Greek Interpretation of Human Beings [114-115]

The "irrational" as a "domain" remains the preserve of feeling and instinct. Here the δεινόν can appear only as the powerful, extraordinary, and uncanny regarded in terms of its impression. Perhaps this interpretation of the δεινόν, which is the sole interpretation that suggests itself to our habitual thinking, has led to our failure to recognize the proper, poetic truth of the choral song, a failure of such proportions that this truth is not sought in the sole place where it can be found. The truth of the choral song is by no means exhausted in the assertion that human beings are the most uncanny among the uncanny, and are nothing else besides. And yet it does seem that the first lines of the song indeed bring together, in advance, the entire truth of the song into this one telling:

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.

§16. The expulsion of the human being as the most uncanny being.
(The relation of the closing words to the introductory words of the choral song)

If we relate the closing words of the song directly to the beginning then we see that the closing words pronounce a rejection and expulsion of this most uncanny being that the human being is. The closing words thereby indeed confirm the opening words, which state that nothing is more uncanny than the human being. The decisive word of the choral song therefore lies in its expressing this truth about human beings, namely their being the most uncanny of all that is uncanny.

The closing words indeed relate to the human being as "uncanny," yet it is necessary to ask what kind of relation this is, and in what way the closing words bear on the introductory words of the choral song:1

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.

1. Cf. p. 61.