§17 Dialogue between Antigone and Ismene [127-129]

And with what is this counsel concerned?

παθεῖν τὸ δεινὸν τοῦτο·

ins eigne Wesen aufzunehmen das Unheimliche, das jetzt und hier erscheint.

to take up into my own essence the uncanny that here and now appears.

Thus there falls the decisive word, τὸ δεινόν. It is the third word, and yet the central word, which, within this brief exchange, points directly to the choral ode. παθεῖν τὸ δεινόν. παθεῖν: to suffer, to bear. This first of all entails that the unhomely is nothing that human beings themselves make but rather the converse: something that makes them into what they are and who they can be. Here, however, παθεῖν does not mean the mere "passivity" of accepting and tolerating but rather taking upon oneself—ἀρχὴν δὲ θηρᾶν, making it through to the end, that is, properly experiencing. This παθεῖν—experiencing the δεινόν—this enduring and suffering, is the fundamental trait of that doing and action called to δρᾶμα, which constitutes the "dramatic," the "action" in Greek tragedy. Yet this very παθεῖν is also the proper relation to the δεινόν, taking this word in the entire fullness of its essence and its enigmatic equivocality.

In the Greek tragedy the "heroes" and "heroines," if we may use these terms at all, are neither "silent sufferers" nor "martyrs" in the Christian sense, nor those "masters" who set out amid a great din and extravaganza in the modern dramatic artwork. "The tragic" is not to be measured, as modern human beings think, according to the passion of which we can have a psychological "lived experience" and that belongs to the person of genius, but rather according to the truth of being as a whole and in keeping with the simplicity in which it appears. This is why in the Greek tragedy virtually nothing occurs. It commences with the downgoing. What is the "uncanny," in which Antigone knows she has been ultimately counseled. acquainted as she is with the foreboding, the perilousness, and the gravity of this counsel? The uncanny is nothing other than this: the fact that she takes as her all-determinative point of departure that against which nothing can avail, because it is that appearing that is destined for her (ἐφάνη, I. 457), and of which no one knows whence it has arisen. In fittingly accommodating herself (παθεῖν) to this, Antigone comes to be removed from all human possibilities and placed into direct conflict over the site of all beings and into a sublation of the subsistence of her own life. Antigone is within the unhomely in a way that exceeds every other being unhomely. She looms over the site of all beings not merely like Creon, who in his way also looms high therein. Rather, Antigone even steps out of this site altogether. She is utterly unhomely. τὸ δεινὸν τοῦτο — this uncanny that