12 January 2017
In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche analyzes the duality of the Apollonian and Dionysian in human nature. Nietzsche describes Apollonian as representing calm restraint. To compare the two sides, Nietzsche uses two main comparisons—that between art and music, and between dream and intoxication. However, though I greatly appreciate that Nietzsche was able to fairly effectively sum up human nature into two halves, I find it hard to agree with his labels.
Though he was a Greek professor, it seems as if Nietzsche’s love for philosophy came before his appreciation for Greek culture. In his representation of the duality of the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of human nature, he makes a lot of assumptions and claims about Greek culture that aren’t really accurate. Take, for example, his claim that Apollo and Dionysus were the main artistic deities of the Greeks, and that they were held in almost perpetual strife. Nietzsche gives no evidence for his claim that Apollo and Dionysus were on either side of the artistic spectrum, he just more or less states that “fact” and assumes the reader believes it’s true, and moves on with his argument. Additionally, nor does he ever discuss the main artistic models for the Greeks: the Muses. While Apollo was associated with the lyre and tonal music, and Dionysus was the patron god of Attic tragedy, the deities first and foremost on any poet's mind were the Muses. Every poet invoked them, either as a group or individually. They were the goddesses of inspiration in literature, science, and the arts. According to Hesiod, there were nine muses, each protecting a different art and being symbolised with a different item. The two that are relevant to Nietzsche’s argument ...