The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche: Apollo Vs Dionysus: A Darwinian Drama

17 Dec

The Birth of Tragedy (Complete Works)The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche

My Rating★★★★★

Apollo Vs Dionysus: A Darwinian Drama

Nietzsche never struck me as a real philosopher. He was too much the story-teller.

This is probably his most a-philosophical (?) works. But it is my favorite. It was the most accessible to me and it was the most relevant of his works. It helped me form my own convictions. It was universal and yet not choke full of platitudes. It was forceful but not descending into loud (almost incomprehensible) invectives. (you know which works I subtly allude to)

‘Birth of Tragedy’ was his first major work and to me (in contradiction of the previous paragraph) his most philosophical. It seems to me to be the very soul of his philosophy – that was then refined and reformed in the fire of his (self-imposed?) suffering. The later philosophy is the ‘Nietzschian’ one – grand and too powerful to ignore. But, this earlier core is, to me, the real beauty that livens all the later fury.

Nietzsche, already in this, his first work (ostensibly on the source of Greek tragedy), set Dionysus (the god of vitality, ecstasy, thriving life, and of wine) against Apollo (the god of tranquillity, logic, and of contemplation).

According to Nietzsche, in Greek tragedy as in life, it is the unruly chorus who represented Dionysus and was a crying-out of humanity (the species) itself. Apollo, on the other hand, was represented by the human actors and expressed himself through the orderly dialogue. Apollo was designed to be noticed – the conscious story. Dionysus was designed to be evoked – the collective unconscious?

In this early core of Nietzschian philosophy, a philosophy of species vs individuals, of species evolution pitted against human vanity, Dionysus is the strength of the human race, of life itself (vide Darwin) but manifests only as mere background to any given human drama (but still the source of all drama and is THE actual Drama).

Apollo, in contrast, is expressed in any given human drama (composed or lived) – important and represented and thought about. But, always about mere individuals, weak and mortal.

With this early work Nietzsche leapt into the depths and all the later developments was a climb back and proclamations of the reality of the Deep. He adored and embraced the tragic sensibility which is the condition for man – of adoration of life and of its cruel laws, despite all the weakness of the individual – the real genesis of the Superman.

Disclaimer #1: Written more than a year after the original reading and after only a cursory re-reading/re-glancing. Please trust the reviewer when he asserts that the work is powerful enough to stay fresh-to-review even after a year has passed.

Disclaimer #2: Required Expansion of Essay: ‘The Superman as The Buddha: The Inevitable Evolution of Tragic Consciousness’

View all my reviews



Posted by on December 17, 2013 in Book Reviews, Books, Philosophy, Thoughts


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3 responses to “The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche: Apollo Vs Dionysus: A Darwinian Drama

  1. Bhavanajagat

    December 17, 2013 at 17:50

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Nietzsche. It would be interesting to note the influence of Arthur Schopenhauer and of the Indian Schools of Philosophy on this German thinker. The concept of Nihilism is related to the concept of ‘Sunyata’ or Emptiness which was expressed by some Indian thinkers like Acharya Nagarjuna. Both in India, and in Ancient Greece, myths developed as an art form and helped man to understand the world in which he lives. A rationalist thinker can easily ridicule the construct of myths and condemn them. This rationalist explanation of myths had caused the destruction of Ancient Greek Culture and Greek religion that included the Homeric pantheon. Unfortunately, a similar strategy is used by European Christian Missionaries who converted millions of Hindus in India and brainwashed them to embrace Christian faith. They found an easy target in the stories, the epic poems from which a majority of Hindus derive their understanding about human existence. The Missionaries attacked the main characters of these Myths and described them in degrading terms publishing literature and using the medium of fine arts. I am not surprised to note that many in the West are now turning away from the traditional Christian views on Life and they find peace, and comfort by creating a simple illusion of their own to get over the pain, and suffering that is inherent in human existence that makes man’s relationship with nature a source of tension and anxiety.


  2. Neogong

    December 21, 2013 at 10:30

    Ah! How refreshing, after having to sort through so many pages and posts which are categorized under “philosophy” yet have nothing to do with the matter! It is thought unbound and limited not by pseudo-metaphysics and useless conjectures on spiritualism. The Birth of Tragedy was actually to become my next material of focus, for I seek insight into the realm of indefatigable power and wealth as it is sought by so many. I have been recommended that Nietzsche makes mention of it in this great work. I will follow you friend! In turn, I have very recently started my own blog:

    ” We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh.”



"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" - Walt Whitman

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