Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Wisdom of Silenus

What occurred to me at the funeral of a young man who was to be married in two weeks:

Oh, wretched ephemeral race, children of chance and misery, why do you compel me to tell you what it would be most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you is -- to die soon. (BT:3 [Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1224ff])

Now it became possible to stand the wisdom of Silenus on its head and proclaim that it was the worst evil for man to die soon, and second worst for him to die at all. (Birth of Tragedy vi-xv, Nietzsche's 1887 preface)

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