Out of this longing, pent up by the abstract thoughts of his day, there proceeded the poem I have mentioned.
In the original version of the poem, Schiller’s attitude to Christianity is polemical throughout, but later he softened its severity because he was only opposed to the outlook of the intellect in the Enlightenment, and this at a later date began to lose its domination. He began by happily praising the Greek outlook for which the whole of nature was animated and full of gods; then he passes over to the present and its prosaic treatment of natural laws and man’s position in relation to God, and says: ‘This sad quiet, does it proclaim to me my creator? Dark like himself is his veil; the one thing that can glorify him is my renunciation.
Of course in Christianity renunciation is an essential feature, but only in monastic ideas does it require man to kill in himself his mind, his feeling, the so-called natural impulses, and not to embody himself in the moral, rational, and real world, in family and state – just as the Enlightenment and its Deism gives out that God is unknowable and so lays on man the supreme renunciation, the renunciation of knowing nothing of God, of not comprehending him. Whereas, according to the truly Christian view, renunciation is only the factor of mediation, the point of transition in which the purely natural, the sensuous, and the finite in general sheds its inadequacy in order to enable the spirit to come to higher freedom and reconciliation with itself, a freedom and blessedness unknown to the Greeks. Of celebrating a solitary god, of his pure separation and detachment from the world emptied of gods there cannot in that case be any question in Christianity, for it is precisely in that freedom and reconciliation of spirit that God is immanent, and, looked at from this point of view, Schiller’s famous saying: ‘Since the gods were then more human, men were more godlike’ is altogether false. Therefore we must emphasize as more important the later alteration of the ending, where it is said of the Greek gods: ‘Torn from the flood of time they hover, saved, o'er Pindus height; what shall live undyingly in song must pass away in life.’
With these words there is wholly ratified what we have just mentioned: the Greek gods had their seat only in ideas and imagination; they could neither maintain their place in the reality of life nor give final satisfaction to the finite spirit.
In another way, Parny, called the French Tibullus on the strength of his successful Elegies, turned against Christianity in a lengthy poem in ten books, a sort of epic, La guerre des Dieux, in order to make fun of Christian ideas by joking and jesting with an obvious frivolity of wit, yet with good humour and spirit. But these pleasantries went no further than frolicsome levity, and moral depravity was not made into something sacred and of the highest excellence as it was at the time of Friedrich von Schlegel’s Lucinde. Mary of course comes off very badly in Parny’s poem; monks, Dominicans, Franciscans, etc. are seduced by wine and Bacchantes, and nuns by fauns, and thus it goes on perversely enough. But finally the gods of the Greek world are conquered and they withdraw from Olympus to Parnassus.
Lastly, in his Braut von Korinth Goethe has sketched in a living picture the banning of love more deeply, according less to the true principle of Christianity than to the misunderstood demand for renunciation and sacrifice; what he does is to contrast natural human feelings with the false asceticism which proposes to condemn a woman’s vocation for wedlock and regard compulsory celibacy as something more sacrosanct than marriage. Just as in Schiller’s case we find the opposition between the Greek imagination and the modern Enlightenment’s abstractions of the Understanding, so here we see, contrasted with the Greek moral and sensuous justification of love and marriage, ideas which have belonged only to a one-sided and untrue view of the Christian religion. With great art a terrifying tone is given to the whole work, especially because it remains uncertain whether the action concerns an actual maiden or a dead one, a living one or a ghost, and in an equally most masterly way the love-affair is metrically interwoven with a solemnity which thereby becomes all the more dreadful.
But before we endeavour to get to the bottom of the new art-form whose opposition to the old does not belong to the course of artistic development as we have to treat it here in its essential features, we must first bring to view in its clearest form that transition which falls within ancient art itself. The principle of this transition lies in the fact that, while the individuality of the spirit was hitherto visualized as in harmony with the true substances of nature and human existence, and while the spirit knew and found itself in this harmony throughout its own life, willing, and activity, now the spirit begins to withdraw into the infinity of its inner life, though instead of true infinity it wins only a formal, and indeed a still finite, return into itself.
If we cast a closer glance at the concrete circumstances corresponding to the principle mentioned, we saw already in the previous chapter that the Greek gods embodied the substances of actual human life and action. But man’s highest vocation, and his universal interest and end, had now become present in the world outside religion, as something existent at the same time. Just as external and actual appearance was essential for the Greek spiritual art-form, so too the absolute spiritual destiny of man was accomplished in the phenomenal world as a real actuality [the state] with the substance and universality of which the individual demanded to be in harmony. This supreme end in Greece was the life of the state, the body of the citizens, and their ethical life and living patriotism. Beyond this interest there was none higher or truer. But political life as a mundane and external phenomenon, like the circumstances of mundane reality in general, falls a prey to transitoriness. It is not hard to show that a state with such a kind of freedom, so immediately identical with all the citizens who as such have in their hands the supreme agency in all public affairs, can only be small and weak and must either be destroyed by itself or demolished from without in the course of world history.
For in this immediate coalescence of the individual with the universality of politics (a) the subject’s own character and his private individuality does not yet come into its rights and it cannot find room to develop in a way harmless to the whole. But by being distinct from the substantial organization into which it has not been incorporated, it remains the restricted natural self-interest which now goes its own way independently, pursues interests far removed from the true interest of the whole and therefore leads to the ruin of the state itself which in the end, after a struggle, it succeeds in opposing with its subjective power. (b) On the other hand, within this freedom itself there is awakened the need for a higher freedom of the subject in himself; he claims to be free not only in the state, as the substantial whole, not only in the accepted ethical and legal code, but in his own heart, because he wants to generate out of his own resources the good and the right in his subjective knowing and to bring it into recognition. The subject wants to have the consciousness of being substantial in himself as subject, and therefore there arises in this freedom a new conflict between an end for the state and one for himself as an inherently free individual. Such a clash had already begun at the time of Socrates, while on the other side vanity, self-interest, and the licentiousness of democracy and demagogy disrupted the actual state in such a way that men like Xenophon and Plato felt disgust at the condition of their native city in which the administration of public affairs lay in self-interested and frivolous hands.
The spirit of the transition rests primarily, therefore, on the general cleavage between the explicitly independent spiritual realm and external existence. In this severance from its reality in which it finds itself no longer, the spiritual is the abstractly spiritual; yet not, as might be thought, the one oriental god, but on the contrary the actual knowing subject who produces and retains every intellectual universal, the true, the good, the moral, in his subjective inner consciousness, where he has no knowledge of present reality but only of his own thoughts and convictions. This situation, in so far as it does not transcend opposition, but sets its two sides over against one another as simply opposed, is of a purely prosaic nature. Yet to this prose we have not yet come at this stage. On the one hand, in other words, there is present the consciousness of a subject who, as firm in himself, wills the good and envisages the fulfilment of his desires and the realization of his essential being in the virtue of his heart as well as in the old gods, the old moral and legal life; but at the same time he is irritated by the present as it exists, by the actual political life of his time and by the dissolution of the old dispensation, i.e. of the earlier patriotism and political wisdom, and therefore is caught of course in the opposition between his subjective inner life and external reality. For in his own inner life he does not enjoy full satisfaction in those mere ideas of true ethical life and therefore he turns outward against the external situation to which he relates himself negatively, with hostility, with the aim of altering it. Therefore, as was said just above, on the one hand there is of course present to his mind an inner content which is self-determined and, while he steadily expresses it, he has to do at the same time with a world confronting him, contradicting that content, and he has the task of sketching this reality in the traits of its corruption which is opposed to the good and the true; yet on the other hand this opposition still finds its resolution in art itself. In other words, a new art-form appears in which the struggle between the opposites is not conducted by thoughts which leave the opposition intact; on the contrary, what is brought into the artistic portrayal is reality itself in the madness of its ruin, destroying itself within, whereby, precisely in this self-destruction of the right, the true can display itself on this mirror as a fixed and abiding power, and madness and unreason are not left with the power of directly contradicting what is inherently true. Of this kind of art an example is comedy as Aristophanes among the Greeks has handled it without anger, in pure and serene joviality, in relation to the most essential spheres in the world of his time.
Yet this still artistically adequate resolution we see disappearing all the same, because the antithesis itself persists in the form of opposition and therefore presents, in place of the poetic reconciliation, a prosaic relation between the two sides; the result is that the classical art-form appears as superseded, since this relation leads to the downfall of the plastic gods and the beautiful world of men. Now here we have at once to look around for the art-form which can still be inserted in this transition to a higher mode of configuration and can actually make this transition. We found the culmination of symbolic art likewise in a variety of forms, in fable, comparison, parable, riddle, etc., all having in common the separation of the shape as such from its meaning. If at this point to the ground of dissolution is a similar cleavage, the question arises about the difference between the present sort of transition and the earlier one. The difference is as follows.
In the strictly symbolic and comparative art-form the shape and meaning are strange to one another from the start, despite their affinity and relationship; yet they stand in no negative relation but in a friendly one, for it is precisely the identity or similarity of the qualities and traits on both sides that proves to be the basis of their connection and comparison. Their persistent separation and strangeness within such a unification is not such as to be hostility between the separated sides, nor does it rend them apart and disrupt their absolutely close amalgamation. On the other hand, the Ideal of classical art proceeds from the perfect interfusion of meaning and shape, spiritual inner individuality and its corporeality; and if therefore the sides joined together in such a perfect unity are detached from one another, this only happens because they can no longer agree with one another and must desert their peaceful reconciliation for incompatibility and enmity.
Furthermore, with this form of relation, in distinction from the symbolic, the content of the two sides which now stand in opposition to one another is altered too. In the symbolic form of art, it is abstractions, more or less, general thoughts, or even specific propositions in the form of general reflections which acquire through the symbolic art-form an allusive illustration; whereas, in the form asserting itself in this transition to romantic art, although the content does consist of similar abstractions of universal thoughts, sentiments, and intellectual propositions, it is not these abstractions as such but their existence in subjective consciousness and self-subsistent self-consciousness which affords the content for one side of the opposition. For the first demand of this intermediate stage is that the spiritual, attained by the Ideal, shall emerge independently on its own account. Already in classical art spiritual individuality was the chief thing although in respect of its reality it remained reconciled with its immediate existence. But now it is a matter of portraying a subjectivity which tries to gain dominion over its no longer adequate shape and over external reality in general. Thereby the spiritual world becomes explicitly free; it has liberated itself from the sensuous and therefore appears, through this withdrawal into itself, as a self-conscious subject, self-contented only in its inner life. But this subject which spurns externality is on its spiritual side not yet the true totality which has for its content the Absolute in the form of self-conscious spirit; on the contrary, as afflicted with opposition to the real, it is a purely abstract, finite, unsatisfied subject.
Contrasted with it there is an equally finite reality which now on its side also becomes free, yet just because the truly spiritual has reverted out of it into the inner life and no longer will or can find itself in it, this reality appears as a godless one and a corrupt existence. In this way, a thinking spirit, a subject reposing on himself as subject in abstract wisdom with a knowledge of the good and the virtuous and a will to achieve it, is brought by art into a hostile opposition to the corruption of the present. The unresolved nature of this opposition in which inner and outer remain in fixed disharmony constitutes the prosaic character of the relation between the two sides. A noble spirit, a virtuous heart always deprived of the actualization of its convictions in a world of vice and folly, turns with passionate indignation or keener wit and colder bitterness against the reality confronting it, and is enraged with or scoffs at the world which directly contradicts its abstract idea of virtue and truth.
This art-form which assumes this shape of the emerging opposition between finite subjectivity and degenerate externality is Satire to which common theories have been unable to do proper justice because they remain in perplexity about its classification. For Satire has nothing at all of Epic, and it does not properly belong to Lyric either, since in Satire what is expressed is not the feeling of the heart but the universality of the good and the inherently necessary which, interwoven indeed with the personality of the individual, appears as the virtuousness of this or that man; yet Satire does not enjoy the free unhindered beauty of imagination or pour forth this enjoyment; on the contrary, it clings discontentedly to the disharmony between its own subjectivity, with its abstract principles, and empirical reality, and to this extent produces neither true poetry nor true works of art. Therefore the satirical point of view is not to be understood by reference to one of those species of poetry but must be apprehended more generally as this transitional form of the classical Ideal.
Now since what is disclosed in Satire is the dissolution of the Ideal, a dissolution prosaic in its inner content, we have not to look for its actual soil in Greece as the land of beauty. Satire in the form just described belongs properly to the Romans. The spirit of the Roman world is domination by abstraction (i.e. by dead law), the demolition of beauty and joyous customs, the suppression of the family qua immediate natural ethical life, in general the sacrifice of individuality which now surrenders itself to the state and finds its cold-blooded dignity and intellectual satisfaction in obedience to the abstract law. The principle of this political virtue is opposed to true art; abroad, its cold harshness subjugates all the individuality of nations, while, at home, formal law is developed to perfection in similar rigour. After all we find no beautiful, free, and great art in Rome. Sculpture and painting, lyric and dramatic poetry, the Romans took over from the Greeks and learnt their lesson from them. It is remarkable that what may be regarded as native in the case of the Romans is comic farces, Fescennine verses, and Atellan burlesques, whereas the more cultivated comedies of Plautus, and of Terence too, were borrowed from the Greeks and were more a matter of imitation than of independent production. Even Ennius drew on Greek sources and then made mythology prosaic.
What is peculiarly Rome’s own is only that mode of art which is prosaic in principle, didactic poetry, e.g. (especially if it has a moral content and gives to its general reflections merely the external adornment of metre, images, similes, and a rhetorically fine diction), but above all Satire. Here it is the spirit of a virtuous ill-humour about the surrounding world which strives to give itself some relief in hollow declamations. This form of art, prosaic in itself, can become poetic only if it so brings the corrupt shape of reality before our eyes that this corruption collapses in itself by reason of its own folly; Horace, e.g., who, as a lyric poet worked his way entirely into the Greek form and manner of art, outlines in his Satires and Epistles, where he is more original, a living picture of the manners of his time by sketching for us follies which, unskilled in the means they use, are self-destructive. Yet this is only a joviality satisfied with making the bad laughable; it may be exquisite and cultivated, but it is certainly not poetic. In the case of other writers, on the other hand, the abstract idea of law and virtue is directly contrasted with vices; and here it is ill-humour, vexation, wrath, and hatred which expatiate in abstract rhetoric about virtue and wisdom, or, with the indignation of a nobler soul and with bitterness, launch out against the corruption and slavery of the times; or again, without any true hope or faith, they hold up before the vices of the day the picture of old manners, the old freedom, the virtues of a totally different world-situation in the past; yet they have nothing to set against the vacillation, the vicissitudes, the distress and danger of an ignominious present except stoic equanimity and the inner imperturbability of a virtuous disposition of heart. This dissatisfaction gives something of the same tone too to Roman historiography and philosophy. Sallust must declaim against the moral corruption to which he did not himself remain a stranger; in spite of his rhetorical elegance, Livy seeks consolation and satisfaction in sketching the olden days; and above all it is Tacitus who, with discontent as magnificent as profound, without cold declamation, indignantly and vividly discloses the evils of his time in sharp outlines. Among the satirists, Persius especially is full of harshness, more bitter than Juvenal. Later on, finally, we see Lucian, the Greek Syrian, turning with cheerful levity against everything, heroes, philosophers, and gods, and especially satirizing the old Greek gods on the score of their humanity and individuality, Yet he often fails to get beyond chatter about the externals of the shapes and actions of the gods and therefore becomes wearisome, especially for us. For, on the one hand, as a result of our faith we have already done with what he wanted to destroy, and on the other hand we know that these traits of the gods, considered in their beauty, have their eternal validity in spite of his jokes and ridicule.
Nowadays satires will not succeed any more. Cotta and Goethe have arranged prize-competitions for satires; no poems of this sort have been forthcoming. Satire entails fixed principles with which the present world stands in contradiction; but while a wisdom that remains abstract, a virtue that with inflexible energy clings only to itself, may well contrast itself with reality, it cannot achieve either the genuine poetic dissolution of the false and the disagreeable or a genuine reconciliation in the truth.
But art cannot remain in this cleavage of the abstract inner disposition from external objectivity without abandoning its own principle. The subjective must be interpreted as what is inherently infinite and absolute which, even if it does not let finite reality subsist as the truth, yet does not relate itself to it negatively in bare opposition; on the contrary, it proceeds all the same to reconciliation and in this activity alone comes to be portrayed, contrasted with the ideal individuals of the classical art-form, as absolute subjectivity.
1. This presupposes Hegel’s philosophy of Nature and Spirit. It is in and through embodying itself in something other than itself, e.g. nature, that spirit comes to consciousness of itself and its own inner being as spirit. The inner being of nature is the spirit which it embodies, but nature is not aware of this. Thus it is not only a realm of externality, everything in it being external to everything else, but also self-external, or self-estranged, because it is unaware of its own essence, i.e. the absolute meaning, the Absolute or God, its creator.
2. Not in so many words, but see Section I, ch. II, a, The Art of Sublimity.
3. Hegel expounds this in his Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, part iii, § 410. See also the Zusatz to that paragraph.
4. Fragment 15 (Diels).
5. i.e. the state. Hegel is using the terminology of his Philosophy of Right.
6. See above, p. 386, note 2.
7. Phaethon, who stole the chariot of the sun and burnt the earth, was destroyed by Zeus. Cycnus, his friend, gathered up his remains and was changed into a swan (Met., ii. 367 ff.). Daphne refused Apollo. Clytie followed Apollo’s (the sun’s) course daily but languished because she did not find favour with him and, pitying her, the gods changed her into a flower that always turned to the sun, i.e. heliotrope. (Ibid., iv. 234-70 tells a slightly different story, and others say that she was changed into a sunflower.) Narcissus tries to embrace his own reflection, thinking it to be a water sprite, and, a victim of love and despair, is changed into a flower which is said to grow beside quiet pools and to be reflected therein (ibid., iii. 339 ff.).
8. A monster with the heads of a hundred serpents on his hands. Titans, giants, and monsters are often confused in the literature.
9. Fragment 201 (Snell). Hegel probably read this in Strabo, 17. i. 19. Herodotus, loc. cit., encountered this abomination, but he implies that it was very unusual.
10. i.e. that fell from Zeus; Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, 977.
11. Magna Mater (Cybele) removed by the Romans in 204 B.C. in obedience to a Sibylline oracle. She was worshipped in a block of stone (Livy, xxix.11-14)
12. There is a description of this in Pausanias, ix. 39.
13. Two of the Cyclopes, children of Earth and Sky, younger than the three Giants.
14. Corybantes were priests of Cybele in Phrygia but were associated with Telchins by Strabo. Telchins were metalworkers, the first inhabitants of Crete. Pataeci were Phoenician deities of strange dwarfish shape (Herodotus, iii. 37). All editions read Pdtaken’, but that is a mistake.
15. This is a mistake. There is no such genealogy in Pindar, although Hegel cites it as Pindar’s again in his Philosophy of Religion, Werke xii. ,106.
16. Hegel’s usual expression for the infinite regarded as a straight line going on indefinitely instead of returning into itself, like a circle.
17. Pelasgic gods of fertility (Herodotus, ii. 51; iii. 37) worshipped in Asia Minor and Samothrace. Hegel is probably alluding to Schelling’s Die Gottheiten von Samothrace (1815) in which the Cabiri are certainly ‘dressed up’. The Corybantes were associated with them by Strabo.
18. Faust, pt. 5, sc. xxi (Witches’ Sabbath). Blocksberg is the Brocken.
19. Hegel seems to have the Timaeus in mind.
20. aufgeschzvemmte — Hegel may be thinking of the Nile valley again and this word may mean simply ‘flooded’, but ‘deposited by geological action’ is more probable.
21. i.e. the Eleusinian Mysteries.
22. This seems to be Hegel’s conflation of two passages otherwise unconnected. Herodotus (ii. 156) says that Aeschylus alone of the poets made Artemis the daughter of Ceres. For all others she was the daughter of Leto. Aristotle, E.N. IIIIa 9, presupposes that Aeschylus was accused (before the Areopagus) of betraying the Mysteries (he was acquitted).
23. An historian, quoted by the Scholiast.
24. Aeschylus only says ‘victory in renowned battles in war’.
25. i.e. in the early Roman Empire. The Mysteries are described in the closing chapters of Apuleius, c. A.D. 155. Plutarch wrote c. A.D. 100.
26. Cf. above, Introduction to this Section, 3.
27. C. D. Rauch, 1777-1857. There are several copies of this bust. Hegel probably refers to the bronze one in Berlin (1822).
28. i.e. Christianity. ‘Absolute Religion’ is the title of the third and last part of Hegel’s lectures on the Philosophy of Religion.
29. Iliad, i. 423 ff.
30. Cf. above, p. 224, note.
32. Fires lit on hill-tops to celebrate St. John the Baptist’s Day, 24 June.
33. pp. 225-36.
34. J. C., 1732-1806.
35. This quotation seems to be relevant only if Hegel took the `veil’ to be nature as no longer animated and full of gods but as governed by natural laws. This seems to be a misrepresentation, because the context is a contrast between the gay beauty of Greek temples and the gloom of Christian churches. Hegel omits part of the first line of the quotation; when it is included, the translation might be: ‘What sort of place am I entering? Does this sad place announce the presence of my creator? Dark like himself is his habitation, and the only thing that can glorify him is my renunciation.’
36. E. D. D., Vicomte de, 1753-1814. His epic reached a second edition at Paris, 1799.
37. Berlin, 1799. See Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Addition to § 164.
38. Often translated as the Bride of Corinth, but Braut means fiancée.
39. J. F., 1764-1832, the publisher.