Collections > UNC Chapel Hill Undergraduate Honors Theses Collection > Between Autonomy and Dissolution: The Aesthetics of Greek Tragedy in the Works of A.W. Schlegel and Friedrich Nietzsche
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The attempt to give an account of one's own historical moment—the prioritization of certain values over others, the diagnosis and perhaps alteration of a specific cultural trajectory—has traditionally involved not only coming to terms with a past that seems to mimic itself in the present, but with a past that is also at the same time marked by a difference from the present. Such has been the case with German thinkers and authors and their particularly intensive engagement with the legacy of classical antiquity, and above all, with the most lofty form of artistic endeavors: Greek tragedy. This thesis will examine the way in which two thinkers — August Wilhelm Schlegel and Friedrich Nietzsche — belonging to two distinct historical periods constructed a relationship to Greek tragedy in order to articulate, and perhaps alter, the aesthetic and cultural norms of their own time and place. As I hope this thesis will make clear, A.W. Schlegel and Nietzsche draw on the same body of texts—and tell a similar historiographical story about the "decline" of Greek tragedy from Aeschylus to Euripides—for almost diametrically opposed reasons.