The Birth of Tragedy, 1822–1897

in Knossos & the Prophets of Modernism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226289533
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226289557 | DOI:
The Birth of Tragedy, 1822–1897

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This chapter introduces the two great prophets of Minoan modernism, Friedrich Nietzsche and Heinrich Schliemann. It also investigates the way in which Nietzsche's heroic, aristocratic creed for a godless age, based on his passionate reading of Homer, became entangled with Schliemann's exhumation of the Homeric heroes from the shaft graves of Mycenae. Schliemann's wealth cushioned him from the consequences of his recklessness. His bildungsroman brought to archaeology's myth about itself a potent mixture of magic, adventure, and buried treasure. Nietzsche's analysis of the deep past paved the way for a prophecy of the near future. The bequest of the treasures of Troy marked the beginning of the real German infatuation with Schliemann and his discoveries. Arthur Evans turned out to be perfectly poised to assume his position as archaeologist-theologian for Nietzsche's new tragic age.

Keywords: Friedrich Nietzsche; Heinrich Schliemann; Homer; Homeric heroes; Troy; Arthur Evans; Mycenae

Chapter.  12488 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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