‘Yes, what is Dionysian? – This book provides an answer – “a man who knows” speaks in it, the initiate and disciple of his god.’
The Birth of Tragedy (1872) is a book about the origins of Greek tragedy and its relevance to the German culture of its time. For Nietzsche, Greek tragedy is the expression of a culture which has achieved a delicate but powerful balance between Dionysian insight into the chaos and suffering which underlies all existence and the discipline and clarity of rational Apollonian form. In order to promote a return to these values, Nietzsche undertakes a critique of the complacent rationalism of late nineteenth-century German culture and makes an impassioned plea for the regenerative potential of the music of Wagner. In its wide-ranging discussion of the nature of art, science and religion, Nietzsche’s argument raises important questions about the problematic nature of cultural origins which are still of concern today.