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Greek Interpretation of Human Beings [71-72]

4. The closing lines of the second antistrophe that immediately follow, and that gather up within them the whole of the choral ode and thus first bring the decisive lines at the beginning to their truth (II. 373-75):


μήτ᾽ ἐμοὶ παρέστιος
γένοιτο μήτ᾽ ἴσον φρονῶν ὃς τάδ᾽ ἔρδει.


Nicht werde dem Herde ein Trauter mir der,
nicht auch teile mit mir sein Wähnen mein Wissen,
der dieses führet ins Werk.


Such shall not be entrusted to my hearth,
nor share their delusion with my knowing,
who put such a thing to work.


§12. The meaning of δεινόν. (Explication of the commencement of the choral ode)

πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει·


Vielfältig das Unheimliche, nichts doch über den Menschen hinaus Unheimlicheres ragend sich regt.


Manifold is the uncanny, yet nothing more uncanny looms or stirs beyond the human being.


The decisive word, which falls at the beginning of the choral ode, is τὰ δεινά, τὸ δεινόν. We translate: das Unheimliche, the uncanny. If every translation is always only the result of an interpretation and not something preliminary to it, then the translation of δεινόν by "unheimlich," "uncanny," can first be seen as justified, or even as necessary, only on the basis of the following interpretation. For this translation is initially alien to us, violent, or, in "philological" terms, "wrong."

a) A remark concerning translation

Yet who decides, and how does one decide, concerning the correctness of a "translation"? We "get" our knowledge of the meaning of words in a foreign language from a dictionary or "wordbook." Yet we too readily forget that the information in a dictionary must always be based upon a preceding interpretation of linguistic contexts from which particular words and word usages are taken. In most cases a dictionary provides the correct information about the meaning of a word, yet this correctness does not yet guarantee us any insight into the truth of what the word means and


Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister” (GA 53) by Martin Heidegger