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Evidenz des Dionysos-Mythos als Begründung der Tragödie

Die Vision der Tragödienschrift Nietzsches und deren Erfüllung in Hofmannsthals Elektra

Greiner, Bernhard

Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Bd. 58 (2013), Iss. 1: S. 121–139

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Greiner, Bernhard


The article undertakes a rereading of Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy with a focus on its two central achievements – reviving the Dionysus myth and making the origin of tragedy evident – whose mutual interrelatedness has attracted only sparse critical attention to date. Working more as a myth-maker than a theorist, Nietzsche advances a groundbreaking portrayal of the story of Dionysus that allows him to lay bare the origins of tragedy. Simultaneously, his identification of tragedy’s ultimate source suggests a configuration that lends the Dionysus myth new currency. In so doing, Nietzsche conceives the manifest presence of this myth – as well as that of the origins of tragedy – as a specific recombination of the Dionysian and the Apollonian: not as an Apollonian taming or sublimation of the Dionysian, nor yet as dialectical mediation, but rather as the Apollonian’s seizure by the Dionysian, which teeters on the threshold between lurching toward and postponing a new, more comprehensively Dionysian loss of boundaries. In this way, Nietzsche suggests, there is generated a »Schauen und Sehnen über das Schauen hinaus,« a mode of viewing amplified by longing, through which the specific form of the Dionysus myth from the perspective of tragedy and conversely of tragedy from the perspective of myth becomes apparent. The fulfillment of Nietzsche’s vision in dramatic art is here exemplified by Hofmannsthal’s Elektra.