Was ist eine attische Tragödie? What is an Attic Tragedy?
Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff (1848-1931) has been considered the highest authority in classical philology for generations. In 1889, he published what has been regarded as his most significant study, that is, a monumental commented edition of Euripides’s Herakles which includes a general introduction to Greek tragedy. A section of this introduction, entitled “Was ist eine attische Tragödie?”, is of particular worth in itself in that it provides a passionate and detailed account of the evolution of Greek tragedy, from its origins, much discussed among scholars, to its classic fifth-century BC form. In some respects, it also constitutes a mature response to Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy whose publication, in 1872, had triggered a heated debate between the two still young scholars. This parallel edition presents the first English translation of a text that has served as a landmark for ancient drama scholars for decades and still offers many useful and relevant suggestions.