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How Did Diotima Become the Ideal of the Jena Romantic?

Zovko, Jure
How Did Diotima Become the Ideal of the Jena Romantic? // Politics and Performance in Western Greece / Reid, Heather ; Tansi, Davide, Kimbell, Susi (ur.).
Sioux City: Parnassos Press, 2017. str. 277-289

How Did Diotima Become the Ideal of the Jena Romantic?

Zovko, Jure

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Poglavlja u knjigama, znanstveni

Politics and Performance in Western Greece

Reid, Heather ; Tansi, Davide, Kimbell, Susi

Parnassos Press

Sioux City


Raspon stranica


Ključne riječi
Diotima, Plato, Erōs, Friedrich Schlegel, Lucinde, Jena Romantic

It is a paradox difficult to explain, that Friedrich Schlegel, spiritus rector of Early Romanticism in Jena, found the inspiration for his novel Lucinde, which would become the prototype of the Romantic novel, in the speech of an ancient female figure of the Heroic Age. The figure in question is Diotima, the protagonist of the famous speech on erōs communicated to Socrates in Plato’s dialogue the Symposium. It is unclear whether Diotima was a literary creation of Plato’s or an actual historical person. Since the interlocuters of Plato’s dialogues are otherwise never fictional, it is more probable that it is a question of a historical personnage. Schlegel devoted the earliest writings of his pre-Romantic phase to the position of women in Ancient literature and culture. His intention was to promote the equality of the sexes in the spirit of the French Revolution. One of the first of his essays on Greek literature had the title “On the Female Characters in the Greek Poets”. Schlegel criticized traditional philosophy’s thematization of eros and its relevance for life as inadequate. In his view, philosophy had contributed little to the illumination of a life determined by eros. Even the most influential philosopher of eros, Plato, took knowledge of the concrete, delight with corporal beauty, as an occasion to interpret the purpose (telos) of true life as the constant vision of the immutable idea. Schlegel criticizes in his novel Lucinde the view of the character and relevance of love for the life of human beings presented by Socrates in the speech of Diotima: „The inspired and transported Diotima revealed to her Socrates only half of love. Love is not only the tranquil desire for the infinite ; it is also the holy enjoyment of a beautiful presence [„der heilige Genuß einer schönen Gegenwart“], It is not just a mixture, a transition from mortal to immortal, but the complete unity of both.“(KFSA 5, S. 61.) As opposed to Plato’s metaphysical conception of love, in the Lucinde love’s temporal dimension, its kairos is brought to expression: „the bloom of beauty“ must not „fruitlessly wilt“. Rather, the primary purpose of life is to find the complementary „love of another“ (KFSA 5, S. 61.). All hopes of humankind are directed toward love. Love is the epiphany of heaven on earth, its realization implies the salvatory redemption and liberation. It is the only thing that provides consolation in suffering. In the Lucinde, love takes on the universal role of traditional religion, by uniting the mortality of human beings with the immortal – the fundamental characteristic of the hero in Ancient Greek culture. Love reveals itself in Schlegel’s novel as the unifying power which joins the real and the ideal as the true religion, to which Schlegel confesses: „I worship fire as the most excellent symbol of the deity ; and where is there a more beautiful fire than that which nature locked deep in the soft breast of women? – Ordain me to priesthood, not make passively contemplate, but to free it, to awaken it and to purify it: where it is pure, it maintains itself, without guard and without vestals."(KFSA 5, p 24) Julius, Schlegel’s male figure in the novel, understands himself as an eroticizing priest of this relationship, whose poetic and sacral duty consists in igniting the lightning strike of love in tender woman's womb, so that "the closed bud [can unfold] to the full flower-chalice of pleasure". Accordingly, Julius announces an erotic gospel and hopes still before the beginning of his mission to be greeted and encouraged as Jesus was from the open heavens: "You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased '" (KFSA 5, S. 23 ; cited according to the translation of Luther ; Mk. 1, 11). It remains to be seen to what extent the ideal announced by the Jena Romantics contains within itself the features of what Hegel reproached as „unreconciled subjectivity“ or „bad infinity“ („schlechte Unendlichkeit“), and thus incommensurable with the ideal of the hero.

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Autor s matičnim brojem:
Jure Zovko, (176590)