Can a human ideal be worshiped


"Classic" from lat. classicus: actually "belonging to the highest tax class"; "preferred, exemplary"; then: "antique, exemplary, unsurpassable".

The local center of classical music is the small residential city of Weimar through the "Weimar Musenhof" founded by Duchess Anna Amalia and continued by her son, Duke Karl August (including Wieland, Goethe, Herder).


Start with Goethe's trip to Italy (1786-88), during which he studied the ancient tradition and revised his own works based on them; from 1787 onwards Schiller stayed in Weimar more often; from 1794 collaboration between Goethe and Schiller; 1799 Schiller's move. 1805 Schiller's death.

Basic features:

Against the unrest of the times (French Revolution, rise of Napoleon, early industrialization), the classical period sets harmony and humanity as guiding principles. Alignment with the ideal of the Gr.-Roman. Classic, based on the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68) (characterizing formula of the noble simplicity and quiet greatness): In ancient culture and its artistic evidence one sees the harmony between life and ideal, nature and freedom (Schiller) and a beauty corresponding to nature (Goethe) achieved.
The rigid rationalism of the Enlightenment stands in opposition to the ideals of the good, the true, the beautiful in the classical period; Turning away from the subjectivism of Sturm und Drang; instead of the "universal poetry" of romanticism, which is dynamically directed towards "infinity": statics, perfection and beauty as harmony between sensual instinct and reason.
Moral idealism: moral law as a general law for the rational human being (Kant's categorical imperative: Act only according to the maxim by which you can at the same time want it to become a general law. - Act in such a way that you use humanity both in your person and in the person of everyone else at all times as an end, never just as a means. "). Man gains freedom and autonomy by incorporating the moral commandments into his own will. "Pure humanity" as an ideal. Values: humanity, tolerance, measure, perfection, balance; Correspondence of mind and spirit, man and nature, individual and society.

Image of man:

Middle position of man between spirit and matter; Man participates in the "deity" through his spirit and in the "animality" through his nature. Education for humanity through art and poetry (Schiller: "aesthetic education"); Educational ideal: the good and beautiful person who is at rest in himself, in whose actions duty and inclination are in harmony (the "beautiful soul"); if duty and inclination do not match, man's dignity, his "sublimity" emerges in overcoming the inclination.
Overcoming national barriers: the idea of ​​cosmopolitanism.

Art ideal:

Control, measure, formation: according to Schiller, the essence of beauty lies in the harmony between sensual instinct and the law of reason; ancient Greek culture as a model of humanity and the artistic representation of "beautiful" people.
The object of art is not "life", but the legality of life, not reality, but truth. Goethe: The poet must allow the type to be recognized in the individual form, give life to the type through individual form.
According to the will to form, strict ideal of form: naturalness, limitation in means, order in structure, harmony of parts; Five-act scheme in the drama, based on the three units; well-designed language; Adoption of ancient forms (meter measures); Saving on people and realistic detail; general formulations.


Turning away from everyday reality: sublime objects, great characters; Substances of fundamental importance (Goethe: Genie und Gesellschaft im Tasso; Humanity in the Iphigenia; Schiller: Freedom, the individual and fate, guilt, purification). Adoption of ancient content (mythology).

Preferred forms:

Drama as the most important genre; Thought poetry (poems of ideas); Ballads; Bildungsroman ("Wilhelm Meister").


  • Rhenish Thalia (1785, Mannheim; ed. Von Schiller, a booklet)

  • New Thalia (1792-93, Leipzig; ed. V. Schiller)

  • General Literature Newspaper (1785-1804, Jena; founded by Wieland and Friedrich Justin Bertuch, published by Gottfried Schütz and Gottlob Hufeland; collaborators: Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Humboldt, A. W. and Karoline Schlegel, Schelling and others)

  • Journal of Luxury and Fashions (from 1815 Journal for literature, art, luxury, fashion; 1786-1827, Weimar; ed. v. Bertuch and Georg Melchior Kraus)

  • The hearing (1795-1797, Tübingen; ed. V. Schiller; collaborators: Goethe, Heinrich Meyer, W. v. Humboldt, Fichte, A. W. Schlegel, Herder, Kerner, Voß)

  • The Propylaea (1798-1800, Tübingen; edited by Goethe and Johann Heinrich Meyer)

  • About art and antiquity (1816-1832, Stuttgart; ed. By Goethe and Meyer)




Anselm Feuerbach: Iphigenia (1871)


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The divine

Be noble,
helpful and good!
Because that alone
distinguishes him
of all beings
who we know.

Hail the unknown
higher beings,
that we suspect!
Man is like you!
His example teach us
those believe.

Because unfeeling
is nature:
The sun shines
about bad and good,
and the criminal
shine like the best
the moon and the stars.

Wind and currents,
Thunder and hail
swap their way
and seize
rushing past
one after the other.

Also so luck
gropes among the crowd
will soon take hold of the boy
curly innocence,
soon the bald one too
guilty parting.

For eternal honor
great laws
we all have to
of our existence
Complete circles.

Man alone
can do the impossible
He differentiates,
choose and judge;
he can the moment
Lend duration.

He's allowed to go alone
reward the good
punish the wicked
heal and save,
everything erring, wandering
useful connect.

And we adore
the immortals,
as if they were people
would do on a large scale,
what the best in the small
does or wants to.

The noble man
be helpful and good!
He works tirelessly
the useful, the right,
be an example to us
of those suspected beings!