Monday, March 12, 2012
On tragedy and the polis.
This word πόλις, in its root, identical with the ancient Greek word for "to be," πέλειν:" to emerge, to rise up into the unconcealed" (Cf. Sophocles, Antigone, πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ...πέλει). The πόλις is neither city nor state and definitely not the fatal mixture of these two inappropriate characterizations. Hence the πόλις not the notorious "city-state" but is, rather, the settling of the place of the history of Greek humanity--neither city nor state but indeed the abode of the essence of this humanity. This essential abode gathers originally the unity of everything which, as the unconcealed, comes to man and is dispensed to him as that to which he is assigned in his Being. The πόλις the abode, gathered into itself, of the unconcealedness of beings. If now, however, as the word indicates, ἀλήθεια possesses a conflictual essence, which appears also in the oppositional forms of distortion and oblivion, then in the πόλις as the essential abode of man there has to hold sway all the most extreme counter-essences, and therein all excesses, to the unconcealed and to beings, i.e., counter-beings in the multiplicity of their counter-essence. Here lies concealed the primordial ground of that feature Jacob Burckhardt presented for the first time in its full bearing and manifoldness: the frightfulness, the horribleness, the atrociousness of the Greek πόλις. Such is the rise and the fall of man in his historical abode of essence--ὐψίνολις--ἂπολις--far exceeding abodes, homeless, as Sophocles (Antigone) calls man. It is not by chance that man is spoken of in this way in Greek tragedy. For the possibility, and the necessity, of "tragedy" itself has its single source in the conflictual essence of ἀλήθεια.

P. 90
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