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A Companion to the Works

of Friedrich Schiller

Contributors: Steven D. Martinson,Walter Hinderer,


David Pugh, Otto Dann,Werner von Stransky-StrankaGreifenfels, J. M. van der Laan, Rolf-Peter Janz, Lesley
Sharpe, Norbert Oellers, Dieter Borchmeyer, Karl
S. Guthke, Wulf Koepke.
Steven D. Martinson is Professor of German Studies
and a member of the Associated Faculty in Religious
Studies at the University of Arizona; Vice President
and President-Elect of the Lessing Society (2006);
and has written extensively on the literature of the
Age of Goethe.

Friedrich Schiller is not merely one of Germanys


foremost poets. He is also one of the major German
contributors to world literature. In Germany, Schiller
celebrations and commemorations still play a role in
the formation of public opinion, and the undying
words he gave to characters such as Marquis Posa in
Don Carlos and Wilhelm Tell in the eponymous drama
continue to underscore the need for human freedom.
Schiller cultivated hope in the actualization of moral
knowledge through aesthetic education and critical
reflection, leading to his ideal of a more humane
humanity. At the same time, he was fully cognizant
of the problems that attend various forms of idealism.
Yet for Schiller, ultimately, love remains the gravitational
center of the universe and of human existence, and
beyond life and death joy prevails. This collection of
cutting-edge essays by some of the worlds leading
Schiller experts constitutes a milestone in scholarship
that is particularly timely in view of the 200th
anniversary of the poets death in 2005. Special
attention is given to both the paradigm shifts in
Schillers work in its development over time and the
indelible imprint of the early writings on his later
works. The contributors also remain sensitive to the
multiple levels on which the poet was working. The
volume includes in-depth discussions of Schillers
major dramatic and poetic works, his essays on
aesthetics, and his activities as historian, anthropologist,
and physiologist, as well as of his relation to the
ancients and of Schiller reception in the twentiethcentury.

Edited by
Steven D.
Martinson
I SBN 1 -5 7113 -1 83 -3

Camden House

668 Mt. Hope Avenue


Rochester, NY 14620-2731
and P.O. Box 9
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK
www.boydellandbrewer.com
and www.camden-house.com

Jacket Design: Lisa Mauro

Edited by
9 781571 131836

Steven D. Martinson

Jacket image: Painting of Schiller by Anton Graff, completed 1791.


Museum fr Stadtgeschichte, Dresden. Used by permission of
Ullsteinbild.

A Companion to the Works of Friedrich Schiller

Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture


Edited by James Hardin
(South Carolina)

Camden House Companion Volumes


The Camden House Companions provide well-informed and up-todate critical commentary on the most significant aspects of major
works, periods, or literary figures. The Companions may be read
profitably by the reader with a general interest in the subject. For the
benefit of student and scholar, quotations are provided in the original
language.

A Companion to the Works of

Friedrich Schiller

Edited by

Steven D. Martinson

CAMDEN HOUSE

Copyright 2005 by the Editor and Contributors


All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation,
no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system,
published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted,
recorded, or reproduced in any form or by any means,
without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
First published 2005
by Camden House
Camden House is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Inc.
668 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, USA
www.camden-house.com
and of Boydell & Brewer Limited
PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK
www.boydellandbrewer.com
ISBN: 1571131833
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
A companion to the works of Friedrich Schiller / edited by
Steven D. Martinson
p. cm. (Studies in German literature, linguistics, and culture)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1571131833 (hardcover : alk. paper)
1. Schiller, Friedrich, 17591805Criticism and interpretation.
I. Martinson, Steven D., 1949 II. Title. III. Series: Studies in
German literature, linguistics, and culture (Unnumbered)
PT2492.C66 2005
831.6dc22
2005003338
A catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
This publication is printed on acid-free paper.
Printed in the United States of America.

For Elisa

Contents
Acknowledgments

ix

The Works of Friedrich Schiller

xi

Editions and Abbreviations

xv

Introduction: Schiller and the New Century


Steven D. Martinson

Intellectual-Historical Settings
Schillers Philosophical Aesthetics in Anthropological Perspective
Walter Hinderer

27

Schiller and Classical Antiquity


David Pugh

47

Schiller the Historian


Otto Dann

67

Major Writings
Die Ruber: Structure, Models, and an Emblem
Werner von Stransky-Stranka-Greifenfels

89

Kabale und Liebe Reconsidered


J. M. van der Laan

115

Great Emotions Great Criminals?: Schillers Don Carlos


Rolf-Peter Janz

137

Concerning Aesthetic Education


Lesley Sharpe

147

On the Shores of Philosophy: Schillers Lyric Poetry, 1795


Norbert Oellers

169

viii

CONTENTS

Wallenstein
Dieter Borchmeyer

189

Maria Stuart: Physiology and Politics


Steven D. Martinson

213

Die Jungfrau von Orleans


Karl S. Guthke

227

Wilhelm Tell
Karl S. Guthke

247

Schillers Legacy
The Reception of Schiller in the Twentieth Century
Wulf Koepke

271

Works Cited

297

Notes on the Contributors

313

Index

317

Acknowledgments

this volume was facilitated greatly by the outstanding editorial skills of Jim Walker. His responses to numerous inquiries
and questions were always speedy and incisive. Thanks also go to my colleague, Thomas A. Kovach, for having rendered a fine translation of Dieter
Borchmeyers study on Wallenstein. I am grateful also to Claudia Galberg
and Veronica Ostertag for their assistance in the early stages of the project,
as well as to Janna Orlova-Schaeffer for her assistance in preparing the
index. Finally, I wish to thank our colleagues in Germany, Sweden, England, Canada, and the United States whose expertise and patience helped
bring this enterprise to fruition.
This book is dedicated to my oldest daughter, Elisa, who attended the
Schiller-Gymnasium in Marbach am Neckar.
HE COMPLETION OF

S. D. M.
Tucson, Arizona
January 2005

The Works of Friedrich Schiller

ISTED BY YEAR OF FIRST APPEARANCE. When available in translation,


English title and date of appearance are given. The occasional works of
Schiller are not included in this list.

1780

1781
1781

1782
1783

1784

1786
1786
1787

Versuch ber den Zusammenhang der thierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen. Stuttgart: Cotta, 1780; translated by
Kenneth Dewhurst and Nigel Reeves as An Essay on the Connection between the Animal and Spiritual Nature of Man, in their
Friedrich Schiller: Medicine, Psychology and Literature, 25385.
Berkeley: U of California P, 1978.
Elegie auf den frhzeitigen Tod Johann Christian Weckerlins; Von
seinen Freunden, 4 pp., N.p., 1781.
Die Ruber: Ein Schauspiel. Frankfurt am Main & Leipzig: Privately printed, 1781; translated by Alexander F. Tytler as The Robbers.
London: Robinson, 1792; New York: Printed for S. Campbell,
1793.
Anthologie auf das Jahr 1782. N.p., 1782.
Trauerspiele / Zum erstenmal aufgefhrt auf der Mannheimer
National-Schaubhne. Die Ruber, Die Verschwrung des Fiesko zu
Genua, Kabale und Liebe. Mannheim, 1783. Die Verschwrung des
Fiesko zu Genua: Ein republikanisches Trauerspiel (Mannheim:
Schwan, 1783); translated by George Henry Noehden and Sir
John Stoddart as Fiesco; or The Genoese Conspiracy. London: Johnson,
1796.
Kabale und Liebe: Ein brgerliches Trauerspiel in fnf Aufzgen
(Mannheim: Schwan, 1784); translated by Matthew Gregory
Lewis as The Minister: A Tragedy in Five Acts. London: Bell, 1797;
translation revised as The Harpers Daughter; or Love and Ambition. Philadelphia: Carey, 1813.
An die Freude: Ein Rundgesang fr freye Mnner. Mit Musik. N.p.,
1786.
Thalia. Vol. 1 titled: Rheinische Thalia. Edited by Schiller. Leizpig:
Gschen, 17851787.
Dom Karlos, Infant von Spanien. Leipzig: Gschen, 1787; translated by Hoehden and Stoddart as Don Carlos, Infant of Spain.
London: Miller, 1798.

xii

1788

1788

1789
1791

1792
1792

1793
1795
1800
1800

1801

1802

1803

THE WORKS OF FRIEDRICH SCHILLER

Der Geisterseher: Eine interessante Geschichte aus den Papieren des


Grafen von O*** herausgegeben aus Herrn Schillers Thalia. Berlin
& Leipzig, 1788; republished as Der Geisterseher: Eine Geschichte
aus den Memoiren des Grafen von O**. Leipzig, Gschen 1789;
translated by Daniel Boileau as The Ghostseer; or, The Apparitionist.
London: Vernor, 1795; New York: Printed for T. & J. Swords,
1796.
Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der Spanischen Regierung: Erster Theil enthaltend die Geschichte der Rebellionen bis zur Utrechtischen Verbindung. Leipzig: Crusius, 1788;
translated by Edward Backhouse Eastwick as History of the Defection of the United Netherlands from the Spanish Empire. Frankfurt
am Main: Krebs, 1844.
Was heit und zu welchem Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte?
Jena: Akademische Buchhandlung, 1789.
Historischer Calender fr Damen fr das Jahr 1791 (1793):
Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs. 3 vols. Leipzig: Gschen,
17911793; translated by William Blaquiere as History of the Thirty
Years War. 2 vols. London: Miller, 1799.
Neue Thalia. Edited by Schiller. Leipzig: Gschen, 179295.
Kleinere prosaische Schriften von Schiller: Aus mehreren Zeitschriften
vom Verfasser selbst gesammelt und verbessert. 4 vols. Leipzig: Crusius, 17921802.
ber Anmuth und Wrde. Leipzig: Gschen, 1793.
Die Horen: Eine Monatsschrift. Edited by Schiller. 3 years, each
with 4 vols. 179597.
Gedichte, 2 vols. Leipzig: Crusius, 18001803.
Wallenstein: Ein dramatisches Gedicht, 2 vols. Tbingen: Cotta,
1800. Volume 1: Wallensteins Lager, translated by F. L. Gower as
The Camp of Wallenstein. London: Murray, 1830; Die Piccolomini;
or the First Part of Wallenstein, a Drama in Five Acts. London:
Longman & Rees, 1800; volume 2: Wallensteins Tod, translated by
Coleridge as The Death of Wallenstein. London: Longman & Rees,
1800.
Maria Stuart: Ein Trauerspiel. Tbingen: Cotta, 1801; translated
by Joseph C. Mellish as Mary Stuart: A Tragedy. London: Printed
by G. Auld, 1801.
Kalendar auf das Jahr 1802: Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine
romantische Tragdie. N.p., 1802; translated by Henry Salvin as
The Maid of Orleans in his Mary Stuart and The Maid of Orleans.
London: Longmann, 1824.
Die Braut von Messina oder Die feindlichen Brder: Ein Trauerspiel
mit Chren. Tbingen: Cotta, 1803; translated by G. Irvine as The
Bride of Messina. London: Macrone, 1837.

THE WORKS OF FRIEDRICH SCHILLER

1804

1805

1812

1839
1840

1862

1862
1867

1867
1890
1892
1902

1904
1943

xiii

Wilhelm Tell: Ein Schauspiel. Zum Neujahrsgeschenk auf 1805.


Tbingen, Cotta, 1804; translated anonymously as William Tell.
London: Bull, 1829.
Die Huldigung der Knste: Ein lyrisches Spiel. Tbingen: Cotta,
1805; translated by A. I. du Pont Coleman as Homage to the
Arts. In The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Vol. 3, edited by Kuno Francke and William G. Howard,
36677. New York: German Publication Society, 1913. Theater, 5
vols. Tbingen: Cotta, 18051807.
Friedrich v. Schillers smmtliche Werke, 12 vols. Edited by Christian
Gottfried Krner. Stuttgart & Tbingen: Cotta, 18121815;
revised, 1835.
Schillers erste bis jetzt unbekannte Jugendschrift: Die Tugend in
ihren Folgen betrachtet. Amberg: Klber, 1839.
Nachlese zu Schillers Werken nebst Variantensammlung: Aus seinem
Nachla. 4 vols. Edited by Karl Hoffmeister. Stuttgart & Tbingen: Cotta, 18401841.
Avanturen des neuen Telemach oder Leben und Exsertionen Koerners des decenten, consequenten, piquanten u.s.f. von Hogarth in schnen illuminierten Kupfern abgefat und mit befriedigenden
Erklrungen versehen von Winckelmann: Rom, 1786. Drawings by
Schiller, texts by Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, edited by Carl Knzel.
Leipzig: Payne, 1862.
Ich habe mich rasieren lassen: Ein dramatischer Scherz. Edited by
Carl Knzel Leipzig: Payne, 1862.
Schillers dramatische Entwrfe zum erstenmal verffentlicht durch
Schillers Tochter. Edited by Emilie Freifrau von GleichenRusswurm. Stuttgart: Cotta, 1867.
Schillers smmtliche Schriften: Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, 16 vols.
Edited by Karl Goedeke and others. Stuttgart: Cotta, 18671876.
Aus dem Schiller-Archiv: Ungedrucktes und unbekanntes zu Schillers
Leben und Schriften. Edited by J. Minor. Weimar: Bhlau, 1890.
Briefe. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Edited by Fritz Jonas. Stuttgart:
18921897.
Deutsche Gre: Ein unvollendetes Gedicht Schillers. 1801. Nachbildung der Handschrift im Auftrage des Vorstandes der GoetheGesellschaft. Edited by Bernhard Suphan. Weimar: Goethe
Gesellschaft, 1902.
Smtliche Werke: Skular-Ausgabe in sechzehn Bnden. 16 vols.
Edited by E. von der Hellen. Stuttgart: Cotta, 19041905.
Werke: Nationalausgabe. Im Auftrage des Goethe- und SchillerArchivs, des Schiller-Nationalmuseums und der Deutschen Akademie.
35 vols. to date. Edited by Julius Petersen and Hermann Schneider.
Weimar: Bhlau, 1943. (Nationalausgabe, NA)

xiv

1988

2004

THE WORKS OF FRIEDRICH SCHILLER

Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden. Edited by Klaus Harro


Hilzinger, et al. Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag,
1988. (Frankfurter Ausgabe, FA)
Smtliche Werke in 5 Bnden, ed. Albert Meier, et al. Munich: Carl
Hanser, 2004.

Translations by Schiller
Euripides. Iphigenie in Aulis. Acts 13, 6: Issue of Thalia, edited by
Friedrich Schiller, March, 1789; acts 45, 7: Issue of Thalia, May
1789.
Euripides. Phnizierinnen. 8. Issue of Thalia (October/November 1789).
[first half of the drama only].
Gozzi. Turandot, Prinzessin von China: Ein tragicomisches Mhrchen nach
Gozzi. Tbingen: Cotta, 1802.
Picard. Der Neffe als Onkel. Lustspiel in drey Aufzgen. Theater von Schiller.
Vol. 5. Tbingen: J. C. Cotta, 1807.
Picard. Der Parasit oder Die Kunst sein Glck zu machen. Ein Lustspiel.
Theater von Schiller. Vol. 2. Tbingen: J. C. Cotta, 1806.
Racine. Britannikus. Trauerspiel. Schillers dramatische Entwrfe zum erstenmal verffentlicht durch Schillers Tochter Emilie Freifrau von
Gleich-Russwurm. Stuttgart, 1867. [Fragments only]
Racine. Phdrus. Trauerspiel von Racine. Tbingen: J. C. Cotta, 1805.
[Fragments only; two manuscripts].
Virgil. Der Sturm auf dem Tyrrhener Meer (Book 1 of the Aeneid).
Schwbisches Magazin, 11. Stck, edited by Balthasar Haug.
Stuttgart, 1780.
Virgil. Dido (Book 4 of the Aeneid). Thalia. 2. and 3. Stck (1792).
Virgil. Die Zerstrung von Troja (Book 2 of the Aeneid). Thalia. 1. Stck
(1792).

Editions and Abbreviations

HERE ARE TWO EDITIONS OF Schillers works that are currently widely
used by scholars. The edition primarily relied upon in this volume is
Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro Hilzinger, et al.
(Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988), which is known
as the Frankfurter Ausgabe and abbreviated as FA.
The other edition, which is used as the source of primary reference to
Schillers works in the essay by Norbert Oellers and as a supplemental
source in several of the other essays in this book, is Werke: Nationalausgabe.
Im Auftrage des Goethe- und Schiller-Archivs, des Schiller-Nationalmuseums
und der Deutschen Akademie, edited originally by Julius Petersen and
Hermann Schneider, currently edited by Norbert Oellers (44 vols. to date;
Weimar: Bhlau, 1943), known as the Nationalausgabe, and abbreviated
as NA.

Introduction: Schiller and


the New Century
Steven D. Martinson
Lebe mit deinem Jahrhundert,
aber sei nicht sein Geschpf.

The Man and His Life

CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH SCHILLER was born to Johann Kaspar


Schiller and Elisabetha Dorothea Kodweiss in Marbach am Neckar on
November 10, 1759. His father served in the Wrttemberg military as a
lieutenant and medic. Following the Seven Years War, he was promoted to
the rank of captain and became a recruiting officer. The duchy of Wrttemberg included among its largest cities Stuttgart, Tbingen, and Ludwigsburg. The small city of Marbach lies just northeast of Ludwigsburg on
the Neckar River. The Landeskirche was Evangelical-Lutheran with which
Swabian pietism soon conflicted. Not only that, but the duke, Karl Eugen,
was Catholic, a vestige of which can be seen in the beautifully appointed
chapel in the Ludwigsburg castle itself. The antagonistic confessional
stands of the duke and his protestant subjects formed one of the bases of
the political tension that reverberated throughout the province.
The house in which Friedrich Schiller was born is a short walk uphill
from the best Gasthaus (to this day) in Marbach, the Goldener Lwe. This
is where Johann Kaspar Schiller met his wife-to-be, the innkeepers daughter Elisabetha. When their son was only five years old, the family moved to
Lorch, where they spent the next three years. In the Remstal, young
Schiller had access to the Klosterkirche and cemetery atop the Marienberg,
a small castle, an outlying estate with its colossal walls, and, within an
hours walk, the Hohen-Staufen.1
Johann Kaspar Schiller was a restless individual who desired the even
greater education that his son, Friedrich, was to receive and for which
he was grateful. Of Schillers mother, Elisabetha Dorothea Kodweiss,
Bernhard Zeller records that she must have been a lively, imaginative, generous, and pious woman (9). While in Lorch, the family was influenced
strongly by the local pastor, Philipp Ulrich Moser. Schiller would later
OHANN

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

leave a legacy, albeit a problematic one, to him in his first highly successful
drama, Die Ruber (The Robbers, 1781). Under Mosers instruction,
young Schiller began to master Latin and became familiar with Greek, and
it was through Moser that Schiller would be influenced by Swabian
pietism. In this environment Schiller considered the possibility of becoming a pastor. The seeming ridicule that his attempts at declamation
received, however, may well have dissuaded him from pursuing this path.
Several subsequent experiences, in Stuttgart and Weimar, for example,
confirm that Schiller was not destined to become an actor or a preacher.
(His role as Clavigo in a performance of Goethes early work was not well
received, as was evident from the lack of applause and guarded, but audible
laughter.)
In 1766, the Schiller family moved to the court city of Ludwigsburg.
Shortly before their move, Duke Karl Eugen had taken up residence in this
Swabian Versailles. Within a short time, the population of Ludwigsburg
doubled in size from five thousand to ten thousand residents. The stage of
the theater within the castle was one of the finest in Germany at the time.
It was unique because it could be opened to the natural environment so
that, among other things, horses could be brought onto the stage, thus
increasing the effect of dramatic and operatic performances. Because of
Friedrichs exceptional academic success, the duke allowed the young
Schiller to attend the theater with his father on a few occasions. The castles
chapel and the many waiting and sitting rooms, together with the spacious
gardens and likeness to the ruins of a medieval castle, contributed to the
splendor of this location, in and around which Schiller spent many of his
formative years.
Despite his parents hesitation, the duke insisted that Schiller become
a student at the newly established military Pflanzschule, appropriately
called the Solitude. There, the students (called Eleven) were expected
to consider the duke their new father. After a few years, the Herzogliche
wrttembergische Militrakadmie (est. 1781, later the Herzogliche KarlsHohe-Schule), relocated near the castle in Stuttgart.2 Duke Karl Eugen
reigned for nearly fifty years (174493). The students mother was the
well-liked Duchess Franziska von Hohenheim, who, at times, counterbalanced the actions of her husband, Duke Karl Eugen. Although certainly a
tyrant in an age of absolutism, the duke was capable of exercising what
Goethe would characterize as a certain magnanimity (Zeller, 12). One of
Schillers closest friends at the time was Friedrich von Hoven (17591838)
with whom he spent a great deal of time. Together, they would write
poetry and study both medicine and philosophy. Von Hoven noted that
the duke had made some big mistakes as a regent, but even greater ones as
a human being (Zeller, 13).
Even before the time of the dukes funeral, Schiller had come to realize that he had received an excellent education and training (as a future

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

military officer) at the Karlsschule. In fact, the medical faculty at the military academy was second in Germany only to the faculty at the university
in Gttingen. In its final form, the duke approved the publication of
Schillers dissertation, that is, Abschluarbeit, on physiology, ber den
Zusammenhang der tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen
(Concerning the Connection between the Animal [Corporeal] and Intellectual Nature of the Human Being, 1780). The Johann Cotta Verlag,
which would eventually become one of the most famous publishing
houses in Germany, published Schillers dissertation in 1780. Schillers
interest in medicine and his career in writing owed in part to his ill health.
Since birth he had been lanky and sickly. Throughout his life he would
battle a variety of debilitating illnesses. For Schiller, the act of writing
became a therapeutic means of mediating between the demands of the
mind and the needs of the body. His favorite professor at the Karlsschule
was Jakob Friedrich Abel. Abels integration of poetry, by Shakespeare
and others, into his lectures on philosophy had a profound impact on
Schiller, as can be seen from his later study of the critical philosophy of
Immanuel Kant and the composition of his own philosophical essays in
the 1790s.3
For the sake of brevity, we will mention only the geographical locations where Schiller spent the most time and then address briefly his relationships with the individuals with whom he was most familiar.
The main stations in Schillers life following the early years in the
Stuttgart area were Mannheim, Dresden, Jena, and Weimar. Intermediate
stops included the small village of Bauerbach outside Meiningen in
the Thuringian forest and, among other places, Leipzig. In 1785, in
Mannheim, Schiller experienced both success (with Die Ruber) and failure (with Die Verschwrung des Fiesko zu Genua [The Conspiracy of Fiesco
of Genoa, 1783]). Having received an unexpected and anonymous letter
of appreciation for his work from a number of individuals in Leipzig,
Schiller finally decided to leave his disappointments in Mannheim behind
and travel to Saxony. He wrote: O meine Seele drstet nach neuer
Nahrung nach beern Menschen nach Freundschaft, Anhnglichkeit
und Liebe (quoted from Zeller, 44). It was at this moment that Schiller
also decided to become a poet. The experience was nothing short of liberating. Just outside of Leipzig, in Gohlis, Schiller took up residence in the
home of a farmer named Schneider. His fellow tenant was Georg Joachim
Gschen, one of his future publishers. It was here also that Schiller became
acquainted with Christian Gottfried Krner, who became a lifelong friend.
In the late summer of that year, 1785, Schiller accepted Krners invitation
to travel to Dresden with Krners new bride, Minna Stock, where he
remained until mid-1787. Schiller records that he was never happier. His
euphoria culminated in the writing of the famous poem, An die Freude
(Ode to Joy, 1785).

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

Seid umschlungen Millionen.


Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!
Brder! berm Sternenzelt
Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen. (ll. 912)
And:
Ihr strzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schpfer, Welt?
Such ihn berm Sternenzelt!
ber Sternen muss er wohnen. (ll. 3336)
The experiences in Dresden provided Schiller with a sense of direction
and a new view of the world. Hard work was mixed with moments of happiness, but before long he felt physically exhausted, as if nature were collapsing around him. In 1785, while in Dresden, Schiller composed the
novella Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre (The Criminal Out of Lost
Honor, 1786, originally titled Der Verbrecher aus Infamie) and the novel
fragment, Der Geisterseher (The Ghostseer, 1788). The latter work quickly
became one of the most popular of Schillers writings in Germany and also
the most widely read of Schillers works in America. Both of these writings
are indicative of a kind of existential crisis precipitated by haunting memories of his days at the Karlsschule, which began to torment the young
writer. To Krner he wrote that he felt the bold tendency of his powers and
the unsuccessful plan of nature, that is, his battle with illness. The one was
caused by the insane method of his education and abortive fate, the latter
of which had the greatest detrimental impact on him. Nonetheless,
between 1785 and 1787 Schiller finished composing one of the worlds
greatest pieces of literature, Don Carlos. The romantic content of the piece
is encased by a new-found classical form, which, together, yielded a dramatic masterpiece. Here, too, the writer exhibits his concern with politics
and the problem of humanity. The work appeared with Gschen in Leipzig
in the summer of 1787.
In the hope of meeting the famous writer, Johann Wolfgang Goethe,
Schiller left for Weimar in July of the same year. Here he met up with his
Mannheim associate, Charlotte von Kalb, who instructed him in the ways
of the court. Herself on the verge of divorce, von Kalbs private interests
included attracting Schiller and pursuing an amorous relationship. But he
refused the ladys advances and expressed his wish not to become involved
with someone for whom he had no feelings. Privately, he considered her to
be uncharitable (nicht wohlttig). Discovering that Goethe was in Italy,
Schiller met the acquaintance of Goethes first mentor, the folklorist and
theoretician Johann Gottfried Herder, as well as the famous writer and first
(unsuccessful) tutor of Duke Carl August, Christoph Martin Wieland,
who was well known for his novel, Geschichte des Agathon (The Story of

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

Agathon, 1766). In addition to Herder and Wieland, Schiller spent some


time with Duchess Anna Amalia, the mother of Carl August, who had put
Weimar on the cultural map. Although he opposed courtly life, to his surprise Schiller found the occasions at her home in Tiefurt, with its spacious
grounds and the babbling of the Ilm river that winds its way around this
beautiful and peaceful landscape, to be especially enjoyable. Schiller also
became acquainted with the most influential lady of the Weimar court,
Charlotte von Stein. On a side trip to Jena, Schiller first made the acquaintance of the philosopher, Karl Leonhard Reinhard, Wielands son-in-law,
who first prompted the writer to undertake a close study of the work of
Immanuel Kant. While in Weimar, Schiller, the man, began to come to a
better understanding of himself. The following self-characterization reveals
his propensity for self-critical reflection: Um nun zu werden, was ich soll
und kann, werde ich besser von mir denken lernen und aufhren, mich in
meiner eignen Vorstellungsart zu erniedrigen (quoted from Burschell,
230). It was the beginning of a new phase in Schillers life.
In 1789, on Goethes recommendation, Schiller became a professor
of history at the university in Jena, where Reinhard was actively professing
the essential attributes and contemporary significance of Kants critical
philosophy, albeit from a more independent standpoint. Schillers inaugural lecture, Was heit und zu welchem Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte? (What Is and to What End Does One Study Universal
History?, 1789), was well received by the four to five hundred attendees. On average, twenty to thirty students attended his lectures, even
though only about half of them paid their tuition. By all accounts,
Schiller was highly regarded by his students. One of them, Johann
Gottfried Gruber, who would himself later become a professor of history,
described Schillers physical condition and openness and support. His
portrayal reads, in part: Mit Freundlichkeit empfing er mich, sein
ganzes Wesen erweckte Vertrauen. Da war nichts von Zurckhaltung,
nichts von Stolz oder vornehmtuendem Air, er war so offen, so redlich
in allen uerungen, so ganz nur ein schnes Herz entfaltend, das mir, ehe
eine Viertelstunde verging, war, als htten wir uns seit Jahren gekannt
(Lahnstein, 302).
With a number of important exceptions, including the last several
years of his life, Schiller would struggle financially. Although gifted at writing books on formidable European events in European history, for example, Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs (History of the Thirty Years
War, 179193), his initial interest in the subject was to earn the money he
needed to sustain himself. Interestingly enough, the work appeared in
installments in the Historischer Kalendar fr Damen, the commercial
success of which saved both the publisher, Gschen, and the author, who
then received a sizeable reimbursement for his extremely hard work
(Lahnstein, 26566). Schiller was especially well paid for the essays he

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

contributed to Wielands Teutscher Merkur. The stipends he received from


Duke Friedrich Christian von Augustenburg and Count Ernst von Schimmelmann greatly furthered his career as a writer. With their support he
wrote one of his foremost theoretical works, ber die sthetische Erziehung
des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen (Concerning the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, 179395, referred to as the sthetische
Briefe).
Schiller was unable to live comfortably on the modest salary that Duke
Carl August supplied in his position as a professor. It was not until he had
moved to Weimar in 1799 that he began to lead a comfortable life, thanks
to a significant increase in his allowance from the duke. Here, his lifes
work reached fruition in the writing and co-production of masterpieces
such as Wallenstein, Maria Stuart, and Wilhelm Tell. In the course of time,
all of these writings, and more, would come to be regarded as classical
works.4 They also number among the major works of Weltliteratur (world
literature) a term coined by his friend Goethe. While in Jena, it was not
only his career that blossomed but love as well. On February 22, 1790, in
a small church in Wenigenjena, Schiller married Louise Antoinette Charlotte von Lengefeld of Rudolstadt. Charlotte was the goddaughter of
Charlotte von Stein. The brgerliche und husliche Existenz that
Schiller had wanted for some time was achieved in his marriage. It was a
happy moment for the man. Mein Dasein ist in eine harmonische Gleichheit gerckt; nicht leidenschaftlich gespannt, aber ruhig und hell gingen
mir diese Tage dahin. Ich habe meiner Geschfte gewartet wie zuvor und
mit mehr Zufriedenheit mit mir selbst (Burschell, 276). Of Charlotte,
Burschell notes that she was an insatiable reader and enjoyed sketching.
Her naturalness was a basic feature of her character, and she felt at one
with nature. Not surprising, she would be one of Goethes favorite
acquaintances (243). Charlotte von Lengefeld-Schiller was a beloved confidant, and she was well respected for her integrity within Weimar social
circles.
Next to his wife, Schillers closest friend was Goethe (17491832),
whose novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sufferings of Young
Werther, 1774) had become a European bestseller and had at long last
placed Germany on the map as a cultural force. While journeying home to
Weimar in the company of Duke Carl August, Goethe first saw Schiller at
the Karlsschule, on the same day young Schiller received a number of
awards for his exceptional work in various fields of study. Documents
reveal that, at first, Schiller was not impressed with Goethe and that
Goethe met Schiller with indifference. Schillers first encounters with
Goethe are characterized not only by admiration but also by jealousy.
Accounts thereof describe the contempt that Schiller had for Goethes
sense of self-importance, that is, for his inflated ego. Schiller expressed
his initial love-hate for Goethe as follows: . . . ich glaube in der Tat,

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

er [Goethe] ist ein Egoist in ungewhnlichem Grade . . . Er macht seine


Existenz wohlttig kund, aber nur wie ein Gott, ohne sich selbst zu
geben . . . Mir ist er dadurch verhat, ob ich gleich seinen Geist von
ganzem Herzen liebe und gro von ihm denke . . . Eine ganz sonderbare
Mischung von Ha und Liebe ist es, die er in mir erweckt hat . . . ich knnte seinen [Goethes] Geist umbringen und ihn wieder von Herzen lieben
(Burschell, 25758; Zeller, 91).
Schillers and Goethes professional relationship began in earnest
when, in the spring of 1794, Schiller sought contributors for his periodical,
Die Horen (The Horae, 179597) and invited Goethe to participate, which
he did. Their conversation while returning from a lecture hosted by the
Society for Natural Science in Jena and Schillers polite refutation of
Goethes idea of a primal plant sparked Schillers letter of August 23, 1794,
in which he contrasted, all-too sharply, his own critical-analytical (sentimental) approach to reality and Goethes more organic (nave), or natural genius. Schillers striking characterization of their intellectual,
philosophical, and psychological differences won Goethes respect, and the
older man responded by accepting Schiller into his world. The portrayal
was followed by another, just two days after Goethes birthday. Schillers
most recent biographer, Peter-Andr Alt, cites the letter of August 30,
1794 when pointing to Schillers split existence between reflection and
intuition (Anschauung) that contains within it the rupture of modern times
and which cannot overcome it on its own. At first, Alt refers to the opposition between their intellectual tendencies and the terrain of opposites that
mark the differences between Goethe and Schiller. Nevertheless, in the
final analysis, and while drawing upon Goethe, Alt characterizes their relationship as forming a balance of productive friendship that includes insight
into the complementary nature of their different temperaments (171). On
the basis of these letters, scholarship has repeatedly created a picture of a
dialectical relationship between Goethe and Schiller that is constructed,
consciously or unconsciously, more with Hegel in mind and by way of an
all-too-literal reading of Schillers letters. The problem is that such an orientation tends to either overlook or downplay the actual cultural, political,
religious, and economic contexts in which these writers were working.
Although their personalities and mentalities certainly differed, Schiller
and Goethe shared many common interests. By collaborating so closely on
a number of projects, their language became intertwined with the network
of communication of their day and age. A paramount example of their
close collaboration is the Xenien project, which is a compilation of very
short verses that criticize contemporary developments in literature and
poke fun at a number of authors of the time. Finally, their exchange of letters and conversations shows that each had a hand in the writing of the
others works, one of the most important examples being the genesis of
Faust and Wallenstein.

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

In the alliance between Goethe and Schiller, there is an amalgamation


of poetry and philosophy, physiology and natural science, psychology and
spirituality that is indicative of what we would today call the interdisciplinary texture of their work. With reference to Schillers letter of July 21,
1797, Peter-Andr Alt has characterized the nature of their work relationship as one based on reciprocal perfectibility, a commercium of communications that translated into productive individual activities. In short, their
perpetual discussions afforded both writers with incomparable artistic
impulses (170).5 Whatever else it may be, the practical results of this
alliance register the full potential of the German language, as manifested in
literature and culture. Quite in spite of the erosion of the so-called canon
that has resulted from the proliferation of postmodernist strategies in the
last few decades, the vast writings of Goethe and Schiller remain an especially significant field of scholarly research and open up to the general
reader a world that challenges our thinking and, in doing so, enlarges our
view of history.
With regard specifically to Schiller and his final days, Alt writes of the
extraordinary social recognition that Schiller enjoyed in Weimar and his
inexorable ethos of accomplishment. Despite the large volume of unfinished work, one is left with the impression that Schiller led a full and successful life.
Schiller died in Weimar on May 12, 1805. The obituary in the
Weimarische Wochenblatt three days later read as follows:
Den 12ten May, des Nachts 1 Uhr, wurde der in seinem 46. Lebensjahr
verstorbene Hochwohlgeb. Herr, Herr D. Carl Friedrich von Schiller,
F. S. Meiningischer Hofrath, mit der ganzen Schule, erster Classe, in das
LandschaftsCassen Leichengewlbe beigesetzt und Nachmittags 3 Uhr
des Vollendeten Todesfeyer mit einer Trauerrede von Sr. Hochwrd. Magnificenz, dem Herrn GeneralSuperintendent Vogt, in der St. Jacobskirche
begangen und von Frstl. Capelle vor und nach der Rede eine Trauermusik
von Mozarts Requiem aufgefhrt. (Alt II: 609)

***
The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, opened with the grand
chorus of Ludwig van Beethovens Ninth Symphony. No doubt, few of the
millions of people who watched the festivities on television or via the Internet, including those who attended the opening ceremonies in person, realized that the text of Beethovens symphony is by Friedrich Schiller. Both
Schillers text and Beethovens musical composition trumpet the ideal of a
humane humanity. Freedom and responsibility, sickness and healing, the
individual and society all of these and many more topics and themes
that Schiller explores in his work still touch upon our own experiences of
life, no matter how specific or unique that understanding may be. Through

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

a comparative study of Schillers works and a critical, self-critical confrontation with the values that are encoded in his writings, the reader
should gain even more insight into the nature of the realities that human
beings experience and seek to understand.
In her biography of Schiller (1830, the first to be written), Caroline
von Wolzogen portrayed her brother-in-law neither as a servant of his
time, nor as a self-proclaimed leader. Rather, he is said to have listened to
the sound of nature within him. As the history of Schillers critical reception makes clear, Wolzogen was quite right to state that the voice of the
nation would echo the sound of Schillers lifes work (17).6 The sound of
the humane humanity that Schiller espoused was echoed not only in 1859
and 1959 in both Germany and America but, again, in 2002 at the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. This time, however, Schiller
spoke not only to the nation of Germany and the European community
but to the world.
The Companion to the Works of Friedrich Schiller contributes further to
an understanding of Schillers significance as a major writer of literature by
reinvestigating (1) the various intellectual, philosophical, and historical
contexts in which he was writing, (2) his major literary and theoretical
writings, and (3) the reception of his work and legacy in history. The
reader will find a number of suggestions for new directions in scholarship
and further reading. While expanding our knowledge of Schiller, we
remain cognizant of the wealth of information and previous insights that
research has supplied for our consideration as enlightened readers. Without this, there would be no reliable guide by which to determine originality. With respect to history, Schillers work lies between the Enlightenment
and German Romanticism and, as to style, between the Baroque and German, or Weimar Classicism.
Finally, it is important to recognize that Schillers works operate simultaneously on a number of levels, for he was not only a writer of drama,
poetry, and prose; he was also an army doctor, physiologist, philosopher,
historian, professor, co-director of the Weimar court theater, gifted letter
writer, and family man. His native talents, knowledge, and scope of writing
were wide-ranging, as are the themes that he developed and the problems
that he addresses throughout his multifarious writings.
The present volume thus serves as both a signpost for scholarship at
the crossroads of the past and the present and points to promising areas for
future research on the life and works of Germanys greatest dramatist.

Toward a Politics of Culture


The jubilation over life that Schiller at times felt ceased when he was
confronted with the news of the Reign of Terror in France (179394).

10

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

As a subscriber to Le Moniteur, Schiller followed closely developments


in post-revolutionary France. He was shocked by the assassinations of
well over one hundred members of the old aristocracy (ancien regime)
including men, women, and children. Sickened by the backlash of radical rationalism, he shared his sense of loss of hope in the future with
his benefactor, Duke Friedrich Christian, that this occurrence would
rob him of all hope for centuries to come as noted in his letter of July
13, 1793.
With the exception of German Jacobins, such as Georg Forster and
Schillers friend, Johann Erhard Benjamin, the vast majority of German
intellectuals turned away from the massacre in dismay and horror. Hagen
Schulzes description of this chapter in modern history codifies the results
of a great deal of scholarship. The turn to inner life and away from the horrors of the first mass murder in modern history, all done in the name of the
Enlightenment, was also influential in the case of Schiller but only to a
point. Given his knowledge of the violent consequences of the extreme,
Schiller could not and did not succumb either to pietistic inwardness or
political despondency.
Schillers vast knowledge of history meant that he was unable and, perhaps, unwilling to resign himself for long to the grim historical realities of
the present. In fact, while considering the past and contemplating the
future, he became even more resolute in his battle against the barbarism
that now seemed to link the ancient past with modern times. In one of his
major theoretical works, ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen in
einer Reihe von Briefen, Schiller offered an alternative plan for the future.
As he wrote in the pivotal Eighth Letter of his cultural broadsheet, the
most pressing need of the time is to train, that is, refine and further
develop the sensations (die Ausbildung des Empfindungsvermgens).
The reasonableness of any given action was now to be determined by the
education, that is, formation (Bildung) of the healthy relationship between
reason and emotion as facilitated by aesthetic culture. He believed that this
could be accomplished primarily, although not exclusively, through an
understanding of art and literature, that is, through images and in words.
As the writer makes clear, also in his book reviews, the imagination
(Einbildungskraft) and the understanding (Verstand) are to work collaboratively together. The reciprocal limitation of the one by the other, and
the avoidance of the extreme (the Aristotelian golden mean) that this
presupposes, creates a fruitful tension that first gives birth to the classical
work of art.
As I have pointed out elsewhere, this central idea was anticipated in
the writers medical dissertation, ber den Zusammenhang der tierischen
Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen. While in the act of writing this seminal text Schiller worked out the first theory of the interactionist relationship between mind and body (Geist and Krper) in the Western tradition.

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

11

But what were Schillers objectives? Walter Hinderer suggests here that
with his aesthetic anthropology or anthropological aesthetics, Schiller
wishes to cultivate human freedom and create the psycho-political conditions of the state of freedom. Over the following decade-and-a-half,
namely from 1780 to his death in 1805, the writer explored the practical
value of aesthetics as an instrument in the further education of both the
individual and society, including political society, while building on and
refining his original position in the early medical dissertations.
In his response to the aftermath of the Great Revolution, Schiller
held that it is not enough da alle Aufklrung des Verstandes nur
insoferne Achtung verdient, als sie auf den Charakter zurckfliet; sie geht
gewissermaen von dem Charakter aus, weil der Weg zu dem Kopf durch
das Herz mu geffnet werden.7 The way that one pursues the truth of
humanity in cultural, religious, and social-political life now becomes the
essential question. Politics was to be informed by ethics. The violent overpowering of the state that had led to the Reign of Terror exhibited mans
inhumanity to man. In the 1790s, Schillers goal, that is, the task of culture, was to counteract the propensity for retribution and violence in
human beings through aesthetic education.8 To be sure, the French Revolution caused Schiller to reorientate his thinking and, as a result, his understanding of the political task of culture.
Given his own bitter experience of the tyranny of Duke Karl Eugen,
Schiller recognized the need for change in the political public sphere. The
way in which this was to be achieved, however, was not by revolution but
through the gradual re-formation of society: . . . das lebendige Uhrwerk
des Staats mu gebessert werden, indem es schlgt, und hier gilt es, das rollende Rad whrend seines Umschwunges auszutauschen (8:563 [emphasis
added]). Schiller was convinced that the Bildung of the individual through
the sensuous knowledge (sinnliche Erkenntnis, as the father of aesthetics, Alexander Baumgarten, had first termed it) of aesthetic culture had an
ennobling effect on ones character. The ennoblement of character in the
middle-class moral sphere would serve, politically, as an example to men
and women of the nobility as well as the aristocracy. The question, then,
was whether or not the nobility (and aristocracy) manifests true nobility of
character. In sum, ethics and politics are inseparable in Schillers work.
Owing to its increasing economical and educational ascendancy the
middle class in Germany was quickly becoming the new model of social
behavior, even if, or perhaps, despite the fact that the courts continued to
emulate French culture. But as long as French was the language of choice in
courtly culture, the task of the Bildung of German culture would entail an
uphill battle, an assignment for the future. Schiller would agree with Johann
Gottfried Herders statement in the Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der
Menschheit (Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Humanity, 178491):
Der Mensch ist einer langen Erziehung bedrftig (315).

12

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

Karl S. Guthke (1994) has underscored the fact that Schiller was a
skilled psychologist, able to offer keen insights into human nature and the
workings of the human psyche. Schiller contended that, with the aid of
aesthetic culture, one is able to refine and redirect, that is, sublimate, ones
natural impulses. By activating and actualizing ones fullest potential as a
human being, one can alter the state of nature. Unlike the animal (or barbarian), the human being can aspire to something greater than what is simply given. The gateway to that higher state of being is art, die Tochter der
Freiheit (8:559). The dignity that was and is lost to base humanity can be
rescued in and through aesthetics. As Schiller writes, in the Ninth Letter of
the sthetische Briefe: die Wahrheit lebt in der Tuschung fort . . .
(8:584). In the classical art of the time one beholds the strength to endure
what life presents in its most challenging and often overpowering manifestations. The nature of the type of character that Schiller believed would
best serve as an example for his time forms the basis of a personal credo:
Strenge gegen sich selbst mit Weichheit gegen andre (8:605; emphasis
added). Among other things, the values of self-discipline and leniency
towards others that Schiller cultivated in his writings were diametrically
opposed to the Reign of Terror and any and all other forms of barbarism.
The sustained coming to terms with the past and the present in light of the
future provides informed evidence of Schillers engagement with the politics of his day.

Illness, Healing, and the Act of Writing


Schiller was not quite forty-six years old when he died. Throughout his relatively short life Schiller battled a number of illnesses. Nonetheless, he
strove actively to not allow his physical ailments to obstruct the expression,
or hinder the cultivation, of his native abilities as a writer. To be sure, there
were times when his physical limitations did prevent him from writing. His
frailty at birth carried over into his adult life. In 1796 for example, a friend
of Christian Krner, Rittmeister Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand von Funk, who
was visiting Goethe, recorded how Schiller suffered from acute loss of
breath and chest pains (Lahnstein, 342). Although von Funk (and even
Schiller himself ) was probably not aware of it, these suffocations owed to
the fact that one of Schillers lungs had collapsed, most likely in 1791 while
attending a concert in Erfurt.
Schillers earliest biographer, Caroline von Wolzogen, offered a
fascinating and loving portrait of the man and the writer in her twovolume account, Schillers Leben (Schillers Life). Unlike Wilhelm von
Humboldts one-dimensional picture of Schiller as an idealist in ber
Schiller und den Gang seiner Geistesentwicklung (On Schiller and the Development of His Thought, 1830), which privileges the operations of the

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

13

mind over the body, Von Wolzogen, although prone to romanticizing,


comes squarely to terms with Schillers struggles with the body. For
Schiller, reshaping and reinscribing the world via the act of writing was a
means of rescue that is, healing. It was not simply an act of personal
overcoming. On November 9, 1794, Schiller wrote to his parents in an
optimistic vein regarding this labor of love. Es ist mir immer himmlisch wohl, wenn ich beschftigt bin, und meine Arbeit nur gedeiht
(Lahnstein, 328). Nothing could match the energy he derived from writing. Von Wolzogens depiction offers important insight into a man who
she knew well. She writes of the high seriousness and, yet, graceful, witty
ease of an open and unspoiled mind that were always present in him.
Even in pain, Schiller drew strength from a healthy self-love that respects
others. Schillers perseverance had little if anything to do with Roman
stoicism. Rather, it was grounded in self-knowledge and in his vocation
as a writer.

Ethics and Aesthetics


Despite claims to the contrary, and as we have suggested, in Schillers writings, aesthetics and morality are intimately related. For example, in the
essay, ber den moralischen Nutzen sthetischer Sitten (On the Moral Value
of Aesthetics, 1793) the writer sees the true enemy of morality (Feind der
Moralitt; 8:814) to lie in that sense drive that seeks satisfaction alone,
that is, self-satisfaction. It is der strkste Gegner, den der Mensch in
seinem moralischen Handeln zu bekmpfen hat (8:814). Here, too, the
tension between the rational and sensuous natures of human beings, which
Schiller had identified in his early anthropological writings, form one of the
two major bases for his discussion of the practical value of aesthetics, the
other being the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant. For the physiologist
and aesthetician, Friedrich Schiller, the Mittelkraft (central force) that
mediates between the sensuous and rational natures is later transformed
into the Spieltrieb (play drive), which itself mediates between the Stofftrieb
(material drive) and the Formtrieb (form drive) and thereby gives rise to art
and literature.
Filling the concept of taste of the early German Enlightenment with a
new content, the theoretician proposes the following: Der Geschmack
befreit das Gemt blo insofern von dem Joch des Instinkts, als er es in
seinen Fesseln fhret . . . (8:815). Schiller argues that all material inclinations and raw desires that have opposed the exercise of what is good are
dispersed through taste. In their stead, art plants nobler and softer inclinations that encourage order, harmony, and perfection.
Art promotes the Legalitt unsers Betragens (8:819). Hence, it
cannot be divorced from reality; on the contrary, it informs and reshapes it.

14

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

It is not coincidental that justice and atonement are two of the golden
threads that link Schillers writings, in drama (Die Ruber and Maria
Stuart), prose narratives (Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre), and poetry
(Die Kraniche des Ibykus [The Cranes of Ibycus]). After all, before
having undertaken the study of medicine, Schiller had studied law, albeit
for a short time. Although some minimal research is available in this area,
the relationship between Schillers writings, jurisprudence, and various
other concepts of law in the later eighteenth century is still an open field
of scholarship. Mller Dietz, for example, has confirmed the fact that
Schillers theater is directed to the education of the people and of legalpedagogical significance. We recall that following their heinous crimes,
the characters Karl Moor (Die Ruber) and Christian Wolf (Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre), to say nothing of Maria Stuart, confess their
crimes and guilt in the end. In effect, the moral law within recognizes the
validity of the legal order outside of their individual selves, a sign of their
responsibility to society. Not only Schillers drama and prose work but
also his historical writings underscore the social accountability of the
individual. For example, in both the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs
and Wallensteins Tod (Wallensteins Death, 1799) General Wallenstein
plots his own course and is eventually held accountable for his actions, or
inaction, by the law of the land. What, then, is the relationship between
law and freedom in Schillers works?
For Schiller, the salvation of the human species lies neither in religion
nor in science but, in art. Art alone is capable of effecting a balance
between all of ones individual faculties. Clearly, Schillers work marks a
profound paradigm shift in German culture. He is the first to replace religion with art explicitly in theory. Somewhat later, at the turn of the new
century, in Maria Stuart (Mary Stuart, 1801), the writer would present his
audiences and readers with a dramatic representation of the power of art
versus religion in the description of Mortimers visit to Rome, in act 1,
scene 6.
But are aesthetics, the visual arts and literature, practical? Schiller
would argue that they are indeed, inasmuch as they are formative forces in
a process of development, that is, education, which is devoted to reshaping
human behavior. Beauty and its correlate, the sublime, serve as keys to the
cultural re-formation of society. One of Schillers foremost contributions is
the knowledge that practical reason operates in concert with aesthetics.
The actualization of moral knowledge in the present that is gained in the
process of aesthetic education means that the ideal of humane humanity
serves as a regulative idea for the improvement of individuals and societies
over time. Schillers ideas are not mere abstractions that await their realization in a distant and unforeseeable future. Rather, one strives to enact the
moral knowledge that one has acquired affectively in and through aesthetic
education.

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

15

The Themes of Death and of Hope


The eventuality of death already haunted the young and ailing Friedrich
Schiller. While studying medicine at the Ducal Military Academy, or
Karlsschule, the young student was deeply affected by the deaths of several
associates, the experiences of which he set to meter. Banges Sthnen, wir
vorm nahen Sturme, / Hallet her vom den Trauerhaus, / Totentne
fallen von des Mnsters Turme, / Einen Jngling trgt man hier heraus: /
Einen Jngling noch nicht reif zum Sarge, / In des Lebens Mai
gepflckt, / Pochend mit der Jugend Nervenmarke, / Mit der Flamme,
die im Auge zckt; . . . (ll. 18). Schiller wrote these lines, taken from the
poem Elegie auf den Tod eines Jnglings, on the death of Johann Christian Weckherlin (January 15, 1781), one of his fellow students at the academy. Although the elegy laments the loss of a friend and evokes a sense of
mourning, it points to the possibility of overcoming sadness, grief, and
despair.
Although the world may be on the brink of destruction, for the writer
of Theosophie des Julius (Julius Theosophy; see the Philosophischen Briefe
[Philosophical Letters, 178789]), love is the gravitational center of the
universe, the internal cultivation and external expression that restores hope
in the future. Much later, in the poem Hoffnung, which appeared in the
1797 volume of Die Horen, Schiller would advance the following thoughts:
Es reden und trumen die Menschen viel
Von bessern knftigen Tagen,
Nach einem glcklichen goldenen Ziel
Sieht man sie rennen und jagen,
Die Welt wird alt und wird wieder jung,
Doch der Mensch hofft immer Verbesserung.
In Wallenstein, Thekla would be driven to the gravesite of her lover,
Max Piccolomini, by the power of love. In Schillers grand drama of history,
the grave becomes an integration point of love where, contrary to expectations, nothing is to be feared: Ich frchte keines Menschen Zrnen
mehr (l. 3101). At the same time, however, the realization of a humane
humanity would seem to lie outside history. Nevertheless, the expression
of love and the unifying social bonds that extend from it foster hope in the
future transformation of society.
The prominent Schiller biographer Peter-Andr Alt characterizes the
poem on Weckherlins tragic, premature death as a lament about the
obscure ways of providence (I: 223). While blaspheming God, the fictional
representation of the human being in this poem illustrates the Protest
gegen eine ungerechte Weltordnung (I: 224). Der Schpfer ist kein
gendiger Vater, sondern ein Gott der Grfte, den man mit Grauen

16

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

verehrt (ll. 13738). But rather than take this passage too literally as an
indictment of God, given the context in which it was written, the immediate reference is actually to the Duke of Wrttemberg, Karl Eugen, who
insisted that he was the father of his students. What the young writer is
protesting indirectly is the tyranny of his new father, the absolutistic
ruler. Another biographer, Peter Lahnstein, has termed this contribution
to Schillers collection of poetry, Anthologie auf das Jahr 1782 (Anthology
for the Year 1782), not only an elegy (Trauergedicht) but also a lament
(Leichengedicht) (89). Anticipating our discussion of new directions in
future scholarship on Schiller, what, then, is the relationship between the
body and the text in Schillers writings?
Schiller introduces his first collection of poetry, the Anthologie auf das
Jahr 1782, with the poem Trauer-Ode auf den Tod des Hauptmanns
Wiltmaister. Captain Johann Anton Wiltmaister was a member of the
Stuttgart military regiment, an outfit to which Schiller would be assigned
and serve as a surgeon. Wiltmaister died at the end of December 1780,
around the time that Schiller began his service. In this poem, the wing
metaphor plays a key role, as it does throughout Schillers writings, and
not only in the area of poetry. Maria Stuart, for example, dreams of escaping her prison with the aid of wings, which, in her case, is but a vain hope.
Here, too, the writer explores the limitations, that is, fetters of the body.
Grimmig wirgt der Todt durch unsre Glieder! (l. 1). Drawing upon the
nomenclature and arguments introduced in his medical dissertation,
Schiller advances the idea that when the strings of the body and the wings
of the mind break death is certain and sudden. Yet, as always, there is hope.
For one day, as the poet intuits, joy will prevail beyond the temporal divide
between life and death.
Finally, in mid-May 1782, young Schiller wrote a Trauergedicht on
the death of the fort commander, Philipp Friedrich Rieger. Like Daniel
Schubart, Rieger had spent time at the prison on the Hohenasperg under
the worst of conditions (in grausamster Haft; Lahnstein, 92). Schillers
own short-term imprisonment by Duke Eugen for deserting to attend the
premiere performance of his first highly successful play, Die Ruber, in
Mannheim, also put him in contact with Rieger. In fact, Schiller shared a
review of his drama with Rieger while they were both imprisoned. Clearly,
Schillers experiences as a young man, military doctor, and writer are intermeshed with the cultural and political terrain of the German eighteenth
century.
Schillers first, fascinating collection of poetry, Anthologie auf das
Jahr 1782 as a whole still requires close examination. For one thing, it
can be seen as a body of work that discloses the more intimate connections between the early and later works. For example, by charting the
development of a particular theme, such as love, from the Laura-poems,
for example, Der Triumpf der Liebe, through Wallenstein and beyond,

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

17

it is possible to ascertain how the writer changed over time, in effect


reconstructing a significant thread in the course of German cultural history. What aspects of German cultural and political history of the later
eighteenth century does Schiller address and, possibly, critique in his
poetry? In the light of interdisciplinary research today, a poem like Der
Abend is especially interesting insofar as a number of motifs, themes,
questions, and problems converge: the motif of flight as a representation
of freedom and liberation from the chains of the earth and the body, the
question of the extent to which Schiller was indebted to the Baroque and
his analogies to modern science, and the theme of evening itself and the
contrast between light and dark that is taken up again in poetry by other
poets of the time, such as Matthias Claudius and representatives of the
Sturm und Drang. In the light of its thematic complexities, it is especially
interesting that Der Abend was Schillers first published poem (1776).
To what extent should Schillers later works be re-read in full view of his
earliest writings?
In the poems Hymne an den Unendlichen and Die Gre der
Welt, the recognition and problem of the infinite depths of the universe
and, in the latter poem, the potential threat of a thunderstorm, that is,
Nature, beg for comparison with the poetry of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
and Albrecht von Haller, the latter of whom was the leading German-Swiss
physiologist of the eighteenth century. Here it is interesting to observe that
Schillers dissertation committee insisted that the young writer engage himself more with Hallers work. To what extent does Schillers sidestepping of
Haller in the early phases of his work on physiology constitute a critique of
authority? It is a curious fact that Schillers committee members, Johann
Friedrich Consbruch, Christian Konrad Klein, and Christian Gottlieb
Reuss, criticized Schillers scientific writing style for its literary metaphors or
poetic turns of phrase that so often disturb the calm flow of the philosophical style (Dewhurst/Reeves, 286). What is the relationship between
science and literature in Schillers works?
A number of subjects that could yield some unexpected and perhaps
even unprecedented results when studying the Anthologie and its genesis
and reception in Schillers works, as well as by other writers of the time
include the following: the motif of flying (Die Herrlichkeit der Schpfung. Eine Phantasie), space travel (Die seligen Augenblicke), and the
fact of gravity, the animal world, and the animal, that is, corporeal,
nature of the human being that Schiller investigates in his dissertation,
ber den Zusammenhang der tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner
geistigen, their relationship to the operations of the mind and to scientific
accounts of various aspects of nature, such as Dr. Sulzers Abgekrzte
Geschichte der INSECTEN Nach dem Linaeischen System (Dr. Sulzers
Shortened History of Insects According to the Linaean System, 1776),
and one of the most fundamental aspects of Schillers Gesamtwerk, that

18

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

of music. Music, of course, calls up not only the question but also the
problem of harmony, which is one of the most prolific themes of the
German classical heritage from Johann Joachim Winckelmann to
Thomas Mann.
Although approaching death, Schiller continued to write. Given the
debilitating condition of his internal organs a collapsed lung, congested
heart chambers, and a hardened liver Schillers doctor was amazed that
the man could have lived as long as he did. In the end, it was the pneumonia he had contracted in his one remaining lung that killed him. There is
surprisingly little in the way of exclamations of suffering and pain in
Schillers letters. Perhaps they were diverted to, and worked out in and
through, his numerous writings. Schillers last words had nothing to do
with wanting more light, as had Goethe. Instead, hope in the improvement of humankind and the cheerfulness that accompanies it: Immer
besser, immer heiterer . . .
Amid his sufferings, and in clear view of life in an imperfect world,
Schiller kept joy and hope alive. Perhaps the following lines from the poem
Die Knstler (The Artists), written in 1789 during the French Revolution, could well serve as Schillers epitaph.
Der Menschheit Wrde ist in eure Hand gegeben,
Bewahret sie!
Sie sinkt mit euch! Mit euch wird sie sich heben!
Schiller believed that all social-political change must begin with the individual, no matter how criminal, as the actions of Karl Moor, Christian
Wolf, Maria Stuart, and Wilhelm Tell suggest.

Selected Contributions to Schiller-Scholarship


Numerous excellent sources for further reading and future scholarly
research are currently available. Clearly, one should consult the main
bibliographies on Schillers works, including installments in the
Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft. A critical overview of the
available editions of Schillers collected works is found in Wulf Koepkes
contribution to this volume, which serves as a helpful guide regarding
the primary literature.
Scholarship since the mid-1970s has energized Schiller studies and
deepened our understanding of the times in which he was writing. In the
1970s, it drew attention especially to the problem of political idealism.
Both Klaus Berghahns Friedrich Schiller: Zur Geschichtlichkeit seines Werkes
(1975) and Walter Hinderers Schillers Dramen: Neue Interpretationen
(1979) mark a turning point in scholarship, the effects of which are still felt

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

19

and debated in contemporary research on Schiller. The collection of essays


by Klaus Berghahn, Schiller: Ansichten eines Idealisten (1986) has compelled contemporary scholars to revisit and come to terms with the traditional view of Schiller as an idealist. Concerning this question, we must add
that the writer Schiller monitored the limits of his own idealizing, which is
evident from many of his statements. In the classical essays of the 1790s,
for example, the writer frequently employs variations on the qualifier:
Aber das ist blo eine Idee. As a result, Schiller does not direct the ideal
of a humane humanity toward the realization of a utopia at some point in
future history. Rather, the ideal serves as a regulative idea, as a measure of
the potentiality of the individual and humankind with an eye toward the
future.
The late 1980s and 1990s experienced a proliferation of collections
of essays and monographs on Schiller that cannot be overlooked when
conducting scholarly research on the writer and his works. Among the
former there are the following: Friedrich von Schiller and the Drama of
Human Existence (1988); Klassik im Vergleich: DFG Symposion 1990; Revolution und Autonomie: Deutsche Autonomiesthetik im Zeitalter der
Franzsischen Revolution (1990); Schiller spielen: Stimmen der Theaterkritik: 19461985 (1990); Schiller und die hfische Welt (1990); Schiller:
Aspekte neuerer Forschung: Ein Sonderheft zur Zeitschrift fr deutsche
Philologie (1990), Schiller: Vortrge aus Anla seines 225. Geburtstages
(1991); Schiller als Historiker (1995); and Schiller heute (1996). Karl S.
Guthkes book, Schillers Dramen: Idealismus und Skepsis (1994), has
become a landmark study. With three monographs on Schiller to her
credit (1982, 1991, 1995), Lesley Sharpe is the leading non-German
scholar on the writer today. Clearly, her findings deserve careful attention.
The collection of essays Friedrich Schiller: Zur Modernitt eines Klassikers
(1996) by Norbert Oellers, the editor of the Schiller Nationalausgabe,
investigates the mans physical ailments and the work of the classical
writer (Der kranke Klassiker Schiller) who was fully cognizant of die
Grlichkeit der alles zermalmenden Geschichte (22), which is characteristic of the crisis of modernity. My contribution, Harmonious Tensions:
The Writings of Friedrich Schiller (1996), expands the traditional horizons
of Schiller scholarship, the many contexts in which he was writing, and
the writers reception in the twentieth century from the perspective of
German studies. David Pugh casts new light on Schillers indebtedness
to the neo-Platonic tradition in Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schillers
Aesthetics (1996). Helmut Koopmanns Schiller-Handbuch (1998) is the
leading handbook on Schiller in the German language, and Walter
Hinderers collection of essays, Von der Idee des Menschen: ber Friedrich
Schiller (1998), is an important reminder of Schillers commitment to
a courageous and humane humanity in the face of mans inhumanity
to man.

20

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

At the gateway to our own century, scholarship on Schiller in and


around the Goethe-Year 1999 was especially vibrant. Peter-Andr Alts
monumental two-volume work, Schiller: Leben Werk Zeit (2000), is
unprecedented in its scope and numbers among the best contributions to
scholarship on Schiller. Consistent with the renewed interest in politics,
ethics, aesthetics, and history, Alt traces Schillers political interests as represented in his lifes work. Gtz-Lothar Darsows account of the state of
research in Friedrich Schiller (2000) is a helpful and reliable starting point
for future scholarship in the twenty-first century. Three volumes published
by Camden House confirm the interest by and impact of Anglo-Saxon
scholarship on Germanys distinguished writer, Friedrich Schiller. Lesley
Sharpes Schillers Aesthetic Essays: Two Centuries of Criticism (1995),
David Pughs Schillers Early Dramas: A Critical History (2000), and
Kathy Saranpas Schillers Wallenstein, Maria Stuart, and Die
Jungfrau von Orleans: The Critical Legacy (2002) serve as useful guides
through the labyrinth of available scholarship on these central topics. Each
one of these volumes contains suggestions for the future study of Schiller
and his work.
Concerning the most recent scholarship on Schiller, Jrg Aufenangers
Friedrich Schiller: Biographie (2004) offers a new biography of the man
and his professional activities along the lines of Peter Lahnsteins biography, while Michael Hofmann explores Schillers writings in some detail in
Schiller: Epoche-Werk-Wirkung (2003). Charlotte M. Werner provides the
scholar and the general reader with very interesting insights into Schillers
relationships to women and his love life in Friedrich Schiller und seine Leidenschaften (2004). Our knowledge of Schiller from his wifes point of
view is greatly expanded with the first major biography of Charlotte
Schiller (von Lengefeld) by Eva Gesine Baur (Mein Geschpf musst du
sein: Das Leben der Charlotte Schiller, 2004). Finally, the Insel-Almanach
auf das Jahr 2005. Friedrich Schiller. Zum 200. Todestag (2004) offers the
reader historically-based accounts of Schillers life, times, and work by
many well-known Schiller scholars in Germany, including two of our own
contributors, Dieter Borchmeyer and Norbert Oellers.
To be sure, the works by Schiller available in English translation in the
Continuum German Library under the editorship of Walter Hinderer offer
the reader and student an excellent point of departure for an understanding and appreciation of the writer and the problems that attend his work.
These inexpensive and reliable volumes of Schillers works are a fine choice
as texts for the classroom, especially in general education courses for the
university and college communities in particular. The introductory essays
are of value to all serious students of Schiller.
One might ask to what extent Schillers theories and dramatic practice
in particular reveal concerns of postmodernism? For example, Schiller was
concerned about the fragmentation of society, which led him to the

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

21

awareness that, in modern times, the human being can train, that is, educate oneself (ausbilden) only as a fragment of a larger and often overwhelming network of social and political connections. This feeling of being
but a fragment can then result in the experience of profound alienation.
Stephanie Hammers Schillers Wound (2001), as well as the chapter on
Trauma und Tragdie: Das Trauerspiel vom Los des Schnen auf der
Erde, in Benjamin Schmidts Denker ohne Gott und Vater treat interestingly Schiller and postmodernist issues.
The task also remains to determine the web of relationships among the
multi-dimensional aspects of Schillers collected works. No doubt such
scholarship will help us appreciate the true complexity of the writers work
even more profoundly than in the past. Finally, sustained investigations of
Schillers unpublished fragments would help to identify the writers own
intentions for his work and likewise expand our knowledge of its complexities, both within the Gesamtwerk itself as well as in the contexts in which
his texts were written and the objectives and goals to which they point.
In conclusion, we hope that the present volume will serve as a significant contribution to the study of Schiller and, at the same time, whet the
appetite of the casual reader for the ideas and work of this major writer of
world literature.

Notes
1
Our contributor, Werner von Stransky-Stranka-Greifenfels, charts the significance
of landscapes such as these for a new and unique interpretation of Schillers Die
Ruber.
2
The building was destroyed during World War II and, along with it, the library
which contained books that Schiller himself used, access to which could have been
especially helpful for research on the writer and his work.
3
This point serves as a corrective to Burschells reading. Burschell does not consider the medical writings to be of real significance for an understanding of
Schillers main work.
4

For an excellent discussion of the use of the words klassisch, Klassik, and
Klassizitt in the language of the time, see Alt 2: 2737.

See also the collection of essays, Unser Commercium (Barner, et al.). Furthermore, in Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne, Jrgen Habermas attributes to
Schiller an acute understanding of Mitteilung.
6

The contribution to this volume by Wulf Koepke on Schillers reception confirms


Wolzogens intuition.

References to Schillers works in this essay are to volume and page number in the
Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro
Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here:
8:582.

22

STEVEN D. MARTINSON

Two of our contributors register acute sensitivity toward the turns in Schillers
work in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Otto Dann sees that Schillers
view of history and historiography changed significantly in 1790 as a result of
his renewed engagement with history, while Norbert Oellers discloses the profound change in Schillers writing of poetry that followed just a few years later, in
1795.

Works Cited
Alt, Peter-Andr. Schiller: Leben Werk Zeit. 2 vols. Munich: C. H. Beck,
2000.
Aufenanger, Jrg. Friedrich Schiller: Biographie. Dsseldorf: Artemis &
Winkler, 2004.
Aurnhammer, Achim, Klaus Manger, and Friedrich Strack, eds. Schiller und die
hfische Welt. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1990.
Barner, Wilfried, Christine Lubkoll, Ernst Osterkamp, and Ulrich Ott, eds.
Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft. Stuttgart: Alfred Krner, 1957.
Barner, Wilfried, Eberhard Lmmert, and Norbert Oellers, eds. Unser Commercium: Goethes und Schillers Literaturpolitik. Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta, 1984.
Baur, Eva Gesine. Mein Geschpf musst du sein: Das Leben der Charlotte
Schiller. Hamburg: Hofmann und Campe, 2004.
Berghahn, Klaus. Schiller: Ansichten eines Idealisten. Frankfurt am Main:
Athenum, 1986.
, ed. Friedrich Schiller: Zur Geschichtlichkeit seines Werkes. Kronsberg /Ts.:
Scriptor, 1975.
Borchmeyer, Dieter. Die Weimarer Klassik: Eine Einfhrung. 2 vols. Frankfurt
am Main: Athenum, 1980.
Dann, Otto, Norbert Oellers, and Ernst Osterkamp, eds. Schiller als Historiker.
Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1995.
Darsow, Gtz-Lothar. Friedrich Schiller. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2000.
Grathof, Dirk, and Erwin Liebfried, eds. Schiller: Vortrge aus Anla seines
225. Geburtstages. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1991.
Guthke, Karl S. Schillers Dramen: Idealismus und Skepsis. Tbingen: A. Francke,
1994.
Habermas, Jrgen. Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne: Zwlf Vorlesungen.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1985.
Hammer, Stephanie. Schillers Wound: The Theater of Trauma from Crisis to
Commodity. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2001.
Herder, Johann Gottfried. Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit.
Ed. Martin Bollacher. Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1989.
Hinderer, Walter, ed., Schillers Dramen: Neue Interpretationen. Stuttgart:
Reclam, 1979.

INTRODUCTION: SCHILLER AND THE NEW CENTURY

23

Hinderer, Walter. Von der Idee des Menschen: ber Friedrich Schiller. Wrzburg:
Knigshausen & Neumann, 1998.
Hofmann, Michael. Schiller: Epoche Werk Wirkung. Munich: C. H. Beck,
2003.
Humboldt, Wilhelm von. ber Schiller und den Gang seiner Geistesentwicklung, In Schillers Leben und Werk in Daten und Bildern, ed. Bernhard
Zeller. Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1966.
Knoblauch, Hans-Jrg, and Helmut Koopmann, eds. Schiller heute. Tbingen:
Stauffenburg, 1996.
Koopmann, Helmut, ed. Schiller-Handbuch. Stuttgart: Alfred Krner, 1998.
Khn, Rudolf A., ed. Schillers Tod: Kommentierter Reprint der Studie Schillers
Krankheit von Wolfgang H. Veil aus dem Jahre 1936. Jena: Universittsverlag Jena, 1992.
Lahnstein, Peter. Schillers Leben: Biographie. Munich: List, 1982.
Marbacher Schillerbuch: Zur hundertsten Wiederkehr von Schillers Todestag. Ed.
Schwbischer Schillerverein. Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta, 1905.
Martinson, Steven D. Authority and the Author: Schiller and the Public
Sphere. In The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms 3 (1998): 8796.
. Filling in the Gaps: The Problem of World Order in Friedrich
Schillers Essay on Universal History. Eighteenth-Century Studies 22
(1988): 2446.
. Harmonious Tensions: The Writings of Friedrich Schiller. Newark: U of
Delaware P; London: Associated University Presses, 1996.
. Reason, Revolution and Religion: Johann Benjamin Erhards Concept of Enlightened Revolution. History of European Ideas 12 (1990):
22126.
. Shaping the Imagination: Friedrich Schillers Book Reviews. In The
Eighteenth-Century Book Review. Eds. Karl Fink and Herbert Rowland,
13750. Heidelberg: Carl Winter Universittsverlag, 1995.
Mller-Dietz, Heinz. Grenzberschreitungen: Beitrge zur Beziehung zwischen
Literatur und Recht. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1990.
Oellers, Norbert. Friedrich Schiller: Zur Modernitt eines Klassikers. Ed.
Michael Hofmann. Frankfurt am Main: Insel, 1996.
Piedmont, Ferdinand, ed. Schiller spielen: Stimmen der Theaterkritik,
19461985. Eine Dokumentation. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1990.
Pieper, Heike. Schillers Projekt eines menschlichen Menschen: Eine Interpretation der Briefe ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen von Friedrich
Schiller. Lage: Jacobs, 1997.
Pilling, Claudia, Diana Schilling, and Mirjam Springer. Friedrich Schiller. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2002.
Pugh, David. Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schillers Aesthetics. Montreal:
McGill-Queens UP, 1996.

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STEVEN D. MARTINSON

Pugh, David. Schillers Early Dramas: A Critical History. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000.
Reed, T[erence] J. Coming of Age in Prussia and Swabia: Kant, Schiller, and
the Duke. Modern Language Review 86 (1991): 61326.
Rippere, Vicky. Schiller and Alienation: A Problem in the Transmission of His
Thought. Bern: Peter Lang, 1981.
Saranpa, Kathy. Schillers Wallenstein, Maria Stuart, and Die Jungfrau
von Orleans: The Critical Legacy. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2002.
Schiller: Aspekte neuerer Forschung. Special edition of Zeitschrift fr deutsche
Philologie. 1990.
Schiller, Johann Kaspar. Betrachtungen ber landwirtschaftliche Dinge in dem
Herzogthum Wrttemberg, ausgesetzt von einem Herzoglichen Offizier.
Stuttgart: Cotta, 176769.
. Von der Baumzucht im Groen. Neustrelitz: Michaelis, 1793.
Schmidt, Benjamin Marius. Denker ohne Gott und Vater: Schiller, Schlegel und
der Entwurf der Modernitt in den 1790ern. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 2001.
Schulze, Hagen. Kleine Deutsche Geschichte. Munich: Beck, 1996.
Sharpe, Lesley. Friedrich Schiller and the Historical Character: Presentation and
Intepretation in the Historiographical Works and in the Historical Dramas.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1982.
. Friedrich Schiller: Drama, Thought and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
. Schillers Aesthetic Essays: Two Centuries of Criticism. Columbia, SC:
Camden House, 1995.
Simm, Hans-Joachim, ed. Insel-Almanach auf das Jahr 2005. Friedrich Schiller
Zum 200. Todestag. Frankfurt am Main/Leipzig: Insel, 2004.
Sokel, Walter. Die politische Funktion botschaftsloser Kunst. Zum Verhltnis
von Politik und sthetik in Schillers Briefen ber die sthetische Erziehung
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im Zeitalter der Franzsischen Revolution. Ein Symposium, ed. Wolfgang
Wittkowski, 26472. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1990.
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Zeller, Bernhard. Schiller: Eine Bildbiographie. Munich: Kindler, 1958.

Intellectual-Historical Settings

Schillers Philosophical Aesthetics in


Anthropological Perspective
Walter Hinderer

RIEDRICH SCHILLER, KNOWN FROM TIME TO TIME, both positively and


negatively, as the German Shakespeare, was not only one of the greatest German playwrights but also one of the first modern European intellectuals. It is no accident that we find in his ber naive und sentimentale
Dichtung (On Nave and Sentimental Poetry, 179596) a kind of aesthetics of modernity, one that left visible traces in the theoretical writings of
the Early Romantics. Long before Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht,
Schiller argued that the poets work must reflect the philosophical and
scientific achievements of his age. Precisely in the face of the increasing
fragmentation of our faculties, which, according to Schiller, necessitates
an erweiterte[n] Kreis des Wissens und die Absonderung der Berufsgeschfte, poetry acquires a special function: it alone is able to reunify the
divided powers of the soul, welche Kopf und Herz, Scharfsinn und Witz,
Vernunft und Einbildungskraft in harmonischem Bunde beschftigt,
welche gleichsam den ganzen Menschen in uns wieder herstellt.1
It is certain that for Schiller the precondition for achieving totality lies
in the aesthetic state, which he once characterized as the noblest of all gifts.
Here, the individual experiences the parallelogram of forces of his basic
drives, both physical and mental, and is motivated to become a second creator. It is also true that traces of this basic program of the classical ideal of
humanity can be found a generation earlier in the writings of Herder and
Wieland. In the Briefe zur Befrderung der Humanitt (Letters Toward
the Advancement of Humanity, 179397), for example, Herder states the
case as follows: Humanitt ist der Charakter unseres Geschlechts; er ist
uns aber nur in den Anlagen angeboren und mu uns eigentlich angebildet
werden. Wir bringen ihn nicht fertig auf die Welt mit, auf der Welt soll er
das Ziel unsres Strebens, die Summe unserer bungen, unser Wert sein
(Werke, 5:103).
In the anthropologies and intellectual histories produced during the
German Enlightenment, maturity (Mndigkeit) and the discovery of
self-consciousness are often only different names for the same idea. From
this perspective, it is clear that the Biblical narration of the fall of man
evolved into a paradigm of intellectual emancipation. In Mutmalicher

28

WALTER HINDERER

Anfang der Menschheitsgeschichte (Conjectural Beginning of Human History, 1786), Kant defines the way out of the garden of Eden in spite of
all the obvious drawbacks as a decisive anthropological event: with this
act mankind frees itself from the narrow bonds of instinct (Gngelwagen
des Instinkts) and from the guardianship of nature and passes into a state
of freedom, beginning to serve Reason and becoming, in Kants sense,
mature (mndig, Werke, 9:92). In his essay Etwas ber die erste Menschengesellschaft nach dem Leitfaden der mosaischen Urkunde (On the First
Society of Men according to the Guidelines of the Mosaic Document,
1790), Schiller characterizes, even more forcefully than Kant, the fall of
man from the sway of instinct (Abfall des Menschen vom Instinkt) as
the most fortunate, indeed the greatest event in the history of humankind (glcklichste und grte Begebenheit in der Menchengeschichte,
6:434). Although moral corruption (moralisches bel) enters the world
with self-responsibility and maturity, it was, according to Schiller, only by
means of this event that such a thing as moral goodness (das moralisch
Gute) could become possible.
Schillers reflections belong to the philosophies of what was called by
the historian Reinhart Koselleck, literally, the saddling-period (Sattelzeit) of the eighteenth century. This is a time of new beginning
which, according to Odo Marquard can be characterized as the
Avancement von Geschichtsphilosophie, philosophische Anthropologie,
philosophische sthetik (1981, 47). In this connection, one need only
quote the letter that Schiller wrote to Charlotte von Schimmelmann on
November 4, 1795, in which he asserts: Die hchste Filosofie endigt mit
einer poetischen Idee, so die hchste Moralitt, die hchste Politik. Der
dichterische Geist ist es, der allen Dreien das Ideal vorzeichnet, welchem
sich anzunhern ihre hchste Vollkommenheit ist. This development can
be read as a process of compensation which, in the mid-eighteenth century,
leads to a new understanding of man (Marquard, 1981, 42). Reasons
for this can be found, first, in the experience of a diminution of life
(Lebensverlust) the increasing distance between claims made on life
and their fulfillment that Schiller had already noted in his Philosophische
Briefe (Philosophical Letters, 1786; 8:214); and, second, in a disenchantment of the world through a process of increasing reification during the
period of the Enlightenment. Aesthetics holds an exceptional place, following Marquard, among the simultaneous innovations that occurred in the
various compensatory disciplines because it liberates the individual through
a new enchantment from a reification imposed by alien powers. These various attempts at compensation can be read as reactions to the collapse of
Leibnizs theodicy within the cultural system of the sciences and the arts.
Not least of all, the earthquake in Lisbon on November 1, 1755 so shattered the Enlightenments belief in reason and optimism that, by means of
a dialectical turnabout, as portrayed by Schiller through the fate of the

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

29

fictive materialist Franz von Moor, the negative side of this worldview came
forcefully to light. The question of responsibility within the discourse of
theodicy in the period 17551789, which has been described as a double
shift of phase from optimism to pessimism and then again from pessimism
to optimism (Weinrich, 6667), becomes further and further displaced
into transcendental philosophy, which, not without reason, came to be
known as a secularized theodicy without God (Theodizee ohne Gott)
(Marquard, 1987, 81). The consequences were, as Marquard points out:
Die Rechtfertigung der Welt hngt fortan an der Rechtfertigung des Ich
und diese an seiner Kapazitt der Antonomienauflsung (83).
Although Schillers theoretical writings and dramas intervene at the
forefront of discussions of the Sattelzeit, his specifically anthropological
tracts evidence arguments drawn from the contemporary physiology and
medicine he encountered as a student of medicine at the Karlsschule. In
fact, it was the so-called philosophy of the physicians that, from the late
Enlightenment on, focused on the whole human being and constituted,
with its psycho-physical concepts, the presuppositions of an anthropology
that not only left visible traces in Schillers early theoretical writings but
also shaped in detail his three major essays influenced by Kant, ber Anmut
und Wrde (On Grace and Dignity, 1793), ber die sthetische Erziehung
des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen (On the Aesthetic Education of
Man in a Series of Letters, 1795), and ber naive und sentimentalische
Dichtung [On Nave and Sentimental Poetry, 1795). One can certainly
maintain that the basic concepts of Schillers philosophical-anthropological
aesthetics had already been developed while he was a student at the Karlsschule. Above all, it was Jakob Friedrich Abel (17511829) who introduced
the young Schiller to the important medical discourses of the time. In
opposition to the views of his Tbinger master, the Wolffian Gottfried
Ploucqet, Abel taught his students Georg Ernst Stahls (16591734) animistic theories, Albrecht von Hallers (17081777) and Ernst Platners
(17441818) anthropology, and the mechanistic theories of Hermann
Boerhaave (16681738), as well as those of the French scientist Julien
Offray de La Mettrie2 (17091751).3 The eclectic Abel appears to have
promoted an open and critical discussion of both schools of thought. But,
like his two students Friedrich Wilhelm von Hoven and Schiller (Riedel,
1993, 21120), he advanced the psycho-physiological perspective. In his
introductory note to Anthropologie fr rzte und Weltweise (1772), Platner
provided a definition that guided contemporary discussions of the matter.
It reads:
Die Erkenntnis des Menschen wre . . . in drey Wissenschaften
abzutheilen. Man kann erstlich die Theile und Geschffte der Maschine
allein betrachten, ohne dabey auf die Einschrnkungen zu sehen, welche
diese Bewegungen von der Seele empfangen . . . das ist die Anatomie und

30

WALTER HINDERER

Physiologie. Zweytens kann man auf eben diese Art die Krfte und
Eigenschaften der Seele untersuchen, ohne allezeit die Mitwirkung des
Krpers . . . in Betracht zu ziehen; das wre Psychologie, oder welches
einerley ist, Logik, Aesthetik und ein groer Theil der Moralphilosophie.
. . . Endlich kann man Krper und Seele in ihren gegenseitigen Verhltnissen, Einschrnkungen und Beziehungen zusammen betrachten, und
das ist es, was ich Anthropologie nenne. (xvxvi)

Platner points to the one-sidedness of materialistic and animistic perspectives and propagates a psychosomatic point of view that does justice to the
whole human being and in no way contributes to a further fragmentation
of medical-philosophical positions. For this reason, the young Schiller
speaks in his second dissertation of a wunderbare und merkwrdige Sympathie, die die heterogenen Principien des Menschen gleichsam zu Einem
Wesen macht and states, almost apodictically, der Mensch ist nicht Seele
und Krper, der Mensch ist die innigste Vermischung dieser beiden Substanzen (8:149).
As a student, Schiller tried to overcome the separation of substances
that Descartes instituted in De homine (1632), first with the idea of the
mediating power (Mittelkraft; Philosophie der Physiologie), next with the
aesthetic sense (sthetischer Sinn; Was kann eine gute stehende Schaubhne
eigentlich wirken? [What Effect Can a Good Repertory Theater Have?,
1784]), a median state (mittlerer Zustand) and, finally, following some
disagreement with Kant, with the aesthetic state (sthetischer Zustand) or
median mood (mittlere Stimmung; ber die sthetische Erziehung). It is
evident that Schiller is applying terms and issues from anthropologicalmedical contexts to contemporary problems of cultural philosophy, society,
and aesthetics. For all the intellectuality of his arguments, he did not intend
in the 1790s to develop a closed system, a fact that distinguishes him from
Kant and Fichte, but aims instead to propose for discussion elements of an
anthropologically-based aesthetics.
In his first dissertation, the Philosophie der Physiologie (1779), which,
was rejected by its evaluators,4 the future poet presents his readers in the
very first paragraph with a daring interpretation of the definition of the
human being (Bestimmung des Menschen): it is nothing less than his
equality with God (Gottgleichheit). Schiller refers this claim to the creators exquisite plan that also grants the human being divine powers. To
approach the ideal is to expand the self (Ich-Erweiterung); the opposite
movement leads to self-diminution (Ich-Verkleinerung). Young Schiller
describes the goal as an idea of totality, in which all forces cooperate gleich Saiten eines Instruments tausendstimmig zusammenlautend in eine
Melodie (8:37). Already here, as in the Theosophie des Julius (Philosophische Briefe), love is introduced as a vital magnetic force: it is der schnste,
edelste Trieb in der Menschlichen Seele, die grosse Kette der empfindenden Natur (8:38). As he explains in the Theosophie, love is based on

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

31

a momentary exchange of personalities, a substitution of beings: auf


einem augenblicklichen Tausch der Persnlichkeit, einer Verwechslung der
Wesen (8:222). Even God, as Schiller writes in a letter of April 14, 1783,
to Reinwald, sees his being strewn about everywhere, erblickt sich, sein
groes, unendliches Selbst, in der unendlichen Natur umhergestreut and
loves himself in the distinct outline, the signified in the sign: Er liebt sich
in dem Abri, das Bezeichnete in dem Zeichen. Since the human ideal of
totality can be only partially achieved, love has the function of collecting
the dispersed characteristics of beauty into one complete body, die zerstreuten Zge der Schnheit, die Glieder der Vollkommenheit in einen
ganzen Leib aufzusammeln. In the Theosophie, Schiller visualizes love as a
ladder, worauf wir emporklimmen zu Gotthnlichkeit (8:227). The
mutual attraction of spirits multiplied and continued into infinity
(Anziehung der Geister ins Unendliche vervielfltigt und fortgesetzt)
must, in the end, lead to the cancellation of that division, or produce God
(Endlich zu Aufhebung jener Trennung fhren, oder . . . Gott hervorbringen). It follows that love is the precondition of the possibility of
equality with God.
It should be noted in this context that in what remains to us of his first
dissertation Schiller seems not to continue his discourse on love, which
makes use of formulations very similar to the ones in Theosophie des Julius
and in the letter to Reinwald that has been quoted. Because only the first
chapter of the dissertation is extant, one can only speculate whether, in the
third or fourth chapter, Schiller again took up the topic of the great chain
of sentient nature (groe Kette der empfindenden Natur, 8:38). In the
paragraphs that have been preserved, he introduces as a force between
matter and mind, zwischen Welt und Geist (8:4041, 4344), the
above-mentioned mediating power (Mittelkraft) that feeds ideas to the
soul. Wholly in accord with his time, Schiller derives the system of sensory
perceptions from the specific organs of the senses. In the wake of Albrecht
von Haller, though in a much more speculative way, he locates the Mittelkraft in the nerves; indeed, in the sixth paragraph, he practically associates the Mittelkraft with the nerve spirit (Nervengeist). Not without wit,
Schiller sought to forge a path through the contradictory and complex
jungle of medical theories (see Dewhurst/Reeves, 104). As he phrases it,
surely with a trace of provocativeness, he realizes that he is in einem Feld,
wo schon mancher medizinische und metaphysische Donquixotte sich
gewaltig herumgetummelt hat, und itzo herumtummelt (8:4344). His
less than benevolent instructors interpreted his tendency to draw his own
conclusions as a sign of arrogance. The anatomist Klein was especially
critical of Schillers dangerous tendency to know all things better and
delivered the following judgment: The author is exceedingly bold and
very frequently harsh and immodest in his judgment of the worthiest
men. Klein denounces Schillers criticism of the immortal von Haller

32

WALTER HINDERER

and the diligent Cotugno. It is reasonable to suppose that Schillers


eclectic and opinionated teacher Jacob Friedrich Abel, who motivated
young Schiller in so many ways, encouraged his students to think courageously on their own (see Riedel, 1985, 1918). Moreover, Schiller certainly must have known Abels Dissertation de origine characteris animi
(1776), a work influenced by the philosophers Adam Ferguson, Helvetius,
and Garve, as well as by the philosophical physicians Ernst Platner and
Johann Georg Zimmermann.
In the first paragraph of the second chapter of his dissertation, Abel,
Schillers favorite teacher, detaches himself from metaphysical prejudices
and underscores the corporeality of the soul. Almost programmatically, he
reformulates the following freely from Platners Anthropologie: Der
Grund fr den Einflu des Krpers auf die Seele liegt darin, da die
Entstehung und Reproduktion smtlicher Ideen an Einzelvorstellungen
gebunden sind: da diese durch den Krper bestimmt werden, kann im
brigen jeder darin ersehen, da ohne Sprachzeichen und also auch ohne
Nerven keine Vorstellungen in ausreichender Weise reproduziert werden
kann (Abel, 534, 12). Schiller, Abels student, also indicates the path via
the sense organs through which material nature finds access to mental life.
Here the external changes of material nature become inner ones. They
become perceptions that, according to Garve, are based on changes of the
nerve spirit in sensation (einer Vernderung des Nervengeistes bei der
Sensation). In order to illustrate this psychosomatic exchange, Schiller
introduces an organ of thought, the instrument of understanding. Here
the question arises what constitutes the material ideas of this organ of
thought or of imagination. The result achieved by the author through a
critique of various theories (see Alt, 1:16166) lies in the material association upon which thinking is based.
It is plain that in this text Schiller practically equates thinking and imagination. On the other hand, he singles out Abels concept of awareness,
Aufmerksamkeit, with which the soul can actively influence the organ of
thought. For young Schiller, this concept represents the precondition of
freedom to the extent that man, thanks to freedom, possesses a free will,
whereas he is otherwise a slave of reason (8:56). For Schiller, therefore, the
morality of the human being is located in awareness, that is, the active influence of the soul on the material ideas in the organ of thought. Thus it is
through awareness that we can let our imagination wander, reflect, differentiate, and write poetry (8:57). However, the organ of thought can become
untuned through illness: Verwirrung der Geister in der Krankheit (8:57).
At the end of this first, fragmentary dissertation, Schiller emphasizes again
that the soul is not only a thinking but also a sentient being. The schemes of
self-expansion and self-diminution that Schiller would later develop in his
Philosophische Briefe are touched upon here, and their psychic consequences
are described.

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

33

The rejected dissertation already demonstrates the anthropological


direction of Schillers philosophical interests. He is concerned with the
whole human being, whereby, with his portrayal of the human being in at
least the last two paragraphs, the personal experiences linked to his poetic
imagination become evident. In his third dissertation,5 Schiller again takes
up the topic of the first one, where, contrary to his first attempt, he emphasizes the empirical side of the psychosomatic connections in the human
being. Although he still attempts to find a middle way between the prevailing materialistic and idealistic theses, he is interested foremost in heightening the value of the contributions that the body makes to the actions of the
soul (8:123) to prove the impact of the thierischen Empfindungssystems
auf das Geistige. The model of influxus corporis taught to him by Abel
(see Riedel, 1985, 2633 and Alt 1,17688), which is based on concepts of
Ernst Platner, Tissot, and Zimmermann, illustrates the psychosomatic connection in which the human being and his cultural development stand.
Logically, then, Schiller puts his explanations into two main chapters; the
first supplies the physical, while the second addresses the philosophical
context of the problem. It is striking that here young Schiller also targets
the idea of totality that is found at the beginning of his first dissertation
before touching the question of how the activity of the human soul relates
to the activity of matter. The fact that the law of mechanics exercises its
power in the domain of animal sensation reminds the human being again
and again of his existential limitations and teaches him that, in a phrase of
Albrecht von Hallers, he is an unholy hybrid of beast and angel (das
unseelige Mittelding von Vieh und Engel) an anthropological definition that Schiller also could have found in Wielands works. Just as moral
and intellectual sentiments promote the well-being of the sentiments of
the mind (Geist), animal, that is, physical sensations foster the well-being
of ones animal, or corporeal, nature (tierische Natur, 8:131). Clearly,
Schillers concern is with harmonizing both existential principles this
foundational thought, along with the idea of defining the individual
through his progress toward equality with God, is encountered again in
the later aesthetic writings.6 In this context it is remarkable that Schiller
assumes the underlying anthropological conditions as a constant and on
this basis explains all innovations and refinements from a developmentaltheoretical and cultural-philosophical point of view. Schiller even formulates this as a kind of law: Aber geschaffen wird nichts mehr, und was nun
neues wird, wird es nur durch Entwicklung. Die Entwicklung des Menschen mute durch Menschen geschehen, wenn sie mit der Konsumtion
in Verhltni stehen, wenn der Mensch zum Menschen gebildet werden
sollte (8:125).
With this formulation Schiller not only brings the main ideas of the contemporary philosophy of the physicians closer to the concept of the ideal of
humanity ideas that had become programmatic for Wieland and Herder

34

WALTER HINDERER

(see Hinderer, 1995; 25127); he is providing a crucial indication of his later


program of aesthetic education. As early as his first theoretical writings, this
purported exponent of philosophical idealism had already begun to propagate the materialistic-realistic basis of his anthropology. Even the highest
virtue (hchste Tugend), the most profound philosophy (tiefste Philosophie), and divine religion (gttliche Religion), he says here pointedly,
cannot defend against the law of necessity (Gesetz der Notwendigkeit;
8:130).7 But for Schiller, the advantages of the dual definition of the human
being can be demonstrated in a characteristic way in the developmental history (Entwicklungsgeschichte) of the individual, as well as of the universal. Although Schillers explanations indicate the presence of various ideas of
Albrecht von Haller, Garve, Ferguson, Ludwig Schlzer, Abel, and Zimmermann, they also reveal the basic concept of his anthropological aesthetics. If,
in the child, the sensual drives are still predominant, then in the boy selfreflection has already begun, and this will become the highest objective for
the adolescent and the man. Just as ontogenesis leads to the enrichment of
ideas (Ideenbereicherung) and intellectual pleasure (geistigem Vergngen), humankind progresses cultural-historically from primitive forms of
tribal existence to civilized cities and nations ruled by morality, the arts, and
the sciences. Despite individual historical and universal historical progress,
Schiller emphasizes that sensuality is the first ladder on the way to perfection:
erster Leiter zur Vollkommenheit (8:141).
At the heart of his last dissertation, Versuch ber den Zusammenhang der
tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner Geistigen (Concerning the Connection Between the Corporeal and Intellectual Natures of the Human Being,
1780) are the two fundamental laws discussed in sections 12 and 18. The
first fundamental law of mixed natures states: Die Ttigkeiten des Krpers
entsprechen den Ttigkeiten des Geistes; d.h. Jede berspannung von Geistesttigkeit hat jederzeit eine berspannung gewisser krperlicher Aktionen
zur Folge, so wie das Gleichgewicht der ersten, oder die harmonische Thtigkeit
der Geisteskrfte mit der vollkommensten Uebereinstimmung der letzern vergesellschaftet ist (8:14142). The second fundamental psychosomatic law concerns the coherence of perception and rational thought. In Schillers short
version, it reads as follows: die allgemeine Empfindung tierischer Harmonie
[soll] die Quelle geistiger Lust, und die tierische Unlust die Quelle geistiger
Unlust sein (8:149). The many references to literary works that Schiller
used to illustrate his scientific explanations show how greatly the medical
theory of emotions or physiognomy of the sensations shaped the dramas of
his youth. It is not accidental that a passage in the Ruber serves to demonstrate how negative feelings can harm the entire system.
For Schiller, every emotion has its own particular expression, in a way,
its own unique dialect, that is also reflected in the physiognomy. Schillers
insight into the dualistic structure of human nature belongs no less to his
psychosomatic principles than does the conclusion that the individual must

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

35

do everything in his power to achieve a harmony of forces. Every extreme


emotion, whether pain or desire, aims at its resolution (8:158). Shifted to
the psyche, there is an essential difference whether the sensation of love
leads to self-expansion or whether the emotion of hatred leads to selfdiminution. The young Schiller had already intimated this idea in his second speech at the Karlsschule before explaining it in greater detail in his
Philosophische Briefe. His last dissertation is also concerned with psychological diatectics. Since the highest state of emotional pleasure also signifies
the highest state of physical well-being (8:160), it is in the interest of the
individual to do everything he or she can to support this self-expansion. At
this point another crucial thought emerges one that will determine central aspects of Schillers later aesthetic writings. It is the idea of the relaxation of all overexcited emotions, activities, sensations, and ideas (26).
The insight that even positive emotions and sensations can be either
minute or exaggerated leads to the requirement of finding the right balance by a harmonization or a dialectical synthesis of the basic drives (see
Martinson, 17071).
Just as in the early history of the individual, Schiller distinguishes three
stages through which the human being passes in his development from
childhood to manhood; in the perspective of universal history he speaks
first of the development from the tribal existence of the natural human
being to the civilized nation (8:13641) and then tells the story of how the
natural state advances to the moral and, eventually, to the aesthetic state
(8:67374; see Alt, 2:14148). In Schillers impressive work ber die
sthetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen, as well as in
the other aesthetic writings that he composed during the last decade of
the eighteenth century, he continues to restate the same fundamental
law of mixed nature (Fundamentalgesetz der gemischten Natur; 12,
8:14142) that he formulated while still a student at the Karlsschule. Every
individual and social advancement, therefore, is based on the need for a balance between the fundamental sensual-rational (sinnliche-vernnftigen)
structure of individual human beings (8:595), the externalization of everything internal and the formal elaboration of everything external. As Schiller
states at the end of the pivotal Eleventh Letter, both tasks lead back to the
concept of divinity, in ihrer hchsten Erfllung gedacht, . . . zu dem
Begriff der Gottheit zurck, von dem [er] ausgegangen [war] (8:595).
This shows that Schillers first dissertation, Philosophie der Physiologie,
already contains in nuce the ideas of his later writings. In ber Anmut und
Wrde, as well as in ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, the writer
poses over and above his binary central concepts an idealistically-conceived
unity that illustrates precisely the idea of totality. In the first text, he refers
to the anthropological presupposition of two drives, one sensual and the
other rational, that plainly parallel the material (Stofftrieb) and the form
drive (Formtrieb) of ber die sthetische Erziehung. If the first impulse

36

WALTER HINDERER

suppresses the demands of reason, the second suppresses the demands of


nature. The point of unity, the synthesis, is created by a kind of aesthetic
condition. In a clear anticipation of ber die sthetische Erziehung, Schiller,
characterizes the condition in which the beauty of play arises as that disposition in which Zustand des Gemtes, wo Vernunft und Sinnlichkeit
Pflicht und Neigung zusammenstimmen (8:365).
In this and other writings, we can see that anthropological presuppositions are powerful not only in aesthetics; they are also valid to the same
degree for the fields of cultural history, politics, and society. In Schillers
first major work, freedom is situated, from a political point of view,
between legal pressure and anarchy (zwischen dem gesetzlichen Druck
und der Anarchie, 8:36465). It is astonishing to see that in his political
model of liberal and despotic rule this honorary citizen of the French revolutionary government pleads not only for a monarchy with a liberal ruler
but openly argues for a political constellation in which the citizen (der
Brger) asserts his own inclination against the will of the ruler (8:361). In
a formulation at the end of the Second Letter of ber die sthetische
Erziehung, Schiller explains to the recipient how closely connected are the
domains of aesthetics and politics: da man, um jenes politische Problem
in der Erfahrung zu lsen, durch das sthetische den Weg nehmen mu,
weil es die Schnheit ist, durch welche man zu der Freiheit wandert
(8:560). In the Kallias letters, he immediately defines beauty as freedom in
appearance (Freiheit in der Erscheinung). Freiheit in der Erscheinung, on the other hand, is for Schiller nothing other than die Selbstbestimmung an einem Dinge, insofern sie sich in der Anschauung offenbart
(8:28889). It must be noted here that in the discussion of freedom,
emphasis falls on the notion of self-determination, the most important
concept of philosophical anthropology at the time of the Enlightenment.
Frei sein und durch sich selbst bestimmt sein, von innen heraus bestimmt
sein, ist eins (8:298), as Schiller postulates in his Kallias letters. This selfdetermination is evidence not only of human maturity in Kants sense, but
also an anthropological imperative and the specifica differentia between
animals and plants (8:354). Where nature lends to animals and plants their
determination and executes it all by itself, human beings are distinguished
by the fact that they must themselves realize the determination prescribed
to them by nature. These are the acts of a free person who is responsible
for his own deeds. The justification of the world no longer occurs, as in
Leibniz, by means of a theodicy, but, as Odo Marquard has put the matter
generally, is dependent on the Rechtfertigung des Ich und diese an seiner
Kapazitt der Antonomienauflsung (1987, 83).
In the German Enlightenment view of the anthropology and history
of the formation of an individual, maturity and the discovery of selfconsciousness are often the names of a single idea. When, in Anmut
und Wrde, Schiller describes the control of the drives through the moral

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

37

power of higher human capacities, such as freedom of mind (Geistesfreiheit) and its expression in appearance as dignity (Wrde), he is describing a fundamental experience of the philosophy of idealism: the autonomy
of the individual. It forms the centerpiece of Schillers anthropology and
probably receives its most persuasive formulation in the Eleventh Letter of
ber die sthetische Erziehung. Here he differentiates in the human being
between an absolute being that is grounded in itself, that is, the person,
and a dependent condition, being, or becoming. In a formulation that
almost suggests Existenz-philosophie, Being and Time, and Self (Ich) and
Time are juxtaposed as the conditions of the possibility of human existence. Schiller expresses this fundamental process as follows: Nur indem
er [der Mensch] sich verndert, existiert er; nur indem er unvernderlich
bleibt, existiert er (8:594). The ideal, or complete, individual would be
die beharrliche Einheit, die in den Fluten der Vernderung ewig dieselbe
bleibt (8:594), which is something, however, that he could become in
reality only in an ideal sense. For even if the individual carries within himself the talent for divinity (Anlage zu der Gottheit), it can only be an
unattainable goal (8:59495). Nevertheless, from this limited anthropological constellation, Schiller derives the two fundamental principles of
sensual-rational nature that, conceived at the point of their highest fulfillment, should lead to the concept of divinity. If the first of the laws insists
on absolute reality, the second one emphasizes absolute form. This internalization and formal elaboration of the external, which is thematized in
the poems Das Ideal und das Leben (The Ideal and Life, 1795), Worte
des Glaubens (Words of Belief, 1798), and Worte des Wahns (Words of
Delusion, 1800), is supposed to lead to a unity and reciprocal control of
the two basic binary elements of human existence.
Against Kants categorical imperative Schiller argues as early as in
Anmut und Wrde that it is the task of culture to lend each of the three
drives equal validity. In a procedure typical for him, and one that is evident
in the writings of his youth, Schiller posits a play drive (Spieltrieb) alongside the material and form drives, in which the two basic drives are united.
This drive accomplishes the impossible, namely, die Zeit in der Zeit
aufzuheben, Werden mit absolutem Sein, Vernderung mit Identitt zu
vereinbaren (8:607). Thus, the play drive would be in a position to place
the individual in a state of physical and moral freedom (8:608) and to
reproduce the totality (8:61415) that has been lost to our culture. In the
aesthetic condition the individual experiences himself in the fullness of his
possibilities. In this way, beauty becomes an aesthetic-anthropological phenomenon that Schiller interprets as the consummation of humanity (Konsummation der Menschheit, 8:611). However, this is only one part of the
function of aesthetics in Schillers exposition; at the same time, he understands aesthetics and here he transcends the medical and philosophical
discourse as an existential-philosophical model. One could directly

38

WALTER HINDERER

attribute to the aesthetic, to the play drive in the terminology of Martin


Heidegger the quality of an entwerfend-sein zu einem Seinknnen,
die existenziale Seinsverfassung des faktischen Seinknnens (143, 145).
As Schiller puts it, by means of aesthetic culture the human being
fully retrieves die Freiheit, zu sein, was er sein soll, the ability bestowed
upon him by nature, aus sich selbst zu machen, was er will (8:636). At
the same time, Schiller expands to the limit notions elaborated by other
eighteenth-century authors, raising beauty to the heights of the highest of all gifts, as the Schenkung der Menschheit (8:636). If Wieland,
for instance, had already made the human being a second creator (Werke,
3, 231), Schiller proclaims beauty to be our second creator (unsere
zweite Schpferin), one that acquaints us with our full potential. Now it
becomes clear how the concept of beauty as a medium and mediator,
anthropologically conceived, becomes the compensatory model of modernity, which is characterized by defects like fragmentation and a loss of
reality.
In the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh letters, which can be seen as the nuclei
of the essay ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, Schiller provides an
overview of the regressive tendencies of his time (8:56780). He deals with
the conditions in the lower as well as in the civilized classes, and notes even
more negative syndromes in the higher classes than in the lower ones. This
leads him to the surprising, fundamental criticism of the enlightenment of
reason (Aufklrung des Verstandes), which has so little ennobling influence upon peoples convictions that it ends up promoting corruption
through maxims (die Verderbnis durch Maximen, 8:56869). Schiller
criticizes the prevailing system of egoism, returning to thoughts from his
Philosophische Briefe concerning the politically and socially relevant antitheses of egoism and altruism, tyranny and love (8:22526), and he analyzes
the symptoms of the zeitgeist zwischen Verkehrtheit und Rohigkeit, zwischen Unnatur und bloer Natur, zwischen Superstition und moralischem
Unglauben (8:569). Whereas at the time of Greek antiquity nature united
all things, today understanding (Verstand) leads to the segregation of the
different realms of life. In modern times, the original unity is torn asunder:
church and state, laws and morals, pleasure and work, means and end,
effort and reward are detached from each other. The individual human
being develops into nothing but a fragment; everlastingly in his ear the
monotonous sound of the wheel that he turns, he never develops the harmony of his being (8:57273).
Here Schiller formulates a powerful metaphor for the mechanization
of human life and disenchantment through rational culture, which left a
lasting impact on his contemporaries.8 The Romantics would point repeatedly to this syndrome of the Enlightenment, namely, alienation, lack of
imagination and feelings, and general fragmentation. Today, according
to Schiller, the individual instead of putting the stamp of humanity upon

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

39

his own nature, he becomes nothing more than the mere imprint of his
occupation or of his specialized knowledge (8:573). In this way the
image of the species (Bild der Gattung) has been dismembered, and one
has to go the rounds from one individual to another in order to read the
totality of the species as a whole (von Individuum zu Individuum herumfragen . . ., um die Totalitt der Gattung zusammen zu lesen, 8:571).
Whereas in his Philosophische Briefe young Schiller speculated about the
overcoming of every separation (Aufhebung jener Trennung) through
love as a reproduction of God (8:227), the task here is to restore via a
higher art the totality of our nature that art has destroyed (Totalitt in
unserer Natur, welche die Kunst zerstrt hat, durch eine hhere Kunst
wiederherzustellen, 8:578). This demand makes apparent the political
component of Schillers aesthetics; a state marked by constraint (Staat der
Not) can be replaced with a free state (Staat der Freiheit) only by a
people who display a totality of character. Only beauty can connect theoretical with practical culture (8:58283) and bring about the nobility of
character that is the condition of any improvement in the political sphere.
That is the point where aesthetics becomes a political and social preparatory school. In this text, the aesthetic state, which is also capable of establishing an aesthetic culture, is, for Schiller, the precondition of freedom
(8:63637). In other words, the aesthetic mood (sthetische Stimmung) eliminates the one-sided coercion of either of the basic drives and
restores to the human being his capacity for freedom.
Schiller differentiates between three different moments or stages in
human development, in both the individual and the species. In his physical
condition the individual endures the forces of nature; in the aesthetic condition he rids himself of these forces; and in the moral condition he governs nature (8:648). This psychic triad correlates with the political one: in
the dynamic state of rights, one man encounters the other as a force, which
restrains his abilities; and in the ethical state of obligations he is opposed by
the majesty of the law, which enchains his will. Only in the aesthetic state is
he allowed to confront the other as an object of free play (als Objeckt des
freien Spiels, 8:673).
Whereas in the dynamic state nature is tamed by nature and in the ethical state the individual will is subjugated to the general will, only in the
aesthetic state is the will of the whole accomplished through the nature of
the individual. Conceived in this way, only beauty is capable of generating
a social character (geselligen Charakter). The basic anthropological conditions or forces of human existence characterize again triadically
political institutions and societies, depending on which of the basic conditions or forces is dominant. What Schiller describes at the end of ber die
sthetische Erziehung as dynamic and ethical, he had described, in his Third
Letter, as the natural state and the moral state, with a change from natural
laws to the laws of reason. But he also points out the difficulties of such

40

WALTER HINDERER

a change (8:56263; see Alt 2:14446). At this point in the text, Schiller
indicates, interestingly, the necessity of an intermediary force that is successful in changing the rolling wheel of state at the moment of its reversal.
In other words, if, for Schiller, it was at first the aesthetic state that
appeared to catalyze a smooth shift of paradigms from the natural state to
the moral state, then at the end of his text, he posited a triadic development, the highest point of which is occupied by the aesthetic state, since
here the instrument that serves is the free citizen: das dienende Werkzeug
[ist] ein freier Brger (8:676). It is doubtless also Schillers answer to
what he considered to be the unsuccessful French Revolution. That was
most certainly on his mind when, on July 13, 1793, he wrote the following
to Duke Friedrich Christian von Augustenburg:
Der Moment war der gnstigste, aber er fand eine verderbte Generation,
die ihn nicht wert war, und weder zu wrdigen noch zu benutzen wute.
Der Gebrauch, den sie von diesem groen Geschenk des Zufalls macht und
gemacht hat, beweist unwidersprechlich, . . . da das liberale Regiment der
Vernunft da noch zu frhe kommt, wo man kaum damit fertig wird, sich
der brutalen Gewalt der Tierheit zu erwehren, und da derjenige noch
nicht reif ist zur brgerlichen Freiheit, dem noch so vieles zur menschlichen
fehlt. (8:501)

With his aesthetic anthropology or anthropological aesthetics, Schiller


wishes to cultivate human freedom and create the psycho-political conditions of the state of freedom. Nevertheless, he does not conceal the skepticism that is clear in his view that the projected state of beautiful appearance
(Staat des schnen Scheins) can be discovered in only a very few select
circles (einigen wenigen auserlesenen Zirkeln, 8:676). It is certainly not
accidental that Schillers text ends with the main concepts of grace and dignity with which he first attempted to explain the phenomenon of beauty.
Furthermore, in Anmut und Wrde, he associated the anthropological
conditions in a triadic manner with political and social conditions and
defined beauty (8:36266) as a kind of play drive or mediating power, as a
condition of mind or disposition where reason and sensuality duty and
inclination harmonize.
In his last, most important text, the question changes but not the basic
anthropological conception. In ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung,
Schiller constructs a founding document of literary modernity9 jointly with
a triadic history of genres (satire, elegy, idyll) as well as an anthropological
typology (realist, idealist). Not by chance is the idyll understood as a synthesizing concept, in which the opposition of reality and ideal, satire and
elegy, appears to be suspended (8:775). The idyll is, as Schiller explains,
der Begriff eines vllig aufgelsten Kampfes sowohl in dem einzelnen
Menschen, als in der Gesellschaft . . ., kurz, er ist kein andrer als das Ideal
der Schnheit auf das wirkliche Leben angewendet (8:775). Just as the

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

41

nave and sentimental genres correspond to specific kinds of perception


and possibilities of human experience, they also have a particular culturalhistorical status and exist in different social arrangements. Nave and sentimental poets form a similar opposition, as the two basic human types of
the realist and idealist do in the second part of the essay. If Schiller relates
the nave and sentimental poet to a specific context as well the definition
of which depends decisively on an existing or lacking totality in social reality here Schiller presents the antagonism of realist and idealist as quasitimeless constellations. Nevertheless, in both parts of the argument, the
triadic cognitive model that will become characteristic of the dialectics of
idealistic philosophy is still directly and indirectly perceptible. Not only is
the distinction between the nave and the sentimental poet blurred from
time to time (see Szondi, 8089) the idyll clearly signals the synthesis of
antitheses but the massive criticism of both basic human types also
makes a third constellation at least desirable.
Characteristically, in a footnote, Schiller introduces a three-stage
model (Dreischritt) in the context of poetic genres and types of sensation,
in which the ideal is raised up as the sought-after concept of synthesis. The
first category is nature and its corresponding nave mood, the second is art
als Aufhebung der Natur durch den frei wirkenden Verstand, and the
third and final one is the ideal, in welchem die vollendete Kunst zur
Natur zurckkehrt (8:777). If one wants to relate this triple gradation to
the various types of poets, one would have to add to the nave and sentimental a third type of poet, the idealistic poet, who leads fulfilled modernity on a higher level back to the achievements of the ancients. In his
marginal notations to Wilhelm von Humboldts March 1793 essay ber
das Studium des Altertums, und des Griechischen insbesondere (On the
Study of Antiquity, Especially That of the Greeks), Schiller again illustrates
the progress of human culture by way of a triad. He distinguishes three
moments epistemologically and classifies them cultural-historically as follows: In der ersten Periode waren die Griechen. In der zweiten stehen
wir. Die dritte ist also noch zu hoffen, und dann wird man die Griechen
auch nicht mehr zurckwnschen (8:1075). In his letter to Humboldt
of December 25, 1795, Schiller explains, moreover, in conjunction with
ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, that nave poetry relates to
sentimental poetry as nave humankind to sentimental humankind
(Schiller-Humboldt, 1:270). However, sentimental poetry can be elevated
above nave poetry only when it has achieved perfection and is free of
culturally conditioned deficiencies. Certainly, in this case, the art of poetry
and humankind are, as Schiller emphasizes, nicht mehr sentimentalisch,
sondern idealisch (1:270).
In his three major philosophical texts, Schiller works with opposing
concepts that are ultimately united into a synthesis. This tendency, and
the tying together of anthropological, social, cultural and political topics,

42

WALTER HINDERER

can even be found in the writings of his youth. Although Schillers


theoretical ideas were stimulated by the philosophy of the physicians
(see Hinderer, 1990; 50220), popular philosophy (see Riedel, 1998,
15566), and the writings of Garve, Kant, Reinhold, Herder, and Fichte,
he developed a basic view of the human being quite early that later changes
only in its questions, its methodology, and above all in the differentiation
of its terminology. What makes his writings especially interesting documents of the time is that they never attempt to cover up their ruptures or
resolve their contradictions. At the end of each of his three major texts,
Schiller emphasizes not only the experimental character of his reflections
but also draws attention to the discrepancies between theory and practice,
idea and reality. From this point of view, it comes as no surprise that with
each new writing he should, to some extent, start anew methodologically
and thematically. This does not mean, however, that he altered his anthropological concept of the human being, which runs as a red thread throughout all his theoretical statements.
If we visualize in overview the smaller as well as the more comprehensive contributions to the philosophical discourse of the time, it is strikingly
clear that from the pamphlets of his youth to the well-known essays of the
last decade of the eighteenth century, Schiller formulates a set of fundamental principles concerning the psychosomatic conditions of human existence. The earliest is found in the dissertation Versuch ber den
Zusammenhang der tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen
(12). In writings like Vom Erhabenen (Of the Sublime, 1793) and ber
das Pathetische (On the Pathetic, 1793), Schiller applies these laws to
aesthetics, above all to the pathetic representation of tragedy. He calls
this principle, in the plural form, die beiden Fundamental-Gesetze aller
tragischen Kunst (8:422, 426), and comments as follows: Diese sind
erstlich: Darstellung der leidenden Natur; zweitens: Darstellung der
moralischen Selbststndigkeit im Leiden. For Schiller, independence, or
Selbstndigkeit, a concept, introduced in Vom Erhabenen that is already
contained in that of the pathetically sublime, is directed toward the autonomy of the person, the god in us (Gott in uns) described in ber Anmut
und Wrde, and toward the supersensory in the human being described in
ber das Pathetische. Art, in this case theater, turns out to be the aesthetic
demonstration of the divine atomic nucleus in the human being, a view
that can, moreover, be found in Wieland as well as in Herder, and whose
intellectual origins are in Christian stoicism10 and the tradition of baroque
drama.11
In this demonstration not only are all powers of the soul, the mind, and
the heart at work (Was kann eine gute stehende Schaubhne eigentlich
wirken), but the essence of the individual is freed, that is, his heavenly origin
(himmlischer Urspung, 8:187, 200), the essence of his very existence.
Pathetic representation illustrates the real purpose of art: die moralische

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

43

Independenz von Naturgesetzen im Zustande des Affekts (8:423). In


other words, Die Intelligenz im Menschen, the autonomy of the person,
manifests itself as a power that is independent of nature, precisely as
the suprasensual (bersinnliche), is the higher principle that enables the
human being to rise above his sensuous nature idealistically. From this
perspective it seems only logical that, in ber die sthetische Erziehung,
Schiller defines the fundamental anthropological law existentially. In this
context he again speaks of two fundamental laws not of tragic art as
before, but now, in a decisively anthropological manner, of sensuousrational nature (die sinnliche-vernnftige Natur, 8:595). Here Schiller
captures the dichotomies of his dissertation more precisely as person and
condition, being and time, which human beings experience in different
ways. Since the condition has its basis in time, that is, the condition of all
dependent beings (der Bedingung alles abhngigen Seins, 8:593), the
person has it within himself. As being that is grounded in itself ([ein] in
sich selbst gegrndetes Sein), it is also the preliminary condition of freedom and the concept underlying Schillers political philosophy.
Just as in Theosophie des Julius, he brings the antitheses of egoism and
love into functional relation with the corresponding political institutions,
with despotism and the free state (8:226), he later praises the legislator
Solon for having had respect for human nature, da er Achtung hatte fr
die menschliche Natur und nie dem Menschen dem Staat, nie den Zweck
dem Mittel aufopferte, sondern den Staat dem Menschen dienen lie
(6:506). For Schiller the achievements of a state are dependent on the
extent to which it succeeds in cultivating all of the human beings abilities
(6:486). The schema of self-diminution and self-expansion that the essay
Theosophie des Julius connects with the positive and negative characteristics
of egoism and love supplies the framework for the comparison of the statecraft of Lycurgus and Solon. In Schillers opinion, only Solon fulfills the
standards of healthy and genuine statecraft, which is a fundamental principle upon which, in his view, all states are based. Schiller expresses this principle as follows: sich selbst die Gesetze zu geben, denen man gehorchen
soll, und die Pflichten des Brgers aus Einsicht und aus Liebe zum Vaterland, nicht aus sklavischer Furcht vor Strafe, nicht aus blindern und schlaffer Ergebung in dem Willen eines Obern zu erfllen (6:5056).
In the same way in which Schiller continues this exposition in his letters
to the Duke Augustenburg, he perceives the value or unworthiness of laws
and forms of government as the most faithful imprint (treuesten
Abdruck) of the character of a people (6:506). His unquestionably high
opinion of the human being in no way a rare view among eighteenthcentury intellectuals must also be reflected in political institutions and
society. In Schillers theoretical essays, not only anthropology and aesthetics
are related to one another, but anthropology is also related to both politics
and history. This is what he addresses in ber das Erhabene, which was not

44

WALTER HINDERER

published until 1801 although surely composed in the 1790s: Die Welt,
als historischer Gegenstand, ist im Grunde nichts anders als der Konflikt der
Naturkrfte unter einander selbst und mit der Freiheit des Menschen und
den Erfolg dieses Kampfes berichtet uns die Geschichte (8:835). In this
way, the historian would indeed become an author of pathetic representation, whose business it would be to report the triumphs of the person over
the surrounding circumstances. It is not accidental that this essay should
contain Schillers central confession regarding his anthropological aesthetics: Die Kultur soll den Menschen in Freiheit setzen und ihm dazu
behflich sein, seinen ganzen Begriff zu erfllen. Sie soll ihn also fhig
machen, seinen Willen zu behaupten, denn der Mensch ist das Wesen,
welches will (8:823).12

Notes
1

References to Schillers works in this essay are by volume and page number in the
Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro
Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here:
8:972.

Concerning La Mettrie, see Martinson, 39.

See, for example, Riedel, 610; Riedel, Abel, 390401; and, generally, also
Dewhurst/Reeves, 24249.
4

Riedel, 1985, 100106; also, Dewhurst/Reeves, 16568.

In 1780 Schiller submitted a tractatus (De Discrimine Febrium Inflammatoriarum et Putridarum) on the difference between an inflamed (entzndungsartig)
and an idle (faulig) fever one week before his Versuch ber den Zusammenhang
der tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner Geistigen. Whereas the first thesis
(in Latin) was rejected again, the second was accepted. Both were written in 1780;
the last one was also published in the same year.
6
Martinson has referred to the influence of Moses Mendelssohns Briefe ber die
Empfindungen (1755) in which the concept of harmonische Spannung was
coined, and which was not without influence on Schiller (2122).
7

See the last stanza of the poem, An einen Moralisten, in Schillers Anthologie
auf das Jahr 1782.
8

For example, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroders Mrchen Von einem nackten


Heiligen, Werke und Briefe, 3048.
9
Bolten takes up an idea from Jeffrey Barnouw and, already in this context, speaks
of a romantischen Wendepunkt in Schillers Gesamtwerk (226) while referring to
a key passage in the sthetische Briefe. To be more correct, one could speak here of
transcendental aesthetic concepts that early romanticism took over and continued.
10
See Justus Lipsius, De Constantia, 1584. Reprint of the second edition of 1601,
edited by Leonard Forster.

SCHILLERS PHILOSOPHICAL AESTHETICS

45

11
See Leonard Forsters Nachwort to Lipsiuss De Constantia (1931). FriedrichWilhelm Wentzlaff-Eggeberts study, Die deutsche Barocktragdie is still of
fundamental importance.
12
Concerning the topic of des ganzen Menschen, see the rich source of essays in
the publication of the DFG-Symposium: Schings, Der ganze Mensch: Anthropologie
und Literatur im 18. Jahrhundert.

Works Cited
Abel, Jacob Friedrich. Eine Quellenedition zum Philosophieunterricht: An
der Stuttgarter Karlsschule (17731782). Ed. Wolfgang Riedel. Wrzburg:
Knigshausen & Neumann, 1995.
Alt, Peter-Andr. Friedrich Schiller: Leben Werk Zeit. 2 vols. Munich:
C. H. Beck, 2000.
Bolten, Jrgen. Friedrich Schiller: Poesie, Reflexion und gesellschaftliche Selbstdeutung. Munich: Fink, 1985.
Dewhurst, Kenneth, and Nigel Reeves. Friedrich Schiller: Medicine, Psychology
and Literature. Oxford: Sanford, 1978.
Forster, Leonard, ed. Justus Lipsius: Von der Bestendigkeit (De Constantia).
Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1965.
Heidegger, Martin. Sein und Zeit, 11th ed. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1967.
Herder, Johann Gottfried. Herders Werke in fnf Bnden. Ed. Wilhelm
Dobbek. Berlin: Aufbau, 1964.
Hinderer, Walter. Die Depotenzierung der Vernunft: Kompensationsmuster im
prromantischen und romantischen Diskurs. In Romantisches Erzhlen, ed.
Gerhard Neumann, 2564. Wrzburg: Knigshausen & Neumann, 1995.
. Die Philosophie der rzte und die Rhetorik der Dichter: Zu Schillers
und Bchners ideologisch-sthetischen Positionen. Zeitschrift fr deutsche
Philologie 109 (1990): 50220.
Hinderer, Walter, and Daniel O. Dahlstrom, eds. Friedrich Schiller: Essays.
New York: Continuum, 1993.
Kant, Immanuel. Immanuel Kant: Werke in zehn Bnden. Ed. Wilhelm
Weischedel. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1968.
Koopmann, Helmut, ed. Schiller-Handbuch. Stuttgart: Alfred Krner, 1998.
Marquard, Odo. Abschied vom Prinzipiellen. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1981.
. Transzendentaler Idealismus: Romantische Naturphilosophie: Psychoanalyse. Cologne: Verlag fr Philosophie Jrgen Dinzer, 1987.
Martinson, Steven D. Harmonious Tensions: The Writings of Friedrich Schiller.
Newark: U of Delaware P; London: Associated UP, 1996.
Platner, Ernst. Anthropologie fr rzte und Weltweise. Leipzig: Dyckische
Buchhandlung, 1772.

46

WALTER HINDERER

Riedel, Wolfgang. Die Anthropologie des jungen Schiller. Wrzburg: Knigshausen & Neumann, 1985.
. Die Aufklrung und das Unbewute. Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft 37 (1993): 198220.
. Schiller und die popularphilosophische Tradition. In SchillerHandbuch, ed. Koopmann, 15566.
Schiller, Friedrich. Der Briefwechsel zwischen Friedrich Schiller und Wilhelm von
Humboldt. Ed. Siegfried Seidel. Berlin: Aufbau, 1962.
. Schillers Briefe. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Ed. Fritz Jonas. Stuttgart:
Deutsche Verlagsanstalt, 189297.
Schings, Hans-Jrgen, ed. Der ganze Mensch: Anthropologie und Literatur im
18. Jahrhundert. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1994.
Szondi, Peter. Das Nave und das Sentimentalische. In Szondi, Lektren und
Lektionen, 6099. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1973.
Wackenroder, Wilhelm Heinrich. Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder: Werke und
Briefe. Ed. Gerda Heinrich. Munich/Vienna: Carl Hanser, 1984.
Weinrich, Harald. Literaturgeschichte eines Weltereignisses: Das Erdbeben von
Lissabon. In Literatur fr Leser, ed. H. Weinrich. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer,
1971.
Wentzlaff-Eggebert, Friedrich-Wilhelm. Die deutsche Barocktragdie. In
Formkrfte der deutschen Dichtung vom Barock bis zur Gegenwart, 2nd ed.,
ed. Hans Steffen. Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967.
Wieland, Christoph Martin. Werke. 5 vols. Ed. Fritz Martini and Hans Werner
Seiffert. Munich: Carl Hanser, 1967.

Schiller and Classical Antiquity


David Pugh

Introduction

HE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF CLASSICISM in Schillers Germany is not


easy to grasp. Since various forms of classicism had been prevalent in
European letters for around three centuries, at first sight we might view
German classicism as a mere footnote. The most forceful statement of the
previous phase of classicism had come in France in 1674 with Nicolas
Boileaus Horatian Lart potique, and, in England, Alexander Pope had
called in his Essay on Criticism of 1711 for an aesthetic based on Aristotles
rules of poetry, which, as he claims, represents Nature methodised. Pope
proceeds as follows:

Hear how learnd Greece her useful rules indites,


When to repress, and when indulge our flights:
High on Parnassus top her sons she showd,
And pointed out those arduous paths they trod;
Held from afar, aloft, the immortal prize,
And urged the rest by equal steps to rise. . . .
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy Nature is to copy them. (ll. 9297, 23940)
Popes classicism was meant as an antidote to the excess and tastelessness
that he saw running riot among his contemporaries. The adoption of the
ancient authors as literary models would mean a restoration of simplicity,
moderation, and good sense.1
There is a more than superficial resemblance between this and
Schillers position in the ninth of his letters, ber die sthetische Erziehung
der Menschen (On the Aesthetic Education of Man, 1795), where he
directs the writer to take his inspiration from antiquity. And yet there are
salient differences that prevent us from seeing Schillers classicism as a
restatement of the older position, and a brief survey of these will serve as an
introduction to our subject. First, Schillers references to political corruption and a barbaric constitution introduce a note of political critique that
is alien to Boileau and Pope and that, in the age of the French Revolution,

48

DAVID PUGH

inevitably raises the emotional pitch of his treatise. Second, Schillers praise
of antiquity does not lead him to espouse the old Aristotelian or Horatian
poetics, and in fact he expressly condemns a rule-based art: Wo der
Charakter straff wird und sich verhrtet, da sehen wir . . . die Kunst in den
schweren Fesseln der Regel gehen (FA 8:583).2 Instead, he justifies the
turn to antiquity by saying that it will enable the artist to learn the secret of
form in general: Den Stoff zwar wird er von der Gegenwart nehmen, aber
die Form von einer edleren Zeit . . . entlehnen (8:584). Third, as shown
by the words omitted from the last sentence . . . ja jenseits aller Zeit,
von der absoluten unwandelbaren Einheit seines Wesens . . . form is
not, or not only, a matter of taste or poetic technique, but is charged with
metaphysical significance. Schiller presents the artists struggle to find the
right form for his work as a process that mirrors the struggle between spirit
and matter in the universe. Finally, and to return to the first point, this
metaphysical framework means that Schillers political references are not as
straightforward as they seem. Rather, the corruption that surrounds him is
merely a symbol for the work of temporality in general, and the pure form
displayed by Greek art is to be seen less as the product of a free society than
as an achieved conquest of time. By successfully imposing form on matter,
modern artists will free themselves and their public from the shackles
of time and materiality, the Verderbnis der Geschlechter und Zeiten
(8:584) that arouses Schillers disgust. Whereas Schiller might seem to be
outbidding Pope merely in adding a new strand of political polemic to
the traditional advocacy of a classical aesthetic, he is in fact heightening
the neoclassical argument by rephrasing it as a metaphysical one, for he is
attributing to a classically inspired art a power not just of liberation but of
redemption.3
In order to understand this extraordinary reformulation of the classical
creed, it is necessary first of all to consider the career of Johann Joachim
Winckelmann (171768). For, with his pamphlet Gedanken ber die
Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst
(Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture,
1759) followed in 1764 by his Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums (History
of Ancient Art), Winckelmann inaugurated a new attitude to ancient
Greece and exerted a spell on all the writers of the next generation, including Herder and Friedrich Schlegel, of whom we do not think primarily as
classicists.
It is not possible to point to one overpowering new idea that Winckelmann contributed to the discussion. As Hatfield argues, his thought is an
eclectic synthesis. In the sentence following on from the famous slogan of
edle Einfalt und stille Gre (20), Winckelmann espouses a Stoical ethic
of resistance to emotion, for he argues that the calm expression on the face
of a Greek statue arises from a mastery of the passions that rage beneath.4
Contrasting with his Stoicism stands an Epicurean worship of the senses

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

49

that leads Winckelmann to praise Greek nakedness and, at least implicitly,


sexual freedom, but this contrasts in turn with a Platonic aspiration to an
ideal beyond nature. Perhaps Winckelmanns impact is due as much to his
new tone and style as to this strange cocktail of ideas, for he offered his
readers a welcome escape both from the pedantries of German academic
prose and from the supernatural transports of Pietism. Altogether, his
work denotes a multiple shift in the approach to antiquity: from a Roman
to a Greek paradigm, from a dependence on French mediation to a new
German autonomy, from an emphasis on politics and the state to one on
the arts and, within the arts, from a focus on literature to one on sculpture.
Last but not least, we can observe the shift from the idea of antiquity as the
source of rational norms to one of Greece as a lost paradise and the object
of insatiable yearning.5 A great deal of the responsibility for the idea of
Germany as a Kulturnation belongs to Winckelmann, and Schiller is only
one of numerous writers of this period whose work would be unthinkable
without him.
In contrast to the usual practice of treating this subject in a chronological fashion, the following will be an attempt at an analytical presentation of Schillers relation to antiquity under the following headings:
humanity, nature, art, and politics. First, however, it may be helpful to
offer a biographical outline of Schillers concern with and use of antiquity
in the various phases of his career.

Schillers Career
For our purposes Schillers career falls roughly into four phases, in which
his concern with antiquity alternated between being mainly speculative and
mainly practical in nature. The first phase saw the composition of the Brief
eines reisenden Dnen (Letter of a Danish Traveler, 1785), an ecstatic piece
after the manner of Winckelmann, in which he describes the casts of the
most famous Greek sculptures on exhibit in Mannheim. This period culminated in the elegy Die Gtter Griechenlandes (The Gods of Greece) of
1788, which was written with Horazische Correctitt (letter to Krner,
March 17, 1788) for Wielands journal the Teutscher Merkur. It is one of
Schillers finest poems, but in part it reformulates ideas he had expressed
previously in his poem Der Triumph der Liebe (The Triumph of Love).
The latter appeared in 1781, inspired by Gottfried August Brgers
German version of the Pervigilium Veneris, a late Latin poem. Both poems
have to be understood in the context of Schillers early philosophy of love,
the main expression of which can be found, stripped of all Greek references, in his Philosophische Briefe (Philosophical Letters, 1786).6 Antiquity
appears with a different, more political function in some other texts of this
period, notably in Die Ruber (The Robbers, 1781), where Karl Moor

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draws inspiration from Plutarchs Lives for his ideal of a German republic
that would make Athens and Sparta look like nunneries (2:32). In Die
Verschwrung des Fiesco zu Genua (Fiescos Conspiracy in Genoa, 1783)
the conspirators try to fan Fieskos republican zeal by showing him a painting of a heroic scene from early Rome (2:37275). And in his speech,
Was kann eine gute stehende Schaubhne eigentlich wirken? (What Can
a Good Repertory Theater Really Achieve, 1784), Schiller refers to Periclean
Athens as an example of the theater working as a force for national unity in
a divided country.7
Following his completion of Don Carlos, Schiller turned to Greek
literature with the intention of improving his technique as a writer. The
protracted composition of this tragedy had left Schiller dissatisfied with
his achievements to date and with his working method, and the study of
the ancients was intended to enhance his skills. This second phase saw the
composition of his versions of Euripides Iphigenia in Aulis and part of the
same authors The Phoenician Women (both 1788). It is notable that
Schiller had to use the available translations of Euripides into Latin,
French, and German, for unlike Goethe and Wilhelm von Humboldt, he
never had the opportunity to study the Greek language thoroughly.
Schillers letters to Krner during this period are particularly revealing,
especially that of August 20, 1788, in which he declares that to purify his
taste, he intends to read no modern authors for two years, only ancient
ones: Du wirst finden, da mir ein vertrauter Umgang mit den Alten
uerst wohlthun vielleicht Classizitt geben wird.8 The original
impulse for these studies seems to have been Schillers experience of
attending a reading of Goethes Iphigenie auf Tauris, on which he reports
in a letter of October 14, 1787, but he also drew inspiration from the
hexameter translation of the Odyssey by Johann Heinrich Voss.9
In various texts of this second phase, we notice a tendency that
becomes more important later on, namely a desire to find fault with the
works of the Greeks coupled with an ambition to outdo them. This
agonistic component in Schillers relation to antiquity has rightly led to
comparisons to the seventeenth-century controversy over the relative
merits of ancient and modern culture, known in France as la querelle des
anciens et des modernes and in England as the Battle of the Books.
We notice this argument in Schillers review of Goethes Iphigenie auf
Tauris (1788), where he awards the palm to the modern author for
having united die feinste edelste Blte moralischer Verfeinerung mit
der schnsten Blte der Dichtkunst (8:964). The second reference to
a blossoming refers to the excellence of Greek poetry, which can be
equaled by an exceptional modern author, but the first refers to the superior level of morality attained by the moderns. Thanks to the progress
of moral culture and the comparatively milder spirit (Geist) of the times,
the modern author enjoys an inherent advantage over the ancients.

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

51

The argument here foreshadows the position that Schiller developed later
in ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (On Nave and Sentimental
Poetry, 1795). We find a comparable case of the disparagement of antiquity in his essay of 1792, ber die tragische Kunst (On Tragic Art), where
Greek tragedy is said to rely on the concepts of fate and necessity and
hence to leave a modern audience, with its developed rational faculty, dissatisfied. A modern tragedy, by contrast, will arouse in the audience die
erquickende Vorstellung der vollkommensten Zweckmigkeit im groen
Ganzen der Natur (8:261).
With the third phase, we see Schiller returning to a more speculative
preoccupation with antiquity. This is the period of the composition of his
famous treatises on philosophical aesthetics, ber das Pathetische (On the
Pathetic, 1793), ber Anmut und Wrde (On Grace and Dignity, 1793),
ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen (On the Aesthetic Education
of Man, 1794), and ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (On Nave
and Sentimental Poetry, 1795). Schiller wrote these works under the dual
impact of his study of Kant and of the tumultuous events taking place in
France, and yet they both take up themes from the first phase of Schillers
career. In the early part of each treatise, an eloquent passage praising Greek
culture for its harmony with nature is encountered, while the possibility is
also held out that, with our higher level of rationality and morality, the
moderns can actually surpass the Greeks. Schillers return to poetic composition followed the writing of these treatises, and the poems of the next
years are full of Greek allusions that, despite differences of emphasis, are
fundamentally consistent with the view of Greece advanced in the treatises.
A few examples are Das Ideal und das Leben (The Ideal and Life), Der
Spaziergang (The Walk), Das Glck (Happiness), and Die Snger der
Vorwelt (The Singers of Yore).
The last of the four phases is the time of Schillers second period of dramatic composition as well as of his partnership with Goethe. Again he
turned to the study of the Greek dramatists, particularly Sophocles, and his
correspondence with Goethe contains much on poetological matters,
including a discussion of Aristotles Poetics (see especially Schillers letter of
May 5, 1797). Schiller had earlier planned a drama, Die Malteser, that was
intended to conform to the pattern of ancient tragedy. Though he resumed
work on it in these years, it was left unfinished at his death. The most classical of the completed plays of this period is Die Braut von Messina (The
Bride of Messina, 1803), in which Schiller attempted a synthesis of ancient
and modern techniques and motifs, including a chorus, the use of which he
justified in his Foreword by philosophical arguments. But Wallenstein also
contains in Gordon a figure whose role is based on that of the ancient chorus, and even the romantic tragedy Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of
Orleans, 1802) has a scene (act 2, scenes 67) derived from an episode from
the Iliad and written in iambic trimeters, the Greek tragic meter.

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But, even if Schillers concern with the Greeks at this stage seems to be
predominantly pragmatic. A letter of July 26, 1800, shows that he had not
abandoned the conclusions of the foregoing speculative phase. Johann Wilhelm Svern was a classical scholar who had published a book comparing
Die Jungfrau von Orleans and the Wallenstein trilogy to Greek tragedy. In a
polite but firm response, Schiller argues against imposing alien models on
modern art, for art must always arise dynamisch und lebendig from its
own time. Describing Sophoclean tragedy as das lebendige Produkt einer
individuellen, bestimmten Gegenwart, he applies the nouns Ohnmacht,
Schlaffheit, and Charakterlosigkeit to modernity. The contradiction
between such disparagement of modernity and Schillers belief in its ultimate
superiority is only apparent. His conclusion to the letter, Die Schnheit ist
fr ein glckliches Geschlecht, aber ein unglckliches mu man erhaben zu
rhren suchen, introduces the sublime, the aesthetic experience that is the
threshold to the supersensible realm and that will allow the moderns to prevail in the new querelle. Schillers attitude to antiquity is now entrenched in
his philosophy of history and in his elaborate dialectic of the beautiful and
the sublime.

Humanity
In a famous letter, Schiller gives an unfavorable comparison of his own personality to Goethes. Whereas the latters creative mind is intuitive and is
integrated around a synthesizing imagination, Schiller describes his own
mind as a hybrid and as hovering uncertainly between three pairs of opposites, namely concept and intuition, rule and feeling, technique and genius:
Noch jetzt begegnet es mir hufig genug, da die Einbildungskraft meine
Abstraktionen und der kalte Verstand meine Dichtung strt (letter to
Goethe, August 31, 1794). But Schillers praise of the Greeks in his major
aesthetic writings of the same decade dwells precisely on their successful unification of such opposites. In ber Anmut und Wrde (On Grace and Dignity, 1793), for example, we read: Nie darf sich ihm [dem Griechen] die
Sinnlichkeit ohne Seele zeigen, und seinem humanen Gefhl ist es gleich
unmglich, die rohe Tierheit und die Intelligenz zu vereinzeln (8:334;
Schillers italics), and in the sthetische Briefe the following: Damals . . .
hatten die Sinne und der Geist noch kein strenge geschiedenes Eigentum;
denn noch hatte kein Zwiespalt sie gereizt, mit einander feindselig
abzuteilen und ihre Markung zu bestimmen (8:570). The structural similarity of these arguments shows that Schillers concern with Greek culture is
related to how he views his own character and poetic talent, hence the
strange ruminations in a letter to Wilhelm von Humboldt (October 26,
1795) as to whether or not he has an affinity, not with a particular Greek
author, but with the Greeks as such. We should thus understand Schillers

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

53

attitude to the latter not just as the glorification of an era conventionally


regarded as classical but also, more intimately, as a strategy for dealing with
his insecurity regarding his poetic gifts.
The drive towards unification, of which humanity is the goal, goes
beyond the immediate human sphere. A frequent and somewhat surprising
topos in Schillers argument is that an achieved humanity, conceived as the
reconciliation of spirit and sensibility, will also erase the difference between
the human and the divine, and the Greek gods are taken as a prefiguration
and a promise of a possible future state. This is not an easy idea to grasp,
but it is one of Schillers most persistent themes. We encounter it in the
Brief eines reisenden Dnen, where he writes that the Greeks portrayed
their gods as nobler human beings, and hence brought the latter closer to
the former. Perhaps we can infer, he suggests, something about our future:
Wenn der Mensch nur Mensch bleiben sollte bleiben knnte, wie htte
es jemals Gtter und Schpfer dieser Gtter gegeben? (8:206; Schillers
italics). Schiller seems to be hovering between a Christian affirmation of
the immortality of the soul and a more mysterious suggestion as to a future
deification of humankind.
The idea appears first in a Christian guise in Schillers first medical
dissertation, where he writes, Gottgleichheit ist die Bestimmung des
Menschen (8:37). Schiller is intensifying the conventional concept of
perfection, Vollkommenheit, to the point where the difference between
humanity and God is suspended. In using the phrase die Bestimmung des
Menschen, Schiller is adopting the title of a popular religious work from
1748 by Johann Joachim Spalding, and he suggests that mans destiny is
a strenuous self-elevation: der Mensch ist da, da er nachringe der Gre
seines Schpfers, mit eben dem Blick umfasse die Welt, wie der Schpfer
sie umfat (8:37). But if we look beyond the Christian trappings, we can
see here the origin of Schillers later preoccupation with the myth of
Hercules ascent to Olympus, expressed so memorably in the conclusion of
Das Ideal und das Leben.10
A less strenuous tone is struck in his long early poem Der Triumph
der Liebe, where the deification motif is affirmed repeatedly in the refrain:
Selig durch die Liebe
Gtter durch die Liebe
Menschen Gttern gleich.
Liebe macht den Himmel
Himmlischer die Erde
Zu dem Himmelreich.
The theme of the poem is the birth of Venus, which brings about a softening and rejuvenation in the natural world, and which for humankind
signals the arrival of civilization after a somewhat Hobbesian prehistory.11

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The same rapprochement of gods and men is at the heart of Die Gtter
Griechenlandes, where it is forcefully stated just before the end: Da
die Gtter menschlicher noch waren, / Waren Menschen gttlicher
(ll. 19192; 1788 version). Venus is again the presiding deity here, for it
is her worship at the shrine at Amathus that forms the focus of this magnificent poem, and instead of the heroic exploits of Hercules, Schiller
celebrates a form of interaction between gods and mortals that is more
appropriate to this goddess: Pyrrhas schne Tochter zu besiegen, / Nahm
Hyperion den Hirtenstab (ll. 3536; 1788 version).
The function of love in these poems as the bond linking the natural
with the divine world entitles us to see it as derived from Platos theory of
love, which he originally expounded in the Symposium and which was
developed in the Renaissance by Marsilio Ficino in his influential dialogue
De amore. Although explicit references to the concept of love are less frequent in Schillers writings of the 1790s, there is nonetheless a strong continuity between them and these earlier texts, and so it is no distortion to
view Schillers concept of humanity as derived from the Platonic eros. But
we should not underestimate the distinctiveness of Schillers theory. In its
full complexity, it states that in antiquity human beings were more human
than they are now, in the sense of being more natural and less corrupted
by culture. In particular the Greeks did not try to approach divinity as
Christians do, that is, by misguidedly suppressing their humanity through
an ascetic morality, and they also did not suffer from the division of labor
that distorts and fragments the modern personality. However, and only
here do we see the full paradox, the Greeks came closer than we do to
divinity precisely by disclaiming any desire to be more than human. Schillers
concept of Menschlichkeit, which seems in some places to represent a simple call for a balanced physical-spiritual existence and an integration of the
faculties, in fact carries with it an inherent nisus towards a divine, or at least
a more than human, mode of existence. The association of this idea with
the Greeks is expressed nowhere more clearly than in the fifteenth sthetischer Brief, where Schiller refers to the Juno Ludovisi, a massive portrait of
the goddess, as both der weibliche Gott and das gottgleiche Weib.12

Nature
In Die Gtter Griechenlandes, Schiller calls for a return of the Greek
golden age, describing it as Holdes Bltenalter der Natur (l. 146). But
the nature that is enshrined in Greek culture is not the nature of Alexander
Pope. Pope understands nature as a codification of the rules of good sense,
whereas Schiller (to compress the impressions left by the poem into a single
phrase) presents it as a perpetual springtime of youth, dance, and free love.
No one, and certainly not Schiller, would claim that this picture of Greece

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

55

has much to do with history. It is most likely based on the myth of the
Golden Age, as Schiller could have found it in the first book of Ovids
Metamorphoses (ll. 89112); the reference to the banishment of Saturn
(l. 180) makes this source quite likely, and Schillers Holdes Bltenalter
der Natur may have been prompted by Ovids ver erat aeternum (l. 107;
it is less likely that Schiller was familiar with Hesiods account in the Works
and Days, ll. 10920). As in his later treatises on aesthetics, the portrayal of
Greece in Die Gtter Griechenlandes is not an end in itself, but functions
as a Wunschbild against which Schiller can present and attack the shortcomings of modernity.
The common thread running through the Greek panorama, with its
numerous mythological vignettes, is the unity of nature and spirit or of
human and divine. This is of course the same concept that we found at the
heart of Schillers idea of humanity in the previous section, and, in line
with our opening comparison of Schillers classicism with Popes, we can
see it as a metaphysical expansion of the dramatic unities on which neoclassical critics had insisted.13 The opposite of Schillers unity is the estrangement of nature and spirit in culture. With remarkable dialectical skill,
Schiller portrays modernity in this poem as groaning under both an ascetic
Christianity and an abstract, mechanistic science, each of which is presented as a result of the same original estrangement. He adheres to the
same intellectual model in his essays of the next decade. In the sixth
sthetischer Brief, he writes of die alles vereinende Natur and opposes it
to der alles trennende Verstand (8:571). The course of history is characterized here as a fall from a state of nature into one of culture, with the latter being understood as the fragmentation wrought by the destructive
faculty of the understanding.
But Schillers philosophy of history goes beyond this binary antithesis.
Its full scope is revealed in two further statements that illuminate each
other. In the letter cited above, Schiller writes that alle [Vlker] ohne
Unterschied durch Vernnftelei von der Natur abfallen mssen, ehe sie
durch Vernunft zu ihr zurckkehren knnen, and in ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung we read, Die Natur macht ihn [den Menschen] mit
sich Eins, die Kunst trennt und entzweiet ihn, durch das Ideal kehrt er zur
Einheit zurck (8:735). As the juxtaposition of the two statements shows,
nature stands as both the first and the last term in a triadic scheme, for the
future ideal is itself associated with the concept of nature. And yet the ideal
nature is not identical to the original nature, but is posited as existing at a
higher level of consciousness and morality. This logical model explains the
paradoxical role of the Greeks in Schillers thought. On the one hand, they
represent a paradigm of unity and harmony to an age that has lost these
qualities, and hence they are an object of aspiration and longing. On the
other hand, and thanks to the intellectual and moral advances achieved
in the modern age, any reconstituted unity and harmony must inevitably

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surpass all former achievements. Therefore the Greeks must also represent a
stage that humanity has outgrown and must outgrow further. In a handwritten comment on an essay by his friend Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schiller
sketched an analogy for this dialectic of unity and division in the cognitive
process: first we grasp the whole object, but only indistinctly; next we take
in the parts and lose sight of the whole; finally we return to viewing the
whole, but now with a distinct knowledge of the parts. In the second
phase, we still long for the first, but in the third, we have no need to do so.
Similarly, in the third phase of history, we will no longer wish for the return
of the Greeks (8:1075).14
In an article on the historical thought of Johann Gottfried Herder,
Wilfried Malsch has drawn a parallel between this kind of complicated relationship of antiquity to modernity, consisting both of sameness and difference, and the logical model of prefiguration in Christian thought.15 His
findings can also be extended to Schiller, for, as Adam prefigures Christ
and Jerusalem the kingdom of heaven, Schiller regards ancient Greece as
prefiguring the state of ideal nature at the end of history. It is of course
ironic to find the Greeks at the heart of such a quintessentially un-Greek
argument, though it is also possible to relate it to the Neo-Platonic dialectic of fall and return that M. H. Abrams has applied so effectively to the
Romantic era. But if, as I have argued, Schillers agonistic attitude to the
Greeks was in part the consequence of personal insecurity, we can see here
that, no matter whether the Christian or the Neo-Platonic background is
the decisive one, he contrived to convert that private insecurity into an
elaborate philosophical theory of historical change.
In the context of the eighteenth-century argument, nature and culture
are antithetical terms. How, we wonder, can it then make sense to describe
Greek culture as natural? What features of Greek culture fit it for the role
assigned to it in Schillers system? Winckelmann had also used the concept
of nature to establish the superiority of Greek sculpture, but his argument
is largely restricted to matters pertaining to anatomy, such as the athletic
training of Greek youths. Schiller expands the argument far beyond this
narrow base. First, as we have seen, he defines nature as unification, and he
uses this term to illuminate not only the Greek religion, which projects
humanity into nature and the divine world, but also the quality of Greek
society, with its less advanced division of labor, and even Greek individuality, in which the human faculties are not fragmented. But Schiller is clearly
aware of the problem that the Greeks also had a flourishing culture, and
so he describes them as having achieved the maximum degree of culture
that is still reconcilable with nature: Bei diesen [den Griechen] artete die
Kultur nicht so weit aus, da die Natur darber verlassen wurde (8:726).
The further advance of culture in modern times necessarily brought a rupture with nature, and the breach can only be healed by the reconstitution
of nature at an ideal level, however that is to be understood.

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

57

To conclude this section, we should note that Schiller applies the concept of nature to the Greeks not only as a speculative philosopher but also
as a literary critic. In his antithesis of poetic modes in ber naive und
sentimentalische Dichtung, the Greeks are said to have practiced simple
mimesis. In their poetry we do not come across the idea of nature, for
nature was their immediate life and not an object of reflection or longing.
This is why modern readers, who are accustomed to emotional and intellectual commentary on the object, may initially be repelled by nave poets,
who portray the object severely (streng und sprde, 8:728) and without
ceremony. In a famous passage from the same essay, Schiller contrasts
excerpts from Homer and Ariosto to highlight the formers unadorned
narrative style. In another, the idyll appears as the genre closest to nature,
not only in that it portrays a natural form of life, but also in that the typology of nave and sentimental idyll mirrors the role of nature as the first but
also the third term in humanitys dialectical progress. The stress on simplicity as a feature of Greek poetry may be consistent with the old neoclassical doctrine, but this concept is now embedded in a speculative system of
which Boileau and Pope had no inkling.

Art
We have seen that, within Schillers dialectical theory of history, the concept of nature has two meanings, and the same is true of art Kunst and
Kultur. On one hand, it stands for the dominion of the intellect that, with
its compartmentalization and mechanization, has disrupted an original,
natural unity. On the other hand, it means the process by which the rupture can be healed and the unity restored at a higher level. This double use
of the term is most evident in the eighth sthetischer Brief, where Schiller
writes that, in view of the loss of human totality in modern times, so mu
es bei uns stehen, diese Totalitt in unsrer Natur, welche die Kunst zerstrt
hat, durch eine hhere Kunst wieder herzustellen (8:578). How did
Schiller envisage this higher art? It may seem to be making matters still
more complicated when in the Ninth Letter he tells us that Greek art preserved the achievements of Greek nature, but this provides us with our
answer. Modern art, if it is to be progressive in Schillers sense, must paradoxically orient itself in some way on ancient Greek art. In accordance with
the logic of Schillers historical system, we should not be surprised to find
that it must be both similar to and different from Greek art.
A simple formulation comes in the ninth Brief, where, desiring to preserve the young artist from the harmful influences of modernity, Schiller
sends him to school in Greece. When the artist returns to his own age,
matured and strengthened like the young Orestes a somewhat disturbing comparison, he will apply the lessons he has learned by subjecting

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modern matter to a strict form. If we turn to Schillers own poetic production, this formula seems to be best borne out by his series of exceptional
poems in the elegiac meter. Here he is able to cause the predominantly
dactylic rhythm to express a poised and wistful lyricism: Sagt, wo sind die
Vortrefflichen hin, wo find ich die Snger, / Die mit dem lebenden Wort
horchende Vlker entzckt? (Die Snger der Vorwelt; 1:99).
Schillers advocacy of strict form, however, is not confined to specifically
classical forms. One should recall, for example, that his most comprehensive
and successful statement of his philosophical views in poetry, Das Ideal und
das Leben (first version 1795, titled Das Reich der Schatten [The Realm
of Shadows]), is written in a strict but wholly un-Greek stanza. For Schiller,
the Greeks may represent the best instantiation to date of the fusion of form
and life, for which he calls in the Fifteenth Letter, but the principle of form
is itself timeless, a metaphysical force that enables us to master the world of
flux in which we live. At the same time, we should note that Schillers references to antiquity are not always in this spirit of austere formalism, but can
also serve to produce a more Rococo spirit of decoration and diversion. This
mood is prevalent in the long poem Die Knstler (The Artists) of 1789
where, apostrophizing all artists of the past, Schiller writes, Wie eure
Urnen die Gebeine, / Deckt ihr mit holdem Zauberscheine / Der Sorgen
schauervollen Chor (1:217). The Greek references in such passages are
chiefly to the Muses and the Graces, allegorical deities whom we are most
likely to associate with Schillers fellow Swabian writer Christoph Martin
Wieland, and their activity seems to be more about concealing unpleasantness than with bringing structure to reality. But these deities also figure
prominently in Schillers announcement of his journal Die Horen (the
Horae) in 1795, in which he deplores the way in which war and political
conflict have banished the Muses and Graces from social intercourse.
The title of the journal alludes to the Greek goddesses of the seasons,
and Schillers commentary shows that, as in the early poem Der Triumph
der Liebe, he is still preoccupied with the birth of Venus as the mythical
symbol for the coming of civilization, for, as the sixth Homeric Hymn tells
us, it was the Horae who first clothed the goddess and led her to Olympus:
eine reizende Dichtung, durch welche angedeutet wird, da das Schne
schon in seiner Geburt sich unter Regeln fgen mu und nur durch Gesetzmigkeit wrdig werden kann, einen Platz im Olymp, Unsterblichkeit
und einen moralischen Wert zu erhalten. On one hand, this is a conventional allegorical expression of a no less conventional aesthetic of decorum.
We are not all that far from the world of Gottsched and German neoclassicism here. On the other hand, the names of the Horae, Eunomia (Order),
Dike (Justice), and Irene (Peace), are indicative of Schillers deeper purposes. The first name alludes to the principle of form, and the last two
point to the association between form and the moral and social aspirations
that are implicit in Schillers classical aesthetic from the outset. And it is of

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

59

course no coincidence that he turns to Greek mythology to express these


aspirations, for as we have seen, it is in ancient Greece that Schiller believes
that his metaphysical principles came closest to realization.
It was inevitable that Greek tragic drama would exercise a huge fascination over a playwright holding these views, and Schillers correspondence with Goethe contains interesting observations as to what he can
learn, especially from Sophocles, to benefit his own plays (see the letter of
April 4, 1797). Die Braut von Messina (1803) was Schillers most serious
attempt to transplant the techniques of Greek tragedy, and in particular the
chorus, to the modern stage. Although it enjoyed considerable success at
the time, the play is now reckoned not to have come off, owing chiefly
to some poor plot management, but Schillers explanation of his procedure
in his Foreword is still of exceptional interest.16 Again we see the dialectical
logic of ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung. The original chorus, he
writes, grew from the natural and mimetic art of ancient Greece. Thanks to
the quality of ancient society, which was open, public, collective, and concrete, the Greek chorus was a natural organ. Nothing in modern life,
which is abstract, compartmentalized, and internal, corresponds to this
chorus. However, since modern art is not mimetic, the chorus can be
retained, albeit with a different justification. In modern drama the chorus
is thus not a natural but an artificial organ. Whereas previously it formed
part of a naturalistic aesthetic, its function is now dem Naturalism in der
Kunst offen und ehrlich den Krieg zu erklren (5:285). Far from reflecting reality, the task of modern art is to transform reality according to a
model that is at once natural and ideal.
Although Schiller speaks of the future state as different from Greece, it
is still based on Greece as its prefiguration. Hence he calls for the revival of
Greek motifs in drama, not merely the chorus but also the creation of a
more external and public form of life: Der Dichter mu die Palste wieder
auftun, er mu die Gerichte unter freien Himmel herausfhren, er mu die
Gtter wieder aufstellen. . . . (5:28687). Although Schiller used the
chorus only once, one can recognize in this wider explanation some more
general features of his later dramatic style. Thus the unhistorical meeting of
the two queens in act 3 of Maria Stuart reflects a preference, which is both
artistic and ethical, for robust personal confrontation over dissimulation
and intrigue, and Mortimers confusion of the earthly and the heavenly
Maria in the same play should be seen in connection with Schillers call for
a return of the Greek gods.17

Politics
When Schiller writes in the last quotation of reopening the palaces, he is
thinking of the archaic world portrayed in Greek tragedy in which the city

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states are still ruled by kings. This brings us to the question of whether
Schiller responded in any way to the political legacy of ancient Greece. The
answer here must be mainly negative. As we have seen, the concept of
unity is central to Schillers conceptions of nature and humanity, and, projected back into Greece, this leads primarily to an affirmation of the human
unity of the individual Greek. The problem of disunity in Greek history,
that is, the actual fragmentation of the country into warring statelets and
the frequency of civil strife within them, is barely touched upon. There is
an indirect reference to this problem in the Schaubhne speech, where
Schiller, with an eye on his homeland, asks: Was kettete Griechenland so
fest aneinander? and answers, Nichts anders als der vaterlndische Inhalt
der Stcke, der griechische Geist, das groe berwltigende Interesse des
Staats, der besseren Menschheit, das in denselbigen atmete (8:199).
Schiller is thinking here of a national theater as a means of overcoming
German Vielstaaterei. And yet, as he would have had to acknowledge, the
theater failed to have any such effect in Greece, and the similar hopes
placed in the German theater would turn out to be no less chimerical.
What is left is the fallback position of the theater, or of art in general, serving as a refuge for ideals for which there is no room in real life, that is, as a
substitute and a consolation and not as a means of making them a reality.
This implication is not yet seen in the Schaubhne speech, but it is confronted in the ending of the sthetische Briefe, where Schiller sketches an
aesthetic state (Staat, not Zustand) that will enshrine the qualities of liberty and equality that are too risky to be implemented in reality. Given this
basic structure, it is not surprising that Greece usually functions in his
thought more as a fairy tale or as the Bltenalter der Natur when the
gods walked on earth, and less as a historical civilization with concrete
social and political features.
Two qualifications should be made to this depoliticized picture. In
1792 Schiller delivered a lecture at the University of Jena on Die
Gesetzgebung von Lykurgus und Solon (The Legislation of Lycurgus
and Solon). The factual information is largely derived from Plutarch, but
Schiller includes reflections of his own on the task of the statesman that
parallel his views in the fourth sthetischer Brief. Castigating the Spartan
legislator, Schiller writes: Der Staat selbst ist niemals Zweck, er ist nur
wichtig als eine Bedingung, unter welcher der Zweck der Menschheit
erfllt werden kann, und dieser Zweck der Menschheit ist kein anderer als
Ausbildung aller Krfte des Menschen, Fortschreitung (6:486). All this is
still abstract, but further on in the lecture Schiller writes that Solon understood these relations correctly, and hence built a state in which, in contrast
to the Spartan tyranny, men governed themselves and were thus capable of
the highest cultural attainments. By concluding the lecture with the statement Alles eilte dem herrlichen Zeitalter des Perikles entgegen, Schiller
indicates that the Periclean age was the civilization that most closely

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

61

approximates his ideal of a state in which political goals are subordinate to


the needs of human development and culture.18 But it is no coincidence
that he never attempted to flesh out this picture of fifth-century Athens in
a historical account, for its value for him is that of a paradigm of humanity
existing apart from the sordid processes of history. For this reason, the references to the historical Athens and the poetic image of the Greek Golden
Age do not really represent distinct interpretations of Greece but are rather
the two faces of a single complex idea.
Our second qualification concerns Schillers great elegy Der
Spaziergang (first version 1795, titled Elegie) in which he outlines the
history of humanity as mirrored in the south German landscape. Greece
figures here as the locus of two succeeding eras, both of which are states of
nature, although the second is also one of culture. First, with a reference to
Ovids Bronze Age, Schiller briefly depicts a pastoral society that is entirely
at one with nature: Nachbarlich wohnet der Mensch noch mit dem
Acker zusammen, / Seine Felder umruhn friedlich sein lndliches Dach
(ll. 5152). Next, in a passage of astonishing concreteness, he describes the
arrival of civilization and its advance in Greece up to the limits set by
nature. He is adhering here to his judgment in the sixth sthetischer Brief
discussed above.19 In a keen dialectic, he shows how the emergence of
cities and of social inequality Stnde seh ich gebildet . . . (l. 63)
leads to an upsurge of energy and creativity. Greek religion, art, technology, commerce, and exploration all receive their due. Even the inevitable
social disunity can lead to new forms of cooperation: Sieh, da entbrennen
in feurigem Kampf die eifernden Krfte, / Groes wirket ihr Streit,
greres wirket ihr Bund (ll. 7374). Significantly, it is not the selfgovernment of the Greek republics but their patriotism that Schiller celebrates, and also, by his skillful translation of the Thermopylae epitaph (ll.
9798), their unity in the face of the Persian threat. The term Streit is
the sole allusion to internal strife and civil war. Significantly, however, and
despite the specific historical references in this passage, Schiller also brings
in his favorite theme of the traffic of gods and men Nieder vom Himmel
steigen die seligen Gtter . . . (l. 79) which belongs to the Golden Age
myth. Again, therefore, we see Schillers characteristic combination of
historical and non-historical moments in his approach to antiquity.

Conclusion
In this discussion a recurrent duality in Schillers thought is evident, one
that affects not only his presentation of Greece but his concepts of nature
and art as well. This duality results from Schillers commitment to a
Platonic metaphysic that divides existence into material and ideal worlds,
but it is made more complex by Schillers imposition of this metaphysic

62

DAVID PUGH

onto the traditional aesthetics of nature. The stresses caused by the


attempted integration of real and ideal nature into a single concept are
then accommodated by Schillers triadic philosophy of history, by which all
tensions are to be resolved, though it is left radically unclear whether the
future resolution of tensions is to be accomplished in fact or only in the
work of art (or the aesthetic state) as a surrogate. In any case, Schillers
presentation of ancient Greece can be adequately understood only within
this philosophical context.
This is not to suggest that individual texts are inaccessible to a straightforward reading. In closing it is important to note two poems, the ballad
Die Kraniche des Ibykus (The Cranes of Ibycus, 1797) and the elegy
Die Snger der Vorwelt (1795), in which Schiller uses Greece as the
backdrop for a portrayal of ideas that are important to him. The ballad,
based on a story from late antiquity, tells of the unmasking of two murderers at a performance of the Eumenides of Aeschylus, during which the chorus of the Furies provokes such terror in the criminals that they
spontaneously confess their crime. The elegy begins with an evocation of
the close relationship in antiquity between poets and their audience, and
goes on to celebrate the wider harmony existing at that time between idea
and reality; not only were the gods visible, the poet also did not have to
struggle for an inner vision but took his inspiration from the reality that
surrounded him. In both poems, Greece serves as the ideal locus for a paradigm of humanity and society. They portray a world in which aesthetic,
religious, and ethical experience all work together, in which inner and
outer experience mirror each other, and in which the poet is the mouthpiece for communal beliefs. It is a powerful vision, and we do not disparage
Schiller by saying that he based it on the deficiencies and absences that he
felt in himself and in the world in which he lived. Like all traditions, classicism must constantly transform itself to answer the needs of each succeeding period, and Schillers version of classicism is a product of its time. But
with its combination of personal engagement and intellectual sophistication, of formal clarity and moving lyricism, it deserves to be counted
among the finest and most interesting versions of classicism to have
appeared in European letters.

Notes
1

The same attitude to antiquity can be found in Shaftesburys Characteristics the


impact of which on German aesthetic thought has long been recognized. See for
example Shaftesburys rebuke to modern writers for flattering their readers rather
than attempting to educate them: Had the early poets of Greece thus complimented their nation by complying with its first relish and appetite, they had not
done their countrymen such service nor themselves such honour as we find they

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

63

did by conforming to truth and nature (118). On the reasons for Shaftesburys
widespread influence, see Kondylis 39398, and for his relation to Schiller, see
especially Cassirer. As Riedel points out (Popularphilosophie, 164), it cannot be
shown that Schiller read Shaftesbury himself. It is more likely that his ideas were
transmitted to him by Wieland.
2

Schillers dramas and prose works are cited by volume and page number from
Werke und Briefe in 12 vols., ed. Klaus Harro Hilzinger et al. (Known as the
Frankfurter Ausgabe; Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988-).
Poems are quoted from vol. 1 of this edition and are cited by line number only.
Schillers letters are cited from vols. 11 and 12 of the same edition and are identified by recipient and date.

3
See the conclusion to Dsings recent article on Schillers classical elegies: Das
Ziel klassischer Kunst . . . ist nicht mehr die Umgestaltung der Wirklichkeit. Es
geht um Befreiung, um Erlsung durch die Aufhebung der Zeit in der Epiphanie
des Schnen (114).
4

The Rousseauian praise of the noble savage, evident in the passage starting Sehet
den schnellen Indianer an, der einem Hirsche zu Fue nachsetzet (6), can also be
seen as a modern version of the Stoical life according to nature.

For Winckelmanns transference of emotions originally associated with Pietism to a


secular and pagan context, see the interesting comments by Nicholas Boyle (2829).

This text was published in 1786, though its central part, the Theosophie des Julius,
goes back to his years at the Karlsschule. The best short account of Schillers philosophy of love is contained in the two cited articles by Wolfgang Riedel.

Eben so wenig darf die Kunst es entgelten, da sie . . . im achtzehnten Jahrhundert nicht ist, was unter Aspasia und Perikles (8:188).
8

The faults of Spitzfindigkeit, Knstlichkeit und Witzelei to which Schiller admits


in this letter echo the critique of modern literature in Shaftesburys Soliloquy, or
Advice to an Author (Characteristics, 93): I must confess there is hardly anywhere to be found a more insipid race of mortals than those whom we moderns are
contented to call poets for having attained the chiming faculty of a language with an
injudicious random use of wit and fancy.

9
Schiller did not entirely neglect Roman literature. In 179091, as part of his pursuit of Classizitt, he translated parts of books 4 and 6 of the Aeneid, transposing
the material from the hexameters of the original into the ottava rima of Italian
Renaissance epic. His hexameter translation of part of book 1 is a school exercise
and is of less interest. Emil Staiger has some thought-provoking remarks as to the
Virgilian source of Schillers vision of the underworld in the opening of Das Ideal
und das Leben (29) and also concerning the greater affinity of Schillers use of
language to Latin than to Greek (18184). It may also not be fanciful to detect a
general influence of Virgils Georgics in Der Spaziergang and Das Lied von der
Glocke, particularly in their portrayal of the antithesis of peaceful industriousness
and civil disorder. For a general discussion of Schillers translations, see Koopmann,
bersetzungen, Bhnenbearbeitungen.
10

See Habel, Schiller und die Tradition des Herakles-Mythos for Schillers
reliance on Winckelmann for his interpretation of the Hercules myth.

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DAVID PUGH

11
Schiller returns to the motif of the birth of Venus in 1795 in the announcement
of Die Horen, the journal that he dedicated to the cause of Humanitt.
12

In its fusion of mortal and immortal, the sculpture serves as a synthesis of


Schillers two basic types of deification, the ascent of Hercules and the descent of
Venus. In accordance with the dualism of Schillers thought, these can be said to
represent respectively the beautiful and the sublime options, or in Christian parlance the equivalents of incarnation and resurrection. The name Ludovisi refers to
the Roman villa where the original could be inspected. As Rolf-Peter Janz informs
us in his commentary (8:1399), the cast of the sculpture on display in Goethes
house in Weimar, which we now know to have been a portrait bust, was only
acquired after Schillers death in 1823. Schiller must thus have known it only from
hearsay.

13

This metaphysical expansion of the idea of nature is an epochal phenomenon.


See the discussion by Kondylis, Die Struktur des normativistischen Naturbegriffs, 34256. The lateness of Schillers position in the history of this concept is
shown by his awareness of the gulf between nature as reality (die wirkliche
Natur) and as ideal (die wahre Natur; see ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, 8:780). This crisis in his concept of nature gives rise to the rupture in his
aesthetics between the concepts of the beautiful and the sublime.

14

Schiller gives a further explanation for this point in a footnote to ber naive und
sentimentalische Dichtung, referring here to the Kantian categories of unity, multiplicity and totality (8:777).
15

For a classic account of the prefiguration model, see Auerbach 16, 4849, and
passim. On page 73, Auerbach quotes his own definition of figura from a previous
article: Figural interpretation established a connection between two events or
persons in such a way that the first signifies not only itself but also the second, while
the second involves or fulfils the first.
16
There has been an extensive critical discussion of the relation of ancient and
modern traditions in this play, in particular on Schillers use of the concept of fate.
For a recent discussion, see Ritzer. For a full bibliography, see Guthkes article on
the play (Koopmann, ed. 46685).
17

For further comments on the classical qualities of this drama, see Ptz 295302.

18

Schiller follows Winckelmann in this idealization of Periclean Athens: Die


glcklichsten Zeiten fr die Kunst in Griechenland, und sonderlich in Athen,
waren die vierzig Jahre, in welchen Perikles, so zu reden, die Republik
regierte . . . (Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, 308). It is unlikely that Schiller
knew Pericles great funeral speech from Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian
War.
19

The rupture of nature and culture is evoked in the poem as liberty gives way to
libertinism: Freiheit ruft die Vernunft, Freiheit die wilde Begierde, / Von der
heilgen Natur ringen sie lstern sich los (ll. 14142). The subsequent period of
decadence and depravity is described in rather general terms although, with its references to treachery and sycophancy, it is reminiscent of Tacituss account of Rome
under Tiberius, confirming again the Winckelmannian shift of paradigm from
Roman to Greek antiquity.

SCHILLER AND CLASSICAL ANTIQUITY

65

Works Cited
Abrams, M. H. Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in
Romantic Literature. New York: Norton, 1971.
Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature.
Trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1968.
Boyle, Nicholas. The Poetry of Desire. Vol. 1 of Goethe: The Poet and the Age.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991.
Cassirer, Ernst. Schiller und Shaftesbury. Publications of the English Goethe
Society n.s. 11 (1935): 3759.
Dsing, Wolfgang. Aspekte des Kunstbegriffs in Schillers klassichen Elegien.
In Traditionen der Lyrik: Festschrift fr Hans-Henrik Krummacher, ed.
Wolfgang Dsing, 10314. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 1997.
Guthke, Karl S. Die Braut von Messina. In Schiller-Handbuch, ed. Helmut
Koopmann, 46685.
Habel, Reinhardt. Schiller und die Tradition des Herakles-Mythos. In Terror
und Spiel, ed. Manfred Fuhrmann, 26594. Poetik und Hermaneutik 4.
Munich: Fink, 1971.
Hatfield, Henry. Aesthetic Paganism in German Literature: From Winckelmann to the Death of Goethe. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1964.
Kondylis, Panajotis. Die Aufklrung im Rahmen des neuzeitlichen Rationalismus. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986.
Koopmann, Helmut, ed. Schiller-Handbuch. Stuttgart: Alfred Krner, 1998.
. bersetzungen, Bhnenarbeitungen. In Schiller-Handbuch, 729
42.
Malsch, Wilfried. Hinfllig geoffenbartes Urbild: Griechenland in Herders
typologischer Geschichtsphilosophie. Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft 30 (1986): 16195.
Ovid. Metamorphoses. 2 vols. Trans. Frank Justus Miller. Loeb Classical
Library, London: Heinemann, 1966.
Ptz, Peter. Nhe und Ferne zur Antike: Iphigenie und Maria Stuart.
In Unser Commercium: Goethes und Schillers Literaturpolitik, ed. Wilfried
Barner, Eberhard Lmmert, and Norbert Oellers, 289302. Stuttgart:
Cotta, 1984.
Riedel, Wolfgang. Schiller und die Popularphilosophie. In Schiller-Handbuch,
ed. Helmut Koopmann, 15566.
. Schriften der Karlsschulzeit. In Schiller-Handbuch, ed. Helmut
Koopmann, 54759.
Ritzer, Monika. Not und Schuld. Zur Funktion des antiken Schicksalbegriffs
in Schillers Braut von Messina. In Schiller heute, ed. Helmut Koopmann and
Hans-Jrg Knobloch, 13150. Stauffenberg Colloquium 40. Tbingen:
Stauffenberg, 1996.

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Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of. Characteristics of Men,


Manners, Opinions, Times. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy.
Ed. Lawrence Klein. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.
Staiger, Emil. Friedrich Schiller. Zurich: Atlantis, 1967.
Winckelmann, Johann Joachim. Gedanken ber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1969.
. Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums. Vienna, 1934. Reprint, Darmstadt:
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1993.

Schiller the Historian


Otto Dann

SCHILLER WAS TWENTY-EIGHT years old when, after having


enjoyed sensational success as a dramatist, he decided to set aside his
creative poetic work to devote himself entirely to the writing of history.
Resigning his post as a military doctor in Stuttgart in September 1782 left
Schiller without a steady income and heavily in debt. As a historian he
gained new intellectual perspectives, social connections, and sources of
income. In 1785 Schiller moved from southwest to central Germany and
soon became a noted partner in the flourishing book and newspaper industry. Already well known as a dramatist, as a writer he encountered personal
engagement and intellectual interest within socially open-minded literary
and artistic circles in Leipzig, Dresden, Jena, and Weimar. Supported by
the young Leipzig-based publisher Georg Joachim Gschen, he was able
to continue the journal Thalia, which he had begun in Weimar. In the
second issue of the magazine, in February 1786, the second act of Don
Carlos appeared. It was the last drama of Schillers early phase, as well as his
first historical prose text.
Schillers decision to write history ripened while working on the project Geschichte der merkwrdigsten Rebellionen und Verschwrungen (History of the Most Remarkable Rebellions and Conspiracies, 1788)
concerning the Dutch rebellion against Spain in the sixteenth century,
which he had been carrying out with a close friend of his, Ludwig Ferdinand Huber, since 1786. The encouragement of the prominent Weimar
writer Christoph Martin Wieland in the fall of 1787 was critical. Wieland
suggested to Schiller that he expand his piece on the Dutch rebellion
into a scientifically-based description. One year later the first volume of
Schillers history became available and secured for him a reputation as an
excellent historian: Geschichte des Abfalls der Vereinigten Niederlande von
der spanischen Regierung (History of the Revolt of the Spanish Netherlands, 1788/1801).
The young historical narrator became courageous. He threw himself
immediately into a new project that was now also supported by his friend
in Dresden, Gottfried Krner: the publication of an Allgemeine Sammlung
historischer Memoirs vom zwlften Jahrhundert bis auf die neuesten Zeiten
(General Collection of Historical Memoirs from the Twelfth Century to
RIEDRICH

68

OTTO DANN

Today, 17911806). In this subsequent work, at least four volumes of personal memoirs from European history since the Middle Ages were to
appear annually. Schiller accepted the task of writing an introductory historical overview for every volume.
But that was not enough: in December 1788, Schiller was fooled by
his own ambition and by the Weimar government under Goethes administration (see Schillers letter of December 15, 1788) into assuming a lectureship in history at the university in Jena during the summer semester of
1789. His involvement in the German university system, with which he
was not yet familiar, was a personal challenge. Was heit und zu welchem
Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte? (What is, and to What End Does
One Study Universal History?, 1789) is the frequently-quoted title of his
inaugural lecture of May 16, 1789, which was published in the same year.
Schiller also recorded other of his earliest lectures and published them
soon thereafter.
The end of 1789 saw the continuation of his Geschichte des Abfalls der
Vereinigten Niederlande. But Schiller was tempted to accept his publishers
offer to write a new work of his own historical narration: Geschichte des
Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs (History of the Thirty Years War, 1791/93). It
was published in Gschens Historischer Calender fr Damen and became
a great success.
In 1789 and 1790, the thirty-year-old Schiller was not only emboldened by the revolutionary events in Paris, but was convinced that he could
increase his productivity still further, which included writing a deutscher
Plutarch (see the letter of December 16, 1790, to Krner). He overestimated his energy, and became a victim of the book until, in January 1791,
his appalling physical condition caused him to take a break, at which point
he either dropped his previous commitments or handed them over to someone else. Beginning early in 1792, a stipend from Denmark stemmed
Schillers financial worries and enabled him to undertake an intensive study
of Kantian philosophy, which opened up new perspectives. He devoted his
time first to aesthetic and anthropological questions, publishing them in
extensive pamphlets. In 1796, poetry and drama moved back to the center
of his attention, partly due to the influence of his friendship with Goethe.
This provides a sketch of the most important dates that mark Schillers
work as a historian. They enable us to discern a historical phase in Schillers
career lasting five years, from late summer 1787 until fall 1792. Supported
also by Schillers statements in letters of October 26, 1787, to Huber, and
September 21, 1792, to Krner, the idea of such a phase in Schillers career
has generally been adopted by scholarship. The intensive investigations
into Schillers activity as a historian around the anniversaries of 1859 and
1905 continued to have their effect, for example, those by Ottokar
Lorenz, Johannes Janssen, Rudolf Boxberger, Theodor Kkelhaus, and
Richard Fester. At that time in the age of historicism it was shown

SCHILLER THE HISTORIAN

69

that because of the manner of his work and the forms of representation
that he chose, and in view of the contemporary standards of scholarship,
Schiller could not be considered a historian.
However, to marginalize Schillers histories is dubious. For it is based
on a problematic approach that is retrospective in nature, and in many
respects often the anti-historical resentment of those who are committed
to literature in the narrower sense. In a letter to Krner in 1792, Schiller
describes his historiographical obligations as a burden and says that he
wants to finish them as soon as possible. One has to keep in mind that
Schiller the historian was still an artist. For him and his contemporaries, art
and science were the two great cultural realms, and were related in their
investigation and mediation of truth. Only in our time has the task arisen
of incorporating Schillers productive engagement with history more adequately and comprehensively into our understanding of his lifelong work
and the times in which he lived, and re-evaluating its significance.
First, it must be said that Schillers interest in history (Geschichte) and
stories (Geschichten) was not at all limited to those five years. Beginning in
Stuttgart, stories based on authentic life experiences fascinated Schiller. As
an author he had a need to tell true stories. In 1782 there is some early evidence of this, for example, the short story Eine gromtige Handlung
aus der neuesten Geschichte, based on an event from 1547 to which
Schiller had devoted serious historical study. In the story he reports on the
destiny of two brothers in the environs of Stuttgart. He places the story
into the context of the most recent history and its educated society, telling
it in the form of a drama.
Schillers next and weightier historical narration stems from 1785: the
historical novella Der Verbrecher aus Infamie (Criminal Out of Infamy,
1784) which bears the notable subtitle: Eine wahre Geschichte. This
true story appeared in the second issue of Schillers journal Thalia, and
provided him with the opportunity to present himself to the reading audience in a new form. Here the original relationship between his literature
and his historical project becomes graphically clear, as Schiller narrates
once again a nexus of occurrences that extend from the framework of the
everyday and were of special interest to him. As an author, he considered it
his task to bring them back to life with the aid of narrative representation.
But, before writing the final version of Verbrecher aus Infamie, Verbrecher
aus verlorener Ehre (Criminal Out of Dishonor, 1785), which was based on
the life of an actual criminal, Schiller reflected thoroughly on the functions
of historical narration and its specific methods.
The first printing of the second act of Don Carlos, the most important
historical drama of the young Schiller, is the focus of attention of the aforementioned second issue of Thalia. His preparations for writing the play
included considerably more study of historical literature than for his earlier
pieces. For the first time he dared to use a significant theme from

70

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European history. In the process of studying the literature, Schiller recognized that an appealing, modern literary-historical narration ran parallel to
traditional historiography. He had read William Robertsons three-volume
History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V (1769) in German translation, Robert Watsons The History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of
Spain (1777) in French translation, and Guillaume-Hyacinthe Bougeants
depiction of the Thirty Years War and the Peace of Westphalia, Historie des
guerres et des ngoticiations qui prcdnerent le Trait de Westphalie (History of the War and Negotiations Leading to the Treaty of Westphalia,
1727). Upon having studied the latter, he shared with Krner the wish
that he had begun the writing of history earlier (letter of April 15, 1786).
For some time, Schiller had known Sebastien Mercier, the French dramatic poet who at that time was capturing the stage with his Tableaux historiques. In the second issue of Thalia, Schiller published a translation of a
characterization of King Philip II of Spain by Mercier that was associated
thematically with Don Carlos, thereby presenting another piece of historical prose. Although this text, Philipp der Zweite, Knig von Spanien: Von
Mercier, does not classify as a historical work in the narrower sense, it has
been assigned a place among Schillers historical writings in editions of his
work.
Finally, one can find in the aforementioned second issue of Thalia the
impressive poem Resignation with the memorable line: Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht (l. 95). Even though he borrowed the
topos, the verse makes it clear that, next to narrative stories, Schiller also
had an overarching concept of universal history. At that time the term
Weltgeschichte was used as a collective singular that signaled a new kind
of philosophical-historical thinking (Koselleck, 65368). The same issue of
Thalia, in which Schiller also granted his friends Krner, Huber, and the
young author Sophie Albrecht a voice, testifies to Schillers progressive and
reflective engagement with history in its various forms within the learned
society of education (Bildungsgesellschaft) of the time.
As has been mentioned, in the course of the year 1786 Schiller took on
a new literary project that included the term history in its title: Geschichte
der merkwrdigsten Rebellionen und Verschwrungen. It was not one but
several accounts of previous rebellions and conspiracies, written by a
number of authors, which were to appear with the Leipzig-based publisher
Crusius. Though grounded on historical literature, the pieces did not
claim a scientific basis but, according to Schiller, focused on das Interesse
des Details und der Charaktere. In their pragmatic manner of representation they were different from another novel that Schiller began to write in
1786: Der Geisterseher. Eine Geschichte aus den Memoiren des Grafen von
O** (The Ghostseer: A Story from the Memoirs of the Count von O**).
However, this work, despite the historical-sounding title and a beginning
that purports to be the report of an eyewitness and pure, strict truth

SCHILLER THE HISTORIAN

71

(reine, strenge Wahrheit), was an invention of Schillers imagination.


Der Geisterseher, which remained a fragment, was Schillers only novel and,
up until that time, his greatest public success.
In addition to the many forms of historical narration and reflections
on history that Schiller undertook during this period, we point once again
to the two historical dramas that originated in these years. They were based
on an intensive study of historical literature, and indicate Schillers intention to re-enliven, through the use of the historical imagination, human,
social, and political problems that prevailed in the societies of the sixteenth
century. After delving into all of these forms of historical representation
that he had been using since 1782, in the fall of 1787 Schiller shifted to
history. With the Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der
spanischen Regierung Schiller hoped to succeed in this new discipline of
history, zu dem ich mich angefangen habe zu bestimmen, beim Publikum
gut an[zu] kndigen (letter of November 5, 1787, to Crusius). The
forms of historical thinking and representation that he had developed previously affected his new practice of critical, referenced, and pragmatic historical portrayals. It is only at this point that Schiller depicts himself as a
historian and is recognized as such by his readership. Alles macht mir hier
seine Glckwnsche, dass ich mich in die Geschichte geworfen, he writes
to Krner on December 19, 1787, from Weimar.
The transition to scientific historical narration was indeed a leap for
Schiller in an existential sense. His correspondence in the winter of
178788, especially with Krner, is not only a protocol, but also an interpretation of this transformation. In his letters of January of that year,
Schiller underscores the following points:
1. He fears that he is burned out and written out (ausgeschrieben) as a
poet and dramatist who generates ideas from inside. Instead, in historical narration, he borrows themes taken from external sources and is
able to process them freely.
2. He hopes for a different audience. Schiller does not only want to write
for friends of belles-lettres, who are mostly women. He also wishes to
reach the politically and economically interested businessman. He
wants to act in public life and to seek recognition, that is, Anerkennung in der sogenannten Gelehrten- und in der brgerlichen Welt
(letter of January 7, 1788).
3. He needs a higher income. Schiller wanted to unburden himself of his
debts in order to provide for a family (letter to Krner on April 16,
1788). After his previous bad experiences, he now places his bets on
historical literature and on collaboration in magazines.
In sum, for Schiller, the transition to professional historical writing
was tied to a new outline for his life that goes beyond a change of subjects. He wanted, for the first time in his life, to have his fate in his own

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power, and he wanted to achieve this within a year (letter of January 7,


1788). He wanted to be better anchored socially and, with the means at
his disposal, to be active in public life. Here the social and political
dimension of his life comes into view, without which the conditions and
intentions of Schillers historical writing must remain incomprehensible.
In the various states of the Holy Roman Empire, the 1780s were high
points for the reform movement and its initiatives, especially in education.
In this third decade of his life, Schillers sensibility for the spiritual and
political tendencies of the time were articulated in an abundance of productive messages. His interest in alternative social behavior was visible early
on. This was confirmed, for example, with the success of Die Ruber (The
Robbers, 1781). With his second drama project, Fiesco (1783), he referred
back to a national uprising in the city of Genoa. In Kabale und Liebe
(Intrigue and Love, written 178283, published 1784), he staged the
social conflicts of his own epoch, and, in Don Carlos (1787), the stage
became the world theater of European history. It was only after these
historical dramas that Schiller completed the transition to the writing of
history, thematizing the Dutch revolution of the sixteenth century in his
Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der spanischen
Regierung. As he writes in his introduction, he wished to erect a monument to the strength of the middle class: dieses schne Denkmal brgerlicher Strke vor der Welt aufzustellen, in der Brust meines Lesers ein
frhliches Gefhl seiner selbst zu erwecken und ein unverwerfliches Beispiel
zu geben, was Menschen wagen und ausrichten mgen durch Vereinigung. In the same context he expressed his conviction, dass gegen die
trotzigen Anmaungen der Frstengewalt endlich noch eine Hilfe vorhanden ist, dass ihre berechnetsten Plne an der menschlichen Freiheit zuschanden werden.1
In the Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der spanischen Regierung Schiller brought to the fore the current issues of educated
German society in the 1780s: social criticism, the middle-class problem of
freedom, and a political revolution that, even though it was not an imminent reality, was often discussed. Explosive content lies behind the ponderous title of Schillers first great historical work. In reading the introduction
(6:4156), one can relate even today to the revolutionary expectations that
were alive in the educated society of central Europe in the 1780s, that is,
long before the revolutionary events of 1789 in Paris.
Schiller first became aware of the history of the Dutch revolution of the
late sixteenth century in conjunction with the writing of his drama Don
Carlos. Through the dramatic character of Marquis Posa of the fragment in
the Thalia, the Dutch people stand in the background of events as a suppressed, yet heroic people (ein unterdrcktes Heldenvolk). Subsequently,
Schiller intended to write an article on Die Rebellion der vereinigten

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73

Niederlande for his project Geschichte der merkwrdigsten Rebellionen und


Verschwrungen. He began writing in August 1787, after settling in Weimar.
At the beginning of October he informed his publisher that he had completed the text. This text was the object of a lecture that took place on
October 24, 1787, in the Weimar residence of Schillers friend Charlotte
von Kalb.
One could almost say that, on that evening, the historian Friedrich
Schiller was born. Wieland, the influential editor of the journal Teutscher
Merkur, was present, and, as Schiller was to report to Huber in his letter of
October 26, 1787, proclaimed that Schiller was born to write histories.
Wieland agreed to publish the text in his journal. It appeared in that
publication at the beginning of 1788. In an accompanying note, Wieland
declared the dramatist and poet to be a historian.
With that, the die had been cast for Schillers immediate future. His
audience, the German educated class, now expected a historical work from
him. Motivated by Wieland, as well as by the prospect of a professorship at
the University of Jena, Schiller knitted together the next phase in his life by
turning decidedly in this direction. He now concentrated completely on
historical work and on source materials with which he had not been familiar, but which provided him with a new self-awareness.
Before completing his account of the Union of Utrecht (1579) in July
of 1789, Schiller had begun to envision continuing this thread of history in
a multi-volume project on the topic of the fall of the Netherlands. In his
Vorrede, Schiller declared this first volume to be but an introduction to
the real revolution (6:37). He also provided a comprehensive summary of
his historical research for the volume. He named the sources from which
he had profited most (6:3839) They included, for example, Robert
Watsons characterization of the reign of Philipp II (1777), Hugo Grotiuss
depictions of modern Dutch history (1658), and Adam Anderson and
Friedrich Christoph Jonathan Fischers co-authored economic-historical
studies of the times (1775 and 1785). Schiller mentioned first the authors
of the historiographic tradition from whose work he had extrapolated
retold history, which since the ancients had been part of rhetoric; however,
he treats the authors views in a more detailed and critical way. Second,
Schiller cited more recent authors, specifically from the fields of statistics
and economic history, with whose help he could add a cultural-historical
dimension to his manner of representation. This distinct and reflected use
of historical matter shows that Schillers historical writing was on its way to
becoming a methodologically-based science.
The introduction provides a profile of the Netherlands liberating battle against the despotism of Philip II, sets it into a European framework,
and interprets it from a historical-theoretical perspective. Influenced by the
then-increasing interest in psychology, Schiller dedicated considerable space
to character analyses of his leading dramatic figures. These characterizations

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of the dramatis personae are high points in the art of representation, and
through them we come to recognize Schillers cultural-historical achievements.
Beginning with Don Carlos Schiller succeeded in helping to bring
about a breakthrough in the direction of historical writing in Germany.
This reform can only be understood from todays vantage point if one is
familiar with the situation of historical writing in the eighteenth century:
on the one hand, scholarly histories, which describe the Haupt- und Staatsaktionen in a ponderous style and with numerous footnotes; on the other
hand, authors of historical novels who tell stories in the gallant style of the
time but give no thought to the question of truth. Schiller wanted to tie
these traditions together. He wanted to go back to the sources themselves
in a critical and pragmatic manner. At the same time, he wanted to write in
a polished style. With such historical narration Schiller aimed at practicing
a philosophical way of thinking about history that places stories into a
modern context of development.
Schillers academic appointment as a professor at the University of
Jena took place at the end of May 1789, precisely the week in which the
revolutionary estates began to assemble in Versailles to constitute a
national assembly of the French people. His interest in revolutions and
peoples revolts led the young dramatist to an engagement in history. One
may conclude that Schiller followed the events in France with particular
attention, sympathy, and expectation.
Schillers inaugural lecture in Jena, which was published as Was heit
und zu welchem Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte?, contains the programmatic draft of the universal-historical project that occupied Schiller in
that year of revolution, 1789/90. He saw it necessary to create a new discourse concerning the idea and goal of universal history. Furthermore,
new orientations opened up for the methodology and self-understanding
of the writing of history. Schiller calls the historian a researcher of history
(Geschichtsforscher, 6:428), thereby indicating that historical writing
was on the way to becoming an empirically analytical science.
In his inaugural lecture, Schiller juxtaposes two different and fundamental approaches: the recognition of the past by means of facts and
events, and the achievement of an overview of the epochs of history that
will allow comprehension of their interrelationships (6:41216). The latter
is the philosophical study of history. However, historical writing since Aristotle had been focused only on actual occurrences; it was the responsibility
of philosophy to inquire into the universal and the true. Schiller opposes
this traditional limitation of history. He was convinced that universal history could achieve something that had been considered impossible in the
Western tradition, namely, the arrival at universally valid truth-claims from
a close study of the past. Presumably, such a universal history would throw
light on not only the past but also the most recent developments of the

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time. The individual human being would be liberated from the limitations
of his private existence and placed into a larger social context. Universal
historical interest would open up a perspective of social development that
aims to bring about, in Schillers words, our century of humanity
(unser menschliches Jahrhundert herbeizufhren, 6:430).
This programmatic introductory address was followed by a number of
lectures that illuminated specific connections between occurrences in
human history. Three of these lectures have been preserved. They give us
an impression of how Schiller completed his project of universal history.
In the essay Etwas ber die erste Menschengesellschaft, Schiller
explains that history is never accessible to us directly, but only via narrative
traditions. He refers to a biblical tradition, and presents an example that
shows the courage and innovative power of his enlightened spirit to interpret the Bible in a new way. The fall of man is now the beginning of mans
freedom (6:434). In a separate section of the essay, Schiller addresses the
origins of social inequality. He ends with an analysis of the origin of legends concerning monarchical sovereignty in light of the idea of the sovereignty of the people. In the essay Die Sendung Moses the biblical
tradition is Schillers most important source. Yet he also refers back to a
report about ancient Egyptian mysteries. Here he highlights the problem
of the self-liberation of an oppressed people. Schiller singles out the constitutive role of Moses as the leader of his people, that is, the figure of a ruler.
In addition, Schiller deals with the question of what significance religion
can play in such a liberating process; on the one hand, for the common
people, and, on the other hand, for the educated. In the epoch of the late
Enlightenment (Sptaufklrung), the European intelligentsia was increasingly concerned with this question.
In the essay Die Gesetzgebung des Lykurgus und Solon (The
Legislation of Lycurgos and Solon, 1790), Schiller presents a historicalconstitutional comparison between the most famous city-republics of Greek
antiquity. At the same time, a third reality is involved: Schillers own time.
Its central themes stand in the foreground and form the criteria for the
comparison: the relationship of the political constitution and culture, of
civil and human rights, and of the political constitution and social structure.
Eventually, in the discussion about constitutional patriotism in a republic of
citizens, he pleads for representative democracy. With that, his writing
attains a political relevance achieved by no other universal-historical text.
Schiller composed all of these universal-historical texts during the first
year of the French Revolution. Especially remarkable is how affirmatively
Schiller argues for the principle of the sovereignty of the people and how
he defends the constitutional form of representative democracy in Die
Gesetzgebung des Lykurgus und Solon. We know that Schiller composed
this text in the days in which the French National Assembly was adopting
the Declaration of Human and Citizens Rights. During the summer

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months of 1789, Schiller lived in synchronous rhythm with the French


Revolution. With his unswerving republicanism he was even ahead of
developments, constitutionally. His vision, which was directed at those
nations that were undergoing a process of emancipation, was broadened to
a universal one. In these weeks, he considered the ideal of a self-liberating
humanity to be the only sensible mode of philosophically-oriented historical thinking. In light of the democratic revolution, which was now crossing
national borders, history had indeed become a history of humanity.
Schillers ideas of the tasks and methods of historiography were shaped
significantly by his experience with history. He had already publicly posed
these questions early in his career. In the introduction to his story Verbrecher
aus Infamie, he raises the question warum das Studium [der Geschichte]
fr das brgerliche Leben noch immer so fruchtlos geblieben [sei]
(7:563). That he asked the question in this way reveals that he had in mind
different basic conceptions of the general significance of history and its
future role in a middle-class society. Schiller points out that contemporary
historiography still considered itself to be part of rhetoric, whose task it is
to offer a moral explanation of past histories which, as he put it, warm the
heart. For his part, however, Schiller argues in favor of separating historical
writing from rhetoric, to which it had been attached since ancient times.
It could now concentrate on its own specific duties and have its own
legitimate methods: not dramatization or biased description, but the explanation and understanding of human behavior in view of ones unchangeable nature and changeable conditions (vernderlichen Bedingungen,
7:564). Young Schiller makes his point on the basis of a psychology of the
soul (Erfahrungsseelenkunde) that was then considered to be modern. It is
remarkable how clearly he pleads for the emancipation of the writing of
history from rhetoric while separating drama from history, even though
both merge in his person. The historian has to uncover the motives of
human behavior with cold reasoning and has to explain its structural relationships, but not take a moral stand. If he does this, he offends the republican freedom of the reading public, whose task it is to serve as the jury
(7:564).
Schillers first text on issues of history assumes a position that is modern even today: the pledge for a consistently delineated historiography that
is structurally and socially historical in nature. He points out the historiographical significance of police, medical, and prison files (7:562), for the
discovery of which Michael Foucault was celebrated in the twentieth
century.
This call for a clear separation of historical writing and poetry by the
young Schiller, which has hardly been recognized, makes his transition two
years later from the one discipline, drama, to the other, history, more
understandable. It is also recognizable in the methodological conception
of his first historical work, even if he does not maintain in any consistent

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77

manner the Grenzengerechtigkeit (6:564) that he proposed in 1786. As


the preface to the Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande
exhibits, Schiller underscores the separation of historical writing from the
novel. However, this raises the question of what form historical representation should take. It remains Schillers aspiration to link science and art, as
did the great historical writers of the eighteenth century whom he
admired: Montesquieu and Voltaire in France, Robertson in England, and
Johannes Mller in Germany. The historian remains true to his credo:
dass eine Geschichte historisch treu geschrieben sein kann, ohne darum
eine Geduldsprobe fr den Leser zu sein . . ., dass die Geschichte von einer
verwandten Kunst etwas borgen kann, ohne deswegen notwendig zum
Roman zu werden (6:40).
Schillers intent to provide an Einfhrung in die Universalgeschichte
in his Jena inaugural lecture of 1789 prompted him to further clarify and
deepen his position. For him, contemporary historiography was on its way
to becoming an empirically analytical science. The reference back to the
sources and their critical analysis is of central importance here. Schiller
devoted special attention to the question of sources, and the gaps in historians accounts of history lead to further problems concerning the nature
of historical knowledge.
Schillers real historical interest, however, was not tied to questions of
reconstructive historical science. By his own admission he did not want to
become a professional scholar of history. His primary concern was with
problems of historical interpretation, as well as with the transmission and
presentation of historical connections. Schillers idea was linked with developments in Europe that, in the last three decades of the eighteenth century, were marked by significant innovations. Since the time of his more
intensive study of history in Dresden, Schiller was influenced more and
more by the historiography of the English-Scottish Enlightenment
(William Robertson, Robert Watson, Edward Gibbon). In Scotland, a circle around David Hume, Adam Ferguson, and Adam Smith had introduced a new way of conceptualizing universal history. They saw it as a new
science of humanity, a genus of nature that runs through different stages of
progressive development to become, and further cultivate, middle-class
society.
In Germany, a group of historians at the new university in Gttingen
began to establish universal history as a separate discipline with its own
methodology. In 1767, Johann Christoph Gatterer released his first Handbuch der Universalgeschichte (Handbook of Universal History). August
Ludwig Schlzer followed, in 1772, with his Vorstellung einer Universalgeschichte (Idea of a Universal History). Schiller had become familiar
with these works as a student at the Karlsschule. In 1784, in Weimar,
Johann Gottfried Herder released his major work on universal history,
Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (Ideas Concerning

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a Philosophy of the History of Mankind, 1774). Schiller was impressed


with this work, and even more so with Kant.
Schillers study of Kant began in 1787 with a lecture on Kants Idee zu
einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbrgerlicher Absicht (Idea Concerning a
General History for World Citizens, 1784). For Schiller, Kants substantial
work accrued more than one meaning. He certainly did not overlook the
fact that, in his foreword, Kant expressed the hope that the writing of history would have its own Newton. What Kant had in mind was a historian
who not only supplied intellectual descriptions of events, but remained
focused on the possible goal of a history of enlightenment, namely a world
comprised of nation-states in which there was middle-class freedom for all
and an internationally secure rule of law. Schiller himself had in mind a universal history that was to be enacted methodologically and critically. This
was the level of Schillers expectations in 1789 when he began to teach at
the university in Jena and undertook an extensive editing project of historical memoirs, or Quellen-Editionsprojekt, the Allgemeine Sammlung historischer Memoirs. In 1790, Schillers recent encounters with history
changed the nature of his writing of history. But he held on to history as
the central realm of experience that challenged not only the philosophical
thinker but also the poet and dramatist. Schiller was no doubt the last historian to adopt the perspective of the Enlightenment before it was shattered by the experience of revolution. But even this he understood to be a
challenge to his own thinking about universal history that further motivated him to rethink its own traits and their historical interconnections in
the hope of achieving an authoritative standpoint in the present.
As he was being carried along by the events in Paris in the fall of 1789,
Schiller still advanced his idea of enlightened optimism in the inaugural
lecture, Was heit und zu welchem Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte?
In his first Universalhistorische bersicht (Overview of Universal History),
which he composed immediately thereafter, he took a step forward and
risked offering a new interpretation of the medieval Crusades with the aid
of dialectical argumentation. He considered this text to be an especially
successful form of philosophical history writing, and published it separately
under the title ber Vlkerwanderung, Kreuzzge und Mittelalter
(Concerning the Migration of Peoples, the Crusades and the Middle Ages,
in the Sammlung historischer Memoires, 1792; 6:51840). The winter
semester of 1789 to 1790 was the first one during which Schiller devoted
his full energies to his work at the university. He delivered lectures on universal history titled Vom Zeitalter Karls des Groen bis zum Zeitalter
Friedrichs II: Knig von Preuen (From the Age of Carl the Great to the
Age of Frederick II, King of Prussia) and Rmische Geschichte. In the
spring of 1790 he composed a second Universalhistorische bersicht
(6:54572), which led to the publication of his two-volume Allgemeinen
Sammlung historischer Memoirs the same year. But before this, in the

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summer semester of that year, Schiller presented a lecture on a different


subject, Theorie der tragischen Kunst (Theory of Tragic Art). Two additional essays on this new topic have been preserved, ber den Grund des
Vergngens an tragischen Gegenstnden (On the Cause of Pleasure in
Tragedy) and ber die tragische Kunst (On Tragic Art) (8:23475).
They signal a new orientation in Schillers activities. Here he addresses the
connection between the writing of history and the drama of history, the
relationship between historical and political truth, and offers opinions
about sublime events in history. This meant, above all, his critical assessment of the French Revolution. New problems and perspectives emerged
from this experience of history.
Since September 1789 Schillers life had stood under the sign of multiple transitions. After having moved to Jena, Schiller met a number of
women of the court, among whom was Charlotte von Lengefeld, to whom
he proposed. When the wedding was announced in December 1789, the
ruling duke, Carl August of Saxony-Weimar, took a personal interest in
the marriage. Schiller was named Hofrat and thereby became worthy of
appearing at court and entitled to all attending rights and privileges.
At first, he received a modest stipend. His wife could not live without a
maidservant, nor Schiller without a servant, and the latter immediately
became his scribe. Schiller adopted a new orientation to life. In a letter of
September 30, 1790, he wrote of einer gewaltigen Revolution, nicht
geringer in meinem Ideenleben als diejenige, welche in meinem huslichen
vorgegangen ist. In the background lay the experience of the revolution
in France. In addition to newspaper reports, the personal accounts of those
who had traveled to Paris gained in importance by the end of the year,
especially his first conversations with Wilhelm von Humboldt, the skeptical
liberal. To Schiller, Humboldt radiated an enlightened disposition that was
realistic and reserved in the face of any idealization of political revolutions,
and they became close friends.
Immediately upon completing the essay on the Crusades, Schiller
accepted the offer of Gschen, his publisher, to write a contribution on the
Thirty Years War for the Historischen Calender fr Damen (Historical Calendar for Women, 1791). It was not until May 1790 that Schiller was able
to turn his attention to the development of this project for the Calender.
He began this undertaking in the manner of his previous optimistic view of
history, but texts being written at that time were characterized by a different view of political relationships and developments. Schiller presents a
broad historical canvas of religious and political conflicts in his approach to
the Thirty Years War, and then moves to a portrayal of individual campaigns, wherein princes and commanders take center stage. They are the
subjects of history. People are arranged mainly according to their activities.
Even the central concept of freedom is associated with the princes and
their Libertt, and no longer, as before, with peoples and nations.

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A new chapter in Schillers writing of history begins with the


Geschichte des dreiigjhrigen Kriegs. The Calender fr das Jahr 1791 had
been carefully prepared and advertised by the publisher, Gschen, in a
number of announcements and beautifully appointed with illustrations.
Since the time of its appearance at the fall book fair of 1790, it was a huge
success and enjoyed the most positive reviews. Within a year of the appearance of the first part of the work, Wieland would write in his Neuen
Teutschen Merkur:
Selten ist in Deutschland eine Schrift mit lebhafterem und allgemeinerem
Beifall gelesen worden [. . .] und wiewohl diese Geschichte vorzglich
und namentlich fr Leserinnen bestimmt war, glaube ich doch ohne
bertreibung sagen zu knnen, dass sie so viele Leser gehabt habe, als es
in dem ganzen Umfang unserer Sprache Personen gibt, die auf einigen
Grad von Kultur und des Geistes Anspruch zu machen haben.

The unusually high honorarium he would receive for writing the work was
not the least of the reasons why Schiller accepted. As he was working on it,
from May 1790 on, it became clear to him that the project would not be
restricted to one essay. Schiller found himself obligated to articulate, in a
first Buch, the fundamental historical, religious, and political conditions
for the political and military conflict of the Thirty Years War, which at this
time was no longer understood simply as a religious war. His depiction of
the war of states begins in Book 2, following a masterfully written overview
of political and religious issues in the Holy Roman Empire according to
an outline of political relations in the European states with an account
of the so-called Westphalian War (162023). Schiller interpreted the
Bohemian Revolt (161820) as an intra-Habsburgian occurrence during
which the young emperor Ferdinand II had to prove himself.
Ferdinand II is the first of a series of great personages of action who
appear in Schillers Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs. In connection
with the portrayal of the war, these personages are now brought into the
foreground. In the course of Book 2, the two main characters, Wallenstein
and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, are introduced. In Book 3 Schiller
turns their confrontation of 1632 into the true high point of the work,
which ends with a description of the battle of Ltzen and an evaluation of
the fall of Gustavus Adolphus. Wallensteins transformation into a
todeswrdigen rebel and his memorable end in February 1634 occupies
the center of Book 4. Schiller still feels compelled to narrate the story
(Geschichte) of the Thirty Years War to its end. In the conclusion to his
work, the author reports that his original intention was to include a history
of the Peace of Mnster and Osnabrck, as ein groes und eigenes
Ganzes that would follow his account of the war. The problem of the creation of a European community, with which Schiller had opened his portrayal, remains unsolved. Schillers contemporaries shared this uncertainty

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81

when, in 1792, the war with revolutionary France had broken out and held
the attention of Europe until well after Schillers death.
Todays readers recognize more clearly than Schillers contemporaries
the disproportions and breaks in the works composition. They also have
his earlier historical writing more firmly in mind, above all the Geschichte
des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande. In comparison with Schillers earlier historical writings, the later work lacks an introduction and begins
immediately with the larger nexus of the problems of the time. With this
work Schiller departed from the academic style of historical writing. He no
longer included references to his sources and did not carry out a timeconsuming study of source materials before beginning to write. Schiller the
historical writer of 1790 no longer considered the battle for freedom and
political independence from a despotic ruler legitimate, either during the
Bohemian revolt or that of the Netherlands. Princes and military commanders determined the events. Peoples and nations, however, which had previously stood at the center of Schillers historical writing, are depicted
almost without exception as dependent subjects. The personalization of
history that is part of Schillers historiography should not be overlooked.
With the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs Schiller discontinues his
practice of providing character sketches of leading personae on their first
appearance, which he had favored as early as in Geschichte des Abfalls der
vereinigten Niederlande. Character sketches instead occur upon the death
or departure of historical personages. The writer thus heightens the significance of the leading figures as representatives of their time. In the first
part of the work, Gustavus Adolphus is the most prominent hero. In part
two, which was written two years later, Schiller gives greater attention to
the politics of his ascendancy.
How is the great success of the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs to
be explained? With this work Schiller reached a different readership, that of
the Calender fr Damen. But the work also matched Schillers own convictions. With the historiographical work that he had begun in 1787 and
then continued during his professorial appointment in Jena, he had an academic audience in mind. Following his experiences with the time-consuming
work of the historian and his quarrels with colleagues at the university, he
was disillusioned by the academic world and sought a way to leave the
university at the end of 1789. In his historical writing it became increasingly
more difficult for him to bridge the gap between the academic form and
the interests of his readers. In this circumstance, Gschens Calender project
offered him the opportunity to turn to a new audience. In spite of the
pointed topic of a war history, his work resonated broadly.
By the end of the eighteenth century, the German reading public
included large portions of middle-class society. Schiller possessed a critical
consciousness and a high regard for the reading public. The announcement for his next Thalia-project, the Rheinische Thalia (8:897903),

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serves as an example. He knew his readership was divided. A new mass


public stood in contrast to the traditional, academic one. With the advent
of this public, Schiller developed a need for greater knowledge of historical
development. The new interest in history among the German intellectual
classes and in the schools which contemporary reviews clearly show
was tied directly to the increasing interest in and consciousness of the
development of a German nation. This interest in history could not be satisfied by academic historiography: new forms of representation were
required. Schiller had known for some time now that the theater offered
that opportunity.
Therefore, it is not surprising that immediately following the success
of his historical work, Schiller would have been contemplating a drama
about Wallenstein, although he did not realize this plan until 1796.
Wallenstein became a drama of a new kind. Having taken up a broad study
of history, Schiller wanted to create a true drama of history (Geschichtsdrama). He was concerned with the representation and interpretation of a
historical reality and, unlike before, with the idealization of historical personages. During the writing of the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs,
Schiller experienced a remarkable shift of interest from the regal hero Gustavus Adolphus to the secretive Wallenstein, who appeared as a militarypolitical rebel. The drama Wallenstein was characterized correctly as a
continuation of the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs with aesthetic
means. In the meantime, it was acclaimed as the most modern, realistic
drama of the nineteenth century (Hinderer, 213, 268).
The tremendous success of Wallenstein among the public, including
the premiere performances of 1799 and the first book editions of 1800,
had a positive effect on the sales of Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs.
By 1802, the Geschichte had gone through several editions. Even today,
most of the interest in the historical work is sparked by the drama, including that of scholars of literature in particular. Schillers epochal significance
grew from the time of the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs to Wallenstein. It was to be found less in the realm of method and much more in
Schillers conception of history and forms of representation. What is yet to
be evaluated is a depiction of history that is no longer driven by a teleological viewpoint, but is immanent and oriented toward the concrete a
Geschichtsschreibung in transition.
The Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs has remained an important
work because of the themes it takes up. Three interrelated dimensions
should be emphasized:
1. First, its connection to its time. As the Holy Roman Empire reached
more and more of a crisis through the challenge posed by the French, a
depiction of its earlier time of great crisis must have been especially
interesting. Schillers work provides historical evidence of the political

SCHILLER THE HISTORIAN

83

crisis of the German nation of princes (Frsten-Nation) as the Holy


Roman Empire neared its end. The conclusions that Schiller himself
drew from this are to be found most clearly in his fragment of 1801,
Deutsche Gre (German Greatness): Deutsches Reich und deutsche
Nation sind zweierlei Dinge. Die Majestt des Deutschen ruhte nie auf
dem Haupt seiner Frsten . . . (1:735). The depiction of the birth of
the modern European state system could also demand interest at a time
in which that system was being questioned because of the division of
Poland and the challenge that revolutionary France presented.
2. Next, the person of Wallenstein. From the start, Schiller perceived
Wallenstein as a rebel against the emperor and the empire. He then
pursued this relationship in his drama and explored the problem of a
possible revolution within the empire. Schiller raised two aspects of this
problem for discussion: first, the question of the federal empires
founding and the legitimation of its political heritage, and second, the
new possibilities of the military usurpation of power in the light of the
revolutionization of the military.
3. Finally, we recall the importance of the Thirty Years War as the greatest
catastrophe in German history. In this regard it was not overshadowed
until the Second World War. It also marked the beginning of the end of
the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, upon which the relevance of Schillers depiction of the history of the Thirty Years War
depended.
Schiller was considered by the educated public of the time to be the
most modern writer of history (Geschichtsschreiber) in Germany. He saw
himself as being drawn to great historical events. At the university he
offered three lectures on history during the winter semester 1790/91:
Europische Staatengeschichte (History of European States), Geschichte
der Kreuzzge (History of the Crusades), and Fortsetzung der Universalgeschichte (Continuation of Universal History). This enormous productivity was suddenly interrupted at the beginning of 1791 by a physical
collapse that became more aggravated in May of that year. Schiller was
compelled to radically reduce his activities as a historian, which had reached
a new high point. His lectures on history at the university were cancelled
immediately and never taken up again. He was able to place the Allgemeine
Sammlung historischer Memoirs into the hands of his Jena colleague and
friend Paulus. However, he felt compelled to stay in touch with Krner
regarding a Universalhistorische bersicht to Sullys memoirs. It appeared
in installments under the title Geschichte der franzsischen Unruhen, welche
der Regierung Heinrichs IV. vorangingen (History of French Uprisings
which Preceded the Reign of Henry IV, Sammlung historischer Memoires,
1806) Schillers third extensive historical work (6:573675). There
remained the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs, of which only the first

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OTTO DANN

part had appeared in the Historischen Calender fr das Jahr 1791. His
friends assistance provided a quick solution for the remaining work on the
Calender. Wieland had written a preface for this volume and, at the end,
developed a unique perspective: Schiller could have a much greater, even a
national, effect through the writing of historical dramas; he could become
a German Shakespeare.
With that, Wallenstein was introduced to the public: Schiller had been
working on the drama since the beginning of 1791. Schiller informed only
Krner and the co-adjutant von Dalberg concerning his plans for the writing of a drama treating Wallensteins end. After all, this political-military
adventure of the Thirty Years War fascinated Schiller the most, and his historical study had left some questions unanswered.
In December 1791 the Danish nobility offered Schiller a three-year
annual stipend, which put him solidly in a position to start a new plan of
work. Schiller could then turn more intensively to the clarification of
aesthetic-philosophical questions that had become increasingly pressing for
him since 1790. A progressively more thorough study of Kants philosophy had shown him the possibilities of an independent illumination of the
foundations of his work. Even his work with the literature of ancient
Greece continued in dialogue with Humboldt.
In the summer of 1792, with rare calmness, concentration, and productivity, Schiller worked out the third, fourth, and fifth books of the
Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs. Alongside this, in the spring, he had
written two insightful introductory texts to writings that he agreed to edit
for a publisher in Jena: the preface to a translation of Pitavals crime stories
and the preface to a translation of the work of Vertot on the Maltese
Order, the depiction of which had stood time and again on the dramatists
agenda (see 7:44959).
The date of the conclusion of the manuscript of Geschichte des
Dreiigjhrigen Kriegs in September 1792 is viewed in scholarship as the
end of the historical phase in Schillers life. However, we should not be
misled into thinking that this was the end of his interest in history and its
representation. To a great extent, the Wallenstein project alone shows how
important history was for him. It would be more adequate to speak of a
transfer (Verlagerung) of the forms of his representation of historical
materials.
The universal- and historical-developmental orientation in Schillers
historiography is hardly recognizable after 1790. His treatment of the
Peace of Westphalia was original and served as a crowning touch to his
work. Schiller had built up other overarching structural connections in his
portrayal of the Thirty Years War: the careers of the great commanders of
this war, above all Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein.
Were military geniuses now the great movers of history? Schiller dedicated his last great historiographical text to such a comet. In a contribution

SCHILLER THE HISTORIAN

85

to his journal Die Horen, in 1795, he wrote his portrayal, Merkwrdige


Belagerung der Stadt Antwerpen in den Jahren 1584 to 1585 (Remarkable
Occupation of the City of Antwerp from 1584 to 1585; 7:460512), drawing from his pool of sources for the Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten
Niederlande. Here, the genius of the young commander Alexander von
Parma is celebrated.
With the Wallenstein drama, which he worked on beginning in 1796,
the confrontation with this political-historical topic was renewed and deepened. Could a genial commander and organizer like Wallenstein be a model
for a national-political revolution in Germany? In Schillers late historical
dramas, other political geniuses are emphasized: the country girl Johanna
and the mountain huntsman Tell, a hero from the people. They remain
tied to their heritages and have not their own political power but the
liberation of their peoples and the forming of a nation as their goal
(Zielvorstellung).
Schiller had lost his earlier perspectives on the development of a universal history as he had drafted them in his inaugural lecture at Jena, due to
his disappointments over the course of the French Revolution and its consequences in Europe. From mid-July 1789 on, Schiller no longer believed
that political revolutions were meaningful, and even considered them a
fundamental danger, in a similar way as had Kant. In his historical studies
he gave up completely the political concept of revolution that formed the
basis of his Geschichte des Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande.
Because he wanted to avoid being counted among the enemies of the
Enlightenment and human rights, Schiller hardly gave written expression
to this new critical position vis--vis revolution. So-called Jacobins like the
Nrnberg doctor Johann Benjamin Erhard numbered among his friends.
In a letter on May 5, 1795, Schiller wrote to Erhard: Glhend fr die Idee
der Menschheit, gtig und menschlich gegen den einzelnen Menschen,
und gleichgltig gegen das ganze Geschlecht, wie es wirklich vorhanden ist
das ist mein Wahlspruch. It was characteristic of his mediating position
that he allowed the addition of Brger von Frankreich to his new title of
nobility, which had been entered into the Weimar court records.
History could no longer be regarded as a source of general truths and
knowledge. In his last theoretical essay, ber das Erhabene, Schiller articulated his basic position:
Die Welt, als historischer Gegenstand, ist im Grunde nichts anderes als
der Konflikt der Naturkrfte untereinander selbst und mit der Freiheit
des Menschen und den Erfolg dieses Kampfes berichtet uns die
Geschichte. . . . Nhert man sich nun der Geschichte mit groen
Erwartungen von Licht und Erkenntnis, wie sehr findet man sich das
getuscht! . . . Wie ganz anders, wenn man darauf resigniert, sie zu erklren, und diese ihre Unbegreiflichkeit selbst zum Standpunkt der
Beurteilung macht. (8:835)

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OTTO DANN

A philosophical consideration of history according to which reason was to


develop teleologically over its course had lost its footing. Schiller now
wanted to show how intellectual and moral sovereignty can assert itself
even against the backdrop of a fundamentally incomprehensible course of
history.
In conclusion, one of the most important insights that Schiller gained
as a historian was the practical experience that the tremendous effort of a
coherent Geschichtsschreibung supported by reliable sources goes unrewarded. He thus came to understand the impact of attitudes that inform
and are shaped by history. The possibility of greater composure and dignity
from the perspective of the sublime, for example, was to be of major consequence for the subsequent writing of history (7:51315).
Translated by Steven D. Martinson

Notes
1

References to Schillers works in this essay are to volume and page number in the
Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro
Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here: 6:41.

Works Cited
Hinderer, Walter. Wallenstein. In Schillers Dramen, ed. Walter Hinderer,
20279. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1992.
Koselleck, Reinhart. Geschichte, Historie. In Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe:
Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, vol. 2,
65368. Stuttgart: Klett, 1975.

Major Writings

Die Ruber: Structure, Models,


and an Emblem
Werner von Stransky-Stranka-Greifenfels

Introduction

HE PLAY DIE RUBER (The Robbers, 1781) is a product of the times in


which Schiller lived. As such, it can be understood only from within
the panorama of contemporary history. At the same time, the drama also
has a religious historical background, the structures of which are significantly more complex than previously acknowledged.
Of the four versions of Die Ruber, two stand out over and against
each other, namely the first edition of the Schauspiel of 1781 and the
Trauerspiel of 1782. The Trauerspiel has become the standard text for
theater directors. Since the Mannheim premiere performance, in 1782, the
version in the Soufflierbuch (stage text) has been staged. It forms the basis
of the original performance and later variations. The Trauerspiel is most
consistent with that text. In short, the Trauerspiel has been performed,
while the Schauspiel has been read and interpreted. Although a series of
interpretations have been published on the Zwote, verbesserte Ausgabe (Second Improved Edition, 1782) from a number of different perspectives,
hardly any of these interpretations undertakes an in-depth analysis of the
text. Scholarship has been even less concerned with the surface of the text.
Such analysis reveals important differences not only between these two
versions but, above all, among previous interpretations of the Schauspiel.
Furthermore, Schillers intentions for Die Ruber have been misunderstood, as they were even at the time of the premiere performance. While
composing Die Ruber, the author addressed his manner of writing. In the
suppressed preface to the drama, he writes: Der Zuschauer vom gewaltigen Licht der Sinnlichkeit geblendet, bersieht oft sowohl die feinsten
Schnheiten, als die untergeflossenen Flecken, die sich nur dem Auge des
bedachtsamen Lesers entblen.1
In the preface, Schiller makes the point that the work is to be comprehended not as a theatralisches Drama but, rather, as a dramatischer Roman. The poet has thus built finer elements (die feinsten
Schnheiten) into the text that only the attentive reader can appreciate,

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WERNER VON STRANSKY-STRANKA-GREIFENFELS

elements that are lost in dramatic performance, or are overlooked by the


spectator whose attention is diverted by the enigmatic qualities of the dramatic action. The formulation feinste Schnheiten refers to the ideal of
everything that is beautiful in late eighteenth-century art. The finer component parts are combined according to the principles of symmetry and harmony. This observation must then call into question the classification of Die
Ruber as a drama of the Sturm und Drang. The quotation above also
refers to Flecken (blemishes). One may assume that Schiller is addressing
several mistakes in the dramas composition, such as flaws in the dramatic
action and specific passages in the dialogues. To be sure, Schufterles report
on the atrocious acts that were perpetrated during Rollers rescue from the
gallows is inconsistent with the emphasis on the schnsten Feinheiten
that the dramatist built into the drama.
To acquaint ourselves with how Schiller goes about his work and in
this way to understand the drama more fully, it is essential that we read the
text carefully on the surface, in part to ascertain the poetic, artistic, sociological, political, philosophical, and, not least, the religious-historical
panorama of the time. This means, then, that in the work of a poet who
was extremely economical in a linguistic sense, every expression is to be
taken seriously in Die Ruber every word is meaningful.
It is reported that following the initial performance, the Mannheim
public was ecstatic. They cheered, cried, and went wild. With the help of
key words (Schlsselwrter) Schiller criticizes two of the most unfortunate historical occurrences of the time: first, the enlistment of sailors and
soldiers and their later treatment by the United East-Indian Company,
and, second, the selling of a number of troops by German princes to
England for service in the American Revolutionary War, after they had
already been sold as soldiers to Prussia. In short, they were recruited
through notoriously underhanded means. For Schillers contemporaries,
these developments were a terrible reality and a sign of arbitrary, aristocratic
rule that impacted them on a daily basis. Schiller must have been especially
attentive to these conditions, since his father was a recruitment officer for
Wrttemberg during his childhood.
Consequently, we can postulate that, on the one hand, the work contains numerous keywords, all of which have various specific functions and,
on the other hand, that Schiller falls back on a number of highly diverse
models in his great early work that he then weaves together in an artistic
manner. In part, this lends his Schauspiel a different content than has been
expressed in published interpretations and analyses since the time of the
original performance of the drama. This contribution will show that
Schiller thoroughly researched the models he used. One of the most
revealing findings is that the places to which individual scenes in Die Ruber refer at which aspects of Die Ruber can be traced to actual historical
locations.

DIE RUBER: STRUCTURE, MODELS, AND AN EMBLEM

91

In the summer of 1780, in his essay, Ueber den Zusammenhang der


thierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen (On the Relationship
Between the Animal [read: Corporeal] and Intellectual/Spiritual Nature of
the Human Being, 1780), Schiller examined his modus operandi. His fellow student Karl Philipp Conz submitted an informed report: Wenn kein
Zgling ohne gel. Erlaubnis, bei sonst zu befahren habender scharfer
Ahndung etwas drucken lassen sollte, versprach Schiller seinen Freunden
im Scherz, gewi eine Stelle aus seinen Rubern in seine Dissertation
einzuschalten, und hielt . . . Wort. The joke was that he had written a
thirteen-line passage from the dialogue between Franz Moor and his servant, Daniel into his dissertation with only slight changes. He used this
text in his drama as a quotation from a fictitious Tragedy by Krake,
where, in practically the same breath, he mentions the figure of Richard III
and Franz Moor.
This procedure discloses both the way in which Schiller works and
some unique features of his personality. The dialogue is not only fully integrated into the new context that surrounds it, but it also takes on new significance. In addition, Schiller shows a certain impudence bordering on
insolence, since this work had to be defended publicly, that is, in front of
an assembly of fellow students and instructors with the strict Duke Karl
Eugen at its head. Because the duke had already lengthened Schillers studies by one year, there would have been serious consequences if the joke had
been discovered. His bungsobjekt Die Ruber shows a significant number of such experiments.
An analysis of Schillers works demonstrates that he relied upon many
different models. In the Rubern, we recognize numerous models of more
or less importance. The story of the robbers is based on the historical
example of the Hussite Wars. The main action, however, is supported in
part by a literary model, namely Schubarts short-story, Zur Geschichte des
menschlichen Herzens (Story of the Human Heart, 1775), as well as by the
historical model of the case of Buttlar (Akte Buttlar), which was also
Schubarts model. By the end of act 3, these models are largely exhausted.
Beginning with the fourth act, Schiller employed the structure of the
Aladdin-Erzhlung, the story of Aladdin of Scheherazade. These four
models are themselves subordinated to a fifth, namely the structure of
Richard II. Schillers ideal of Shakespeare is prevalent throughout Die
Ruber. The models noted here form the basis of both the structure and
the framework of the story. This framework makes its mark mainly by the
Trauerspiel version of the play. But it pales in comparison with the message
of the drama, a message that Schiller the pietist expresses in Franzs dialogue in act 5 and which is attributable to his own religious convictions,
namely Origens doctrine of Christs Resurrection, which was taken up by
Swabian Pietism in the eighteenth century. Owing to his appropriation of
Origen, Schiller placed himself uncompromisingly against the heaven-hell

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WERNER VON STRANSKY-STRANKA-GREIFENFELS

dualism of Saint Augustine, which was represented by both the Protestant


and Catholic churches. Presumably, when he entered the Hohe Karlsschule
in 1773, Schiller was working on this structural complex in his first drama,
Die Christen, a writing that was lost during his student days. The heart
of the Schauspiel, which had to do with Schiller himself, is based on an
aphorism by Hippocrates that Schiller made the motto of his play.
For the sake of brevity, this discussion will outline briefly the structure
of the work, the characterization of the figures, as well as the examples that
enliven them, and the division of the acts. This study will first determine
the actual locations on which the settings of the play were based, then
examine the historical model of the Hussite Wars and, finally, address
Schillers interests. In his first great work, the author transmitted the message of the play by way of an emblem.

Structure
The external dramatic action is arranged into two parallel tracks, or plots.
Although the action at the castle supports the main plot, it is the story of
the robbers itself that explains Karls behavior. Beginning with act 4, scene 1,
the two plots are continually interwoven until the inevitable denouement.
Schiller directs the characters and types of dramatic action in a kind of
Figurenballet, whereby always one character and one type form an axis
(Achse). The clearest example of this is Franz Moor and his alter ego
Moritz Spiegelberg. The simultaneity that is achieved through the verbal
entanglements (Verstrickungen) that characterize their dialogue and the
scenes in which they appear helps us understand the Zeitblcke,
Schillers division of the acts (see table 1).
The transformation of the Taborites in the robber bands begins in act
3, scene 2, Gegend an der Donau. After the story of the robbers as well
as the main plot are widely exhausted, Kosinskys story introduces a new
structural phase, which, after act 4, scene 1, comes to full fruition. Schiller
took the structure of this phase from the Aladdin story, and from that
point on, the locations at which the dramatic action takes place in
Die Ruber agree largely with those of Aladdin. The same is true for the
models of movement of Kosinsky, Karl, Amalia, and Franz, which are analogous to those of Aladdin, the princess Baldrouboudour, and the African
magician.

The Scenes
The recognition that the locations of the scenes of Die Ruber actually
exist comes as a surprise. Schiller refers to them in the text by their names.

DIE RUBER: STRUCTURE, MODELS, AND AN EMBLEM

93

Table 1.

No doubt because he does this so openly, scholarship has taken them for
granted.
The Castle in Franconia
The first reference to the castle is suggested by the counts unique family name, Moor. The stage direction for the first scene of the first act
reads: Franken. Saal im Moorschen Schlo. Schiller has Karl confirm the
location as Franconia once again when he exclaims: Auf ! Hurtig! Alle!

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WERNER VON STRANSKY-STRANKA-GREIFENFELS

Nach Franken. The drama refers to specific locations within the castle, or
in its proximity, such as the garden, the landscape surrounding the castle,
and the fallen tower in the adjoining forest.
One of the models for the main action, as we know, was Schubarts Zur
Geschichte des menschlichen Herzens (Concerning the History of the Human
Heart, 1775). The case of Buttlar (Akte Buttlar), one of the greatest social
and legal scandals in Franconia in the early eighteenth century, also served as
a model. Major Wilhelm von Buttlar married Eleonora von Lentersheim at
Obersteinbach castle. She was a daughter of the House of Freiherr von
Lentersheim. Her father, Erhard von Lentersheim, was an epileptic and was
so victimized by alcohol that he had to be placed under the care of a guardian.
His son-in-law Wilhelm von Buttlar therefore had the right of disposal of von
Lentersheims goods transferred to himself. Additionally, Buttlars mother-inlaw, Louisa von Lentersheim, also possessed her own personal property. To
seize her fortune, Buttlar had her strangled. He was of course indicted for the
crime, but the trial lasted for years and did not end in a conviction.
Schubart used this deed as an opportunity to write his story, Zur
Geschichte des menschlichen Herzens. Schiller adopted it at the recommendation of his friend and classmate, Friedrich von Hoven, among others,
and changed it significantly. The details of the Ruber text permit the conclusion that, next to the literary model, Schiller drew also on both the
material of Buttlars deeds and the genealogy of Lentersheim. Given the
interrelationships within the Lentersheim family and the location of its
ancestral seat at the castles of Altenmuhr and Neuenmuhr one can establish
a link between the occurrences at Obersteinbach castle and the name
Moor. Upon Erhards death, the Oberstein branch of the family died out
and the Obersteinbach castle was later sold.
Although there may be nothing new about the influence of these two
models on Schillers play, the determination of their locations topographically, is indeed original. Until now, it was not known to which castle the
play referred, or where father Moors dungeon is located (the fallen tower
in the adjacent forest), or if Karls description of the terrain in front of the
castle in act 4, scene 1 has to do with any existing landscape. The Herren
von Mur, to whom the name Moor refers, were the first in the knightly
family to reside in Mu(h)r. Through marriage and the eventual purchase of
the Mur estate, the Herren of Lentersheim became the successors to the
Murs. The first authenticated mention of the Herren von Mur is found in
1169 in the figure of Hartwig von Mur (also Hertwic de Moere), that is, at
the time of Emperor Friedrich I, the German king Barbarossa
(11521190). The Lentersheims were also first documented at about this
time. And this is precisely Schillers point of departure in Karls dialogue
with Amalia in the gallery scene: MOOR. O ganz gewis. Sein Bild war
immer lebendig in mir. An den Gemlden herumgehend. Dieser ists nicht.
AMALIA. Errathen! Er war der Stammvater des grflichen Hauses, und

DIE RUBER: STRUCTURE, MODELS, AND AN EMBLEM

95

erhielt den Adel vom Barbarossa, dem er wider die Seeruber diente
(1:108). Therefore, the progenitor received nobility status, that is, lehensfhige Reichsritterschaft, from Barbarossa. Here, Schiller pinpoints the
time exactly. Incidentally, Schiller could rely on several of his friends at
school who, in part, were closely related to the Lentersheims and the Buttlars or were familiar with the region and the historical background, among
them Schubarts son. Furthermore, at that time the study of genealogy was
a favorite hobby, especially among the nobility.
The Herren von Mur, that is, the Freiherren von Lentersheim owned
no fewer than five castles in the area around what is today the municipality of Muhr am (Altmhl-) See, not far from Gunzenhausen in Middle
Franconia.
1. Castle Mittelmuhr burned down in 1570, together with a part of the
village, and was never rebuilt. Presumably it is this catastrophe that
Schiller carried over to the counts castle.
2. Castle Neuenmuhr. This, one of the largest of the many castles in the
area, was affected detrimentally by the Thirty Years War. At the time
when Schillers Ruber originated, it was considered to be quite dilapidated and was uninhabited. The castle was torn down in 1832. The
reference to the fallen tower in Schillers drama resembles the decay at
Castle Neuenmuhr. However, for various reasons, the dramatic action
itself does not suggest this location.
3. Castle Altenmuhr is still maintained and inhabited today. Only the corner towers, the Zwinger, as well as the wall that encircled it were torn
down in the nineteenth century. The castle grounds are found again in
Schillers text. In the Rubern there are two scenes that take place at
the castle in which the entry of the characters are strung together after
the pattern of a so-called Schwingtrdramaturgie, namely act 4,
scene 2, Galerie im Schlo, and act 5, scene 1 with its unique description, Aussicht von vielen Zimmern (1:139). However, in terms of
dramaturgy, it is obvious that neither of the scenes can be played out in
a hall or suite of rooms. For Schiller, the dramaturgical approximation
to French comedy would have been unbearable. Karls description of
the lndliche Gegend um das Moorische Schlo (1:106) in act 4,
scene 1 agrees in detail with the layout of Altenmuhr at that time. Next
to the Gartenthrchen that Karl mentions in the text, there was a dill
garden surrounded by posts. In the seventeenth century, another area
of land was developed in which one hunted small game and employed a
catcher (Fanger). When Karl stands in front of the garden door, he
describes the courtyard of the manor house, which he must traverse to
reach the door of the inner courtyard of the castle, which lies straight
ahead. To his left, there is a building that was added to the wall and, to
his right, the fence to the dill garden, wo man den Fanger belauschen

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und necken kann. Passing the estate, the path leads over a bridge that
spans a moat and enters a gate to the castle. According to the stage
directions, the following is seen from the small door of the garden: Er
geht schnell auf das Schlo zu. [. . .] Er steht an der Pforte. [. . .] Er geht
hinein (1:107), at which point the text offers no more information.
We are unsure whether the gate leads to the castles inner courtyard or,
perhaps, to the castle itself. One thing is certain: a medieval castle grounds
where a visitor can reach the castle portal directly from a garden door
would be highly unusual.
4. The Turmhgelburg. Along the way to the garden door in Altenmuhr,
with the Wiesental below, Karl has, already seen the old mill which is
but a stones throw away next to the grassy knoll. This overgrown hill
incidentally, the only one of its kind in the Wiesental, which at that time
was swampland is nothing other than the Murs first castle. A small
stone house is all that is left of the towered fortress that was perched on
the hill. Since the time of its collapse, it has the look of a grassy hill,
which is in part still recognizable today.
5. The Kellerhaus. On a once-forested hill lies the so-called Witwenschlchen, which was built in the sixteenth century. In Schillers time,
the estate was known only by the name Kellerhaus. This owes to its
two exceptionally large vaults in which, earlier, the Murs preserved
their supplies and locked them up tightly. When a visitor climbs up to
the small castle, the steep entrance to this conspicuous cellar is the first
thing one sees. Even today, one cannot avoid being impressed by it. It
is easy to assume that, given Schillers sources, the depiction of this
location must have been of special importance to the writer. The shape
of the portal and the dimensionalizing of the hand-forged hinges
could easily have been a barred gate, of which Karl speaks in act 4,
scene 5. Consequently, in the poets world of ideas, as well as according to oral tradition, the cellar could have depicted an excellent dungeon. The numerous legends and horror stories that grew out of the
events that impacted the house are reflected in Karls exclamation:
Geist des alten Moors! Was hat dich beunruhigt in deinem Grab?
(1:133), as well as in one part of the dialogue of old father Moor that
follows soon thereafter: [. . .] denn die allgemeine Sage geht, da die
Gespenster meiner Vter in diesen Ruinen rasselnde Ketten schleifen,
und in mitternchtlichen Stunden ihr Todenlied raunen (1:135). The
distance from the Kellerhaus to the village and castles is approximately
one to one and one-half kilometers. This means that Schweizers
Angels of Vengeance, a band of fiery riders galloping down a rocky
mountain path, could have reached the castle within several minutes,
while the cart carrying the corpse of father Moor would take a half
hour. This is precisely the amount of time that old Moor indicates after
Karl rescues him.

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In sum, the models for the setting of the scene Schlo in Franken
are the castle Altenmuhr and its landscape. The cellar house is still occupied. It is known today as Julienberg.
The Bohemian Woods
What was Schillers reason for placing the action of the story of the robbers, in act 2, scene 3, in Den bhmischen Wldern? Was this Schillers
model? The scene ends after Karls dialogue with the priest, with battles
between the band of robbers and those seventeen hundred men who,
according to the priest, are to guard every hair on his head. The battle
actually takes place outside of this location. Nonetheless, as one of the central points of the story of the robbers, it is an integral part of the dramatic
action. Thanks to Karls masterful tactics, the robbers had inflicted serious
losses on the priests army, while the band of robbers had lost only one
comrade, namely Roller. There must be a historical model for this battle,
and indeed, history records one that is similar in description, namely the
Schlacht bei Taus (Battle at Taus), in 1431. The pope and emperor had
deployed an army against the Taborites, the radical wing of the Hussites,
who controlled most of the Bohemian woods at the time.The battle ended
with the embarassing defeat of the imperial troops. Schiller pinpointed the
location of the city of Taus in Bohemia, very near the German border, on
the Homann map, which is in the Wrttembergische Landesbibliothek in
Stuttgart (see map).
The Donau Region
Schiller provides two references to this location. In the drama it becomes
clear that the camp is located near water. Furthermore, a passage from
Razmanns dialogue is likewise indicative of the location, for he states,
[. . .] da ein reicher Graf von Regensburg durchkommen wrde
(1:75). The explicit naming of Regensburg must be understood as a key
word. Seen from Count Regensburgs location, who is on his way, there is
only one road, namely the one over Furth im Wald, that is, Waldmnchen,
which lies past Taus. The reference establishes the location of the action of
Gegend an der Donau as the environment around Regensburg, which is
a further argument for establishing the location of the scene in the
Bohemian Woods. Both scenes are therefore tied together. One look at the
Homann map should convince the skeptical reader that the path to Bhmen can lead only to this location on the Danube.
Tavern at the Borders of Saxony
On even closer examination, the second scene, Schenke an den Grnzen
von Sachsen, can be located in three ways: (1) from the title of the scene
itself, (2) with the aid of a statement by Kosinsky in act 3, scene 2, according

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The Homann map from the Wrttembergische Landesbibliothek, with overlay.

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to which he says, nach Hof, and (3) with the help of act 1, scene 3
of Shakespeares Richard II, The lists at Coventry, where the lists
can be interpreted not only as a sports field but also as barriers. One look
at the Homann map makes it clear that there was (and still is) an area in
southwestern Saxony that is fenced in by three different borders, namely
those of Thuringia, Bohemia, and the Mark Bayreuth (today Bavaria/
Upper Franconia).The Saxon border runs between Plauen and Hof.
Assuming that Karl is on his way from Leipzig to Franconia, the location of
this scene must be near the city of Hof, to be precise, on Karls path over
Plauen to Hof. Here, a border crossing near, or in, Wi(e)dersberg or Roseck
that lies more than one mile northeast of the castle comes into play.
From this study it is apparent that Schiller was always clearly aware of
what he was writing. This is also the case here. Hof is the term that Schiller
uses throughout his work as a hidden reference. Only secondarily does it
have to do with the text into which it is interwoven. Bringing the phrase
an den Grnzen von into conjunction with Hof, the reference must
indicate a place at the Saxon border near the city of Hof.

The Circumscription of the Scenes


as a Divine Symbol
The scene of Muhr builds geographically and topographically on the first
literary model, Schubarts story, as well as the first historical model, the
Akte Buttlar and its genealogical background. The scene Bhmen, by
contrast, is shaped by a second historical model, which has yet to be
explained.
The two scenes of Franzs, or, respectively, Karls, dramatic action, are
determined by these models and are fixed, whereas the two other scenes are
variable. Had he wished to do so, Schiller could have placed them at different geographical locations. It is of course tempting to determine in what
geometrical relation the two other scenes stand to the axis Muhr/Taus.
A simple empirical investigation yields another surprise. When all four
scenes are linked together, they form an isosceles trapezium. But that is not
all. The distance of the stretch between Muhr and Regensburg, that is,
Muhr and the court, Hof, corresponds to the distance between Muhr
and Marbach, the poets birthplace. Moreover, with one deviation of
approximately two percent, the coordinates connecting Taus to Regensburg and to Marbach form almost a straight line.
The isosceles trapezium with its suburb of Marbach commands attention. The isosceles trapezium was, and is, a symbol of symmetry and
harmony. Beyond that, it is constructed according to the golden section
(compare Keppler: sectio divina and Luca Pacioli: Divina Proportione).

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It becomes a divine symbol that hovers over the dramatic action and represents the inner connections of the content of the play, thereby demonstrating an important part of Schillers message. In the course of the comments
on the text, this study endeavors to clarify the writers message for the
reader.

The Hussite Wars as a Historical Model


In almost all of his dramas Schiller treats historical models in his own
unique way. Why should his first great work be an exception, since its historical and, above all, its religious-historical interest was of a special kind?
Why, then, shouldnt Schillers Die Ruber be a historical drama? He himself refers to Bohemia, to the fate of the reformer Jan [Johannes] Huss,
and the wars that continued well beyond his own time and were embedded
in the consciousness of the people. We know that in Prague two devastating wars were triggered; first, beginning in 1419, the Hussite Wars, and
second, beginning in 1618, the Thirty Years War and the Defenestration
of Prague. Schiller points to one of the reasons why the Hussite Wars had
not been recognized as a model. In a letter of December 10, 1788, to
Karoline von Beulwitz, he writes:
Ich werde immer eine schlechte Quelle fr einen knftigen Geschichtsforscher seyn, der das Unglck hat, sich an mich zu wenden. Aber ich
werde vielleicht auf Unkosten der historischen Wahrheit Leser und Hrer
finden und hie und da mit jenen ersten philosophischen zusammentreffen. Die Geschichte ist berhaupt nur ein Magazin fr meine Phantasie,
und die Gegenstnde mssen sich gefallen lassen, was sie unter meinen
Hnden werden.

What the Hussite model became in the hands of the poet and in what way
he developed this material intertextually can be summarized here only with
broad strokes and the aid of a few examples. It is important to realize that
the writing of the history of the Hussite Wars is hardly comprehensible and
even contradictory depending on how it is reported. Aside from the current view of the play, there are sources of interest that young Schiller had at
his disposal in the Ducal Library at the Hohe Karlsschule and that, presumably, influenced his view of the Hussites. The model and its traces in
the Rubern are described as follows.
The Bohemian reformer Jan Huss, who had a masters degree from
the university in Prague, was enticed to the Council in Constance in 1415
by Pope Martin V with a letter of manumission and was burned at the
stake by the Inquisition as a heretic. Among other things, the reason for his
execution owed to Husss demand that believers commune not only by

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eating the bread, but also by drinking from the chalice, which had been
reserved for the priest. Stemming from the time of Husss death at the
stake, a religious and socially justified protest movement was formed: the
Hussites. The Hussites were opposed to a Roman Church that had
become a feudal power at a wide distance from the original church. The
Hussites were not the only ones to blame the council for the treatment
that Huss experienced. There also arose an intense conflict between the
Czechs and the Holy Roman Empire. The strife between King Wenzel and
his brother Sigismund, king of Hungary, is also part of this history. In
1400, Wenzel was removed as the German king, but he remained king of
Bohemia. Sigismund was elected and crowned emperor.
In the bloody revolt in Prague on July 30, 1419, the more radical
faction of the Hussites assembled a procession under the leadership of
Father Johann von Selau, starting at the Stephanskirche in the Neustadt.
There, participants had broken open the tabernacle and stolen the communion chalice. The procession, which became ever more violent, led to
the Prague city hall. The tumult resulted in the first Defenestration of
Prague, at which the Catholic councilors who had refused to talk were
thrown out of the windows. Jan Ziska (13701424), the most important
military leader of the Hussites, is said to have played a leading role in
this event.

The Consecrated Vessels of the Lords Supper


One of the passages from a dialogue in Die Ruber between the priest
(Pater) and Karl reads: Hast du nicht das Heiligtum des Herrn mit
diebischen Hnden durchbrochen, und mit einem Schelmengriff die
geweithen Gefsse des Nachtmahls entwandt? (1:86) This passage, which
has gone unexplained until now, is more understandable when it is
brought into conjunction with the model of the Hussites. As we know, the
geweihten Gefsse des Nachtmahls originate from the paten that had
always been available to believers, as well as from the chalice, that paramount symbol of the Taborites for which Jan Huss was burned at the stake
and which Ziska attached to his banner as a coat of arms shortly after the
defenestration. Schiller wants readers who are familiar with history to take
note. As we know, the consecrated vessels were stolen out of the Stephanskirche. The connection between this occurrence and Schillers Ruber
becomes clear when we consider the fact that, in the middle of a tumult
dominated by the murdering of old men, women, children, and even
babies, plunderings, the demolition of a magazine of arms, and the like, an
anonymous robber declares that he sneaked into the church and separated
Borden vom Altartuch.

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The Taborites and Their Misdeeds in the Context


of Schillers Story of the Robbers
In September 1419, the radical contingent of the Hussites assembled on
Tabor Mountain in southern Bohemia. There they named themselves
Taborites and chose Jan Ziska, the military head of the Hussites, as their captain. Ziska, who had served Wenzel at the court through the time of the
defenestration, quickly made a name for himself as a ruthless warrior and
leader. During the next three years until his death in 1422, he became
legendary as a masterful tactician and strategist. From this point on to
the end of the Hussite Wars of 1434, the Taborites ravaged Bohemia, then
proceeded into neighboring regions and instigated a series of raids in the
south, to Hungary, and in the north, to the Baltic Sea. Their main attention
was directed toward everything German. Whole cities were destroyed, their
inhabitants were tortured and killed, churches and monasteries were plundered and burned down. Priests, monks, and nuns as long as they had not
joined the Taborites were violated and murdered in the cruelest ways. The
Taborites indescribable atrocities are verified by eyewitness accounts. They
are also portrayed in Die Ruber, in the internal plot (Binnengeschichte)
of act 2, scene 3, namely in the story of the burning of the city upon
Rollers release from the gallows and especially in Shufterless report on the
misdeeds that he had committed in the meantime, which can hardly be
depicted more repulsively. These events certainly did not spring from
Schillers imagination. In this internal plot Schiller summarized two things:
the procession that began at the Stephanskirche in parallel with the procession that leads to Rollers gallows and the burning of cities, including Hof [!]
and Cham.
One of the most bloodthirsty, cruelest, and most cunning Taborite
leaders under Ziska was the priest Johann von Selau, whom Ziska detested.
In Karls band of robbers we find him again in the figure of Spiegelberg, as
well as in the report on the Spa im Cecilienkloster at the beginning of
act 2, scene 3. Ziska himself had certainly burned down cities and churches.
Only in a few exceptional cases, however, did he involve himself in
the atrocities. The parallel to Karl is clear also in the dialogue between
Spiegelberg and Razmann in the first third of act 2, scene 3, as well as in
Karls dialogue with the priest.

The Path to the Taborites via Biblical Allegories


The following passages from Karls dialogues show clearly that with Schiller
the path to the Taborites leads over Biblical allegories, for example, when the
priest exclaims, O Pharao! Pharao! and Karl answers him directly with

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Rotte Korah. The technique that Schiller develops here is especially difficult
to understand and can only be touched upon in this context.
Like the zealots, the Taborites revolted against Roman Catholic rule.
The Jewish shading of Spiegelberg forms the connecting link among libertines, Taborites, and their Biblical allegories. This shading is evident at
several places in the text.
Of the Taborites it is known that they had turned to the Old Testament and rejected the theological framework of the Christian church and,
consequently, the church as an institution. For the Taborites, everything
that occurred after the Old Testament, including all that was written about
the Last Supper, was no longer relevant. Therefore, they did not recognize
the New Testament but only the Old Testament. In the light of this background, Spiegelbergs demand of Karl, Lies den Josephus, ich bitte dich
drum is more easily understood. Several striking statements by Karl in act
2, scene 3, In den bhmischen Wldern, also reveal this understanding.
It is the confession of a religious fanatic who finally sees that neither the
world nor the human being can be changed by means of violence, and that
the path he travels must lead to the abyss. Here a religious aspect is present
that is hardly compatible with the view of life of the leader of a band of
robbers. A model that goes beyond the life of a robber is to be found in the
political-religious realm, that is, the history of religion and, to be sure, in
the history of the Hussite Wars.
This scene in Schillers work, in which the story of the robbers comes
to fruition, forms a triptych that comprises three stories and a dialogue:
Spiegelbergs misdeeds in the Cecilien monastery, the report of Rollers
release and, finally, the preparations for combat and Karls dialogue with
the priest. Although the stories depict the cruelty and other repulsive characteristics of the Taborites, the robbers captain Karl Moor assumes the
role of the Taborite captain, Jan Ziska. Thus Schweizer calls Karls tactical
directions meisterlich, vortrefflich, thereby recalling Ziskas legendary
abilities. Ziska used his tactical skills to annihilate powerful armies. He was
able to escape on account of his reputation of invincibility. This occurred
also in the aforementioned battle of Taus. The reader experiences the
ending of these battle plots in the dialogues of Die Ruber in the Danube
scene: enemies suffering devastating defeat, on the one hand, and the
priests seventeen hundred soldiers, on the other hand, that is, the army
that set out to confront Ziska.

The Priest and the Inquisition


Since, in this scene, Ziska serves as the model for Karl, we should consider
whether or not Schiller also had a model for the priest in mind. In a bull, in
1420, Pope Martin V excommunicated Jan Ziska. The bull can be compared

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to the Bannbrief that Franz sends to Karl in the name of old Moor. Imperial
troops were unable to take Ziska and, after his death, Prokop the Great
(ca. 13801434), leader of the Taborites, into custody. In the meantime,
the robberies that the Taborites committed had degenerated into brawling bands of robbers that took on ever more terrible forms. At this time it
was agreed to raise a crusading army in order to either capture or kill the
Taborites. Their captain, Prokop, was wanted dead or alive. In 1431 Cardinal
Giuliano Cesarini, who was only twenty-eight-years-old, was named Cardinal
Legate and leader of the ensuing crusade against the Hussites.
In 1232, the work of the Inquisition was transferred to the Dominicans. Characterized generally as domini cane, Gods watchdog, they were
often portrayed in society as dogs. They appear as such in two of
Schweizers lines of dialogue when the priest enters the stage: Hast du
gehrt Hauptmann? Soll ich hingehn, und diesem abgerichteten Schferhund die Gurgel zusammen schren. . . . (1:86). Further evidence of the
same is provided by the words he directs to the priest: Hund! Hr auf zu
schimpfen (1:85). Right after that, Karl mentions the Inquisition in connection with a clergyman, specifically, Johann von Ragusa. This Pfaffen
Ihres Gelichters can be seen as a Dominican abbot or even a bishop since
he is wearing an agate ring reserved for abbots and bishops. Karl now brags
about having torched the Dominican church. These are no longer the
words of the captain of a band of robbers who must hide in the woods.
This is the statement of a Taborite captain to two of the most powerful
men of the church, who were personally responsible for the death of Jan
Huss. Schiller thus brought two models, Cesarini and Johann von Ragusa,
together. The priests last statement at the end of the dialogue reads: Ich
werde unsinning, ich laufe davon . . . (1:90). This was precisely what the
Cardinal Legate Cesarini did with his retinue in the battle at Taus after the
largest part of his crusading army had already run away. While the robbers
let the priest get away scot-free, the Taborites picked up the insignias,
golden crucifix, and the papal bull from Cesarini.

The Freibrief
The Hussite model emerges perhaps most clearly in another passage from
a dialogue between Karl and the priest. It refers back to Husss death. Karl
answers the letter of manumission in which the robbers are promised safe
conduct when they give the captain over to the besiegers.
MOOR: Seht doch, seht doch! Was knnte ihr mehr verlangen?
Unterschrieben mit eigener Hand es ist Gnade ber alle Grenzen
oder frchtet ihr wohl, sie werden ihr Wort brechen, weil ihr einmal
gehrt habt, da man Verrtern nicht Wort hlt? O seid auer Furcht!
Schon die Politik knnte sie zwingen, Wort zu halten, wenn sie es auch

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dem Satan gegeben htten. Wer wrde ihnen in Zukunft noch Glauben
beimessen? Wie wrden sie je einen zweiten Gebrauch davon machen
knnen? Ich wollte drauf schwren, sie meinens aufrichtig. Sie wissen,
da ich es bin, der euch emprt und erbittert hat, euch halten sie fr
unschuldig. Eure Verbrechen legen sie fr Jugendfehler, fr bereilungen
aus. Mich allein wollen Sie haben, ich allein verdiene zu ben. Ist es
nicht so, Herr Pater? (1:8990)

Hardly a word of this quotation, except the ones italicized, connects


with an ordinary band of robbers of neun- und siebenzig. Gnade ber
alle Grenzen can only be conferred in Rome, where this general pardon
had to be signed in ones own hand. Certainly, the robbers have already
heard, da man Verrtern nicht Wort gehalten hat, wenn sie es auch dem
Satan gegeben htten. At the time this dialogue begins, namely in 1431,
seventeen years have already passed since the heretic Johann Huss was
enticed to the council with a false letter of manumission and then burned
at the stake as an instrument of Satan.

Ziskas Drums
Schillers treatment of an extremely macabre perhaps the most
macabre occurrence in connection with Jan Ziska, and one that Schiller
could not ignore, gives an idea of the poets subtle manner of creative production in the metamorphosis of his models. The linguistic finesse that he
employs may elude not only the English-speaking reader. It has also
escaped the attention of the scholarship on Schiller. The transformation of
the libertines in Die Ruber into Hussites/Taborites, begins in act 1, scene 2.
Here, Spiegelberg suggests that his companions form a robber band and
adds: . . . Wollt ihr an der Leute Fenster mit einem Bnkelsnger Lied ein
mageres Almosen erpressen? oder wollt ihr zum Kalbfell schwren . . . ?
oder bei klingendem Spiel nach dem Takt der Trommel spazieren
gehn . . . ? Seht das habt ihr zu whlen (1:40). The expression, zum
Kalbfell schwren, means to enlist in service to war. As a rule, a soldier
accompanied the recruiting officer with a drum that was covered with a
calfs skin, upon which recruits were sworn in. But at this place in the dialogue there are two different drums that serve as alternates to one another.
According to Spiegelberg, libertines can choose between one or the other
drum. Schiller repeats himself and cloaks his repetition in a metonymy.
Schillers deviation from his otherwise strict economy of language admits
only one conclusion: the term, Trommel, stands for the well-known
drums of Ziska, which were still well known in Schillers time. Ziska died
in 1424 from a plague that ran rampant in the Taborite camp. On his
deathbed, he ordered that upon his death his skin be stripped off and
stretched over a drum, so that as soon as the enemies heard its sound they

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would be forced to flee. Ziskas last order was followed with the help
of three members of the Medici family, who were named in the sources.
The drum was used by Ziskas successor, Prokop.

The Kampflied
Another example of the connection between Die Ruber and the
model of the Hussites is a line spoken by Schweizer at the storming of the
castle wall (Ringmauer) in act 5, scene 1. Against the command of the
captain, he orders, Strmt! Schlagt tod! Brecht ein! Ich sehe Licht! dort
mu er sein (1:150). Built up metrically and in the light of the end
rhyme, this passage produces a rousing march rhythm. Consistent with
the content of the play, the passage corresponds to the battle song of
the Taborites, which began with the words: Schlagt, erschlagt, schonet
niemand!

The Plays Message


What was Schillers primary concern? Die Ruber was certainly not written
for the desk drawer, or for posterity, but rather, for a contemporary audience. The message of the piece is certainly not to be found in Aladdin or
the Franconian castle, or even in the Hussite Wars, although these elements do guarantee a place for the play among Schillers historical dramas.
It is also difficult to conceive that in his Rubern Schiller wanted to glorify
brutality and violence with the help of the model of the Taborites. The
father-son problematic can hardly be of primary concern, any more than
the much-noted love of freedom is, although the latter is a step closer to
the truth. If Schillers intentions for the play are to be appreciated, it is
absolutely necessary to know the biographical background.
As we know, young Schiller was raised in a strict, pietistic home and, to
be sure, in the spirit of Swabian pietism, which itself varies in a number of
respects from pietism in general. As already mentioned, Swabian pietists
had again made the teachings of Origen their own. In his youth, Schiller
had wanted to be a minister, an aspiration that was denied him by the duke
because of his forced enlistment at the Karlschule. If this wish was not
Schwrmerei, but was rooted in a deep conviction, then the brutal intervention of the duke in Schillers life and plans must have left some deep
wounds. The available scholarship alludes only very indirectly and unintentionally to the healing of these wounds during his school days at the military academy (for example, by references to Schillers mediocre grades,
poor hygiene, Enuresis, and so on). In this case, there are grounds to

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suspect that the theme had caught young Schillers attention, and that in
1773, that is, in his first year at the academy, which was also the year of the
abolition of the Jesuit order by Pope Clemens XIV, he may have been
working with the same theme in Die Christen, his first but no longer extant
drama. One should not rule out the possibility that this piece by an
engaged and perhaps already partially disillusioned young observer treated
not merely sweet romantic stories of pilgrimages, but, rather, Calixtrinern,
crusades, reformations, religious wars, Dominicans, Gallikanern, Jansenists,
the papacy, orthodoxy, and Gottfried Arnold: in short, intra-Christian
Auseinandersetzungen, and, with that, all those anxieties that could be
called up by these battles for power and the injustices of believers that are
connected with them. We may then conclude that the increasing complex
of problems during his school years preoccupied the writer until he found
its release in the Rubern. There, the poet could write the entire problematic
from his soul mixed with other areas of problems and models in an
orderly and well-thought-out fashion.
From this perspective, it is not surprising that the young poet would
have taken a stand a stand against orthodoxy, inquisitions, and clerical
striving for power and, at the same time, a position in favor of the opposite pole, represented by the Jesuits. This is precisely the content of Die
Ruber. Here, Schiller expresses the compulsion for freedom, that is, freedom from the authority of institutions of churches that behave in an absolutistic manner.
Four clerics appear in the Rubern: two Dominicans, namely the
priest and a Pfaffe seines Gelichters, Pastor Moser, and the father confessor. Until now their relationship to Franz has not been clarified. After
Franz has literally thrown out his protestant household cleric, Pastor
Moser, he assigns his servant Daniel the task of calling the Catholic father
confessor, damit er mir seine Snden hinwegsegne (1:149). This contradictory and senseless behavior can be explained when one takes into
consideration the nature and fate of the Jesuits of the eighteenth century.
This insight is based on two facts. First, in 1773, the Jesuits had been
banned by their own head of the church, Pope Clemens XIV. To be sure,
John Huss had been the victim of clerical intrigues and Roman Catholic
exercise of power. Second, the Jesuits of that time stood in excellent stead
with the people. For example, in opposition to other clergymen, the
Jesuits were always willing day or night and despite weather conditions
and other factors, to stand by those who were dying even Protestants
and, whenever possible, to convert these people on their death beds.
Remarkably, this characterizes the situation in which Franz finds himself.
He receives the death sentence and the castle is burning. In this seemingly
hopeless situation he calls for the only person who will stand by him, a
Jesuit. Schiller here intimates on the basis of history the possibility of
Franzs conversion.

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Schiller makes it clear that he is not for Protestantism by the hardly


flattering manner in which he portrays Pastor Moser. And he is not against
Catholicism as such, for Karl is damned not by the priest, that is, the
Catholic, but rather with a christlichen Ach. What Schiller keeps tabs on
here is less the dualism of both Christian confessions but rather disputes
within the Catholic church where, not surprisingly, he places himself on
the side of the oppressed. With the exception of the father confessor, a
heirarchy of values is identified in the extremely disparaging clerical
dramatis personae. The two figures that demonstrate this the most and
who represent the emerging power, as well as the persecution and torture
of heretics, are the priest and the parson. Pastor Moser is valued somewhat
more highly, since he argues significantly more intelligently than the priest.
Nonetheless, he preaches death and damnation; even he is a representative
of power and at once one of the followers of those reformers who, adhering to the Old Testament, supported the torturing of heretics. All three
characters, the priest, the pastor, and Karl, are swayed by the Jesuits, who
hover over them and who are themselves the victims of that higher authority, die ber Leben und Tod spricht.
Just like Mozart, who was the same age, young Schiller was searching
for a perfect form that, following the example of the ancients, was harmonious, symmetrical, and beautiful. In the music of classicism, this form of
creation found its high point in the form of the sonata. Traditionally, harmony and symmetry are divine symbols. They appear explicitly in Schillers
text, and this creates an opportunity to determine at what place in the
work those feinsten Schnheiten apply better than the passages in act 5,
scene 1. In this scene Franz hurls the following words at Pastor Moser:
. . . Wenn ich meine sieben Schlsser schleifen lasse, wenn ich diese Venus
zerschlage, so ists Symmetrie und Schnheit gewesen. Siehe da! das ist eure
unsterbliche Seele! (1:145). Schiller divides the two most important lines
of the poem having to do with symmetry and beauty and the immortal
soul according to the golden section (goldnener Schnitt). With this, the
golden section S falls behind the strongest stressed syllable, das (ist eure
unsterbliche Seele). By way of the demonstrative pronoun, symmetry and
beauty become synonymous concepts for the immortal soul. A close analysis
of the text can thus determine what is being said:
1. The seven castles embody God in heaven. He determines the immortal
soul.
2. The immortal soul is therefore divine and beautiful.
3. However, if the locks to the seven castles are filed open, the heavens are
torn apart and Venus, that is, beauty, destroyed; the immortal soul can
no longer exist.
Who would then really be able to render the words that are placed in
Franzs mouth in the first person? In the Old and New Testament tradition

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there is only one who can tear the heavens asunder and could undo his own
creation the immortal soul. Therefore, Schillers words are formulated
here not as a threat but as counterfactual. Since Franz cannot tear apart the
heavens, but can destroy beauty, he also possesses an immortal soul, even
when this is deformed (verunstaltet) by his misdeeds, an inner condition
that is expressed through his unsightly appearance. This interpretation can
account not only for Schillers words in his published foreword, Jedem,
auch dem Lasterhaftesten ist gewissermaen der Stempel des gttlichen
Ebenbilds aufgedrckt . . . (1:17); it also agrees with Origens doctrine of
the Resurrection.
Herein lies Schillers message to the public; and, yet, even this is only
one part of a whole part of an emblem.

The Emblem
In the Baroque world, whose child Schiller was in every respect, a motto
was a part of an emblem. Such an emblem contains a brief heading a
motto in the form of a Latin inscriptio that ancient authors and Bible
verses not infrequently employ. The emblem extends from a pictura that
depicts historical or Biblical figures or scenes, as well as an inscriptio that
explains and interprets what the image portrays and the meaning of the
image from which a general truth of life or rule of behavior can be
drawn.
Emblematics is a form of an allegory that Schiller cultivates in the
Rubern. Emblem books were uncommonly popular at the time, and the
public was widely familiar with any number of emblems. Authors of
baroque dramas (against which Schiller has Karl crusade: Mir ekelt vor
diesem Tintenkleksenden Sekulum . . .), above all Daniel Casper von
Lohenstein, played on such emblems in their texts, and often in the footnotes (!) or notations. But emblematics was in no way a sophisticated game
reserved for the dramatist. It belonged to the public. The emblem, or the
reference to one, turned the reader or spectator into a kind of Mitspieler
and evoked a reaction that, to employ a modern expression, one might
describe as a form of intellectual interaction.
Schiller also attached a motto to his play that is difficult to comprehend:
Hippocrates
Quae medicamenta non sanant, ferrum
sanat, quae ferrum non sanat, ignis sanat.
Furthermore, he marks three passages with the golden section: the sectio
divina, namely the frame of the scene in which the goldener Schnitt serves

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as a structural aid, the trapezium that was constructed following the


section, and the Gedicht in the dialogue of act 5, scene 1. This is grounds
to suspect that Schiller is characterizing the four parts of an emblem here.
In the comment section of the Trauerspiel Epicharis of 1665 (reprint
1724) by Daniel Caspar von Lohenstein, there is the hidden reference:
Besiehe hiervon des Saavedra LII. Symbolum. This symbol, the SkorpionEmblem, which for reasons of space we are not able to consider here, forms
per the knowledge that was gained in the analysis the model for
Schillers Ruberemblem. The difficulty with this arises when interpreting
the Hippocrates aphorism.
First, we see that Schiller only uses the first part of the aphorism as his
motto. Translated into German, it reads as follows:
was Arzneien nicht heilen, heilt das eisen (das Operationsmesser)
was das Eisen nicht heilt, heilt das Feuer (das Ausbrennen).
He omitted the second part:
Quae vero ignis non sanat, ea insanabilia existimare oportet
Was aber das Feuer nicht heilt, mu als unheilbar angesehen werden.
Following the previous results of our analysis, medicine, scalpel, and fire are
to be understood as key words. Thus, we should also be able to find correlates to these words in the text of the Ruber. On closer examination,
Schiller supplies the reader with the key to understanding the motto.
The only correlate to scalpel, the Operationsmesser, surfaces in Franzs
monologue at the beginning of act 2, scene 1 as des Zergliederers
Messer, that is, the opposite, or reverse of the concept of healing. Likewise, in this monologue Franz states, Ich mcht ihn nicht getdtet, aber
abgelebt. Ich mcht es machen wie der gescheide Arzt (nur umgekehrt)
(1:53). The lexeme umgekehrt is, however, the key to the aphorism.
Schiller placed this concept in parentheses in the middle of a dialogue in his
play, knowing full well that a parenthesis just like a footnote cannot be
spoken but only read. The play refers to an entire series of correlates. Three
of them stand out:
Gift (poison) is hardly surprisingly to be found with Franz and,
to be sure, at a clearly marked place, namely in the footnote to his dialogue
in which Schiller refers subliminally to the connection between poison and
medicine.
Feuer (fire) accompanies Karl through the entire dramatic action
that relates to him; for example, the burning of the city and the
Dominikanerkirche. In the last scene of the drama, he schlgt mit dem
Dolch gegen einen Stein da es Funken gibt (1:151). It is therefore not

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surprising that he should enter the castle under the pseudonym of Graf
von Brand and that this castle should be consumed by flames. Schiller
expresses his intentions clearly here as he has done before in his use of
Gift. These are only a few examples of the occurrences of Gift and Feuer
in the text. The analysis leads to the insight that poison stands as a
metaphor for Franz Moors destructive qualities, and fire for those of his
brother Karl.
It is not so easy to recognize the correlate for Eisen. The text contains numerous references to iron. But none of them appears sufficiently
clear-cut. Even the most attentive reader can easily overlook the only passage of dialogue that would seem to form a connecting link. The poets
strong marking of this passage first becomes apparent when we take the
function of the chorus verbatim and consider its relevance for an understanding of the play. The anonymous band of robbers may be seen as a
chorus. Given the example of the ancients, this is hardly surprising. However, the function of the chorus throughout Die Ruber is restricted to
the often ballet-like choreography of the collective of robbers. Like a
higher being, the chorus stands above the actual plot commenting,
observing, admonishing. Even more incisive are the words that the poet
places into the mouth of the Nameless One. What kind of horror could
cause Karl Moors teeth to chatter, and what then is the word that Karl
wishes to convey to the anonymous robber? Is it, perhaps, that word of
eternal damnation that is taken from the Augustinian dualism? This can
only be the horror of a higher power that is embodied in the chorus, a
power that works from the inside out. The horror of dark forces at play in
the human being, the horror of Lucifer as a component of that side of
human nature that Schiller characterizes as die thierische in Versuch
ber den Zusammenhang der thierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner
geistigen (Concerning the Connection Between the Animal and Intellectual/Spiritual Natures of the Human Being, 1780). But the animal is
only one side of human nature. The seven castles in Franzs poem treat
the other side.
The doctrine of Origen and the robber emblem, and the subsequent
dialogue between Karl and Amalia stand in close relation to one another.
As Amalia falls on his neck, Karl exclaims: Sie vergibt mir, sie liebt mich!
Rein bin ich wie der Aether des Himmels, sie liebt mich. Weinenden
Dank dir, Erbarmer im Himmel! Er fllt auf die Knie und weinet heftig.
Der Friede meiner Seele ist wiedergekommen, die Qual hat ausgetobt, die
Hlle ist nicht mehr (Facsimile, 213, 23).
But for what reason should the captain of the robbers, who, following
Amalia, is all at once a Mrder, Teufel, and Engel, suddenly become pure as
the ether of heaven? As we know, Schillers religious orientation in his
early years was pietistic. Less well known is that the Apokatastasis panton,
the doctrine of the church father Origen regarding the Resurrection,

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could find a footing in the eighteenth century. As previously mentioned,


it left its imprint on Swabian pietism. It is precisely because of this that
Karls statement is so interesting. Accordingly, hell is in no way described
in terms of dubious, underworldly, and fiery realms, but rather as a component of human nature itself. According to the logic of this teaching,
there can be no eternal damnation. The immortal soul of the fallen sinner
leads back to its creator as a part of the divine creation like the once
fallen Lucifer himself. The passage of dialogue that is quoted here is then
nothing other than the Schillerian representation of Origens teaching:
the immortal soul is loving, the Erbarmer des Himmels wiedergekommen, and hell is left behind. The first sentence of the passage of the
dialogue describes consistently the condition of the soul as pure, as the
fifth and indestructible Aristotelian element, rein wie der Aether des
Himmels.
With that, the inscriptio of the robber emblem emerges more clearly. It
reads as follows:
Was das Gift nicht zerstrt, zerstrt das Feuer,
was das Feuer nicht zerstrt, zerstrt das Eisen
Similarly as with the scorpion emblem, the subscriptio first becomes comprehensible when the attentive reader ties together the subtleties of the
various connections, above all that part of the Hippocrates aphorism that
Schiller left out of his motto: was aber das Eisen nicht zerstrt, mu als
unsterblich angesehen werden.
In his poem Franz expresses what is seen as immortal. The poem
thus discloses itself as a subscriptio. Wenn ich meine sieben Schlsser
schleifen lasse, / wenn ich diese Venus zerschlage, / so ists Symmetrie
und Schnheit gewesen. / Siehe da! das ist eure unsterbliche Seele! It is
expanded with Karls exclamation: Weinenden Dank dir, Erbarmer im
Himmel! Er fllt auf die Knie und weinet heftig. Der Friede meiner Seele
ist wiedergekommen, die Qual hat ausgetobt, die Hlle ist nicht mehr
. . . (1:156).
The pictura of the robber emblem is just as double-sided as its model.
In the scorpion emblem the isosceles trapezium that is constructed with
the aid of Gttliche Proportion also hovers over the divided framework of
the scenes in accordance with the golden section.
In summary, the three parts of the emblem resemble the characteristic qualities of the baroque emblem, with which we have compared it
above:
1. The baroque pictura depicts Biblical and historical figures or scenes.
In the Ruber Schiller proceeds from two historical models: the Akte

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Buttlar as the model for the dramatic action having to do with Franz
and, in the case of Karl, the model of the Hussites. Above the framework of the scenes there hovers the divine symbol in the form of the
isosceles trapezium. This trapezium also forms the inner connection of
the emblem and applies to both the scriptura and Schiller himself.
2. The brief heading, or motto, the Latin inscriptio, is quoted frequently
by ancient authors, and is present in various Bible verses. The motto of
Die Ruber stems from an ancient author, Hippocrates.
3. The subscriptio explains and interprets what is represented in the image.
It frequently extracts from the image a general truth about life or a rule
of behavior. The subscriptio of Schillers emblem fulfills the given criteria since it explains and interprets literally what is represented in the
image, namely the trapezium.
It is especially interesting to observe that that symbol of divinity, the
immortal soul, is connected with the birthplace and person of Friedrich
Schiller. As we know, Schiller edited the first version of his work anonymously. Instead of his name there stands that of Hippocrates, featured
prominently in italics. The first part of the aphorism follows. The common denominator of both Hippocrates and the aphorism is the field
of medicine, which Schiller explored at Duke Karl Eugens military
academy.

Concluding Remarks
Up until now, Schillers Die Ruber has been cataloged as a Storm and
Stress drama. That this conclusion is incorrect is evident in the investigations that inform this essay. According to these findings, although he was
at home in the Baroque, with his first great work, the young poet was
already on the path to classicism.
In the Ruber Schiller created his own form, one that has proven to be
classical. To do so, he used models and elements of the most diverse kind,
taking them from wherever he could find them and reshaping them
according to his needs. Still anchored in the Baroque, he also made use of
the elements of form with which he had, so to speak, grown up. Seen in its
own way, the use of the baroque emblem provides an insight into the
meaning of the play which Schiller himself could hardly have foreseen.
In sharp contrast to that parody, or literal deconstruction, that the work
experienced in his Trauerspiel version, Schillers Schauspiel Die Ruber
proves to be a key work in the transition between the epochs of the
Baroque and German Classicism.
Translated by Steven D. Martinson

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Notes
1

Unless otherwise stated, parenthetical references to Schillers works in this essay are
to volume and page number in the Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf
Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher
Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here: 1:164.

Works Cited
Hrner, Petra, ed. Hus Hussiten: Dokumentation literarischer Facetten im 19.
und 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 2002.
Schiller, Friedrich. Die Ruber: Ein Schauspiel. Frankfurt/Leipzig, 1781.
[Facsimile]
. Die Ruber: Ein Schauspiel. 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1990.
Stransky-Stranka-Greifenfels, Werner von. . . . so ists Symmetrie und Schnheit
gewesen . . . Zu Vorlagen und Struktur von Friedrich Schillers Schauspiel
Die Ruber. Stockholm: Almqvist & Weksell International, 1998.
. Schiller, Ruber, Embleme . . . Friedrich Schillers Ruber ein
barockes Emblem? Stockholm: Germanistisches Institut, Universitt Stockholm,
2001.
. Schiller, Ruber, Jesuiten . . . Zur religionsgeschichtlichen Perspektive
der Ruber. Stockholm: Germanistisches Institut, Universitt Stockholm,
1999.
Stubenrauch, Herbert, and Gnter Schulz, eds. Schillers Ruber: Urtext des
Mannheimer Soufflierbuches. Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut, 1959.

Kabale und Liebe Reconsidered


J. M. van der Laan

SCHILLER IN 1782 and first performed in Frankfurt on


April 15, 1784, then two days later in Mannheim, Kabale und Liebe
(Intrigue and Love) has ever since remained in the repertory and been a
staple offering of German theater. Through three centuries, it has been
Schillers most performed play (Fischer, 34). Even today, and as a glance in
publications like Der Spiegel, Schaubhne, and Theater heute will confirm, it
continues to be one of the playwrights most popular dramas.1 Though
many have loved it, not all audiences have been so taken with Kabale und
Liebe. Even contemporary critics found fault with the play, and point to
serious shortcomings in their reviews.2 Initial critical responses raise objections to inane dialogue and melodramatic exaggeration. Such criticisms
cannot be denied. Luises urgent plea to her beloved Ferdinand von Walter, for instance Sieh mich an, lieber Walter. Nicht so sehr in die Zhne
geknirscht3 sounds more silly than serious, as was actually intended.
Latter-day scholars likewise acknowledge major artistic flaws. Most
notably, Erich Auerbach in his now-classic study of the Western literary
tradition describes and dismisses Kabale und Liebe as a tempestuous, an
inspired and inspiring, a very effective, and yet when we look at it a little more closely a fairly bad play. It is a melodramatic hit written by a
man of genius (441). As Benno von Wiese observes, Wohl wird dem
Zuschauer etwas zuviel zugemutet, wenn der sterbende Ferdinand am
Ende doch noch dem zerschmetterten Vater vergibt (217). More recently,
Bernd Fischer calls attention to the weak ending, where Schiller waffles
between total tragedy and a restoration of order and intimation of
harmony (97). As Fischer also points out, the heroine occasionally falls
out of character, for instance in her pivotal meeting with Lady Milford
(130). In a deft summary of the plays problems, Walter Pape argues that
it presents exaggerated and psychologically untrue characters and that the
work ends with an unnecessary catastrophe (199). Even so, Kabale und
Liebe remains exceedingly popular, a perennial favorite, and still draws an
audience.
What explains its appeal, both to theatergoers and to literary critics?
What makes it worth seeing or writing another word about? Despite his
negative assessment, Auerbach chose this early Schiller play out of all the
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J. M. VAN DER LAAN

other German plays in the late eighteenth century for his sweeping survey
of Western culture and literature because he considered it the only one of
its kind (443). In his opinion, no further attempts were made in the age
of Goethe toward the tragic treatment of an average contemporary bourgeois milieu on the basis of its actual social situation (443).
Over the years, the plays melodrama and sentimentality has doubtless met certain needs and fed the tastes of a public eager for such entertainment. But beyond this emotional appeal, Kabale und Liebe is an
intellectually intriguing play. In his book, Friedrich Schiller, Benno von
Wiese considers it the boldest play Schiller ever wrote, with a far greater
influence than that of Fiesko (192). The work is exceedingly complex
and complicated, a text whose themes entwine with each other and defy
disentanglement.
Schillers play is still important and interesting to us not least because
of its special place in literary history and in the tradition of a particular
genre: das brgerliche Trauerspiel, the middle-class tragedy. The genre
effectively begins in England with George Lillos The London Merchant of
1731, but had its German inception in 1755 with Gotthold Ephraim Lessings Mi Sara Sampson. According to Karl S. Guthke, Kabale und Liebe
ranks along with three other plays as the most significant examples of the
genre, the others being Lessings Mi Sara Sampson, his Emilia Galotti
(1772), and Hebbels Maria Magdelena (1843).
Schiller himself intended such a generic identification, as the subtitle
he gave his play Ein brgerliches Trauerspiel indicates. While Kabale
und Liebe is also thus situated within the tradition of the domestic tragedy,
it also has features of eighteenth-century sentimentality, as found in the
works of Bodmer, Breitinger, and J. E. Schlegel, and roots in the Sturm
und Drang drama (Koopmann, 1979, 15354). As Auerbach notes, the
bourgeois tragedy combined and contained many features from those traditions. It was a genre wedded to the personal, the domestic, the touching, and the sentimental (441).
The genre typically makes use of a set of stock characters, as Benno
von Wiese notes. There is characteristically ein bestimmter, typischer
Umkreis von Personen: der gewissenlose Frst, die vornehme Mtresse als
Nebenbuhlerin des brgerlichen Mdchens, der schurkische Confident
und Handlanger, der aufrechte brgerliche Vater, die beschrnkte Mutter,
der Liebhaber als Verfhrer oder umgekehrt als empfindsam Liebender
usw (191). Although Schillers play presents its own variations on the
theme, it clearly follows that basic pattern. Other traits typify the genre and
likewise inform Kabale und Liebe. As Lesley Sharpe observes, the unfortunate consequences of social divisions, the centrality of the suffering heroine, the key role played by the father, were constantly recurring elements
during the previous decade [the 1770s] and testify to the immense
influence of Lessings Emilia Galotti (1771) (46). As might be expected,

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such a constellation of established characters also largely determines the


direction of the plot and the content of the play.
Even though the domestic tragedy focuses on bourgeois figures, it
includes aristocratic characters. The emergence of the bourgeois tragedy
around 1755 mirrors the rise of the bourgeoisie as a new social and cultural
force. The emergence of the genre parallels the transition, albeit gradual,
of power and prestige from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie in the
eighteenth century. With its Lebensgefhl and das Menschenbild der
moralisch-empfindsamen Privatheit, the genre offered something decisively new (Guthke, 20). For all these reasons, Kabale und Liebe represents
an important milestone in the history of German literature and culture.4
Kabale und Liebe is not the title Schiller first gave his play. He had
originally called it Luise Millerin, but the actor and playwright A. W.
Iffland suggested Kabale und Liebe. Schiller readily accepted the change,
one that shifted the focus and attention we give to the characters and the
content. Of course, Kabale und Liebe is the sad love story of Luise Miller
and Ferdinand von Walter. And of course, Luise must be the tragic heroine. Schiller asserts as much by placing such words, maybe a little too
heavy-handedly, in her mouth: she declares herself die Heldin dieses
Augenblicks, die Verbrecherin, and the Opfer (623), a thrilling assertion and fascinating juxtaposition. But a secondary character, Lady Milford,
in effect supplies the more trenchant title and in doing so places herself at
the center of events as well. Die Verbindung mit dem Major, she reveals
to her maidservant, du und die Welt stehen im Wahn, sie sei eine
Hofkabale Sophie errte nicht schme dich meiner nicht sie ist
das Werk meiner Liebe (590). Here we learn that she is a significant force,
if not the motive force in the drama. Not President von Walter, but Lady
Milford has set the cabal, the intrigue that the major, the presidents son
Ferdinand, should marry her rather than Luise in motion. Her own love
for Ferdinand is the source of the intrigue that triggers the release of so
much evil and ultimately causes the tragedy for all involved.
Intrigues and loves abound in this complex story. A bourgeois girl,
Luise, and an aristocratic man, Ferdinand, have fallen in love. The exiled
noblewoman, Lady Milford, loves the same man, however, and a secretary
to the president, appropriately named Wurm, wants Luise for himself. The
noblewoman is attached to the prince of the land as his mistress, and Luise
is wrongly implicated in an affair with another aptly named character, the
court dandy von Kalb. There are two other love relations of a much different but equally problematic nature, that of Miller the musician for his
daughter and that of President von Walter for his son.
The intrigues are numerous and intertwined. As noted, Lady Milford
has launched an intrigue to obtain Ferdinand and his love. Acting as the
catalyst, her plot affects Ferdinands father, the president, who devises his
own intrigue to prevent the union between his son and the common girl,

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and to tie him in marriage to the Lady Milford. The presidents scheme to
unite his son with the princes mistress, Lady Milford, is a calculated move
to ensure his place of power and prestige at the court. It was moreover
intrigue falsche Briefe und Quittungen (617) that had first brought
the president to power. Wurm hatches yet another plot in the service of his
master, the president, to sabotage the love between Ferdinand and Luise,
another cabal that serves his own interest in the girl. At the end of the play,
Ferdinand believes Luise to be guilty of a final intrigue a dictated letter
she copied under duress whereas it is actually he who ends the drama
with a deception of his own, for he surreptitiously poisons her before
committing suicide.
The love between Ferdinand and Luise cannot be realized for several
reasons, all of which matter and figure in their tragedy. Their love constitutes a msalliance, as they are from markedly different social classes.5
Moreover, there are people actively plotting and acting against them,
including Lady Milford, the president, Wurm, Luises father, and von
Kalb. Both Luises father and her lover want to possess her. In addition,
Ferdinand and Luise are divided by their religious convictions. While
Luise adheres to a conventional Christian ethic, Ferdinand follows a religion of love. To accept any one of these different points of view does not
mean one must reject the others. Rather, they are all different parts of the
whole.
Kabale und Liebe may be a play about love thwarted and doomed by
intrigue, but the tragedy of love serves as a vehicle for Schiller to raise disturbing questions about the social order, the political system, religious attitudes, individual or personal autonomy, and the moral universe within
which it all occurs. The combination of so many different realms results in
an intricate and complex text. As David Pugh writes, the interplay of
social and private themes is exceptionally hard to unravel, and the visionary
and religious language in which both the lovers experience and express
their love adds to the difficulties of assessment (166).
In Guthkes opinion, the attempts to understand the play tend to fall
mainly into two categories. On the one hand, scholars identify a drama of
unconditional love; on the other, they see a tragedy of class conflict, a
political drama of the time (Guthke, 101). It is not really so simple and
straightforward, however. There are as many different approaches to the
play as there are themes in it, and any one perspective cannot do it justice.
In the Schiller-Handbuch, Helmut Koopmann comes to a similar conclusion, writing that the drama cannot be exhausted by a single theme (376).6
It is precisely a polyvalency of meanings that Schillers play offers and that
make a single, unified interpretation so hard to establish and accept.
There have been many fine studies of the drama to date. Some have
dealt with the political dimension of the play, among others, Korff,
J. Mller, and Strich. Some have interpreted the play in terms of class

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conflict, including Heitner and Mller. For others like Martini and Kittler,
the psychology of the characters takes precedence. Various scholars have
examined the dynamics of the social and familial order (Mller, Koopmann, Graham, Janz, Michelsen, and Kaiser). Analyses of the religious
component have been undertaken as well (by Weitbrecht, Malsch, and
most notably Guthke). In addition, several studies have investigated the
role of language and the loss of linguistic facility (Mller-Seidel, Hiebel,
Kieffer, Duncan, and Pilling).
With Kabale und Liebe, Schiller confronts his audience with various
problems, all substantive and compelling. He examines the contemporary
political reality; the prevailing social order with its insurmountable barriers
between the estates or classes, between bourgeois and aristocrat; the growing tension between orthodox religion and the process of secularization
with its attendant theology of love; the deterioration of the family, both
bourgeois and aristocratic; aristocratic corruption and bourgeois insufficiency. The play is directed at the human inability to solve the problems
Luise and Ferdinand face: class distinctions, religious injunctions, familial
obligations and demands. Lesley Sharpe sums it up well when she writes
that Schillers intensely moral turn of mind expresses itself in the [early]
dramas not in moral preaching but in an exploration of the difficulties of
judgment and the agony of choice (5). The following pages review the
many and varied problems addressed in the play and conclude with a look
at an otherwise almost altogether ignored, but pivotal and essential character, Lady Milford.
Millers opening remark immediately charges the drama and establishes not only a conflict, but also the terms of that conflict: Meine
Tochter kommt mit dem Baron ins Geschrei (565). The stage is set.
Reference to the baron establishes the opposition between the bourgeois
and the nobility, while Millers name emphasizes his humble origins in
the trades. Time and again, the contrast between the classes, between
Gesind and Herrschaft (566), as Miller says, confronts the audience,
and as he sees it, never the twain should meet. For him, it is simple: his
daughter has a relationship with a baron, a man above her station and a
man of aristocratic tastes and habits. She should marry someone of her
own rank, einen wackern ehrbaren Schwiegersohn, Miller states, der
sich so warm in meine Kundschaft hineingesetzt htte (567). Miller also
understands what the liasson of a bourgeois girl with a nobleman typically
implies: Ich werde sprechen zu Seiner Exzellenz: . . . meine Tochter ist zu
schlecht zu Dero Herrn Sohnes Frau, aber zu Dero Herrn Sohnes Hure is
meine Tochter zu kostbar (568). Miller knows how the aristocracy, particularly Ferdinands father, President von Walter, views his daughter.
Indeed, the president has no respect for Luise and refers to her disdainfully
as the Brgerkanaille (577). She is only a plaything, an erotic dalliance, a
sexual object for his son to enjoy for a time and then discard. To conclude

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the first scene, Luises father reasserts his identity: Ich heie Miller (568)
a declaration that reflects the self-confidence of the bourgeoisie and its
implicit challenge to the aristocracy.
Luise similarly draws attention to the problems her relationship with
Ferdinand creates, problems that are clearly related to class distinctions.
For that same reason, she is prepared to forsake him, to surrender any
claim to him in this life: Ich entsag ihm fr dieses Leben. Dann, Mutter
dann, wenn die Schranken des Untershieds einstrzen wenn von uns
abspringen all die verhate Hlsen des Standes Menschen nur Menschen sind (574). Luise sees everything in terms of class and status.
She imagines Ferdinand among die vornehmen Frulein, while she is
merely ein schlechtes vergessenes Mdchen (573). In Schillers day,
those terms Frulein and Mdchen clearly expressed the gulf between the
estates. It is the only way Luise can conceive of herself and construe her
relationship with Ferdinand.
Even as Ferdinand tries to reassure Luise that class distinctions do not
matter and can be overcome, he nonetheless reinforces them. Ich bin ein
Edelmann he boasts, La doch sehen, ob mein Adelbrief lter ist, als der
Ri zum unendlichen Weltall? oder mein Wappen gltiger als die Handschrift des Himmels in Louisens Augen (575). Ferdinand sets so much
store by his rank that he even dares contend with heaven and the Creator
himself. In a sense, his Ich bin ein Edelmann answers to Millers Ich
heie Miller, both strong assertions of class identification, signals an audience cannot fail to register.
Every aspect of the play is informed by the preoccupation with class.
In his confrontation with Lady Milford, for instance, Ferdinand does not
say simply that he loves another woman. Rather, he must characterize her
in the terms of class Ich liebe, Milady, he says, liebe ein brgerliches Mdchen Louisen Millerin. As if it were still not clear, he adds
eines Musikus Tochter (599). Although Luise grasps how much Ferdinand is bound and determined by his class consciousness dein Herz
gehrt deinem Stande (622), she tells him she is unaware that her own
heart belongs and is restricted just as much or even more to her position in
society. Ferdinand has declared himself ready to abandon his station, but
he is perhaps no more able than Luise to understand the world without the
categories of class.
Luise is bound by her concepts of social order and class distinctions.
She cannot conceive of a world without them. For her, an alliance with
Ferdinand would violate the foundations of society, a divinely established
social order. An alliance between the bourgeoisie and the nobility would be
unholy. Therefore she believes she must give up a relationship, das die
Fugen der Brgerwelt auseinander treiben, und die allgemeine ewige Ordnung zu Grund strzen wrde (623). In her view, their marriage would
cause the complete breakdown of society as she knows and understands it.

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Imprisoned in her own conceptions of an unalterable social structure, a


general and eternal order, she cannot begin to contemplate alternatives. In
the impossible relationship between Luise and Ferdinand, Schillers play
shows how entrenched and insurmountable the class divisions and barriers
were at that time.
Although the play attacks the prevailing social order of the day, it does
not necessarily assert the values of the bourgeoisie over those of the aristocracy. Neid, Furcht, Verwnschung (583), as Ferdinand declares, may
well characterize the aristocracy, but Millers values are not much better,
for he thinks in terms of Handel (565), Commerz (565), and Kundschaft (567). At the close of the play, he shows his true colors when he
takes a bag of money from Ferdinand in payment for den dreimonatlangen glcklichen Traum von seiner Tochter (665). It is a moment
fraught with tension and fear, yet Miller is able to discuss business (past
music lessons for Ferdinand) without much thought about all that has
happened and what might still be to come. His words betray a bourgeois
veneration of wealth. For him, the sack of gold is an allmchtige Brse
(665), das bare gelbe leibhafte Gottesgold (665). For a moment, he
worries that it is not Gottesgold after all, but gold from Satan. Reassured by
Ferdinand, however, that he can accept it with a clear conscience, Miller
jumps in the air like ein Halbnarr, thrilled by his good fortune. As exemplified by Miller, the bourgeoisie cannot serve as an alternative to the values of a bankrupt aristocracy.
The real focus of Schillers social criticism is the institution of the family both bourgeois and aristocratic. After all, the play is a domestic
tragedy. The familial dimensions of the play, in particular the father-daughter
and father-son relationships, but also the family in general, come under
scrutiny. In fact, the word family proves problematic as it applies to the
groups in question, since the constellations of characters who are related to
each other hardly constitute a family. Whether the relations are husbandwife, father-daughter, father-son, prince-mistress, or sovereign and subjects, none are sound or healthy. In both the aristocratic and bourgeois
worlds, the family is crumbling. The family, this epitome of a most simple
society, reflects severe crisis.
Although Luises family is intact with father, mother, and daughter, it
is nonetheless troubled and dysfunctional. Her mother is foolish and has
no bearing on the family structure or life. As such, she is unimportant and
has no real presence in the drama, let alone the family. The father in contrast has an ardent concern, but an obsessive, unhealthy, and even artificial
love for his daughter. In his own words, his relation is zu abgttisch
(652). He tells her: Du warst mein Abgott. . . . Du warst mein Alles
(655). He is unable to let his daughter go, to free her to live her own life,
and forces her to choose her father over her lover and husband-to-be:
Wenn die Ksse deines Majors heier brennen als die Trnen deines

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Vaters stirb! (657). Under such duress, she obliges, suggestively offering him her hand (as if in marriage?). Vater! Hier ist meine Hand!
(657). Das ist meine Tochter! Miller replies, Um einen Liebhaber bist
du leichter, dafr hast du einen glcklichen Vater gemacht (657). Meine
Luise, he cries out, mein Himmelreich! (657). His possessiveness borders
on the perverse and his paternal love on the quasi-incestuous.7
When Ferdinand offers him gold, near the end of the play, Millers love
for his daughter reveals itself instead to be self-interest and a true lack of
concern for Luise. As Gerhard Kluge says, besessen vom Glanz des Reichtums, schmckt er seinen Abgott, Luise, in Gedanken auf vermessene
Weise zur Madame aus, verblendet mit Grenwahnsinn geschlagen
(1415). In a flash, Miller changes his tune and is prepared to surrender and
compromise his daughter and her honor. It is all the more tragic that Luise
is willing to sacrifice herself and her happiness for her fathers safety and
freedom, when her fathers much touted devotion to his daughter turns
out to be not only shallow, but hollow. With his eyes on the gold, Miller
blurts out to Ferdinand: Wren Sie ein schlechter geringer Brgersmann
rasch und mein Mdel liebte Sie nicht? Erstechen wollt ichs, das Mdel
(666). Bewitched by such riches, Miller blatantly persists with the unnecessary charade that Ferdinand would still need to be an ordinary burgher to
marry Luise, but were that the case, and she did not love Ferdinand, Miller
would be ready to kill his otherwise precious daughter. Luise is unable to
find refuge in the family, for the structure of her family is infirm.
The same is true of Ferdinands family. We know nothing of his
mother, who is never mentioned and utterly absent. There are only the son
and the father, who are completely at odds. The president may claim to
have his sons best interest in mind, but in truth seeks only his own advantage. Like Luises father, President von Walter is heavily invested in his
child, but in selfish ways and for selfish reasons. The presidents relation to
his son is not, as Kluge writes, simply von der Sorge bestimmt, diesem mit
den Mitteln intrigierender Karrierepolitik eine erstklassige Stellung am
Hof zu verschaffen und den Weg zum Thron zu ebnen (1419). Rather,
the father is driven by self-interest and by the desire to aggrandize himself
first, his son only as a means to that end. That is abundantly clear in the
exchange between father and son in the first act. While the father tries to
claim that he has done everything to promote his son Wem zu lieb hab
ich die gefhrliche Bahn zum Herzen des Frsten betreten? . . . Sage mir
Ferdinand: Wem tat ich dies alles? Ferdinand rightly answers: Doch
mir nicht mein Vater? (582). Let there be no mistake: President von Walter acted on selfish motives. As Paul Bckmann realizes, the president
wants his son to marry Lady Milford damit der Prsident seinen Einflu
behaupten kann (259). The presidents relation to his son is empty, as he
wants to use his son to secure his own position at court through the marriage of his son to the princes mistress, itself a degradation.

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A new and better model for the family order is unable to assert and
establish itself. The never-to-be-achieved union of Luise and Ferdinand
denies such a possibility. As Koopmann notes, Das Trauerspiel entwickelt
sich freilich nicht daraus, da die familiren Werte eingehalten werden,
sondern vielmehr aus der Unmglichkeit ihrer Verwirklichung (1998,
369). Ferdinand and Luise offer no hope for the foundation of a family any
better than the corrupted ones they both already know and belong to.
Schiller provides no remedy, no possible opportunity for a renewed or
different kind of family. His play is indeed a domestic tragedy, for it is a
tragedy of the family, an enactment of its demise.
Everywhere and in every regard, the family is under attack in Schillers
play. The prince, for example, destroys the family by tearing men away
from their homes to conscript them for foreign military service across an
ocean on another continent. In the world of Luise and Ferdinand, the family no longer exists to protect and preserve. It no longer functions as a
haven from external assaults. Instead of an island of safety, a refuge from
the chaos of the world, the family is shattered and undone. As Koopmann
notes, die Familie als Urordnung . . . ist fragwrdig geworden (1979,
148). Bei aller Vergebung und bei allem Selbstgericht endet die Tragdie
mit einem bitteren Nachgeschmack, he writes. Der Vertrauensbruch ist
nicht wiedergutgemacht, zwei zerstrte Familien bleiben zurck, und auch
die Weltordnung hat einen Ri bekommen, der nicht mehr geheilt werden
konnte (1998, 366). As such, the tragedy of the family may well be graver
than the tragedy of Millers daughter or of the young lovers. In the end,
both Ferdinands and Luises families are destroyed. As the curtain falls,
both fathers stand alone.
The values defining the ideal family Liebe, Treue, Zuverlssigkeit,
auch Gleichberechtigung und Toleranz (Koopmann, 1979, 368) are
missing from both families. According to Koopmann, die Liebe als hchster Wert der brgerlichen Gemeinschaftsstruktur exerts its own destructive power, allows the individual to go under, and annihilates the bourgeois
world altogether. But that assertion drastically oversimplifies and ignores
the dishonesty, suspicion, jealousy, and misunderstanding that wreak such
havoc. In Schillers drama, we see how the bourgeois and the aristocratic
families both have foundered.
Steven D. Martinson offers a valuable insight into the collapse
depicted in Kabale und Liebe. In his discussion of Schillers Theosophie des
Julius (Juliuss Theosophy, in the Philosophische Briefe, 178789), he
explains that the absence of love causes a crisis. For disintegration and loss
of connectedness would be the end result of a world driven merely by egoism and self-preservation (65). Precisely such conditions prevail in Kabale
und Liebe. Egoism and self-preservation, not love, hold sway and define
Ferdinands father, Wurm, the court chamberlain, the prince, even Miller.
Lady Milford, Ferdinand, and Luise each lose love. All the virtue in the

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world and Luise is its embodiment cannot overcome the absence of


love. Martinson believes that the central message of Kabale und Liebe
is this: where love is absent, worlds collide and the social order soon
collapses (95).
In addition to questions of family and society, much scholarship has
been devoted to the religious dimension of Schillers play. Michelsen, for
instance, argues that the play presents a picture of the abuses of religion.
Certainly, Millers faith has more to do with gold than God. As early as
1897, Carl Weitbrecht remarks that Luise gives voice to sentimental religiosity, not to any deep religious convictions. Given the melodramatic tone
of the drama, the biblical allusions, the numerous invocations of God and
Jesus, and the references to Luises saintliness, all smack too much of religious platitude used as veneer, especially at the end of the play: Jesus! Was
ist das? (673), O mein Herrgott! (673), O Gott vergi es ihm Gott
der Gnade, nimm die Snde von ihm (673), Sterbend vergab mein
Erlser (674), Engel des Himmels (674), Das Mdchen ist eine
Heilige (675), Ich wasche die Hnde (676). None of this rings true.
More than anyone else, Karl S. Guthke has sought to illumine the religious component of Kabale und Liebe. He reads the play as a reflection of
the growing sacralization of the profane in eighteenth-century German
culture (1994, 95). According to him, the drama depicts the tension and
conflict between the realms of the secular and sacred, between a traditional
and orthodox Christianity embodied by Luise and her father and a secular
religion of love personified in Ferdinand. That is, Ferdinand tempts Luise
with the Skularisation des Religisen am Paradigma der Liebe (99).
Ferdinand, for instance, appropriates conventional religious language in an
attempt to convert Luise to his religion of love. Wo wir sein mgen, he
tells Luise, geht eine Sonne auf. . . . Werden wir Gott in keinem Tempel
mehr dienen, so ziehet die Nacht mit begeisternden Schauern auf, der
wechselnde Mond predigt uns Bue, und eine andchtige Kirche von Sternen betet mit uns (62122). When Luise asks him Und httest du sonst
keine Pflicht mehr, als deine Liebe? Ferdinand answers Deine Ruhe ist
meine heiligste (622). As Guthke indicates, Ferdinand exemplifies the
secularization of religion and asserts love as the new sacred. The very
words he uses temple, preach, repentance, reverence, church, pray, and
holiest redefine love as their religion.
According to Guthke, with Ferdinands encouragement, the two
lovers initially serve the god of love and lovers. They also attempt to identify that god with the judge of the world, the God of Christian tradition,
but are unable to do so. Their tragedy, he argues, is die des Fehlschlags
dieses Versuchs (106). In the end, Ferdinands new secular religion fails
to replace Luises traditional religious framework. As much as she would
have liked to believe with Ferdinand in a gospel of profane love, she
remains uncertain, unconvinced, and unconverted. Hence, Kabale und

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Liebe is die Tragdie der Skularisation oder genauer der Sakralisierung


der Liebe (106). For Guthke, the secularization of eighteenth-century
culture and the simultaneous sacralization of love are the backbone of the
play (103). If we focus too narrowly on that aspect of the drama, however,
we lose sight of other significant and vital concerns of Schillers play.
Although Guthke makes a strong case for the primacy of its religious
themes, Kabale und Liebe cannot be reduced so neatly to one common
denominator.
With his famous and oft-quoted remark, Hermann August Korff
reinforced (if not established) the reputation of the play as a political
statement. In his opinion, Kabale und Liebe plunges the knife in das
Herz des Absolutismus (206). To be sure, the play delivers a political
message and strikes a blow against absolutistic power, represented by the
president and the duke he serves, and the exploitation of the people by
the ruling tyrant.
Were it not for Lady Milford, the political content of the play would
have been all but lost. Luise and Ferdinand, for instance, are utterly
unconcerned with and untouched by any considerations about the larger
political context. Of all the characters, only Lady Milford cares about and
raises objections to the political system and the absolutistic abuses of
power. She alone judges and condemns the world of the prince, the president, and the marshall as one of abscheuliche Herrlichkeit (590),
emphasizing the political domination of others. The audience first learns
about the tyrannical policies of the ruling prince from a manservants
report to Lady Milford: Gestern sind siebentausend Landskinder nach
Amerika fort (590). They have been sold like chattel by the prince. Es
traten wohl so etliche vorlaute Bursch vor die Front heraus, und fragten
den Obersten, wie teuer der Frst das Joch Menschen verkaufe? aber
unser gndiger Landesherr lie alle Regimenter auf dem Paradeplatz aufmarschieren, und die Maulaffen niederschieen. Wir hrten die Bchsen
knallen, sahen ihr Gehirn auf das Pflaster sprtzen, und die ganze Armee
schrie: Juchhe nach Amerika! (591). Schiller could hardly have made a
clearer political statement against the outrages and abominations of tyrannical absolutism.
Lady Milfords chambermaid Sophie extends our knowledge of
princely cruelty and brutality. She informs her mistress of a destructive fire
and its aftermath in a city on the border of the realm: die mehresten
dieser Unglcklichen dienen jetzt ihren Glubigern als Sklaven, oder
verderben in den Schachten der frstlichen Silberbergwerke (592). Only
through the presence of Lady Milfords character does the political dimension of the play come to the fore. Thanks to her, the spotlight falls on
political oppression. At the same time, we receive a glimpse of Lady Milfords integrity, as she not only displays empathy with the unfortunate and
exploited, but also takes overt action to help them.

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In the same passage, Lady Milford recalls the horrific abuses she found
when she first arrived in the princes land:
auf einmal [stand] die schauderndste Szene vor meinen Augen. . . . Die
Wollust der Groen dieser Welt ist die nimmer satte Hyne, die sich mit
Heihunger Opfer sucht. Frchterlich hatte sie schon in diesem Lande
gewtet hatte Braut und Brutigam zertrennt hatte selbst der Ehen
gttliches Band zerrissen hier das stille Glck der Familie geschleift
dort ein junges unerfahrnes Herz der verheerenden Pest aufgeschlossen,
und sterbende Schlerinnen schumten den Namen ihres Lehrers unter
Flchen und Zuckungen aus . (597)

Not only does Lady Milfords commentary lay bare the savagery unleashed
by the great ones of the world, it also highlights the deterioration of the
family as one of its consequences.
Lady Milford dared to alleviate and undo the tyranny of the ruling
prince despite her precarious situation as his concubine. Even so, she
courageously placed herself zwischen das Lamm und den Tyger; nahm
einen frstlichen Eid von ihm [dem Frsten] in einer Stunde der Leidenschaft, und diese abscheuliche Opferung mute aufhren (59798). To
Ferdinand, she reveals the full extent of the despots cruelty: Walter, ich
habe Kerker gesprengt habe Todesurteile zerrissen, und manche entsetzliche Ewigkeit auf Galeeren verkrzt. In unheilbare Wunden hab ich doch
wenigstens stillenden Balsam gegossen mchtige Frevler in Staub gelegt,
und die verlorne Sache der Unschuld oft noch mit einer buhlerischen Trne
gerettet (598).
Although the play provides a searing critique of the abuse of power, it
does not present some other form of rule as an alternative. And while Lady
Milford exposes the tyranny of absolute authority, she also describes a
world where freedom is absent and nowhere in sight, except beyond the
horizon, and then only for her.
Kabale und Liebe wrestles with the possibility or impossibility of freedom and autonomy more than with any other question it raises. The two
lead characters, Ferdinand and Luise, seek emancipation from the constraints of class, from bourgeois and aristocratic conventions and expectations, but they cannot achieve that goal. While Ferdinand dared to take the
risk and dared Luise to do so also, she refused, justifiably fearing reprisals
against her father, which then restrained Ferdinand as well. The characters
are unable to become autonomous.
Luise does not assert herself, does not leave her father for a husband,
nor does she establish her own domain, chiefly because of her fathers
demands. Ferdinand likewise makes equally unfair demands of her that
would deny her of any freedom and independence just as much as it would
her father. According to Kluge, beide [Miller und Ferdinand] versndigen sich an Luise, indem sie ihre Liebe mit falschen Besitzansprchen

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verbinden und Luise modern gesprochen verdinglichen (1414).


They treat her as an object, as something to possess.8
The language Ferdinand uses in his conversations with Luise betrays
his possessiveness. Du bist meine Luise, he declares, Wer sagt dir, da
du noch etwas sein solltest (575). The authoritative tenor of his voice
warns her against any attempt to assert herself as an individual. He in effect
commands her to define herself solely in relation to himself. Ich selbst
he audaciously declares, ich will ber dir wachen wie der Zauberdrach
ber unterirdischem Golde Mir vertraue dich (576). In other words,
Luise is to be utterly dependent upon him.
Like Ferdinand, Luises father speaks the same language of possessiveness. And like Ferdinand, his words give him away. In the last act, for
example, Miller constantly uses the possessive pronoun my when he
thinks about or speaks to his daughter. She exists for him as meine
Tochter, mein Kind, meine Einzige, mein Abgott, mein Alles
(655), Meine Louise (657), and mein Himmelreich (657). For him,
she has no independent identity. He transforms her into something that
he owns.
Almost everyone in the drama desires to possess someone or something, and in doing so, they deny others any autonomy. The prince, for
instance, denies his subjects their freedom, Miller his daughter, the president his son, Wurm Luise, Ferdinand Luise. Even Luise is culpable since
she denies herself and Ferdinand any chance of freedom. Only Lady Milford manages to escape from that world and emancipate herself, albeit at
great cost.
Admittedly, the president has great power, making horrible, real
threats against Luise and her family: Vater ins Zuchthaus an den
Pranger, Mutter und Metze von Tochter! he commands (608). As Luise
and her parents know, the president has the position and power to enforce
his violent intentions. Ich will meinen Ha an eurem Untergang sttigen, he exclaims, die ganze Brut, Vater, Mutter und Tochter, will ich
meiner brennenden Rache opfern (608). Ferdinand has the means to
counter his fathers authority, however, and responds to his fathers menacing words with a threat of his own. Unterdessen, he says in the ear of
the president, erzhl ich der Residenz eine Geschichte, wie man Prsident wird (610). Alarmed and aware of the danger his son represents to
him, the president immediately desists and commands the release of Luise,
her mother, and her father: Lat sie ledig (610).
Ferdinands threat to expose his father and the vile means he used to
become president would have guaranteed their safety, at least for a time,
had Luise desired as much. As Ferdinand informs Luise, der Sohn wird
den Vater in die Hnde des Henkers liefern (621). The president realizes
the gravity of his situation and acknowledges his peril to Wurm: wenn
ich den Major zwinge, [ist] mein Hals [in Gefahr] (613). Ferdinand

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moreover has hatched a plan to escape his fathers powerful reach and to
flee the land. The plan includes both Luise and her parents. Schlag ein
Uhr um Mitternacht wird ein Wagen hier anfahren. Ihr werft euch hinein.
Wir fliehen (622). Even though Ferdinand holds his father in check and,
at least momentarily, has kept Luise and her parents out of prison and the
torture chamber, Luise continues to fear the curse of his father (622). She
fails to understand and accept what the president himself knows and fears:
Ferdinand endangers his very existence, and he dare not harm them. Luise
rejects his plan all the same.
Without doubt, flight and freedom mean exile and anguish. In the
choice he presents to Ferdinand Whlt Lady Milford oder Fluch und
Enterbung (625) Wurm defines the cost of freedom for the two
lovers. It is the price Ferdinand, but not Luise, is willing to pay. It is too
frightening for her, such Entsetzliche Freiheit (625), that she cannot
even begin to think it possible. Since that choice is for her incomprehensible, it is unacceptable, and she refuses to flee with Ferdinand. Instead,
she contemplates suicide as the only alternative and the only freedom possible for her. She is prepared to join Ferdinand in a third place (654)
but the grave is not a genuine choice. It equates with desperation rather
than emancipation. Convinced of her helpless situation, she surrenders to
hopelessness and death, even though Ferdinand offered both help and
hope in the concrete form of a real escape to a life together. Because
she cannot conceive of freedom, it becomes something that cannot be
realized.
At her fathers urging, Luise rejects suicide and in a surprising reversal
considers flight an option after all. Unaware of any contradiction, she now
proposes an escape that she had previously rejected. Doch hinweg aus
dieser Gegend mein Vater Weg von der Stadt . . . Weg, weg, weit weg
von dem Ort . . . Weg, wenn es mglich ist (657). All her objections
to flight with Ferdinand lose their force as the inconsistency of her reasoning becomes apparent.
Drawing Ferdinand along with her, Luise cannot act as and fails to
become an autonomous human being. Koopmann calls it Scheitern aus
Mangel an Selbstbestimmung for both Luise and Ferdinand (1986, 300)
and explains that self-determination is all but impossible in Kabale und
Liebe (303).9 Neither Luise nor Ferdinand gains any personal autonomy.
Because they cannot change, their world also is unalterable. No new order
or possibility of existence presents itself; it has been rejected by Luise. The
old order thus remains, but it is destructive rather than restorative, for it is
disharmonious and unhealthy. Only Lady Milford escapes from the prison
house of their world.
The tragic end of the play does not leave much room for hope or
encouragement. Ferdinand has murdered his beloved Luise and committed suicide. The bourgeois world represented by Miller is as bankrupt as

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that of the court. While the aristocratic order of things presents itself as
utterly corrupt, the bourgeois system of values likewise offers no hope for
a better future and fails to save Luise. There is no emancipation, neither by
the power of reason or love. Reason is altogether absent, thus it cannot
provide an answer or lead to freedom. Deceit, emotion, and intrigue prevail instead. Even love succumbs and is conquered by the harsh realities of
the world of intrigue. Luise cannot envision something better, a better
world, an alternative. The eternal order does not triumph either. Rather,
there is disorder, punishment, and suffering for all, except the always overlooked and forgotten Lady Milford.
No one is free at the end of the play no one except Lady Milford.
Everyone except Lady Milford is bound and held captive by class, social
convention, religion, family obligation, and the like. Luise and Ferdinand,
Miller and the president, find no release from their confinement. Only
Lady Milford achieves and embodies any semblance of real freedom. Ferdinand gives this indication early in the second act when he meets and confronts her about his fathers plans for their marriage. Without fully
realizing the import of his remark, he calls her die freigeborene Tochter
des freiesten Volks unter dem Himmel (595). As the princes mistress, she
may momentarily not be free, but she will emerge as the one character who
sets herself free. The only one who ultimately takes control of her life, who
acts, who determines her own fate and life is Lady Milford. She alone
develops and models human freedom.
While Fluch und Enterbung frightens and repels Luise, it is precisely that which Lady Milford chooses. Her decision to give up her life at
the court, a life of luxury and privilege as the rulers mistress, resulted in
real freedom, but in exchange for exile, for curse and disinheritance as it
were. It is a decision in favor of freedom, an act of self-determination,
which she presents as the viable alternative to Luises choices. Lady Milford
acts heroically and virtuously, gives up everything, and leaves the
court and its corruption. In doing so, she emancipates herself and exemplifies true autonomy. Lady Milfords escape indicates that, contrary to
Ferdinands and Luises conclusions, there was indeed a way out, that
there were other options and alternatives to dependence, subservience,
and captivity.
Whereas the critical literature tends either to ignore her or mention
her only in passing, Lady Milford is of extraordinary importance for
Schillers drama. Although a secondary character, Lady Milford is generally
more interesting, complex, and compelling than Luise. She deserves concentrated attention and consideration. One of the few scholars to recognize her significance is Fischer, who nevertheless mentions her only briefly.
In his opinion, she is eine der interessantesten Figuren des Stcks (114).
As Fischer reports, even Schiller himself acknowledged in his letters that
Lady Milfords character captured his interest more and more (114).

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Could that explain why Lady Milford overshadows Luise Miller as a more
convincing and engaging character? As noted above, and as Fischer also
realizes, Lady Milford is the only character to undergo any dramatic development (117). She stands apart from the rest of the characters and, it
could even be said, above Luise, the main character, who is otherwise the
focus of the action and attention.
Lady Milford has many functions. She is the motive force behind the
initial intrigue against the union of Ferdinand and Luise. She shows the
contrast between the bourgeoisie and the court aristocracy. She provides
the political criticism, exposing the injustice and crimes of the existing
regime. What is more, Lady Milford offers the only instance of escape
from the imprisonment of class, economics, womans subjugation to
man (Luise remains subject to her father, and in all likelihood would
have been to Ferdinand as well, had she married him), and the tyranny of
absolutism.
It is only natural that audiences and critics concentrate on Luise as the
tragic heroine since she is the focal point of the love story. She is pitiful,
but not especially interesting or sympathetic, at least not compared with
Lady Milford. And Schiller invites comparison between the two characters.
The initials of their names call attention to their connection: Luise Miller
and Lady Milford. Certainly, the tradition and genre of the domestic
tragedy would have us compare and contrast them. Typically, the vices of
the aristocratic lady illumine and underscore the virtues of the bourgeois
girl. Unfortunately, the tables are turned this time, for Lady Milford outshines Luise Miller. Although stage directions call for Luise to be gelassen
und edel (643), and Lady Milford calls Luise the edle, groe, gttliche
Seele (646), it is Lady Milford who actually fits that description and rises
to that level. Luise and Ferdinand confirm Wurms assessment of their
world that greatness of spirit and personal nobility are make-believe: Was
sollten auch die phantastischen Trumereien von Seelengre und persnlichem Adel an einem Hof, he asks (611). Lady Milford proves him
wrong, however, for she demonstrates the possibility of Seelengre and
of persnlichem Adel in her own person.
Instead of Luise, Lady Milford emerges as the virtuous heroine. Here
she displays her true greatness. Gromut allein sei jetzt meine Fhrerin!
she declares, In deine Arme werfe ich mich, Tugend! (647). She
renounces her high position, leaves the duke, and embraces exile and
poverty. There is something heroic in her decision and action, but the
same cannot be said about Luise. She is tragic, not to mention pathetic,
but hardly heroic. Of her own accord, she is helpless and immobilized,
unable and unwilling to act. Auerbach puts his finger on the problem with
Luise: in general Luise is represented as so touchingly innocent, so filled
with noble sentiments, that her essential narrowness and pusillanimity are
not spontaneously recognizable (443).

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In a response to Koopmanns essay, Kabale und Liebe als Drama


der Aufklrung, Wolfgang Wittkowski points out that the tragic hero of
eighteenth-century drama made a decision against personal interest.
Darin besteht die sittliche Leistung, he observes (1986, 305). But Luises
decision against self-interest, that is, not to marry and flee with Ferdinand,
does not accomplish anything there is no moral benefit to be reaped
through her sacrifice. To be sure, she wrote down the letter dictated to her
by Wurm and so protected her father. But Ferdinands threat to expose his
father exerted more power, and certainly would have protected them all
from any further machinations by the president.
Lady Milford, Martinson writes, achieves moral dignity through
enlightened self-determination (97). Once again, she is the character who
much more than Luise qualifies as a tragic hero in the eighteenth-century
sense, for she makes a remarkable decision against personal interest that
also results in a moral achievement. She rises from the depths, overcomes
her own passions and desires, criticizes and rejects the prevailing political
system and order, and renounces pleasure and privilege.
Only Lady Milford overcomes her dependence and lack of freedom to
exercise free will and become truly autonomous. She alone shows a way
out of the captivity in which the other characters languish. In light of the
hardships she knowingly embraces and will endure in order to redeem and
emancipate herself, her decision requires the courage only a heroic character could muster. In effect, she steps into the void, loses a world, but
saves her soul. Indeed, she gains everything she had forfeited as the
princes kept woman: integrity, dignity, true nobility, autonomy, in a word:
freedom.
As Martinson points out, Schiller was typically concerned with the
development of the individual into a balanced or harmonious whole.
Throughout his life, he called for the union of mind and heart, of reason
and sense, the sublime and the beautiful, dignity and grace (Martinson,
270).10 In Kabale und Liebe, however, there is no such harmony, there is
only tension, to use Martinsons juxtaposition. Here Robert Heitners
insights prove useful. He considers Luise a divided character much like
Karl Moor and Don Carlos. To extrapolate and apply Martinsons concepts, she consequently lacks inner harmony. It is a highly suggestive paradigm, for it describes so many of Schillers dramatic characters. In a sense,
they have been divided into two characters and are incomplete without
their counterpart. Accordingly, Karl Moor and his brother Franz, Don
Carlos and Marquis Posa, Elisabeth and Maria Stuart, Luise and Lady Milford complement each other. In need of harmony, their characters exist in
tension with one another.
Pugh attributes to Fischer the insight that Lady Milford shows us
the future development of Schillerian tragedy (Pugh, 177). Indeed, she
contributed to Schillers subsequent dramatic production in any number

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J. M. VAN DER LAAN

of ways. The intensity and drama in the confrontation between Luise


and Lady Milford, for example, points toward the great clash of Maria
and Elisabeth in Maria Stuart, one of the most profound and bestexecuted dramatic moments in all of Schillers work as a playwright. In
particular, Lady Milford anticipates the great female character to come.
Coincidentally, Schiller himself established a subtle link between Lady
Milford and her dramatic descendent, Maria Stuart, in Kabale und Liebe.
When she recounts her personal history to Ferdinand, Lady Milford
mentions her father, der fr die schottische Maria ein Opfer war
(596). In Maria Stuart, the culmination of Schillers dramatic art, we
recognize the same moral struggle and victory, inherent nobility, renunciation of self-interest, and personal autonomy that Schiller first revealed
in Lady Milford.

Notes
1

Cf. Martinsons note to this effect, p. 147 n. 23.

See especially Kluge whose edition of the play includes many of those reviews, pp.
137186.

References to Schillers works in this essay are to volume and page number in the
Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro
Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here:
2:62223.

For further and more detailed discussions of the genre, see Guthkes Das deutsche
brgerliche Trauerspiel (first published in 1972, latest revision 1994); Peter
Szondis Die Theorie des brgerlichen Trauerspiels im 18. Jahrhundert (1973); RolfPeter Janzs Schillers Kabale und Liebe als Brgerliches Trauerspiel (1976); and
Cornelia Mnchs Abschrecken oder Mitleiden: Das brgerliche Trauerspiel im 18.
Jahrhundert (1993).
5

I use the term class here for the German Stand, even though it is a concept
that came into use after Schillers time.

Here Koopmann appears to have modified his stance somewhat since his 1986
essay in Verlorene Klassik where he declared: das Drama liefert mit der Fabel einen
Problemfall, nicht viele (287).

Both Kaiser and Stephan have documented a hint of the erotic in the relationship
between Miller and his daughter.

In this regard, cf. especially Ilse Grahams Passions and Possessions in Schillers
Kabale und Liebe in German Life and Letters, 6 (1952/53): 1220.

According to Koopmann, it is a problem in Die Ruber and Don Carlos as well,


but one that finds a solution in Maria Stuart, Jungfrau von Orleans, and
Wallenstein.

10
On this subject, see also Schillers inaugural lecture, Was heit und zu welchem
Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte? of 1789.

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133

Works Cited1
Alt, Peter Andr. Schiller: Leben Werk Zeit. 2 vols. Munich: C. H. Beck,
2000.
Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature.
10th ed. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991.
Bckmann, Paul. Formensprache: Studien zur Literatursthetik und Dichtungsinterpretation. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1966.
Duncan, Bruce. An Worte lt sich trefflich glauben: Die Sprache der Luise
Millerin. In Friedrich Schiller: Kunst: Humanitt und Politik in der spten
Aufkrung, ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski, 2631. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 1982.
Fischer, Bernd. Kabale und Liebe: Skepsis und Melodrama in Schillers
brgerlichem Trauerspiel. Frankfurt am Main/Bern/New York/Paris: Peter
Lang, 1987.
Graham, Ilse Appelbaum. Passions and Possessions in Schillers Kabale und
Liebe. German Life and Letters 6 (1952/3): 1220.
Guthke, Karl S. Das deutsche brgerliche Trauerspiel. 5th ed. Stuttgart/Weimar:
Metzler, 1994.
. Kabale und Liebe. Evangelium der Liebe? In Guthke, Schillers Dramen: Idealismus und Skepsis. Tbingen/Basel: Francke, 1994.
Heitner, Robert R. A Neglected Model for Kabale und Liebe. Journal of
English and Germanic Philology 57 (1958): 7385.
Hiebel, Hans Helmut. Missverstehen und Sprachlosigkeit im brgerlichen
Trauerspiel. Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft 27 (1983): 12453.

Although this study refers to and engages past and present scholarship of Kabale
und Liebe and concludes with an extensive list of works cited, an annotated review
of the critical literature far exceeds the scope of this essay. There is moreover no
reason for me to repeat or duplicate the good work done by so many others. I refer
readers to the following studies for a thorough review of pertinent research: Benno
von Wieses chapter on the play in question in his study Friedrich Schiller from
1959; Helmut Koopmans essay and useful bibliography in the 1998 SchillerHandbuch; Karl S. Guthkes essay from 1979, updated for his 1994 book Schillers
Dramen (esp. 1027); Bernd Fischers monograph on Kabale und Liebe (esp.
3674); Gerhard Kluges materials in the commentary section for the 1988
Deutscher Klassiker Verlag edition of the play; Steven D. Martinsons (1996) and
Lesley Sharpes (1991) chapters devoted to the play in their respective monographs
on Schiller; and David Pughs indispensable contribution to Schiller studies
(2000). While the scholars mentioned here have in their time each given a good
overview and offered commentary and assessment of the past scholarship, Pugh is
by far the best source for the most extensive, competent survey and account of the
vast critical literature about Kabale und Liebe.

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J. M. VAN DER LAAN

Hbel, Wolfgang. Natural Born Schiller. Der Spiegel 17 (1996): 22526.


Janz, Rolf-Peter. Schillers Kabale und Liebe als brgerliches Trauerspiel.
Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft 20 (1976): 20828.
Kaiser, Gerhard. Krise der Familie: Eine Perspektive auf Lessings Emilia Galotti
und Schillers Kabale und Liebe. Recherches Germaniques 14 (1984): 722.
Kieffer, Bruce. Tragedy in the Logocentric World: Schillers Kabale und
Liebe. German Studies Review 5 (1982): 20520.
Kittler, Friedrich A. Schiller: Archologie der Psychologie des brgerlichen
Dramas. Dichter, Mutter, Kind, 4798. Munich: Fink, 1991.
Kluge, Gerhard. Kabale und Liebe. In Friedrich Schiller Dramen I, vol. 2 of
Friedrich Schiller: Werke und Briefe, 13291502. Frankfurt am Main:
Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988.
Koopmann, Helmut. Kabale und Liebe als Drama der Aufklrung. In Verlorene
Klassik? Ein Symposium, ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski, 286308. Tbingen:
Niemeyer, 1986.
. Kabale und Liebe. In Schiller-Handbuch, ed. Helmut Koopmann,
36578. Stuttgart: Alfred Krner, 1998.
. Drama der Aufklrung: Kommentar zu einer Epoche. Munich: Winkler,
1979.
Korff, Hermann August. Geist der Goethezeit. Vol. 1. 8th ed. Leipzig: Koehler
and Amelang, 1966.
Malsch, Wilfried. Der betrogene Deus iratus in Schillers Louise Millerin. In
Colloquium Philosophicum: Studien Joachim Ritter zum 60. Geburtstag,
157208. Basel/Stuttgart: Schwabe, 1965.
Martini, Fritz. Schillers Kabale und Liebe: Bemerkungen zur Interpretation
des Brgerlichen Trauerspiels. Der Deutschunterricht 4/5 (1952): 1839.
Martinson, Steven D. Harmonious Tensions: The Writings of Friedrich Schiller.
Newark: U of Delaware P, 1996; London: Associated UP, 1996.
Michelsen, Peter. Ordnung und Eigensinn: ber Schillers Kabale und
Liebe. Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts (1984): 198222.
Mnch, Cornelia. Kabale und Liebe Friedrich Schiller zwischen Konvention und Innovation mit einem Exkurs zu Die Ruber. In Mnch,
Abschrecken oder Mitleiden: Das deutsche brgerliche Trauerspiel im 18.
Jahrhundert: Versuch einer Typologie, 33140. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 1993.
Mller, Joachim. Schillers Kabale und Liebe als Hhepunkt seines Jugendwerkes. In Mller, Wirklichkeit und Klassik: Beitrge zur deutschen Literaturgeschichte von Lessing bis Heine, 11648. Berlin: Verlag der Nationen,
1955.
Mller-Seidel, Walter. Das stumme Drama der Luise Millerin. Goethe 17
(1955): 91103.
Pape, Walter. Ein merkwrdiges Beispiel produktiver Kritik: Schillers
Kabale und Liebe und das zeitgenssische Publikum. Zeitschrift fr deutsche
Philologie 107 (1988): 190211.

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135

Pilling, Claudia. Linguistische Poetik und literaturwissenschaftliche Linguistik? Anmerkungen zu Schillers Kabale und Liebe. In Sprachspiel und
Bedeutung, ed. Susanne Beckmann, Peter-Paul Knig, and Georg Wolf,
43949. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 2000.
Pugh, David. Schillers Early Dramas: A Critical History. Rochester, NY:
Camden House, 2000.
Sharpe, Lesley. Friedrich Schiller: Drama, Thought, and Politics. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1991.
Stephan, Inge. So ist die Tugend ein Gespenst: Frauenbild und Tugendbegriff bei Lessing und Schiller. In Lessing und die Toleranz, ed. Peter
Freimark, Franklin Kopitsch, and Helga Slessarev, 35772. Munich: text
und kritik, 1986.
Strich, Fritz. Schiller: Sein Leben und sein Werk. Leipzig: Tempel-Klassiker,
1912.
Szondi, Peter. Die Theorie des brgerlichen Trauerspiels im 18. Jahrhundert.
Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1973.
Weitbrecht, Carl. Schiller in seinen Dramen. Stuttgart: Fromann, 1897.
Wiese, Benno von. Friedrich Schiller. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1963.
Wittkowski, Wolfgang, ed. Verlorene Klassik? Ein Symposium. Tbingen:
Niemeyer, 1986.

Great Emotions Great Criminals?:


Schillers Don Carlos
Rolf-Peter Janz

N HIS LETTER OF JUNE 7, 1784 to the Mannheim stage director Baron


Wolfgang Heribert von Dalberg, and upon having already written Die
Ruber, Fiesco, and Kabale und Liebe, Schiller promised a new work, not
a political work (ein politisches Stk) but, instead, a family portrait, ein
Familiengemhlde in einem frstlichen Haue.1 That sounds harmless,
and it was supposed to be. Not only does Schiller explicitly deny the politically explosive material of his Carlos drama for tactical reasons; even the
innocent designation Familiengemlde does not indicate what will happen later on within the royal family.
The sixty-year-old Philip of Spain, a political haggler (politische[r]
Schacher; Mller, 225), and the most powerful man in the old and new
world, marries the young French princess Elisabeth of Valois. Because she
loves Philips son and is even promised to him, it costs Philip his sons love.
That means he must fear Carlos in two ways: first, as a rival in winning
Elisabeths love and, second, as his successor, who, he believes, could overthrow him at anytime, as he himself had done to his own father. The
morally austere Philip, who spies jealously (mit hundert Augen) on his
faithful wifes relationship with Carlos, has an affair with the countess
Eboli. Eboli desires Carlos and confesses her love for him, but is rejected
and therefore does everything she can to take revenge on Carlos and
Elisabeth. All of this lies hidden under the term Familiengemlde. Private
conflicts, the fabric from which the domestic tragedies have been woven
since Lessings Miss Sara Sampson and Emilia Galotti, suddenly achieve
tremendous significance since they do not take place in a tiny principality
but at the Spanish court.
Schillers ingenious exposition, which stages the private family history
and affairs of the state (the preservation of Spanish authority over Flanders,
the prosecution of high treason, the Inquisition, etc.) does not create a
drama of prohibited love followed by a political drama. Instead, he is much
more successful in tying the two themes together, for he writes the genre
of domestic tragedy into the fabric of the tragdie classique. The brgerliches Trauerspiel shows sovereigns in the act of persecuting innocent
daughters of middle-class households and selling young men to serve as

138

ROLF-PETER JANZ

soldiers in foreign countries. On the other hand, the characters in Schillers


Carlos drama do what they do to each other not because they are immoral
or possess other character flaws, but because they are, at one and the same
time, representatives and victims of a political system that deforms them
and of a state terrorism that does not allow for humanity.
Philips father confessor, the Groinquisitor, complains to his ally
Alba: Schwer zu unterscheiden, / Noch schwerer zu ergrnden sind die
Menschen (ll. 196667).2 The religious and military arm of this supervising state fears loss of influence at the court. They want to know what the
people think and feel privately in order to control them better, ostensibly
in order to consolidate the power of the king. What also motivates the
playwright Friedrich Schiller is to fully fathom the human being. It is precisely the plays historical material that provides him with plenty of opportunity to set his unbridled anthropological curiosity into motion. What
happens to people when they are exposed to extreme situations? What does
someone like Carlos think or feel, someone who, when he finally sees his
father for the first time at the age of seven, sees him signing four death sentences, someone who is flogged in public (auf Sklavenart; l. 252) on his
fathers orders, someone who is permitted to talk to Elisabeth only under
the observation of her jailer (l. 653) since she is his surrogate mother?
In his early dramas Schiller was interested above all in the cryptic, sinister sides of his characters. Psychopathological deviations fascinate him
more than conventional behavior. As a result, his figures are granted hardly
any rest. That is the reason why Carlos, Posa, and Countess Eboli are in a
state of constant rage, out of anger, pain and hatred, such that their nerves
are on the verge of tearing apart (reien; l. 752). Their jealousy turns
into vindictiveness. Although they assure each other that great souls shall
suffer quietly (l. 613), they hardly miss an opportunity for the exaltation
of love, and at times fall on their knees and burst into tears. Schillers Don
Carlos provides for a theater of great emotions. His figures fall quickly
from one state of emergency into the other. Although called for, selfdiscipline is rarely accomplished.
If already at the beginning Don Carlos confesses to Marquis Posa his
scandalous love for Elisabeth, he knows already that madness or the scaffold (Wahnsinn oder Blutgerst) lies ahead of him and, yet, he still
loves her. When he stands face to face with Elisabeth for the first time, he
confesses:
Man reie mich von hier aufs Blutgerste!
Ein Augenblick, gelebt im Paradiese,
Wird nicht zu teuer mit dem Tod gebt. (ll. 63840)
Where strong passions are acted out or affirmed in an excessive way, great
expressions, or performances of self-control are necessary. O Karl! Wie

SCHILLERS DON CARLOS

139

gro wird unsre Tugend, / Wenn unser Herz bei ihrer bung bricht!
(ll. 76667). With such suggestive questions as these, Elisabeth wants to
dissuade Don Carlos from his love for her. Up to act 5 it is clear that Carlos
does not want to hear about such exercises in the regulation of affects. In
situations where the power of language is insufficient to persuade the audience of the extraordinary emotions of his figures, Schiller employs the play
of silence, as he had already done in Die Ruber and Kabale und Liebe.
The stage directions require of the characters incessant mini-dramas
enacted by bodily gestures and expressions. We observe Carlos gripped by
sudden paralysis (von einer pltzlichen Erstarrung ergriffen; act 2, scene
4), or see him fling himself down before Philip and express great emotional
turmoil (im Ausdruck der hchsten Empfindung; act 2, scene 2). Eboli,
when she confesses her misdemeanor to the queen, acts like a maniac
(drckt [sie] ihr glhendes Gesicht auf den Boden and fhrt wie eine
Rasende in die Hhe; act 4, scene 19).
The pathos of speeches, exaggerated gestures, and body language
all of these reveal very clearly how closely Schillers modern tragedy
approached the opera, as he had already done with his Ruber drama.
Even there he did not envision tempered stages of emotion. Precisely the
high pitch of the tragedy explains that from time to time the sentences
begin to roar, as happens elsewhere in Schillers works, for instance at the
end of Die Braut von Messina: Das Leben ist der Gtern hchstes nicht, /
Der bel grtes aber ist die Schuld (ll. 283839; 5: 384). There is no
doubt that in this piece one can hear the organ-like pathos that Schillers
critics take for his most characteristic imprint, that cadence that makes his
works prone to parody (see Janz 189201).
Tears have an uncanny function in Schillers works. Whoever is crying
in Don Carlos and many tears are shed in this piece usually admits to
it. At the time of Empfindsamkeit, which runs parallel to the Enlightenment, tears serve as hallmarks of true and honest humanity. Whoever cries
only claims ones own natural right to feel, even and especially in
public. It is a right that Storm-and-Stress heroes employ extensively. In
order to show that even the despot possesses human traits and that
includes being deserving of compassion Schiller cannot apply a more
effective stage device than to let him cry: Der Knig hat geweint (act 4,
scene 13). That is the sensation at Philips court an entirely unexpected
stirring of emotion that touched a later reader of Don Carlos, Thomas
Manns Tonio Krger, enormously.
Murderers, cunning intriguers, betrayers, and conspirators are selfevident in Storm-and-Stress drama.3 Whether Franz Moor, Spiegelberg,
or Fiesco Schiller appreciated and served generously the desire to
behold criminal acts. In his theoretical essays of the 1790s concerning the
sublime and tragedy, he was engaged intensively with the great criminals
of literature, and expressed his admiration for Shakespeares Richard III,

140

ROLF-PETER JANZ

whose malevolence is unsurpassed in dramatic literature. What distinguishes Shakespeares character in particular is the colossal strength
of will that leads him to commit his terrible deeds unimpeded and
consistently.
None of the characters in Don Carlos can compare to Richard III.
When considering the offenders who step onto the stage, the first places go
to Alba, Domingo, and the princess Eboli and, finally, to Philip, the great
inquisitor, and Posa. Carlos must here withdraw, for even if he was willing
to support the rebellion of the Netherlands against the imperial power of
the king, he has too much in common with a Hamlet, as Schiller himself
noted, to consider him capable of activities against his fathers regime. He
remains caught in his unhappy love for Elisabeth and acts as a tool for the
revolt in Flanders as planned by Marquis Posa. Even though Philip is under
the impression that his son could become dangerous to him politically, he
has good reasons to trust Carloss assurances of faithfulness:
Ich bin nicht schlimm, mein Vater heies Blut
ist meine Bosheit, mein Verbrechen Jugend.
Schlimm bin ich nicht, schlimm wahrlich nicht wenn auch
Oft wilde Wallungen mein Herz verklagen,
Mein Herz ist gut (ll. 105256)
Alba and Domingo are presented as ambitious courtiers who are brought
into the center of power and do everything they can, ostensibly for the
sake of the monarchy, but in reality to preserve their own influence, albeit
in vain. They are creatures of the court, who serve the king as long as he
needs them. In short, they are agents of the Inquisition and the army upon
which Philips despotic regime is based. Their conspiracy against the
queen, and against Carlos and Posa, is fearsome and their clever intrigues,
even though they seem overly entangled, demand respect even from an
audience with less criminal sagacity.
The historian Schiller was well aware that security services established
by the army and the Church for the purpose of the Inquisition could
become entities unto themselves, thus threatening to become a state
within the state. Schiller brings this insight to bear in his drama. When
Philip wants to see evidence of Albas accusation that Carlos and the queen
are planning a conspiracy, a decision is inevitable. Should the queen and
Carlos be innocent, the king threatens to sentence the accuser to death. At
the risk of his own life, Alba stands ready to defend his accusation to the
death. But the king rejects the sacrifice.
[. . .] Und was
ist Euch das Leben? Knigliches Blut
Geb ich dem Rasenden nicht preis, der nichts

SCHILLERS DON CARLOS

141

Zu hoffen hat, als ein geringes Dasein


Erhaben aufzugeben Euer Opfer
Verwerf ich. Geht geht, und im Audienzsaal
Erwartet meine weiteren Befehle. (ll. 28028)
The king knows what people are like. The cynic of power on the throne
sees that Albas sacrifice is not worth its price. Here is the queens life,
there the subordinates life for the monarchy, or so Alba would have us
believe. According to the sovereign, Alba would not sacrifice his person for
the salvation of the monarchy, but instead in order to himself be the object
of glorification.
In this game of courtly intrigue, Schiller assigns a special role to
princess Eboli. She is led to participate in Albas and Domingos conspiracy, steals letters that belong to the queen, and reveals to her conspirators
what Carlos had told her in a fit of credulity. Because her love has been
refused, she takes revenge on Carlos and Elisabeth. When she confesses her
love to Carlos, it becomes clear that she too is a victim of courtly behavior.
The culture of courtly etiquette creates an atmosphere of ambiguity for
everyone, which is manipulated by the kings surveillance network in order
to safeguard his power. Of course, Carlos cannot admit his feelings for
Elisabeth in public. For her part, she can take personally die versteckten
Liebesuerungen des Infanten, die der Knigin gelten, . . .4 Given the
courteously encrypted invitation, and blinded by passion, Carlos presumes
a rendezvous with the queen. Eboli also becomes his deadly enemy
because the rules of conduct at the court do not allow for clarification of
miscommunication. She is at the same time the perpetrator and victim of
the machinery of power.
With the figure of Philip Schiller invents a despot that the Storm and
Stress could have have imagined any more splendidly. It seems that he
oversees and rules not only the court, his subordinates, and the conquered
countries, but also his family members. His regime elevates terror to an art
of the state (l. 1178) and as a means of control over his family. However,
Schiller has mastered the work of the drama too well not to know that in
this case a mixed character (gemischter Charakter) needs to take the
stage. He draws human traits and human weaknesses into the terrifying
image of the monarch. Philip is lonely, but he is also jealous, and miserably
so. By having him cry, Schiller has the king suffer weakness.
In this way, the dramatist again contributes to the program of
educating princes through the transmission of middle-class values.
According to this program, princes too can be enlightened; they should
not be immune to the stirrings of the heart. If the monarch has been
impressed with Marquis Posa for some time already, it is because Posa,
an outsider with unheard-of ideas, in contrast to Alba and Domingo,
does not expect to gain any benefit from his acquaintance with Philip.

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Philip proves himself to be more than the absolute power of a sovereign


when he allows Posa to explain to him his ideals of human dignity and
freedom.
Nevertheless, when Philip learns about Posas plan to liberate the
Netherlands, his mercy reaches its limits. Even though he feels offended by
Posas seeming disdain and his moral superiority over the dictator, the sovereign holds that Posas death is justified in spite of the love he feels for
him. As remarkable as this is, and at precisely the point at which the political opponent is eliminated and Carlos falls to his knees beside Posas
corpse, the drama shows the monarch losing consciousness (act 5, scene 5).
The ruler is no longer in control of his senses. Where words prove to be
insufficient to express the crisis that has befallen the despot, Schiller uses
once again his proven theatrical talent to stage a spectacular physical breakdown. Eventually it becomes clear that the sovereign, who regulates all the
means of enforcement, is himself subject to constraints that his nature cannot overcome. His body is out of control.
This development foreshadows the penultimate scene. The great
inquisitor talks to Philip like a disobedient student, instructing him that
the power of the state is held by the Church. Remorsefully, Philip accepts
the blame and leaves his son in the hands of the Inquisition. Thus, the terrifying image of the despot is overshadowed by that of the inquisitor.
In the further course of the drama, Schiller shifts the focus of attention to Marquis Posa, who now becomes the main hero. This is all the
more appealing insofar as Posa was designed from the start to be a more
complex and hence dramatically more interesting figure. From the time
of the plays premire up to the present, scholars have not been able to
agree about Posa. Even Schiller considered him to be dubious as he continued to think about him in his Briefe ber Don Carlos (published in
1788 in Wielands Teutsche Merkur). For a long time it was assumed that
Schiller had identified with Posa and dealt with him later on in his Carlos
letters. Today, Schiller scholars view the matter differently. They are right
to stress Posas problematic personality traits, which are certainly hard to
ignore in the drama. But no one seems to disagree about one thing: the
figure of Posa takes the stage as an idealistic schemer, an idealist who
takes freedom and human dignity seriously. He is a visionary who promotes a better state and supports the Netherlands against Spanish hegemony. In the kings view, it is a clear case of high treason. Posas strength
of will and his willingness to take risks in order to carry out this audacious undertaking lend this hero greatness. In this respect at least he
resembles Count Fiesco or even the scoundrel Wurm of Kabale und
Liebe, of whom Luise Millerin astutely says: Eine vollkommene Bberei
ist auch eine Vollkommenheit (2: 625). Secondly, what predestines him
to be a sublime hero is his willingness to sacrifice his life for Don Carlos
after his political plans have failed. Or is he not such a hero? Whatever the

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143

case, Schiller chooses as unsuspicious a person as the queen to outmaneuver Posa.


Sie strzten sich in diese Tat, die Sie
Erhaben nennen. Leugnen Sie nur nicht.
Ich kenne Sie, Sie haben lngst darnach
Gedrstet Mgen tausend Herzen brechen,
Was kmmert Sies, wenn sich Ihr Stolz nur weidet.
O, jetzt jetzt lern ich Sie verstehn! Sie haben
Nur um Bewunderung gebuhlt. (ll. 438086)
The man who wishes to convince Philip that he loves humanity (die Menschheit liebt) has to hear from Elisabeth that he cares only about his own
glorification. It is not coincidental that he should later call himself a hazadeur who played for all or nothing. The means of power that he thought
to master is out of his control. Only when his enthusiasm fades does he
admit that he has failed morally. In fact, he had deceived his friend Carlos
by not informing him about his temporary alliance with the king. The
well-intended education of Carlos turns out in practice to be a form of
manipulation. Posa wants Carlos in his hands in order to protect him
against rash deeds, with the accompanying fatal consequences.
But why is it necessary for this idealist to be a villain? Posas career provides a didactic example of how to deal with abstract principles of virtue
and happiness, which, because they are expected to be valid for everyone,
can lead to manipulating individuals just as much as any self-serving
despot. According to Schillers devastating assessment in the Briefe ber
Don Carlos, Posas enthusiasm for freedom leads him to do violence to the
freedom of others and to a spirit of secrecy and tyranny (Gewaltttigkeit
gegen fremde Freiheit; Geiste der Heimlichkeit und der Herrschsucht;
3:465). His excitement for the greater good, human love on a grand scale,
neglects the single individual. Love of an ideal (Liebe zu einem Ideal) is
something different than love for a real object (Liebe zu einem wirklichen
Gegenstande), that is, for a person (3:463). Love for an ideal imperils the
individual human being. Here, Posa endangers Don Carlos, above all
when he tries to realize his ideal conceptions in a fanatical and absolute
manner. This is precisely Posas cardinal mistake. In the drama, as well as in
the Briefe, it is called Schwrmerei, enthusiasm or adulation. But Posas
Schwrmerei is as hazardous for him as for Carlos, a fact that Schiller
addresses critically in the Briefe. Both Posas and Carloss destruction is
attributable to the fact that Posa is overly concerned with his ideal of virtue
and too little concerned about his friend (3:46364). If one gets carried
away by ones visions, as is the case with Posa, one elevates oneself to
the realm of general abstractions and thereby rejects, unpardonably,
natural, practical feeling (natrliches praktisches Gefhl; 3:465).

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To turn freedom into the ultimate goal to be achieved by emotion leads to


a loss of reality. Posa strays into despotism (3:466). With that, he resembles
the despot Philip, the very person whom he is trying to fight.
Nonetheless, Schiller has Philip attain a respectable resolution of the
conflict; first, by having Philip hand his political legacy over to Carlos and
the queen, for it is in safe hands with them; and, second, by having Posas
antagonist triumph, namely, the great inquisitor, who stands behind the
scenes, as a fossilized, old blind man and a terrifying image of cold fanaticism for whom decomposition is preferable to freedom (l. 5277). Schiller
could not have accessed the historical insight that evil can also be trivial.
The officially commissioned terrorist walks over dead bodies. Moreover, he
is proud of his perfect bookkeeping. On the other hand, Posa, the committed and credible advocate of human rights, certainly has the audiences
sympathy. Still, his most resolute and most effective rehabilitation consists
in his sacrifice for Carlos. The way he gives his life bestows the highest
value to the person to whom he is giving it, as well as to the goals he stands
for. This is what the logic of sacrifice stipulates. The queen knows about it
and advises Carlos as follows:
er hat sich geopfert
Fr Sie! Mit seinem teuern Leben
Hat er das Ihrige erkauft. Und dieses Blut
Wr einem Hirngespinst geflossen? (ll. 528790)
If Posa sacrifices his life, then Carloss life must be more than just a fabrication. Posas self-sacrifice restores his friendship with Carlos, whom he once
betrayed, and the dignity of his political goals. However, in sacrificing his life
for Carlos, does not Posa prove his own greatness as well? I cannot rule out
this possibility. Posa is one of Schillers most enigmatic characters. With all
his contradictions, he is constructed in such a way that he cannot be reduced
to one pattern of behavior or one motive. Even the readily employed opposition of passion and reason that is characteristic of the dramatic heroes of
Schillers later works Die Jungfrau von Orleans, Maria Stuart, and Wallenstein cannot account completely for the figure of Marquis Posa.
Schillers anthropological experiment of the theater ranges from
domestic dramas of love to opera-like tragedies that led to the creation of
another mixed character (Marquis Posa) who is everything at once: intellectual and enlightener, advocator of human rights, a bundle of emotions
and an enthusiast, a courtier that knows all the tricks of courtly behavior.
He is yet another individual who acts on his own, a Selbsthelfer from the
archive of Storm and Stress drama. But this must mean that we are far from
exhausting the significance of the marquis and Schillers work.
Translated by Steven D. Martinson

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Notes
1

References to Schillers works in this essay are to the Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke
und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am
Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). References are parenthetical within the
text by volume and page number. Here: 3:1075.

Whether an Aufhebung of the domestic tragedy takes place in this high tragedy,
as Mller assumes (21920), is open for debate.
3
Concerning Schillers lifelong interest in betrayal, the right of resistance, and
Tyrannenmord, see Mller-Seidel, 42246.
4

Schillers letter to Reinwald of April 14, 1783.

Works Cited
Janz, Rolf-Peter. Schiller-Parodien. In Schiller heute, ed. Helmut Koopmann,
189201. Tbingen: Stauffenburg, 1996.
Mller, Klaus-Detlef. Die Aufhebung des brgerlichen Trauerspiels in
Schillers Don Carlos. In Friedrich Schiller: Angebot und Diskurs: Zugnge/
Dichtung/ Zeitgenossenschaft, ed. Helmut Brandt, 21834. Berlin/Weimar:
Aufbau, 1987.
Mller-Seidel, Walter. Verschwrungen und Rebellionen in Schillers Dramen. In Schiller und die hfische Welt, ed. Achim Aurnhammer, Klaus
Manger, and Friedrich Strack, 42246. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1990.
Schings, Hans-Jrgen. Die Brder des Marquis Posa: Schiller und der Geheimbund
der Illuminaten. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1996.

Concerning Aesthetic Education


Lesley Sharpe

STHETISCHE ERZIEHUNG des Menschen in einer Reihe von


Briefen (known as the sthetische Briefe [On the Aesthetic Education
of Man in a Series of Letters, or the Aesthetic Letters, 1795]) may be the
work by which Friedrich Schiller is best known outside Germany. Its influence has been enormous, and not just in the field of aesthetics but also in
political and psychological theory. It expresses a grand vision of human
potentialities that has inspired and provoked its readers, while its dazzling
moments of insight into the problems of cultural development, into the
nature of aesthetic experience, and into the qualities of art objects have
given impetus to further reflection and sparked off fruitful debates. The
analysis of the effects of the division of labor, the elaboration of the notion
of art as play, the notion of Schein or aesthetic semblance, the concept of
the aesthetic state all of these ideas have had an eventful afterlife,
though often detached from the matrix of Schillers argument.1
Yet despite their enormous impact and continuing resonance in cultural debates, the sthetische Briefe remain difficult to interpret, and many
bones of critical contention remain. Does Schiller succeed in bringing his
treatise to a satisfactory conclusion in the concept of the aesthetic state and
how does such a state relate to the problem of political renewal identified
in the early letters? Why does Schiller promise his readers a treatment of
energetic as well as melting beauty but fail to deliver it? Is aesthetic
education the means or the end of progress? Does the work represent the
quintessence of Schillers thought on aesthetics, or is it, as I shall argue,
only one position in his continuing intellectual odyssey?
The sthetische Briefe are the culmination of Schillers engagement
with the nature of the beautiful and with the role of art and aesthetic experience in human development and society. These issues had long been in
his mind. As early as 1784 he gave a lecture to the Kurpflzische Deutsche
Gesellschaft which was published under the title Was kann eine gute stehende Schaubhne eigentlich wirken? (What Effect Can a Good Repertory
Theater Have?, 1784).2 Much of the answer Schiller offers reiterates familiar defenses of the theater. At the end of the essay, however, he claims that
the theater affords us experience that restores our inner equilibrium and,
in so doing, our harmony with our fellow human beings. This effect of
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psychological healing through aesthetic experience is particularly beneficial,


Schiller claims, to people in the modern world whose lives are dominated
by intense but restricted use of one part of themselves. This is ultimately a
moral effect of theater, but an indirect one.
After completing his fourth play, Don Carlos, in 1787, Schiller temporarily gave up writing plays (though he toyed with a number of plans), profoundly disturbed by the compositional difficulties Don Carlos had given him
and unsure of his ability to complete a play that would satisfy him. It was not
until 1797 that he began concentrated work on the great three-part drama
Wallenstein, completed in 1799. In the intervening period he pondered long
and hard on the nature of drama as a genre and attempted systematically to
use and adapt aspects of Immanuel Kants critical philosophy as a basis on
which to argue for the profound link between morality and aesthetics and
thus for the fundamental importance of art to what it is to be human.
That he had the opportunity to spend some years on these matters was
the result of a great personal misfortune: the loss of his health. His illness was
a bitter blow at a time when, after so many years of overwork and financial
uncertainty, he was beginning to occupy a more secure and respectable place
in the world. In 1789 he was appointed to a Chair of History at the University of Jena on the strength of his historical writings, chiefly his Geschichte des
Abfalls der vereinigten Niederlande von der spanischen Regierung (History of
the Revolt of the Spanish Netherlands, 1788),3 and in 1790 he married
Charlotte von Lengefeld, a member of the nobility but by no means wealthy.
The severe bronchial illness of 1791 that nearly cost him his life left him a
permanent invalid and burdened with financial worries. Help came, however,
from an unexpected quarter. In the summer of 1791 the German-Danish
poet Jens Baggesen (17641826) first heard an erroneous report that
Schiller was dead, on the strength of which he organized a ceremony in his
memory. Learning of his mistake but also of the poets straitened financial
circumstances, he appealed to two Danish noblemen, Prince Friedrich Christian von Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg and Count Ernst
Heinrich von Schimmelmann, who responded by granting Schiller a threeyear pension that allowed him to recover and put aside some of the journalistic activities with which he had planned to relieve the financial pressure.
Instead, he was able to engage in a serious study of Kant and of the aesthetic
problems that he felt stood in the way of his fulfilling his calling as a poet.
The sthetische Briefe grew out of the letters (known as the Augustenburg
letters) he wrote to the Prince of Augustenburg as a tribute to his generosity.4

Beauty and Freedom


From his earliest days as a creative writer Schiller had been preoccupied
with the limits and exercise of human freedom. His experience of being

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sent against his own and his parents wishes to the Ducal Military Academy
in Stuttgart and Duke Karl Eugens own intervention to put a stop to his
literary ambitions lent intensity to that preoccupation. Personal circumstances were compounded by his observation at close quarters of the workings of princely absolutism and by his interest in theories of the state. As a
tragedian, he was fascinated by the ways in which individuals reach and justify their moral decisions. The central question asked by the sthetische
Briefe is: How can art contribute to the realization of true human freedom? Under the umbrella of that large question are the further questions:
How does the aesthetic realm relate to the moral? What is the significance
of art as a human activity? Engagement with Kants philosophy gave Schiller
a framework and certain key ideas he could adapt to attempt to answer
these questions. Furthermore, as an artist himself, he felt particularly well
placed to offer insights that would satisfy poets as well as philosophers.
That Schiller should study and be forced to take account of Kant was
inevitable. His own tendency of mind, evident long before the 1790s, was
to think in dualisms. Kants system discriminates between the phenomenal
and noumenal worlds. As natural beings we belong to the former, of which
we have knowledge through our organs of perception and the faculty of
our understanding. The noumenal world is the ideal realm, the realm of
the Absolute, which cannot be known through the senses or understanding
and of which we can have no direct experience. It can be accessed only
through the exercise of pure reason. As moral beings, we participate in the
noumenal realm by virtue of our ability to act upon the moral law within
us. Freedom for Kant is to obey the moral law. The Kantian dualism
is adopted by Schiller in all his major aesthetic writings, but he tends to
interpret it experientially as the conflict between the pull of earthly, material existence and the claims of the ideal realm, which includes the moral
law. What is for Kant a set of necessary distinctions to make the investigation
of knowledge possible becomes for Schiller a dualism symptomatic of the
problem of the human condition. At the same time, Schiller always felt a
strong pull from theories of human wholeness, where human beings are
not caught in a battle between two realms but can rediscover harmony of
thought and feeling. The challenge facing him in his major aesthetic writings was that of adapting Kants system to accommodate the possibility of
harmony between the material and intelligible worlds, though arguably he
was setting himself an impossible task.
Schillers starting point in his study of Kant was the third and last of
his three great critiques, the Critique of Judgment (1790). Kant separated
the aesthetic response from the good and the agreeable and thus guaranteed it its own autonomous realm. While recognizing that judgments of
taste are subjective, Kant asked whether our judgments on the beautiful
and the sublime have more than empirical and subjective validity. He came
to the conclusion that it is in the nature of these judgments to claim

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universal assent. He described our response to the beautiful as interesseloses Wohlgefallen (disinterested pleasure), thus pointing to the independence of aesthetic pleasure from moral judgment, which for Kant
cannot be disinterested. Schiller was not concerned with a transcendental
theory of the possibility of knowledge but with the place of art as an
expression of full humanity. He took up Kants suggestion that art is a symbol of the moral (Critique of Judgment, 59) by trying to find in art an
expression of autonomy, an analogy between the autonomy of art and the
autonomy of the moral individual, so that in this way the qualities of
beauty and morality could be linked. For if beauty is in some way a symbol
of the nature and possibility of moral self-determination, then the fundamental importance of beauty and art to humanity is established, yet in such
a way that it is not made subordinate to the moral. Schiller held firmly to
the view that art has no direct moral purpose. As he says in the twenty-first
Letter, die Schnheit gibt schlechterdings kein einzelnes Resultat weder
fr den Verstand noch fr den Willen.5 But art, if it is to be a vital human
activity, must be capable of touching our moral lives through its restorative
and integrating effect.
Kant was by no means the only philosophical influence on the sthetische
Briefe, but he was surely the single most important one. Indeed, Schillers
usual eclecticism is conspicuous in the work: among other prominent
influences one should name Rousseau, Fichte, Shaftesbury, Karl Philipp
Moritz, Goethe, Herder, and Karl Leonhard Reinhold, a Jena philosopher
and colleague of Schillers whose extensions of Kantian thought modified
Schillers reception of Kant.

The Analysis of the Age


While Schillers inner deliberations on aesthetics were leading up to the
composition of the sthetische Briefe, external circumstances played their
part in the birth of the work. German intellectuals were profoundly disturbed by the course taken by the French Revolution. The American Revolution had been a source of inspiration and hope to Germans who looked
for reform in their own states. It provided an example of how men could
establish a new form of government based on principles of reason and a
belief in inalienable rights. The beginnings of revolution in France were
greeted by many with cautious optimism, but the Jacobin seizure of power
in 1792 and the ensuing Reign of Terror, in particular the execution of the
king in 1793, caused widespread repugnance in the German states. This
background gave Schillers ideas on the role of art in society and politics
particular relevance and urgency. What was being played out in France,
he believed, was the failure of Enlightenment. As he wrote in the letters to
his patron: Der Moment war der gnstigste, aber er fand eine verderbte

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Generation, die ihn nicht wert war und und weder zu wrdigen noch zu
benutzen wute (Letter of July 13, 1793; 8:501). Where the Enlightenment had failed was not in the education of the mind and in the increase of
knowledge but in the cultivation of the heart, of sensibility. The way to the
head must be opened through the heart, Schiller argued. Only then can a
people be in a position to choose aright and create and carry through a
state based on reason and moral action.
By comparison with his first attempt at his subject in the Augustenburg letters, Schillers allusions to contemporary events in the sthetische
Briefe are guarded. This may be because he did not want his ideal of art to
seem pass as soon as events in France were no longer of consuming interest. It may also be that he did not want to contradict his own stated policy
as editor of Die Horen (The Horae, 179597), the journal in which the
work originally appeared in three installments, namely that of banning
from the journal material bearing directly on contemporary political developments. In establishing the Horen project, Schiller aimed, with characteristic idealism, to bring readers and contributors together in an enterprise
that would rise above sectional interests. Part of the fascination of the
sthetische Briefe lies in the fact that Schiller gives a non-political answer to
a burning political question how is reform of the state possible? and
does so on the strength of acute political analysis. Indeed the answer he
gives to the question carries weight only because it rests on such a perceptive account of contemporary political culture.
But it is clear that if the French Revolution had not crystallized the
problem of political culture and the possibility of change, Schillers analysis
of the age would have been just as valid and impressive. The speculative
historical scheme (used, for example, by Rousseau and Kant) of postulating
a primal state of unity followed by a state of dividedness the inevitable
result of the increased specialization and sophistication of society that
will in turn be overcome in a third and final stage is adopted and adapted
by Schiller: Die Kultur selbst war es, welche der neueren Menschheit
diese Wunde schlug (8:572).6 But in contrast to Rousseau, Schiller does
not speculate on humanitys presocial condition. Rather, he presents a view
of early human society that is reminiscent of Hobbess, in which human
beings struggle for existence amid coercion. The state provides some kind
of framework in which society can exist, a society in which through
increased specialization human beings play an increasingly limited and
fragmented role and in which the balance of their development is lost. The
contrast Schiller draws is not that between man in a state of nature and
civilized man but that of contemporary human beings and the ancient
Athenians. For Schiller the ancient world at its height still allowed the
development of the balanced individual. Although the advance of civilization has inflicted wounds on society and on the individual, the role of art is
to help heal those wounds and make possible a renewal of the social and

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political order. Unlike Kant he does not see the way forward in the practice
of reason alone. For what he sees around him is not unreason, not an
inability on the part of sophisticated human beings to see the right but an
inability or unwillingness to act in accordance with it. The quotation from
Rousseaus novel Julie ou La nouvelle Helose (Julie or The New Heloise)
that served as a motto for the first publication of the treatise is thus apt: Si
cest la raison qui fait lhomme, cest le sentiment qui le conduit. Schiller
then analyzes the problem as how to open up a way to the heart among
those whose reason has been overdeveloped but in limited directions.
Thus, the proper cultivation of feeling is the pressing task of the age.
It is only by showing an intense consciousness of the problems of the
age that Schiller feels he can gain credence for his fascinating and provocative claim in Letter 2 that it is only through beauty that man makes his way
to freedom. Though the claims of beauty may be far from modern peoples
interests and priorities, they are not far from their actual needs, namely the
cultivation of the heart. The problem facing modern societies is how to
progress from the Naturstaat, the state based on coercion and subjugation, to the Vernunftstaat, the state governed by the exercise of reason.
Human beings find themselves in a state in which they have surrendered
their individual liberty and have to accept the dominance of force. How
can human beings transform this kind of state, with which they are bound
to be dissatisfied, into a state based on reason and reasons laws, a state that
can lay claim to the assent of its citizens? For human beings must continue
to exist in any period of change. The state cannot just be dispensed with,
rather it must be transformed while safeguarding something of the life of
its citizens: das lebendige Uhrwerk des Staats muss gebessert werden,
indem es schlgt (8:563). What is needed is a support to mans moral
character to help change be possible, to smooth the transition and serve as
a sinnlicher Pfand der unsichtbaren Sittlichkeit (8:563/14). No change
can rest on the state doing violence to the individual. What is called for is a
refinement, an ennoblement of the human being. If human beings can act
with their sense of morality in harmony with their desires and instincts,
then there will be a basis on which change in the political sphere can be
possible and sustained. Schiller sees beauty as the cure for both fatal tendencies of the age: savagery and lethargy. The former is the hallmark of the
masses (so frighteningly manifest to observers of the French Revolution),
the latter of the privileged classes, who have enjoyed enlightenment of the
mind, only to reject its moral claims and slide into egotism.
This analysis of the ills of modern humanity applies, Schiller admits,
not only to the present age but to any people caught in the process of civilization. His account of the division of labor and the negative effects of
specialization has become the locus classicus in the history of the idea
of alienation, even though his thoughts are not original but a skillful
rhetorical compilation of the commonplaces of the time.7 This portrait of

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the ages overspecialization is set in contrast to the ideal of the Greek polis,
where the individual citizen was identified with the state, in which he (and
Schiller means he and not she) could still function with all his faculties.
He makes use here of the idealized image of Greece propounded by the
art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann (171768) and sustained, for
example, by Goethe and Wilhelm von Humboldt. In fact, Schiller felt
much less affinity with ancient Greece than did those three, but the idealizing of Greece as a contrast to the present age fulfills an important rhetorical function in his argument as a cultural touchstone.

Portrait of the Artist


While he was completing the sthetische Briefe, Schiller began his friendship and correspondence with Goethe. They first met in 1788 at the home
of Schillers future wife, Charlotte von Lengefeld, shortly after Goethes
return from Italy. Still full of his recollections of that momentous experience, Goethe associated Schiller with the Sturm und Drang he had
decisively left behind. Although no spontaneous sympathy arose from the
meeting, Goethe recommended Schiller for the vacant professorship at the
University of Jena, an important development for the younger man for it
gave him some position in the rigidly stratified and hierarchical world of
Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach. By 1794 the two men seemed to have settled
into a distant and formal relationship with no prospect of rapprochement
when Schiller invited Goethe to contribute to his new journal, Die Horen.
It was to offer contributions of a high literary and intellectual standard and
thus raise the level of journalism and of public debate. Shortly after, the
two men coincided at a scientific meeting in Jena and on leaving fell into
conversation. Goethes account of their conversation, Glckliches Ereignis, written over twenty years later, stresses the potential conflict between
his more intuitive and Schillers more speculative way of seeing the world.8
Despite the polarity of attitudes, they nevertheless aware of much common ground agreed to differ. Schillers brief allusion to the momentous
evening, contained in a letter (September 1, 1794) to his friend Christian
Gottfried Krner, reports that they spoke about art and art theory.
Clearly, it was a wide-ranging conversation, which dealt with a topic preoccupying both men in the 1790s, namely the relationship between nature,
in the sense of external reality, and art. And although Goethe presents himself in his own account as bridling against Schillers Kantian conception of
reality, he was at the time considerably influenced by aspects of Kants
thought and even appended to one of his early letters to Schiller an essay
formulating some of his ideas on beauty and animal morphology in terms
that bring them closer to Schillers manner of approaching aesthetics.9
Schiller followed up their first discussion with his famous birthday letter.

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In that letter of August 23, 1794, Schiller analyzed Goethes position as a


poet living in an age and environment that ran counter to his poetic consciousness, which had a far greater affinity to the classical world.
When the first nine sthetische Briefe were published, Schiller told
Goethe he would find his portrait in them. In Letter 9 he sets out how the
poet must stand apart from his age, giving it not what it wants but what it
needs: Schillers vision of the ideal artist is of a piece with his notion of aesthetic education. The artist must seek to ennoble his audience not by
moral preaching but by adherence to the highest aesthetic standards. The
implication of the poets being nurtured under a distant Greek sky is
that those standards will derive from those of the ancients, which Goethe
and Schiller considered immutable, for they rest on Nature itself. A longer
and more complex reckoning with Goethes particular genius and with
ancient and modern kinds of poetic consciousness is found in Schillers last
great theoretical work ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (On
Nave and Sentimental Poetry, 1794). The portrait of the artist in the
ninth Letter complements the various polemics, most notably in their satirical distichs found in the collection of Xenien, that Schiller and Goethe
engaged in against what they considered to be banal and second-rate in the
literature of their day. Yet it is surely a little disingenuous of Schiller to elevate the notion of the independent artist in this way. He himself, while
composing the sthetische Briefe, was the recipient of patronage.10 Duke
Carl August of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, conscious of the luster he added
to Weimar, also gave him a pension. He found sympathy and support in his
publisher Cotta, a fellow Swabian he met on his visit in 1793/94 to his
homeland, who realized the long-term business advantage of Schillers
name, unlike most other publishers. Even at the height of his fame and
success, as financial security was established, Schiller was conscious of the
need to keep a public for his work. His practical involvement with the
Weimar Court Theater under Goethes direction shows him on many occasions aware of the importance of keeping the enterprise going with a judicious choice of plays, while his own, though demanding and long, also
have an immediacy on stage that was appealing to audiences and still is.
Thus, Schillers rhetoric here has to be taken with a small pinch of salt.

The Deduction of Beauty


Letters 10 to 16 of the sthetische Briefe were published together in Die
Horen as the second of three installments, and in them Schiller expounds
his definition of beauty as living form. Basing his argument on the dualism
of condition and person drawn from Kant and Fichte, he postulates two
fundamental drives that determine our selves, the sense drive (Stofftrieb)
and the form drive (Formtrieb), the former relating to our lives as creatures

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of sense in a changing environment, the latter to our rational impulse to


impose order and permanence on our existence and relate it to the presumably unchanging realm of the absolute. Between them, these two drives
exhaust the whole of our existence. To mediate between them he then postulates a play drive (Spieltrieb), the object of which is the beautiful and
which brings the two basic drives into a reciprocal relation and balance.
Beauty defined as lebende Gestalt thus represents the harmonization of
these two contradictory impulses, being both material and ordered
and thus an ideal fusion of sense and spirit. Though it was a term used
widely in contemporary aesthetics, Schiller probably took from Kant the
term Spiel to apply to the aesthetic realm. But he gives it much greater
prominence and provocative force than Kant: der Mensch soll mit der
Schnheit nur spielen, und er soll nur mit der Schnheit spielen [. . .] Denn
[. . .] der Mensch spielt nur, wo er in voller Bedeutung des Worts Mensch
ist, und er ist nur da ganz Mensch, wo er spielt (8:614). The notion of
play implies an activity in which formal discipline is voluntarily accepted, an
activity that has no practical or moral purpose in itself but by its harmonization of content and form mediates the ideal to us intuitively.11 Thus, it is
both completely unimportant and supremely important at the same time.
At this point (Letter 15), Schiller produces his one example of ideal
beauty, the Juno Ludovisi. His concern is always for the beautiful in relation to human beings and for him the human form is always the highest
expression of beauty. Taking the sculpture to be of Greek origin and a representation of the goddess, Schiller emphasizes how the Greeks always
turned to the gods for images of human perfection, banishing from their
faces all traces of earthly struggle and investing them with serenity:
Es ist weder Anmut, noch ist es Wrde, was aus dem herrlichen Antlitz
einer Juno Ludovisi zu uns spricht; es ist keines von beiden, weil es beides
zugleich ist. Indem der weibliche Gott unsere Anbetung heischt, entzndet das gottgleiche Weib unsre Liebe; aber indem wir uns der himmlischen Holdseligkeit aufgelst hingeben, schreckt die himmlische
Selbstgengsamkeit uns zurck. In sich selbst ruhet und wohnt die ganze
Gestalt, eine vllig geschlossene Schpfung, und als wenn sie jenseits des
Raumes wre, ohne Nachgeben, ohne Widerstand. (8:615)

This is what Schiller termed das Idealschne, a concept of beauty that


embraces transcendence as well as materiality, the sublime and the beautiful.12

The Beautiful and the Sublime


We have arrived at a significant moment in Schillers battle with aesthetics
in a Kantian framework. It is in his attempt to construct a theory of beauty
that encompasses the beautiful and the sublime that his problematic

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relationship with Kant is most evident.13 Here we need to look back briefly
over the earlier stages of this journey. Beginning with Schillers earlier
approach to a definition of beauty, he tries to adapt Kant and transcend
him at the same time. In the Kallias letters, his first attempt to find an
objective standard of beauty, he postulates that beauty is Freiheit in der
Erscheinung, meaning that the beautiful is the sensuous manifestation of
autonomy in the beautiful object, or, in Kants terms, beauty is some kind
of manifestation of practical reason. He was unable, however, to take this
argument to a satisfactory conclusion and the work Kallias was never written. The next stage in Schillers struggle for a definition of the beautiful
and perhaps more revealing for the sthetische Briefe is his famous treatise
ber Anmut und Wrde (On Grace and Dignity, 1793). There Schiller,
still inspired by Kants suggestion that the beautiful is a symbol of the
moral, again wants to find a relationship between moral and aesthetic
autonomy. Grace is defined as the sensuous representation of the perfect
fusion of nature and reason, which manifests itself in moral and aesthetic
harmony. In postulating this possibility, Schiller is identifying and attempting to overcome a problem in Kant, namely the fact that Kant excludes
from the scope of the moral any action inspired by nature or inclination.
Schiller would like to allow for the possibility that nature and morality may
act in concert, which, he suggests, must surely be the human ideal. The
culmination of grace is the beautiful soul, in whom moral conduct has
become second nature. Dignity, by contrast, is the product of a moral conflict, where the moral will has to be exerted and autonomy shown by conformity to the moral law. The aesthetic counterpart to dignity is the
sublime, the imaginative transcendence of nature by reason. To capture the
possibility of moral habituation and moral transcendence in a single person, Schiller postulates that a fusion of grace and dignity is necessary if full
humanity is to be expressed both morally and aesthetically. This proposition, however, is a logical impossibility within the categories Schiller has
employed, for each model of behavior grace and dignity excludes the
other. Thus, from a logical point of view, the treatise falls apart.14 Why
does Schiller jeopardize his argument in this way? The answer bears
directly on the sthetische Briefe.
The fact that Schiller tried to combine two mutually exclusive models of behavior is indicative of a tension in his thinking that is widely
evident throughout his career: the desire to postulate the possibility of
harmony, of some kind of marriage of sense and spirit, and the urge to
assert the supremacy of the intellect, the will, and the moral over the natural in human beings.15 The former urge issues in his theories of beauty,
which are based on the faith that some kind of interpenetration of the
two sides of humanitys nature is possible and that life can be lived with
some kind of wholeness of being. This longing for wholeness, so characteristic of Europe on the brink of Romanticism, is expressed with great

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poignancy in Schillers work in Die Gtter Griechenlands and in ber


naive und sentimentalische Dichtung. Yet Schiller the tragedian lays hold
of a darker vision of human struggle in the world, where harmony is
impossible and the individual must act and suffer. For his theoretical
essays on tragedy, Schiller built on the Kantian notion of moral freedom
as expounded in the Critique of Practical Reason, the ability of human
beings to demonstrate their belonging to the noumenal realm by following the demands of the moral law. Extending his own line of argument
in the Critique of Judgment, Kant had accounted for the sublime as an
aesthetic experience in terms of our imaginative awareness when, from a
position of safety, we are faced with overwhelming physical danger. The
sublime is mediated through the experience of remembering that we are
also by virtue of the exercise of moral freedom partakers in the realm of
the Absolute and thus can transcend natures force. The sublime for Kant
is therefore the assertion of the superiority of the intelligible. Although
Schiller was drawn to theories of wholeness in aesthetics, his instincts as a
dramatist were with the Kantian model of moral struggle and transcendence, and through them he was able in his essays on tragedy to find
a new way of interpreting Aristotles notion of catharsis and thus secure a
place for tragedy essentially an archaic art form in a modern moral
environment.
Schiller implied on a number of occasions that the sublime was the
aesthetic of the future. He associates it in the sthetische Briefe with the
effect of bracing, the effect beneficial to those (the majority in the modern
world) who have sunk into a lethargy, their feeling deadened. Replying to
Wilhelm Svern, a young classical scholar who had written a comparison
of his Wallenstein with Greek tragedy,16 he said: Die Schnheit ist fr ein
glckliches Geschlecht, aber ein unglckliches mu man erhaben zu
rhren suchen (Letter of July 26, 1800). By happy and unhappy he
was referring to ancient and modern. In ber naive und sentimentalische
Dichtung, written immediately after the sthetische Briefe, Schiller set out
his vision of modern literature, which is characterized by a tension
between real and ideal, a vision that implies the containment of conflicting
elements of which the sublime is an example. In the Augustenburg letters,
he constantly refers to the sublime as well as the beautiful as the key to
the refining of the passions. What happens to the sublime in the sthetische
Briefe?
After his transcendental deduction of beauty and establishment of
das Idealschne Schiller suggests that there are two kinds of beauty, one
melting beauty, which harmonizes, the other energizing beauty, which
braces. Whereas in ideal beauty the two are held in equipoise, in actual works
of art one or the other will tend to predominate. The treatment of energetic beauty (generally taken to be the sublime), though promised, never
materializes. Regarding the failure to treat energetic beauty, Wilkinson and

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Willoughby say:
Of the conflicts involved in such transcendence of nature by Freedom, of
the resultant Dignity and Sublimity, Schiller treated elsewhere in his theoretical works [. . .] For his whole aim in this treatise is to teach, not the
transcendence of one of our natures by the other, but precisely the reconciliation of the two. (311)

It is unsatisfactory, however, to be told that Schiller was interested in the


sublime but not in this particular work. Not only does that suggest that
one cannot gain a coherent overview of Schillers thought in the sthetische Briefe except by suppressing consciousness of the rest of his work, it
also contradicts the clear indications in the treatise (see, again, the account
of the Juno Ludovisi) that his ultimate aim was to bring the sublime and
the beautiful together in one system. One conclusion, perhaps the most
convincing conclusion that can be drawn, is that Schiller was only too
aware of the aporia of ber Anmut und Wrde and simply had to suppress
extensive discussion of the sublime in the sthetische Briefe in order not to
run into the logical quicksand that had engulfed him before (Zelle
17984; for a contrary view see Barnouw, 1980). The implications for the
rest of the argument of the treatise will be considered below.

The Aesthetic Condition


The key for Schiller to the transforming power of the aesthetic and to its
ability to restore harmony in the individual is in its creation of an aesthetic
condition (Zustand) in which individuals are released from the two kinds
of coercion exerted by their mixed nature, the coercion of the senses and
the coercion of the mind. There can, Schiller argues, be no immediate
transition from feeling to analytical thought or vice versa. The aesthetic
provides an intermediate stage. It compels us to take one step backwards,
to be momentarily free of all determination whatsoever and pass through a
state of pure determinability. The freedom thus gained is the restoration of
our humanity (Letter 21):
Es ist also nicht blo poetisch erlaubt, sondern auch philosophisch
richtig, wenn man die Schnheit unsre zweite Schpferin nennt. Denn ob
sie uns gleich die Menschheit blo mglich macht und es im brigen
unserm freien Willen anheimstellt, inwieweit wir sie wirklich machen
wollen, so hat sie dieses ja mit unsrer ursprnglichen Schpferin, der
Natur, gemein, die uns gleichfalls nichts weiter als das Vermgen zur
Menschheit erteilte, den Gebrauch desselben aber auf unsere eigene Willensbestimmung ankommen lt. (8:637)

Now, restored to ourselves, we have the potential to act as we should and


also to refine our sensibilities so that the war between our moral and our

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natural selves is diminished. With characteristic metaphorical verve,


Schiller adds that man must den Krieg gegen die Materie in ihre eigene
Grenze spielen, damit er es berhoben sei, auf dem heiligen Boden der
Freiheit gegen diesen furchtbaren Feind zu fechten; er mu lernen edler
begehren, damit er nicht ntig habe, erhaben zu wollen (7:648). The use
of the word play is a playful reference back to the play drive. Schiller again
takes up the notion of Veredelung (ennoblement) the need for human
beings not just to choose the right more frequently but to develop greater
moral refinement. The realm of sense thus finds a foothold in the realm of
the moral. As in the case of ber Anmut und Wrde, this claim takes
Schiller into contradiction of Kants ethics, in which the two realms of
nature and freedom are strictly separate. He also evades the logical problems of his synthesis of grace and dignity by presenting them here as psychic dispositions detached from any transcendental argument.
Schillers use of the word freedom in the phrase auf dem heiligen
Boden der Freiheit in the last quotation above is freedom in Kants sense.
In Kants ethics, freedom is virtually identical with practical reason.
Humanity exercises freedom only in accord with practical reason. There is
no freedom in choosing not to follow the dictates of reason, for that is to
follow the dictates of nature. In writing about the aesthetic condition,
Schiller reveals that his own concept of freedom has shifted in the treatise in
ways that take him away from Kants definitions.17 Such terminological
shifts are notorious in Schillers philosophizing. In many instances Schiller
associates freedom with doing the good and the right, in other words with
practical reason (see, for example, 4 7, 13 2, 23 4). In Letter 19, however, freedom is the state we find ourselves in when our two fundamental
drives are in equilibrium. As Schiller, spotting the problem himself, puts it,
the freedom flows from our mixed nature. When we are in this state of
equilibrium, we are free from the pressures of both of our natures and in a
state of potential. We must then choose to do the right if moral action is to
ensue. This concept of a free will is something Schiller may have taken over
from his colleague Reinhold at the University of Jena.18 Reinhold popularized Kants critical philosophy through his Briefe ber die Kantische Philosophie (Letters on Kautian Philosophy, 1789). In doing so he addressed the
problem in Kants moral philosophy that would also trouble Schiller,
namely of how to account for the apparent free choice shown in immoral or
amoral actions. To do so, he developed a theory of drives, the selfish drive
and the unselfish drive, which correspond roughly to nature and practical
reason in Kant. In the middle is the force that determines whether an
impulse from one of these drives will be turned into a willed action. Thus
Reinhold had opened up the possibility of a free will, one that can choose
whether to turn the prompting of these drives into action. Here in the
sthetische Briefe Schiller wants to postulate the possibility of harmony of
nature and reason, an option that does not exist in Kant. Thus Reinholds

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arguments were useful to him, allowing him to postulate an equilibrium out


of which the freedom of choice could flow.19

The Aesthetic State


The ambiguity in Schillers treatment of freedom links with the ambiguity
of his treatment of the sublime and is responsible for the ambiguity surrounding the aesthetic state, the construct with which Schiller finishes his
treatise. The aesthetic state is one in which all members cultivate the equilibrium of aesthetic freedom by regarding everything and everybody with
an aesthetic attitude, that is, they regard them under the aspect of Schein or
aesthetic semblance and thus maintain an equanimity and disinterestedness
characteristic of aesthetic contemplation. The aesthetic state is contrasted
with the dynamic state of rights and the ethical state of duties. These last
two states put human beings in a condition of compulsion and are the
metaphorical equivalents of the Stofftrieb and the Formtrieb. The aesthetic
state is the realm of freedom where people appear to one another as form,
as objects of free play: In dem sthetischen Staate ist alles auch das
dienende Werkzeug ein freier Brger, der mit dem edelsten gleiche Rechte
hat, und der Verstand, der die duldende Masse unter seine Zwecke gewaltttig beugt, mu sie hier um ihre Beistimmung fragen (8:676).
How does the aesthetic state serve to round off Schillers argument? In
one sense it is the logical culmination. Just as the aesthetic condition
releases the individual from the constraints of humanitys mixed nature, so
the aesthetic state shows that this possibility of freedom is not just an individual experience but can be exercised in society among human beings and
thus demonstrate arts power to ennoble and refine. Schiller concedes that
such a state can be found only in a few chosen circles. He recognizes, in
other words, that it is a utopian vision but perhaps one that can slowly
transform reality as the few chosen circles gradually make an impact on
their wider environment (Wilkinson and Willoughby, l-li). Indeed, one
might argue that Schiller is too realistic to suggest that the promise of the
aesthetic to transform and lead us to true freedom can be manifest in more
than a few chosen circles. Thus the aesthetic state does not replace the state
of reason anticipated in the early letters but is a sign of hope that it will be
brought about. Other commentators, however, feel that the aesthetic state
provides an inconclusive ending to the treatise, indeed it has become a
commonplace of criticism to cite Hans-Georg Gadamers comment that
education through art, the goal of the early part of the treatise, has been
replaced by education toward art (Gadamer, 78). Art was the means but
has now become the end. The need to transform the political sphere,
which was the starting point of Schillers inquiry, has disappeared from
view and the aesthetic has usurped the moral and rational as the desired

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endpoint of development. Moreover, the aesthetic state is based on an elite


culture that excludes most of the people who need the refinement that the
aesthetic is attributed with bringing and has more in common with the
courtly world of the old ruling houses than with the expanding world of
business, commerce, and industry that gave rise to Schillers memorable
analysis of the effects of the division of labor.20 Such a view is in direct
opposition with those who claim that the aesthetic state is a vision of the
realization of democracy and popular sovereignty.21
In my view, both interpretations are too literal in looking for analogies
with real social and political structures, but they reflect, through the fact
that the text seems to give them some justification, perhaps a genuine
uncertainty on Schillers part about the context in which any aesthetic education stretching beyond the individual might take place. The ambiguity
demonstrated in Schillers treatment of freedom and in his treatment of the
beautiful and the sublime is relevant here because this ambiguity derives
from Schillers ambiguity about the question of the precedence of the
moral over the aesthetic. The sthetische Briefe show him to the last trying
to have his cake and eat it. The aesthetic state is the end and the means.

Semblance
One of the major paradoxes of a treatise full of intentional paradoxes is that
although the aesthetic is a means of education, the work of art has no purpose whatever. Indeed, it is its essence to be without purpose and only if
this cardinal rule is adhered to can the educative effects in Schillers sense
flow from the aesthetic experience attached to it. For aesthetic contemplation, the one step backwards essential to the liberating potential of aesthetic experience, depends on the paradoxical nature of art as a kind of
honest deception or illusion, a phenomenon summed up in Schillers use
of the word Schein. It is an illusion in that the artist has created something
that appears to be real and to have its own autonomy, to be its own world,
yet at the same time as we enter imaginatively into this world we are aware
of the fact that it has no substance.
The notion of Schein is linked to the importance Schiller attaches to
what he calls form:
In einem wahrhaft schnen Kunstwerk soll der Inhalt nichts, die Form
aber alles tun; denn durch die Form allein wird auf das Ganze des Menschen, durch den Inhalt hingegen nur auf einzelne Krfte gewirkt [. . .]
Darin also besteht das eigentliche Kunstgeheimnis des Meisters, da er
den Stoff durch die Form vertilgt (8:641)

By form Schiller means the artistic shaping of the material such that
it is the vehicle for a response to the world, a sense of how the world is

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experienced, in a way that allows the observer the opportunity to perceive


and contemplate that response. The subject matter is consumed (or abolished, to translate more literally) but the art object has sensuous reality and
through its form conveys to us a particular sense of life. In her influential
study Feeling and Form, Suzanne Langer skillfully illuminates the relation
between aesthetic semblance and form in Schillers sense. It is the liberation of the art object from the usual connotations of its material that allows
form to function as a symbol of how we experience the world:
Schiller was the first thinker who saw what really makes Schein, or semblance, important for art: the fact that it liberates perception and with
it, the power of conception from all practical purposes, and lets the
mind dwell on the sheer appearance of things. The function of artistic
illusion is not make-believe, as many philosophers and psychologists
assume, but the very opposite, disengagement from belief the contemplation of sensory qualities without their usual meanings [. . .] The
knowledge that what is before us has no practical significance in the world
is what enables us to give attention to its appearance as such. (49)

As Mary Wilkinson commented in an essay inspired by Langers book,


Schillers theory of Schein shows that he realized that in spite of the prevalent Wirkungssthetik of the eighteenth century the association of aesthetic effects with the arousal of certain emotional responses works of
art do not arouse emotions. Rather they present to us various types of feelings as objects of contemplation and thus allow us to interpret our emotional lives.

Gender and Genius


The title ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von
Briefen is hard to translate into English because of the problems surrounding the word Mensch (human being). By opting for Letters on the Aesthetic
Education of Humanity, we circumvent the problem of translating des
Menschen with of Man. Yet a brief look at Schillers own views on gender and at the gender politics of the later eighteenth century indicates that
the term Man tended to mean men and not men and women. In other
works, he espouses the gender ideology of the time, according to which
women, though theoretically idealized, were excluded from certain realms
of artistic activity. The prevalent late eighteenth-century model of the
complementarity of the sexes was based on the notion that men and
women were equipped with different mental as well as physical attributes.
In his poem Wrde der Frauen (1795) men are imagined as striving restlessly for the infinite while women remain in a more circumscribed sphere.
Women are associated with nature, with a condition in which they are

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untroubled by the speculations that reason puts into the minds of men. On
the other hand, women are presented as the touchstone for humanity.
Their grace and naturalness are a necessary corrective to mens aggression
and self-destructive restlessness.
Poems such as Wrde der Frauen may seem innocent enough relics
of past attitudes until we link them to Schillers theoretical writings, in
which there is a strong tendency to combine aesthetic and gender categories. In ber Anmut und Wrde, for example, the notion of grace, in
particular its supreme expression, the Beautiful Soul, is essentially feminine. The expression of dignity, which is cognate with the sublime, is
linked to the masculine. In ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung,
Schiller associates women with a more natural state of being, now lost, and
thus with the nave in its broader sense.22 This kind of speculative historical framework raises the question of how women can develop. If they
are trapped in a perpetual childhood and innocence, how can they participate in the arduous journey towards the goal of humanity, namely to
regain something of natures lost harmony while combining it with the
benefits of reason and civilization (Bovenschen 16481)? And if they cannot make that journey, how can they participate in a higher humanity that,
according to Schiller, is the goal of all humanitys striving?
These treatments of women elsewhere in Schillers work alert us to the
fact that we cannot take for granted the inclusion of women in his scheme
of aesthetic education. When one looks at the portrait of the artist in
Letter 9 one finds an exclusively male portrait. The artist is terrible like
Agamemnons son. He has to be independent of his age and environment. It is clear that no woman writer would easily fit into such a pattern,
womens lot being to live in a state of dependence and the woman writers
lot being to exercise her talent in circumscribed ways and in a narrow range
of genres. It is hardly imaginable that she could be the prophet figure
captured in this passage.
Yet when one reads the essay more closely, more promising vistas
open. Schiller, as observed above, adopts a Hobbesian view of humanitys
past history. The natural state, which precedes the state of reason, is presented as a struggle for existence and Schiller projects his longing for an
idealized state of natural harmony onto Ancient Greece. So women in this
treatise are not explicitly associated with Rousseauian nature and thus their
ability to participate in aesthetic education is not predetermined by the
gender assumptions of the Rousseauian model, as it is in ber naive und
sentimentalische Dichtung.
The most prominent female figure in the treatise is the Juno Ludovisi.
For his one and only illustration of ideal beauty, Schiller chooses the female
goddess who combines grace and dignity, the beautiful and the sublime,
and one might add by implication the feminine and the masculine. By
attributing to the image the aesthetic qualities associated with the masculine

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and the feminine, one might argue that Schillers vision of ideal beauty transcends gender itself. In anticipating a reconciliation of opposites, it points
the way to liberation from the confines of gender divisions. Schiller is much
more reticent about gendering aesthetic categories in this treatise than in,
for example, ber Anmut und Wrde, and this may be because he fears that
any consistent gendering will simply give him too many elements to integrate into his argument. The result is that his vision of ideal beauty, probably contrary to any conscious intention on his part, looks beyond gender
and gives an intimation even of the fluidity of gender itself.23

The sthetische Briefe in Schillers oeuvre


The discussion above demonstrates that the sthetische Briefe represent the
culmination of Schillers attempts to find a definition of beauty and to relate
the aesthetic realm to all other areas of human activity. The work is one of
the great humanist statements of its age, indeed of any age. Yet it remains
something of an uneasy compromise. The project of reconciling the beautiful and the sublime in one theory goes by default, and the ambiguities concerning the precedence of the moral over the aesthetic or vice versa remain.
The uneasiness Schiller seems to have ultimately felt with theories of harmony is emphasized by the fact that he was a tragedian first and foremost
and thus drawn more to the sublime, a response that, in his theory at least,
rests on an assertion of the superiority of the intelligible over the material
world. It is difficult, therefore, to read the sthetische Briefe as the ultimate
statement of Schillers position on aesthetics. It is more convincing to see it
as a stage, albeit a hugely impressive and significant one, in his restless intellectual battle with questions of beauty, the stage where he found his own
most sophisticated formulation of the possibility of human harmony.

Notes
1
For a full account of the works impact in a wider context, see Wilkinson and
Willoughby, cxxxiiicxcvi. For a full survey of critical reception up to the mid1990s, see my Schillers Aesthetic Essays. For the purpose of this contribution I
restricted my references to critical pieces I found particularly relevant to my argument, characteristic of different scholarly views, and illuminating for those
approaching the work for the first time.
2
Later published in slightly revised form under the title Die Schaubhne als eine
moralische Anstalt betrachtet in the fourth part of Schillers Kleinere prosaische
Schriften (Leipzig: Crusius, 1802).
3

Schiller wrote the first part of this work in 178788, and it was published in
1788. The complete work was published in 1801.

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The original letters were destroyed by fire at the Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, in 1794. Copies of some survived. These are Schillers letters to his patron
dated February 9, July 13, November 11 and 21, and December 3 of 1793, and
an undated letter of December 1793. In the letters Schiller discusses the political
and philosophical context of his theme and introduces several concepts central
to the final work such as Verwilderung, Erschlaffung, Veredelung, and sthetische
Kultur.

References to Schillers works in this essay are to volume and page number in
the Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro
Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here:
8:636.

For a Foucauldian critique of Schillers use of this paradigm, see Behler.

These commonplaces are ably analyzed by Victoria Rippere, who challenges the
uncritical assumption that Schiller was the father of the concept of alienation.
8

Glckliches Ereighnis was first published in 1817 in the first number of


Goethes journal Zur Morphologie, and it is in this context that it is to be found in
Goethes Schriften zur Naturwissenschaft (Leopoldina), vol. 9/I, 7983, rather than
in the context of autobiographical writings, as in other Goethe editions.
9

See the appendix to Goethes letter to Schiller of August 30, 1794, In wiefern
die Idee: Schnheit sei Vollkommenheit mit Freiheit, auf organische Naturen
angewendet werden knne.

10

The contradiction between theory and practice here has been explored recently
by Woodmansee.

11

For a fascinating discussion of play as an intimation in human activity of the


divine, see Berger.
12

Wilhelm von Humboldt in his Horen essay ber mnnliche und weibliche Form
also discusses the Juno Ludovisi in terms that indicate the close discussions the two
men conducted during Humboldts stay in Weimar in 1794. But Humboldts use
of many examples and concern with male and female characteristics leads to an
attenuation of his argument and a reinforcement of gender stereotypes.

13
See in particular Schaper, Heinrich, and Janke. Both of Schapers essays are more
critical of Schillers use of Kantian terminology than Heinrich or Janke. From a different perspective, Eagleton explores Schillers adaptation of Kant as a way of
responding to the emergent bourgeoisies ideological needs.
14

This aporia is well analyzed by Hamburger.

15

For an important discussion of this tension in relation to tensions in the Platonic


tradition of beauty, see Pugh.

16

ber Schillers Wallenstein in Hinsicht auf griechische Tragdie (Berlin: Unger,


1800).

17

Calder expounds this particular with particular reference to Schillers theory of


tragedy.

18

I am greatly indebted to Sabine Rhr for sharing her ideas with me on the influence of Reinhold and for her generosity in sending me the manuscript of two
unpublished articles, Zum Einflu K. L. Reinholds auf Schillers Kant-Rezeption

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and A Systematic Account of Freedom and Autonomy in Schiller. The second


of these is now published as Freedom and Autonomy in Schiller in Journal of the
History of Ideas 64 (2003): 11934. On Reinholds influence, see also Alt 2:13335.
19

This possibility of free choice was also important to his theory of tragedy. In
ber das Pathetische he insists that in tragedy we are not concerned as spectators to
satisfy the demands of our reason that the characters do what is right but, rather,
the demands of our imagination that the characters could choose the right if they
wanted to, in other words, with their freedom of choice, however that is exercised.
Here, too, Schiller wishes to argue for the potential released by the aesthetic condition and this demands a view of human freedom and of the will that grants choice
in a way that Kants system did not.

20

This was a common view in criticism in the German Democratic Republic; see, for
example, Trger. See Burger for a discussion of the courtly ideal in the aesthetic state.
Ueding recognizes this aspect but sees it as combined with a progressive vision.

21

Barnouw (1982) and Chytry are examples of this view, the latter reading
Schillers text from a rather one-sidedly liberal perspective.
22
Schiller also gives the term his own specialized poetological meaning: the nave
poet enjoys singleness of vision, which contrasts with the sentimental poets
divided consciousness.
23

For a contrasting view, see Behler, 12334.

Works Cited
Alt, Peter-Andr. Schiller: Leben Werk Zeit. 2 vols. Munich: Beck, 2000.
Barnouw, Jeffrey. Freiheit zu geben durch Freiheit: sthetischer Zustand
sthetischer Staat. In Friedrich Schiller: Kunst, Humanitt und Politik in
der spten Aufklrung: Ein Symposium, ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski, 13863.
Tbingen: Niemeyer, 1982.
. The Morality of the Sublime: Kant and Schiller. Studies in Romanticism 19 (1980): 497514.
Behler, Constantin. Nostalgic Teleology: Friedrich Schiller and the Schemata of
Aesthetic Humanism. Bern: Lang, 1995.
Berger, Peter L. A Rumour of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the
Supernatural. London: Allan Lane, 1970.
Bovenschen, Silvia. Die imaginierte Weiblichkeit: Exemplarische Prsentationsformen des Weiblichen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1979.
Burger, Heinz Otto. Europisches Adelsideal und Deutsche Klassik. In Burger,
Dasein heit auch eine Rolle spielen: Studien zur deutschen Literaturgeschichte,
21132. Munich: Hanser, 1963.
Calder, William M. Schiller on the Will and on the Heroic Villain. Oxford
German Studies 2 (1967): 4154.
Chytry, Josef. The Aesthetic State: A Quest in Modern German Thought. Berkeley:
U of California P, 1989.

CONCERNING AESTHETIC EDUCATION

167

Eagleton, Terry. The Ideology of the Aesthetic. Oxford and Cambridge, MA:
Blackwell, 1990.
Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Wahrheit und Methode: Grundstze einer philosophischen Hermeneutik. Tbingen: Mohr, 1962.
Hamburger, Kthe. Schillers Fragment Der Menschenfeind und die Idee
der Kalokagathie. Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift 30 (1956): 367400.
Henrich, Dieter. Der Begriff der Schnheit in Schillers sthetik. Zeitschrift
fr philosophische Forschung 11 (1957): 52747. Translated as Beauty and
Freedom. Schillers Struggle with Kants Aesthetics. In Essays on Kants
Aesthetics, ed. Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer. Chicago and London: U of
Chicago P, 1982.
Janke, Wolfgang. Historische Dialektik: Destruktion dialektischer Grundformen
von Kant bis Marx. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1977.
Langer, Suzanne K. Feeling and Form: A Theory of Art Developed from Philosophy in a New Key. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953.
Pugh, David V. Dialectic of Love: Platonism in Schillers Aesthetics. Montreal:
McGill-Queens UP, 1996.
Rippere, Victoria. Schiller and Alienation: A Problem in the Transmission of
His Thought. Bern: Lang, 1981.
Schaper, Eva. Friedrich Schiller: Adventures of a Kantian. British Journal of
Aesthetics 4 (1964): 43862.
. Schillers Kant: A Chapter in the History of a Creative Misunderstanding. In Studies in Kants Aesthetics, 99115. Edinburgh: Edinburgh
UP, 1979.
Sharpe, Lesley. Schillers Aesthetic Essays: Two Centuries of Criticism. Columbia,
SC: Camden House, 1995.
Trger, Claus. Schiller als Theoretiker des bergangs vom Ideal zur Wirklichkeit. Sinn und Form 11 (1959): 54676.
Ueding, Gerd. Schillers Rhetorik: Idealistische Wirkungssthetik und
rhetorischen Tradition. Tbingen: Niemeyer, 1971.
Wilkinson, E. M. Schillers Concept of Schein in the Light of Recent Aesthetics. German Quarterly 28 (1955): 21927.
Wilkinson, E. M., and L. A. Willoughby, eds. Friedrich Schiller: On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967.
Woodmansee, Martha. The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History
of Aesthetics. New York: Columbia UP, 1994.
Zelle, Carsten. Die doppelte sthetik der Moderne: Revisionen des Schnen von
Boileau bis Nietzsche. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1995.

On the Shores of Philosophy:


Schillers Lyric Poetry, 1795
Norbert Oellers

CHILLERS INCLINATION TOWARD HISTORY

was already strong during his


study of medicine at the Karlsschule in Stuttgart. Plutarchs influential
work Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives) was especially interesting to him
as if he could one day be a part of these lives. Most of his dramas deal with
the great figures of world history and their momentous achievements as
if they were prime examples of a (mostly fatal) greatness that could be elevated poetically. Schillers historical interest stemmed, to a large degree,
from his own strong desire to become great.
While working on his dramas Fiesko and Don Karlos, Schiller studied the
historical sources carefully. They served as a collection of facts that he could
use however he pleased. On December 10, 1788, he wrote the following to
Caroline von Beulwitz: Die Geschichte ist berhaupt nur ein Magazin fr
meine Phantasie, und die Gegenstnde mssen sich gefallen laen, was sie
unter meinen Hnden werden.1 In that year he had already published his
first great historical work, Geschichte des Abfalls der Vereinigten Niederlande
von der Spanischen Regierung (History of the Revolt of the Spanish Netherlands,
1788). At that time, and in order to relax, Schiller shook off the school
dust of history and leaped into the realm of poetry (see his letter to Christian
Krner of March 17, 1788). In the poem Die Gtter Griechenlandes (The
Gods of Greece, 1788), he glorified the history of the ancients. In Die
Knstler (The Artists, 1789), he tied human progress to the historical
development of the arts.2 Moreover, on December 9, 1788, Goethe recommended to the Weimar Secret Council that Schiller be appointed to the
University of Jena precisely because of his abilities as a writer of history.
Schiller was named professor in the summer semester of 1789. On
May 26, 1789, in his introductory lecture, Was heit und zu welchem
Ende studiert man Universalgeschichte? (What is, and to What End
Does One Study Universal History?), he tried to convey to his audience
that a collector and presenter of historical facts is not a historian but at
most a bread-scholar (Brotgelehrter). Only as a philosophical thinker
(philosophischer Kopf), who is capable of closing the gaps that tradition
creates by means of his imagination and reasoning, will the historian
accomplish a true and teleological understanding of history.

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NORBERT OELLERS

For the next two years, Schiller strove to gain the requisite historical
knowledge to meet his own expectations of a universal historian. His historical papers from this time up to the writing of Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Krieges (History of the Thirty Years War, 179193) are only partially
philosophical and speculative in nature. The choice and composition of the
source material although carried out independently does not carry
him much beyond the work of a traditional historian.
Schiller, the philosophically ambitious historian, neglected poetry for a
while, but he never lost sight of it. By 1790 he most likely realized what he
would acknowledge eight years later while working on Wallenstein: Ich
werde es mir gesagt seyn laen, keine andre als historische Stoffe zu
whlen, frey erfundene wrden meine Klippe sein (letter to Goethe,
January 5, 1798). But coming from the solid ground of historical facts, it was
still a long journey to the realm of poetry. Between these two areas of activity lay philosophy. The end of the epoch of Schiller the historian came in
1791 and 1792, and as a philosopher he was not quite successful in influencing the writing of history. Conquering the terrain of philosophy was a
higher priority for him. His intensive study of Kants ideas pushed him to
the edge of experience. Speculations about the conditions that allow the
very possibility of knowledge led him to inquire unpretentiously into the
essence of the beautiful, that is, into a theoretically determinable legitimacy
that would collide neither with the claim of autonomy in art nor with his
intentions for its reception. In rapid succession, Schiller published a wide
range of aesthetic papers, including, ber Anmut und Wrde (On Grace
and Dignity, 1793), ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer
Reihe von Briefen (On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, 1795), and ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (On Nave and
Sentimental Poetry, 1795). Providing a philosophical foundation for the
beautiful on the basis of historical experience and knowledge, these writings were to bring the poet back to himself. Again, Schiller dared to enter
the field of poetry.
The fact that history remained important to Schiller is evident from
the many dramas of his classical period. Additionally, a number of his
poems from this period stem from historical sources. Tradition served
only as a storeroom that stimulated his imagination. Occasionally he
considered it necessary to draw attention to the surplus of poetical truth
over historical truth. For example, he expressed this idea in his essay
ber das Pathetische (On the Pathetic, 1793). It was an idea that
Aristotle had taken up in his Poetics, namely, that the aesthetic effect is
produced not by historical, but by poetic truth. The precedence of the
poetic over the historic becomes even more apparent in the essay ber
die tragische Kunst (On Tragic Art, 1792): [Es] lt sich begreifen, wie
bey strenger Beobachtung der historischen Wahrheit nicht selten die
poetische leiden, und umgekehrt bey grober Verletzung der historischen

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

171

die poetische nur um so mehr gewinnen kann (20:167). As for poetry, it


stands ihrer historischen Freyheit unbeschadet, unter dem strengen
Gesetz der Naturwahrheit . . . (167). Only in this way is poetry able to
overpower any and all criticism. Kant had conceived of the matter in a
similar way.
At the end of his nine-month journey through Swabia, at the beginning of May 1794, Schiller and the publisher Cotta from Tbingen agreed
to edit a political newspaper and a monthly literary magazine. Back in Jena,
Schiller signed the contracts for both projects. He soon dismissed the plan
for a political newspaper, however, and published the literary periodical
Die Horen (The Horae) from 1795 until 1797. In the invitation to potential contributors he stated that there would be no lack of poetical portrayals in this work. Having himself experienced a considerable period of
poetical abstinence, the editor Schiller knew well that this announcement
obligated him to contribute his own poetry in order to make the periodical
a successful venture. His clear intention to follow through with his obligation may help to explain his contract with the publisher Michaelis in
August 1794 in which he promised to publish a Musenalmanach annually
from 1795 on. Thus two periodicals awaited the editors poetic contributions. Clearly, Schiller had a hard time meeting his own commitment: The
Musenalmanach for the year 1796 needed to be compiled by the summer
of 1795, and the first few issues of Die Horen featured only a few poems by
other authors such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Heinrich Voss,
and Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel; Schiller provided some philosophical material, for example, the Briefe ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen and
historical texts like his Merkwrdige Belagerung von Antwerpen in den
Jahren 1584 und 1585 (Foreign Occupation of Antwerp in the Years 1584
and 1585, 1795/1801). Only in the September issue of the magazine did
he return as a poet with Das Reich der Schatten (The Realm of Shadows).
Schiller composed the poem in July and August 1795. Since June he had
been preparing a few works for the Musenalmanach. By then, he had finished Der Tanz (The Dance) and perhaps also Die Macht des
Gesanges (The Power of Song), Spruch des Confucius (Saying of
Confucius), Pegasus in der Dienstbarkeit (Pegasus in Servitude), and Die
Ideale (The Ideals). Once he started, Schiller produced poem after poem
in rapid succession until September, of which the majority (Der Abend
[The Evening], Wrde der Frauen [Dignity of Women], and Stanzen
an den Leser [To the Reader]) were designated for the Almanach, while
the others (Natur und Schule [Nature and Education], Das verschleierte
Bild zu Sais [The Veiled Image of Sais], and Elegie [Elegy]) were
produced for Die Horen. Only Poesie des Lebens (Poetry of Life), the
first poem that he conceived after his long break, in June 1795, was not
published right away. It did not appear until 1798 in the Musenalmanach
fr das Jahr 1799.

172

NORBERT OELLERS

When he wrote his letter to August Wilhelm Schlegel on October 29,


1795, Schiller was probably thinking of most of the poems that he had
composed between June and September 1795. Das Reich der Schatten
and Natur und Schule . . . zeichnen neben einigen andern meinen
Uebergang von der Speculation zur Poesie. Ich hoffe aber, wenn ich nur
Zeit und Stimmung finde, nicht immer so ngstlich mehr am Ufer der
Philosophie hinsteuren zu mssen, sondern etwas weiter ins freye Meer der
Erfindung zu segeln (28:88).
From the solid ground of history to the shores of philosophy it
would now require a brave leap into the sea of poesy to approximate the
goal of touching eternity. The artist, as Schiller had decreed in the ninth
letter of ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen, prge es [das Ideal]
in die Spiele seiner Einbildungskraft, und in den Ernst seiner Thaten, prge
es aus allen sinnlichen und geistigen Formen und werfe es schweigend in
die unendliche Zeit (20:334).
In the section Analytik der Grundstze, of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Critique of Pure Reason, 1787), Kant had characterized the land of
pure understanding as an island, umgeben von einem weiten und strmischen Ozeane, dem eigentlichen Sitze des Scheins, wo manche Nebelbank, und manches bald wegschmelzende Eis neue Lnder lgt. One
could only risk entering this ocean if the land were thoroughly calibrated
(Kant 26768). And later in Die transzendentale Dialektik (Transcendental Dialectic), Kant insisted that knowledge was possible only by determining the limits of reason through sure principles, welche ihr nihil ulterius
mit grester Zuverlssigkeit an die herkulische Sulen heftet, die die
Natur selbst aufgestellet hat, um die Fahrt unserer Vernunft nur so weit, als
die stetig fortlaufende Ksten der Erfahrung reichen, fortzusetzen, die wir
nicht verlassen knnen, ohne uns auf einen uferlosen Ozean zu wagen
(Kant, 4:393).3 Schiller aimed at going beyond the pillars of Hercules.
Nevertheless, he remained within his boundaries, that is, within his philosophy of what the human being is capable of achieving in the fields of the
true, the good, and the beautiful.
The poems that Schiller composed on the shore of philosophy refer
back more distinctly to the limitations of the mainland than they point
ahead to destinations on the wide ocean. Schiller was still considerably
short of his goal of becoming a captain on the high seas.
Kant had defined the beautiful as follows: Schn ist, was ohne Begriff
allgemein gefllt (8:298). It follows that, if they are empirical and not pure,
aesthetic judgments apply only partially to the truly beautiful. They are judgments of sense, not true judgments of taste. Regarding the judgment of taste,
Schiller had learned the following from his master teacher: Ein Geschmacksurteil ist . . . nur sofern rein, als kein blo empirisches Wohlgefallen dem
Bestimmungsgrunde desselben beigemischt wird (Kant, 8:303). Schiller
had said this before and not much differently on occasion, for example, in the

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

173

essay Zerstreute Betrachtungen ber verschiedene sthetische Gegenstnde (Scattered Remarks on Different Aesthetic Objects, 1793): . . . ob es gleich nur
durch seine Beziehung auf sinnlich-vernnftige Wesen Existenz erhlt, so ist
es [das Schne] doch von allen empirischen Bestimmungen der Sinnlichkeit
unabhngig, und es bleibt dasselbe, auch wenn sich die Privatbeschaffenheit
der Subjecte verndert (20:22324).
In what follows, the most important poems by Schiller that originated
in the period from June until September 1795 will be sketched with an eye
toward their philosophical qualities and in view of their rootedness in the
historical materials and to their historical greatness, including that of the
author. Here the historical refers not only to the use of transmitted historical sources but also to the interpretation of history, as is consistent with
Schillers perception of a universal history properly understood. Mythology is also seen as part of the basis of historical narration.
When Schiller, inspired by metaphysics, chose the topic and material of
the dance for his first significant poem following his break from writing
poetry, Der Tanz, he did not shy away from saying what he felt to be
important about this form of art, which he now brought into close conjunction with music; the how, that is, the structure and metrical format,
was no longer a problem for him. At the same time that the poem was
being written, the last of his letters ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen appeared in Die Horen. There he wrote that it is inopportune to want
to think reasonably immediately following the enjoyment of the lively
sensations of delightful music. For . . . auch die geistreichste Musik
[steht] durch ihre Materie noch immer in einer grern Affinitt zu den
Sinnen . . ., als die wahre sthetische Freyheit dultet . . . (20:381). The
first version of Der Tanz reads as follows:
Sieh, wie sie durcheinander in khnen Schlangen sich winden,
Wie mit geflgeltem Schritt schweben auf schlpfrigem Plan.
Seh ich flchtige Schatten von ihren Leibern geschieden?
Ist es Elysiums Hain, der den Erstaunten umf ngt?
Wie, vom Zephyr gewiegt, der leichte Rauch durch die Luft schwimmt,
Wie sich leise der Kahn schaukelt auf silberner Flut,
Hpft der gelehrige Fu auf des Takts melodischen Wellen,
Suselndes Saitengetn hebt den therischen Leib.
Keinen drngend, von keinem gedrngt, mit besonnener Eile,
Schlpft ein liebliches Paar dort durch des Tanzes Gewhl.
Vor ihm her entsteht seine Bahn, die hinter ihm schwindet,
Leis wie durch magische Hand fnet und schliet sich der Weg.
Sieh! jetzt verliert es der suchende Blick. Verwirrt durcheinander
Strzt der zierliche Bau dieser beweglichen Welt.
Nein, dort schwebt es frohlockend herauf. Der Knoten entwirrt sich,
Nur mit verndertem Reiz stellt sich die Ordnung mir dar.

174

NORBERT OELLERS

Ewig zerstrt und ewig erzeugt sich die drehende Schpfung,


Und ein stilles Gesetz lenkt der Verwandlungen Spiel.
Sprich, wie geschiehts, da rastlos bewegt die Bildungen schwanken,
Und die Regel doch bleibt, wenn die Gestalten auch fliehn?
Da mit Herrscherkhnheit einher der einzelne wandelt,
Keiner ihm sklavisch weicht, keiner entgegen ihm strmt?
Willst du es wissen? Es ist des Wohllauts mchtige Gottheit,
Die zum geselligen Tanz ordnet den tobenden Sprung,
Die, der Nemesis gleich, an des Rhythmus goldenem Zgel
Lenkt die brausende Lust, und die gesetzlose zhmt.
Und der Wohllaut der groen Natur umrauscht dich vergebens?
Dich ergreift nicht der Strom dieser harmonischen Welt?
Nicht der begeisternde Takt, den alle Wesen dir schlagen?
Nicht der wirbelnde Tanz, der durch den ewigen Raum
Leuchtende Sonnen wlzt in knstlich schlgenden Bahnen?
Handelnd fliehst du das Maa, das du im Spiele doch ehrst?
(1:228)
The poem was to depict the transition from a feeling dominated by
sense impressions to the freedom of thought. At the same time, Schiller
appeals to the letters on aesthetics: Die Musik in ihrer hchsten Veredlung
mu Gestalt werden, und mit der ruhigen Macht der Antike auf uns
wirken . . . (20:381). In this case the dance is music that has taken form,
winding its way along and hovering and gradually unwinding from the
earthly realm to Elysiums Hain (l. 4). The music is a path that is opening,
which involves confusion and order, death and genesis. In the first part
of the poem the rhythm of the notes is transformed into the rhythm of
bodies (l. 3). In spite of the turbulence, the chosen words awaken a sense
of all-embracing harmony that is reproduced in the dance of a single couple.
For this poem, Schiller chose the distich, thus securing knowledge of
that tranquil power of the ancients. Given its measuredness and order,
the classical distich also makes possible the combination of epic breadth
and dramatic succinctness through the tension and resolution that is
enabled by the verses it employs (hexameter, pentameter), its conciseness,
and its polarization. The distich, which Schiller mastered better than
almost any other German poet, is the poetic means by which he wanted to
mark a transition from philosophy to poetry. But this was in vain since the
pillars of Hercules will not allow reason to transcend them. Schiller was not
willing to dispense with reason when writing his poems. Based on the
particularity of a dance that could not be comprehended as something universal, it was still possible to draw some general conclusions, or at least the
poet himself thought so.
Schiller depicts a (not the) dance in eight distichs. This itself is a
historic event that requires interpretation. As such, the poem becomes an

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

175

allegory, although the myth of the blessed shadows of Elysium is brought


into play. This is explained in the following eight distichs, beginning with
line 17: Ewig zerstrt und ewig erzeugt sich die drehende Schpfung. It
should not be overlooked that the poem had been conceived from an idea
that had already found expression in a philosophical letter from Schiller to
Krner on February 23, 1793: Ich wei fr das Ideal des schnen
Umgangs kein paenderes Bild als einen gut getanzten . . . englischen
Tanz. . . . Es [das Miteinander der Tanzenden] ist das treffendste Sinnbild
der behaupteten eigenen Freiheit und der geschonten Freiheit des
andern. Of course, freedom can only be maintained through ein stilles
Gesetz (l. 18) that guides the dancers. It is a law that does not seem to be
of this world, but, in art, has the effect of the powerful divinity of melodious sound (des Wohllauts mchtige Gottheit, l. 23). By transforming
music into motion and attaining the highest level of art, the human being
proves to be educated aesthetically. Henceforth, he can be called a social
creature who is equal to the ideal of a citizen in a future state grounded in
freedom.
Schiller activates many other elements to make sure that his realm of
art is not constructed from dance and music alone. The individual classes
of the arts are only examples that consist in pleasant consonance with the
divine laws of nature. The speculation about utopia in the poem is interrupted in the last verse: The human being, addressed as you, may have
an understanding of the harmony that he gained in the aesthetic play of the
poem,4 but his actions do not correspond with this understanding. The
concluding question is meant only rhetorically. Handelnd fliehst du das
Maa, das du im Spiel doch ehrst? (l. 32).
The completion of Der Tanz is followed by the writing of Die
Macht des Gesanges which was most likely composed in July 1795. In
this poem, Schillers inclination toward philosophy is emphasized more
strongly than in Der Tanz; he even refers back to Die Knstler, for he
uses those verses that he had composed as introductory lines for that poem
but had then left behind. Ein Regenstrom aus Felsenrissen, / Er kommt
mit Donners Ungestm (ll. 12), etc. The poem consists of five stanzas
with ten verses, the first eight of which are in alternate rhyme. The last two
verses comprise a rhyming couplet; the cadence of four-footed iambic verse
in alternate rhyme oscillates delicately between feminine and masculine
endings. In the writers aim for technical accuracy, the whole project
appears to be crafted philosophy. The poetry, des Gesanges Wellen (l. 9),
rushes powerfully from undiscovered sources (l. 10), as an ally of the
Parcae, who spin lifes thread (des Lebens Faden drehn; l. 12). At different points the poet leads das bewegte Herz in das Reich der Todten
and, also, himmelwrts (ll. 1618). Ein ungeheures Schicksal (l. 24)
announced by a stranger from another world (Fremdling aus der andern
Welt; l. 26) discards the world of senses and bestows Geisterwrde

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NORBERT OELLERS

(l. 33) on deserving humankind. Den hohen Gttern ist er eigen (l. 35)
signifies that the stranger has arrived in secure arms of nature (l. 49).
Clearly, in its ideal creation poetry can be especially powerful.
Die Macht des Gesanges corresponds with ideas expressed in ber
das Erhabene (On the Sublime, ca. 1793).5 The poem depicts two geniuses
who guide the human being gently through life. One leads the individual
to the knowledge of truth and the exercise of duty, while the other carries
him over staggering depths and sets him free: . . . wir fhlen uns frey
beym Erhabenen, weil die sinnlichen Triebe auf die Gesetzgebung der Vernunft keinen Einflu haben, weil der Geist hier handelt, als ob er unter
keinen andern als seinen eigenen Gesetzen stnde (ber das Erhabene,
21:42). Meanwhile, the return of the individual to nature implies that art
has succeeded at attaining ideal beauty, into which the sublime must also
be absorbed.6
Among the works that Schiller produced for his Musenalmanach is the
poem Die Ideale, which probably originated in the first half of August
1795. The poem is of some interest here. It consists of thirteen stanzas
with eight verses each, in four-foot iambic and alternate rhyme with alternating feminine and masculine cadences. Hence, in its form, and therefore
in its immediate effect, it is similar to Die Macht der Poesie. The poet
philosophizes less here than in preceding and subsequent poems. The lyrical I recognizes the loss of everything that once belonged to that golden
time (goldne Zeit, l. 6) of his life and the path of youth (Jugend Pfad,
l. 10) and is now eager to recall the past. Peering into the future, the lyrical I sums up life up to that point and discovers that it is not without its
delightful perspectives. Life remains the quiet, tender hand of friendship
(Der Freundschaft leise zarte Hand, l. 94). It is an activity that is inexhaustible (Beschftigung, die nie ermattet, l. 99). Goethe was especially
fond of the poem, as Schiller informed Humboldt in a letter of September
7, 1795. In the same letter, the poet describes it as eine Stimme des
Schmerzens, der kunstlos und vergleichsweise auch formlos ist. . . . The
poem reads:
So willst du treulos von mir scheiden,
Mit deinen holden Phantasien,
Mit deinen Schmerzen, deinen Freuden,
Mit allen unerbittlich fliehn?
Kann nichts dich, Fliehende! Ferweilen,
O! meines Lebens goldne Zeit?
Vergebens, deine Wellen eilen
Hinab ins Meer der Ewigkeit.
Erloschen sind die heitern Sonnen,
Die meiner Jugend Pfad erhellt,

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

Die Ideale sind zerronnen,


Die einst das trunkne Herz geschwellt,
Die schne Frucht, die kaum zu keimen
Begann, da liegt sie schon erstarrt!
Mich weckt aus meinen frohen Trumen
Mit rauhem Arm die Gegenwart.
Die Wirklichkeit mit ihren Schranken
Umlagert den gebundnen Geist,
Sie strzt, die Schpfung der Gedanken,
Der Dichtung schner Flor zerreit.
Er ist dahin, der se Glaube
An Wesen, die mein Traum gebahr,
Der feindlichen Vernunft zum Raube,
Was einst so schn, so gttlich war.
Wie einst mit flehendem Verlangen
Den Stein Pygmalion umschlo,
Bis in des Marmors kalte Wangen
Empfindung glhend sich ergo,
So schlangen meiner Liebe Knoten
Sich um die Sule der Natur,
Bis durch das starre Herz der Todten
Der Strahl des Lebens zuckend fuhr.
Bis warm von sympathetschem Triebe,
Sie freundlich mit dem Freund empfand,
Mir wiedergab den Ku der Liebe,
Und meines Herzens Klang verstand;
Da lebte mir der Baum, die Rose,
Mir sang der Quellen Silberfall,
Es fhlte selbst das Seelenlose
Von meines Lebens Wiederhall.
Es dehnte mit allmchtgem Streben
Die enge Brust ein kreisend All,
Heraus zu treten in das Leben
In That und Wort, in Bild und Schall.
Wie gro war diese Welt gestaltet,
So lang die Knospe sie noch barg,
Wie wenig, ach! hat sich entfaltet,
Die wenige, wie klein und karg.
Wie aus des Berges stillen Quellen
Ein Strom die Urne langsam fllt,
Und jetzt mit kniglichen Wellen

177

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NORBERT OELLERS

Die hohen Ufer berschwillt,


Es werfen Steine, Felsenlasten
Und Wlder sich in seine Bahn,
Er aber strzt mit stolzen Masten
Sich rauschend in den Ozean.
So sprang, von khnem Muth beflgelt,
Ein reiend bergab rollend Rad,
Von keiner Sorge noch gezgelt,
Der Jngling in des Lebens Pfad.
Bis an des thers bleichste Sterne
Erhub ihn der Entwrfe Flug,
Nichts war so hoch, und nichts so ferne,
Wohin ihr Flgel ihn nicht trug.
Wie leicht ward er dahin getragen,
Was war dem Glcklichen zu schwer!
Wie tanzte vor des Lebens Wagen
Die luftige Begleitung her!
Die Liebe mit dem sen Lohne,
Das Glck mit seinem goldnen Kranz,
Der Ruhm mit seiner Sternenkrone,
Die Wahrheit in der Sonne Glanz!
Doch ach! schon auf des Weges Mitte
Verloren die Begleiter sich,
Sie wandten treulos ihre Schritte,
Und einer nach dem andern wich.
Leichtfig war das Glck entflogen,
Des Wissens Durst blieb ungestillt,
Des Zweifels finstre Wetter zogen
Sich um der Wahrheit Sonnenbild.
Des Ruhmes Dunstgestalt berhrte
Die Weisheit, da verschwand der Trug.
Der Liebe sen Traum entfhrte
Ach! allzuschnell der Hore Flug.
Und immer stiller wards, und immer
Verlaner auf dem rauhen Steg,
Kaum warf noch einen bleichen Schimmer
Die Hofnung auf den finstern Weg.
Von all dem rauschenden Geleite,
Wer harrte liebend bei mir aus?
Wer steht mir trstend noch zur Seite,
Und folgt mir bis zum finstern Haus?

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

179

Du, die du alle Wunden heilest,


Der Freundschaft leise zarte Hand,
Des Lebens Brden liebend theilest,
Du, die ich frhe sucht und fand,
Und du, die gern sich mit ihr gattet,
Wie sie, der Seele Sturm beschwrt,
Beschftigung, die nie ermattet,
Die langsam schaft, doch nie zerstrt,
Die zu dem Bau der Ewigkeiten
Zwar Sandkorn nur fr Sandkorn reicht,
Doch von der groen Schuld der Zeiten
Minuten, Tage, Jahre streicht. (1:23437)
It is important to note that the ideals that are cultivated in the poem do
not represent idyllic conditions of pre- or post-historical times; nor do they
represent victory in the battle against the world of sensory perceptions that
threaten to overwhelm everyday life. Rather, they are Was einst so schn,
so gttlich war (l. 24): the faith An Wesen, die mein Traum gebahr
(l. 22), a faith of all-invigorating love that unites the young man most intimately with nature. He storms away as a stream rushes loudly into the
ocean (rauschend in den Ozean, l. 56);7 still unrestrained by Care
(Sorge) and Bis an des thers bleichste Sterne (ll. 5961), he leaped
into the path of life. The tenth stanza sums up the situation (somewhat
unsystematically). Love, fortune, glory, and truth were the youths ideals;
he had lost them just as he reached the middle of the way (des Weges
Mitte, l. 73). At the end of the poem, the engagement that determines
the quality of life is the inexhaustible act of reasoning, researching, and
composing (ll. 1014), which the historian Schiller had once stated and
the aesthetician Schiller had tried to convey in images while he was composing the poem. But he is still far away from the open sea of poetry.
In the essay ber die notwendigen Grenzen beim Gebrauch schner Formen (On the Necessary Limits in the Use of Beautiful Forms), published in
September 1795 in Die Horen, Schiller captures the main ideas of the
poem in prose and interprets them critically. He talks about the young man
who is prone to exaltation since he is seduced by the temptation of the
great and the beautiful:
In seinem Kopf arbeiten dunkle Ideen, wie eine werdende Welt, die ihn
glauben machen, da er begeistert sey. Er nimmt das Dunkle fr das Tiefe,
das Wilde fr das Krftige, das Unbestimmte fr das Unendliche, das
Sinnlose fr das bersinnliche und wie gef llt er sich nicht in seiner
Geburt! . . . Schlummert nun chte Geniuskraft in dem fragenden Jngling,
so wird zwar anfangs seine Bescheidenheit stutzen, aber der Muth des
wahren Talents wird ihn bald zu Versuchen ermuntern. . . . Er behorcht,

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wenn er zum Dichter geboren ist, die Menschheit in seiner eigenen


Brust . . . und lt den nchternen Verstand die Ufer ausmessen, zwischen
welchen der Strom der Begeisterung brausen soll. Ihm ist es wohlbekannt,
da nur aus dem unscheinbar Kleinen das Groe erwchst, und Sandkorn
fr Sandkorn trgt er das Wundergebude zusammen, das uns in einem
einzigen Eindruck jetzt schwindelnd fat. (21:2021)

It was less with poems for the Musenalmanach than with those for Die
Horen that Schiller contributed to that miraculous building that was
determined to exist for all eternity. The first of these poems was Das
Reich der Schatten. It originated in July and August 1795 and was published the following month. Since the title led to misunderstandings
among its readers, the poet changed it to Das Reich der Formen in 1800
on the occasion of the publication of the modified version of the poem.
Eventually, in 1804, he changed the title to Das Ideal und das Leben. It
thus became clear that the poem described the contrast between historical
reality and the insufficient title Reich der Schatten certainly foreshadows the problem the anticipated ideal of the perfect harmony of all living creatures human beings, god, nature at the end of history. This
was celebrated in the idyll, that highest form of art.
Das Reich der Schatten deals poetically with a resolution of this contrast, which is the subject of Schillers later essay, ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung. At first, Schiller was satisfied with the poem. Ich gnne
es dem Almanach nicht, he wrote to Cotta on August 9, 1795 and the
same day to Wilhelm von Humboldt: Htte ich nicht den sauren Weg
durch meine Aesthetik geendigt, so wrde dieses Gedicht nimmermehr zu
der Klarheit und Leichtigkeit in einer so difficilen Materie gelangt seyn, die
es wirklich hat. When developing his aesthetics, specifically in ber naive
und sentimentalische Dichtung, Schiller was convinced that it was this poem
that had first established a platform for something even greater to come.8
The poem begins with the evocation of the life of the Olympian gods
that flows Ewig klar und spiegelrein und eben (l. 1). In juxtaposition to
this, Schiller portrayed the destiny of the mortal individual as follows: Zwischen
Sinnenglck und Seelenfrieden / Bleibt dem Menschen nur die bange Wahl
(ll. 78). The seventeen stanzas that follow deal mainly with the question of
if (and how) it was possible that out of the limitations of the senses paths
emerge that lead upward to the infinite (aus der Sinne Schranken fhren /
Pfade aufwrts zur Unendlichkeit, ll. 1718). Over and above that, Schiller
contemplates a related and seemingly more realistic question: an imaginable
happiness already in this world (in des Todes Reichen, l. 21). For that,
courage is required to free oneself from the anxiety of the earthly domain
(Angst des Irrdischen, l. 38) and to succumb entirely to beauty (l. 40).
Only in this realm will the appearance of eternal bliss free the human being
from all duties (von allen Pf lichten, l. 54) and enable him to recognize the
godlike image of humanity (der Menschheit Gtterbild, l. 63).

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

181

The antitheses that are negotiated in this poem the ideal and life,
this world and the beyond, beauty that triumphs and a deed that fails
are continued in eight more stanzas (916). They begin by alternating
wenn and aber and are framed into poetic images with ever-intensifying gravity. The human being may fight, but the quiet shadow lands of
beauty (der Schnheit stille Schattenlande, l. 94) are not achievable
through struggling; the human being may strive to discover the truth
through philosophy, but he will still be removed from the sphere of
beauty (der Schnheit Sphre, l. 111); the human being may follow
the principles of morality, but he will not gain freedom of thought
(die Freyheit der Gedanken, l. 132). Nehmt die Gottheit auf in euren
Willen, / Und sie steigt von ihrem Weltenthron, ll. 134359). Finally,
the human being may rebel against pain, but he will only find redemption
from agony in den heitern Regionen / Wo die Schatten selig wohnen
(ll. 15152).
Schillers philosophy of beauty that leads to bliss is summed up in the
last two stanzas. The writer recalls the heroic deeds of the mortal, and to
be sure, also divine, Hercules and his crossing to Olympus, where Hebe,
the goddess with the rose cheeks, praises the transfigured (Verklrten)
with a goblet (ll. 17880). The construction seems to be somewhat daring,
for Hercules, son of Jupiter and Alcmene, is not just any human being but
a demigod who is capable of exceptional deeds. Moreover, because of his
ancestry, he is predestined for the joys in Kronions Saal (l. 178). The
poem revolves several times around the following question: How can the
human being partake of the divine already in this world? The answers that
the poet gives (the inability to take from death what belongs to it [compare ll. 2123] and, following that, the flight into beauty that helps to
overcome everything mortal) are postulates of practical reason that employ
Herculess fate as an allegory that indicates the path and goal of the one
who is searching for the only conceivable happiness in the shadow realm of
beauty, that is, pure forms. Schiller describes the sea of poesy from the
solid ground of philosophy as if only good will were needed to make the
sea a home. Self-evidently, the attainment of this goal means that Pilates
question, What is truth? has been resolved.
In his poem Das verschleierte Bild zu Sais, composed in mid-August
1795 for Die Horen, Schiller shifted his view from Olympus to earth. It
sets to verse that which had been told over and over again in the myth of
the temple of Isis. The sanctum of the temple contained a holy chest that
mortals were not allowed to open. Schiller had already retold this myth in
1789 in his lecture Die Sendung Moses (Moses Calling). There, he
mentioned the fate of an unfortunate individual who had disregarded the
law and gone mad. In the poem and following the encounter of Moses
with God, in which God disguises himself in a cloud, the goddess Isis
presents herself to an inquisitive young man as a veiled image of huge

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NORBERT OELLERS

proportions (ein verschleiert Bild von Riesengre, l. 20). She is the


truth that may not be unveiled because, as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing in
Eine Duplik had first made clear, the human being is not predestined to
acquire it. The young man suffers for hours. Finally, he transgresses the
command and is punished. Auf ewig / War seines Lebens Heiterkeit
dahin. / Ihn ri ein tiefer Gram zum frhen Grabe (ll. 7981). It is hard
to overlook the message in Schillers poem, which is that the human being
shall not tempt the gods and that it is not possible to attain the truth. And,
yet, especially when considering Das Reich der Schatten, something else
could be meant: the young mans death is revoked in poetry, the beauty of
the words is granted permanence, the mythos is nothing other than the
material that is eradicated by the form.10 Of course, as before, the content
of the poem is very much of this world. The epistemological question is so
pressing that the beauty of the verses is obstructed as if they were standing
alone on the wide sea, revealing another truth as the common one, namely
the truth that emerges from beauty and transcends all philosophizing.
The poem Natur und Schule which originated presumably at the
end of August 1795,11 is related in its content to the poem Das verschleierte Bild zu Sais and, formally, to the poem Elegie. It was composed in classical distichs, which were Schillers metric domain. In answer
to the questions of an inquisitive young man, the poet discusses how, in
spite of all obstacles, humankind could come to truth and justice (l. 14).
After the lost unity of humankind, nature, and the gods, it is important to lead the human being back to nature through culture, science, and
art auf dem Wege der Vernunft und der Freyheit, as stated in the essay
ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, which originated at this time
(20:414). The poem Natur und Schule follows:
Ist es denn wahr, sprichst du, was der Weisheit Meister mich lehren,
Was der Lehrlinge Schaar sicher und fertig beschwrt;
Kann die Wissenschaft nur zum wahren Frieden mich fhren,
Nur des Systemes Geblk sttzen das Glck und das Recht?
Mu ich dem Trieb mistraun, der leise mich warnt, dem Gesetze,
Das du selber, Natur mir in den Busen geprgt,
Bi auf die ewige Schrift die Schul ihr Siegel gedrcket,
Und der Formel Gef bindet den flchtigen Geist?
Sage du mirs, du bist in diese Tiefen gestiegen,
Aus dem modrigten Grab kamst du erhalten zurck,
Dir ist bekannt was die Gruft der dunkeln Wrter bewahret,
Ob der Lebenden Trost dort bey den Mumien wohnt?
Mu ich ihn wandeln den nchtlichen Weg? Mir graut, ich bekenn es,
Wandeln will ich ihn doch, fhrt er zu Wahrheit und Recht.
Freund, du kennst doch die goldene Zeit, (Es haben die Dichter
Manche Sage von ihr rhrend und einfach erzhlt.)

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

183

Jene Zeit da das Heilige noch in der Menschheit gewandelt,


Da jungfrulich und keusch noch der Instinkt sich bewahrt,
Da noch das groe Gesetz, das oben im Sonnenlauf waltet,
Und verborgen im Ey reget den hpfenden Punkt,
Der Nothwendigkeit stilles Gesetz, das sttige, gleiche,
Auch der menschlichen Brust freyere Wellen bewegt,
Da ein sichres Gefhl noch treu, wie am Uhrwerk der Zeiger,
Auf das Wahrhaftige nur, nur auf das Ewige wies?
Da war kein Profaner, kein Eingeweihter zu sehen,
Was man lebendig empfand, ward nicht bey Todten gesucht.
Gleich verstndlich fr jegliches Herz war die ewige Regel,
Gleich verborgen der Quell, dem sie belebend entflo.
Aber die glckliche Zeit ist nicht mehr. Vermessene Willkhr
Hat der getreuen Natur gttlichen Einklang entweiht.
Wolkigt fliet der himmlische Strom in schuldigen Herzen,
Lauter wird er und rein nur an dem Quell noch geschpft.
Dieser Quell, tief unten im Schacht des reinen Verstandes,
Fern von der Leidenschaft Spur, rieselt er silbern und khl.
Aus der Sinne wildem Gerusch verschwand das Orakel,
Nur in dem stilleren Selbst hrt es der horchende Geist.
Aber die Wissenschaft nur vermag den Zugang zu fnen,
Und den heiligen Sinn htet das mystische Wort.
Hier beschwrt es der Forscher, der reines Herzens hinabsteigt,
Und die verlorne Natur giebt ihm die Weiheit zurck.
Hast du, Glcklicher, nie den schtzenden Engel verloren,
Nie des frommen Instinkts liebende Warnung verwirkt,
Mahlt in dem keuschen Auge noch treu und rein sich die Wahrheit,
Tnt ihre Stimme dir noch hell in der kindlichen Brust,
Schweigt noch in dem zufriednen Gemth des Zweifels Emprung,
Wird sie, weit dus gewi, schweigen auf ewig wie heut,
Wird der Empfindungen Streit nie eines Richters bedrfen,
Nie den hellen Verstand trben das tckische Herz,
Nie der verschlagene Witz des Gewiens Einfalt bestricken,
Niemals, weit dus gewi, wanken das ewige Steur?
O dann gehe du hin in deiner kstlichen Unschuld,
Dich kann die Wissenschaft nichts lehren. Sie lerne von dir!
Jenes Gesetz, das mit eisernem Stab den Strubenden lenket,
Dir gilt es nicht. Was du thust, was dir gefllt, ist Gesetz.
Herrschen wird durch die ewige Zeit, wie Polyklets Regel,
Was du mit heiliger Hand bildest, mit heiligem Mund
Redest, wird die Herzen der Menschen allmchtig bewegen,
Du nur merkst nicht den Gott, der dir im Busen gebeut,
Nicht des Siegels Gewalt, das alle Geister dir beuget,
Einfach gehst du und still durch die eroberte Welt;

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NORBERT OELLERS

Aber blind erringst du, was wir im Lichte verfehlen,


Und dem spielenden Kind glckt, was dem Weisen mislingt.
(1:25253)
Although unaware of it himself, the inquisitive young man is in possession of the truth that he seeks because he stems from the ancient
world, a world that is not in need of science, of the walk in diese Tiefen
(l. 9) where answers are sought about the nature of Being in modern
times. The schoolmaster begins by reminding another person that he
actually is familiar with the Golden Age. Freund, du kennst doch die
goldene Zeit (l. 15). Jene Zeit da das Heilige noch in der Menschheit
gewandelt (l. 17). Subsequently, he describes the genius as the one who
preserves his instinct (der Instinkt sich bewahrt, l. 18), to whom ein
sichres Gefhl noch treu, wie am Uhrwerk der Zeiger, and attributes
das Wahrhaftige to himself (ll. 2324). Having fallen into a time of
uncertainty, in his knstlicher Unschuld (l. 51) the genius knows without reflecting, and makes laws through the God who reigns in his bosom
(l. 58): Einfach gehst du und still durch die eroberte Welt (l. 60).
Schiller philosophizes in verse, recalling what he had written earlier and
which he now formulates in prose. In ber Anmut und Wrde, the
beautiful soul is presented as a vision of the future in which sensuousness and morality, duty and inclination are tied together harmoniously. It
is closely related to the idea of the nave genius who is placed back into
the past.
In ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, the beautiful soul of the
future has become the nave genius of the past, who now proves to be the
stranger in the present. Natur und Schule addresses just such a genius:
Aber die glckliche Zeit ist nicht mehr (l. 29). Only in the last distich
does the poet mention that a genius is also a genius of art and science,
of unintentionally created natural products of the beautiful and the true:
Aber blind erringst du, was wir im Lichte verfehlen, / Und dem spielenden Kind glckt, was dem Weisen milingt (ll. 6162).
In Schillers view, Goethe was a Naturerzeugnis. He belonged to the
Gnstlingen der Natur, with or without Unarten wodurch sie nicht
selten ein Gegenstand verdienter Verachtung sind, having left behind the
ppige Naturkraft ber die Freyheit des Verstandes (20:276). In a way,
Natur und Schule is the philosophical prelude to the most poetical of all
Schillers productions of 1795, Elegie,12 which was composed in August
and September and for which Schiller himself reserved high praise. As he
wrote to Wilhelm von Humboldt on November 29, 1795: Mein eigenes
Dichtertalent hat sich, wie Sie gewi gefunden haben werden, in diesem
Gedichte erweitert: noch in keinem ist der Gedanke selbst so poetisch
gewesen und geblieben, in keinem hat das Gemt so sehr als Eine Kraft
gewirkt.

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

185

It would be tedious to go through the poem in detail with its 108 distichs and 216 verses; it has been studied in depth by numerous scholars.13
Here we note Schillers successful effort to move both on the shore and
beyond it, that is, to move on the solid ground of his philosophy of history
as well as on the seemingly uncertain surface of the sea of beauty, as ascertained philosophically.
The beautiful is nature, that Berg mit dem rttlich strahlenden
Gipfel (l. 1), the forest, the mountains, the meadow; bees, butterflies, and
larks. Despite all historical change, nature remains in a state of ever-changing
beauty (l. 209). As always, for humankind, beauty is imperishable. Unter
demselben Blau, ber dem nehmlichen Grn / Wandeln die nahen und
wandeln vereint die fernen Geschlechter, / Und die Sonne Homers, siehe!
Sie lchelt auch uns (ll. 21416).
Thus, nature becomes an allegory of art and is one with it and general
(allgemein). It is symbolically enlarged as the infinite whose secret the
poet is able to disclose. However, the nave view of nature, whether it is
experienced or invented, does not only shed light on what is harmoniously
delightful but also on the extremes, on the opposites between the eternal
heights and infinite depths (zwischen der ewigen Hh und der ewigen
Tiefe) that face each other (l. 37). This is, so to speak, the sublime, which
is not terrifying, since the wanderer peers, as Schiller wrote in his essay
Vom Erhabenen, von einem hohen und wohlbefestigten Gelnder in
eine groe Tiefe, oder von einer Anhhe auf die strmende See hinab sieht
(20:17980). Yet, it awakens the memory of what is violent in history, from
which die Liebe verschwand (l. 44), in which entbrennen in feurigem
Kampf die eifernden Krfte (l. 77) and where, for humankind, der Natur
zchtiger Grtel zu eng wird (l. 146), that is, in which the world was brutalized. Schillers lament over the course of history appears all the more
moving as he paints pre-historic times with the brightest colors. Even wars
belong to the order of things, here in alliance with beautiful nature. The
poet plants his ideas into the gaps in historical tradition to make history a
system out of the spirit of poesy. In doing so, the poet proves to be the only
true historian, who not only sees how it was, but who also knows what
finally has to be done for the well-being of humanity. Aesthetic education is
necessary, Drum soll der Snger mit dem Knig gehn, as Karl VII sees in
Schillers Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans, 1801; l. 484).
By poeticizing the philosophical and the compellingly nave depiction
of nature in which at least the semblance of being shines forth, Schillers
Elegie is certainly persuasive. Of course, Schiller was denied the fulfillment of his desire to surpass the Elegie with a pure poem (an idyll) in
which the marriage of Hercules with Hebe was to be immersed into nothing other than light.14 The sentimental poet is never the ruler of the sea of
poesy. This knowledge pained Schiller, for he wanted to be as great as his
own creations.

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NORBERT OELLERS

Schiller himself did not approve of the separation between the shore
of philosophy and the sea of poesy, or, also, of literature which he may
have taken over from Kant. In his poetry of 1795, and even more so in
subsequent poems, he attempted to soften the separation by way of a
flowing transition. He believed that philosophy would develop sufficiently so that eventually it could be pulled out to sea. This idea was not
at all off course. Schelling, for example, endorsed it in his System des transcendentalen Idealismus (System of Transcendental Idealism, 1800), at
the end of which he states that for the philosopher, art was the highest
field of activity, weil sie ihm das Allerheiligste gleichsam ffnet, wo in
ewiger und ursprnglicher Vereinigung gleichsam in Einer Flamme
brennt, was in der Natur und Geschichte gesondert ist, und was im Leben
und Handeln, ebenso wie im Denken, ewig sich fliehen mu (2:628).
Time and again, and as it always has, beauty rises aus dem unendlichen
Meer, as Schiller writes in Das Glck (l. 68). It remains at a distance
from solid ground, and even the shoreline, in order not to be perceived as
being ordinary.
Translated by Steven D. Martinson

Notes
1

All references to Schillers works in this essay are to the following edition: Werke:
Nationalausgabe. Im Auftrage des Goethe- und Schiller-Archivs, des SchillerNationalmuseums und der Deutschen Akademie, edited originally by Julius Petersen
and Hermann Schneider, currently edited by Norbert Oellers (44 vols. to date;
Weimar: Bhlau, 1943), known as the Nationalausgabe. References will appear in
parentheses with volume and page number. Here: 25:154.
2
Schiller had been working on this poem since October 1788. It was finished only
after Wielands active participation in February 1789 and appeared in his Teutscher
Merkur in March 1789.
3
With the reworking of the Kritik der reinen Vernunft in preparation for the second edition of the work (1787), Kant thoroughly revised the chapter Von den
Paralogismen der reinen Vernunft, which is the first Hauptstck of the second
book of the Transzendentale Dialektik. The poets warning about the uferlosen
Ozean was left out in the revised version.
4

Schillers definition of play appears in the Fifteenth Letter of ber die sthetische
Erziehung des Menschen: um es endlich auf einemal herauszusagen, der Mensch
spielt nur, wo er in voller Bedeutung des Worts Mensch ist, und er ist nur da ganz
Mensch, wo er spielt (20:359).

To be sure, the essay did not appear until 1801, but based on its content, it is
most likely that it was written before 1795.

Compare also the epigram Schn und erhaben, which probably originated in
October 1795 and was included in the twelfth Stck of Die Horen for 1795.

SCHILLERS LYRIC POETRY, 1795

187

In the second version of the poem, Schiller left out the stanza that contains this
image.

See Schillers letter to Humboldt of November 29/30, 1795.

See Goethes drama Iphigenie auf Tauris, in which Iphigenie ascertains that the
gods speak to us only through our hearts (nur durch unser Herz zu uns
sprechen, l. 494) and whose character determines the projection of humanity.
Der miversteht die Himmlischen, der sie / Blutgierig whnt; er dichtet ihnen
nur / Die eigenen grausamen Begierden an (ll. 52325); and then begs, Rettet
mich / Und rettet euer Bild in meiner Seele! (ll. 171617).
10

See the Twenty-second Letter of ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen,
where Schiller writes, Darinn also besteht das eigentliche Kunstgeheimni des
Meisters, da er den Stoff durch die Kunst vertilgt . . . (20:382).

11

The poem was later titled Der Genius.

12

Later titled Der Spaziergang.

13

See, for example, Riedel, Jeziorkowski, and Alt 2:28393.

14

See Schillers letter to Humboldt of November 29/30, 1795.

Works Cited
Alt, Peter-Andr. Schiller: Leben Werk Wirkung. 2 vols. Munich:
C. H. Beck, 2000.
Golz, Jochen. Nemesis oder die Gewalt der Musik. In Gedichte von Friedrich
Schiller: Interpretationen, ed. Norbert Oellers, 11422. Stuttgart: Reclam,
1998.
Hinderer, Walter. Konzepte einer Sentimentalischen Operation. In Gedichte
von Friedrich Schiller: Interpretationen, ed. Norbert Oellers, 12848.
Stuttgart: Reclam, 1998.
Jeziorkowski, Klaus. Der Textweg. In Gedichte von Friedrich Schiller: Interpretationen, ed. Norbert Oellers, 15778. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1998.
Kant, Immanuel. Werke in 10 Bnden. Ed. Wilhelm Weischedel. 4th facsimile
reprinting. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1975.
Oellers, Norbert, ed. Gedichte von Friedrich Schiller: Interpretationen.
Stuttgart: Reclam, 1998.
Riedel, Wolfgang. Der Spaziergang: sthetik der Landschaft und Geschichtsphilosophie der Natur bei Schiller. Wrzburg: Knigshausen & Neumann,
1989.
Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph. Schellings Werke, ed. Manfred Schrter.
Munich: C. H. Beck, 1927. Facsimile reprinting, 1965.

Wallenstein
Dieter Borchmeyer
Unter Saturnus geboren und Jupiter
kokettierend, welcher ihm nicht Stich hlt.
Richard Wagner, referring to Schillers
Wallenstein, from an interview with
Cosima on May 24, 1870.

An Aesthetic Public Space

Wallensteins Lager (Wallensteins Camp, 1800), the


play whose premiere opened the Weimar Theater on October 12, 1798,
after its remodeling by Thouret, Schiller speaks of the new era that is to
begin, after what was even for him a long break from the theater, with the
reopening of the Weimar stage. This new era is to encourage the poet, die
alte Bahn verlassend, to elevate the spectator aus des Brgerlebens
engem Kreis / Auf einen hhern Schauplatz [. . .], / Nicht unwert
des erhabenen Moments / Der Zeit, in dem wir strebend uns bewegen
(ll. 5256). There is no doubt that when Schiller speaks of this moment,
in which um der Menschheit groe Gegenstnde, / Um Herrschaft und
um Freiheit wird gerungen (ll. 6566), he is referring to the French Revolution. The stage must prove equal to this large historic kairos by committing itself to the groen Gegenstand (l. 57): the world-encompassing
content of historical-political tragedy.
In this sense a new era was beginning for Schiller as well, as can be seen
if one compares Wallenstein with Don Carlos, the last drama he wrote
before the long hiatus in his dramatic production. The latter work, despite
its efforts to reach beyond the Schranken des brgerlichen Kothurns,
remains a Familiengemlde aus einem kniglichen Hause that transposes
the purely humanistic, domestic-familial situations and relations of the
bourgeois tragedy to the courtly level, and places them in a contrapuntal
relationship to the obligations of etiquette or of a politics perceived as pure
machination (Borchmeyer 1973, 7890). The political element in this play
is presented positively only in the form of ideas (Posas state utopia!), in a
private alliance based on friendship that is interpreted as an archetype for
a future republican community. This positive political element, though,
N HIS PROLOGUE TO

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

does not appear in events having far-reaching implications. The decisive


elements of the plot in Don Carlos have practically no consequences that
extend beyond the immediate vicinity of the royal household; state affairs,
in contrast to all later historical dramas, take place in Don Carlos behind
the scene of world politics.
The antinomy of the private and the political spheres, so characteristic
of the works written during Schillers youth, is superseded after Wallenstein
by the interpenetration of both spheres. The embodiment of the political
in human form, as well as the return to dramas that center around the
figure of a ruler and affairs of the state, to the tragedy of public life in
which the downfall of the hero pulls eine Welt im Sturze (Piccolomini,
l. 2640) down into the depths, and in which the fate of the tragic individual is at the same time the fate of the community all this is connected
with Schillers theory of sthetische Erziehung (Borchmeyer 1973,
96151). This education is aimed at the unity of the individually and the
generally human as represented by the state, in contrast to the bureaucratic-abstract state of modern times. This modern state has become
seinen Brgern fremd, weil ihn das Gefhl nirgends findet;1 humanity in
the concrete sense thus remains restricted to the private sphere.
If Lessing in his Hamburgische Dramaturgie had disparaged dramas
that focus on rulers and affairs of state in favor of the bourgeois tragedy,
because the concept of the state is far too abstract to appeal to our senses,2
in Schillers aesthetic, which opposes the privatization of tragedy as justified by Lessing, drama tends toward an aesthetic utopia that restores the
unity of the human and the political, as archetypally realized in the Greek
Polis, and overcomes the alienation between the state and the individual.
The stage thus evokes an aesthetic public space, as Schiller had envisioned it theoretically in his ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen in
einer Reihe von Briefen (Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man in
a Series of Letters, 1795). The prologue to Die Braut von Messina (The
Bride of Messina, 1803), ber den Gebrauch des Chors in der Tragdie,
forms a bridge between these letters and the classical drama. It is here that
Schiller, from the dramatists standpoint, addresses again the theme of the
abstractness of the state, the privatization of modern life, and the false artistic consequences resulting from these phenomena (bourgeois tragedy).
Der Palast der Knige ist jetzt geschlossen, die Gerichte haben sich von
den Toren der Stdte in das Innere der Huser zurckgezogen, die
Schrift hat das lebendige Wort verdrngt, das Volk selbst, die sinnlich
lebendige Masse, ist, wo sie nicht als rohe Gewalt wirkt (Revolution!),
zum Staat, folglich zu einem abgezogenen Begriff geworden, die Gtter
sind in die Brust des Menschen zurckgekehrt. (5:286)

In short, life in general has lost its meaningful, aesthetic public space and
has become abstract and prosaic.

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191

Schiller does not draw the same conclusion from this fact as does Lessing,
namely that the dramatic poet ought to transpose his plot into the interior
of houses as the only space in which concrete humanity can still be found.
Instead, he develops a dramatic conception out of a spirit of aesthetic
contradiction in opposition to the condition of the modern world.
Der Dichter mu die Palste wieder auftun, er mu die Gerichte unter
freiem Himmel herausfhren, er mu die Gtter wieder aufstellen, er
mu alles Unmittelbare, das durch die knstliche Einrichtung des wirklichen Lebens aufgehoben ist, wieder herstellen [. . .]. (5:28687)

It is the chorus that Schiller uses in Die Braut von Messina as the
poetic instrument for the opening up of life in this sense. In ancient
Greek tragedy, the chorus was the natural accompaniment of tragic
actions, because die Handlungen und Schicksale der Helden und
Knige that comprised such actions are schon an sich selbst ffentlich.
But the chorus can no longer be a natural organ in this way for the events
of modern life. It becomes instead an artificial organ that places the
stage in opposition to these events, and thus a lebendige Mauer [. . .],
die die Tragdie um sich herumzieht, um sich vor der wirklichen Welt
rein abzuschlieen (5:285). The introduction of the chorus, to be sure,
remains an experimental exception. This is conceivable only in the synthetic art world of Die Braut von Messina, but not in the modern historical
drama, within which another means of opening up dramatic actions
must be found.
In the prologue to Die Braut von Messina, Schiller bases his judgment
as to a tragedys appropriateness to the public space of the theatrical performance on the tragedys content and its protagonists manner of expression by means of the public space represented by the chorus, the
dramatic figures stand auf einem natrlichen Theater [. . .] und werden
ebendeswegen desto tauglicher, von dem Kunsttheater zu einem Publikum
zu reden (5:290). Likewise, he demonstrates in his dramaturgical treatises, for example, in ber die tragische Kunst (On Tragic Art, 1792), that
the appropriateness of a drama to the public that witnesses its performance
is based on the form of tragic art, which is fundamentally rich in affect and
related to the public on an elemental level.
It is no coincidence that Schiller, together with Goethe, studied and
interpreted Aristotles Poetics during this time of renewed dramatic productivity (1797). These readings confirmed him in his dramaturgical conviction that it is the purpose of tragedy, in contrast to the largely apathetic
structure of the epic, to arouse the spectators emotions, or else to modulate and balance them through the utilization of specifically epic means.
In a letter to Goethe dated December 26, 1797, Schiller described the
affektvolle, unruhige Erwartung, mithin das Gesetz des intensiven und
rastlosen Fortschreitens as the essential characteristic of all tragic art.

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

Epic Theater and Tragedy


While Schiller was working on his magnum opus, Goethe also turned again
to the work that was to accompany him throughout his life, Faust. Oddly
enough, both writers the born narrative writer and the tragedian who
increasingly felt the calling to be a narrative writer during the years in
which he had distanced himself from the stage were initially thinking of
treating their dramatic subject within an epic framework. On June 27,
1797, Goethe replied to Schillers question as to the poetischen Reif
(poetic maturity) of the rapidly expanding material of Faust, which in
Schillers view would require a zu groe Umstndlichkeit und Breite for
the drama (June 26, 1797), that he would like to make use of the Theorie des epischen Gedichts that they had formulated jointly that year.
Regarding Wallenstein, which was becoming more and more expansive,
Schiller wrote on December 1, 1797: Es kommt mir vor, als ob mich ein
gewisser epischer Geist angewandelt habe. He traces this back to the
influence of Goethes spirit. If Goethe in a sense integrated an epic element
into the dramatic form of the entire Faust drama through the temporal
breadth and discontinuity of its action, and also the multiplicity of its
scenes and subplots, Schiller confined the epic element mainly to the prologue. Wallensteins Lager is a piece of epic theater by virtue of its stringing
together of picturesque scenes in an attempt to capture the totality of
Wallensteins epoch as mirrored in the life of an army, and finally in its lack
of dramatic progression. Darum verzeiht dem Dichter, it is said in the
prologue, wenn er euch / Nicht raschen Schritts mit Einem Mal ans Ziel /
Der Handlung reit, den groen Gegenstand / In einer Reihe von
Gemlden nur / Vor euren Augenabzurolen wagt (ll. 11923). The epic
overture clears the space for a drama based on the formal laws of classic
tragedy: the division of the action by acts replaces the mere sequence of
scenes in the Lager, blank verse replaces Knittelvers, the plebeian setting of
the soldiery makes way for dramatic figures belonging to the upper classes.
Still, the first act of Die Piccolomini exhibits epic structure inasmuch as
it mehr statistisch oder statisch ist, den Zustand, welcher ist, darstellt,
aber ihn noch nicht eigentlich verndert, as Schiller wrote to Goethe on
December 1, 1797. He goes on to claim that this act thus serves to evoke
die Welt und das Allgemeine, worauf sich die Handlung bezieht
again, a task belonging more properly to the epic. To justify the greatly
augmented breadth of the work in terms of the laws of drama, Schiller
gives it the form of a trilogy. This is nothing but a hollow mold that conceals the extensive epic material because what we are dealing with after all
is not three independent dramas, but rather a work that was composed
without interruption.
On the other hand, one cannot overlook the fact that Schiller consistently seeks to accommodate the historical material to the art form of

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193

tragedy. After all, in his treatise ber die tragische Kunst, he had emphasized that tragedy has to accommodate historic truth to its own laws and
psychagogic needs; that is, the tragedian must stylize the historic material
in terms of plot schemata suited to compel the spectators emotions. In
this sense, the Wallenstein material, which, according to Schillers letter to
Krner dated November 28, 1796, is generally unsuited to the tragic
mode, is poetisch organisiert und [. . .] in eine reine tragische Fabel
verwandelt. This is done, for instance, by bringing die Handlung gleich
vom Anfang an in eine solche Przipitation und Neigung, da sie in
stetiger und beschleunigter Bewegung zu ihrem Ende eilt (letter to
Goethe, October 2, 1797) in accordance with the final principle of dramatic art as he developed it together with Goethe earlier that year. One can
cite the following examples for this tragic schematization of the material:
the virtuosic preparation and shaping of a peripeteia (Wallensteins Tod,
act 3, scene 5), which intensifies and heightens the turn of fortunes in
Wallensteins destiny into a cataract of messages of doom, or the clear
affinity of the pathetic scenes at the end of the trilogy with the fall of the
house of Atreus as portrayed by Aeschylus and Euripides.
That this tragically conceived and stylized material represents a poetic
as if order, and not the historical per se, corresponds to the prologues
maxim according to which the work die Tuschung, die sie schafft /
Aufrichtig selbst zerstrt und ihren Schein / Der Wahrheit nicht betrglich
unterschiebt (ll. 135 ff). It was not until later, when in the process of the
reception of Schillers historic drama Schein and Wahrheit became
confused, that the tragic nemesis hypostasized into an objective law of history. But Schiller was convinced that human reason projects laws of this
kind onto history. As early as in his inaugural lecture, Schiller had emphasized that history is only an Aggregat von Bruchstcken elevated by the
historian zu einem vernunftmig zusammenhngendem Ganzen (6:427).
The historian acts in a manner analogous to the poet: after all, according to
Schillers poem Die Knstler (ll. 235 ff.), it is only by way of the tragic
stage that providence entered into the course of history a thought
vividly elucidated at the end of the ballad Die Kraniche des Ibykus, in
which nemesis or vengeance indeed spills over from the stage onto life. In
Wallenstein too, this mythic, symbolic construction of nemesis is derived
from the art form of tragedy and acts effectively as a characteristic of
tragedy, especially by arousing fear in anticipation of the heros impending
catastrophe.
Nemesis belongs in the realm of symbolic devices upon which tragedy
depends. Schiller was convinced that the modern world, which had left the
gods behind, was infertile ground for tragedy; he therefore sought poetic
surrogates for the gods and the numinous signs of ancient tragedy. In the
prologue to Die Braut von Messina it is said that Die Gtter sind in die
Brust des Menschen zurckgekehrt; therefore, the tragic poet must

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

restore them to life (5:286). Of course Schiller did not believe in visions,
miracles, or prophetic dreams, yet they are legitimized poetically in works
such as Die Jungfrau von Orleans or Die Braut von Messina. (One might
also think of Countess Terzkys prophetic dream before Wallensteins
death.) Schiller was no Voltaire, for whom literary form, including that of
tragedy, served to destroy mythos and legend; rather, he sought to reconstitute the miraculous as aesthetic illusion in Die Jungfrau von Orleans.
And as is well known, he did so in explicit opposition to Voltaires Pucelle
dOrlans.
The astrological motifs in Wallenstein, with which Schiller struggled
for a long time, are of the greatest significance in this connection. Astrology was a Fratze to him (to Goethe, December 4, 1798; to Iffland
December 24, 1798; et al.), with which he dealt reluctantly, even when he
needed it urgently for the sake of historical ambiance to get closer to the
spirit of the age, as he wrote to Goethe in the letter of December 4. (In his
letter dated December 5, 1798, Goethe described the Astrologische
element in Schillers sense as a Teil des historisch, politisch, barbarisch
Temporren and in this connection as a counterpoint to the tragic.)
But this superstitious caricature is to gain poetic dignity through
dramatic treatment, as Schiller writes to Goethe on April 7, 1797. On
October 2 of the same year, Schiller writes to Goethe that this dignity is
derived from its analogy to the numinous apparatus of the classic tragedy,
especially to the form-determining role of the oracle. He admits that it is
difficult to find a replacement aus weniger fabelhaften Zeiten for the
latter: Das Orakel hat einen Anteil an der Tragdie, der schlechterdings
durch nichts andres zu ersetzen ist. As had already been acknowledged by
Schillers sharp-witted contemporary Johann Wilhelm Svern in his book
ber Schillers Wallenstein in Hinsicht auf griechische Tragdie (Concerning
Schillers Wallenstein in View of Greek Tragedy, 1800), the same year in
which the book edition of the Wallenstein trilogy was published, Schiller
had found a substitute for this supernatural element in the astrological
motif of Wallenstein. In the original version of the astrological scene at the
beginning of the third part of the trilogy, Wallenstein speaks of the
Orakeln in the Buch der Sterne. And in fact, the function of the latter
in the symbolic cosmos of Wallenstein closely resembles the intricate role
of the oracle in Sophocles Oedipus the King and in classical mythology
generally. Again and again, there is a dark counter-sense that lies behind
the oracles surface sense, the true tragic meaning behind the apparently
happy meaning.
The ambiguity of the oracle is portrayed by Schiller in the two faces
(Doppelgesichtigkeit) of the planetary alignment, like the apparently contradictory dream Orakeln (they are explicitly referred to by this term) later
in Die Braut von Messina, which in fact has the same content. More than
anything else, it is this verification of the oracle, the dream, or the planetary

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195

alignment that connects Oedipus the King, Wallenstein, and Die Braut von
Messina. The heroes of these dramas are struck by the Schicksalsfluch
even as they think they have escaped it; the happy condition they think they
have achieved is revealed to be the catastrophe they thought they had
averted.
This is the tragic irony that pervades the Wallenstein trilogy down to
the details of the action. It consists precisely in the fact that Wallenstein
believes, on the basis of his horoscope, that he is one of the hellgebornen,
heitern Joviskindern (Piccolomini, l. 985), and that his destiny stands
under the sign of victorious Jupiter whereas in reality it is the defeated
Saturn, and Mars, the other star of misfortune, that represent his destiny.
Astonishingly, Richard Wagner recognized this (thus anticipating the most
recent Schiller research)3 in a conversation with Cosima Wagner on March
24, 1870, in which he reduced the figure of Wallenstein to the following
formula: Unter Saturnus geboren und Jupiter kokettierend, welcher ihm
nicht Stich hlt.
With these words, Wagner refers to the astrological scene at the beginning of the book version of Wallensteins Tod. In this scene, Wallenstein and
his astrologer Seni are observing and interpreting der Planeten Aspekt,
which finally appears to Wallenstein as he hoped it would:
Glckseliger Aspekt! So stellt sich endlich
Die groe Drei verhngnisvoll zusammen
Und beide Segenssterne, Jupiter
Und Venus, nehmen den verderblichen,
Den tckschen Mars in ihre Mitte, zwingen
Den alten Schadenstifter, mir zu dienen.
[. . .]
Jetzt haben sie den alten Feind besiegt,
Und bringen ihn am Himmel mir gefangen.
Seni completes the thought: Und beide groe Lumina [Jupiter und
Venus] von keinem / Malefico beleidigt! Der Saturn / Unschdlich,
machtlos, in cadente domo (Wallensteins Tod, ll. 2224).
Wallensteins assessment of the various planets corresponds exactly
to the astrological norm: Jupiter and Venus are the beneficae stellae,
Saturn and Mars the maleficae. Of course this assessment is connected to
the actual role of the gods of classical mythology, who now have been
transposed to the starry sky above. In the constellation sketched out by
Seni, the maleficae stellae are in a weak position. Wallensteins strategic
vocabulary Jupiter and Venus take Mars in ihre Mitte, they [haben]
den alten Feind besiegt and now bring him gefangen brings the
scenes tragic irony to the fore with exceptional clarity, because the seemingly fortunate aspect, the planetary constellation as read by Wallenstein,

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

is diametrically opposed to the real, political and military constellation.


Wallenstein believes that his blessed stars are bringing Mars to him as a
captive. But who is it who has just been captured? It is Wallensteins
agent Sesin and with this, the peripeteia has already begun! Immediately
following on Wallensteins decision to act, based on the favorable constellation which has finally appeared (or so he thinks) geschehen Schlge an
die Tr (following l. 35 of Wallensteins Tod). It is destiny knocking at the
door and thus the planetary aspect seems not at all in accord with the
actual course of events.
Are the stars thus will-o-the-wisps? Only if one believes that Jupiter is
in fact Wallensteins star. But if one reads this aspect against the grain of
Wallensteins own interpretation, if one thus recognizes that it is not
Jupiter, but Saturn and Mars to which in fact he is subject symbolically,
then the planetary alignment actually does correspond to the facts. Just
as Saturns dominion is aus (Wallensteins Tod, l. 25), so too is that of
Wallenstein; he too will henceforth be unschdlich, machtlos, in cadente
domo. The metaphor of his fall pervades the whole trilogy; even the
phrase fallenden Hauses is applied by Countess Terzky at the end of the
tragedy to Wallenstein: Ich berlebte meines Hauses Fall (Wallensteins
Tod, l. 3857). While Wallenstein believes his destiny to stand under the
sign of victorious Jupiter, in reality it resembles that of defeated Saturn,
both astrologically and mythically.
Even when he says Mars regiert die Stunde (Wallensteins Tod, l. 2) at
the very beginning of the play (not immediately in an astrological, but here
rather in a metaphorical sense), this is much truer than he suspects. It is not
Venus who belongs to him, but Mars, the god of war. Whatever Wallenstein
is, he has become through war. The notion that he might be a bringer of
peace is a fateful self-delusion (and the delusion of Max Piccolomini as
well). This is clear even at the start of the trilogy in Wallensteins Lager. The
soldiers idea of freedom makes absolute the exceptional situation of
wartime, and it is only the rules of war to use the terminology of
Hegels sthetik, the rules of a heroischen Weltzustandes amidst an
institutionally solid and polizierten order that give Wallenstein even
the chance of achieving peace by his own means. But a peace of this kind,
dependent as it is on an exceptional existence conditioned by war, is a paradox. No one can seriously believe that Wallenstein could be transformed
from a war hero into a colonializing hero of peace who builds, sows, regulates streams, and creates routes for commerce, as Max Piccolomini dreams
in the fourth scene of act 3 (l. 1670).
Max opens his vision of the future with a symbolic reinterpretation of
the astronomical constellation expected by Wallenstein, which Max
employs in a deliberately anti-mythological sense: the dstere[s] Reich
of Mars will soon be over (l. 1654). But what will Wallenstein do when
the desired constellation appears? Not a project of colonization and peace,

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197

but an act of civil war. He, like his planet Mars, is the dispenser of misfortune, who, within the constellation that he has seen rightly but interpreted
wrongly, has entered into a fateful dilemma from which there is no escape.

Astrology and Melancholy


Thus, Saturn and Mars are Wallensteins real stars. He more or less
acknowledges his Saturnian, that is, saturnine traits when he comments in
the astrological scene:
Saturns Reich ist aus, der die geheime
Geburt der Dinge in dem Erdenscho
Und in den Tiefen des Gemts beherrscht,
Und ber allem, was das Licht scheut, waltet.
Nicht Zeit ists mehr zu brllen und zu sinnen,
Denn Jupiter, der glnzende, regiert
Und zieht das dunkel zubereitete Werk
Gewaltig in das Reich des Lichts Jetzt mu
Gehandelt werden [. . .].
(Wallensteins Tod, ll. 2533)
The brooding and musing, the Temporisieren (Piccolomini, l. 922)
of Wallenstein that confuses his followers, thus stand under the sign of
Saturn the god whom Jupiter banished to the underworld, and who
now acts out of the depths, the birthing womb of the earth and of the
human spirit. Wallenstein wants to dwell in the Olympian realm of light,
the realm of deeds that are not sicklied over with the pale cast of
thought. He refuses to see that the roots of his spirit reach down far into
the depths of earth. Fundamentally, he is afraid of acting, hence his shudder at the discovery that the deed he has only conceived is now entlassen
aus dem sichern Winkel / Des Herzens, ihrem mtterlichen Boden[!]
and Hinausgegeben in des Lebens Fremde (Wallensteins Tod, ll. 187
and 189).
Schiller has Wallenstein express ideas that are derived from the ancient
European theory of the humors or temperaments,4 which is inextricably
connected with astrology and suffused in mythology. To be sure, this theory had largely disappeared from collective cultural memory during the
age of Enlightenment.5 But in the course of his study of sixteenth- and
seventeenth-century kabbalistischen und astrologischen Werken, which
(according to his letter to Goethe of April 7, 1797) he had borrowed from
the Jena university library, he had acquainted himself with the fundamentals of astrology and the theory of humors. (Krner too, in his detailed letter of March 14, 1797, had supplied Schiller with a list of astrological

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

writings, the content of which he summarizes.) In all probability, Schiller


also studied the work that was the most widely circulated of all the important occult writings of the sixteenth century: Agrippa von Nettesheims
De occulta philosophia (1531). Krner had recommended it, and it
was in Goethes private collection in fact, the figure of Agrippa von
Nettesheim (14861535) is one of the Urbilder for Faust, on which
Goethe was working once more while Schiller was writing his Wallenstein.
It was Goethe too who, thanks to his familiarity with the literature of
the occult (especially in the period of his Urfaust), was able to give Schiller
a number of important suggestions. This can also be seen in the letter of
December 8, 1798, in which Goethe views the astrologischen Aberglauben, which he prefers not to call a superstition at all, as anchored in
the dunkeln Gefhl eines ungeheuren Weltganzen, a formulation with
which he aptly characterizes the analogic thinking of the occult sciences.
The work from which Schiller obtained the most pertinent information
was the Dialoghi damore (Dialogues of Love, published posthumously in
1535) by the Portuguese-Jewish physician and philosopher Leone Ebreo,
one of the most important Renaissance treatises on love.6 In his search for
astrological source material, Schiller came upon the work in a Latin translation of 1587. He reports this to both Goethe and Krner in separate letters
on April 7, 1797. To Goethe, he confides, Die Vermischung der chemischen, mythologischen und astronomischen Dinge ist hier recht ins Groe
getrieben und liegt wirklich zum poetischen Gebrauche da. In spite of all the
bewilderment, even amusement, he felt in reading the work, he was fascinated by the broadly-conceived speculative connection between mythology
and astrology, as well as the analogic thinking, which brings the individual
human being into manifold connections with the cosmos.
At the center of the mythological-astrological portion of Ebreos
Dialoghi is the cosmological drama between Saturn and Jupiter, with its
implicit analogies in the human sphere. Saturn, the author explains, is the
son of heaven and earth, Uranos and Gaia, and thus partakes of the
essences of both. According to Ebreo, Saturn is master of all earthly things
because of his origin in the earth; he can make the people governed by his
sign melancholy, sad, serious, and lethargic, but his gifts also include great
genius and profound thought. This in turn points to the paternal-heavenly
inheritance of Saturn, from which he endows the soul ruled by him with
divinatory powers that raise this soul above all earthly reality.
Leone Ebreos Dialoghi damore is anchored entirely in the tradition
of humors, according to which human nature is divided into four types
of temperament, which are distinguished from one another by the predominance of one of the four Grundsfte or Humores in each individual person. Each of these four types is assigned a particular planet. Thus
warm and moist blood, the temperament of the sanguine individual,
belongs to the planet Jupiter; warm and dry yellow bile, which determines

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199

the temperament of the choleric individual, corresponds to Mars; cold and


moist phlegm, which is dominant in the phlegmatic, corresponds to the
moon; and the star that rules over the melancholic, who is conditioned by
cold and dry black bile, is the slowest and most distant from the sun of all
the stars: Saturn. This assignment of the four temperaments to their own
planets is of course derived from the mythological stories of the divinities
that gave these planets their names.
Just as melancholy is the most paradoxical of the temperaments, Saturn is the most paradoxical of the planetary gods. On the one hand, in classical mythology he is the dethroned and dishonored god who lives alone in
dark Tartarus, and thus he is particularly suited to have the slowest, most
distant, and darkest planet named after him. But on the other hand, he is
the ruler over the Golden Age. Moreover, the Orphics honored him as
possessing the highest prophetic intelligence. These contradictory qualities
give their imprint also to the temperament of melancholy as we shall see
in the example of Schillers Wallenstein, who is portrayed entirely as a Saturnian in the ancient European sense, as a homo melancholicus of the type
of Hamlet, Tasso, and Faust.7
As a rule, one associates the idea of Olympian clarity, luminescence,
and cheerfulness with the term Classicism. Melancholy or black gall, if only
because of its dark Gemtsfarbe, is thus the threatening antipode to
Enlightenment (which also sees itself under the sign of light), and thus to
Classicism as well (Schings 265). Nevertheless, the two central works of
Weimar Classicism are centered around figures marked by Saturn, the god
opposed to the established order of Olympus and banished to the underworld: Faust and Wallenstein, homines melancholici, whose intellectual
roots reach deep into a pre-Enlightenment conceptual universe, one that
was alien to the eighteenth century, which in fact had practically disappeared by the time of these works.
Even the historical figure of Wallenstein was a typical melancholic.
This has been demonstrated repeatedly by the chroniclers and historians of
the Thirty Years War up to Schillers own Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen
Krieges. In his Versuch ber Schiller (1955), the first work in which Wallensteins melancholy disposition is clearly grasped in its full significance,
Thomas Mann pointed out the astonishing parallelism between the character in Schillers drama and Keplers horoscope of the imperial generalissimus from the year 1608, which was not published until long after
Schillers death. Thomas Mann reported that Kepler saw Wallensteins
destiny
in der Verbindung von Saturn und Jupiter im ersten astrologischen
Hause, dem Hause des Lebens [. . .]. Es ist diese Verbindung saturnischer
und jovialischer Elemente, aus denen Schiller instinktive und mit dem
Ergebnis vlliger realistischer berzeugungskraft sein Wallenstein-Bild
geformt hat.8

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

In Keplers horoscope we find the following passage:


Saturnus im Aufgang machet tiefsinnige, melancholische, allzeit
wachende Gedanken, bringt Neigung zu Alchymiam, Magiam [. . .],
Verachtung und Nichtachtung menschlicher Gebote und Sitten, auch
aller Religionen. (Cited in Borchmeyer 1988, 23)

Thomas Mann writes, altering this summation with regard to Schillers


character:
Saturn: das ist brtende Melancholie, es sind die abseitigen und im Verbogenen grenden Gedanken, das selbstherrliche Sich-Erheben ber menschliche Gebote, die skeptische Indifferenz in religisen Dingen, [. . .]
dunkle Vertrumtheit, Ehr- und Machtbegierde, Phantastik und nachtwandlerische Verwegenheit. [. . .] Das Auermenschliche seines Wesens
schreckt; aber was Jupiter der saturnischen Unheimlichkeit zufgt, ist ein
Kniglich-Gebietendes, ein unverkennbar Herrscherliches, welches nicht
nur Furcht, sondern auch Ehrfurcht, Glauben, Hingabe erzeugt. (9:905)

Thomas Manns image of Wallenstein is shaped entirely by this stellarischen Doppelnatur des Helden. True, he is inclined to interpret this
double nature as leading to a kind of harmony, in the sense of the two
complementary souls within Wallenstein. The latters self-characterization
as heiteres Joviskind is never really called into doubt by Mann, even if he
corrects it with the reference to the saturnine features in his being.
Wallenstein himself acknowledges none of this saturnine disposition.
As the Germanist Otto Ludwig wrote in 1857/58, In allem ist er das
Gegenteil von dem, fr was er sich hlt (Cited in Heuer/Keller, 48). The
clearest evidence for this is his dialogue with Illo in act 2, scene 6 of Die
Piccolomini. It is not he himself, but rather Illo, whom he characterizes as
a child of Saturn:
Dir stieg der Jupiter
Hinab, bei der Geburt, der helle Gott;
Du kannst in die Geheimnisse nicht schauen.
Nur in der Erde magst du f inster whlen,
Blind, wie der Unterirdische, der mit dem bleichen
Bleifarbnen Schein ins Leben dir geleuchtet.
Das Irdische, Gemeine magst du sehn.
[. . .]
Doch, was geheimnisvollbedeutend webt
Und bildet in den Tiefen der Natur, Die Geisterleiter, die aus dieser Welt des Staubes
Bis in die Sternenwelt, mit tausend Sprossen,
Hinauf sich baut, an der die himmlischen

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201

Gealten wirkend auf und nieder wandeln,


[. . .]
Die sieht das Aug nur, das entsiegelte,
Der hellgebornen, heitern Joviskinder.
(Piccolomini, ll. 96785)
Jupiter, who is portrayed here in a manner consistent with astrological
tradition as a bright planetary god who spreads good cheer, is seen to have
descended at Illos birth, that is, he stood in the descendent in his horoscope. The regent at Illos birth is Saturn, the subterranean, as he is called
with a reference to mythological tradition. Since the figure of Saturn is
assigned to the element of earth (his mother, according to Leone Ebreo),
his children are dark and inclined to all that is earthly. As to the bleifarbnnen Schein of Saturn, even Leone Ebreo sees in this leaden color that he
draws from inside of Mother Earth (nel color piombale, che tira al terriccio) one of the commonalties between Saturn and Earth.
To be sure, when Wallenstein, referring back to the ancient hermetic
symbol of the spirit ladder the Jacobs ladder referred to in the
Bible (Genesis 28:12) disputes the ability of the dark child of Saturn to
see the mysterious connections between heaven and earth, and reserves
this power for the heiteren Joviskind, he stands a basic principle of the
traditional theory of the temperaments on its head. According to this theory, it is precisely Saturn, der Hachette unter den Plantain in the
paradoxical nature characteristic of this planet, which Leone Ebreo traces
to its origin from heaven and earth simultaneously who draws the soul
upward von den irdischen Dingen zu dem Hchsten (Agrippa von
Nettesheim). The divinatory power that Wallenstein ascribes to himself as
a son of Jupiter is in truth the characteristic gift of the child of Saturn!
It was the first scene in Fausts study from the first part of Goethes
Faust that provided the immediate impetus for the image of the spirit ladder, which symbolizes the analogies between the stellar and sublunar
worlds, the dunkle[s] Gefhl eines ungeheuren Weltganzen of which
Goethe speaks in his letter of December 8, 1798. Faust, Wallensteins
brother in melancholy, reflects about the Zeichen des Makrokosmos,
one of the tables often encountered in the pansophical writings, in which
all the realms of the world are united by analogy:
Wie alles sich zum Ganzen webt,
Eins in dem andern wrkt und lebt!
Wie Himmelskrfte auf und nieder steigen
Und sich die goldnen Eimer reichen!
Vom Himmel durch die Erde dringen,
Harmonisch all das All durchklingen!
(ll. 44753)

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

If Wallenstein has revealed himself in the dialogue with Illo quoted


earlier as a Saturnian against his will, he shows himself to be even more
so in the astrological scene at the beginning of the third play in the trilogy.
Here Saturn appears as the god [des] Brtens und Sinnens (ll. 2535),
while Jupiter is seen to embody the world of joyous action. But it is precisely this kind of decisive action of which the Hamlet-like, melancholic
Wallenstein is no longer capable. Against the grain of his own interpretation of the planetary alignment, he is hopelessly bound to that dark god
of earthly and spiritual abysses. But he himself becomes conscious of this
after his betrayal of the emperor, as is shown in the great scene with Max
Piccolomini at the beginning of the second act of Wallensteins Tod. He has
now lost faith in Jupiter as his star this is why he no longer engages in
astrology and he openly embraces his Saturnian nature.
Mich schuf aus grberm Stoffe die Natur,
Und zu der Erde zieht mich die Begierde.
Dem bsen Geist gehrt die Erde, nicht
Dem guten. Was die Gttlichen uns senden
Von oben, sind nur allgemeine Gter,
Ihr Licht erfreut, doch macht es keinen reich,
In ihrem Staat erringt sich kein Besitz.
Den Edelstein, das allgeschtze Gold
Mu man den falschen Mchten abgewinnen,
Die unterm Tage schlimmgeartet hausen.
Nicht ohne Opfer macht man sie geneigt,
Und keiner lebet, der aus ihrem Dienst
Die Seele htte rein zurckgezogen.
(Wallensteins Tod, ll. 797809)
Wallenstein has in fact entered into a kind of devils pact, one of the
numerous parallels between the trilogy and Goethes Faust. He has
devoted himself to the bsen Geist (Satan) to which the earth (the element of the Saturnian) and its demonic treasures belong. The thematics of
melancholy in Wallenstein can be presented only in broad outline here, but
one must at least consider the conclusion of the trilogy from this point of
view. Wallenstein, struck down by Nemesis, emanates a new and distinctive
radiance during the last two acts. For the people, he has become the vessel
of chiliastic hopes. And he himself develops apocalyptic visions in his conversation with the mayor of Eger: Die Erfllung / Der Zeiten ist gekommen, Brgermeister. / Die Hohen werden fallen und die Niedrigen /
Erheben sich (Wallensteins Tod, ll. 26047). Wallensteins prophetic glance
reaches beyond his own age into the revolutionary present of the dramatic
poem of which he is the protagonist. Once again, the divinatory gift of the
son of Saturn reveals itself. Saturn appears now to show his other face: that

WALLENSTEIN

203

of the ruler of the Golden Age. Buttler reports that a Schwindelgeist has
seized hold of the entire city: Sie sehn im Herzog einen Friedensfrsten /
Und einen Stifter neuer goldnen Zeit (Wallensteins Tod, ll. 321618). It
is equally clear that this results from the obligation to conform to the
system of the Saturnian image that the people have made from Wallenstein,
and that this image is delusional. It must not be forgotten that Schiller
included, among the Worten des Wahns in his 1799 poem of that title,
the belief in a Goldene Zeit, / Wo das Rechte, das Gute wird siegen, an
unmistakable echo of the Wallenstein trilogy. Line 16 of the poem, Nicht
dem Guten gehrt die Erde, is almost a direct quotation of Wallensteins
maxim Dem bsen Geist gehrt die Erde, nicht dem guten. In the
political realm the most purely Saturnian sphere the good will never
triumph!
This is Schillers own pessimistic belief, to which he gave devastating
dramatic expression within the Wallenstein trilogy in the self-willed death
of the idealist Max Piccolomini, who believed that politics too can and
should follow the laws of pure morality. In the words of the poem Worten
des Wahns, the good man remains a stranger in this world: er wandert
aus / Und suchet ein unvergnglich Haus thus he represents a
counter-world of pure morality and pure aesthetic illusion that remains
separate from the vicious circle of history and politics.
Wallensteins susceptibility to the astrology that he finally abandons is
based on his desire to subject everything to his calculations and not leave
anything to the blind uncertainty of Zufall (Wallensteins Tod, ll.
13637). But wherever his calculation seems most clearly to be vindicated,
it is thwarted. It is precisely Octavio, to whom he believes himself bound
by Sternenfreundschaft, through their common birth date (Wir sind
geboren unter gleichen Sternen, Piccolomini, l. 889), who brings about
his destruction. But here too, the stars do not lie. Wallenstein and Octavio
are really born under the same stars in that both are betrayers: Octavio
betrays Wallenstein, just as Wallenstein betrays the emperor.
Even the historical Wallensteins contemporaries, as well as subsequent
historians, interpreted their common time of birth in this sense. Thus
Schiller could read the following passage in one of his sources, Johann
Christian Herchenhans Geschichte Albrechts von Wallenstein (1790):
In der Nativitt des Piccolomini, sagte Friedland, habe ich bereinstimmung unserer Schutzengel gefunden, seine Konstellation ist genau die
meinige, aus dieser Ursache kann mich der Graf nicht hintergehen. Wallenstein konnte leicht in den Aspekten viele hnlichkeiten finden, beide,
er und Piccolomini waren, nur auf sehr verschiedene Weise, Verrter.
(Cited in Borchmeyer 1988, 116)

But it is precisely this lack of fidelity that is ascribed to Saturn the Saturn
impius (Horace) who devours his children and to those humans under

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

the sign of Saturn by mythological and astrological tradition, as well as


the destiny of having been orphaned, which is shared by both Octavio and
Wallenstein.
The great Rechenknstler, as he is called by Buttler (Wallensteins Tod,
l. 2853), who believes that by way of astrology he can calculate people, circumstances, and even destiny thus errs this is the primal tragic motif of
mistaking ones situation, which, according to Aristotle, reverses itself and
becomes recognition (anagnorisis), thus constituting one of the strongest
elements of pathos in tragedy precisely when he is most confident of his
calculation. This is the case too vis--vis Buttler and in the moment of
immediate mortal danger, when he believes himself to be protected from
catastrophe through the calculation that the dead Max Piccolomini was the
sacrifice he owed to destiny.
Wallensteins belief in astrology is on the one hand influenced by
power-seeking calculation, and thus far removed from Goethean piety
regarding the symbolic connection of the worlds of the stars and of
humanity; on the other hand, this belief is not without a goal, a visionary
element, which is symbolically connected with his love for Max Piccolomini.
Into this belief he projects his better self, the self to which he aspires, and
sees in it, as in a mirror, his own being. Jupiter, the helle[r] Gott
(Piccolomini, l. 968), and Venus, the Gestirn der Freude (l. 1613), are
not only supposedly his stars; for him the brightly illumined form of
Max Piccolomini is combined with these deities to the point of symbolic
identity: Stets warst du mir / Der Bringer irgendeiner schnen Freude, /
Und, wie das glckliche Gestirn des Morgens [Venus!], / Fhrst du die
Lebenssonne mir herauf (Piccolomini, ll. 75557).
This identification of Max with these blessed stars becomes even clearer
in the shattering third scene of act 5 of Wallensteins Tod, when Wallenstein
confuses Countess Terzky by using the words Stern, der meinem Leben
strahlt to refer both to Jupiter, who is covered behind storm clouds, and
the dead Max. Incidentally, it is quite remarkable that prior to his own
death Wallenstein disregards the warning of Seni, which is based on an
inauspicious sign behind Jupiters rays. Wallensteins own star Max
will not return to him. Thus the celestial apparition that threatens the
planet Jupiter, and which may point back to Maxs death, no longer frightens him.

Power and the Ideal


In spite of Wallensteins sentimental longing for an ideal world beyond
the goal-oriented political reality of the present, a world embodied in Max
Piccolomini, there is no doubt that his action as portrayed in Schillers
trilogy is determined not by an ideal but by power politics however

WALLENSTEIN

205

much we may want to excuse the duke on the basis of chain of unfortunate circumstances, from the traumatic experience of being offended by
the emperor at the Regensburg Imperial Diet to the arrest of Sesin and
Octavios betrayal. The motivic complex of the blessed stars and the
paradisal world of light and peace designates an ideal sphere within Wallenstein that remains separate from the reality-based motives of his
actions, and which in case of conflict is sacrificed to political interests
an example of Schillers insight into the psychology of the seeker of
power.
For Max and Thekla as well, Jupiter and Venus symbolize a paradiselike, idyllic world of light and peace as it appeared to them during the
goldenen Zeit der Reise (Piccolomini, ll. 147677), as a utopian object
of desire, opposed to the dsteren Reich of Saturn (l. 1654). And just as
Max embodies for Wallenstein the desired idyllic world of light, Max on
the other hand sees in Wallenstein the pure bringer of peace a delusion
that places a fateful blindfold before his eyes, which he tears off only at the
last moment before a moral plunge into the abyss: Er wird den lzweig
in den Lorbeer flechten, / Und der erfreuten Welt den Frieden schenken
(ll. 165657). In this utopian sense which points back unmistakably to
the idea of the idyll in Schillers essay ber naive und sentimentalische
Dichtung Max and Thekla appropriate Wallensteins astrological beliefs
for themselves not in a superstitiously literal sense, but as reinterpreted
by Max (ll. 161943) in an explicitly de-mythologized, aesthetic and symbolic fashion. It is of this that Thekla speaks when she says: Wenn das die
Sternenkunst ist, will ich froh / Zu diesem heitern Glauben mich bekennen (ll. 164445).
Maxs words Die alten Fabelwesen sind nicht mehr, / Das reizende
Geschlecht ist ausgewandert (Piccolomini, ll. 163536) remind us of the
artists lament on the departure of the gods from the world in Schillers
poem Die Gtter Griechenlands in the words of Heinrich Heine, the
gods in the starry heaven live im Exil. The process by which the ancient
gods become stars, and symbolically endow these stars with their ancient
mythological names, which then enliven them and allow them to give a
reply to the loving human heart: all this makes us think of the Pygmalion
motif in Schillers poem Die Ideale. Just as Pygmalion gives life to stone
through his feelings, the poet endows the nature that has been abandoned
by the gods, the soulless one, with a new language. Thus myth experiences a symbolic resurrection. Maxs lines about the poetic return of the
alten Fabelwesen were understood, especially by the British Romantic
poets, as a kind of beacon. Coleridge expanded considerably on this passage in his translation of Wallenstein, Walter Scott placed it as a motto at
the beginning of the third chapter of his novel Guy Mannering, and Keats
made use of it in lines 23133 of his Lamia. Underlying all these texts
is a nostalgia for a mythic world. Goethe is the author of the following

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

characterization of Wallenstein, which in its precision has not been surpassed up to the present day:
Der Dichter hatte also zwei Gegenstnde darzustellen, die miteinander
im Streit erscheinen: den phantastischen Geist, der von der einen Seite an
das Groe und Idealische, von der andern an den Wahnsinn [cf. Wallensteins
Tod, ll. 2559ff.] und an das Verbrechen grenzt, und das gemeine wirkliche
Leben, welches von der einen Seite sich an das Sittliche und Verstndige
anschliet, von der andern dem Kleinen, dem Niedrigen und Verchtlichen
sich nhert. (Cited in Heuer/Keller, 89)

All the facets of both Wallensteins character and that of his counterparts
are presented here in an impartial manner.
All the same, there is no doubt that the idealistic aspect of Wallensteins character is veiled in tragic irony. We have already spoken of the lack
of credibility that characterizes his idea of peace. At most, his goal is a
peace created by him within a world that he Ich einzelner has
given birth to from within himself as a godlike creator. Octavios bitter
irony is thus not without its justification: Nichts will er, als dem Reich den
Frieden schenken; / Und weil der Kaiser diesen Frieden hat, / So will er
ihn er will ihn dazu zwingen! (Piccolomini, ll. 233335).
Thus in his historical dramas Wallenstein, Maria Stuart, and
Demetrius, Schiller, the supposed idealist, has presented every form of idealism, to the extent that it seeks to realize itself in political form, as either
doomed to defeat or based on self-interest. This is true as well for Wallensteins counterpart, namely, legitimate authority. In the great monologue
of act 1, scene 4, in which he arrives at his decision, the principle of legitimacy is placed in an extremely timely and apt light, given its negation by
revolutionary ideology. Wallenstein weighs the pros and cons of political
legitimacy with dialectical acuity. Du willst die Macht, / Die ruhig, sicher
thronende erschttern, / Die in verjhrt geheiligtem Besitz, / In der
Gewohnheit festgegrndet ruht (ll. 19396). The principle of Verjhrung, in the older, positive sense of the term the integrity of a political order based on its historical duration was for Edmund Burke and
Justus Mser, for conservatives of all stripes, the counter-principle to the
French Revolution and its interpretive model, namely the negation of an
existing order in the name of pure, super-historical principles of reason
(Borchmeyer 1988, 158).
Wallensteins reflection, quoted earlier, corresponds to Schillers own
prose from the fourth book of the Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Krieges:
Nichts geringes war es, eine rechtmige, durch lange Verjhrung befestigte, durch Religion und Gesetz geheiligte Gewalt in ihren Wurzeln zu
erschttern; [. . .] alle jene unvertilgbaren Gefhle der Pflicht, die in der
Brust des Untertans fr den geborenen Beherrscher so laut und so
mchtig sprechen, mit gewaltsamer Hand zu vertilgen. (7:364)

WALLENSTEIN

207

This is one side of the matter. But the other side of legitimacy is:
[. . .] das ewig Gestrige,
Was immer war und immer wiederkehrt,
Und morgen gilt, weils heute hat gegolten!
Denn aus Gemeinem ist der Mensch gemacht,
Und die Gewohnheit nennt er seine Amme.
Weh dem, der an den wrdig alten Hausrat
Ihm rhrt, das teure Erbstck seiner Ahnen!
Das Jahr bt eine heiligende Kraft,
Was grau fr Alter ist, das ist ihm gttlich.
Sei im Besitze, und du wohnst im Recht,
Und heilig wirds die Menge dir bewahren.
(Wallensteins Tod, ll. 20818)
Shortly thereafter, Wallenstein will experience in his own person the justification for this ironic pessimism. In the moment that he takes off the cloak
of legitimacy, the magic of his personality is broken; in Max Webers terminology, charismatic leadership loses out to traditional leadership. In his
Geschichte des Dreiigjhrigen Krieges, Schiller writes of Wallenstein:
Gre fr sich allein kann sowohl Bewunderung und Schrecken, aber nur
die legale Gre Ehrfurcht und Unterwerfung erzwingen. Und dieses
enscheidenden Vorteils beraubte er sich selbst in dem Augenblicke, da er
sich als einen Verbrecher entlarvte (7:365).
Without a doubt, there is just as much of Schillers personal convictions in Wallensteins lines just quoted as there is in the contradictory
reflections quoted earlier. To be sure, Wallenstein has no moral right to his
criticism of the traditional order, since he is concerned basically with the
right of the more powerful, not the right of reason. As his sthetische Briefe
show, Schillers political theory is determined by liberal principles of natural law to such an extent that there is no room in it for a traditional historical legitimization of political power. But, in the interim, the experience
of revolution taught Schiller that the attempt to destroy an existing state
according to principles of pure reason drives society into a state of anarchy,
and that the temporary suspension of an existing political order conjures
up a chaos of passions. The Uhrwerk des Staates, according to the third
letter, can thus be improved only indem es schlgt (8:563); the state
based on reason must in a sense develop under the skin of the pre-existing
order.
Wallensteins balancing between conservative affirmation and liberal
negation, based on abstractions of pure reason, of traditional power that is
legitimized only historically corresponds to Schillers own ambivalent posture vis--vis the ancien rgime, and explicates the dialectic of existing
power structures, their Anschliessen to what is moral as well as to what is

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

contemptible. This dialectic manifests itself most clearly in the actions


of Octavio. Even traditional, legitimate power cannot manage without
unethical, base, even criminal means. It becomes entrapped in the vicious
circle of history, of the evil that constantly re-engenders itself (cf. Octavios
speech in Piccolomini, ll. 2447 ff.). Only in an ahistorical space, in the aesthetic Reich der Schatten9 can the unsullied ideal be found. And thus
the idealists Max and Thekla are driven out of history and finally out of life
itself!
Only once did Schiller develop a positive historical alternative to an
existing political system, one that is realized without being corrupted in
the process: in Wilhelm Tell. But this alternative is imaginable only on the
margin between myth and history. The Swiss struggle for freedom is the
ideal construction of a republican form of community, one that is based on
theories of natural law and social contract, but one that replaces traditional
authority only gradually thus an order that is really borne by the entire
people, not the Weltschpfung of a single individual, and thus one that
does not lead ad absurdum on account of its lust for power. Wallenstein
and Demetrius, on the other hand, do not represent a progressive historical
conception that breaks the vicious circle of history here, power is still an
end in itself.

The Tragedy of the Lost Father


One looks in vain in Schillers historical dramas for a world-historical individual in Hegels sense, one who as an individual represents the spirit
of the world. Wallenstein belongs in the political and spiritual vicinity
of Napoleon, who probably served as the model for the title figure of
Demetrius. Napoleon the offspring of the revolution who carried its
ideas through Europe at the point of a bayonet, the upstart who brought
down the traditional order of an entire part of the world, the subjective
prince, as Goethe called him in a diary entry of August 8, 180610 this
Napoleon is in fact the confirmation, both questionable and brilliant, of
the tragic irony present in Schillers historical drama.
In spite of all the statements of Schiller that are thought to express, or
actually do express, a desire to flee the world, it is abundantly clear that his
writing is inextricably connected with the political developments of his day.
The historical effect of Wallenstein is far stronger in its connection with the
situation in Schillers day than it is through its depiction of material from
the history of the Thirty Years War. In the person of the subjective
prince Wallenstein, Schiller demonstrates the crisis of legitimacy of the
traditional state, the collision between charismatic and traditional authority, as well as the dialectic of enlightenment and revolution.

WALLENSTEIN

209

The Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten


Unmndigkeit, Kants definition of enlightenment, here becomes tragic
the tragedy of the lost father, a theme that can be traced throughout
Schillers works, from Die Ruber to Demetrius. Du machst mich heute
mndig / Denn bis auf diesen Tag war mirs erspart, / Den Weg mir selbst
zu finden und die Richtung, Max confesses to his spiritual father
Wallenstein, after the latter tells him in palliative language of his own high
treason. Wallenstein has enlightened Max, that is, he has helped him to
escape his own state of dependency and taught him (quoting Kant once
more from his Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklrung [Answering
the Question: What is Enlightenment?, 1784]) [sich] seines Verstandes
ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen (Cited in Hinske, 452). Zum
ersten Male heut verweisest du / Mich an mich selbst (Wallenstein Tod,
ll. 71117). For the first time, Max learns that Wallensteins guidance, on
which he previously believed he could depend unconditionally, does not
accord with his Herzen a leitmotif throughout the trilogy, understood here as the autonomous power of moral judgment. Maxs now
enlightened consciousness is an unhappy one, it entangles him in a tragic
conflict:
O! welchen Ri erregst du mir im Herzen!
Der alten Ehrfurcht eingewachsnen Trieb
Und des Gehorsams heilige Gewohnheit
Soll ich versagen lernen deinem Namen?
[. . .]
Die Sinne sind in deinen Banden noch,
Hat gleich die Seele blutend sich befreit!
(Wallensteins Tod, ll. 73644)
The blutend befreite Seele in this image, and in these two last lines,
Schiller gave devastating expression to the price exacted by enlightenment.
And Maxs tragedy is based on this dialectic. The autonomy of the subject,
which decades earlier still believed it could break through the compulsion
of Schicksal (recall Goethes Iphigenie), now sees itself at the mercy of a
new kind of fate in the world of politics, a fate it cannot master. This corresponds to Napoleons famous statement in his conversation with Goethe
to the effect that today politics has taken the place of destiny.
At the end of the century of the Enlightenment, the tragic destiny that
had been despised and thought obsolete by that same Enlightenment
experiences an astonishing return. The wars following the French Revolution awakened Europe from the Enlightenment delusion of a world that is
comprehensible and morally governable. The apparently well-ordered web
of the world has become confused and impenetrable, and humanity sees
itself at the mercy of anonymous and abstract relationships within an ever

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DIETER BORCHMEYER

more complex and complicated socio-political reality; it tends therefore all


too easily to mystify this reality as destiny. Freedom, moral self-determination,
seems to exist only as an Auszug aus der Geschichte,(Janz, 338) no
longer as something within history, as the verteufelt humane conclusion
of Goethes grzierendem Schauspiel Iphigenie still allowed one to
believe.11 Viewed in this way, Schillers Wallenstein is in a sense a retraction
of Iphigenie auf Tauris.
Translated by Thomas Kovach

Notes
1

References to Schillers works in this essay are to the Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke
und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am
Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). References are to volume and page
number, except references to the Wallenstein trilogy, which are by line number.
Here the reference is to the sixth of Schillers sthetische Briefe: 8:574.

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, ed. Wilfried Barner
et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 19852003). Here the reference is to the fourteenth part of the Hamburgische Dramaturgie, 6:251.
3

This is the central thesis of my book, Macht und Melancholie: Schillers Wallenstein.

Compare the main work of the available research by Raymond Klibansky, Erwin
Panofsy, and Fritz Saxl, Saturn und Melancholie, which deals with the German
version of Raymond Klibanskys Saturn and Melancholy.
5

Compare the standard work of German scholarship on melancholy by Hans-Jrgen


Schings, Melancholie und Auf klrung.

See Borchmeyer, 1988, 5362.

Cf. Borchmeyer, 1988, 72.

Thomas Mann, Gesammelte Werke, 2nd ed. (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 1974),
9:905.

Das Reich der Schatten was the original title of Schillers philosophical poem Das
Ideal und das Leben.

10

See Jochen Schmidt, 1985; vol. 1: 440.

11

Goethe concerning Iphigenie auf Tauris in a letter to Schiller of January 29, 1802.

Works Cited
Borchmeyer, Dieter. Altes Recht und Revolution. Schillers Wilhelm Tell. In
Friedrich Schiller: Kunst, Humanitt und Politik in der spten Auf klrung,
ed. Wolfgang Wittkowski, 69111. Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1982.
. Die Kontrapunktik von Familiegemlde und Staatsaktion in Don
Carlos. In Borchmeyer, Tragdie und ffentlichkeit: Schillers Dramaturgie

WALLENSTEIN

211

im Zusammenhang seiner sthetisch-politischen Theorie und die rhetorische


Tradition, 7890. Munich: W. Fink, 1973.
. Die Weimarer Klassik. Portrait einer Epoche. 2nd ed. Weinheim: Beltz
Athenum, 1998.
. Macht und Melancholie: Schillers Wallenstein. Frankfurt am Main:
Athenum, 1988.
Heuer, Fritz, and Werner Keller, eds. Schillers Wallenstein. Darmstadt:
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1977.
Hinderer, Walter. Der Mensch in der Geschichte: Ein Versuch ber Schillers
Wallenstein. Knigshausen im Taunus: Athenum, 1980.
Hinske, Norbert, ed. Was ist Aufklrung? Beitrge aus der Berlinischen
Monatsschrift. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchhandlung, 1973.
Janz, Rolf-Peter. Antike und Moderne in Schillers Braut von Messina. In Unser
Commercium: Goethes und Schillers Literaturpolitik, ed. Wilfried Barner,
Eberhard Lmmert, and Norbert Oellers, 32949. Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta,
1984.
Kant, Immanuel. Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklrung? In Was ist
Aufklrung? Beitrge aus der Berlinischen Monatsschrift, ed. Norbert
Hinske. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1973.
Klibansky, Raymond, Erwin Panofsky, and Fritz Saxl. Saturn and Melancholy:
Studies in the History of Natural Philosophy, Religion, and Art. New York:
Basic Books, 1964.
. Saturn und Melancholie: Studien zur Naturphilosophie und Medizin,
der Religion und der Kunst. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1992.
Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim. Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden. Eds. Wilfried
Barner, et al. Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 19852003.
Mann, Thomas. Gesammelte Werke. 2nd ed. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer,
1974.
Schings, Hans Jrgen. Melancholie und Aufklrung: Melancholiker und ihre Kritiker in Erfahrungsseelenkunde und Literatur des 18. Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart:
J. B. Metzler, 1977.
Schmidt, Jochen. Die Geschichte des Genie-Gedankens in der deutschen Literatur, Philosophie und Politik, 17501945. Vol 1: Von der Aufklrung bis zum
Idealismus, 45260. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1985.

Maria Stuart: Physiology and Politics


Steven D. Martinson

HIS FIRST MEDICAL DISSERTATION Philosophie der Physiologie (Philosophy of Physiology, 1779), Johann Friedrich Schiller asserted that philosophy and religion can overpower the animal, that is, corporeal
sensations, and tear (reien) the soul away from mere agreement, that is,
identification with matter.1 Even though it has not been enlisted to do so
in the past, Schillers early medical writing would seem to support the traditional reading of Maria Stuart. Queen Mary absolves herself of the sins
of the past, attains a state of sublimity, and marches triumphantly to her
death. Through this chain of events, she achieves the final victory over
death, to say nothing of her opponent, Queen Elizabeth. Or, so it would
seem. In fact, the sustained and, at times, profound impact of Schillers
early medical dissertations on his later works suggests a quite different
interpretation, one that is also at variance with the most recent scholarship.
The present undertaking expands my reading of Schillers Maria
Stuart in my book Harmonious Tensions: The Writings of Friedrich Schiller
(1996). It is my purpose here to explore the relationship between physiology and politics in Maria Stuart. I will also cast further light on the drama
by showing how it interrelates with a number of other works by Schiller.
A close analysis of gender roles and the relationship between Elizabeth and
Mary rounds out the discussion.
N

The Interaction Between Mind and Body


At the beginning of his career as a writer, Friedrich Schiller appreciated the
vital roles that moments of crisis and rupture can play in the restoration
and maintenance of health, not only in the body and the mind but also in
the multifarious relationships between individuals and society. In the second of his medical dissertations (Abschluarbeiten), for example, the
young student of medicine observed that in the case of fevers, nature combats nature. In moments of crisis, the individual finds himself at the crossroads of illness and health, or life and death. If this state of being is
prolonged, however, any further disruption, that is, rupture (Ri ) will lead
to the complete collapse and destruction of the body. Nonetheless, when

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explaining the nature of fevers, Schiller sees that the crisis of our physical
being in moments of illness can also lead to a restoration of health.
To my knowledge, Schillers third and final medical dissertation, ber
den Zusammenhang der tierischen Natur des Menschen mit seiner geistigen
(On the Connection between the Animal and Spiritual Nature of Man,
1780), is the first work in the Western tradition to introduce an interactionist theory of the relationship between body and mind. Having
disapproved of Schillers first two attempts to write a dissertation, his committee, as well as the duke, Karl Eugen, accepted this third writing. It was
published in 1780 at the Cotta publishing house in Stuttgart. In this work,
Schiller advances the idea that although the mind regulates the activities of
the body, the body holds the mind within its bounds. The dynamic interplay that this particular relationship creates, however, is not one of harmony in the traditional sense, that is, of balance and equilibrium wherein
opposites are completely reconciled. Rather, human physiology is a tensionfilled process of reciprocal delimitation and interdependence. In arriving at
this conclusion, Schiller drew upon the work of the Jewish-German writer
Moses Mendelssohn (17291786). In his Briefe ber die Empfindungen
(Letters on Sensory Perceptions, 1755), Mendelssohn underscores the
integrated nature of body and mind. The nervous system is comprised of a
labyrinthine network of passages, such that everything in the body, including the mind, is tied to everything else. The degrees of tension in the body
are distributed harmoniously from nerve to nerve. A change in the one
leads to a change in the whole. A healthy state of being depends on the
perpetual cultivation of what Mendelssohn here terms harmonious tension
(harmonische Spannung).
Having surveyed the debate over materialism and idealism in his own
time, Schiller submitted that the more common error was to overemphasize the power of the human spirit (Geist) and downplay, or even neglect,
the influence of the body when claiming the independence of the mind
(8:123). The writers candid recognition of a more complex interrelationship between mind and body is supported by the tension between anthropology and metaphysics that reverberates throughout his work as a whole.
But there is more. Schillers writings display the dynamic integration of literature, physiology, philosophy, history, and music as referenced by the
innumerable metaphors and other linguistic devices that lend his writings
their interdisciplinary texture. The most prominent among the central
symbols and metaphors in all of Schillers writings is the stringed musical
instrument.
In one of his first speeches, Rede ber die Frage: Gehrt allzuviel
Gte, Leutseeligkeit und grosse Freygebigkeit im engsten Verstande zur
Tugend? the nineteen-year-old medical student associated the metaphor of
the stringed musical instrument with the source of all Creation (Martinson,
23). In his first dissertation concerning the philosophy of physiology, young

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Schiller submitted that the nerve spirit (Nervengeist) is an entity whose


strings (Saiten) vibrate constantly (zittern). This transmutative force
(Mittelkraft) resides in the nerves and reverberates throughout the body,
including the brain, and the brain is portrayed as the instrument of the
understanding (das Instrument des Verstandes; 8:48).
Another revealing fact is that all of the writers completed dramas, save
one, contain references to one or more stringed instruments, whether that
instrument be a piano, lute, guitar, violin, or lyre. The relative absence of
this central metaphor in Maria Stuart is purposeful and a key to the interpretation of the play. In fact, it is the only major drama from Die Ruber
through Wilhelm Tell to not employ the symbol. In fact, at the beginning
of the play, we learn that Marys lute has been confiscated. Since the beautiful, melodic, and entrancing sounds of her musical instrument will not be
able to reach beyond the walls of the prison, Mary will now be unable to
evoke sympathy for her cause.
From early on, music played an essential, indeed vital, role in Schillers
development as a writer. In the third dissertation, the relationship
between body and mind is described as two finely-tuned stringed instruments that are placed next to each other (8:149). When a string is plucked
on the one instrument, the same string on the other sounds of its own
accord and reproduces the same note. However, for a stringed musical
instrument to produce beautiful music, each of the strings must be tightened to just the right degree. The point is that all of the strings must be
taut, that is, tense. By extension, melodic, that is, beautiful music is first
achieved in and through harmonious tension. In Harmonious Tensions,
I suggested that the symbol of the stringed instrument serves both as a
general model of nature and as a sign for the harmonious tensions operative in Schillers writings. Furthermore, this harmonious tension emits a
particular or distinct kind of tone whereby it can also be identified. For
example, in the poem Die Herrlichkeit der Schpfung, the motif of flying is associated with natures lute, which Tnt auf der Laute der
Natur (Martinson, 58).
In the course of writing the three medical dissertations, Schiller developed a basic law of mixed natures. The activities of the body and the mind
are interrelated. An overexertion of the one results in an overexertion of
the other. This berspannung runs the risk of short-circuiting the
proper give-and-take between strain (Anspannung) and relaxation
(Entspannung). Hence, Schillers writings attest neither to rest nor the
cancellation (Aufhebung) of opposites but to the perpetual tug of war
between mutually dependent, yet oppositional forces of nature, without
which harmonious tension and, therefore, life itself, would not be possible.
In retrospect, the young writer had appropriated the ancient Greek
symbol of the lyre and Pythagorass interpretation thereof as representative
of the harmony of the spheres. At the same time, he drew upon the work

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of his contemporary, Moses Mendelssohn, and somewhat later the critical


philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
In modern times, the production of beauty was still possible, but the
danger now existed that the very strings that produce it may either be
strung too tightly or break altogether. The same is true of the nerves,
which Moses Mendelssohn describes as requiring harmonious tension, perpetual quivering (zittern), to ensure a healthy mind and body.
As I will seek to demonstrate in this essay, historical fact is not the only
reason why, in Maria Stuart, the conflictual relationship between Queen
Elizabeth and Queen Mary ends in tragedy. The rupture between the
queens, and within the queens, is unbridgeable and irreparable. The full
tragic effect of the drama may well lie in the final rupture between body
and mind. In the end, the tragic, pathetic shattering of the ideal of harmonious tension also constitutes a political statement.

Textual Analyses and Intertextual Associations I


In addition to the relative compactness of dramatic structure and the skillful
and refined use of language in Maria Stuart, the writer remains focused on
the workings of nature, one component of which is human physiology. This
is especially evident in the conflict between Mary and Elizabeth, as well as
between many of the other dramatis personae. Early in the play, namely in
act 1, scene 7, Schiller has Mary utter the following insightful observation
regarding their relationship: . . . die Natur / Warf diese beiden feurigen
Vlkerschaften / Auf dieses Brett im Ozean, ungleich / Verteilte sies, und
hie sie darum kmpfen (ll. 81114; 5:36). It is made vividly clear that differences in the two characters physical and spiritual-intellectual natures
underlie the cultural and political differences between them. It is likewise
apparent that nature has distributed its gifts unevenly. This insight into
nature had its origins already in Schillers medical dissertation Philosophie
der Physiologie, the drama Die Ruber (The Robbers, 1781) and the prose
work Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre (Criminal out of Dishonor, 1785),
that is, in a wide variety of forms of writing beginning at the earliest stage in
his development as a writer. The problem and potential of rupture is first
articulated in the dissertation. Here, too, we find the first instance in
Schillers writings of an analogy between human anatomy and strings. In
Maria Stuart, Queen Elizabeth has been cheated physically by nature,
whereas Mary exhibits all the traits of natural beauty. In the light of his early
writings, it is evident that it is not only because of his interest in history that
the writer turned to the political feud between England and Scotland and
the clash between Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary in this later work. It is
also, if not more so, Schillers study of nature, specifically his knowledge of
human physiology, that shaped the body of his text.

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In Harmonious Tensions, I helped to shift the general tide of scholarship on Maria Stuart from its preoccupation with Mary as a positive heroine to the struggles within Queen Elizabeth in order to flesh out her
character and thereby set her on an equal footing with her antagonist,
Queen Mary. As it turns out, the text lends itself very well to this exercise,
not only with respect to physiology but also in terms of the tension
between politics and morality. Foremost, Schiller underscores the common
heritage of the two queens. However, rather than reduplicate the fact that,
in history, they were cousins, the writer creates a more intimate relationship between them by referring to them as sisters. The technique is purposeful and the ramifications for an interpretation are significant. It draws
attention to the possible complementariness of the central heroines.

Changing Views of Schiller


Given that Schiller was aware of the arbitrariness (Willkr) and tyranny
of absolutism in his own time, the collapse of the relationship between
Mary Stuart and Elizabeth may be interpreted as an indirect but devastating criticism of this form of government. Peter Andr Alt underscores the
political awareness of the writer while downplaying the longstanding view
of Schiller as an idealist. Gegen das zum Mythos geronnene Bild vom
weltfernen Idealisten setzt die vorliegende Biographie des Portraits eines
politisch denkenden Knstlers, der die revolutionren Umbrche der vornapoleonischen Epoche mit gespannter Aufmerksamkeit zu erfassen
wute (Alt 1:14). However, this view of Schiller is not supported by references to any overt or even proactive political initiatives on his part. As a
result, readers who are looking for such evidence and are unable to find it
will refer to the writer as either non-political or, at best, apolitical. However, it is crucial to bear in mind the writers attentiveness to the workings
of nature, especially human nature, for in the case of Maria Stuart, it is
physiology that drives politics.

Gender, Gender Roles, and Human Physiology


An interpretation of Maria Stuart today should include a discussion of
gender and gender roles. In doing so, we are able to appreciate even more
the impact of the medical dissertations and other discussions of human
physiology on Schillers composition of this, his most outstanding classical
drama.
The public pressure on Queen Elizabeth to live up to the traditional
role of a woman, namely to be married and to bear a child, is enormous.
Not coincidentally, Schiller employed metaphors of enchainment when

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depicting not only Marys but also Elizabeths predicament. At first,


Schillers Queen Elizabeth registers some resistance to what others consider to be her place within public society. In act 3, scene 3, for example,
Shrewsbury quips in her presence that woman is a weak and fragile thing
(ein gebrechliches Wesen; l. 1373). Although Shrewsbury may intend
the statement to be a rhetorical strategy that could generate greater sympathy for Mary, Queen Elizabeth takes the comment as an affront to womanhood. She quickly and emphatically recoils against this traditional male
conception of the comparative weakness of women: Das Weib ist nicht
schwach. Es gibt starke Seelen / In dem Geschlecht Ich will in meinem
Beisein / Nichts von der Schwche des Geschlechtes hren (ll. 137476).
Keeping in mind that this play enjoyed numerous performances, and in
view of the social context of the time, the public chastisement of an elder,
male statesman constitutes an act of enlightenment. Elizabeths statement,
as well as the strength and dignity that her counterpart, Queen Mary,
exhibits, projects an image of woman that would seem to be uncommon
for the time in which it was written.
From a more contemporary perspective, one might argue that the
strength and dignity exhibited by Elizabeth and Mary has everything to do
with their privileged social standing and that the writer simply attributed
characteristics to them that one would find in the political history of the
time. However, a comparative study of the drama and Schillers other writings proves to be most helpful as a corrective to ideological readings of the
text. Already in Schillers earliest dramatic writings, female characters like
Luise Millerin, a member of the lower middle class, exhibit nearly identical
virtues of strength and dignity that are competitive with those of their
male counterparts. For example, in Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love,
1784), the battle of words between Luise and Lady Milford, the latter of
whom enjoys a much higher social standing, anticipates the later rhetorical
duel between the two queens. In both Kabale und Liebe and Maria Stuart,
the politically disenfranchised or disempowered counterpart wins the battle of words. With respect to character, the politically weaker is actually the
stronger of the dramatis personae. Schillers portrayals of the strengths and
the weaknesses of women in the social-political contexts of his own century
reflect the tenets of the German Enlightenment, namely that one exercise
ones own understanding (Kant), strive for truth (Lessing), and become
what one is as a unique individual (for example, Leibniz, Goethe, and
Sophie von La Roche). In Schillers case, however, the relationships
between the body and the mind that characterize individuals and their relationships to each other lie at the forefront of the dramatic writings and
serve to illuminate the complex contours that are representative of the act
of writing.
To be sure, Schillers portrayals constitute an at times critical dialogue
with the political power structures and other social realities of his day.

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At the same time, Schillers criticism is presented indirectly by way of artistic expression. To be sure, at a time of entrenched absolutism and the reality of censorship, criticisms of the political system had to be indirect.
Literature, that is, fiction, offered a means by which such criticism could
be transmitted and understood by those whose lives were impacted by the
dominant political structures of the time.
In retrospect, within the historical context of his time and in the light
of history up through the eighteenth century, Schillers portrayal of female
characters is actually more progressive than feminist readings, and not only
feminist readings, of Schillers plays have allowed.2 The portrayal of female
characters in Schillers dramatic texts forces the spectator or reader to consider critically and self-critically his or her assumptions and biases regarding
the sexes. Although the portrayal of women in selected poems like Wrde
der Frauen (Dignity of Women) is negative as viewed from the vantage
point of modernity, one first needs to take into account all of Schillers representations of and statements on women, as well as the observations of
those whom he knew personally, such as Caroline von Wolzogen, before
one can generalize about Schillers view of women. Schillers literarydramatic representations of women were certainly conditioned or even
determined by the times in which he was living. In most cases, they are forward-looking. Whatever else they may be, Schillers female characters
should be appreciated for their combination of sharpness of mind and
quickness of wit, emotional passion (and poise) and compassion, that is,
more for their strengths than for their weakness of mind and voluptuousness of body. The fact that this is true regardless of their social standing
would seem to disclose the construction of a general type. However, as the
unique personalities of Amalia, Luise, Eboli, Mary, and Johanne clearly
indicate, it is not an undifferentiated type.

Elizabeth and Mary


The rivalry between Elizabeth and Mary in Maria Stuart is animated by
the writers early philosophy of physiology. As the play unfolds, Elizabeths
behavior is impacted more and more by her senses, whereas Mary moves
away from the senses to the spiritual/intellectual plane. Although strong
and remarkable in its separateness and exclusivity, Marys state of sublimity
actually creates an unbridgeable gap between herself and Elizabeth. For
her part, and quite in spite of her powerful political position, Elizabeth has
become the prisoner of both her body, specifically her purely corporeal
responses, and the body politic from which, in the end, she is indistinguishable.
Somewhat unexpectedly, perhaps, Elizabeth wrestles with the demands
of political expediency and the call to moral freedom. In my reading, it is

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the imprisonment of whatever free will Elizabeth may still possess that
causes the queen the most distress. Externally, that is, as a queen, she is not
allowed to be herself, as suggested by her depiction of the powerful office
she holds, namely as a form of slavery, suggests that she is not allowed to
exercise personal freedom. For her political office dictates that she must be
responsive to the will of the people, as Lord Burleigh makes abundantly
clear. In short, whatever the nature of her inclinations, she is duty-bound.
But this does not come easily since she is shown to struggle with her own
moral knowledge.
As queens of different religious persuasions, political orientations, and
cultural environments, and yet sisters, they are, at the outset, two parts
of a greater whole; oppositional, yet interdependent. They are not, in the
first instance, complete opposites. However, as the combat between them
increases, their interdependence is progressively compromised. Eventually,
their relationship is completely severed. Elizabeth, in the end, is relegated
to the exclusively corporeal-material concerns of mere politics. Only in the
end do Elizabeth and Mary finally become complete opposites. Politically
and physically enchained, Mary is still free morally. Although politically
strong and in command, Elizabeth is a prisoner, that is, slave to her office.
As the battle of words in act 3, scene 4 makes abundantly clear, the fierce
rivalry between these two female monarchs is informed not only by politics
or religion but by the rupture that is brought about by the crises within
their own natures as well as by the natural split between them, which
by definition is anthropological in nature (see Hinderers essay in this
volume).
Certainly, Marys grand yet momentary victory in the battle of words
comes not only at the cost of political defeat. It also means that the harmonious tension between the rational and sensuous natures has been
short-circuited and that the crisis in her relationship with Elizabeth will
have tragic consequences. For her part, Elizabeth is incapable of exercising
her free, moral will. Her self-imposed imprisonment within the confines of
both her sensuous being and her political office underscores her ultimate
moral ineptitude. In the end, she becomes the complete embodiment of
the will of the people, and this leaves her isolated and alone on a throne
that seems to restrict her very movement. As the curtains are drawn, she is
paralyzed within the body politic. The spiritual/intellectual as represented
by Mary has now departed her. The relationship between mind and body
has been completely ruptured.
In retrospect, Mary goes to her death at peace with her own history,
while Elizabeth sits in isolation upon a throne that entraps her. As Mary is
given to say, Jetzt habe ich nichts mehr auf der Erden! (l. 3838). Clearly,
she is freed from the confines of the corporeal world which is now represented by Elizabeth. The harmonious interaction between mind and body
is no longer possible.

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Although the main tide of scholarship on Maria Stuart still places


Mary over Elizabeth as the true heroine, it is significant that the play
should end with Elizabeth and not with Mary. As is graphically clear from
the stage directions at the end of act 4, scene 10, Elizabeth reacts only to
the dictates of her sensuous nature when signing the death warrant
(5:118). There is no sign of rational deliberation or reflection on the
necessities of Realpolitik. By following only her sensuous nature, the queen
abandons the rational-moral sphere of action.
In the light of physiology and politics in Maria Stuart, Elizabeths life is
ignoble because she has become a prisoner of her own sensuousness and the
plaything of the body politic. Like Mary, the dynamics of Elizabeths character reside in her own nature, that is, between the rational and sensuous components of her being. The true tragedy is found in the complete rupture
between body (Elizabeth) and mind (Mary), that is, in the complete disruption of harmonious tension.
In sum, Schillers clear emphasis on the relationship between mind and
body, both within and between the main protagonists, makes the sequence
of events in Maria Stuart more understandable intellectually and even
more stirring emotionally. This way of visualizing the drama opens up the
text and creates a tie between the time in which it was written and contemporary understandings of the body as text. Perhaps such a reading can
be of interest to future productions of the play.

Associations: Maria Stuart within the Corpus of


Schillers Writings
Although at first glance unlikely, there are significant thematic parallels
between Maria Stuart and Schillers earliest works, as well as in other dramatic and non-dramatic texts. Having drawn an essential parallel between
Kabale und Liebe and Maria Stuart, it is worth briefly comparing this
work with some of Schillers other writings.
Two decades before the writing of Maria Stuart, we observe that Karl
Moor (Die Ruber [The Robbers, 1781]) and Christian Wolf (Der Verbrecher
aus verlorener Ehre [Criminal out of Dishonor, 1785]) come to terms with
their own histories and experiences. Both of them accept fearlessly the full
ramifications of the crimes they have committed and for which they decide to
atone. It is not resignation but the acknowledgment and acceptance of the
error of their ways that characterize their behavior and define their true character. All three main characters have transgressed a law for which they must
now atone, and each one does so not only with full recognition, but without
excuse. Additionally, they assume responsibility for something that, in part,
lies outside of their control. Their newfound nobility of character commends

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itself to the audience and readers. In short, Schillers dramatic heroes disclose
fundamental problems of their times that compel readers and spectators to
come to terms with their own situations, the problems that attend their own
societies, and, to be sure, their lives.
In addition to the ethical-spiritual consciousness that they share, Karl,
Christian, and Mary, among others, represent an extreme in the mindbody paradigm. According to his essay Theosophie des Julius (Juliuss
Theosophy, 1782) Schiller emphasized the ordaining of the human being
to the divine (Bestimmung des Menschen zur Gttlichkeit), which was a
widespread and widely accepted idea in later eighteenth-century German
literature. However, as argued here, the ultimate challenge for the human
being is not so much perfection as it is the cultivation of harmonious tension between mind and body, body and mind, which guarantees health and
healing. In this way one realizes the honorable or noble human being
within oneself that is to serve as an example to others and the community
at large. Nevertheless, the most difficult task of culture remains to extend
the knowledge that is gained through critical self-reflection outwardly
through the active promotion of harmonious tension and humaneness for
the improvement of society.
As early as in his characterizations of Karl Moor and Christian Wolf,
Schiller underscored the importance of a personal moral turn, an act of
moral will that proves to be necessary when one finds oneself entangled
in and overcome by the enormity and complexities of life. Self-overcoming (berwindung) is the positive result of an act of moral resolve
that consists not in the one or the other individual dominating others
but in the following: reason keeps the senses within their bounds while
sensuousness informs reason. In political terms, whereas the senses keep
reason from becoming dictatorial, reason restrains the anarchical
extremes of passion. When the healthy tension between the individual
and the society of which one is invariably and inescapably a part is compromised, society runs the risk of disruption, dissolution, and revolution. As is made explicit in ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen
in einer Reihe von Briefen (On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a
Series of Letters, 1795), Schiller advocated reform, not revolution.
Although Schillers call for reform is indebted to the Lutheran tradition,
Kants philosophy, and Moses Mendelssohns analysis of sensuality, we
have seen that it is likewise informed by his early interactionist theory of
physiology.
To recap, with respect to the medical dissertations and the later classical dramas, for Schiller, the interaction between mind and body is a process
of reciprocal delimitation and interdependence. While the body holds the
mind within its bounds, the mind regulates the impulses and drives of the
body, safeguarding it against possible destruction. In Maria Stuart, this
vital interrelationship collapses, sealing the tragic end of the drama.

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In Die Ruber and Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre, it is out of the
depths of experience that Karl and Christian are first able to embrace the
moral principle. What occurs here is hardly idealistic but, rather, wholly
realistic. The same is also true of Mary, who, given her personal history and
the encounter with her other, Elizabeth, exercises moral resolve. In fact, all
three characters Karl Moor, Christian Wolf, and Mary Stuart attain
sublimity of character. To a point, the same is true of Wilhelm Tell, who
faces and overcomes adversity. In Marys case, however, this comes at the
expense of her own body and Elizabeth.
With respect to the theme of love, unlike Die Ruber, Kabale und
Liebe, or Wallenstein, Maria Stuart contains no genuine love relationship.
Mortimer, like Leicester (and, to some extent, even Shaftesbury), desires
Mary and all that she represents, while Marys apparent love for Leicester is
but a form of manipulation. There is only intrigue and the tragic cessation
of the reciprocity between mind/spirit and body. As Schillers early theoretical writings, such as Theosophie des Julius, illustrate, it is the gravitational
pull of love that holds the universe together. Without it, the world collapses. In Die Ruber, Franz Moor represents the material world of necessitation, whereas Karl takes on the characteristics of mind or spirit. As we
know from the Philosophie der Physiologie, the absence of a transmutative
force (Mittelkraft of mediation) explains the Ri zwischen Welt und
Geist (authors emphasis), whereas the presence of the Mittelkraft animates and enlivens everything around it. The character constellation of Die
Ruber creates a bridge to the later classical drama. In fact, the verbal disagreements between Franz and Karl Moor, as well as between Luise and
Lady Milford in Kabale und Liebe and Don Carlos and the Marquis Posa in
Don Carlos set the stage for the later battle of words between Mary and
Elizabeth. And, in both Don Carlos and Maria Stuart, the driving forces
that inform the dramatic action are not only political but physiological in
nature.
As do Karl Moor in Die Ruber, Christian Wolf in Der Verbrecher aus
verlorener Ehre, and the title character in Maria Stuart, the criminal calls
for his own arrest and accepts the consequences of his actions. It is an act of
moral will that is in fact liberating. This moral act is sublime precisely
because it breaks through the limits with which the average individual
remains content. It is a call to self-action above and beyond the confines
one imposes upon oneself when one follows only the force of passion, for
example, Elizabeth. When coming to terms with the past, as with Mary
Stuart, Schillers main characters are no longer enslaved by history. Instead,
they forge a new chapter in history, one that points in the direction of the
improvement of self and society, that is, to the actualization of true humanity in the present, as well as in the future.
In his later writings, Schiller concentrated more and more on the
powerful forces of nature that animate life in the universe. In Der Kampf

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mit dem Drachen (Battle with the Dragon), for example, the battle with
the dragon is as much a battle with oneself as it is with an external enemy.
But, happily, the threat of destruction is averted here through the cultivation of harmonious tension. As we read in the poem, Das weibliche
Ideal. An Amanda, in the Musenalmanach fr das Jahr 1797, Auch dein
zrtester Laut ist dein harmonisches Selbst. In Das Ideal und das
Leben (The Ideal and Life) life is always greater and more powerful than
any one individual: Mchtig, selbst wenn eure Sehnen ruhten, / Reit
das Leben euch in seine Fluten, / Euch die Zeit in ihren Wirbeltanz
(ll. 4446). And: Thatenvoll der Genius entbrennt, / Da, da spanne sich
des Fleisses Nerve, / Und beharrlich ringend unterwerfe das Element
(ll. 7176).
In the end, tension-filled harmony, which registers the power of
perpetual renewal and healing, also contains within itself the possibility
of extinction and collapse. Health can only be maintained when the individual, as an embodiment of nature, actively seeks to cultivate the necessary reciprocity between the spiritual-intellectual and physical-corporeal
spheres of existence. One of the main tasks of political culture for Schiller
is the maintenance or recovery of a healthy relationship between oneself,
society, and nature in the ever-vacillating, forever challenging course of
history.

Conclusion
Maria Stuart is not a Luterungsdrama, as Schiller maintained. Nor is it a
martyr play. The physiological-anthropological dimension of the dramatic
text intensifies its tragic elements. As suggested, Elizabeths signing of the
death warrant is motivated by an exclusively sensuous act of retribution for
her defeat in the battle of the words in act 3, scene 4. In act 4, scene 10,
Elizabeth is given the following words:
Mit welchem Hohn sie auf mich nieder sah,
Als sollte mich der Blick zu Boden blitzen!
Ohnmchtige! Ich fhre bere Waffen,
Sie treffen tdlich und du bist nicht mehr!
Mit raschem Schritt nach dem Tische gehend und die Feder ergreifend.
Ein Bastard bin ich dir? Unglckliche!
Ich bin es nur, so lang du lebst und atmest.
Der Zweifel meiner frstlichen Geburt
Er ist getilgt, sobald ich dich vertilge.
Sobald dem Briten keine Wahl mehr bleibt,
Bin ich im echten Ehebett geboren!

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Sie unterschreibt mit einem raschen, festen Federzug, lt dann die


Feder fallen, und tritt mit einem Ausdruck des Schreckens zurck. Nach
einer Pause klingelt sie. (ll. 323948; 5:118)

The real source of her political decision, namely the senses carries tragic
consequences, not only Marys demise but also Elizabeths sensuous
enslavement and imprisonment in the body politic. Her merely sensuous
reaction precludes any responsible political action3 while satisfying another
sensuous need: the peoples desire to have Mary executed.
In the end, the central tragedy of Maria Stuart consists in the disclosure of the political world as a sickly body in need of spiritual renewal, that
is, healing. This is underscored by Elizabeths lack of development (Bildung). But this does not necessarily turn Mary into a heroine since the crisis
in her relationship with Elizabeth results not in harmonious tension but in
rupture, which is the source of the plays full tragic effect. In Maria Stuart,
the mind-body problem and politics are intimately related.
The ultimate goal of Schillers sthetischen Briefe is not the realization
of a future utopia but the actualization of the knowledge of humanity
through the cultivation of harmonious tension between the rational and
sensuous natures of the human being and between the individual and society in the present. This ideal is realizable at any point in history by virtue of
the individuals moral will to actualize him or her self, especially in times of
adversity. In the essays on the sublime, for example, ber das Erhabene
(On the Sublime) the accent lies on transgressing the limits of the world of
beauty. To be sure, this act of sublime self-determination is a primary
means in the actualization of the rational-aesthetic state in the present. At
the same time, however, it is the beauty of harmonious tension between
mind and body in individual human beings that first creates the hope for a
better future.

Notes
1

References to Schillers works in this essay are to volume and page number in the
Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke und Briefe in zwlf Bnden, edited by Klaus Harro
Hilzinger, et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988). Here:
8:152.

2
Wittkowski argues that Schillers portrayal is more progressive than feminist readings of the drama have allowed (389, 400).
3

Alt maintains that Elizabeth does not hesitate to order the execution aus Furcht
vor der ffentlichen Meinung (2: 503). Furthermore, Gerade weil Elisabeth die
Sklaven der ffentlichen Stimmung ist, bleibt ihre Rolle prekr (503). Clearly, my
interpretation varies significantly from Alts. According to Alt, the play constitutes
a political tragedy. Nicht die subjektiven Spiele der Leidenschaften, sondern deren
objektive Folgen fr den Staat bilden das Zentrum der Tragdie (499).

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Works Cited
Alt, Peter Andr. Schiller. Leben Werk Zeit. 2 vols. Munich: C. H. Beck,
2004.
Martinson, Steven D. Harmonious Tensions: The Writings of Friedrich Schiller.
Newark: U of Delaware P; London: Associated UP, 1996.
Wittkowski, Wolfgang. Knnen Frauen regieren? Schillers Maria Stuart.
Poesie, Geschichte, und der Feminismus. Orbis litterarum 52 (1997):
387409.

Die Jungfrau von Orleans


Karl S. Guthke

1.

N HIS LAST TWO COMPLETED PLAYS, not counting the fate tragedy Die
Braut von Messina (The Bride of Messina, 1803), Schiller, the German
Shakespeare as he was known in the 1780s, seems to have taken a leaf from
the masters book: in Die Jungfrau von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans,
1802) and Wilhelm Tell (1804), tragedy yields to a more conciliatory, indeed
redemptive mood, culminating in the triumph and glorification of Romantic nationalism (Reed, 97) or related noble sentiments. Not surprisingly,
both plays rank highest among Schillers plays in popularity. All-time
favorites of open-air theaters and amateur productions, their Romantic
pageantry, miraculous events, grandiose scenic effects, and musical intermezzi
have the broad appeal of opera. Arguably, there is even a touch of kitsch
in them, and they are to this day an inexhaustible reservoir of familiar
quotations without which no newspaper or cocktail party would be quite
the same.
Yet both are also serious, philosophically charged historical dramas. In
Tell, Romantic nationalism glorifies the triumphant political liberation
movement of the Swiss cantons; in Jungfrau, it leads up to the apotheosis
of the patriotic heroine at the moment when she has turned the tide of the
war in favor of her country and a victorious outcome of the struggle for
national autonomy is in sight. In each play, the course of history confirms
or validates the high-minded aspirations of the protagonist, even suggesting a near-utopian future. This is strange if we remember that in the mid1790s, Schiller had rejected his idealistic, teleological, and therefore
optimistic conception of history, and its lofty promise of ultimate justice
(die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht) in favor of a thoroughly skeptical, indeed disillusioned concept of history history as a jumble of random events without ulterior meaning and certainly without the seeds of
progress of any kind (Hofmann in Oellers, 37179).
But this apparent contradiction between the historical plays and their
authors view of history becomes irrelevant once we realize that in all of his
historical plays, Schiller focuses not so much on the course of history and
its ulterior meaning as on the prominent man or woman caught up in it.

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KARL S. GUTHKE

He did so in Fiesko and Don Carlos, before his supposed disillusion with
history, and again in Wallenstein and Maria Stuart after it. Being a born
dramatist, and one who did not need to be told that the proper study of
mankind is man, Schiller was especially fascinated by individuals whose
inner conflicts are activated by their conflicts with the world or the history around them that plunge them into guilt and error, and ultimately
tragedy. But, then, arent Jungfrau and Tell about saints of sorts? Richard
Wagner spoke of Schillers dichterische Heiligsprechung (poetic canonization) of Joan,1 and isnt Tell a patriotic hero about whom it was rightly
written at the time of the French Revolution, if in parte infidelium, Dein
Name werde geheiligt,2 the bringer of freedom who is celebrated as
the savior of the country? Saints and saviors are not usually psychologically interesting, at least on stage. Yet in Jungfrau and Tell, Schiller is not
deserted by his genius for problematizing character portrayal even as
the greater-than-life national hero and heroine are showered with welldeserved jubilation by a chorus of lesser figures. Schillers keen eye for
tragedy perceives them as very human for all that: as suffering and erring,
struggling to come to terms with their failings and their guilt. As such,
they are no less tragic than Schillers other dramatic heroes and heroines.
Joan of Orleans and Wilhelm Tell join ranks with them by presenting the
dramatists original insights into what he would have called die
Geschichte des menschlichen Herzens.

2.
Yet there is something strange not only about the tragic quality but also
about the present-day popularity of Die Jungfrau von Orleans, which theater programs tend to bill as a noble-minded wondrous play. (These are
the words of none other than Thomas Mann, whose Versuch ber
Schiller was a landmark not only in the authors own career but also in the
history of the appreciation of Schiller.) The strangeness of the play derives
from the fact that its featured character problems and conflicts are associated with saintliness or holiness. How meaningful are such concepts
not to mention pure maiden, divine command, holy mission, and
redemption to the modern theatergoer? Not only are these terms
sprinkled all over the text, they have also been indispensible to interpreters
of the Romantic Tragedy, as it was subtitled, ever since Schillers lifetime, as though there was nothing baffling or disturbing about them.
What is the interest in a drama that has virtually nothing in common with
the significant historical figure it foregrounds nor with any mortal
woman that ever walked this earth, as G. B. Shaw noted, no doubt speaking from experience, in the preface to his own Saint Joan? Why should late
twentieth- and early twenty-first-century audiences care for a play about

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a rabidly militant amazon with a savior complex, a protagonist who is given


the lines: Was ist unschuldig, heilig, menschlich gut / Wenn es der Kampf
nicht ist ums Vaterland? (ll. 178283). What accounts for the enduring
fascination of a play that has such built-in obstacles to appreciation?
Finding Shaws diagnosis of nonsense unacceptable, scholars have
given the reader all manner of first aid; but for their part, many of the more
recent critics cannot deny that the work remains, here and there at least,
confusing and inaccessible. They are at a loss (ratlos) about the contradictions and enigmas in the text (Sauder, 33649; Luserke, 659). Some
critics, encouraged by such findings, jump to the conclusion, made partly
plausible by the operatic elements of the text, that the distinguishing feature of Schillers plays, or at least this one, is that instead of ideological
constructs they are essentially nothing but arrangements of highly poetical
motifs (Storz; Graham). There is certainly something to this. For no doubt
it is such an arrangement of poetical highlights that creates the richly modulated fairy-tale world of Die Jungfrau von Orleans, with its profusion of
colorful figures and events of great sensual presence. And why not remember in this context the widespread conviction that Schiller, much more so
than Goethe, was first and foremost a man of the theater, obsessed with
creating stirring scenes, sensuous moments, and theatrical effects rather
than with the demonstration of a cogent intellectual thesis through coherent dramatic action or through philosophically charged character portrayal,
or psychological plausibility, for that matter (Staiger). If one looks at the
play from such a purely aesthetic or theatrical vantage point, the transformation of the gentle shepherdess Johanna into the man-killing amazon is
simply the transition from one poetical or stagey motif to another, requiring no further reflection or analysis. Indeed, the transformation could just
as well have been the other way around if the play were really nothing
more than a kaleidoscope of vivid scenes and effects. In this kaleidoscope,
the poetical or fairy-tale motifs may organize themselves into a coherent
whole that is aesthetically pleasing, but not into one that incorporates
some meaning. But is such an aesthetic arrangement of motifs really all
that makes Die Jungfrau von Orleans a remarkable play? This is the question on the mind of all those other critics who expect a certain intellectual
content or substance and stumble over intellectual contradictions.
It is not hard to imagine, of course, that after finishing the intellectually and formally demanding Maria Stuart, Schiller let himself go a bit in
the play he took up immediately afterwards. His letters written at the time
confirm this: they reveal nothing about his philosophical struggle with the
historical subject matter (such as had exercised him while he was working
on Maria Stuart). Instead of philosophical and historical concerns, it is the
interest in poetical motifs and stoffartige Wirkung that dominate the
letters written during the genesis of Jungfrau. By stoffartig Schiller
meant pertaining to the senses, having in mind the multisensual appeal

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of opera or of a composition of words and scenes designed for maximum


stage effect.3
However, Schillers well-documented fascination with poetical motifs
doesnt need to imply that the resulting work, to appropriate Goethes
remark on his Mrchen, is bedeutend, aber deutungslos (meaningful but
uninterpretable), that is to say: a pattern of motifs whose wealth of optically and acoustically pleasing impressions is entirely self-referential. But
that is exactly how critics of the aesthetic persuasion (Storz, Graham, and
others) read the play. They believe any ideological interpretation, that is,
any interpretation pointing to some graspable meaning in the sense of a
position concerning a philosophical or anthropological problem or issue
implied in their literary articulation, will lead the reader astray. If one looks
at the play with such limited expectations, one cannot help isolating a single, prominent aspect at the expense of others at least equally significant.
For example, what about the play as a text for the theater as moral institution that Schiller was also very much concerned with and that, properly understood, is not an institution of moral instruction but a school
purveying knowledge of or insight into the complexities of human nature?
All the same, something can be said for the lart pour lart-style of
reading Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Such a reading can be appreciated as a
reaction against an enduringly influential school of Schiller interpretation
that we might call ideological. This attempts (often with beguiling
rhetoric, sometimes with sophistication bordering on clairvoyance) to view
the play as a consistent literary transformation, or even application, of what
we would now call Schillers theory. More often than not, to be sure,
this is not done admittedly but implicitly. One way or the other, familiarity
with Schillers theoretical positions blinds the critic to those features of the
drama which, from that point of view, are less striking. More specifically,
we need to distinguish two such ideologically interpretive approaches.
They rely on two different points of Schillers thought about human
nature and history; one is fundamentally Christian, the other ultimately
humanist.
The first takes its cue from Schillers treatise ber das Erhabene (On
the Sublime, 1801) and its articulation of the mind-body problem. The
roots of this line of interpretation in Christian thinking are undeniable. For
it takes Johannas proclamations about her mission (her carrying out of a
divine command, Sendung, gttlicher Auftrag) at face value as a
theologically authentic statement, or at least as an allegorical reference to
the world of ideas beyond the physical world as mans true home. As a
result, Johannas divine mission becomes the key to her fate which
is that of a Christian martyr. Ordained by divine command to be a saint,
or an idealist heroine, Johanna wages her war against the English invaders
and occupiers not out of patriotism, let alone out of a personal will to
power, but as Gods chosen tool, for the sake of divine order to be established

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231

on earth clearly beyond reproach. Triumphing over all trials and tribulations, she completes her mission as the paradigm of the Christian Gods
witness and indeed as his representative on earth or, to choose a less Christian, more idealistic formulation, as the presence of the eternal in the
realm of history, in fact, as Gef des Gttlichen (Erluterungen, NA
9:435). Accordingly, the ending of the play the death of a saint, rather
than a witch places a seal of approval on an exemplary life. Der irdische, heroische strebende Mensch geht nach Leid, Schuld, Bue und Reinigung in das Reich des Ewigen ein (Erluterungen, NA 9:436). Johanna,
in this view, is the stranger sent from a transmundane realm, a blind
instrument of God accomplishing its mission in the world of history; the
play accordingly becomes a parabolic, legend-like drama about the alien
nature of the transcendental in the midst of a vain, impure and debasing
world, as an influential critic put it, speaking for a host of others.4
Amounting to a religious perspective, this line of interpretation is hard
to take at a time when all belief systems come under suspicion. But one
should first look at the second, the more humanistic, rather than Christian or
idealist-crypto-Christian, ideological interpretation. Its vantage point is not
ber das Erhabene but ber naive und sentimentalische Dichtung (On Naive
and Sentimental Poetry, 1795). Seen from it, Die Jungfrau von Orleans
appears to exemplify a particular concept of the development of mankind
and of the individual. This development proceeds from the initial stage of a
putative nave union of the self with nature and with itself, via the conflict
between self and the world and the conflict within the self (the stage of culture) all the way to the utopian ultimate condition in which all faculties of
the senses and the mind are re-united in an ideal harmony: from Arcadia to
Elysium. Applied to the play, this speculation, shared by others at the time,
implies an understanding of Johannas final moments as the realization of
the highest perfection possible, in spite of the imperfections of the world and
the vulnerability of the individual. In effect, the first-mentioned ideological
interpretation could readily agree with this line of thought, except that it
would see this perfection as one of human nature participating in the realm
of the transcendent; in other words, this perfection would be that of man
bearing witness for God by living up to his mission on earth until, at
the end of his time, he fully enters into the divine as Schiller envisaged the
conclusion of his uncompleted Heracles idyll (12:102). The humanistic
interpretation, on the other hand, views that ultimate perfection of human
nature in this-worldly terms: as that ideal secular humanity that can be realized through human determination and responsibility alone (Ide; Kaiser).
The final scene of the play is the touchstone of either way of understanding
the heroine: Johannas death on the battlefield (invented by Schiller with
supreme disregard for history: St. Joan was burned as a witch) is seen either
as self-abandonment to the will of a transcendent God, that is, entry into the
real world of the ideal in the more secularized idealistic view or, in the

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humanistic interpretation, as the regeneration of the autonomous self reaching its ultimate authenticity.
This very contradiction of the two ideological lines of interpretation,
which have nothing in common except their unrelenting abstractness,
makes one wonder what image of human nature, exemplified by Johanna,
would come into view if one were to look at the play without casting
glances sideways at Schillers theory. One wonders all the more as the
analyses proceeding from philosophical concepts tend to marginalize the
specific character traits of a given dramatis persona as at best incidental to
the overall conceptual scheme they try to uncover, no matter whether this
is articulated in quasi-religious or in humanistic terms. Both, then, ignore
a lot but what, precisely? Aspects of Johanna that fit neither the concept
of the saint sent to earth by God nor the vision of Weimar-style human perfection include, first of all, the fanatic brutality, indeed the power-hungry,
self-serving vitality of a bloodthirsty St. Joan of the battlefields and, second, the narrow-minded chauvinism of a savior who advocates humane
behavior only in the company of the French, not in encounters with what
we now call the other. These two unsettling aspects of Johanna are marginalized as harmless or irrelevant in the conventional ideological interpretations of the play, whereas the lart pour lart approach does not catch
sight of character portrayal at all. But doesnt the unbridled savagery of a
saint or pure maiden who cheerfully goes about her business of making widows (l. 1666), sword in hand, give us pause? Dont critics all too
routinely reel off those awe-inspiring key terms, taking them either literally
(documenting Christian values or verities) or metaphorically (as referring
to idealist or humanist values or verities)? And dont they explain Johannas
bloodthirsty conquistador mentality away too easily when they say: such
bloodthirst is sufficiently excused by Johannas high mission5 and by the
eternal order that is to be preserved? Does Johanna really remain a
schne und zugleich erhabene Seele for all her savagery (Erluterungen,
NA 9:39394), terrifying [. . .] but never impure (v. Wiese, 738)? Her
Ttungsrausch, we read as late as 1996, is no Problem des Stckes
(Oellers, 259): as Johanna acts under the coercion of her divine mission,
she is not responsible for her gratuitous atrocities in the battlefield. Really?
Oddly enough, Johanna herself is a better critic. Confronted with the
enemy, Montgomery first and Lionel later, she by no means ignores this
question, nor does she minimize it. And just as Johanna finds no pat
answer to her moral dilemma, neither does the thoughtful critic (or should
one say, the critic cursed with common sense who fails to see the empresss
new clothes?). For such a critic wonders how Johannas killing spree and
her refusal to love (both, she tells us, ordained by God and both, we know,
invented by Schiller, in contradiction to the historical facts known to him)
are compatible with the statement that Johannas calling is one zur Idealitt des Menschen (Kaiser, 1978, 136). Or such a critic wonders how

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233

the cold-blooded murder of Montgomery can be seen as die hchste


Steigerung Johannas zum reinen Geistwesen and as a sublime triumph of
idealism (Erluterungen, NA 9:43031; Miller, 3941). Isnt she rather,
throughout much of the play, the power-hungry, sword-wielding chauvinist fury, convinced of her divinely ordained mission of which there is not a
shred of independent proof in the play?6
An answer may be given by a close look, unencumbered by Schillers
own theorizing, at character portrayal in this play: how is the undeniable
ensemble of missionary zeal, brutal will to power, and bloodthirsty chauvinism integrated into the image of the saint or is it integrated? Isnt
Johannas sense of mission, which glorifies herself as it glorifies God, a notso-distant relative of megalomania and of the delusion of the chosen
which, ever since Die Ruber, Schiller had critically diagnosed in his protagonists who seemed to be so blamelessly idealistic? And doesnt Johanna
herself point to this failing when she indicts herself as vain (eitel,
l. 2938)? Schillers deviation from known historical fact points in the same
direction: in her trial, Jeanne dArc insisted, and the prosecution did not
deny, that she had not spilled blood in battle. Also, is it not strange that the
so-called redemption play, in which there is indeed much talk of divine
calling with specifically Christian connotations, should be published, in
accordance with the authors express wish, with an engraved title vignette
featuring Minerva, the pagan goddess of war? (628, 630) Strange or
telling? How are such contradictory traits accommodated in Johannas
ample soul?
Clearly, a psychologically close reading seems to be indicated. Why not
take a cue from Schillers Dr. Schillers own diagnostic method, practiced ever since his heavily psychological medical dissertation and his earliest critical writings? Why not trace how the dramatist goes about his
project, announced in Wallenstein, of letting us see the human quality of
his dramatis personae, the project of menschlich nherbringen. Appropriating Schillers own realistic and slightly skeptical knowledge of human
nature, one might do worse than try to gain insight into how the contradictory traits accommodate themselves in the personality of so saintly a
human being. They might constitute an ensemble that, in Schillers view,
would amount to the signet of the condition humaine not a particularly
edifying condition, but an interesting one nonetheless, and certainly not a
contemptible one. In Die Jungfrau von Orleans, Schiller indeed goes out
of his way to throw into relief the protagonists conflicted plurality of
motivations, which includes, along with the religious ones, rather inhumane ones as well. As a result, the much-acclaimed idealism or saintliness of
the protagonist becomes ambiguous, to say the least. The self-proclaimed
envoy from heaven (which is commonly taken to be supra-national and
well-disposed toward humans) becomes questionable through her nationalism that acknowledges only the French as human (ll. 208590), not to

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mention her frenzied mass slaughter: Ein Schlachten wars, nicht eine
Schlacht zu nennen (l. 981). Slaughter authorized by the Virgin Mary
(featured in Johannas banner) or by Minerva (on the title page) or by
both? Such plurality of motivation need not be a shortcoming of the play.
On the contrary, it may reveal consistency of thought and of artistic shaping. What obviously fascinates Schiller is das weite Land of the soul (as
Schnitzler would have called it) with all its conflicts and contradictions.
A closer look at the development of the protagonist should leave no doubt
about that.

3.
The play opens with a Prologue. Its function is the knstlerische Herausarbeitung der Sendung (Erluterungen, NA 9:422). All the same, it
fails to answer the question whether this mission or divine command is a
matter of objective truth, as some critics see it (Miller, 41; v. Wiese), that
is to say, whether it is a fact of the dramatic world that is to be taken at face
value (as the interference of transcendence in the life of an otherwise
solidly this-worldly human being) or a fact of subjective consciousness
(so that one could at best speak of Johannas sense of a mission, not
Sendung but Sendungsbewutsein). Indeed, this is not the only
respect in which the prologue is ambiguous about the self-proclaimed mission of the uneducated shepherdess. The very place where she claims to
have had the vision that commanded her to wield the sword of God and
liberate France from the English invites ambiguity: Vorn zur Rechten ein
Heiligenbild in einer Kapelle; zur Linken eine hohe Eiche. Why an oak,
rather than the beech of Schillers source (Erluterungen, NA 9:423)? The
oak was the sacred tree of the Celts, appropriately called Druidenbaum
in the play. As a consequence, the vision occurring between an oak and a
chapel is a priori questionable: is it a Christian calling to the service of God
or a call from the depth of the heathen past of a warlike people (Harrison;
Pfaff, 414)? Our uncertainty is confirmed on almost every page of the text
as Johanna, who features the Virgin Mary on her banner but acts like a
heathen goddess of war on the battlefield, is seen by the dramatis personae
surrounding her either as an envoy of Jesus Christ or of Satan (who held
the fallen world of the heathens in thrall with evil spirits such as those worshipped in the Druidenbaum). Interestingly, as Johanna herself, after a
long silence, begins to speak, she defines herself neither as the Fromme
that Raimund sees in her nor as the devotee of an infernal spirit of
Heidenzeit that her father thinks she is; she does not define herself in
religious terms at all. Instead, she grabs Bertrands helmet: Mein ist der
Helm und mir gehrt er zu (l. 193). In other words: the lion-hearted
young woman who, we hear, thought nothing of strangling a Tigerwolf

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with her bare hands (ll. 19697), breaks out into Begeisterung for the
national cause of France:
Mit ihrer Sichel wird die Jungfrau kommen
Und [des Feindes] Saaten niedermhn. (ll. 3067)
What is not said here is just as important: not a word about her calling
from on high. Instead, Es ist / der Helm der sie so kriegerisch beseelt
(ll. 32829). This is not a commentary that, like others in the play, can be
brushed aside as a matter of the limited perspective of the speaker. For in
this case the audience has just witnessed its veracity: it has seen how
emphatically Johanna grabbed the kriegerischen Schmuck (l. 195). This
is the spontaneous expression of her patriotic urge which is less fittingly
symbolized by the image of the mother of God than by the heathen oak
that Johanna is associated with so consistently. True, the France she loves
and sees threatened is the land of Christians, the land of the crusades
against the heathens. But how does Johanna herself refer to the realm of
Christian transcendence? The Old Testament God, der Schlachten Gott,
will choose her, she says (ll. 32425). It is not a case of man pressed into
service by the Divine; the Divine is pressed into service by man: it serves as
a confirmation or guarantee of Johannas own wishes, of her patriotic commitment to the Land des Ruhms (ll. 33233); against this countrys
enemies she will wield the scythe, following her own drive, as the helmetgrabbing scene made clear. On balance, then, it is God who is called, not
Johanna.
We do not hear about Johannas calling until the following scene, the
fourth of the prologue: shouldnt that be a hint from the playwright, so
well-versed in the tricks of his trade, that what matters most in Johannas
psychological makeup is the patriotic urge or drive? It is not until the
fourth scene of the prologue, a monologue, that Johanna interprets her
chauvinistic enthusiasm for an immediate departure for bloody battlefields
as a calling. The role of the metaphysical, subjectively embraced with fervor, remains secondary in a precise sense demonstrated on stage by the
course of events. Moreover, the identity of the metaphysical power that
calls Johanna still remains unclear in scene four: does the calling come
from the evil spirit (a Geist, as in Begeisterung) worshipped in the
druids tree, or from Jahwe? Both are mentioned in this scene the Virgin Mary is not. Of her, Johanna does not speak until in act 1, when she
appears before King Charles, who is about to give up the fight against the
English invaders. But even then the patriotic urge remains paramount. Not
for nothing, after all, is Johanna (who has just worked a strange miracle
in the battle of Vermanton, leaving two thousand enemy warriors dead)
introduced to the king in a typically syncretist manner: as the (obviously

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KARL S. GUTHKE

heathen) Kriegsgttin (goddess of war) whose banner boasts the Virgin


Mary as her sponsor (ll. 95366). The Minerva of the title page vignette
comes to mind. And indeed, the military predicament of the country is
what Johanna speaks of first in the presence of the king. Only later, and
again secondarily, as in the prologue, does she bring up her calling, her
mission, and here too this is a self-conceived, self-created Sendung,
rather than one that calls her, overwhelming her contre coeur:
Da rief ich flehend Gottes Mutter an,
Von uns zu wenden fremder Ketten Schmach,
Uns den einheimschen Knig zu bewahren. (ll. 105961)
It is only after this plea that, as she reports to the king, the mother of God
appeared to her under the druids oak and commanded her [ihres] Volkes
Feinde [zu] vertilgen. But now, as she reports this, that command is surprisingly represented not as the will of Mary, but of the Lord (Herr)
who, in context, is clearly Jesus, not, as earlier, Jahwe or the spirit in the
druids tree (ll. 10621105). The mission therefore becomes even murkier
than it was to begin with, and even more so almost immediately afterwards, when Johanna says that it was the Geist that gave her the command to fight for her country. In other words, the religious mission
(Sendung) and its nature become more ambiguous and less convincing
as Johannas patriotic spontaneity gains conviction. What is Schiller driving
at here? No doubt he wants to show that Johanna invests her primary
patriotic and amazonian drive, vaguely enough, with some supernatural,
religious authority, thereby validating it in a way that is plausible in the historical setting. She believes in France; she also believes in her mission
(which, it should be remembered, but usually is not, does not in any way
function as a thematic given of the play, as distinguished from Johannas
subjective fantasy world). To Johanna, liberating the land of the king der
nie stirbt (who never dies, l. 346) is liberating the land of the earthly, or
rather French, representative of a God who ordained its national boundary
when he created the watery barrier between the English and the French
(ll. 120821; 164751). In the military conflict, it is therefore Heaven that
favors France: Der Himmel ist fr Frankreich (l. 1767). It is as simple as
that: patriotism comes first, the sense of a mission (which is not the same as
a mission objectively validated in terms of the play) follows, and the audience is a witness to this development in Johannas self-understanding.
Up to this point in the play, Johannas conflicted personality has been
presented in the manner of program notes. In the subsequent acts, the
audience sees her in action, in military conflict, and here the ambiguity of
the impression conveyed so far is demonstrated ad oculos. Three scenes in
particular map out the stages of the protagonists progress, and each of

DIE JUNGFRAU VON ORLEANS

237

them consistently confronts us with the question: saint and Gottgesandte or self-appointed Kriegsgttin endowed with rabid chauvinism
and brutal violence? These stages are Johannas encounters with Montgomery, with the Black Knight, and with Lionel.
The military situation is favorable as Johanna confronts Montgomery
on the battlefield. The English have been defeated, Orleans has been
retaken by the virgin with the Virgins banner. But as Johanna appears in
person, she seems to be not so much an envoy of the Queen of Heaven as
a terrifyingly warlike Fury. She herself speaks of her Schreckensnhe
(l. 1500), continuing:
Jetzt Fackeln her! Werft Feuer in die Zelte!
Der Flammen Wut vermehre das Entsetzen,
Und drohend rings umfange sie der Tod! (ll. 15035)
Dnois and La Hire urge moderation: Nimm das Schwert, das tdliche,
nicht selbst, but her (unhistorical) reply is: Wer darf mir Halt gebieten?
And, as an afterthought, she refers to the powers authorizing her actions
appearing once again in their typical ambiguity, not to say duplicity: evil
spirit (Geist) and Gott (ll. 151623). Against the background of such
ambiguity, Johannas motivation is all the clearer, and it is dramatically, palpably present the bloodthirst of the reine Jungfrau. This manifests
itself as die Schreckliche confronts Montgomery. The woman who compares herself with Noahs white dove (l. 315) acts out murderous military
aggression which she once again sanctifies only afterwards with references to her Sendung (which, to be sure, did not include a word about
brutality). What one sees on stage is a fit of nationalist frenzy that welcomes any and all bloody means to achieve its ends:
Wenn dich das Unglck in des Krokodils Gewalt
Gegeben oder des gefleckten Tigers Klaun,
Wenn du der Lwenmutter junge Brut geraubt,
Du knntest Mitleid finden und Barmherzigkeit,
Doch tdlich ists, der Jungfrau zu begegnen.
Denn dem Geisterreich, dem strengen, unverletzlichen,
Verpflichtet mich der furchtbar bindende Vertrag,
Mit dem Schwert zu tten alles Lebende, das mir
Der Schlachten Gott verhngnisvoll entgegen schickt.
[. . .]
Auch Englands Mtter mgen die Verzweiflung nun
Erfahren, und die Trnen kennen lernen,
Die Frankreichs jammervolle Gattinnen geweint.
[. . .]

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KARL S. GUTHKE

Ich mu [. . .] ein Gespenst des Schreckens wrgend gehn,


Den Tod verbreiten [. . .]
Noch vielen von den Euren werd ich tdlich sein,
Noch viele Witwen machen[.] (ll. 1594602; 163234; 166066)
She slays Montgomery in the brief combat that follows.
Obviously, Schiller, with his intuitive knowledge of human nature
enhanced by his education in the medically-based psychology of his time,
is not bent upon demonstrating, in this scene, that Johannas purity and
divinity are strangely alien in an impure world, nor that Johannas heinous
brutality can be excused by her furchtbar bindenden Vertrag mit dem
Geisterreich as the Nationalausgabe blithely assures us (NA 9:430).
Hardly does Schillers Jeanne dArc act in this scene with exemplary idealism (as has been said not only in French but also in English [Grappin;
Miller, 42]). On the contrary, Schiller is fascinated by Noahs dove turned
predator, by a human soul that has room for many contradictory elements
at close quarters: for eignes Gelsten in the form of bloodthirsty barbarity and blindly fanatical patriotism and for the belief, not implausible in
the medieval world, in a gttlichen Befehl to the chosen individual.
Note a telling detail: why does Johanna in this context Sendung
invoke the authority of a Gtterstimme commanding her, rather than
a Gottesstimme, which would fit the metrical pattern equally well
(l. 1660)? Is it, then, a voice from the polytheistic, heathenish realm of the
druids tree, rather than from the aura of the chapel, that presses Johanna
into service? Is the god of battle she refers to a terrifying Jahwe, or is it an
equally fearsome Celtic equivalent of Wotan? Or is it Johanna herself
interpreting whatever voice she claims to have heard as a command to kill
and burn, as a brief to make English blood flow (Kein franzsisch Blut
soll flieen, l. 1719)? Clearly, Schiller intends to suggest such questions,
rather than answers.
As if to discourage any doubts about this, Schiller in the next scene has
Johanna turn her thoughts in the same direction, even before the Black
Knight appears to her, who will stir her self-doubt even more. Having
killed Montgomery, she feels no longer comfortable in her warlike role. In
retrospect she speaks of her pity (Mitleid) with the adversary just murdered ad majorem dei gloriam and of her wrongdoing, and her reflexion is
couched in religious terms: Die Hand erbebt, / Als brche sie in eines
Tempels heilgen Bau (ll. 168081). She shudders at the sight of the
bloodied sword if only to reassure herself somewhat spuriously with the
thought: Doch wenn es Not tut, alsbald ist die Kraft mir da (l. 1684).
No doubt about it: that is Johannas escape from the voice of her conscience into the safety of heteronomy; it is here that she begins to have
doubts about herself about the conflict in her soul and, between the
lines, about her Sendung itself, or at least about her Sendungsbewutsein.

DIE JUNGFRAU VON ORLEANS

239

If one pays close attention to Johannas own reflection about her savagery on the battlefield, the controversial encounter with the Black Knight
that follows in act 3 becomes virtually self-explanatory. To be sure, there
may never be an incontrovertible answer to the question of the identity of
the unnamed figure rising up before Johannas eyes in that scene (Frey;
Herrmann). Beyond quibbling, however, is the function of the apparition
of the Black Knight: Johanna is confronted, dramatically and almost palpably, with her own doubts, not coincidentally so soon after her murder of
Montgomery. Confronted with the Black Knight, she arrives at an
unprecedented stage of the development of her consciousness: how will
she master the growing conflict in her soul, she asks herself, quite at a loss.
The Black Knight warns her (not without ambiguity) against continuing
her mission as she understands it. To Johanna, this must sound like a warning against her success, against the warlike atrocities that she has so amply
demonstrated. In other words, the Black Knight verbalizes her own
doubts, previously at least hinted at, about the uncomfortable ensemble of
contradictory motivations in her soul. That is why the words of the
stranger shatter her and confuse her so much: it is her own conscience
speaking (Pfaff, 41617). Is the Geist, [. . .] der aus mir redet an
Ungeist (l. 1723)? Isnt the Virgin Mary who demands such bloody sacrifices not uncomfortably similar to many a pagan deity? What sort of
heaven is it that is in favor of France in such an atrocious fashion? Of
course, what transpires on the stage amounts to Johannas rejection of the
voice of her conscience: Nicht aus den Hnden leg ich dieses Schwert, /
Als bis das stolze England niederliegt (ll. 243233); she sticks to her mission. But it is equally clear that the Romantic apparition of the Black
Knight has confirmed Johannas self-doubt about her patriotic brutality
that had arisen in the Montgomery scene at the latest.
This is borne out by the Lionel scene, which follows immediately. Like
the Montgomery scene, it is one of Schillers inventions, as was the order to
kill and not to love (in the wording of Johannas mission) that is the subtext of both of these scenes (Sauder, 354). It follows from this subtext that,
just as before the onset of her self-doubt Johanna considered the killing of
Montgomery a triumph of her god-willed mission, she now interprets her
erotic attraction to Lionel and her subsequent failure to slay him as a
betrayal of her mission and therefore as her guilt, a transgression against
the divine. Gebrochen hab ich mein Gelbde (l. 2482). When Lionel
escapes unharmed, Johanna is in despair, wishing to atone with her own
death: Lat [mein Blut] mit meinem Leben / Hinstrmen (ll. 251617)
words echoing the dying words of Talbot the nihilist a little earlier! But is
Johanna right when she identifies the reason for her despair as her failure to
live up to the mission that required her not to love but to slaughter men?
Generations of critics, from Schillers contemporaries to ours, and including
the editors of the Nationalausgabe, have agreed: What happens in the

240

KARL S. GUTHKE

confrontation with Lionel is Johannas abandonment of her mission, the


breach of her vow of chastity, which was one of its conditions. Does the text
sustain this reading?
Or does Johannas despair following the Lionel scene in act 4 point to
her doubt about the Sendung itself the divine mission that amounts to
an obligation to murder, as Johanna had come to realize in the confrontation with Montgomery and with the Black Knight and as she realizes
again in her encounter with Lionel? As a blind tool of God, it now dawns
on her, she was not menschlich (ll. 2578, 2567) not menschlich in
the dual sense of not edel, hilfreich und gut and not whole in terms of
the ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen (On the Aesthetic Education of Man, 1795). To be sure, her thoughts almost habitually return to
the furchtbar bindenden Vertrag (l. 1600), to her mission ordained by
God, when she says: Es war nicht meine Wahl (l. 2613). And with this in
mind, she re-iterates that her guilt (Schuld) was the breach of this contract allegedly forced on her (she spared the life of Lionel, and part of the
contract was to kill, not to love). But it is hard to disagree with a modern
critic who diagnoses Johannas rationale as self-delusion (Pfaff, 416). In
reality, Johanna, far from suffering from a breach of what she considers her
contract, labors under the enormity of her role, all too eagerly embraced, of
an avenging angel in the French cause and in the name of the Virgin Mary:
Mutest du ihn auf mich laden
Diesen furchtbaren Beruf,
Konnt ich dieses Herz verhrten,
Das der Himmel fhlend schuf! (ll. 259497)
Remembering these lines, one can easily read Johannas guilt-ridden words
about her lapse from her mission in act 4 as self-delusion, either active or
passive dialectical psychology (Pfaff) is hardly required; common
sense will do. After all, it was Johanna herself who pressed God or the Virgin into service as guarantors of her self-appointed mission, not the other
way around. Not surprisingly, Johanna holds it against herself that she
raised herself vainly over her sisters when she plunged into her military adventure, with arrogance (Hochmut) and on her own initiative
(ll. 2938, 130). Now she will atone for such vanity, ben [. . .] mit der
strengsten Bue (l. 2937) atone for patriotic presumption and regressive brutality. It is these urges, she now realizes, that have flourished with
disastrous consequences in the shadow of her sense of a mission, her
Sendungsbewutsein, the supposed calling that is now seen for what it is:
furchtbar, inhumane, and wrongful.
It is not the abandonment of the mission, then, that is the target
of Johannas self-questioning and doubt, but the mission itself, or more
accurately her belief in a mission. The tumult in her soul is the alarm

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241

about the conflicted ensemble of very different feelings in her own self.
One of them may be regret about her failure to live up to her Sendung.
But what remains decisive is her realization that her brutal frenzy of activity in the cause of France has deprived her of her Menschlichkeit that
her sense of a mission was not above question.
However, she overcomes the Streit in meiner Brust. Regenerated,
rising out of the shock that had literally dumbfounded her in Reims,
Johanna reaffirms her mission at the outset of the final act. But hardly has
she regained her emotional balance when it is upset again in the following
scene. Once again she is in the grip of what she calls her weakness (l. 3179):
despair about her mission, her sense of being abandoned by God, her
deathwish even. Why? Because she is to meet Lionel again, thus repeating
the encounter that, in a shock of recognition, made her see her inhumanity.
As the Streit of contradictory emotions is rekindled right after
Johannas wordy articulation of her new-found balance, we see the familiar
sight of the Fury once again. In captivity now, she proudly speaks of the
Strme Engellndschen Bluts she has shed (l. 3234). That is indeed a
cue for her barbaric will to power, coupled with rabid patriotism, to
reassert itself, this time in yet another encounter with Lionel and in what
follows it. Far from giving in to any erotic appeal, she addresses Lionel,
who approaches his prisoner with warm words of kindness, as the hated
enemy of her people. With the Trotz der Rasenden (l. 3368) she directs
the dialogue toward the chauvinism that animated her every word up until
her first encounter with Lionel on the battlefield. And in the scenes subsequent to this second confrontation with the enemy, the tenor remains the
same: furiously single-minded and war-mongering: Verderben ber
England (l. 3410). Johanna is in chains, to be sure, but frei aus ihrem
Kerker schwingt die Seele / Sich auf den Flgeln eures Kriegsgesangs
(ll. 341415), she says, all but parodying the sublime: the escape of the
soul from the chains of this world is animated by martial music.
In the famous teichoscopy, it is once again the truculent patriot foaming at the mouth that is foregrounded, as well as the ferocious doer of
manly deeds (with a strangled Tigerwolf in her past). It is interesting to
see how the metaphysical power (whose tool Johanna often claimed to be)
is brought into play here: merely as support for her own will, just as in the
prologue and in the first act. Hre mich, Gott, in meiner hchsten Not, /
[. . .] Du willst und diese Ketten fallen ab (ll. 3463, 3470). Whereupon
she breaks her zentnerschwere Bande and rushes into battle without a
word of thanks for the heavenly helper thus giving a cue to some AngloSaxon critics who like to point out that her escape was not a matter of
divine intervention at all but of will power and strong muscle (Mainland,
100). Be this as it may: carrying her sword rather than the Virgin Marys
banner, Johanna storms into the heavily armed enemy lines like a warlike
Fury and wrenches sichern Sieg from the English (l. 3492).

242

KARL S. GUTHKE

Her end is equally victorious, if differently so. Dying on the battlefield,


rather than at the stake like the historical Jeanne dArc, and on the point of
being, like Schillers Mary Stuart, ein verklrter Geist, Johanna once
again affirms her divinely ordained mission (Ich bin keine Zauberin) or
rather her subjective belief in such a mission, believing that heaven is
now opening its gates to her (ll. 3515, 3522, 3537). But equally important
to her, in her last words, is that she is wirklich unter meinem Volk, freed
not only from the bonds of this world but also from the English occupation forces. With dimming eyes she recognizes: Das sind Frankreichs
Fahnen! (l. 3529 [authors emphasis]). And the same ensemble of religious
and national liberation is repeated in her final apotheosis, which a recent
critic has suspected of being a self-apotheosis (Luserke, 663): Hinauf
hinauf die Erde flieht zurck / Kurz ist der Schmerz und ewig ist die
Freude! (ll. 354344). That sounds like the purification and redemption
that traditional scholarship makes out to be the ultimate meaning of the
action from beginning to end, thus validating Johannas words in terms of
theology or idealism. However, not only does Schiller point out in a stage
direction that as Johanna sees herself surging to heaven, leaving the earth
behind her, she in fact sinkt tot to earth (Luserke, 661). More important is Schillers reminder here that the heaven Johanna now believes to
enter is viewed as no less francophile than it always had been in Johannas
view: her dead body is submerged by a sea of French flags; there are no
religious symbols to set off the national ones.
Isnt this to be taken as the dramatists final hint that we should not
see, as we commonly do, Die Jungfrau von Orleans as a tragedy of a
Sendung but rather as one of Sendungsbewutsein a sense of a mission that, regrettably, shares Johannas ample soul with bloodthirsty chauvinism and with that personal, instinctive conquistadorial will to power that
had fascinated Schiller ever since his early poem Der Eroberer? The
stereotypical phrase tagging Johanna the in die Welt gesandte Heilige,
who enters heaven or die Welt des Ideals (Einfhrung, NA 9:391) is
hardly the last word no more than the equally conventional clich of the
non-religious perfection of human nature on its triumphal progress from
Arcadia to Elysium. What the author brings to life before the audience in
the final scene is clearly not (or not only) a perfect or a transcendent self
that is beyond all earthly-all-too-earthly entanglements or, at any rate,
claims to be. First and foremost, Johanna is a creature of this world, a
frail and indeed barbarically flawed human being: the shepherdess from the
village of Domrmy making her way through patriotic gore, the widowmaker stepping over dead bodies, the slayer of the Tigerwolf acting out
of her over-abundant energies. Whether there is really, objectively
(Miller, 41) a divine command corresponding to the sense of a mission that
Johanna uses to validate her actions that is a question often answered in
the affirmative, with enviable clairvoyance, but one that a dramatist who

DIE JUNGFRAU VON ORLEANS

243

does not aspire to theological insight cannot answer. What he presents on


the stage is not the divine and its fate on earth, in human incarnation
(thus the view held by several generations of readers until the late twentieth
century) but a human being believing in such transcendent entities. And
Schiller concentrates all his creative energies on showing how this human
being, being human, lapses from this belief and troubles herself with severe
self-doubt and moreover, how she is a believer to the point of imitatio
Christi but also given to this world in a manner that is presented as less
than admirable, a manner that is especially problematic from the perspective of humanist Weimar. Johanna is an idealist with blood on her hands.7

Notes
1

Richard Wagner, Publikum und Popularitt, Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen, 10:88. Quotations and paraphrases from Die Jungfrau von Orleans are
identified by line number; the text is that of the Frankfurter Ausgabe of Werke und
Briefe (Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988), vol. 5. Unidentified source references
are to this volume as well. The abbreviation NA refers to the Nationalausgabe.

Dieter Borchmeyer, 1982, 70. Gerhard Kaiser calls both Tell and Johanna Heilige
der Natur (1974, 114; 1978, 201); Gert Ueding sees Tell as a skularisierten
Heiligen und Mrtyrer (395; quoting Kommerell, 188).
3

Werke und Briefe, 5:620, 621, 622, 623, 626, 627.

Benno von Wiese, 73435; Oberkogler, 5859, 7677, 9091; Oellers, 26268.

Gottgesendet (98990).

That Johanna is ein mit allen Schwchen behafteter Mensch is rather too gallant a formulation (Luserke, 660). I note with pleasure, however, that my general
view of the play, first formulated in my book Schillers Dramen (1994), has been
accepted by Luserke in the Frankfurt edition of Werke und Briefe (66061).
7

Das leibhaftige Ideal ist ohne blutriefende Hnde nicht vorstellbar, says Gert
Mattenklott, referring primarily to the early works of Schiller (307). In 1955,
Grappin still managed to see Die Jungfrau von Orleans as an exemplary illustration
of the idealism of Weimar classicism.

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Sauder, Gerhard. Die Jungfrau von Orleans. In Interpretationen: Schillers


Dramen, ed. Walter Hinderer, 33684. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1992.
Staiger, Emil. Friedrich Schiller. Zrich: Atlantis, 1967.
Storz, Gerhard. Der Dichter Friedrich Schiller. Stuttgart: Klett, 1959.
Ueding, Gert. Wilhelm Tell. In Schillers Dramen: Neue Interpretationen, ed.
Walter Hinderer, 385422. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1992.
Wagner, Richard. Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen. 2nd ed. Leipzig:
Fritzsch, 1888.
Wiese, Benno von. Friedrich Schiller. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1959.

Wilhelm Tell
Karl S. Guthke

1.

ILHELM TELL (1804) unique in Schillers oeuvre in that it is subtitled Schauspiel has always been taken to be the most easily
accessible of Schillers plays, appealing primarily, if not exclusively, to children and the Swiss, to opera lovers appreciating the son et lumire, as well
as to connoisseurs of familiar quotations, and, just possibly, to aficionados
of kitsch, be they nave or sophisticated. No wonder at least one critical
intellectual, Swiss as it happens but no doubt speaking for many others,
fantasized about a Schiller without Wilhelm Tell (Muschg). Schiller himself had hoped that Tell would appeal to the heart and senses and be
effective on stage, in other words, that it would be a Volksstck, fr
das ganze Publikum.1 Whether taking such hints or not, audiences have
usually experienced the work as a celebratory play or a festive event, a
Festspiel jubilating about the victory of a popular sort of idealism that
restores the sovereignty of the people with unfailing aplomb. Tell was
something for everybody, then (who could be against it, other than totalitarian regimes, such as Hitlers [Fetscher, 15253]) and something for
all seasons. But that is where popularity becomes problematic. For
Schillers celebration of an event of thirteenth-century Swiss history is so
rhetorically vague and operatically enthralling that it gained a dubious kind
of universality and adaptability allowing it to be appropriated by a motley
crew of ideologies. After all, hadnt Schiller himself instrumentalized his
chosen moment in medieval local history to express concerns about his
own political present (Fink, 59)? So why not look for timely applications at
a later period? As a result, Tell came to be a multipurpose political play.
Although the men of the twentieth of July right-of-centre conspiracy
against Hitler may not have claimed Schillers Tell as an archetypical model
themselves, recent scholars have confidently done so on their behalf
(Mller-Seidel, 143; Herbst). East German Communists thought nothing
of welcoming the rebellion of the Swiss lower strata of society, indeed of
the Volk, against the feudal order as an analogue of their own seemingly
successful class struggle (Braemer); and as they pointed to the French
Revolution as yet another analogue hadnt Schiller, commenting on Tell,

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spoken of a storm on the Bastille (Braemer, 327)? They might have taken
comfort from the fact that the historical, or rather mythical, Tell of the
Swiss tradition had indeed been a heroic idol of the Jacobins (Borchmeyer
1982, 6970). Likewise, Tell was claimed as a precursor of late-twentiethcentury freedom fighters (Ueding, 413), of mid-twentieth-century terrorists (Frisch, 122), and, most recently, of the anti-Communist liberation
movement in East Germany culminating in 1989 (Piedmont); finally, the
play has been read as a case study of colonialism in the guise of modernization (Ndong).
If Tell can be appropriated by so many and diverse political ideologies, then maybe its own intellectual signet is wishy-washy enough that
it can be said to have no political message, or even implication, at all. The
play has indeed been seen that way. Pre-1968 generations reveled in the
euphoria of Wilhelm Tell as a Gesamtkunstwerk celebrating the triumph of
Schillers concept of aesthetic education; as such, it was a timeless, universally human, pointedly unpolitical vision of the whole man cultivating
his serene inner freedom and autonomy, complemented by the aesthetic
state he is providentially fortunate to live in; Tell was beauty of existence
beautifully presented, with ideological dynamite conspicuous by its
absence (Martini). One particularly beautiful moment in this view is the
sun rising, at the conclusion of the Rtli scene, as a harbinger of the realization of this aesthetic ideal. But every reasonably alert contemporary
would have registered that the rising sun had been the ubiquitous symbol
of the French Revolution (Borchmeyer 1982, 98; Fink, 71). Hadnt
Schiller himself, quite apart from his reference to Tells storm on the
Bastille, remarked that at a time when Swiss political freedom seemed to
have vanished he wanted to make den Leuten den Kopf wieder warm
with his play (5:753)? Wieder the American War of Independence
was still a talking point for the author of Kabale und Liebe; the French
Revolution, its turbulent aftermath extending well into the early 1800s,
was never far from his thoughts, and the Helvetic Republic of 1798 collapsed while Schiller, suspected of subversive leftist propensities himself,
was writing his play about the quasi-mythical Swiss freedom fighter. So
how could this play not be a Lehrstck ber rechtes Verhalten unter
bedrohlichen politischen Verhltnissen (Koopmann 1988, 129), perhaps
even one with an in tirannos motto?
The political message or implication of Tell has been analyzed in
depth and repeatedly, largely by competent students of intellectual history
and political philosophy. Yet, oddly enough, not only has there been no
agreement but the most sophisticated analyses have diagnosed a complicated, highly differentiated ideological stance of such sophistication in
legal and constitutional thought that one wonders how das ganze Publikum for whom the Volksstck was intended could have been
expected to follow the subtleties of such an argumentation. At issue,

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249

broadly speaking, is this: does the author, known to have opposed the
French Revolution, come out on the side of the democratic-republican
ideals, natural law, and the rights of man (all proclaimed in 1789), that is
to say, on the side of a new social contract for the moral-rational state of
the future (Martinson, 266; cf. Braemer, Thalheim, Kaiser, Hinderer,
et al.)? Or does the play advocate a conservative revolution in the sense of
restoring established rights, agreed upon in writing? In other words, does
the play advocate the restoration of the ancien regime which the proponents of libert, galit, fraternit overthrew in the name of unwritten
natural rights? (This is the view of Benno von Wiese [76567] and many
others who, in effect, turn a deaf ear to Attinghausens Das Alte strzt, es
ndert sich die Zeit, / Und neues Leben blht aus den Ruinen
[ll. 242526]). The former view might recommend itself more easily if one
keeps ones eyes fixed on Tell, the latter if one listens to the Rtli conspirators. Can one blame critics for arguing yes and no? The most sensitive
and knowledgeable among them see an uneasy yet subtle and sophisticated ensemble of an ideology bent on restoring ancient cantonal constitutional rights and a political vision indebted to the natural law that the
French Revolution had recourse to (Borchmeyer 1982; Fink, Mller-Seidel,
Knobloch). And dont the Rtli conspirators speak with two voices themselves when, on the one hand, they insist they are non-subversive in their
abidance by the emperors written guarantees of their liberty: Wir stiften
keinen neuen Bund, es ist / Ein uralt Bndnis nur von Vter Zeit, / Das
wir erneuern! (ll. 115557; cf. ll. 1215, 1326) while, on the other
hand, they appeal to the droits de lhomme in the state of nature; it is the
same person, Stauffacher, who speaks for them:
Nein, eine Grenze hat Tyrannenmacht,
Wenn der Gedrckte nirgends Recht kann finden,
Wenn unertrglich wird die Last greift er
Hinauf getrosten Mutes in den Himmel,
Und holt herunter seine ewgen Rechte,
Die droben hangen unveruerlich
Und unzerbrechlich wie die Sterne selbst
Der alte Urstand der Natur kehrt wieder,
Wo Mensch dem Menschen gegenber steht
Zum letzten Mittel, wenn kein andres mehr
Verfangen will, ist ihm das Schwert gegeben
Der Gter hchstes drfen wir verteidgen
Gegen Gewalt Wir stehn vor unser Land,
Wir stehn vor unsre Weiber, unsre Kinder! (ll. 127588)
So the rebels stand for both: for the conservative restoration of positive law
and the affirmation of the peoples and the individuals sovereign natural

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KARL S. GUTHKE

right to institute a new social contract. This seems to be confusing indeed.


To be sure, the uneasy ensemble of opposites in the Swiss political platform
would not sanction terreur. Instead it would, in the felicitous formulation
of a recent critic, amount to a paradigm of how the French Revolution
htte ausfallen mssen, um gut zu sein (Borchmeyer 1983, 81).
But then the question arises: is the French Revolution as presented
by Schiller also good for the man who is celebrated in the grand finale
as its exponent, namely Tell himself? Is it really correct to say that Wilhelm
Tell is unique among Schillers plays in that it das politische Ideal
ungetrbt Wirklichkeit werden lt? (Borchmeyer 1982, 108; cf. 11011).
Ungetrbt? Here we are touching on the nerve of the drama: does Tells
life, or his personality, remain unharmed after the two master shots, the
one in Altdorf, aimed at the apple on his sons head, and the one in Kssnacht, killing Gessler? Does Tell remain unverstrt in der Einheit seines
Wesens, in Harmonie mit sich, emotionally unversehrt, untouched
by tragedy, beyond any conflict in himself, jenseits des Konflikts? (Martini 112, 117; v. Wiese, 770; Kaiser 1978, 215). Strangely, there is hardly a
word about Tell himself, the Stifter of republican liberty (l. 3083), in the
recent sophisticated treatises on the political philosophy of the play about
the rebellion of the Swiss cantons treatises that discern such a sophisticated blend of political philosophies in the patriotic program of the conspirators that they leave readers untrained in the nuances of political theory
wondering. But then, the play itself is keine staatsrechtliche Abhandlung
ber die Rechtmigkeit des Tyrannenmords (Luserke, 823). Its very
title features a heroic character.
And doesnt the drama repeatedly return from its focus on the ideological conspiracy (the Rtli plot for short, which leads to the storming of
the Swiss Bastille) to the dramatis persona whose name is more intimately
connected with this revolution than any other? It does, but significantly,
there is little if any connection in terms of pragmatic dramatic action
between the two. True, Tell, while refusing to join the Rtli group, does
not expressly part company with them: Bedrft ihr meiner zu bestimmter
Tat, / Dann ruft den Tell, es soll an mir nicht fehlen (ll. 44445). But he
remains solitary, and certainly a man without a political philosophy. When
he kills Gessler, he does not act on behalf of the conspirators and their ideology, nor does he foresee political consequences just as the apple shot
had not been the signal for the storm on the feudal fortresses (Fink, 75;
Sharpe, 295). So there is a certain incongruity in the Swiss Volk cheering
Tell in the finale as the creator of their newly won freedom. Surely the
point is not that Schiller wishes to demonstrate that the French Revolution,
or any revolution, is good if the dirty work, the bloody deed, is, as luck
would have it in the Swiss case, done not by the principals (who remain
beyond suspicion of any morally questionable action) but by outsiders: by
Tell and by Parricida, whose assassination of the emperor is, historically

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251

speaking, the most important political fact (McKay, 110). And yet the
isolation of Tell from the Rtli conspirators did not just happen. It was
Schillers own doing, in deliberate contradiction of his sources, Tschudis
Chronicon Helveticum (1734) and Johannes von Mllers Der Geschichten
schweizerischer Eydgenossenschaft erster und zweyter Theil (History of the
Swiss Commonwealth, Parts One and Two, 1786) (Fink, 5962, 74, 78).
Indeed, even within the play this separation of Tell from the conspiracy is
thematized, not only in Tells proverbial Der Starke ist am mchtigsten
allein (l. 437) but more significantly in that Schiller is at great pains to
point out that Tell, acting on his own in killing Gessler who forced him to
risk shooting his child in the apple-shot scene, is in conflict with the stated
aim of the insurgents:
Denn Raub begeht am allgemeinen Gut,
Wer selbst sich hilft in seiner eignen Sache. (ll. 146465)
Moreover, by isolating Tell in this way, Schiller invited the interpretation
that Tell, the killer (appropriating for his part the subversive rights of
man and law of nature), would be suspected of Jacobinism, as indeed he
was when Iffland voiced his concern in connection with the 1804 performance in Berlin (5:801). But would that not also make Tell a Jacobin
troubled by his conscience? And is it really a Jacobin whom the patriotic
Swiss cheer in the final scene? Would that not implicate the real conspirators
as well?
In the light of the abundant writing on Tell, it still remains unclear just
what Schiller intended by isolating Tell from the conspirators and what the
play gained from this decision. The various readings, taken together, unintentionally suggest more questions than answers: contractual rights of the
medieval tradition or the natural justice and droits de lhomme of 1789,
anti-Jacobinism (and anti-terreur) or Jacobinism, conservative revolution
or progressive revolution? And replacing the either-or by both-and only
muddies the waters of political philosophy and legal theory even more. But
should that not be a hint that the play ought to be read not in terms of theories of state and society but in terms of Tell himself so carefully
removed from close contact with the revolutionary event based on political
ideology? Schiller, the dramatist, shaper, and explorer of characters, is no
doubt more interested in emphasizing the human dimension of the historical event, with its philosophical implications forming no more than its
backdrop. Once one sees that not ideology but Tell is the crux, that is:
once one focuses on the human rather than the political or philosophical
dimension, the Schauspiel Wilhelm Tell ceases to be as exceptional in
Schillers oeuvre as it has long seemed to be and still is to many readers. For
the human dimension opens up that tragic perspective that is Schillers dramatic signet. This comes into view when one takes seriously the question

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posed earlier: does the revolution succeed, that is, is it good, also in the
sense that it leaves Tells moral and psychic harmony intact, ungetrbt,
unverstrt, unversehrt? Only if one approaches the play with this
question in mind the question that would have exercised the dramatist
renowned for his Menschengestaltung can one ultimately understand
why Tell is conceived to be a figure apart and, vice versa, how the drama as
a structured whole gains its meaning only in relation to this figure and its
inner conflicts. If, then, the old and perennially vexing question of the isolation of Tell from the revolution that bears his name is thought through
again from this point of view, an interesting answer might emerge.

2.
Schiller was aware that the isolation of the protagonist was at the core of
the play as a whole and that its structure depended on it. While still working on the manuscript, he wrote to Iffland on December 5, 1803: So
[. . .] steht der Tell selbst ziemlich fr sich in dem Stck, seine Sache ist
eine Privatsache, und bleibt es, bis sie am Schluss mit der ffentlichen
Sache zusammengreift (5:755). This, then, is the heart of the matter: just
how do the personal and public, the moral and the political, the events
around Tell and the uprising against the Hapsburg governors in their feudal fortresses interact, not pragmatically, but intellectually and thematically? This question has been at issue for two centuries: champions of a
glckliche Symbiose or unbroken fusion are confronted by those critics
who see an unrelieved tension between the two or even a breaking apart
amounting to a serious flaw (Koopmann 1988, 128 vs. Sharpe, 3078 and
Stahl 14142, 145). In other words: does Tells deed become a representative event in the course of the action, giving meaning to the entire play,
or doesnt it?
One thing is clear: the public matter would point in the general
direction of an intellectually undemanding Volksstck, while the personal matter suggests an approach Schiller was intimately familiar with:
thinking through a problem in the medium of character portrayal. Which
of the two had more weight in Schillers deliberations with himself? He
leaves no doubt about this in his remarks written in the margins of Ifflands
catalog of concerns on April 10, 1804. Here, he defends Tells soul-searching
monologue in act 4, which Iffland had found to be inappropriately loquacious, Tell being a self-admitted man of action, not words; Schiller confides: he would not have written the play if it had not been for this
particular scene (5:807). And, generalizing from that other soul-searching
scene, the dialogue with Parricida in the final act, he goes on to say that the
literary merit of the play (das poetisch groe) was to be found in dem
Gehalt der Situationen und in der tragischen Dignitt der Charactere.

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253

Wenn Tell und seine Familie nicht der intereanteste Gegenstand im


Stcke sind und bleiben, wenn man auf etwas anderes begieriger seyn knnte, als auf ihn, so wre die Absicht des Werks sehr verfehlt worden
(5:8089).
Yet how does Tell come to be the most interesting component of the
play? This question equally addresses the drama as a whole, for if the overall intention cannot be realized without a proper grasp of the most fascinating character, then Schiller is saying the Tell plot and the revolution
plot together make up the distinctive essence of the play; they must therefore be linked, related to each other.
Now the link that Schiller has in mind cannot be a pragmatic one of
dramatic plot construction, for that sort of connection he deliberately
avoided, contradicting the historical sources he used. The link must therefore be an intellectual or thematic connection that relates the Selbsthelfer
and the storm on the Uri Bastille. And those critics who, unlike others, do
not deny that such a connection exists, easily find this link in the operatic
finale, in the peoples celebration of their Helvetic freedom and of Tell as
its Stifter (creator). But is Tell now truly integrated into the community?
Can the supra-tragic harmony of the jubilant tableau concluding the play,
which at this point does seem to become a Festspiel of the purest water,
really be taken at face value, as it has been from early on through the 1959
Schiller jubilee to the late 1990s?2 If one sees a more or less uncomplicated
harmony at the end, one prejudges the nature of what is brought into harmony in the final scene: the revolutionary action of the Eidgenossen on the
one hand and Tells soul, on the other. Both are worth examination.
The revolutionary action is beautifully simple. It moves ahead, driven
by its own dynamics, gaining momentum from each new atrocity committed by the Hapsburg governors and the reactions it provokes. Wolfenschiessen attempts to rape Baumgartens wife; Baumgarten thereupon
slays him with the proverbial ax in the house. Landenberg gouges old
Melchthals eyes out in retribution for no misdeed of his, which drives his
son into the arms of the dissidents. Incidents such as these lead to the Rtli
conspiracy, which then brings about the destruction of the feudal strongholds (though sooner than originally planned because Rudenz urges them
on for reasons of his own). As this sketch of causes and effects may suggest,
Schiller is careful not to problematize the revolutionary action. The ideological niceties mentioned earlier restitution of agreed-upon rights or
institution of a radically new social contract or various amalgamations of
the two are submerged in the tumult of events and the noisy celebration
of victory.
The action around Tell, which does not get underway until almost
mid-play (significantly, after the Rtlischwur), is largely self-contained, and
its plot is simple. It moves naturally from the apple-shot episode to the
shot in the hohle Gasse and on to the grand finale that brings the two

254

KARL S. GUTHKE

strands of the action together as it celebrates the revolution and Tell, that
is to say, both the political and the personal Sache.
The rub is in the and. There would be a good fit if Tell could be
included in the general jubilation in the manner of a suitable rather than a
jarring prop, in other words, if Tell were of a piece with the rest of the
patriotic Swiss that crowd the stage. This, however, would imply that
Schiller would have abdicated as the shaper and portraitist of complex,
difficult human beings that he normally is as the shrewd and subtle
Menschenkenner that Max Kommerell had in mind as long ago as the 1930s
when he wrote: Keine Tat verwirklicht die Idee, ohne sie zugleich zu verleugnen. Mensch sein is nicht nur Handelnknnen, sondern Handelnmssen, Handelnmssen im Stoff der Welt mit sinnlichen Mitteln, und
also handelnde Untreue an der Idee. Menschsein ist die Tragdie der Mittel. He wrote this in an essay titled Schiller als Psychologe.3 If one reads
Tell as a triumphant exposition of harmony beyond tragedy, as has usually
been the case, certainly in German-speaking countries, Schiller, the doctor
of medicine of a period when psychology was not a discipline distinct from
surgery, as his dissertation amply demonstrates, would have failed to
practice his psychological skill in creating the protagonist of the play. And
sure enough, we are told that Tell cannot be grasped psychologically, as
he is a Heiliger der Natur as though that were a household term, like
terrorist or resistance fighter (Kaiser 1978, 201; Martini, 109; Ueding,
395). In this view, Tell is a saint, or a mythical dragon-slayer, or a political
messiah without moral scruples, in a word, a fairy-tale figure of superhuman dimensions fitted into a work that fuses idealistisches Geschichtsdrama und Kultgesang auf die alten Heroen into one play (Ueding, 394,
404). Such a Tell fits neatly, without jarring, into a Festspiel of political liberation. Grasping Tell this way surely preempts the need to consider
what Schiller might have meant when he said in a March 3, 1804 letter to
Karl August Bttiger that Wilhelm Tell was about psychologische
Motivierung (5:79798). If one ignores such a hint from the acknowledged master psychologist, one easily jumps to an idealization or canonization or blanket justification that transforms the assassin of Gessler into an
ideal personified: Tell becomes an apostle or a saint or indeed a savior, a
skularisierte Heilandsfigur, a Messiah who performs ein Wunder
Gottes (Karthaus, 23339) or even a paradigm of Schillers critique of
Kants indictment of Tyrannenmord (Thalheim, 234). What all such
interpretations miss is the human dimension of Wilhelm Tell, chamois
hunter, husband, father, and neighbor.
This is all the more surprising as Schiller goes out of his way, to the point
of dramatic implausibility, to demonstrate that Tells drama is first and foremost an inner one, a drama of moral soul-searching. Why else the anguished
monologue above the hohle Gasse and the somewhat contrived dialogue
with Parricida attempting self-justification? Wasnt taciturnity one of the

WILHELM TELL

255

defining characteristics of Tell, the man of action? No critic ignores these


two purple passages, but all too many conclude that they embroider an open
and shut case: Der Zuschauer soll berzeugt werden, da Tell einen
gerechten Mord begeht [oder beging] (Koopmann 1988, 134).4
And yet, Tell himself is deeply disturbed by his deed the deed
planned and the deed carried out. What troubles him is murder the
word Mord is repeated with conspicuous frequency which does not
make Tell the unproblematic hero required by the harmonizing readings of
Tell. The fact that in his moral deliberations with himself Tell invokes the
authority of an avenging god (l. 2596) surely does not validate his decision
to take retribution in his own hands as has been argued by Vander Meulen;
it certainly does not whitewash him any more than the faint echoes in his
Kssnacht monologue of idealistic notions of what is good and just. If one
argues along such lines, one ignores the manifest psychological focus of the
dramatist who leaves Tell no less troubled for all that, but that is what continental critics normally do.
However, things are different in countries where to this day the educated classes grow up with Shakespeare, who gives the benefit of his psychological acumen and sophistication, last not least, to his murderers.
From early on Schiller was dubbed the Shakespeare of the Germans. This
association may account for the fact that Anglo-Saxon interpretations of
the protagonist of Wilhelm Tell, unlike continental ones, tend to see in him
not the saint or the symbol of freedom or the hero of Swiss myth, one and
all beyond reproach and indeed beyond scrutiny, but a real human being
that allows and in fact requires a psychological approach (Lamport, 862).
Character analysis as practiced in such English-language studies is, however, only the first of two steps to be taken. The other one is to inquire
how a psychologically complex and interesting Tell contributes to the
functioning of the play in its entirety and thus to its overall structure. For
if Tell should turn out to be a fascinatingly problematized protagonist,
rather than a monolithic saint or hero, then Wilhelm Tell as a whole cannot
seriously be read as an idealistic Festspiel of freedom, political or otherwise.

3.
The key passages that psychological attention must focus on are those that
Schiller considered the intellectual core of the play: the monologue in
Kssnacht at the scene of the murder and the justificatory dialogue with
Parricida. It is in them that the inner drama expresses itself above all.
The monologue, as Schiller said in responding to Ifflands concerns
about its possible political subversiveness, is das beste im ganzen Stck:
Tells Empfindungszustand constitutes the emotional appeal of the play,
and that was, to repeat, what persuaded Schiller to write Tell in the first

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KARL S. GUTHKE

place (5:807). In the same response, this time addressing Tells exchange
with Parricida, he wrote the statement, already quoted, about Tell being
the interessanteste Gegenstand im Stck and crucial to the Absicht des
Werks. The two key passages are again coupled in Schillers letter to
Iffland of April 14, 1804: Auch Goethe ist mit mir berzeugt, da ohne
jenen Monolog und ohne die persnliche Erscheinung des Parricida der
Tell sich gar nicht htte denken lassen (5:770). Der Tell the play
would be unthinkable without these two decisive scenes, and its protagonist as well. How then does Tell reveal his inner drama in these two key
passages? The meditative prelude to the assassination of Gessler first:
Mach deine Rechnung mit dem Himmel Vogt,
Fort mut du, deine Uhr ist abgelaufen.
Ich lebte still und harmlos Das Gescho
War auf des Waldes Tiere nur gerichtet,
Meine Gedanken waren rein von Mord
Du hast aus meinem Frieden mich heraus
Geschreckt, in ghrend Drachengift hast du
Die Milch der frommen Denkart mir verwandelt,
Zum Ungeheuren hast du mich gewhnt
Wer sich des Kindes Haupt zum Ziele setzte,
Der kann auch treffen in das Herz des Feinds.
Die armen Kindlein, die unschuldigen,
Das treue Weib mu ich vor deiner Wut
Beschtzen, Landvogt Da, als ich den Bogenstrang
Anzog als mir die Hand erzitterte
Als du mit grausam teufelischer Lust
Mich zwangst, aufs Haupt des Kindes anzulegen
Als ich ohnmchtig flehend rang vor dir,
Damals gelobt ich mir in meinem Innern
Mit furchtbarm Eidschwur, den nur Gott gehrt,
Da meines nchsten Schusses erstes Ziel
Dein Herz sein sollte Was ich mir gelobt
In jenes Augenblickes Hllenqualen,
Ist eine heilge Schuld, ich will sie zahlen.
Du bist mein Herr und meines Kaisers Vogt,
Doch nicht der Kaiser htte sich erlaubt
Was du Er sandte dich in diese Lande,
Um Recht zu sprechen strenges, denn er zrnet
Doch nicht um mit der mrderischen Lust
Dich jedes Greuels straflos zu erfrechen,
Es lebt ein Gott zu strafen und zu rchen. (ll. 256696)

WILHELM TELL

257

Sie alle ziehen ihres Weges fort


An ihr Geschft und Meines ist der Mord!
setzt sich
Sonst wenn der Vater auszog, liebe Kinder,
Da war ein Freuen, wenn er wieder kam,
Denn niemals kehrt er heim, er bracht euch etwas,
Wars eine schne Alpenblume, wars
Ein seltner Vogel oder Ammonshorn,
Wie es der Wandrer findet auf den Bergen
Jetzt geht er einem andern Waidwerk nach,
Am wilden Weg sitzt er mit Mordgedanken,
Des Feindes Leben ists, worauf er lauert.
Und doch an euch nur denkt er, lieben Kinder,
Auch jetzt Euch zu verteidgen, eure holde Unschuld
Zu schtzen vor der Rache des Tyrannen
Will er zum Morde jetzt den Bogen spannen! (ll. 26202634)
Hier gilt es einen kstlicheren Preis,
Das Herz des Todfeinds, der mich will verderben. (ll. 264243)
Es kann der Frmmste nicht im Frieden bleiben,
Wenn es dem bsen Nachbar nicht gefllt. (ll. 268283)
Not surprisingly or should we by now say, surprisingly? audiences more attuned to idealization than to awareness of problematical
accents in Schillers character portrayal have loyally accepted this selfjustification without suspecting the latent guilt feelings of qui sexcuse.5 But
doesnt the situation present Tell, on the face of it, as a murderer, a murderer who ambushes his victim at that? Mord is what disturbs Tell. Does
the purpose, be it a personal, moral, or political one, sanctify the means?
Perhaps taking his cue from a commoner on the Rtli (Schrecklich
immer, / Auch in gerechter Sache ist Gewalt ll. 132021), W. G. Moore,
who was the first to have an eye for the problematic nature of this scene,
noted: Idealism prompts him to action which is incompatible with an idealistic view of things (287). That would certainly be an issue familiar to
Schiller. Karl Moor was in a comparable predicament, as were Verrina,
Posa, and Joan of Arc: the idealists with blood on their hands who become
painfully aware that in real life, where eng im Raume stoen sich die
Sachen, good intentions and evil means grate on each other. A conflict
bearing the seeds of tragedy, certainly; but is it realized in the text of the
play? Only if the Menschenkenner turned dramatist would give us to understand that Tell, who otherwise calls himself a man of action rather than
thought (wr ich besonnen, hie ich nicht der Tell, l. 1872), has an
awareness of his own unresolved moral and intellectual dilemma indeed

258

KARL S. GUTHKE

a tragic self-awareness, as has been said, without offering textual documentation (McKay, 112). On the other hand, recent readings persist in
maintaining equally airily that no moral scruple is evident in the monologue above the hohle Gasse: having accepted his role as the messiah
of the country in the apple-shot scene, Tell merely reconfirms this mission
before he actually carries it out (Ueding, 404, 405, 407, 414). What does
the text itself reveal? Does Tell feel guilty?
At first glance, the passage at issue is a speech of self-justification and
self-exoneration. If one reads it with the specialized knowledge of the
forensic trial lawyer, one recognizes here as well as in the Parricida scene a
formal schema of legalistic argumentation with all the usual professional
ruses, feints, or subterfuges. This would then prompt the conclusion that
the speaker knows that he is guilty and in effect confesses his guilt. And
the reason why this self-convicted murderer gives himself up only to the
justice of his own conscience, rather than that of a court of law, as Karl
Moor did, seems equally clear from such a legalistic point of view: the
patriotic figurehead cannot let the commonwealth down (Richards; see
also Ryder). In this interpretation, the text is certainly read closely (which
is not always the case), but it is read with the eyes of a juridical specialist
whom Schiller, who wrote Tell fr das ganze Publikum, could not have
had in mind. The legal layman will hardly be convinced that this is the
proper way of convicting the defendant of guilt-feelings and consequently
of guilt; he will not be familiar with and will not discern in Tells own
words an alleged procedurally correct duel of the prosecution and the
defense taking the form of Tells conflicted lawyerly strategy of repeated
self-incrimination followed by self-defense (for instance: Tell then applies
the rule of utra lex potentior [Richards, 482]).
Taken on its own human terms, without recourse to such legalistic
maneuvering, the Kssnacht monologue, through its repeated insistence
on the word Mord, reveals all the more persuasively Tells latent but
nonetheless real feelings of guilt, his pangs of conscience, his self-doubt,
and even his despair, indeed his disbelief in his own defense (Best, 303;
Mainland 1968, lviii). This view gains even more plausibility if one sees the
monologue from the perspective of the Rtli scene and the Parricida scene.
For in the Rtli scene the very idea of murdering Gessler was painstakingly
avoided: Die Zeit bringt Rat. Erwartets in Geduld (l. 1437); and in the
later scene Tell draws the line between himself and the regicide motivated
by personal ambition and revenge with the lines: Gemordet / Hast du,
ich hab mein teuerstes verteidigt (ll. 318384) which amounts to a
self-acquittal from what so deeply troubles his conscience in the Kssnacht
monologue: Mord.
Whether we are willing to take the self-acquittal in the Parricida scene
at face value and therefore as a given of the play or not, the Kssnacht
monologue points to Tells awareness of guilt (Best, 297; Mainland 1968,

WILHELM TELL

259

lxvii). Even that may still be too legalistic a term. What is undeniable, however (as Mainland in particular has insisted, though he does speak of Tells
consciousness of guilt), is the troubled and painful state of mind of this
perfectly ordinary member of the community as he is suddenly faced with
abandoning his principles as murder becomes inevitable.6 The milk of
human kindness has turned into Drachengift (ll. 257273). Tell is terrified by himself, by what he is about to do, and in retrospect also by what
he did in Altdorf a deed that now inexorably demands that he follow
through: Wer sich des Kindes Haupt zum Ziele setzte, / Der kann auch
treffen in das Herz des Feinds (ll. 257576). Tell now suffers the same
Hllenqualen he experienced when he was about to shoot the apple off
his sons head (l. 2588), but not just because he remembers that moment
and now relives it. For the present predicament carries its own moral
anguish: to protect his children from similar atrocities that he can firmly
count on in the future (ll. 263134) Tell now believes that he has to commit a deed that is contrary to his nature and to all he considers human. He
does, to be sure, see himself as the executor of Gods will, of Gods
revenge even (l. 2596), but his anguish is no less terrible for that (l.
2604). We may remember the line spoken on the Rtli: schrecklich
immer / Auch in gerechter Sache ist Gewalt (ll. 132021). All the more
surprising is the conventional view that Tells monologue amounts to a
manifest justification of his personal deed and of the political cause at the
same time. For though speaking as the defender of the family, as a father
and a husband in this monologue, it is commonly argued that Tell also
realizes the political implications of his personal cause: in protecting the
family, he is protecting the natural and original cell of all social life and
thereby the order of the political community.
This is, of course, how Tell professes to see it after the fact: Diese
Hand / [. . .] / Hat euch verteidigt und das Land (l. 3143); and it fits
well with the ethos of the Rtli conspirators.7 But Tell is not one of them!
Shouldnt that give us pause? It is hard to see that Tell is convinced of the
impeccable dignity of what he is about to do and that he emerges from his
emotional ordeal as a hero: Tells Selbstverstndnis in diesem hchsten
Augenblick der Entscheidung konvergiert endgltig mit dem Bild, das sich
die anderen schon lngst von ihm gemacht haben, namely the image of
the just (Ueding, 4045, 414). What transpires in the monologue the
best part of the entire play, we recall is not so much exoneration (which
comes into play only on the surface and which Schiller did not identify as
the function of the monologue) as the agony: the irresolvable emotional
dilemma that offers no clear-cut moral justification to Tell and yet carries
the moral demand of action. The theme of his speech is the curse of the
good deed. To do it, Tell at last takes up his crossbow zum Morde jetzt
(l. 2634) in this decisive moment he pronounces the word that has been
troubling him so unrelentingly, and still is. Why else, after the monologue

260

KARL S. GUTHKE

but before the release of the arrow, Tells words in response to the news of
a landslide in the canton of Glarus: Wanken auch / Die Berge selbst? Es
steht nichts fest auf Erden (ll. 266667). Tells resolution to kill Gessler is
unshaken from the beginning of the monologue. What is shaken is his
peace of mind, and it remains so until the end of the play.
Nonetheless, in the Parricida scene, Tell does come close to selfjustification. He claims reine Hnde (l. 3180) and the gerechte Notwehr
eines Vaters: Hast du der Kinder liebes Haupt verteidigt? (ll. 317677),
he scolds Parricida. A guter Mensch himself, he curses the murderer (ll.
3171, 318184). But does this amount to a demonstration of das Nothwendige und Rechtliche der Selbsthilfe in einem streng bestimmten Fall
(5:808) as Schiller put it himself? This interpretation is common to this
day. It may convince Parricida, but does it convince the spectator the
spectator who is not in the mood for celebratory performance of patriotic
virtue or the spectator who remembers that Schiller wrote the just-quoted
words in an effort to appease Ifflands concern about what might be taken
as carte blanche for political assassination? And what about the word that
Schiller, the superb craftsman, now has Tell throw at Parricida, the word
that had disturbed Tell so much in the monologue: Mrder? Karl Moor,
who is in many ways comparable, in his ultimate confrontation with himself
put his rhetoric in the service of self-accusation. Tell puts his in the service
of self-defense and doesnt he protest too much, thereby confirming,
according to the psychological rule of thumb, what he denies, namely that
his deed is at all comparable with Parricidas. As early as 1949 Ludwig
Kahn argued against the consensus:
In fact, once we risk reading a meaning into Schiller that he certainly
would have repudiated (had he been conscious of it), we may attribute to
him a semiconscious apprehension as to the moral rectitude of his hero.
Why else the fifth act with the scene of Tells self-justification? And does
not Tell protest a little too much in this scene? Does not the very protestation betray the anxiety of the man who terribly much wants to be (but
is not quite) sure that his hands are unsullied? Just before Tell had sent off
the arrow that killed Gessler, he himself had spoken of his deed as murder.
And if, as we said above, the task to which Tell is called is distasteful
and repulsive to him, it is so in no small degree because of its moral
opprobrium.8

This reading is not documented by textual references, and Kahn undermines his argument by suggesting that Schiller would have rejected it himself. Also, no dramatis persona in the play sees it that way, thus giving us a
hint (in contrast to Schillers frequent practice). But are there no hints in
Tells own words to Parricida that might suggest Tells latent awareness of
guilt, just as was the case in the earlier monologue? In other words, is the
point of this scene really the exoneration and justification of Tell, or is his

WILHELM TELL

261

attempted self-justification designed to direct the spectators attention


elsewhere?
In the face of Tells harsh rejection of the regicide and parricide from
the position of his own Unschuld (l. 3188), one hesitates to mobilize
the truism that one condemns a perceived fault in others all the more
vehemently as one knows it to be ones own. And yet how else to explain
the sudden change in Tells tune when Parricida responds to this rejection
with the words: So kann ich, and so will ich nicht mehr leben! (l. 3189)?
Doesnt this touch a sympathetic chord in Tell himself? For Tells immediate reaction is:
Und doch erbarmt mich deiner Gott des Himmels!
So jung, von solchem adelichen Stamm,
Der Enkel Rudolphs, meines Herrn und Kaisers,
Als Mrder flchtig, hier an meiner Schwelle,
Des armen Mannes, flehend und verzweifelnd
verhllt sich das Gesicht (l. 319094)
Is this pity for the murderer the murderer whom Tell had seen in
himself in the monologue preceding the assassination of Gessler, not once
but repeatedly? Of course it is, but does Tell not also perceive himself in
Parricida, the fugitive murderer, despite the difference in motivation that
he belabors?9 More concretely, why does he cover his face as he speaks
these words? Schiller grew up in the tradition of European opera; its repertoire of gestures was familiar to him since Die Ruber at the latest.10 Covering the face does not signal pity, forgiveness, or innocence; a dramatis
persona exhibiting those qualities may show his face; there is no shame in
practicing the Christian virtues par excellence. It is the person aware of his
guilt or shortcoming that covers his face, depriving it of the light of day
and the glances of others that would reveal his guilt: not wanting to see is
the psychological metaphor of not wanting to be seen. Schiller often uses
this particular gesture,11 and in Tell he uses it again a little later to accompany words spoken by Parricida, making us wonder whether Parricida is so
different from Tell after all:
PARRICIDA verhllt sich: Wehe mir!
Ich darf nicht weilen bei den Glcklichen. (l. 327374)
A further detail is equally telling. When Parricida asks Tell to help him
escape, one might expect that Tell, who is normally so unbesonnen in the
hour of need, would spontaneously offer a helping hand. But he does not:
Kann ich euch helfen? Kanns ein Mensch der Snde?
Doch stehet auf Was ihr auch grliches

262

KARL S. GUTHKE

Verbt Ihr seid ein Mensch Ich bin es auch


Vom Tell soll keiner ungetrstet scheiden
Was ich vermag, das will ich tun. (ll. 322226)
Why Mensch der Snde? It is unlikely that this is merely a reference
to the sinfulness that is the lot of Christendom; Tell is no preacher. Instead,
does it dawn on him that his own deed, while surely done with different,
indeed with the best of motivations, is at bottom a transgression of Gods
command? Remember how only shortly before, his wife Hedwig had
received her husband returning in a flush of triumph from the hohle
Gasse:
HEDWIG
TELL
HEDWIG

O Tell! Tell!
tritt zurck, lt seine Hand los.
Was erschreckt dich, liebes Weib?
Wie wie kommst du mir wieder? Diese Hand
Darf ich sie fassen? Diese Hand O Gott!
(ll. 314042)

There is no textual evidence for the recent singular view that Hedwigs
revulsion refers to the hand that shot at their son (Schweitzer, 257).
Tells hand at this moment is the hand of a murderer, even if his victim was
Gessler. Calling himself a man of sin, he expresses his solidarity with Parricida, his shared humanity: Ihr seid ein Mensch Ich bin es auch
(l. 3224). Unless we want to take this as a Christian banality, for which
there is no reason in a play devoid of specific Christian ethos, we should
hear homo sum and its corollary: Nil humanum a me alienum puto,
with humanum unmistakably meaning human weakness, the lack of moral
perfection in non-religious terms. This, then, is what is hinted at by Tells
astonishing identification with Parricida, the murderer.12 Hence Tells
humility in the final moments of this scene.
Keeping in mind these observations on the language of gesture and of
allusion, the spectator will also find it plausible that in showing Parricida
the way to Rome (and repentance), Tell also has in mind his own way from
guilt or sin to forgiveness.13 Speaking to Parricida of his hoped-for Ruh,
of his Reuetrnen, and his Schuld (ll. 3231, 3251), Tell gives voice to
his own troubled conscience. Symbolic language reinforces this point. Up
to now, Tell has never been seen without his crossbow, but now we hear
that he has placed the instrument of murder in a heilge Sttte; it will
never be seen again (ll. 313738). It is hard to see how this is to be a hint
that Tell is able from now on Schuld in Unschuld zu erleben (Koopmann 1988, 137) or that he has regained his peace of mind (Schweitzer,
262) or that the solitary hunter has become fully integrated into society
(Kaufmann, 143; Ockenden, 41). One recent critic has even surmised that

WILHELM TELL

263

Tell, far from giving up his pre-civilized existence symbolized by the crossbow, will return to his former life as a hunter, since a self-respecting
hunter would own several cross-bows (Schweitzer, 259, 262). On the
contrary, as Tell deprives himself of the tool of his Mordtat, he also
deprives himself of the innocence whose tool the crossbow had been
before the deed. This symbolic detail, invented by Schiller without any
prompting by his sources, points to what has been hinted at by the other
dramatic devices mentioned earlier: Tells unresolved moral dilemma, the
unrelieved agony of his conscience.

4.
Tells dialogue with Parricida, which lifts his suppressed unease about his
own similar yet different deed into the twilight of his consciousness, is
interrupted by the arrival of the representatives of the cantons eager to
honor and glorify Tell as the savior of their country and their freedom.
Tell reacts with silence to their jubilant ovations. Could this possibly be
read as Schiller allowing his hero to savor his triumph (Lamport, 868),
to enjoy his victory (Ueding, 395)? Or doesnt Tells silence rather point
to the fact that he is still suffering those pangs of his conscience, however
dull and inarticulate, which suggested themselves only minutes earlier?
Doesnt the jubilation (Lautes Frohlocken) rather confirm his newfound
doubt about his really being ein guter Mensch (l. 3171)?14 This would
of course imply that Schiller was not merely writing a popular Festspiel, a
celebratory Volksstck, but was also continuing to explore the vein of
tragic character portrayal that he had been pursuing throughout his career
as a dramatist.
But, to return to our earlier question, why juxtapose the Tell plot and
the uprising of the people? Why keep the protagonist so deliberately solitary, isolated from his compatriots, contrary to what Schiller had found in
his historical sources? The significance of the juxtaposition would be not so
much a political one (the political agent and the political will of the people
in ideal harmony) as a dramaturgical one: one that suits Schillers inclination to portray a problematic character and also brings into full view the
Sinnstruktur of the entire play as a work of art and of thought. The subtitle
of Tell notwithstanding, this Sinnstruktur would not be that of a Schauspiel culminating in festive exuberance. Instead, it suggests that the peoples revolution is just and worth celebrating but that it succeeds only at
a price. The price is paid by Tell. The happiness or redemption of the people who may not deserve it any more than the rabble in Fiesko since none
of them stood by Tell in the hour of need in Altdorf, as Hedwig notes bitterly (ll. 236970) is achieved, and could only be achieved, through the
undiminished anguish of the bringer of redemption, through his personal

264

KARL S. GUTHKE

tragedy (Guthke, 304; Luserke, 819, 823). Tell suffers in silence; patriotic
rejoicing drowns out the torments of his conscience, which is all the more
troubled as he has no one with whom to share his anguish. Apart and
lonely, he is a broken man. It must needs be that [salvation, rather than the
biblical offences] come; but woe to that man by whom [it] cometh
(Matthew 18:7). Realizing this, we look back in wonderment to readings
common in simpler and easier times. Here is Ludwig Bellermann in 1905
(the year of a Schiller jubilee): So tiefe Blicke ins innerste Geheimnis der
Menschennatur, wie fast all brigen Stcke Schillers, lt [Wilhelm Tell] uns
nicht tun.15 On the contrary, while heartily joining in the celebration of
the good deed, Schiller was also acutely aware that there is one who has to
bear its curse. It is this awareness that allowed him to succeed in creating
the groe Tragdie that he had hoped to write (5:752).

Notes
1

References in this essay to Schillers works are to the Frankfurter Ausgabe, Werke
und Briefe (Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1988), volume 5. Here: 5:750, 751,
754. Subsequent references are in parentheses in the text by volume and page
number. References following quotations or paraphrases from Tell are to line
numbers.

2
Ockenden, 41; Schweitzer, 26162, among many others. This view is modified
somewhat by Herbst, 44041. For a critical discussion of this reading, see Guthke,
291 n. 25.
3

Max Kommerell, Geist und Buchstabe der Dichtung, 3rd ed. (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1944), 187.

Cf. Stahl, 144; Lamport, 866; Luserke, 823; Schweitzer, 26162.

Moore, 280, 283: Is there in great drama another instance of a man so idealized,
so brave, laconic, faithful, honourable, as the hero of this play? So thoroughly
has the author justified him that the morality of his deed has been hardly discussed. Moore himself sees the personal tragedy of the situation, but the links of
his analysis with the text are too tenuous to carry conviction.
6

I see little point in the observation that Tell, as a hunter, is a member of a wild,
primitive, pre-civilized world who after the deed, when he relinquishes his crossbow rises to the level of civilized society (Ockenden, 4041).

7
ll. 268283; 279394; 128788; cf. 318184; for the interpretation described
here, see Lamport, 865; Koopmann, 1977, vol. 1, 86; v. Wiese, 77275: Tell the
Gerechte. Others, of course, prefer to see an act of personal revenge in Tells
slaying of Gessler (e.g., Ryder).
8

Ludwig W. Kahn, Freedom An Existentialist and an Idealist View, PMLA 64


(1949): 13.

9
It is unreasonable to suppose that at this stage in his dramatic career Schiller
would invent the long tirades of the scene merely so that the audience might be

WILHELM TELL

265

shown the difference between Tells deed and Parricidas. Yet this seems to be all
that countless audiences have been advised to look for. It is odd that so many commentators have overlooked the connection between protestations which even they
regard as excessive in the Parricida scene and the prominence of the word Mord
in the monologue. Just as the humiliation of Tell and that of Gessler are causally
related, so there is here a linking of Tells deed with that of Johannes, which is dramatically and humanly far more impressive than any pointing of a moral or any
demonstration of a political principle (Mainland, 1968, lxiii).
10

Peter Michelsen, Der Bruch mit der Vater-Welt: Studien zu Schillers Rubern
(Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1979), 963. See also FA 8:17374.

11

Fiesko, V, 14; Don Carlos, following ll. 4713, 4812, 4903, 5195, 5670, 5689;
Wallensteins Tod, following ll. 1660; Die Braut von Messina, following ll. 2430. See
also Gerhard Kluge, ber die Notwendigkeit der Kommentierung kleinerer
Regie- und Spielanwesungen in Schillers frhen Dramen, editio 3 (1989), 9097.

12

Cf. Mainland, 1968, lxv: same guilt.

13

Richards, 484: Tell has confessed to equal guilt; Mainland, 1968, lxvlxvi;
Ryder, 501. Ueding, 415, reads the directions to Parricida as implying that Tells
path is a different one. For a rejection of the view that Tell is guilty and implicitly
confesses his guilt, see also Herbst, 437, and Schweitzer, 26162.

14

Best, 305; McKay, 112; Mainland, lxix; Richards, 484.

15

Ludwig Bellermann, Schillers Dramen, vol. 3, 3rd ed. (Berlin: Weidmann, 1905),
133. For a similar view, expressed in 1999, see Schweitzer, 262: Tell is not a tragic
figure, does not lose his peace of mind, makes no sacrifice, there is no Fluch
der guten Tat.

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Schillers Wilhelm Tell. Goethe: Neue Folge des Jahrbuchs der GoetheGesellschaft (1956): 21657.
Ueding, Gert. Wilhelm Tell. In Schillers Dramen, ed. Walter Hinderer,
385422. Stuttgart: Reclam, 1992.
Vander Meulen, Ross. The Theological Texture of Schillers Wilhelm Tell.
Germanic Review 53 (1978): 5662.
Wiese, Benno von. Friedrich Schiller. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1959.

Schillers Legacy

The Reception of Schiller


in the Twentieth Century
Wulf Koepke

Schiller, Nationaldichter

URING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, Schillers work and the memory of


the man and writer took on increasing significance for the German
nation. He became one of the leading symbols of the German Kulturnation, and his statues were monuments of and for the Germans and
Germany everywhere, not least in the United States. This veneration
became most pronounced in 1848 and led to the exuberant festivities of
1859 the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth when Schiller was
celebrated as the herald of the forthcoming German nation and definitively
established as a national icon.
In its function as Bildungstheater and as representation of the national
ideal, the German theater put Schillers plays in first place. However, the
concept of history in Schillers plays and the style of their performances also
led to his identification with norms of classicism and artificiality. As a result,
modernizing trends that strove for a more realistic drama took aim at Schiller
as a major obstacle. Georg Bchner is the forerunner of this opposition, followed by the naturalists, primarily Gerhart Hauptmann, and, in the early
twentieth century, Bertolt Brecht. This meant that Schiller was admired and
used politically for festive occasions, but criticized and opposed by successive
young generations who, nevertheless, found much to their liking in Schillers
rebellious early plays. As the object of academic scholarship he was valued as
one of the German Classics, yet through his primary medium, the theater,
his texts remained vigorous in the non-academic sphere. His plays and
poems served as texts in German schools. As a result, numerous quotations
from Schillers works, including parodies, entered the daily language.
After German cultural and political unity had been achieved, Schiller
retained the aura of herald of the German nation despite the scarcity of
textual references to German history in his works. His protagonists, like
Wilhelm Tell and Jeanne dArc, fight and die for their nation, but it is
never the German nation. It takes a tour de force to make Schillers
Wallenstein into a champion for German unity.

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WULF KOEPKE

It is remarkable, though, that through much of the twentieth century,


the image of Schiller the writer remained intact for national celebrations,
and in all of the changing political systems and contexts. Schiller commemorations punctuated the century, beginning in 1905, the centenary of
Schillers death. Since there was no genuine anniversary relating to Schiller
after 1933, the Nazis created a Schiller anniversary in 1934. In 1955 and
1959 (the two-hundredth anniversary of Schillers birth), the time came
for separate celebrations in East and West Germany, with East Germany
exploiting the advantage of the locations of Weimar and Jena for their
political advantage, in order to claim the heritage of German Klassik.
Events of minor importance took place in 1984. The attention given to the
anniversaries of 1905, 1909, 1955, and 1959 in Germany and elsewhere
rivaled the Goethe commemorations of 1932 and 1949 whereas the
Goethe year of 1999 might be called a year of non-commemoration.
What will the Schiller Year of 2005 bring?
While such commemorations accentuate the high symbolic and political value of a figure like Friedrich Schiller, they also call into question the
reality of Schillers reception by a broader public. Is it his texts that are
remembered, or has Schiller become nothing but a dead monument that
does not necessarily come to life through readings in the Gymnasium and
through theater performances? In the 1940 film Friedrich Schiller Der
Triumph eines Genies, the youthful Schiller of the Karlsschule rebelled
against the duke and his strict discipline, but this film is now forgotten.
Theater directors struggle with the perennial problem of how to bring the
dead classics back to life. How much modernizing is useful or necessary?
Could it be that a modernized version loses on both ends? It can never be
really contemporary, and there may not be much Schiller left in it. The
fact remains, however, that at least some of Schillers plays, especially
Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love, 1784), turn out to be among the
most enduring of German classic plays for todays audiences.
As Schiller is primarily remembered for his plays, their relevance for
our time has to be demonstrated on the stage: what can we at the beginning of the twenty-first century gain from them? Schillers reception and
reputation can never rest on academic investigations and presentations, as
searching and meaningful as they may be. His texts have to face a general
public of theatergoers and readers. A sketch of Schillers reception in the
twentieth century must consider these different perspectives: Schiller as a
classic in the universities and schools; Schiller and his general readership;
Schiller, the representative writer and poet in the political arena of a radically changing Germany; and, last but not least, Schiller in the repertoire of
the theaters.
Schiller was considered primarily a German writer, and his significance extends mainly to the German-speaking countries; we need only to
be reminded of the role that his Wilhelm Tell (1804) played in Switzerland.

THE RECEPTION OF SCHILLER IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

273

At times, his fame reached beyond the borders of the German-speaking


regions, albeit with inevitable misunderstandings. We know that because of
Die Ruber (The Robbers, 1781) the French Revolution celebrated him as
a poet of freedom. This is also how Schiller was received elsewhere, for
instance in Russia and by the nationalist movements of the nineteenth century in Poland, Italy, and Spain. For the prominent French author of the
seminal book De lAllemagne (On Germany, 1813), Madame de Stal,
Schiller was the exemplary German poet-thinker. Thomas Carlyle devoted a
long biography to him, celebrating him as a genius who overcame adversity.
In the United States, Schiller remained an icon for German-Americans, and
monuments of him were built during the nineteenth century and up until
the First World War in cities that had large numbers of German immigrants.
However, Schiller did not, like Goethe, represent Germanys cosmopolitan
contribution to world literature, but instead a more specifically German
idealism. It is a telling symptom for this perception that the cosmopolitan
text of Beethovens Ninth Symphony (An die Freude [Ode to Joy],
1785), is often attributed to Goethe instead of its true author, Schiller.

The Celebrations of 1905 and 1909


The one-hundredth anniversary of Schillers death on May 9, 1905 was the
occasion for countless speeches and journalistic articles, but it carried with
it a good deal of sober reflection on the passage of time since 1859, as well
as the fact that, to a considerable degree, Schillers unequaled popularity
had faded. It seemed that Schiller was less familiar to the young generation
than he had been to previous generations. It also became clear that the
image of Schiller depended largely on ones political persuasion. Kurt
Eisner and Franz Mehring defended the real Schiller from the socialist
perspective against a century of reactionary distortions. Heute, ein
Jahrhundert nach dem Tode des Dichters preist den Rebellen und Republikaner die ekle Gemeinschaft der Byzantiner (Eisner; Oellers, 1966, 139).
Wo steckt denn nur eigentlich die Schwierigkeit, Schillers historische
Erscheinung zu begreifen? Sie steckt in dem Walle der Tradition, womit
sich die brgerliche Klasse die Gestalt des Dichters verbaut hat (Mehring,
quoted in Oellers, 155). Mehring, author of the Lessing-Legende (1893),
continues: hnlich wie um Lessing hat sich auch um Schiller eine ganze
Legende gewoben (Oellers, 155). The bourgeois image of Schiller is characterized by a cheapening of the aesthetic qualities of his works and by the
distortion of his political and philosophical views. Rosa Luxemburg, in her
review of Mehrings book, makes two points: Schillers Dichtung ist nicht
blo zum ehernen Bestand der deutschen klassischen Literatur, sondern
auch zum geistigen Hausschatz speziell des aufgeklrten kmpfenden
Proletariats geworden (Oellers, 162); but, she reminds her readers and

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comrades, it is not enough to look for suitable quotes and create a Schiller
that is to ones own liking. The proletariat must go beyond that. Now is
the time to understand cultural and political phenomena objectively in light
of their historical conditions. It is not the time to celebrate Schiller, but to
arrive at a critical understanding of his texts. For Luxemburg, there was a
timely parallel between the cooption of Schiller by the bourgeoisie and
revisionist readings of Karl Marx, in opposition to which she attempted to
guide the proletariat to a better appreciation of Marxs revolutionary theories. Likewise, she contended that instead of political appropriation, a critical reading of Schiller, the idealist, was needed, but held that this could not
be done without reading Karl Marx.
Commemorations of Schiller brought to the surface the need for a
total re-evaluation of the German cultural heritage so that it would make
sense to the proletarian class but, equally, address the need for keeping the
revolutionary Marxist attitude, in the spirit of Schiller the revolutionary. It
was Kurt Eisner in particular who pointed out how damaging the social climate in Weimar and Jena was for Schiller and that he was unable to recognize the French Revolution as the decisive event in human history that is
was. Instead, Schiller looked the other way and formulated letters on aesthetic education.
Eisner, Mehring, Kautsky, and Luxemburg claimed emphatically the
right of the proletariat to the classical heritage. Schiller was not a socialist;
yet he was seen as a progressive spirit in his own epoch who opposed
nationalism and the power of the churches and their dogmatism. If he did
not recognize the meaning of the French Revolution, he kept fighting,
nevertheless, for freedom and justice and against the first signs of exploitative capitalism (Jonas, ed., Schiller-Debatte; Hagen).
It goes without saying that the majority of voices of 1905 Germany
did not agree with this view. But Adolf Drrfu, a Lutheran minister, saw
the strong participation of the working class and their publications in the
Schiller anniversary year as a new aspect of Schillers Volkstmlichkeit
(quoted in Oellers, 23640). The tenor of the socialist voices of 1905 was,
with few variations, continued in 1955 in the speeches in the German
Democratic Republic (Schiller in unserer Zeit).
Inevitably, comparisons were drawn between the unforgettable celebrations of 1859 and the reflections on Schiller Today in 1905. In the meantime, literary trends, naturalism in particular, had caused a considerable
distance between contemporary writers and Schiller. The emphasis on
Schiller texts in the Gymnasium was a mixed blessing. Max Liebermann, for
instance, starts his answer to Julius Harts survey in Literarisches Echo with
this phrase: Nachdem mir das Gymnasium Schiller so viel als mglich
verekelt hatte . . . (Oellers, 1966, 169). In his introduction (16568),
Hart points to the wide spectrum of attitudes among the writers, art historians, and artists who had been surveyed, and articulates his own initial

THE RECEPTION OF SCHILLER IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

275

skepticism: Aber heute, was soll da Schiller als Nationalheld bedeuten?


(165) Harts question indicates how difficult it was to read Schiller as one
of the classical writers and not see him as a mythological figure and admire
or oppose him for supraliterary merits. Hart sees a distinct value in the commemoration of 1905: Vor allem jedoch liegt der Wirkungswert dieses
Gedenktages, wie mir scheint, darin, da er fr die fhrenden Geister ein
Anla ist, sich ber ihre Stellung zu Schiller deutlich klar zu werden (166).
In 1905, the fhrenden Geister felt a need, if not an obligation, to clarify
their attitude toward Schiller and, of course, Goethe. The GoetheSchiller connection and a comparison of the two is a dominant theme in all
of the speeches. Konrad Burdachs Schiller-Rede (Oellers, 184202) is
primarily a recounting of the relationship between the two poets and an
implicit and, at times, explicit comparison. The same can be said of Richard
M. Meyerss speech Schiller der Heros der Deutschen (Oellers, 18083).
Since Goethes lifetime the question had been raised who the greater writer
of them was. Goethe reacted somewhat testily to Eckermann that the Germans should be happy to have had both of them. The Doppel-Denkmal
by Rietschel that was erected in Weimar in 1857 was part of the great
Schiller enthusiasm of the mid-nineteenth century that symbolized their
friendship and alliance. The idea of the Dioskuren was dominant around
1905, so that Goethe and Schiller, and not Goethe or Schiller was stressed
by the speakers. One of the texts frequently mentioned was the correspondence between Schiller and Goethe, which Goethe had edited in 1828/29.
In contrast to Goethe, however, the speakers noted Schillers enormous popularity and the cooling period later in the century, while
Goethes fame and prestige seemed to remain constant. The reasons for
some alienation from Schiller were related to his very popularity. One
could call it over-saturation. Schiller was everywhere: in the schools, on the
stage, in speeches for all festive occasions. Schiller was also associated with
the idea of Humanitt in the cosmopolitan sense, which seemed outdated
in an age of fierce nationalism.
In the attempt to save Schiller for the nation, the speakers began to
discover new features in his life and work. The widespread observation that
Schillers plays were too theatrical led to the criticism that he did not
always motivate the actions carefully enough. In the age of Ibsen and
Hauptmann with their psychological tragedies, this was an understandable
criticism. Hugo von Hofmannsthal put it this way: Seine [Schillers]
Werke bei all ihrem Glanz und ihrer szenischen Schlagkraft erscheinen
uns manchmal fast provisorisch und wie berhastet (Oellers, 231). The
inevitable comparison with Goethes characters leads Hofmannsthal back
to the point of departure of most of the speakers: Schillers significance
transcends aesthetic criteria: . . . aber es wird in dem Gebrauch, den er
von ihr [der Sprache] macht, etwas Hheres sehr groartig fhlbar: ein
Auftrieb, an dem sich die Tiefe der Nation erkennen lt (Oellers, 231).

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WULF KOEPKE

Hofmannsthal realizes, auf wie gefhrlichen Boden ich mich begebe


(Oellers, 231) by defining die Gre eines Knstlers as something
beyond his work, but this is precisely the point.
A somewhat surprising point recurring in speeches, for instance by
Erich Schmidt, the Grogermanist of the day, is the emphasis on Schillers
aristocratic nature, his Adel as a person, and his elitist worldview, a point
that had already been made by Goethe. Goethes views on Schiller, as
reported by Eckermann, are an abundant source for all speakers and prove
beyond the shadow of a doubt how much Germanistik was in fact
Goethe-Philologie. In his ironic summary of the Schiller celebrations,
Oscar Bie defines the situation when he states, da die Menge und der
grte Teil der Gebildeten irgendeine Religion ntig hat, also auch
religise Feste (Oellers, 233). Celebrating somebody like Schiller is not
the worst of all possible religions. It is pure faith. Der Glauben ist die
Gewhr dafr, da der Magen noch unter dem Kopf sitzt, und die groen
Gefhle, die der Aristokrat schweigend verehrt, sperren im Volk den Mund
gar weit auf (Oellers, 233). What people say about Schiller, he contends,
especially as a Nationaldichter and a praeceptor Germaniae, is a total misunderstanding. But that would seem to be inevitable.
After the enormous energy spent on the 1905 anniversary, the 1909
anniversary that took place 150 years after Schillers birth was more muted.
Alfred Kerrs sarcastic commentary acknowledged once again: Der
Zeitpunkt kommt, wo jemand aufhrt ein Schriftsteller zu sein und
anfngt ein Mythus zu werden (Oellers, 241).
In the ironic words of Egon Friedell, the Viennese critic, playwright,
actor, and cultural historian (18781938), best known due to his later
three-volume Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit (19271932), Schillers great
reputation turned out to be self-perpetuating: Und als er tot war, hat
das Schillerdrama unausgesetzt weitergespielt: in der Geschichte seines
Nachruhms. Auch hier noch alles in sprunghaften und berraschenden
Wendungen (Oellers, 242). Schillers fame was experienced like a Schiller
drama. Friedell continued: Die Art, wie die Worte Goethe und Schiller
ausgesprochen, betont und verstanden werden, drckt alle Wandlungen
aus, die die Auffassung Schillers im verflossenen Jahrhundert durchgemacht
hat (Oellers, 243). In Friedells opinion, Schiller is much more a distant
monument than a living entity: Als groes nationales Ereignis wird jedermann Schiller ehren und bewundern ein Erlebnis ist er aber fr die
meisten nicht mehr (Oellers, 243).

After 1918 and into National Socialism


If the commemoration of 1905 demonstrated the division between the
Marxist view of Schiller and the spectrum of liberal to conservative

THE RECEPTION OF SCHILLER IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

277

opinions, the political dichotomy became even more pronounced after


1918. Whereas leftist critics and writers tended to be critical or negative,
the nationalists and the National Socialists began to claim Schiller as their
own. At the same time, scholarly work was being conducted; however, it,
too, tended to be ideological, as Germanistik was now dominated by
Geistesgeschichte. Much of the Berlin theater of the twenties was experimental
and iconoclastic. The modernizing of Schillers plays began in 1919 with
Leopold Jessners Staatstheater production of Wilhelm Tell. Jessner continued with a series of radically new presentations of the classics. But the most
provocative theater event of the twenties was Erwin Piscators production
of Die Ruber in Berlin in 1926. As Herbert Ihering wrote in his review:
Erwin Piscator gibt die Ruber also nicht, als ob sie eine erfundene,
gedichtete Handlung htten, sondern als ob sie ein tatschliches Revolutionsereignis darstellten. Er nimmt dem Stck die Fabel und gibt ihm
Sachlichkeit (Oellers, 286). This was not, he insists, a formal experiment,
on the contrary. Piscator goes beyond the many brilliant formal experiments then thriving on the stages of Berlin, to the substance, the core
of the play. Other directors should not consider this as a stylistic model.
The Entpathetisierung (287) means reality, not style. For Piscator,
Spiegelberg was the genuine revolutionary, a reminder of Trotsky, and certainly not the ugly Jew that the Nazis saw in him. One of the ironies was
that none other than Veit Harlan, the future director of the virulently antiSemitic film Jud S, was one of the major actors in this production,
performing the part of Roller, the chief representative of the oppressed
masses.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Mathilde Ludendorff, wife
of the famous general, published her book, Der ungeshnte Frevel an
Luther, Lessing und Schiller im Dienste des allmchtigen Baumeisters aller
Welten, in 1928. The purpose of the book was to prove that Luther, Lessing,
and Schiller (Mozart was later added to the list) were assassinated by the
Jewish-dominated Freemasons. The response was proof of the ongoing
veneration for Schiller as national hero. The book was a hot seller and went
through several editions. Its provocation prompted the Goethe-Gesellschaft
to fund documentation on the circumstances of Schillers death and
funeral, which was then edited by Max Hecker in 1935. The controversy
around the book came to an end through a fiat of Joseph Goebbels
who complained that the history of German culture should not be
degraded as a series of criminal cases and mysteries, and the book was
banned in 1936 which then drove the controversy underground. The
Ludendorff-Bewegung was still maintaining the worship of Schiller
(Ruppelt, 2023).
While Max Kommerell, in Der Dichter als Fhrer in der deutschen
Klassik (1928), returned to Schillers drama project Die Malteser to
support his ideas of a male Orden and his notions of mentoring and

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WULF KOEPKE

friendship in the light of Stefan George and his group, the vlkische
view of German literature preferred to write about Schiller the man and
his life and quoted selectively from his works. For some, Wilhelm Tell provided the best reference point, but it was undeniable that the only historical play on Germanys past, Wallenstein, while arguably Schillers most
important play, had a protagonist who could hardly serve as the paradigm
of a Fhrer. Schiller, the Nationaldichter, provided little in his texts that
could serve as Nationaldichtung. Therefore, in 1933, two opposing
schools emerged, one of which adhered to the slogan, Denn er war
unser, the other of which was more solidly grounded in the evidence that
emphasized the distance and differences between Schiller and National
Socialism, primarily in his ideas on Humanitt and Weltbrgertum. The
first group found its authoritative voice in Herbert Cysarzs massive
Schiller volume of 1934. The extreme thesis of Hans Fabricius, Schiller als
Kampfgenosse Hitlers: Nationalsozialismus in Schillers Dramen (1932, second edition 1933), remained an exception, as respectable professors of
Germanistik distanced themselves from the dominant trend of the early
Nazi years to turn the entire history of German culture into a precursor of
National Socialism. Cysarzs method and image of Schiller were attacked
by the spokesman of the opposing faction, Gerhard Fricke. In his review
of Cysarzs book in 1934, in the Deutsche Literaturzeitung (Ruppelt, 60),
Fricke attacked its ahistorical approach. He had stated his position in
1927 in his book Der religise Sinn der Klassik Schillers: Zum Verhltnis
von Idealismus und Christentum. After 1933, he retained his view of the
non-political Schiller, as opposed to the political writer Heinrich von
Kleist.
The Gleichschaltung of Schiller by the propaganda machine overshadowed the ongoing research of Germanists. The 175th anniversary of
Schillers birth, in 1934, provided an opportunity for an unprecedented
spectacle (Ruppelt, 3338; Deutsche Klassiker im Nationalsozialismus,
6776). A relay of fifteen thousand young runners carried flowers to the
monument in Schillers birthplace in Marbach, and, on June 21, the summer solstice, it all climaxed with a gigantic bonfire. There was a daylong
performance of the Wallenstein trilogy in Berlin, a two-hour radio broadcast on all German stations on November 10, and celebrations throughout
Germany and beyond. The government and Goebbelss propaganda
topped this with a Reichsschillerwoche in Weimar and a speech by
Goebbels himself claiming Schiller for the new Germany. Since November 9
was the high holiday of the Nazi movement, the connection was evident.
These celebrations helped to efface the memory of the terror and assassinations of June 1934 and cemented Hitlers position as Fhrer after
Hindenburgs death.
When the Second World War began, the manipulation of the Schiller
image became much more pronounced, as his example was used to boost

THE RECEPTION OF SCHILLER IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

279

the morale of the troops and the population. This was eminently achieved
by the popular film of 1940, Friedrich Schiller: Der Triumph eines Genies,
with Horst Caspar representing the young rebellious Schiller (Ruppelt,
12631). A curious episode in view of the general admiration for Schiller is
Hitlers order of 1941 that Wilhelm Tell, Schillers most popular play,
should neither be performed nor taught in the schools. This order caused
consternation and controversy among the top Nazi leaders, but was widely
obeyed. The reason for Hitlers aversion has remained unclear, although
the most plausible explanation is Hitlers fear of assassination, foreshadowed in the Tyrannenmord in Tell (Ruppelt, 4045).

Editions and the Nationalausgabe


Die Zahl der Schiller-Ausgaben ist Legion (Schiller-Handbuch, 810).
The monument of nineteenth-century philology was the historical-critical
edition of the Smtliche Werke, in fifteen volumes, edited by Karl Goedeke
and others, from 1867 to 1876. The Skular-Ausgabe, in sixteen volumes,
was edited by Eduard von der Hellen at the time of the 1905 commemorations of Schillers death. From 1892 to 1896, Fritz Jonas edited a sevenvolume edition of Schillers letters. The enormously influential and
popular correspondence between Schiller and Goethe, first edited by
Goethe, was reprinted in numerous editions, including critical editions.
In 1943, during the Second World War, Julius Petersen (with Gerhard
Fricke) laid the foundations for the crowning achievement of his life with
the Schiller Nationalausgabe. This authoritative critical edition is now
practically complete. It had the good fortune to survive the end of the
Nazi era and then the Cold War period as a common project of East and
West. Inevitably, some of the volumes reflect the political conditions of the
day (Schiller-Handbuch, 811). Benno von Wiese was the chief editor for
fifteen of its volumes. The present editor-in-chief is Norbert Oellers. A
number of early volumes have been re-edited. The edition includes all
Schiller texts, the letters to and from Schiller, and Schillers Gesprche.
Both the name Nationalausgabe and the fact that it survived the division of
Germany are tributes to the spellbinding nature of the name Schiller.
In the meantime, new general editions with commentaries have
emerged. The best-known examples are the Hanser edition in five volumes, edited by Gerhart Fricke and others, as well as a five-volume edition
by Benno von Wiese and Helmut Koopmann. The most recent edition, in
twelve volumes, the Frankfurter Ausgabe, has been in the process of being
published by the Deutscher Klassiker Verlag since 1988. There are
editions of Schillers Gesprche, of his commentaries on his own writings,
of reviews of Schillers works, and of reviews of theater performances.
The Jahrbuch der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft offers documents and

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scholarship on German literature since Schillers time. All told, the attention given to Schiller has been overwhelming, if not exhaustive. Schiller is,
indeed, not only a Klassiker of German literature but of German Literaturwissenschaft. Only Goethe and, arguably, Lessing have received similar
attention. In this respect, Schiller still remains the Nationaldichter that he
has always been. One aspect of this respectful attention are the bibliographies compiled by the Goethe-und-Schiller-Archiv in Weimar since 1959,
and the numerous research reports, many of them in the Jahrbuch der
Deutschen Schillergesellschaft.
The Deutsche Schillergesellschaft in Marbach/Stuttgart, which was
founded in 1946 as the successor of the Schwbische Schillerverein, emphasized its national mission. Its seat is the Schiller-Nationalmuseum in
Marbach. In 1859, Emperor Wilhelm I established a Schillerpreis for the
best drama and, in 1955, the Land Baden-Wrttemberg instituted the
Schiller-Gedchtnis-Preis for eminent achievements of cultural and scholarly
significance. There was a Deutsche Schillerstiftung of 1859 and a Schweizerische Schillerstiftung of 1905 that presented the Groen Schillerpreis.
Thus many institutions support and honor authors and literary scholarship
in the name of Schiller. Even with todays proliferation of literary prizes, the
preponderance of prizes named for Schiller shows that his status as a
Nationaldichter continues.

In the Schools and on the Stage


The use of Schiller texts in German schools merits much more research.
Schillers plays and poems, mostly the ballads, were until recently a prominent feature of German instruction, especially in the Gymnasium. This was
particularly true for the period up to the Second World War, but even since
then Schiller has retained a special place, though somewhat reduced. His
texts were used to teach values, but also to instill an awareness of the
German Klassik and the Germans as the Volk der Dichter und Denker. Key values are expressed by the word Freiheit including especially the famous
Gedankenfreiheit in Don Carlos Humanitt, Sittlichkeit, Idealismus, and
Vaterlandsliebe as in Wilhelm Tell and Die Jungfrau von Orleans.
Schillers tragedies were seen as heroic, sublime, manly even those with
female protagonists, Mary Stuart and Jeanne dArc, for example. Schillers
phrases lent themselves as topics for class compositions. And although
many students emerged from the Gymnasium with some disgust for
Schillers texts, they knew poems and passages from the plays by heart.
Georg Bchmanns compilation of commonly-used quotations, Geflgelte
Worte, first published in 1864 and in many editions ever since, is proof to
what degree Schiller phrases, including parodies, had become part of daily
life in Germany, and not only among the educated classes.

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281

During the Nazi years a strong first attempt was made to find texts
that would prove that Schiller was an ardent German patriot and a true
forerunner of National Socialism. This led to a repetition of the same texts,
for instance the Reiterlied in Wallensteins Lager. Later, more sober
voices began to dominate, pleading for a reading of the texts without
undue political twisting. Deutschunterricht still could not do without
Schillers classical plays Wallenstein, Maria Stuart, Die Jungfrau von
Orleans, and above all, Wilhelm Tell, at least until 1941 (Ruppelt, 79103).
The resistance of teachers of German against a total Nazification of
Schiller indicates the importance of Schillers texts, primarily the classical
plays, for their instruction. Their sense of professional integrity stood in
opposition to the party propagandists, even among those teachers who
believed in National Socialism. The teaching of Schiller poems, especially
ballads, and plays was inevitable for the instruction of German. Schiller
texts appealed to young minds, and teachers clung to the idea of the
German Klassik, of the Volk der Dichter und Denker in the face of
the reality of the Volk der Richter und Henker. The paradoxical outcome of
this tenacious fight to preserve a classical Schiller for the Gymnasium was,
at the time, a concerted effort to maintain distance between the schools
and the party institutions. Nevertheless, after 1945, Schillers texts were
indicted as nationalistic and Nazi-infected. It took ten years, that is, until
the Schiller anniversary of 1955, to reintegrate Schiller into the curriculum
as an author of the German Klassik. The later de-emphasis of the literature
of the past, including Classicism, in the curriculum of the Federal Republic
was due to other factors. The GDR took a different route, by reinterpreting Schiller in the light of Marxist orthodoxy. In this context, the early
plays, Die Ruber, Fiesco, Kabale und Liebe and Don Carlos, were enlisted
as expressions of the bourgeois revolution of the late eighteenth century
that had led to the French Revolution. The honorary citizenship conferred
on Schiller by the French Republic was therefore especially meaningful.
Schiller wrote plays that can have a tremendous effect. Despite changing trends, ideologies, and tastes, some of his plays have always been
appealing to audiences. The proof is that, in spite of the extreme events of
German history and the concomitant changes in the mood of the Germans
and their attitude toward their fatherland, his plays keep re-emerging with
new aspects of relevance. While his classical plays, especially Wallenstein
and Wilhelm Tell, were most suitable for festive occasions and were elevated to the status of Festspiele, the naturalists found enough realism in the
early plays to suit their taste, while the Romantic elements of Wallenstein
and Die Jungfrau von Orleans appealed to the neo-Romantic disposition.
After the defeat of 1918 Schiller seemed at first out of place in the new
republic. This was exemplified by the ambivalence of the young playwright
Bertolt Brecht. The Berlin theater of the twenties reveled in experiments,
and the pathos of expressionism did not lie too far from Schillers young

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heroes. In short, Schiller could again be integrated into the dominant


mood of the time. Although somewhat burdened by the monumentalization of Schiller the man and his achievement, the Festspiel approach
returned with a vengeance.
The 175th anniversary of Schillers birth, 1934, was topped by the
production of the entire Wallenstein trilogy in Berlin. Some of Schillers
plays, however, drew unwanted reactions from audiences, for instance
applauding Marquis Posas cry for Gedankenfreiheit in Don Carlos. In
Wilhelm Tell, the Swiss peasants claims of victory evoked thoughts that
were forbidden. In contrast to the schools and some of the scholarship, the
theaters refrained, after the initial attempts to Nazify Schiller in an
aggressive and clumsy way, from drawing all-too-obvious parallels with the
present. Still, Schiller looked like an official author, and the pathos of his
men and warriors was harnessed for the war effort.
Schillers re-emergence after 1945 was rather surprising. Although
Schillers pathos and heroic gestures seemed out of touch with the mood
of the defeated and demoralized German people, his Die Ruber appealed
to audiences, and he soon regained his position as the second-mostperformed classical author, after Shakespeare. The frequency of performances
of Schillers plays was challenged for a time only by Bertolt Brecht. Among
Schillers many dramatic works, Kabale und Liebe seems to speak most
directly to todays audiences.
Schiller was, however, affected by the deep distrust of the German
Klassik as such and the attempt to free the German cultural scene from the
constraints of the tradition of the Bildungsbrgertum. This led to iconoclastic productions of Schiller plays by the director generation of
Heyme, Zadek, and Peymann. The limits of these productions were immediately evident, together with the resistance of the majority of those who
attended them. In this sense, a repetition of the 1920s took place: radical
modernizations, including Piscators Ruber, ran their course, and more
moderate ways to demonstrate the relevance of Schillers plays for the present were found (Wittkowski, ed., 33387). The fundamental change is
that Schiller is no longer celebrated on stage as the Nationaldichter, but
instead his dramas are performed, like those of other playwrights, according to their appeal to directors and audiences.

1955 and 1959


The 150th anniversary of Schillers death created an opportunity for new
and different official and academic recognition. This was particularly true
for the German Democratic Republic, whose ideology claimed the classical
heritage (klassisches Erbe) for the revolutionary working class. The political
speakers went back to 1905 to find models for their arguments in the

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283

writings of Mehring, Eisner, and Rosa Luxemburg. During the Festwoche in


Weimar, on May 815, 1955, speeches by Otto Grotewohl and Johannes R.
Becher reflected the political situation and the claim of the German Democratic Republic to speak for the entire German people. Grotewohl stated:
So stellt Schiller die knstlerische Meisterschaft seines dichtenden Genies
ganz bewut in den Dienst der groen Aufgabe, die die Geschichte der
Nation gestellt hat, ein souvernes, unabhngiges Vaterland zu schaffen, in
dem das Volk gebietet (Schiller in unserer Zeit, 33). Unzerstrbar und
unberwindlich war des Dichters Glaube an Deutschland (33). The moving account of the departure of the German mercenaries to America in the
War of Independence in Kabale und Liebe was, according to Grotewohl,
Schillers prophetic response to the integration of German troops into the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Schiller came from the working class;
therefore, Grotewohl could say: Sind es nicht in der Tat immer die Werkttigen gewesen, die das Vaterland retteten, wenn es sich in Not und Gefahr
befand? (35). This leads to the last point: In Schillers Werken pulsiert ein
Stck lebendiger Geschichte unseres Volkes. Von diesem Werk, vor dem
unsere geistigen Ahnvter Marx und Engels in Verehrung ihre Fahnen
senkten, ist ein heiliger Wille ausgegangen zu Einheit, Demokratie und
nationaler Unabhngigkeit. Es ist ein Teil unseres Wesens und Willens (39).
In his speech, Denn er ist unser: Friedrich Schiller der Dichter der
Freiheit, Johannes R. Becher stays closer to Schillers texts. Still, he starts
with the following declaration: ber Friedrich Schiller reden, heit also
ber das sprechen, was uns Deutsche gerade heute besonders angeht, ber
das Problem der Freiheit (Schiller in unserer Zeit, 43). His idea was real
freedom, as opposed to what the West understood by the term. It is easy
to integrate Schiller into the prehistory of German socialism because:
Fr Schiller stellte sich sein Werk dar als ein sozialer und nationaler
Befreiungsakt (48). Becher is careful with the sequence of sozial and
national, but the emphasis on the revaluation of the two terms is unmistakable. In the same manner, Becher tries to re-evaluate and update the
heroic image: Das, worauf Schiller wartete, diese seine eigentliche hohe
Lebensstunde, war der Aufbruch seines Volkes zum Kampf um Einheit
und Freiheit (53). The conclusion then follows: Wir sind im Begriff,
die deutsche Tragdie abzuschlieen und damit auch Schillers Tragik zu
beenden (55). That is, the tragedy of his life, the life of the forerunner.
Das ganze Deutschland ist es, das in Friedrich Schiller sich uns offenbart
als unseres Volkes Not und Elend, als unseres Volkes Auferstehungsdrang
und Auferstehen (58). Das ganze Deutschland is still the magic formula,
and Schiller leads us there: Denn er ist unser.
A voice of the past spoke for the last time in 1955 in both parts of
Germany, demonstrating das ganze Deutschland in a different way, in its
continuity from the Weimar years to the present and to a better future:
Thomas Mann. Weeks before his death, while speaking in Stuttgart and

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WULF KOEPKE

Weimar and then in Amsterdam, Mann implored the Germans to rise above
their differences. Allusions to NATO and the Soviet Union are not necessary to understand Manns personal encounter with Schiller, for he considers himself a personification of the continuity of the humanistic spirit of
Goethe and Schiller in the present. Mann represented German literary culture above the political fronts of the day, and his speech symbolized that
writers were the only ones who still dared to differ from hostile ideologies
(Schiller-Handbuch, 78586). Thomas Manns Schiller-Rede was printed
both in the East German collection of speeches Schiller in unserer Zeit and
the West German volume Reden zum Gedenkjahr 1955, edited by Bernhard
Zeller. It was also published in an expanded form as Versuch ber Schiller,
Manns last publication. Mann recounts Schillers life and work in his own
way, including his early enthusiasm for Don Carlos, which found its literary
expression in the novella Tonio Krger (1903). Schillers pathos of
Gedankenfreiheit merges here with Manns own liberal humanism. The
allusions to the present emerge in the last paragraph, when he recalls the
commemorations of 1859 and adds: Es war ein nationales Fest, und das sei
das unsrige auch. Entgegen politischer Unnatur fhle das zweigeteilte
Deutschland sich eins in seinem Namen (Schiller 1955, 28). But then he
points beyond the nation; this Gedenkfeier, he says, should stand im
Zeichen universeller Teilnehmung nach dem Vorbild seiner hochherzigen
Gre . . . von seinem sanftgewaltigen Willen gehe durch das Fest seiner
Grablegung und Auferstehung etwas in uns ein: von seinem Willen zum
Schnen, Wahren und Guten, zur Gesittung zur inneren Freiheit, zur
Kunst, zur Liebe, zum Frieden, zu rettender Ehrfurcht des Menschen vor
sich selbst (28). Schiller is once more a secularized savior who can transform human lives and lift his people above their blind divisions, and above
politics this is one of the last manifestations of the true German
Bildungsbrgertum. The ubiquitous metaphor for the survival of the German
people after 1945, death and resurrection, is transferred to the image of
Schiller, whose spirit is reappearing in a new incarnation, as it were.
The West German collection of the speeches held during 1955 strives
to transcend politics in the sense Schillers own journal, Die Horen (The
Horae, 179597), had done. Even Theodor Heuss, the president of the
Federal Republic, emphasized: Ich enttusche jene gerne, die meinen,
weil ich gegenwrtig Bundesprsident bin, sei es meine Aufgabe, aus
Schiller eine staatsaktuelle Werbeaktion zu machen. Dafr ist er mir zu
gro, dafr bin ich mir zu gut (Schiller 1955, 82). He makes a point not
to talk about that Schiller, the legend, but the other, the real Schiller,
namely, his own regional countryman. Still, Heuss primarily discusses
Schillers fascination with politics, political history, and metapolitics, and
the German tragedy understandably so only ten years after the Second
World War. But he did what he had promised: not to use Schiller as a
spokesman for the West against the East.

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285

It was much easier for Andr Franois-Poncet to claim Schiller as


Unser Mitbrger (Schiller 1955, 9098). In 1792, Schiller had been
made a citizen of the French Republic. Franois-Poncet addressed the
Europer von heute und morgen, the Germans and French, and urged
them to overcome their differences of the past. Madame de Stal, he says,
was able to recognize Schillers genius and present in her book on
Germany an image of his personality and his work for the world. Schiller,
deeply influenced by French thinkers, first among them Rousseau, had a
major impact on French culture. As a Weltbrger des Geistes (98), he
could still lead the way to the future.
The vast majority of the commemorative speeches in both East and
West were by academicians, and included scholars like Hans Mayer,
Joachim Mller, Benno von Wiese, Gerhard Storz, Reinhard Buchwald,
and Paul Bckmann. In the volume Schiller in unserer Zeit, the essays by
Otto Grotewohl, Johannes R. Becher, and Alexander Abusch are followed
by the work of Hans Mayer, Adolf Beck, Pierre Grappin, Georg Lukcs,
Johannes Mller, and Paul Reimann. It is telling, however, that the
Schiller-Handbuch should have separate chapters on the general reception
of Schiller in Germany and abroad, as well as for the Forschungsgeschichte.
Even more than in the case of Goethe, there is a dichotomy of two
Schillers: one for the nineteenth century, and one for at least two-thirds of
the twentieth century: Schiller the legend and myth for festive occasions,
and Schiller the writer whose ideas and literary qualities could be analyzed
and debated by scholars. However, these dividing lines tended to cross
each other constantly. Benno von Wiese, the editor of the Nationalausgabe
and the author of the most quoted book on Schiller, his monumental
Friedrich Schiller of 1959, was a frequent Festredner as well. Schillers function as a Nationaldichter brought Germanistik inevitably close to public
functions and politics in a unique way, although the political implications
of scholarship on many other authors are obvious as well we need mention only Heine, Bchner, Kleist, Georg Herwegh, Gustav Freytag, and, of
course, all the exiles of 1933.
In the speeches of 1955, the demands for a new image of Schiller are
heard. Repeatedly, Schillers contradictions are stressed. Tragedy is a preferred topic, as is the opposition between the ideal and life. Some of the
speakers take issue with the accusation that Schillers language is characterized by empty rhetoric and that his words have degenerated into trivialities.
These accusations imply the need for a determination of who the real
Schiller was, beyond the varnish and idealization of the monuments. But
the real question is the following: can we still relate to Schillers words? Can
the works of Friedrich Schiller in any way help us in our own time and with
our own miseries? Although Schiller scholars have underscored the importance of a more careful adherence to the textual evidence and stressed
Schiller the writer instead of Schiller the tragic hero, they unanimously seek

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guidance in life from his words and works. Schiller, applauded or rejected,
had to be more than just a writer. The inevitable comparison with Goethe
remained typical of all speeches, although the question arose, here and
there, that Schiller should first be considered in his own right.
Even in the collections of the Reden im Gedenkjahr 1959 it is clear that
there was der Wille zu einer neuen Begegnung mit Schiller (Zeller,
1959, 7). The commemorations were more academic and subdued than in
1955, just as they had been fifty years earlier in 1909. The references to the
present and to the two Germanys were in evidence, of course, when Hans
Mayer in Dem Wahren, Guten, Schnen (Schiller 1959, 15969)
stressed that Danneckers Schiller monument was eine fragwrdige Harmonisierung des Menschen Friedrich Schiller (161) and emphasized the
tensions and antinomies. The West considers Schiller a phenomenon of the
past: Schiller lebt als ein Gercht (165). For Mayers society the GDR
however, it should be different: Schiller ist zu gro, als da er irgendeiner Beschnigung bedrfte. Wir wollen ihn weder umdeuten noch als
ein bloes Gercht betrachten, sondern mit ihm leben: mit seinen Spannungen und in einem Zustand lebendiger Spannung zwischen ihm und
uns (165). Schiller was not far away from his late antagonist, Bertolt
Brecht: Will Brecht die Verhltnisse ndern, um den Menschen zu
befreien, will Schiller den Menschen ndern, seiner Freiheit zuliebe
(168). Brechts Heilige Johanna recognized that it was not enough to be
good; one had to create eine gute Welt. And Schiller can help: Unser
Leben mit Schiller geht nicht zu Ende, sondern beginnt erst (169). This
is Schiller as an eingreifender Dichter the other extreme is the conclusion of Emil Staigers speech Schillers Gre (293309): Sein ganzes
heroisches Leben und Schaffen verkndet mit unverweslicher Schrift: Hier
hat ein sterblicher Mensch in schwerester Prfung die Not der Welt berwunden (309). However, more typical is the speech by Dolf Sternberger,
who discusses the political Schiller without asking about his relevance for
the present, and the speech by Gerhard Storz, the Schiller scholar,
which makes us forget that he happened to be cultural minister of BadenWrttemberg. There is nothing official in Storzs speech; he does not
claim Schiller for his state or appropriate him for his own political viewpoint, but appears as a Schiller scholar with academic credentials, yet with
a persuasive, non-academic style, one who is concerned with the enduring
beauty and value of Schillers work.
The American volume Schiller 1759/1959: Commemorative American
Studies, edited by John R. Frey, provides a telling example of the effect of
anniversaries. The first sentence of Freys foreword underscores the significance of the edition. It has been more than fifty years since anything even
vaguely resembling this undertaking appeared on the American scene (v).
The previous undertakings had been products of the year 1905. Freys
Schiller volume is demonstratively apolitical and offers no reference to the

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287

situation of German Studies in the United States at the time. Yet it is a powerful demonstration of the viability of Germanistik and, before the momentous changes of the sixties with their influx of German Germanists, a
manifesto, as it were, again carefully understated, of the caliber of intellectual acumen and scholarly competence of the old guard, as exemplified by
names like Harold Jantz, Henry Hatfield, Hermann Weigand, and Walter
Silz, together with immigrants like Oskar Seidlin, Melitta Gerhard, Helmut
Rehder, and Hans Jaeger. The emphasis here lies on theoretical problems
and philological questions, of which ber die sthetische Erziehung des
Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen (On the Aesthetic Education of Man in
a Series of Letters, 1795) is the central text. Only Harold Jantzs examination of the Nadowessiers Totenlied indicates an American connection.
Freys bibliography shows the continuity of the scholarly interest in Schiller,
but one curious item should be noted. It claims Thomas Manns speech on
Schiller of 1955 for American Schiller research, since it was published in
English translation in the Chicago Review 11 (1957): 318. Since then,
North American scholarship has gone on to develop new approaches and
ideas in close interdependence with German scholarship.
In 1959, the emphasis shifted from commemoration to scholarship. It
was the year of the synthesizing monographs, Friedrich Schiller by Benno
von Wiese, Gerhard Storzs Der Dichter Friedrich Schiller, and a revised
edition of Reinhard Buchwalds Schiller: Leben und Werk. These three
books, as Wolfgang Paulsen put it, did not duplicate each other, sondern
im Gegenteil [einander] auf fruchbarste ergnzen; da sie eine fortlaufende
dreifache Spiegelung desselben literarischen Komplexes ermglichen, wie
das wohl kaum irgendwo in der Literatur wieder auf hnliche Weise der
Fall ist (Paulsen, 384). Remarkably, all three books, which are the result
of many years of research and thought, were begun and found their first
form in the 1930s; their authors continued their research in subsequent
books and articles. In their 1959 versions, they attempt to bridge the gap
of 1945 from a new perspective in order to preserve what was important
about Schiller scholarship during the Nazi years. In his Forschungsbericht,
Paulsen was able to summarize the situation of Schiller scholarship and
Schiller commemorations in a manner that would be hard to duplicate
today.
Bernhard Zellers Friedrich Schiller: Eine Bildbiographie had appeared
a year earlier, in 1958. Emil Staigers Friedrich Schiller of 1967 can be
regarded as a late response to these books. Since then, Schiller scholarship
has been produced in books on more specific topics and shorter studies.
The book by Steven Martinson, Harmonious Tensions. The Writings of
Friedrich Schiller, 1996, is a rare exception. Shorter introductions have
been offered by Gert Ueding, Friedrich Schiller, 1990, and Helmut Koopmann, Friedrich Schiller. Eine Einfhrung, 1988; Koopmann is the author
of the two-volume Friedrich Schiller in the Sammlung Metzler. Two recent

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books treat the drama of Schiller: Karl S. Guthke, Schillers Dramen. Idealismus und Skepsis, 1994, and Lesley Sharpe, Friedrich Schiller: Drama,
Thought and Politics, 1991.

Scholarship after 1959


As Koopmann notes in his exhaustive Forschungsgeschichte (published
in Schiller-Handbuch, 809932), essay collections (Sammelwerke) play an
important role in the scholarship of the last several decades. The anniversaries, particularly 1959, had called for new perspectives on the works of
Schiller, beyond political image-making. Equally, the three books by von
Wiese, Storz, and Buchwald challenged the scholars to new responses. The
scholarly re-examination eventually included all aspects of his oeuvre, as
summarized in the Schiller-Handbuch, but some parts attracted special
attention. One of them was the significance of Schillers early readings and
his pre-Kantian philosophy and poetology. Benno von Wiese had drawn
attention to this part of Schillers life, and numerous studies followed, leading
to Wolfgang Riedels acclaimed book Die Anthropologie des jungen Schiller
(1985). Still, there remains a sort of dichotomy between Schillers early plays
and his later, classical work, as David Pugh makes clear in his survey of the
reception of Schillers early works (Pugh, 2000). A considerable number of
scholars, among them Helmut Koopmann and Steven D. Martinson, have
questioned the central importance of Schillers readings of Kant for his later
writings and pleaded for the continuity of his thought from the Karlsschule
to the end of his career. Consequently, the writings emerging from the
Kantian years have been scrutinized with a new vigor, above all the Briefe
ber die sthetische Erziehung des Menschen, for example, by Lesley Sharpe in
the present volume. In this case, as in others, theoretical interest is combined with political questions: Schillers alleged initial enthusiasm for the
French Revolution and his aversion against a republic that executed a king
is thoroughly re-examined. As far as the classical plays are concerned,
Wallenstein holds its fascination on researchers who have also questioned in
a more general way the interdependencies between Schillers poetological
treatises and his plays. Are these plays really exemplifications of his theories
on tragedy and the sublime? How significant is the tradition of rhetoric for
Schillers poems and plays? Also, which transformations in style and structure are evident from Wallenstein to Wilhelm Tell? Schillers last year of
production, the Demetrius fragment, and some of his dramatic projects
have attracted new attention, and the thesis of an impending turn to realism
in the case of Demetrius has found new adherents.
The 1970s brought with them a fundamental critique of the concept
of Klassik, to the point of being called a mere Klassik-Legende, as in the